Madden-Related Sex Scandal Narrowly Averted

Posted in Sports TV at 12:25 pm by

Thanks to Jon Solomon for forwarding an item from today’s New York Daily News which claims that John Madden was originally slated to star as the object of Nicollete Sheridan’s affections in the ill-fated Monday Night Football pregame sketch (that ultimately featured Terrell Owens).

Turning down edgy roles is of course, nothing new for the former Raiders coach/Tinactin pitchman, who previously begged out of the production of Vincent Gallo’s “Brown Bunny”, forcing a list minute scramble to enlist Chloe Sevingy.

Mets Eliminated From Delgado Chase?

Posted in Baseball at 8:59 am by

There have been a number of conflicting published reports overnight about the New York Mets’ remaining role, if any, in negotiations to sign free agent 1B Carlos Delgado. Newsday’s David Lennon writes the club gave Delgado a deadline of late last night to inform them of his intent, and when the player’s agent, David Sloane, bristled at such an ultimatium, the Mets were no longer contenders. The New York Post’s Michael Morrisey has the Mets claiming they’re still in the running , and Jack Curry’s report in this morning’s New York Times says much the same.

However, you can put the Daily News’ Peter Botte and John Harper squarely in the camp of those claiming Delgado will not be a Met, with the following details revealed :

From front-runners to out of the running in a matter of hours, the Mets’ involvement in the Carlos Delgado bidding came to a screeching halt late last night when Delgado and agent David Sloane abruptly eliminated them from the competition without notice because they, like the Rangers, were pressing the free-agent slugger to make his decision.

The Rangers bowed out of contention for Delgado earlier in the night, and the surprise revelations left the Florida Marlins as his likely landing spot in a four-year deal that could be announced as early as today, with Baltimore still barely alive in the talks.

One baseball official had proclaimed the Mets as “the favorites in a two-horse race (with the Marlins)” after confirming early last night that the Mets had guaranteed a fourth year to Delgado yesterday in a package that rivaled Texas’ recent $48 million bid – believed to be worth nearly $50 million. But shortly after Sloane and Texas owner Tom Hicks separately announced that the Rangers had dropped out after their self-imposed weekend deadline had passed without a deal, Sloane told ESPN that the Mets no longer were under consideration for Delgado’s services.

A team source said after midnight that Mets’ officials were “shocked and livid” to learn of their elimination through the media.

“Jeff (Wilpon) and I spoke to Mr. Sloane tonight and expressed our desire to get a resolution by tonight,” Mets GM Omar Minaya said in a statement issued at 12:30 a.m. “He said he would convey our thought to Carlos and get back to us after speaking to him. We have yet to receive that phone call.

“He has not yet told us we’re out of it.”

A Mets official insisted the team never had issued Delgado any ultimatums to accept or decline its latest offer, but acknowledged that the Mets “wanted to know where (they) stood” so they could proceed with their pursuit of a backup plan.

Still, Sloane clearly had problems with the teams dictating the pace of negotiations throughout the process, with one source familiar with the talks saying that part of Sloane’s angry reaction to the Mets’ demands for an answer was to tell them that “no one corners me.” The source also contended there was “friction” between Sloane and Wilpon over the last several days, with Wilpon telling the agent he wanted the situation resolved by last night because the Mets didn’t want the negotiations to drag into the week and “take away” from the Mets’ fan “Caravan” tour of New York that kicks off tomorrow.

Hicks had been the first to step up with a four-year offer (worth $48 million, with some of the money deferred) to Delgado in meetings Friday in Puerto Rico. Hicks called the proposal “our best offer” and tendered it with the proviso that Delgado would have to accept or reject the deal by the end of the weekend in a vain attempt to prevent Sloane from shopping those figures to the other bidders. Delgado ultimately balked at committing to Texas because the Rangers, despite an offer from first baseman Mark Teixeira to shift to left field, told Delgado they planned to use him primarily as their designated hitter.

“From the first conversation with the Texas Rangers, we made it crystal-clear that Carlos Delgado had no interest in being a full-time DH,” Sloane told The Associated Press last night. “If we had 25 conversations with the Texas Rangers, we were told in 24 of those that the question of him playing first base was no issue. (Yesterday), we were told that is changing and that 75% of his at-bats . . . would come as a DH.

