Sunday, July 24, 2005

Back to the WXYC Show...

The whirlwind tour is over for now...San Francisco, New York City, Chicago...Let's see where the path leads us right?...

Well, I'm back on the air tonight at WXYC SportsRap FM 89.3, and we should have a lot of Armstrong stuff for the show tonight. In the meantime, check out a few of these great articles for tonight's show.

1.) Larry Brown headed to the Knicks? - Check out this great article by Chris Sheridan of the AP in today's Raleigh N&O. My opinion is that this deal has been long done in Brown's mind, and Brown just needs his usual coaxing and back-rubbing from management to convince him of the deal...I also believe that he's taking a break from the past season before he jumps in full-fray at the job next week.

So, don't be surprised at the courting process...This type of dance and foreplay has gone on in every one of his spots from Denver, to UCLA, to New Jersey, to KU, to San Antonio and even Chapel Hill...To me, this is was old back in Lawerence...It also brings me back to all of the dram that has consistently followed his hirings since the early 80s with his courtships at UCLA...Just get it over with...

2.) Urban Meyer, Showing how it's done in Florida - Urban Meyer has done an incredible job at all of his spots, and yes that includes his performance at Notre Dame as an assistant. Well, he's doing an tremendous job of righting the direction for the football program at the University of Florida.

Check out this great article by Pete Thamel in Sunday's New York Times...If you're an innovative managemer or if you're a coach setting the direction of a program, this could be a solid article for you. Meyer has instituted a 'Champion's Club' that outfits players with clothing and privileges for class attendance, on-field effort, nad off-field behavior, and he's instituted a very cool academic program through internal recognition.

Nice stuff happening in Gainesville...

3.) Lance Leaves a Unique Legacy - John Henderson penned a great story on the legacy of Lance Armstrong today in the Denver Post....Remember when you rank Lance Armstrong among your greatest athlete ranks that he should be listed as the greatest cyclist of the world's greatest cycling event.

He has won 90 races while Eddy Merckx won 530 races with 5 Tour de France's...Yes, Lance has the most dramatic story of all-time, but watch where you rank him in terms of overall records among cyclists.

Regardless, his story is nothing less than remarkable...

***Watching the HBO replay of last week's Taylor/Hopkins fight...What a fight...Jermain Taylor brought it home, and he showed a ton of guts. One prop that I don't think a lot of people is the amount of due to Taylor's cut-man, who staved off a very deep forehead cut that bled profusely from mid-fight on...Give the Taylor team a tremendous amount of due with this fight...Now will someone please keep former Bernard Hopkins manager and current Taylor manager, Lou DiBella strapped to his seat and behind a curtain?

Back on the air,

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Baseball's Greatest

I'm all about the correspondence reports now...

Former WXYC host, Bill Ammons, a.k.a. "Billy The Kid", checked in from Charlotte, North Carolina via gmail last night by sending me Rob Neyer's All-Time Greatest Line-up from ESPN Insider...

So, here's a good topic for tonight's 'SportsRap.' What's your all-time line-up. Do you still include Barry in Left-Field? Without further adieu, here's Rob Neyer's picks.

***Here is my all-time lineup: the greatest players at each position, presented in the form of a batting order (though with these guys, it doesn't matter much where they reside in the lineup; they're going to score plenty of runs no matter what).

1. Joe Morgan, 2B - I'm not sure if people realize just how great Joe Morgan was. He won the National League's MVP Award in both 1975 and '76, deservedly so. But he could also have won the award in 1972, 1973, and 1974. And as you might guess, the list of players who were the best (or even arguably the best) in their league for five consecutive years is awfully short.

2. Honus Wagner, SS - Some will say that Wagner, who played a century ago and was built like a blockhouse with bowlegs, doesn't belong on any team with "modern" players. Perhaps. But Cal Ripken wasn't anybody's idea of a prototypical shortstop, and he did all right. How great was Wagner? Even in his late 30s, he ranked as one of the very best players in the game. And before you tell me this "proves" that baseball during the Dead Ball Era couldn't have been all that good, remember how much credit Barry Bonds has gotten for doing exactly what Wagner did -- 90
years earlier.

