Oh Boy, Were The Utley Blown Calls Ever Stinkers

All pardons if you didn’t stay up to watch the end of the Rockies-Phillies game. Even those who go to bed before 11 on the west coast would have probably missed the pivotal play, to say nothing of the hardy souls on the east coast who had to stay up well past 2:00 to see Brad Lidge close the game out. Playoff baseball: it’s awesome for insomniacs!

Chase Utley 1
(As with ringworms, the circles indicate problem areas.)

If you missed the crucial play, then, allow us to recap. With one out and a man on third in the ninth inning, Chase Utley fouled a pitch off his leg, then ran to first anyway, where the throw beat him. For his trouble, Utley was declared safe and the Phillies scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly by the next batter, Ryan Howard. You may think we’re using deliberately partisan language out of some deep bias against the Phils, but no - evidence shows that Utley had no business standing on first.

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Is Chase Utley the Next Big Superstar? Is Anyone?

Heaven knows it’s a battle to fill the gaping maw of a newspaper sports section (or, heck, an Internet site).  It’s eternally ravenous, utterly unforgiving, and preternaturally cruel.  Lots of writers have to resort to the occasional trick (like comedy bullet points) to keep the beast at bay for another day.

Carl Fredricksen from Up

(ARIZONA REPUBLIC writer, considering his next opus)

However, it takes a special effort to knock out 1200 words bemoaning the loss of the baseball superstar.  It takes interviews with other old men as they pass through town to hopefully buttress your case.  It takes calling up your friends and/or other similarly-minded sports fans in town.  It takes quoting Simon and Garfunkel.  And, of course, it takes bullet points.  (These are also funny, but it’s less intentional this time.)

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Speed Read: Tough Love’s in Need of Love Today

Love hurts: one of the Karolyis’ Romanian pupils has finally alleged abuse (physical and otherwise) against the first couple of prepubescent girl molding.  Even though she apparently has corroborating evidence and thirty years’ separation from those training days, she didn’t step forward until this week. Bela Karolyi responded with typical affection: “Some of the girls have bad memories. Perhaps others say it was the best time of their lives.”  Hey, if you’re training for gymnastics glory anyway, maybe you should just relax on the balance beam and enjoy itIsn’t that right, Bela?

Bela Karolyi

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone will now enjoy his own private life being dragged from its home, shoved into a box car full of paparazzi, and transported to a media circus camp as his wife files for divorce and dives in for a substantial slice of their nearly four million dollar fortune. Frankly, we see only one way to save Formula One and the San Diego Padres from having their fans crushed by these discordant marriages: spouse swapping.  After all, role playing is right out.

Bob and Ted and Carol and Alice

A former South Korean baseball player turns a gig as chief cheerleader (from the stands) for the South Korean Olympic team into a hedonistic extended party with expensive hotels and ticket scalping with scant actual event attendance, all on the country’s won. Oh, and then his US$300,000 gambling debt came to light.  It’s like Jose Canseco and Charles Barkley all rolled into one.  Just another example of the decline of America.

Kang Byung-kyu

(On the left.  In Beijing.  Not at an event.)

And so on:

What would you spell out in bricks at your rival team’s stadium?

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Chase Utley Drops An Effenheimer On Live TV

Let’s face it, there’s nothing like winning the World Series. For all the hand-wringing and micromanaging and doubting that goes on during the 162-game regular season, it’s all entirely irrelevant as soon as that trophy gets raised. If it’s good enough for a title, it’s good enough for everybody else.

Phillies LOL he said F word
(”LOL F WORD U GUYS”)

Or, as Chase Utley chose to put it during their celebration at a packed Citizens Bank Park, “World F***ing Champions!” (NSFW audio, obviously). Okay then.

Understandably, the crowd strongly disapproved of the harsh language and booed lustily—oh wait, that didn’t happen at all.

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Speed Read: Phils Win Game 1, Free Tacos For All

With a runner on and one out in the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series at Tropicana Field last night, Chase Utley attempted to push a bunt through the vacant left side of the infield but it went foul. Five pitches later, he crushed one into the right-field seats for a 2-0 lead that the Phillies would not relinquish. Can we just but this whole bunting-is-a-good-idea nonsense to rest? At least in the first inning?

