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Classic Recordings
Robert Altman Week

Saturday
May232009

MLB Mock Draft 2009 With Video

MLB Mock Draft 2009

by ALEX CARNEVALE

The draft starts on June 9. Although it is difficult to put players with teams, we gave it a shot.

1. Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg, RHP, San Diego State

The Nationals have no choice but to draft Strasburg, but considering the amount of money he'll require in a perfect world the Nats would be better off moving him for draft picks. Instead with empty seats they'll gamble on the major league deal Scott Boras will require. Strasburg's probably everything he's cracked up to be, and he's already there. Still, he won't put on a Nats uniform in the majors until 2010 at the very earliest.

2. Seattle Mariners: Dustin Ackley, CF, University of North Carolina

Ackley's a hard guy to put in a box, but he has a live bat. Despite already going through Tommy John surgery, Ackley could play center field and his bat projects to be sufficient at an outfield corner. He's as sure a bet as you'll find in this draft, and he's not demanding the huge money that will cause a boatload of other players to drop. The Mariners need hitters, and he's the best one in this draft.

Here is video of Dustin Ackley:

3. San Diego Padres: Tyler Matzek, Capistrano Valley High School, CA

Although drafting high school pitchers is a dangerous art, Matzek's rare combination of maturity and potential stand out among this year's class of prep arms. The Padres botched top picks left and right over the past years and there will be pressure on general manager Kevin Towers to pick someone affordable and get the guy. Matzek is perfectly capable of carrying that torch. He is the number one pitcher on my board and won't cost much more than other prep arms. Missouri righthander Kyle Gibson will also be in the mix.

Here is video of Matzek:

4. Pittsburgh Pirates: Alex White, RHP, North Carolina

White was rumored as high as the third pick in his draft. The problem lies more in the variability of pitching performance than any flaw of White's. He's a prototypical righthanded power arm with a plus fastball that touches 95 at times. White's consistently been able to cut his walk rate as he's pitched against improved competition, and he'll be a nice fit for a Pirates team that lacks mature power arms. If Tyler Matzek was available, he might be the pick, but in this draft, he goes one pick earlier.

5. Baltimore Orioles: Tanner Scheppers, RHP, St. Paul Saints

Scheppers was drafted by the Pirates last year, but due to an injury, he and GM Neal Huntington couldn't settle on a contract. Scheppers is my favorite pitching prospect in the draft, and he has performed incredibly of late. Although his injury history and demands keep him out of the draft's top four picks, there is little chance he falls past the Orioles unless they are wary of his demands. Scheppers is exactly the kind of high-impact arm the O's need to compete in the AL East.

6. San Francisco Giants: Jacob Turner, RHP, Westminster Christian Academy

Not that handedness plays any part of it, but the Giants have a shitload of awesome lefties in their farm system, and a righthander like Turner who pumps out high 90s heat is too tempting to pass on. The strength of this draft is pitching, and the Giants have had no problem taking pitchers in years past.

Here is video of Jacob Turner:

7. Atlanta Braves: Shelby Miller, RHP, Bronwood HS, TX

The Braves have to like Miller's upside as a hard-throwing over-the-top righty who can command two plus pitches even at a very young age. Miller easily touches 96 mph with his fastball, and he's still growing into his 6-4 frame. His sound delivery and acceleration to the plate have drawn comps of Jake Peavy and John Smoltz, and he's a lock to go in the first ten picks.

8. Cincinnati Reds: Kyle Gibson, RHP, Missouri

Lately the Reds have trended more towards college players, and the performance crowd loves the consistency they've seen from this Missouri righthander. Gibson's latest radar gun readings have cemented him in the Top 15, and although players with his profile can occasionally flame out, he projects to move quickly to help a Reds team that will be competitive over the next few years in the National League Central. Aaron Crow should also be high on their list, and could be the pick here.

Here is video of Kyle Gibson:

9. Detroit Tigers: Aaron Crow, RHP, Fort Worth Cats

Last year Crow's agents, the Hendricks brothers, couldn't come to any kind of an agreement with ex-Nationals general manager Jim Bowden. In Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski, the cliche is a guy who loves power arms and power bats. We forget that he took Rick Porcello a year ago — more than anything, Dombrowski is true to his board. Crow qualifies as a power arm, sporting a mid 90s fastball among an impressive array of pitches. His bonus demands shouldn't face the Tigers, and it doesn't hurt that he's already had a year of development time since he was last drafted. This is the absolute furthest Crow should fall.

10. Washington Nationals: Donavan Tate, OF, Cartersville HS, GA

Tate might be the best position player prospect in the draft, and the Nationals have to hope it won't cost them a fortune to sign both Tate and Strasburg. Because interim general manager Mike Rizzo has said that cost won't play a factor with this second pick, Tate could be a rising position player that would complement the pitching that's coming.

ESPN bookworm Keith Law scouts Donovan Tate in this video from ESPN.com:

11. Colorado Rockies: Grant Green, SS, USC

Green has aroused a mix of opinions in his time as a top prospect. His may be a case of prospect fatigue, as though he continues to perform at a high level, he hasn't impressed against top end talent and he hasn't shown the power expected from a top ten pick. Most scouts don't think he'll play shortstop either, but the Rockies can gamble that he'll keep hitting in the comfortable environs of their farm system. I really don't see him going before the 11th pick, and his fall could be even farther if teams in this range are focused on the glut of pitching available this year. Let's hope the Ian Stewart experience doesn't scare them off this intriguing talent.

