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Brief chronicles of our sporting times.

Tony Gwynn, RIP



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Whoa.

Tony Gwynn (.338/.388/.459) has died at the age of 54. The first-ballot Hall of Famer had been battling salivary-gland cancer.

Gwynn’s .338 career batting average over 20 seasons — all of them with the Padres — is the highest since Ted Williams retired from the Red Sox in 1960 with a .344 average. Gwynn’s playing career ended in 2001, and since then he had been the head baseball coach for San Diego State University, where he starred in both baseball and basketball as a collegian, and a part-time analyst on Padres telecasts. . . . 

Gwynn’s battle with cancer began in 2009 when a malignant tumor was removed from his right cheek. Gwynn claimed that the cancer in the salivary gland was the result of his longtime habit of chewing tobacco. The cancer returned twice, and in the latter part of 2012 he again began radiation treatment in an attempt to shrink the tumor.

Gwynn underwent another round of surgery in early 2012 when the nerve that the tumor was wrapped around had to be replaced with one from his shoulder. In each case Gwynn valiantly fought back.

Rest in peace, Mr. Padre.

More here.

Tags: MLB

Reveille 6/16/14



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Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your Monday at the office a bit more bearable:

If you don’t feel like counting, the Rangers have already lost 688 days to the DL. Just how gruesome is that number? According to Jeff Zimmerman, who’s sliced and diced injury data for FanGraphs since 2010 (and done lots of other excellent work on a variety of analytical topics), the Padres have been the most oft-injured team over the past four seasons. They were particularly snakebitten in 2012, when numerous pitching injuries resulted in Tommy John surgery and ensuing season-long DL stints. When tallied up, the Padres’ 2010-2013 injuries average out to 1,221 days lost to the DL per season. Prorated over a full season, the Rangers are on pace to lose 1,715 days to the DL this year.

That number is jaw-dropping enough on its own, but it’s actually worse considering the star-caliber players missing some of that time. The Rangers lost three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner Adrian Beltre for two weeks; 21-year-old phenom (and would-be Kinsler replacement) Jurickson Profar might not play a single game this year; and Fielder’s replacement, Mitch Moreland, is awaiting ankle surgery. The cruelest blow was losing Fielder himself. He was baseball’s most durable player when the Rangers acquired him, having played the full 162 games three years in a row, missing just one game over the past five seasons, and never missing more than five in a year since becoming a full-time player in 2006. Now, the Rangers won’t see him again until 2015, meaning most of his $24 million salary this year is down the drain.

 

 

  • By the way, congrats to J-Roll, who on Saturday passed Mike Schmidt and became the Phillies’ all-time hit leader. Matt Snyder of CBS Sports’s Eye on Baseball has the details.
  • When a player’s greatest strength suddenly becomes an undeniable weakness, says Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan, you begin to understand Evan Longoria’s forgettable season to date.
  • Writing at ESPN.com, Paul Lukas informs readers what teams were the first to wear shorts, white shoes, batting-practice jerseys, pullover jerseys, beltless pants, and hockey-style catcher masks.

 

 

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: Sports Media

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Bandwagon of Brotherly Love



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The biggest bandwagon fans root for the Phillies.

That was the conclusion of a recent Emory Sports Marketing Analytics study, which also found that the Cardinals and Yankees have boosters who appear the least concerned about team performance:

The most demanding MLB fans live in Philadelphia. This fits the stereotype of Philadelphia fans as aggressive, demanding fans that are willing to cheer injuries and boo Santa. The numbers say that Philadelphia fans require their team to perform or they won’t show up. Following the Phillies are the fans of Baltimore, Oakland, the White Sox, Detroit and Cleveland.

“May we go home now, guys? I need to wash my non-existent hair.” 

More here and here.

Tags: MLB

Game On: Sterling Hires Firms to Investigate Other NBA Owners, Execs.



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Scorched earth — I like it. AP:

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s team of lawyers has hired four private investigation firms to dig up dirt on the NBA’s former and current commissioners and its 29 other owners, said a person familiar with Sterling’s legal strategy.

