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?

Hold on DeSean, hold on


We are big fans of showboating here at Finger Food central. Oh sure, it’s self-indulgent, silly and all of that other stuff that boils up the blood of fans and certain elements of the knee-jerk media. But at least it gets people talking.

And if people talk about it, guys like me can write about it, too.

Sometimes showboating slips past the thin line of creativity and into the realm of the absurd. For instance, Chad Johnson doing the river dance after a touchdown is creative. But Chad Johnson changing his name to Chad Ocho Cinco is ridiculous.

At the same time, Terrell Owens borrowing a cheerleader’s pom-poms to celebrate a TD is funny, but T.O. pulling a Sharpie out of his sock or dashing out to the star at midfield is the ultimate in jack-assery.

I mean really… who keeps a Sharpie in their sock? Even if you lived in a nudist colony in which you wore only long white tube socks and only had a fist full of markers to write with, you still wouldn’t stash them in your sock. Not even if you were playing nude football in the colony league.

Money is OK to store in a sock, not a Sharpie.

In the case of Eagles rookie DeSean Jackson, a little bit of showboating turned into embarrassment. That’s especially the case when the game is televised to the largest cable network audience to ever watch a football game. So when Jackson streaked away for what looked like a 61-yard TD reception only to ruin it by flippantly spiking the ball on the one-yard line, it turned into one of those plays everyone will remember forever.

And Jackson was only playing in his second NFL game.

Fortunately, Jackson’s gaffe did not cost the Eagles much more than some nervous laughter and red faces. Afterwards it seemed as if it was OK to laugh about the fact that the kid intentionally fumbled the ball before reaching the end zone. After all, who doesn’t want to keep the ball from their first ever touchdown? Instead Jackson got rid of it as if it was on fire and then moved to the back of the end zone to do a little humpty dance or something.

Talk about embarrassing.

But then again everyone who has ever played sports has done something really stupid. Sometimes those acts of stupidity are burned into the memory banks forever. Like the time I scored a goal for the other team in the final quarter of the semifinal playoff soccer game in one of my first years of playing the sport.

After the ball slipped past our goalie and nestled into the back of the net, my teammates and I fell into a state of shock. Most kids just stood at their positions on the weather-worn field and cried big crocodile tears, while a couple of others crumbled to their knees as if they had been shot by snipers.

It was a bad, dark day for a bunch of kids who took our little soccer league very seriously.

Anyway, what happened was I lightly kicked the ball to our goalie so that he could pick it up and then boot it as far as possible to the other end of the field. It’s a pretty mundane and everyday soccer tactic that even we used as little kids. Rather than play back on our heels on the defensive end, we could just the pressure a bit by kicking it far.

Simple, right?

Well…

Instead of the goalie scooping up the light little kick, the ball rolled through his legs and into the goal. The whole thing happened as if it was in slow motion and as soon as I kicked it I knew something bad was about to happen. Who would have known that the one seemingly simple play would have resulted in the only goal of the game?

So that year we didn’t get to the championship that season and we didn’t take home a trophy. Instead, all I got was this lousy story.

On another note, during a seventh grade basketball game in our ultra-competitive CYO league, my friend Paul once buried the most magnificent long-range hook shot I have ever seen. It was a shot right out of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar school of the sky hook. Paul must have been at least 20-feet from the basket when he turned without hesitation and just nailed it as cleanly as any shot ever.

The problem was it went into the wrong hoop. It was two points for the other team.

How awesome is that?

***
Finally, our old pal Doug Glanville penned another op-ed piece for The New York Times. This time Doug wrote about an event I remember well and attended with great apprehension and excitement.

Certainly anyone who was there that night will never forget the Phillies’ first game after the Sept. 11 attacks. Check out Doug Glanville’s remembrances here.

Next up: J.A. Happ, Marty Bystrom and Ryan Howard

photo from  Bryan Graham‘s “For the Record.”

Morning clicks

John AdamsIf I was a contributor to the web site Stuff White People Like, I would add something about HBO docudramas about dead presidents/founding fathers in Colonial America that are produced by Academy Award-winning actors that appear to be defined by the subject matter of the web site, Stuff White People Like.

Or something like that.

The truth is, like most people described on that site, I like hating corporations, coffee, knowing what’s best for poor people, and Mos Def. I also have enjoyed the first three installments of HBO’s series, John Adams, which, I think, shows just how messy it was to set up a representative democracy in a time when the population was not connected by mass media or a mouse click. Actually, there wasn’t even electricity and the men wore some of the fanciest powdered wigs this side of the Christopher St. Halloween Parade.

