Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bartolo Colon Set To Start Saturday Against Mets

Bartolo Colon, who has been on the 15-day DL since June 12, is set to return as the New York Yankees starter against their cross-town rivals the New York Mets on Saturday.  On Thursday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi claimed Colon threw well enough in a bullpen session earlier that morning to be activated for Saturday's inter-league game.

Colon threw the ball and ran through some fielding drills before the Yankees Thursday afternoon game against the Milwaukee Brewers to Girardi's satisfaction.  If everything continues to check out, the hefty righthander will start the second of the three game series at Citi Field.

Colon strained the hamstring on his planting leg against the Cleveland Indians back on June 11 but says he is more than ready to get back to throwing.

 "I felt good," Colon said through a Yankees source.  "I'm ready to come back and help the team.  My bullpen went well.  I'm happy to be back with everyone.  I'm looking forward to Saturday."

Barring a freak accident, Colon will be on the mound for Saturday's 4 p.m. game.

While Girardi was not so confident about Colon's return last night, Yankees GM Brian Cashman painted a brighter picture and said Colon would return if Thursday's bullpen session went according to plan.

"I think there's a good likelihood you'll see him back this weekend," said Cashman.  "That's our mind-set."

To make room in the rotation, the 38 year-old Colon will replace Brian Gordon, who was 0-1 with a 5.13 ERA in two starts.

Colon, who was out of baseball since injuring his elbow and shoulder in 2009, was a surprising 5-3 with a 3.10 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 78 innings before he went to the DL.

If Colon's return is a success, the Yankees will have the luxury of five good arms in the starting rotation and one sitting on the back burner.

The anticipated return of Phil Hughes next week might lure the Yankees into the extravagance of having too many live arms for the team to go around.

Not so says Girardi.  He knows the overabundance of starting pitchers is better than too few.  Girardi looked at the situation like an artist surveying his canvas.

"Do we feel a guy needs an extra day off, do we skip a guy to give him a little rest?," said the manager.  "There are some different things you can do to be creative with a six-man rotation, if you do a six-man."

Too many pitchers, it's a problem any team would like.

The Yankees are 14-4 over the last eighteen games, their starters have a 3.15 ERA and the team has overtaken the Boston Red Sox for first place over that span.

Imagine, the Yankees with a surplus of pitching arms.  Take that Phillies.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kobayashi Will Compete in Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest Via Satellite

Takeru Kobayashi won't be on the Coney Island boardwalk for this year's Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest but will compete from a distance via satellite TV.

Kobayashi, who can't compete because he refuses to sign an exclusive contract with organizer Major League Eating, says he will unofficially compete from a remote location to protest his ban from the Super Bowl of competitive eating.

Kobayashi still refuses to sign any exclusive contract with MLE and insists he will down hot dogs on July Fourth, simultaneously with the other competitors, in a mid-town Manhattan restaurant--a D train ride away from Nathan's.

Six-time champ Kobayashi was once the face of the sport and pretty much brought the Nathan's event to ESPN on his own.  The one-time Babe Ruth of the sport has now become an outcast and even had his image removed from the Nathan's Wall of Fame last April.  Even Al Capone's visit to Nathan's lives in infamy on it's website.

Last summer, Kobayashi, was unable to compete in the Nathan's FFJHDEC because Major League Eating's contract stipulates that he can only participate in it's tournaments and the league has to have total control over Kobayashi's endorsement deals.  He refused to sign.

"I hope to create awareness about the nature of this kind of business," said Kobayashi.  "At least they cannot erase history," he said of his removal from the Wall of Fame.

While Kobayashi becomes a sort of pariah in the sport he once dominated, the current champ, Joey Chestnut has been getting all the glory.

Chestnut, 27, realizes the event isn't the same without Kobayashi.

"He's an awesome eater," said Chestnut.  "He pushes me to work harder."

Some people are wondering if Kobayashi is making a big deal over nothing after setting a world record and personal-best of 64 1/2 downed barkers in 2009.

Some think Kobayashi is just losing his mind.

In 2010, while banned for the first time and watching the Nathan's competition from the crowd, Kobayashi leaped onto the stage in protest after Chestnut won and was arrested.  He spent the night in a New York City holding cell.  Charges were later dismissed.

This year's Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest will have a women only competition for the first time.

It's a shame Kobayashi and Chestnut won't meet again this year.  It's sort of a Pacquiao/Mayweather predicament in the world of competitive eating. There may be competitions against others, but if the two best don't meet, it doesn't really matter.

Charlie Sheen Used Steroids for "Major League" Film Role

Charlie Sheen, the star of the classic 1989 baseball movie "Major League" admits in the new Sports Illustrated "Where Are They Now" issue that he used steroids to boost his fastball for the film, according to the New York Daily News.



Talk about method acting.  Is this what Sheen meant when he says Tiger Blood runs through his veins?

"Let's just say that I was enhancing my performance a bit," admits Sheen.  "It was the only time I ever did steroids.  I did them for like six or eight weeks.  You can print this, I don't give a f---.  My fastball went from 79 to like 85."

"Wild Thing" would have approved.

The actor carried over his portrayal of the wild and crazy "California Penal League" pitcher, Ricky Vaughn, from the film set to his personal down time during the shoot.

Sheen's character sported a lightning bolt haircut and, combined with Vaughn's nasty stuff on the mound and 'roid rage, made Wild Thing a cult figure and the most popular and enduring character in the movie about a down-and-out Cleveland Indians team.

The then-22-year-old Sheen said the character didn't make him a winner off the set and his juicing only intensified his rage.  Sheen said he stopped using the drug after the actor got into too many confrontations.

"I didn't like the haircut because it generated so many comments in bars.  I've got  enough of that already," said Sheen.  "Add that to the mix, and it's a recipe for a fistfight."

Drugs and Charlie Sheen, what a shock.  What no Goddesses?

And I thought Sheen's portrayal of a 'roid-raging pitcher was just good acting.

