Plenty Of Work to Go Around For Tim Floyd

Posted in Basketball at 10:57 pm by

Despite a miserable NBA record and not having coached in the college ranks in almost 8 years, former Iowa State head coach Tim Floyd is expected to be named Rick Majerus’ replacement at USC. Perhaps hoping to repeat the football success they’ve had with Pete Carroll — another coach who floundered in the pros — Southern Cal will have to work out a settlement of some sort with the New Orleans Hornets, who are still paying Floyd following his dismissal last year.

HoopsHype.com is reporting that former St. Johns guard Felipe Lopez, last seen doing Spanish commentary on NBA broadcasts, had a tryout scheduled with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Southland Corp. Cashes In On Iraq War

Posted in The Woah at 10:04 pm by

CSTB’s loyal canine mascot and I made our usual 5am stop at the local 7-11, and we were greeted by a display containing puke-green “Support Our Troops” bracelets. The packaging claimed that $1.00 from the sale of each bracelet would benefit the U.S.O. I asked the kindly lady behind the counter where the remaining $1.99 went — she snapped that the bracelets costs $1.99 to manufacture.

Perhaps this is true — that it costs $1.99 each to make a zillion puke-green bracelets (in China, even). But this seems highly unlikely.

In other 7-11 news, the Orange Creme Slurpee has been discontinued.

Mariotti On The Bad Medicine At Wrigley

Posted in Baseball at 5:59 pm by

I was thinking the Mets were getting the worst medical advice in the majors, but as it turns out, the Cubs didn’t even bother to employ licensed trainers. Thus giving the Chicago Sun-Times’ Jay Mariotti license to vent.

It’s hard to believe, even by Cubbie standards, that general manager Jim Hendry would hire a trainer who wasn’t licensed to practice in the state of Illinois and wasn’t equipped to treat a rash of injuries that helped wreck the 2004 season. But such was the charge made Wednesday by deposed assistant trainer Sandy Krum, who said he told Hendry in August about the professional shortcomings and behind-the-scenes bungling of the since-fired head trainer, Dave Groeschner. Krum is suing the Cubs in Cook County Circuit Court for wrongfully terminating his employment, and to some degree, we must consider the grudge of the source.

Still, Cubdom should realize by now not to disregard any story as too bizarre. This was the dysfunctional season, after all, when players feuded with broadcasters Steve Stone and Chip Caray, the Rev. Johnnie B. Baker lost control, a sulking Sosa quit on the team after ripping fans and media all year, and on-field oneupsmanship became a bigger priority than winning games. Why wouldn’t these vicious office politics also involve trainers? Who wouldn’t Krum and Groeschner be on the verge of blows as Moises Alou and Kent Mercker wanted a piece of The Evil Stoney? And why wouldn’t reasonable folks at least listen to Krum’s claim that Groeschner, who replaced Dave Tumbas last offseason, lacked the credentials to properly assess and tend to injuries?

To this day, I’m utterly baffled by a series of diagnoses that originally expressed optimism, only to unravel into long, distracting and suspicious stays on the DL. Prior was supposed to return in a week or so, then missed two months. Wood was expected to miss a start or two, then missed a couple of months. Sosa sneezed and wasn’t seen for weeks. Todd Hollandsworth went away and never came back. Why? Maybe now, we’re finally getting answers, disturbing as the suggestions seem.

“Not only did the Cubs break the law, but this activity indeed is what led to prolonged stays on the disabled list for the 2004 Cubs team,” Krum said. “After being informed by me, [Hendry] allowed a non-licensed athletic trainer to continue as head athletic trainer, knowing that this was against the laws of the state of Illinois.”

Do the Cubs think they’re above the law? More likely, they are too inept to know the law or do due diligence regarding the law, but there are larger issues here. In a city of world-class medical centers, several within a quick drive of Wrigley Field, the Cubs can’t find one decent trainer to make sense of it all? Ever hear of a sports team employing three trainers in a 14-month span? Incredibly enough, there’s mounting evidence that they were as sloppy with their medical staff as they were in obtaining building permits for the Crumbling Confines.

Cavs Unveil Scary Promotion

Posted in Basketball at 5:50 pm by

thanks to Jon Solomon for the tip on Cleveland’s latest marketing initiative.

On Tuesday, January 11th when the Cavaliers host Charlotte, fans attending the game can make œZ grow when they receive a Zydrunas Ilgauskas Stretch Doll. The 7™3 center with long legs and a massive wingspan is the perfect choice for the 7-inch doll that can be stretched up to three times its length and then scrunched back to regular size.

