Joe Maddon May Need to Practice Writing Lineups

Joe Maddon, the manager of the reigning American League champs, has received a bit of a reputation of being the smartest guy in the room, especially in his own mind. If that’s the case, he may want to keep a lower profile after today to avoid hearing any nasty retorts like, “At least I didn’t screw up the lineup card so badly that the pitcher had to hit for himself in an AL game.”

Corrected lineup card from Tampa Bay Rays-Cleveland Indians game

Unfortunately for the stunt double for Gene Hackman from The Conversation, Maddon, his “quality assurance coach”, and his bench coach all missed that Maddon listed Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist at third base and failed to list a DH.  Therefore, starting pitcher Andy Sonnanstine had to bat for himself in the third slot in the order.

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Troy Percival’s Pottymouth Tears Rays Fans Apart

In all of the 12 months most Rays fans have followed the team, they’ve had very little adversity. Losing a World Series was tough, but it really brought them together as a series of suburbs masquerading as a city. So the current controversy over Troy Percival is uncharted waters for Tampa Bay.

Troy Percival

Bad manners, bad judgement and bad language on the part of the Rays closer has turned the fans against each other. Let’s take a look at what caused the fooferaw, and what the sides have to say.

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Speed Read: Donovan McNabb Gets Tongue-Tied

If you didn’t know by now, the NFL has a state-of-the-art website with lots of features, not excluding a standings page. Right there on the left we have a ‘W,’ ‘L,’ and ‘T.’ There they are. Win, loss, and tie. Donovan McNabb doesn’t need the NFL.com website to see what’s going on in the standings. He knows who has how many wins and losses. But what if, say, his Eagles are tied 13-13 with the Bengals after an overtime frame?

Donovan McNabb tie game lesson

Why, the game ends in a tie, of course. But McNabb — this has to be a fake video, according to my tentative faith in humanity — didn’t know ties were a rule in the NFL. Moreover, he said, “I hate to see what would happen in the Super Bowl and in the playoffs.” We here at SbB obtained exclusive footage of the reporters in the press conference:

FACEPALM

All he knew was that “the game would continue until someone scored”, which in all fairness is I think what the referee does say prior to every overtime rule. The striped men never mention the possibility of a tie, and perhaps McNabb thought those were the complete rules of overtime. That’s the only possible reason I can use to defend McNabb’s ignorance.

But if I’m playing all-time lawyer, I can turn around and say that one the last teams to play in a tie game — the 2002 Atlanta Falcons — played McNabb’s Eagles in the playoffs that year. Your witness, me.

I now call to the stand: Jimmie Johnson.

Jimmie Johnson

It’s probably the most under-represented major sport on the Internet, but Johnson has won three straight championships in the Sprint Cup, something only Cale Yarborough has done in NASCAR’s top level of racing. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED lists the five reasons he won, omitting everything except the Cubs-esque Kyle Busch implosion. Oh, and his crew is already looking ahead to a fourth straight Cup in 2009. This could be Lance Armstrong-type stuff here.

Manny

And now we move onto news that could have happened but didn’t so it’s even bigger news. ESPN’s primadonna-following minstrel Pedro Gomez reports that if the Boston Red Sox weren’t able to trade Manny Ramirez, the Sawx probably would have suspended him. But they didn’t suspend him, and they ended up trading him. But we’re just finding out about this now, so we’re interested now. And even though we didn’t know this then, we knew there was tension between Ramirez and the Red Sox, so this news changes nothing about any of our premonitions of Ramirez or the Red Sox or Belgian waffles. Because Belgian waffles rule.

Waffles

Seriously, you can’t tell me that those waffles would be immediately eaten by you if they were on your plate instead of whatever stale, bland breakfast you pulled out of a wrapper this morning. Look at ‘em. All sugary and waffly and full of compartments where syrup can collect, and then you can put different syrups in different compartments because you’re OCD and need to have organized delicious breakfasts. You’re pretty sure if Brooks took photographs of beautiful waffles in exotic locales — many with big, bountiful “compartments” — his business would take off and go mainstream. You’re going to skip work and head out to IHOP right now, aren’t you?

