Sports Outside the Beltway

Yankees finding new ways to lose

Aaron Hill stole home in the 8th inning of a tie game, giving Toronto a one run lead – and that was the difference in the ballgame. A steal of home?! That’s rarer than a damn inside-the-park home run! (I’m actually not certain of that, but it sure seems that way.)

Why did Arod field that bunt that looked to be going foul? And why did Torre bring in Proctor instead of Bruney to get a k? Proctor career k/9: 7.4, 2007: 5.5 vs. Bruney career k/9: 9.9, 2007: 9.0. Instead, Proctor gave up a sac fly that allowed Toronto to take the lead for good.

To make matters worse, it was another beautiful (and wasted) start by Andy Pettitte – 7.1 innings, one earned run, lowering his team leading (and fourth in the league) era to just 2.51. It’s sad to see such a great year being wasted – Pettitte took the loss again, dropping his record to 3-4, another example of why Win-Loss records are meaningless: he’s been by far the Yanks best pitcher this year.

- Elsewhere, Tampa’s Joba Chamberlain was selected as the Florida State League’s ‘Pitcher of the Week’ for the second time this season. His stats to date: 28 ip, 1.61 era, 14 h, 32 k, 9 bb.

- Roger Clemens will make his 2007 debut in Chicago on Monday night. It might be too late at this point, but I’ll keep the faith until they’re mathematically eliminated…


Rays Have Choices with 1st Overall Pick

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*Live from ESPN the 2007 MLB Draft*

“With the first overall pick in the 2007 MLB draft the Tampa Bay Devil Rays select…

Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison said they have narrowd their pick down to three finalists: Vanderbilt lefty David Price, Georgia Tech catcher Matt Wieters, and California high school third baseman Josh Vitters. “I’ve gone and had lunch or dinner with all three of them and the area scouts that are involved, and that’s where we’re at in the process,” Harrison said.

The Rays also aren’t worried about drafting someone who has to be on the “fast track”.

“I think that when you start talking about any of these amateur players being close or immediate help, I think you’re making decisions based on the wrong thing,” Harrison said. “I guess conventional wisdom would say, OK, I guess an advanced college player is a little bit closer to the big leagues than a high school player, but I don’t think you make that choice based upon thinking that guy’s going to be catching for us a year from now or whatever. I think you’ve got to get them in the system and let development take its course.”

If the Rays go with David Price, most experts say they will, he won’t be on the fast track to the majors but might pitch his way on quickly. Price has been very impressive for top ranked Vanderbilt this year. As of last week Price was 10-0 with a 2.76 ERA in 15 starts, he has only walked 29 and struck out 164 in 114 innings. Plus Price is not a Boras client. Price seems to be the best selection here.

“I think that our goal all along has been that we’re going to take the guy that we think’s the best prospect in the draft,” Harrison said. “That’s what we’ve narrowed this down to. “…Funny things can happen. … So to stand here and say, ‘That’s our guy,’ I think, is a little premature.”

With that said, could the Rays go after high school 3B Josh Vitters? Some scouts believe he has the most raw power (I think Micheal Burgess does), and most agree that he is the best overall hitter at the high school level. He can handle the leather and is a good athlete. What’s not to like? I can’t think of anything. The only problem is that the Rays have their 3B of the future in Evan Longoria and they currently have Japanese import Akinori Iwamura blocking him. I personally don’t see Vitters going to the Rays with the first pick. He will go in the first 4 picks though.

“My pick for the best player in this draft, Wieters is 92-94 mph off the mound, but he’s a prospect as a catcher: a switch-hitter who sprays the field with line drives and shows home run power from the left side, and a capable catcher with a laser arm.” – Scouts Inc’s Keith Law.

Why not Matt Wieters? I know, the first thing that comes to people’s minds when people discuss the problems the Rays have is pitching. So the obvious choice is to grab David Price. Right? Not so fast. If the Rays select Wieters, who could be up in the majors as early as September or by mid-June next season, the Rays could have a lineup from top to bottom that would look like this (asuming they re-sign Pena and Wigginton):

1. Rocco Baldelli – CF
2. B.J. Upton – 2B
3. Carl Crawford – LF
4. Ty Wigginton – 1B/DH
5. Delmon Young – RF
6. Evan Longoria – 3B
7. Carlos Pena – 1B/DH
8. Reid Brignac – SS
9. Matt Wieters – C
Bench – Akinori Iwamura – 3B/2B

That is a lineup that could bop with the big boys. Wieters is also a very good defensive catcher, timed around 2 seconds from home to 2B, sometimes under 2 seconds. He calls a good game, and is an offensive force. One scout said he is the closest thing to Joe Mauer at catcher around. Not something to be taken lightly. The one bad thing on his resume: he is a Scott Boras client.

