If I were Brian Cashman, I'd offer Sammi Kane Kraft a contract as soon as possible.
Throws 70 mph. Two-seam fastball. Four-seam fastball.
And she's 12.
Really nice article about her here by ESPN Page 2 reporter Tom Friend.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
If I were Brian Cashman, I'd offer Sammi Kane Kraft a contract as soon as possible.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
I had little to no urge to see "The Dukes of Hazzard" movie in theaters, but since CNN is reporting that the guy who played Cooter on the TV version -- a former Georgia congressman -- "said profanity and sexual content in the film make a mockery of the family-friendly show," I might have to fork over the $9.50 just to prove a point.
And that point is that old, crochety people who hate sex and violence are what the Dukes rebelled against most. Well, I don't like violence, either, but.... Hey, look! Jessica Simpson!
Monday, July 18, 2005
I'll be the first to admit I was among the toughest on Alex Rodriguez after his first season as a Yankee fell short of unfair expectations. It even extended into the first month or two of this season. Then, all of a sudden, he seemed to stop pressing. I don't think it's much of a coincidence, but when he announced that he was in therapy and donated $1 million to the mental health branch of the Children's Aid Society, he seemed to be relieved of some kind of burden and started tearing the cover off the ball. He's been clutch and a lot more relaxed this season, on and off the field. I genuinely root for him now.
So while I'm not sure how I feel about A-Rod planning to play for the Dominican Republic for the World Baseball Classic (only because I'm selfish and would want him on the U.S. team), ESPN Page 2 columnist Alan Grant wrote a really cogent, brilliant piece on A-Rod's supposed attempt to "keep it real." I'm not sure I agree about that, or about Ron Artest going after the "offender" (replays seemed to indicate he went after the wrong guy), but the remainder of the article offers excellent analysis on what fans really want from their athletes and entertainers -- and it's not always about keeping it real.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Yanks took three of four from the Red Sox this weekend. Just a grueling few days watching the Good Guys take on the Idiots. I planned to pen a blog item about my love for the Yankees and my hatred of the Sox, but I realized that my friend Geoff already did so in this recent snippet from Elephant Larry's Group Blog. It pretty much covers it all.
Friday, July 15, 2005
Call me crazy, but I'm genuinely looking forward to July 4, 2007. That's the target release date for a live-action Transformers movie directed by Michael Bay and executive produced by Steven Spielberg. No cast members have been secured as of yet, but I'm hoping for Russell Crowe, Bill Murray, Al Pacino, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, James Gandolfini, the guy who played "Booger" in "Revenge of the Nerds," and Kate Bosworth to sign on.
Once upon a time, James Brown was released from jail. And covered in magical fairy dust -- or perhaps angel dust -- the Godfather of Soul would offer an "enthusiastic" follow-up interview.
The moral of the story is if you don't laugh at least once while watching this video, consult a physician immediately. The end.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Updating a VB item I posted earlier this week, Paul Scheer responded to my e-mailed inquiry to explain how he knows about Tuckahoe. I told him most people don't know the village unless they've lived there, dated someone there or got a speeding ticket there.
"I don't know why I know Tuckahoe, sadly I never dated a girl from their and it's a shame because I hear they totally put out. I think my dad has a friend from their or something."
Evidently, Paul's sources about Tuckahoe girls are either gravely misinformed or have much more money than I do. But thanks for the prompt reply and the great show, Paul!
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
"You'd better have a leg to stand on if you're going to shoot yourself in the foot." ~Me, one minute ago.
I'm so clever! I'll have to use that in my screenplay.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
So before last night's unexpected meeting Michael Kay, I went with my friend Valentina to see an improv show starring Respecto Montalban at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Surpassing only Inconsiderate Cell Phone Man in terms of star power was Paul Scheer, whose knack for the ha-ha on "Best Week Ever" is just sweetness.
