Speed Read: Time To Expand MLB Instant Replay?

In the wake of the awful call at home plate on Monday night that ended the A’s 14-13 win over the Twins (go here if you’re not familiar with the play), the sports media world was spinning yesterday with varying opinions on the idea of expanding instant replay. I guess it was only a matter of time until a call was blown so egregiously at home plate that some people have decided that umpires basically can’t be trusted to get anything right anymore.

Twins lose on bad call

(Yeah, that’s not really even close)

Neil Velleman of TMR ZOO makes a pretty good case for expanding replay to cover close calls on the bases, as long as there’s a challenge system that is used in sports like football and tennis. Heck, every play at the wickets in important cricket matches is reviewed instantaneously using video technology to determine whether a runner is safe or not (this is analagous to using replay on the bases in baseball). I guess it is inherently silly that the whole world knew Michael Cuddyer was safe when he slid into home plate, and umpire Mike Muchlinski was the only one who didn’t see it. I’m all for letting officials use their best judgment in situations that require interpretation, but these kinds of plays aren’t really “judgment calls.” A player is either out or he isn’t, and if there’s a better way to determine that, why wouldn’t it be considered?


(Even these guys have replay)

The SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE’s Gwen Knapp says that baseball shouldn’t act hastily to enact replay based on one bad call, even though last year’s hastily-enacted system seems to work pretty well.  The SACRAMENTO BEE says that even David Stern has given referees latitude to use replay, and that in matters of clear right and wrong there’s no reason not to use the information you have available.

On the flip side, I can see the argument that we’re heading down the slippery slope of not using on-field umpires at all. There are automated systems in place now that can call every pitch a ball or a strike. If similar systems can be developed to determine outs on the bases and call balls fair or foul, why would we need umpires at all? You could also argue that if the bad calls are evenly distributed, everyone will benefit from them at some point. Sure, the Twins were victimized at the worst possible time, but they also shouldn’t have blown a 12-2 lead in the first place.

I just don’t want replay to ever extend into youth baseball, for the sake of future umpire baiters everywhere. I’m still proud of that time I really sold a tag at home plate with my glove when the ball was sitting like three feet behind me and I got the call. And, actually, the more that I think about it, I’m not sure I’m into this whole replay thing. What, is Ozzie Guillen going to argue with a machine? (well, he’s a bad example I guess)

Ozzie Guillen

Right after the All-Star break, the Phillies went to Miami for what was billed as a crucial four-game series that might swing the momentum in the NL East toward the Marlins and make the race wide open again. But after sweeping the Fish and taking the first two from the Cubs, the Phils have won 10 games in a row for the first time since 1991, and now look like they might be re-asserting themselves as the team to beat in baseball.

I’m not sure that Pedro Martinez is going to make all that much of a difference, but the idea that they could land Roy Halladay can’t make other NL teams very happy. And one of the biggest reasons for the team’s recent resurgence is Jimmy Rollins, who has decided to wake up after napping through the first three months of the season. Rollins is hitting .375 with a 1.039 OPS in July, which has still only managed to bring his average up to .238 for the year. But with all of the home runs the middle of the order is hitting, it sure can’t hurt to have their lead-off guy on base once in a while. Rollins homered last night, and Jayson Werth’s three-run shot in the bottom of the 13th won the game and kept the Phillies 6 1/2 games in front of second-place Atlanta.

Jayson Werth walk-off

The Dodgers blasted the Reds last night to win their fourth in a row and stay safely ahead of Philly in the race for the best record in the NL, but may have to go without Manny Ramirez for a couple of days after he was hit on the hand with a pitch. X-rays were negative, but he’s listed as day-to-day. Unfortunately, it might mean that he’ll miss his own bobblehead night, which is tonight at Dodger Stadium. Kaiser Permanente, the health-care provider that was originally the sponsor of the giveaway, has decided to withdraw its support because of his positive drug test.

