Saturday, August 27, 2005

Danny Misses The Hole; Again and Again!

Danny Loses Control
Danny Tavares, aims to throw a baseball through an elephant's mouth at the Modesto Nuts Single-A Minor League game last Saturday. Danny was among seven vying to win a spa. He missed all six chances, but the little kid behind him eventually would win the grand prize. The Nuts beat the San Jose Giants, 6-5 in 10 innings.

Listen to my play-by-play of the dramatic contest from John Thurman Field in Modesto, CA.
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Friday, August 26, 2005

Athletes 'Dancing' Out Of Class

Huggins Forgot About The Classroom

It may have seem shocking that Heisman Trophy winner, Matt Leinart, was enrolled in just one class--dancing!--until you note that he needs only two more units to graduate. Don't they have woodshop at USC?

While the broad shouldered QB from SoCal is a good student, we were reminded of other institutions that are less productive in churning out degrees or even students who go to class while participating in intercollegiate athletics.

Bob Huggins was fired this week as the head basketball coach at the Univerisity of Cincinnati for many reasons that have simmered over his 14 seasons at the school.

He was taken to task for being surly and confrontational and his DUI a few years back helped burnish his bad reputation, but ironically, nobobdy mentioned his dismal graduation rates while coaching the Bearcats to 12 consecutive NCAA tournaments.

Even in the high stakes business of college basketball a head coach is still, at his core, at teacher like anybody else on campus. To gloss over Huggins' poor leadership in getting kids to class, as commentator Dick Vitale did on SportsCenter Wednesday, is the problem with college athletics, or the "big check" as the school president might say.

This ultimately, comes down to money and the free labor that college athletes give in exchange for the chance to play for professional scouts. The universities tout how a degree from their schools could translate into huge earning power in the future. Who's getting the better deal when a dozen individuals at North Carolina can win a national championship, as they did last year, and garner the school an extra $20 million?

The school president has become more of a general manager in the sports world than the final word on education at any given school.

There were literally years when none of Huggins basketball players graduated from Cincy. Oh, but Vitale says he was getting better. The coaching fraternity is akin to the circle of trust in the Police Department. Everyone is a nice, hard working guy and damn you for criticizing such a person.

Yeah, damn you, for not teaching the students.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Don't Be Like The Doc

Doc Gooden
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
Meteoric Rise of Seattle Righty Similar To Gooden

The idea of the young pitching prodigy is one of baseball's most alluring features. The myth of the diamond in the rough was satirized so masterfully by George Plimpton in the pages of Sports Illustrated with the story of Sidd Finch, an oddball pitcher the New York Mets' camp with no baseball experience and capable of throwing 200 mph by using the Tibetan art of controlling the mind and body.

The rare occurrence of the young phemom who is able to step up to the Big Leagues and dominate older, more experienced players is what sets baseball apart from others sports and most of the job market.

Imagine a 20 year old clockmaking apprentice being able to produce instruments better than a 30 year master. What about of young college student with more knowledge than a 60 year old scholar with a Ph.d. It doesnt' happen everywhere but baseball.

Seattle's Felix Hernandez is baseball's newest phenom. A 19-year-old Venezuelan fireballer with a 98 mph heater and the changeup of a ten year vet. Hernandez has set the the baseball world on fire in just four starts.

Hernandez, like Pittsburgh Zach Duke and Oakland's Huston Street are just a few of the gallant young studs to reach the mantle of youthful greatness, but like the mystic hurler, Sidd Finch, who was but the imagination of Plimpton, there is a downside to baseball's magical anointing. His name is Dwight Gooden.

Gooden, once known as "Doctor K", finally turned himself in today to the Tampa Police after fleeing from a police officer who pulled him over on suspicion of drunken driving. Gooden was also wanted for striking his girlfriend a few months past.

If there is ever a cautionary tale for youthful greatness, Gooden is the story.

Twenty years ago today, he won his twentieth game of the season for the Mets at the age of 20. Long and slender with a high leg kick, the flamethrowing Gooden unleashed a torrent of wicked stuff at hitters with every pitch. Until, maybe Hernandez this year, there hasn't been a more dominant pitcher not of drinking age in Major League history.

At the age of 26, Gooden's career record stood at 132-53 with a miraculous winning percentage of .714. After the 1993 season his golden arm began to meltdown. The loss of his main weapon on the mound rendered Gooden a couple different pitcher and one who became mortal. Coupled with the poor health of his arm and the rampant drug use in the Mets' clubhouse when he first broke into the Majors and his subsequent addiction to drugs and alcohol, the storyboard for a nasty fall from glory was set.

All the cheers and notoriety that pervaded his fast-paced life in the 80's is now an unwanted glare of lights on his current troubles.

Plimpton's Sidd Finch ultimately shunned signing with the Mets because his Tibetan teachings called for an honest and balanced lifestyle.

Will Felix Hernandez, holed up in an apartment far from home, with little grasp of the english language, be able to control his mind and choices from what is bad like he can with a 3-2 fastball on the outside black? If he doesn't, when the cheering has subsided, the jeers will emerge from the inside of the county jail.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Q&A With Portugal's Manager

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Mexico Beats Portugal Again, 9-4

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This Time Its For Citizenship

2005 Suzao Cup At A Glance

What: 3rd Annual Softball Game In Memory of Suzie
When: August 21, 2005, 2pm
Where: Palomares Hills Park
Weather: 74 degrees, mostly sunny with clouds burning off by gametime. Windy. 10-20 mph N-NW.

