01.29.05

Cameron Crazies’ Chants Sabotaged

Posted in Basketball at 11:30 am by

What’s more depressing, the gullibility or the lack of spontaneity?

Pirates’ McClatchy Yearns For The Return Of Collusion

Posted in Baseball at 8:29 am by

Pittsburgh owner Kevin McClatchy — the man who paid Derek “Operation Shutdown” Bell $9 million and the singles-hitting Jason Kendall far more — has joined Baltimore’s Peter Angeles in the chorus decrying baseball’s latest explosion in player salaries. From the Associated Press’ Alan Robinson :

“I don’t know what happened, maybe they drank some funny water, but they all decided they were back on the binge,” McClatchy said. “When somebody goes out and pays an average pitcher $7 million a year, then anybody who’s an average pitcher says they need $7 million a year. That’s very difficult, and when you’re giving pitchers $18 million in arbitration, that also makes it difficult.”

After two offseasons with relatively few huge contracts, McClatchy admittedly was stunned with what he called a series of signings that were “ridiculous — at best.”

McClatchy (above) also questions how teams that only recently were talking about financial stress agreed to huge contracts. Arizona signed pitcher Russ Ortiz for $33 million and third baseman Troy Glaus for $45 million, both over four years.

“What you don’t want to see is some of these teams spend themselves into bankruptcy — that’s not good for any of the league, that becomes a liability on all of us,” McClatchy said. “I’m not sure if some of these people are writing checks with money they necessarily have, and that’s a negative thing.

He added, “You wonder how, since they were in a tough financial spot, some of the spending is going to work, how they’re eventually going to be able to pay their bills. When you’re drawing 1.7 million, and you take your payroll up too high, you just do the math.”

Of course, McClatchy has shown time and time again that he’s willing to splash out if it means bringing in a mediocre veteran who’d otherwise struggle to get a spring training invite from a smarter club. Pittsburgh were quite willing to roll the dice on Bell, Will Cordero, Brian Boehringer, etc. and are now deep in talks to bring in free-swinging outfielder Jeromy Burnitz.

Mitchell Infuriates Pats, Cliches Abound

Posted in Gridiron at 1:12 am by

Thumbs up to Eagles WR Freddie Mitchell, whose ongoing comedy routine has given the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots yet another excuse to play the tried and tested lack-of-respect card. From the Boston Globe’s Eric Wilbur in yesterday’s paper :

Freddie Mitchell may have something for Rodney Harrison when he meets the Patriots safety in next week™s Super Bowl, but Harrison had some words of his own today for the Eagles wide receiver.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ other loquacious receiver — the one without the Pro Bowl pedigree and ankle injury — offended some Patriots when he dissed their secondary in a television interview. In a segment taped yesterday on ESPN, Mitchell admitted he couldn™t name any of the Patriots defensive backs, saying he only knew their numbers. Except for No. 37 that is.

œI got something for you Harrison when I meet you too, he said.

Preparing for the Patriots™ second-to-last practice at Gillette Stadium before heading to Jacksonville, Harrison said he had not yet seen the interview, but quickly got the gist of it from a group of reporters surrounding his locker.

œThat™s pretty funny coming from a guy that doesn™t start, he said. œThis is his 30 seconds of fame. What Freddie needs to do is concentrate on what he needs to do.
“It just shows he doesn’t have respect for us,” Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel said Friday, responding to Mitchell’s comments from a day earlier.

After the divisional playoff game against the Vikings, Mitchell thanked his hands for being so good, and now has opened the initial war of words between the Patriots and Eagles, gearing up for Super Bowl XXXIX.

œYou expect it from immature guys who haven™t experienced success on a pro level, Harrison said. œSome guys are just immature and haven™t experienced things. When you go out there and play well, you don™t have to do these sideshows.

“Freddie Mitchell is a guy who is getting time now because Terrell (Owens) is hurt,” Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest said. “We don’t worry about what he’s saying. He will have to deal with that on the field.”

“All I can say is, Rodney Harrison is the wrong guy to mention, especially if you’re a receiver. He (Mitchell) is not humble. He hasn’t done enough in this league to be on TV talking about that. Philly has a lot more class than that. It’s just one guy.”

Mitchell and the rest of the Eagles’ receivers clearly are tired of hearing about Owens, who had surgery to repair torn ankle ligaments on Dec. 22. and is trying to return for the Super Bowl despite his doctor’s orders.

“We got there without T.O.,” Mitchell (above) said. “He’s going to be a great addition if he comes, but we’re going to stick with our guns. When he comes back, he’ll be a huge help for us because he’s one of the best receivers in the game. Until then, let’s talk about Greg Lewis, Todd Pinkston and Freddie Mitchell, the receivers who are here and won the NFC championship.”

Mitchell later grabbed a reporter’s microphone and bombarded Lewis with questions in a mock voice.

“What about T.O.? Is he 80 percent? When is he coming back? How do the receivers get it done without T.O.?” Mitchell said.

Kevin Pietersen : 4 Real

Posted in Cricket at 12:21 am by

The Independent’s Stephen Berkely on an atypical outbreak of (planned) self-mutilation in the world of cricket as England follow their recent test series victory in South Africa with 7 one day internationals.