Here is video of Grant Green:


12. Kansas City Royals: James Paxton, LHP, Kentucky

Hailing from British Columbia, Paxton has jumped out of relative obscurity to become a lock for the draft's first round. While the jump in Paxton's velo is real, his lack of history of performance at an elite level scares me this high in the draft. Paxton's 115:20 strikeout-to-walk ratio is excellent for a lefthander, and at the very least he should end up being an impact arm in the Royals bullpen. Paxton is represented by Scott Boras and the Royals have shown a willingness to deal with Boras in the past.

13. Oakland Athletics: Matt Purke, Klein High School, TX

A lanky lefthander who really has room to grow, Purke already possesses an above-average fastball and has the makings of a changeup that is a swing-and-miss pitch. This fireballer should be an impact arm as a starter and has the kind of upside that Oakland should be focused on in upgrading their farm system still further. The complicating factor here is how much money Purke will require.

Here is video of Purke:

14. Texas Rangers: Zach Wheeler, RHP, East Paulding, GA

Wheeler is a projectable prepster with a plus fastball who offers the kind of upside scouts look for in a first round pick. The Georgia-area has been a fertile area to find top players, and Wheeler has excelled consistently, with the only question being his command. He's the kind of arm the Rangers should feel good about developing, with potential to exceed his draft slot in a similar fashion to last year's draftee, Justin Smoak.

Here is video of Zach Wheeler:

15. Cleveland Indians: Mike Trout, Millville High School, NJ

The Indians have prized hitters with potential, drafting Lonnie Chisenhall last year and trading for Matt LaPorta. Mike Trout is a rising bat with an extremely advanced approach for his age. His rare blend of tools and performance mean the Indians will be excited to sign this New Jersey product for slot money.

16. Arizona Diamondbacks: Rich Poythress, 1B, Georgia

With a glut of first round picks, Arizona can afford to take some risks. There are some people who feel that Poythress is an extremely underrated bat this late in the draft. He's also likely to not demand the excessive money that sometimes follows even mid-round draftees. Plus it allows the Snakes to pop a hot arm with the next pick.

17. Arizona Diamondbacks: Mike Leake, RHP, Arizona State

Leake is a command righthander in the mold of a Roy Oswalt. Although he hasn't had the easiest run in college — he threw 138 pitches in an outing — he's the kind of arm that can weather that kind of a beating. Reportedly the Snakes love him and you can see why. He has one of the highest floors in the draft and competes on every pitch.

18. Florida Marlins: Mike Minor, LHP, Vanderbilt

The strength of this draft is pitching, and Minor is an advanced SEC product who should be able to help the Marlins as a #2 type in their starting rotation. Minor throws a mid-90s fastball that can be a little straight at times, but he already has secondary pitchers in a slider and a changeup that project as plus pitches as he refines his command of them. An advanced lefty with this pedigree is too tough for the Marlins to pass on with the 18th overall pick.

19. St. Louis Cardinals: Chad James, LHP, Yukon High School, OK

James is a late bloomer who grew two inches last year and is a guy who has a lot of helium going into this year's draft. He might be a slight reach with the 19th overall pick, but the Cardinals could definitely use an exciting lefty arm that has touched 97 at times and should be a decent major leaguer for many years with a smooth, effortless delivery.

Keith Law scouts James:

20. Toronto Blue Jays: Max Stassi, C, Yuba City, CA

Stassi bears comparison to a catcher drafted one year ago: Florida Marlins draft pick Kyle Skipworth. Skipworth might have been far toolsier, but Stassi actually has the skills to stay behind the plate, and for a kid who is just a senior in his school, he has a very advanced bat. Put it together and it's the kind of prospect that should cause the Blue Jays to jump out of their comfort range. Adding to the likelihood they'll select a position player there is the multitude of picks the Jays have in this draft.


21. Houston Astros: Matt Davidson, 3B, Yucaipa (Calif.) High School

There's little chance that Davidson stays at third base, but any position, he's one of the top prep bats available in this draft. His power is huge, as Dave Perkin of Baseball America reported in April.

Here is video of Matt Davidson:


photo thanks to the good folks at Baseball Beginnings

22. Minnesota Twins: Kyle Heckathorn, RHP, Kennesaw State

Heckathorn is an imposing 6'6" righthander with good downward action on his fastball. He also features a plus changeup. Although he reminds some scouts of Jeff Niemann, another highly regarded college arm, Heckathorn's fastball might be more impressive than Niemann's. This is probably the absolute farthest he can fall.

23. Chicago White Sox: Brett Jackson, CF, California

Kenny Williams has shown a disturbing preference for college bats in his time with the Sox, one that reminds the draftnik of Isiah Thomas or Pat Riley. Jackson has had trouble making contact in a down Pac-10 this year, but he's still a nice outfield prospect in a draft that doesn't exactly have them in droves.