Investigators were given a six-figure budget over the next 30 days to examine the league’s finances, allegations of previous discriminatory conduct and compensation to past Commissioner David Stern and current Commissioner Adam Silver, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday night on condition of anonymity. The person wasn’t authorized to talk publicly.

The person said the investigators also are looking into whether other owners made any off-color jokes, or racist or sexist remarks.

The rest here.

Tags: NBA

Polling the NBA, NCAA, and MLB in Florida



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Here’s the latest from Public Policy Polling.

The NBA playoffs? Meh. . .

The Heat are in the NBA finals right now but most of Florida doesn’t care. 31% of voters in the state say they’re rooting for the Heat, 13% say they’re rooting for the Spurs, and 57% say they don’t care. LeBron James has a 38/14 favorability rating- it’s 28/16 with white voters and 79/6 with African Americans.

Not much love for the Hurricanes. . .

Florida narrowly edges Florida State for college sports loyalties in the state, 22/19. Central Florida is third at 11%, followed by Miami at 10%, Florida Atlantic at 5%, South Florida at 4%, and Florida International at 2%. Florida coach Will Muschamp is in tepid standing with the Gator fan base- just 33% say they approve of the job he’s doing to 19% who disapprove, with a 48% plurality still taking a wait and see approach. His approval rating is down from 46% in September. Despite winning the Heisman Trophy and a national championship last fall, 72% of voters in the state say they have no opinion about Jameis Winston. 10% see him favorably and 18% unfavorably.

And Tampa’s success on the baseball diamond does not translate into fan support. . .

Florida’s teams continue to do pretty poorly when it comes to MLB loyalty in the state- the Braves lead with 17%, followed by the Marlins at 14%, Yankees at 11%, Rays at 10%, Red Sox at 8%, and Cubs at 5%. The few fans the Marlins and Rays do have remain optimistic for the season though. 65% of Marlins fans think the team will make the playoffs this year, 38% think they will make it to the World Series, and 19% think they’ll win it all. Despite an abysmal start to the season Rays fans remain hopeful too- 59% think they’ll make the playoffs although only 20% think they’ll get to the World Series and just 12% think they’ll win it. Baseball fans are either incredibly optimistic people or lie to pollsters about their expectations- or perhaps spin is a better word than lie. 

 

 

Tags: Misc.

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CNN Producer Injured During World Cup Protest in Sao Paulo



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And this is only the first day:

The good news is that Ms. Arvanitidis​ has left the hospital and is back at work. Here’s hoping that covering the rest of the tournament isn’t as painful.

Tags: Soccer

Another Miscue, Another Amazing Throw



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Yoenis is quite the tease.

You saw Tuesday night’s throw against the Angels after butchering a batted ball. Now check out Wednesday night’s heave, again after mishandling a fielding opportunity.

Just . . . wow.

The A’s won, 7–1.

Tags: MLB

USA Coach Says It’s ‘Unrealistic’ to Talk about Team Winning World Cup



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Via CBS Sports:

’Unrealistic’ for US to win World Cup? Klinsmann can’t be from around here

In Jurgen Klinsmann’s defense, he’s not from around here. To his credit, he knows it. That’s why his latest mealy-mouthed commentary about the US men’s soccer team, as it enters a World Cup it apparently can’t win, was followed by the following disclaimer:

“If it is American or not,” Klinsmann said this week, “you can correct me.”

Don’t need your permission to correct you, Jurgen. See, here in America, we don’t ask or even need permission to be bold, blunt, aggressive. Another thing we don’t do: We don’t apologize for losing before the game even starts. In America we don’t, or we didn’t, say what Jurgen Klinsmann said this week about the 2014 World Cup:

“For us now talking about winning a World Cup,” he said, “it is just not realistic.”

Put that in bronze and mount it outside the US Soccer Federation office in Chicago. Florida football has “The Promise” by Tim Tebow. US soccer can have “The Surrender” by Jurgen Klinsmann.

For us now talking about winning a World Cup, it is just not realistic.

There will be American fans at the World Cup in Brazil this week, enough for every one of them to paint a letter on his or her white T-shirt and spell out that memorable bit of pep-talkery from Jurgen Klinsmann:

Winning: it is just not realistic.