Kevin Pietersen asserted his affinity with England yesterday by announcing his intention to have a tattoo of the three lions motif etched on his left arm. Whether construed as horribly tacky or touchingly patriotic, it would be as well if he avoids visiting the engraver before entering the Wanderers tomorrow in front of an infamously partisan and vociferous crowd.

Spectators at the Johannesburg arena consider it their bounden duty to terrify the opposition – usually with words to wither the staunchest individual but sometimes with more physical forms of abuse – and the sight of a batsman who was born and raised in Durban striding out to represent the English is already designed to provoke them into previously unheard torrents of invective.

Pietersen appears to have borrowed his particularly distinctive version of an oath of allegiance from Darren Gough, the England fast bowler, who has a similar inscription. “I think there’s a strong probability of having it done on the day we leave but not before then because I believe it forms a scab,” said Pietersen yesterday.

“The three lions with my cap number 185 underneath. That’s not a Christmas present, that’s for life. If anybody comes up to me and tells me I’m not English…”

Nazr’s New Clothes

Posted in Basketball, Fashion at 12:01 am by

While we’re on the topic of image makeovers for the NBA, here’s a different one than Peter Vescey had in mind, courtesy of the New York Times’ Vincent Mallozzi.

Stannding in front of a mirror in his Manhattan hotel room last week, Nazr Mohammed of the Knicks buttoned up a button-down that splashed the colors of his current employer.

Mohammed’s shirt, a loud blend of orange and blue stripes with the word Knicks and the team’s logo emblazoned in neat vertical rows down the lapel, is part of the N.B.A.’s latest fashion trend: colorfully patterned, collared dress shirts representing each of the league’s 30 teams.

“Stripes are in,” said Mohammed, folding up the cuffs of his shirt to find that his team’s logos were printed there as well. “It’s a smart idea.”

After an era when some players sported bandannas and oversized jeans that mirrored hip-hop’s gritty culture, the N.B.A. has introduced a timely line of threads, stitched together by Headmaster, a sports-apparel company based in Santa Ana, Calif.

Can the fancy shirts – which the league hopes will enjoy the kind of sizzle at the cash resister that its line of retro jerseys enjoyed a few years ago – go beyond making a fashion statement and help dress up the league’s image?

“The league has been scarred by different incidents,” said Kevin Willis, the veteran center of the Atlanta Hawks. “Shirts like these can certainly set a tone, especially for the younger fan, because it’s clean and it’s cool.”

Willis, 42 and in his 21st N.B.A. season, is perhaps the league’s most dapper elder statesman. He has seen the N.B.A.’s evolving wardrobe, from Pat Riley’s Armani suits to Michael Jordan’s Nike-swooshed golf shirts to Allen Iverson’s baggy shorts and matching do-rags.

“Image and professionalism are all very vital from a marketing and sponsorship standpoint,” said Willis, who co-owns Willis & Walker, a design studio in Atlanta that sells denim jeans.

“As players, we make enough money to buy nice clothes, and dressing properly sends the message that you have an idea about what this job means to you, and what being a professional is all about.”

Though Mohammed acknowledged that the new shirts were “a different type of item” than what the league had marketed in the past, he also said he felt the N.B.A. was embracing changing hip-hop style. “As far as timing goes, I think it’s just a coincidence,” he said. “These shirts just happen to be in style.”

Mohammed and Willis pointed to the influence of the music and movie industries as reasons for the N.B.A.’s shifting clothing style.

The rapper Jay-Z, it was noted, wore a button-down shirt with stripes in a video, and made this point on “The Black Album,” which was released in November 2003: “And I don’t wear jerseys, I’m 30-plus.”

01.28.05

O’s Opt For Sammy

Posted in Baseball at 11:30 pm by

Omar Minaya’s hopes of luring Sammy Sosa to Flushing took a fatal blow (thank god) this evening with the news that Baltimore are on the brink of acquiring the corky Cubby in exchange for Jerry Hairston and two prospects.

With the Orioles still smarting from being blown off by Carlos Delgado and Carl Pavano, the addition of Sosa should prove very exciting for any Birds fans who haven’t noticed how Sammy’s body and batting average have shrunk at roughly the same time. Perhaps Albert Belle’s old locker is still available?

Vescey On NBA Damage Control

Posted in Basketball at 6:06 pm by

Provocative stuff, as always, from Peter Vescey in today’s New York Post, in which the poisonous one wonders why David Stern has turned such a blind eye to Alfonso Mourning and Jim Jackson refusing to report to new clubs upon being traded.

“The Admissioner” is deeply alarmed about his league’s stained image; a large clump of Middle America has been turned off by acts of civil disobedience perpetrated by the pampered.

This was David Stern’s most salient reason, it says here, for coming down so hard on Ron Artest, Stephon Jackson and Jermaine O’Neal. Demonstrating unqualified abhorrence for extremist behavior was as much of a tactic to regain the confidence of fans and advertisers as it was a technique of punishing the perps.

Not that we can expect stiff sentences to deter players from attacking fraternity members (see recent exchange between Nene and Michael Olowokandi and the resulting four-game stretches in stir), but it’s likely we’ve seen the last of players launching themselves into the expensive seats as long as The Admissioner reigns.

OK, so at least that much was accomplished. Give Stern a rousing ovation, if you feel the urge. From where I’m meddling, though, penalizing players for rough stuff with fans and each other is easy; all it takes is a proper investigation and common sense . . . oh, well, never mind.