Chris Bosh's Four-Day Bachelor Party Filled With Guns, Booze and Levitation

Chris Bosh's bachelor party sounded a lot more fun than his NBA Championship series and lasted almost as long.  Bosh, the last wheel in the Miami Heat's Big Three, and his pals partied like rock stars during a four-day Las Vegas bacchanal dubbed "The Hangover 3."   Bosh celebrated, alongside 11 of his closest friends, with guns, liquor, steak dinners and magic shows. 

"It was everything these guys don't get to do during the season," said a source close to the party.

Funny, it sounds like a typical NBA season to me.

Miami teammates, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, were nowhere to be seen.  They probably had colds.

Bosh's Dirty Dozen, which included New Orleans Hornets players Jarrett Jack and Pops Mensah-Bonsu, kicked off the weekend by taking in Criss Angel's magic show "Believe" at the Luxor.  Angel pulled the guest of honor onstage and made him part of the act.  Backstage, Bosh was levitated by the greasy illusionist for a photo shoot.

The New York Post reported that Bosh and his posse's manly fun included blowing off steam at a gun range as soon as they hit the Strip and pigging out on steak dinners at some of the top restaurants in Vegas.

Other Sin City activities for Bosh and his posse included partying at Tao and a day of paintball.

The crew capped off the festivities on Sunday with a "Rack Pat" casino night at Caesars and the comedy-styling of Mark Curry.

Bosh will marry Adrienne Williams at the Fountainbleu Hotel in Miami in July.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Yankees Fans: Where Have You Gone Russell Martin?

Russell Martin, in his first year as New York Yankees catcher, started the season at a blistering pace and made Yankee fans forget about not seeing Yankee stalwart Jorge Posada crouching behind the plate a lot easier to fathom.

The former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher had four home-runs and 13 RBI's by his thirteenth game in pinstripes and he became more than a just a transitional bridge between the Posada Era to the Yankees future catching star, Jesus Montero.

One problem, since May 24, Martin doesn't have an extra-base hit and is batting .136 (8-for-59) in his last 17 games?

What the hell happened?

Surprisingly,  Martin is still the leading vote-getter for the American League's starting catcher's spot--probably based on his early-season offensive explosion-- for this year's All-Star Game.  Martin currently has a 400,000 vote lead over the Texas Rangers Alex Avila who is slowly creeping up to the Yankee for the starting position.  Avila is batting .304 with 10 home-runs in his second season.

A two-time National league All-Star with the Dodgers, Martin was released by the team after slumping in 2009 and having a serious hip injury in 2010.

The 28 year-old backstop was signed to a one-year, $4 million deal with the Yankees.  It immediately looked like the Yankees GM Brian Cashman salvaged an Antiques Roadshow-type find mixed in with his box of off-season garage-sale buys.  Martin looked like the early favorite for the comeback player of the year.

Along with Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, the deal made Cashman look brilliant by landing Martin and his potential at a risky, but relatively bargain basement price.  It also kept the catcher from going to the Boston Red Sox.

By the beginning of May,  Martin had pounded nine home-runs, had 26 RBI's, stole six bases and had a slugging percentage hovering around .600.  Martin's early success helped take the pain out of the Yankees Cliff Lee fiasco.

Only today, the native Canadian is still stuck with nine homers and knocked in only four runs since.  Martin's slugging percentage has dipped to a pedestrian .398.

Give credit where it is due.  Martin has been solid behind the plate and, with the Yankees M*A*S*H unit full of starters and relievers, Martin is more Hawkeye than Frank Burns.  Yankees players say Martin's sense of humor and team work make him a popular and welcome figure in the locker room as well.

Two weeks ago, a back problem took Martin out of the line-up for a couple of days, but he resisted going on the 15-day DL.  It is quite possible he is still feeling the ill-effects of that injury and came back too soon.   Martin said he "felt pain when swinging."

It makes you realize that extending Derek Jeter's stay on the 15-day DL might not be such a bad thing after all.

Eli Manning: Giants Would Take Back Ex-Con Plaxico Over Ex-TV Host Tiki

Eli Manning was asked if the New York Giants players had to chose between former Giants wide-out Plaxico Burress or former running back Tiki Barber returning to the team, the Giants quarterback said he believes the recently released ex-con, Burress, would be more readily accepted than the ex-"Today" show reporter.

According to the New York Post, Manning, speaking on the Dan Patrick Show, claimed Barber slammed the door on his Giants career when he bolted the team for a career in broadcasting.

Even though there is little chance either Burress or Barber will return to the team, Manning said at least Plax chipped in by catching the winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLII and the Giants players have long and heartfelt memories of the victory and Burress' part in it.

Manning thinks Burress stands a better chance of joining the G-Men; even after a 20-month stint in the joint.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Jeter's Return Halted By Rain Delay

New York Yankees Derek Jeter spent his 37th birthday taking 39 swings off a tee and then 35 more attempts at some soft-toss pitching before a rain storm cut short the shortstop's plan to take some ground balls on grass Sunday.

Jeter, who was notably missing at yesterday's Yankees Old Timer's Day, is planning to start a running and light-jogging program either today or tomorrow.

While Jeter rehabs his strained calf at the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa, the Captain's absence at yesterday's festivities was duly noticed--especially because two of the Old Timer's game first-time participants included Jeter's mentor, former-manager Joe Torre, and his teammate for twelve years, Bernie Williams.

Williams was asked what he thought about Jeter's quest for 3,000 hits and his place in Yankees history.

"He has to be right up there," said the normally quiet Williams.  "He's in the unique position of being the only Yankee that going to have 3,000 hits.  That really puts him in a category by himself as far as hits are concerned.  He's earned it.  He's been the face of the franchise.  He is one of the most popular Yankees that ever put on the uniform."

According to the Associated Press, Jeter said he "hopefully" will start the running program, but won't comment on a target date for his return.  He is currently six hits shy of the 3,000 hit milestone.

"You've got to run.  Once you start running, then we'll have a better sense," said Jeter, who has been lingering on the 15-day DL since June 14.  "If it was up to me, I'd be playing now, but you have to be smart."

