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Seven Sites for Mets Fans



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Where is Carlos Beltran going? What is the likelihood that Jose Reyes will be in a Mets uniform next year? For how much longer will Fred Wilpon have majority control of the club? Why on Earth does SNY permit Ford Motor Company to air Edge commercials featuring pitchman Derek Jeter during Mets games?

These burning questions and many more are debated on a dizzying array of Mets-centric blogs. Below you will find my list of recommended go-to sites — with their pros and cons. Interestingly, while four of the seven selected are SNY-sponsored, none are affiliated with the New York tabloids. (Oh, how the mighty have fallen!)

NEWS: MetsBlog

Good: There is no better go-to place for up-to-the-minute news. The site offers up occasional commentary too.

Not-so-good: Some opinions lack depth. A majority of the comments are about as coherent as the calls to Steve Somers’ WFAN radio show.

ADVANCED STATISTICS AND ANALYSIS: Amazin’ Avenue

Good: An amusin’ mix of news, research, and snark. There is a constant flow of content.

Not-so-good: The formatting is beyond awful. There is more clutter on SB Nation’s sites than advertisements on a minor league outfield wall, and AA is no exception.

SOMETIMES-HAPPY RECAPS AND FLASHBACKS: Faith and Fear in Flushing

Good: The usually long yet substantive posts feature recaps, as well as regular doses of nostalgia. Case in point:

After Dave Kingman exploded for two homers and six ribbies on Sunday afternoon, Felix Millan took his turn at being the offensive star of Shea Stadium Monday night, collecting four singles in four at-bats. Yet all of Millan’s best efforts went to waste as the hitter who followed him in the order, Joe Torre, hit four ground balls in four at-bats, every one of them to a spot in the infield that meant death to the Mets’ attack.

1-6-3.

6-4-3.

4-6-3.

6-4-3.

That’s four twin-killings. Four ground ball double plays. Four erasures of Felix Millan and, of course, quadruple-futility for Joe Torre in what became a 6-2 Mets loss. The four GIDPs established a National League record nobody in their right mind would want any part of. Nobody ever accused Torre of lacking sanity, so the third baseman joked to keep all of his.

“You gotta be lucky to hit into four double plays.”

“I couldn’t have set a record without Millan. He ought to get an assist.”

“When I retire, I’m gonna buy a shortstop and put him in my den. At night, when I’m lonely, I’m gonna go down there and hit grounders to him.”

Not-so-good: There are times when, if you don’t have ample caffeine, the posts are a wee bit too long. [Eds.: Like this one?]

COMMENTARY And Comedy: Metstradamus

Good: The dry wit. Here’s one of my favorites:

I suppose that now that Joaquin Arias is the property of the New York Mets, that it would be a fine time to bring up that Arias has never played the outfield in his professional life.  I have to hand it to Snoop [a.k.a. Jerry Manuel], when I think Omar Minaya has whittled the value of the roster down to nothing, Manuel goes above and beyond to find a value that’s lower than absolute zero.  To hell with the laws of thermodynamics.

Not-so-good: If you want in-depth info on what went down last night, look elsewhere.

OBSERVATIONS about THE METS: Patrick Flood

Good: Flood provides solid analysis, and the occasional podcast.

Not-so-good: One week ago, I would have said “none,” but then he bombarded us with three Mike Pelfrey posts in four days. No más!

OBSERVATIONS about THE METS . . . and food: TedQuarters

Good: Ted Berg mixes stats-friendly thoughts and gastronomical advice.

Not-so-good: A review of Taco Bell’s latest offering may be more detailed than his thoughts about the previous night’s game. 

FUTURE-METS ANALYSIS: Mets Minor League Blog

Good: Proprietor Toby Hyde ably covers the entire farm system, from short-season rookie ball (Kingsport, Port St. Lucie) to AAA (Buffalo).

Not-so-good: As with any site devoted to minor-league ball, only the most hardcore fans will read it with any regularity.