Chase Utley Game 1 home run

Cole Hamels threw seven innings to pick up the win as the Phils beat the Rays 3-2 in what was a rather uneventful Game 1, despite the close score. Tampa Bay never really threatened Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge in the final two innings. Some of the many Phillies fans who were in the Trop revealed to the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER that the Rays set up their games like a “party” for fans while Phils fans are all business, if “business” means getting drunk and flipping off children wearing Rays jerseys. The TAMPA TRIBUNE found little to talk about, other than Akinora Iwamura’s big night.

The most important thing that happened all night anyway was Jason Bartlett’s stolen base in the fifth inning, which entitled all of America to a free taco from Taco Bell next Tuesday. Although, the only way we weren’t getting a free taco at some point is if nobody stole a base during the entire series. Tacos are available from 2 to 6 p.m., which means that all of America should be in the bathroom by 7.

Taco

Just because both his current and former team are eliminated, you didn’t think that Manny Ramirez was just going away, did you? SI.COM’s Jon Heyman says that the Dodgers are willing to pay him market value, but are hesitant to give him a long-term deal. Manny is thought to be seeking at least a four year deal, and maybe as many as six years. This from a guy who a couple of years ago said he might just retire when his contract was up. Heyman quotes a source that tells him that the team may consider paying Manny a yearly salary in the range of Alex Rodriguez’ $27.5 million, and possibly even more if he agrees to a two-year contract. Expect this to get dragged out, especially since Scott Boras is involved and will have to generate some sort of bidding war.

The most famous knee in New England is not healing particularly well, according to the BOSTON HERALD’s Karen Guregian. Tom Brady has already had three arthroscopic procedures done on the knee in the last week to clean the wound and battle infection. Doctors are worried that the grafted tendon that replaced his ACL may break down, necessitating a whole new surgery.  I know that athletes generally recover well from these surgeries, but it can’t be good for his long-term health to go through one procedure after another. You might want to prepare for a Cassel-led 2009 team, Pats fans.

Enough of this “news” crap. Let’s get to the nudity:

• You don’t need to comb through photoshopped pictures of Sarah Palin to see scantily-clad women with funny accents holding guns:

Canadian Biathlon team

These are the women of the Canadian Olympic Biathlon team, who are doing the whole naked-calendar thing to raise awareness about naked biathletes. The biathlon isn’t exactly as salacious as it sounds. It’s an event comprised of half target shooting and half cross-country skiing, and is huge in Europe but not so much anywhere else. The Canadian squad is hopeful for a medal on their home turf in 2010. Bios of the ladies can be found here. Find out which one hates shoveling manure at home on the ranch!

Ryan Howard still gets an allowance from his parents, writes BLOOMBERG’s Scott Soshnick (via CHINA POST). He heaps praise on Mr. and Mrs. Howard for instilling a solid work ethic and respect for money in their son, but doesn’t say anything about it being a bit unhealthy for your mom to be doing everything for you when you’re 28.

• Celtics rookie Bill Walker has kicked off his career in style by trying to start a fight with Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady in a preseason game. This might have something to do with why his ESPN.COM profile page said he was male genitalia this week (thanks to BASKETBAWFUL for the story).

Colt McCoy told the SPORTING NEWS that he’s going to return for his senior season (via ESPN).

• NBA.COM gave every GM a survey and has published the results. Any guesses on who thinks Robert Swift “does the most with the least talent” or picked Toronto to win the Atlantic Division?  Anybody?

• OK, is anyone buying this OCTOBER GONZO thing? I’m not even sure what MLB’s angle is. All I know is that this thing is being written by an MLB.COM intern who knows nothing about baseball. Or Steve Phillips. One or the other. In one post, Gonzo contends that “many” of the 2004 Red Sox who overcame a 3-0 ALCS deficit were still with the team. I guess five constitutes “many” to him (and one of those, Kevin Youkilis, didn’t even play in the ALCS or World Series).

• For an actually entertaining baseball blog, go to FIRE JOE MORGAN, which breaks down ESPN’s ridiculous point/counterpoint article about the World Series, where Jim Caple calls Joe Maddon an “experienced manager.”

• For as much crap as Isiah Thomas takes for running the Knicks into the ground, Michael Jordan has mostly escaped widespread criticism for his terrible personnel decisions with the Bobcats. YAHOO!’s Adrian Wojnarowski has a fascinating look at what is actually the most dysfunctional team in the NBA, especially now that Larry Brown is around to complain about everything.