History: Mexico won the inaugral game 13-8 and followed it with a dramatic come-from-behind win last year, 24-23.

Pitching: Mexico, Dan Garcia (1-0). Portugal, Julian Tavares (0-0).

MVPs: 2003, Nomar Garciaparra (MEX). 2004, Bobby Da Costa (MEX).

Read the Lunatic Fringe Report before, during and after the game for audio reports from the field brought to you by For now click on the button below to hear "Centerfield" as sung by Steve Tavares.

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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Mexico Tries For Three Straight Cups Sunday

I Pity Da Foolio!
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
3rd Win Would Keep Lead Until 2008
Team Mexico, hot off of two straight wins in the Suzao Cup, announced their squad for 2005 this morning.

With a nod towards making up for their undermanned team from a year ago, a roster of 13 was named.

Here's Los Chorizos' roster:

Michelle Garcia, manager (3rd game)
Seth Miranda (Portugee traitor)
Suzie Garcia
Dan Heka
Myra Rivas
Dan Garcia
Ruben Sierra
Michael J. Fox
Christina Aguilera
Melissa "Slugger" Terry
Tony the Tiger

The Championship Game

She had never started a game on the mound ever, but this was the championship game and the title rested on Suzie's performance.

Throughout the season, our top draft pick and pitching phenom, a girl named Jamie Schukle pitched a majority of the innings with a ferocious windmill fastball terrifying hitters with its power and periodic wildness. Jamie, though, was one of those overextended middle class kids who juggled school, three sports and the occasion family vacation to Tahiti. The championship game happened to fall during a scheduled trip to Washington, D.C.

We had been through so much that season, Suzie was 17 and playing her last season of organized softball. I became the manager of the team because, of course, my father couldn't do it. He didn't know the difference between the ball and a ball. From the first day, the other coaches snickered over our team of misfits led by supposed troublemakers; Suzie and her friend Michelle Hand and their coach, who was a kid. Sometimes they didn't even try to conceal their laughter and did it in our face.

The first game of the season we inihilated the perceived best team in the league who was managed by one of those beet red-faced old dudes who secretly wished they had produced a boy instead of a brood of girls. Our opening day thrashing was further punctuated by playing the Queen song, "We are the Champions" after the game. This labeled us as sure rabblerousers for the rest of the season.

We would proceed to win the first 10 games of the season on the way to finishing 11-1. We were a buzzsaw that blew teams away early. Many times the other team was intimidated before stepping onto the field. A growl and a snicker from Suzie was usually the culprit..

A league president nicknamed, "Doobie Dooley" by our team, had told me that Suzie was rated the number one player in the draft. The old guys loved the way Suzie played the game. While many girls played softball as a chance to doll themselves up for the boys, Suzie was all business. She wore her uniform with the sleeves rolled up and wore her infamous neon green batting gloves. The same ones that Rickey Henderson made famous in the 90's. At one point, her and Michelle even added eye black to their desperado personas.

She played the game hard. By her last season, she wasn't the most gifted player by any stretch, but nobody played harder than Suzie. It was typical to see her arms pumping around thirdbase and grunting towards homeplate like you might have seen Kirk Gibson doing on the Saturday Game of the Week. Her tenaciousness, won over many with a great knowledge of the game.

Because a pitcher was allotted only a certain amount of innings a week, the need for a second pitcher was paramount to our success. Aside from our phenom, we had nobody with any ptiching experience. Suzie volunteered to be tutored by Jamie's over-possessive father, who claimed to be an expert on the mechanics of pitching. He also was handsome for an older man and Suzie liked them old. So, it was agreed that we would pitch Suzie an inning or two every so often and see where it goes.

It was a surprise to many that she succeeded from the beginning. After a few games, she became our stopper in the bullpen and was fairly effective. After securing the top seed in the playoffs, we lost the opening game of the round robin tournament before winning the next game and advancing to the championship game. During this period it became known that our best pitcher would be deserting us. The only solution would be to start Suzie and see what happened.

Never had Suzie pithced more than two innings in any game when she fully accept the task of possibly pitching six or seven. We were going to rely on Suzie's toughness and guile to get us the trophy.

She had been known, at least to me, to intentionally hit girls that she didn't like. It would be that sort of intimidation that would be our only hope against a team that also possessed their own pitching phenom.

On the mound now stood Suzie. She would surely hit a few batters and mix in a little wildness to keep the opposing hitters off guard, but because Suzie didn't possess much power in her pitches, our defense would be needed to keep us in the game and it came through.

Unfortunately, so did the other teams.

The opposing pitcher zipped through our lineup blowing fastballs by our hitters and heaping frustration upon our team. Despite Suzie's heroic performance, we were no match for them. We lost the championship, 3-1, but in many ways exhibited far more heart.

The memory of Suzie on that mound was one of the most precise pictures of the strength that she held inside. That whole season she had something to prove. She played like she would never play the game again. She played like she only believed in succeeding.

About seven years later, she would show that same heart with her life on the line. Unfortunately, the outcome was the same as our championship game, but like those two instances, she showed that the fight would be fought until the last moments. Her strength, faith and love is something that we'll remember when we step on the softball field once again in her memory.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Rookie Power Added to Portugal's Side

Team Portugal
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
Roster Set For Baleeiros

Portugal announced its team for 2005 Suzao Cup on Sunday, August 21, 2pm. Its tentative roster features a veteran roster and two rookies.

