Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Mets snake 'n' bake

Usually I'm in front of the TV ready to watch the Mets from the opening pitch. But today I didn't get home until 10:30 and was planning to rerun the game on DVR. I clicked on the bathroom radio first and heard Howie Rose still announcing. It was the 13th inning! How could that be? Then I heard the score: 0-0. That shouldn't have come as a big surprise, with Pedro Martinez and Brandon Webb facing off.

Martinez tossed 8 shutout innings (5 hits, 8 Ks, no walks) and Webb 7 (4 hits, 5 Ks, 1 BB). Webb has now pitched 25 consecutive scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 2.01.

Billy Wagner and Duaner Sanchez gave the Mets 5 more shutout innings, extending the game long enough for the Mets to walk-off with another victory (their 8th so far) - this time provided by Endy Chavez, who drove in Jose Valentin in the 13th. Sanchez (3-0) got the win, but Martinez will have to wait another start to notch his 6th. He hasn't won in his last 6 games. But knowing Martinez, he must have felt that he left the mound in the 8th inning a winner - just like he said last time out against the Marlins when he exited with a 2-1 deficit and lost his first game of the season.

Lastings Milledge, in his second game, showed off his powerful arm in the 6th, when he pegged out Craig Counsell en route to 3B on a single. He threw a perfect strike to David Wright. The one negative note was a possible injury suffered by Carlos Beltran, who had to leave the game.

The Mets (32-20) lead the Braves (28-25), who beat the Dodgers, 9-3, by 4.5 games and the Phillies (27-25), who lost to Nationals, 3-2, by 5. The Giants and Barry Bonds come to town Friday for a 3-game series. Tom Glavine will try to win his 9th game in the opener.

Around the horn
• The Yankees (31-20) won their third in a row in Detroit, 6-1, behind Mike Mussina (7-1), who tossed a complete game 6-hitter. The Red Sox (31-20) knocked off the Blue Jays, 8-6, and are now in a dead heat with the Yanks. The Yankees will attempt to sweep the Tigers tonight.

On the hardwood
• The Pistons forced a Game 6 in the Eastern Finals, defeating the Heat in Detroit last night, 91-78. The Heat can finish off the Pistons at home on Friday night. Phoenix heads to Dallas for Game 5 of the knotted Western Finals tonight.


Mets' nadir: trading Kazmir

Any Met fan who regularly reads Blooming Ideas knows I have two very distinct gripes with the Mets: 1) Omar Minaya's trade of Kris Benson for Jorge Julio (and now in turn for Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez) and John Maine in February; and 2) Jim Duquette's trade of Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano during the 2004 season. Both Benson and Kazmir are pitching well for their respective teams, the Orioles and the Devil Rays. Imagine a Mets rotation of Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, Kazmir, Benson and Steve Trachsel. Instead, we've seen a procession of rookie call-ups and retreads starting in this year's rotation. It's the reason the Mets aren't running away with the division.

Today's New York Times addresses the Kazmir trade in Lee Jenkins' article, "Kazmir Deal a Debt the Mets Still Owe." Jenkins doesn't pull punches. He calls the trade the Mets' worst since they exchanged Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi in 1971. Of course, Ryan went on to become a Hall of Fame pitcher and set the all-time strikeout record. Kazmir is 7-3 in his 3rd season with the Devil Rays.

"Kazmir has become the star pitcher the Devil Rays never had," Jenkins writes. "The last time he pitched at home, against the Florida Marlins on May 21, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coach Jon Gruden took his children to the game because they wanted to see Kazmir, who worked 8 scoreless innings and racked up 11 strikeouts. 'It wasn't even fair,' says catcher Josh Paul of the Devil Rays. 'I would put down my glove and the ball would go exactly where I wanted it.'

"A former wild child, Kazmir [who is 22] has learned to sacrifice velocity for control. He is still capable of throwing 97 miles an hour, but is satisfied throwing 93 on the outside corner," Jenkins adds.

So why did the Mets move this future all-star lefty hurler? Duquette, who as Mets' GM engineered the trades of both Kazmir and Benson and now as the Orioles' vice president for baseball operations convinced Minaya to swap Benson for Julio, blames it on the Mets having "too many cooks in the kitchen" when he was attemnpting to run the club. "In that situation...the loudest voices are the ones that get heard. It does become sort of like a mob mentality."

The July 31, 2004 interleague trading deadline was fast approaching, so the Mets - 6 games behind the NL East-leading Braves - decided to shore up their pitching and make a playoff run. With Davd Wright poised to take over 3rd base, the Benson-for-Ty Wiggington deal was a no-brainer. But Duquette unfortunately didn't stop there. He called Devil Rays' GM Chuck LaMar, who he'd been chatting with about a possible trade. "Do we have a deal?" he asked.

Duquette tells Jenkins that "approximately 10 club employees — scouts, coaches and executives — were on the line. A couple of vocal members endorsed the trade. No one raised a strong objection."

That still doesn't explain why the Mets were so keen to unload their top pitching prospect for a crafty veteran, who happened to have a bad arm. "The Mets knew at the time of the trade that Zambrano had tendinitis in his right elbow," Jenkins points out, "but they understood he was being treated with a basic anti-inflammatory. When Zambrano joined the Mets in Atlanta on July 31, they learned that he had been taking more severe medication. The first red flag was raised."

"It's clear when Zambrano arrived, his elbow was hurting a lot more than what the doctors in Tampa told us," Duquette says. "It was obvious that they had not given us all the information."

To which LaMar responds, "Everything was revealed at the time. There was nothing to the injury factor with us or that anything was withheld. The Mets know that."

Clearly, the Mets got snookered by the lowly Devil Rays. And they've been licking their wounds ever since. Zambrano's injury (torn tendon in his right elbow), sustained on May 7, shelving him for the season, poured salt on the wound. And each time Kazmir tosses a shutout and strikes out 10, the Mets can only wonder what might have been had Duquette not made that fateful call.

"It's unbelievable they are still talking about it," says Kazmir, who will face Duquette's Orioles tomorrow night. "It's still going on."

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


May for Milledge

The Mets' weak back-of-the-rotation could be the reason they don't win the division. With Alay Soler on the mound tonight, they lost 7-2 to the Diamondbacks, who evened up the series. Soler imploded in the 5th when he allowed 2 HRs. He gave up all 7 runs on 8 hits in 5 innings of work. With the exception of "El Duque" Hernandez's debut victory on Monday, the Mets have had no luck winning games with their substitute starters - Soler, John Maine, Jose Lima and Jeremi Gonzalez. It's killing the Mets.

Fortunately, they remain in 1st place, thanks to all-star seasons from Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez, a solid offense and the Braves' relatively slow start.

The big news at Shea was the sudden promotion of phenom outfielder Lastings Milledge, who made a swift detour to New York when the team called him up from Norfolk to replace Xavier Nady - on the DL due to an emergency appendectomy.

Milledge, in the 8th slot, lined to short in his first at bat. He doubled off winner Miguel Batista (5-2) in the 6th inning.

Milledge's ascension to the big club raises one question in particular: Are the Mets showcasing Milledge just in case they would offer him in a trade for Dontrelle Willis?

The Mets (31-20) lead the Phillies (27-24), who beat the Nationals, 4-2, by 4 games and the Braves (27-25), who lost to the Dodgers, 8-3, by 4.5.

Next game: Wednesday, May 31, Mets vs. D-Backs, Pedro Martinez (5-1) vs. Brandon Webb (8-0), 7:10 pm start on SNY & WFAN.

Around the horn
• The Yankees scored 5 runs in the 10th to defeat the Tigers, 11-6, in Detroit.

On the hardwood
• I might've overreacted the other night when the Suns lost Game 3 at home to the Mavs. Tonight, the Suns blew them out, 106-86, to tie up the Western Finals, which most likely will go the distance. The series returns to Dallas on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Heat will attempt to close out the Eastern Finals in Detroit on Wednesday. They lead that series, 3-1. defends Bonds

Gary Gillette, editor of The 2006 ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia, has written probably the most convincing defense of Barry Bonds yet. The story ("Perceptions of history are slippery") is posted at

The story is only available to ESPN Insider subscribers. Here are a few excerpts:

• "Regardless of what Bonds has done, regardless of whether he cheated to achieve the record, regardless of whatever performance-enhancing drugs he might have ingested or injected, the past few weeks have been as close to a witch hunt as America has seen since Salem, Mass., was a member of the colonial big leagues in the 17th century."

• "Needless to say, however, these are not normal times. Pundits and politicians alike have been grandstanding on the issue, with some calling for an asterisk next to Bonds' records and his statistics. Others go much further, fanatically demanding that Bonds and his controversial numbers be stricken completely from the record books in some illogical attempt to rewrite history."

• "The outcry against Bonds and his records should seem just plain silly when viewed in the context of baseball history. Bonds' 'record' is no more 'tainted' than many - if not most - of the great records in baseball history. And while Bonds enjoyed several significant advantages on the way to 715, so did every other great home run hitter."

On Babe Ruth: "[He] had the incalculable advantage of playing his whole career during a segregated era, when he and every other white hitter didn't have to face great black pitchers such as Smokey Joe Williams, Bullet Joe Rogan and Satchel Paige. Nor have their batting statistics compared to legendary blackball sluggers such as Josh Gibson, who many feel might have broken Ruth's single-season home run record. Ruth also enjoyed playing all of his games during the daytime while having to travel no further west than St. Louis and no further south than Washington, DC. Furthermore, Ruth didn't have to face the fresh arms and blazing fastballs of the great relief pitchers who would intimidate so many hitters decades later."

On Hank Aaron: "[He] benefited from hitting in the many cozy neighborhood ballparks still in use in the 1950s and 1960s, just like contemporary sluggers have benefited from playing in the retro ballparks. Though Aaron's home parks in Milwaukee and Atlanta were not neighborhood parks, he did play in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium when it was known as the 'Launching Pad,' giving him an overall home-park advantage for his career. Aaron took advantage of the newly implemented designated hitter rule at the end of his career, adding 22 home runs to the lead he had over Ruth. And, paradoxically enough, the great Henry Aaron also benefited from a lack of true integration in the game, as the level of discrimination in baseball meant that it was extremely slow to allow African-American pitchers to play a prominent role - even as great black hitters such as Aaron, Willie Mays and Roy Campanella were knocking the stuffing out of the ball. Finally, Aaron played much of his career in an era when offense dominated in the NL, just like Bonds during the so-called 'steroids era.'"

• "So all of the hand-wringing over the integrity of baseball's records boils down to this: During 1991-2003, home runs were hit at a rate higher than ever before, and some of that increase had to do with performance-enhancing drugs. Big deal. The common belief that the new steroid-testing regimen of 2004 caused offense and home runs to drop is a fallacy. The fact is that scoring and home runs both peaked in 2000 and had dropped approximately 8 percent in the following three years. Steroids were only one part of the offensive equation, and probably not the most important element. There were several other major reasons and a dozen minor factors that also contributed to the barrage of long balls. Furthermore, all steroid usage was not against the rules, depending on the year in question and the drugs taken. And even when it was, MLB deliberately chose to look the other way when the game needed to bring back the fans and the record-setting rules-breakers were packing ballparks."