24. Los Angeles Angels: Rex Brothers, RHP, Lipscomb

As a lefty with weird arm action and plus velocity, Brothers is by nature a risk, but the Angels have a plethora of picks this year, and need to add arms to their depleted farm system. This is great value for Brothers.

25. Los Angeles Angels: Sam Dyson, RHP, South Carolina

Dyson struck out thirteen in his last start for the Gamecocks, and although his mid-90s fastball can be a little straight at times, he's at the very Kyle Farnsworth, and the Farns has gotten paid a lot of money over the year. Dyson's lack of secondary pitch might mean he's destined for the bullpen, but you can't sneeze at getting a legitimate hard-thrower this late.

26. Milwaukee Brewers: Bobby Borchering, 3B, Bishop Verut HS, FL

Mr. Borchering has bopped 13 homers in 107 plate appearances, the kind of raw power at a young age that can't be ignored. He could go even higher than this pick, but he makes sense for the Brewers, who like high school bats and still need a third baseman.

27. Seattle Mariners: Wil Myers, C, Wesleyan Christian Academy

The idea that Myers might stick at catcher is what makes him a first-round talent, but that possibility underrates his bat, which is in the top echelon of this weak position player draft. The Mariners can badly use his athleticism and projected power at a multitude of positions on the diamond, but they have an especially compelling hole at catcher, and Myers will be the hope of the future. A recent injury to Max Stassi could make Myers the first catcher selected.

28. Boston Red Sox: Geno Escalante, C, Rodriguez HS, CA

Escalante's powerful stroke has drawn comparisons to Ivan Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield before those sluggers took performancing-enhancing drugs to stay on top of their sport. Escalante is an intriguing prep bat with lots of upside, but there are differing opinions, like most backstops of that age, about whether he can stay behind the plate. His arm is ready, and he should be able to man the position given time to develop. He's an appealing risk for a Red Sox system that has few impact position players outside of Lars Anderson and Ryan Westmoreland.

29. New York Yankees: Brian Goodwin, OF, Rocky Mount, NC

Goodwin is a lefthanded hitting outfielder with plus tools who's been playing against questionable high school competition. Scouts aren't sure if he'll ever develop power, but his speed and baseball instincts make him a good value and high school outfielders have a decent track record in the draft.

30. Tampa Bay Rays: Jiovanni Mier, SS, Bonita High School, CA

In a thin crop of up-the-middle prospects, Mier is the top-rated shortstop in this year's class. His bat is the great unknown — it's likely that he has the raw skills to become a decent hitter, but he probably isn't going to be an all-star shortstop in any facet of the game except for his glove. For a Rays team loaded on the pitching side, Mier's a good risk, and although with last year's number 1 pick Tim Beckham, would give the Rays depth at two of their least productive positions. The Rays could also go outfielder.

Here is video of Jiovanni Mier:

31. Chicago Cubs: Andrew Oliver, LHP, Oklahoma State

Oliver is a power lefty demanding a lot of money. In other words, he's destined to be a Cub. You can check out MLB.com video of Oliver here.

32. Colorado Rockies: Matt Hobgood, RHP, Norco, CA

The Rockies tend to like righthanders with a traditional frame, though their history of success with them has been mixed. Hobgood might be more Greg Reynolds than Brett Myers, but he'll be a nice fit with the 32nd pick, and he won't cost much over slot. For teams like the Rockies, slot ain't dead yet.

33. Seattle Mariners: Marc Krauss, OF, Ohio

Krauss has kept a low profile, but Seattle had to trade J.J. Putz for an outfielder, and I have never been convinced Wladimir Baletien has much to offer outside of a fourth outfielder role. Krauss won't break the bank, and he should add to the Mariners depth of position player prospects. He's a draft prospect with rare helium, and should be considered a decent value this late for a team that believes in the bat.

34. Colorado Rockies: Jake Marisnick, OF, Riverside Poly HS, CA

Marisnick is a talented contact hitter from the right side, and although he doesn't possess superior athleticism, he's a nice outfield prospect with a high floor.

35. Arizona Diamondbacks: Steven Matz, LHP, Ward Melville High School, NY

Matz is a cold-weather arm, and it's a little harder to get noticed when you're a player in the Northeast. With that said this lefty has a lot of helium and with lefthanded pitching so hard to find, he can easily be called a good value in this draft.

36. Los Angeles Dodgers: Jared Mitchell, OF, LSU

Mitchell is a wide receiver project who according to Baseball America is the top college athlete in the draft. Mitchell stands just 5'11", and although he is a superior athlete, you have to think at that size he's looking harder at baseball as a career. The Dodgers won't care about how much money he wants; they'll jump on the opportunity to bring a position prospect with his ceiling into the fold.

Here is video of Mitchell playing left field:


37. Toronto Blue Jays: Chad Jenkins, RHP, Kennesaw State

Jenkins is a righthander who can dial it up to 91 with a slider and a changeup both of which can develop into plus pitches. There had been rumors that Jenkins could go as high as mid-first, but I don't buy it. Jenkins is a nice arm, but he doesn't compare favorably to a guy like Luke Hochevar and Scott Baker, both of who have been seriously homer-prone at times. I'm not a believer, but he certainly has the stuff to go this early.