Stern’s command decision might have temporarily won back some in the red states, but you can’t fool all the people.

The only approach to assure that the hordes of defectors aren’t irrevocably repulsed is to confront each and every contempt of court. Instead, Stern seems to have carefully picked his plights, ignoring other outbreaks of insurgence that are sullying his system.

For example, the vulgar refusal of Jimmy Jackson and Alonzo Mourning (exercising their birthrights, I suppose) to report to their respective teams following trades because the state of the organizations failed to meet their sacrosanct standards.

And what was Stern’s response? Not a peep. With desolation and doom swallowing up vast regions of the world, The Admissioner allowed Jackson to extort the Hornets into re-routing him to the Suns. With millions of people starving and homeless Jackson was allowed to contemptuously stage a sit-down on the suspended list and shrug off dockage amounting to 302G.

Yeah, I’ll bet that power play went over real big in the red states. Blackmail pays, that’s a great memo to the masses. Could the league have looked any lamer?

What should Stern have done? Something drastic! Definitely not nothing, that’s for sure! Regardless of whether or not The Admissioner is empowered to junk Jackson for the season, he was indebted to react to such abject defiance.

Here’s my retort to any malignant malingerer declining to report within a reasonable period: Nobody in that position would be permitted to be traded; only when they spent as much time on active duty as on the suspended list would they be eligible to leave; and if AWOL past a certain point, throw ‘em out of the league for the rest of the season.

Reggie Denies Retirement Rumor

Posted in Basketball at 5:38 pm by

The bad news is, Reggie Miller isn’t planning to retire after this season. The good news is that Reggie managed to make Craig Sager look dopey while denying the latter’s story , as captured by the Indianapolis Star’s Mark Montieth.

When Reggie Miller emerged from the shower Thursday night, the swarm of media members surrounding his locker took him by surprise.

“What’s going on?” he asked, with genuine bewilderment.

It turned out TNT’s Craig Sager had reported during the Indiana Pacers’ game against Detroit that Miller had told his teammates Monday this would be his last season.

That came as news both to Miller and his teammates.

“That’s absolutely false,” Miller said upon dressing while looking at Sager, who was kneeled in front of him. “Once again, Craig Sager, inaccurate reporting.


(Craig, about to find out that the gentlemen on his left is not Rik Smits)

If and when I was to say something like that, there’s two people I would talk to first from TNT. Sir Charles (Barkley) and (his sister) Cheryl Miller. They would have the two exclusives. For you to report something like that is very inaccurate, Craig. I’m very disappointed.”

Miller made it clear before training camp that this likely will be his last season. He drops casual comments to his teammates on occasion about missing them next season but has made no formal statements.

Miller said three summers ago he would not play past the age of 40, and he turns 40 in August. He has one year remaining on the contract he signed in 2003.

Miller declined to comment on his future Thursday.

NJ Governor Defends Wife’s Microwave Contemplation

Posted in politics at 5:07 pm by

This is almost as priceless as the Hot 97 Tsunami blowup. Thanks to Brian Turner for providing this link from the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Kaitlin Gurney….yet another example of the mentally ill being treated with sensitivity and respect at CSTB.

To acting Gov. Richard J. Codey (above), they were fighting words.

And while there is some question about what exactly was said, it became clear yesterday that there is no love lost between Codey and a shock jock named Craig Carton.

It all started Monday, when Carton (above) used his Jersey Guys show on New Jersey 101.5 (WKXW-FM) for a rant on postpartum depression. Carton tore into Mary Jo Codey’s accounts of battling mental illness, arguing that thoughts of harming a child were “dastardly” and that women who have them “must be crazy in the first place.”

When Codey ran into Carton outside the studio Tuesday before his regularly scheduled Ask the Governor radio show, Codey said, he did what any devoted husband would do – he defended his wife.

“I said that if I weren’t governor, I would take him outside,” Codey recounted at a news conference yesterday. “I have a right to defend my family, and I will, tonight and tomorrow.”

Standing nose to nose, both said, they stared each other down, the governor’s security detail watching closely. There were no blows.

On the air yesterday, Carton matched what he termed Codey’s “threat of bodily harm” with a challenge of his own.

“Shame on you, Mr. Governor,” he said. “You have 24 hours to apologize to me, or you will not be governor come November. That’s the power of this show.”

Codey’s office said he “would not dignify those comments with a response.”

Since he became acting governor when Gov. Jim McGreevey stepped down in November, Codey has championed the cause of mental health. He has said he had learned about mental illness when his wife struggled with postpartum depression after the birth of their first child, Kevin.

Codey and his wife have said she grew so depressed that she contemplated harming her baby – and wondered whether he would fit in a microwave.

Carton seized on that image while discussing mental illness Monday, according to a partial transcript of the show obtained by the Governor’s Office: “What Gov. Codey ought to do is approve the use of medical marijuana so women can have a joint and relax instead of putting their babies in the microwave. Then all they want to do is cook Doritos. Women who claim they suffer from this postpartum depression… they must be crazy in the first place.”

At the beginning of his Ask the Governor show, Codey read a rebuttal: “These remarks hurt me, my wife and our sons. But I am even more disturbed that they reinforced a negative stigma and hurt hundreds of thousands of other New Jerseyans who deal with this disease every day.”