The rest here.

Tags: Soccer

Yoenis Cespedes with Outfield Assist of the Year



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Talk about making up for a fielding miscue.

In Anaheim last night, Yoenis Cespedes (a.k.a., The Cuban Missile) launched a rocket from some 300 feet down the left-field line to nail Howie Kendrick at home plate in the eighth inning of a tie game.

I can’t recall a more impressive throw from the outfield this season. Can you?

The Angels got the last laugh, however, winning 2–1 in 14 innings, courtesy of a Collin Cowgill walk-off home run.

More here.

Tags: MLB

Anti-Redskins Ad Runs During the NBA Finals



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Via ABC News:

Native Americans are sending a loud message to the Washington Redskins.

A northern California tribe paid for a commercial to air in seven major U.S. cities during halftime of Tuesday’s NBA Finals game, their latest plea for the NFL team to change its “racist” name and mascot.

“In my opinion, the ‘r’ word is just as derogatory a slur as the ‘n’ word,” Marshall McKay, chairman of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, said in a video about the “Change the Mascot” campaign.

The minute-long commercial, called “Proud to Be,” is a shortened version of a similar ad that was posted online earlier this year. In it, a narrator lists adjectives that could describe Native Americans — “Indian,” “Navajo, “Sioux,” “Spiritualist,” “strong” — before the camera zooms in on a Redskins helmet, “the one thing they don’t” call themselves.

The ad, which premiered Sunday night in Miami during Game 2 of the NBA finals, was slated to play in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Sacramento, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. during the Game 3 broadcast.

Video of the ad as it ran here. A longer version from “Change the Mascot,” which has been on YouTube for months, can bee seen here.

 

 

Tags: NFL

Bob Welch, RIP



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Fifty-seven year old Bob Welch, the last pitcher to win as many as 27 games in a season, has died, the Oakland Athletics announced earlier today. No cause of death was given.

“This is a sad day for the entire A’s organization,” said Billy Beane, the A’s vice president and general manager, and a teammate of Welch’s on the A’s 1989 World Series winning team. “Those of us who knew Bob as a teammate and a friend will miss him greatly. My condolences go out to his family.”

Welch posted a 211–146 record in 17 major league seasons, winning World Series titles with the A’s and Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981. He came to the A’s in a trade before the 1988 season, and two years later had a career year.

In 1990, Welch was the American League Cy Young Award winner after going 27–6 with a 2.95 earned-run average for an A’s team that won 103 games, but got swept by the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series, ending a run of three consecutive pennants.

Dodger fans of a certain age will always remember Welch for this World Series moment:

More here.

Tags: MLB

Donald Sterling Now Says Clippers Not for Sale



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Reuters:

Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling said on Monday the basketball franchise was not for sale and he would fight to keep the team he built, in the latest salvo of his battle with the league.

Sterling was banned for life by the National Basketball Association in April over a leaked recording of racist remarks he made.

Then, on May 30, Sterling sued the NBA and its commissioner, Adam Silver, seeking at least $1 billion in damages, just as the league tentatively approved a deal by his estranged wife, co-owner of the franchise, to sell the club for $2 billion to former Microsoft Corp chief executive Steve Ballmer.

Maybe it’s time to give Sterling a second chance? Here he is, for example, proving he’s not racist by lunching with two very attractive African-American women. TMZ:


To be continued. . .

Tags: NBA

Meet the Venomous, Dinner-Plate-Sized Spider Waiting to Greet World Cup Fans in Brazil



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Via the Wall Street Journal, I give you the wandering spider:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brazil: the magical land of samba, soccer, Seleção…and spiders. Big, fat hairy spiders. And snakes. And flesh-eating fish.

Brazil is a wonderful place for the World Cup, the quadrennial soccer tournament that begins there on Thursday, but it could prove problematic for traveling fans who suffer from two of the most common phobias: arachnophobia and ophidiophobia, which is even harder to pronounce when a viper is slithering toward you.