• "Cheating has been part of major league baseball since the beginning, and a review of baseball history indicates that pitchers have been far bigger cheaters than hitters for most of that time. Cooperstown is full of pitchers who cheated for decades; let's get a retired US senator to investigate their careers."

• "Bonds is unquestionably one of the greatest players ever to play the game. He is also one of the greatest homerun hitters in history. He will end up holding many important records. He is not a perfect person, nor has his career been without controversy. As such, he fits perfectly into the imperfect history of the national pastime. Enough is enough."

Read my Barry Bonds story: Chasing Barry


Hey, Lo Duca!

Hey, Lo Duca! That's what we yelled out every time Paul Lo Duca got a hit in the Mets rain-delayed victory over the Diamondbacks last night at Shea. I was at Danny Danko's Memorial Day BBQ, eating, drinking, smoking and watching the Mets on his new hi-def widescreen TV.

First-inning double - hey, Lo Duca! Second-inning run-scoring double - hey, Lo Duca! Fifth-inning single - hey, Lo Duca! Ninth-inning single after Reyes tied the game - hey, Lo Duca!! Paul Lo Duca is clearly the Mets' best catcher since, well, Mike Piazza. He hits in the clutch, moves runners over, bunts and is always in the middle of Met rallies. He's a top-notch game-caller with a decent arm too.

Oh, and by the way, Mr. Wright, as in David, elevated the Mets to an 8-7 victory with a walk-off single in the 9th - his 3rd of the season. Wright's batting .332 - 7th-best in the NL and tied for 10th in the majors.

The soggy slugfest featured 5 HRs - 2 by the Mets (Cliff Floyd, his 6th; and Jose Valentin, his 3rd) and 3 by the D-Backs (Eric Byrnes, his 8th and 9th, both off Steve Trachsel; and Chad Tracy , his 9th, a 3-run blast off Aaron Heilman in the 7th).

The Mets (31-19) and D-Backs (29-21) meet again tonight at Shea: Alay Soler (0-0, 3.00) vs. Miguel Batista (4-2, 4.60), 7:10 start on SNY & WFAN. Brandon Webb (8-0) and Pedro Martinez (5-1) are Wednesday's featured match-up. The Giants and Barry Bonds arrive in New York on Friday for a 3-game set.

The Mets' lead the Braves (they lost to the Dodgers, 12-5) by 4.5 games and the Phillies (they beat the Nationals, 11-2) by 5.

Around the horn
• The Yankees shut out the Tigers in Detroit, 4-0, behind Randy Johnson (7-4). For a player who's supposedly pitching poorly, he has 7 wins, so what's the problem, Yankee fans? It was the 42-year-old lefty's 270th career victory, tying him with Burleigh Grimes for 31st on the all-time win list.

On the hardwood
The Heat took a commanding 3-1 lead in the Eastern NBA Finals, defeating the Pistons, 89-78, in Miami. Dywane Wade hit for 31 points. The series shifts to Detroit for Game 5. Meanwhile, the Mavs have bolted to a 2-1 lead in the Western Finals. It appears that the Mavs - led by Dirk Nowitzki - are more talented than the Suns, who revolve around Steve Nash. Game 4 will be played tonight in Phoenix, tip-off at 9 pm on TNT.

Monday, May 29, 2006


Sebastian Bach, Superstar

Friends of Sebastian Bach call him "Bas." I consider myself a friend of the former Skid Row lead singer and now co-star of VH1's new reality show Superstar, so I'll call him Bas. He joined Ted Nugent ("The Nuge"), Scott Ian (Anthrax), Jason Bonhan (Foreigner) and Evan Seinfeld (Biohazard) for the VH1 gig in Las Vegas, which builds to one big show as part of Rock Honors. Since leaving Skid Row, Bas has kept pretty busy, appearing in plays (Jesus Christ Superstar, Jekyll and Hyde), and on The Gilmore Girls ands other VH1 shows.

He's a force of nature. I found that out when Bas appeared on the cover of the July '93 High Times. He first visited the office with his bong collection (including a gas mask), attempting to impress us. We assigned Brigette West to inteview him and Michael Benabib to do the photo shoot. It took two shoots to get it right. Here are a few of Bas' interview gems:

• "There would still be pot plants whether we were here or not. It really doesn't seem right that there are laws saying you can't smoke it. It's like paying to go to the beach - who owns the beach?"
• "I wouldn't tell someone to smoke pot or not to - I'm just telling you how I live."
• "When I smoke pot, I kiss my wife, have some pasta, watch Batman, read the new High Times and go to bed. I don't go out an kick people in the head and all this bullshit that alcohol makes you do... I drink a little, but i don't need alcohol."
• "The biggest enemy of rock & roll is pretentiousness."

To promote the July '93 issue, Bas agreed to do a benefit concert for NORML. He created a supergroup for the show called the Rock Budz, consisting of Bas, Skid Row guitarist Dave "Snake" Sabo, Pantera's Dimebag Darrell and Rex Brown, and drummer Bam Bam. They headlined a bill with Bad Brains and Animal Bag at New York's Limelight (now Avalon). The show made $10,000 for NORML.

That summer, Bas invited me to visit him in New Jersey. He picked me up at the train station in a Porsche, and drove superfast to his house. His wife Maria - who's extremely attractive - and their first child Paris were there. (They since had a second son, London.) We didn't do anything wild or crazy - just played frisbee in the backyard, traded bongs hits, ate dinner, watched TV. I even stayed over. The next day we went to the Ben & Jerry's Festival in Central Park, where Canadian music legend Ronnie Hawkins was performing. I hung out with Bas and Maria all day. Of course, we had the best access. I met Hawkins and his daughter Leah, who sang in his group, as well as the Band's Rick Danko.

Bas and I went to Canada together the following spring. He was born and raised in Toronto, so this was a homecoming for him. We were there to participate in a panel at the Canadian Music Week convention. What I remember most about the panel was people exorting us to smoke a joint, which we did, and then the panel was suddenly aborted. We partied around town, but nothing spectacular happened. It was just fun. It's always fun to be around Bas.

I haven't seen Bas in years, except on VH1 and now on Superstar, which I highly recommend. Episode 2 airs tonight, May 30, at 12 am.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Bonds launches No. 715

Barry Bonds finally eclipsed Babe Ruth as the greatest lefthanded homerun hitter in major league history when he sent a full-count pitch from Byung-Hyum Kim over the centerfield fence in the 4th inning of today's Rockies-Giants game in San Francisco. Bonds is now 40 HRs away from tying Hank Aaron for the all-time record of 755.

Read my brother Barry Bloom's coverage of Bonds' historic homer

Read my story: Chasing Barry



The Mets closed out the Marlins series with a 7-3 victory today. "El Duque" Hernandez got his first win as a Met and Carlos Beltran swatted his 14th HR. He had 3 hits, 2 RBI (he leads the team with 37) and upped his average to .277. After a disappointing, injury-plagued debut season in 2005, Beltran's starting to pay dividends. The Mets middle-of-the-order - Beltran, Delgado and David Wright (now hitting .333) - have combined for 105 RBI in 49 games.

Today's other big story in Metville is the demotion of Kaz Matsui, who's hitting just .213 after taking over 2B when Anderson Hernandez went on the DL a month ago. Matsui seems clueless at the plate, but has been solid in the field. Jose Valentin replaced Matsui today and Chris Woodward will also fill in until a decision is made regarding promoting Hernandez or fellow minor-leagure Jeff Keppinger.

"I will go with what I feel and see," MGR Willie Randolph told the media. "I'm not going to say it's a strict platoon. I'm going to find a way to match up guys that I think is best for the team. When I look at the lineup and who's pitching, I'm going to make a decision daily on what I want to do."

Regarding Woodward and Valentine, Randolph said: "They're not really everyday guys. Woody can play, but you still have to spell him. Same with Val. As far as Kaz, I'm going to have to get him going again a little bit. I've told Kaz that he needs to relax and just let the game come to him."

With both the Braves and Phillies winning this afternoon, the Mets' hold on first-place is still 3.5 games.

Next game: Monday, May 29, Mets (30-19) vs. the 1st-place Diamondbacks (29-19), Steve Trachsel (2-4, 4.99) vs. Claudio Vargas (5-2, 4.93), 7:10 pm start on SNY & WFAN

Around the horn

• After scoring 4 runs in the 1st inning, the Yankees (28-20) held on to beat the Royals, 6-5. They travel to Detroit for a 4-game series against baseball's best team (35-15), beginning tomorrow afternoon.

On the hardwood
The Heat took a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Finals, defeating the Pistons, 98-83, last night in Miami. Detroit lost the game in the 2nd quartet when they scored only 14 points. Miami's Dwayne Wade (35) and Shaquille O'Neal (27) combined for 62 points. Game 4 is scheduled for Monday in Miami, 8 pm start on TNT. Tonight, the Suns and Mavs face off in Game 3 of the Western Finals, 8:30 start on TNT. That series is tied, 1-1. Remember: Blooming Ideas predicted a Heat-Suns match-up in the NBA Finals.


Mets even series in FLA

What a difference a day makes. On Friday night, David Wright was hobbling around with a bad back and for the first time this season didn't play. On Saturday afternoon, Wright returned to the lineup and promptly went 4-for-4. With Wright at the bat and Tom Glavine on the mound, the Marlins had little chance of upsetting the Mets yesterday. They didn't, as the Mets knotted the series in Miami, winning 7-4.

Glavine earned his 283rd career victory and upped his record to 8-2, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits and striking out 9 in 7.2 innings, He's the second MLB pitcher to reach 8 wins (the D-Backs' Brandon Webb is the other).

With Marlins lefty Dontrelle Willis pitching, MGR Willie Randolph rested LF Cliff Floyd and 1B Carlos Delgado in favor of righty subs Chris Woodward and Julio Franco. This strategy payed off with Franco and Woodward combining for 3 hits, 2 runs and an RBI. Amazingly, Willis lost his 6th game. Will he be traded before the July 31 deadline? Will the Mets offer Lasting Milledge for the Marlins' All-Star?

Speaking of pitchers, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez (2-4, 6.11) makes his debut in Mets blue and orange today vs. Ricky Nolasco (3-1, 2.89); 1:10 pm start on Channel 11 & WFAN. And the Mets made their 3rd trade of the week on Friday, sending Jeremi Gonzalez to the Brewers for reliever Mike Adams. The Gonzalez and Jose Lima experiments, which resulted in 4 losses, couldn't have ended too soon. Alay Soler survived the week of pitching moves that also saw the Mets pick up Reds' starter Dave Williams. Soler will start on Tuesday against the Diamondbacks.

The Mets (29-19) and Braves (26-23), who beat the Cubs, 2-1, remain 3.5 game apart in the Al East. The Phillies (24-24), who lost to the Brewers, 9-6, fell to 5 games back.