As the state’s reporters converged on the station’s Ewing headquarters yesterday, program director Eric Johnson said he stood by Carton.

“We’re surprised the governor of the state of New Jersey would choose to take a Sopranos approach to settle an honest dispute,” he said.

It is not the first time The Jersey Guys has sparked controversy. Long before McGreevey announced he was gay and acknowledged an adulterous affair with a man, Carton and cohost Ray Rossi speculated about McGreevey’s sexuality. After McGreevey’s announcement, the two hosts said he had had an affair with the state’s former labor commissioner, which McGreevey’s office hotly disputed, threatening legal action.

“If ever there was a governor who should have threatened to kill me, it was the last one,” Carton said yesterday. “But Jim McGreevey came on the show and drank a beer with me.”

When Carton worked for Philadelphia’s WIP-AM (610) sports radio in the 1990s, the Flyers sued the station over his allegation that star Eric Lindros missed a February 1997 game because of a hangover. The station and the hockey team settled the case a year later.

He Can Sit For Miles And Miles

Posted in Basketball at 4:25 pm by

At the age of 23, Blazers F Darius Miles has already worn out his welcome with two prior clubs and might be preparing to exit a third. The AP is reporting that Miles has been suspended for two games following a verbal confrontation with coach Maurice Cheeks during Thursday’s practice.

(UPDATE : The Oregonian’s John Canzano has some details on the incident :

In a team film session Thursday, coach Maurice Cheeks reportedly was making a coaching point to Darius Miles. The player then directed a racial slur at Cheeks and shouted something about not caring about losing “20″ games in a row because Cheeks is going to get fired anyway.

It went on and on. And Miles was asked to leave the practice facility by Cheeks, to which he basically said, “Make me.”

If waiving Qyntel Woods wasn’t just for show, then suspending Miles is a no-brainer.

Suspend him for 20 games, in fact. Because after Miles promised in front of his teammates to lose exactly that many for his coach, how can the franchise justify putting Miles back in uniform in any of the next 20 games?)

Myers Flips Out Following Press Luncheon

Posted in Baseball at 2:00 pm by

From The Times Of Trenton’s Mike Olshin :

Brett Myers made it clear that he’s still not happy with his 2004 performance, as the brash pitcher took out his frustration at a variety of targets – himself, the media, and even Phillies fans.

With bitterness matched by the cold air outside, Myers snapped at a host of beat reporters during an otherwise cordial media luncheon yesterday at the Diamond Club in Citizens Bank Park.

The 24-year-old righthander struggled mightily a year ago, his second full season in the majors. He finished 11-11 – actually the second-most wins for an injury-depleted staff – but his 5.52 ERA was second-worst in the National League (fifth-worst in the majors) for pitchers with at least 162 innings.

So the fireworks started yesterday when a reporter asked about his 2004 season and whether Myers was hoping for a fresh start.

“How did I not have a great year?” Myers said. “I had 11 wins, didn’t I? Isn’t that good enough? There are guys making $10 million that didn’t get 11 wins. What are you talking about that’s not a good year? Because my ERA was bad? I won 11 games. Just drop it at that.”

Obviously that wasn’t going to happen. Especially when Myers (above) was asked with the next question whether he thought he had a good year.

“No, but I got 11 wins out of it,” Myers said. “So anybody who wants to talk about how I didn’t have a good year, you can look back at the other guys who didn’t who are making $10 million.

“In my personal opinion (I didn’t have a good year),” Myers continued. “But for (the media) to say it is not right.”

“You can’t name guys who didn’t struggle their second year,” Myers said. “You guys love (Curt) Schilling. How good was he his first three years? He wasn’t outstanding. He was supposed to be outstanding. You got molded into that pitcher. I’m just irritated of all the (stuff) you guys have been writing in the papers how I’m fat and out of shape and all that (stuff).”

Dick Cheney, Sharp Dressed Man

Posted in Fashion at 11:04 am by

From Robin Givhan in today’s Washington Post (thanks to Jon Solomon for the link) :

At yesterday’s gathering of world leaders in southern Poland to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the United States was represented by Vice President Cheney. The ceremony at the Nazi death camp was outdoors, so those in attendance, such as French President Jacques Chirac and Russian President Vladimir Putin, were wearing dark, formal overcoats and dress shoes or boots. Because it was cold and snowing, they were also wearing gentlemen’s hats. In short, they were dressed for the inclement weather as well as the sobriety and dignity of the event.

The vice president, however, was dressed in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower.

Cheney stood out in a sea of black-coated world leaders because he was wearing an olive drab parka with a fur-trimmed hood. It is embroidered with his name. It reminded one of the way in which children’s clothes are inscribed with their names before they are sent away to camp. And indeed, the vice president looked like an awkward boy amid the well-dressed adults.

Like other attendees, the vice president was wearing a hat. But it was not a fedora or a Stetson or a fur hat or any kind of hat that one might wear to a memorial service as the representative of one’s country. Instead, it was a knit ski cap, embroidered with the words “Staff 2001.” It was the kind of hat a conventioneer might find in a goodie bag.

To which I can only say in the Veep’s defense, perhaps Putin and Chirac aren’t in danger of dropping dead at any second. When you’re a heartbeat away from the most important job on earth, better safe than sorry, right? Right? On such a solemn occasion, aren’t there more important things to relect upon than Dick’s chosen ensemble (described by Mr. Solomon as “Bob Weston in winter”)?

