Saturday, June 30, 2007

Baseball Ballpark Tour Summary

posted by BiCoastal Bias

In case you missed it, the BiCoastal Bias visited Wrigley Field earlier this week. We rounded out the trip by hitting Milwaukee, followed by the twin cities. We saw the Brewers beat the Astros on Wednesday, and the Twins beat the Blue Jays on Thursday.

One thing I found fascinating was listening to Cubs radio during the week. These guys had convinced themselves that the Cubs were coming on for real this time, and would soon catch the Brewers. After watching both these teams, I must say that I'm not impressed with the Brewers, but I'm even less impressed with the Cubs. The Brewers have a solid squad, but not enough depth to really dominate beyond their own weak division. But as for the Cubs, they've been winning lately, but they've been winning circus-style games, featuring crazy base-running and unlikely comebacks. Today, the two teams went head to head, and Milwaukee won 13-4. I think this is a truer showing of the real makeup of this year's Chicago Cubs.

We ran into a little bad luck on this trip. We gave up on the Milwaukee game in the 11th inning, because we had a five hour drive in front of us, only to hear a walk-off homer from the parking lot. The next day, running a little late for the 12:10 Twins game, we heard Frank Thomas's 500th career home run from the tunnel. So I did get to see Frank touch home for the 500th time after a homer, but as for the actual swing, I had to watch the replay just like the rest of you. We might have seen Biggio's 3000th hit, but he got benched for our game in Milwaukee.

You may have already heard about these milestones from Money Mouth. Unfortunately, since Money Mouth wasn't actually there like I was, some of his information was pretty misleading. For instance, Frank Thomas did get thrown out of the ninth inning of Thursday's game; but it was far from an action of a "straight baller." Thomas struck out twice in his last two at bats, both times looking.

I said it last year, I'm still saying it now, this guy is a whiner. His actions were pure frustration, it had no impact on the game at hand. For some reason, the umpires collectively gave Thomas a David Eckstein sized strike zone for the first 8 years of his career; and ever since that stopped he's been crying every time he gets called out for not swinging. This guy can't even look classy on the day he enters one of baseball's more prestigious clubs.

Take it from me, I was there.

Friday, June 29, 2007

NFL Europa Calls It Quits

posted by MoneyMouth

Today, the NFL has reported that NFL Europa will be closing up shop after 15 seasons. Apparently, sports need to make money in order to survive, and the league in Europe just wasn't cutting it. In fact, they weren't cutting it by about 30 million on an annual basis. It doesn't take a mathematician and a financial advisor to figure out that this is not a profitable venture.

While this story will probably run on the third page of your local newspaper's sports section, it really deserves better publicity than that. "Why?" you ask. Because this is just another way in which the terrorists are winning. That's right; I said it. They won't accept our American sport, and yet we keep on letting the soccer leagues roll on.

But, apparently the National Football League will not let this be the final word in the fight against terrorism. Instead, they are viewing this as a minor setback. Instead of giving up, they are planning to have at least 2 games a season be played on foreign ground starting with the Dolphins-Giants match up in London. I know what you are thinking: wow, what an awesome match up, but why can't we send the Cardinals and 49ers? That would for sure bring in some new recruits. But wait, we did that a few years ago in Mexico City. I forgot.

Honestly, if the NFL is going to continue to try and push American football on the rest of the world that just doesn't care about the sport, the NFL has to start putting together some better match ups, ones that involve teams that can score 40 points a game. Otherwise, the NFL just needs to face the music and put to rest this whole dream of spreading American football to the rest of the world.

More Milestones

posted by MoneyMouth

Just a week after Sammy Sosa hit home run number 600, two other players have reached important milestones on the same day.  Yesterday, Craig Biggio nailed his 3000th hit, and Frank Thomas nailed his 500th home run.   

You can't but feel happiness for both of these players and their milestone achievements.  There doesn't seem to be more of a class act that Craig Biggio, who not only made it to 3000 hits, but did it all with the Astros.  Even more amazing is the fact that on the night he made it into the 3000 hit club, he also went 5 for 6.  But what's even more incredible is the dude got thrown out on number 3000.  Instead of settling for first base, which he clearly had, he tried to stretch that single into a double, in which he wasn't fortunate enough to make happen.  Who gets thrown out going to second on their 3000th hit?  The answer is: the guy who holds the most doubles from the right side of the plate.  You got to hand it to the dude, he's a baller, and he wasn't going to settle for an easy celebration.  

