2011年6月15日星期三

Big League Stew - MLB - Yahoo! Sports: Cubs players rally together, spring for funny goat T-shirts

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Cubs players rally together, spring for funny goat T-shirts
Jun 15th 2011, 15:13

Cubs players rally together, spring for funny goat T-shirts

Everybody knows why the Chicago Cubs haven't been to the World Series since 1945.

It's not because of mostly rotten teams, or the rotten luck they've had with an occasional good team. It's because a local Greek restauranteur, one day, brought his pet goat Murphy to Wrigley Field and was denied admission to the '45 Series because — well, he brought a billy goat to a baseball game — and so he therefore placed a curse on the franchise that lasts to this moment.

Duh.

Depending on its mood, the Cubs organization sometimes has been hostile to this theory (or fact). At other times, it has played along.

With the team 10 games out of first place in the NL Central and apparently not heading for what would be its first championship in 103 years, the players are embracing the goat.

Well, they're doing something with the goat, as Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday night. Several players wore T-shirts that said "(Bleep) the goat!!!" on the back and showed a cartoon goat with the international "no" symbol on the front.

As seen above, Sullivan captured Carlos Zambrano buying in with a shirt of his own, which resembles other semi-licensed goat-related items that fans can buy from vendors outside Wrigley.

Will some take it the wrong way, with the Cubs bringing up the curse during a losing season?

"Why?" Koyie Hill said, "I think it's just kind of a loose, fun saying that came up, and it was funny as hell, and now we have T-shirts. Basically, that's all it was. It was an awesome joke. Everyone laughed. And now I have an extra large on."

Not only that, but the shirts obviously work as a curse-buster!

Cubs players rally together, spring for funny goat T-shirts

Wearing the goat shirts, the Cubs rallied for a 5-4 victory in 10 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Right-hander Randy Wells appreciated the effect the shirts had. So did Mike Quade, the team's manager.

"Whatever it takes to get guys going," Wells said. "I personally love it. It has been a trial and error process for us, but it just takes a couple of good efforts and we'll turn the corner."

Wells wouldn't say who gave the "good" speech while the T-shirts were distributed.

"It's private," he said.

Quade also applauded the T-shirt ploy because he said the team needed to loosen up.

"Anything that draws them together, keeps them together, I'm all in," he said, before adding: "Well, not anything. But damn near anything."

Good. That means the team probably will stop short of taking the message on the shirt too literally.

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Big League Stew - MLB - Yahoo! Sports: David Einhorn could buy a majority of the Mets for just $1

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David Einhorn could buy a majority of the Mets for just $1
Jun 15th 2011, 14:09

David Einhorn could buy a majority of the Mets for just $1Why is this man smiling?

It's probably because David Einhorn knows just how good of a deal he's getting as a result of the Wilpon family's desperate thirst for cold, hard cash.

Several business outlets are reporting this morning that the hedge fund manager's agreement to buy a minority slice (33 percent) of the New York Mets for $200 million is even better than previously thought.

In three years, Einhorn can buy a controlling interest in the team from the Wilpons — a reported 60 percent — for just one measly dollar.

The only way that doesn't happen is if Fred Wilpon returns the $200 million that Einhorn is laying out so the Mets can pay some of their bills. Under that scenario, Einhorn would keep a 16 percent stake in the team as a lender's fee.

Not bad.

No matter which way this deal goes, though, it's going to be interesting to watch. The Wilpons are basically making a huge wager that their financial standing will be a lot better in three years and that they'll be able to obtain a $200 million loan at more reasonable rates so they can pay Einhorn off. But with the team on pace to lose $70 million in 2011, it's hard to conceive how the Madoff-muddled Wilpons will be in such a position just three years from now. If the turnaround doesn't happen, Einhorn is going to get control of his favorite team — plus all of its assorted debt — for the price of a McDouble.

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Big League Stew - MLB - Yahoo! Sports: 3-in-1: Ryan Ludwick makes a trio of highlight reel grabs in one inning

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3-in-1: Ryan Ludwick makes a trio of highlight reel grabs in one inning
Jun 15th 2011, 13:39

3-in-1: Ryan Ludwick makes a trio of highlight reel grabs in one inning

He tied a record held by many.