“After three months of negotiations, we were given less than five hours to tell them yes or no, to make a decision that affects not only the rest of Carlos Delgado’s baseball career but the rest of his life.”

Defensively, the Mets could do far worse than to sign John Olerud or trade for Doug Mientkiewicz. The sort of offensive production provided by a healhy Delgado, however, isn’t available elsewhere in this year’s free agent market (OF Magglio Ordonez’ condition being questionable) and it would not be unexpected (sadly) for Omar Minaya to again turn his attention to Sammy Sosa following this rejection.

AFC Championship : Pats Humble Steelers

Posted in Gridiron at 1:05 am by

(Bill Belichick and Willie McGinest after being told that Donovan McNabb is so cheap, he forces his mom to act in those soup commercials)

All week long I kept hearing about how today’s New England/Pittsburgh AFC Championship would be a “physical battle.” Ron Jaworski boldly promised this would be “the most physical matchup in the history of the NFL”. To which my reaction was identical to when I heard Skye Sweetnam sing “feel what it’s like to rebel” ; ie. what does that actually mean? Would “the most mental matchup in the history of the NFL” be contested by 22 guys in wheelchairs?

(l-r : Jaws, Skye. They’re both speaking a language I cannot understand.)

Though I’m not shocked that rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger showed even less poise than he did last week against the Jets, that Pittsburgh failed to establish the running game of Deuce Staley and Jerome Bettis was surprising. Big Chin Cowher is now 1-5 in conference championship games, while New England’s rumpled genius, Bill Belichick, extends his playoff record to 10-1, matching that of Vince Lombardi. Perhaps renaming Foxboro “Title Town” is in order?

If you’re one of the handful of people who still think these Patriots are overdue for a playoff loss, consider what they’ve done in the past two weeks. New England’s depleted secondary totally shut down Peyton Manning and the Colts’ high-flying offense, holding Indy to a mere 3 points. Today at Theresa Heinz Field, Tom Brady & co. rang up 34 points on the league’s stingiest defense.

A lowdown, dirty shame, by the way, that ESPN had to use Sal Paolantonio for tonight’s Sunday conversation with Donovan McNabb. With all due respect to the capable Paolantonio, the occasion was just crying out for the return of Rush “Feelgood Hit Of The Winter” Limbaugh. And really, big props to the Eagles on getting the conference title off their backs. And how can you not love a Philadelphia/New England Super Bowl? It’s gonna be Ramona Africa vs. Charles Stuart. The Sadistic Exploits vs. The Groinoids. Philly Cheesteaks vs…..uh…..well, just pretend there’s an edibile food item associated with the Boston area and you’re all set.

Rosemary Woods, RIP

Posted in politics at 12:40 am by

Rosemary Woods, former secretary to President Richard M. Nixon, has passed away at the age 87.

Woods came to prominence in 1972 when she took responsibility for an 18 1/2 minute gap in a recorded conversation between Nixon and his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman that might’ve revealed the full extent of the President’s knowledge of the ensuing Watergate break-in.

Though I’ve never had a secretary, I can only hope that if I someday employ such an individual, he or she will be as attractive, dilligent, loyal and prone to destroying incriminating evidence as Ms. Woods.


Arsenal Narrow Chelsea’s Lead, QPR Back In Contention

Posted in Football at 8:12 pm by

A first half Dennis Bergkamp (above right) strike was the margin in Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over Newcastle at Highbury earlier today, closing the gap on leaders Chelsea (3-0 winners at Portsmouth Saturday) to 8 points and leapfrogging Manchester United into 2nd place in the Premiership.

Afterwards, much of the talk surrounded the status of Newcastle striker Craig Bellamy, who seems to be driving manager Graeme Souness to distraction, much as he did Bobby Robson previously.

In the Coca Cola Championship, QPR spoiled Micky Adams’ first match in charge of struggling Coventry, winning 2-1 on a hotly contested 90th minute goal by George Santos(above) at Highfield Road yesterday. Said result, Rangers’ 2nd consecutive win, moves them into 7th place, just outside of the final playoff spot on goal differential.

Blaming Bettman

Posted in Hockey at 7:29 pm by

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks on the work stoppage impacting North America’s 6th or 7th most popular major sport.

On Tuesday, facing a third consecutive quarter loss, an SEC probe and an 18-month drop in stock price from $50 to $8.72, Krispy Kreme fired CEO Scott Livengood and replaced him with Stephen Cooper, known in the trade as a turnaround specialist whose latest endeavor concerns a company that recently hit a small bump in the road. Some of you may be familiar with Enron.