Manny Ramirez

The Red Sox continued their offensive woes last night, losing to the Rangers 4-2 and dropping a full game behind the Yankees, who beat the Orioles 6-4. Even worse for the Sox, Tim Wakefield has been put on the DL because his back is in too much pain to toss a 65-mph floater.

Now, here’s some links to help you pass the time while you wait for that solar eclipse:

• It’s a good thing TMZ got that Michael Jackson death report right, because they were way off on UFC fighter Kimo Leopoldo, who isn’t actually dead. Kimo confirmed his non-death to YAHOO!: “I knew I wasn’t dead.” Well, as long as he knows, that’s good enough for me.

• UNI WATCH says Ivan Rodriguez just decided to change his uniform number to 77 out of the blue the other night. He had to abandon his #7 when he was traded to the Yankees (that Mickey Mantle guy wore it) and now can’t wear it in Houston because of Craig Biggio. So I guess he decided two 7s were better than one. It worked for Ray Bourque (once, anyway).

Ivan Rodriguez #77

• And you thought we’d seen the last of Ed O’Bannon. Yeah, well think again, mojambo.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin owes the state of California more than $22,000, according to the BIG LEAD.

• MLB TRADE RUMORS says the Nationals aren’t even close to signing Stephen Strasburg, but also maintain that they won’t be conducting any negotiations through the media.

Tyler Perry is sending all of those kids who were kicked out of that swim club in Pennsylvania to Disney World.

Mark Cuban is firing back at Ross Perot Jr.’s lawsuit, saying that he “must be desperate from the losses he has suffered from Victory and his hedge funds.”

• Why will the UFL go the way of every other wannabe competitor to the NFL? They’re banking on people actually wanting to see J.P. Losman play.

J.P. Losman

(The next Tommy Maddox?)

• More proof that soccer’s struggles in America has everything to do with the level of competition in our pro league: a friendly match between Chelsea and Inter Milan drew 81,000 fans to the Rose Bowl last night.

• Model/actress Katie Price, who goes by the name “Jordan,” is apparently a really big star in the U.K. And now that she’s split with husband Peter Andre (someone else who people over there are familiar with), she says she wants to go the WAG route and “do” Frank Lampard and Cristiano Ronaldo. Think she’s got a chance?

Katie Price Jordan

Should MLB expand instant replay to include plays on the bases?

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‘Mets Are Team To Beat,’ Says Delusional New Hire

The Mets have drawn even with the Phillies in one vital area. Not in the standings, obviously. But in trash-talking.

Francisco Rodriguez

(He may need that hardhat when the division lead starts crumbling.)

Giving Jimmy Rollins competition for most obvious bulletin board material is new Met Francisco Rodriguez. Frankie, saying this kind of thing may have flown in Anaheim, where no one really cared about baseball. But here, you made the mistake of talking where the media could hear you; this story is going to be run into the ground before spring training.

Read more…

Speed Read: LaBelle Spell Can’t Quell Philadelphia

Philadelphia just can’t catch a break. First Game 3 was pushed back because of little black rain clouds and very very frightening thunderbolts of lightning, and the conclusion wasn’t until well after 2 a.m. EST. Sunday night’s Game 4, meanwhile, was delayed by Patti LaBelle’s 2-minute-28-second rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Patti LaBelle's national anthem

While jazz legend “Bleeding Gums” Murphy might be a fan of such renditions, ALLENTOWN MORNING CALL sports editor Keith Groller was soon pining for the Backstreet Boys’ version. Some did appreciate the total change in melody, like the HARTFORD COURANT’s Roger Catlin, remarking that it thrilled and soared with the best of them.” Whatever final ruling comes from Simon, Paula and Randy, LaBelle does seem to have a bit of baseball foresight in her soul:

“I’m going to feel like a queen when it’s over … The fans are great. And I’m going to be more proud tonight, when they win 14-0.”

Maybe not 14-zip, but how does 10-2 sound?

