Start choppin’

dinosaurIt’s a big night in The Lanc with Mike Watt and Dinosaur Jr. rolling into town. Undoubtedly all the scenesters will be there to check out a pair of the genre’s godfathers and legends. Should be a rollicking good time for everyone there and hopefully we will be able to present a full report when we hear from our peeps on the scene.

In the interim, it’s back in South Philly for the first game of the Phillies-Mets tonight.

And just like that, the Phillies are the only game in town after the debacle on the basketball court at the Center last night. Having not followed the Sixers all that closely this season, tell me… what is it about Samuel Dalembert that elicits such a violent reaction. People really dislike the way Sammy conducts himself and it’s not just the fans in Philly. Apparently Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu don’t care much for Dalembert’s basketball stylings either.

Could it be that Sammy Dalembert is the Jose Reyes of the NBA… only not an All-Star caliber player, of course. Hey why not – I’ve already labeled the Mets’ David Wright as the Danny Ainge of baseball. As long as we’re doing the cross sports associations, why not lump Sammy in there.

Anyway, the big story in baseball isn’t the Phillies and Mets restarting their blood feud. Far from it.  Instead, it’s the latest revelations from Sports Illustrated scribe Selena Roberts in her upcoming book on Alex Rodriguez.

And no, it ain’t the drug allegations (some a little sketchy) that have folks all worked up. Some baseball players used steroids – we know that already. Major League Baseball knows it and the MLBPA knows it. If they aren’t worked up about whether or not one of the best players of the so-called steroid era was juiced up, why should we take their word on anything?

No, the thing that is most angering is the accusation that A-Rod intentionally tipped pitches to the opposition in lopsided games. Yeah that’s right – Rodriguez reportedly sabotaged his own teammates with the hope that players on other teams would return the favor.

Reaction to the latest bit of A-Rod news is already coming out, especially from former Texas Rangers’ players.

a-rod-and-mannyEx-Phillie Doug Glanville, who played for the Rangers with A-Rod, says if players on the team were aware of the pitch tipping, all hell would have broken loose. As Glanville told SI:

“It would pretty much be Armageddon,” he said. “If you found out a teammate was giving a sign to another team that would be pretty ugly. If it is true it would be a serious offense in the culture. That would be the thing where I wonder if players would even want to play with him. Anything like that being true is a really major problem. If I knew about that, people would be confronted real quick. You can be friends with guys [on other teams] but when they’re in the other dugout you try and take their head off.”

Though MLB has historically turned a blind eye to performance-enhancing drugs, it has acted strongly in regard to gambling and non-drug cheating. Bat corkers and spitballers are dealt with swiftly and harshly, which means Commissioner Bud Selig should investigate this brewing controversy, post haste.

*

Speaking of the commissioner of baseball, people in the know always talk about how when he was one of the owners of the Texas Rangers, ex-President George W. Bush actively campaigned for the commissionership. In fact, some of the former President’s friends think he still wants to be the commissioner of baseball.

According to a story on Slate.com:

“He wanted to be Kenesaw Mountain Landis,” America’s first baseball commissioner, legendary for his power and dictatorial style. “I would have guessed that when George grew up he would be the commissioner of baseball,” says Hannah. “I am still convinced that that is his goal.”

One assumes that this close pal of the Republican presidential candidate is speaking with tongue in cheek. But no. “Running for president is a résumé-enhancer for being the commissioner of baseball,” he insists. “And it’s a whole lot better job.”

A couple of things happened to Bush’s campaign to be the commish. One was he was out-maneuvered and out-politicked by Bud Selig. Another strike was Bush’s fellow owners felt he was too much of a “lightweight” and not savvy enough to handle the job better than Selig.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Meanwhile, another person with big baseball ties could be one of the leading candidates for the soon-to-be vacant Supreme Court chair that David Souter plans to give up at the end of the current session.

According to the punditry, federal judge Sonia Sotomayor could be the one to take over Souter’s seat and as some remember, Judge Sotomayor was the one who ended the last baseball strike.

In 1995 it was Sotomayor who issued the preliminary injunction against Major League Baseball, preventing it from unilaterally implementing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and using replacement players.

Who knows, maybe when Selig’s contract is up Sotomayor could take over?

Start choppin’

image from fingerfood.typepad.com It’s a big night in The Lanc with Mike Watt and Dinosaur Jr. rolling into town. Undoubtedly all the scenesters will be there to check out a pair of the genre’s godfathers and legends. Should be a rollicking good time for everyone there and hopefully we will be able to present a full report when we hear from our peeps on the scene.

In the interim, it’s back in South Philly for the first game of the Phillies-Mets tonight.

