A gloating Paul Sommerstein forwarded a link from the AP claiming that Boston’s characterless Fleet Center might be renamed the Derek Jeter Center, if only for a day.
Plans to rename Nickerson Field after A-Rod hit the skids when everyone pointed out that said venue isn’t a real top-flight sporting facility.
When you consider the way some of these squabbles sprial out of control, perhaps the occasional “no comment” here and there wouldn’t be the worst thing on earth. From the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullvan :
Cubs manager Dusty Baker believes Sosa was conjuring up some revisionist history Wednesday when he told reporters in Ft. Lauderdale that he walked out on the final game last season because Baker had given him the day off.
“Sammy’s gone,” Baker said. “But at least you should be able to tell the truth about things.”
Sosa maintained his final-day walkout came only after Baker had told him he was off. Baker said former assistant trainer Sandy Krum served as the go-between, telling Baker the day before the final game that Sosa was feeling a little nicked up and wanted out of the lineup for the finale.
“Actually, [Krum] came in the night before and told me that he said he wanted off,” Baker said. “I said [to Krum], ‘Fine. If that’s how he wants it, if you don’t want to play, I’ll play [Jason] Dubois.’ ¦ I didn’t give him the day off”he asked for it. Again, it’s a matter of who you believe.”
Baker reiterated he never gave Sosa permission to leave the ballpark. He expected Sosa to be on the bench with the rest of the position players who weren’t in the starting lineup.
“Where I come from, that’s what [a day off] means,” Baker said.
Sosa refused to confirm to reporters in Florida that Baker had called him after the trade, leaving the impression he hadn’t.
“He insinuated he didn’t call me in Milwaukee either,” Baker said, referring to the late-night phone call Aug. 17 in which Sosa allegedly volunteered to be dropped in the batting order. “Yeah, we spoke on the phone. I wouldn’t say we’d spoken if we didn’t. It depends on who you believe.”
Sosa also said his new manager, Lee Mazzilli, whom he has met with twice, is the first one he has had who has dealt with him honestly, implying Baker, Don Baylor, Jim Riggleman and many others for whom he has played didn’t do so.
“He said the same thing about me when I got here,” Baker said. “And when Baylor got here.”
Baker was more than perturbed by the inference he hasn’t been honest with Sosa. Over the winter, Sosa complained that Baker “embarrassed” him by dropping him in the order. Baker maintains Sosa not only asked him to drop him during their late-night phone call in Milwaukee but also asked him to tell reporters it was Sosa’s idea.
“If you talk to most people who know me, they’ll tell you I’m too honest,” Baker said. “So [the Sosa accusations] are contradictory to my personality.”
Cubs players who were asked about Sosa’s comments were hesitant to criticize him. Most believe reporters misinformed Sosa during questioning, leading him to believe players were saying the team is better off without him.
…that this guy is a moron and hacking into his cell phone just to get Paige Hamilton’s digits really isn’t worth it.
This morning’s UK papers are filled with wild accusations that intermisison of Wednesday night’s Champions League clash between Barcelona and Chelsea (won by Barca, 2-1) was marked by Frank Rijkaard visiting referee Anders Frisk in the latter’s dressing room. The Guardian’s Matt Scott is reporting that Barcelona assistant coach Henk Ten Cafe “assualted the Chelsea manager with a kick to the backside,” which Chelsea deny As for Frisk, the Independent’s Nick Harris recaps “Lowpoints Of A Limahl Lookalike”.
An accountant by trade, and an Red Cross ambassador, he has been been involved in few controversies, not all of his making, including:
Champions’ League group game, 7 Dec 2004
Valencia 0 Werder Bremen 2
Frisk booked five Valencia players and sent off a sixth as Claudio Ranieri’s side was eliminated. “When you see the referee give them more than you, you feel as though you are being shafted,” Ranieri said. He later apologised, saying: “I was in a very agitated state.”
Champions’ League group game, 15 Sep 2004
Roma 0 Dynamo Kiev 1 (abandoned at half-time)
Frisk abandoned the game after being hit by a missile thrown from the crowd following his decision to send off Roma defender Philippe Mexes.
