Thursday, December 25, 2014




Saturday, December 20, 2014


But wait, it's in the wrong direction. The Yanks have sent David Phelps and Martin Prado south to Miami.In return, NY got a pitcher with a 6-14 record, a 34-year old utility player, a minor league pitcher and a used bowling shirt, color to be named later.
All winter we've listened to Brian Cashman and the Yankee front office, extol the virtues of Prado and have listed him as the starting third baseman, the starting second baseman, a back-up first baseman and a relief outfielder with the ability to DH. Finally, we now know where he's going to play: in Miami.
And maybe Phelps wasn't the greatest pitcher, but he showed no fear on the mound and would start or relieve as needed. In return, NY received a pitcher who has never won more than 6 games in a season with a career ERA over 4.00. In fairness, he is only 24 and throws a fastball that averages 96 mph.
Garrett Jones is 33 and plays 1st base and right field. If he gets the at bats, he could be a 20+ homer guy. With Headley at third and Jones backing up first, A-Rod may be reduced to warming up the pitcher and pinch-running. Girardi is going to have a good time controlling that ego.

It's bowl time
The first game is already over with LA-Lafayette beating Nevada, 17-3. If you forgot about this game, never fear there are 38 more games in our future. So there's quantity, but quality? Not so much. Back in the dark ages (when I was a lad), there were about 10 bowl games and the teams playing had records like 8-2, 7-3 or 9-1. This year, in 10 of those games, the two teams have a combined 11 or more losses. Are these bowl games or scrimmages? It's good that these student-athletes get some time off from skipping those classes all year. Of course, for some, it's not all that big a deal.
Poinsettia Bowl  --
Navy (7-5) vs. San Diego State (7-5)

The game is in San Diego. Tune in to see the facial expressions of San Diego State players whose reward for a good season was getting to travel eight blocks.  --  Brad Dickson

If you play for the right team, you get to bask in the sun in Florida. There are 3 bowl games there. Or you could end up in the Bahamas or Hawaii. Not too bad, but be warned, you could also end up in Boise, Idaho, in the Potato Bowl, where the pre-game banquet will satisfy your craving for baked potatoes for some time. Or, you could be in the Bronx for the Pinstripe Bowl, where teams get extra points if they make it to the stadium without getting mugged.

I miss the days of sitting around my uncle's house on New Years day, eating for 12 straight hours and listening to my Uncle Al explain the benefits of playing a 5-team Round Robin ticket for $10. It was also fun hearing his pronunciations of some of the teams. There was Are-Kansas (Arkansas) or You-cla (UCLA). Laugh if you want, but he always made money.

"On Sunday, I plan to sit, not move a muscle and watch football. I'm going to pretend I'm Jay Cutler."  -- Brad Dickson
"The Panthers won an NHL-record 20-round shootout over the Capitals when Nick Bjugstad scored. The last time a shootout used that many rounds, it was ended by Doc Holliday."  -- RJ Currie
"Tiger Woods flubbed four chip shots in his first return round: “Watching Woods mangle all these chip shots was like watching Bobby Flay burn all the grilled-cheese sandwiches"   -- Cameron Morfit
"QB Jay Cutler said it has “crossed his mind” that he has played his final games with the Bears. But then presumably that thought was intercepted."  -- Janice Hough
"Riesa, Germany, hosted the World Tap Dance Championships this month. Roger Goodell’s handling of the Ray Rice case came in third."  -- Dwight Perry
"Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte says “I’d rather have the experience of playing in the NFL and die 10 to 15 years earlier than not play in the NFL and have a long life”. By the way, Conte has suffered at least two concussions and is still unaware that he plays for the Bears."  -- TC Chong
"Florida State and Texas A&M colleges will offer classes in “Autographing for Dummies 101” starting next semester. Stanford was the only school to previously offer this class, but their only student that signed up was Tiger Woods, who flunked."  -- TC Chong


