Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Groin Punch and the Ketchup Sock

Found these interesting tidbits in a GQ article about the "Ten Most Hated Athletes."

9. A. J. Pierzynski

Google the phrase clubhouse cancer and the first two results will be stories about Chicago White Sox catcher A. J. Pierzynski. Teammates and members of the media use those words and others—unprofessional, immature, arrogant, aloof—to describe him. His baseball misdemeanors are legion: chirping at the opposition, bitterly contesting balls and strikes (very stupid for a catcher, who must win goodwill for his pitcher), and venting his frustrations on opposing first basemen. “He doesn’t have a lot of baseball etiquette,” says one ex-teammate. “He’ll deliberately step on your foot at first base, then say, ‘Man, I didn’t mean to do that!’ ”

The most telling of the many, many (seriously, you wouldn’t believe how willing people were to talk about this guy) Pierzynski anecdotes we heard took place during spring training in 2004. Pierzynski, crouched behind the plate, took a pitch to the groin. Rushing to his aid, trainer Stan Conte asked him how he felt. “Like this!” Pierzynski grunted, then savagely kneed Conte in the balls.

4. Curt Schilling

“Between the white lines, it’s all real,” says one reporter who has covered Schilling. “But outside the white lines, there’s a huge gap between the man and the image he projects.” Take, for instance, Schilling’s self-glorifying display during Congress’s steroid hearings last March or his absurdly patriotic open letter to America on ESPN.com after 9/11, for which his teammates mocked him on a late-night bus ride with a chorus of “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy.” “They know what he’s about,” says the sportswriter. “I’d say a large percentage of them like him—every fifth day. He wears on people.”

On days he doesn’t pitch, Schilling is notorious for striking TV-ready poses on the dugout stairs. (His manager in Philadelphia, Jim Fregosi, dubbed him Red Light Curt.) “He’s somebody who’s always positioning himself in terms of what’s best for Curt Schilling,” says ESPN’s Pedro Gomez, who described Schilling as “the consummate table for one.” (Speaking of which, Schilling also has a reputation for sneaking into the clubhouse late in games to get a head start on the buffet.)

So avid is Schilling’s longing for the spotlight that some of his peers raise doubts about his now legendary turn in the 2004 postseason, when he pitched on an ankle tendon that had been sutured in place. During Game 6, cameras cut repeatedly to the bright red stain on Schilling’s sock. It was blood, right? “The Diamondbacks people think he definitely doctored that sock,” says the sportswriter. The ex-teammate laughs: “All around baseball, people questioned that. It was funny how the stain didn’t spread.”

Not shocked about AJ, and I've always been suspicious of why a bloodstain stays as red in the sixth inning as it was in the first.

Oh Barry Bonds was #2 but you really don't need an anecdote to tell you he's a prick.

posted by Mr. Faded Glory @ 1:16 PM   1 comments







But He's Just So.... Cerebral...

Nice piece on Mike Mussina tutoring the youngsters in today's Journal News. Actually the press has seemed to be a lot kinder to Mussina over the past couple of seasons - probably because they had to deal with the Big Headache and realized how much easier it was to deal with the Moose.
"If you're a young guy on a team like this, it can be hard to go up to somebody," 20-year-old right-hander Phil Hughes said. "Sometimes all you can do is listen and try and take things in. But Mike is not one of those guys who keeps to himself. You feel comfortable if you have something to ask him."

For Hughes, that moment came last season as he was working on command of his curveball. Knowing Mussina has one of the best curves in the game, Hughes asked how he held it.

A good curveball rotates off the middle finger and has a tight spin. But Hughes was having trouble keeping his index finger off the ball, leaving his curveball looking more like a loose slider. Mussina showed him how to bend his index finger to get it out of the way and dig his fingernail into the ball.

Now Hughes has a formidable curveball, the kind that causes heads to shake.

"Mike showed me what he used," Hughes said. "I had been using a similar grip, but I changed it a little. We talked about the variables."

"Moose takes it upon himself. It's wonderful," Torre said. "Any time you can get somebody with his ability and intelligence to communicate with young pitchers, it's great."