Vick Signs $100 Million, 10 Year Extension

Posted in Gridiron at 5:45 pm by

Just days after waxing poetic about the paradigm-smashing capabilites of Falcons QB Michael Vick, I’ll reluctantly sign a different tune. $100 million is a wild sum to shell out for a QB with a 56% completion percentage and totals of 13 TD’s versus 12 int’s this year. That Vick’s legs are his not-so-secret weapons is what sets him far apart from other slightly above average NFL QB’s, and the only guaranteed dough in this extension is the signing bonus. But that’s still $37 million against the cap and we’re still talking about a player who has already lost close to an entire season with a broken leg.

I’ve heard a few talk radio screamers wondering aloud what Tom Brady is worth if Vick stands to earn $100 million. Which is kind of a ridiculous question. If Michael Vick isn’t performing up to the level commensurate with his contract, he’ll be forced to take less money, if not cut entirely. You can thank the NFLPA for that. And if Tom Brady was a year away from being a free agent, he’d have the leverage to command a similar, if not greater deal.

The Unfunny Pages, Pt. II

Posted in Basketball at 5:08 pm by

Vic Funk (no relation to the phony Dr. Funk, Vince C.) writes “Mayhaps comic strip writers should lay off the basketball references if they’re gonna be less timely than ones Charles M. Shultz would come up with.”

A federal judge today ruled that Jermaine O’Neal can play in the Xmas day rematch betweeen the Pacers and Pistons. issued a temporary restraining order putting a halt to O’Neal’s suspension, upholding an arbitrator’s decision yesterday to slice 10 games off the 25 game suspenion imposed on the Indiana forward.

(Judge Daniels, shown receiving the “Most Likely To Undermine David Stern” award in 2000, presented by a man who may or may not be the actor Geoffrey Rush).

‘Tek Stays In Boston

Posted in Baseball at 4:28 pm by

The Globe’s Gordon Edes is reporting that the Red Sox and catcher Jason Varitek have reached agreement on a four-year, $40 million contract, thus ensuring one of the pivotal figures from Boston’s championship run will remain with his old club.

(Jason was as surprised as anyone to learn that Kenmore Sq. fixture Mr. Butch was hiding from authorities inside the Wally costume)

It also puts an end to the foolish talk of Pedro Martinez wooing Varitek to Flushing, along with the former’s moronic suggestion that Mike Piazza could play first base next year.

Fox Screws Pedro Out Of Reality Show

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 2:45 pm by

From Adam Pertman in today’s LA Times :

Most so-called reality shows don’t depict reality, of course. Rather, they create fantasies (whether beautiful or grotesque) designed to appeal to dreamers, cynics and voyeurs. And, because those traits run though most people’s personalities, millions tune in to watch all sorts of mortifying, salacious and occasionally heartwarming programs.

The formula doesn’t always work, however, especially when it deeply offends big segments of the potential audience. A case in point was the Fox special “Seriously, Dude, I’m Gay,” in which two men competed for $50,000 by pretending they weren’t straight; the network canceled the show before it aired earlier this year because of an outcry from gay activists, who described it as “an exercise in systemic humiliation.”

The same ” along with words like “outrageous” and “revolting” ” could be said about the latest Fox offering, “Who’s Your Daddy?” In this perverse program, a woman who was adopted as an infant wins $100,000 if she can determine which of eight men is her biological father. But if she guesses wrong, the impostor who fools her gets the cash.

Though the show isn’t scheduled to run until early January, it already has generated a furor in the adoption community ” which is populated by tens of millions of people whom the show’s producers presumably see as potential viewers. Few of them will be watching, though, except perhaps to figure out which sponsors to boycott. Here’s why:

For generations, adoption in this country was characterized by denial, degradation and deceit. Many adoptive parents were counseled to pretend they’d given birth to their children. It was considered “good practice” to advise biological mothers (and fathers, when they were involved) to forget about the children they had created and “move on.” Adopted people were treated differently: They were routinely denied their medical histories in order to maintain secrecy, for instance, and they were told that the most human of instincts ” wanting to know who you are and where you came from ” did not apply to them.

The shame and stigmas that grew out of those mistaken notions, mercifully, are being replaced by honesty and pride as adoption emerges from the shadows and moves into the social mainstream. But remnants of the past remain, and “Who’s Your Daddy?” is a clear outgrowth of those remnants in several ways.