Right now, Jeter's scheduled return is in doubt.

It must have been quite a dilemma for Jeter to pass on yesterday's ceremony in the Bronx.  It's hard to imagine that he would ever consider missing Torre's long-awaited, and overdue, return to pinstripes after his former-manager's contentious release from the Yankees.
 
Torre was like a father-figure to Jeter.  He helped mold the young shortstop's career and personality both on and off the field.

Torre understands Jeter's decision to take one for the team.  He fostered that trait in him.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A-Rod Helps CC Become Major's First 10-game Winner of Season

CC Sabathia, the New York Yankees big lefthander, pitched another stellar game and, in the process, became the major league's first 10-game winner this season.  Sabathia (10-4) pitched eight dazzling innings in the Yankees 8-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

Alex Rodriguez chipped in with a couple of singles and 3 RBI's.  A-Rod also started a rally-killing double play in the 6th inning that was the only threat Colorado posed to CC all day.

video
Sabathia tortured the Colorado batters with a fastball consistently in the 96-97 mph range but it was his perfect slider which left the Rockies shaking their heads.  Five of Sabathia's nine strikeouts were of the little burger's namesake.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Yankees Old-Timer's Day Ceremony for the Unceremoniously Dumped

Expect to hear some of the most heartfelt cheers bellowing through the Bronx this Sunday afternoon in a long time.  No, the applause won't be for Derek Jeter's long-awaited milestone hit or even for any of the New York Yankees on the field.  The roar will be for three of the most beloved Yankees ever to don pinstripes--Joe Torre, Bernie Williams and Lou Piniella--who will be making their Yankees Old-Timer's day debuts.  All three will stand in the middle of Yankee Stadium for the first time after being unceremoniously dumped by the team.

All three former-Yankees have witnessed the pomp from the dugout.  Now it is their turn to bow and the gratitude extended to these former-Yankees will be both long overdue and bittersweet.

In a tradition that seems to have been around almost as long as the 65-year old ceremony, the Yankees are welcoming back fan favorites who were sent backing by the team.  In return, they triumphantly return to the Bronx as conquering heroes.  Remember Yogi Berra?

Why do the Yankees continue to perform this sado-masochistic act?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jose Reyes' Response to Yankees Non-Interest: Who Cares

Jose Reyes made it clear on Tuesday that he had no interest in discussing contract negotiations with the New York Mets until the season was over.  Today, Reyes said he had no prior knowledge of all the stories claiming Yankees GM Brian Cashman never had any interest in the Mets third baseman and it's a non-factor as far as Reyes is concerned.

Reyes claims he has not seen the New York headlines about Cashman denying the Yankees have any interest in acquiring the Mets speedster.

"I don't know nothing about that, I don't worry about that," Reyes said on Thursday afternoon.  "I play for the New York Mets, so I really don't care what they say, because I'm focused on this team."

While Derek Jeter rehabs on the 15-day DL, rumors swirled about the Yankees picking up Reyes before the trade deadline on July 31.

Japanese Rugby Star To Be Banned For Growing Steroid-Aided Mustache

Japanese rugby star, Ryohei Yamanaka, is facing at least a six-month ban for trying to grow a mustache with a steroid-based cream to speed up the hair-growing process.  The cost of trying to look like a female Bulgarian weightlifter means Yamanaka could miss the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

The 22 year-old Yamanaka failed a drug test as he was preparing for Movember, a charity event where rugby players don't shave for a four-week period.

Apparently, Yamanaka looked more like Justin Bieber than Burt Reynolds and applied the cream to look a little older and have more facial hair not to shave.

The cream just happens to have a forbidden steroid in it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mike Francesa Calls Tiki Barber's NBC Career a "Failure"

 The Tiki Barber Comeback Tour keeps getting better and better.  For the most part of a thirty minute radio interview on Wed., interviewer Mike Francesa ripped the ex-New York Giants running back and called Barber's broadcast stint on NBC a "failure."

Barber, who went on the WFAN show to discuss his plans for returning to the NFL this upcoming season after a four year retirement, went on the defensive after Francesa commented on Barber's release from NBC and his presumed grooming to be the next Matt Lauer on the "Today" show. 

"I don't consider my time at NBC a failure," said Barber.

"The guys at NBC, and I know all of them, they felt you did a bad job, and they said you thought you were entitled, said Francesa.

The radio host probably knows something.  Francesa does a Sunday night show in the same NBC building where the "Today" show broadcasts from.  Word travels fast in 30 Rock.

HBO Developing Dramatic Boxing Series Based On Mike Tyson

HBO has ordered a pilot from Doug Ellin, the writer and producer of "Entourage," for a dramatic series based on the rise of a fictional Newark, N.J. boxer.  Ellin has enlisted Spike Lee and Mike Tyson to co-produce.

"Da Brick" is the title of the series about the up and coming fighter loosely-based on Tyson's own rise to fame as a boxer. 

The idea for the project stemmed from a conversation Tyson had with Ellin while the former heavyweight champion was doing a guest spot on "Entourage" in 2010.

"Why don't you do with my life what you did with Mark's [Wahlberg] life on 'Entourage?' Ellin said Tyson asked him while on the set.

Simple as that, a gritty new series was born.

The title "Da Brick" is a reference to Newark being know as "The Brickyard City" or "Brick City."

Ellin will act only as producer of the series with co-producer Jim Lefkowitz while "Entourage" ends it's eight year run on HBO.  The head writer will be John Ridley, Lee's co-writer in a film-in-development about the Los Angeles riots.

It is not known if Tyson will hone his "Hangover 2" acting chops and appear in a  role or guest spot on the series but, his wife, Lakiha Tyson will co-executive produce with Azim Spicer.

Lee's people have been scouring local New York City area boxing gyms for locations and actors.  The casting directors are looking for actors who "have chops" and fight experience.

By basing a series on the dwindling fight game, does HBO have a Pacquiao or a patsie on it's hands?