I think it’s a cross between awesome and totally awesome.

Instead, being a citizen took effort by today’s standards, though it likely wasn’t viewed in such a manner. Based on my reading of Walter Isaacson’s Benjamin Franklin, participation elaborate civics duties wasn’t just relegated to certain cliques. No one claimed that our founders were in “show business for ugly people.” Actually, politics didn’t have an entertainment value and it seemed as if the participants were in it more for the common good than some sort of jewel at the end of a long campaign spent raising millions and millions of dollars.

For instance, Adams spent years away from his family in Europe where he campaigned to the swells in France and Holland for money to fund the revolution. While there he kind of had a knack for rubbing folks the wrong way with his uncompromising ways, belief in American independence and inability to promote and market himself the way his buddy Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson could.

In fact, Adams sacrificed much personal glory for the sake of American ideals and goals. He very well could have been the main architect of the Declaration of Independence, but instead took a role in the background as Jefferson’s editor and compass. Yes, Jefferson gets all the well-deserved credit for writing the Declaration, but the document is as much Adams’s as well.

So yeah, if I’m not already in bed resting up for an early Monday morning to prepare for Opening Day and escaping The Lanc before Barry Obama shows up in town for the big rally at Stevens Trade, I’ll tune in to the fourth installment of the Adams epic on HBO. After all, there won’t be any college hoops on the tube and it appears as if I have the bracket competition all but locked up.

Dead presidents and founding fathers… hell yeah!

In the meantime, former Phillies and all-around gentleman, Doug Glanville, wrote another Op-Ed piece for The New York Times. It seems as if ol’ Dougie is itching to get the glove and uniform back on, but, you know, a new career calls. Besides, the Phillies don’t really have a need for a reserve outfielder with a low on-base percentage and limited power. CBP was built for American League-style ball, baby. The Phillies need to bash.

***
Elsewhere on the baseball front, ESPN’s Jeff Pearlman focused on the death of left-handed pitcher Joe Kennedy and how his family is coping. As some may recall, Kennedy died suddenly last winter in Florida the day before he was to attend a wedding, leaving behind a 26-year-old pregnant wife.

Though just 28, Kennedy died from hypertensive heart disease.

My memory of Kennedy is from the 2001 season when he shutdown the Phillies while pitching for the Devil Rays around the time manager Larry Bowa and Scott Rolen had it out after the skipper told a writer that the middle of the order “is killing us.”

That game in St. Pete could have been Kennedy’s finest as a big leaguer.

***
Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post became the first mainstream writer — at least that I’ve seen — to take the IOC to task for awarding the 2008 Olympics to Beijing.

Before I write, “What were they thinking…”, and yes, I know what they were thinking. The dollar signs where their pupils used to be are easy to spot. Try this out from Jenkins:

Up to this point, the IOC has soft-pedaled these events under the rationale that “engagement” with Chinese officials is better than nothing. President Jacques Rogge defends the decision to send the Games to China, saying they are an opportunity to expose a fifth of the world’s population to the “Olympic ideal.” But it’s safe to say the Olympic ideal isn’t getting through to the Chinese people. Only the McDonald’s billboards are. On Monday, Yang Chunlin was sentenced to five years in prison for “inciting subversion.” His crime? He posted on Internet sites under the theme, “We don’t want the Olympics, we want human rights.”

Seriously… what were they thinking?

***
Finally, from Gina Kolata of The New York Times, running can, indeed, make one feel high.

Duh!

More
HBO: John Adams

ESPN: Joe Kennedy is gone, but not forgotten

The New York Times: The Boys of Spring

The Washington Post: IOC Needs to Step In Or Perhaps Move On

The New York Times: Yes, Running Can Make You High

Who doesn’t love those hacky ‘Where are they now’ pieces?

Ed. note: I forgot to add on the Lance Armstrong part on Friday night… it was added Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.

SlashWith the news that ex-Phillie Jon Lieber signed a one-year deal to pitch for the Cubs in 2008, it seemed like it would be a fun exercise to see what a few other former Phillies were up to these days.

But in the way of saying adios, muchacho to big Jon, it might be fair to add that his monster truck will probably go over just as well in Chicago as it did in Philadelphia. It should also be mentioned that when Lieber ruptured a tendon in his ankle while jogging off the mound that day in Cleveland last season, gravy poured out and soaked into his sock.

I’m not saying anything, I’m just sayin’.

