Sports Outside the Beltway

Posada done for the year

He’ll have shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum and will need about six months to rehab. He should be ready for Spring Training in 2009.

- Damaso Marte is pretty good. In fact, he’s the second best left-handed reliever in baseball history!

- Tonight’s game was bad. What else can you say? Moose just wasn’t fooling anybody. This was a game where Moose needed to scare someone. The hacks the O’s were taking, even with two strikes, were indicative of the fact they knew they weren’t in any danger. It also didn’t help that not one close call (or so it seemed) went Mussina’s way.


Stick a fork in it- The LPGA’s Ginn Tribute is dead

Commissioner Bivens looks more than ever like the fool considering she sacrificed the Atlantic City LPGA tour stop by giving their dates on the schedule to the Ginn Tribute. From Golf World-

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France — The Ginn Tribute which, along with the Ginn Open, has a $2.6 million purse, the richest of any U.S.-based LPGA event except the U.S. Women’s Open, will not return in 2009, multiple sources told Golf World. While neither the LPGA nor Ginn would confirm the demise of the Tribute, which is played at RiverTowne CC near Charleston, S.C., neither expressed optimism about its future.

“The [Ginn sur Mer] Classic [on the PGA Tour], the [Ginn] Championship [on the Champions Tour] and the Ginn Open are happening this year and next,” said Ginn spokesman Ryan Julison. “After we get past the Ginn Open we don’t know what the future holds.”

The Ginn Open is played in April and the Ginn Tribute comes after it, in May. Sources involved in broadcasting, tournament ownership and the LPGA said Ginn has pulled the plug on the Charleston event. The uncertainty expressed about the future after the Ginn Open also raises questions about the existence of all the Ginn tournaments after 2009.

“We have all those tournaments and no sponsors and in this economy it’s like a perfect storm,” Julison said. Ginn, which does its business in real estate, the hardest-hit sector in the downturn of the American economy, is said by insiders familiar with the cost of running tournaments to be on the hook for $25 million annually for the four events, one of the most ambitious investments by any company in tournament sponsorship. Late last summer, Robert Gidel, an expert operations man, was brought by investors to run the day-to-day business of the Ginn Company with Bobby Ginn remaining chairman and CEO.

“If I had to handicap the situation right now I would say that it is less than 50-50 that the Ginn Tribute will happen in 2009,” LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens told Golf World at the Evian Masters. “That said, we will have a tournament to replace it.”

Ginn has contractual obligations both to the LPGA and to NBC, which broadcasts the Ginn Tribute, for two more years. “We’re having ongoing conversations with the Ginn organization and we hope to work things out amicably,” Bivens said. “We also hope our broadcast partners, in this case NBC, are respected.”

Annika Sorenstam, who runs her Annika Golf Academy out of the Ginn Reunion Resort near Orlando, where the Ginn Open is played, hosts the Ginn Tribute. One possibility is the Ginn Open would become the Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika. Sorenstam said she was unaware of the future of the Ginn Tribute.

The news is unconfirmed, and Sirak has serious limitations as a LPGA commentator, but he is usually dead on target when reporting straight news. Like his reporting a new LPGA tour stop in China months before it was officially announced.

There were rumors in April that Ginn tried to buy their way out of the 2008 event. I’m betting the rumors were true.

Update- Just thought of this. Seon Hwa Lee won the last Shoprite in 2006 and in 2008 she also won what appears to be the last Ginn, the tournament that replaced the Shoprite. Seon Hwa is quite a tournament wrecker, the HSBC Matchplay is also defunct. Will the NW Arkansas tournament be around in 2009?

The same thing used to be said about Lou Graham over 30 years ago. His first two wins on the PGA Tour were defunct already when Lou took home the 1975 US Open.


Yanks trade for Marte and Nady, then beat Boston

The full deal is Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, George Kontos and Phil Coke. Damaso Marte is an excellent lefty specialist, while Nady is a decent rightfielder. At first glance, I’m not happy.

Nady is having an extraordinarily good season, well out of line with his career averages. His 2008 looks like this: .330/.383/.535 (142 OPS+). Certainly a great season, but Pittsburgh is trading high; his career line is a slightly above average: .281/.337/.456 (108 OPS+). Range Factor shows him to be an above-average rightfielder. He’s 29, so is at the peak of his career; it will probably all be downhill after this season. Nady is fairly versatile, having played 3b, 1b, and all three outfield positions in his career. However, with Abreu entrenched in RF, where does Nady play? Left-field, where he hasn’t played since 2007 (when he played just 10 games there)?