Wahlberg produced "The Fighter," last year's Academy Award nominated and winning film about boxer 'Irish' Mickey Ward and his brother Dicky, which successfully brought the world of boxing to the masses.

On the other hand, FX's "Lights Out," a fine series about a fighter coming out of retirement, was cancelled after a single critically-acclaimed season. 

Even if Tyson doesn't appear in the series, it will probably not be too difficult to separate the fiction from the facts regarding the one-man demolition crew.  There is too much of his life that was public domain.

Both inside and outside of the ring, Tyson's recollections alone bring a solid foundation of incidents for the writers to incorporate into the scripts.  The out-of-control fighter has endured both the glory, the scandals and the shame behind the sport.

I wonder if there will be pigeons and facial tattoos?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jose Reyes Will Make Mets Pay For Wilpon's Remarks

Last month, New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon told The New Yorker magazine that his star third baseman and soon to be free-agent, Jose Reyes, would never get "Carl Crawford money."  He also threw in a few tidbits like Reyes had "everything wrong with him" and "he won't get it" to stress his point.   Those fateful words may now come back to haunt the financially-troubled owner.

Reyes is off to a mind-boggling MVP-type season and leading a mid-season surge to a once improbable Mets wild-card playoff spot.

Forget Carl Crawford bucks, Reyes has even been bandied about as the next New York Yankees shortstop--replacing cross-town icon Derek Jeter.  We're talking desperate Yankees dollars now.

Reyes has not publicly mentioned himself as being trade-bait or packing his bags for another team, but Metsies shouldn't speculate that their star wants to remain with the Mets.

The 28 year-old Reyes is still attached to his long-time agents even though there has been rumors about super-agent Scott Boras poaching the highly-desirable Reyes.

Reyes' current agents are Chris Leible--the godfather of two of Reyes' kids--and Peter Greenberg.  Both associates have stood by Reyes through a couple of injury-plagued seasons and cries of overrated by fans and media.  By the way, the two men are also friends of their client.

Reyes claims people are getting the wrong idea after a Fox Sports story said the Mets player had spoken with Boras.

"There is no chance I would ever leave those guys," said Reyes of Leible and Greenburg.  " I mean, I have been with them since I was 17."

Wilpon might one of those people who are getting the wrong vibe from Reyes.  The Mets owner might read into Reyes snub of Boras as some sign of loyalty.

The Mets are probably under the impression that by staying with his agents, Reyes can't be shopped around by Boras and a reasonable offer could keep their prize in his Flushing surroundings.  That glimmer of hope is based on the delusional reasoning that since Reyes isn't represented by a blood-seeking shark who seeks the maximum contract for his clients, he is more about keeping contract talks simple and staying cozy with the Mets.

Fat chance.

Reyes doesn't need Boras to get a huge contract.  About two-third of the majors could use a lead-off third baseman who is currently leading the NL with a .341 average and 103 runs scored.

If Reyes isn't traded by the July 31 deadline, expect the free-agent flood-gates to open and the Mets left standing without their rubber boots.

Reyes' agents have not said what they are seeking, but it's a sure bet it will be a lot more than the $17 million per season that Jeter is getting.

Crawford signed a seven-year contract with the Boston Red Sox for $142 million.

At the moment, the Mets and Reyes are world's apart on what the team wants to pay and what their third baseman is expecting. He's earned it and Wilpon showed no devotion of his own when he dissed Reyes in public.

 According to the New York Daily News, Reyes' friends say he talks about what he is looking for when the Met is away from the diamond.

"He talks about it all the time," said one buddy.  "And if the Mets think they're getting him for, like, $95 million, they're wrong.  He's going to get paid.  He's clear about that."

Whatever the outcome, Wilpon is going to have to put a lot of money where his big mouth is if the Mets want to keep Reyes in blue and orange.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Life Without Derek Jeter Ain't So Bad For The Yankees

It's only been a week since Derek Jeter strained his calf muscle and the Yankees had the monumental task of placing The Captain and his quest for his 3,000th base hit on ice.  Jeter reluctantly went on the 15-day DL and now the Yankees seem to be sailing along nicely without their team leader.

The Yankees have scored 42 runs, including a sweep of last year's AL Champs the Texas Rangers to go 5-1 while Jeter treats his calf down in Tampa. 

Jeter's replacement, 24 year-old Eduardo Nunez, isn't Derek Jeter circa 1998, but has handled himself adequately at the plate.  In 77 at-bats, Nunez has knocked in 11 runs with two home-runs and eight stolen bases.

Jeter, before he went down, had 20 RBI's, two homers and seven stolen bases in 262 plate appearances.

The 24 year-old Nunez won't remind anyone of Ozzie Smith in the field.  Every ground ball hit to short is an adventure with Nunez.  On Saturday, he muffed a double-play grounder for his eighth error in 37 games.  First basemen Mark Teixeira has probably saved half-a-dozen careless throwing errors from fumbling Nunez already.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ryan Dempster's Harry Caray Tribute To Derek Jeter Is Funny But Premature

video

In anticipation of Derek Jeter getting his historic 3,000th base-hit in Wrigley Field, Chicago starting pitcher Ryan Dempster did a hilarious imitation of the late Cubs announcer Harry Caray throwing accolades at the Yankees shortstop for getting long-awaited hit.  Dempster even looked the part with Caray's trademark giant square glasses. 

While Dempster's mimicking of Caray was dead on, his timing was off.  Jeter's quest for # 3,000 is on hold while he rehabs his strained calf muscle in Florida.

The Yankees captain is on the 15-day disabled list and is stuck six hits short of the milestone with 2994.  He is expected to resume playing on June 29 in  a home game against the Milwaukee Brewers in Yankee Stadium.

Dempster filmed the segment earlier for Fox Sports and it was broadcast during the ninth inning of the Cubs 4-3 loss to the Yankees at Wrigley Field.

The  Chicago Cubs impersonator was also the starter for yesterday's game and went 5 1/3 innings before getting the loss.

The beloved Caray has a host of impersonators, including Will Ferrell and thousands of Cubbie fans, caricaturing the assorted Carayisms, but Dempster's impression is right up there with the best of them.