Joe Blanton home run World Series Game 4

The Phillies are now in the driver’s seat while the Rays are struggling to breathe in the trunk after Jayson Werth, Ryan Howard (twice), and Joe Blanton — the pitcher!? — successfully swung for the fences and cured their RISPitoid arthritis in the same game. But while Howard might have sandwiched in five RBIs, the more impressive feat is Blanton’s unlikely solo swing, which was the first World Series home run by a pitcher since ‘74. So congratulations, Ken Holtzman. You’re no longer languishing on a Trivial Pursuit card!

Through four games, Philly’s up 3-1, so a Game 5 win tonight will cement the trophy with all the flags in the glass case at the CBP. As for Tampa, well, their 3-4 tandem of Carlos Peña and Evan Longoria are totally and thoroughly hitless in the Series. That might have somethin’ to do with the two game deficit.

And contrary to rumors circulating around your breakfast nook, it wasn’t just a baseball day yesterday.

Why bring in the middle man? Have a coffee, Peter King. NBC’s Bob Costas chatted directly with area football franchise owner Jerry Jones for over 11 (!) minutes about the State of the Dallas Cowboys — everything from Romo’s pinky to Pac-adam’s suspension to the new stadium and back.The best part might be at the tail end of the fireside chat:

Costas: You don’t mind it, you like it a little bit that sometimes there’s a motley collection of characters on your team and maybe there are some character issues and some othe things that go beyond the field that’s kind of part for the course in Dallas, isn’t it?

Jones: Well I’m gonna take exception with the “motley” aspect of your description, that’s not the case, but what I will agree to is that just because you got a football helmet on and a football uniform doesn’t mean there aren’t all kinds of personalities that can be very successful, and yes I have gotten to be a part of teams that have had different characters wearing that star. but they come together for a common reason and that is for the team to win the championship. Win. Win.

I repeat, they’re not motley. So, the tamest possible description of the Cowboys’ raucous character pool, and Jones isn’t cool with it. From now on, they’ll the Playmakers. (So which one’s the closet homosexual?)

Also, he said he won’t fire Coach Phillips this year. Confidence!

Jim Zorn mad at reporter

If you don’t check out what else is happening, I can neither confirm nor deny if an NFL coach will be all up in your spice:

  • DC SPORTS BOG chronicles Washington Redskins coach Jim Zorn getting antsy with a reporter. After a win. (Caveat: against the Lions.) I can tell by the sullen look on your face that you want to watch the video.
  • I’ll see your Zorn, and the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE will raise you a Mike Singletary rant. Look at the interim coach bring the heart hammer down on tight end Vernon Davis:

  • THE SPORTS HERNIA notices that Jimmy Rollins took a page out of the Matt Stairs book of wisdom and really got his ass hammered by a guy during Game 4. No greater feeling. Especially when you’re called safe.
  • Who says there was no Sunday Night Football? It just happened to be in the collegiate level. Undefeated Tulsa crushed UCF 49-19 and is still just the fourth best non-BCS school in the most recent rankings, clocking in at No. 18. The other three? Utah (No. 10), Boise State (No. 11), and the Class Of The MAC, Ball State (No. 16).
  • But enough about the stupid non-power conference teams. Doody on them! It’s all about schools in Texas and Oklahoma. We already mentioned Tulsa, but Texas (No. 1), Oklahoma (No. 4), Texas Tech (No. 7), Oklahoma State (No. 9), and TCU (No. 13) give the superstate of Texlahoma five teams in the top 15. This is proof the region hasn’t had a drought in a while. This week’s big matchup, as there always seems to be two of those teams locking horns every week: Texas vs. Texas Tech.
  • It’s media day for North Carolina basketball. But I hope you weren’t looking forward to seeing Tyler Hansbrough, because he didn’t show up, the WILMINGTON STAR-NEWS reports. Begin the nervous conspiracies … now.
  • “What ifs” are so much fun. Joe Posnanski shares with America a column that would have run had Jamie Moyer been the story of Game 3. For this very reason, now I wish Tampa Bay had never come back to tie the game.
  • BLOGCRITICS SPORTS’ Sal Marinello dispels any myths that the players reportedly testing positive for diuretics used them as a weight loss solution. A Wheel of Fortune-type hint: _t_r_ids.
  • The ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION was front and center at the Pep Boys Auto 500 where Carl Edwards flipped to victory, but Jimmie Johnson is cartwheeling over his second place finish, adding to his points lead.
  • And the BLEACHER REPORT organizes the NBA’s ten best trios of all time. Marbury-Randolph-Francis is conspicuously absent.