Patrick "Da Don Patino" Doral and Nelson Costa were added to a team that has lost the first two games of the championship.

The defense was also tentatively announced.

Julian Tavares (pitcher), Milton Costa (firstbase), Key Fogelson (secondbase), Steve Tavares (shortstop), Eddie Tavares, (thirdbase), Bobby Da Costa (leftfield), Milton Costa, Jr. (buckshort), Nelson Costa (centerfield), Patrick Doral (rightfield), Marianne Doral (catcher).

Here's Portugal's scouting report:

Steve Tavares, Manager (3rd game)
--Good outfielder. Real workhorse. Loves his mama. Traded MVP away last year. Gives long speeches.

Patrick Doral (Rookie)
--Makes a lot of noise. Has power. Running ability is suspect. Runs with a piano on his back.

Milton Costa (3rd game)
--Good cheerleader ("C'mon, Suzie!). Will get on base. Sure handed. Pretty hair.

Milton Costa, Jr. (Rookie)
--Good at baseball, video game baseball. Will play hurt.

Marianne Doral (2nd game)
--Has asthma problem. Large rump is easy to tag out.

Key Fogelson (2nd game)
--Sure-handed infielder. Good dugout decorator. Best hitting female in game.

Bobby Da Costa (3rd game)
--2004 MVP. Has long ball power. Intense baserunner. Once got stitches under his eye from lazy foul ball.

Nelson Costa (Rookie)
--Discovered in Central Valley League. Former football player. Power to all fields. Defense unknown.

Uncle Eddie Tavares (2nd game)
--Loves the Browns. Mans the hot corner well. Enjoys non-alcoholic beer. Good hit-and-run batter.

Julian Tavares (3rd game)
--Crafty pitcher. Improved hitter. Now can hit the ball past second base. Understands the rules.

Listen to our theme song, "Bailinho da Madeira" with backup singing from Steve Tavares. Click on the button below.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Portuguese Team Has Brawn, But Do They Have Brains?

For the first time in series history, the Portuguese squad is optimistic about their lineup. Never in its history has it boasted so much potential power than this year.

In years past, it relied on manufacturing runs with doubles and singles along with a defense that has never really materialized. This Sunday it may feature five considerable power threats in Bobby Da Costa, Steve Tavares, Nelson Costa, Patrick Doral and Little Milton Costa.

"That's a lot punch in the middle of the lineup. If we can get our leadoff hitters on board early, I don't see why we can't blow the Mexican across the border--I mean--like, all the way to Central America," said manager and shortstop, Steve Tavares.

"Seriously, though, we can hit all we want, but our defense definitely needs to hold the Mexicans. We can't be given away outs late in the game like last year with Herbie kicking the ball all over the place," said Tavares.

Last year, Portugal played well enough to win versus the undermanned opponents from south of the border, but slowly relinquished the lead late in the game on the misadventures of cousin, Herbie Tavares, who committed five errors at thirdbase that led to 10 Mexican runs and breathed new life into their hopes. Many are still perturbed over his performance last year.

"We even moved the game earlier in the month for that guy to play and then that sucker gave those guys all the runs. I still can't believe it," said lifelong fan, Carlos Tavares of Tracy, CA.

After losing the first two games of the series, many fans are still unsure about the team's chances this Sunday despite their potential on paper.

"Best Portugee lineup ever! What is that! They haven't won one yet," said fan, Jack Smith.

"I won't believe it if they win. I've seen it before and then they're crappy," says team mother, Elizabeth Smith.

Much like the Boston Red Sox march to the World Series after 86 years, a psychological barrier needs to be hurdled before the Portuguese players and fans can begin thinking about celebrating a win after two straight defeats.

"The coach is kinda poor. All crippled up half the time. Made bad decisions--traded one of his best players. They [Mexicans] should just stick to the rules. You don't have enough players--you lose!," said Jack while cleaning one of his many shotguns.

Blacks vs Whites; Haves vs Havenots

Not only has Philadelphia Eagles' wide receiver, Terrell Owens, become one of the most egotistically and selfish athletes of our time, but also the unfortunate creation of our society.

The precise words that Owens is uttering could have been read in any place of employment from the busboy at the Olive Garden to the heavily pierced, tattoed kid at the record store.

"Talk to me like a man!"
"You don't know me!"
"I'm not paid to talk to you!".

These are just some of the common phrases that were barked from Owens' lips, but the division is so stark down racial lines that it begs to question, has society so broken down to where the behavior of unskilled labor has seeped to supposedly highly-skilled worker or is it the other way?

Owens' protestations have white people denouncing his actions under the pretense that his position is akin to an underling at any job in America. Would you talk to your boss like Owens did? Would you tell him to shut up? Invariably, most would conclude such behavior would illicit walking papers before the day was over.

Of course, most realize that being a professional athlete contains a whole different set of rules and exorbitant amounts of money, nonetheless, the hierarchy of the workplace is still prevalent.

The divide is further created when the national media has portrayed the Eagles' handling of Owens, in a human resources sense, as compiling a cache of Owens' on-the-job indiscretion, big and small, as evidence that they are trying to get rid of him for any cause.