See? I made you forget about Manny Ramirez and the Red Sox, and you are happier for it. My work here is done.

Troy Polamalu runs

Check that. My work actually isn’t done. There are still links to visit. All of them. Click on every single one. Full disclosure: I do not get a bonus for that.

Do you like ties in the NFL?

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Maddon Wants You To Acknowledge His Existence

Joe Maddon could care less about an American League pennant. Managing next year’s all-star game is but a trifle to him. All the Rays’ skipper really wants is to be recognized. Not recognized in the sense of getting the credit for steering a young, flawed team to the World Series. Just recognized, as in someone knowing who the heck he is.

Joe Maddon

(”I’ll be in full uniform the whole time, to help people find me.”)

Maddon will leave this weekend for his honeymoon, with stops in Germany, the Czech Republic and Italy (he says he wants to put a Rays cap on Michelangelo’s David). And all he really wants for a wedding present is for someone to treat him like the celebrity he is:

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Phillies Fans Prove They’re Not Phamily Phriendly

I’ve always found it funny when fans of sports teams claim that their city or team has the better fans, or that other teams fans are a bunch of morons/bandwagoneers/thugs, whatever they want to call them.   The truth is, every city generally has an equal amount of all of them.

That being said, not every football team felt the need to put a prison inside their new stadium like the Philadelphia Eagles did at Lincoln Financial.   The Eagles got rid of their little prison a few years ago after unruly behavior at games improved, but apparently they should have moved it across the street to Citizens Bank.   As it turns out, the same folks who booed Santa Claus and threw batteries at J.D. Drew don’t much like families of the opposing teams either.

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Speed Read: Yeah, That Really Just Happened

If the Boston Red Sox were a TV show, they would have been canceled long ago, because everyone would agree that the plot twists have just gotten to zany, too unrealistic, too unbelievable. Basically, they would be the second season of Lost or Heroes (or for you uber-nerds, the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Boston Red Sox

I mean, you expect me to believe that they came back from seven runs down with seven outs remaining in their season? Please. Next thing you’ll tell me the Smoke Monster is David Ortiz.

Tampa Bay Rays reliever Dan Wheeler

But, here it is Friday morning, and I’ll be damned if we aren’t going to have some baseball played this weekend. Rarely has a team taking a 3-2 lead back home for the final two games of a series looked so beaten.  But that’s what happens when you’re the Tampa Bay Rays and you blow a 7-0 lead and a chance to close out the series.

It’s like they had been under hypnosis since Game 2 and had told that they were the Murder’s Row Yankees. Then suddenly someone snapped their fingers in the seventh inning and woke them up, causing them to realize that they were, in fact, the Tampa Bay Rays, and what the hell are they doing seven outs from the World Series?

Now…if you had told Rays manager Joe Maddon before the start of the series that they be up 3-2, needing to win one of two games at home to go to the World Series, I’m sure he would have taken that offer. But watching Craig Sager conduct the interviews/postmortems  in the Rays’ locker room after the game, I have no reason to believe that Tampa Bay has any chance. They looked so shell shocked, it’s going to be a victory just getting on their uniforms on Saturday without putting their jerseys on backwards.

Here’s some other interesting stories from the sports world last night. You’ll excuse me while I try to talk the Fox network executives off of the ledge and convince them it’s safe to come back inside now:

Oregon Duck cheerleaders

How will the ALCS finish out?

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Rays: Sox Trying To Slow Us Down With Wet Field

The Tampa Bay Rays are on the cusp of advancing to the ALCS (which will give them as many series victories as the Cubs in the last 100 years), and it looks like they’re going to be tough to slow down. But, that won’t stop the White Sox from trying, say the Rays.

Roger Bossard White Sox groundskeeper

Sox groundskeeper Roger Bossard working his magic

Joe Maddon tells the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES that the Sox are going to do everything in their power to hamper Tampa’s speedy lineup, including putting soft dirt around home plate and first base, and watering the field so heavily that it’s basically a mud pit. And the Sox don’t seem to be hiding their intentions all that well.