“Isn’t that what the league should be doing; hiring a ‘turnaround specialist?’ ” one marquee NHL player rhetorically asked Slap Shots late in the week. “I’m not suggesting that we would take a hard cap, but if the league fired Gary [Bettman] and brought in someone with a background of success in business who could present us a plan on how the league intends to turn around and grow revenues, we’d certainly listen.

“People talk about the problem being Gary and Bob [Goodenow]. It’s not Bob. It’s Gary. He doesn’t have the respect of the players in this league. You should hear how players talk to each other about him. It isn’t right to have so little respect for your commissioner, but that’s the situation we’re in. Look at what’s happened to the game with him in charge. Look where we are. There’s no reason to have any faith that the league will succeed under his vision.

“What vision? All we hear about Gary’s vision can be summed up in two words: ‘hard cap.’ I know that personal attacks aren’t the answer, but I’m telling you, as a group we would be much more receptive to listening to the league if we had some faith in the commissioner and the direction he wanted to lead us.”

In other words, perhaps it’s time for the league to have another donut.

AFC Championship, First Half

Posted in Gridiron at 6:56 pm by

Patriots 24, Steelers 3

(man on man action from Deion Branch and David Givens following the former’s 60 yard TD catch from Tom Brady in the first quarter)

There are a lot of people buried in the Nevada desert who got there by betting against Bill Belichick. OK, probably not, but if I’m ever gonna become a writer for “Tilt”, I’ve got to work on the ominious cliches. From the vantage point of the CSTB couch, calling the modern Pats the greatest team of the salary cap era sounds like faint praise.

Sincere congratulations to the long-suffering people of Philadelphia on the Eagles’ convincing victory over the Falcons earlier today. Which is to say, I’m convinced they’ll be badly beaten by New England.

Mets Increase Delgado Offer, Yanks Sign Sanchez

Posted in Baseball at 6:43 pm by

Newsday’s David Lennon is reporting that the Mets (and Marlins) have each increased their offers to Carlos Delgado to include a 4th year.

The Mets initially were reluctant to add the fourth year, but after considering the potential cost of Magglio Ordoñez, club officials figured that would not be a cost-efficient alternative. Ordoñez, who is recovering from two surgeries on the same knee, is believed to be seeking a deal similar to Delgado’s, and if the Mets paired him with the signing of another first baseman such as John Olerud or Travis Lee, the savings would be negligible.

The Orioles are also in the hunt for Delgado, but are considered long shots at this point.

Before the Rangers’ bid Friday, the Mets thought they might have to go as high as four years and $45 million, though they hoped not to have to do that.

A person familiar with the negotiations said yesterday that the Rangers’ package involves deferred money, which reduces the annual value to $11.2 million. That might not seem like much more than the three-year, $33-million offer that had been made by the Mets, but there is no state income tax in Texas, meaning the Mets would have to make up the difference.

Infielder Rey “Scissorhands” Sanchez has signed a one year, $600,00 contract with the Yankees.

Fucko Finds Work

Posted in Baseball at 5:28 pm by

Former Mets reliever John Franco has signed a one year, $700,000 contract with the Houston Astros. There is no greater testament to the demand for left handed pitching than a 44 year old southpaw coming off a 2-7, 5.28 ERA campaign could command that kind of loot.

But in all seriousness, best of luck to Johnny B. Badd….finding any decent marinara sauce in Houston.

Bucks 101, Knicks 96

Posted in Basketball at 4:36 pm by

Well, there goes Herb Williams’ 1.000 career coaching mark.

Very little evidence this afternoon that Lenny Wilkens isn’t still in charge ; Stephon Marbury and Jamal Crawford missing big shots from close range in the final two minutes, Michael Redd left unguarded to hit a wide open three that put Milwaukee up by 7, failing to box out Zaza Pachulia on a rebound that would’ve given the Knicks the ball with a 4 point margin instead of 6, etc.

More happy stats: that’s now 6 losses in a row for New York, 10 out of the last 11, and they’ve dropped a home game to a Milwaukee team that had just 3 road wins for the season coming into the day.