Met stat report
• Wright's .330 BA is 4th-best in the NL and 10th-best in MLB. He's tied for 3rd-most hits in the NL with 60.
• Jose Reyes is tied for 7th-most runs in the NL with 37. He's tied for 2nd-most triples in the NL and MLB with 6. He leads the majors with 19 stolen bases.
• Carlos Beltran is tied for 8th-best slugging percentage in the NL at .601.
• Tom Glavine's 2.59 ERA is the 4th best in the NL and 5th best in MLB.
• Pedro Martinez leads all pitchers with 80 Ks.
• Billy Wagner is 6th in he NL and MLB with 11 saves.

Around the horn
• The Yankees (27-20) pounded the Royals, 15-4, evening that series. Alex Rodriguez belted 2 HRs. In Boston, the Red Sox (29-18) defeated the D-Rays, 6-4. Curt Schilling notched his 200th career victory. The Bosox are still 2 games ahead of the Yanks.
• Barry Bonds' agonizingly slow march to surpass Babe Ruth on the all-time HR list continued yesterday in San Francisco. Read my brother Barry Bloom's coverage


Bravo's '100 Funniest Movies'

I've been getting a lot of phone calls this weekend from people saying stuff like, "Dude, I saw you on television," or "Dude, was that you I saw on television?" Yes, that's me on Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies four-hour series running this weekend. Each segment features 25 movies. I'm in the first two segments. That's me commenting on Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and Trading Places. Thanks to my friend Shirley Halperin, who comments on 13 movies (from Dazed and Confused to Zoolander), the production company asked me to be the "stoner movie" expert. Much of what I said got left on the cutting-room floor. However, I'm happy to be part of 100 Funniest Movies, even if it inexplicably omitted Up in Smoke.

By the way, the funniest movie of all-time, according to Bravo, is Animal House. I can't argue with that, though I'd have selected the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup. This survey barely covers anything before 1975, so I guess the Marx Brothers just didn't register with the braintrust that selected Police Academy as a top funny movie. Also, no Pauly Shore? Not even Encino Man? That's like, way uncool, dudes!

Here's the rerun schedule:

Sunday, 12-4 pm
Monday, 2-6 am, 6:30-10:30 pm, 11 pm-12 am
Tuesday, 12-3 am
Thursday, 1-5 pm
Friday, 5-6 am (4th episode)

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Mets Marled in Miami

There's not much to say about the Mets' 5-1 defeat to the Marlins yesterday, other than Pedro Martinez lost his first game of the season (5-1), the Mets managed only 2 hits and David Wright didn't play. He had back spasms. That's an odd one for a 23-year-old. He doesn't even know how it happened, but Wright's expected to play today. Jose Valentin spelled him at 3B.

Guess who's back in 2nd place? The Braves (25-23), who beat the Cubs, 6-5, passed the Phillies (24-23), losers to the Brewers, 5-4. The Phils have dropped 8 out of their last 10. The Mets (28-19) lead the AL East by 3.5 games.

Next game: Saturday, May 27, Mets vs. Marlins at Dolphin Stadium, Tom Glavine (7-2, 2.48) vs. Dontrelle Willis (1-5, 5.12), 1:20 pm start on FOX & WFAN. "El Duque" Hernandez will make his Mets' debut on the mound tomorrow.

Around the Horn

• Derek Jeter's infield single in the 4th inning was the 2,000th of his career. The Yanks lost to the Royals, 7-6.
• D-Backs' RH Brandon Webb became the 1st pitcher in MLB to win 8 games. He shutout the Reds, 3-0.
• Barry Bonds is stuck on 714 HRs. Read my brother Barry Bloom's coverage of the Giants' 9-0 victory over the Rockies.

2nd-best Day Ever!
Yesterday, Blooming Ideas had 844 visitors, which came close to being my best day ever (855). Thanks! Don't forget to use my RSS feed. Cut and paste it into your My Yahoo:

And please remember to click my classifieds!

Friday, May 26, 2006


My 100th MySpace friend: Route .44

I signed up for MySpace on May 10. Sixteen days later I officially have 100 friends. My 100th is a cool roots-style band out of Providence, RI - Route .44.

They write on their page: "Route .44 has grown to an eight-piece orchestra. Each member brings in their own influences and experiences. Playing throughout New England - from the Middle East in Boston to Club Alchemy in New Haven to sharing gigs with talents as varied as Ashanti and Herbal Nation - they have turned many heads towards their captivating and conceptual sound. Not content to be pigeonholed into any specific genre, Route .44 pull from influences ranging from the dark, broodiing vibes of Morphine to the foot-stomping revelry of an Oktoberfest beer-garden."

Route .44 join a pretty cool cast of MySpace friends that includes: Jack Herer, Tommy Chong, Jorge Cervantes, John Trudell, High Times, NORML, Relix, Sundance Solar, Herbal Nation, 420 Girls, Danny Danko, Steve Hager, Spearhead, Steel Train, Bobby Black, Bosko, Mary Ought Six, Greg Caz, Todd McCormick, Merilee666 and Skylar ("the stoner soldier!").

Let's be friends!


Bring me the head of Edgardo Alfonzo

NEWS FLASH: Toronto signed infielder Edgardo Alfonzo to a minor league contract. The 32-year-old was released by the Los Angeles Angels earlier this month after batting .100 in 18 games.

Is that our "Fonzie"? The affable ex-Met 3B who they decided not to resign in 2002 and wound up playing alongside Barry Bonds in San Francisco? One of the key components of the Mets' 2000 World Series squad? The Venezuelan native who rose up through the Mets' minor system as a second baseman? The man who drove in 108 runs in 1999 and hit .324 in 2000?

What the hell has happened to Edgardo Alfonzo? Last season, his production declined dramatically with the Giants. He had just 2 HRs in 109 games. So the Giants traded him in the off-season to Arizona for Steve Finley. Alfonso was supposed to fill the Angels' void at 3B. But Fonzie failed to produce in his AL debut. On May 20, they waived him.

At that point, the Angels had lost 15 of 20 to fall 8 games below .500, and were batting just .247 as a team - the third-lowest average in the majors. Alfonzo's 5-for-50 start was part of the problem.

"Edgardo still can play," contended Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "He's an extraordinary professional. It was tough on him. His role wasn't something he was used to. It was tough to produce. I'm sure he's going to get an opportunity to play elsewhere."

"I don't think it makes sense for them to pay me that kind of money to go down to Triple-A," Alfonzo said of the Angels. "They've been good to me. They gave me an opportunity to try to find a team that would like to have me. I felt like part of this team and I tried to keep guys positive here, even when I wasn't in the lineup. They have a lot of great players, so it was kind of hard at the beginning to see action. It's too bad it didn't work out the way it was supposed to. I still believe in myself and I still believe I can play. But it's tough when you're used to playing every day, and then you're playing every 5 or 6 days or sitting there for 7 innings and then coming in to hit. My body is used to playing every day."

It's not going to get better for Fonzie anytime soon. Today, the Blue Jays asked him to report to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats of the Eastern League in Double-A.


Now they tell us: pot doesn't really cause cancer!

Pot smokers everywhere hacked a sigh of relief this week when it was reported that marijuana does not - I repeat, DOES NOT cause cancer. Funded by NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) and headed by UCLA senior researcher Donald Taskin, the study observed 2,200 people. "All you can say is we haven't been able to confirm our suspicions that marijuana might be a risk factor for lung, head and neck cancer," Tashkin concluded.

The new findings "were against our expectations," added the pulmonologist who's studied marijuana for 30 years. Even more significantly, he stated that THC (the chemical in marijuana that produces the high) may kill aging cells and keep them from becoming cancerous, inhibiting tumor growth.

reports that "investigators assessed the possible association between cannabis use and the risk of lung cancer in middle-aged adults [ages 18-59] living in Los Angeles. Researchers conducted interviews with 611 subjects with lung cancer and 1,040 controls matched for age, gender and neighborhood. Data was collected on lifetime marijuana use, as well as subjects' use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, diet, occupation, and family history of cancer. Investigators used a logistical regression model to estimate the effect of cannabis smoking on lung cancer risk, adjusting for age, gender, ethnicity, education, and cumulative tobacco smoking and alcohol use."

"'We did not observe a positive association of marijuana use - even heavy long-term use - with lung cancer, controlling for tobacco smoking and other potential cofounders,' investigators concluded. Their data further revealed that one subset of moderate lifetime users (10-30 "joint years") actually had an inverse association between cannabis use and lung cancer. The study did report a 20-fold increased risk in heavy tobacco smokers."

Jon Gettman's "Tar Baby" (High Times' Grow America, #5) posed the question, "Does pot cause cancer?" At the time - two years ago - Tashkin believed, according to Gettman, "that respiratory symptons in many heavy cannabis smokers are similar to those of tobacco users who smoke half a pack a day." However, he'd reached no conclusions about cancer until now, which confirms Mitch Earleywine's assessment in Understanding Marjiuana: "Currently, no data reveal definitive increases in rates of lung cancer among people who smoke marijuana but not tobacco."

Even if pot doesn't cause cancer (we knew that all along), puffers should attempt to reduce the harm associated with inhaling hot smoke and tars into their bodies. Gettman recommends the followng "strategies":

• Use higher-potency canabis and smoke it less often.
• Minimize puff volume - inhale less smoke and exhale it sooner.
• Increase filtration of tars and toxic gases in cannabis smoke.
• Vaporize THC without burning the vegetable matter it's contained in.
• Get regular exercise to strengthen your lungs.


Hot dog! Pet days @ Shea

The Mets are going to the dogs. This is straight off the Mets website:

On Tuesday, May 30 and Saturday, September 23, the Mets are hosting the 2nd Annual Dog Day at Shea events. Bring your dog to Shea Stadium and enjoy the game in the Picnic Area.

Tickets for the Picnic Area bleacher seats for fans are $26 each on May 30 and $30 each on September 23. Dog tickets for both events are $5 each per dog. A portion of all tickets from this event will benefit the North Shore Animal League.

Dogs and their owners attending the Dog Day at Shea event will be able to participate in a pre-game parade around Shea's warning track.

Please note dogs are not permitted in regular ballpark seating.

All tickets must be purchased in advance through the Mets Group Ticket Window.

For more information about this event, please call the Mets Group Sales Office at 718-565-4348.

Just Added: Stupid Pet Trick Auditions for The Late Show with David Letterman
Also on Tuesday, May 30, The Late Show with David Lettermanwill be on-site hosting stupid pet trick auditions. Those attending the Dog Day at Shea event are invited to participate.

The show's producer will have a representative on site for the promotion and will tape all tricks performed by the dogs. The footage will be used internally [and] review[ed by] Letterman and the executive producers. Each participant will be required to sign a release. Please call the Mets Groups Sales office for more information.

I might just have to bring my trusty beagle, Wiggles!