Minorities, namely blacks, will tell you that they see this happen all of the time. The boss begins watching the employees every move. Whether they're late one minute, wore the incorrect shoes or say just one crass word; termination is quick.

In terms of America today, this is what has become so prevalent, nothing is real and division is utilized so well to control people against their wishes.

The White House does this effectively by focusing on gays, abortion, and a clinically dead woman in Florida, to name a few, as the most pressing issues of our day. While these stories illicit wars between liberals vs conservatives and secular folks vs. churchgoers; the deficit skyrockets, gas is $2.75 and a billion dollars a day is spent on a war fought under deliberately false pretenses when noboby is paying attention.

The persona of Terrell Owens has twice been created, once by himself and now by his agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

The first incarnation of Owens was created to build a brand name attached to his phenomenal receiving skills. Almost a generation ago, Michael Jordan did the same to go from the greatest basketball player of all time to one of most recognizable faces on earth.

The Owens that playfully punched the padding of field goal post after a touchdown, artfully signed a football in the endzone with a well-placed Sharpie and taunted America's Team by celebrating on their beloved star logo, were premeditated antics developed to get his face on SportsCenter and the columns of every newspaper and blog.

The new Owens began with the addition of Rosenhaus, the youthful-looking agent with the smarmy smile of a crooked used car dealer.

Owens' previous agent sought to enrich his marketability in the Jordan sense by appealing to as many people as possible. Owens' escapades were harmless is hindsight and always had an element of comedy attached.

This method obviously did not bear fruit and when his agent flubbed sending forms for free agency to the NFL on time, it gave Owens the opportunity to bolt.

Rosenhaus, conversely, has positioned Owens to become this generations athletic martyr; a self-centered and spineless version of the honorable Muhammad Ali.

Owens and Rosenhaus are attempting, like the Bush administration, to divide the court of public opinion, in this case, by using race.

It started with the inflammatory opening of Monday Night Football last year that featured Owens and a flirtatious, scantilly-clad Nicolette Sheridan that was too upsetting to many American's narrow-minded view of interracial relationships.

In the last week, Owens and Rosenhaus appeared live on ESPN numerous times. Each time reiterating their demands and each time adding a new wrinkle to further divide Americans along race and socio-economic lines. In one case, even lying.

In addition to Owens' manipulation of workplace lingo, many have latched on to the lie perpetrated by Owens and Rosenhaus that the Eagles asked him to sign a medical waiver before last year's Super Bowl.

Given that Owens performed so well in the Super Bowl while still rehabbing his injury, this false claim furthered showed that the Eagles were ungrateful of his contribution and planned to push him to the wayside if he reinjured himself.

The positive side to all of this virtual reality is that some of the creations of other sports have begin to be chipped away. The pharmaceutical creations of Major League Baseball have just begun to be unveiled as athletes of very questionable integrity and verifiable cheats. They could be well on their way to ruining the hallowed traditions of the game.

Players like Terrell Owens have become bigger than the game of football. The poison of their ways has already made the leap from the gridiron to everyday life. Whether is consumes our society or not will not be known until well after the Eagles decide to renegotiate T.O.'s contract or not.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Both Teams Weary Of Game 2 Hero

Mexicans Say "We Don't Need Him"

A year has past since Bobby Costa's dramatic game-winning homer last year against his former Portuguese mates. This year, Bobby is returning to his Portuguese heritage amongst a skeptical team and indifferent former squad.

The Mexicans, who profited from Bobby's come-from-behind three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, have been ungrateful of his role in giving them a 2-0 lead in the series.

"I don't really care," said Mexican manager Michelle Garcia, "We all know he's not a true Mexican, anyway. We used him and abused him."

The manager was also vehement in adding, "We don't need him. We're up 2-0, biatch. We still don't have a goddamn trophy, either!"

When confronted with the Mexicans indifference towards his accomplishments for them, Bobby Costa was circumspect.

"That's okay. It's something that I've been through my entire life. People are always using and abusing my talent; taking advantage of a superstar."

Bobby also plans to exact revenge on his former team while changing his style of play due to pending changes in the home run rules.

"We're going to take out some of the home run rules, this year, so I'm going to be aiming to knock some of the Mexicans down in the infield."

Bobby's new team is anxious to have his power back in their lineup but a few are still concerned over his exploits from a year ago.

"Bobby's selfishness is disconcerning, but we're all here to win the Cup for Suzie. If he can get some big hits for us, I'm sure we'll all forget his behavior last year," said Portuguese manager Steve Tavares.

Others also remember Bobby's decision to bat lefthanded during the famous home run making it easier to knock it over the rightfield fence which was in play.

"Listen, he wanted to be the winner regardless of whether he was Mexican or Portuguese. That's our nature as Portuguese people. Besides, the Mexicans don't even remember his name. Pretty much, I feel sorry for Bobby," said Portuguese infielder, Milton Costa.

"The real problem, though, was that he took hacks--hacks!--when he should have been striking out," Milton added.

Bobby's decision to play harder against the team that traded him rather than play the role of spy was easy.

"I felt betrayed by my team. I came there with the expectation of playing for the Portuguese flag. It hurt," said Bobby.

Bobby arrived at Palomares Hills Park last year thinking he was playing for his beloved country, only to be traded to the shorthanded Mexicans fifteen minutes before gametime.

