Thursday, July 31, 2008

Manny Being Manny Hits Los Angeles At The Trading Deadline

Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing... Manny Ramirez!

Far be it from me to tell you, "I told you so", so instead, let me just say...

I told you so!

Manny Ramirez is a Dodger.

Thanks to the help of the Pittsburgh Pirates (more on that in a minute), the Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired the services of perennial All-Star and future Hall of Famer, outfielder Manny Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox for the equivalent of a plane ticket and two bags of used baseballs.

The two bags of balls, part-time third baseman Andy LaRoche and minor league pitcher Bryan Morris. The plane ticket is the Dodgers' willingness to pay for the remainder of Ramirez' 2008 salary, or about $7 million through the end of the season, which the Dodgers now feel will be extending itself into the latter-stages of October.

For its trouble, Boston will get Pirates' outfielder Jason Bay and, for their own stretch run, an even more valuable commodity... peace of mind. Over the last several weeks, the Red Sox have grown increasingly unable to tolerate any longer the New England phenomenon known as "Manny being Manny", that is, the unexplainably wacko behavior of their highly unorthodox slugger.

For the Dodgers' trouble, they get baseball's unquestioned best right-handed hitter of the new millennium, and a clubhouse chemistry experiment that most observers see doomed to explosive failure. How "Manny being Manny" will play in a team already divided between a core of highly talented, "directionless youth" (Matt Kemp, James Loney, Russell Martin) and a pair of once-great, former stars (Jeff Kent, Nomar Garciaparra) who's veteran leadership skills seem more closely related to a kinder, gentler version of the ones once employed by Barry Bonds.

Now stir in just a little Manny and (tick, tick...).

Hey, on paper this is a great deal for the Dodgers, especially in the wake of the Angels pick-up of star first baseman Mark Teixeira from Atlanta. If the team can ride Manny being Manny - that is, the great-big, clean-up hitting slugger - into the World Series, the stadium revenues alone will pay for the 7 million dollar bump in the budget from now till the end of the year. Even if the team chooses not to exercise the player's $20 million, 2009 contract option, the experiment would be considered a stunning success. But like they say, games aren't won on paper.

But paper can catch fire if your team chemistry happens to explode along the way to the end of the season. And for the Dodgers, fire extinguishers at the ready, that road begins tonight, as they host the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks tonight at Dodger Stadium.

Where all eyes will be focused squarely on Manny being Manny.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Angels Finally Make Deadline Deal - Teixeira Is Newest Halo

With the July 31st trade deadline fast approaching - and after years of not pulling the trigger - the Angels make their move, getting slugger Mark Teixeira. Can Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers be next?

It's about stinking time!

The Angels, after days if telling the baseball world they weren't ready to empty the cupboard for a temporary fix - and a shot at a possible 2nd World Championship - didn't. And yet the team sees itself as L.A.'s team did set itself up as the team to beat down the stretch, acquiring power-hitting first baseman Mark Teixeira from the Atlanta Braves for first baseman Casey Kotchman and minor league pitcher Stephen Marek.

If all the excitement the deal is generating around the Major Leagues seems a bit premature, one thing is for sure, the Angels, who seemingly never could pull off a last minute deal during the regime of former general manager Bill Stoneman pulled off what looks to be the deal of the year in getting Teixeira. In only giving up a relative career journeyman in Kotchman and a pitcher with a losing record and an ERA approaching four at AA Arkansas, it looks like the post-season excitement will once-again remain in Anaheim this October.

Although in the final year of his current contract - and as a client of often vilified super agent Scott Boras - the bringing in of Teixeira for little to no long-term player personnel cost begins to look like a genius move for the leaders in the American League West. Even if he walks at the end of the year (and any client of Scott Boras is likely to do just that), the Angels have upgraded considerably without losing the one thing the team was unwilling to part with. Any part of what is thought to be, top to bottom, the best pitching staff in the big leagues.