Marte is an excellent lefty reliever, owning a career 141 ERA+, with 484 strikeouts in 454.1 innings. He absolutely owns lefties: .578 career OPS against them. What about 2008? Not quite as dominant: a .669 OPS against left-handed batters. Is that an aberration? It might be, because in 2007 he destroyed lefties – they had a .352 OPS against him. Ironically, Marte was with the Yanks for half a season before being traded for Enrique Wilson in 2001.

According to Cot’s, Marte has a team option for $6 million next year, which will likely be exercised. Nady (as far as I can tell) is arbitration eligible.

Frankly, I don’t understand the move because the bullpen is the strongest area of the team right now. Marte might be great, but he also might block guys like Cox, Melancon and Horne who deserve chances once they show they’re ready (which should be soon). Both players are at or past their prime, and Nady is having a career year. The Yanks are buying high on Nady and selling low on Tabata and Ohlendorf (who are both having poor years).

Nady won’t play his natural position of right-field because of Abreu, so where is he going to play? He hasn’t played LF in over a year, so will he be expected to jump right into Yankee Stadium’s spacious leftfield? Now that I think about it, he might be the 1b replacement for Richie Sexson, and occasional leftfielder.

- That was the Yanks best start of the year… after Wang’s complete game shutout in Fenway of course. Just an incredible game by Joba. THAT’S why he became a starter: 7 ip, 3 h, 0 r, 1 bb, 9 k.

- Back from the dead, Carl Pavano is making a minor league start on Tuesday for the GCL Yankees. Monday will see Phil Hughes also make his first rehab start.

Sources: (again)
Baseball Reference
Cot’s Contracts


Tulsa LPGA tournament needs a new sponsor

The tour event’s sponsor filed for bankruptcy earlier this week. From AP-

OKLAHOMA CITY — After the title sponsor of an LPGA tournament in suburban Tulsa declared bankruptcy earlier this week, tournament officials say efforts are under way to preserve the eight-year-old event.

The SemGroup Championship has been played in May at Cedar Ridge Country Club in Broken Arrow, but it seems likely a new title sponsor for the event will be needed, as Tulsa-based SemGroup LP filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday after losing a reported $2.4 billion in hedged trading on the oil futures markets.

Doug Eibling of Octagon, a sports management and marketing company that owns the LPGA event, said Friday a search has started to replace SemGroup as the title sponsor. Eibling, the tournament’s director, said that as SemGroup’s troubles became public knowledge this week, Octagon received calls from three potential title sponsors, which he declined to name.

Paula Creamer won this year’s tournament in a playoff over Juli Inkster. Next year’s tournament is scheduled for May 28-31.

The LPGA will hold the tournament’s spot on the schedule in hope another sponsor is found. I find the 2009 date interesting, The LPGA schedule is usually not announced till November.

Will the LPGA find a new sponsor? I really don’t know, but with the US in a economic downturn, you have to suppose it won’t be an easy task. The Phoenix LPGA event is also looking for a new sponsor, and is finding it difficult even though the tournament has strong backing from the community and tour players.

Then throw in the problems revolving around the Ginn tournaments, plus other shaky tournaments, pro ladies golf in the US is on potentially shaky footing. The day the LPGA plays more events outside the US than in may not be that far off.


Will Golfweek’s Rex Hoggard please pick up the red courtesy phone

Another clueless idiot writing about golf. In an article about Michelle Wie playing in next week’s Reno-Tahoe Open, Hoggard exclaims-

If Reno officials wanted to be real creative, they could have offered the spot to Annika Sorenstam who made history a few years back at Colonial. She has a resume that would justify the offer, the respect of the other players in the field and even a vacation home close to Montreux.

Instead, with apologies to Wie, they went with the bearded lady.

Comparing Wie to a circus freak is really beneath most of Wie’s detractors. The real freaks are Hoggard and his employer Golfweek. If either had three brain cells working, they’d know Annika Sorenstam is only playing in a major championship the same time as the Reno tournament. The Women’s British Open. She is unavailable to play in Nevada.

If Hoggard answers the page, I’ll recommend he see a good proctologist. That in order to get his head out of his ass.


NY Giants trade TE Shockey to New Orleans

Sports writers in the New York area will now need to find another topic to write about. From ESPN-

Sean Payton’s persistence finally won out. The New Orleans Saints acquired Jeremy Shockey for a second- and a fifth-round draft pick in 2009.

“Jeremy is a player that we are excited to have on our roster. He is someone I am familiar with as a player,” Payton said. “He brings a skill set to the position that I feel will be a tremendous benefit to our offense.”