Clarence Clemons: 1942-2011; NFL's Loss Is Rock 'n' Roll's Gain

One of Rock and Roll's great sidemen, Clarence Clemons, died Saturday at age 69.  The legendary E Street Band saxophonist whose huge presence and bigger sound passed away in a Florida hospital after suffering a stroke last week. 

The Big Man's tight bond with Bruce Springsteen for four decades made him one of the most revered figures in the rock world.  His distinctive solos on hits like"Jungleland" and "Thunder Road" are considered some of the most recognizable sax riffs in rock 'n' roll history.

Clemons had undergone surgeries following a June 12 stroke.

"He carried with him a love of people that made them love him," said Springsteen.  "He created a wondrous and extended family."

Clemons cut a big figure onstage and the gridiron as well.  "Glory Days" could almost be autobiographical.

Most E Street fans probably didn't know that the burly Clemons was a pretty good athlete and a star football player.  The 6-foot-4 Clemons excelled in the sport and earned a scholarship to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and, later, a tryout with the Cleveland Browns.  Injuries  he suffered in a serious automobile accident shelved his plans for an NFL career.  

His derailed football career gave Clemons time to concentrate on his saxophone playing and the rest is rock 'n' roll history.

Clemons might not have made the Cleveland Browns roster, but he's been immortalized in Cleveland's Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.

The E Street band also played the Super Bowl in 2009.  It was the first time Clemons walked on stage after knee replacement surgery in 2008.

Even the first meeting between Clemons and Springsteen is a legendary rock 'n' roll fable.  As Clemons and Springsteen tell it, Clemons, the son of a Virginia fish salesman, burst into an Asbury Park bar when a blast of thunderous wind blew the door open in 1971.  The grand entrance gave the impression Clemons ripped the door open.

The dramatic first encounter was the basis for the song "Tenth Avenue Freezeout."

"I will never forget that moment," Clemons recollected later.  "I felt like I was supposed to be there.  It was a magical moment.  He looked at me, and I looked at him, and we fell in love.  And it's still there."

After that stormy night, Clemons became a regular E Street Band member and, possibly, it's most recognizable and popular member.

Clemons blistering sax solos were the highlights of E Street shows and he never disappointed--whether it was in front of 70,000 in the swamps of Jersey, aka the Meadowlands, or one of the mythical shows at the Stone Pony rock club.

"His loss is immeasurable...He was my great friend, my partner, and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music," said the Boss last night.  "His life, his memory and his love will live on in that story and in our band."

Clarence Clemons will live on in his music but "Spirit in the Night" just took on a whole new meaning.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Osi Umenyiora Calls LeSean McCoy a 'Chihuahua or Poodle'

New York Giants defensive end, Osi Umenyiora, is still making a lot of noise one day after leaking bits of an affidavit claiming that New York Giants GM Jerry Reese reneged on a verbal agreement to renegotiate his contract.  Now, when Umenyiora should be in some sort of spin control, he has stirred up more controversy by comparing Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy to a yapping, little lap dog.

After Umenyiora's story broke on Thursday afternoon, McCoy Tweeted that Umenyiora was "overrated n soft."  McCoy also called Umenyiora the "3rd best d-line on his team honestly."

In a phone interview with The New York Times, Umenyiora responded to McCoy's tweet.

"That little chihuahua or poodle in the backfield," steamed Umenyiora.  "He doesn't have to block me.  If you have something to say, say it man to man; you can't be a Twitter gangster.  That's easy to do, trying to be a tough guy.  Say it to my face, and we'll see what happens."

Or you can say it in an affidavit to be filed in Minneapolis next month.

Umenyiora goes on to say that the G-Men's defense has a pet name for McCoy: "Lady Gaga."  The Giants defensive end doesn't elaborate on how the nickname came about.

McCoy hasn't replied to Umenyiora's diss, but he might start by reminding him that the Eagles are 4-0 against the Giants with the speedster in the backfield and then go all Twitter gangster by throwing in a video of his game-winning run through Umenyiora's fingertips and the Giants defense last season. 

The G-Men's defense had so many holes against the Eagles in that epic New York fail last season, McCoy might think of calling them the Kardashians.

While Umenyiora goes off on McCoy, it looks like his stance against the Giants has softened.

According to the Times interview, Osi did an about face and revealed his deep love for the team from the Meadowlands.

Umenyiora said he'd be happy to return to New York, even after, in that sworn affidavit, called Reese a liar for going back on a two-year old verbal commitment to renegotiate his contract after the 2010 season.

"I love my teammates.  The owners of the team, Mr. Mara and Mr. Tisch, I'm really cool with both of them," said Umenyiora.  "They came to the hospital when I was injured...I don't have a beef with them per se.  At the end of the day, they're going to have to make the best decision for them."

Umenyiora's case is notable mostly because he is one of the plaintiffs named in the ongoing anti-trust case against the NFL.

Finally, some spinning and less stirring from the disgruntled Giant.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Osi Umenyiora Has Packed His Bags & Wants Out Of New York

If it's spring, it must mean another demand to be traded by New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora.  In what has become an annual grind in the Giants rumor mill,  Umenyiora is making allegations and mandates once again.  Only this time it seems like Osi really means it.

In a sworn affidavit to be filed in Minneapolis next month, Umenyiora makes it clear why he wants to leave New York by stating Giants general manager, Jerry Reese,  has failed to honor a verbal agreement to renegotiate Umenyiora's current contract.

According to ESPN,  Umenyiora met with Reese during the off-season after the 2008 season and the GM promised that, in two years, the Giants would reevaluate the two-time Pro-Bowler's contract.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Derek Jeter On DL For Now; Could Jose Reyes End Up In Pinstripes?

The decision to place Derek Jeter on the 15-day DL has given the New York Yankees a possible glimpse into the future and opened up a giant can of worms for the team.  If Jeter wasn't chasing his mythical 3,000th hit, some Yankee fans might secretly call his tweaked calf a blessing in disguise.

