soft hands.

This is the only completely positive column about Alex Rodriguez you are likely to read.

After this paragraph, you will not be reading the word "but" as in A-Rod is the reigning AL MVP, but (fill in the rip by Ozzie Guillen, the foot-in-the-mouth, self-pitying moment in which Rodriguez says "my life is about getting crushed" as he did yesterday, the exhumation of last year's postseason meltdown or the flips then flops about the World Baseball Classic). From here forward, this is purely about, well, the most talented player in the majors.

That is a good place to start. You are possibly watching the greatest player you will ever see. [joel sherman]

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8:02 AM :: 2 comments ::

lupe! :: permalink

like i'm not already disgusted enough with the whole thing...

"Many people are saying, 'Ichiro [Suzuki] is a good guy and Matsui is a bad guy,"' said Gaku Tashiro, who covers Major League Baseball for Sankei Sports. "They're saying, 'He is not a patriot."'

Matsui, whose presence would have raised the value of the WBC's Asia bracket, worked out at the Yankees' minor-league complex yesterday. He seemed typically unfazed by this controversy. "If my popularity goes down, then it goes down," he said through his interpreter, Roger Kahlon. "It's beyond my control."

Less than three hours earlier, a more animated Alex Rodriguez had spoken at Legends Field, expressing frustration about how his WBC-heavy offseason proceeded. A-Rod believes his own indecisiveness was exacerbated by media leaks from baseball's leadership, which desperately wanted the MVP to play.

Amazing, isn't it? This event was supposed to generate so much goodwill for the sport, expand it globally, add some juice to a relatively quiet time. Instead, it has stirred up tensions every which way - owner versus commissioner, owner versus player, player versus his own country, player versus his own union.

Matsui's case ranks as particularly odious. When asked if Bud Selig and the Players Association pressured him to play, the leftfielder responded diplomatically, saying, "It's not really pressure. It was more a request for me to be part of the tournament."

But as Kahlon translated the question to Matsui and Matsui answered in Japanese, the Yankees' adviser for Japanese media relations, Isao Hirooka, smiled at the questioner and nodded affirmatively. His clear implication: Was Matsui pressured? Absolutely.

The union's pitch to Matsui, endorsed by MLB, was: You owe us. [newsday]


7:41 AM :: 0 comments ::

lupe! :: permalink

attn june

super attractive cardinals st photos here!

and where's a frowny emoticon when i need it:

When the early Redbirds with bats hit the Cardinals' spring training cages Wednesday for some swings, all but one took turns serving pitches to his teammates. His throws, he explained, have too much movement.

Too much sink. Too much run.

All of the movement that made him so tantalizing as a pitcher, so frustrated when he couldn't harness it, makes Rick Ankiel's tosses too wily for BP. He's happier hitting anyway. [stl post dispatch]


10:48 AM :: 3 comments ::

lupe! :: permalink

happy day

Spring Training is generally considered the starting point for the endurance test that results in a World Series winner. Truthfully, though, it starts with Truck Day. It started Friday in Houston, when the Astros' equipment crew loaded a 54-foot 18-wheeler with everything a Major League team needs to get through Spring Training. The truck departed Minute Maid Park that day and was scheduled to arrive Sunday in Kissimmee, Fla.

What exactly goes onto one of these rigs? According to Dennis Liborio, a 27-year veteran as the Astros' head clubhouse man, this was their inventory:

• Hats, T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, short-sleeved shirts, dry fits (undergarments that soak up sweat), athletic supporters, belts, underwear, tights, long johns, stirrup socks, running shoes, spikes, turf shoes, jerseys, pants, lightweight jackets and heavyweight ones, too, in case it gets cold.

• Gum -- about 10,000 pieces -- plus about 36 boxes of sunflower seeds.

• Whirlpools, medical supplies, medical machines and weight equipment.

"It takes all winter to prepare for this," Liborio said. "We basically start when the season ends. We start packing things we know we're taking to Florida. We go through everything and try to weed out stuff we're going to give to the Minor Leagues. It's a long haul."

Trucks are generally also filled with bats, balls, helmets and more. Bats also are typically shipped to training camps by the suppliers. Players show up at their spring homes and the world is waiting for them there. Team trucks even are known to include golf clubs -- the modern-day ballplayer's other favorite piece of sporting equipment.