The Saints had been trying since February to acquire the disgruntled New York Giants tight end. First, they offered a second-round pick. Before the draft, they increased the offer to a second- and a fifth-round draft choice, but until a few days before the start of their training camp, the Giants felt he was too valuable to lose.


“Jeremy brought great energy to the game every time he stepped on the field,” Giants team president John Mara said. “He had a close relationship with my father from the time we drafted him, and I had a couple of long conversations with Jeremy this spring and summer. From those conversations, it was apparent to me that a fresh start was the best thing for us and for Jeremy.”

Even through the weekend, the Saints had tried to broker a deal for Shockey. On Sunday, they tried to get in the middle of the Jason Taylor trade to see whether there was a way they could make a three-way deal that brought them Shockey, according to multiple sources. Taylor went from the Miami Dolphins to the Washington Redskins for a second-round pick in 2009 and a sixth-rounder in 2010.

Shockey, 28, a four-time Pro Bowler, has 371 catches for 4,228 yards and 27 touchdowns in his six-year NFL career. He grew disgruntled with the Giants because he wanted to be more involved with some downfield passing. New York valued his run blocking.


The Giants still have five tight ends, including Kevin Boss, who started the last six games of last season. The others are rookie Eric Butler, Jerome Collins, Darcy Johnson and Michael Matthews.

Notwithstanding his four Pro Bowl appearances, my own opinion of Shockey is that he is overrated. This is going to be one of those deals where we won’t know who will come out on top for a few years.


Michelle Wie to play in another PGA Tour event

She will tee it up in next week’s Reno-Tahoe Open.

Fresh off a disqualification on the LPGA Tour, Michelle Wie has decided to tee it up against the men, again.

Wie will play next week in the Legends Reno-Tahoe Open, the first time she’ll play on the PGA Tour this year, tournament organizers said.

It will be her eighth time playing on the PGA Tour, and she has yet to make a cut. The only time Wie has made money playing against the men was on the Korean Tour, in 2006, at the SK Telcom Open.


Wie, who is 18 and attends Stanford part time, has no status on any tour. She has only one sponsor’s exemption left this year. She will be playing her seventh and final LPGA Tour event of this year at the CN Canadian Women’s Open in August.

The Reno-Tahoe Open starts July 31 at Montreux Golf & Country Club. The Nevada tournament is one of the weakest fields on the PGA Tour, held opposite the World Golf Championship in Ohio. Steve Flesch won the Reno-Tahoe Open last year.

Opinion on Wie playing another Men’s event is mixed, but more unfavorable than favorable. Joe Logan calls it ‘Dumb, dumb, dumb, Ryan at GNN is incredulous, but Golf blogger The Constructivist
says in a comment to Ryan’s post “Dealing with the pressure of playing with the PGA’s 2nd tier should be good preparation for the CO the following week. Sorenstam has indicated she learned about pressure and the game from playing at Colonial–why can’t Wie do the same?”

I’ve been critical of Michelle playing in men’s tournaments before, mostly because she was playing horribly. That she would be just another on the men’s tour. I still stick to those opinions, but what is the harm of her playing in Tahoe? As I see it, very little to none if all Michelle sees this is as an opportunity to work on her game right now.


Yankee Stadium ain’t all great memories

Remember when you used to love going to Yankee games? For me, although I certainly did, it’s hard to even recall why.

Let me explain…no, there is too much. Let me sum up. My father’s company (that he co-manages) was able to acquire box-seat season tickets when the Yanks were at their lowest: 1989 (”It’s a whole new ballgame” was the motto that year; I still have a bumper sticker with it.) I went to at least 10 games each year through the 90’s — saw the Jeff Maier home run in ‘96, Tino’s Game 1 grand slam in ‘98, Clemens spraying the fans with champagne in ‘99, and the following year throwing a bat at Mike Piazza. Each year though, my access to tickets waned as demand among my father’s clients increased. My father and his business partner sold all the playoff tickets in 2001 for several reasons: they were bordering on unaffordable, the offers/requests from buyers/clients were too strong to turn down, and they (and I admittedly) thought they’d be in the World Series about every year.

So I guess you could say we were part of the problem — the reason the attending fan base started to change to more corporate/casual-fan types (the ‘glitterati’ — you know, people who glitter). We definitely deserve some of the blame, but other reasons for that change include the success of the Yanks, the ensuing demand for tickets, and the freedom that gave the Yankees to raise prices astronomically.