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wait for It

One of my nephews recently posted four ‘quotes’ (notably without citation) from four congressional democrats as proof they are unfit to serve in the posts to which they were elected. Were we to follow his advice, campaigns could be reduced to a three or four day affair, the Supreme Court would not have had to turn the Constitution on its ear in its Citizen United decision and the recent explosion of contribution ‘limits’ in the budget bill that assures the rich can more easily buy elections would not have been necessary.
While I’m sure he knows all of this, apparently the GOP is once again ready to compete and win in the “Let’s Say Really Stupid Things” competition held every day of the week, weekends and holidays included.
Responding to the news that President Obama has chosen to end a failed cold war Cuba policy and begin a process to normalize relations with the island, however not ending a horrible embargo, Florida senator Marco “Born with a Silver Spoon” Rubio has labeled the President a “traitor”.
South Carolina senator Lindsey “Chicken Hawk” Graham and John “Bitter Old White Guy” McCain (yes the BOW-G that gave us the Queen of Mean Sarah Pallin) may need reconstructive surgery after their heads exploded and jaws became unhinged trying to defend 50 years (that’s right, five decades) of grotesque stupidity – the embargo. (I'm personally deeply disappointed by McCain's stupidity because he has been been my mentor, guru and role model in my quest for Bitter Old White Guy status. Aunt Laurie can verify that).
Anyway, all of this crock of crap from members of the party that idolizes Richard “I Am Not a Crook” (well, yes he was) Nixon who normalized relations with Mao’s China and decided that the best way to secure that normalization was to crate and ship US manufacturing to a totalitarian, one-party commie regime; and the party that has anointed Ronald Reagan the Second Coming, the man who authorized the sale of weapons to Iran to raise money for South American death squads.
Isn’t it stunning that the US has normal diplomatic ties with Viet Nam, a country where 50,000 US soldiers lost their lives, where over 250,000 US soldiers were wounded, where hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians were carpet bombed to death, incinerated with napalm (thank you Dow for developing better ways to slaughter through chemistry) and huge tracts of the country were rendered toxic with Agent Orange - but opening an embassy in Havana is, according to the deranged GOP, an act of treason?
You can be sure, my dear nephew, that the vitriol is just beginning and you will have more than enough really stupid quotations to cite when Ted Cruz, the last standing Bush brother, FoxNews, along with Glen, Rush, Cal, Michele, Sarah, the crazed Ms. Coulter and other blovating notables crank up.
And in local developments, you can expect the same level of hysteria and hyperbole from the oil and gas industry and its minions now that fracking has been banned in New York State.

In the meantime, I encourage you to keep an open mind, separate fact from fiction, recognize good news when it happens, and most of all, don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

And what does this have anything to do with baseball, in general, or specifically the Yankees? It's still illegal to scout in Cuba.  - Vod

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Memories do, at least in sports. We remember players running faster than they actually did. They hit better than the records show. The fielding plays were more spectacular in our minds than in the film clips we watch. I recall Mickey Mantle's catch in game 5 of the 1956 World Series as being better than the clip I saw a week ago. I remember watching Roger Craig of the 1960 Mets throwing over to first 20 straight times to keep Maury Wills from stealing - it was really only eleven - and Wills stealing on the first pitch he threw after that.
Recently, Janice Hough wrote in her blog:
"So the SF Giants “lost” Chase Headley to the NY Yankees, 4 years, $52 million. But the guy’s stats last year? He hit .243 with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs. We aren’t exactly talking Brooks Robinson here."
I responded, " Of course, at age 31 (Headley's current age), Brooks Robinson hit .253 with 17 home runs and 75 RBIs. We’re not talking A-Rod, either." She agreed.
I wonder how many people think Robinson was a much better hitter than his actual numbers? His fielding abilities as compared to his actual abilities warrant the same scrutiny. He was an excellent fielder,  but his great reputation was helped in no small part by a great World Series he had with his glove. It's funny that another very good fielder at third also had a great World Series but he is not thought of as any where near the fielder that Brooks was. That fellow was Graig Nettles. George Brett was even better than Nettles but he didn't have the show-off Series that the other two did. I read once that Clete Boyer was better than Robinson but his brother Ken was even better, maybe the best ever.
As they say, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

** Brian Cashman and the Yankee front office have continually stated that they are NOT in the hunt for Max Scherzer, yet many columnists don't believe them. Today, Jim Bowden of ESPN listed the Yanks as the third best possible candidate for Scherzer behind the Tigers and the Giants. Of course, George Steinbrenner would have signed him up weeks ago, but his son Hal is much more conservative.
My prediction: If there is a "surprise" signing, it will be James Shields and not Scherzer.