"I did everything in my power so that they would pay the price of trading the superstar," said Bobby.

The fact that Bobby had no intention of playing for Mexico nor did he willingly go to the other side has given some solace to his new teammates.

"We've already talked," said Milton, "The fact is that the manager traded him; he didn't go on his own. With the free agent market as it is; he did what he did, but he knows his roots."

Sure, he's welcome back; of course, we're the one's who gave him away, but he didn't have to hit that homerun," said Portuguese catcher, Marianne Doral.

Newcomers to the series are also aware of the controversy over Bobby, but they're willing to accept him.

Said rookie outfielder, Patrick Doral, "He's like Jerry Rice. He played for the Niners and then the Raiders. He played good for the Raiders, but I didn't like him at first, but now I do. Bobby's alright, but he's still a traitor. Bitch!"

3rd Annual Softball Game In Memory of Suzie
Sunday, August 21, 2005, 2pm
Palomares Hills Park, Castro Valley
"This Time It's for Citizenship"

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Shot Heard 'Round The Festas

Bobby Hits Game-Winning Homer; Commits Treason

2004 Team Photo; Mexico wins again

The Portuguese arrived at the ballpark for Game 2 of the series, hopeful for a different result after their defeat in the opener. The signs were good for Portuguese reprisal as the Mexicans fielded an undermanned team with two children. To make up for their shortage, two Portuguese players, Bobby Costa and Key Fogelson were traded to the Mexicans for two Dos Equis and a bag of mangoes con sal y limon. This deal would prove pivotal in the outcome of this game.

TRIVIA QUESTION: Who was the only player in series history to commit five errors, wear their glove on the wrong hand and test positive for steroids all in one day? The answer is at the end of this posting.

Portugal, with a restructured lineup featuring the "Monterey Boys", struck quick with six runs in the first inning. While Mexico slowly wittled away at the lead the Portuguese continued to cross the plate. It wasn't until Portugal's defense broke down that the Mexicans made their moved.

Orchestrated migration of Mexicans to the field

Amazingly, the Mexicans began their comeback on the hitting prowess of their youngest players. At first, showing little interest in their ability, the Portuguese then began to focus on the two Mexican rookie stars, and still could not avoid a pair of four-hit games.

Slide Felt Around the World

To worsen matters for the Portuguese, their imported cousin from Boston, Herbie Tavares, exhibited the glovework and coordination at thirdbase of Helen Keller. Herbie committed five errors in the sixth and seventh innings that led to 10 Mexican runs, yet the Mexicans still needed more and it came in the form of an expatriate Portuguese boy from the Madeira Islands.

In the top of the ninth, the Portuguese, led by some clutch hitting from Milton Costa and Steve Tavares powered the team to a 23-21 led going into the bottom of the ninth. After retiring the first hitter, the Portuguese allowed a single and let its shaky defense again hurt its chances.

Milton Costa bobbled a force play at second base that brought Bobby Costa to the plate as the winning run. Bobby, naturally righthanded, abruptly switched sides of the plate to take advantage of the rule that allowed for homeruns from dead centerfield to the rightfield fair pole. The fence in right measures about 25 feet in addition to being the largest part of Palomares Hills Park.

Bobby Flies Out As A Portuguee

After taking a few pitches, Bobby took a massive cut at the ball and watched it sail over the rightfield fence dramatically winning Game 2 with a walk-off, game-winning three-run homer. In the process seeking revenge for his dismissal earlier in the day and drawing anger and calls of treason from his Portuguese countrymen.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Portugal's Herbie Tavares (pictured above), was harshly blamed for the loss in Game 2. He has since given up softball and is currently spending a year in prison because of his involvement in the BALCO case.

GAME 3: Sunday, August 21, 2005, 2pm, Palomares Hills Park, Castro Valley.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Episode III: Revenge Of The Portuguese

The third edition of this titanic rivalry resumes Sunday, August 21st, 2pm at the Palomares Hills Park in Castro Valley. A barbeque and trash-talking after the game. Here's a brief history of the first two games honoring Suzie's birthday, her friendships and her joy of playing the game of softball:

It all started at an A's/Giants game in 2003. A rivalry steeped in proximity and playful jostling between the two Bay Area baseball teams seemed the perfect template for what was to come.

We met Suzie's best friend since fifth grade, Michelle Garcia, affectionately known as, "Beaner", when the idea of celebrating Suzie's birthday in August might be combined with a softball game pitting Beaner's family against ours was first dreamt. A tradition was born.

Mexicans Win Game 1
Game 1: Controversy Erupts As Mexico Easily Wins Inaugral Game
Portugal's fortunes seemed bleak as some of its players arrived late pushing back the gametime by an hour. The Portuguese never really woke up, briefly holding the more athletic Mexicans until finally capitulating to a 26-18 loss.

TRIVIA: Who is the oldest player to ever participate in the Softball Game for Suzie? The answer is at the end of this posting.

Controversy erupted, though, that would instigate rule changes in subsequent years. The Mexicans recruited against rules that forbide any players not of the family's ancestry. A fellow looking vaguely like the then Red Sox shortstop, Nomar Garciaparra, clubbed two homers over the high centerfield fence to win the first MVP award.

2003 MVP: Nomar!

From the start, the Mexicans seemed stronger and more athletic than the soccer-loving nation of Portuguese descendants, but a little known hurler named Julian Tavares single-handedly stifled the Aztec attack through six innings.

