Monday, April 27, 2009

Hideki Irabu reunion tour


Do you ever sit and wonder, "What ever happened to that guy?"

Could be anyone: an old friend, a favorite (or least favorite) teacher... or a ball player who was never able to live up to the hype surrounding his arrival from Japan?

Sometimes, as I sit and watch any of one of the Yankees pitchers getting shelled on the mound, I think to myself, "What ever happened to Hideki Irabu?"

He was one of the first of a string of players to come over from Japan, and was a serviceable player for the Bronx Bombers. He actually won two World Series rings in New York before moving on to pitch (and struggle) with the Montreal Expos and Texas Rangers, and ultimately ending up back in Japan with the Hanshin Tigers.

He was famously referred to as a "fat toad" by George Steinbrenner after failing to cover first base on a ground ball.

Today, Hideki Irabu has signed a contract to pitch for the Long Beach Armada of the Golden Baseball League.

Says Armada manager Garry Templeton (yes, that Garry Templeton...), "Hideki Irabu is a tremendous addition to our pitching staff. I'm looking forward to the skill, experience, and professionalism that a player of his caliber will bring to the club and believe that this will be a great place for him to demonstrate that he is ready to return to the top levels of the game here or in Japan."

Not so fast, Garry. It's a great publicity stunt to be sure. This same team signed Jose Canseco to pitch a few years ago before trading him to the now extinct San Diego Surf Dawgs. But if Irabu was unwilling to hustle to earn a huge paycheck on the biggest stage in the baseball universe, what makes anyone think he'll put forth any effort whatsoever on perhaps the smallest stage?

More power to the Armada. Do what you gotta do to put people in the seats. You have to give them credit for at least attempting to give the people of Long Beach a reason to part with their hard earned money. But a comeback for Irabu? I don't think so.

You can put a new jersey on a fat toad, but it's still a fat toad.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

With the seventh pick in the 2009 NFL draft...


The Oakland Raiders are assured of having a top pick again in 2010.

Oakland passed on the highly touted wide receiver out of Texas Tech, Michael Crabtree. OK, so Crabtree wasn't their guy, but Missouri's Jeremy Maclin or Florida's Percy Harvin at least would've made sense.

When Crabtree fell to Oakland at the 7th overall pick, any person on the planet - other than Al Davis, apparently - would've taken him without giving it a second thought.

Instead, Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey is now a Raider. Good luck with that.

The scouting report on Heyward-Bey: "...can burn and is quick enough off the line to defeat jam coverage, but isn't a physical player and his production (he never scored more than five TDs in a season) wasn't worthy of a top-ten pick. He also has small hands (only 9") and tends to vanish in games. Heyward-Bey caught three or fewer passes in seven of his twelve 2008 appearances."

Sounds like Al Davis's prototype early round draft pick.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Something in the air


I hate to kick the Yankees when they're down, but sometimes stories are so absurd I can't help but comment.

20 home runs were hit over the opening weekend of new Yankee Stadium (not counting the eight in the two exhibition games held before the start of the season), besting the previous opening four-game record of the 18 hit that were hit when the Reds opened Great American Ballpark back in 2003.

Statistical fluke, right? Just a result of an entire line up of sluggers excited to begin the new season, all of them swinging for the fences... right?

Maybe it's something in the air.

Accuweather's Gina Cherundolo blames the wind: "Angle of the seating in the new stadium could have an effect on wind speed across the field. The old Yankee Stadium had more stacked tiers and a large upper deck, acting like a solid wall, in effect, which would cause the wind to swirl more and be less concentrated. The new Yankee Stadium's tiers are less stacked, making a less sharp slope from the top of the stadium to the field. This shape could enable winds to blow across the field with less restriction. In addition, the slope of the seating would also lead to a 'downslope' effect in the field which, depending on wind direction, would tend to cause air to lift up in the right field."

Eh... what?

Let me ask Gina and any one else interested in this phenomenon the following question:

What do Jonathan Albaladejo, Brian Bruney, Phil Coke, Steven Jackson, Damaso Marte, Edwar Ramirez, and Jose Vera have in common?

Answer: They make up the worst possible bullpen a team can assemble with a 200 million dollar payroll. Granted, some of those guy's aren't that bad - especially the purposely omitted Mariano Rivera - but it's gotta have something to do with the reason balls are flying out of new Yankee Stadium at an alarming rate.

Sometimes it's more convenient to blame it on the weather.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Swisher strikes out one


I don't know what's worse...

The Yankees - and their trillion dollar payroll - threw Nick Swisher for an inning Monday night against the Rays... or the fact that Gabe Kapler struck out against him.

It always amazes me that a team can allot a bottomless pit of money for a stacked offense and a stud pitcher or two, yet completely ignores its bullpen year after year after year. Jonathan Albaladejo? Phil Coke? Jose Veras? These are seriously the best guys the Yanks could find?

The Mets signed relievers J.J. Putz AND Francisco Rodriguez in the off season and can now look forward to seven inning games all year long. A couple more decent late inning guys switching teams: Brian Fuentes was picked up by the Angels, and Kevin Gregg moved from Florida to Chicago.