3. Ted Williams, LF - Williams. Musial. Aaron. Choosing between them is neither easy nor
fun. And no, Williams wasn't a particularly good baserunner or fielder (mostly because after a few years he stopped caring much about either skill). But the most important statistic in baseball is on-base percentage, and if not for World War II, the Korean War, and a couple of injuries, Williams would probably have led the American League in that category for 19 straight seasons (1940-1958). In 1960, the season in which he turned 42, Williams finished with a .454 OBP and a .645 slugging percentage, both of which would have been No. 1 in the league if he'd played enough to qualify (he fell roughly 20 games short).

4. Babe Ruth, RF - Ruth's claim on the title, Greatest Player Ever, is predicated, in part, on his three-season run as one of the game's top pitchers. That doesn't get him any extra points here, of course (if we need a reliever, we'll sign Mariano Rivera, or perhaps Lefty Grove). Ruth does get extra points, though, for fundamentally changing his chosen profession. Oh, he wasn't the sole reason for baseball's reinvention in the 1920s. But in 1920, Ruth outhomered every other American League team (and all but one National League team), and it's hard to believe that nobody was paying attention. With the exception of 1925, when he was sick, Ruth was the best hitter in the majors every season from 1918 through 1931.

5. Willie Mays, CF - Mays or Mantle. Mantle or Mays. One's preference is largely a matter of taste, as compelling statistical and anecdotal arguments can be made for both. I wind up with Mays because he essentially has no flaws, while Mantle's reliability/availability is always a question mark, even if it's buried far back in your mind. Also, with Williams and Ruth playing the corner outfield positions, it's probably a good idea to have Say Hey in the middle.

6. Lou Gehrig, 1B - Gehrig's life has been romanticized, of course, and he certainly wasn't the perfect player; he didn't run all that well, and wasn't a great fielder. That said, there are two or three excellent seasons separating Gehrig from his nearest competition -- Jimmie Foxx, Jeff Bagwell, Eddie Murray -- and that's with Gehrig's losing three or four (or more) seasons to the disease that would take both his life and his name.

7. Mike Schmidt, 3B - Schmidt, still underrated in some quarters, ranks just behind Joe Morgan among the greatest players of the 1970s. Here are the only three things you need to know about Mike Schmidt: He led the National League in home runs seven times; he led his league in walks four times; and he won (and for the most part earned) 10 Gold Gloves. The only thing Schmidt couldn't (or perhaps wouldn't) do was hit for average -- he topped .300 only once in 18 season -- but if his batting average didn't bother his on-base or slugging percentages, why should it bother us?

8. Josh Gibson, C - Roy Campanella was one of the five or six greatest catchers in major league history. And yet Branch Rickey, as fine a judge of baseball talent as ever lived, once said, "You know what I feel about Campanella" -- who starred for Rickey's Dodgers -- "but whatever Roy can do, Josh could do better." We don't have reliable stats for Gibson, whose career ended befor Jackie Robinson broke the color line. We do have the eyewitness accounts, though. In 1939, Walter Johnson saw Gibson play, and afterward remarked, "There is a catcher that any big league club would like to buy for $200,000. I've heard of him before. His name is Gibson. He can do everything. He hits that ball a mile. And he catches so easy he might as well be in a rocking chair. Throws like a rifle. Bill Dickey isn't as good a catcher. Too bad this Gibson is a colored fellow."

9. Roger Clemens, Pitcher - Perhaps we've not been kind enough to the "modern" player -- with his personal trainer, his year-round conditioning program, and his better living through chemistry. So let Roger Clemens carry the banner of the 21st century superstars. A few years ago, we could argue about who was greater, Clemens or Maddux, but this season Clemens has settled that debate. Now in his 22nd season, Clemens looks like he just might pitch forever. And unlike the great moundsmen of yesteryear, Clemens has rarely been able to coast; in his era, even the shortstops and second basemen are capable of hitting the ball over the fence, which makes for a different style of pitching than that employed by Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson. There are other pitchers you might want for a single game -- Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson come to mind -- but for the ultimate combination of dominance and durability, you just can't go wrong with the Rocket.