First, many people make errors relating to adoption, even when they mean well, because the process has been so secretive. So television producers aren’t likely to be aware of the research and experience showing that sensitive, highly emotional occasions like reunions are best accomplished methodically and privately ” rather than in a game-show format in front of millions of gawkers. “Insensitive” is the mildest word to describe the artificial, exploitative way Fox intends to depict this fast-growing phenomenon of reunions.

Second, and most pointedly, the sole reason Fox could attract anyone to be on its program is that antiquated American adoption laws and policies make it exceedingly difficult for adoptees and biological parents to contact each other. So “Who’s Your Daddy?” capitalizes on the vulnerabilities of the participants, who in turn agree to play because they have few other options and don’t have the resources of a TV network to conduct a search.

This concept of reunion as mass entertainment has lots of other creepy flaws too. Cheapening such a profound experience by introducing cash prizes into it, for instance, does more than just raise concerns about the motives of the participants (who, with the exception of the impostors, are undoubtedly doing this for much better reasons); it also makes many in the adoption community bristle because money already causes enough problems and controversies in their world. Ditto for using deliberate deceit as part of the game: There has been far too much of that in the real world of adoption. The objective is to eliminate it, not find new uses for it.

I’m still waiting for Fox to premiere “Seriously Dude, I’m Not Gay”, in which several powerful GOP operatives attempt to have their Gaydar profiles erased.

Helping The Neediest While Taking Cheap Shots At Washed Up Rockers

Posted in Rock Und Roll at 11:03 am by

Kevin T. shares the following item from today’s Chicago Sun-Times and gossip maven Michael Sneed.

An unknown gentleman bid $9,000 for Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy to come to his house, hang out and play a couple of songs. Tweedy was auctioned off as part of the third annual “The Second City That Never Sleeps: Letters to Santa” benefit, which provides gifts for needy kids. It featured Second City alums and Chicago rocker Billy Corgan.

Says Kevin, “word has it Nash Kato fetched almost $2.45.”

I think that’s quite unfair, and suspect it would take at least $20 to rouse National from his winter hibernation. And I’d do it (and more) for a lot less.

And What Was Your Company Christmas Party Like?

Posted in Football at 5:31 am by

From The Independent’s Sam Wallace:

Joey Barton (above) will be charged with gross misconduct and fined a Manchester City club record £60,000 for burning a team-mate on the eyelid with a cigar at the players’ Christmas party, but the short-tempered midfielder will not be sold.

However, the future does not look quite so secure for his victim, Jamie Tandy, 20, whose involvement in the incident at a bar in central Manchester began when he tried to set fire to Barton’s shirt. It is not the first time that City officials have had their patience tested by Tandy, a reserve-team player, and the club are now considering moving him on in the summer.

In the meantime, City have convened a disciplinary committee – which will be chaired by the director Brian Bodek and will include the manager, Kevin Keegan, – to deal with Barton, 22, and Tandy. They expect to come to an agreement on a punishment for the players before the Boxing Day fixture away at Everton.

The incident took place on Sunday in the Lucid bar in Manchester’s refurbished Printworks complex during the team’s fancy-dress Christmas party. Barton, who was dressed as Jimmy Saville (above), thrusted the lighted cigar into Tandy’s face when he realised that his team-mate was trying to set fire to his shirt.

The two men have never been close friends and have clashed in the past on the training ground. A City source said: “Joey is a proud Scouser who wears his heart on his sleeve, while Jamie is a boisterous Mancunian. They just don’t get on.”

Mets Continue Chase Of One Carlos Or Another, Ink Accused Rapist

Posted in Baseball at 5:13 am by

The NY Post’s George King and Joel Sherman portray the Mets as legit contenders for the services of Carlos Beltran, a scenario which fantastic though it seems, is no less incredible than the early reports of Omar Minaya wooing Pedro Martinez.

Scott Boras has begun to let teams know negotiations for Carlos Beltran have moved beyond the exploratory stage to the point where firm offers are needed, and the agent firmly believes the Yankees will not be the only New York club interested in his client, according to a person who has been briefed on the discussions.

Mets GM Omar Minaya has made it clear to ownership he wants to bid, and bid aggressively for the star center fielder, and the Boras camp is under the impression that he has gained clout with Fred Wilpon by landing Pedro Martinez when the anticipation was the righty ace would go back to the Red Sox, according to the source.

Perhaps then the Mets could actually steal Beltran from the Yankees when the overall expectation in the sport is that Beltran will wind up in The Bronx.