So Paul opens the show with a request from new UCBT audience members to suggest unique things about the towns they're from. Hearing dead silence for about 10 seconds, I decide to shout to Paul that my home village rhymes with a vulgar command -- cutting to the chase with said expletive without actually saying "Tuckahoe."
Paul, of course, has a field day with it for about a minute before desperately searching for other suggestions. But later during the opening segment, he correctly deduces that "Well, we've obviously got someone here from Tuckahoe." Who the hell's ever heard of Tuckahoe if you're not from Tuckahoe? Or if you haven't dated someone in Tuckahoe or gotten a speeding ticket in Tuckahoe? Or if you haven't seen "Tuckahoe" mentioned six times in the same paragraph?
Well, I did some homework by going to Paul's Web site. Turns out he's a native New Yorker. My guess is he had to have lived somewhere around these parts to know about Tuckahoe.
Anyway, go see Paul and the rest of the gang in Mantalban. They were ridonkulous.
So, last week, I took a moment to praise the great Buster Olney. In a surreal turn of events, while he was appearing on a live broadcast of Baseball Tonight last night, I met one of my other baseball journalist idols: Michael Kay, the voice of the New York Yankees for the YES Network. And then I watched him rack up a 1-1 record in air hockey matches against my friend's friend.
Let me back up for a minute here. For those who aren't related to me, here's why this is so significant. Since the early 90s, Michael Kay has been the voice of the Yankees in the Serico household. My dad and I would literally turn down the volume on the TV set and listen to him and John Sterling do the play-by-play on the radio because of their insight and chemistry. During rain delays in the summer, my dad and I would come up with hypothetical trades and I'd call them into their default Yankees radio talk show. In addition to Bob Costas and a couple of the SportsCenter alums, Michael Kay is basically the blueprint for what I'd want to be as a sports broadcaster.
The only other time I had met Michael was for about five minutes in 1993, when I was a freshman in high school. That year, my dad and I went to the Yankee fan festival, where I posed with Wade Boggs for a photo, recorded a few play-by-play calls with my dad for pre-taped Yankee milestones and got a Paul O'Neill autograph (that I foolishly would give away to a girl I liked at the time). Anyway, Michael was the assistant play-by-play guy for the WABC telecasts those days and was known by a much smaller fanbase than he is now. These days, he's hosting his own radio show on ESPN radio, interviewing everyone from Billy Crystal to Dennis Rodman on "CenterStage" and offering his two cents on ESPN's "The Sports Reporters." Back then, he was alone at a desk with a microphone, enthusiastically doing public address announcements at the Javitz Center for thousands of meandering Yankee fanatics. My dad, who, like Michael, is a Fordham alumnus, introduced us to Michael, who was very kind and took a few minutes to talk. I don't remember the details of the conversation (partially because I was in awe), but I do recall that he was polite, kind and appreciative of the positive feedback.
Fast forward a dozen years. I'm at Cheap Shots on First Avenue in NYC and I'm chatting with the birthday boy, Sulaiman, when in walks his friend and a plain-clothes Michael Kay by her side. My reaction? An honest one. It took me a second to be sure, but once I made eye contact, I grinned and offered a matter-of-fact, "Michael Kay." He smiled back, shook my hand and said hello. After Sulaiman's friend introduced Michael to him and the both of them to me, Michael took a look at my vintage Penske gas station shirt nametag and said, "So, I'm guessing your name is John?" I politely corrected him and we were off and running.
From there, it only got better. As an unspoken thank-you for topping off my beer with his pitcher, I bought him and his friend two games of air hockey. I think he scored on himself two or three times and he looked at me with incredulity and laughed. He lost the first match, but proceeded to dominate the second one, which prompted me to state, "Someone replaced Michael Kay with Mariano Rivera."
I was sure to give him plenty of space during the course of the evening and avoid sounding like The Chris Farley Show in converation, but we probably talked for about 10 minutes total during the hour-and-a-half he was there. We chatted about Boston College (his niece is headed there this fall), my work-related phone conversation with his producer that included an inside joke about Michael's radio talk show (which got a huge laugh out of him) and my career aspirations. For a guy who basically is the face of the YES Network, I found him to be extremely accessible, personable and down-to-earth.