Nevertheless, all-time favorite Doug Glanville took a break from his real-estate development business near Chicago to write an op-ed piece for The New York Times about why some ballplayers decide to use performance-enhancing drugs. Glanville, obviously, was not a PED user so he can only guess as to why players do what they do. But as an involved member of the players’ union, Glanville didn’t offer much in the way for solutions to the problem. That’s not to say it wasn’t a thoughtful story by Glanville, it’s just that I think we’re way past wondering why players decide to cheat. Perhaps it’s time to accept the fact that with some guys if they are given an inch, they’ll take a yard.

Still, it’s a shame Doug isn’t around anymore. I figured him for a front-office type, but maybe he’s on to bigger work.

***
Elsewhere, Scott Rolen made his introductions to the Toronto baseball writers this week and from all the reports it sounded like it went over as well a Slappy White show – maybe even better than that.

According to reports Rolen joked, joshed and cajoled. Basically, he was the way he always was without the misunderstandings from certain media elements. Oh yeah, neither Larry Bowa nor Tony La Russa showed up, either. That means everyone was in a good mood.

“Hmmn, I didn’t think it was going to come up. That’s surprising,” Rolen answered when asked about his old manager.

Better yet, when given more openings to get in his digs at La Russa, who gave a rambling and bizarre soliloquy on the affair during the Winter Meetings in Nashville last month, Rolen again took the high road.

“I’m not sure if that’s healthy,” he said. “I want to go back to playing baseball, I want to focus all my attention and my competition on the field. Too many times the last year, year and a half, I think that some of the competition, some of the focus was off the field, not on the field where it should stay.”

Buzz & WoodyAside from that, Rolen explained how his three-year old daughter selected his uniform No. 33 for him. It’s kind of a cute story… on another note, my three-year old son has chosen a new name for me — from now on I’m Buzz Daddy Lightyear Finger. I’m going to the courthouse to have it changed next week.

***
How about this for the best story involving a former Phillie… Newly signed San Diego Padre Randy Wolf bought Slash’s house in the Los Angeles’ Hollywood Hills.

Yeah, that Slash.

From what I know about both guys, Randy’s parties might be a little wildier. During my days on the road with Slash all we ever did was visit the local libraries and modern museums of art — If you’ve seen one impressionist, you’ve seen them all.

Again, I’m not sayin’ anything, I’m just sayin’.

Anyway, apparently the joint cost just under $6 million and is approximately 5,500-square feet. There is a pool, a gym, a chef’s kitchen and if I’m not mistaken by looking at the photos, there is a lot wood… Me? I’m an oak man myself.

***
Finally, speaking of guys who know how to party, Lancasterian turned San Diego suburbanite, Floyd Landis, has a full season of racing lined up regardless of the outcome of his appeal to the CAS. According to a published report, Landis will race in the eight-race National Ultra-Endurance Series. Locally, a race is scheduled for July in State College, Pa. in a series that is described as, “old-school mountain biking.”

Yeah.

Meanwhile, Floyd gave a rather revealing interview to the Velo News on Friday where the proverbial gloves came off. Then again, what else is new?

***
Lance & Matt Speaking of cyclists and racing, Lance Armstrong is supposedly running the Boston Marathon in April. Lance qualified with a 2:59 and 2:46 in the past two New York City Marathons, which would likely put him in the starting corral as me — not that Lance is going to have to get up super early to board a bus at the Boston Common for the long ride out to Hopkinton just so he can sit on the cold, wet grass in the Athlete’s Village. Or, Lance can join the multitudes in a long wait in line for one of the port-a-potties that turn the otherwise bucolic setting into into a veritable sea of domed-lidded huts of human waste… complete with that fresh, urinal cake scent.

I wonder if Lance will take a wide-mouthed Gatorade bottle to the starting corral with him, too… you know, just in case.

Yep, that’s marathoning — there are no façades in our sport.

Anyway, it’s cool that Lance is headed to Boston. Perhaps I’ll re-evaluate my spring racing plans and show up, too, if I can find a place to stay… seems as if all the inns and motels are sold out that weekend.

Guessing game

DougAs everyone (or at least baseball fans and media types with no lives) try to play the guessing game over which players and ex-players will be on The Mitchell Report, a handful of names are beginning to leak out.

According to a report on ESPN, Yankees Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte are reportedly on Mitchell’s list. Yet as the dangerous game of implicating people without any acknowledgment of the league’s collective bargaining agreement or due process continues, the speculation runs rampant.

That’s human nature, we suppose.

Around these parts folks are wondering which Phillies (or ex-Phillies) will be on Mitchell’s Report. We can’t get into that, but we know for a FACT that all-time favorite Phillie, Doug Glanville, WILL NOT be implicated on the Mitchell Report.