While the Yankees put Jeter's historic milestone on hold, Eduardo Nunez gets 12 games to audition for the future shortstop opening and Brett Gardner moves to the lead-off spot.  These changes might highlight the glaring deficiencies the Yankees captain has displayed this season.

Like it or not, there is already talk about the Yankees trading for shortstop Jose Reyes from their cross-town counterparts, and cash-starved, New York Mets.

That sound you just heard is a mixture of Yankee fans wincing and Mets fans throwing up a little.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Jeter Put On 15-day DL: Poised To Get 3,000th Hit Against Mets In Citi Field

The New York Yankees placed Derek Jeter on the 15-day DL shortly before 6 p.m. today and, as fate would have it, the Yankees captain could possibly get his historic 3,000th hit against cross-town rivals, the New York Mets, in Citi Field.  Ticket prices just went through the roof for that series.

Jeter tried to convince Yankees GM Brian Cashman to give him a few days off, but Cashman wouldn't budge and announced that his star would be sitting for 15 days.

An MRI showed a Grade 1 Strain of Jeter's right calf after running out a fly-out in the fifth inning of last night's 1-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians.  Jeter got his 2994th hit in the first and went 1-for-3 on the night.

Cashman knew it wasn't going to be easy getting Jeter to be a spectator for 15 days but, with all the injuries and light hitting on the Yankees, he knew he couldn't take a chance on Jeter compounding the injury just for history's sake and he took the safe route.

Phil Hughes Should Join Bullpen When He Returns To Yankees

 New York Yankees starter Phil Hughes pitched today for the first time in an organized game since April and he didn't disappoint.  The right-hander, who was diagnosed with "dead-arm" two months ago, threw 3 2/3 solid innings against minor leaguers in an intra-squad game at the Yankees minor league complex and struck out six while allowing two hits.

Hughes' fastball topped out at 93 mph and was consistently throwing in the low-90's.  He retired the first eight batters.  Good news for Hughes and the depleted Yankees pitching staff.

The New York Yankees starting rotation has turned into one of the most bizarre collection of pitchers in recent history.  It's a combination of an old work-horse, schizoid fastballer, young hopeful and a couple of old retreaded former All-Stars--one who just went down and will be replaced by Hector Noesi from the bullpen or David Phelps.  Hughes' return will add another question mark in that motley crew.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Yankees Great Joe DiMaggio Caught In Own Weinergate

An all-nude full-frontal nude photo of New York Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio is currently up for bidding at a Long Island auction house and DiMaggio's long-time lawyer isn't happy about it.  But Anthony Weiner would be proud.

The black and white photo shows DiMaggio lathering it up alongside another player inside the showers inside Yankee Stadium circa 1939.

Lelands.com, a company which specializes in sports memorabilia and photography, is calling the photograph the "Joe DiMaggio Boudoir Photo" even the there isn't a bedroom in sight.  The bidding is scheduled to begin on June 24 at $1,331.

DiMaggio's long-time lawyer and friend, Morris Engelberg, is disputing the veracity of the snapshot and claims the notoriously private Yankee Clipper would never allow himself to be photographed in such a situation.

"I could never imagine Joe DiMaggio, this private individual, ever letting anyone take a photo of him in the nude with someone next to him," claims the lawyer for DiMaggio's estate.

Engelberg who was DiMaggio's confidant for over 60 years, said, "When Joe DiMaggio went to the bathroom in a restaurant, I always had to escort him.  I made sure no one took a picture of him at the urinal."  Sounds like a fun gig.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bartolo Colon Limps Off Field And It Means More Bad News For Yankees

Just  a couple of days after the New York Yankees found out relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain would miss the rest of the season due to a damaged elbow; the team's second best starting pitcher, Bartolo Colon, limped off the slippery Yankee Stadium field with a "strained left hamstring" on Saturday afternoon.

Yankees GM Brain Cashman told the YES Network, after New York beat the Cleveland Indians 4-0,  the injury to Colon "looks like a DL situation."

Since getting swept by division rivals the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees have literally taken one step forward and two steps back when it concerns their pitching staff.

The one step forward was Ivan Nova's gutsy win against the Indians last night.  Nova needed a solid performance to save his spot in the Yankee rotation after being winless since May 17.  His continued ineffectiveness would have meant possibly coming out of the bullpen to replace Chamberlain.  Now it looks like he will be needed to fill Colon's big spot in the rotation.

The two steps backward are the injuries to Chamberlain and Colon--and they are of mammoth proportions.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Joba Chamberlain's Dad Claims "Rules" Didn't Help Prevent Son's Injury

In 2007, three young pitchers represented the future of the New York Yankees starting rotation and dominance over the American League for years to come.  Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy were the building blocks to a new dynasty after the Core Four were gone.  Now, only four years later, all three may have seen their better days with the Yankees prematurely slip away for one reason or another.

Chamberlain and Hughes were considered so indispensable, Kennedy was the one traded to Arizona in the Curtis Granderson mix before the 2010 season.  He is now enjoying an All-Star season with a 6-2 record and 3.14 ERA with the Diamondbacks.

The other two fastballers stayed behind and the Yankees tried to figure out what to do with them.

Both pitchers were shuttled to-and-from the bullpen to the starting rotation and the team set limitations on the hard-throwing pitchers' innings.  They became known as the "Joba Rules."

The Joba Rules were put in place to limit pitcher's time on the mound and protect the young hurlers' arms.

Now, even with all the coddling, it looks like Chamberlain's season is over, with Tommy John surgery is on the horizon, for an elbow injury--which could keep the 25 year-old Chamberlain out until the 2013 season-- nobody saw coming.  Nobody except one person.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Here's A Few More R-Words For Yankees A.J. Burnett

A.J. Burnett continued losing another game, 11-6, to the Boston Red Sox as a New York Yankees starter, and was asked after the game why he seemed top have more success against the Sox when he was with the Toronto Blue Jays.  Burnett's partial answer to the pertinent question, "it's retarded."