• The L.A. Galaxy are looking to recoup some of that cash they spent on David Beckham by renting him to AC Milan for the winter. They have to return him by April, though, or face a $2 late fee. The DAILY MAIL seems tired of Becks’ act.

• Anti-doping giant Dick Pound says that unlike China, Canada was filled with “savages” 400 years ago. CTV suggests that Dick Pound should apologize. Dick Pound.

Who will Manny Ramirez ultimately sign with?

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Speed Read: Dodgers Done, Cowboys To Follow?

How often does the first batter tell you everything you need to know about how a baseball game is going to go? But after seeing Jimmy Rollins take Chad Billingsley deep in the first inning of Game 5 of the NLCS, did anyone have any doubt that the Phillies would be going to the World Series? The result wound up 5-1 for Philadelphia, but it might have been 1,000-1 after that first at-bat.

Philadelphia Phillies clinch NL Pennant

With how Cole Hamels was pitching, it’s not as though the Phillies needed much help, but Rafael Furcal channeling some combination of the Chicago Cubs’ infield, Steve Sax and Rick Ankiel (pitcher version) didn’t help. Furcal made three errors in the fifth inning, tying an MLB post-season record. I can sympathize with Furcal: I also once made three errors in one inning. Of course, I was 12, and a terrible Little League player.

Rafael Furcal and Joe Torre

I hate to burst the bubble of die-hard Philly fans like THE 700 LEVEL who are reveling on their team’s victory, and the fact that they are four games away from bringing the city its first major professional sports title in 25 years. So I won’t mention that the Phillies’ Big Three (Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley) are hitting a meager .250 combined in the 2008 playoffs.

Or that Jamie Moyer might wind up starting a World Series game, and that your starters not named Cole Hamels have an ERA just over 6.00 this postseason.

Or that the Rays have somehow turned into the 1929 Yankees, if that’s who you wind up playing.

Or that other than Manny Ramirez, this wasn’t a very good Dodgers team, and beating them in five games wasn’t really that huge of an accomplishment.

Just sleep tight, Phillie fans, after a night of serious celebrating. Probably in a pool of your own vomit, but sleep tight none the less, and don’t worry about tomorrow.

Meanwhile, as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ season ended with a thud, the slow-motion train wreck that the Dallas Cowboys’ season is becoming is continuing. A day after they were fleeced by the Lions (the Lions!) to complete their Roy Williams collection, the DALLAS MORNING NEWS reports that head coach Wade Phillips doesn’t expect Adam “Pac-Man” Jones to return to the team regardless of the length of his suspension.

Also not expected to come back after this season: Wade Phillps.

But fear not, Cowboys’ fans! Remember Tony Romo’s pinkie injury that was going to sideline him for four games? Turns out that he’s going to try to play this week against the Rams. Because having a quarterback trying to play with a broken finger on his throwing hand always ends up well. Right, USC fans?

Here’s what else happened last night while you were rolling your eyes at John McCain rolling his eyes:

    Mets bullpen car

  • THE LEGEND OF CECILIO GUANTE prays for the return of the bullpen car. I don’t know: as cool as they are, it’s a little less intimidating when NAME OF YOUR TEAM’S CLOSER HERE comes in from the bullpen to the sounds of AC/DC OR GUNS ‘N’ ROSES OR METALLICA OR BLACK SABBATH when he’s riding in a giant, cartoon helmet.
  • The LOS ANGELES TIMES reports that Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, the Mob bookmaker and casino boss who inspired the movie Casino, has cashed in and gone to that comped room in the sky.
  • MICHIGAN DAILY notes that Michigan running back Mike Milano has been indefinitely suspended from the team after allegedly assaulting Wolverines hockey player and Anaheim Ducks prospect Steve Kampfer on campus, slamming him to the ground and knocking him unconscious.
  • Kansas State assistant coach Dalonte Hill reportedly makes $420,000 a year. THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION points out that is more than the school’s President makes.
  • How fat is Eddy Curry? So fat that he sat on his exercise ball and it exploded. That’s not a joke: THE DAILY NEWS’ KNICKS KNATION says this actually happened at practice on Monday.
  • BRAVES LAUNCH PAD notes the striking similarities between Phillies slugger Ryan Howard and The Office temp-turned-executive-turned-secretary of the same name.
  • VEGAS NEWS delivers a strike with news that Make That Spare is coming back to TV. Pro bowlers making spares over and over? That’s must see TV!
  • Your World Cup qualifying recap from the LOS ANGELES TIMES: The US, having secured their spot in the next round, fields a youthful squad and falls to Trinidad and Tobago, 2-1. Meanwhile, Mexico has to rally to tie Canada and is in danger of missing the final round of qualifying.
  • The NEW YORK TIMES’ SLAP SHOT follows up on the fallout from the tragic death of Rangers’ prospect Alexei Cherepanov at age 19, including the confusion over the possible causes of his death.
  • Finally, the AP has word that Bobby Knight told a TV interviewer that he would consider coaching again. But he was such a natural, energetic analyst working for ESPN. (Note: I’m being sarcastic here.)