Euro 2004 semi-final, 30 June
Portugal 2 Netherlands 1
Ruud van Nistelrooy accused the referee of being a “home whistler” and was handed a two-match ban for insulting behaviour towards Frisk.
World Cup, first knock-out round, 16 June 2002
Spain 1 Rep Ireland 1 (Spain won on penalties)
Frisk awarded two penalties to Ireland in normal time. The first – deemed soft by some – went unconverted. The second, in the final minute, was generally regarded as fair, for shirt-pulling. Robbie Keane scored, but the Irish went out on spot-kicks.
19 points out of first place in La Liga, Valencia have parted with ways with manager Claudio Raneiri.
Since I last staggered though an airport earlier today, here’s what went down :
1) Baron Davis to the Warriors, Speedy Claxton and Dale Davis to the Hornets.
New Orleans successfully clears a ton of cap room ; Golden State has an All-Star guard (alibet one who is injured) to pair with Jason Richardson. Let this be a lesson to those superstars who don’t impress Byron Scott with their rehab efforts — piss him off and you’ll be shipped to a team slightly less sucky.
2) Gary Payton, Tom Gugliotta and Michael Stewart to Atlanta, Antoine Walker (above) returns to Boston.
‘Toine and Danny Ainge bury the hatchet and Boston essentially keeps Raef LaFrentz for nothing. Gary Payton, longing for a trade to a western contender…might not report to Atlanta?
3) the much traveled Keith Van Horn to Dallas, Alan Henderson, Calvin Booth and a bag of money to Milwaukee.
The Bucks escape from Van Horn’s remaining $15.7 million, which can now be aimed at re-signing Michael Redd. Dallas, for their part, can now give the public the Van Horn/Shawn Bradley tandem they’ve been gagging for all these years.
4) Maurice Taylor to New York, Vin Baker and Moochie Norris to Houston.
Because what’s another $28 million over the next 3 years on an unspectacular forward like Taylor? Why not see if the Knicks can miss the playoffs and have a $200 million payroll in the same season?
5) Malik Rose (above) and two first-round picks to New York, Nazr Mohammed and Jamison Brewer to San Antonio.
Isiah Thomas wants to stockpile future draft picks so badly, he’s willing to assume the remaining four years and $27 million of Rose’s salary in order to obtain two first rounders…from a likely title contender.
Though I’m already on record as saying I find NASCAR about as appealing as a vasectomy-reversal without restuarant recomendations, I do understand that for those who actually follow saloon cars going around in a circle, there are names, incidents, strategies, etc. And as such, I find the notion of NASCAR on the radio about as ridiculous as I do the idea of basketball, baseball, football, cock-fighting, etc. on the wireless. Which is to say, not at all.
Of course, if anyone wants to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for the right to broadcast the contents of Paris Hilton’s Sidekick over the radio, I’m down with that, too.
In what could be the start a frantic day of trade activity, Philadelphia have followed Wednesday night’s blockbuster by sending F Glenn Robinson to New Orleans in exchange for Jamal Mashburn and Rodney Rogers. Rogers (above) being the token player in this deal who is actually mobile and not being paid more money than God.
Cleveland have addressed their dire need for an outside shooter by acquiring Jiri Welsch from the Celtics in exchange for a 2007 first-round draft pick.
The Associated Press is reporting that Mo Vaughn is purchasing and renovating two Bronx apartment buildings to provide low-income housing.
Vaughn, whose business acumen was previously shown with his batting-cage complex, summer camp collaboration with Nomar, and of course, being paid tens of millions of dollars by the Anaheim Angels and New York Mets, will receive a $28.6 million loan from NYC’s Housing Development Corp. This is of course, a good thing, as the less fortunate deserve all of the creature comforts Mo Vaughn would take for granted.
The apartments will get new floors, kitchen cabinets, tiles, bathtubs, toilets, boilers and water heaters. They also will receive improvements in electricity and plumbing. Security cameras will be installed.
No mention yet if a Scores franchise will open on site.
He’s enough to make you miss Tony Kornheiser. ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, along with admitting an attraction to Courtney Love (thanks for that), spent a good part of this morning’s show blasting the Raiders’ acquisition of Randy Moss. As Cowherd correctly pointed out, Oakland has no running game to speak of and their defense is pourous, so perhaps adding an elite wide receiver was not their most pressing need.