I don't suppose it's the most productive lineup ever, but the Big Red Machine in 1975 and '76 might have been the most balanced lineup -- and they weren't exactly light on production, either. With four Hall of Fame-caliber players (including Pete Rose) and three others (Dave Concepcion, Ken Griffey, George Foster) who enjoyed long and productive careers, this lineup essentially had no weakness except center fielder Cesar Geronimo … and Geronimo was a four-time Gold Glove winner. Here's the most common lineup used in those two seasons:

1. Pete Rose (3B)
2. Ken Griffey (RF)
3. Joe Morgan (2B)
4. Johnny Bench (C)
5. Tony Perez (1B)
6. George Foster (LF)
7. Dave Concepcion (SS)
8. Cesar Geronimo (CF)

All-Time Greatest,

Motherlode of Info

Man, life is good right now...I'm sitting enjoying Wi-Fi on Union Street at yes...A Star'yups'...But I have to give them major credit because I've had a helluva time fading in-and-out trying to catch people's free Wi-Fi around the area...So, special thanks to the Union Street shop because I would have been crippled without Wi-Fi this week...Plus, I'm averaging about eight cups of Zen Green Tea a day...So, Wi-Fi does pay.

So, here's an update for you. I checked out a an unbelievable funk ensemble last night at the Boom Boom Room. Even though I will always be partial to the original Jack's that used to reside on the corner the of Fillmore and Geary, I'm blown away by how great the sound is in there, and how professional things are running there after three or four years...That's the joint!

Anyway, the line-up included: Zak Najor (Drums - Greyboy Allstars) Chris Stillwell (Bass - Greyboy Allstars) Brian Jordan (Guitar - KDTU) Chuck Prada (Perc. - 20th Congress/Black Eyed Peas) Cochemea Gastelum (Sax - 20th Congress/F4) George Sanders (Keys - B-Side players).

This line-up was bangin', and these cats got down! After two and a half years in the Hill, I needed this big-time...Plus, it was good groovin' next to one of the most fly women that I've danced with in quite some time...But let's keep that one here, aaight! Just wait until my Salsa moves come into the play...Awww siiitttt!!!

***In the area news, here's a great article today from Tom Fitzgerald of SFGate on the Giants are going to be putting their fans' patience to the test. The Giants are gong to be pushing ticket prices up by 40% next season. Here's a question. No matter how many season tickets the Giants sell, do you think people are really going to be into Barry Bonds's race for 714 and then 755? Here's another one for you...Do you think fans will forgive and forget, or will they crucify the spoiled boy...I mean "Man-Wonder."

My say is that people along with the media will crucify, and I think people are going to be surprised at how many vacant seats you're going to be seeing at Giants games over the next season or two. They're line-up is aging and with Barry playing gimp over the next season or two, they could be in for a long haul because he is a major drag on a payroll that could use an influx of young talent.

***I'll keep you posted on some more stuff. Meanwhile, save this one for your tour archives of San Francisco. DJ Mark Farina gives off his favorite spots in today's SFGate. I love his picks of Bernal Hill Park and Mitchell's Ice Cream (That ice-cream is incredible...I used to traverse four neighborhoods for it.

***I has to roll...I have a pedicure that I have to attend to...Hey, easy...I have to take care of my wheels...I'll keep you posted on what conversations I encounter. In the meatime, enjoy this pic from last week's Giants v. Reds game with my main man, Steven Comfort. Thanks for the tix...Keep it up in the Noe Easy!


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Name Game in Oakland

A lot of people wax poetically over Stadium naming rights, but hey...Wrigley Field is really named after William Wrigley the founder of the Wrigley Co., so I'm used to it...

Yet, here's a great article about how difficult it can be for municipal arenas to find a major advertisor to drop their brand name upon an arena. Check out this article from Janny Hu of SFGate and the SF Chronicle today.

Hu reports on what the Warriors are looking for their naming rights of the Oakland Coliseum. The Bay Area sports facilities were some of the first properties to go with large corporate naming rights, and one only has to look at the name change nightmares of the original Candlestick Park to see how difficult it can be to maintain a corporate naming partnership when it comes to stadium naming rights.

According to Hu's article, The Bohnam Group, who is handling the Warriors' naming rights negotiations are looking for a 12 year deal because it's the remaining portion of the Warriors' 20 year lease with the Coliseum.