You can score 100 runs a game, but it doesn't mean a thing if you can't hold opponents to less than 101. And it's flat out embarrassing when Nick Swisher is the only guy able to stop the bleeding.

The only thing more embarrassing? Being Gabe Kapler.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Joba Gone Wild


Want to see the police video of Joba Chamberlain, Yankees ace of the future? Click here.

Thanks to The Smoking Gun for somehow getting their hands on this and sharing it with the world! The video is edited and doesn't show all of the antics the accompanying article describes, both are entertaining nonetheless.

I don't think poking fun at New Yorkers or former Yankees is a great idea. Ever hear of John Rocker? Yeah... things didn't work out so well for him after he made fun of the passengers of New York's subway system. Making fun of a Yankee legend? Don't know if you've noticed, Joba, but that fan base takes quite a bit of pride in the team's history. Joking or not, teasing Yogi Berra in a drunken police video was not the smartest decision you've ever made. Not that he's shown the ability to make good decisions at all, but still.

Somehow, I think this all goes away if Chamberlain helps lead the Yankees back to the playoffs. If not, at least the Yanks already have their scapegoat.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Another opening day come and gone


The Yanks started off their season with a loss in Baltimore, "led" by free agent acquisitions CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira.

Kyle Farnsworth picked up his first loss of the year in Kansas City, blowing the lead handed to him by Gil Meche.

The Blue Jays are on pace to run away with the American League East.

Tony Clark is on pace to shatter Barry Bonds' single season home run record.

Baseball's back, and it sure feels good!

I updated the site almost nightly last season with coverage of all the blown saves, losing streaks, and double plays with the bases loaded. Unfortunately, I no longer have the time for that level of coverage, but I DO follow the sport religiously, and there WILL be the occasional bad performance highlighted for the world to notice!

The season is long, and here's to another great one sure to be filled with loads of Bad Baseball!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

He's b-a-a-a-a-a-ck...


“Can we build it…? Yes we can!”

I am excited… It is almost Michael Vick time again! And he continues to make news, even before his release… For those that don’t know, Vick declared bankruptcy after he was convicted and his NFL and endorsement money disappeared, and he agreed to pay the Falcons back $6.5 million of his previous contract. This past Thursday and Friday, Vick and his lawyers appeared in bankruptcy court and began laying the groundwork for Vick’s return to real life in May (and, presumably, an attempted return to football). Vick told the court that he plans to turn his life around and get back on the straight-and-narrow.

However, this is not what was notable about his appearance. What was most surprising was how Vick and his lawyers said he was going to go about turning his life around. My Dad once told me that hard work was the way to get ahead in life… The Warden must have told Michael the same thing in prison because Vick told the court that he plans to take a $10/hour construction job upon his release. I have to admit, I have a hard time imagining Vick in a hard hat and road guard vest. I mean, is he going to keep his throwing arm in shape by waving traffic? He did, however, say the job would only be 40 hours/week… That should leave him plenty of time to find trouble, wherever it may reside (“Hello? Pacman?”).

What’s more, Vick told the court he will receive approximately $600,000 from a documentary about his life to be made later this year. I get it, we live in a capitalist nation, but am I the only one that thinks it should be illegal for criminals to benefit from their crimes in ANY way? Call me old fashioned…

At any rate, I haven’t written many columns lately, partly owing to the NFL being in their off-season. BUT, with spring workouts underway, and Michael Vick poised for his release, the long drought of football idiocy we’ve had since last season may soon be over, my friends. Keep your fingers crossed!

-RP

Friday, April 3, 2009

Long season begins for Pittsburgh


You know how every year, when an NFL team - oh, say, the Lions - starts out 0-10 and people start to wonder if a top college team could beat them?

Ever wonder if the worst of the worst in Major League Baseball - oh, say, the Pirates - could hold their own against a college team?

Wonder no more. The Pirates would not beat a good college ball team. They probably couldn't even beat a bad team. And I KNOW they couldn't beat a community college team... because they didn't.

It's gonna be a long couple of years in Pittsburgh; a team made up of some of their top prospects lost an exhibition game against Manatee Community College. Granted, some of the Pirates involved had been cut from final rosters, but still - they must've been pretty damn good to even get a shot at making the club.

Seriously, though, what else would you expect from a club when two of their signees were reality show winners?

See the story, as reported by Yahoo! Sports, here.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I'll take two


Yankees general partner Hal Steinbrenner said Thursday, the first day fans had a chance to get inside the new Yankee Stadium, that some of the seats may be overpriced. Specifically, the $2,625 Legends Suites seats.

Gee, Hal, ya think?

Said Steinbrenner: "I think if anybody in any business had known where this economy was going to go, they would have done things differently. Look, there's no doubt small amounts of our tickets might be overpriced."

Sign me up for that ticket package! I'm not a marketing genius (though I do work in advertising), but I'm pretty sure telling your potential customers that your services/goods are overpriced is NOT a good strategy.

See the story. as reported from ESPN.com, here.