With Teixeira comes one thing the Angels have not had in a season that finds them maintaining the best record in baseball... a bat in the line-up to protect Vladimir Guererro. Now, with Teixeira projectded to bat behind Guererro in the order, when the play-offs roll around, teams will no longer be as likely to pitch around the man who had been the team's only legitimate power threat.

And if all things go according to plans, with all that additional World Series revenue the Angels hope to collect come October, maybe owner Arte Moreno won't hesitate to pay the going rate for the player who is expected to be worth between 15 and 20 million a season in 2009.

Yes, it's about stinking time!

In a related story, The Los Angeles Dodgers have been mentioned repeatedly today as possibly the team to step up in the Manny Being Manny Sweepstakes, now the the Boston Red Sox are seriously shopping their on-again/off-again head case and perennial all-star, left fielder Manny Ramirez. According to a report by ESPN's Peter Gammons, future Hall-Of-Famer Ramirez has officially worn out his welcome as Boston's lovable loon, and is on the block for any team willing to make the Sox a semi-credible offer.

Of all the teams interested in Man-Ram, the Dodgers have as much to offer as any almost-contender in the hunt.

What would the Dodgers have to give up to get a power-hitter of Ramirez' caliber (and oft-questioned) character? Pitching, hitting, defense... probably all three. It is the Dodgers' hopes that the Red Sox would settle for less talent and more peace of mind in the removal of Manny Ramirez from their plans for another World Championship. In July of 2004, the Sox set the precedent for chemistry over chaos when they traded a disgruntled Nomar Garciaparra, then the face of the franchise, at the trading deadline and went on to win their first Series since Babe Ruth was a pitcher.

Maybe they would be more interested in the same kind of a move for Manny. After all, he's sure to fit right in with a clubhouse lead by wound-tight second baseman Jeff Kent, a bunch of talented youngsters who haven't yet figured out how to win at the big league level, and of course that former Boston favorite, yep you guessed it, Nomar Garciaparra.

I can't wait to see how this all plays out.

Chino Hills Feels The Earth Move During Magnitude 5.4 Quake

Just before 11:42 a.m. this morning, a moderate earthquake registering 5.4 on the Richter scale rumbled through a wide area of Southern California. Centered 29 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles.

Chino Hills, CA

The effects of the quake were reportedly felt as far south as San Diego and east all the way to Las Vegas. Graded as "moderate to strong" by the U.S. Geological Survey, the shaking was not the first felt today in California.

In the pre-dawn hours, a small quake, centered in Barstow and registering 3.1 was felt at 5:04 a.m.

An interesting, if not somewhat alarming possibility reported by CBS 2 news reporter Kent Schocknek (no stranger to earthquakes in Southern California) is the notion that 1 in 20 earthquakes reported are classified as a "fore-shock" of an imminent, larger quake. The incident of this morning's 3.1 Barstow quake, followed less than 6 hours later by the 5.6 Chino Hills quake, tends to corroborate this theory as it was reported.

However, if the Barstow and Chino Hills quakes are not related, there remains a 1 in 20 possibility of another, larger quake yet to come.

On a personal note, in Redondo Beach, this reporter was on the third floor of a structure that sits approximately one mile from the Pacific Ocean. My initial observation was the thought that a worker for the building was on the roof above, walking heavily and quickly from one side of the building to the other. At that point lights in the building flickered and flashed, followed by a swaying of the room complete with curtains moving on the curtain rods for the next 10 to 15 seconds.

By 12:30 p.m. a total of 10 aftershocks had been felt, registering as strong as 3.8.

As usually experienced at the time of a stronger quake, cell phones were rendered useless, however regular land-line phone service remained on.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Malice At The Palace - 2: The Sparks - Shock Brawl

Deeee-troit Basket-baaaaall!!!!! Has equality finally come to the WNBA?

The WNBA has finally arrived!