(Herb points out to MSG security that someone else is sitting in Matthew Modine’s seats)

(Update : According to the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola, Lenny Wilkens’ resignation was in fact, a firing ordered by Garden boss James Dolan against Isiah Thomas’ wishes.)

O’s Stump Up For Delgado

Posted in Baseball at 11:33 am by

At the end of the process, there might not have been more than 2 teams bidding for Carlos Beltran. Free agent 1B Carlos Delgado, however, seems to have 4 clubs competing for his signature, albiet for fewer years and lesser dollars per annum. The New York Daily News’ John Harper installs Baltimore as the new front-runner, the Orioles having offered $48 million over 4 years.

With that sort of proposal on the table, Delgado has to be intrigued. With the former Blue Jay hitting alongside Miguel Tejada, the middle of Baltimore’s batting order would match up well with that of the Yankees or Red Sox, and the Orioles would have a genuine chance at winning 75 games next season, many of them by scores of 11-10, 10-9, etc.

Big Ron Does It Again

Posted in Football, Racism Corner at 11:21 am by

Less than a year after losing his ITV commentary gig for calling Marcel Desailly “a fucking lazy nigger” over an open microphone, former WBA/Aston Villa/Sheffield Wednesday/Nottingham Forest/Manchester United manager Ron Atkinson has put his foot in it again while speaking at a Wednesday fundraiser. From the Mirror’s Andy Lines.

Atkinson, 65, says he “can’t believe” the latest storm and claimed he cracked the joke in connection with a story about a visit to China in the late 1970s by his then club West Bromwich Albion.

On the trip, an Albion player was asked about what he thought about the Great Wall of China. He is said to have replied: “Once you’ve seen one wall, you’ve seen them all.”

Atkinson (above) followed the story with this “joke”: “I can’t understand why there is such a population problem in China as they have the best contraception going – Chinese women are the ugliest in the world.”

Sheffield Wednesday club historian Keith Howard was among 264 guests at the dinner.

He confirmed Atkinson had made the remark, but said nobody had taken offence or raised it as issue.

Mr Howard said: “Ron gave a speech almost an hour long. The vast majority was about his managerial career. He made very very few jokes.

“But I did hear the one about the Chinese. Certainly no one took offence and he actually got a laugh.

“There was a comedian on afterwards and he was far worse, taking the mickey out of the Irish, Jews and coloureds.

“I don’t think anyone was offended by what Ron had to say and he got a very good reception. Supporters appreciated him turning up.”

Lewis / Klitschko Rematch Planned

Posted in Boxing at 11:06 am by

With a £21 million payday luring him from retirement, former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis is reportedly set to fight WBC title holder Vitali Klitschko in a rematch of their June 2003 bout. Said contest was halted in Lewis’ favor with Klitschko suffering facial cuts, though the Ukranian challenger was ahead on points at the time.

If Lewis is so easily troubled by suggestions that he was lucky to have kept the belt that night at the Staples Center (I refuse to believe he’s just doing this for the money), perhaps he should grant a rematch to the one fighter he’s never really beaten, Oliver McCall? I’m sure the latter needs the loot just as badly as Lewis.

Sweet Lou Sours On Tampa’s ’05 Forecast

Posted in Baseball at 10:43 am by

As we’ve seen time and time again, a massive payroll is no guarantee of success (wipe that grin off your face, Mr. Met) and contending on the cheap is not impossible (eg. Minnesota, Oakland). At the same time, when your entire team is being paid less than the combined salaries of Randy Johnson and Kevin Brown, there’s little margin for error, if not the overwhelming sense that the season is over before it has begun. With that grim reality in mind, the Tampa Tribune’s Carter Gaddis catches up with Devil Rays manager Lou Pinella.

The competitor in Piniella won’t let him quite put aside the tendency to expect better the next time around. But the realist within him understands an offseason spent basically holding the line in terms of talent isn’t exactly conducive to radical improvement.

So, when he let slip during an interview session Thursday at Tropicana Field that finishing the upcoming season with victories in the mid- 70s would be a reasonable goal, he instantly backed off.

“You know what? I’m even going to scratch that,” he said. “I’ll go with improve over last year. That’s it. Let’s just improve over last year, and we’ll be happy.”

The moves this offseason by General Manager Chuck LaMar are, for the most part, done.

The Rays committed about $5 million in base salary to a shortstop- turned-third baseman, Alex Gonzalez; 37-year-old second baseman Roberto Alomar; outfielder Danny Bautista; and designated hitter Josh Phelps.