Masterfully mixing zero knowledge of pitching a softball, cockiness and guile, Julian had the Mexican hitters off balance with his new fangled side arm tosses that look more like an indifferenly flagman than pitcher. Nonetheless, the complaining Mexican hitters lost their discipline and were conjoled into swinging at bad pitches until tragedy hit.

Already short on players, Portugal's Mark Dawson pulled a hamstring rounding third base. Unable to field a full team, Dawson volunteered to pitch for the team, switching positions with Julian.

Losing Pitcher Pulls Muscle

The Mexicans, relieved at the sudden pitching change feasted on Dawson's offerings and began to pull away from what was previously a tense matchup.

While Game 1 was a success, the barometer of great games would have to wait until next year when controversy occurred once again along with treason and late-inning heroics.

Danny: Oldest player in series history
TRIVIA ANSWER: Danny Tavares (pictured above), the honorary manager of the this year's Portuguese team, played the first three innings of the inaugral game going 1 for 3 with a single at the age of 67. He was chosen manager this year not because of his baseball intellect, but for his close resemblance to Tommy Lasorda.

GAME 2: Coming Up.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Movin' On Up!

Movin' On Up!
The Coliseum had just erupted in a wild frenzy usually reserved for an October night as the Angels reliever, Francisco Rodriguez flubbed the ball from his catcher allowing the A's Jason Kendall to steal home.

On our right was a group of diehard Angels' fans who kept their exhuberance to a friendly roar, nonetheless, they were the enemy and newest holders to second place in the A.L. West.

"Hey Patrick! Take a picture of me with those Angels fans."

I walked over to the guy in the Angels road jersey and asked, "Hey, can I take a picture with you guys?" They obliged and I celebrated behind their backs.

Afterwards, I shook the guys hand and said, "Hey bro, I've got to thank you for beating the Giants a couple of years ago."

They laughed and said, "You're welcome."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Chavez Aims To Shake A's Confidence

"I'll never say we have more talent than them," he said. "They're just so solid. Top to bottom, they've got more talent, hands down. They should win the division, if you ask me." Athletics' thirdbasemen, Eric Chavez, when asked if the A's have closed the talent gap with the Angels.

These aren't the A's of April and May, aimlessly underachieving through the early month's of the season.

As Oakland plays the biggest series of the year tonight against co-A.L. West leader, Los Angeles, more scrutiny will be applied to the team's burgeoning postseason chances.

Quotes, like the one above, come frequently from Eric Chavez and they baffle even the occasional observer. His defeatist attitude should not be misconstrued as brutal honesty, as the A's beat writer, Mychael Urban, portrays it or a sly ploy to psyche out their opponents.

Instead, it's the epitome of why the A's recent postseason history is so littered with near misses and blatant choke jobs. Oakland's self-doubt when it comes to the all-important Game Five and the debacles that consistently followed is rooted in Chavez's poor team leadership.

Is it any wonder why most people indentify this team's veteran leadership with Barry Zito, Mark Kotsay and Jason Kendall and not Eric Chavez?

I'm So Bad

It's Karaoke Tuesday where readers request their favoritie songs.

MrYosemite requested a Tom Petty song. Here's one of my favorites: "Yer So Bad".
this is an audio post - click to play

Resistant To Change: Raiders Redesign Concepts

In all of professional sports there's one team that shakes off any intention of changing there uniform style and that team is da Raidahs.

Few modifications of the basic silver and black uni and eye-patched pirate shield have been made since debuting in 1960. A graphic designer at SportsLogos.Net submitted this uniform concept and slight update of the pirate logo.

The home black uniform has retained the simple, unadorned look of the old, except for the pirate logo floating on the sleeves. The only drawback on this design is the plain look of the numbers outlined in black and possibly white or silver. This feature gives the jersey the feel of a throwaway uniform destined for some Division II college team.

Raiders Home concept
The road ensemble is far more intriguing. The black sleeves with silver jerseys has both a modern and retro feel. Similar to the current New York Jets road jerseys. The black pants are also appealing and balance the jersey with the matching sleeves. The piping on the pants might look at bit odd, though.

Raiders Road concept
Raider fans would be split on the jerseys, but changing the cherished shield is sacrilege. If you look closely, the designer has updated the menacing one-eyed pirate with a more contemporary and cartoonish character. The most notably addition is a silver five o'clock shadow. Appealing to children is not what being a Raidah fan is about!

Raiders logo concept

Monday, August 08, 2005

Suspend The Radio Guy! Giants Can't Handle Losing

Radio Uproar Highlights Corrupt S.F. Ownership

Everybody wants you to think KNBR's Larry Krueger and his racially-tinged rant as the main offender in Cream of Wheat/Caribbean slop Gate, in actuality, it's about how the Giants do business.

The health of the San Francisco Giants is thinly predicated on a sold out gate every home game. Because SBC Park is privately-funded, the Giants management is accountable only to its investors. In other cities where the stadium is built by the city certain accommadations can be made. In San Francisco, it's dollars and sense. If, as is the case now, the team begins to falter and the mystique of a downtown ballpark on the water fades, the Giants cannot weigh city money against its dwindling gate and therefore lowered revenue. Simply put management is worried about that $30 million mortgage.