And then there is Frank Thomas, my childhood hero, who's career seemed to be over after a few injury riddled seasons.  Even then, I stood by him and he made his comeback last year with the A's and now is continuing to hit the longball with the Blue Jays.  The interesting note about his 500th home run is not just that it came on the same day as Biggio's 3000th hit (which has never happened before in baseball history), but that he too also got thrown out...of the game.  Thomas ripped his home run in the first and then was tossed by the home plate umpire for arguing balls and strikes in the 9th.  Once again, that's just straight baller.  In a game in which most players would have been already celebrating and floating on cloud 9, Thomas was doing everything he could to help his team win.  

The question now is whether both of these players will be Hall of Famers.  The answer for both should be yes, but I have a feeling Thomas is going to have a little more of a difficult time finding his way into the Hall.  I cross my fingers that by the time Thomas makes his way onto the ballot, voters will be able to recognize that Thomas is in the top 25 all-time in several major statistical categories (HR, OPS, OBP, RBI, BB), not to mention a two time MVP.  If that doesn't warrant a bid, I'm not sure what does.    

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wrigley Field: Cubs 8 Rockies 5

posted by BiCoastal Bias

Wrigley Field is everything I had hoped it would be. Walking around the outside of the stadium, I got the feeling I was entering hallowed ground. I looked up at all of the private seating on rooftops all around the outfield, and I thought to myself, "I'll have a better seat than them," although not by much.

I would suggest sitting in bleachers as a must-have experience for anyone making the pilgrimage to Wrigley Field. You are actually cut off from the rest of the ballpark, and the seats are not assigned, just general admission. The interactions between the fans and the players is what makes it worth it. Center field bleachers chanted "Litt-le Wi-lly" at Willy Taveras as he egged them on behind his back. As soon as Alfonso Soriano gunned down Tulowitzki trying to stretch a single into a double, he immediately turned to acknowledge the right field bleachers.

Mid-way through the game, some idiot in left field dumped his beer on Ryan Spilborghs of Colorado. This, apparently, is frowned upon by the bleacher community because everyone began booing and pointing, although I don't believe that fan was actually kicked out, (I couldn't see him being escorted away). Spilborghs continued to interact with the right field bleachers, probably a stupid move on his part. In the next inning, he tried to throw a warm-up ball to someone in right field, only to have that fan throw the ball back at him.

This leads me to the well-known Chicago tradition of throwing opposing teams home run balls back on the field. I witnessed this first-hand, after Jamey Carroll's 6th inning homer. Here's something that you don't see on television, a ball boy goes and retrieves the homerun ball, and then tosses is up to some fan sitting behind the third base bullpen. So bleacher fans are really getting screwed out of this deal. They have to throw a potential souvenir back on the field, while some punk sitting closer to the action gets to take it home.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Number 600 for Sammy Sosa

posted by MoneyMouth

Sammy Sosa reached a milestone tonight in Texas as he slugged his 600th home run of his career. While some are celebrating and applauding the 5th member of the 600 home run club, I'm more intrigued by the celebration itself.

You see, what shocks me is how Sosa has made the turnaround in his reputation. It was only 3 years ago that Sammy Sosa was facing some dark days. Sosa was being mocked for his corked bat, his numbers were on the decline, and he received a much deserved black-eye for leaving Wrigley Field early during a game in which he wasn't starting. If you don't remember, his story was he left after the 7th inning. The true story told by the surveillance cameras was he left 15 minutes after the game had started. Ouch. Mix in some steroid allegations thanks to Jose Canseco and his quick decline with the Orioles in 2005 and you've got a player that most people were making out to be a cheater and happy to see call it a career.

Flash forward to the beginning of this season when Sosa signed a $500,000 minor league contract with the Rangers to make his comeback. Most, including myself, figured the dude didn't stand a chance let alone deserve one. And yet, here we are 70 games into the season and Sosa has 12 homers and over 50 RBIs. That's not too shabby. In fact, I wouldn't mind paying half-a-million to have that kind of production on my ball club. But like I said, what's even more interesting is the celebration and applause he is receiving. It just goes to show what a big smile and fun home run celebration can earn you: forgiveness.