LaMar also traded 21-year-old reliever Chad Gaudin to Toronto for backup catcher Kevin Cash and invited a few interesting names to spring training from among a list of minor- league signees that includes infielder Brandon Larson, outfielder Dee Brown and starting pitcher Jimmy Haynes.

In many ways, it was a frustrating offseason for the Rays. Already limited by a mandate from ownership to limit the payroll to around $32 million (including player incentives), the organization was stunned by the loss until June of center fielder Rocco Baldelli (torn ACL, left knee).

“What it probably did more than anything else was kept us from getting a starting pitcher, because we had to go out and get an outfielder,” Piniella said. “And we’re happy to get Bautista, don’t get me wrong. He’s a nice fit here. But we wouldn’t have had to go sign a frontline outfielder.”

Instead of acquiring a relatively low-priced veteran pitcher (Esteban Loaiza went to Washington for $2.9 million), the Rays will enter spring training Feb. 18 with a starting rotation that could conceivably include no pitchers older than 28-year-old Rob Bell.

Bell and Mark Hendrickson, 30, are the veterans of the group. The others in contention for starting jobs are 21-year-old Scott Kazmir, 24- year-old Dewon Brazelton, 24-year- old Doug Waechter and 24-year-old Seth McClung (all ages are as of Opening Day).

Bell has made 105 major-league starts. Hendrickson has made 64 – the same number as Kazmir, Brazelton, Waechter and McClung combined.

“Our pitching is very young, but it’s healthy,” Piniella said. “The first two years I’ve been here, we’ve always gone to camp with question marks health-wise and starting the season health-wise. We’ve got some good, strong young arms. We need to improve them over last year, but I think that can be done.”

The bullpen, which ranked third in the American League in ERA (3.90) last year, will return virtually intact. A decision must be made on how to use Rule 5 draftee Angel Garcia, a hard-throwing 21-year-old who has never played at a level higher than Class A.

Piniella welcomed the chance to use second baseman Jorge Cantu in a utility role, now that Alomar is in the fold.

“Cantu’s going to play. I like him,” Piniella said. “He did a nice job here last year. We need somebody who can play all three positions. And we need to rest these kids. And Cantu’s perfect. He’ll get a nice education, too, from veteran players.”

(when stadia banned pepper games, players turned their attention to the far cruder pastime of “Scratch Off”, of which a young Pinella was an acknowledged grandmaster).

You know the outlook is bleak if the one-that-got-away is Esteban Loiza. The continued employment of Tampa GM Chuck LeMar is one of baseball’s great mysteries, and unless ownership have some secret scheme to move to Las Vegas or Northern Virginia (a cursory check of the newspapers might reveal that they are late on both counts) their goals are equally hard to figure out.

Vescey (Pete) On Isiah’s Knicks Nightmare

Posted in Basketball at 1:42 am by

From Peter Vescey in Sunday’s NY Post :

Isiah Thomas has been taken to task for overspending for underachievers in James Dolan’s no-budget restraint system.

Yes, he has been mocked for being unable to so much as maintain mediocrity since replacing Scott Layden more than a year ago.

But nobody, in all fairness, has regularly ripped him for purely picking up where Dave Checketts, Ernie Grunfeld and Layden left off . . . throwing ungodly money around, thus lengthening the mortgage on the Knicks’ future; their cap currently tops the NBA, a grotesque $103 million and building briskly.

Despite what you may read or hear elsewhere, the Knicks gave Wilkens the dignity to throw himself under the snow plow, as opposed to being summarily sent back to his home in Seattle by his very last NBA employer. For agreeing to cite Hubie Brown-like health issues (his mother, indeed, is ailing) instead of causing a commotion, or quitting like Jeff Van Gundy, or faxing in his resignation like Pat Riley, the Knicks will make good on their remaining obligation, what’s left of this season’s $5M tab as well as next, which isn’t fully guaranteed; we’re talking roughly $6M total.

Would Wilkens have survived, you ask, had Scott Padgett not hit the game winning, coach-killing shot Thursday night? No. Win or lose to the Rockets, Isiah was prepared to offer Lenny an arrangement in upper management if he wanted to stick around; it’s almost definite he won’t.

Where does that leave the Knicks? They are what their 17-22 record attests they are: A mess. A different shade of lipstick on the same pig.