That's the cliche uttered every time a position player is involved in all three outs in a single inning. And it's true, it is a record held by pretty much every player to wear a glove in the major leagues. But I doubt many have tied it as impressively as San Diego Padres outfielder Ryan Ludwick did in the first inning of their 6-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night.

Dick Enberg was a busy man that inning as, Ludwick made three consecutive "Oh my" inducing grabs from his left field position, robbing Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Nelson and Todd Helton of at least basehits, and possibly extra bases on each play.

3-in-1: Ryan Ludwick makes a trio of highlight reel grabs in one inning

The second catch, which is highlighted here, was certainly the most impressive of the three. A full out diving back-handed grab moving towards left center on a quickly sinking flyball. But all three had an extra degree of difficulty thanks to a strong wind that was making reads off the bat virtually impossible for outfielders early in the game.

Ludwick attempted to downplay the unexpected circus routine afterwards, but in doing so brought across the effects the wind had on his reads.

From the San Diego Union:

"Kind of weird," said the self-effacing Ludwick. "Actually, the first one wasn't a dive. If I'm gonna be completely honest, I broke back on the ball and, when the wind knocked it down, I came back in I kinda got my feet crossed and tripped over myshoelace. So it was kind of a flop."

Flop or not, Ludwick received a hero's welcome upon his return to the dugout, especially from manager Bud Black and pitcher Wade LeBlanc.

Unfortunately, that's where the celebration ended for Ludwick. His night at the plate included three strikeouts and a popout with the bases loaded before he delivered an RBI single in the ninth.

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Big League Stew - MLB - Yahoo! Sports: The Juice: Rays beat Red Sox, Crawford, like it’s no big deal

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The Juice: Rays beat Red Sox, Crawford, like it’s no big deal
Jun 15th 2011, 11:49

The Juice: Rays beat Red Sox, Crawford, like it’s no big dealNine innings, nine items to get you going. Ladies and gentleman of the Stew, take a sip of morning Juice.

1. Meh — it's just C.C. and the Sawx: The Boston Red Sox came to Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field on Tuesday night, bringing a nine-game winning streak and former local superstar Carl Crawford with them. The Rays did not shrink from the challenge of facing the AL East leaders, or get overly sentimental about the return of the best player in franchise history, who signed with Boston for $142 million in the offseason.

(And they're not intimidated by your boss dance moves, either, Carl.)

Tampa Bay won 4-0 behind right-hander James Shields, who pitched his third shutout of the season, and Crawford went 0 for 3 while receiving a mostly polite greeting. Manager Joe Maddon, whose club closed to within 3 1/2 games of first place, said the Rays wished Crawford a good-bye a while ago:

"Honestly, I hate to disappoint, but it's really not that big of a deal to us. … I think more of what you're going to see is for the fans," Maddon said. "For us, we've moved on. We've got a bunch of guys that say 'Rays' on the front of their jerseys and that's the group I'm concerned with."

2. Justin time: Well, we're just going to have go on a no-hitter alert every time Justin Verlander pitches, I guess. He took a no-no into the eighth before Orlando Cabrera broke it up, and the Detroit Tigers beat Justin Masterson and the Cleveland Indians 4-0 to take sole possession of first place in the AL Central.

3. Invader Zim returns!: Ryan Zimmerman should come of the disabled list more often. After missing 58 games, he hit a key double in a six-run seventh inning for the Washington Nationals, who rallied against the Cardinals for an 8-6 victory. Team Fredbird has dropped four in a row.

4. Who needs the Captain?: With Derek Jeter simply cheering instead of playing, the New York Yankees thumped the Rangers 12-4. One thing is certain about the season Alexi Ogando is having: It would be even better if he didn't have to face the Yankees. He has allowed 11 runs in eight innings against them and 14 runs in 75 innings against everyone else.

5. Bud's got your back, coach: Bud Norris fact:

The Astros right-hander, it would seem, sides with deposed pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, who was fired before Houston fell 1-0 to the Pirates and righty Jeff Karstens. Also: A moment of silence for Hunter Pence's 23-game hitting streak.

The Juice: Rays beat Red Sox, Crawford, like it’s no big deal

6. Slim margins: The San Francisco Giants got to rookie Josh Collmenter for a big early lead, but needed to hang on after a rally for a 6-5 victory at Arizona. Miguel Montero's three-run homer made S.F. squirm — Panda was all like, "Matt Cain, you OK?" But Brian Wilson battled control issues to lock it down in the ninth. Giants lead the D-backs by 1 1/2 games, two in the loss column.