However, Cowherd (above) went a little further, accusing the Raiders of pandering to their misfit image by bringing in the “dysfunctional” Moss, and suggested that trade was more about Raider mystique and less about winning football games.
If Oakland win 7 games in 2005, I’ll be shocked. But Moss caught 110 passes last season. To suggest he has nothing of substance to offer a bad, old football team isn’t mere exaggeration, its a smear.
Barry Bonds says that sportswriters are a evil, lying bunch. The SF Chronicle’s Gwen Knapp confesses that once again, Barry is correct.
Barry Bonds is right. I have lied. A lot of sportswriters lie. We cover for athletes all the time.
We did it when we followed Mark McGwire in 1998 and failed to ask the appropriate questions. I was especially guilty, because I believed back then what Jose Canseco is writing now: That McGwire didn’t hit 70 home runs on hard work alone. Yet, I said nothing. I thought my silence amounted to fairness, because I didn’t have proof. But I remember very clearly thinking: If I were Barry Bonds, watching this spectacle, knowing what is being left unsaid, knowing that I’m twice the player McGwire is, I would spend my offseason looking for the same power boost.
The press, by celebrating McGwire’s home-run record without scrutiny, invited every other ballplayer into the world of doping. That’s why I have never seen the steroid scandal as Barry-centric. He is responsible for whatever he has done, but he’s not uniquely villainous or dishonest. We are all complicit.
I have lied about Bonds, too, but not in the way he meant when he went after the media at his spring-training debut on Tuesday. The first time I saw him in 2001, I said to myself: “He’s juiced.” I didn’t say it in this column because, again, I didn’t have proof. But I was sure of it.
I have committed several more lies of omission since Bonds was implicated in the BALCO case a year and a half ago. I covered his 700th home run and never once mentioned that maybe, just maybe, he didn’t reach the milestone naturally. I had plenty of excuses — a brutal deadline, a reluctance to draw a cloud over the celebration, an inability to introduce such an important topic without letting it become the entire story. It was cowardice as much as anything, but it was a lie, too.
I have no excuses. These aren’t mistakes. I make a lot of those, just like any other human being. It’s one of the reasons I find it excruciating to attack athletes for errors on the field.
I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that every time an athlete dies young, I wonder if steroids played a role. Or that every time a rich athlete commits an act of violence, I have the same concern.
I’d also be lying if I didn’t say that Bonds has started sounding like a Karl Rove client. His talking points had a familiar ring.
Can’t find any weapons of mass destruction? Change the subject to democracy in Iraq.
Don’t want to answer questions about what you said to the BALCO grand jury? Pretend that it’s a pending legal issue, even though you have immunity and the federal prosecutor in the case has already said that all the athletes can repeat their testimony in public.
Don’t care to say whether you have used steroids, either wittingly or not? Change the subject to the evils of drinking and smoking.
Though most of Thursday’s papers will include the story of Temple coach John Chaney suspending himself for sanctionary goonery (by his own admission) during Tuesday’s loss to Saint Joseph’s, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Rich Hoffman had the highlights a day earlier.
It began with Chaney, less than 5 minutes into the second half, being restrained by players and assistant coaches as he argued with the officials about what he felt were illegal screens that weren’t being called on the Hawks. It continued with Chaney sending in 6-8, 250-pound senior forward Nehemiah Ingram to throw elbows and ask questions later.
Ingram hit everything that moved and fouled out in 4 minutes (including a technical foul). Chaney saw it as rough justice, but it wasn’t. Instead, whether he knew it or not, he was mocking the game that has been his life.
“I’m sending a message,” Chaney said. “And I’m going to send in what we used to do years ago – send in the goons. That’s what I’m going to do. That’s what you used to do…
“I’ve got me two of them on my bench and I’m going to use them. We try to play the game right. But when you’ve got two screens set up, and they’re moving, there’s only one person who used to set up screens like that, and that was Bob Knight, and he got away with it. The Celtics used to do it, they got away with it.
“I’m from the old school,” he said. “I tried to play it right, but no more. No more.”