Unfunny Tsunami Parody = Career Killer

Posted in Racism Corner at 1:19 am by

Newsday’s Rafer Guzman on the aftermath to an incident Byron Crawford has been all over for several days.

Hot 97′s controversial song that mocked tsunami victims is claiming some victims of its own.

Show host Miss Jones and her entire morning team were indefinitely suspended Wednesday after a week of growing public outcry — and after a number of high-profile advertisers began pulling their support from the station.

“What happened is morally and socially indefensible,” Rick Cummings, president of Emmis Radio, which owns Hot 97, said yesterday in an statement. “All involved, myself included, are ashamed and deeply sorry.”

At least three advertisers have abandoned the station. McDonald’s Corp. suspended its advertising Monday. The tax services company Jackson Hewitt Inc. followed on Tuesday. Wednesday, Sprint announced that it would withdraw its advertising.

What began as a cruel joke about a natural disaster has turned into a catastrophe for Hot 97 (WQHT/97.1 FM). The song, which first aired Jan. 18, included slurs against Asians and jokes about floating bodies and orphaned children. It was set to the tune of the 1985 famine-relief song “We Are The World.”

Despite Miss Jones’ subsequent on-air apology, New York City councilmen and Asian advocacy groups called for the hosts’ resignations. Councilman John Liu of Flushing called the song “reprehensible,” and councilman James Gennaro of Fresh Meadows threatened to “go after” the station’s advertisers.

The offending song aired the day after Hot 97′s rival station, Power 105 (WWPR/105.1 FM), broadcast a new morning show with Star and Buc Wild, two shock-jocks who are challenging Hot 97′s dominance in the New York market. Mayo says the song was not a response to their arrival. But the timing is difficult to ignore.

Hell No, Carlos Won’t Go (To The Top Step Of The Dugout)

Posted in Baseball at 12:37 am by

Steve Wine of the Associated Press on the highlight of yesterday’s press conference to announce the signing of Carlos Delgado to the Florida Marlins (well, except for the introduction of David Sloane and his wife).

Carlos Delgado is willing to stand up for his beliefs – or, in his case, not stand up. At his introductory news conference Thursday with the Florida Marlins, Delgado said he’ll continue to not stand up this season during the playing of “God Bless America.”

An opponent of the war in Iraq, Delgado refused to stand when “God Bless America” was played last season at games involving his Toronto Blue Jays. Instead, he would stay on the bench or go into the dugout tunnel.

“I wouldn’t call it politics, because I hate politics,” Delgado said Thursday after finalizing his $52 million, four-year contract. “The reason why I didn’t stand for `God Bless America’ was because I didn’t like the way they tied `God Bless America’ and 9-11 to the war in Iraq in baseball.

“I say God bless America, God bless Miami, God bless Puerto Rico and all countries until there is peace in the world.”

Marlins officials, who gave Delgado the richest per-season contract in the team’s 12-year history, made no objection to his war protest.

“The Marlins don’t support it, and we don’t not support it,” team president David Samson said. “He’s an adult. The club’s position is that what he does is up to him.”

Keep in mind that it was just this past December that Delgado’s agent promised that his client would abide by the rules of whatever club was paying his salary. Apparently, this is not an issue for the Marlins organization or the people of Miami, and why should it be? What’s a lapse in patriotism on the club’s part compared to moving to Las Vegas?

01.27.05

Doomed Idea Comes To Small Screen

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 11:52 pm by

Much as I’d love to credit American broadcast TV for trying anything that isn’t a variation on kissing some zillionaire’s ass / eating maggots / pretending that Jim Belushi is funny, the US version of “The Office” should be approached with great trepidation. I’d echo Andrew Hearst’s sentiments except to say it is absolutely stunning to see the lengths the adaptors have gone to mimmick the ambience of Wernham Hogg, only to end up approximating the recent series of workplace-bullying Burger King commercials — a ham(burger)fisted appropriation of “The Office”, in themselves.

Menancing Bird Designed To Piss Off Mushnick

Posted in Gridiron at 7:19 pm by

If Phil was stuck for something to complain about tomorrow morning, never fear, the Arizona Cardinals have bailed out the bearded malcontent.

From the Associated Press.

The Arizona Cardinals have given their old bird a makeover.

Team owner Bill Bidwill calls the Cardinals’ new logo (bottom) “a tough bird.”

The Cardinal head that has served as the team’s logo since 1960 — when the franchise moved from Chicago to St. Louis — has been subtly transformed into a sleeker, meaner creature. The updated version was unveiled with great fanfare at Cardinals headquarters on Thursday.

“A tough bird,” team owner Bill Bidwill said. “Hopefully it will be worn by tougher and faster and meaner players.”


(I’m sorry, which one is which?)

Yet to come is what Cardinals vice president Michael Bidwill called “a revolutionary” change in the team’s uniforms, to be shown this spring.

Defensive end Bertrand Berry will wear the new logo on his helmet in next month’s Pro Bowl.

The old Cardinal logo was a roundhead bird derisively referred to as a “parakeet.” The new version has decidedly more evil eyes and a menacing expression.