Which team will be the first to win this year?

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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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Blog-O-Rama: Shooting The Bull w/Sean Salisbury

• DEADSPIN sits down for a nice chat with the one & only Sean Salisbury.

Sean Salisbury No Internet

• J. Darin Darst of CBSSPORTS.COM asks the most pressing question of this year’s Games: Who’s hotter - Jennie Finch or Alicia Sacramone?

• WITH LEATHER pins down news of a high school wrestler getting in trouble for grinding his groin in a fellow grappler’s face.

• THE SCORES REPORT rolls out a typical daily schedule for Michael Phelps during his Beijing stay. No wonder the guy eats 12,000 calories a day.

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Blog Jam: Evander Evading House & Kid Payments

• THE SCORES REPORT checks their wallet, as Evander Holyfield hasn’t coughed up enough dough for either his house or one of his nine kids.

Evander Holyfield

• LARRY BROWN SPORTS takes off to the Great White North, as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers pay tribute to honorary hoser Chris Berman.

• NEXT ROUND presses up video of a reporter outside a wrestling fundraiser getting a little more action than she bargained for.

• The PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS remembers when Kobe almost became a Sixer. Well, at least he once worked out & scrimmaged with them as a kid.

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Blog-O-Rama: What’s FireIsiah.com To Do Now?

• FIREISIAH.COM has a special message for its faithful visitors:

FireIsiahCom message

• Ever wonder what fried turkey testicles would look like on your dinner plate? Darren Rovell of CNBC is happy to oblige.

• CHRIS OLDS’ SPORTS STUFF finds Danica Patrick’s marketing machine celebrating her first win by offering a commemorative t-shirt, watch, & autographed copies of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.

• DETROIT BAD BOYS jogs over news that Rip Hamilton wants to race the Pistons’ trainer.

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GF Knows Where Rollins Hides Roll Of Quarters

Michael Klein of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER reports that Jimmy Rollins’ Philly-area home will soon be featured on MTV’s Cribs. Rollins’ sanctuary has all the obligatory, over-the-top furnishings. And of course, his fleet of cars are massive expensively, highlighted by two Bentleys.

Johari Smith

Klein: “You won’t know he’s in the Bentley. He arranged special tinting ‘because I like to go incognito.’

Outside of the Phillies clubhouse, we wonder if he really needs to go to those lengths to remain anonymous.

The only highlight for us, at least as described by Klein, was when Rollins showed off his bed during the tour. Read more…

Romo & Simpson Rumored To Be Getting Hitched

Cowboys fans can keep cringing, as Tony Romo & Jessica Simpson could soon be tying the knot:

Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson at Hawaii airport

Shaq & Kidd’s new team debuts could have gone better.

Amani Toomer doesn’t really Hail to the Victors much these days.

The Lakers’ Coby Karl had a busy Tuesday, playing two pro basketball games back to back.

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Jimmy Rollins: Stylistic, Possible Cheapskate

The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER talked to Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins and got a mouthful in a half hour, including his jewelry purchases and players with style.

Jimmy Rollins street clothes

“My jeweler said you don’t want to spend a lot of money on earrings. So anybody trying to get something for their wife or something, don’t spend a lot on the earrings because they’re just an accessory. You might as well get cubic zirconium.”

A born romantic, folks.

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