Ingram’s last foul, a shove as the Hawks’ John Bryant was making a basket underneath, left Bryant sprawled out among the cheerleaders for a couple of minutes. After the game, St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli said Bryant was fine, but he looked hurt at the time, and later on the bench.
To which, Chaney replied, “That’s what happens. That’s what happens. I’m a mean, ornery, son of a bitch. You understand? When I see something wrong, I try to right it. I try to do the same thing they’re doing.
“You ask me what’s happening in the game? Illegal screens should never happen in the game.”
As he entered the interview room, Chaney was bellowing at Linda Bruno, the Atlantic 10 commissioner, about the officials. He asked her for Big Ten officials the next time, or ACC officials. He asked her loudly. Little did he know that two of last night’s officials, Jim Burr and Mike Sanzere, also work in the Big Ten, and that the other official, Karl Hess, also works in the ACC. Oh, well.
It still made for some great theater, as Chaney moments often do. Then Bruno and everyone else listened to see if Chaney would admit the obvious – that he sent Ingram into the game as a guided missile and nothing more.
Admit it? There was never a question, seeing as how Chaney essentially promised to do the self-same thing on a Monday conference call with Atlantic 10 reporters. This was not some heat-of-the-moment overreaction to another tough game – oh, and by the way, the Hawks again beat the Owls last night, 63-56. This was a planned response if the officiating went the way Chaney suspected it would.
Asked if he was concerned about the game when he sent in a kid for the simple purpose of gooning it up, Chaney bristled.
“I’m worried about what happens when officials apply a different measurement for one team as opposed to another,” he said. “You can protect shooters in a legal way, not illegal. I respect a team that plays as a team, but a moving screen is a moving screen…
“I’m also going to send a message to everybody in our league that when we come to play, we’re going to set them, too. I’m not going to have my guys getting hurt. The last time, the guy hit Mardy [Collins, Temple's leading scorer] with a hip at the Palestra. No! The guy’s standing there, looking at it! No, I don’t play that game.”
You couldn’t help but be reminded of some long-forgotten outrages in Chaney’s career, when his quest for justice got in the way of his common sense. People who talk about the old man getting old really don’t get it, because Chaney has been doing this stuff forever. If you closed your eyes last night, you could have been in Morgantown in the mid-1980s, with Chaney calling an official a “bleeping Jesse James.” This really is back to the future, even if Nehemiah Ingram wasn’t born when Chaney started pulling this stuff.
Injustice always has been his target, and outrage always has been his fuel – and the man does stand for great things. But there always has been this fear shared by the people who really like Chaney, that one of these moments would serve to trivialize a great and successful career.
Moments. Last night, Chaney was as wrong as he was unapologetic. Asked about the crudeness of Ingram’s elbow-throwing, the man who sent him out there to play the goon said, “Yeah. We’re just going to have to teach him how to do it a little bit better.”
Older Chaney watchers will remember the coach threatening to kill UMass’ John Calipari during a post-game press conference turned sour. Though in Chaney’s defense, if wanting to kill Calipari was a crime, there would be at least a dozen Nets fans in jail.
Philadelphia were the lucky recipients of Chris Webber and his 21.3 PPG, 9.7 and 5.5 assists Wednesday night, along with reserve forwards Matt Barnes and Michael Bradley. In exchange, Sacramento received the disgruntled F Kenny Thomas, free agent flop Brian Skinner and Razorback Corliss Wiliamson, along with $62 million in relief from the last 3 years of Webber’s deal.
It would be safe to say that Allen Iverson has never been paired with a player of Webber’s pedigree. It would be equally easy to claim that Philly gave up relatively little to get the gimpy, 31 year old 5-time All-Star, other than the obligation to cover Webber’s future paychecks. That Sacramento would so gladly give up one of the franchise’s signature players speaks volumes about Webber’s otherwise immoveable contract, if not Geoff Petrie’s confidence that the Kings have enough weapons to contend without the Fab Five’s most famous member.
Since Phil Mushnick still insists that Randy Moss was feigning taking a dump during his infamous TD celebration in Green Bay last January, could the Raiders’ trade for the talented WR be seen as a Commitment To Excrement?