There used to be knowledgeable, passionate fans in attendance, but a side effect of the team’s success is that those fans were forced out by demand. In fact, my wife and I prefer sitting in the $18 upper deck seats where the fans actually care about the game.

Does anyone, anyone, still do the YMCA? I pity the grounds crew that must endure that contrived garbage (aimed purely at casual fans) on a nightly basis. Then there’s the relentless audio bombardment that doesn’t let up until “New York, New York” has played several times. And what ever happened to organic chants, cheers and general fan enthusiasm? On countless occasions have I witnessed organic chants snuffed out by the PA system blaring some canned chant or music that we’ve heard a thousand times.

There’s just a lack of understanding of what the fans want, like the refusal to show video replays (of close plays) on the jumbo-tron. I know they don’t want to show up the umpires, but they do it all the time in the NFL, why not in MLB? I had no idea Jeff Maier had even reached over the wall until I got home that night to see the replay. That brings me to my next point: while all the cons of attending a game have increased over the years, the pros of watching from home have also increased. The advent of HD, surround sound, the YES Network and DVR have combined to make the home-viewing experience better than being there. And where would you rather sit, on a plastic folding chair or your living room couch?

Then there’s the food situation. I can order in a large pizza for the price of about three disgusting slices at the Stadium. $9 for shit beer? No thanks. I’ll take my favorite, Dogfish Head, which runs $9 for a six-pack. At my only game this year, the trio in front of me ordered food and drinks through the waiter service. It took almost two hours to get something akin to two beers, a soda, chicken fingers, a hot dog, and a sandwich (for $71 plus tip). It’s basically fast-food quality, only slow. I learned my lesson long ago and now bring soda, water, sandwiches, peanuts and seeds to every game. It saves money and time (outside of tasting better). The vendors don’t even come down to the box-seats; to get food you have to order through a waiter (and wait the requisite hour plus) or leave your seat to catch up to a vendor or wait in line at the food court.

Transportation has become more difficult. Instead of spending an hour (each way) and $20+ getting to and from the Stadium, I can spend that time walking my dog, cooking dinner, watching the post-game show, watching another ballgame, etc. Parking is absolutely FUBAR around the Stadium, and I have a knack for being the first car locked out of the parking lot (it’s happened twice) – I mean I was literally the very first car that cops started putting traffic cones in front of to block out of the garage. You might suggest taking the subway, which I did many times when I lived in Manhattan and Queens, but it’s hardly better than driving, only more cost efficient. The worst subway ride of my life followed a Yankee game: a hefty, teenage boy stood near me holding the ceiling rail on a hot summer day (you know what that means), and the stench emanating from him was unbelievable. It was hold your breath horrible, and there was no where to go as the train was completely packed.

On top of that, my wife and I have a talent for attending rained out/rain delayed games, which now kills us because we live in Philly (have since last May). I was upset to find out the new Stadium will not have a retractable roof. I know it would cost about $400 million, but they’re spending over a billion dollars already, and the Stadium’s supposed to last more than 50 years, why not make the investment that would ensure a complete and on-time game every single day? Yet another reason we have and will be attending fewer games.

My father’s tickets, $250 a seat this year, will jump to the $500-$2500 range next year, and they’re not even being guaranteed the same seats in the new Stadium. He’s going to try to “move back” to affordable territory: back section of the field level or front section of the upper deck (we hope).

With all that being said, I’m certainly going to a game at the new Stadium, but more for the novelty, not to watch my beloved Yankees.

This might come off as whiny, but don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy attending games in person, just not as much as I used to and the preceding was a summary of my problems as a cathartic exercise. I know this is a season to celebrate the Stadium, but I for one will miss nothing but the history. As far as I’m concerned, the original Yankee Stadium was destroyed in 1974.


Just how often has Greg Norman come close to winning a major championship

Much was made of the Shark having the lead going into the final round of a major championship yesterday. The 2008 British Open marking the seventh time Norman didn’t win on Sunday when in that position. The one exception- The 86 British Open.

Gene Wojciechowski at ESPN writes-

Yes, this now makes nine near-misses in majors for Norman

I’m not picking on Gene, or maybe just a little, my main focus of what I write next is just how many near misses Norman has had.

Lets start with the obvious, 2nd place finishes in major championships. Norman accomplished this in

Masters- 1986, 87*, and 96
US Open- 84* and 95
British Open- 89*
PGA Championship- 86 and 93*

*- denotes a tournament Norman lost in a playoff

That is 8 times right there, and 5 of those are instances where Norman had the lead on Sunday.