** Do the Yanks know something about A-Rod that they haven't told anyone yet? They've gone from saying that he'll play a lot of third base to some third base, some first base, to Cashman's recent pronouncement that A-Rod is their full time Designated Hitter. If A-Rod was in very good health, I can't imagine him being this quiet about Cashman's statements. He may have matured a lot in the last year or so, but not that much. He's still a drama queen. I've got to believe that A-Rod hasn't progressed physically as far as he had hoped.

"Meanwhile, once again, rumors are that Sunday could be the Raiders last game in Oakland. And many fans are thinking “Promise?”"  -- Janice Hough
"A teenager from Morrill, Nebraska, won the bronze medal at the tap-dancing World Championships. He'll also receive the prestigious "Nebraska Kid I'd Least Like To Live Downstairs From" Award."  -- Brad Dickson
"The Astros said an October Taylor Swift concert at Minute Maid Park will be moved if it conflicts with a postseason game. Right. And I told my wife I’d be late for dinner if  Kate Upton calls."  -- RJ Currie
Talking about the death of Topps’ Sy Berger, 91, the father of baseball cards: “He will be laid to rest in a shoe box somewhere in an attic."  -- Conan O'Brien
"There is a talent gap between his 2-21 76ers team and the 19-4 Grizzlies: “To think we’re going to beat them apples to apples, we’re not. They’ve got better apples.”  -- Coach Brett Brown
"The Madame Alexander Doll Company plans to have a Danica Patrick edition, as well as other NASCAR-branded dolls, out in time for the 2015 holiday shopping season.  The NHRA, not to be outdone, will counter with Barbie and Ken in drag."  -- Dwight Perry
"Yankees GM Brian Cashman, lowering expectations for A-Rod during an interview today “I can’t expect Alex to be anything.” Oh, I don’t know. A magnet for tabloid headlines seems a pretty sure bet."  -- Janice Hough
"During a trial, jurors were told they may wish to look away because the prosecutor was going to show something they may find disturbing. It was footage of Johnny Manziel's first NFL start on Sunday."  -- Brad Dickson


Sunday, December 14, 2014


There are some big rivalries in baseball: the Dodgers and the Giants, the Royals and the Cardinals, the Mets and the Yanks and, of course, the Yankees and the Red Sox, to name a few. But there's a new show in town, fueled by two teams with seemingly endless funds. The Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox. Granted they play in different leagues, but they compete for the same dollars and the same headlines in the Second City.
The Cubbies, led by former Boston GM Theo Epstein, has signed the second best free agent  in John Lester and arguably the best manager in Joe Maddon, along with pitcher Jason Hammel. Not to be outdone, the Sox have signed David Robertson, Jeff Samardzija and now Melky Cabrera. Should be an interesting summer in the Windy City.

## With the signing of Cabrera, there are still two big names running free out there, but that's the last time the word "free" will appear in any sentence containing these two names: James Shields and Max Scherzer. Shields is probably looking for $20+million  a year for anywhere from 5 to 7 years. Scherzer..... well his agent is Scott Boras. He will likely try to pit all the "money" teams against each other. Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Tigers plus his always hidden "mystery" team. Word is that Boras is trying for the $200 million mark. You could buy a small country for that. I hear Guatemala is available.