It's said that one is bound to be disappointed when meeting one's heroes; but in this case, my positive feelings were more than reaffirmed by my encounter. Before he left, he made a point to shake my hand and wish me luck with my career. A class act, that Michael Kay. And so ends the story of my second celebrity encounter in a month.
Amazing postscript: Today, I left a cell phone message with my friend Mark Noferi, a devout Red Sox fan, to tell him about last night's Kay encounter, admitting that it probably would not be as cool to him because it wasn't Jerry Remy or Sean McDonough -- a long-time NESN broadcast team for the Sox. Mark calls back a few hours later to say that his sister met McDonough last night and enjoyed his company as well. Surreal.
Friday, July 08, 2005
This link's about Lorne Michaels personally recruiting new talent for Saturday Night Live. (Via The Apiary.)
Particularly interesting are the nuggets about the possible departures of Tina Fey, Horatio Sanz, Chris Parnell and Darrell Hammond.
Russell Crowe rules. Okay, not at the box office. And not with public opinion.
But if someone responds with "Whatever" after I'm trying to reach the hypothetical love of my life, I'd want to toss a phone at someone's head, too. I'll happily admit my bias, however, because I think he's the greatest actor in the world right now.
And, in an unrelated story, I've shattered my record for blog posts in a single day. Huzzah.
I'm posting like crazy today, but I'm finding all sorts of great links.
Red Sox madman Bill Simmons refers to Derek Jeter's All-Star Game snub:
Look, you know I hate the Yankees. It's well-documented. But you can't have an All-Star Game without Jeter. You just can't. The NBA mentality should come into play here -- make sure your most visible stars are there on All-Star Weekend no matter how well they're playing. I always love when people get all holier-than-thou about picking an All-Star team, like anyone's going to remember in five years that Jose Guillen got shafted. Who cares?
The following guys should make the team every year unless they're trapped under something: Tejada, Guerrero, Manny, Jeter, A-Rod, Big Papi, Rivera, Clemens, Pedro, Ichiro, Schilling, Big Unit and Pujols. Those are the 13 biggest stars in baseball. You can't have the All-Star Game without any of them. Every December, we could even form a committee to determine if anyone from the Top 13 should lose their spot because they went Piazza on us, leaving us no choice but to take them off the list. And maybe next December, we could add a couple of guys who made The Leap -- like Mark Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.
Of course, we have a better chance of dividing the Gaza Strip than coming up with a fool-proof All-Star selection method. Every time it seems like they're headed in the right direction, something happens like "Shea Hillenbrand over Derek Jeter" and it completely undermines the whole process. So why not protect the stars who absolutely have to be in the game? Do you really think the NBA would ever knock KG out of the 2006 All-Star Game, or the NFL would ever stand in Peyton Manning's way when he was gunning for yet another Pro Bowl MVP? Come on.
Although I don't always agree with the "just pick the famous names" premise, this is a great argument for New York's crown prince. And, oh, for a game that determines World Series home-field advantage, there's nobody more clutch than Jeter. Except Hideki Matsui. But, oh, he didn't make the All-Star team, either.
I'm questioning how much of this is real and how much of it is fabricated, but does it really matter? It's hysterical. This link courtesy of my awesome brother-in-law, Matt.
Warning: Some R-rated written content here, so read it at home and not at work. But it's superfun. You'll see.
It's always fashionable to pick on MTV and VH1, but they both are doing something right in showing 10 hours of commercial-free, uninterrupted set lists from Live 8 this Saturday. This solution most definitely makes up for the commercial-laden, "message"-heavy, sporadic coverage last weekend. Cheers to the good folks at Viacom for listening.
So, you wanna be a sportswriter or sports columnist, eh?
Well, I do, anyway.
