On Jan. 30, 2004, Frank and Jamie McCourt bought the Los Angeles Dodgers for $430 million. The Boston couple’s bid for the franchise, which included $9 million in cash, was reportedly approved by Bud Selig over Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad’s all-cash $430 million offer.
Today, seven years later, Mr. McCourt’s Dodgers filed for bankruptcy. Read more…
With some media friends in town working the Dodger game last night here in L.A., I decided to hit the Ravine for the first time this season. I didn’t make the decision until late afternoon, but I’m glad I did.
I’ve only lived in Los Angeles for 11 years, so I don’t have a connection to John Wooden any more unique than most of you. But the announcement of his sad passing? That moment was, though sad, something I’ll recall for all time.
I was in the Dodger Stadium press box when the news filtered out that the greatest sports legend in Los Angeles history had died, and it just so happened that perhaps the second greatest L.A. sports legend was only a few feet away from me when word came down. Read more…
Earlier this year, baseball lost a broadcasting icon as Harry Kalas died of a heart attack suffered as he prepared for a broadcast of a Phillies game. Unfortunately, it appears as though another legendary announcer is struggling with health troubles, as the DETROIT FREE-PRESS reports that Hall of Fame Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell is resting at home after spending most of last week in the hospital after dealing with an obstructed bile duct.
Of course, it should be noted that at 91, this is the first serious medical issue that Harwell has had to deal with. In fact, in his 55-year career as a broadcaster, he missed a total of two games: one for his brother’s funeral and a second for his Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1989. And he’s a ridiculously active 91-year-old, penning a weekly column for the Free Press while making frequent appearances as a health advocate for Blue Cross.
Bill Plaschke of the LOS ANGELES TIMES breathlessly reports today that Vin Scully will likely retire after the 2011 season.
(Little low on the Omega-3s?)
Here’s the quote Plaschke beat out of received from the greatest baseball announcer of all time:
“God willing, I will probably come back for one more year,” Scully said in a phone interview. “At this moment, my health is excellent, and I’m leaning toward one more year.”
And then retire?
“Yes, that makes sense,” he said.
Do those comments really merit Plaschke spending a whole piece specifically mapping out exactly what the Dodgers’ tribute plans should be for the Hall of Famer?
I spent 9+ years as a major- and minor league baseball announcer and I can assure you, listening to Scully nightly here in L.A., that he’s still very much at the top of his game. So part of me would like to see him go out that way. Especially after hearing L.A. Lakers broadcasting legend Chick Hearn limp to the finish of his on-air career.
But selfishly, I rue the day that Dodger Owner Frank McCourt is entrusted with hiring Scully’ replacement. (Hiring Charley Steiner after the Yankees canned him for Suzyn Waldman? Thanks Frank!)
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, as Scully’s comments to Plaschke were far from rock solid. “Probably” and “leaning” don’t merit the way Plaschke ran with Scully’s remarks. Read more…
As we speak, Plaxico Burress is preparing to testify before a grand jury in Manhattan about shooting himself in the leg last year. And those of you with some familiarity with the legal system might have this reaction to that news: uhhh, wha?
(”I saved the world from having to deal with 19-0. Doesn’t that count for something?”)
In a move that ESPN’s Lester Munson is calling “desperate” and “highly unusual,” Burress will subject himself to questioning in an effort to get the grand jury to consider lesser charges than the felony that is currently on the table. It’s rare for a lawyer to allow this to happen because it can backfire in so many ways. For one, Plax has to be very careful about what he says. If any statement he makes ends up not being true, he could find a perjury charge added to whatever else he’s facing. And, since the prosecutors can ask anything they want, if Burress is forthcoming with every detail, he could basically end up admitting his guilt. Although, as one ESPN commenter noted, Burress really only needs to be asked three questions:
1. Did you have a gun in your possession when you shot yourself?
2. Do you have a permit to have that gun?
3. Do you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon in New York?
If the answer is “yes” to #1 and “no” to the other two questions, that’s basically all they need to make their decision.
(Things aren’t going well if this guy’s talking about you)
So why do it? Munson and fellow analyst Roger Cossack seem to think that Burress’ lawer, Benjamin Brafman, might be using this as a means to encourage a plea bargain. But Munson says that they don’t have any leverage here, since they’re the ones facing all the downside related to Burress’ testimony. The term “bluff” is being thrown around, but what’s the bluff? Why would the D.A. be worried about Plax testifying?
The only reasonable theory being offered is that maybe Plax can charm the jurors into thinking he’s a good guy who didn’t know the law and just wanted to protect himself. But he’ll have to do all of this without his lawyer, who won’t be allowed into the courtroom.
On Monday, Manhattan D.A. Jack McCoyRobert Morgenthau spoke publicly about the case, saying that Plax was OK with doing a year in jail, but that the people won’t accept a deal that involves less than two years in the clink. Morgenthau even suggested that he’s looking at charging Antonio Pierce for his role in the incident, something Cossack claims was “out of bounds” for the D.A. to talk about publicly, and certainly meant to bait Burress into a deal.
None of this looks particularly good, and one wonders if that two-year deal from the D.A. is still on the table. And I think it’s safe to say it would be the worst two-year deal any NFL free agent would be signing this year.
(When the guy with the huge ears says you’re doing time, you’re doing time)
Despite the eventual unraveling, Buehrle set a major league record by sending down 45 consecutive batters. That’s 15 consecutive innings without allowing a baserunner. The previous record was 41, held by two players, including Buehrle’s teammate, Bobby Jenks (who did it in three-batter increments as a closer).