## Just to show you it's not all about money, superstar Bryce Harper did not attend the annual Natsfest Fan Festival this year. This is something teams do to provoke fan interest and sell those season ticket packages. Why didn't he attend? he was protesting the fact that the Washington Nationals won't release him from the final year of his five-year $9.9 million contract that he signed as a rookie. Ya' gotta love his blame-shifting excuse though. "I have attended NatsFest each year and always enjoy my experience with the fans, but was unable to attend this year's event due to matters out of my control." 
I lied, it IS all about money.

## MLB scouts, evaluators and General Managers (and agents) are wondering why the Yankees have been so quiet. Are they really going into the season with the team they have or are they waiting in the wings to make a big surprise splash? They don't seem inclined to trade any of their prospects and the only free agent they seem interested in is third baseman Chase Headley.  If they're really going to gamble with the delicate arms of Pineda, Nova and Tanaka along with Sabathia's knee, then the free agent they better sign is an orthopedic surgeon. 

## Johnny Manzeil is starting at quarterback for the first time today. The prediction here is that he will flash his "money" sign every time he makes a big play or they score a touchdown and so will the defensive linemen every time they sack him.

## Sad news here in Rochester. A regular feature in the Democrat & Chronicle, "Leading off," a collection of quotes from around the sports world, has been discontinued as part of a general 'upgrade' at the paper.  Is Rochester such a white collar town that they no longer have room for a little humor? They seem to use more and more pages from the USA TODAY. Might as well cancel the D & C and buy that one. 

## The Syracuse Orange basketball team plays today. If they can't start shooting the ball a lot better than they have, then this season is about over with now.

"Golfer John Daly announced plans to get married for the fifth time. Or as he prefers to call it, 4-over par."  -- Dwight Perry
"Football coach Gary Anderson reportedly left Wisconsin over unhappiness “with UW’s strict academic standards.” Like what? Making players go to class?"  -- RJ Currie
"Junior Kentucky forward Alex Poythress tore an ACL in practice yesterday and will miss the rest of the season. Sad and a bit shocking, Kentucky had an actual junior on its team?"  -- Janice Hough
"Report: Jets players lied about concussion symptoms to get out of games."  -- The
" The NBA warned Lakers guard Nick Young about flopping. At this point, I think it's in everybody's best interest to allow the Lakers to just cheat."  -- Brad Dickson
 "There is speculation the Oakland Raiders will move back to Los Angeles: “L.A. should decline that penalty."  -- Ian Hamilton
"Gary Andersen, to reporters, on job one as the new Oregon State football coach: “You’ve got to get your ducks in a row ... What did I say? Bad idea. Go Beavs.”  -- From Dwight Perry
"One of my new favorite baseball players has to be pitcher Andrew Heaney. Traded from Miami to the Dodgers, he was then immediately flipped in trade to the Angels. And promptly tweeted “Well, @Dodgers we had a good run! Great to be a part of such a storied franchise."  -- Janice Hough




Monday, December 08, 2014


It's that time of the year when college football players are given another reason to skip a couple of weeks of classes. [Note to football players: Classes are those little rooms where a small number of people meet to discuss things like history, arithmetic, art (oils, not crayons) and books - those with hard covers.] They get to travel all over the country - mostly to Florida, California and Texas, to play football in special games called Bowl Games.

Years ago, they had generic names like Gator Bowl or Sun Bowl or even Liberty Bowl. The big ones were named Orange, Cotton, Sugar and Rose. These games used to belong to the athletes and the students, but now they are owned by corporations. The Cotton Bowl belongs to Goodyear, the Orange Bowl to Capital One and the Sugar bowl is the property of Allstate. At least the #1 bowl is still called The Rose Bowl.

Of course, if that's too boring for you, we have some new and improved names: the Gildan, the Royal Purple, Ticket City and, of course, the Tax Slayer. Now doesn't that warm the cockles of your heart? Maybe nest year we'll have the Cockles Bowl, but for now, enjoy the Duck Commander Bowl. The winner of the longest name goes to the San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. When the marching band spells that out at halftime, it will be the first time abbreviations will be used.