For the record, as a Blue Jay,  Burnett was 5-0 with a 2.56 ERA against the Sox but in eight starts as a Yankee, he is 0-4 in eight starts and has given up 40 earned runs in 41 1/3 innings for an ERA of 8.71 against the same ballclub.

The losing pitcher later apologized for his politically incorrect reply and it got me thinking about some R-words which could be used to describe Burnett.  Let's start with repulsive to describe the relapsing starter's answer last night.

Let's continue with red, as in Red Sox and red-faced.  Burnett seems to revert back to his rattled self every time he faces the Boston line-up.  Last night was rocked by the Sox for seven earned runs on seven hits and four walks over 5 2/3 innings.   Repugnant comes to mind.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Plaxico Burress' Custom-Made Chopper Has Philadelphia Eagles Hue

After spending 20 months cooped up in an up-state New York prison, Plaxico Burress, the former-NFL wide-out was probably more than ready to hit the open road on his custom-made motorcycle, yesterday.  Curiously, the green and silver-flamed chopper has an uncanny resemblance to a Philadelphia Eagles helmet.

One day after his release from the Oneida Correctional Facility, Burress spent time with his family at their home in Light House Point, Fla., before getting his Easy Rider on.

A lot has been made about where Burress could end up playing once, or when,  the NFL lockout ends.  Much chatter has Burress joining another convicted felon, Michael Vick, on the Philadelphia Eagles.

When the former- New York Giant walked out of prison on Monday morning , he was sporting a Philadelphia Phillies baseball cap.  It had people speculating about whether or not it was a subtle hint as to what city he wants to resume his football career in.  Burress has said nothing except he is ready to play once again.

Just about every NFL team is in the hunt for Burress's game-breaking services but the front-runners look like the Eagles,  St. Louis Rams or Miami Dolphins.

Burress caught the game-winning touchdown in the Giants 2008 Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots nine months before he was arrested for accidentally shooting himself inside a Manhattan nightclub.

Burress looked fit while showing off his fully tricked-out Harley with it's Eagles color-scheme.

Coincidence?  I'd be more comfortable seeing his scooter decked out in Giants blue with red trim.

The NFL lockout prevents Burress from talking with any teams right now, but if he signs with the Dolphins; Burress can tool around on his V-twin ride year round.  Then again, if he joins the Eagles, Burress' two-wheeler won't need a new paint job.




Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Badminton World Federation Shelves Sexy Outfit Makeover; Does The Sport Need It?

The Badminton World Federation has reversed a decision making it mandatory for female shuttlers to wear skirts in an effort to raise the profile of the sport.  China--that leader in human rights-- led the world-wide outcry, along with other major badminton countries, calling the original ruling sexist and unfair and sparked the BWF to bow to the howls of protests.

The sport has been an Olympic event since 1992 and is one of the most popular activities in the world besides men looking at sexy women.

The controversial ruling which proposed making it compulsory for women to wear only skirts instead of shorts or tights was initiated to get more people (i.e. men)  interested in watching the sport.  Look at what the hotties from  the Danish and Swedish curling teams did for that sport in the last Winter Games.

It could be that the marketing men for the BWF weren't thinking with shuttlecocks in mind.

The BWF (shouldn't it be called the World Badminton Federation anyway) Deputy-President, American Paisan Rangsikitpho, explained the importance of forcing girls as young as thirteen wear skirts to draw more leering eyes to the sport.

"We just want women to look feminine and have a nice presentation so they'll be more popular," he said.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Plaxico Sports New Phillies Cap After Release From Jail And It Means Nothing

Plaxico Burress is planning to play in the NFL, but only after getting to spend lost time with his family.  The former-New York Giant's was headed home to Florida to hold his daughter who was born during Burress' 20-month prison sentence.  Burress sported a brand new Philadelphia Phillies baseball cap when he walked out of the gates of the Onieda Correctional Facility on Monday morning and it got people wondering about it's significance.

The first person to greet Burress was his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, who jumped into his client's arms during his walk to freedom.  Rosenhaus told reporters there were a lot of NFL teams interested in Burress' services.

"I just want to thank God for bringing me through one of the most trying times in my life," said Burress.  "It's a beautiful day to be reunited with my family.  I want to go home and spend quality time with them."

Burress has a wife and two daughters living in Florida.

The NFL lockout prevents Rosenhaus from speaking with any teams , but expect quite a few to take a chance on Burress; who was considered one of the top NFL wide-outs before he was sent to prison for a gun charge in 2009.

The 34 year-old was released by the Giants after his November 2008 arrest for shooting himself in the thigh outside a New York City nightclub.

The Giants later reached out to Burress while he was locked up.  Owner John Mara visited his former player in prison last year and Giants quarterback, Eli Manning made a public statement last month saying he would welcome back one of his favorite targets.

Burress, who caught the winning touchdown in the Giants last minute Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots in 2007, will be on parole for two years.  One of the stipulations of parole is getting work.  That should be no problem for a high-caliber wide-out, unless the lockout shuts down the season.  Most teams will be lining up for the services of Burress, even though he is not in game shape.  The lockout means most NFL players aren't in game shape either.

The Baltimore Ravens, St. Louis Rams and Philadelphia Eagles all seem like logical fits and front-runners for a game-breaker like Burress.  Rams coach Steve Spagnuola worked with Burress when they were both with the Giants.

Right now every one is concluding that Burress might be joining another ex-con, Michael Vick, in Philly.  Burress' transition back to football will be a little less controversial than Vick's.  Burress won't face the protests and scorn Vick endured when he rejoined the NFL after his conviction for animal cruelty.  Burress' crime was onto himself.

Burress is anxious get back on the field.  "As far as football is concerned, if and when everything gets settled, when they get back on the field, I'll be ready," he said this morning.

Eagles fans shouldn't get too excited about the symbolism of the Phillies cap.  Remember, LeBron James was spotted many times, and criticized for it, flaunting a New York Yankees hat like it was a Miss USA crown right before he was a free-agent.  Knick fans took that hat as a sure sign that King James was headed to Madison Square Garden. 

