Speaking of Eminem; calling all copyeditors

October 24th, 2006 → 12:04 am @

How is it no one’s taken advantage of “Lose Yourself”‘s opening stanza — “Look, if you had one shot / one opportunity / to seize everything you ever wanted / one moment / Would you capture it / or just let it slip?” — when called on to produce pithy headlines for Dirtgate? (Eminem might rap about murderous incest and all that, but let’s be serious: before the ’06 Tigers, he was pretty much it for Detroit.) “Rogers takes shot, doesn’t let it slip”, “Rogers needs help to seize everything he ever wanted”…I mean, c’mon!

Post Categories: 2006 Playoffs & Eminem & Kenny Rogers & Oblique references to Gob Bluth

If you had one shot, would you capture it (and if you did, would anbody bother tuning in?)

October 23rd, 2006 → 11:56 pm @

This should surprise exactly no one: the Detroit-St. Louis matchup has topped last year’s Chicago-Houston contest as the least watched World Series in history. Kind of give a new meaning to the notion of losing yourself, eh?

Post Categories: 2006 Playoffs & Broadcasting & Oblique References to Eminem Lyrics

Witness the media’s self-correcting mechanism in action

October 23rd, 2006 → 11:40 pm @

“[N]ow we’ll always be left to wonder what Kenny Rogers had on his hand. And here, in what’s supposed to be the best of times in his sport, that’s what stinks the most about this unsavory World Series evening.

“See, it wasn’t just his pitching hand that Rogers soiled on Sunday night. It was, regrettably, his whole sport. And that’s a stain that will take a lot longer to wash off.”

Jayson Stark, October 22, 2006

“From the tenor of this discussion, you’re probably catching on that it didn’t take long yesterday for Dirtgate to transform itself into the kind of topic that nearly every baseball subject in history has ever morphed into — i.e., raging talk-show controversy on one hand, an irresistible clubhouse-comedy opportunity on the other hand.

“It was a healthy sign that the sport will undoubtedly survive Dirtgate. Not to mention a sign that this World Series will undoubtedly survive Dirtgate.”

Jayson Stark, October 23, 2006

Post Categories: 2006 Playoffs & Jayson Stark & Kenny Rogers & Sports Reporters

We’ll keep this brief: Monday’s Murray watch

October 23rd, 2006 → 10:28 am @

Murray Chass has two stories in today’s paper; both grouchily take swipes at Bud Selig. His baseball column, as opposed to his baseball labor column, isn’t even on the Times’s main sports page. (Chass remains the only sports columnist not behind the Times Select wall.)

Instead of a full breakdown of the mystery that is Murray, we’ll just offer a couple of highlights from today’s entry, “In Postseason Full of Surprises, Rogers is the Biggest.”

Inre: The stupidity of World Series home-field advantage being determined by the winner of the All-Star game:

“The Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox benefited the past two Octobers by winning the first two games at home, then taking the first two on the road to complete four-game sweeps.” Because playing on their home turf helped the Cards and the ‘Stros so much in those years.

On this year’s matchup:
“Despite their presence on the road, the Cardinals won the opener, becoming the first N.L. team to win a World Series game since the Marlins ended the 2003 Series in Game 6 against the Yankees. But the Cardinals squandered their unexpected advantage by losing Game 2 last night.” Let’s see: five more games, three of which are in St. Louis. Huh. It seems to me that the Cardinals actually seized home-field advantage by splitting in Detroit. But what do I know?

(If you’re wondering what the All-Star game and home field advantage have to do with Kenny Rogers…well, you’ve got me.)

Post Categories: 2006 Playoffs & Murray Chass

Jayson Stark’s found a controversy that could rival steroids!

October 23rd, 2006 → 10:14 am @

The lead story on ESPN.com’s baseball homepage is a Jayson Stark piece titled “Rogers’ dirty hand overshadows his Game 2 brilliance“. After writing that the controversy surrounding what appeared to be some dirt on Kenny Rogers’s hand in the first inning of last night’s game would overshadow the game itself, Stark puts a new spin on the innocent until found guilty thing: “[I]f Rogers was so darned innocent, how come he was trying so hard to deny everything except his pitch count?” That makes sense. Rogers is guilty because he said he was innocent; try figuring out what that would mean if he said he was guilty of using pine tar. The piece ends with this weighty pronouncement: “See, it wasn’t just his pitching hand that Rogers soiled on Sunday night. It was, regrettably, his whole sport. And that’s a stain that will take a lot longer to wash off.”

Wow. This must be all the talk of baseball. Look at what the St. Louis Post Dispatch had to say: “‘Somebody said they saw pine tar on it. That’s about it. He obviously got rid of it or he never had it in the first place,’ said [Cardinals] second baseman Aaron Miles. ‘The stuff looked about the same as it did at the beginning. I’m not sure what difference it made.'”

“Had the umpiring crew discovered pine tar or some other intentionally applied foreign substance, they could have ejected Rogers from the game. Intentionally applying dirt to the ball is also grounds for ejection. Major League Baseball director of umpires Steve Palermo said ‘there was not an inspection, there was an observation.’

Palermo referred to ‘a noticeable dirt mark’ but said it in no way met the definition of ‘deliberately doctoring the ball in some regard.'”

Huh. Okay, well how about the Detroit Free Press:

“‘It was wet out there tonight, so you get a compound of water and dirt, and it’s going to create a little bit of mud,'” Palermo said. “‘And Kenny may have had that spot on his hand or whatever it was when he left the bullpen.'”

They’re the hometown boosters, so that’s to be expected. What about over at MLB.com?

“‘Kenny,'” [home plate umpire Alfonso] Marquez told the pitcher, “‘also that dirt thing that you’ve got on your hand, if you’ll do me a favor and just take it off.'”