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Consider Your Mind Blown: Playoff-Bound Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays clinched their first-ever playoff berth with a 7-2 win over the Twins, one year removed from having the worst record in baseballs. It’s either one of the most remarkable turnarounds in baseball history, or proof of some deal with the Devil made by Rays manager Joe Maddon.

Tampa Bay Rays

(I mean, I have to admit I was a little surprised to see this guy lurking around the Rays’ locker room after the game, but that doesn’t mean much, right? Maybe he’s just a fan?)

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A-Rod Makes History: Instant Replay Confirms HR

It only took a week for Major League Baseball to use instant replay to gift the New York Yankees a win. (Hey, when the laws of probability suggest you have a 0.9 percent chance of making it to the postseason, a little help doesn’t hurt. Plus, who doesn’t want to see the Yanks in the playoffs? Exactly.)

Alex Rodriguez on a boat

Shockingly, the play in question involved Alex Rodriguez, who hit what appeared to be a home run down the left field line until the catwalk at Tropicana Field got in the way (one more reason the Rays need a new stadium: the current one features such charming elements as a catwalk). Cue the controversy:

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Falk’s Fault If Elton’s Gone; ESPN’s Favre Fakeout

Last week I listened to an interview of Elton Brand here in Los Angeles on local KLAC-AM. This was well before the L.A. Clippers’ blindside Baron Davis sign. During the visit, Brand said pretty much everything but that he would take less in contractual obligations to remain with the Clips. He went on and on about his devotion to his teammates and even referred fondly to some of the team’s trainers by name - as he sold the prospect of his return

David Falk Elton Brand

Fast forward to today, which has Brand and his agent, David Falk, huddling in Washington D.C., as they mull a more lucrative offer from the Golden State Warriors - and, according to the LOS ANGELES TIMES, the darkhorse Philadelphia 76ers.

Most around here, of course, will tell you that Brand is a man of his word and will indeed eventually re-sign with the Clippers. So what then is taking so damn long?

It’s clear that Brand’s agent Falk is no doubt pushing his client (and rightly so) to closely examine the ramifications of turning down $90M+ offers from Golden State and Philly. And in keeping with that, perhaps force the Clippers into additional, while small, contractual concessions.

One source close to the situation told me today that he thinks Falk is deliberately bottlenecking Brand’s re-signing with the club in order to let the Clippers (and their fans) know just how important his client is to the team. And of course, how he took less money to stay.

Not to mention waiting for din from the Baron buzz to dissipate - so Brand can reclaim center stage in announcing his agreement. In other words, don’t blame Brand for the delay, but his oft-cantankerous counsel Falk.

And if Brand does depart, most close to the situation believe that it will be because of Falk’s influence, who clearly has no allegiance to Elgin & Co.
In the end, the decision will be all Brand’s, and if he chooses to turn down the Clippers’ $70M offer after the club scared Baron out of the Bay Area, I wouldn’t want to be at his next Hollywood pitch session.

More Clippers news: Chris Kaman will be play for Germany in the summer Olympics.

Video of the Padres’ Michael Barrett fouling a ball off his face last night in Colorado:

Michael Barrett

Rays manager Joe Maddon to the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES on someone illegally using his debit card to fill a car in New York: “With the price of gas these days, I would have preferred they’d gone to Tiffany’s.”

Maddon is also most notably a sharer of Baron Davis’ eyewear:

Joe Maddon Baron Davis Eyewear

Think I would’ve drummed up that quote and comparison if the Rays weren’t in first and coming off a sweep of the Bosox?

Mike Florio of PRO FOOTBALL TALK plainly shows how ESPN trumped up the Brett Favre comeback story by cutting off a quote he gave to the BILOXI SUN-HERALD.

I, like you, watched SportsCenter last night as Favre’s “it’s all rumor” quote was touted over and over. One problem though, Favre finished the quote by saying, “there’s no reason for it.” ESPN conveniently left out the second part of the comment, which makes the story just a smidge less compelling.

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