Little did they realize, it was just a hat.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mark Jackson On Long List To Replace Walsh As Knicks GM

Mark Jackson, the former NBA point guard and current analyst for ESPN and ABC, is having his name bandied about once again for the position of general manager of an NBA franchise.  This time, New York's favorite son, Jackson was on the list of GM candidates to assume control of the New York Knicks for departing team President and GM Donnie Walsh.  According to reports, Walsh submitted Jackson's name to owner James Dolan a month and a half ago.

Since 2007, Jackson's name pops up every time there is an opening in an NBA front office or head coaching position and he has still yet to take one of the jobs.  The New York-bred Jackson would be a lot more welcome at Madison Square Garden than Knicks boomerang Isiah Thomas.  Thomas' shadow is always lurking behind Dolan.

Jackson's name has already been tossed around this year for GM positions with the Minnesota Timberwolves and he is considered a finalist for the Golden State Warriors head-coaching job.

The former Knicks guard had been mentioned as a candidate for the Memphis Grizzlies GM post in 2007 and the Atlanta Hawks last season and has yet to leave the broadcast booth.

The question that is louder than an NCAA women's softball game is why is Jackson in such high demand?

There is no question about Jackson's NBA pedigree.  He was the 18th pick coming out of St. John's and was Rookie-of-the-Year with the Knicks in 1987.  In his 17-year career, Jackson acquired the third highest career assists total and was known as a tremendous leader on the floor.  He even led the sickly Los Angeles Clippers to the playoffs...twice! 

The 46 year-old Jackson has the court savvy and intellect only an all-time NBA player could gather and has become one of the finest analysts on television--in any sport.  The problem, naysayers always bring up, is Jackson's lack any front office or coaching experience whatsoever.

Friday, June 3, 2011

New York Yankees Off-Season Acquisitions Get Passing Grades...So Far

New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman didn't land the the two big studs he had hoped for in the off-season and had to settle for a mish-mosh of cast-offs, over-priced players and more old guys.  One-third through the 2011 season and it's time to grade Cashman's big winter pick-ups.

The Yankees missed out on landing the class valedictorians Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford and ended up settling for the Sweathogs.  The Yankees still have a slim lead in the AL East and can attribute some of their success to a couple players in this unlikely group.

The Yankees lost Andy Pettitte and the starting rotation still got older.  Contributing to that math is the addition of 38 year-old Bartolo Colon and 35 year-old Freddy Garcia.

Both pitchers were picked up for bargain-basement minor-league contracts and looked like they were headed down to the farm until no young arms rose to the occasion in spring training and Phil Hughes later went down with "dead arm."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A-Rod's Banned Drug Mule Spotted On Yankees Road Trip

Major league baseball is looking into New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez's relationship with his steroid-supplying cousin Yuri Sucart after the admitted drug mule was spotted at the team's San Francisco hotel during the Yankees series against the Oakland A's.

Like bedbugs and Katie Couric, Sucart isn't easy to get rid of.

According to a team source, Sucart was seen at the St. Regis Hotel Tuesday night during the Yankees two-game series across the bay.  Sucart has been banned by the Yankees from any team-related activities after Rodriguez admitted that his cousin supplied and injected him with performance-enhancing drugs while he was with the Texas Rangers in 2001-3.

The source said Sucart, Rodriguez's mysterious "trainer" and "personal manager,"  has accompanied the Yankee third-baseman on numerous road trips over the past two seasons and the Yankees and MLB aren't too happy about the donkey's alleged resurrection.

Sucart was Rodriguez's constant companion during A-Rod's playing days with the Rangers, the Seattle Mariners and the Yankees.  He was banished, by the Yankees in 2009, from any Yankees team flights, stadiums or training facilities where the team was located.  Unofficially, Sucart's banishment does not apply to team hotels or sitting in the stands as a spectator.

After a 2009 Sports Illustrated story reported that Rodriguez tested positive during a 2003 drug test, he confessed how Sucart would pick up the steroids (or "boli" as it is sometimes called) in the Dominican Republic and inject the drug into both him and his cousin when he played for the Rangers in 2001-3.

Since 2003, Major League Baseball has had it's own ban on personal trainers and managers who are not affiliated with the teams and is once again looking into A-Rod's questionable relationship with Sucart.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman had no comment on the allegations, but can't be too happy about his star player bringing another distraction to the team.  MLB is already interested in the miraculous "stem-cell procedure" that has revived Yankees starting pitcher Bartolo Colon's arm.

The 48 year-old Sucart has seen better times since his Yankee banishment.  He is in foreclosure on several real estate properties according to his lawyer and feels he took the rap for A-Rod's misdeeds.

"Everybody wants a scapegoat," the dejected Sucart once said.

Maybe that's a step up from being a mule.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Yankees Bartolo Colon: The Round Mound on the Rebound

Out of all of the New York Yankees off-season scrap-heap pick-ups, was there a more questionable signing than pitcher Bartolo Colon?  The righthander  had not pitched since injuring his arm in 2009 and showed up at camp with a body that made Rosie O'Donnell look svelte than the 2005 Cy Young winner he once was.  The sight of Colon in a major league camp, never mind pinstripes, must have appeared to be some kind of joke.

Signing the rotund Colon may one of the best moves in an off-season of questionable moves by Yankees GM Brian Cashman.  Maybe Yankees bench coach, Tony Pena, should get the credit.  After all, it was Pena who phoned Cashman, after seeing Colon in the Dominican Winter League, and recommended bringing the fastballer to spring training and giving him a look-see.

Now, with Phil Hughes dead arm and Ivan Nova looking at a hitch in the minors, signing Colon may be the best move by Cashman so far this year.

The Yankees signed Colon for the bargain basement price of $900,000 and, while he won't make anyone forget the non-signing of Cliff Lee, he's taken out a little of the sting.

After throwing a masterful complete-game, 4-hit shutout victory over the Oakland A's on Monday, the 38 year-old seems to have found the fountain of youth.  And that makes people talk.