"Weighing in" on Bonds

Since the publication of my "Chasing Barry" story this week in, I've published numerous comments. Here are some of the emails I've received from friends, family and associates:

"Bottom line as far as I'm concerned as it relates to Barry Bonds is twofold:

1- Historically, he's been his own worst enemy. Bad attitude towards the fans and the media.
2- No question about it, he's a great one-of-a-kind athlete BUT his record(s) and legacy will always be tainted because of the (probability) that he was "juiced."

Think about it, his numbers skyrocketed in the past 4-5 years at an age when the average athlete's skills diminish. He never embraced the fans or the media, and the backlash towards him today is directly related to that."
-Rick Stangel

"ahhh...the famous bloom brothers are at it again! now i know who barry bonds is!"

"Nice job."
-Mike Fine, Patriot Ledger

"Interesting article. I have to say that the SIexcerpt of Game of Shadows left me hating Bonds a lot, but I've also been disturbed by the racial dimension of this and pretty much sickened by the away fans who've been jeering him and baiting him with signs. So basically I hate everybody involved, which is why I'm just ignoring it!"
-Michael Hogan, Vanity Fair

"read story. i still hate bonds."
-John Fortunato, Bonghitter

"Nice job. Really thought that was balanced and came out well."
-Barry Bloom,

"Yeah, parks come into play too (thanks, Bill James). They aren't building hitters' graveyards like Shea or Dodger Stadium these days. But I don't think we'd have seen the explosion of home runs in the late '90s without steroids. We're not talking guys inching past Maris, with 63 or 64; we saw the records almost routinely demolished. I've also heard the argument that 'you need the skills to hit, steroids won't make you hit a 90-mph fastball.' True. But if you have those skills, the extra muscle mass can turn a warning-track fly ball into a home run. (So if Reyes was on steroids, we could have turned off the TV happily after 12 innings the other night!)

I don't know about Mantle, but Maris might actually have hit fewer home runs in the new Yankee Stadium-it doesn't have that 296-foot right-field line any more."
-Steve Wishnia, former High Times senior editor

"I enjoyed the article very much."
-Zero Boy

"That's easy stuff: to shoot from the lip and not show up. I don't know about this comment. That's like saying you shouldn't comment on Bush because you don't know him personally or haven't been to the White House to interview him. People in the public eye get picked on by everybody but particularly by the media. It goes with the territory of being 'famous' or just successful. The more successful you are the more you have people who comment and 'pick on' your achievements.

Barry [Bloom] might just like Barry Bonds because he gave him 'access.' Other journalists might not like him because of the lack of access. Just my 2 cents!"
-Ed Bender, Sundance Solar

"The Bonds story is on the money."
-Barry Sacks

Read the original Chasing Barry story


Trakin whoopee!

Early this week he tried to convince you that the Clippers would beat the Mavs. Now HITS' Roy Trakin has become enamored with Suns' MVP everyman, Steve Nash. In today's Trakin Care of Bizness column, Roy writes: "That [he] thrives in the NBA by virtue of his guile and quickness among players a lot bigger than he is, and the fact, as a point guard, he fulfills the basic principle of making his teammates better, is reason enough for me to be pulling for him... Just call him the anti-Marbury."

Trakin's always entertaining and wide-ranging column - he covers music, movies, sports and TV - is a must Friday read. This week's edition includes reviews of the Secret Machines' new cd ("Is it just my drug-addled mind, or shouldn't this trio of Oklahoma-by-way-of-Brooklyn psychedelic rockers fronted by brothers Brandon and Ben Curtis be packing the arenas their music seems to aim for?"), the New Cars (featuring Todd Rundgren in place of Rick Ocasek)/Blondie show (re: New Cars, "it was more than a little like Ringo Starr and his All-Star Band, but I still don't see anything wrong with that" ) and the reissue of a live 1964 recording of Allen Ginsberg reciting Kaddish ("a precursor of Dionysian rock poets from Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan to Patti Smith"). Oh, and by the way, near the bottom of the column, Trakin offers this sparkling review of Blooming Ideas:

"Blog site of one-time High Times editor and all-around music, sports and pot pundit Steve Bloom, a fellow Knicks/Mets fan and James Brown confidant whom I've known since our days together at the old Soho Weekly News, the Avis to the Village Voice's Hertz back in the day. Bloom intersperses daily coverage of our beloved Metsies with idiosyncratic discussions on a variety of hot-buzz topics, including The Sopranos' gay problem, his travails trying to get press tickets to cover a local Black Crowes concert, a New Riders of the Purple Sage live review and answering Yippie Dana Beal's complaint about High Times' supposed lack of support for this year's Global Marijuana March in New York."

Thanks, Roy!

Trakin ends each column with his "Gripe of the Week." This week's gripe? The lack of that phone-friendly touch from publicists. He actually misses the day when they "used to call to tell you something they were passionate about or that they were simply promoting, rather than just sending out mass emails into cyberspace like a message in a bottle, hoping one sticks."

In addition to, catch Trakin online at, and (5-7 pm Sunday music-industry show with David Adelson on L.A.'s 97.1 Free FM radio station).


Bonghitters rout Vanity Fair

High Times' unstoppable Bonghitters extended their 2006 media softball record to 4-0 with a relatively easy 13-4 win over Vanity Fair's Veefers last night in Central Park's Great Lawn. Leading 4-3, the Bonghitters exploded for 7 runs in the 3rd inning, blowing open a close game. Bonghitters shortstop Darren Pelled drove in 4 runs (including a 3-run HR). The Veefers made several diving catches and had a solo HR off winning pitcher, Rick Reta (3-0), who scattered 8 hits.

The Bonghitters have won 5 out of 6 games lifetime against Vanity Fair. The two teams will meet again on July 6.

Next game: Thursday, June 1 vs. WNYC Radio, 7 pm start in Central Park.

The season so far
• 4/27: Bonghitters 12, Business Week, 8
• 5/4: Bonghitters 8, The Onion 6
• 5/9: Bonghitters 12, The New Yorker 4
• 5/25: Bonghitters 13, Vanity Fair 4

Gawker's on it!
Bonghitters Bogart the Veefers

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Mets pick up another pitcher!

The Mets failed to sweep the Phils at Shea today, losing 5-3. Combined with their 2 out of 3 against the Yankees last weekend, they went .667 on the home stand. They head to Florida for a brief 3-game road trip this weekend, before returning to host the Diamondbacks on Tuesday.

Like Alay Soler last night, Jeremi Gonzalez allowed 3 runs in the 1st inning. The sub-starter was rocked for HRs by lefties Bobby Abreau and Ryan Howard. Jose Reyes responded with a 3-run jolt (his 5th) in the 2nd, but the Phillies reached reliever Pedro Feliciano for 2 runs in the 7th, regaining the lead. The Mets never scored again.

Reyes went 3 for 5, but Chase Utley did him one better, going 4 for 5.

The Mets (28-18) now lead the Phils (24-22) by 4 games and the idle Braves (24-23 by 4.5.

More trade news!
Hot on the heels of acquiring Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez for Jorge Julio yesterday, the Mets bolstered their battered starting rotation with another deal today. As previously suggested by and reported by Blooming Ideas, GM Omar Minaya traded a minor leaguer (Robert Manual) for disgarded Reds starter Dave Williams. On May 21,'s Buster Olney wrote: "It wouldn't cost them much more than the prorated portion of the $1.4 million he is making in salary. The Reds probably would be thrilled to simply rid themselves of the contract. At a time when the Mets don't want to trade top prospects, and may prefer not to try to count on pitchers who have never worked above Class AA, Williams would seem to be a sound mid-level gamble. If he flames out and continues to struggle - so far this year, he has a 7.20 ERA - then it would only cost the Mets a bit of cash. Williams is only 27 and he generally has been at least adequate for much of his career, accumulating a 4.56 ERA in his 74 games (66 starts). Williams is much better suited pitching for the Mets, in spacious Shea Stadium, than he was pitching in Cincinnati, because he has an acute tendency toward generating fly balls. The quality the Mets need more than any for the back end of their rotation is to have someone who is not overwhelmed. Williams might be that guy."

With these moves, it's hard to predict who'll pitch in Miami after Pedro Martinez (Friday) and Tom Glavine (vs. Dontrelle Willis on Saturday). Steve Trachsel's slated for Sunday, but he's been suffering back spasms. Sunday's starter could be anyone from Hernandez to Williams to Soler to Gonzalez. Suddenly, the rotation is loaded with fresh arms.


Tonight: Bonghitters vs. Vanity Fair's Veefers

The softball season resumes tonight in Central Park. It will be the infamous stoners, the High Times Bonghitters vs. the Veefers of Vanity Fair. The Bonghitters are off to fast 3-0 start.

Vanity Fair was one of two teams to defeat the Bonghitters last season. The teams split a pair of games. The Bonghitters are 4-1 lifetime against the Veefers. Here are the previous results:

August 11, 2005: Vanity Fair 3, Bonghitters 2
May 26, 2005: Bonghitters 7, Vanity Fair 6
July 29, 2004: Bonghitters 17, Vanity Fair 2
July 24, 2003: Bonghitters 2, Vanity Fair 1
June 26, 2002: Bonghitters 4, Vanity Fair 3

Gametime is 7 pm. Check back here for a report later tonight.


Tonight: High Times Comedy Night @ Hollywood Improv

For the eighth month in a row, the High Times Comedy Night returns to the Hollywood Improv. Tonight's show features Al Madrigal, The Greg Wilson, Tammy Pescatelli, John Hoogasian, Brian Scolaro and host Ngaio Bealum. If you live inthe L.A. area, don't miss it. Showtime is 8 pm. Four dollar and 20 cents of the $10 ticket price is donated to NORML.

For more info, click here right now!


Oh Shea can I see!

I was minding my own business at the High Times office late on Wednesday afternoon when Matt's friend Sarah called. She had two tickets for the Mets-Phillies game that was about to start in an hour. Did I want them? I bobbled my head up and down like a ceramic doll. Danny Danko and I were drinking beers and well, drinking beers. "Wanna go, Dan?" I coaxed. "I don't know," he said. "Let me call Sarah." That's his lovely wife, not Matt's friend who was offering the ducats. They had made plans for a dinner BBQ in their Brooklyn backyard. But it was the Mets afterall. Neither of us had been to a game so far - with more than a quarter of the season "in the books," as WFAN's Howie Rose likes to say, it was about time to make our maiden Met voyage of 2006. Sarah gave Dan the go-ahead and we were off to Shea - by cab!

We learned from the car radio that Cuban defector Alay Soler, in his first inning ever as a Met, gave up 3 runs. Not a good start. By the time we arrived at Shea and located our $38 field-level seats (down the 3B line in Section 250, Row G), it was the bottom of the 2nd. Carlos Beltran homered (his 13th) in bottom of the first. The score was 3-1. Dan quickly ordered two cans of Bud (my least favorite beer) from the first vendor he saw. Then he bought a dog from Sam the vendor, who informed our section that the Mets had traded Jorge Julio for Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez a few hours ago. Yippee! (More on that later.)