To me, Sammy Sosa is a sign of how baseball fans are eager to dismiss the past and give second (and even third) chances.  Look at Roberto Alomar.  Most people have forgotten that he actually spit into an umpire's face once in his career.  I have this theory that if Pete Rose had kept his song and dance alive about how he never bet on baseball we'd be seeing him in the hall right about now.  All this makes me wonder how come Barry Bonds just can't shut his mouth and start acting like he's happy he's still playing the game.  If only he would take a page out of Sammy Sosa's book and start blowing kisses toward the camera after home runs, there might be at least a few people clapping when he finally passes Hank Aaron.  Unfortunately (and I say that with a smile), his celebration will be nothing compared Sammy's even though he's earned the biggest prize of all.  

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Worst Dynasty Ever

posted by MoneyMouth

Let me begin by saying this is my first and last NBA post you will see on the Frappe.

The day after the Spurs finally finished off the Cavs in the worst NBA Finals I've never watched, the talk around the office was whether or not the Spurs should be considered a dynasty or not. I've taken a few days to think about this and as far as I'm concerned, 4 titles in 9 years is the worst dynasty ever. Let's face it: the NBA is in a sorry state when the case for a Dynasty rests on percentage of titles-to-years less than 50%. Even worse is when there has been a three-peat in the middle of said dynasty (Lakers: 2000-2002). Can you really have a dynasty overlap another dynasty?

As with most media attention, there is usually something that triggers it. In this case it was the pitiful state of the NBA Finals and the no-show of King James. Sorry buddy, but it looks like it isn't your time yet. Try again in a few years. As a result, the media (ESPN) has little to talk about and are left with weak stories like this one. For those not in the know, the first rule in sports coverage is that when there is nothing to talk about, you make something to talk about. Quite honestly, I'm still ticked about the Suns getting the stiff-arm from David Stern leading to the Spurs making the finals in the first place. Just think about how much more exciting it would have been to see Steve Nash and company face off against the Lebron James. Even if it had been a sweep, at least we wouldn't have seen the 2nd lowest scoring total in NBA Final's history.

The NBA has straight up issues right now, and until they get their act together and start producing some interesting Finals and a more just discipline policy, I'm hereby announcing my boycott. I'm not sure how this will be much different from my previous lack of interest in the NBA, but who cares; it's the principle of the matter.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

And Then Game 3 Happened

posted by BiCoastal Bias

We were all witnesses . . . to the ugliest NBA finals game ever played. I don't think they keep a statistic for wide-open shots missed, but I think this one probably set the standard.

How many times did we see the following scenario last night: Lebron drives - the entire Spurs defense collapses in on him - Lebron kicks out to one of his teammates on the three point line for a wide open shot - terrible brick. These guys are professionals, aren't they supposed to have at least a 50-50 shot when no one is guarding them?

At this point, not even Lebron could make this finals interesting. The entire basketball world has shut off their television screens. Yes, he was fouled on the final shot, and might have tied the game with three free throws had the referees been watching, but the game had already lost its significance by then and even the men in stripes recognized that.

Looking on the bright side, maybe this will inspire Cleveland ownership to get a worthwhile cast of characters around the future of the league, and throw in a coach who does something. Had James won his first championship now, we might see fifteen years of the world's best player trying to make up for his mediocre team.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Fear Not

posted by BiCoastal Bias

You heard it here first, sports fans, Intrinsic Bent has chosen the Spurs to win this year's NBA finals, which can only mean one thing: A Cleveland Cavs' comeback is on the way!

Okay, seriously now, I am not so bold as to predict that Lebron James will overcome the 2 game drubbing he has received to pull out the finals - but I will say this: Lebron will make it interesting.

Everyone's talking about how much better the Spurs are than the Pistons, and that's why it doesn't matter that Lebron came back from 2-0 in the last series. What they aren't taking into account is how much James learned in that series against Detroit. In every game of the Eastern Conference finals, Lebron got smarter. Each game that passed, you could tell that something new had clicked for Lebron.

I expect that we'll see the same thing happen in this series against the Spurs. Now will Lebron progress enough in 7 games to beat the Spurs? Probably not. Nonetheless, I expect the Cavs to take at least two games. There's your bold prediction.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Intrinsic's Solid Lock NBA Finals Pick

posted by IntrinsicBent

Hey there Frappers, Uncle Intrinsic back to let you in on who is going to win the NBA Finals.

Even though I am aware of the campaign out there to deter me from my proper thinking, I refuse to let it derail me from the path that has resulted in an above .500 legendary prognosticalitory run.

The San Antonio Spurs win in 5..........or maybe 6.

The real battle will be the one the Cavs will face to get back to this spot again soon.