“After the game, La Russa said, “‘It’s not important. I wouldn’t discuss that about someone who pitched like that. I wouldn’t want to take anything away from anybody.'”

So you’ve got Cardinals players, the Cardinals manager, the home plate umpire, and the umpiring supervisor all saying it was no big deal. And you have Jayson Stark, who feels that because Rogers is “a pitcher who, a mere three weeks ago, was carrying around the highest career postseason ERA in the history of baseball” and goes on to “spin off his 23rd consecutive scoreless October inning, you want to tell the world how he finally rewrote the script of his lifetime. But we’re having trouble with that angle, too.” The Gambler also has thrown a perfect game, has been in the league’s top ten in wins six times, and has the ninth most wins among active pitchers. Compare that to, say, Don Larsen, who threw the only perfect game in postseason history in the 1956 World Series against the Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson Brooklyn Dodgers. Larsen finished his career with an ERA above the league average and a career record of 81-91. Must of been the pine tar.

I’m sure Rogers’s “caramel covered mark” will continue to be discussed and analyzed — especially after ESPN analysis showed that Rogers appeared to have similar discolorations on his pitching hand during his two previous postseason starts. And Rogers certainly doesn’t have a the best reputation. But Stark’s presumed guilt piece is going a bit overboard, and is in marked contrast to his colleagues Buster Olney (who focuses on the ever-fiesty Tony LaRussa’s apparent wimpiness vis a vis Rogers), Keith Law (who doesn’t talk about Dirtgate at all), and Gene Wojciechowski (who focuses on the fact that the controversy will continue…at least until a possible Game 6, when Rogers is would pitch again). Finally, the Globe’s Gordon Edes — day in and day out, one of the best baseball guys out there — has a more clear-headed take on the whole thing: “Kenny Rogers, who has been master of any neighborhood he has occupied this October and showed no letup last night…evidently didn’t resort to anything underhanded in pitching the Detroit Tigers to a 3-1 win last night that evened the 102d World Series at a game apiece. To suggest otherwise would besmirch a reputation that has undergone a major renovation this postseason, one in which Rogers’s performance is approaching historic levels. And last night’s umpires did not take it upon themselves to do so, electing not to make an issue out of it, although the rules stipulate that any pitcher detected with an illegal substance on his person is subject to automatic ejection. And neither would opposing manager Tony La Russa.”

That sounds about right to me. Is whatever’s going on with the man putting together an historic postseason run worth investigating more? Of course. But at the moment, it’s a bit much — a lot much, actually — to say that the whole sport is soiled and this stain will take a lot of time for baseball to wash off.

Post Categories: 2006 Playoffs & Gordon Edes & Jayson Stark & Kenny Rogers & Sports Reporters

Dan, Dan, he’s our man, if he can’t do it, no one can!

October 21st, 2006 → 10:46 am @

Tonight is Game 1 of the World Series. The Tigers, several years removed from one of the most futile campaigns in the history of baseball, are the prohibitive favorites. Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa is trying to prove he doesn’t always get swept in October. Jim Leyland, LaRussa’s chain-smoking former protege, is the toast of the sports world.

You’d think it’d be tough to find a way to twist this story so that it focuses on taking random potshots at the Sox. But then you’d be underestimating Dan Shaughnessy. Take a moment and savor these paragraph’s from his column this morning, titled “Smoke and Fire: Leyland has lit up Tigers by taking team back to the top.”

“There’s no computer on his desk. Jim Leyland doesn’t spend a lot of time looking at spreadsheets and percentages. He is not a numbers cruncher and he probably wouldn’t last long in a room with Bill James, Billy Beane, and Theo Epstein. He’d be gone even quicker if they were gathered in a non-smoking room. Leyland’s got to have his Marlboros. …

“There’s nothing political about Leyland. He wasn’t afraid to stand up to Barry Bonds when he managed the Pirates and he’s not worried about hurting players’ feelings when he makes decisions with the 2006 Tigers. He doesn’t have a Francona bone in his body. He’s a manager, not a baby sitter. If Manny Ramírez quit on him, he’d call him out. Or he’d quit himself.”

Ahh, yes. See? There’s no reason to wait until spring training for your daily dose of crystalized negativity.

Post Categories: 2006 Playoffs & Dan Shaughnessy

The battle of who could care less

October 20th, 2006 → 1:50 am @

Okay, fine, that’s not totally fair. But come on! Two hits off of Jeff Suppan? (This is the guy who threw up a 5.57 ERA with the Sox in ’03 and didn’t even manage to make the playoff roster.) A game-winner by one of the Flying Molina Brothers? Somehow, I got wrapped in to rooting for the Mets, which means I shut off my TV in disgust and stomped around my apartment like a little baby. At least I won’t need to sit through endless replays of the ’86 Series. You know, twentieth anniversaries and all. (On the flip side, now I’ll need to hear how this is the first time in more than thirty years that the home team lost a Game 7 after trailing 3-2…the last time being the 1975 Red Sox.) You can be sure of one thing: the folks at MLB were praying the Series wouldn’t be a Detroit-St. Louis match up; that’s sure as hell not gonna be a ratings buster.

Anyway. I’m heading out of town again — to the Berkshires in preparation for Saturday’s reading at the Lenox Athenaeum (and yes, this will be the first time I’ll be speaking at an Athenaeum). This means I’ll be spared a weekend of the Hell O’Clock News on SportsCenter. It also means that posting may be sparse until Monday, when I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about the Tigers’ 2-0 Series lead.

P.S. Tony LaRussa still sucks ass.

Post Categories: 2006 Playoffs & Feeding the Monster Readings & Oblique references to Arrested Development & Oblique references to Ben Folds Five lyrics & Oblique references to the Pick of Destiny