From today’s CSTB junk mailbag :
IN MEMORY OF HOCKEY
In response to the many listener’s calls ranging from outrage at the players and the league, to sadness at the loss of their favorite sport we will hold vigil for the FANs to mark the demise of the hockey season. WFAN will conduct a memorial service tomorrow in hopes of providing some light-hearted relief.
The “memorial procession,” led by a hearse carrying WFAN’s Joe Benigno (above) and Sid Rosenberg, will depart at 1pm from the WFAN studios and end at Ben Benson’s Steakhouse, 123 W. 52nd St. (between 6th and 7th) in Manhattan. All fans are welcome to attend the ceremony to share their grief over the untimely death of their sport. This ceremony will be open casket and FANs are encouraged to bring their hockey memorabilia and or unused game tickets and officially bury the season. WFAN radio personalities will deliver eulogies in memoriam of the game, and a giant sympathy card will be available for fans to sign.
Writes Jon Solomon ,
I love how “listener “is singular in the first sentence.
Indeed, I would’ve thought Benigno’s ratings had improved upon moving to the afternoon, not stayed the same.
The New York Times’ Richard Sandomir, catching up with Jose Canseco at a New Jersey book signing :
Jose Canseco is so certain of what he has said, so assured that his accusations are founded, that earlier in the day he revealed plans to stage a pay-per-view polygraph examination.
Taking a lie-detector test before a paying public, he said on ESPN2′s “Cold Pizza”, would be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back.” He said on NBC’s “Today” that “something will occur in the next month or so that will prove my book 100 percent correct.”
He also told Matt Lauer on “Today” that “somewhere down the line, very soon,” those who have denied the accusations in his book – from McGwire to their former Oakland manager, Tony La Russa – “are going to be ashamed of what they said.”
The pay-per-view plan was rejected by HBO Sports.
“We took a pass, feeling that it felt like you’d have to take a shower after watching it,” said Ross Greenburg, the president of HBO Sports. “None of us saw a show there. It felt like a publicity stunt to make money and that doesn’t translate into television.”
Greenburg added: “What would we do? Show highlights of him shooting steroids into people’s rear ends, then watch the needle going off a polygraph. It would be like watching paint dry.”
At the bookstore, after the supply of autograph-signing fans had faded, Canseco said that for clues to the elements of the show, “Read the book! The question is, ‘Is Jose Canseco telling the truth?’ We’ll tackle the issue.”
But what else would happen in 60 or 90 minutes for a price of, say, $19.95 per home? “That’s yet to be seen,” Canseco said. “Look, I never thought when I wrote this that it’d be a best seller, to tell my story without the media diluting it.”
Those who assembled for the book signing were not certain they would pay to watch Canseco on pay per view.
“I’d do something like that,” said John Steiner, a contractor from Tappan. “I paid $49.95 for Tyson fights that lasted two rounds. So I could do that.”
Proving that no steroid rumors are necessary to have every sportswriter in America gunning for you, Dodgers OF Milton Bradley spoke to the LA Daily News’ Tony Jackson about the upcoming season.
Just a half-hour after manager Jim Tracy said Tuesday he hasn’t decided between Bradley or newcomer J.D. Drew as his everyday center fielder, the often-volatile Bradley said the issue is settled.
“Last year, we needed Steve Finley in order to win the division and make the playoffs, so I moved over to right field to make room for him,” said Bradley, who arrived at spring training one day before the reporting date for position players. “I made that sacrifice. But as for now, I’m playing center field.”
Asked how he would react to being asked to play right again, Bradley was even more decisive.
“That won’t happen,” he said. “I don’t believe it will. It really wouldn’t make sense for a guy who has played right field his whole career to start playing center when you have a capable center fielder already.”
Drew, who also reported Tuesday but quickly left the complex because he was feeling ill, has said he prefers to play center but would be willing to play right. Drew primarily played right field most of his six seasons in St. Louis and one year in Atlanta, but in he was playing alongside Jim Edmonds with the Cardinals and Andruw Jones with the Braves. Edmonds and Jones have won seven Gold Gloves apiece in center field.
Bradley and Drew are superb defensive outfielders. Jayson Werth, slated to play left field, also is capable of playing center.