Where does that leave Thomas? By paying off Wilkens so soon after recruiting him it’s now official; Isiah’s honeymoon in New York is harpooned. Even vocal supporters wind up nuking him when confronted with damning data.

I’d say it’s back to square one except a solid argument can be made that the Knicks have receded to below square one.

A year ago, Herb Williams was only considered experienced and worthy enough by Thomas to coach one game in between Chaney and Wilkens. Now he’s being entrusted to lead a brood with a superiority complex out of the wilderness.

I understand why Wilkens wanted Williams to replace him; he’s a man, loyal to the foundation, not a phony bone in his body, or a skeleton in his closet. I also understand why Thomas thinks the oldest member of the staff deserves a promotion. At the same time, why import faithful companions like Brendan Suhr and Mark Aguirre if they can’t be relied upon to cover your assets in crisis?

Again, where does that leave the Knicks and Thomas? Neither here nor there. Treading water. Marking time. Lost in Limbo. Waiting for the end of the season to ask the Pistons’ permission to talk to Larry Brown. Doing what they should have done the last time they had a coaching vacancy, kept it open and remained patient on the favorable chance owner Bill Davidson, for the right price, would allow his championship coach to come back to New York where the Browns recently rebuilt a home in East Hampton.

Still, I can’t help but think, if the Knicks players had only spent as much time defending opponents as they did Wilkens, he’d still have a job.

Delgado Swoons During Hicks Visit

Posted in Baseball at 1:05 am by

According to a number of reports Friday and Saturday, the Mets’ chances of signing free agent 1B Carlos Delgado have decreased substantially. From the Newark Star-Ledger’s Don Burke.

The Mets didn’t blow Carlos Delgado away with the lukewarm offer they made to him on Thursday, and that may have left the door open for another team to snatch the free-agent first baseman.

Delgado and his agent, David Sloane, spent four hours with Texas Rangers officials yesterday. The Rangers made an offer of four years for over $40 million, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. Texas said that was its best and final offer and also sait it had a commitment from Delgado and his representative that the Rangers would know before the end of the weekend whether Delgado would joing their team.

“Tom Hicks (the Rangers owner) said that he was going to come to Puerto Rico and give it his best shot,” Sloane said in an e-mail to reporters. “He did all that and more. We will be talking to them again (today) in an attempt to sustain the positive momentum we generated (yesterday).”

Meanwhile, Sloane also chatted with Baltimore Orioles officials and plans to speak with the Rangers and Orioles again today. It’s likely Sloane will also speak again with the Mets and with the Florida Marlins, for that matter. The Mets, as is their policy, declined comment again yesterday.

Much as it would suck to see this potential signing slip through Omar Minaya’s fingers, if Carlos Delgado wants to spend his summers in 110 degree heat, being eaten alive by giant mosquitos, he’s welcome to that. In the event Texas have promised to make him their DH, the Mets could promise the same thing. They’d be lying, but they could still promise.

(UPDATE : The New York Post’s Michael Morrisey reports that the Mets have improved their offer to Delgado and quotes one source as saying that Florida and New York are “neck and neck” in the race for the veteran’s services. )

Newsday’s Jon Heyman on a new addition to the Dodgers’ broadcasting team.

As if their offseason wasn’t bad enough — they paid more per year to J.D. Drew than they offered Adrian Beltre, dramatically overpaid Derek Lowe and Odalis Perez, signed Jose Valentin and Jeff Kent, who’ll take years off poor Cesar Izturis’ life, and traded Shawn Green three times — the Dodgers outdid themselves by hiring unprofessional goofball Steve Lyons as an analyst during road telecasts.

Maybe this is why the Dodgers were so hell-bent on ridding themselves of the productive, classy Green. Lyons, you’ll recall, ripped Green for missing a game on Yom Kippur, saying: “He’s not even a practicing Jew. He didn’t marry a Jewish girl. And from what I understand, he never had a bar mitzvah, which is unfortunate because he doesn’t get the money.”

What’s unfortunate is the Dodgers will pay Lyons to make observations like these.

(The Other) Vescey Unloads On The Knicks

Posted in Basketball at 12:26 am by

The New York Times’ George Vescey knows — as do most conscious persons — that it will take more than Phil Jackson’s coaching acumen to turn the Knicks around.