The Rays aren’t as far away in their pitching as some people think. They have Andy Sonnanstine (6-3, 2.35, 65/13 in 65 IP) Mitch Talbot, Jason Hammel (2.85, 61/22 in 66.1 IP), Jeff Niemann (57/20 in 53.1 IP), and J.P. Howell (64/18 in 63.2 IP) in AAA. James Houser (3-0 2.39), Chris Mason (7-1, 2.39, 59/14 in 64.0 IP), Chuck Tiffany, and Chris Seddon in AA.

The best is in Vero Beach (HiA Ball) with two guys I think will be Cy Young contenders: Wade Davis (3-0, 1.69 and 58/16 in 58.2 IP), Jake McGee (4-1, 1.84 and 61/21 in 53.2 IP), plus Matt Walker and Michael Wlodarczyk. Then there is Jeremy Hellickson (2-1, 2.79 in 29.0 IP with 24 SO), Heath Rollins (6-0, 1.04 and 66/14 in 60.1 IP), and Joshua Butler (3-1 2.41 ) in LoA.

Wow! That is a ton of pitching on its way for the Rays. The popular saying is “you can never have too much pithching” but how often does a Joe Mauer-esque catcher come along? I think the Rays should take a shot and draft their catcher of the future.

…Matt Wieters, catcher out of Georgia Tech.”

-Jonathan C. Mitchell


John Elway’s Need For Speed


I have always wondered what it would be like to get behind the wheel of these monster machines. And now my favorite player of all time, John Elway, will be one of a dozen celebrities taking part in Gillette’s “Fast Cars & Superstars” reality show sponsored by, which begins airing June 7 on ABC.

“Speed’s kind of a scary thing,” Elway said after his ride in the racecar. “I’d never gone that fast before, so it was … very interesting.”

There’s clearly a difference, the former Denver Broncos star notes, between riding along in a race car and being in the pocket as the defense closes in.

“In football, you really don’t realize the impact of it,” he said. “I’m sure that [NASCAR driver] Kurt [Busch has] been around in that car enough that you become numb to kind of what’s outside of it. For me, I was a lot more aware of what was going on than I’m sure Kurt is, because he’s been doing it for so long.” was able to get in a few questions between Elway’s training and the competition.

The Interview

What was the very first car you drove?

“I had a ‘61 Buick LeSabre.”

Big engine?

“Big engine; it was my grandmother’s car and it had snow tires in Southern California.” [Laughs]

What do you drive now?

“I have a (Mercedes-Benz) S55 AMG.”

What do you use for carting the kids around?

“I use the S55, but I’ve got a [Toyota] Land Cruiser for getting through the snow. I still live in Colorado, so needless to say I’ve got a lot of use out of the Land Cruiser this year.”

Do you ever lose your competitive nature?

“No, that is one thing that you never lose. When you retire, it’s what you miss. When they called me to do this, it took me about one second to say yes, because you get a chance to compete. So, you never lose that, no matter how old you are.”

Have you always been a race fan, or is it something that you’ve picked up recently?

“No. Over the last five years, or somewhere in there, I started following it a little bit. I’m always intrigued — it’s the same thing in football; it’s always the little details that make the difference between winning and losing. And then you start looking at NASCAR, and it’s the same type of game. Such a small difference.”



I suppose that for the rest of Sam Perlozzo’s tenure as the manager of the Baltimore Orioles the adjective “embattled” will regularly be attached to his name. I’m not sure that it’s fair. Certainly when Perlozzo took over, nearly two years ago, there was a feeling that his time had come. At the time, Thomas Boswell wrote

In a sense, Perlozzo has stood in uniform, face pressed to the candy store window, ever since. Now, at 54, in one of those moments of pure baseball justice, Perlozzo is being allowed inside. The candy’s all his now. He’s manager of the Baltimore Orioles, at least for the last 55 games of this season. Nobody ever deserved a turn at the wheel more than Sam.The names that Perlozzo has worn on his chest include Reno, Tidewater, Toledo, Little Falls, Lynchburg, Hawaii and Jackson. Once, he was even a Yakult Swallow in Japan. Perlozzo hasn’t taken that uniform, which defines him, off his back for the last 28 years. But sometimes, those uniforms haven’t returned all the affection he bestowed on them.

However I might want Perlozzo to succeed, he hasn’t. His handling of the bullpen – especially his reliance on Danys Baez who’s allowed the winning run way too many times to earn any degree of confidence from the team. (Allowing him to pitch the ninth with a six run lead was not a bad idea though.)