And just like that, the Phillies are the only game in town after the debacle on the basketball court at the Center last night. Having not followed the Sixers all that closely this season, tell me… what is it about Samuel Dalembert that elicits such a violent reaction. People really dislike the way Sammy conducts himself and it’s not just the fans in Philly. Apparently Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu don’t care much for Dalembert’s basketball stylings either.

Could it be that Sammy Dalembert is the Jose Reyes of the NBA… only not an All-Star caliber player, of course. Hey why not – I’ve already labeled the Mets’ David Wright as the Danny Ainge of baseball. As long as we’re doing the cross sports associations, why not lump Sammy in there.

Anyway, the big story in baseball isn’t the Phillies and Mets restarting their blood feud. Far from it.  Instead, it’s the latest revelations from Sports Illustrated scribe Selena Roberts in her upcoming book on Alex Rodriguez.

And no, it ain’t the drug allegations (some a little sketchy) that have folks all worked up. Some baseball players used steroids – we know that already. Major League Baseball knows it and the MLBPA knows it. If they aren’t worked up about whether or not one of the best players of the so-called steroid era was juiced up, why should we take their word on anything?

No, the thing that is most angering is the accusation that A-Rod intentionally tipped pitches to the opposition in lopsided games. Yeah that’s right – Rodriguez reportedly sabotaged his own teammates with the hope that players on other teams would return the favor.

Reaction to the latest bit of A-Rod news is already coming out, especially from former Texas Rangers’ players.

image from fingerfood.typepad.com Ex-Phillie Doug Glanville, who played for the Rangers with A-Rod, says if players on the team were aware of the pitch tipping, all hell would have broken loose. As Glanville told SI:

"It would pretty much be Armageddon," he said. "If you found out a teammate was giving a sign to another team that would be pretty ugly. If it is true it would be a serious offense in the culture. That would be the thing where I wonder if players would even want to play with him. Anything like that being true is a really major problem. If I knew about that, people would be confronted real quick. You can be friends with guys [on other teams] but when they're in the other dugout you try and take their head off."

Though MLB has historically turned a blind eye to performance-enhancing drugs, it has acted strongly in regard to gambling and non-drug cheating. Bat corkers and spitballers are dealt with swiftly and harshly, which means Commissioner Bud Selig should investigate this brewing controversy, post haste.

*
Speaking of the commissioner of baseball, people in the know always talk about how when he was one of the owners of the Texas Rangers, ex-President George W. Bush actively campaigned for the commissionership. In fact, some of the former President’s friends think he still wants to be the commissioner of baseball.

According to a story on Slate.com:

"He wanted to be Kenesaw Mountain Landis," America's first baseball commissioner, legendary for his power and dictatorial style. "I would have guessed that when George grew up he would be the commissioner of baseball," says Hannah. "I am still convinced that that is his goal."

One assumes that this close pal of the Republican presidential candidate is speaking with tongue in cheek. But no. "Running for president is a résumé-enhancer for being the commissioner of baseball," he insists. "And it's a whole lot better job."

A couple of things happened to Bush’s campaign to be the commish. One was he was out-maneuvered and out-politicked by Bud Selig. Another strike was Bush’s fellow owners felt he was too much of a “lightweight” and not savvy enough to handle the job better than Selig.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Meanwhile, another person with big baseball ties could be one of the leading candidates for the soon-to-be vacant Supreme Court chair that David Souter plans to give up at the end of the current session.

According to the punditry, federal judge Sonia Sotomayor could be the one to take over Souter’s seat and as some remember, Judge Sotomayor was the one who ended the last baseball strike.

In 1995 it was Sotomayor who issued the preliminary injunction against Major League Baseball, preventing it from unilaterally implementing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and using replacement players.

Who knows, maybe when Selig’s contract is up Sotomayor could take over?

It fits!

Brad LidgeJust one time I’d like to see a player try on a jersey that doesn’t fit during those ceremonial press conferences for newly signed players. Like say for instance the Phillies signed Barry Bonds and trotted him out with the whole jersey thing, but when he tries to slip his arms in it goes nowhere because it’s one of Jimmy Rollins’ shirts.

That would be funny to me.

The Phillies did their little dog-and-pony show with Brad Lidge yesterday where they made him fly to Philadelphia to answer a few questions and try on a shirt. Then maybe he had dinner, watched a little TV in the hotel before flying back home. Apparently everything fit and checked out fine for Lidge and the Phillies. The shirt looked good.

While all of that was going on in Philadelphia, the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez (sans agent Scott Boras) were working on a new deal that would give him a small percentage of a raise and bonuses for breaking records (more on that in a moment). Apparently, A-Rod and the Yanks are just crossing the Is and dotting the Ts on a 10-year contract. Rodriguez, of course, is the player that opted out the last three years of his current deal that was paying him more than $25 million for a shade more than 162 games. It’s just a shade more than 162 games because unlike ex-Yankee third basemen like Charlie Hayes, Scott Brosius or Graig Nettles, A-Rod has never made it to the World Series.