Here's an enlightening article about the pitfalls of being a snarky, provocative sports reporter in terms of the conflicts between journalist and athlete. It certainly goes to show the extent that the media can clash personally with their subject matter.
After reading this, I'm hoping not to run into Celine Dion and the Dixie Chicks anytime soon.
Also, taking this theme to the extreme, let's take a moment to pour out an alcoholic beverage on behalf of New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who recently was jailed for not revealing a source. People, if you want more Nixon-like revelations of the Deep Throat variety, jailing journalists for protecting their sources is not the answer.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Yes, this Daily News article itself is interesting, particularly because I'm in Grand Central Terminal an average of two or three days a week, but if you're looking for a story with an easy, Leno-like punchline, here you go.
Need a preview? Here's the opening paragraph:
The Federal Department of Homeland Security released gas in Grand Central Terminal last month in a secret study of how dangerous chemicals might flow through the landmark in a terrorist attack.
Insert jokes here. Or, preferably, in the Comments section of this posting.
Sunday is my five-year anniversary at Gannett. In my time here, I've been fortunate enough to interview some pretty amazing people and befriend some of the feature-oriented subjects in the process. Some of the recent story subjects to become friends of mine include sketch comedian Chris Principe and graphic designer Todd Radom, whom I mentioned earlier this week.
But one of my former story subjects, Buster Olney, has become a mentor and friend. Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN: The Magazine and makes regular contributions to "SportsCenter" and "Baseball Tonight." Not only is he a brilliant writer, but also he treated me with incomparable respect when I profiled his book and his career for my newspaper.
Anyway, without getting too dramatic, I thought this segment of his must-read daily Blog was particularly fun. (It's part of a pay service called ESPN Insider, but his writing was enough to get me to pay the $3 a month.) Here he's talking about the "Oh Shoot" meter -- the level of fear among baseball players when an opposing team's reliever is coming in to close the game:
There are no numbers to quantify this particular measurement, but we know, from conversations with many players and managers, that Dennis Eckersley did very well on The Oh Shoot Meter. So did Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter. Trevor Hoffman has done very well. And at some point down the road, this category could be renamed the Mariano Rivera Meter, because it's possible that no reliever has been as feared by opponents as Rivera.
Gossage gave the best description of this phenomenon that I've heard, while speaking of Rivera. The opposing players are "sitting in the dugout thinking, 'We've got no [expletive] chance,'" Gossage said, his voice rising and his eyes widening. "It's [expletive] over. This guy walks in and they are [expletive] done."
Just classic. And he writes great anecdotal stuff like this on a daily basis.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Finally, a columnist speaks on behalf of New Yorkers everywhere regarding New York City's failed attempt to land the Olympics in 2012. Trust me, this is a very, very good thing.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
It's cool enough that my friend Todd already designed the Washington Nationals' logo and uniforms, but now the team is making a bid to become my second-favorite if their Bush-bashing suitor is allowed to buy it.
Naturally, some Republicans are freaking out about the possibility and are threatening action. Classy.
The author of this column -- Patrick Hruby, one of ESPN Page 2's most underrated columnists -- also mentions the Greatest American poll that I covered earlier in this Blog. His response (to the poll, not my Blog item):
A tax-slashing president, Ronald Reagan, was recently voted history's Greatest American, ahead of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and, yes, Oprah. Again, this is troublesome, and exactly the sort of disaster that demands federal intervention.
For one, the Gipper has an airport named after him, which ought to be honor enough; more to the point, everyone knows the real greatest American of all time is Michael Jordan. Followed by the guy who invented the beer cozy.
Monday, July 04, 2005
One of the many reasons why I like HOVA more and more every day:
"My favorite part of [Mr. Brightside] is when they repeat, 'It was only a kiss! It was only a kiss!' But that's everyone's favorite part, right?" -- Def Jam president Jay-Z about the Killers to Rolling Stone June 30.
