Results tagged ‘ Lastings Milledge ’
With a winless record after seven games, the Washington
Nationals will have a hard time gaining public favor whenever they make a radical
move like demoting Lastings Milledge to Triple-A Syracuse. To some observers,
the move smells of panic, a rush to judgment only one week into the season.
To that sentiment, let me respond by quoting Sherman T. Potter. “Horsehockey!”
Formerly Washington’s starting center fielder, Milledge is an enormously talented player who has been
brutal during a horrendous week of play for the Nationals. He has looked lost at the
plate, has taken some strangely circuitous routes on fly balls, and has shown a
lack of discipline by arriving late for a team meeting called by manager Manny
Acta. Given his history of upsetting both managers and teammates–not all of his
fellow Mets were fair to him in New York, but Milledge wasn’t blameless either–he
doesn’t deserve the same benefit of the doubt as players with spotless background checks.
A short stay in Syracuse,
where the weather is starting to turn lovely this time of year, could give his
attitude and level of concentration a boost. Milledge will be back in the major
leagues soon enough–and he’ll play a lot better the next time around…
Speaking of ex-Mets, Padres closer Heath Bell gave ESPN’s
baseball coverage several thumbs down in a recent media interview. In his most caustic complaint,
ESPN with skewing its coverage toward the “Big Three” of the Mets, Yankees, and
Red Sox, while short-sheeting coverage of other teams, including the
was particularly upset that ESPN barely mentioned the Padres in previewing the
first game ever played at the new Citi Field. Regarding his primary argument, I
agree with Bell; ESPN does make the New York and Boston teams the center of
the baseball universe, while treating many of the other clubs like Triple-A franchises.
Bell and I
certainly aren’t alone in this sentiment; such complaints have been leveled by
scores of fans for several years now. In reference to his second point, Bell needs to understand
that the opponent is usually a secondary consideration when a new ballpark is
opened. The focus will always be on the home team and the new field.
I’m sure that Bell,
a talented closer on the verge of stardom, is frustrated that the Padres’ 6-2
start has received little national play, but most objective observers expect
that trend will subside shortly. Let’s not forget that most prognosticators had
the Padres pegged as the worst team in the National League this spring. If the
Padres can keep up their laudatory level of play for a full month or more, they’ll
receive their due, if not from ESPN, then from other cable and Internet sources…
No one seems to know whether Bob Sheppard will return as the
Yankees’ public address announcer, or even make a cameo appearance at the new
Yankee Stadium this year, but what I do know is this: This incredible man has
introduced Yankee players for nearly 60 years, dating back to the 1951 season.
So we thought we’d compile an “all-Bob Sheppard team,” consisting of some of
the best and most unusual Yankee names in history. (The more syllables, the
better.) Some of the monikers are lyrical, others are odd and clunky, but all
have been delivered with a grace and precision unlike any other public address
announcer in baseball history. Here’s to you, Mr. Sheppard.
Munson (the only big leaguer with the given name of Thurman)
First Base: Duke
Carmel (true identity: Leon James Carmel)
Second Base: Robinson
Cano (the only current Yankee to make the squad)
Shortstop: Alvaro Espinoza (not much of a hitter,
but Bob loved saying the name)
Third Base: Celerino
Sanchez (makes me think of celery stalks)
Moschitto (hit like a mosquito, too)
Repoz (if only he had played so lyrically)
Washington (the first and only Claudell, and a personal favorite)
Azocar (not much of a hitter, but what a name!)
Figueroa (Mr. Sheppard would never call him “Figgy”)
Montefusco (did Bob ever call him “The Count?”)
Grba (still not sure what happened to all of the vowels)
Irabu (never referred to as “The Toad” by Mr. Sheppard)
Pena (an obscure left-hander, but a memorable moniker)
Guante (translates to “Cecilio Glove”)
Klimkowski (went from pitching to selling Cadillacs)
Womack (one of the breakout stars of Ball
Valdivielso (shortstop with the Senators and Twins)
I want to be optimistic about the Washington Nationals.
Really, I do. The city of Washington
deserves a major league team, especially after what Bob Short did to the
Senators franchise in the early 1970s. The Nationals play in an attractive new
ballpark. I like their uniforms, especially their new road outfits. They have
several intriguing players, including Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, Lastings
Milledge, and Jesus Flores.
In spite of all these positives, I’m finding it hard to find
a silver lining in D.C. Given the Nationals’ youth, lack of depth, and general
front office turmoil this spring, I felt compelled to pick the Nats to finish
last in the National League East. After three games of regular season play,
there seems to be little reason to change that prediction. A 6-4 loss on
Wednesday capped off a miserable three-game sweep at the hands of the
All three Nationals starters pitched poorly in the series.
John Lannan, the “ace” of the staff (by default, if nothing else), set the tone
by being rocked by Hanley Ramirez and Co. on Opening Day. Scott Olsen and Daniel
Cabrera (the ex-Oriole) received thumpings in games two and three. Offensively,
the Nats did nothing special. Zimmerman struggled against Marlins pitching, as
did Milledge and Elijah Dukes. And to make matters worse, controversy has
already begun to brew in the clubhouse. Josh Willingham, newly acquired from
the Marlins, met with new GM Mike Rizzo to discuss why he didn’t start in
either of the first two games. The Nats originally planned to play Willingham
in left field and Dunn at first base, but the inability to trade Nick Johnson
has created a logjam on the right side of the infield. With Nick the Stick
planted at first, Dunn will receive the majority of his playing time in left,
while Willingham, a talented offensive player who can jumpstart an offense,
gets cozy with the bench.
What a mess. Right now, some older Washington
fans might be reminiscing nostalgically about the way they stormed the field on
the final day of the 1971 season to protest the Senators’ impending move to Texas. Given the current
state of affairs in the Capitol
City, those might seem
like some good old days by comparison.
New York Mets prospect Lastings Milledge finds himself squarely in the midst of controversy once again. Last season, Milledge made a bad first impression on teammates and the media, largely because of his attitude and tardiness. Milledge is now facing heat because of his decision to record a rap song filled with profanity, including the use of the same racist term that recently resulted in Don Imus’ firing by WFAN and MSNBC. The song, called “Bend Ya Knees,” also contains repeated mentions of the N-word.
Given the punishment of Imus, does MLB have grounds to punish Milledge? Or should the Mets be allowed to deal internally with their outfield prospect, who’s currently on the disabled list with New Orleans of the Pacific Coast League? If so, what should the Mets’ punishment be? Let’s hear your thoughts on this week’s “Fan Forum.”…
In what figures to be a labor of love, I’ll be broadcasting Monday’s Hall of Fame Game between the Orioles and Blue Jays for MLB Radio. I’ll be working the game with former big leaguer Billy Sample, who’s not only a solid professional but a good man, as well. The game starts at 2 p.m. Eastern from Doubleday Field here in Cooperstown, with the pre-game show beginning at 1 p.m. on MLB.com…
Finally, one of the best baseball fans I’ve ever met–and a great friend–passed away on Monday. Don Casey, whom I came to know during his days as an attendant at the Hall of Fame, was an extremely knowledgeable fan of the Phillies and baseball history in general. An avid collector of memorabilia, Don regularly swapped baseball cards with me. He usually gave me the better half of the deal, helping me in my efforts to complete the 1972 Topps set. Those trades were typical of Don’s generosity.
Don died suddenly on Monday at the age of 45, the victim of an enlarged heart. In addition to some great memories, Don leaves behind an important legacy–his wife Theresa and his two children, Felicia and Cory. It’s hard to believe he is gone, but I can take some comfort in knowing that his wife and children will be able to share their good memories of Don.