Here is video of Chad Jenkins:

38. Chicago White Sox: Tony Sanchez, C, Boston College

The White Sox season is looking to be in tatters, and their system has needs at the major league level for pretty much every position on the diamond. Sanchez would be outstanding value with a pick this low, a catcher offering a relatively high floor whose bat shows promise.

39. Milwaukee Brewers: Ben Tootle, RHP, Jacksonville State University

The 21 year old Tootle throws too hard to last much past this pick, and has the potential to go far higher. It only takes one team to fall in love with the kind of heat Tootle offers and ignore the risk he carries. He would be good value for a Brewers team that is getting better at finding impact arms in the draft.

40. Los Angeles Angels: Garrett Gould, RHP, Maize High School, KS

Gould has dominated at the high school level, addressing concerns his command was too raw and his velocity not impressive enough. He's a risky proposition, but someone will gamble on a fastball that touches 94 at times and hope he's more Ethan Martin than not.

41. Arizona Diamondbacks: James Jones, RHP, Long Island

Jones is a 6'3" LHP with a nice frame and star potential. He's been tearing it up at the plate here in Long Island, although some scouts think he's just hurting his upside on the mound by playing the field. Jones will need some grooming, but he would look pretty good in Chase Field with the promising stable of athletes they have there.

42. Los Angeles Angels: Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Santa Monica HS, CA

The Angels have seen plenty of Skaggs because he's in their backyard, and they have to like Skaggs as a lefty Phil Hughes type who's going to be a lot more of a project than Hughes ever was.

43. Cincinnati Reds: Christopher Owings, SS, Gilbert High School, SC

Though Owings is committed to USC, the Reds could badly use his up-the-middle talents. Owings features a compact gap-to-gap swing. In a perfect world he's Brian Roberts, and infielders with that profile no longer scare teams as much as they did, or they should.

44. Texas Rangers: Tim Wheeler, OF, Sacramento State

Wheeler is an advanced hitter with speed who bats from the left side. He could ultimately become a Johnny Damon-type in the majors, as Damon was a 35th overall pick. Although Keith Law has reported that the Rangers are targeting Reymond Fuentes with this pick, Wheeler is the more polished prospect and a good fit for Arlington.

Keith Law scouts Tim Wheeler:


45. Arizona Diamondbacks: Randal Grichuk, OF, Lamar HS, TX

Grichuk is one of the biggest sleepers in the draft, and with so many picks in the first fifty, Arizona should be swinging for the fences trying to create a dynasty of homegrown talent to rival the competition in their division. Though he's short and wiry strong rather than being huge and imposing, Grichuk can just plain rake.

Here is video of Grichuk:


46. Minnesota Twins: Ryan Wheeler, 1B, Loyola Maramount

John Klima had a nice write-up of Wheeler the other day, so I'll leave it to him. An intriguing bat.

47. Milwaukee Brewers: Kendall Volz, RHP, Baylor

Although Volz possesses a violent delivery, it's not one that's complicated by moving parts. He should thrive in high leverage bullpen situations, though he'll probably begin his career as a starter. In either role, he could move quickly. His injury problems late in the season have dropped him this far.

48. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: A.J. Pollock, CF, Notre Dame

Pollock is a speed demon with a sweet stroke who features plus tools at the plate and in the field. In a not-very-deep crop of college hitters, I wouldn't see him lasting much past this pick, and he could go 5-8 picks higher if a team is in love with the overall package and pedigree.

49. Pittsburgh Pirates: Austin Maddox, C, Eagle View Academy

In a fairly deep group of high school catchers Maddox should be a solid selection in the sandwich round.

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Tuesday
Nov112008

In Which Social Landmarks Are Bigger To Us Than Fines

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Sports Corner: Electoral College

by George Ducker

It's one thing when BHO wins the election, but I have to say that it is quite another thing when, two days later, he's pictured on the NYT website leaving the gym and wearing a Chicago White Sox hat as he crosses to a bank of black SUVs. (They changed out the picture for a strangely composed bit of post-speech huggery.)

Not only is Obama on his way to the White House, but he digs the Sox. Can you top jubilance with more jubilance?

2008_08_obama_whitesox

You can't if you've got a direct line to Ozzie Guillen and one of those dumb, retro-'83 hats with the little bobbly ballplayer sitting on top of your printer.

cubs-fans

Chicago people all over Chicagoland (and most of them are Cubs fans either by birthright or apathy) must be silently roiling over the fact that the one time they get a politician of the Big Shouldered variety in the White House, he's a Sox fan.

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And to make matters worse, he's not even the kind of Chicago guy who also roots for the Cubs, like in the rare circumstance when they blunder their way into the playoffs. Like this year. And 2003.

“I’m not one of these fair weather fans,” then-Senator Obama said. “You go to Wrigley Field, you have a beer, beautiful people up there. People aren’t watching the game. It’s not serious. White Sox, that’s baseball.”

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Mayor Daley sez, "No comment"

All of this only further begs the question: so who's Rahm rooting for?

rahm-emanuel

My guess is that Rahm is too busy watching old VHS tapes of ECW wrestling matches and prying off his own fingernails for fun.

Brandon Marshall also tried to get in on the post-election excitement with a Black Panther-inspired touchdown celebration during Denver's Thursday night game against Cleveland. Only, he never got the salute off.

