Michael Jackson is accused of evil sex acts with children, some of whom were lined up by parents/pimps outside his bedroom door. Elvis Presley had a (female) child ensconsed at Graceland, and we put the King on a postage stamp. So how’s this for a compromise ; Michael gets a postage stamp (proper U.S. version, none of that Grenada shit) and a suspended sentence,, the parents get life in prison and Paul McCartney gets his publishing back.
Thus leaving us with the requisite time to focus on the Robert Blake trial.
A big Gatti left hook leaves Jesse James Leija seeing stars (and I don’t mean Harrison Ford and Greg Kinnear). One of these days, Arturo Gatti will be too old and slow to dish out the punishment, and when that day arrives, the human race will be much poorer for it.
You can always measure Super Bowl hype by the number of times the consensus favorites are accused of inappropriate touching. From Nick Cafaro in today’s Boston Globe :
Mike Vrabel just shook his head and smiled.
“Never happened,” he said. “Never happened.”
The last time the Patriots played the Eagles, Week 2 of the 2003 season, Eagles linebacker Ike Reese said in a Sports Illustrated article, “Brian Westbook fumbled a punt, and we were all down there scrambling for it. Mike Vrabel had my testicles in his hand, and he was squeezing them. Where the football ends up depends on who has the strongest will or the strongest hands. Guys reach inside the facemask to gouge your eyes. But the biggest thing is the grabbing of the testicles. It’s crazy.”
Vrabel (above) said, “It’s the NFL and there’s a lot of stuff that happens on the field. As NFL players you don’t come into the locker room and start talking to the media about it. I’ve had everything — you name it — done to me out there. But you don’t start saying this guy did this or did that.”
Congratulations to the struggling New York Knicks, who last night finally found a foe even more clueless in the final moments of regulation, in the form of the LeBron-less Cavaliers.
New York improved their record to 2-11 since Stephon Marbury declared himself the best point guard in the NBA.
Much-traveled Pistons coach Larry Brown, hosting the Knicks tonight at the Palace, has told the New York Post’s Marc Berman that jumping in Lenny Wilkens’ still-warm shoes would be “a dream job”. Keep in mind that Brown isn’t two seasons into a 5 year, $25 million deal. The next time Peter Vescey implores the league to do something about players refusing to honor their contractual commitments, hopefully the same concerns will extend to the coaching fraternity.
(if Carlos Arroyo ruined your summer, you wouldn’t look very happy, either)
Southampton 2, Portsmouth 1
Southampton are through to the 5th round of the F.A. Cup after a hotly contested Peter Crouch penalty in extra time spared Saints manager Harry Rednapp a return leg at Fratton Park. The winner also provided some measure of revenge for former QPR striker Crouch (above), whose own exit from Portsmouth seemed designed to provide his new club with some semblance of cover when James Beattie was sold to Everton.
The England F.A. are said to be bowing to Sven Goran Erickson’s plea for a month’s break in the domestic schedule prior to the 2006 World Cup.
What’s more depressing, the gullibility or the lack of spontaneity?
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.
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.
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…”
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.”