“I think right now Fred is enamored with Omar for changing the face of the organization, and gaining credibility with Pedro,” the source said. “Omar is pushing like crazy. He wants to bring home a big player.”

It obviously is in Boras’ best interest to get both New York teams bidding against each other to raise the price for his client. Boras could not be reached yesterday.

Boras apparently has told the Yankees, Astros, Mets, Cubs and Tigers not even to bother if they do not offer at least seven years at $112 million. The Yanks have yet to make a firm offer.

An executive for another club said Minaya is definitely trying to make a quick, stealth attack to see if he can land Beltran. Minaya has told upper management that his persona is to be pro-active and that if the Mets get into this that they should not make a low-ball offer, like the organization did last year for Vladimir Guerrero.

The Daily News’ Peter Botte detailed the Mets’ current offer to free agent 1B Carlos Delgado.

First baseman Carlos Delgado indicated that the Mets and Yankees remain two of the four teams in the running to land him as a free agent.

“I’m inclined to seek the opportunity to have a good contract and for being on a contending team,” Delgado said from Puerto Rico. “A good contract means to have a contract to have the opportunity to win, and preferably a multi-year contract of four or five years.”

The Mets initially offered Delgado a three-year deal at the winter meetings nearly two weeks ago and likely would be willing to go beyond $40 million over that time frame. But they’ve been reluctant to offer the same four-year commitment they gave Pedro Martinez.

Delgado, who was participating in a ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the Puerto Rican flag in San Juan, said the Orioles and Red Sox are the other teams in negotiations with agent David Sloane. Seattle also had expressed interest, he said, but the M’s dropped out after signing Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre last week.

As for the Yankees, their interest in Delgado likely hinges more on their ability to sign center fielder Carlos Beltran than it does with Jason Giambi’s admitted steroid use. If Beltran signs elsewhere – with the Astros, Cubs and Mets also interested – the Yanks could push to sign Delgado and keep Bernie Williams in center and Giambi as their designated hitter.

Botte also reports that the Mets have signed former Marlins catcher / accused rapist Ramon Castro (above) to a minor league contract.


SF Signs Moises Alou

Posted in Baseball at 11:45 pm by

The AP is reporting that much traveled free agent OF Moises Alou will be reunited with his father, manager Felipe Alou for the second time, by signing a two-year, $13.25 million contract with the Giants.

Alou, a prodigious power hitter (and advocate of urinating on his own hands) for much of his career, should make walking Barry Bonds a less attractive option (assuming Barry doesn’t report to spring training weighing 160 pounds). On the other hand, with two thirds of his starting outfield a combined 80 years of age, perhaps it would make sense for Peter Magowan to start lobbying for adding the DH to the National League next year.

Bobby V., King Of The Fill-Ins

Posted in Baseball at 11:32 pm by

Stories like this one by the NY Times’ Lee Jenkins that have me sorely wishing WFAN would simulcast its programs on the web, if only to have heard the debut of former Mets manager Bobby Valentine.

(he’s not taking requests)

Over the two two-hour shows, Valentine ripped into John Franco for being selfish, J. D. Drew for not playing hurt and Curt Schilling for not starting the 2001 All-Star Game. Valentine said Randy Johnson would still wind up with the Yankees by spring training, campaigned for the Mets to sign Carlos Beltran and compared steroids to Viagra.

He greeted many callers with “yo,” referred to most as “bro” and once excused himself for a break to go to the “little boys’ room.” He often spoke in rhymes, forced segues out of every segment and talked freely about “the wounds” he will always carry from his tenure with the Mets.

“I love spontaneity, and this is the essence of spontaneity,” Valentine said after he walked out of the studio after the show yesterday. “You have to be quick on your feet. I just try to share my experience the best I can.”

Yesterday alone, Valentine nicknamed Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano the New Italian Stallion, said that players in New York deserved more money than their peers, and questioned Baltimore Manager Lee Mazzilli about Carlos Delgado in an interview.

He blamed ill-prepared managers and pitching coaches for long games, blamed complacent veterans with long-term contracts for his firing from the Mets, and blamed “the Dodgers’ young general manager,” Paul DePodesta, and his “cold feet” for the collapse of the Johnson trade. Valentine said he could not understand why anyone would be reluctant to trade a player like Shawn Green.

Coming from most radio hosts, such controversial ideas would be commonplace. But for a former major-league manager, it was radical stuff.

At one point, Valentine off-handedly mentioned that Johnson and Schilling despise each other and then illustrated his claim with one of his signature stories.