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Fellow receiver Brandon Stokely, fearful of a fifteen-yard penalty, put the kibosh on Marshall just as he'd pulled the other glove out of his pants. There was still a minute and 22 seconds left in the game and, as usual, the Broncos were just barely winning.

Marshall wanted to add his own personal update to the raised-fist imagery of John Carlos and Tommie Smith during the 1968 Olympics. He wanted to raise a black and white glove to symbolize racial progress. The rest of his team just wanted to win the damn game.

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And then I guess I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention Buck Burnette, the backup center for the Texas Longhorns, and his Facebook racism. And then his contrition.

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You've got to hand it to Daulerio for noting that "it's still a little shameful that some of Buck's takeaway was that it's not 'ok to write that publicly,'"

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Fight seriousness in two ways:

With this video of Laurence Taylor and by allowing yourself the distinct pleasure of this Alabama fan, known only as Cowboy, and his obscenity-laced musings regarding the Crimson Tide's total SEC dominance this season:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIE0xpwMWeo]

You don't even have to watch it, you can just listen.

sabanumberone1

Now, after the big win over LSU on Saturday, Cowboy can reasonably say that they're doing "10-and-0 on that ass." It shouldn't really have been that big a win. The Tide should never even have let things get as close as they did.

Alabama LSU Football

Luther Davis

Nick Saban's near-coronary in the locker room at halftime (listen, you motherfuckers we're TIED) must have done something to shore his team up, as they returned to the field and, after a bit of stumbling around while QB John Parker Wilson got his makeup on, they somehow won in overtime.

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Mr. Wilson

The deck seemed perplexingly stacked against No. 1-ranked Alabama from the start, as they were traveling into hostile LSU territory, where one might be likely to pass a Saban effigy burning in the middle of an intersection. (Turns out it was actually a free beer-sponsored publicity stunt for a bunch of condominiums)

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See, Saban used to coach LSU, but he split for the pros and then ended up at Alabama, and now the entire southern region of Louisiana would like nothing more than to see him dead. In the words of one individual, "That son of a b-, I feel like he's f— my wife.'"

Wright Thompson's article illuminates all of this.

Also omg Steve Spurrier fan art:

spurriergamecock

The Titans are still undefeated after walloping the Bears 21-14 at Soldier Field. This is only even more amazing when you factor in the delicate sensibilities regarding their season's starting QB and the ol' warhorse the Titans dragged from an open grave to replace him.

vinceyoung

The new-old

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The old-new

I'm still unsure about Kerry Collins. He's got a bit of the lower-Appalachia, John Rocker-on-the-MTA stink about him. I grew up close enough to Charlotte that bits of race and gender-related, although generally unsubstantiated, badness would creep from bars and other late night establishments into the local newspaper.

Titans Bears Football

When, in 1997, I watched from the nosebleeds as Broncos lineman Bill Romanowksi broke Collins' jaw during a preseason game, I couldn't help but think that it was a good, just thing.

Titans fans should get their jollies while they can, as it is certain that Vince Young is sitting in a green room somewhere listening to Kierkegaard on tape and plotting his eventual comeback as the first quarterback with preferred emotional attenuation.

49ers Cardinals Fooball

Shaun Hill also knows sadness.

Lastly we can all hold hands and celebrate the Arizona Cardinals' Monday Night win over (gasp) the San Francisco 49ers. Certainly the six people who tuned in were riveted.

49ers Cardinals Football

Kurt Warner, your ageless wonder

Tune into this though: the Cardinals are the proud poppas of a staggering 6-3 record and they lead the potter's field of the NFC West by FOUR. Happy Tuesday.

lsu

George Ducker is the senior contributor and sports enthusiast for This Recording. His dodgeball team will be playing their final match next Monday night at the Staples Center, of all places. Please direct all positive thoughts or ill will in this regard towards your preferred deity.

staplescenter

J. TILLMAN ALSO PLAYS DRUMS FOR FLEET FOXES, DO WE HAVE YOUR ATTENTION?

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"James Blues" - J. Tillman  (mp3)

"Laborless Land" - J. Tillman (mp3)

"Vacilando Territory" - J. Tillman (mp3)

canceranddelirium

"Cheers" - J. Tillman (mp3)

"Two Years On Film" - J. Tillman (mp3)

"A Fine Suit" - J. Tillman (mp3)

"If I Get To the Borderline" - J. Tillman (mp3)

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PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

We explored R. Kelly from moment to moment.

While arguing, we dreamt of importance.

We never knew our sister was our mother.

Monday
Oct272008

In Which We Guess We Lost All Our Picnic Spirit

Sports Corner: Return of the Hunters

by George Ducker

It grieves me to no end that the above photo, featuring the New Orleans Saints trudging through the pastoral density of Northwest London, couldn't be found in a larger size or higher resolution. Maybe my mastery of the internet isn't as far-reaching as I thought. Believe me, I tried, and believe me, you can't find the thing higher than 250 or so. I'll be calling Julian Finney first thing tomorrow morning for a poster-sized image that I can frame and put on my wall.

Sir  Linton, "Mary Queen of Scots About to Be Executed..."

Yes, the second annual foray of the NFL into England happened today, and the Saints took the Chargers for a ride 37-32.