The Brazilian wandering spider is of particular concern. Not only is this beast the size of a dinner plate—it is also the most venomous spider in the world, Guinness says. There is an antidote for wandering spider bites, so deaths are rare. Its venom can, however, cause erections in male victims, which seems an unnecessarily cruel blow to a man’s dignity. Arachnophobes who suffer from medorthophobia are doomed.

The Brazilian wandering spider, of the Phoneutria genus, isn’t afraid of entering human dwellings and has a reputation of being aggressive. It is basically an eight-legged Oakland Raiders fan. There are eight known species of Phoneutria, all of which can be found in Brazil and some of which will be trying to mate throughout the World Cup. During this period, males are more likely to be found in dark corners looking for a partner.

Click here for more creepy-crawlies to avoid while traveling to the Cup.

Tags: Soccer

Reveille 6/9/14



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Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your Monday at the office a bit more bearable:

  • Rob Neyer of Fox Sports, Anna McDonald of ESPN SweetSpot, Miles Wray of the Hardball Times, Jeff Sullivan of USS Mariner, and Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley check in with updates on the Rays, Giants, Marlins, Mariners, and Phillies, respectively. Baer focuses on bench coach Larry Bowa’s recent on-air tirade:

Bowa went on 97.5 The Fanatic recently and used the platform to rip the team. He said that the Phillies weren’t playing “big-league baseball”. More specifically, he criticized Domonic Brown for showing up to the ballpark with a smile on his face despite his struggles at the plate. Bowa criticized Roberto Hernandez for not being able to go more than five innings in a majority of his starts. He suggested that several unnamed Phillies lacked good baseball instincts, and absolved the coaching staff of blame because “you can’t teach instincts”.

Even if Bowa’s criticisms were right — they’re not — what purpose does he serve going on the radio and ripping the team and the players? If it was meant to light a fire under the team, as it is sometimes suggested, it didn’t work, as the Phillies lost 7–0 to the Washington Nationals later that night and 8-4 on Wednesday. Brown has logged two hits, both singles, in seven at-bats since.

The Phillies are not the group of youngsters that they were under Bowa’s leadership in the early 2000′s. They’ve seen a manager yell, throw chairs, and flip over post-game spreads. None of it is going to magically make the team play better. That the team would allow Bowa the freedom to go on the radio and castigate the players shows not only a fundamental misunderstanding of human psychology, but blind loyalty.

But this is who the Phillies are. It’s why they’ve been the slowest team to adopt the use of analytics. It’s why they have kept around the same core that won them a championship six years ago even though they’re all injury-prone and in their mid-30′s. New ideas cannot permeate the Phillies’ culture because they keep the same people around and they all think the same things. Is there any debate that when Amaro’s time is done, the Phillies will just hand the job over to an underling like Scott Proefrock or Marti Wolever?

  • Although he never played collegiate baseball, the Padres used the 837th pick (28th round) of the 2014 MLB amateur draft to select Johnny Manziel. Mike Axisa of CBS Sports’ Eye on Baseball implies that the closest that Johnny Football has come in recent years to hurling a fastball was when he threw out the first pitch before a 2013 regular-season game at Petco Park.
  • Mariano Rivera may be gone, but Yankee fans are thrilled to witness the emergence of Dellin Betances as the club’s lights-out reliever. Pinstripe Alley’s Matt Provenzano urges readers to “cherish the performance,” in part because it’s too soon to tell whether Betances will be able to continue dominating batters. 
  • In what may be my favorite read of the year thus far, Jake Peavy relates to Tim Britton of the Providence Journal his inner thoughts from a recent game against the Braves in Fenway Park. For example:

FIFTH INNING

With one out, Simmons ambushed a first-pitch fastball for a single up the middle. Neither Peavy nor Ross saw that approach coming.

“We didn’t think he’d be just coming right out,” said Peavy. “You would think he would be trying to be almost a leadoff man in that situation and see some pitches, and he caught us being too aggressive. We threw a ball on the outer half that was hittable, thinking we’d get ahead with Strike One and go from there. You get caught.”

Compounding the problem, Simmons surprised Peavy and Ross again by stealing his first base of the season on the next pitch — “it wasn’t something we had prepared for,” Peavy said — and Heyward reached on an infield single to put runners at the corners with one out for B. J. Upton.