Elsewhere around baseball, Ichiro did something he’d never done before — end a game with a hit. That’s right, none of his previous 1,952 hits were of the walk-off variety, by far the longest such active streak in baseball. To give you an idea, Alex Cora now holds the active record for most hits without a walk-off at 742.
(”You know, maybe if you didn’t have Yuniesky Betancourt hitting in front of me for four years I would’ve done it once or twice.”)
It’s been a good year for the Dodgers, but things took a turn for the embarrassing when Mark Loretta had to come on to pitch with two outs in the eighth inning at L.A. trailing 10-0 to the Cardinals. Loretta was the first position player to pitch in a game for the Dodgers since 2004, and after drilling Matt Holliday with a fastball he got Ryan Ludwick to fly out to end the inning. In other words, he did way better than Chien-Ming Wang had done this year. The Yankees finally Old Yellered him and are sending him to have surgery that can’t possibly make him any worse. Wang’s future with the Yanks is in doubt, as the team must offer him at least $4 million to keep him next year or lose him to free agency.
• Because everyone’s been asking for it, here are those long-awaited highlights of the touch football game played by NFL legends before Super Bowl X in 1976. If you’ve ever wanted to see Paul Hornung make a gay joke, watch a bunch of guys try and cop a feel on Phyllis George, and hear why Johnny Unitas likes to drive Pontiacs, look no further:
As you can see, Bill Murray and Christopher Guest had nowhere to go but up.
The McCourt family (makers of fine decisions like hiring Ned Coletti and treating Manny Ramirez like dirt but still feeling violated when Manny earned a suspension) have recently discovered that women are an untapped market that should be nurtured, just like Spanish-speaking peoples and others with disposable cash.
(At least one woman figured out Dodger fandom without pressing the ’sports-to-woman’ translation button on her remote)
Therefore, in a kind-hearted and sensitive fashion, Jamie McCourt has fired up a special women-centric broadcast for Wednesday home games for the rest of the season. Jeanne Zelasko and Mark Sweeney will break down baseball because “as a mother, (Jeanne) will be able to bring a unique perspective.” What does that mean? Do wombs break down the infield shift better?
#3 Orlando Dwight Hasn’t Figured Out a Costume Change to Make Him a Point Guard, Toos vs. #6 Philadelphia So Glad We’re Paying Elton Brand $18 Million in 2012-2013s
#4 Atlanta Name Three Players vs. #5 Miami Name Twos
#1 Los Angeles Kobe Clubs Baby Seals with Portuguese Water Dogs Wrapped in Veals vs. #8 Utah Deron Williams Falls Asleep Every Night Clutching a Copy of His Tear-Stained Contract After Failing to Find an Out Clauses
#2 Denver You’ve Got to Be Kiddings vs. #7 New Orleans Seriously, Aren’t These in the Wrong Orders
#3 San Antonio Flashbacks vs. #6 Dallas Hey, At Least We Haven’t Traded for Shaq Yets (Note: the above series has been moved to CBS and the Hallmark Channel as per FCC regulations around programming for the elderly.)
As always, it’s the gift you didn’t even have to ask for. Or didn’t want to.
Major League Baseball tried yet again yesterday to provide another round of gifts to Jackie Robinson, who has been feted nearly as often as Frank Sinatra since his death. Yesterday, every player in baseball wore number 42 in his honor to avoid the embarrassment of 42 wearer infighting last year.
Ian Kinsler followed up on this attempt with his own success: 6-6 at the plate with a cycle attached. If the opposing team last night (the Orioles) happened to be your sleeper team this year, you may want to check just how deep that sleep is.
Speaking of deep sleep, former Illinois governor (and current Illinois chew toy) Rod Blagojevich apparently didn’t feel it necessary to stop at meddling with the affairs of Tribune Co. when he didn’t get his way. He also sent a note to Cubs manager Lou Piniella to recommend a lineup change in 2007.
S’funny; we don’t remember Blago being so receptive to a lineup change at the state level earlier this year. Perhaps he isn’t a big fan of having his moves micromanaged by impotent whiners who never held the position dictating his actions from afar when they’ve never been in the trenches, y’know?
Kobe Bryantand Elmo beatboxing. Look… to misquote David Mamet, that’s why they call it ‘video’:
Congratulations on playing all 82 games this season, Grant Hill. Also, congratulations on getting your wife, Tamia, a spot at All-Star Weekend and various local charity events in Arizona. Strong season all ’round.
Now that the WALL STREET JOURNAL has a sports section, expect to see sabermetric notions exposed to a larger audience. That might explain why the guy in the cubicle next to you suddenly wants to talk about batting the pitcher eighth.
Ask the casual sports fan which college baseball team has the most wins ever, and you might get an answer like Texas, LSU or USC. Actually, the most likely answer would be “they play baseball in college?,” but that’s besides the point. But even the most hardcore college baseball nut would be hard pressed to get this right. The correct answer is Fordham University, as the NEW YORK TIMES details their rich baseball heritage.
In fact, the Rams are so far ahead of the competition, it’s not even close. The program has 4,010 wins, almost 900 more than their closest rival Texas. Much of this is due to the program’s lengthy history - their program started 150 years ago, giving them a 36-year head start on the Longhorns and a 50 year jump on most other major programs.