At least all the "big" teams are in, the ones who have earned their place with stellar seasons. Teams like Navy (6-5), and South Alabama (6-6) and Fresno State (6-7). Well your have to fill the spots. There are 76 of them available. That's right, there are 38 bowl games plus one Championship game. So 39 games, three on ABC, one on CBS and thirty-five on ESPN. 38 games in the space of 16 days, sometimes as many as 5 in a day.

As long as we're talking about the participants, can someone explain to me how a team can be rated #3 in the country, win their last game 55-3, and drop to #6? TCU would like to know that, too. Naturally, they are a little upset.    Make that a lot upset.    Pissed, even.
How can the committee who makes those decision, possibly justify their actions? They don't even attempt to explain the arrogance of their choices. I am reminded of a routine by Lily Tomlin when she played her telephone character, Ernestine. "We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."

## So now it starts - the famed Baseball Winter Meetings. The owners will throw around more money than my grandchildren do when they're playing Monopoly. It seems that everything hinges on Jon Lester. When he signs, the floodgates will open. There are two position players that will draw some money: Chase Headley and Melky Cabrera. After they go, any major movement will come from trades and there will be some big ones. Last year, ESPN had a minute-by-minute feature of the activity at the meetings. Presidential elections don't get this kind of coverage.

## From Brad Dickson's "The Bottom Ten":
9. Tulsa (2-10): The postseason banquet is at a Wendy’s drive-thru.
7. Kent State (2-9): The Golden Flashes won their last game of the season. Ask Bo Pelini where that will get you.
 3. Connecticut (2-10): UConn has enough returning players to challenge for No. 1 next season.
...and the number one team--

1. Georgia State (1-11): The Panthers ascend to No. 1 and win the mythical Bottom 10 national championship after winning their first game by one point over Abilene Christian and then losing the next eleven.
Last ranking of the year. I've picked #9 Tulsa and #3 Connecticut to play in the Prep. H Backdoor Bowl.

## One final note, Daisuke Matsuzaka, after spending 8 years in the Major Leagues and amassing all of 56 wins, has signed to play in Japan again. Don't feel too bad for him; he got basically one million dollars per win while he was here.

"The NFL suspended Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata for four games for using a banned performance-enhancing substance. Team officials figured something was amiss when he missed the quarterback and toppled the goal post."  -- Dwight Perry
"A sure sign the Raiders have given up on the NFL season: Their challenge flag is white."  -- TC Chong
" The supposed reason the BCS has a four-team playoff instead of eight is that extending the season would interfere with studies. Yes, and they said this with a straight face."  -- Janice Hough
"The World-Herald reported that Bret Bielema called reports linking him to the job hogwash. Isn’t “Hogwash” the name of the Arkansas fight song?"  -- Brad Dickson
"Hawaii play-by-play broadcaster Robert Kekaula has apologized for signing off from a telecast at Fresno State with the words "Good night from the armpit of America."  Coincidence? His player of the game was the right guard."  -- Dwight Perry
"The University of Alabama-Birmingham is shutting down its football program. A football program that can’t work in Alabama? That’s like having a failed cheese store in Wisconsin."  -- Brad Dickson



Saturday, December 06, 2014


## The Yanks have improved in two places: shortstop and the bullpen. Didi Gregorius may be a fine shortstop but he has yet to prove he can hit major league pitching. When one scout was asked about Gregorious' play at shortstop, he replied, "His defense is very good." When asked about his hitting, the scout said, "His defense is very good." Okay, I get it, but he doesn't have to do too much to hit as well as Jeter and that would certainly be better than Brendan 'Automatic Out' Ryan.
Ah, but Andrew Miller is a different story. This guy is lights out just like Dellin Betances. I don't think David Robertson will be back, but they may not miss him too much with these two guys. My only worry is that Girardi tends to overuse his big bullpen stoppers. There are reports that Miller turned down an offer from the Astros that was $4 million higher just to sign with NY. If Robertson signs with Houston, his stats may suffer since he probably won't get many save opportunities.