Valentine recalled the 2001 All-Star Game as “one of the most disappointing days of my life” because Schilling backed out of his scheduled start. Reflecting on why Schilling made such a move, Valentine said: “He didn’t have any intention of pitching the All-Star Game. He just wanted to make sure it wasn’t Randy Johnson who was picked.” At the time, Schilling and Johnson were pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and later that year, they won the World Series.

When Valentine left the studio yesterday, he was asked about the All-Star anecdote and immediately elaborated. He said that Johnson initially declined to start the game because he did not want to be considered Schilling’s replacement, then relented.

Valentine sounded pointed, candid and completely incapable of pressing any internal delay button. All of the qualities that got him in trouble with the Mets could someday score him some huge ratings.

If you’re blessed with Real Player, you can listen to Valentine’s interview with Lee Mazzilli, or his chat today with Tommy Lasorda.

In other Mets alumni news, former outfielder Mookie Wilson was named manager of the Class A NY-Penn League Brooklyn Cyclones. The Mets have also signed Andres Galarraga to a minor league contract. The Big Cat, sitting on 399 career home runs, while sometimes described as ageless, is in fact, 43 years old.

Knicks Conceed 4th Quarter, Game To Celtics

Posted in Basketball at 9:10 pm by

Did I really hear Tommy Heinson yell, “I’m gonna get me some cider!” when Walter McCarty drained a three pointer? Did I really watch Jamal Crawford flail his arms like a man drowning when Mark Blount drove past him? And did the Knicks really let the Celtics run about 15 second off the clock, the former training by 4 with half a minute left?

(as long as he’s playing against Jamal Crawford, Ricky Davis will never be the most irresponsible guy on the floor)

Through the magic of Tivo, I can confirm that all 3 events occurred, and that once again, terrible shot selection and non-existent defense combined to sink New York, this time against a younger division rival showing signs of life.

Was anyone else surprised that the Celtics organization chose not to honor Vin Baker with a pregame video tribute of some sort?

After watching Richard Jefferson’s ridiculous alley-oop buzzer beater to sink the Cavs, I can only hope Paul Silas faces plenty of tough questions (in Chinese) about how the Nets’ forward managed to get free.

I am equally hopeful that Ian Eagle never has to call the finale of a really big Nets win, or something on the level of a Hidenburg disaster for that matter. There are broadcasters like Eagle, seemingly on the brink of orgasm from the opening tip-off, and others, like Tommy Heinson, who needs at least 3 quarters to develop a thirst. Both make this correspondent equally grateful for the innovation known as the mute button.

The Fiver’s 2004 Awards

Posted in Football at 8:25 pm by

Recapping a tumultous year in football, courtesy of the Guardian’s daily Fiver.

Jose “Fingers” Mourinho, take a bow. At the start of the year, the Porto boss was just one name being linked with the Spurs job. A phenomenal 12 months later, he’d smashed the Big Cup monopoly of European football’s titans and was going for the quadruple. “Please don’t call me arrogant because what I’m saying is true,” he said after joining Chelsea. “I’m European champion, so I’m not one of the bottle. I think I’m a special one.” These days, with the exception of our daily fix of Countdown, few TV broadcasts cause as much excitement in Fiver Towers as a televised Mourinho press conference.

The time: 9.37pm. The date: Tuesday, March 9. The place: Old Trafford. With Manchester United mere seconds away from qualifying for the Big Cup quarter-finals, Tim Howard palms a harmless Benni McCarthy free-kick straight into the path of Costinha, who promptly rifles home the rebound to put Porto through in dramatic fashion. As they celebrate deliriously in the corner, their normally unflappable manager – one Jose Mourinho – bounds ecstatically down the touchline flicking V-signs at the anguished Manchester United hordes. Pure class.

Ronaldinho, of course.

The unnamed member of Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez’s inner circle, who said in January 2004: “How ugly is Ronaldinho?! There was no point buying him, it wasn’t worth it. He’s so ugly that he’d sink you as a brand. Between Ronaldinho and Beckham, I’d go for Beckham a hundred times. Just look how handsome Beckham is, the class he has, the image. The whole of Asia has fallen in love with us because of Beckham. Ronaldinho is too ugly.”

Despite late competition from Arsenal full-back Ashley Cole and his new squeeze, convicted Girls Aloud nightclub-toilet brawler Cheryl Tweedy, the gong goes to Tabloid Wayne Rooney and his long-suffering girlfriend Colleen McLoughlin. Renowned for her ability to wear seven different designer labels simultaneously and make them all look cheap, Colleen has stood loyally by her meal tick … fiancée, despite his myriad well-documented infidelities with the senior citizens of Liverpool’s red-light districts.