One of the best aspects of Jay-Z is that he's not only not afraid to talk about music he likes outside of the rap/R&B genre, he also appears to be enthusiastic about it. As a rap artist, you have to be extremely confident in your skills and street credibility to be complimenting androgenous rock acts. Of course, it's a lot easier to do so when one is already established, but I get the feeling Jay would be comfortable expressing something like this at any point of his career.
As a huge Boston College sports fan, this Boston Globe article was an enlightening and frustrating read. It's easy to gloss over your own rooting interests when there are other rivals to skewer (Remember "Catholics vs. Cons" with BC vs. Miami football?), but it's sad to see that BC men's basketball team has had so many legal troubles in the 21st century.
In reading previous news reports, I knew about the barroom brawl and the window exit. I didn't know about one player's 9mm handgun. Or the "three counterfeit $10 bills in [another player's] rectum." I, of course, want BC to be a force on the basketball court. It just makes me sad to think that with revenue sports, a checkered past might not be enough to dissuade the school to offer some athletes the annual scholarship of $40,000-plus.
Another question: If Stanford and Duke don't have these problems publicly, is it because they don't exist? Or because the media choose not to report them?
The story offers one version of an answer through an interview with Boston University basketball coach Dennis Wolff; and it's encouraging and discouraging at the same time:
"There's no school in the country immune to any of this," Wolff said. "I know those guys at BC. They are good guys who try to do their due diligence in investigating these kids, but we're coaches, not detectives. If you're doing your due diligence and getting good reports, you're going to take a chance on these kids."
In BC's defense, there are plenty of athletes on revenue and nonrevenue teams that are definitely worthy of praise, not only as student-athletes, but also as people. One of my BC buddies, Cal Bouchard, is not only extraordinarily nice, but is flat-out brilliant and played on the Canadian basketball team during the 2000 Sydney Olympics. These awesome student-athletes do exist and BC needs more of them.
The point is to make sure BC doesn't lose sight of its integrity in a stink over high-profile athletes and money. And not just because of the counterfeit Hamiltons that police said were where the sun don't shine.
We'll be right back on "The Sports Reporters" with some Parting Shots after this break.
Sunday, July 03, 2005
Here's a very cool behind-the-scenes look at this weekend's Live 8 show, with insight about a possible Linkin Park-Kanye West collaboration, everyone worshipping Paul McCartney and the largest backstage posse belonging to, um, Bill Gates.
Here's one nugget that I find particularly amusing: One fan in the VIP section was obviously at Live 8 more for the politics than the music. Soon after one of rock's most successful groups had performed, he said, "Bon Jovi? Who cares about him? I want to see Reverend Al [Sharpton]."
I'm not sure whose side I'm on in that one.
I think MTV and VH1 did a nice job with their coverage, all things considered. They spent too much time explaining what it was about (versus showing the music) and strangely showed the same footage simultaneously on both networks, but some of my favorite highlights -- among the songs I actually witnessed -- were U2's "Beautiful Day," Linkin Park/Jay-Z's "Numb/Encore" and Green Day's cover of Queen's "We Are The Champions." Another super awesome highlight was Sting's "Driven To Tears" -- SO cool. You gotta love the old-school, obscure Police songs. Or at least I do.
Things I wish I had seen: The U2-McCartney "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," Pink Floyd's set and the London finale. And the awkward Madonna-Elton John encounter, if there was one, after this highly publicized spat.
Friday, July 01, 2005
Chris delivers the news you need to know. When you need to know it. Or sometimes a few days before you need to know it.
Or sometimes you don't even need to know it. But you feel bad and will just put up with it just to make Chris feel better. Weeknights at 11.
His purple shirt will hypnotize you. His temporarily suburned nose will intrigue you. Or make you think he's drunk. Or both. And the expression on his face means he means business. Or that he's just bored. Either way, he's got the news he thinks he knows you need to know.
So when you need the news, or at least a few crappy links with some commentary surrounding them, turn to Chris on this Blog post for the latest in ridiculousness. Or some news and sh*t.
ACTION NEWS! WEEKNIGHTS AT 11!