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Lectures on Portis, Perlozzo and the Mystics

What a day. For sports sections, the arrival of late May is supposed to be like putting Brendan Haywood into a basketball game: nothing happens. But not yesterday. Yesterday, we were lectured. Ranking the lectures:

1) Everyone lectures Clinton Portis, starting with the Humane Society. The team issues a statement:

The Washington Redskins, as an organization, obviously would never condone anything related to animal cruelty. The team takes the recent comments of Clinton Portis very seriously and apologizes to everyone that was offended.

The Commish chimes in:

"I'm extremely disappointed and embarrassed for Clinton Portis," Goodell said in a written statement following a one-day NFL owners' meeting. "This does not reflect the sentiments of the Redskins, the NFL or NFL players."

And, via the NFL Network via the Washington Times, Portis lectures back:

"I wasn't condoning dogfighting," Portis said. "Hunting is legal. You've got spearing sharks and 'The World's Greatest Catch' on TV. All those are animals. What I'm saying is that I don't think that issue is as big as they made it with the jail time and the consequences he's going to end up facing if proven guilty. Wait until it's proven to jump on the bandwagon.

"What I was saying was that there are bigger issues than what Michael Vick does on his own property. Now all of a sudden, I'm getting all the negativity, and I don't even have any dogs. I think the whole situation is blown out of proportion."

I can't believe sports media outlets will now be forced to ponder the difference between hunting and dogfighting. I mean, spearing sharks? Remarkably done by Portis. This was much better than his official team statement. And the whole "wait until it's proven" line of argument is pretty much unassailable. I just think Portis is unclear on the precise meaning of "condone." Condone means "to give tacit approval to." Portis said of Vick and theoretical dogfighting,"if that's what he wants to do, do it." Let's move on to our second-ranked lecture:

2) Mystics owner Sheila Johnson lectures her team. I know some of you might not care much about the WNBA, but the Mystics just started 0-2 at home, getting drilled last night, and their team owner went off in the locker room:

Johnson excoriated her team in a postgame locker room speech that seemed to resonate with the players more than even the physical pounding the Monarchs inflicted....

"Sheila is so passionate about this team, along with her supporting cast; she's doing so much to get this team on the map," [Alana] Beard said. "That was a powerful speech. I had chills running through me. I was ready to play again."

I haven't followed the team closely enough to know whether the owner regularly blasts her team in the locker room, but if so, this ought to be fun. Brian Cashman, please pick up line three. Incidentally, I didn't see this in the game stories, but the DC BasketCases (between glances at the Monarchs' coach) say the Mystics set a WNBA record for fewest fourth-quarter points. Also, this year, we've had the Skins finish last in their division, the Caps finish last in their division, the Nats sink to last in their division, the Mystics start out last in their division, and D.C. United, until recently, reside in last in their conference. Also, the Orioles are second-to-last in their division. Which brings us to:

3) Sam Perlozzo lectures the world. As the Balt Sun puts it: "On hot seat, Perlozzo fires back at critics."

"I don't read the paper anymore. I come in here, I want to have a good attitude, a clear mind to do the job that I was paid to do and want to do. I don't read anything anymore. I don't listen to the radio. I come out, I am in a good mood, I talk to my players, I want to have some fun and I manage the game the way I think it should be managed and I let the chips fall."

I don't read anything anymore, either. But I dunno. I watched much of this. I don't think he really "fired back." He seemed pretty amused by the whole deal. The people firing stuff are the bloggers. Camden Chat is running a "Surviving Sam" countdown. Orioles Hangout is asking "Is It September Yet?" The Sun's new blogger starts thus: "That banging you hear is the figurative building of the gallows in the town square for Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo."

Leading to my final question: if you're figuratively building a gallows in an imaginary town square, does it really produce a banging sound?

By Dan Steinberg  |  May 23, 2007; 10:11 AM ET
Categories:  What You Need to Know  
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I like to think that Clinton had Tiger Woods in mind when he brought up spear fishing.

Posted by: Unsilent Majority | May 23, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Right on Clinton - the country definitely has a lot more pressing issues that we need to be worrying about.

Posted by: ag | May 23, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Right on Clinton - the country definitely has a lot more pressing issues that we need to be worrying about.

Posted by: ag | May 23, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

It's embarrassing that Perlozzo wasn't canned after the debacle in Boston when he yanked Guthrie for no good reason.

Posted by: Sveiks | May 23, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"no good reason"? he had a 5-run lead and a young pitcher who had thrown 91 pitches in his second start since moving from the bullpen. you'll notice that not even Roger Clemens will throw 91 pitches in his second start this season as he gets his arm strength up. another young pitcher moving from bullpen to rotation, Shaun Marcum of the Blue Jays, threw 78 and 85 pitches in his first two starts, even though he had a no-hitter going in the first one.

Perlozzo has a team with below-average talent that is 4 games below .500 in a tough division. i'd say he's done precisely the job that could be expected of most managers. i'd just be happy that he didn't "Dusty Baker" (or if you prefer, "Dallas Green") young Guthrie into a date with Dr. James Andrews.

as for the Portis stuff, yes the country has more pressing issues right now, but i don't know if the NFL does. dog fighting is a serious and inhumane crime that is indicative of some of the larger issues in the league and society and the NFL should definitely be concerned about it.

Posted by: jamie | May 23, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Dude, Guthrie was ROLLING and 91 is hardly a lot of pitches for a starter (and he has been a starter the vast majority of his professional career). Further, although I absolutely believe pitch counts are a very smart way to ensure the health of pitchers, at 28 years old Guthrie is hardly "young". Adam Loewen or even Bedard you could pull because he was over 90 pitches, but in a game against a team that has been nothing short of dominant against the O's, in a situation where you can win a series against the Sox for the first time in forever, you do whatever you can do to get that win.

When the Orioles play Boston, bad things happen and you can see them coming from 100 miles away. Bringing in Shaky Baez immediately filled me with concern, and as I listened to the radio, it filled Chuck Thompson with concern too. Once even shakier Chris Ray took the mound in that situation, you knew it was ARod or Wily Mo all over again, one way or another.

Perlozzo crapped the bed in yanking Guthrie in the 9th and now I know of another person on the face of the Earth who agrees with him that it was the right move.

Posted by: Sveiks | May 23, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I thought most pitchers get pulled near 100 pitches.

God I hate pitch counts.

Posted by: Kim | May 23, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

pitch counts are not the best measure of a pitcher's tiredness - velocity it actually a better indicator - but pitchers are more likely to get injured the more tired they are, so as Sveiks points out, pitch counts have some value (sort of the way OPS has some value, though there are much better statistics to measure a players worth). it's just that the talking heads have seized on it as something to talk about mostly because they can wrap their dinosaur-sized brains around the concept and because "100" is such a nice round number. i could go on. point being, that even if the guy has been a starter his whole career, your training regimen is different when you're a reliever, so you can't just come out and be Livan Hernandez when you're making the transition to the rotation.

so the bullpen is shaky - are you just never going to bring them in with a lead? and wasn't it the front office that shelled out all the money for that bullpen? shoudn't they take the blame if they suck, rather than a manager who is trying to maximize one player's benefit to the team for the rest of the year? i mean, if you can't trust your bullpen with a 5-run lead, then does it matter who's managing?

Posted by: jamie | May 23, 2007 5:21 PM | Report abuse

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