"For the relievers, Mo (Rivera) is the guy they go to because he has been through so much," Mussina said. "For the starters, it's me. There is no substitute for experiencing it and going through things yourself. But to have somebody to talk to helps considerably. It's good when you know somebody in the clubhouse cares about you."

Hughes with a Mussina-esque curve? Ok, now teach him the circle change and I'll get the Cy Young trophy ready.

posted by Mr. Faded Glory @ 12:26 PM   2 comments







 

Monday, February 12, 2007

Who Are the First and Second Baseballs?

I'm confused:

posted by Mr. Faded Glory @ 7:18 PM   2 comments







Someone Explain to Me Why Jay Greenberg is Still Employed

This isn't H&T's first run-in with Greenberg. Yes, he apologized, but that doesn't mean he's off the hook from now on either. I should start an online petition to force the Post to change the byline from "by Jay Greenberg" to "by Jay Greenberg who hates Alex Rodriguez with all of his heart" on every article.

Without further ado, may I present to you The Post's Best and Worst of New York Sports (slow sports news edition, I'm sure. Since this is essentially a Yankees blog, I'll remove all references to how wonderful Jose Reyes and David Wright are, and how he wants to fondle Jason Kidd's balls:
OVERRATED

Bobby Abreu, Yankees

Rotisserie numbers are helped by his sharp eye at the plate, almost as keen as his eye for the right-field wall. Stays clear of it while wearing a glove. Doesn't clear it often enough with his bat. We'll throw caution to the wind, unlike Bobby himself, and insist the better bang for The Boss' buck would have continued to be Gary Sheffield.
Career OPS+:
Abreu: 137
Sheffield: 145

Age:
Abreu: 32
Sheffield: 38

Knees:
Abreu: 2
Sheffield: 1

Let's also factor in the fact that Sheffield was demanding an extension until he's about 50, and that Abreu has a career OPS of .412, takes more pitches per plate appearance than any other major leaguer, and can run and steal bases at an effective percentage, and the "bang for your buck" is so far in Abreu's favor it's not even close. If anything, Abreu should be right in the UNDERRATED category. However, according to Jay Greenberg, he sucks because he doesn't hit enough home runs or crash into walls.
UNDER APPRECIATED

Jorge Posada, Yankees

Those sweep tags in front of the plate that have irritated Yankee fans for 10 seasons shouldn't bury under the rug the fact that he is on pace to be one of the 10 best-hitting catchers in history.
No argument. I've said for years that Posada is the most underrated Yankee and - barring Rivera - the most difficult to replace.
TOUGHEST

JOHNNY DAMON, YANKEES

Was more hurt last season (back, broken foot, shoulder) than a Red Sox fan's feelings when he came over to The Dark Side. But he still played 149 games and scored 115 runs.
Damon's never been on the DL. No huge argument here, although I'd give a nod to Matsui for his streak and the fact that he rehabbed like a madman in order to beat all doctor's projections for his return.
MOST PARANOID

ALEX RODRIGUEZ, YANKEES

Says people don't like him because they're jealous he's rich, good looking and talented. Right, the same reasons everybody has always hated Derek Jeter, David Wright, Jose Reyes, Tiki Barber ...
It's not paranoia if people really do hate him though, right? Do you like him Jay Greenberg? Do you? I'm surprised Jay Greenberg doesn't write an article entitled Alex Rodriguez Sucks Because He Thinks People Don't Like Him (by Jay Greenberg who hates Alex Rodriguez with all of his heart).
MOST HATED

Carl Pavano, Yankees

Approach to rehab has been more cautious than even Derek Jeter to leap to A-Rod's defense. Disdain was totaled even if the car wasn't by the secret accident that set a $40 million non-pitcher back and the normally unflappable Brian Cashman off. Needs to mend fences. In so doing, probably will get splinters in his pitching hand and miss three months.