Although this game, played at Wembley Stadium to a sellout crowd of 83,226, was notable for higher scoring and more on-field dramatics than last year's soggy, fumbling match-up between the Dolphins and the New York Giants, there was less of the patented ridiculousness that peppered last year's debut on the pitch. There was no streaker in a referee's cap and there was most assuredly no 26-foot Jason Taylor robot scaring the hell out of unsuspecting pedestrians in Trafalgar Square.

Fred McAfee in the Eye

And the NFL isn't pussyfooting around with their aims at foreign pigskin colonization.

The impressed Independent snorted, "If you wanted to organize a small war, there's a chance that America's National Football League could do a better job than the Pentagon."

John Seymour Lucas, "Armada in Sight"

Rather than ravaging sleep patterns and jetting in midweek, the teams spent the whole week, jetting straight over after dreadful losses in the Eastern time zone...Some even had the guts to review those games in flight, as with Brees, who said, "I popped an Ambien and sat there and thought about it for 30 minutes and fell asleep."

Brees

Both teams had time for their share of London sightseeing, but San Diego's Antonio Cromartie offered the best, most succinct itinerary: "Man, we've been to T.G.I. Friday's, Angus Steakhouse, McDonald's. That's where we've been."

Oxford McDonald's

But what of the weekend's results on this side of the pond?

J.T. O'Sullivan

San Francisco lost 13-34 to Seattle in new coach Mike Singletary's mid-season debut.

Chad Johnson

The Bengals lost 35-6 at the ruthless hands of the Houston Texans. Now the Bengals and the Detroit Lions should arm-wrestle to see who gets last place, as both teams have yet to win a game all season.

Shaun Rogers

Cleveland took down David Garrard and the Jaguars 23 - 17. More depressing for Jaguars fans was the last second, non-catch that Matt Jones made, securing them the non-win.

Joey Porter

Miami moved to 3-4 with their 25-16 win over the hot, happenin' Redskins.

Cowboy cheerleader Abigail Klein

The Elder Bush

And speaking of Presidential figures, you can read all about Barack Obama's stint as ESPN writer Rick Reilly's fantasy football partner here.

This photo of Michelle is deeply mysterious to me

And you can read here about the stink surrounding another ESPN writer, Bill Simmons, and the failed Obama podcast.

There's a new book out on sportswriter and man-about-town George Plimpton. It's title is the heartwarming (at least to me) George, Being George, and it culls together a ton of interviews (Plimpton-on-Truman-Capote-style) with folks who knew him.

In 1963, Plimpton, then the 36 year-old editor of the Paris Review, wrote to six football teams in the NFL, with the hopes that one of them would take him on as a "last-string" quarterback during their summer/fall training season. The Detroit Lions "an older and experienced team, imbued with a lot of the devil-may-care attitude of Bobby Layne, the roustabout quarterback who'd been there a few years before" took the bait.

The resulting book, Paper Lion, which you should most certainly read if you haven't, presents early-'60s pro football through the writerly lens of a fan with all the admitted athletic inadequacy of an Ivy League graduate.

Although most of the book is spent on the gridiron and in late-afternoon locker room sessions with the players, it culminates with Plimpton's one and only appearance as the Lions' QB during a scrimmage, in which he famously managed three plays and lost yardage on each and every one.

He acknowledges that this, while humiliating, was also the best possible outcome: "If by some chance I had uncorked a touchdown pass, there would have been wild acknowledgement--because I heard the groans go up at each successive disaster--but afterward the spectators would have felt uncomfortable. Their concept of things would have been upset. The outsider did not belong and there was comfort in that being proved."

George Ducker is the senior Sports Consultant for This Recording although he defers to A.C. in all matters NBA-related, so don't even ask.

BECAUSE MONDAY IS THE SCARIEST DAY

"Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues" - Bob Dylan (mp3)

"Somebody's Watching Me - Rockwell (mp3)

"Hand of Doom" - Black Sabbath (mp3)

"Ut Oh! It's Mourningtime Again" - Mount Eerie (mp3)

"Needle of Death" - Bert Jansch (mp3)

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Robots can do it all the time, anywhere.

Jellyfish nearly always rub you the wrong way.

A day of the Triffids is closer than you think.

Monday
Oct062008

In Which The Need To Be Right Is The Sign Of A Vulgar Mind

Sports Corner

by George Ducker

Much as it hurts to admit it, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays may have the White Sox's number. Down two games for the five-game ALDS, Chicago managed a 5-3 win on Sunday, when everyone else was probably watching football.

Stephen Cannella writes about the Rays' new-ish coach Joe Maddon who, after three doghouse seasons in St. Petersburgh, brought his team to a complete, if utterly baffling, dominance of the NL East.

Yankees who? Red Sox who? The Rays ended the season 97-65, earning their best record ever and their first trip to the playoffs since their 1998 inception.

But who cares about numbers when there's Maddon's Hugo Boss frames to consider?

He sports a sleek, 21st-century take on classic horn-rims, a funky pair of Hugo Boss specs that appear to have been swiped from Elvis Costello's nightstand. His fiancée, Jaye Sousoures, picked them out for him four years ago. She simply thought they looked good on him, but they have since added to Maddon's aura as, in the words of Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli, "a pretty cool cat." (The front office caught on right away, handing out 15,000 replica pairs on Joe Maddon Retro Glasses Night in his first season with Tampa Bay.)

