Carney Lansford's nightmare: His batters against his son

SCOTTSDALE,  Ariz. -- The relaxed mood
of spring baseball no longer existed. The games players say don't mean
that much suddenly meant too much for Carney Lansford.

His son was pitching against the hitters he coaches.

The requirement for 22-year-old Jared Lansford, the Oakland Athletics
reliever, was to prevent any success by batters of the San Francisco
Giants, whose responsibility is that of 52-year-old Carney Lansford.

Who, as fortune would have it, was a longtime member of the Athletics.

"I could not watch," said Carney.

So, in the bottom of the fifth Thursday at Scottsdale Stadium, Lansford
marched into the Giants clubhouse, hiding from reality as it were.
Intelligently so.

"I've seen him pitch a couple of times before," said Carney of Jared,
"but I couldn't do this one. My hitters against my son. A no-win

For Jared, who got a pre-game hug from his dad, the situation was strange but not quite serious.

"It was different from any other team I faced," said the young pitcher,
now in his fifth season after having been drafted in 2005 out of St.
Francisco High School in Mountain View, Calif.

"I think it was worse for him than for me."

It was. Much worse. Jared would allow a couple of hits in his inning of
a game the A's won, 4-2, and has not allowed a run in three innings of
exhibition play.

"I didn't have my best stuff," Jared conceded, "but I got them to put the ball in play."

Jared appreciated the experience. Up in the stands, so did Debbie
Lansford, mother and wife, and Jared's younger brother, Josh, who will
report to the Cubs' camp in a few days.

"Oh yeah," agreed Debbie, "it was fun. It doesn't matter who they're
playing, I like to watch. It was unusual, but I enjoyed it very much."

Carney did not.

"I wanted him to pitch well, obviously," said Carney. " just couldn't
watch. My heart was pounding too much. And my stomach was in knots."

After the game, the family came together, as close as possible when
Carney and Jared were on one side of the screen behind home plate and
Debbie and Josh on the other. They exchanged smiles and through the
netting handshakes.

"I talked to my dad maybe a minute before the game," said Jared, as
relaxed as Carney was intense, "teasing him a little bit. I asked him
if he gave away my secrets. It was a lot of fun."

Jared's pitching coach is Curt Young, who found the whole thing
fascinating, especially since he now is in charge of Jared's
improvement and in the late 1980s and early 1990s was Carney's teammate
on the A's.

"Just watching it live," said Young, "it was real exciting for me. Just
knowing Carney and playing with him and knowing his son's out there
facing the hitters he's worked with. I'm sure it was a big day for the
two of them."

At least the one of them.

Carney, American League batting champion with the Boston Red Sox in
1981, later asked some of those batters, Rich Aurilia, Juan Uribe and
Steve Holm, what they thought of the pitcher they faced.

Aurilia and Uribe grounded out. Holm and Eugenio Velez singled, Velez'
ball not leaving the infield. Then Andres Torres grounded out. Five
batters, only one ball to the outfield.

"They said he had pretty good movement on his ball," Carney explained.
"Maybe a little too much movement. But he made the pitches when he had

"I saw him pitch a few times in the Fall League, high school and the
minors. But this is a nightmare for me, for him to pitch against our

The nightmare was brief. The Lansfords, all four of them, are staying
in the same condo. "I'm sure we'll talk about it tonight when we all
get there," said Jared.

The Family Lansford never has been far from baseball. Carney signed a
contract in 1975 after graduating from Wilcox High in Santa Clara and
played through 1992. After coaching with the A's and managing the
Angels farm team at Edmonton, he left the game after the 1999 season,
only to return in 2007.

He's been through a great deal, the 1989 Earthquake Series, trades, injuries. But nothing quite like he went through Thursday.

"But now," said Debbie Lansford, "we all go back to the house and have dinner, and life is good for another couple of days."


She understands. It's only a game.

RealClearSports: Dodgers Get Manny Happy Returns

By Art Spander

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- An odd placement for a media conference, on the
deck of the Dodgers training complex, the new ballpark behind Joe
Torre's right shoulder, the old leftfielder in California beyond those
mountains to the west.

Exhibition season, isn't it? And that was some exhibition. Torre,
in uniform, if at the last moment, and general manager Ned Colletti,
explaining how after four months of desultory conversation the Great
Manny Ramirez Confrontation had come to a happy end.

Manny will be Manny once more as a Dodger. Not that this wasn't inevitable.

He has what the Dodgers need, talent. They have what Manny (and his
agent, Scott Boras) want, money. The signing, which technically hadn't
yet taken place Wednesday afternoon, was delayed, but it also was

"We had a desire to try and put the personality back into the
picture instead of just the negotiations," was the Colletti
explanation of how and why Manny (and Boras) at last were willing to
accept the two-year, $45 million contract they were not willing to
accept the last four months.