Told of Bradley’s comments, Tracy more or less shrugged them off.
“If I could play center field the way (Bradley) does, I would feel that way myself,” Tracy said. “I know we’re going to have three center fielders in our outfield. I know we’re going to have an outfield that is pretty good defensively. And I think it’s important to get each one of those guys 400 to 500 at-bats for us to be the best team we can possibly be.”
Although Bradley made it clear he thinks he is more deserving of the center field job than Drew, he also was careful not to disrespect his new teammate, who signed a five-year, $55 million free-agent deal with the Dodgers two months ago.
“I don’t know much about J.D. Drew, but he’s a religious man, and I respect him,” Bradley said. “Either way, each one of us is going to play about the same number of games and get about the same number of at-bats.”
In case you’ve not caught any footage of yesterday’s amazing performance from Barry Bonds, a full transcript can be found here, courtesy of the SF Chronicle.
A couple of thoughts since last night :
1) There’s been a strong emphasis on knee pain and I’ve heard some commentators suggests that such talk is a smoke-screen for Barry to excuse the inevtiable decline when his juice-free 2005 campaign begins. ‘Roids or not, the guy is OLD and is cannot possibly maintain his level of production forever.
2) My new favorite bonehead radio host Ronnie Lane was moaning last night about Bonds “playing the race card” in his references to Babe Ruth. I’m wondering which part of Bonds’ point was offensive to Lane, that Barry said the Babe was white or that he described himself as black? Though a more appropriate question would be whether or not there is public resentment of Barry’s expected passing of Hank Aaron on the all-time HR list, and if not, why not, as compared to sentiment surrounding Ruth?
More on yesterday’s press conference from the Chronicle’s Ray Ratto :
Bonds said he has won over more fans since the steroid stories broke. “That’s one question I was waiting for,” he pounced. “I have gotten the best relationship with fans through all of this, than I ever have in my entire career.” He even raved about Dodgers fans and their verve in chanting, “Bar-ry sucks.” “They say ‘Barry sucks’ louder than anybody out there, and you know what, you’ll see me (waving his arms to encourage the chants) because you’ve got to have serious talent to have 53,000 people saying you suck. And I’m proud of that.”
He likely is very proud of that, because he knows he has won over as many people as he ever will. It’s why he decided to make his in-your-eye stand here, on this day, with as much of the nation watching as possible for midday viewing patterns.
It wasn’t a declaration of war with Doubting America, because Bonds’ moods run hot, cold and lukewarm, just as everyone else’s do. But it was a fairly clear indication that he would never admit, apologize or announce anything he didn’t feel like admitting to, apologizing for or announcing. Anyone in the room who thought otherwise was, is and will be thoroughly delusional.
What we learned, in short, was that there will be no Barry Bonds charm offensive as he attacks the remaining home-run records of Ruth and Hank Aaron. He messed with the messengers, is all, and it made for a fairly electric half- hour of mutual spite and contempt. Entertainment, after all, is what and where you find it.
Portland’s KATU TV is tipping a swap of the Blazers’ Shareef Adur-Rahim for the the Bucks’ Michael Redd and Keith Van Horn. On the other hand, the Oregonian’s Jason Quick quotes Portland GM John Nash as claiming the Blazers will stand pat.
Either way, what do you think the chances are of Van Horn getting out of the league having played for fewer than 8 teams?
(Keith, shown with two of his favorite things, an all-weather basketball and an old issue of Portland’s classic Snipehunt)
The New York Times’ Richard Sandomir joins CSTB in acknowledging that the NHL’s cable partner loves dumping on the league. Though at least ESPN VP Mark Shapiro isn’t using an afternoon radio show like Dan Patrick’s to do so.
Mark Shapiro, an executive vice president of ESPN, threw off his gloves and criticized the N.H.L.’s rules, lack of scoring, resistance to letting players wear microphones and resistance to allowing arenas to be equipped with the overhead SkyCam. “Everybody, like us, should be less focused on when they’re coming back, but more on why nobody seems to care,” Shapiro said.
This might be a case of piling on a sports corpse, but the bungling league and the misguided players union deserved it.
It’s rare that a sports television executive excoriates a property once esteemed by his network, let alone questions if the network agreed to pay too much.