In the 4th, a HR by David Wright (his 8th) and an RBI single by Chris Woodward (starting at 2B in place of Kaz Matsui) tied the score at 3. The next inning the Mets took the lead when Jose Reyes tripled (his 6th) and scored on Joe Valentin's sac fly (he started in place of Xavier Nady in RF). Meanwhile, Soler settled down and held the Phils in check for the next 5 innings. Willie Randolph replaced him in the 7th with Pedro Feliciano, who promptly relinquished the lead on Pat Burrell's 12th HR. But the Wright Stuff came through again in the bottom of the inning, plating what would be the winning run with a single. Wright's 3-for-4 outing drove his average up to. 322. He now has 31 RBI.

Aaron Heilman and Billy Wagner finished off the Phils, with the sketchy saver mowing them down 1-2-3 in the 9th. The Mets (28-17) won 5-4, and now lead the Phils (23-22) and the Braves (24-23), who beat the Padres, by 5 games each. This afternoon they can sweep their NL East rivals. It'll be Jeremi Gonzalez (0-0, 10.13) vs. Brett Myers (2-2, 2.75), 1:10 pm start on FSY & WFAN.

Shea Stadium was as annoying as ever, with loudspeaker prompts to cheer, and moronic scoreboard pizza races and quizzes. (Tom Glavine delivered the line, "Here's looking at you, kid?" Now which movie's that from?). The ugly "Big Apple" popped out of its sheath twice after HRs. Can anyone bomb that thing? I ate Nathan's fries and onions rings, and a Carvel hot fudge sundae - very nutritious.

David Wright is by far the most popular Met - except perhaps for when Pedro Martinez pitches. Lots of cute girls donned No. 5 jerseys, and one held up a placard asking the 23-year-old budding star to marry her. Nice offer. Omar Minaya's latin-tinged team has its share of Hispanic fans now - I even heard drumming in the upper deck and there's a guy named "Cow-Bell Man" who does a better job getting the crowd going in rhythm than the stupid handclap noises and instructions to get "mad as hell" like William Holden in Network. Shea has long needed a makeover. That will come when the Mets' new Ebbetts Field-style stadium opens in 2009 and Shea is inploded. Can't wait!

El Duque for Jorge Julio trade
The Mets have two Cuban defectors on the roster - as least for now. Hernandez was imported from the Diamondbacks for Julio, whose 45-game Met career ended unceremoniously. He was 1-2 in 18 games with a 5.06 ERA. Blessed with a 97 MPH fastball, Julio intimidated no one and preferred to throw his splitter.'s Marty Noble writes: "Hernandez had a 2-4 record and 6.11 ERA with the first-place Diamondbacks. He had started nine games and pitched 45 2/3 innings, allowing 52 hits and 20 walks and striking out 52. On May 16, he lasted two innings because he strained a muscle in his side... El Duque, hardly the consistent performer he was with the Yankees, need only pitch a level higher than that attained by Jose Lima and Jeremi Gonzalez to be an asset to his new team. And [GM Omar] Minaya expects at least that much from the officially 36-year-old Cuban defector, who began his major league career in 1998 and who brings a 72-53 career record with him... When Hernandez will pitch is an unknown. His first start won't bump Martinez or Tom Glavine from their Friday or Saturday starts against the Marlins. There was an indication on Wednesday that El Duque could pitch on Sunday if the Mets decide to split him and the eventual fifth starter - whether it is Gonzalez or Soler. Because Hernandez pitched on Monday night - he allowed one run in seven innings in a no-decision against the Pirates - he won't join the Mets until Friday, when they play in Miami. And because the Mets bullpen was short without Julio, the club promoted Heath Bell from its Triple-A Norfolk affiliate rather that add Hernandez to the 25-man roster. Speculation was that Bell would remain with the team when Hernandez is added, and either Soler or Gonzalez would return to the minor leagues after Thursday's game."

So Minaya has made up for the bonehead Kris Benson-for-Julio trade somewhat. Hernandez can't be any worse than Jose Lima, and he comes with bonafide post-season cred (with the Yankees and the last October with the World Series-winning White Sox).

BLOOMIE QUIZ: Who was the last Cuban defector to play on the Mets?


• The Yankees took the Fenway series from the Red Sox, winning the rubber match, 8-6. Randy Johnson got the victory, despite allowing 9 hits, 4 BBs and 5 runs in 5 innings. The Yanks (26-19) are within a half-game of the Bosox (26-18). They return to Yankee Stadium to host the hapless Royals this weekend.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Chasing Barry

Check out my story in today's - it's the lead feature! Chasing Barry: Against a backdrop of steroids and scandal, Barry Bonds' chase of Babe Ruth produced a firestorm of coverage, but few members of the sports media came to his defense."

Thanks to my editor there, Dylan Stableford.


Mets sweet in 16

It took the Mets more than 5 hours and 16 innings to beat the Phillies, 9-8, on Tuesday night. Carlos Beltran's 12th HR concluded the game in dramatic fashion. The Mets came from behind (0-2, 2-6, 5-8) to take the first game of the series.

Jose Reyes (4), David Wright (7) and Cliff Floyd (5) also belted HRs, raising the Mets' total to 62 - 2nd best in the NL behind the Brewers' 65.

However, obscured in the sleep-enducing victory (it was the Mets' longest game since 1995) was a poor outing by Steve Trachsel. His 5-inning line: 7 hits, 6 runs, 4 walks, 1 HR. With 2 outs in the 4th, after walking Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino singled home a run and then Trachsel served up a 3-run blast to David Bell. This was vintage Trachsel.

After 9 starts, Trachsel's 2-4 with a 4.99 ERA. He doesn't inspire confidence. On a 1st-place team, Trachsel should have a winning record. He's come a long way since losing 18 games for the Cubs in 1999 - and who could forget his 16-10 record in 2003? - yet Trachsel doesn't pitch like a No. 3 starter. With the 4th and 5th slots in the rotation very much up in the air, the Mets need more consistency from their deliberate righthander.

The Mets (27-17) increased their AL East lead to 4 games over the Phillies (23-21) and to 5 over the Braves (23-23, who lost 2-1 in San Diego.

Next game (Wednesday, May 24): Mets vs Phillies at Shea, 7:10 pm start on SNY & WFAN, Alay Soler (Mets debut) vs. Cole Hammels (0-0, 3,18)


• The Yankees (25-19) evened their Fenway Park showdown with the Red Sox (26-17), winning 7-5 on Alex Rodriguez's 3-run 7th-inning HR. They trail the Bosox by 1.5 games.
• Albert Puljos hit a HR (his 23rd), but Barry Bonds didn't (he's still 1 HR shy of surpassing Babe Ruth on the all-time list) in the Cards' 8-5 victory over the Giants.
• Ex-Met Mike Jacobs' 2-run walk-off single gave the Marlins a 5-4 win over the Cubs in Miami. Jacobs, who was swapped for Carlos Delgado, is only batting .217, but has 5 HRs and 26 RBI.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Philler up

Ok, the Clippers lost Game 7 last night to the 3-point-chucking Suns in Phoenix. Did anyone other than Roy Trakin ('Why the Clippers are going to beat the Suns,' May 22) and Billy Crystal really think the Clips would move on to the Western finals? One team did knock off a favorite - the Dallas Mavs, who defeated the reigning NBA champion Spurs last night (also a Game 7) in San Antonio in OT. Dirk Nowitski was simply better than Tim Duncan in crunch time; he willed the win. So now it's down to the NBA's Final 4: Dallas vs. Phoenix and Detroit vs. Miami. I predict a Heat-Suns NBA final.

On the home front, the Phillies come to town for a 3-game series at Shea, starting tonight (7:10 pm start on SNY & WFAN). The Mets (26-17) lead the Phils (23-20) by 3 games and the Braves (23-22), who won last night, by 4. For the Mets, it's all about the rotation. This week's game of musical starters will feature Steve Trachsel (Tuesday), Jeremi Gonzalez (Wednesday) and Olay Soler (Thursday). Soler is the Met's 9th starting pitcher of the season, which's Marty Noble calls an "extrordinary circumstance." This, he writes, is "more than or as many starters as [the Mets] have used in 9 of their last 20 seasons. Only once in that period have they come close to using so many starters in so few games. In 1987, the year Dwight Gooden began the season in drug rehab, the Mets used 9 starters in their first 49 games... In no other season in the last 20 have the Mets used a 9th pitcher before their 65th game." In other words, the Mets' starting rotation - after Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine and Trachsel - is a mess, and doesn't look like it will improve anytime soon.

But after 43 games the Metropolitans remain in 1st place, so why complain? The middle of the batting order - Carloses Beltran and Delgado and David Wright - are averaging 11 HRs, 30 RBI and a .283 average each. With Jose Reyes and Paul Lo Duca setting the table and Xavier Nady in the 7th slot cleaning up the scraps, the Mets have a pretty potent lineup. Now if closer Billy Wagner would stop melting down when he's called upon to save important games and GM Omar Minaya finds a solution to the Mets' weak back-of-the rotation, the kids will be alright.

• The Red Sox beat up on the reeling Yankees, 9-5, at Fenway last night. Curt Schilling earned his 199th career victory and upped his record to 7-2.
• Barry Bonds failed to hit his 715th career HR and surpass Barry Ruth on the all-time list in San Francisco. Bonds went 1 for 3 against the Cards, who lost 9-2 to the Giants.

Monday, May 22, 2006


Why the Clippers will beat the Suns in tonight's Game 7

HITS senior editor/columnist and NBA maven Roy Trakin (see 'Shakin' & Trakin,' May 19) thinks the Clippers will knock off the Suns in tonight's Game 7 Western semi-finals and advance to the Western finals against either the Spurs or the Mavs (who also face-off in a Game 7 tonight). Here's his expert analysis:

This has been a knockdown, drag-out battle - the Clips' superior front line against the Suns' overall quickness and three-point game. Three days ago, with both Steve Nash and Shawn Marion dragging, I thought the L.A. Crystals (for major fan Billy) had a great shot, but the time off may well have regenerated the dynamic duo. Of course, the same could be true for the Clips' underrated big man Chris "Don't Come Around Here No More" Kaman. That said, if the Clips can stay with the Suns - and not get blown out by the first-period momentum that the home team traditionally receives - they have a great shot at pulling off the upset. The keys, of course, are Elton Brand's Mr. Inside and wily old Sam "ET" Cassell's Mr. Outside down the stretch. If those two can rise to the occasion, it could just break the stranglehold which threatens to give the NBA the same Final Four (Spurs-Suns, Pistons-Heat) as last year, despite all the excitement from upstarts like Dallas and Cleveland, who lost Game 7 in Detroit yesterday. At any rate, the Clips have to play a deliberate, pound-the-ball-to-the-basket game and try to dictate the tempo, easier said than done against the pesky Suns, but they have the personnel to do it. I mean, c'mon - stinky ex-Knick Tim Thomas, after being paid to sit out virtually the whole season, is playing an important role for Phoenix. That has to tell you something.