In a game seen live by tens of hundreds of viewers on ESPN 2 Tuesday (and thousands more than that today on YouTube), the Los Angeles Sparks and the Detroit Shock played an otherwise meaningless regular-season game in Auburn Hills.

Meaningless until only 4.5 seconds remained when, after a brief, under-the-basket scuffle between Shock forward Cheryl Ford and Sparks rookie Candace Parker. Immediately after the second of two free throws by L.A.'s Marie Ferdinand-Harris made the score 82-78 in favor of the visiting Sparks, Detroit's Plenette Pierson initiated contact with Parker, causing last year's college player of the year to fall to the floor.

Then it was on.

Pierson then delivered a walking hip check to the head of the downed Parker while she attempted to regain her feet, stepping knees-first into the face of the Sparks forward. Benches emptied, including members of the Detroit coaching staff Rick Mahorn and head coach Bill Laimbeer, both former players with the NBA's Detroit Pistons, as well as Sparks coach - and former Laker - Michael Cooper.

Mahorn and Laimbeer, along with Dennis Rodman made up the core of what was known as the "Bad Boys", helping the team to two championships in the late '80s and early '90s.

As referees and players restrained other players, Mahorn actually shoved Sparks center and face of the league Lisa Leslie, with Leslie falling, and another Sparks teammate, DeLisha Milton-Jones, shoving Mahorn and even striking him from behind. While this was taking place near the teams' benches, another conflict, this between Ford (the daughter of former NBA all-star Karl Malone) and Shock teammate Pierson. While attempting to restrain Pierson from further involvement in the melee, Ford sprained her right knee, and had to be taken off the court in a wheel chair.

Damn the Equal Rights Amendment. As of today, women's equality is here to stay.

It was just four years ago that, in what was then called "The Malice at the Palace", the Pistons and Indiana Pacers rumbled on and off the court in an incident that became the symbol for all that is wrong with the sport.

And now, right or wrong, the WNBA has blazed a trail toward equal rights that Hillary Clinton, or a long-dead 27th Amendment to the Constitution could never do.

By the way, the Sparks won the game, 84-81.

A few unintentionally humorous, post-game comments by some of the principals involved to explain what happened in this ground-breaking moment:

“The game was getting out of hand physical-wise, and I warned [the ref] about that and she gave me a warning,” said the local Palos Verdes high school graduate Laimbeer. “But it started to escalate, and players are going to get emotional, and it happens sometimes.

“It’s unfortunate, but it happens.”

Ejectee Rick Mahorn saw the happening this way:

“I was trying to protect the whole game, the integrity of the game,” Mahorn said.

Despite video evidence to the contrary, the former "Bad Boy" elaborated on his version of the fight.

“The WNBA is very special to me because I have four daughters," Mahorn elaborated. "I don’t even raise my hand to them, and I would never push a woman. This game, I love this game too much.”

Candace Parker, the new face of the WNBA, explained her role in what happened this way during post-game comments:

“I don’t even recall what happened — I’ll have to look at the tape. I don’t really remember any of it.”

Finally, Milton-Jones put all things into perspective like this:

“This isn’t what we want to happen. We are trying to demonstrate class and integrity and the good things about basketball. This was unfortunate, but sometimes these things happen in basketball."

Except that, before yesterday, these things never happened in a WNBA game.

All things now being equal, let's see if this is as Milton-Jones wants us to believe, that this is just an unfortunate anomaly, and not just the tip of a soon-to-be fully-exposed iceberg of the way things really are.

All things being equal, Let's hope not.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bill Friday Is On Assignment

As seen in the pages of, Bill Friday is taking a few days off to recharge...

Aw c'mon, who am I trying to kid. Writers block is a terrible thing, afflicting millions of otherwise-creative souls with its gripping, clenching (it sounds like the symptoms of something that could really use a little more fiber in the diet), roll over and play dead malaise.

That would be

Okay, so I haven't reinvented the screenplay, or written an article for Broowaha in the last couple of weeks. So what?

What I have done is...

I'll have to get back to you on that.