The name you hear now is Phil Jackson, a basketball celebrity just as much as a coach these days. It is hard to imagine Jackson handing out personally selected hardcover books to these Knicks, who on Friday night could not count backward from 24 to 1 and make the appropriate choice about shooting the ball in the closing seconds.

Jackson was a Knick in the good old days, and later Red Holzman had to contain his inner glow over the success of his boy with the Bulls. By now, Jackson carries good baggage, Jordan and Pippen baggage; and bad baggage, Shaq and Kobe baggage.

What would Jackson do with sore-kneed nice old Allan Houston, the most anonymous Knicks star ever, who has scored a zillion bland points yet will primarily be remembered for one fortuitous roll against Miami? Houston cannot start on this team, yet he eats up salary space, courtesy of decisions made by the Dolans and Scott Layden nearly four years ago.

This is not a team that Jackson (or, for that matter, Larry Brown) would lust to coach, although each might bring more zeal to the job than Wilkens seemed to bring.

For the rest of this season, the remaining coaches still have to watch this team. The fans, on the other hand, do not.


Mayweather Batters Bruseles

Posted in Boxing at 11:50 pm by

If tonight’s methodical dispatch of the hopelessly overmatched Henry Bruseles is anything to go by, Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s inevitable collision with Arturo Gatti will be a battle for the ages. Preferably 12 and up, I think kids oughta hit puberty before they watch a couple of guys killing each other.

The Return Of Oil Can Boyd

Posted in Baseball at 10:23 pm by

Chuck Meehan wants to know when the Orioles are gonna do something to shore up their starting rotation. Though Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson are no longer available, might we suggest Oil Can Boyd?

(only 4 years older than the Big Unit and far cheaper)

Bloomberg Baiter Busted

Posted in politics at 5:56 pm by

Now that this guy is no longer manning the pipes for the Devils, I’m tempted to vote for him.

(Candidate Brodeur telling Councilman Messier where to stick it at a recent town meeting)

LaTroy Hawkins : Untouchable!

Posted in Baseball at 5:36 pm by

Unless of course, you’re hitting against him. Writes Ben Schwartz,

I see the $$$ headache in trading away Sosa, but how did LaTroy get a lifetime contract? the Chicago Sun Times’ Mike Kiley :

Ryan Dempster said he’d like a chance to be the Cubs’ closer, but then he issued strong support for LaTroy Hawkins to keep the role.

”Last time I checked, we had a closer at the end of the year,” Dempster said.

”He had a little bit of failure, but it was his first year in the National League, and a lot of times it was magnified. There were games it shouldn’t have been a save situation, but we didn’t bury people.”

More Steel Curtain Ink

Posted in Gridiron at 9:14 am by

says Jon Solomon,

I can only hope that this man’s front piece is Myron Cope urinating off the top of Cleveland’s stadium while being bitten by a Macaw.

In advance of tomorrow’s AFC Championship game with New England, it is comforting to know that members of a 16-1 team can still play the lack of respect card. From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Jerry DiPaola :

The Steelers shut down most of their preparations Friday for the AFC Championship game, with some lingering resentment about their status as 3-point underdogs to the New England Patriots.

“It’s the same old thing we’ve been going through all season,” outside linebacker Joey Porter said. “The respect factor is not there. We beat everybody we played, and for some reason, they (media and other analysts) just don’t believe we are a good team.

“It’s one of those situations we have to go out there and keep proving ourselves. To make it all good, we have to take care of business on Sunday.”

If Porter or any other football player wants to measure respect by the movements of the Vegas betting line, that’s fine with me. But keep in mind, were Pittsburgh installed as favorites by however large or small a margin, you’d be hearing equally loud cries of protest from New England, where they’ve won 2 Super Bowls in 3 years, are on the verge of reaching their 3rd in 4 tries, yet still cling to the identity of an underdog. And all of this manufactured motivation stuff is pretty tiresome, just ask Alex Rodriguez.

CSTB’s call : New England 24, Pittsburgh 10. And please keep in mind that I’m not above editing/deleting said prediction (like so many pieces of hate mail from Pittsburgh fans) if the result is not to my liking.

The Rocket’s Next Stop

Posted in Baseball at 8:50 am by

The ink is barely dry on Rogers Clemens’ massive one-year deal with Houston, and the New York Post’s Joel Sherman is already predicting a mid-season trade.