7. Cubs comeback: Yovani Gallardo seemed to have this one on lockdown through seven innings for the Brewers, but the Cubs stormed back against reliever Marco Estrada with three runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie, then won in the 10th — 5-4 — via an RBI single by Starlin Castro. Milwaukee had gone 35 games without back-to-back defeats, which seems like a lot.

8. About a week back: Cole Hamels shut down the Marlins, and rookie Domonic Brown hit a pair of homers leading the Phillies to a 9-1 victory. Hamels had to leave the game in the eighth inning because of a stiff back, so there's your nightly angst material for Phillies fans.

9. Reds menace: Johnny Cueto and the Cincinnati Reds had to go and spoil Don Newcombe's 85th with a 3-2 victory at Los Angeles. Cueto outperformed Clayton Kershaw for his first career victory against the Dodgers in five starts.

Extra inning: The White Sox were rained out at Minnesota, prompting manager Ozzie Guillen to say jokingly:

"Where's the Metrodome when you need it?"

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2011年6月14日星期二

Big League Stew - MLB - Yahoo! Sports: Cubs minor league team mocks LeBron with ring giveaway

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Cubs minor league team mocks LeBron with ring giveaway
Jun 14th 2011, 22:40

Cubs minor league team mocks LeBron with ring giveawayLeBron James was right: The people who run the Peoria Chiefs really did wake up on Monday morning with their usual host of personal problems.

Chief, uh, among them: How were they supposed to bring widespread publicity to their Single-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs without spending a lot of money —or any money at all, really?

Luckily, the defeated but smug Miami Heat star provided them with enough inspiration to make this an easy work week. And so the Chiefs will be holding "LeBron James 2011 NBA Championship Replica Ring Giveaway" night for Thursday night's game.

The catch being that the ring, like the one James didn't earn against the Dallas Mavericks, is non-existent so fans will really just be receiving a handful of air. The joke "giveaway" is being tacked on to an already scheduled promotion celebrating Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls' run of six NBA titles over eight years during the 1990s.

From the Peoria Chiefs press release:

In addition to the LeBron replica ring, the Chiefs are looking into whether or not the game can skip the fourth inning to honor King James who took off the fourth quarter of every finals game.

"We aren't sure if the league will allow it," said team President Rocky Vonachen. "But if LeBron doesn't need to show up for the fourth, maybe we won't either."

One lucky fan will win a replica of James' 2011 Finals MVP Award which he earned with his clutch fourth quarter play. Fans will also have the opportunity to learn how to perform the Heimlich to prevent themselves or their colleagues from choking in a big situation.

"Really this is just us getting back to the real world and waking up today and trying to solve our own personal problems," said Vice President of Ticket Sales Eric Obalil.

I'm usually not a big fan of minor league teams jumping on the latest sports news for a cheap headline or promotion, especially if it doesn't involve the sport they play.

But I have to hand it to the chiefs of the Chiefs. It sure takes a lot of guts to schedule a giveaway mocking LeBron's lack of rings when you're feeding a big league baseball franchise that hasn't won one since 1908. Especially when the Cubs are currently a heck of a lot farther away from winning a championship than James and the Heat.

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Big League Stew - MLB - Yahoo! Sports: Can the Twins really make a run at the AL Central title?

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Can the Twins really make a run at the AL Central title?
Jun 14th 2011, 20:52

Can the Twins really make a run at the AL Central title?

That's the line being loudly whispered among Minnesota Twins fans as Ron Gardenhire's crew has cut their AL Central deficit from 16.5 games on June 1 to just nine heading into tonight's series opener against the Chicago White Sox at Target Field.

And lest you believe I'm inventing a straw man for this post, let it be known that ESPN 1500's Phil Mackey has been leading the charge on his Twitter account. BLS pal@bennyc50 has been doing the same with some funny apocalypse-themed billboards on That's Twins Baseball (seriously, go check the rest of them out).

Anyway, these appear to be pretty heady times for a fanbase that has seen the Twins win nine of their last 11, yet still sport an ugly record of 26-39, bad enough for worst in the entire American League.

So what's the deal? Did these optimistic TC Bears get into some bad berries?