It’s not good that he appears to be losing the clubhouse.

Perlozzo has been under fire recently because of several in-game managing decisions and clubhouse unrest. On Friday night, third baseman Melvin Mora became the third Oriole to publicly criticize the manager after he learned from a reporter that he was not in the starting lineup.

Until Perlozzo’s predecessor, Lee Mazzilli was fired mid-season, the team under Angelos had never fired any manager mid-season. (In retrospect, was Mazzilli that bad? Boswell got in his digs. OTOH, in 2004 the Orioles had two months of success and in 2005 three great months. Both times the hope faded quickly and the season ended as most Orioles’ seasons have ended for the past decade – in 4th place ahead of only Tampa Bay.)

Ideally, I’d hope that the team would wait out the season. The Orioles do not have the offense to win much more than 81 games, so changing managers isn’t going to be the difference whether or not the team reaches the post season.

According to the Pythagorean projection the Orioles are only 1 game below their expected record. So Perlozzo, despite his mistakes, can’t exactly be called a disaster.

Also with the pitching going well – especially reclamation project Jeremy Guthrie – can the team afford to alienate its most valuable coach, Perlozzo’s friend and pitching coach, Leo Mazzone? Mazzone came to Baltimore to be his friend’s right hand. Would he stay with the team if Perlozzo left? The team’s better off waiting out the season.

Unfortunately with the latest buzz, I don’t think that Perlozzo will last the season.

According to two club sources, the Orioles will give serious consideration to bringing back Davey Johnson if Perlozzo is let go during his second full season as manager. Johnson’s highly successful two-year run as manager ended in 1997 when he abruptly resigned because of a conflict with owner Peter Angelos after the organization’s last winning season.Johnson, who couldn’t be reached to comment yesterday, was 186-138 with the Orioles in 1996 and 1997 and directed them to back-to-back American League Championship Series. He hasn’t managed in the majors since leading the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1999 and 2000 seasons.

He was the bench coach for the U.S. team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and is managing the American team in its quest to qualify for next year’s Summer Olympics.

To this point, the Orioles, according to sources, have not had significant discussions with Johnson or any other potential candidate, including former Florida Marlins manager Joe Girardi, who also is well-regarded by team executives.

Angelos didn’t return calls seeking a comment, but one club source said the owner is intent on giving Perlozzo every opportunity to get the team back on track. The Orioles entered last night’s game with the Oakland Athletics a season-high six games below .500.

I have no idea who those two club sources are. Flanagan and Duquette refused to discuss Perlozzo on the record. Did they speak off the record too? Once names like Davey Johnson and Joe Girardi are being discussed it’s not a good sign.

Perlozzo, certainly has his faults as manager. And as much as I wish that Davey Johnson hadn’t been shown the door, I don’t see what he can accomplish with the season underway. (He quit when Angelos refused to extend his contract.) Let Perlozzo finish out the season, then sort things out. Frankly, the Orioles have bigger problems than their on-field management.


Kelly Dowd, mother of junior golfer Dakoda Dowd, dead at age 42

The mother of one of the best junior golfers in America, passed away this last Thursday in Florida.

Golf fans will remember Dakoda playing in last year’s Ginn Open. The tournament giving the young lady a sponsor’s exemption so Kelly could see her mother play. I lost my mom to cancer when she was only 53. God bless the Dowd family.

Kelly Jo Dowd, a cancer-stricken mother whose dream of seeing her teen daughter Dakoda play in an LPGA event was realized last spring, has died. She was 42.

She spent years battling breast cancer, which her family said spread to her bones and liver, and then to her brain in the final months of her life. She died Thursday night at her home in Palm Harbor, Fla., with her daughter and other relatives at her side.

“Kelly Jo didn’t know how to quit,” her husband, Mike Dowd, said Friday. “It was inspiring. The nurses said her heart was at 160 beats a minute for the last day and a half. She was fighting. That was Kelly Jo.”

Her death came just over a year after seeing her daughter play in the Ginn Open in Reunion, Fla., when Dakoda, then 13, and her family went public with their story, even knowing Kelly Jo’s death was expected. Shortly before the tournament, the family was told Kelly Jo would have only a few months to live.


Earlier this month, Dakoda, now 14, failed to advance in qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open, clearly distracted by her mother’s rapidly failing health.


Dakoda Dowd, one of the nation’s top-ranked junior golfers, was invited to play in the 2006 tournament by Ginn Resorts president and CEO Bobby Ginn, who lauded the Dowds Friday as “a special family whose story touched a nation.”