Or his hairstyle? In September, after trouncing the Red Sox 13-5, Maddon got himself a Mohawk.

The team stylist (we didn't know one existed) stayed late and clipped Maddon's hair into his own version of the hawk. His is not as pronounced and can be turned unnoticeable if he brushes his hair to the side.

And then there's the choice of clubhouse inspiration:

Soon after he was hired in the fall of 2005, Maddon papered the Rays' clubhouse with inspirational quotes from an eclectic collection of thinkers, including UCLA icon John Wooden ("Discipline yourself so no one else has to"), former Fed chief Alan Greenspan ("Rules cannot take the place of character") and The Myth of Sisyphus author Albert Camus ("Integrity has no need of rules"). Camus was an apt choice: When Maddon replaced managerial heavyweight Lou Piniella, who jumped ship with a year left on his contract, he seemed to be taking on a Sisyphean task."

John Wooden

Lane Kiffin

Staying on the managers/coaches tip: Lane Kiffin was fired from the Oakland Raiders by resident totalitarian grump, owner Al Davis. He did it early last week, knowing that Oakland would have a bye's worth of time to regroup and make sure interim coach Tom Cable knew everyone's name:

Davis read and displayed on an overhead projector a three-page warning letter he'd given to Kiffin nearly three weeks ago. He called on the coach to "cease your immature and destructive campaign" by publicly criticizing the team. Davis also called Kiffin a "flat-out liar" and vowed not to pay Kiffin the remaining money owed on the contract because he was fired "with cause."

"You've Got Something There" - Blind Boy Fuller (mp3)

Current Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, who also got fired from the Raiders after only twenty games (in 1989), even weighed in on the situation.

Now, Kiffin is considering litigation. According to Fox Sports (of all places): some close to Kiffin are advising him about the possibility of filing a multi-million-dollar defamation lawsuit against Davis. The suit would be the result of the Tuesday attack in which Davis lobbed several well-placed accusations about Kiffin, calling him a liar and blasting him for what he basically deemed insubordination.

Davis, for his part, still manages to look like something straight out of Nosferatu. They call him "the rat," but an equally apt, if less succinct, moniker would be "the haggard, walking corpse."

Al Davis: Scaring The Hell Out Of Children Since 1929

"Baby, You've Gotta Change Your Mind" - Blind Boy Fuller (mp3)

Trent Edwards says: Oh wait guys. My keys.

Buffalo Bills' quarterback Trent Edwards won himself a concussion on the very first drive against the Arizona Cardinals, when he made the mistake of walking into a wall named Adrian Wilson.

Edwards, below

With Edwards out for the rest of the game (they say he'll be back in two weeks, when Buffalo plays San Diego after a bye), backup man "JP Losman, who wanted an offseason trade after losing his job to Edwards, was 15-of-21 for 220 yards, most of them on an 87-yard touchdown pass to Lee Evans."

Let's repeat that: an 87-yard pass. Unfortunately, all the drama amounted to little more than 17 points which, after four quarters, couldn't beat the Cardinals' 41. First loss for the Bills. Kinda embarrassing. Kinda "emphatic."

Losman's got a hell of a beard tho

Of all the NFL, only the New York Giants and the Tennessee Titans remain undefeated.

On the collegiate side of things, Penn State and Brigham Young also remain pleasantly undefeated. They are now ranked #6 and #9, respectively, in the AP Top 25. But will they last?

Sure, most people think watching football is vastly improved by a reduction of wind-baggy commentators, but William Bowers from Pitchfork (of all places) suggests a smattering of Max Richter and Arvo Pärt to enhance your NCAA football experience: "Never will meaningless advancement seem so cosmically arbitrary and haunted by the abyss!"

I would like to put forth that just about any track from then-Monkee Michael Nesmith's The Wichita Train Whistle Sings would provide a great, rousing game-opener that even Penn St.'s fans would appreciate.

"Nine Times Blue" - Michael Nesmith (mp3)

Get the whole damn album here.

And lastly, the stock market is down. The economy is in a sobby state. Sure, sure, sure. Could this affect (gasp) tennis?

George Ducker is the senior contributor to This Recording. He apologizes for the lack of links to songs by Max Richter and Arvo Pärt. He also apologizes for his inability to procure David Banner to write this post, as he'd promised last week. Mr. Banner's handlers are rightfully distrustful of the internet.

THE EXCEEDINGLY STRANGE ART OF VINCENT HUI CAN BE FOUND HERE

DAVID BANNER WATCHES OVER YOU IN YOUR SLEEP

"Play" - David Banner (mp3)

"Suicide Doors" - David Banner (mp3)

"Shawty Say (feat. Lil Wayne)" - David Banner (mp3)

"Ball With Me (feat. Chamillionaire)" - David Banner (mp3)

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Eli Manning meets the Super Bowl.

A ten-piece kit with a double bass pedal often does make the man.

Jayne Mansfield is the Playmate of the Month every month.