If you count the 7 missed Sunday opportunities as near misses, add in the other times Norman finished second in a major, the total would be 10 not 9. The three majors that are to be added, are the 84 US Open, the 89 British Open, and the 87 Masters. I don’t see how you can’t count these, Norman lost all three in a playoff.

I’m not done yet.

Norman missed a playoff at the 89 Masters by one shot, Greg finishing tied for 3rd.
Norman opened the 1999 Masters, one shot behind eventual winner Jose Maria Olazabel. Norman played in the final group with Olazabel.
Here’s an obscure one, Norman finished 4th at the 1981 Masters. 3 shots behind Tom Watson. He opened the final 3rd in 3rd place, and just two back. I can’t say for certain, but there is a good chance Norman was playing with Watson on Sunday in 1981. The Masters used to pair players 1-3, 2-4, 5-7, 6-8. They did that till at least 1979 that I know for certain.
Another obscure one- 1982 PGA. Greg Norman entered the final round tied for 2nd.

So I will analyze the above.

Norman’s 8 second place finishes count as near misses.
The 86 US Open and 2008 British Open get counted also because Norman held the lead going into Sunday’s final round. That brings our total to 10.
Without reservation, I think the 89 and 99 Masters need to be added to the list. Norman had legitimate chances to win both. Maybe more so than either the 86 US or 08 British. In those cases The Shark was pretty much done by the turn.
The 82 PGA has the weakest case for being added to the list, Norman opened the final round five shots back, and finished 5th 5 shots behind Ray Floyd. Floyd wired the field that year, winning by 3 shots, and if I recall he made a Sunday double bogey on 17 or 18 or the margin would have been bigger. So I won’t count this major as a Norman near miss.
The 81 Masters is a little borderlinish, but I think it should be counted. Norman started Sunday 2 behind. I don’t know if he ever had the lead that day, but going into the final round you have to count anyone that close with a legit chance to win.

So the total for Norman’s major championship near misses is at least 13, definitiely not a total in single figures. Yesterday’s 3rd place finish earns Norman at least one more Masters invite. I strongly believe yesterday was the last time we’ll see Norman contend in a PGA Tour event.


Miami Dolphins trade DE Jason Taylor to the Washington Redskins

The Dolphins get two draft picks, including a 2nd rounder next year, in return for the 2006 NFC Defensive player of the Year. From the Sun-Sentinel-

Jason Taylor is leaving the only NFL team he has known, his wish to be traded to a contender granted Sunday.

The Washington Redskins gave the Dolphins a second-round pick in 2009 and a sixth-round selection in 2010 to acquire the six-time Pro Bowler, who had spent 11 seasons anchoring the Dolphins’ defense.

“We’re fortunate there was a guy that caliber on the market when somebody got hurt,” Redskins executive vice president Vinny Cerrato said. “Normally, in most years, there’s not a guy of that caliber on the market.”

The Redskins’ need for a pass-rushing end became evident Sunday when they lost defensive end Phillip Daniels to a torn left ACL and Alex Buzbee to a ruptured Achilles’ tendon in the team’s first-day practice.

Tired of the Dolphins’ constant rebuilding, Taylor pushed management to trade him to a contender this offseason. Pre-dating the draft, the Dolphins talked with a handful of teams. But none of the offers brought suitable value for a player who contributed 55 tackles and 11 sacks last season. Until now.


Taylor, who will turn 34 on Sept. 1, is due $8 million this season, which includes a $500,000 roster bonus, and $8.5 million next season. The Redskins have the cap space to absorb the lofty contract, which has Taylor ranked among the NFL’s highest-paid defensive linemen. The majority of his salary comes off the Dolphins’ books, putting the team well under the salary cap.

The front page of the Palm Beach Post’s sports section has a list of Taylor’s accomplishments that include 11 year veteran, 6 Pro Bowls, 172 games etc, all under a caption that reads “What the Dolphins lose”

What lose? None of those accomplishments disappear because Taylor is now with a different NFL team. What Miami does lose is whatever productivity Taylor has for the rest of his career.

Which may not be a heck of a lot. He’s 34 year old Defensive lineman. Most players are out of football at this age, and those who are still in it are almost all in their decline stage of the career. Taylor didn’t have a bad 2007 considering the train wreck the Dolphins season was. However trading him for a 2nd round is a good deal in my book. A 2nd rounder could be a star or a very productive long-term player. It’s a bit of a gamble, but Miami is a few years at least away from even contending for a playoff spot. Taylor wasn’t Miami’s future, but rather its past. I think Miami made the right move.

| | Permalink | Send TrackBack

Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.