The roots of their optimism are starting to show. Over the next week or so, they're scheduled to get back almost every Twins players you've ever heard of. So the return of Joe Mauer, Jim Thome, Denard Span and others means no more Triple-A lineups or big worries if Justin Morneau has to sit longer to heal a troublesome wrist. Other factors putting a spring into a Twins' fans step today are a lot of games against the underwhelming collection of teams in the AL Central as well as the inspiration of the left-for-dead squads of '06 and '09, when Minnesota successfully chased down the Detroit Tigers by the end of the season for the division title.

Can the Twins really make a run at the AL Central title?But going from worst to first this year, of course, would be the toughest task for the Twins to date. Their lowest water mark in the '06 and '09 seasons was 25-33 on June 7, 2006. So despite their recent surge, the Twins are still well behind the pace of the recent comebacks that have established their reputation as a team you can't turn your back on.

Also, if we're operating under a possibly big assumption that a meager 86 wins take the AL Central title, the Twins would have to go 60-37 the rest of the way to get there. No team in baseball — not even the Red Sox nor the Phillies — has played at a .618 clip to this point of the season.

So do we pat the Twins fans on the head, say "aww, that's cute" and "nice Photoshops" before sending them on their way?  That would seem to be the smart and logical case.

But given their history, can we ever feel totally comfortable while doing so?

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Big League Stew - MLB - Yahoo! Sports: Logic! The Cubs are losing, so it’s time to call Wrigley Field a dump

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Logic! The Cubs are losing, so it’s time to call Wrigley Field a dump
Jun 14th 2011, 19:33

Logic! The Cubs are losing, so it’s time to call Wrigley Field a dumpThe Chicago Cubs are 26-39, would be in last place if the Houston Astros were transferred to the the AL West midseason and feature a GM/manager combo at the top of every hot seat list.

So, naturally, it's time for everyone to talk about how much Wrigley Field sucks. Peter Gammons fired the first salvo owner, calling it "a dump" that's tying the hands of ownership. Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, the preeminent Wrigley critic, chuckled in agreement with Gammo's assessment and now Sun-Times columnist Rick Morrissey is doing his best over-the-top-rope clothesline on the topic:

The best thing about Wrigley is the ivy on the outfield walls and the hand-operated scoreboard towering over center field. You can have the rest of it. It's a great park when you're looking at the field from your seat. It's not so great on the way to and from your seat.

Newsflash to everyone in the line for the wrecking ball: Wrigley Field hasn't been that great on the way to and from your seat for a long time now. Fenway Park, despite all of the nice renovations that Chicagoans drool over and demand, still isn't. Both parks were built nearly a century ago for a fanbase that was significantly slimmer and just a tad less accustomed to things like flat-screen televisions and overstuffed sofas.

But both continue to endure because, like beach cruiser bicycles and wooden roller coasters, we're willing to sacrifice comfort for the thrills of nostalgia. They also both still stand, in part, because both teams were successful on the field and at the gate during a time when the ballpark boom was in full swing. (Would either locale have been able to resist the siren call of a new park if Pedro Martinez and Sammy Sosa hadn't come along? If Harry Caray hadn't made Wrigley a tourist destination or Ted Williams wasn't there to remind New Englanders that Fenway was worth renovating, not rebuilding?)

So as thousands of athletes with nothing else to say have said: It is what it is.

But that's not to say recognize the need for big changes around Wrigley Field — currently a pipedream with taxpayers currently unwilling to foot any of the bill — or question its long-term viability as a big revenue stream. I'm just saying  it's completely asinine to point out the park's flaws now that the team's record has turned the lights on and started to cut in on the beer buzz. Does anyone really think we wouldn't still be hearing the usual poetic odes to the corner of Clark and Addison if the team's record read 39-26?

Thing is, it's going to get better before it gets worse because this is the Ricketts family's big chance. With enough people looking around and questioning the accommodations — which, again, need a freshener just like they did during the 97-win season in 2008 and during the 2003 and '04 campaigns — there is a big opportunity for ownership to divert the public's gaze from other things in need of urgent repair. Namely a front office that can't evaluate or sign talent, a large-market payroll that plays like it belongs in Des Moines and a debt service incurred when the Ricketts overpaid for a team and a ballpark they apparently neglected to have a home inspector/accountant check out.

The Cubs aren't in first place, which is why we're talking about Wrigley's age in the first place.

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