Roy's prediction: Clips 105, Suns 98


8 pm EST - Dallas @ San Antonio - TNT
10:30 pm EST - Los Angeles @ Phoenix - TNT


The Sopranos' gay problem

In this day and age, it's sad to see backward, gay-bashing Mafia thinking rear its ugly head all season long in The Sopranos. The beating death of capo Vito Spatafore - against Tony's progressive-leaning wishes - sets up a battle royale being Phil (filling in for jailed Johnny Sac) and Tony, which may or may not be resolved in the season's final episode on June 4. If this is the reality of small-time mobsters - to be incredibly intolerant towards "fashoots," or whatever perjorative Italian terms for gays are used on the show - that's too bad. Phil will get his, and in turn Tony will make the right statement, that there's room for all sexual persuasions in the modern crime family. Meadow, his conscience, would certainly agree.

Meanwhile, what did Carmela's trip to Paris with Roe have to do with anything other than provide a travelogue counterbalance to the brutal events happening back at home?


Dana Beal, Pt. 2

Actually, I wasn't talking about High Times at all - but the stuff on your blog. THAT is how DRCnet engaged in sloppy reporting. What is interesting is that both you and Phil Smith seem to feel that Cures Not Wars has no right to have a distinct political position on the Drug War.

Let me see:

Alan Clear and HRC are allowed to have a distinct position, and respected for it.

Alan St. Pierre, who was invited to speak by the way and apologized that he couldn't make it because there was a NORML board meeting that day - is allowed to stake out a distinct position.

Ethan Nadelman, who pushes heroin legalization as opposed to ibogaine, has a distinct political position and is respected for it by DRCnet.

Rob Kampia, who's putting on the gala around the corner from 9 Bleecker with John Conyers, Peter Lewis and Tommy Chong, is certainly respected, even though according to certain ex-NORML board members he doesn't even smoke pot.

Jack Cole of LEAP is well respected, even though he's kind of a bone-headed ex-narc libertarian who won't even evaluate the difference between pot, ibogaine and hard drugs.

Dan Goldman of SSDP, who graciously spoke at City Hall about HEA reform, etc, has a position a lot like ours, actually, yet you're not trashing him.

Randy Credico of the William Kunstler fund has, I guess, the same positions as the woman who showed up from Drop the Rock, and in fact he and Ethan, in an exercise of mutual back-patting, gave each other awards a few years back!

So let's see - what is our position that is so controversial that you think we should modify it? We believe in a harm reduction approach to marijuana and other drugs based on the Dutch approach, and took a lot of flack in the harm reduction movement in the 90's for supporting the coffee shop model (touted every year by the cannabis cup) of "market separation" of pot and hard drugs - in addition to clean needles, decrim of personal use amounts of all drugs, and methadone/opiate maintenance for those who need it. Also (and this is where it gets controversial, folks), we support outright legalization of psychedelic drugs in addition to cannabis, with ibogaine (naturally, since we invented it) readily available as an alternative to being strung out on methadone for the rest of your life.

The only thing that seemed to get through to you and Danny at City Hall was when that guy John, who's been on methadone since the '80s and was one of the smoke-in kids we developed ibogaine for, said he didn't have the money to get a treatment, and I said I would see what I could do. You may not realize it, but there are plenty of people who come to our event who are on methadone, because NYC is riddled with them. They smoke pot too, since in New York, unlike the rest of the country, they don't throw you off the program for it (even though the system is trying to force all the AIDS patients to do it instead of medical marijuana, to which it is far inferior).

Also, you may not realize it, but it takes tens of thousands, not thousands, of dollars to put on the event here. Mostly just to poster up the city, because we don't have WBCN to support us the way they do in Boston. So a thousand here or there doesn't even give you bragging rights. And High Times management is never, ever going to come up with even $5,000. The only thing you guys can come up with ARE the celebs.

Understand that we have to do a delicate dance. To get our permit we have to convince council-member Alan Gerson (who got us back into Washington Square for the first time in 10 years - a major victory you conveniently left out of your story because ibogaine was responsible - that ours is a harm reduction event, involving all the positions outlined above. To get the kids we put out posters and hand bills clearly calling it a marijuana march. To mollify the cops, we put out press releases calling it the "Cures Not Wars parade," and asking people not to smoke (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). And then once we get everyone together, we educate them as best we can, and NO MATTER WHAT WE DO OR SAY, the media report it as a predominantly marijuana event ANYWAY.

So what's the problem here? Is it that we actually tackle the whole panoply of drugs issues? Or is it that you're just jealous that we came up with something that turns methadonians, crackheads, crystal-freaks and junkies back into regular human beings who can smoke pot and maybe have a beer without relapsing to hard drugs? (I could explain how ibogaine does that, but I don't get much access to the pages of your magazine).

As the man said, why can't we all just get along?

Dana Beal
Cures Not Wars


Dana Beal reponds to 'High Times & the NYC pot rally" post

You know that DRCNet misquoted me, and that you are engaging in selective reporting. The city did not refuse to grant us a Battery Park permit. We could have gotten Clinton Castle (which is also a paved area), but our attorney mistakenly thought we could get into the inside of City Hall Park. Preston Peet says that we had at least 1,000 attendees. and that was with a great deal of confusion and many folks not being able to make the switch from Battery Park because Paul Gilman would not stay at his post in Battery Park.

The amount of money you guys come up with is pathetic, and not worthy of a major say in anything. I spoke about Ibogaine perhaps for 5 minutes. Melatonin for 5 minutes - and that's a fundraiser. Also, the comment about NORML is just not true. Robbie Robinson is NORML, and he did the downtown rally. His grandmother died, so he couldn't show.

This kind of misrepresentation is why nothing is happening. The fact is, you come up with NO celebs. Look at the MPP gala. Maybe you just can't get celebs. Or maybe you are trying to blackmail us. Let's see what happens next year. That is, if you want to get off your butts and do something. What is your problem with a 21st Century approach?

It's not 1978. Times have changed.

Dana Beal
Cures Not Wars

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Wagner's whacky weekend

It was all about Billy Wagner at Shea Stadium this weekend. He won the opening game, blew the second game and saved the finale in the Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees. Each game was decided by a run. Yankee closer Mariano Rivera lost the opener, won the second and didn't pitch Sunday night. So you couild say it was all about the closers at Shea this weekend.

Wagner alllowed two singles, but was able to shut down the Yanks in the 9th, giftwrapping the Mets 4-3 victory and series winner. Like Saturday, the Mets had their shakey moments, especially in the 4th when infield mishaps (a lost pop fly and David Wright's failure to nab Derek Jeter's grounder) led to 2 questionable runs. The Yankees, playing "small ball," added another run in the 8th against Duaner Sanchez, but mostly squandered opportunities, leaving 15 runners on base and bouncing into 3 DPs (1 by rally killer Alex Rodriguez).

The big blows by the Mets came off the bats of Carlos Delgado and Wright, who went back-to-back in the 4th - Delgado's (his 15th) high and deep to right and Wright's (his 6th) a 450-blast that carried beyond the leftfield bullpen. That's all the offense the Mets needed.

Tom Glavine, not his usual pinpoint self, pitched out of trouble in 6 innings of work; he gave up 7 hits and 4 BBs, plus hit 2 batters. It was Glavine's 282nd lifetime win, upping his record to 7-2 (he's one of 5 pitchers with 7 victories - Scott Kazmir, Freddie Garcia, Brandon Webb and Kenny Rogers are the others). Wagner earned his 9th save in 12 tries (Saturday's debacle was not credited as a blown save).

* Jose Lima and Bartolome Fortunato were "designated for assignment," which means their careers with the Mets are over.
* Cuban defector Alay Soler, currently in Double A where he's 1-0 in 3 starts, will make his Met debut against the Phillies either on Wednesday or Thursday. Jeremi Gonzalez will start the other game; Steve Trachsel (2-4) will open the series on Tuesday against Gavin Floyd (4-2).
* Buster Olney at recommends the Mets pick up starter Dave Williams, who was "designated for assignment" by the Reds. He writes: "It wouldn't cost them much more than the prorated portion of the $1.4 million he is making in salary. The Reds probably would be thrilled to simply rid themselves of the contract. At a time when the Mets don't want to trade top prospects, and may prefer not to try to count on pitchers who have never worked above Class AA, Williams would seem to be a sound mid-level gamble. If he flames out and continues to struggle - so far this year, he has a 7.20 ERA - then it would only cost the Mets a bit of cash. Williams is only 27 and he generally has been at least adequate for much of his career, accumulating a 4.56 ERA in his 74 games (66 starts). Williams is much better suited pitching for the Mets, in spacious Shea Stadium, than he was pitching in Cincinnati, because he has an acute tendency toward generating fly balls. The quality the Mets need more than any for the back end of their rotation is to have someone who is not overwhelmed. Williams might be that guy."
* Meanwhile, Ex-Met Kazmir won his 7th game for the Devil Rays, blanking the Marlins, 3-0 (he went 8 innings). Double ouch!


High Times & the New York pot rally

Drug War Chronicle, in its coverage of the Global Marijuana March, quoted Blooming Ideas (NYC pot rally up in smoke, May 6):

"Even in New York City, home to Global Marijuana March maven Dana Beal and his group Cures Not Wars, the turnout was a disappointing 200 or so. While construction in Battery Park, where the rally has been held since it was pushed out of Washington Square Park, meant that the city refused to issue rally permits, some observers interpreted the small size of the crowd as more of a comment on the state of the march in its home city than on the hazards of permit acquisition. As High Times editor-at-large Steve Bloom commented in his blog, "from thousands of supporters in the '90s to a handful on Sunday, the rally appeared to be on life support."

Responding to my comment, Cures Not Wars' Dana Beal told DWC:

"High Times won't back the New York march. The media is just interested in marijuana, and High Times wanted me to drop ibogaine as an issue. The media doesn't see that this is about harm reduction, not just marijuana. We had a woman who talked about the Rockefeller drug laws."

I can't speak for High Times' involvement or lack thereof this year. However, in the past High Times had contributed thousands of dollars to fund the New York rally and march. In 2002, I personally acquired the Parks Department and sound permits, and High Times paid the $1,000 Parks Department bond (which was returned in full). For several years, High Times paid for the backline (sound equipment) that enabled bands to perform. In association with New York State NORML and Damn Sam Productions, High Times helped book bands and speakers for the event. Several years ago, Beal personally appealed for and received a stipend (as much as $2,000) from High Times to help pay for the event.

This year, both High Times and New York State NORML did not support the rally. The event obviously suffered from that lack of support. But the biggest problem, as I wrote, was the last-minute switch of rally locations, from Battery Park to City Hall. Few knew of this change. No wonder the attendance was sadly underwhelming.

As far as Beal's charge that "High Times wanted me to drop ibogaine as an issue," I can't offically speak to that. However, I do contend that people who come to a marijuana rally primarily want to focus on that issue. Beal has long pushed his ibogaine agenda (iboga as a cure for hard-drug addictions) at the event, and also has been known to speak at length about the wonders of melatonin. These are peripheral issues at best, and take away from the main reason why people attend such a rally. The Rockefeller Laws (responsible for long sentences for all drugs), on the other hand, should be a major part of the day's discussion.

