Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

from Raw Japan:

Throwing good money after…


Daisuke Matsuzaka's second trip to the disabled list this season is making some forget the Japanese pitcher's heroics and wonder if he has been worth the investment of his Boston Red Sox team.

The "Dice-K" sweepstakes dominated Japanese baseball in late 2006, as the Boston Red Sox pursued the rights to negotiate with Matsuzaka -- who's now sitting -- by commiting over $51 million to his then team, the Seibu Lions, and another $52 million to the pitcher and agent Scott Boras to sign.

After winning the inaugural World Baseball Classic tournament MVP in 2006 with an arm that had dropped jaws since high school, Matsuzaka was more than just the best pitcher available in the country or arguably the world at that time.

He was Boston's marketing passport to baseball-mad Japan and its talent pool, as well as a poke in the eye for the rival New York Yankees who were outbid and had to settle for pitcher Kei Igawa, who's spent most of his career in the minors at a total cost of about $46 million in contract and posting fee.

Pittsburgh – the champion of Champion Cities?

Penguins fans take to the streets on Pittsburgh's Southside to celebrate the team's Stanley Cup victory

Pittsburgh held a parade on Monday to celebrate the Penguins’ Stanley Cup triumph along the same route that the Super Bowl trophy was carried in triumph by the NFL’s Steelers in January.

It was the second time the city had claimed two of North America’s four top team sport prizes – the Superbowl, World Series, NBA championship and Stanley Cup — in the same calendar year after 1979, when the Steelers were NFL champions and the Pirates won Major League Baseball’s World Series.

Market correction needed for rookie MLB contracts?

Stephen Strasburg has hit the lottery. He just isn’t sure how much he has won yet. His agent Scott Boras will handle those pesky details. And therein may lie one of the largest problems facing Major League Baseball, and by extension all rookie contracts for US sports.

In being selected as the number one draft pick in Major League Baseball’s annual draft, Strasburg will already be under pressure to not only excel, but dominate.

House That Ruth Built up for sale — brick by brick


yankeesSitting on a huge rock outcropping in Macombs Dam Park across the street from the new Yankee Stadium, one can see the stately old home of the Bronx Bombers, which will begin to be torn down in June.

It is hard to imagine ‘The House That Ruth Built’ gone from the landscape, but nostalgia hounds, sports memorabilia collectors and folks that just want to commemorate a visit or hold a tangible piece of New York City history can buy a slice of Yankee Stadium, marketed to the max by the Yankees and their Steiner Sports partners.

More than just a case of Manny being Manny

BASEBALL/“Manny being Manny” was the shrug-it-off saying coined by Red Sox fans when sweet-swinging outfielder Manny Ramirez would do something flakey on the field, like disappear into the old-time scoreboard built into Fenway Park’s Green Monster wall to relieve himself during a game, or step in front of another outfielder’s throw and cut it off, or decide he needed to take a day off for an ailment and then forgot what specifically was hurting.

There were frustrations and annoyances along the way, but they all seemed to vanish with the next big series, and the next string of clutch hits that invariably rang from the bat of the man considered one of baseball’s greatest hitters.

Manny Ramirez suspended for 50 games – update


Manny Ramirez has been suspended for 50 games by Major League baseball after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

This from MLB.com:

“Major League Baseball suspended Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez for 50 games on Thursday for use of performance enhancing drugs. Ramirez, who turns 37 on May 30, will begin the suspension with Thursday night’s Dodgers-Nationals game. He would be eligible to return around July 3, depending on rainouts.

Same old Red Sox-Yankees rivalry in new stadium


The last 773 games in the Bronx between the Yankees and bitter foes the Boston Red Sox had been played across 161st Street in a building that came to be known as “The House That Ruth Built”.

The latest instalment of U.S. sport’s best rivalry was played out Monday in the new $1.6 billion Yankee Stadium (“The House That George (Steinbrenner) Built”) and it is comforting to say that some things hardly change.

Taiwan limps along with fallen baseball hero



People are praying in Taiwan for baseball pitcher Wang Chien-ming.

The guy isn’t dead, despite a few alarmist banner headlines, but over the past month he has pushed Taiwan’s collective sadness to code blue levels.

Wang, a Taiwan-born Major League Baseball pitcher for the New York Yankees, wrecked his first three games of the 2009 season after sitting out most of last year with a foot injury.

Fans will love new Mets stadium


After visiting the Yankee Stadium earlier in the week, Larry Fine takes a trip to New York’s other newly-built baseball home.

The New York Mets unveiled their new Citi Field home with an exhibition game Friday against the Boston Red Sox. I think fans are going tolove it.

Smith and sport laid the groundwork for Obama’s rise


John Carlos and Tommie Smith receive their "Arthur Ashe Courage Awards" at the 2008 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, REUTERS/Danny MoloshokTommie Smith in retirement is relaxed and friendly. He speaks without rancour of the harsh years after he outraged white America by raising a black-gloved fist and bowing his head on the victory podium at the 1968 Olympics in protest at his country’s treatment of its blacks.

Yet at the age of 64, the ex-athlete still finds it hard to believe he emerged alive from the Mexico City Games.
On the eve of Barack Obama’s inauguration, Smith received a special award during an NBA game between the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns. He was asked if at any point during his silent
gesture he could have visualised the possibility of a black man as president.
“I didn’t think about what was possible or what wasn’t,” Smith replied. “I didn’t think getting off the podium was possible for me with all the death threats I had received.”
Smith’s paranoia was justified. In 1968 Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were shot dead. American cities burned as the black ghettos revolted and students rioted on the streets throughout the western world. It was also the year Lyndon Johnson decided not to run for a second term as president because of mounting opposition to the Vietnam war.
Smith has written in chilling detail of the long moments he stood on the podium praying he would not be shot after winning the 200 metres final in world record time.