What does this have to do with some late-night radio personality calling out the Giants hitters and specifically its Latin ballplayers and calling them “brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly”?

What you have in San Francisco is an ownership group bent on secrecy and unethical values that is beginning to crack before out eyes. First, there's the Barry Bonds scandal that calls into question whether the backbone of a successful team and franchise is tainted and whether ownership was aware of his cheating ways when they aggressively marketed paraphenalia and ballgames with his phony homerun march.

Second, the team has performed horribly without Bonds, but they may have regardless of him in the lineup. Their general manager, Brian Sabean, has made some regrettable personnel decisions this year and for a string of years only to exacerbate the dearth of talent on the Major League team and the minors. In two deals this season, the GM has unloaded pitching prospects needed to rebuild the team, like David Aardsma and Jesse Foppert, for aging veterans LaTroy Hawkins and Randy Winn. Instead of getting younger, the Giants get older while falling farther from contending for years to come.

All of these problems have existed for ten years, but are only beginning to show because the team is finally shaky and the local media in San Francisco is priming to dig its teeth into the whole operation.

San Francisco does not get the credit for being a tough sports media town, but it definitely is on par with Boston, Philadelphia or New York, except the teams in this area rarely falter so the attacks are far between. This is the media market that ran Dusty Baker out of town and made life so hard for George Seifert and Steve Young when they replaced football legends.

As questions mount, such as, was the hiring of a 70-year-old man to manage an equally aging team wise? Why wasn't there a long range plan for life without Barry and what happens when a frugal franchise with 42,000 fans in the stadium creates a budget with only 25,000 in the seats?

Krueger has been an unassuming and bland talk show host for many years at KNBR. I also believe he was born locally. Like a majority of Giants fans, he was angry at his listless team and vented over the air. It's difficult to find where the insensitivity of his comment in a sports forum, lies. Is there a stereotypical tendency of caribbean people to hack at slop? If so, then I apologize.

He also said that in Dominican manager Felipe Alou, "You have a manager in Felipe (Alou) whose mind has turned to Cream of Wheat.”

Many of pointed out that this is direct reference to the black man (for those who disagree with the preceeding phrase, that's what I'm talking about) on the Cream of Wheat box. Again, a racially insensitive joke pertaining to the guy on the Cream of Wheat box is either beyond me or highly obscure. If it was don't you think the makers of the product, Nabisco, would have changed the design? Would it have made the Giants any happier if he said Alou's brain was turning to mush or would the AARP jumped all over that one, too?

The message from the Giants is this:
Don't talk about Bonds.
Don't criticize management.
Don't worry about the future or we will embarrass and suspend you.

Just do as color commentator, Mike Krukow.. Slather praise profusely on the great Barry Bonds and then when trouble arises, completely ignore that he ever played for the Giants and convince people Pedro Feliz is a comparable replacement.

Or, you could do like I do and root for the A's. I had to get that one in!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Just A Good 'Ol Boy

this is an audio post - click to play

Growing up as a seven-year-old, playing outside until dark with the neighborhood kids then sitting back to watch an episode of the Dukes of Hazzard on a Friday night, the movie version should be critic proof as Southern crack.

Here's some of the reviews:
The San Francisco Chronicle's respected movie critic, Mick LaSalle, called it "The worst movie so far in the 21st century" and rated it close to the worst of all-time. I actually, recommend reading this review, because, ironically, it reminds me of those flowery and viciously hyperbolic reviews you'll only see in bad movies or sitcoms.

Mike Clark of the USA Today called it "a is what it is" kind of movie, which made me wonder is he a critic of films or of what people will actually like.

"White-faced mintrel show" is what A.O. Scott of the New York Times called the "Dukes of Hazzard".

What all of them clearly mentioned is that the film is unfunny and Jessica Simpson shows more ass and less screen presence than any other actress in a PG-13 flick.

In that case, I'll be there!

NCAA Has Gone Bloodthirsty

Florida State Seminoles
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.

Force Of Nickname Ban & NIT Trial Goes Too Far

The NCAA is flexing its muscles--not to protect itself, though--but to show off it rippling physique in the presence of weaklings and nerds.

By announcing a prohibition of college mascots and nicknames that are deemed, "hostile or abusive" during its postseason tournaments, the NCAA is showing no strength at all. In banning these logos, the NCAA has taken four years to get up the courage to deal with a dilemma that many school have already remedied on their own accord.

St. John's University acquiesced years ago and changed their nickname from the Redmen to the Red Storm. Marquette University switched its nickname from the Warriors to the Golden Eagles among others and Stanford University changed its nickname from the Indians to the colorful Cardinal nearly thirty years ago.

Why did this happen aside from the incessant hollering from politically correct groups? Of the eighteen schools with Native American nicknames, only three would be indentified as a major player in college athletics--the University of Illinois-Champaign (Fightin' Illini), Florida State University (Seminoles) and the University of Utah (Utes).

The other fifteen are no-name small colleges such as, Midwestern State, Carthage College, Chowan College, Newberry College, and Southeastern Oklahoma State ominously named the Savages.

How hard was it to push around these schools? Of the three big-name schools, only Florida State has a financial stake in such a name change because of its popular sports apparel licenses. But, as you can see with the logo above, Florida State is due for an update to its early 1970s design. Could it be that the Florida State Board of Regents signed off on the ban?