Fish. Barrel.
UNDERACHIEVING
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees

Vague rumors he actually drove in 121 runs last season and even hit .302 with men in scoring position were emphatically denied again when his career postseason average dropped to .153. But maybe we expect too much from an eight-hole hitter.
Provable (although not incredibly important) statistics like RBI and Batting Average are not vague rumors. Yes, I get that Greenberg is trying to be cheeky here. The fact that he lets everyone else off the hook (wait, he wants Sheffield back, right?) and yet continues to hammer a guy who's won an MVP in New York is mind-boggling.
OVERACHIEVING

Mariano Rivera, Yankees

When you think about it, the probable greatest closer of all all-time has been doing it on one pitch, off a 193-pound frame, for 11-plus seasons. True, it is quite the pitch, but his durability and consistency are nevertheless astounding.
He throws arguably the best pitch ever. Ever. If a guy that has the greatest swing ever hits a lot of homeruns, would you say he's overachieving? No, probably not. The Mets have a player you seem to love named Pedro Martinez who's been pretty effective in his career with a "slight" frame. Look, Mo is good. He's most likely the greatest closer in the history of baseball. I don't know if he's falling into Ecksteinland now.
BRIGHTEST

Derek Jeter, Yankees

National Honor Society in high school. Phi Beta Kappa on the field.
They'll give you identical soundbytes, Jeter and Rodriguez. One is "bright." The other "insincere." National Honor Society? Well, well, well! That's something to be proud of! When you're 17. And you put the award on Grandma's fridge.

Just because Jay Greenberg doesn't seem to know this, I will now educate Jay Greenberg about actual intelligence and "brightness." Michael Cole Mussina graduated from Stanford University (note: a college) in 1990, with a degree in economics. Prior to that, he fell within a few decimal points of being valedictorian of his high school class. It is said that he intentionally did poorly on a test at the end of his senior year so that he would not have to speak at graduation. Mussina is a well-known crossword puzzle buff, becoming good enough to complete the New York Times puzzles and was recently featured in a documentary called Wordplay which focuses on crossword puzzle aficionados and gurus (does the Post even have a crossword? I bet they have a Jumble.) In any event, there's no mention that Mussina won a Member of the National Honor Society (which, as I'm sure Greenberg knows, is a popularity contest voted on by instructors) so Jeter gets the nod as "brightest."

To sum up what you missed, the Mets are mostly classy, exiting and intelligent, the Devils are nice people, the Giants are a bunch of jerks, the Nets are exciting, and the Jets overachievers.

posted by Mr. Faded Glory @ 12:51 PM   2 comments







 

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Mike Celizic Fondled Me as a Child

Why do companies still pay this man anything to write such retarded drivel that it belongs on a junior high sports messageboard?
I’ve finally figured out what’s wrong with Alex Rodriguez: he doesn’t understand why he — or anyone — should play a game or do anything else in life.

“The only reason I play the game is to win a world championship,” he said Tuesday when he had occasion to throw out another of his inane comments that sounded — like everything else he says in public — as if it had been scripted by a team of innocuous-quote writers and carefully rehearsed in front of a test audience. “That hasn’t changed. From year to year it hasn’t changed.”

There you have it, folks. A-Rod doesn’t play because he enjoys baseball. He doesn’t play because he enjoys competition. He doesn’t play because he makes a lot of money. He doesn’t play because it’s a good way to meet chicks. He doesn’t play because it’s really, really cool to pull on a freshly-laundered set of Yankee pinstripes every day. And he doesn’t play because he loves what he does and feels like the luckiest guy in the world to have a job that slobs like us can only dream of.

He plays to win a championship. It’s the only reason. That’s what he said.
Mike Celizic's rankings of good reasons to play baseball:
  1. Enjoyment of the game
  2. Love of competition
  3. Meeting "chicks"
  4. Wearing fresh laundry
  5. Cool uniforms
  6. Feeling lucky not to be a slob
  7. Winning
I mean what a jerk that Rodriguez guy is! Not playing the game to wear a uniform? He should be more like Celizic, who obviously became a journalist "for the chicks."

Just look at the stuff this overpaid ballplayer has said in the past:

"It's not about me. It's all about winning championships here."
"I'm just trying to make it known that I care about one thing and that's winning."
"We just want to win. That's the bottom line."
"The only thing that matters here is winning a championship."

Oh, wait. That wasn't Rodriguez. Those were all Derek Jeter. Well I'm sure Celizic ripped Derek a new proverbial butthole on those comments, right?
If the line about playing only to win a championship is actually true — and there’s no telling if anything he ever says is what he actually thinks — he’s been spending a lot of money on his multiple shrinks and hasn’t gotten a damned thing of value out of it. If the only reason to do anything is to win, then you may as well do nothing.