It's funny to see how much the sponsorship would cost a branding division. As Hu writes, "The question becomes how much the Oakland facility realistically can command. Around the Bay Area, the Coliseum's contract averages slightly more than $1 million a year. The 49ers sold the naming rights to their stadium for about $6 million for four years. The Giants have a $53 million pact with SBC through 2019, and San Jose's HP Pavilion is valued at 15 years for $47 million."

Check out the article, and ask yourself is the naming of the Coliseum worth the price?

What's your bid?,

Barack Obama at The Aspen Institute 7/2/05

Alright, the bell is about to be rung...Here's the first correspondence report of "The IronDog Chronicles", and former UNC Journalism student,Brett Garamella, a.k.a. "The Aspen Kid", is the chosen one today...

He attended a dialogue between rising Democratic hopeful, Barack Obama, and Aspen Institute President, Walter Isaacson, on Saturday night. Without further adieu...Here's the report from "BG" on Saturday night in Aspen, Colorado...

Barack Obama – July 2, 2005

By Brett Garamella

Barack Obama spoke in Aspen with articulation you’d expect from a man who served as the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. His eloquence and intelligence proved greater than the high expectations I had before the dialogue with Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson on Saturday evening.

Isaacson began the discussion by asking, “How does a skinny black guy with a funny name, born in Hawaii, mother from Kansas and father from Kenya, become the senator from Illinois?”

Obama told of his improbable rise, how his father left when he was 2 and how he only saw him once, at age 10. “The starting premise for me that my mother instilled in me, and my father inadvertently instilled, was that everybody was the same.” He went on to elaborate that his understanding of the human condition evolved from growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia.

“One of the wonderful things about America is that we come from these different ports and these different places and there is this sense that we can create ourselves, that our destiny is determined by us,” he said. After graduating from Columbia and Harvard Law, Obama created his own destiny, moving to Chicago in 1985 and working with church-based groups trying to improve living conditions in poor neighborhoods. “I moved there, not knowing a sole in Illinois and it turned out to be the greatest education I ever received,” said Obama. “The most important thing it taught me was that ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they are given the opportunity in order to get them.”

Although listening to him you gained the impression that he might run for president or a higher office in the future, he said the Democrat Party needs to stop thinking about the future elections and decide on what’s the best way to help the American people. “I don’t care how you spin things … if you haven’t done the hard intellectual work and have something say, you’re not going to win elections.”

He said the three biggest concerns the Democrat Party should have are:

1.) The global economy

2.) Foreign policy
3.) Faith and Family values.

“Democrats have to talk about faith, family and community in a way that weighs diversity in politics rather than excludes diversity in politics without feeling the importance to necessarily drop a quote from the bible in their speech. There’s got to be a certain authenticity when we talk about values.”

Another big issue Obama addressed involved the media. In one anecdote, he told how two guys were arguing and finally one guy gave up and said, “Well, I’m entitled to my own opinion.” The other guy said, “You're entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.” Obama said that the problem with mainstream media today is that it presents two opposing opinions, but then rarely clarifies the facts of the issue based on thorough research.

Here are some more Obama quotes on certain topics discussed:

Education: “Most importantly, No Child Left Behind did not speak to what I think is a critical issue in education, that is how do we encourage our best and brightest to continue teaching, and how do we substantially upgrade the pay and performance of the teaching profession.”

Decision for Iraq War: “When I was running, in the fall of 2002 … I said this is a bad idea. It certainly wasn’t because I didn’t think Saddam Hussein was a bad guy. I specifically said in a speech in Chicago, it was about six months before the war, I said, I’m not on the federal intelligence committee, but I don’t see any serious weapons of mass destruction. I don’t see Saddam connected to Al Qaida. This is going to cost billions of dollars and thousands of lives… and I think I’ve been pretty restrained in not saying, I told you so….”

Tax Cuts: “You didn’t need those tax cuts and you weren’t even asking for them.”

Ways to Decrease the Deficit: “If we don’t get a hold of our healthcare costs over the private and government sector, I do not think we can solve our structural deficit problem.”

Afterward the lady sitting next to me seemed as impressed as I did listening to Obama. I told her I’m sure he’ll move up from his current position as a senator in Illinois. She said if politicians like him don’t move to higher positions “we’re doomed.” I couldn’t agree more.

-Brett Garamella reporting for the "IronDog Chronicles" on Saturday night.

