Saturday, April 5, 2008

Papelbon & Joba Might Want To Take The Ego Down A Notch

If self-awarded awesomeness were a stat, Joba Chamberlain and Jonathan Papelbon would be hall of famers.

In this day and age, you can't really be a professional athlete without a certain level of confidence that can sometimes be confused with cocksureness (and if you're wondering, that is an actual word). It's important if not critical to believe that you are unstoppable or unbeatable as an athlete. You lose that edge and you are dead. And in few positions in sport is it more important to have this exalted self-image than the position of closer on a baseball team. So I guess I should not be too surprised that two of the successful new guys on the block in the relief circuit have come out recently and sounded like a couple of arrogant cocksuckers. But that's just what Jonathan Papelbon and Joba Chamberlain have come out and done.

At this point, I almost expect it from Papelbon. He's not the sharpest tool in the shed to begin with and he was getting a little big for his britches last year even before his post-season success... and dance moves... and drunken Letterman appearance. He started this year by bitching about his contract situation (he wasn't arb-eligible and wanted a new deal rather than a re-up of his old deal). The request wasn't unreasonable but his reasoning for why he deserved the new deal was a wee bit presumptuous:
Last year, Papelbon was paid $425,500. He finished the season with 37 saves in 40 opportunities and a 1.85 earned-run average.

Mariano Rivera, the dominant closer for the New York Yankees, signed a three-year, $45 million after last season, his 13th.

Papelbon’s 37 saves were tied for sixth in the American League. He wants to establish a salary standard for future outstanding closers.

“I feel a certain obligation not only to myself and my family to make the money that I deserve but for the game of baseball.” Papelbon said. “Mariano Rivera has been doing it for the past 10 years and with me coming up behind him I feel a certain obligation to do the same.”
So because Papelbon is the heir apparent to Mariano River--the Greatest Of All-Time--he feels it necessary to set the path for future Papelbons that follow in his footsteps. A latter day Curt Flood or Jackie Robinson, if you will. Hey Jon, why don't you just worry about missing bats and leading your suddenly susceptible 2008 Red Sox bullpen. You can deal with your groundbreaking salary demands after you've maybe completed your third full season in the Majors. But while Papelbon sounds like a prick with a bit of an ego problem, at least he's pitched an entire season.

Joba Chamberlain has appeared in 21 regular season games in his career. That's a '2' followed by a '1'. If you listen to sports talk radio in NYC or read the papers, you'd think this kid's been leading the Yanks to glory since the Polk administration (Michael Kay, during a recent Yanks broadcast, said that it feels like Joba's been leading the way in the Yanks' bullpen "for years."). He is 22 years-old and though he is perhaps the 3rd most popular player on this Yanks' team, he hasn't done shit. Yet recently when asked about how he is handling the national controversy Mike & The Maddog created local hullabaloo regarding his post-strikeout antics, Joba offered a curious response:
"It's unfair to my team to not bring 110 percent every time I go out," Chamberlain said. "It's going to be a topic of conversation, that's fine because I am Joba Chamberlain. I am going to be who I am and if I didn't show that, I'm not being fair to my teammates. I'm letting them down because I'm not being the person that I am."
Ummm... huh? "...because I am Joba Chamberlain." His explanation for why this has become a controversy is that it's been blown out of proportion because of his big name status? Are you fucking serious? YOU'RE A FUCKING MIDDLE RELIEVER! You're Scot Shields or a less valuable version of Pat Neshek. You're George Sherrill or Mike Timlin. You'll be lucky to string as many good years together as Scott Linebrink or Brendan Donnelly. You are the single most replaceable position in professional sports you fucking cocksucker. Get the fuck over yourself. Now I understand why Joe Girardi had to sit down with you at the beginning of the year to deflate your head. Good grief.

Now, with all this being said, if these two guys put together another couple years like they have they will have earned their place in the game and will be able to say pretty much whatever they want. And considering their starts and their popularity amongst their fans, I'll try and not hold their feet to the fire if they get a little overconfident at times. I mean, these guys are treated like latter day deities amongst their respective fan bases. Just give me 5 years of consistent service and then maybe I'll look the other way when you start likening yourself to Keith Hernandez.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tennis Player Mikhail Youzhny Goes B-A-N-A-N-A-S

Moises Alou Comes To Bartman's Rescue About 4 Years Too Late

I'm sure somewhere Steve Bartman is thanking his lucky stars that Moises Alou rushed to his defense.