Anelka Leaves Man City

Posted in Football at 7:09 pm by

That sigh of relief you heard came from Kevin Keegan, who can already see his hair turning dark again. Manchester City and Turkish club Fenerbache have agreed upon a transfer fee said to be in the £7 million range for City’s perpetually glum striker Nicolas Anelka (above).

Brazillian striker Edu, unsettled at Arsenal, is likely to transfe to Claudio Ranieri’s Valencia.

Catching Up With The NBA’s Dog Lovers

Posted in Basketball at 6:53 pm by

As sales of bulletproof vests skyrocket in the state of Idaho, former Nets F Jayson Williams is still waiting for a call from an NBA team. The Original Fashion Plate/Car Wash Magnate Charles Oakley provides a character reference to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

The Cavaliers are now in search of a veteran power forward to fill in while rookie Anderson Varejao recovers from a left high ankle sprain.

Charles Oakley (above), another possibility, said the Cavs should seriously consider Williams. Oakley said Williams has looked good in workouts and he has been impressive while playing for the Idaho Stampede of the CBA.

“If they’re looking for a choir boy than they need to go to a school and sign one,” Oakley said.

“But if they want someone who can do the job, they need to consider Williams.

“The incident he had is a blow to everyone, but life has to go on. Accidents do happen. . . . Who else are they going to sign? Jason Williams is the only guy out there.”

Several free agents are available if the Cavs call include: Reggie Slater, Lawrence Funderburke, Chris Gatling, Lonny Baxter, Jackie Butler, Gary Trent, Donnell Harvey, Rick Rickert, Antonio Meeking, Kirk Haston, Mark Pope, Corie Blount, Jason Caffey, Keon Clark, Ousmane Cisse, Popeye Jones and Cherokee Parks.

LeBron James is not expected to miss any playing time following an ankle sprain suffered in last night’s Cleveland victory over Memphis.

Small forward Qyntel Woods, recently kicked to the curb by the Blazers, has signed with the Miami Heat.

As expected, George Karl (who has lead a team to just as many NBA finals as Michael Coooper, ie. none) has signed a 6 year contract to take over as head coach of the Denver Nuggets.

New York’s Isiah Thomas might finally have found a way to escape the salary-cap hell created by Allan Houston’s massive contract (amongst others) ; he’s encoruaging Houston to consider early retirement.

McCarty To Phoenix, Payton To The Western Conference?

Posted in Basketball at 6:17 pm by

Not only is the Celtics’ Walter McCarty hellbent on heading to Phoenix (on the eve of his bobblehead night, no less), the Boston Globe’s Shira Springer reports that Gary Payton expects to be dealt to the Kings or T-Wolves in the weeks ahead.

Minnesota’s Latrell Sprewell continues to be the subject of trade rumors, this time on the heels of an ugly spat with coach Flip Saunders writes the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Sid Hartman :

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said he wasn’t very happy when, during Monday’s game against Detroit at Target Center, Latrell Sprewell got into a name-calling situation with coach Flip Saunders after he took Sprewell out of the game.

Sprewell’s remarks were heard on press row and also by many fans sitting behind the Wolves bench. Taylor made a special trip from Mankato to Minneapolis on Tuesday, talked to Sprewell, and believes he got things straightened out.

Taylor said there is only one circumstance in which he would trade Sprewell, and that is if the player or players the Wolves got in return would be free agents and wouldn’t count in the 2005-2006 salary cap.

So keep tuned — there might be a Wolves trade after all.

Reeves Calls Out Tom Hicks

Posted in Baseball at 5:42 pm by

With the Mariners and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?) having busy off-seasons, the handful of people who give a hoot about the Texas Rangers are wondering if they’re serious about competing. From the Dallas Fort-Worth Star Telegram’s Jim Reeves.

Stop the spin-doctoring. Just stop it right now.

That’s my heartfelt message for the Rangers’ owner (above) and his newly extended chief executives.

For heaven’s sake, just make a vow to be honest. It can’t be that hard, can it?

Stop the manipulating, the sleight of hand, the now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t approach and, for once in your lives, just be up front about things.

The truth will set you free.

It may not lure a front-line pitcher, or that premier designated hitter this team so desperately needs, but it’ll make you feel a whole heck of a lot better about yourselves.

More important, it will make Rangers’ fandom feel better about you, and that should matter a great deal.

You all know who I’m talking about, but let’s go ahead and call the roll: Tom Hicks, John Hart, Buck Showalter, are you listening?

Here we are in a winter following a terrific showing by Showalter’s young Rangers that rightfully earned him the American League Manager of the Year award, and the Rangers have once again stumbled and bungled their way into the crosshairs of every media and fan critic in North Texas.

Part of the problem is that Hicks hasn’t done what he promised to do, funnel at least some of the money saved from the free-agency departures of Pudge Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro, the trade of Alex Rodriguez and the selling of The Ballpark naming rights, back into the team via free agency. The ill-conceived Carlos Delgado offer and the belated interest in Magglio Ordonez notwithstanding, it hasn’t happened.

Instead, if the Rangers stick to Hicks’ original plan of around a $52 million payroll, they’ll rank in the bottom third, maybe the bottom fourth, of teams in baseball. That’s embarrassing for a top -five-market team and betrays the public trust.