Monday
Sep292008

In Which Our Measurable Cerebral Activity Is Virtually Absent

Sports Corner: Infield Interlude

by George Ducker

I'm holding my breath. I'm rubbing my prayer beads. I've set my potted plant in the window with a red flag. I tried to get God on the phone, but I gave up after about the fifteenth time when His secretary, who sounds suspiciously like Lou Piniella, assured me that He was too busy dealing with lines jammed up by Brewers fans. Looks like their entreaties paid off.

Ryan Braun

"I Love the Lord, He Heard Me Cry (Parts I & II)" - Donny Hathaway (mp3)

How could the Chicago White Sox, who stood so tall--a damnably understated and handsome lot as well--through the whole season, always breezily atop the AL Central, have let it come to this?

Lou Piniella: What Cubs worry?

Last week the Sox lost three in a row to the one team they couldn't afford to lose any games to. The Minnesota Twins sprang up like a rake under some leaves, wetly smacking Chicago's pitching staff--most notably Javier Vasquez--right in the face. The Twins walked away with not only a couple of wins, but the whole series. Then they lost two to Cleveland. Finally, on Sunday, the White Sox won a game.

DuWayne Wise considers the heavens

Cubs fans get the boot from Sunday's game

Now, it comes down to today's make-up game against Detroit. The lowly Tigers, trapped in the basement of the division, have a last chance to play spoilsports for their neighbors across the Glove.

With their 74-87 record, and with hopeful wunderkind Gavin Floyd taking the mound for the White Sox, it seems that the game's a shoo-in. But even then, even then, the Chicago will have to play a do-or-die game against the Twins on Tuesday, with a Pennant at stake. The mind reels.

Woodward, Bernstein

Who knows which way the winds of Bob Woodward's sports affiliations blow? Maybe he's a Nationals fan. I kinda doubt it though. The wiki sez he's from Geneva, Illinois, so I'll bet, like every other baseball fan old enough to buy a t-shirt, he's in this one for the Cubbies.

Lou Piniella, during his tenure with the Portland Beavers, 1966

Here, the NY Times reviews Woodward's boring new book.

Bernstein, Woodward

Jeter

A-Rod

As for the great city of New York, they'll be watching the playoffs on TV this season. The Mets lost not only their last game of the season, but their last game ever in Shea Stadium.

Mike Piazza, Tom Seaver dance

Tears

Steve Henson gets his post-mortem on:

"The episode is proof the Mets don’t belong in the playoffs. They didn’t completely fall apart like they did a year ago. No, this time they were ravaged by injuries that transformed the most regimented part of the game – the relay-like handoff from seventh-inning specialist to situational left-hander to eighth-inning specialist to closer – into a nightly horror show."

"Never Meant" - American Football (mp3)

Jerry Manuel, far right

I bet Jerry Manuel wishes he had his old South Side coaching job back again. But then, judging by the way the Mets have behaved this month, it's a good thing he's gone.

Guillen at his finest.

Q: What is it they used to say in Mad Magazine?

A: We kid because we love. Now choke on it! -Ed.

Oh. Also. Football. Football happened.

James Thrash. Best name ever.

Amazingly, the Redskins beat the Cowboys 26-24 in Dallas.

Also amazingly, the Buffalo Bills, with Sunday's 31 - 15 win over St. Louis, are 4-0 for the first time in 16 years.

Trent Edwards's scream of DOOM

Tennessee, after their 30-17 trashing of the Vikings, are 4-0 for the first time ever.

Vince Young, from the bench, approves

Jacquizz Rodgers gets the carry

Let's all take a moment to laugh at USC, whose million-dollar offense boo-hooed like orphaned children as Oregon State took them out handily on the road.

Oregon State's Greg Laybourn gets the carry

As usual, the dunderheaded poll systems of both the AP and USA Today showed their cowardly deference to big budget programs and Pete Carroll's silver mane by letting the Trojans stay in the top ten. Blech. College Football. Will it never end?

L.W.

Also please, if you haven't already, check out Lil Wayne's sports blog at ESPN.com. He writes about football and tennis. Amazing. He dropped Rothelisberger from his fantasy team and picked up Kurt Warner. Clearly, Mr. Wayne is a man who takes chances. Warner got 472 yards and 3 TDs on Sunday against the Giants, but somehow Arizona still lost 56-35. Those 3 interceptions are going to set Wayne's total points back a bit, methinks.

Unfortunately for me, the esteemed editor of this blog is already hip to the celeb columnist phenomenon. I'm sure he's planning right now to send me out on my ass and get David Banner to write next week's column. Or maybe Neneh Cherry.

George Ducker is the Senior Contributor to This Recording. He invites all New York sports fans to jeer him ruthlessly when the Sox blow it.

LATE-NIGHT INSPIRATION FROM DEPARTMENT OF EAGLES

Sailing By Night - Department of Eagles (mp3)

Ghost in Summer Clothes - Department of Eagles (mp3)

The Piano in the Bathtub - Department of Eagles (mp3)

Family Romance - Department of Eagles (mp3)

Department of Eagles Myspace;

Their new album is called In Ear Park - buy it here

SELECTIONS FROM THIS RECORDING'S INFINITE PLAYLIST

Kanye West

The RZA

Gnarls Barkley

Wes Anderson

Lou Piniella consumes This Recording