In Wayne Drehs's article "Searching For Bartman", Drehs briefly summarizes some of the more troubling aspects of what Steve Bartman has been dealing with:
"I start by throwing Bartman's name into Google, which is putting a cramp into the business of private investigators everywhere. The results are sickening. "Death to Steve Bartman" message boards. Blogs that encourage Cubs fans to, "not let him do this to us" and to "seek revenge.""
And that's just the stuff that's fit to print. Bartman's address was printed all over the internet and he was harassed consistently to the point where he had to hire a legal team to deal forcefully with harassing contact and was rumored to have a private security force following his every move. And even after learning of all of the crap this guy's been through, many Cubs fans felt absolutely no sympathy for the kid. It didn't help that the video was replayed over and over and over again to permanently burn it into the collective memory of Cubs fandom and allow for the blame to be placed squarely upon someone other than their beloved Cubs. Bartman was the easy scapegoat and that one play pretty much ruined a good portion of his life.

But while the video replay was seemingly the smoking gun in the whole ordeal, Moises Alou played a significant role in fanning the flames with his post-game comments:
After the game, he said: "I timed it perfectly, I jumped perfectly. I'm almost 100 percent that I had a clean shot to catch the ball. All of a sudden, there's a hand on my glove."

He didn't have kind words for Bartman on that night either.

"Hopefully, he won't have to regret it for the rest of his life," he said.
Nice, Moises. That quote was the nail in Steve's coffin. Not only did it look as though Alou could have caught the ball but Moises was convinced he could have caught it. Or was he? When asked about it yesterday, Alou sang a slightly different tune:
"Everywhere I play, even now, people still yell, 'Bartman! Bartman!' I feel really bad for the kid," Alou told Associated Press columnist Jim Litke.

"You know what the funny thing is?" he added a moment later. "I wouldn't have caught it, anyway."
I have no idea where Bartman was when he heard this for the first time but I bet you whatever he was drinking at that moment ended up on the floor. I'm not sure if Alou was under a rock for the last 4 years and didn't realize what Bartman was going through or if he thought the kid had finally suffered enough but if this is really true, what in the fuck was he thinking in keeping this to himself for the last 4 years? I know it likely doesn't absolve Bartman in the eyes of many Cubs fans but cripes, it couldn't hurt! I'm sure Moises thought he was doing the right thing but Bartman can be forgiven if he doesn't give him a call and thank him for clearing it all up.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

From The No F'n Shit Department

The above sign may be a little unnecessary, but ESPN's headline today was even more so.

If you've ever visited, you've probably seen the list of headlines about "news" in sports on the right-hand side of the page. Some of the stuff there barely qualifies as "news" but most of the time the headlines sum up the days events pretty well. Well there was one headline today that not only doesn't qualify as news but is about as unilluminating a bit of information as the world has ever been offered.

Mixed into the headlines about baseball, basketball and PacMan Jones was the following headline:

Thomas says Indiana hasn't contacted him about coaching job

Wait, what? You don't say! Indiana hasn't contacted the worst coach in the NBA about their vacant coaching position? The guy with a recent history filled with sexual harassment suits and a team full of players who hate him not to mention one of the worst records in the history of organized sports? Get out of here!

Now why in the hell is this newsworthy? This would be like reporting "Anderson Cooper says woman hasn't shared his bed" or "BREAKING NEWS: The French are arrogant." But in order to see if this news was in response to a story or rumor or something, I did a little search on the interwebs to see if I had just missed the story linking him to the job and I couldn't find jack shit. The idea that Indiana University would contact Isiah Thomas to replace a coach who had to resign due to recruiting violations is one of the more insane ideas I have ever heard. The only person I can think of who is possibly a worse idea for that position is Jerry Tarkanian. Yet somehow ESPN decided it was news. I can't wait to check ESPN tomorrow to learn the color of the sky.