"It's a big job, but it's a big job when we get there, too," Mariners clubhouse manager Ted Walsh said during last year's Truck Day. "Once the truck arrives in Peoria [Ariz., three days later], we've got to unload and get everything set up. That's the real job. Once those guys are out there on the field and playing, we'll know the season's ready to go." [mlb.com]
9:18 AM :: 5 comments ::

lupe! :: permalink

The plucky crusade to introduce baseball to Ireland ignited because of a bumper sticker. Mike Kindle, an American who moved to Ireland in 1990, saw an Irish Softball Association sticker on a car and begged the driver to tell him where he could find the group. He prayed it was no joke.

Kindle found the co-ed softball players tossing high-arc pitches on a mushy field. Softball was obviously a recreational activity, like flipping a Frisbee. The discovery still motivated Kindle, who preferred the more serious style of hardball that he had left behind in San Diego.

So Kindle persistently pushed the sport of baseball on a country without a single baseball diamond at the time. Eventually, there were about 30 regulars, some taking awkward swings, some making tortured throws and most, they said, falling in love with baseball and the notion of possibly playing it for Ireland.

"We decided we should try and form an international team," Kindle said. "We said, 'Let's get some uniforms and funding and go play.' We were sitting in the boozer over a couple of pints. Over a couple of pints, it sounded good."

The story of the recent birth of baseball in Ireland, its growth and its baby steps in international competition is told in "The Emerald Diamond," a film by John J. Fitzgerald. The film will be shown in 20 cities and towns throughout the United States, starting Feb. 25 at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, N.Y. [ny times]
7:37 AM :: 1 comments ::

lupe! :: permalink

as if organized youth baseball isn't rife with assholery as it is, between overzealous parents living vicariously through their kids and hypercompetitive coaches sucking the joy out of playing a game.

way to go, grown ups who should know better.

found at the source of goodness and light that is the nomaas message board:
The Lowell Spinners, Class A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, are very excited to announce they have begun the process of eliminating Yankee teams in youth baseball around New England and replacing them with Lowell Spinners teams.

 Red Sox fans understand how devastating it can be for any child to be on a Yankees youth baseball team in New England. The Spinners have heard stories first-hand of children actually crying and refusing to play if they have to play for the Yankees. The Spinners believe they have found an answer to the problem.

 “When you are a kid playing baseball it is pure fun and worrying about what team you are on should be the least of your concerns,” said Tim Bawmann, General Manager of the Spinners. “It becomes an issue where kids are devastated when they find out they are on the Yankees. Many kids actually pray they will not be on the Yankees when the rosters and teams are announced.

 “We figured the easiest and best solution was replace those Yankee teams with the Spinners, who are part of the Boston Red Sox system. We would like to make a point that this promotion is all in good fun and is merely meant to appeal to Red Sox Nation in New England.”[spinners press release]

because new england children who are fans of other baseball teams don't count!


9:25 PM :: 0 comments ::

lupe! :: permalink

one more for the list of 986 billion reasons to be proud of our little captain:

Oh kittens, do I love me some Derek Jeter! Hot, right? I mean, even die-hard Red Sox fan Caroline Kepnes has to admit the dude is smokin'.

And apparently, whatcha see is--grab some condoms!--whatcha get. Yes, kittens, you might want to cross your legs and put your earmuffs on for this dish.

Penthouse party. Vegas. Like way late in the night or early in the morning, whichever def you fancy.

A de-lish P-Pet comes waltzing out, all bedhead. She shrieks: "Damn, my [bleep!] is [bleeping!] sore! Derek Jeter just [bleeped!] me for, like, eight hours." [the awful truth]
1:22 PM :: 7 comments ::

lupe! :: permalink

the yankees had enough of him and no one else wanted him either, so let's bring him beck for a few weeks for nostalgia's sake, already? look mel, just stand over there, make sure joe's tea is hot, and don't talk to anybody and i think everybody'll be okay.

Mel Stottlemyre, who retired following the end of last season because he was tired of the second-guessing coming out of Tampa, will be coming to Yankee spring training in a celebrity coaching capacity, The Post has learned. [ny post]


10:02 AM :: 2 comments ::

lupe! :: permalink

meeting of the minds

because i can completely see this happening.

Johnny Damon enters an empty golf course, freckled with golden tees. A cold wind blows. He stands, waiting. A turtlenecked figure emerges from the shadows.... [platooned]
8:13 PM :: 0 comments ::

lupe! :: permalink