Better yet, any person who willingly opts out of a contract in excess of $25 million for 180 days of work is an [bleep]hole. I wish I could be a little more graceful, but I can’t. Seriously. Worse, there will be people going on and on about how A-Rod did the right thing because he got more money and more years by opting out… yeah, well, so. Does that much money matter anymore or is just about his ego? It’s kind of like the time we were all together talking about the shoddy work of a well-paid media type when someone butted in with a, “Yeah, but he’s making six-figures…” You know, as if that were impressive enough to change opinion. After a second or so, someone countered with, “Yeah, he might make six-figures but he’s still a bleeping hack.”

In other words, A-Rod might make all the money in the world but he still hasn’t played an inning of a World Series game.

But one of the more interesting elements of A-Rod’s new contract is that he will get a hefty bonus if he breaks the all-time home run record. Actually, according to Big Stein’s son, Li’l Hanky Steinbrenner, the Yankees are working on a “marketing plan” for A-Rod’s climb up the all-time charts.

“These are not incentive bonuses,” Steinbrenner said. “For lack of a better term, they really are historic-achievement bonuses. It’s a horse of a different color.”

But the color is still green. And here’s the thing – whose home run record does A-Rod have to break to get his horse? Will Major League Baseball still consider Barry Bonds the Sultan of Shots or will he get the big historical asterisk next to his name after yesterday’s indictment came down at around the time Lidge was trying on a shirt?

And we all know the Feds never get indictments for cases they could lose. They like to make it look like the Harlem Globetrotters vs. the Washington Generals…

Perhaps more interestingly, Bonds’ federal indictment for lying to a grand jury comes after commissioner Bud Selig announced that MLB’s revenues crossed over $6 billion. And, a day after The Washington Post offered readers a front-page story in which leaders in the anti-doping movement are convinced that getting indictments and launching investigations is a better tact than spending money to develop full-proof drug tests.

It looks like they got a really big fish.

More: The Bonds indictment (pdf)

Saturday in the park

Chase Utley has been the minor focus of a few local blog posts this past week for an interview/commercial he did for Maxim magazine. Because it was a non-sports magazine talking to a jock, the questions were more of the human-interest nature, which is always a little more revealing than the stuff the sporting press comes out with.

For instance, Utley was the typical cliché Philadelphia questions, like which cheese steak joint he likes best, what he did with the money when he signed his big contract extension, why he chose the song that plays when he comes to bat, and fantasy baseball stuff. You know — dorky, meaningless stuff.

But ever the pitch man ready to take care of his product, Utley pushes Abbott Nutrition’s EAS Myoplex shakes. For visitors of the Phillies clubhouse, EAS products aren’t too hard to find and I suppose they are a fairly popular supplement/meal replacement product.

In fact, Utley says they taste great!

“Well, for me they’re easy and convenient. And they give me the fuel that my body needs, especially in the off-season. And they taste good.”

Needless to say I was intrigued by the Myoplex shakes and decided to check them out. Wouldn’t you know it that they sold them at my local grocer? Out the other afternoon to pick up Clif Bars, sugar free Red Bull and Gatorade mix, I saw the Utley shakes at eye level to the immediate right of the Powerbars. In reading the label I learned that Myoplex shakes are kosher, wheat and rice-gluten free, and it contains a milk protein derivative which makes it unattractive for vegans.

Noticing that, I read the nutritional label and saw something that surprised me:

Myoplex shakes have 50 milligrams of cholesterol per one 76 gram serving. That comes to 1,000 milligrams of artery-clogging cholesterol per a 20 serving container.

If I’m wrong I hope someone could set me straight.

It seems to me that a Clif Bar or two would be a better meal replacement. And since Utley is a budding environmentalist after seeing An Inconvenient Truth, he can take solace in the fact that Clif Bars are organic.

No, I don’t have a sponsorship with Clif Bar, though I eat one for breakfast most mornings…

***
Alex Rodriguez could be a Myoplex shakes man, too. Who really knows what that guy eats, though it seems as if we know every other little thing about A-Rod.

But before anyone starts to think that the celebrity culture has taken of sports, guess again. According to a story in The New York Times, sports figures don’t go through anything near what celebrity celebrities have to deal with.

Nevertheless, don’t look my way if you are looking for someone to separate sports from the so-called “entertainment” world. Sports, simply, ARE entertainment. What else could it be?

***
Speaking of entertaining, it’s quite a paradox to hear the entire park boo AND see flashes pop from cameras whenever Barry Bonds comes to the plate.