ESPN will pay nothing this year because of the cancellation, but Shapiro said that some people thought the deal to pay $60 million this season to put games on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC was too rich.
Even more ominous for the N.H.L. is that ESPN may not exercise its option to renew its deal for 2005-6, even if there is a season. With all its leverage, ESPN could let the option lapse and negotiate a discount deal like NBC’s, which offers no guaranteed cash and only promises of sharing revenues, once there are some.
For this season, except for the playoffs, hockey was to have left ESPN, and ESPN2 was to show 40 games. College basketball is doubling the N.H.L. rating that ESPN2 scratched out last season.
“Right now,” Shapiro said last week, “we’re not really sure how to value the league. We have to assess the damage, as do they, and only until you do that and consider your options can you put a true value on what it’s worth.”
Shapiro’s candor underscores what the N.H.L. has become: a damaged niche organization without a real national following or megastars in the United States. The league has to take the same deal from NBC that NBC gave the Arena Football League or get nothing at all. It should count itself grateful if ESPN doesn’t ask it to buy time so that its cable games can be seen nationally.
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dejan Kovacevic :
Most players would cringe upon learning they were mentioned in “Juiced,” Jose Canseco’s tell-all book about steroids in baseball.
Almost all of them would be intensely curious as to what was written.
Ben Grieve (above), befitting his laid-back personality, did not bother to open the book until the past weekend. While driving from his home in Flower Mound, Texas, to attend spring training with the Pirates, he stopped at a Barnes & Noble, picked up a copy and flipped to the page devoted almost entirely to him.
To his satisfaction, he saw that Canseco accused him only of being misguided for staying away from steroids while both were members of the Oakland Athletics in the late 1990s.
“Let me tell you, Ben Grieve was a kid who needed to take steroids,” Canseco wrote. “He had a slow bat, slow feet and average ability.”
Grieve had a few laughs about his inclusion after a round of batting practice at McKechnie Field yesterday, when position players were required to report to Bradenton.
“At first, I thought it was good,” Grieve said with a wide smile. “He wasn’t accusing me of anything. He was saying I didn’t do steroids, so that kind of made me look good. But then he said something about the A’s doing a favor to my dad by drafting me. It made my dad pretty mad. It made me a little ticked off, too. But, you know, Jose is Jose. That’s just his opinion. It’s just kind of silly, really.”
This is the same Ben Grieve, mind you, that Lou Piniella went nuclear on for not showing adequate cooler-smashing ‘tude.
The Independent’s Cahal Milmo on London’s congestion-charging Hizzoner and his grudge match with a pair of crap newspapers.
After nearly a fortnight of condemnation of his remarks likening a Jewish reporter to a concentration camp guard “doing the job just because you are paid to”, Ken Livingstone issued a blunt verdict on the row yesterday: “I have nothing to apologise for.”
In a 35-minute display of defiance and rhetoric, the London Mayor insisted he had not meant to offend Jews – and renewed his tirade against Associated Newspapers, owner of the Daily Mail and London Evening Standard.
Many had predicted Mr Livingstone would end the controversy, which threatened to overshadow London’s bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, by expressing regret for any offence caused to the Jewish community. But the Mayor said instead he had been “deeply affected” by concerns that his comments downplayed the Holocaust.
He contrasted what he said was his own record on combating racism – then spoke about what he claimed was the Daily Mail group’s role as “leading advocates of anti-Semitism in Britain for half a century”.
At his weekly press conference in City Hall, Mr Livingstone intensified his conflict with Associated Newspapers by accusing its titles of peddling intolerance, first against Russian Jews a century ago and now against asylum-seekers. The Mayor said: “While it is true the Mail group no longer smears Jews as bringing crime and disease to the UK, it is only because they have moved on.
“After a decade of pandering to racism against our citizens of black and Irish origin, they have moved on and now describe asylum-seekers and Muslims in similar terms. For the Mail group, the victims may change but the intolerance, hatred and fear pervade every issue of the papers.”