## The Winter Meetings start on Monday and the agents are all primed and ready. They prefer the owners meetings since the owners don't have to check with anybody to pay out the big bucks. How big? Well, to start, consider that Max Scherzer turned down a 6-year deal for $24 million per year last spring. There are reports that Jon Lester is looking at 6 years at $25 million per year. James Shields won't get quite that much but it will be enough to keep him in cheeseburgers for a while.
I just read that the Yanks are preparing an offer for Scherzer. It's supposed to be so big that Brian Cashman had to send out for more zeros for the check.

## Buster Olney says he will turn in a blank ballot for the Hall of Fame as a sort of protest that the voters can only include 10 names on their ballot. He feels that there are at least 15 candidates worthy of election out of 34 on the list. Is he voting for every name he recognizes? I mean, Aaron Boone?  Eddie Guardado?  Darin Erstad?  I see only six names that I would list:
John Smoltz
Craig Biggio
Mike Piazza
Jeff Bagwell
Lee Smith
Mike Mussina

## One sportswriter has written an article saying that Yankee fans should get ready for a last place team this year.  Certainly possible if everybody gets hurt again. on the other hand, Baltimore hasn't gained a thing yet and have lost Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis. Tampa hasn't made any significant moves and we're still waiting for the Red Sox to come up with a pitching staff. Toronto has added some good pieces but that's what everybody thought last year and look how that turned out. Let's wait until March before we make any wild predictions.

Around the horn:
## RG3 is on the bench in Washington. Word is, the coach has had it with him, his teammates don't like him and they don't think he'll ever be an NFL quarterback.
## The Knicks are doing well, aren't they? The famed basketball guru, Phil Jackson, has his own coach and his own players, has the team running his legendary triangle offense and has supposedly sold ball-hog, Carmelo Anthony on a team concept. The Knicks are 4-17, 11.5 games out and have lost 7 in a row.
## Kobe Bryant continues to take more shots and make fewer than ANY other player in the league.
## Giants coach Tom Coughlin can't get his team organized enough to get them all on the bus at the same time. If it gets any worse. we may see Peyton Manning ask his brother Eli to take his name off the jersey.
## It doesn't look like my favorite player will be back with the Yanks next year. Chase Headley is looking at more money than the Yanks want to spend on a third baseman. All this stems from the overboard contract Boston gave Pedro Sandoval. It looks like a good bet that Headley will end up in San Francisco.

"100 brains were missing from the University of Texas. Does this even need a punchline?"  -- Janice Hough
"A minor league hockey team, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, offered fans who attended a recent game free prostate exams. You think you hate it when fans remove their shirts..."  -- Brad Dickson
"The Knicks’ “triangle offense”: Carmelo Anthony shoots from all three corners."  -- Phil Mushnick
"Only in soccer: Seattle’s Sounders FC ties 0-0 in its final first-round MLS playoff game and advances. Then it wins its final second-round playoff game 2-1 and gets eliminated."  -- Dwight Perry
"Last Sunday, Patriot’s QB Tom Brady completed more F-bombs on the sidelines vs Green Bay than he did touchdown bombs."  TC Chong
"Jon Gruden is playing hard to get, but my sources tell me the Raiders believe they have a shot at landing Frank Caliendo.”  -- Scott Ostler
"Holiday shoppers in Houston are lying on top of flat-screen TVs to prevent others from buying them: “Instead of a referee, the manager of the store has to come over and determine who has possession."  -- Jimmy Kimmel
" New NU head coach Mike Riley has a master's in physical education. Uh oh, I think this means we just hired a gym teacher."  -- Brad Dickson
"A baby was born in Colorado that weighed 13 lbs, 13 oz. LSU coach Les Miles was about to offer the kid a scholarship until he learned it was a girl."  -- Janice Hough
"Several fire departments rallied to rescue over 1,400 piglets from an overturned trailer near Indianapolis. Over in D.C., there aren’t enough firefighters to save RGIII's bacon."  -- RJ Currie