Make up your mind, dude…

According to a story from Bloomberg, Barry Bonds “loses” $10 million a year for simply being Barry Bonds.

My question is how can he lose it if he never had it?

***
Jayson Werth walked to the plate to the strains of “Fear the Reaper” tonight.

Perhaps he’s gotta have more cowbell?

***
Despite running like a tired, old nag this morning, it was a lot of fun seeing old familiar faces at the Red Rose Run in Lancaster. The running part was a mess and the weather was a little hot and humid, but for a guy who doesn’t get out all that much, it was great to see a lot of good people.

Tomorrow we hit Hershey Park and then, weather permitting, the bike race over roughly the same course we ran on today… good times.

Riding the pines

Days have passed and the next series has already put a game in the books, and all of baseball is still talking about the New York Yankees. From the manager, to the owner, the GM and the team’s best player, there certainly is not a dearth of things to talk about with the always-soap operatic ball club in the South Bronx.

Listening to the consensus, it sounds as if most commentators, columnists, etc. believe it would be a bad move for George Steinbrenner to fire Joe Torre as the manager. After all, Torre’s record speaks for itself. Under Torre, the Yankees have gone to the playoffs in 11 straight seasons, which is unprecedented in the hallowed franchise’s history.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t cracks in the armor. After all, with the stars assembled on the current Yankee clubs, and the payroll that equals the GNP of a small country, simply getting to the playoffs doesn’t seem like a difficult task. The tough part, it seems, is getting those superstars to put the egos aside and come together to win.

Kind of how the Tigers did this season.

That seems to be where Torre has had some difficulty over the past few seasons. With Paul O’Neil and Tino Martinez during the beginning of the “dynasty,” Torre never had to worry about the so-called veteran leadership. His players were in charge and that was a good thing.

But, as some Yankees observers have opined, things have not been the same since those players moved on. Coincidentally, though, those departures coincide with Alex Rodriguez’s arrival in the Bronx.

Now whether or not Rodriguez is a divisive force on a team is tough to judge. Certainly, his statistics appear to be of the caliber that should help a team win games. How can they not be? But then again, there have been MVP and Cy Young Award winners on last-place teams. In that same vain, Rodriguez’s former teams always seem to improve after he leaves. That happened in Seattle and Texas.

Will it happen in New York?

General manager Brian Cashman says the Yankees aren’t going to trade Rodriguez. But maybe those words are just a smokescreen? Do they even really need A-Rod? Sure, he’s arguably one of the best players in the game, but when he’s hitting eighth in the lineup in an elimination game, isn’t that the same as saying, “Hey A-Rod, we really don’t want you to get too many at-bats today… ”

If he’s batting eighth, why not just put him on the bench?

Tough to shoulder
Speaking of sitting on the bench, Scott Rolen has deemed himself ready to play in Game 1 of the NLCS tonight after sitting out of the Cardinals’ clincher in Game 4 over the Padres last Sunday.

It appears as if Rolen withheld the severity of his aching shoulder that was surgically repaired last season. Conventional wisdom indicates that it should take at least a year following the surgery for Rolen to be at full strength, though that didn’t appear to be the case based on his 2006 statistics.

At least that didn’t seem to be the case based on Rolen’s season leading up to September. That where the long season took its toll on his injury and also where Rolen, apparently, hid the severity of its weakness from manager Tony La Russa. Rolen, it seemed, felt the Cardinals needed him too much during the stretch run even though the team has Scott Spiezio as a fully capable backup.

According to wire accounts, La Russa was a little peeved when Rolen finally let on how much he was hurt:

La Russa seemed perturbed before Game 4 of the division series that Rolen had not mentioned the shoulder problem until Sunday. At the same time, he said Rolen’s willingness to play hurt was admirable.

“That’s why he didn’t come out and say how sore he was, because you know he wants to play,” La Russa said. “Here’s a guy that’s not fighting for a job, he’s got security, and he just wants to be a part of it.

“I was never and am not now upset with Scott.”

If there is one thing we learned about Rolen when he was in Philadelphia it is that he the proverbial gamer. If it takes running through a brick wall in order to win a game, he’ll do it. But we also learned that Rolen is also stubborn and sensitive and always trying to prove himself.

I guess that is what makes him a great athlete.

Either way, Rolen took a shot of cortisone to be ready for Game 1, which makes him the second former Phillie currently in the playoffs to take a shot within the past month (Placido Polanco, the man traded for Rolen in 2002, is the other).

Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that since slugging the game-winning home run off Roger Clemens in Game 7 of the 2004 NLCS, Rolen is 1-for-26 with three strikeouts in his last two playoff series.