Sevilla’s Pablo Alfaro – a qualified doctor – romped home by using his fingers to perform a rectal examination on Atlético Bilbao’s Toché. While marking him. “Alfaro never takes off his white coat,” cooed Marca’s Roberto Palomar. “He’s a real urologist, always on call. You go up for a corner and suddenly he’s checking your prostate. Not many doctors would do that.” Alfaro’s explanation? “I was defending my team to the limit.”

“Anyone who questions Michael Owen’s ability is a cretin” – AS columnist Tomas Roncero, August 12.
“Owen is a galáctico de pacotilla (junk galáctico). This newspaper said so on that ill-fated 12 August, that desperate day of self-inflicted pain when Madrid signed Owen, sold Samuel Eto’o to Barcelona and missed out on Patrick Vieira. Let’s face it, Owen is not a galáctico. No, no, no” – AS columnist Tomas Roncero, October 4.

Red Sox Sign Wade Miller

Posted in Baseball at 8:12 pm by

P Wade Miller, cut loose by the Houston Astros yesterday, signed a one year deal with the Boston Red Sox Wednesday afternoon, a pact worth upwards of $4.5 million depending on Miller’s number of appearances. Chances are, he’ll be appearing as a man most days.

Boston also re-signed former Mets prospect, P Lenny DiNardo to a one year contract.

Omar’s Most Risky Signing To Date…

Posted in Baseball at 8:03 pm by

…courtesy of the Sports Pickle, whom had they taken the armless pitcher’s John Birch affiliation into account, might’ve had another joke or two worthy of publication.

Arbitrator Reduces O’Neal Suspension

Posted in Basketball at 11:29 am by

From The Indianpolis Stars’ Mark Monieth :

If arbitrator Roger Kaplan has his way, Jermaine O’Neal will be eligible to play in the Indiana Pacers’ game against Detroit on Christmas Day.

It is unclear, however, whether the NBA will recognize Kaplan’s authority to intervene on commissioner David Stern’s ruling.

(Jermaine. He’s a Ferrari, David Stern’s the Berlin Wall)

Kaplan ruled today that O’Neal’s suspension should be reduced from 25 to 15 games, which would make him eligible to play against the Pistons at Conseco Fieldhouse.

“We’re very pleased that Jermaine O’Neal will have the opportunity to play after tonight,” Billy Hunter, executive director of the union, said in a statement. “Although we respectfully disagree with the arbitrator’s conclusion to uphold the disciplines against Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson and Anthony Johnson, we respect the time and deliberations he put forth.”

Kaplan upheld the season-long suspension of Ron Artest and the 30-game suspension of Stephen Jackson.

O’Neal, Artest and Jackson were suspended for their part in the brawl at the end of the Pacers’ game at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Nov. 19.

ChiSox Zero In On El Duque

Posted in Baseball at 11:18 am by

From the Chicago Tribune’s Dave van Dyck :

Stymied in their attempts to land Randy Johnson, Matt Clement and Javier Vazquez, the White Sox are close to signing Yankees free agent Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez to complete their starting rotation.

Sources said the Sox had offered a guaranteed two-year contract heavily laden with incentives, believed to be worth as much as $4 million, although the deal had not been finalized.

With the expected acquisition, the Sox apparently have filled their rotation for next season, though they still have money for a big-name pitcher if they so desire. Among those mentioned is another Yankee, Vazquez, who had been part of the three-team trade with Arizona and Los Angeles that fell through Tuesday night. Most likely, Hernandez will become the Sox’s fifth starter behind Mark Buehrle, Freddy Garcia, Contreras and Jon Garland.

Also Tuesday, the Sox signed catcher Ben Davis to a one-year, $1 million contract a day after declining to offer him arbitration.

Davis, who hit .231 with six home runs and 16 RBIs in 54 games with the Sox, made $1.4 million last season. He was acquired June 27 with Garcia in a trade with Seattle.

Davis, 27, will go into spring training as the starting catcher, with Jamie Burke as the backup. The second overall pick in the 1995 draft, Davis is just a .237 lifetime hitter with 38 homers. But Williams likes Davis’ defensive ability and his handling of the pitching staff.

But of the four catchers the Sox used last season”Davis, Burke, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Miguel Olivo”the staff ERA was highest with Davis behind the plate.