Beal also told DWC: "You don't have to have thousands of people to have an impact. This is a worldwide event, and everywhere we were, the local media covered it and mentioned 200 other cities. And these are not just smoke-ins - these are political events."

Cures Not Wars has indeed been responsible for expanding what was once a local New York event into a worldwide phenomenon. But this has occurred at the cost of diminishing attention paid to the New York event, which was clearly the case this year.

Read Phil Smith's coverage in Drug War Chronicle and Sarah Ferguson's in The Village Voice

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Links 'n' things

I listed several new links on the sidebar today - check them out. If any of you have your own websites, blogs or MySpace pages you'd like me to link to, let me know.

I'm encouraging people to use my RSS feed. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Whenever I add a new post, the RSS feed will let you know immediately. My RSS feeds - AP: Top Stories, High Times Articles & Potcasts, Mets News, Gawker, Marijuana - Google News, Faith & Fear in Flushing - are stored in My Yahoo. You don't have to go out to the store to buy the paper, so to speak; it's like getting home delivery. Give it a try:

Also, check out my MySpace page. I have 70 friends since joining on May 10. Let's be friends:

Lastly, don't forget to click the classifieds on my blog. Much appreciated!


Wank-ner, Pt. 2

Met nation is not happy. Ahead 4-0 going into the 9th inning against cross-town rival Yankees, MGR Willie Randolph handed the ball to his high-paid closer, Billy Wagner. Instead of nailing the door shut, the hinges came off as Wagner allowed 4 runs, blowing his 4th save of the season.

Wagner was atrocious. Singles by Jason Giambi and Robinson Cano, sandwiched around a walk to Alex Rodriguez, produced the first run. After Miguel Cairo flied out, Wagner walked Melky Cabrera and Kelly Stinnett, forcing in the second run. At this point, FOX announcer Tim McCarver said it was time to pull Wagner. Randolph let him face PH Bernie Williams, who he hit with his first pitch, forcing in the third run. One pitch too late, Randolph called for Pedro Feliciano to face Johnny Damon, who grounded slowly to Jose Reyes, scoring Cabrera with the game-tying run.

Some will question Randolph's decision to bring Wagner in to close out the game. I don't. Wagner has to shut the Yankees down, no matter if it's 4-0 or 4-3. That's his job. But now that Wagner's clearly proven incapable, Randolph will have to think twice before using him in sensitive situations.

Why can't the Mets find a quality closer? Last year it was Braden Looper blowing a big game to prevent the Mets from sweeping the Yankees at Shea. In the 2000 World Series, Armando Benitez blew the save in Game 1. Woe as Mets!

Poor Pedro Martinez, who pitched a masterful 7 innings (4 hits, 8 Ks). He's stalled at 5-0, and would at least be 7-0 if it wasn't for 2 of Wagner's blown saves.

Doubles by Carlos Beltran and David Wright in the 1st gave Martinez a 2-0 advantage, and HRs by Carlos Delgado (his 14th) and Cliff Floyd (his 4th) extended the lead to 4-0. But after Wagner's meltdown, the Mets had nothing left offensively. Giambi's replacement at 1B, Andy Phillips knocked in the winning run - Cairo, who'd walked and stolen 2nd and 3rd - with a single off Jorge Julio in the 11th.

Next game: Sunday night, Tom Glavine (6-2, 2.43) vs. Aaron Small (0-1,8.71), 8:10 pm start on ESPN and WFAN & WCBS. Radio.


* Barry Bonds tied Babe Ruth for second place on the all-time HR list, hitting his 714th against the A's Brad Halsey in the 1st inning of today's game. Halsey is the 420th pitcher to allow a homer to Bonds. Read my brother Barry Bloom's coverage.
* Ex-Met Kris Benson upped his record to 6-3 last night against the Nationals with a complete-game 5-hitter. Ouch!

Friday, May 19, 2006


The Wright Stuff, Pt. 2

Twelve games ago on May 5, David Wright drove in the winning run in a 14-inning battle with the Braves. He repeated that feat tonight, knocking in Paul Lo Duca in the 9th with a blast over CF Johnny Damon's head to defeat the Yankees 7-6.

The Yanks jumped all over Jeremi Gonzalez in the 1st, scoring 4 runs, but the Mets retaliated with 3 of their own on Carlos Beltran's 11th HR in the bottom of the inning off Randy Johnson. Both starters got roughed up (Xavier Nady also tagged Johnson for a 2-run HR, his 9th); Gonzalez was relieved in the 4th, Johnson in the 6th. Then both bullpens shut down the offenses - for the Mets, Aaron Heilman pitched 3 perfect innings, followed by Billy Wagner who struck out the side in the 9th and got the win (he's 3-0) - until the 9th when the Mets' clutch players Lo Duca and Wright (he had 3 hits) reached loser Mariano Rivera.

Gonzalez's poor performance begs the question: What the hell are the Mets going to do about 40% of their starting rotation? Clearly, Jose Lima and Gonzalez are not the answer. Heilman is. Let him start a few games until Brian Bannister and John Maine are ready to rejoin the club. Chad Bradford and Pedro Feliciano could fill in for Heilman in the meanwhile. Why are the Mets being so stubborn about Heilman?

With the Phillies (22-19) falling to the Red Sox, 5-3, the Mets (25-16) increased their NL East lead to 3 games. The Bosox (24-15) are 1.5 games ahead of the Yankees (23-17) in the AL East.

Tomorrow afternoon, Pedro Martinez takes his 4th shot at going 6-0. He'll have to beat the Yannkees' ace Mike Mussina (6-1); 1:20 pm start on FOX and WFAN & WCBS Radio.


Subway Series @ Shea

The battle for baseball bragging rights begins tonight in New York, with the Subway Series showdown between the Mets and Yankees. Home advantage, starts by Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine, and the Yanks' injury-ravaged roster should add up to either a sweep or at least 2 wins by the Mets.

The Yankees lost another outfielder yesterday, when Bubba Crosby strained a hamstring. Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui are already on the DL. But Jason Giambi (strained neck) was back in the lineup. The Mets' starting squad is healthy; it's the rotation that's been weakened by injuries to Brian Bannister, John Maine and Victor Zambano.

Stat's Incredible!
* At .285, the Yankees' team BA (3rd best in the AL) is .22 points higher than the Mets (7th best in the NL).
* With 52, the Mets have 2 more HRs than the Yanks.
* The Mets' 3.83 team ERA (3rd best in the NL) is .12 better the Yanks (2nd best in the AL).
* The first-place Mets (24-16) have won 1 more game than then the half-game-out-of-first Yankes (23-16).
* Three Yankee regulars and one Met are batting over .300: Derek Jeter (.346), Robinson Cano (.317), and David Wright and Jorge Posada (both .307).
* Carlos Delgado's 13 HRs leads all players, followed by Giambi (12) and Carlos Beltran (10).
* Ten players (5 Mets, 5 Yanks) have more than 20 RBI each; Giambi leads all with 34.
* Glavine (6-2, 2.43) and Mike Mussina (6-1, 2.56) have been the team's best pitchers.
* Billy Wagner and Mariano Rivera both have 8 saves.

Probable Pitchers
* Friday (7:10 pm start, Channels 9 & 11): Jeremi Gonzalez (0-0) vs. Randy Johnson (5-4)
* Saturday (1:20 pm start, FOX); Martinez (5-0) vs. Mussina
* Sunday (8:05 pm start, ESPN): Glavine vs. Aaron Small (0-1)

May the Mets - I mean, the best team win.


Shakin' & Trakin

Longtime HITS mag senior editor/columnist Roy Trakin is an old bud of mine. We both cut our music-journo teeth at the defunct Soho Weekly News. Trakin left New York - and his beloved Mets, Jets and Knick - for Los Angeles many years ago. He's always had a deft, satiric touch. Check out his weekly "Trackin' with Trakin" column at

In this week's missive, Trakin reviews the new cds by Neil Young and Paul Simon, Art School Confidential, Mission Impossible III, Huff, Love Monkey, the BMI Pop Awards and the NBA Playoffs (go Clippers!), and gripes about having to wear drugstore reading glasses now that he's more than a half century old.


New Riders of the Purple Sage @ Canal Room

Due to their Grateful Dead connections, the New Riders of the Purple Sage need no introduction. Even if they haven't toured consistently in over a decade, NRPS conjure good times in the '70s when they opened for the Dead, with Jerry Garcia playing pedal steel guitar.

Four years ago I organized a full-scale reuinion of the New Riders at BB King's in New York as part of the High Times Doobie Awards. We were able to coax John "Marmaduke" Dawson, who wrote and sang most of the band's songs, out of his bunker in San Miguel Allende, Mexico to join David Nelson, Buddy Cage and Nelson's band (bass and drums). Original drummer Spencer Dryden and "Panama Red" songwriter Peter Rowan were last-minute additions to the reunion. NRPS received a Lifetime Achievement Award and performed a five-song set that included "Glendale Train," "Panama Red," "LA Cowboy" and "Henry" ("going' down the mountain/fast, fast, fast").

The version of the New Riders who performed Thursday night did not include Marmaduke. But Nelson, Cage and the replacement players - Michael Falzarano (guitar/vocals), Ronnie Penque (bass/vovals) and Johnny Markowski (drums) - easily sufficed. Nelson, who "picked" with Garcia in the Wildwood Boys, is a legendary guitarist and certainly the best known, along with Garcia, from that very special scene.

NRPS were pioneers of country-rock, now known as alternative-country, or alt-country. Between the Dead, Poco. Neil Young & Crazy Horse, the Byrds, the Band, Bob Dylan (Nashville Skyline), CSNY, Flying Burrito Brothers, the Stones (Exile on Main Street), even Elton John (Tumbleweed Connection), the New Riders fit right in, mostly because of their pedal-steel style and C&W harmonies.

The three-and-a-half hour Canal Room show was laden with favorites and lengthy jams. Split into two sets, the New Riders peaked early with "I Don't Know You," "Whatcha Gonna Do," "Henry," "LA Cowboy" ("smokin' dope, snortin' coke") and "Louisiana Lady." The second set featured Peter Rowan's stoner classic "Panama Red" ("he'll steal your woman/and he'll rob your head"), "Last Lonely Eagle" (dedicated to Dead roadie Ramrod, who died on Wednesday) and a run of covers ("Willie and the Hand Jive," "Take a Letter, Maria," "Let it Bleed" and the Dead's "Ripple").

NRPS road manager Mark Topazio says Marmaduke is not in proper physical condition to endure a rigorous schedule. The band is currently in the midst of a nine-date tour: their next shows are Saturday in Fairfield, CT at FTC Stage One and Sunday in Albany, NY at The Egg.