Think about it. It’s like saying the only reason to take up a career in science is to win the Nobel Prize, the only reason to play in a symphony orchestra is to make it to first chair in the Vienna Philharmonic, the only reason to dance ballet is to be the prima ballerina of the Bolshoi, the only reason to take up politics is to be President of the United States, the only reason to become a lawyer is to be a Supreme Court justice, the only reason to write a sports column is to win a Pulitzer Prize.
I don't think Celizic gets it. None of those things are competition athletics. In competition athletics, the entire point is to try and win. Comparing a competitive sport and winning a championship to a lawyer becoming a Supreme Court Justice is askin to comparing Mike Celizic to someone who has won a Pultizer Prize. That's better.
That is a recipe for misery and failure, because when you say winning the championship is the only reason you play, you’re also saying you don’t play because it’s the thing that makes you feel most fully alive.
Misery and failure like that loser Jeter, right? Who is miserable and failed since 2000? Yep, miserable. His house comes complete with marble floors and hot and cold running starlets, but he doesn't feel fully alive I am sure.

Mike Celizic's updated rankings of good reasons to play baseball:
  1. Enjoyment of the game
  2. Love of competition
  3. Meeting "chicks"
  4. Wearing fresh laundry
  5. Cool uniforms
  6. Feeling lucky not to be a slob
  7. Feeling alive
  8. Winning
In a perfect world, which is one in which power and sustenance and clothing and education and rent are free, the only reason to do anything is because that’s what you love doing. It’s one of the few things I’ve tried to get my kids to understand: find something you love doing and get a job doing it. If you love it, you’ll love going to work, you’ll work hard to get better, and the odds are you’ll make a good living at it. It may not make you fabulously wealthy, but it will provide your needs, and you’ll enjoy your life. The alternative is to spend 40 years doing something that makes you miserable.

It’s great to dream about being the best and to do everything you can to climb the mountain of your profession. But no matter how much you read and folks like me write about how so-and-so’s career won’t be complete unless he wins a championship, it doesn’t make him a lesser human being for failing to do so.

So it's Mike Celizic's job to write about guys who haven't won championships being failures, but that doesn't make those athletes lesser human beings unless they care whether they win a championship or not, in which case they are failures as well as assholes.

Everybody get that logic?
Sure, it would have been great if Dan Marino would have won a Super Bowl, and the failure to do so always gets mentioned when we write about him. But we also point out that he was one of the greatest quarterbacks and certainly the best passer the NFL has ever seen; he’s also a terrific human being. As far as I can tell, he’s none the worse psychologically for not having won the big game, because he played for the love of the game and got everything he could out of his talent.

We can’t help but point out A-Rod’s failures in clutch situations, but if he were honest about what he’s thinking instead of trying to be some sort of perfect, comic-book hero, we’d have a lot easier time accepting him. Yankee fans aren’t happy with his postseason play, but what really drives them nuts is his smarmy insincerity. I don’t think the two are unrelated.
It's OK to rip a guy to shreads for some perceived failure in so-called "clutch" situations, but if the guy actually wants to succeed and has the unmitigated gall to declare he cares about winning, then he's an insincere smarmy bastard who should be run out of town.
“My burden has always been the same since I was 18,” he said Tuesday when talking about his raison d’etre.

That’s right, sports fans, What most players call a dream, he calls a burden, as if he’s doing all of us a favor by shouldering it without complaint and soldiering on until he can say, “Mission accomplished.”
I wish there were some context on that quote, but of course not. People like Celizic are the reason there's a burden on the guy - he's expected to hit 70 homeruns every year and save children from burning buildings while rounding second base, and shoot fireworks from his ass when he crosses the plate. Anything less and he's a choking loser failure who says phony things while eating puppies and planning the next 9/11.
Can there be anything more absurdly grandiose? Can there be any more question about why he’s so hard to embrace?
I can't be the only one who applies this last paragraph to the author.

For anyone who is interested in reading a guy who actually understands baseball, I advise you to look at Rob Neyer's article on Rodriguez, where he makes the bold and ridiculous statement that A-Rod is, in fact, a good player.

posted by Mr. Faded Glory @ 1:59 PM   5 comments








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