Dodgers Sign Drew

Posted in Baseball at 1:14 am by

The Bergen Record is reporting that Los Angeles has signed OF J.D. Drew to a 5 year, $55 million contract. Said deal went down just hours after the LA bailed on the much-discussed 3 team, 10 player trade that would’ve sent Shawn Green to Arizona and Randy Johnson to the Yankees.

Newsday’s Ken Davidoff and Jon Heyman are reporting that Javier Vazqeuz’ reluctance to play for the Dodgers was the prime reason for Paul DePodesta’s cold feet.

According to a source involved in the discussions, Vazquez’s declared refusal to play for the Dodgers was the primary impetus for the action by Los Angeles. Vazquez, a native of Puerto Rico, considered the West Coast to be too far away from his home. The righthander refused to fly to Los Angeles this week to undergo a physical examination.

Prior to the Dodgers’ entrance into the talks last week, an Arizona source said, the Yankees and Diamondbacks had come close to settling on an exchange that would have swapped Vazquez, money, and prospects Brad Halsey, Abel Gomez and Melky Cabrera for Johnson.

The two clubs could try to revisit those discussions, but first, they’ll probably try to bring in a different third team. Just as Vazquez didn’t want to play in Los Angeles, he has made it clear that he doesn’t want to be in Arizona, either.

The Diamondbacks would prefer to find a third team to take Vazquez. The Chicago White Sox have some interest in Vazquez, but while there had been earlier talks about first baseman Paul Konerko, the White Sox want to hold onto Konerko, now that they’ve dealt righthanded slugger Carlos Lee to Milwaukee.

While Johnson and Shawn Green, the two other marquee players in the proposed deal, both have no-trade clauses, Vazquez has no such protection.


Crying Poorhouse (With A Selective Memory)

Posted in Baseball at 11:56 pm by

Ian O’Connor in tomorrow’s USA Today :

When George Steinbrenner’s Yankees are done landing Randy Johnson and, most likely, Carlos Beltran, their payroll will look as if it spent a few months in Victor Conte’s lab. Steinbrenner will have hurdled the $200 million barrier and started sprinting toward the big three-oh-oh, burning $27 million more on starting pitchers in 2005 than the Pirates are expected to spend on their entire roster.

That’s not counting the Yankees’ acquisition of Barry Zito in June, when Jaret Wright becomes their latest $20-million-plus middle reliever. “When you have a $220 million payroll, you can hide $18 million mistakes,” Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy said Monday by phone. “When you’re at $40 million, you have to be perfect.”

Though McClatchy obviously wasn’t claiming to be perfect (the won-loss record of his club is easy enough to check), the very fact that he signed Derek Bell (above) to a two year, $9.75 million contract in 2001 ought to disqualify him from any further discussion of fiscal sanity. Bell, by the way, earned roughly $360,000 for each base hit, an efficiency ratio that could be considered perfect when compared to that of Nick Esasky circa 1990.

Massacre In Progress On MSG

Posted in Basketball at 8:23 pm by

There’s some seminal programming on Dolanvision this week ; Yule log from 9am-noon Xmas day, a full afternoon of classic games from the now-defunct ice hockey franchise known as the New York Rangers….and just to whet your appetitie, tonight’s schedule features 48 Minutes of Garbage Time, AKA the visiting Mavericks humiliating a listless Knicks squad.

(Dallas’ Josh Howard demonstrating to Stephon Marbury just how difficult scoring can when the opposition actually raises their arms).

To commemorate Isiah Thomas’ one year anniversary as Knicks GM, ESPN.com’s Chad Ford reviews Zeke’s accomplishments during that span.

Under Isiah, the Knicks’ already outrageous $88 million payroll has swelled to $103 million. The Blazers “ with an $81 million payroll “ are their closest competition. And it’s going to stay that way for a while. The Knicks aren’t scheduled to be under the cap until the 2008-09 season “ assuming they don’t sign anyone to a new contract. And that’s highly unlikely.

The team has traded away most of its young assets “ including last year’s first round pick “ in an effort to put a veteran, championship-caliber team on the floor. Only three players, Jamal Crawford, Mike Sweetney and this year’s second-round pick, Trevor Ariza, are under 25 years of age. Seven players on their roster are over 30. Overall, the Knicks sport the seventh-oldest team in the NBA.

Three of the Knicks’ highest-paid players “ Penny Hardaway, Jerome Williams and Shandon Anderson (who was bought out for $22 million) “ are no big longer contributors.

The Knicks’ highest-paid player, Allan Houston, is coming off knee surgery and his future remains unclear.