Who do you blame for the Dodgers’ failures in the NLCS?

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Speed Read: Are LA Fans Ready For Lakers Now?

That low rumble you heard in Los Angeles last night wasn’t an earthquake - it was the sound of one million Dodger mini-flags being ripped off of cars simultaneously. The team didn’t have a total collapse like the Cubs, but a sixth-inning mini-meltdown of one bad throw and two lousy pitches undid the rest of the night and equaled a 3-2 defeat.

Pat Burrell is manly

Dodger fans throughout LA have one question: when does the Lakers season start? That, and if Joe Torre should have lifted Derek Lowe after Chase Utley deposited a ball into the bleachers in right center to tie the game. I agree with the LA TIMES’ BLUE NOTES that you have to leave Lowe in: he had been cruising along until then. If you want to find a goat, look at Rafael Furcal going 0-4 at the top of the line-up and making a lousy throw. Or the 6-7-8 hitters for the Dodgers, who went 1-11.

Clemson Tigers head coach Tommy Bowden

And speaking of finger-pointing: Clemson Tigers, meet your fans! If you thought that the fans were hard on you after your loss to Maryland, you probably want to schedule some extra sessions with the team therapist to deal with the fallout from your 12-7 loss to Wake Forest and practically Auburn-like offense. Perhaps it’s just karma for taking away Ray Ray McElrathbey’s scholarship in the off-season.

Here’s some more news to ponder while watching the Dow Jones Index go down another hundred points. Wait, make it two hundred! Three hundred! Wow, I didn’t even know it could go into negative numbers…

Gina Carano

Which Top 10 team is mostly likely to be upset on Saturday?

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Pennant Chase - Utley Powers Phillies To Victory

Your first victors of the 2008 MLB Posteason - the Philadelphia Phillies. And it was all thanks to Chase Utley’s bat & Mike Cameron’s glove.

Chase Utley Mike Cameron

Game 1 of the Phillies-Brewers series started out as a quick but deadlocked affair. Cole Hamels did his part keeping Milwaukee off the scoreboard, while Yovani Gallardo flummoxed Philly. But it all changed in the bottom of the 3rd.

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Blog Jam: Chase Utley Has 2 Words for Boo Birds

• THE 700 LEVEL hears Phillies slugger Chase Utley giving a reasonable response to all the boo birds at Yankee Stadium on Monday night.

Chase Utley Home Run Derby

• Meanwhile, REAL CLEAR SPORTS catches Rick Reilly complaining about too many white players participating in the Home Run Derby.

• Speaking of racist chatter, DEADSPIN discovers Reggie Jackson having the chutzpah to call an artist Jewish, just because the two were haggling over the price of a painting.

• On a related note, BUGS & CRANKS raises some interest in presenting their MLB All-Dick Team.

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Blog-O-Rama: Padres Beer Skimps On The Alcohol

• DEADSPIN needs a drink, as the alcohol content of the $8.50 beers at San Diego Padres games is only 3.2 percent!!!!

San Diego Padres beer

No wonder PETCO PARK visitors are able to stay up all night.

• THE SLANCH REPORT via WITH LEATHER serves up Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo singing the praises of big meat. It’s the finest union of Cincinnati sports & food products since Carson Palmer went long…er!

• AND WHAMMY has footage of LeBron James creating, as the announcers call it, “an earthquake in Cleveland, Ohio!” Wonder if Trenni Kusnierek felt that one, too.

• SI’s Richard Deitsch looks back on the many words of wisdom Isiah Thomas shared with the world during his Knicks tenure.

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