Tags: MLB

Alas, an Unforgettable Debut



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Nineteen year-old defender Carl Jenkinson debuted for Arsenal in a friendly against German team Köln over the weekend, but this is a debut he would like to forget. As the first half was winding down, he attempted to clear a pass from a Köln player, but inadvertently, yet wonderfully volleyed the ball into his own net.

If it had been a volley into Köln’s net, it would have counted as a great debut. Arsenal’s fans will hope he doesn’t do that when the new season begins.

Tags: Misc.

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Whither DeAngelo Williams?



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If the players do confirm a new labor agreement today, we should see swift action on a number of free-agent signings beginning on Tuesday. 

In a significant change, teams won’t have an exclusive window to negotiate with their own free agents. Players can entertain offers from other clubs while they consider offers from their most recent employers. So while Panthers owner Jerry Richardson says he’ll be “very aggressive” in free agency and that his team will concentrate “on our own first,” his starting running back DeAngelo Williams will be able to compare the Panthers’ proffered contract to other teams’ offers (oh, I dunno . . . like, maybe the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins) and will know for certain just how aggressive Richardson is. And with talented running backs Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson already on a Carolina roster full of holes, how aggressive can he be?

Former Panthers head coach John Fox is now in Denver, and the Broncos have Knowshon Moreno atop their tailback chart, who has underwhelmed in his first two NFL seasons. The National Football Post’s Dan Pompei reports that the Broncos “haven’t given up on Moreno” — and why should they, since the Georgia alum is under contract for three more years? — but Fox is no stranger to a two-headed running-back-by-committee. 

The Miami Dolphins are in the market for a veteran running back, as well — with promising but untested (and un-training-camped) rookie Daniel Thomas atop the depth chart, pending the departure of aging veterans Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. (Giants free-agent RB Ahmad Bradshaw’s name pops up in connection with Miami, but I can’t see the Giants allowing the Dolphins to outbid them for Bradshaw’s services.)

In any event, the non-exclusivity of free-agent negotiations will make for an interesting 72 hours.

Tags: NFL

Another Backheeler Punished



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During Manchester City’s friendly against LA Galaxy, striker Mario Balotelli was substituted after only 30 minutes for a cheeky, yet failed attempt to score with a backheel tip towards goal. His teammate Edin Dzeko was not too happy with the failed attempt at fancy footwork when a simple shot on goal or pass to him would probably have been a better result. Balotelli has been quite the personality in his first season of English soccer, arrogant and even chucking darts at youth team players. At the touchline, he obviously disagreed with his manager’s decision, who said after the match that “you always need to be professional,” even in friendlies.

Tags: Misc.

More Important Than Baseball



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Horrible news appeared on both Fangraphs and USS Mariner earlier this morning.

Acute myeloid leukemia sucks. Please send Dave Cameron your prayers, wishing him and his family the strength to persevere.

Tags: MLB

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Are They Ready for Some Football?



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Mort and the boys over at ESPN have been saying all weekend that a new agreement between NFL owners and players has been reached. This morning, CNN calls that “breaking news.” 

Apparently, Chad Johnson Ochocinco didn’t get the memo:

Can we not seeing what the media is doing?Hype up a deal will be done n when it’s not it further angers the public perception of players!!!!

Tags: NFL

Baseball Reveille 7/25/11



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Good morning, campers!

Here are recent links that will keep those dreaded TPS reports from being sent in on time:

  • Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, and Pat Gillick were formally inducted into the Hall of Fame. Joe Lemire of Sports Illustrated offers up his observations on yesterday’s Cooperstown festivities.
  • Of the 104 pitches Justin Masterson hurled in his start Tuesday night, amazingly all but one were fastballs. Fangraphs’ Jack Moore describes the performance of the Indians pitcher as perhaps “the single easiest game a catcher has ever called.”
  • Bay Area native and Brewers center fielder Nyjer Morgan (a.k.a. Tony Plush) visited San Francisco this weekend and, as Big League Stew’s Mark Townsend reports, engaged in some rather provocative trash talking and gesturing with Giants fans.
  • Beyond the Boxscore’s Strike Three! explores the relationship between foul territory size and strikeouts, utilizing data from National League ballparks from 1954-68 and those of the American League from 1954-63.
  • What accounts for the recent improvement of Rockies’ hurler Ubaldo Jimenez? Josh Weinstock of the Hardball Times examines his pitch selection.
  • THT’s Chris Jaffe looks back at one of the better games of the 1986 regular season in “Silver anniversary: Davey Johnson runs out of players.”
  • Via the DRaysBay blog, listen to a radio interview with Rays pitching prospect Matt Moore. The highly regarded southpaw, who was recently promoted to AAA Durham, talks about the evolution of his change-up and his participation in this month’s Futures Game.
  • Bill Pennington of the New York Times attempts to understand the plight of the Yankees’ most expensive farmhand, Kei Igawa.

A fractured ankle ended Stephen Drew’s season. How might the D’backs cope? asks Hardball Talk’s Matthew Pouliot.

Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Mike Vaccaro: Tiger’s Caddie Got What he Deserved



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Here’s Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post commenting on Tiger Woods firing his longtime caddy, Steve Williams:

Stevie Williams got what he deserved.

Wait, let me be more to the point: For Stevie Williams to get what he truly deserves, then Tiger Woods should rehire him next Monday, solely so he can fire him again next Tuesday. And maybe do it three or four more times. Maybe then say, publicly, “Hmmm … maybe I’ll hire Stevie back …” just so he can then say, publicly, “Nah.”

Now, before we get to the he “got what he deserved” part of the story, let’s take a quick look back at the career of Williams. Tiger wasn’t his first pro. He caddied for Greg Norman, Ian Baker-Finch, and Raymond Flood. Currently Williams is toting the bag of Adam Scott, no slouch indeed. Tiger hired Steve Williams in 1999, after Tiger unceremoniously fired his original caddy as a pro, the wonderful “Fluff Cowan.
 
OK. Back to why Vaccaro thinks Williams, by all measures a great caddy, got what he deserved:

I’ll put this as succinctly as I can: I have covered sports for a living for 25 years. For most of those years I’ve covered professional sports, which means I’ve endured some of the basest, most odiferous behavior patterns ever. I’ve encountered egos, and sociopathic narcissism, and the kind of corrosive, offensive diatribes that would make an HBO documentarian blush. I’ve met some boors in my day.

And none of them was worse than Stevie Williams.

None of them was as coarse, as ill-mannered, as arrogant, as lacking in basic grace and dignity as Williams, who didn’t just fancy himself as Tiger’s caddie, but as his Luca Brasi, too: a henchman/button man who tore into anything in their path. Forget the fact that he all but regularly put contracts out on photographers who would snap their cameras at times Williams deemed inappropriate — god forbid these great unwashed actually, you know, do their jobs.

No. On three separate occasions, in close proximity to galleries, I saw Stevie Williams advise three different paying fans to do anatomically impossible gestures. This wasn’t preceded by, “Excuse me,” or, “Sorry to bother you,” or even “We’re trying to work here.”

All three times, a fan made the mistake of yelping something to the tune of “We love you, Tiger, you’re the man!” And Steve Williams’ retort was, “Get the bleep out of the way and go bleep yourself.”

So, Tiger cheats on his wife with dozens upon dozens of women, yet it’s Williams who is the greatest “boor” ever known to Mike Vaccaro? Vaccaro also misses the fact that Woods could be perhaps the most foul-tempered player on the golf course on any given day. When Williams curses, nobody hears it. When Woods throws one of his temper-tantrums, the whole world sees it.

From the outside looking in, Williams and Woods seemed to have a relationship that went beyond that of boss and employer. But like Tiger’s family-guy image, maybe his friendship with Williams was a big act.

And as a postscript, Williams is no longer staying quiet about getting fired:

When he took to the airwaves, Williams ratcheted up the rhetoric on 3 News in New Zealand. This one may have started Woods wondering if the lawyers left the nondisclosure part out of the standard player-caddie contract, if there was a contract.