The Knicks’ roster remains pretty unbalanced. True to his roots, Isiah has stacked the backcourt with offensive firepower to the detriment of any real low-post game. Seventy percent of the shots the Knicks take are jump shots. Only one team, the Warriors, takes a higher percentage.

Isiah has traded away all of his expiring contracts, hurting his ability to get a deal done this season. Next season, he’ll be able to shop the expiring contracts of Hardaway and Tim Thomas. But is Isiah willing to be that patient?

The Knicks can’t keep pursuing players based solely on their marquee value. Isiah’s public pursuit of Vince Carter was the most glaring example of a philosophy gone awry. The last thing a backcourt-heavy team like the Knicks needed was Carter. The fact that he was willing to give up big men to get him only makes his pursuit of him more ridiculous.

Despite the 13-11 record, the team is just 2-7 against teams with a .500 record. They were swept out of the first round of the playoffs last season. While they might be winning the Atlantic right now, few expect them to get out of the first round of the playoffs.

The Knicks lack players with serious playoff experience. Despite having a roster with the third-most experience of any team in the league, very few of the players he’s added have any real playoff experience. His backcourt of Marbury and Crawford have a combined record of 3-15 in playoff games. Their starting small forward, Tim Thomas, has just one significant playoff run in his career. Their starting center, Nazr Mohammed, is 0-7 in his playoff career.

re: Shaq’s trenchant commentary from Monday Night Football’s promo-tastic plug for the Heat’s Xmas showdown with Showtime. Kobe’s a Corvette. Shaq’s a Brick Wall. Corvette hits Brick Wall, Corvette crumples. Fucking fantastic. How did this guy fail as an MC?

Betcha didn’t know that Brick Walls can have sore calves.

On Again/Off Again Baseball To DC Deal, On Again

Posted in Baseball at 7:30 pm by

And Bud Selig is spared the 2nd or 3rd biggest black eye of his tenure. From the Washington Post’s David Nakamura, Thomas Heath and Barry Svrluga.

The D.C. Council gave its formal blessing to a deal to bring the Washington Nationals to the city today, ending two months of acrimonious debate by approving financing to build a baseball stadium along the Anacostia waterfront.

By a vote of 7 to 6, the council adopted a stadium package that contains several amendments to the deal Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) struck with Major League Baseball in September to move the former Montreal Expos to Washington.

The amendments were offered by Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D), who feared that potential cost overruns would make the mayor’s financing package too risky for the city.

Under the final deal, the city will continue to search for private money to cover at least 50 percent of the cost of the ballpark. The District and Major League Baseball will share the cost of insurance against cost overruns. And the city will be liable for $5.3 million for one season of compensatory damages — compared to $19 million or more in the original deal — if the stadium does not open by March 2008.

Nationals President Tony Tavares said the team would be almost fully operational beginning tomorrow morning. Season tickets will go back on sale, and the team will begin contacting the 563 fans who asked to have their deposits returned to see if they’re still interested. The team’s only merchandise store, a heated trailer in a parking lot outside RFK Stadium, will open tomorrow morning.

That the trailer is heated is a rather key point, as I was concerned Vinny Castilla would freeze to death over the holidays.

On Again/Off Again Unit To Yanks Deal, Off Again

Posted in Baseball at 7:21 pm by

MSNBC is reporting that the 3 team, 10 player trade that would’ve sent Randy Johnson to the New York Yankees, is very much back to the drawing board, as one of the key participants, LA’s Paul DePodesta, has pulled out of the deal.

Had the trade been finalized, New York would received Johnson from Arizona and pitcher Kaz Ishii from Los Angeles. The Diamondbacks were to obtain OF Shawn Green, and hurlers Yhency Brazoban and Brandon Weeden. The Dodgers were to receive pitcher Mike Koplove from the Diamondbacks, and pitcher Javier Vazquez, 3B Eric Duncan and catcher Dioner Navarro. Knowing how MLB feels about non-uniformed personnel in the dugouts and clubhouses, it is doubtful the Dodgers were looking forward to a confrontation with Navarro’s confidant/ghostwriter, Neil Strauss.

Putting It All In Perspective

Posted in Gridiron at 10:46 am by

As Christmas approaches, let’s think about who amongst us really has it easy. Royalty. People with the last name “Bush”, “Hilton” or “Trump”. Art Howe. And of course, the privileged journalists who get to cover the New York Jets. Just to be in the mere presence of superior athletes (and thinkers) like Chad Pennington is payment enough, but some of these guys actually get paid a few hundred dollars a week on top of that.