Thursday, May 31, 2007

In the aftermath of last night's drive-by shouting by New York Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez, opinions seem to be wildly mixed on the legality and morality of the play.

In case you missed it, the Yankees led the Blue Jays 7-5 with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. With runners at first and second, Jorge Posada skied one to the right of third base. Howie Clark, appearing in his first major-league game of the season, camped under it, and then quickly ducked away as Rodriguez passed behind him.

An absolutely livid John McDonald, the Blue Jays shortstop, immediately began yelling at Rodriguez -- who stood at third smirking and, according to at least one report, pushed away third-base umpire Chad Fairchild when he appeared to disagree with the play -- and most of the Toronto bench came onto the top steps of the dugout or the field. Manager John Gibbons came out to ask for a ruling and argue with the crew chief but got nowhere.

But why didn't he? Rule 7.08 from the Official Rules of Major League Baseball states:

Any runner is out when --
(b) He intentionally interferes with a thrown ball; or hinders a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball

That's not particularly ambiguous to me. ARod is running from second to third and yells something at Clark as he passes behind him. After viewing the play repeatedly, I'm almost certain it was "Mine!", but that's not material here. Rodriguez attempted to hinder the fielder, he succeeded and he should have been called out.

There's no question as to the sportsmanship of the play. As a former high school player and coach, I know most leagues up through American League have rules forbidding yelling or clapping on the basepaths. Young players are quickly discouraged from attempting to distract the fielder, as it's a good way for the fielder to end up getting beaned with the ball.

How often does it happen in pro ball? Well, you could ask Clark:

"I was expecting McDonald to make the catch," the third baseman said. "I have been playing professional baseball for 16 years and never saw that."

Or you could ask consummate professional Matt Stairs. The journeyman was a bit less tactful, calling it "a horseshit play" and saying if Rodriguez's teammates gave no comment, that was their way of saying they didn't appreciate it either.

Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, incidentally, didn't want to comment.

Some of the fault lies with McDonald, who as the shortstop should have called immediately for the ball. But there has also been blame assign to Clark for not sticking with the pop-up, and that's way off base.

Assume, as Clark did, that the person loudly yelling "Mine!" in your ear is McDonald. If you don't clear the way and you collide with McDonald, it's your fault for not yielding to the shortstop on a ball that could easily have been his.

Finally, Rodriguez said similar things happened to him "three or four times a week." That would seem unlikely. As Clark said, it's not something he'd ever experienced. Blue Jays slugger Troy Glaus said it had never happened to him in 30 years of baseball.

It's more likely Rodriguez either was read the riot act or given the cold shoulder in the Yankee locker room after the game -- not that he isn't use to that -- and felt compelled to concoct something to make himself look better.

The most unfortunate victim of the whole situation was pitcher Brian Wolfe. Making his major-league debut, he ended up being charged with two hits and a run when he induced a pop-up from Posada that should have ended the threat.

It was also unfortunate for Gibbons, who may have told a more experienced pitcher to buzz the tower of the next hitter as a way of expressing the displeasure of the Jays. But then, it's tough to justify beaning Giambi in retaliation when ARod's teammates seem to dislike him as much as the Jays do right now.

No, Toronto will have to wait to extract its measure of revenge until the next meeting between the two teams on July 16.

Well, that or just hang out outside strip clubs and watch for Rodriguez leaving with women other than his wife.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A few thoughts from around the world of sports today:

* Kobe Bryant is apparently demanding a trade out of Los Angeles. Most of the discussion is centering on how the Lakers could possibly get fair value for Bryant. I suspect they'll move Kobe for a lesser player and a pick, but there's good news -- at least this time he let the other party involved know before he stuck it up their ass.

* Mike Milbury has stepped down as general manager of the New York Islanders, which has shocked many hockey insiders who had no idea Milbury still had a job.

* The New York Post published photos Wednesday of Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez in the company of a blonde woman who was not his wife in downtown Toronto on Sunday evening. Surprisingly, however, Belinda Stronach has an alibi.

* Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is considering forming a professional football league in partnership with one of search engine Google's top executives. Before he gets too involved, Cuban may want to visit Google and type in "USFL".

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I just finished watching "Leela's Homeworld", an episode of from season four of Futurama. Does anyone else cry every time they see this one?

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It's not the funniest episode of the show, but damn it ... every time! There's an episode of Family Guy that does the same thing to me, the one where Brian ends up spending time with Pearl, and then holding her hand when she dies.

Anyone else? And stop laughing!

I don't want to turn this into YouTube central, but this video of Martin Leung -- "The Video Game Pianist" -- is definitely worth a look, whether you like tremendous musicianship or you just love the old video game classics. It brings a tear to the eye of this old man to hear the "Super Mario Brothers" theme treated so lovingly, and Leung so obviously enjoys himself (even playing with a blindfold at one point), how can I not also enjoy it?

Martin Leung - Super Mario Piano Medley

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Leung has toured all over the world playing not only as VGP, but also simply as one of the world's best young pianists. You can find out more about him at

Friday, May 25, 2007

I feel for the family of Josh Hancock, I really do. The former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher died after slamming into the back of a parked towed truck at 1 a.m. last month on Interstate 40.

Rumours were rampant about Hancock being drunk at the time of the accident, and the subsequent toxicology reports showed him with a blood alcohol level of 0.157 -- nearly double the legal limit in Missouri.

But now Hancock's father has filed a wrongful-death suit. In it, he names Shannon's, a popular hangout near Busch Stadium, as a defendant, and adds:

* Patricia Shannon Van Matre, daughter of the former Cardinal player and current broadcaster, and manager of his bar/restaurant;
* Justin Tolar, the driver of the car which struck a median wall and was stranded in the left lane of the highway;
* Jacob E. Hargrove, the tow truck driver who stopped to help Tolar; and
* Eddie's Towing, owner of the tow truck.

You can read the particulars of the suit in the linked story, but there's one extremely sentence -- "The intoxication of Joshua Morgan Hancock on said occasion was involuntary."

Involuntary? Did the staff at Shannon's hold Hancock down and force the alcohol down his throat? Did they surreptitiously inject it into him while he was looking the other way?

Hancock was a grown man. He headed for Shannon's of his own free will, and I'm guessing he didn't go there for the curly fries. He got drunk, then chose to put himself behind the wheel of his vehicle and endanger himself and anyone else on the road. If Shannon's overserved him, they may be held partially liable.

But to target the driver of the stopped vehicle, the tow truck driver and the tow company is misguided and mean-spirited. The only possible gain from this is financial, and to try and pull money from those incidentally involved is nothing short of a macabre cash grab.

If the Hancocks were upset about the speculation over their son's condition at the time of his death, they're going to be shattered by the well-deserved villification they'll now receive. I hope Tolar and Hargrove file a countersuit against the Hancocks for mental anguish caused by having to be a party in their drunk son's death.

You know, Americans have a lot to thank Canadians for -- softwood lumber, beer that doesn't totally suck, Rush, most of the people Americans think are funny and think are actually American.

But my God, I am soooo sorry for this.

I expect the bombing to start at any moment.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Man, I love someone who really believes what he's saying.

Reverend X The Cursing Preacher

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Take a second and hop over to, where you can find out about getting Toronto's mustachioed wonder into this season's All-Star game!

You don't think a career .219 hitter deserves a trip to San Francisco?'s Jeff Pearlman would disagree with you, and I'd wholeheartedly concur, especially as Sal's from Chicago and played at the University of Evansville.

Go, Sal, Go!