But the problem goes beyond money. It goes straight to integrity and credibility. Hicks’ financial pockets may be threadbare, but they’re brimming over with gold compared to the credibility he and Hart have with Rangers fans.

The Delgado fiasco is simply the latest debacle for a Rangers management team that worries constantly about its image, yet consistently chooses the wrong course of action. Why? Because telling the actual truth never seems to be an option.

On that conference call from Hicks’ jet Friday, Hart was asked where Delgado would play, DH or first base?

“We consider him a first baseman,” Hart replied after a pause, choosing his words carefully. Hart then went on to tell how Mark Teixeira had come to his office in October and offered to move to the outfield if that’s what was best for the team.

Hart’s answer was disingenuous at best and an outright lie at worst. Insiders say the Rangers never had any intention of moving Teixeira to the outfield and making Delgado their starting first baseman. What they hoped, instead, was that they would get Delgado signed, get him into camp in Arizona and that things would somehow magically work themselves out, much like last spring, when they traded for Alfonso Soriano despite already having an excellent second baseman in Michael Young.

Delgado would see the light, they figured. Showalter, ever the salesman, would turn him around, sell him on being a team guy.

It’s certainly feasible to believe that neither side made the DH situation a focus of their negotiations. The Rangers felt they couldn’t be up front with Delgado about their plans without killing the deal outright, which eventually happened anyway.

Shame Of A Nation – F.A.’s Blooper Reel

Posted in Football at 5:16 pm by

The Guardian on the England Football Association’s latest expensive gaffe.

he FA has scrapped thousands of copies of a DVD claiming to feature the best post-war England internationals as it did not include a single black player.

The DVD, entitled ‘The Pride of the Nation’, had been included in a welcome pack for newcomers to the ‘englandfans’ official members’ club.

Sven-Goran Eriksson introduced a retrospective look at the leading footballers to have worn an England shirt over the past 40 years. But while the initial list given to video producers Octagon is understood to have included black players, none of them made the final cut as the running time was reduced to 30 minutes.

And when the complaints then started at the unwitting offence caused by the FA’s failure to check the finished copy, the governing body were forced into action.

This will involve the expense of all copies of the DVD being scrapped and a new edition being put together, featuring several black players.

Senior FA figures have been keen to rectify the situation, while stressing that the cost to the governing body will be minimal.

However, it is still highly embarrassing, especially just a few months after the FA complained vociferously at the racist abuse hurled at black England players in Madrid and stressed their own commitment to tackling the issue.

Many of the 17 players on the original DVD would be uncontroversial choices, including Bobby Moore, Gary Lineker, Sir Bobby Charlton, Paul Gascoigne, Alan Shearer, Bryan Robson, David Beckham and Terry Butcher.

However, Martin Peters, Chris Waddle, Stuart Pearce and Steven Gerrard were also included, while black players such as Rio Ferdinand, Sol Campbell, Paul Ince, John Barnes, Ashley Cole and Viv Anderson were not.

LeBatard On Loria’s Largesse

Posted in Baseball at 12:04 pm by

You can add the Miami Herand’s Dan LeBatard to the chorus of those wondering how a money-pit of a franchise like the Marlins is expected to foot the bill for 4 years of Carlos Delgado at $52 million.

Delgado represents a commitment to spending this team hasn’t shown since Wayne Huizenga owned it. Delgado is one of the 10 best offensive players on this planet. He is Jim Thome at half the price, and a better offensive player than $119 million Met Carlos Beltran. Best hitters in Marlins history? Gary Sheffield and Delgado. That’s the beginning and the end of that list. About the only time we’ve seen a comparable bat in South Florida’s left-handed batter’s box is when Barry Bonds and Jim Thome visit.

Delgado makes the Marlins very, very good.

Best-in-the-league good.

Possible championship good.

But. . . .

Where did all this money come from?

And do all the departed champion Marlins — Pudge Rodriguez, Derrek Lee, Carl Pavano, Brad Penny — have a right to feel betrayed and hurt by the sudden appearance of it?

Because they actually helped win and hold up the trophy here.

And Delgado has never been in a playoff game.

And he gets the $52 million jackpot?

These are not criticisms, just questions. Repeat, in case you just read over it: not criticisms, just questions. Save all your flammable e-mail about the evil journalist raining all over the championship parade on what should and is a day of sports celebration.

Delgado is an exceptional, exciting signing that makes Florida immediately better than any team in the National League except the Cardinals. But the Marlins did something they never do here, getting into a bidding war that inflated an original and fair offer of $30 million to $52 million, pushing aside even a Mets team that has been spending sloppily all winter.

The Marlins, for example, could have kept Pudge and Lee for less than the $69 million they just gave their replacements (Delgado and Paul Lo Duca). In other words, they could have kept a defending champ almost completely intact. I wouldn’t have given a 30-plus catcher the $40 million Pudge wanted, not even after seeing the monster season he just had in Detroit, but it is fair to ask today if Delgado-Lo Duca makes you better today than the champion duo of Lee-Pudge. I think it does, but there’s room for debate there.

That $69 million could also have been used to lock up Penny, Pavano, Josh Beckett, Dontrelle Willis and A.J. Burnett for the next three or even four years if it had been offered, with vision, at the start of last season.

That’s risky, obviously.