Friday, June 08, 2007

There's No Crying In Baseball

posted by MoneyMouth

Look, someone had to use the line and I figured it might as well be me. The story came out today from Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano that he and Michael Barrett shared some tears together when they reconciled after their dugout fight last week. If you missed the squabble, don't worry about it. All you need to know is that it was your classic dugout push and shove that apparently continued in the club house afterward. What I'm more preoccupied with is Zambrano's comments.

Come on, dude. "Shared tears?" Are you serious? And even if you are, are you sure that's what you want to be telling everyone else? I mean, we're talking about crying here.

There honestly seems to be something fishy about Zambrano's remarks, mostly because it doesn't seem to be in a player's best egotistical interest to admit to getting a misty-eyed with a teammate after a beef. It took me all but 5 minutes to suddenly remember a key element to this story: Zambrano is in a contract year.

You have to admit, this is the last thing that Zambrano needs when he's trying to make a case for the big money. To be honest, Zambrano has been straight lousy this season. His 6-5, 5.38 ERA is definitely not helping in his bid to become a 100 million dollar pitcher. Add to that a stigma that he's a bad teammate and that's how you end up pitching for the Texas Rangers or accepting a underwhelming extension. No wonder why Zambrano told the media that they shared some tears; it's the best damage control that money can't buy.

Honestly, I think this might be the turn around for Zambrano and the Cubs all together. In Zambrano's last start, he threw 6 and 2/3 innings, struck out 9 and notched the win. After today, they'll be riding a modest 3 game winning streak and an amazing performance by Alfonso Soriano who hit 3 homers after 4 innings of play. Look out, because they might make this pitiful NL Central a tad bit entertaining. And who knows, the entertainment might stem from something other than this daytime circus that I've come to affectionately call the Wrigley Brothers.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What Do Billy Donovan and Kobe Bryant Have in Common?

posted by BiCoastal Bias

Answer: Both men have found themselves in the last week's news for changing their minds. For Kobe, this meant publicly asking for a trade, and then publicly repealing that request. For Donovan, this meant signing a five year, twenty-some-million dollar contract with the Orlando Magic, and then deciding he wants to go back to the University of Florida.

For the life of me, I can't decide which of them comes out looking worse. In Kobe's situation, he's changing his mind over something he has little control over, whether or not his boss trades him. In this light, Kobe's mind changing does no one any harm, though it makes most of the basketball world roll their eyes - especially in light of what LeBron James is currently doing on a team just as mediocre as Kobe's, and with a coach nowhere near the status of Phil Jackson.

Meanwhile, Billy Donovan's repentance means the complicated unwinding of a huge contract - which sources are now saying will result in his ban from the NBA for the next five years. I think I can speak for most college basketball fans when I say that we are glad to see Billy staying in the NCAA, but couldn't he have made that decision before signing his name on the dotted line? I thought Donovan earned old school credibility by staying loyal to Florida when Kentucky was knocking at his door - but with this move he has pretty much erased all of it.

All in all, I think people changing their minds is usually a good thing -(for instance, a couple years ago I made a call to all Frappers to get back on the Ricky Williams bandwagon, oops) - and kudos to Donovan for coming to his realization before even more damage had been done.

I almost titled this blog "What do the Anaheim Ducks and Lebron James have in common?" But beyond the fact that they are both about to win their first championships, I couldn't come up with anything.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Phillip Wellman Goes Nuts

posted by MoneyMouth

Most of you are probably asking who Phillip Wellman is. Yesterday, you might have known him as the AA manager for the Mississippi Braves, but after this he will forever be known as the Minor League Manager who blew a major gasket. In other words, he lost his cool in a very non-discrete way. If you haven't seen the clip, here it is.

You really have to give the guy props for originality. Who thinks to army crawl behind the pitcher's mound and use the rosin bag as a hand grenade? Seriously. Either this guy is a comic genius or he was having a Vietnam flashback and needs therapy. Honestly, somebody should double check on the dude to make sure he is alright.

What's interesting is how thanks to the miracle of video recording that witnessing these minor league managers lose their cool is not all that rare. Take, for instance, Joe Mikulik of the Asheville Tourists who absolutely lost it last season. He went with all the staples in a classic meltdown: the base toss, the plate cover, and the throw-bats-onto-the-field maneuver. Unfortunately for him, Wellman clearly upstaged him. Not only did he throw the base, but he uprooted another and walked off with them both.

As far as I'm concerned, Mikulik has got a lot of catching up to do. I guess it's back to the drawing board and the drama consultant to come up with something new.