And why isn't San Diego State's Aztec logo and nicknamed not included as American Indian. Derogertory Meso American nicknames are alright?

Also, the NCAA is attempting to crush the National Invitation Tournament--the forebearer to the NCAA Tournament and puny competitor to the current competition.

The NCAA is claiming exclusivity of its member schools and thereby attempting to render the NIT extinct. The NCAA has never, in the modern era, had an invitation returned. The NIT, on the other hand, is chiefly seen as picking up the crumbs of barely over .500 school and hasn't been a threat to the NCAA since the 1950s.

So, why a trial that would establish precedent and pull the plug on the NIT? There isn't any except for a newfound bloodthirst on the part of the NCAA.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Palmeiro Lies, Again; Fans Know The Truth

What If A's Were 9 Back Instead Of 3 Up?

Rafael Palmeiro lied again. A day after apparently pleading that he had now never intentionally used steroids, the New York Times reported an unnamed sources says Palmeiro tested positive for stanzolol--a powerful steroid used especially for power--and notable in that it is not used in any dietary supplements.

Palmeiro is a cheater and the ugly side of his personality probably didn't just reveal itself. How ridiculous was it for his lawyers to trot out such a hokey defense akin to a bank robber's innoncence while his pockets are stuffed with hundred dollar bills. He lied to the baseball-loving public twice and to Congress once. Should Congress charge him with perjury? Of course, while it's highly unusual, the high-profile of his case is worth the trouble. In fact, Congressman Tom Davis has already raised the question and with his penchant for mugging for the camera, it's likely another round of questioning will come about on Capitol Hill.

To readers of the LFR, it shouldn't be any surprise that Baroid Bonds announced his balky knees wouldn't allow him to play until, at least, next season. On December 3, 2004, the LFR clearly asserted that Bonds will never play again. It should be noted that Bonds announced his decision on the same day Palmeiro was nabbed by baseball steroid policy. That Bonds will not play and settle for third on the all-time homerun list is part of a great compromise to cement his tainted homerun marks while sparing baseball the ugly scene and tragic march towards Babe Ruth's and Henry Aaron's all-time records.

1. Seattle 10
2. Cubs 7
3. Texas 6
4, L.A. Angels 5
4. Oakland 5
5, Baltimore 4
6. San Diego 4

With two months left in the season, the Mariners have a three suspension lead over the Cubs. With the quick recovery of pitchers Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, the Cubbies may be able a suspension behind by September. Seattle, though, may use the expanded September rosters to pad their Major League suspension lead.

Twenty-one of the 30 Major League teams have had at least one suspension.

People still debate whether the wildcard increases excitement in more markets or dilutes the integrity of the pennant race. Undeniably, it changes every beat writer's daily focus. If this were any season before 1996, the excitement in the Bay Area over the A's rise would have been noticeably different. The old American League West standings would have look like this today:

Chicago --
LA Angels 8 games back
Oakland 9
Minnesota 15
Texas 16
Seattle 23
Kansas City 31

Nine games back on August 3rd would have induced panic in those days. Today, it translates to a three game lead in the wildcard and a game back of the division lead. Personally, the fact that wildcard teams such as Anaheim, Boston and Florida twice have won the World Series shows that there is more than four teams worthy of playoff participation. It's sure does make the morning sports page a bit more enjoyable.

The Giants, now 6 1/2 back of under .500 San Diego, would have been 17 games back of Atlanta in the old format.

Ryne Sandberg became the 17th secondbasemen enshrined in Cooperstown, while Wade Boggs became only the 13th thirdbasemen.

The New York Times brokedown the Hall's members by position:

Pitchers 59
RF 22
SS 20
1b 18
LF 18
2b 17
CF 17
C 13
3b 11

That only eleven thirdbasemen have been elected is somewhat surprising given the perception that the power hitters roam the hot corner. There may be a resurgence this year in power with New York's Alex Rodriguez (29), Houston's Morgan Ensberg (27), the Cubs' Aramis Ramirez (27), and Arizona's Troy Glaus (21).

Monday, August 01, 2005


How 'Bout These Tomatoes

Baby Girl Tomatoes
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
How d'ya like my tomatoes. Nice, huh? Plump and juicy. I hate tomatoes.

MLB points finger back at Rafael Palmeiro

Score one for Jose Canseco.

Despite famously pointing his finger at Congress and vehemently denying Canseco accusation of steriod use, Major League Baseball suspended Baltimore's Rafael Palmeiro for steroid use.

Canseco told us that Palmeiro was using more than Viagra in his book, Juiced, but many scoffed at Canseco's character and trustworthiness.

After today, you can still villify his book, but note that one of his major points has been proven correct. Should we not re-examine his other accusations towards Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Bret Boone?

What about Palmeiro, now? Is it safe to say that his iffy Hall of Fame credentials have gone out the window? Sure, along with his reputation. While Palmeiro didn't live by the long ball or seem outrageously bulked up like the other fingered sluggers, it's safe to say his steroid use considerably lengthened his career, thereby padding his career numbers.

Steroids not only add muscle quickly but they, more importantly for a baseball player rigorously pushing his body everyday, the function of steroids for Palmeiro has kept him healthy for nearly twenty seasons. It's likely that Hall of Fame voters will punish him for his steroid transgression but discount his consistent numbers over such a long period of time.

Consider Palmeiro the first historical casualty of Baseball's Juiced Era.