“You know, when I write my book, it’ll be the time I decide what I write,” Williams said. “It’ll just be one of those interesting chapters in the book.”

Looks like Tiger is going to get what he deserves, too.

Tags: Golf

The Raiders Abstention



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Lower rookie salaries, with cap on team spending for rookies

Tags: NFL

Alas, More NFL Lockout News



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Unfortunately, no news on NFL free-agent signings just yet.

While the owners voted 31-0 (with Al Davis abstaining) to approve a new labor agreement and sent it to the players this afternoon, no word of a final agreement yet.

If Chris Mortensen’s tweets are to be believed, the players are ready to vote but want the lockout lifted before they recertify the players union:

Players want lockout lifted if/after they vote yes, then sign player union cards at team facility, collected by reps and regional directors

29 minutes ago

 

Good news. Players wrapped call, then leadership received final details. Vote can come tomorrow if they can satisfy a finishing detail or 2.

34 minutes ago

Tags: NFL

NFL Lockout News



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ESPN reports that multiple sources indicate that NFL owners are voting this afternoon on a new global labor agreement — no special favors for the named plaintiffs —  which if approved, will go to players this evening.

Players have scheduled an 8 p.m. ET conference call with their executive committee and player reps to decide whether to accept an approved settlement from owners, and how to start the voting process for the 1,900 players who have to decide if they want to vote in a recertified union.

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith addressed the ongoing negotiations in a short news conference outside the trade association’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.

“We continue to talk. There are some issues that are outstanding that are left to resolve,” Smith said.

He also said the decision to recertify as a union wouldn’t be taken lightly, just as the choice to decertify in March was taken seriously “because we were a real union” — taking a shot at owners’ claims that the NFLPA’s decertification was a “sham.”

“The decision to decertify as a union was a significant one,” Smith said. “Every individual person has to make a decision on whether they want to become part of a union. The individual decisions are something that our players take extremely serious.”

As part of the proposed settlement the owners will vote on, the 10 plaintiffs who attached their names to the players’ antitrust lawsuit against the NFL — including Tom BradyPeyton Manning and Drew Brees – will not net any financial or tactical gains, according to sources.

According to multiple sources, the proposed labor agreement doesn’t change the status of any of the plaintiffs. For example, a request by San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson to receive a $10 million settlement won’t happen.

Any conversations about changing the franchise rule in favor of Manning and Brees, a rule that would allow a player to be franchised once in his career, went unanswered, according to sources.

The proposed deal keeps franchise tagging rules as they have been in past agreements.

Frank Bauer, the agent for New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins, who is one of the named plaintiffs, responded Thursday to reports that Mankins had demanded special considerations. . . .

More here.

Tags: NFL

Luck or Skill?



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Tags: MLB

Kobe Bryant to Play in Turkey?



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That’s the rumor:

Kobe Bryant is still being pursued by Turkey despite asking for a salary worth $1 million per month, according to the latest reports. It’s just going to take a bit of creative financing for Besiktas to suit up two NBA All-Stars next season if the lockout continues.

The team that has already signed New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams for the upcoming season told the Associated Press that there is still interest in Bryant, and a bit surprisingly, Bryant and his team is still interested as well.

“It is a fact that Kobe Bryant’s managers have contacted us,” coach Ergin Ataman said Thursday, a week after Besiktas signed New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams.

Who knows if it’s true. But I do think the real risk to the leagues here is that if there is a disruption in the NBA and/or the NFL seasons and the advertisers who spend millions funding the two sports realize that their sales really aren’t hurt by not advertising during NBA or NFL games, the entire business model/business bubble of professional sports goes poof.

And what better way to test that hypothesis and compare year-over-year sales than a disruption of the season?

Tags: NBA

Dreams Do Come True



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With English champions Manchester United currently on tour in the U.S., this family of fans in Seattle can count themselves the luckiest of all supporters this side of the Atlantic. As the team bus pulled in for training prior to a friendly against Seattle Sounders, it stopped and they were allowed to board to get autographs. Eternal memories, especially for the little girl and boy in the video. 

