Thanks For Landing Strasburg; Now Go Get Bent

Pity the work of an interim. They usually step into their jobs in moments of extreme duress - like when an executive leaves amid poor performance and/or misbehavior, try their best to right the organization’s ship, and are then usually unceremoniously pushed aside when the organization figures out who they really wanted to replace the disgraced exec.

Mike Rizzo
(Then again, perhaps he lost points for looking like the unholy lovechild of Jim Cramer and Billy Joel and Barney Frank.)

Every now and then, though, the interim performs so admirably in his job, accomplishing things above and beyond the usual triage, that it’s only right and fair to just hand him or her the job and skip the rigamarole of the search. A good example? How about Mike Rizzo, acting GM of the Washington Nationals after Jim Bowden left in shame this February. No, the Nats haven’t been good, but they fleeced the Pirates on a trade or two. More importantly, Rizzo stared down Scott Boras and brought Stephen Strasburg into the fold before the signing deadline, something that seemed so unlikely that the MASN announcers were wailing in dismay at the prospect of Strasburg sitting out.

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Dukes Fined by Nats for Charity-Related Lateness

Elijah Dukes, he of the life-threatening anger management issues, has been relatively harmless since he joined the Washington Nationals unless you’re an opposing pitcher.   His .323 average and two home runs in nine games have been a bright spot in another dim year-to-come for D.C. baseball.

Elijah Dukes

(Sorry; hugging is a fineable offense)

However, Dukes can’t seem to get any recognition of his newfound focus on the field.  First, he was told that he would have to come off the bench to make room for the immortal Austin Kearns. Once Lastings Milledge found his way back to the minors (to again keep room for the immortal Austin F. Kearns), he finally got to play more.

Now he’s back in the dead dawg house, though, for showing up five minutes late on game day yesterday.  He was benched, fined, threatened with demotion, and generally demeaned for setting a poor tone for the new and improved lousy Nationals.   So where was the malcontent?  He was signing autographs for Little Leaguers.

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Speed Read: Michigan St. Gets Tar Heel Bruising

Is there any reason we shouldn’t have seen this coming?  Sure, North Carolina had more talent, depth and balance than Michigan State. They also had more experience. So why shouldn’t the Tar Heels have rolled up a rout in the national title game, cruising past the Spartans, 89-72, and validating North Carolina’s upperclassmen who decided to come back for a final year rather than head to the NBA.

north carolina celebrate

Yet, by halftime, this wasn’t a game so much as a massacre on hostile territory.  North Carolina built up the biggest halftime lead in national title game history, and the few moments when Michigan State climbed closer than that in the second half proved more fleeting and false than impressive.

In the end, the final game of the entire NCAA Tournament, the game for which we sat through a month of buildup, complete with a compelling Final Four David vs. Goliath script and 60,000+ screaming, green-clad fans in economically depressed Detroit, was almost like the early season North Carolina rout of Michigan state on replay. If we’d whitewashed the original, 98-63 score and written in 89-72, would anyone have noticed? We dare say they wouldn’t have.

michigan state bench cry

In fact, if there were overnight Nielsen ratings that cut off at halftime, we’d love to see them. Something tells us the second half viewers were significantly less than the TBS re-runs that preempted Game 7 of the ALCS last October.

Yet, as is always the case, there was plenty of celebratory violence/delirium in Chapel Hill as soon as the final buzzer sounded. In fact, it probably hit well before the final buzzer, given that the rout was fully on well before the game wrapped up.

tar heels fans chapel hill

According to the NEWS & OBSERVER, fans wasted little time ratcheting up the rowdy, starting fires and tossing around alcohol at a terrific pace. No, they didn’t temporarily relocate Franklin Street to College Park, Md., but you might not have known any better if you just shot a cursory glance at the post-title celebration.

And what was the motivation behind the fans’ craziness? Oh, it was all in good fun … and venting, naturally.

“It’s the culmination of the entire year of yelling at the TV,” said 24-year-old Elliot Rubin, who attended UNC, of the experience. “It’s the most jubilant feeling ever.”

“The crowd is definitely bigger this year,” said DeeDee Monzee, a 2007 UNC graduate, before jumping through a bonfire. “There’s a lot more alumni out here.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Those fans were giving journalistic quotes between leaps through bonfires. That, dear friends, is the way to live life on the edge.  Now, if only they could get the police on board …

What is it about Jacksonville wide receivers? Not only did Reggie Williams find himself arrested on a felony count of possession of a controlled substance (cough, cocaine, cough), he also may have been using the magical Sweet & Low, seeing as how his arrest blowback against the cops earned him a straight tasering.

jaguars reggie williams

Yes folks, you’ve got that right: For the second time in a year, a Jacksonville wide receiver has been arrested in possession with cocaine. And this is the second time in three months that Williams has been arrested for DUI and some sort of drugs. Clearly, these guys don’t believe in discretion, or learning from others’ mistakes. And they don’t seem to care, either. After all, Matt Jones opted for jail instead of probation just so he could keep hitting the sauce. What’s to make us believe that Williams will pull out of a steady nose sugar habit just because of one nasty arrest in Houston. After all, what else are drug test masking kits for?

The bigger question is what the remaining wide receivers on the Jacksonville roster — Troy Williamson (who knows what it’s like to get suspended), D’Juan Woods, Mike Walker and Nate Hughes –  are going to do now that Williams has burned his last possible bridge back to Jacksonville. Please say a huge party, please say a huge party, please say a huge party …

bus cook agent

hasheem thabeet sunglasses

stamford bridge

Did you watch the second half of the title game last night?

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Alleged 16-Year-Old More Powerful Than Nats GM

Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden resigned this morning amidst a continually firestorm of controversy surrounding the team’s Latin American academies. That’s the kind of issue that could sink any number of MLB front office characters, but there’s something more significant about Bowden’s departure: It was precipitated by an alleged 16-year-old.

esmailyn gonzalez nationals

(Does this guy actually look 16 to anyone?)

For some reason, the coverage of Bowden’s self-axeing has focused on potential successors (here at FANHOUSE),  bonus skimming (here at DEADSPIN), and how the controversy has overshadowed the Nationals’ somewhat promising spring training (here at the WASHINGTON POST). Yet there’s something more significant here: Bowden is out as the General Manager of an American professional sports franchise because he couldn’t verify that a 16-year-old was actually a 20-year-old. That’s right, Bowden couldn’t tell the different between a kid who was on the verge of drinking legality and one who couldn’t even drive in all 50 states … and he paid out a record $1.4 million bonus as a result.

Hey, the kid said his nickname was “Smiley”. When have you ever met a 16-year-old who wanted to be called Smiley? That should have been a big enough tip-off right there. Read more…

Sabathia, Bowden Share Some Foul (Smelling) Play

To paraphrase Tom Hanks in “A League of Their Own”, there’s no farting in baseball! Well, tell that to C.C. Sabathia & Jim Bowden.

C.C. Sabathia Jim Bowden farting fables

First, HOME RUN DERBY catches the Indians pitcher pooting in the dugout. You don’t hear any sound of the dirty deed (could have been an SBD – silent but deadly). But by the way C.C. is leaning & the face he makes, obviously something has passed along.

Video after the jump (fortunately not presented in Smell-O-Rama).

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