“Kelly Jo Dowd inspired us all with her strength, courage and tireless efforts to educate both women and men about breast cancer, the disease that would eventually take her life,” Ginn said. “Her zest for life and boundless enthusiasm in spite of her condition lifted countless spirits and should serve as a reminder to focus on what is truly important in life.”

Dowd shot a 2-over par 74 on the first day, beating a number of major-championship winners, then shot 82 in the second round and missed the cut.


The Dowd family chose to tell their story with hopes that Kelly Jo’s plight — she ignored a lump for several months before being diagnosed with breast cancer — would be a strong reminder that women should be vigilant in doing self-exams and getting checked regularly.


A memorial service will be held Tuesday at Sylvan Abbey Funeral Home in Clearwater, Fla.


Florida A&M Basketball coach charged with stalking

From the Sun-Sentinel-

TALLAHASSEE — Florida A&M University basketball coach Mike Gillespie Sr. was jailed Friday on a misdemeanor stalking charge, police said.

Police said they were called Friday morning by a woman, who said she was stalked at work Thursday evening and again on Friday morning.

She had told authorities on May 15 of Gillespie’s advances, but didn’t want to file charges, hoping he’d stop contacting her, a police report said.

The report said police had investigated Gillespie several times since March 2005 on stalking complaints and warned him to stop his behavior. It was not immediately clear who made the complaints.

Gillespie’s attorney, Tim Jansen, said he hoped to have the coach released sometime late Friday on $1,000 bond.


Gillespie, 56, just completed his sixth season at Florida A&M by taking the team to its first 20-win season since 1988-89 and its second NCAA tournament appearance under his tutelage. He is married and has two adult children. His son, Mike Gillespie Jr., serves as his top assistant.

The school, which is already struggling with financial issues, released a statement saying it was reviewing the charges against Gillespie.

I blogged today about FAMU’s more serious problems at present. Apparently not many people at this university are using their brains at present.


Royals Week in Review – 5/25/07

The Kansas City Royals once again stunned the world by putting together another winning week. The overall record stands at 19-29, on pace for 64 wins, which still sucks but at least shows signs of improvement.

The last two weeks have seen the Royals go 7-3, giving them an 11-11 record for the month of May.

Most encouragingly, the bats of Alex Gordon and Ryan Shealy have both started to come around, while John Buck continues to play at an elevated level.

Baird’s Signature Trade
On June 24, 2004, the Royals, Astros and Athletics swapped some players in what was widely viewed as Allard Baird’s biggest move as general manager. Here is what the Carlos Beltran Trade looks like today:

   Belt  Buck/Tea
05 17.6  0.7
06 68.5  26.9
07 19.0  28.1

Of course, Carlos has been putting those numbers up for the Mets, not the Astros, and at a significantly higher rate than what Buck and Mark Teahen are costing the Royals.

“Gil Gauge” Replaces “Meche Meter”
Craig Brown at Royals Authority is going to use the classic “game scores” stat to keep track of how Gil Meche is paying off for the Royals.

In my opinion, tonight’s start is going to be a true barometer for Meche. The team covered his terrible start last week against Colorado by pulling out several comeback wins.

Unfortunately, getting spanked by Cleveland last night is the kind of thing that can turn a couple of good weeks into a bad month.

This is what your number one pitcher is required to do: Win games like tonight. Stop the bleeding and fast. Not just keep the team in the game, but shut down the opponent and let the offense know that they aren’t required to drive in five runs in the late innings every night.

Meche can really put his stamp on the season by shutting down the Indians tonight.

Other Stuff
Mike Sweeney has expressed interest in continuing his career as a catcher. Hey, stop laughing. I think he’s serious. No, you’re right. That is laughably ludicrous.

Club officials revealed plans for stadium renovations. Work will begin in the off season and the final product will debut in 2009. Among the plans are seats along the outfield fountains. I think this will be cool until the first strong wind starts blowing mist into the faces of a few wealthy patrons.

All Star voting is open. Next week, we’ll take a look at who might be the Royals most worthy representative.


Rick Tocchet pleads guilty in gambling case

From AP-

MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. – Former NHL player Rick Tocchet pleaded guilty Friday to running a sports gambling ring, but might not have to serve any jail time.

Tocchet, who played for six NHL teams in a 22-year career, is on leave from his job as an assistant coach for the Phoenix Coyotes. He pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to promote gambling and promoting gambling. Such offenses usually do not carry a jail sentence for first-time offenders.


The maximum sentence for the charges Tocchet pleaded guilty to are 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. Paw would not say whether prosecutors will ask for jail time for Tocchet.

The 43-year-old Tocchet is the third man to plead guilty in the case, which New Jersey authorities dubbed “Operation Slapshot.” The others, including state Trooper James Harney, are expected to get jail time.