Tags: Misc.

The Blue Jays Finally Retire a Number



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. . . and interestingly the uniform belongs to Roberto Alomar. The Hall of Fame second baseman donned No. 12 during his five-year tenure in Toronto.

While Alomar enjoyed good-to-great seasons while in a Jays uniform, including World Series triumphs in 1992 and 1993, I suspect that many fans are wondering why he was selected before another highly regarded player who wore No. 37 in his 14 seasons pitching north of the border: Dave Stieb.

More here on Alomar’s honor.

Tags: MLB

Tiger Woods Parts Ways with His Longtime Caddy



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New Sports Power Couple?



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ABC reports that Rory McIlroy, golfer from Northern Ireland and Caroline Wozniacki, tennis player from Denmark, are now dating.

I just have one question for Rory . . .

. . . How did you pull this one off?

Tags: Misc.

Finally, Goal-Line Technology in Soccer



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England’s Premier League may finally introduce goal-line technology, according to its chief executive Richard Scudamore, for the 2012-13 season. This technology has long been called for in soccer, especially following England midfielder Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal against Germany in last year’s World Cup — a goal that, if allowed, would certainly have affected the rest of the match.

Ever since that incident, FIFA has dragged its feet in considering goal-line technology, with FIFA president Sepp Blatter a constant opponent. Time and again they have said they would discuss the matter in FIFA meetings, only to postpone it. In place of such technology, UEFA, the European soccer body, with FIFA’s blessing, introduced an extra assistant referee standing near each goalpost to better adjudicate goals (among other things, such as fouls in the penalty area).

Sepp Blatter’s arguments against goal-line technology have some validity: He is concerned about managers who may want to dispute every action that occurs in the penalty area — whether a goal has been scored or not — and interrupting the flow of the game to force replays. He also defends the referee’s role as final arbiter of what happens on the field. Soccer is a human game, Blatter contends, and must remain so. Soccer is a human game, and thus prone to all the faults that flesh is heir to. But contested goals can determine not only the outcome of an individual match, but a team’s entire season.

Other sports, such as tennis and cricket, use Hawk-Eye, a computer system that tracks the ball’s trajectory. Of course, the system has its critics and, like any technology, is not perfect. But it can help settle certain disputes — like Lampard’s disallowed goal, which everyone knows should have been a goal.

Whatever technology is introduced, it should be used in such a way to maintain the pace of play, which is an important factor in soccer. Only the fifth official sitting at the sideline should be allowed to review the event — which should take only a few seconds — allowing no intervention from either team’s manager. Soccer will still have its faults, but soccer fans want to see such vital matters as goals settled without dispute. 

Tags: Misc.

HJK Helsinki Finishes Off Its Opponent



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Critics of soccer often contend that the game is boring and that it is a low-scoring sport, often ending in 0-0 draw. But on the rare occasions, this happens: HJK Helsinki from Finland demolished Welsh side Bangor City in a Champions League qualifying match. The aggregate score over the two-game series was 13-0, with the second tie ending 10-0. (Demolished is an understatement).

The only previous Champions League match to have ended 10-0 was back in the 1979-80 campaign when Dutch heavyweights Ajax Amsterdam trashed Omonia Nicosia from Cyprus in what was the old European Cup.

Tags: Misc.

Backheel Penalty Kicker May Face Suspension



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Awana Diab, the unorthodox penalty taker in the friendly between the UAE and Lebanon, may face suspension by the UAE’s Football Association, whose view is that the backheel kick was disrespectful to everyone involved in the game.

UAE’s team manager Esmaeel Rashed has said that Diab could either pay a fine or be sent away from the team. Rashed has also claimed Diab is very contrite, “He is very sorry. He said: ‘I did wrong. I made a mistake. Tell the team I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry I did this thing.’ . . . He’s really upset and very worried.”

As I said in my previous post, it was only a friendly. 

Tags: Misc.

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