“I knew it was a big out there,” Peavy said. “There’s a few spots in every start where you know that this is the game, that if they score here, you’re making it very hard for your team to win this game. The good pitchers recognize those spots and are able to, no matter what has happened leading up to that, check in and go, ‘I’ve got to execute. Dig deep and find a way.’”

Peavy got Upton to line to short. Freeman grounded sharply to first to end the inning, the score still 2–0.

  • Brady Aiken was the first pick in the amateur draft, and it didn’t take long for the Astros and the southpaw from Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego to agree on a contract, which included a $6.5 million signing bonus. Baseball America’s Clint Longenecker has his analysis of the first-round selections here.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Gatorade to LeBron: It Isn’t in You



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Via Yahoo Sports NBA blogger Johnny Ludden:

LeBron James couldn’t go stronger for longer last night. Apparently, even the power of Powerade was no match for the sweltering conditions inside San Antonio’s AT&T Center.


More here.

Tags: NBA

Don Zimmer, R.I.P.



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Don Zimmer, the beloved figure who spent 66 years of his life in baseball as a player, coach, manager, and most recently as a senior advisor to the Rays, died yesterday. He was 83.

“Like everyone in Major League Baseball, I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend Don Zimmer, one of our game’s most universally beloved figures,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “A memorable contributor to Baseball for more than 60 years, Don was the kind of person you could only find in the National Pastime.

“As a player, Don experienced the joys of the 1955 World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers and the struggles of the ‘62 Mets. In his managerial and coaching career, this unique baseball man led the Cubs to a division crown and then, at his good friend Joe Torre’s loyal side, helped usher in a new era in the fabled history of the Yankees.

“On behalf of Major League Baseball and the many Clubs that ‘Popeye’ served in a distinguished Baseball life, I extend my deepest condolences to Don’s family, friends and his many admirers throughout our game.”

The Rays will honor Zimmer with a moment of silence at Thursday’s Rays-Marlins game at 4:10 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field and will conduct a special pregame ceremony prior to the Rays-Mariners game on Saturday at 4:10 p.m.

More here and here.

Tags: MLB

The Long, National Nightmare Is Over: Clippers Sold, Lawsuit Dropped



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USA Today:

Donald Sterling will not fight the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers and will drop a lawsuit he filed Friday against the NBA, Sterling’s attorney, Max Blecher, confirmed to USA TODAY Sports Wednesday.

Sterling, the Clippers’ owner since 1981, had considered fighting the sale of the team by his wife Shelly. But such a challenge might have required Sterling to fight her in court and contest a recent ruling made about his mental health. Shelly Sterling agreed to sell the Clippers last week to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.

The rest here.

Tags: NBA

Scratch One Laptop



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Via Craig Calcaterra of NBC’s Hardball Talk:

“Poor Mark Sheldon. He’s a cool guy and a good reporter. Now the Reds’ MLB.com beat writer has to go get a new computer thanks to Pablo Sandoval“:

 

 

As Frank Costanza once uttered, “Million to one shot, doc. Million to one.”

Wait, make that million to two:

 

 

Do I hear million to three?

 

 

More here.

Tags: MLB

The Greatest Pitch (Not Called a Strike) Ever



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Take it away, former Indian Kazuhito Tadano:

Come on, Blue, how was that eephus not a strike?

More here.

Tags: MLB

Dan Marino Is Not Suing the NFL



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Via the Sun Sentinel:

Dan Marino to withdraw concussion lawsuit against NFL

Dan Marino, the legendary Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback, intends to withdraw from a lawsuit against the NFL for concussions.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday that the former quarterback joined 14 other players to sue the league.

According to a source, Marino, 52, and his lawyers will be in discussions to withdraw from the lawsuit that was filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

“It was never Marino’s intention to initiate litigation in this case, but to ensure that in the event he had adverse health consequences down the road, he would be covered with health benefits. They are working to correct the error,” a source said to the Sun-Sentinel.

Marino and his lawyers are attempting to discover how Marino’s name was joined to the lawsuit. Marino has said in the past he had two reported concussions during his 17-year career.

The rest here.

Tags: NFL

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