Nice Stuff from Brett Garamella, "The Aspen Kid",

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Golden Glove

Ichiro Suzuki, or just plain "Ichiro" has been the one player that I will buy a ticket for just to watch him play a nine inning game...

Yeah, I'm intrigued by his swing and his speed, but I've also been astounded with his defensive play in right field. His coverage in right field has been nothing less than astounding.

So, here's a clip on the Mizuno glove that he's been using and the care that he implements daily with his glove treatment from "Talking Leather on SI Players" from out how he treats his glove compared to the care Bret Boone gives to his tool here...There's a huge difference, and it's also a slight bit of proof of how much care and detail the Japanese give to their craftsmanship in all trades...Pretty cool stuff.

Here's the excerpt on Ichiro...

"I like the glove to be a little loose," says Ichiro, who oils his game glove each day and stores it in a specially made cotton bag. "If I have it too close to my skin, I'm not able to get good movement on it." The rightfielder says he "started caring for my gloves when I was in elementary school," and since 1992 he has had them custom-made by 72-year-old Nobuyoshi Tsubota, who works for Mizuno and was honored with Japan's Emperor's Award for craftsmanship. They're buttery soft and lightweight, and Ichiro guards them closely. "I've never loaned one of my gloves," he says. "I don't let [my teammates] put their hands inside. If someone does, that bothers me. Or if the glove is on the bench and someone sits on it, that really bothers me."

FYI: Ichiro won seven Gold Glove awards in Japan. He has four straight as a Mariner.

Butter Soft,

My Bust...

Last night I posted some info for you on the Chocolate Wonder, Al Cabino, and I made some errors with the post...

First off, I posted that the chocolate shoe was the Air Force 1. It's really a Nike Vandal, which I should not have assumed. Because basically, the Nike Vandal is a version of the Air Force 1 without an air sole, and it was often seen as a canvas version of the Air Force 1.

It goes to show how a chocolate version can trick the eye. So many people mistook the Vandal for the Air Force 1 when it was released, and I hope one can see how I mistook a chocolate version of the Nike Vandal.

Also, Al Cabino's shoe is not able to be purchased as a gift, it's a one-time shoe that stems from a great idea.

So, my apologies are due to Al Cabino, and I'm looking forward to reading more of his articles in Sneaker Freaker Magazine. Al often conducts great interviews with designers and development managers at Nike and Adidas, and you cats, who are interested in the business side of the shoe biz, should check them out.

Keep up the good work, Al.

Stay Light,

Friday, July 01, 2005

Why Ireland is Booming.

Ireland is giving off the 'green'...Yeah, you like that corny one, but I'm talking greenbacks, son...Check this out.

I forgot to post this Op-Ed piece as well yesterday from Thomas Friedman's Op-Ed New York Times column on Tuesday afternoon. Entitiled "The End of the Rainbow", the piece explains how and why Ireland is doing an incredible job of economic development and how and why Ireland is one of the richer countries in the EU. Check out the article here.

Here's Friedman's free advice on how Ireland did it...

"Ireland's advice is very simple: Make high school and college education free; make your corporate taxes low, simple and transparent; actively seek out global companies; open your economy to competition; speak English; keep your fiscal house in order; and build a consensus around the whole package with labor and management - then hang in there, because there will be bumps in the road - and you, too, can become one of the richest countries in Europe."

Here's what Michael Dell has to say about Ireland in Friedman's piece...

"We set up in Ireland in 1990," Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computer, explained to me via e-mail. "What attracted us? [A] well-educated work force - and good universities close by. [Also,] Ireland has an industrial and tax policy which is consistently very supportive of businesses, independent of which political party is in power. I believe this is because there are enough people who remember the very bad times to de-politicize economic development. [Ireland also has] very good transportation and logistics and a good location - easy to move products to major markets in Europe quickly."

Finally, added Mr. Dell, "they're competitive, want to succeed, hungry and know how to win. ... Our factory is in Limerick, but we also have several thousand sales and technical people outside of Dublin. The talent in Ireland has proven to be a wonderful resource for us. ... Fun fact: We are Ireland's largest exporter."

Good stuff, and I don't care what any Econ Dev expert has to say...It is nothing less than remarkable how far Ireland has come over the past two decades.

Dublin Someday?,