May 18, 2006 - Canal Room, New York

Set 1

Dead Flowers
Sutter's Mill
I Don't Know You
Whatcha Gonna Do
L.A. Cowboy
Louisiana Lady
Crooked Judge
Garden of Eden

Set 2
Raga to Jerry
Dirty Business
Last Lonely Eagle
Panama Red
One Too Many Stories
15 Days
Truck Drivin' Man
Portland Women
Willie and the Hand Jive
Take a Letter, Maria

Let It Bleed

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Mets 1st-quarter report card

The Mets concluded a 3-6 road trip in St. Louis today with a 6-3 loss, courtesy of Jose Lima (0-3). Last night they wasted a stellar performance by Steve Trachsel in a 1-0 nailbiter, with David Wright and Cliff Floyd failing in the clutch with the bases loaded in the 9th.

After 40 games, the Mets are 24-16 (.600), and lead the division by 2 games. At this pace they'll win 98 games. You gotta believe!

The Mets' biggest problem is their depleted starting rotation. Tom Glavine (6-2) and Pedro Martinez (5-0) have been nearly flawless, but after third starter Steve Trachsel (2-4), arms are in short supply. Brian Bannister and John Maine remain on the DL ,and Victor Zambrano is out for the season. Lima, as he proved again today, can't keep his team in the game. Jeremi Gonzalez, who pitches tomorrow night against the Yankees, is an unknown quantity. Minor-league phenom Mike Peltry needs more time before he's rushed to the majors. Unless GM Omar Minaya makes a trade, I think the Mets should allow Aaron Heilman to make a few starts until the Bannister returns.

This problem could haved been prevented if Minaya hadn't foolishly banished Kris Benson to Baltimore. This was a bad trade (in exchange for Jorge Julio and Maine) anyway you look at it. Benson's 5-3 on a losing team. Imagine if Jim Duquette hadn't dispatched Scott Kazmir (6-2) to Devil Rays for Zambrano in 2004. The Mets rotation could've been Martinez, Glavine, Kazmir, Benson and Trachsel or Bannister.

Here's my 1st-quarter Mets report card:


Carlos Delgado A

A great trade by Minaya. Delgado gives the Mets awesome power (.288 BA, 13 HR, 29 RBI) in the clean-up slot. Better than advertised defensively. Strikes out too much (38).

Paul Lo Duca A-
Another great pickup by Minaya. Clutch hitter (.289, 3, 13), solid catcher, bit of a hothead.

Carlos Beltran B+
More homeruns than last year (.257, 10, 25), similar average, lots of walks. Quick in CF, not the best arm.

David Wright B+
Cooled off after super-hot start. Less HRs than last year (.307, 5, 25), shaky at 3B.

Xavier Nady B+
Smart trade by Minaya (for Mike Cameron). Streaky hitter, plenty of power (.287, 8, 29), not the best right fielder, decent arm.

Jose Reyes B
The Mets' catalyst needs to be more consistent (.256, 3, 20). Will he ever hit .300? When Reyes is hot, the Mets win. Solid at SS.

Ramon Castro B
Excellent backup backstop (.289, 1, 3), might start on other teams.

Chris Woodward B
Super-sub utility player has few ABs (.265, 1, 6), but generally contributes when given chance. Could start at 2B.

Endy Chavez B
Speedy outfield sub is producing (.292, 1, 6) in limited play.

Kaz Matsui B-
Much maligned Japanese import provides occasional spark in 8th slot (.244, 1, 5). Much improved at 2B.

Jose Valentin C
After awful start as pinch-hitter, has shown life in limited outfield duty (.279, 2, 9).

Julio Franco C
Oldest player in baseball is an inspiration, but seldom plays (.227, 1, 5). Reduced to pinch-hitting and bench coaching.

Anderson Hernandez C
Rookie season short-circuited by back injury. Weak hitter (.146), but amazing glove at 2B.

Cliff Floyd D
The big disappointment so far. Just can't get untracked at the plate (.202, 3, 14). Without Delgado in the lineup, would be a major problem.


Tom Glavine A+

A wonder to behold (6-2, 2.43). At 40, he's pitching like he's 25. Always provides a solid start, cagey as ever and getting it done at the plate too (.462).

Pedro Martinez A
What toe problem? Leads the majors in strikeouts. Has yet to lose (5-0, 3.19). Letting up too many HRs (8).

Duaner Sanchez A
Minaya's sleeper acquisition (for Jae Seo) has been a godsend as the set-up man with Heilman (1-0, 1.78). Didn't allow a run in first 22 innings.

Aaron Heilman B+
He's so good in the bullpen (0-1, 1,69), Mets won't let him start, even though they could use help. Low-ball specialist.

Brian Bannister B
Spring-training surprise is work in progress (2-0, 2.89). Wild arm needs to be harnessed. Currently on DL with hamstring strain.

Pedro Feliciano B
Lefty's ERA is 0.73 in 12 innings.

Steve Trachsel C+
Crafty veteran rarely has back-to-back quality starts (2-4, 4.33). Mets need him to win now more than ever.

Billy Wagner C+
Already has one more blown save (3) than last season with the Phillies (2-0, 1.89, 8 saves). Will he be the man in crunch time?

Chad Bradford C
Submarine specialist has not greatly impressed (2-2, 4.91), but could come along and help bullpen.

Darren Oliver C
Long man gives up too many homeruns (5). But lefties are always valuable (1-0, 4.08).

Jorge Julio D
Fireballer prefers to throw sliders (1-1, 5.40, 1 save). An enigmna who reminds of Armando Benitez. Bad trade.

Victor Zambrano F
Hid arm problems for more than two years (1-2, 6.75). Still doesn't excuse him. Horrible trade.

Jose Lima F
Journeyman hothead should be released (0-3, 8.79).

John Maine & Jeremi Gonzalez no grades


Manager Willie Randolph B+

Sophomore coach seems to have control of streaky squad. He's made very few questionable game decisions. He and pitching coach Rick Peterson have to solve the rotation problem.

General manager Omar Minaya B
Since taking over less than two years ago, he's made the right moves, acquiring Martinez, Delgado, Beltran, Wagner, Lo Duca, Nady and Sanchez. As I've said, he made a big mistake trading Kris Benson. What's Omar have up his sleeve?

Next game: Mets vs Yankees (23-16) at Shea on Channels 9 & 11 and WFAN & WCBS radio, Jeremi Gonzalez (0-0, 5.40) vs. Randy Johnson (5-4, 5.13)


"Love Me Don't": McCartneys split up

In January, Heather Mills McCartney angered stoners with anti-pot remarks directed at Fab Four husband Paul. “Him and Linda smoked it every day for the whole of their lives together,” she said of Paul's first wife, who died in 1998. “But I would not get married to him if he was taking drugs. I hate it. I could not have him lying to our child [two-year-old Beatrice] about not taking drugs and then going out for a sneaky puff.”

One of the world’s most revered potheads, Paul McCartney not only smoked cannabis most of his life, he wrote songs about it (“Got to Get You Into My Life,” “Fixing a Hole”) and got busted for it—famously spending nine days in prison in Japan in 1980. But last year the 63-year-old pop singer claimed that marijuana was no longer in his life. “I have quite a liberal view [on drugs],” he said, “but I find that I prefer to be straight."

Now we know that was all a front. Yesterday, the Mccartneys, who've been married for four years, made the following "joint" statement: "Having tried exceptionally hard to make our relationship work given the daily pressures surrounding us, it is with sadness that we have decided to go our separate ways."

The Daily Mail reported: "The ex-Beatle's marriage to the charity campaigner and former model has clearly been under strain in recent weeks. Reports have suggested the couple were already living at separate addresses after a series of blazing rows. Sir Paul, who [will be] 64 next month, is said to be living on the family farm in Peasmarsh, East Sussex, about 50 miles away from his wife, who is at the couple's home in Hove. Pictures also recently showed Sir Paul on holiday alone in the south of France. The couple met in 1999 at a charity event a year after Sir Paul's first wife of 29 years, Linda, died from cancer. In 2001, they got engaged while on a short break in the Lake District and they wed the next year at a remote countryside castle in Ireland.

"Sir Paul is Britain's richest musician and made £48.5million last year from record sales and his U.S. tour. Leading divorce lawyer Alan Kaufman, head of family law at London firm Finers Stephens Innocent, said: 'This will be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, divorce cases to hit the English courts, if it gets that far. If I was acting for Sir Paul and he wanted a fight - and he can certainly afford one - I would take it all the way through the courts and argue that a fair settlement would be a lot less than £200 million."

Let's hope Heather doesn't bury Paul.

The RSS feed for Blooming Ideas is:

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Cards fold

Met fans had their work cut out for them last night, as the opening game of the Cards series in St. Louis was delayed by rain and didn't end until nearly 2 am. But the Mets prevailed, 8-3, tacking on 4 runs in the 8th. Tom Glavine won his 281st career game, upping his 2006 record to 6-2 (2.43 ERA). He was stingy as usual, allowing 3 runs on 7 hits in 6 innings.

With the game tied 3-3 in the top of the 7th, Paul Lo Duca characteristically doubled home a run to give the Mets the lead and then the skies opened over Busch Stadium. Fans fled and SNY viewers surfed elesewhere - most likely to the Yankees' wacky walkoff 14-13 shootout with the Rangers on YES. Hardcore Metsies were rewarded when the tarps came off the field and the game resumed past midnight. While Aaron Heilman, Duaner Sanchez and Jorge Julio blanked the Cards the rest of the way, the Mets rallied on RBI hits by Carlos Beltran, PH Julio Franco and Jose Reyes, who also belted a 2-run HR (his 3rd) in the 3rd, ending another mini-slump (5 for 34).

With consecutive Ks of Jim Edmonds, the unflappable Glavine tied and surpassed Sandy Koufax on the all-time strikeout leader board. He's now in 37th place with 2,397 career Ks.

Glavine and Pedro Martinez have combined for an 11-2 record, while the rest of the Mets' starting corps is 5-8. Jose Lima was designated as Thursday's starter and Jeremi Gonzalez will kick off the weekend series against the Yanks.

The Mets (24-14) now lead the Phillies (22-16), who lost 3-2 in Milwaukee, by 2 games.

Next game: Wednesday, May 17 vs. the Cards (24-15) at Busch Stadium, 8:10 pm start on SNY & WFAN, Steve Trachsel (2-3, 4.91) vs. Mark Mulder (4-1, 4.27)

* The Yankees (22-15) roared back from a 9-run deficit to beat the first-place Rangers (20-18). Jorge Posada nailed the 9th-inning, game-winning HR into the rightfield bleachers. The Red Sox (23-14), who beat the Orioles 6-5, held on to a 1-game lead in the division.
* Despite the Giants' 14-run explosion against the Astros last night, Barry Bonds again was denied his 714th HR. He did have 2 singles, an RBI and was hit by a pitch that led to Houston reliever Russ Springer and MGR Phil Garner both being tossed from the game. Bonds has gone HR-less in his last 26 ABs. He'll skip today's day game and will be back in the lineup Friday night in Oakland, when the interleague schedule commences.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Your Ad Here