Janet Jones, the wife of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, was accused of betting but was not charged in the case.

Prosecutors said in February 2006 that the ring handled $1.7 million in wagers during a 40-day stretch that began at the end of 2005 and included college football bowl games and the Super Bowl. They said there were no bets on hockey games.


Marino said Tocchet has not spoken with the NHL about how his guilty pleas will affect his coaching career.

Coyotes president Doug Moss said he did not know enough about Tocchet’s plea to comment.


Tocchet played in 1,144 regular-season games for Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington and Phoenix, scoring 440 goals and 952 points. He also appeared in 145 playoff games, with 52 goals and 112 points.

To maintain the sport’s integrity, the NHL may be best advised to suspend Tochhet indefinitely. A team coach or official with a gambling problem may allow his illness to effect his work. Even if it doesn’t, the question will always remain.


Nick Saban Recruiting Violations?

Nick Saban may have violated NCAA regulations, ESPN reports.

Alabama officials would not comment on reports that coach Nick Saban might have violated NCAA rules limiting contact with potential recruits.

The Miami Herald and reported that three south Florida junior prospects described conversations with Saban during his recruiting trip last week that might have exceeded NCAA rules limiting face-to-face contact with recruits to “exchange of a greeting” between April 15 and May 31. Coaches are allowed to evaluate high school players at their schools during that period.

If violations occurred, they were likely secondary and wouldn’t lead to significant penalties. Alabama spokesman Doug Walker said Thursday the university would not comment on the reports.

Miami Krop junior linebacker Etienne Sabino said Saban told him he’s “the big physical type of linebacker” Alabama needs. Miami Northwestern High junior Brandon Washington said Saban asked if “my heart was in Miami.” He has verbally committed to playing for the University of Miami Hurricanes. Northwestern teammate Marcus Fortson said he spoke to Saban for “a few minutes” and that the coach told him Alabama “is a great place to get a degree.”

This sounds incredibly minor, indeed, and if these things are in violation of NCAA rules, they ought be changed. That said, Saban has been around the block once or twice and ought to know the rules and play by them.


The Culpepper – Lemon – Feeley – Harrington Effect

Greg Stoda at the Palm Beach Post draws his own conclusion as to why the Miami Dolphins won’t agree to trading a 4th round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for QB Tyler Green. The Columnist calls it the Daunte effect.

It’s abundantly clear Cameron isn’t enamored with Culpepper, who still is trying to recover from last year’s disappointments with the Dolphins when he rushed back too quickly from a knee injury suffered the previous season.

The Dolphins’ concerns regarding Green could be labeled The Daunte Effect in that Miami gave a second-round pick to Minnesota to get Culpepper. But the Dolphins have to get to Beck a year or two from now, and they don’t seem to want Culpepper or Lemon at quarterback in the meantime.

Which is why Miami ought to part with a fourth-round pick to get Green to South Florida as soon as possible.

Stoda seems to be suffering from memory loss. Since 2004, the Dolphins have traded 4 draft picks in return for a Quarterback. That includes the Daunte Culpepper trade.

In 2004 Miami traded a 2nd rounder to Philadelphia for AJ Feeley
In 2005 Miami traded a 6th rounder to San Diego in order to get rid of AJ Feeley in place Miami got Cleo Lemon who had never played a down in the NFL before that trade.
In 2006 Miami traded a 5th round pick to Detroit to get Joey Harrington.

Miami has invested 4 draft picks, including 2 high value picks in the last three years, and haven’t solved the QB mess. With that track record, I don’t blame Miami for not wanting to give up another pick for what would most likely be one season of Trent Green.

Stoda points out Miami hasn’t gotten a great deal in the 4th round. The departed Randy McMichael being the best. I rather take a chance on finding another McMichael(Miami needs a TE bad right now) then trade for Green, because Miami is going to stink next year. What differerence will there be if Miami is 6-10 with Green rather than 5-11 without him?

Stoda makes a really dumb justification for getting Green too.

And there’s also the fact that Green is screaming to get out of Kansas City and wants to come to Miami. He told reporters everything is “awkward” in Kansas City and he knows the quarterback competition there is “weighted” against him because of his age and salary.

What a brilliant argument. A player is unhappy where he is, so lets trade for him! I just love Palm Beach Post sports columnists so much. NOT!

Let KC release Green and then pick him up for free or find another 3rd string QB on off the refuse pile like Miami did with Shane Matthews last year. Let Lemon start the year at QB and work in Beck in gradually. 2007 will be a long year for Miami, but lets not throw away more of the team’s future in order to just slightly patch the present.

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