There are certain signs that you have been at one job too long. Here’s mine: Roger Clemens signs a pitchers’ record $18 million contract yesterday with the Astros and the first thought is not “Good for him,” or “Good for Houston,” or even “Wow.” The first thought is a contract like that means Roger Clemens is going to end the 2005 season as either a Yankee or a Red Sox.

A more serious consideration of a new job would have been necessary, except an AL executive said this yesterday: “If the Astros are a non-contender in July, I would put it at 80 percent that Clemens would be a Yankee or a Red Sox. The reality is those are the only two places he would consider going.”

The Yanks and Red Sox both came sniffing at Clemens last year when Houston appeared a pretender, 51-52 on July 31. Houston management decided to keep Clemens and Carlos Beltran, and the go-for-it panache was rewarded with a major league-best 41-18 record thereafter and the NL wild card.

That choice was easier then. Clemens’ base salary was $5 million ($3.5 million of which was deferred), and he was more than paying for himself by packing Minute Maid Park. Can the Astros be so blasé this year if non-contention comes when Clemens’ payday is more than three times greater? Or are we looking at Kevin Brown’s late-season substitute in New York? Clemens just replaced Pedro Martinez as the highest paid pitcher ever; could he go back to where he started to finish as Martinez’ Boston stand-in?

Clemens and Randy Johnson in one rotation is a fireballing George Steinbrenner dream. Curt Schilling pitching with his mentor, Clemens, would be another sign The Curse is gone forever. Ever since Clemens received that standing-ovation, Fenway sendoff in September 2003, I have sensed an open door for him to return. Wade Boggs, who also left under bad conditions, will go into the Hall of Fame this summer as a Red Sox. Maybe Boston has just begun an era of righting all past wrongs. The Boss, of course, will not let that happen without a spirited tussle.

There is validity to Sherman’s prediction, because after all, nothing of significance could occur in baseball without New York or Boston having the final say.

Don Poier, RIP

Posted in Sports Radio at 12:38 am by

Don Poier, longtime radio voice of the Memphis and Vancouver Grizzlies, and a fixture on the Pacific Northwest broadcasting scene for the past two decades, passed away Friday afternoon in Denver, just prior to the Nuggets/Grizzlies game. Initial indications are that Poier suffered a heart attack.

Lenny’s Finale

Posted in Basketball at 12:00 am by

ESPN’s Steven A. Smith is reporting that Lenny Wilkens will resign as New York Knicks head coach tomorrow morning.

Said news comes just hours after New York was victimized by an off-balance buzzer beater by Houston’s Scott Padgett, the Rockets’ 92-91 win at MSG being the Knicks’ 9th loss in 10 games.

(life’s rich Padgett)

Tracy McGrady, showing no fatigue following his successful return to Orlando on Thursday, scored 35 for Houston, winners of 5 of their last 7. Jamal Crawford (6 for 19) had a typically rotten shooting performance, matched by Kurt Thomas and Nazr Mohammed (a combined 8 for 25).

I can’t see Isiah Thomas taking over the coaching reins because it would be physically impossible for Zeke to glare over his own shoulders.

For those who continue to insist that there’s little drama to be found in the NBA’s 82 game regular season, tell it to the Spurs and Suns. On second thought, just watch the highlights, they probably wouldn’t take your phone calls.

(UPDATE : The following is from Knight Ridder News Services :

Lenny Wilkens resigned on Friday night as Knicks coach and will be replaced by assistant coach Herb Williams, according to a league source.

The stunning development came just hours after Scott Padgett’s jumper at the buzzer gave the Houston Rockets a 92-91 victory over the Knicks at the Garden. Within minutes there were rumors flying around the arena that Knicks president Isiah Thomas had fired Wilkens, the legendary coach whom Thomas hired last Jan. 15.

However, a team source denied that Wilkens had been fired and would only say that Wilkens was contemplating resigning.

“Lenny is doing some thinking right now,” said Thomas, who met with his coach for two hours after the loss. “We’ll see where he’s at in the morning.”

Asked if Wilkens was considering stepping down, Thomas said: “That I don’t know. This is a tough situation. And I would imagine that he’s probably in his thought process where Hubie Brown was in his thought process. Hubie was the Coach of the Year last year. Lenny coached us to the playoffs last year.” Brown resigned from the Memphis Grizzlies in December.)