Pavano hadn’t really done anything yet. The Marlins rightly fear injuries eating up salary, and Beckett, Burnett and Pavano all have a history of them while Penny is always in the kind of shape that lures them. But if you had your starting staff locked up, you don’t have to fear 2006 the way you do now, when Burnett and Al Leiter will be gone, and the only remaining starter from any of the Marlins championships will be Beckett (Willis was a reliever in the 2003 postseason).

In other words, Florida could have locked up a champion pitching staff that beat Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa/Kerry Wood/Mark Prior and the Yankees — plus Burnett. But it opted instead to give that money to Delgado even though the mathematics show that, whether it is A-Rod in Texas or Delgado in Toronto, teams never do any winning when too high a payroll percentage is in the bank account of a single player.

We can go back and forth on whether pitching or hitting wins. Yankees-Red Sox were one-two in AL runs scored last season. Cards-Astros were one-five in NL.

Lack of hitting crippled the Marlins last September, so you need a Delgado. But the Marlins did win their championship on pitching while Brian Giles, an offensive player comparable to Delgado, has never done any winning and the Phillies have done nothing but underachieve since getting Thome.

Wasn’t $52 million about what the Marlins needed to ensure a new stadium?

Though I think the Giles comparison only holds water in that both Pittsburgh and Toronto were hamstrung by big contracts (ie. Giles’ power numbers are far less impressive than Delgado’s), LeBatard is right on the money here. Which doesn’t mean Florida won’t have a great team in 2005.

Mets Shopping Spree Comes To a Skidding Halt

Posted in Baseball at 9:18 am by

From David Lennon in this morning’s Newsday :

Omar Minaya has almost zero support within the organization when it comes to trading for Sammy Sosa. As for Magglio Ordonez, Minaya said Wednesday that he will continue to investigate the rehabbing slugger, but the GM anticipates heading into spring training with Cliff Floyd in leftfield and Mike Cameron in right — unless Minaya changes his mind, of course.

“I would love to have that extra offense,” Minaya said. “We tried doing that with Delgado. With Ordonez, he is a free agent, we have talked about him, there’s no doubt he’s a great hitter. Will we explore that? We’ll probably just explore it. But all I can tell you is that I feel very comfortable with what we have right now. And if we have to go with what we have, I’m OK with that.”

Though all of the above presumes that Mike Cameron is ready to start the season , or that Cliff Floyd (never the fastest guy under any circumstances) can demonstrate slightly more mobility than George Wallace. The addition of Carlos Delgado might’ve been enough (in concert with the rest of the makeover) to propel the Mets back into contention in the tough NL East. As it stands, with Mientkiewicz’ Jason Phillips-like hitting attributes, finishing 4th behind Florida, Philadelphia and Atlanta (not necessarily in that order, but the Marlins have done enough to be considered the favorites) is a very distinct possibility.

Rock Me Amadeus!

Posted in decomposing composers at 1:38 am by

CSTB would like to wish Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart a very happy 249th birthday. In tribute to the Weiland of the 18th Century, it’s gonna be commercial-free double, nay, triple shots of Mozart all day long.

‘Roid Raging Romo Sued

Posted in Gridiron at 12:44 am by

With former teammate/abuser Barrett Robbins in a hospital bed and longtime associate Victor Conte being raided by the FBI, it would take some doing to say that Bill Romanowski is having the worst week of the trio. So we’ll let the S.F. Chronicle’s Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams say so.

Suspected steroid use by former Oakland Raider Bill Romanowski has become an issue in a $3.8 million lawsuit brought against the linebacker for allegedly attacking a teammate and ending his football career.

Romanowski, a longtime advocate of performance-enhancing substances who has been implicated in the BALCO steroids scandal, punched Marcus Williams, then a Raiders tight end, in the left eye on Aug. 24, 2003, during a fight on the practice field.

In a complaint filed in Alameda County Superior Court, Williams says he suffered a career-ending brain injury from the blow, and his legal team — in an effort to link ” ‘roid rage” to the fight — has pressed Romanowski, the Raiders and the National Football League for information about the linebacker’s possible use of steroids.

In the Williams lawsuit, Romanowski has refused to answer questions about steroid use, and he asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a pretrial deposition, one of his lawyers said in court last month. His attorneys have fought attempts by Williams’ lawyers to gather information related to steroids, citing Romanowski’s privacy rights and a lack of relevance to the lawsuit.

But in a recent ruling, Judge Steven Brick ordered Romanowski to answer questions about steroid use in the month leading up to the fight. The judge also refused to block Williams from subpoenaing the Raiders and the NFL for any documents showing that Romanowski was using the drugs during that time.

Zealously attentive to his body, Romanowski (above) at one point in his NFL career employed five chiropractors, four acupuncturists, three nutritionists, two massage therapists, a speed coach and a high-performance trainer at an annual cost of $200,000. He also became known for his interest in nutritional supplements — he kept a fishing-tackle box full of pills in the locker room — and for his reckless on-field behavior.

In court documents, Williams also requested information about volatile incidents that led to Romanowski’s bad-boy reputation, including his allegedly attacking Jerry Rice and Bubba Paris, then his 49er teammates, during practices in 1989. Other episodes cited include Romanowski spitting in 49ers receiver J.J. Stokes’ face in 1997, breaking Carolina quarterback Kerry Collins’ jaw in 1997 and kicking Arizona running back Larry Centers in the head in 1995.