The guys, pals all, we're advised, sat in the home of Dodgers owner
Frank McCourt in Malibu -- hey, you think he's going to live in Los
Angeles? -- on Tuesday night and worked over the details.

"I thought Manny seemed very happy about the possibility," said Colletti.

And so another sporting crisis is averted. It's always something in our little world, isn't it?

A-Rod's hip. As opposed to A-Rod's 'roids. Kurt Warner visiting the
49ers in search of millions, and of course, signing once more with the
Arizona Cardinals, whose flying saucer-like stadium is quite visible a
couple of miles from the new facility used by the Dodgers and Chicago
White Sox.

We sit around and worry whether the Mannys and Kurts will
eventually reconnect with their current team, or maybe a different one,
while all around us the markets collapse, the economy bottoms out and
jobs are lost by the millions.

On this warm Wednesday in the desert, the Dodgers were playing a
spring game against their rivals, the Giants, who had shown interest in
acquiring Ramirez, but only under their own conditions.

San Francisco appears to have pitching. Randy Johnson struck out
seven on Tuesday. Barry Zito looked decent Wednesday, allowing four
hits, three runs and no walks during his two-plus innings. The Giants,
however, lack hitting. They would not have that problem with Manny.

"Under the right circumstances we would have wanted to sign him,"
said Giants team president Larry Baer, in attendance Wednesday. "We did
have a lot of conversation."

What the Giants would have wanted, the Dodgers obtained. Manny
makes them the favorites in National League West. More than that, Manny
once more makes them an attraction in a town that pays attention only
to attractions.

Manny can send balls over fences. Manny can send fans through the
gates, and in these difficult times -- attendance without Manny on
Wednesday was only 5,944 at the 13,000-seat Camelback Ranch Stadium -- that
is not to be underestimated.

When Zito, in the third year of his own dream-world contract, $126
million, was told the next time he pitches against the Dodgers, Manny
would be in the L.A. lineup, he shrugged.

"He's great and a challenge," was the Zito observation. Advised
the Dodgers now would be the choice in the division, Zito said, "I
think wherever he went he would have brought that with him."

What Ramirez also brings is the infamous baggage, a reputation for
dogging it, of going by his own rules, that proved unacceptable to his
previous team, Boston, but doesn't bother his current one, Los Angeles.

"Manny certainly seems comfortable here," said Torre. The manager
and general manager, delayed by Southern California rains, had flown in
only minutes before the meeting with the press.

"I couldn't be more pleased in how excited he was," said Torre. "Just the prospect of getting back on the field. He's in shape, but
after he shows up it probably will be a week until he's ready."

The Dodgers were ready to sign Ramirez, but as is so often the case
in such situations a charade had to be played out so neither side lost

It was a chess match destined to end at checkmate and both parties expressing appreciation of the other.

Only last Sunday, McCourt said the negotiations would be started "from scratch." Did that actually occur? The figures, two years, $45
million, had been debated for a while. But we're into the month of
March, and it was time for a settlement.

"We're trying to build a team here that works together," said Colletti, "and sticks together. A team that wins."

For $45 million, that's the least to expect.

As a reporter since 1960, Art Spander is a living treasure of sports
history. A recipient of the Dick McCann Memorial Award -- given for his
long and distinguished career covering professional football -- he has
earned himself a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And he has
recently been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the PGA of
America for 2009.

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© RealClearSports 2009


CBS Sports: Norman's ending inevitable, but still not easy to take

SOUTHPORT, England -- It was painful, but it wasn't unexpected. For three days, Greg Norman had defied logic, defeated nature, beaten back the years. We kept hoping he might go on, while deep down we knew he could not.

It was a fairy tale, a delight, a lesson in living.


Contra Costa Times: Old Greg Norman's stormin' at wind-blown British Open

SOUTHPORT, England -- Windy? Candlestick Park was never close to this. We're lucky not to have been blown back to the 19th century. In the immortal words of Greg Norman, "It was just brutal today.''

But not brutal enough to keep Norman from the lead after three rounds.

Not brutal enough to keep more than 40,000 spectators from scrambling up and down the 40-foot dunes at Royal Birkdale.



CBS Sports: No longer a surprise, but Curtis' third-round play probably is

SOUTHPORT, England -- He's not a surprise any longer, though the way Ben Curtis played Saturday in the British Open, overcoming wind gusts that proved disastrous to virtually everyone else, was hardly expected.

Five years ago, no one knew Ben Curtis from Ben Franklin. Curtis showed up more tourist than competitor for the Open at Royal St. Georges, talking about visiting London on his way to the tournament.