The accusations, which Associated Newspapers rejected as “absurd” and “irrelevant”, came two weeks after a party held in honour of the Labour MP Chris Smith at which Mr Livingstone was approached by Oliver Finegold, from the Evening Standard. After finding out the reporter worked for Associated Newspapers, the Mayor likened him to a war criminal. When Mr Finegold said he was Jewish, Mr Livingstone said: “Well you might be but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard – you are just doing it because you are paid to, aren’t you?”
Keeping in mind that Livingstone got into hot water earlier in his term for pushing someone off a garden wall during a party, maybe it would be a good idea to give him a very wide berth a future social gatherings.
With Peja and C-Webb both rumored to be headling elsewhere at the trade deadline, the Sacramento Bee’s Martin McNeal takes a long look at the flawed Kings.
The Kings said they still believe they can contend for a championship. That stance may seem silly, considering they are 3-7 so far in February and lately are having a ridiculously tough time beating mediocre teams.
But that’s the NBA.
A year ago at this time, how many people were selling the Detroit Pistons as the 2004 NBA champions? Not many. And even die-hard Pistons fans didn’t have much hope after their team lost at home to the New Jersey Nets and fell behind 3-2 in the second round of the playoffs.
Standing in fifth place in the Western Conference, the Kings said they believe their best basketball will be good enough to compete with the league’s best.
With one of the season’s most challenging stretches coming up, this might be a good time for the best to unveil itself, and sooner rather than later.
Sacramento will have to find a higher level and maintain it just to get into the playoffs, as Adelman has been reminding of late.
Among the remaining regular-season games, the Kings face 16 teams that currently have a .500 or better record. So far, Sacramento is 13-15 against teams that are .500 or better. The Kings have yet to play the Orlando Magic and Detroit.
So just how do the Kings improve with the games and time they have left?
They already have one of the league’s most complete offensive attacks, one that scores inside and outside, when they move the ball like they are capable.
Undoubtedly, a healthier Peja Stojakovic (above), who has been suffering from the flu and back and hamstring aches, will lift the offense. There were murmurs at the beginning of this season about the step or half-step Bobby Jackson has allegedly lost. These days, the Kings would welcome having that half-step come off the bench in combination with reserves Maurice Evans, Darius Songaila and Eddie House and/or a couple of the starters. Jackson, recovering from a torn left wrist ligament, is projected to return for the playoffs.
Of course, the Kings’ best chances for success will occur after Cutino Mobley gets to practice with the entire starting unit. That should boost the offense even more.
Defensively, trouble continues. Sacramento’s defense is one of the league’s shakiest, allowing far too many deep penetrations. Bibby has excelled on offense despite a sore right ankle. But his on-ball defense needs to improve about as much as Brad Miller’s temperament toward referees.
And consider this: How can a team be so bad defensively and yet foul less than all but four teams?
Yo, foul a dude! Leave your man to do so. Trust your teammate will help just like you did. And should he fail to do so, jump him for it, whether he’s the highest-paid player, Chris Webber, or rookie Kevin Martin. If they can’t handle it, then winning is not the major priority and talk about making strides is just talk.
Granted, this team, especially the starting five, lacks quickness and athleticism. However, if the Kings became committed to preventing easy layups and dunks (which, by the way, is a staple of nearly every championship squad), that alone would go a long way toward defensive improvement.
From today’s Barry Bonds press conference in Scottsdale, AZ.
“I have probably have gotten the best relationship with fans through all of this than I ever have through all of my career. I’ve traveled all over the place, ‘Barry keep your head up,’ ‘Barry, we’re behind you.’…things that I have always wanted….to come over to me and shake my hand and say ‘you know what? Who cares, you’re a good ballplayer, you’ve proved it. You’ve done this, you’ve done that, we’re all supporting you.’ I’ve never heard that before.”
“You guys are like re-running stories. This is old stuff. It’s like watching ‘Sanford and Son.’ It’s almost comical, basically. … Are you guys jealous, upset, disappointed, what?”
(What does a cheap hotel have in common with cheap underwear? That’s right, no ballroom).
I seem to recall another Bay Area sportsman, OJ Something, insisting once upon a time that he couldn’t walk down the street without well-wishers trying to hug him to death.
Writes Maura Johnston,
Some reporter asked Bonds an inaudible question, and Bonds answered:
“I don’t know, because I’d never let you in my house.”