Doesn’t Anybody Want To Play For The Yankees?

Posted in Baseball at 11:52 am by

While the rest of planet continues to absorb the impact of Omar Minaya’s supermarket sweep, things are uncharacteristically quiet in the Bronx. BJ Ryan didn’t consider setting up Mariano Rivera, Brian Giles seems to be dragging his feet, and as the Daily News’ Sam Borden reports, Johnny Damon would appear to be an unlikely candidate for pinstripes in 2006.

As of now, there’s no substantive dialog since Boras wants a seven-year deal for Damon. Scott Boras didn’t return a phone message yesterday but he’s believed to be waiting until next week’s winter meetings in Dallas before accepting potential offers from interested clubs, though one executive said he expects the list will be short if seven years remains the price.

Regardless, the Yankees are still looking at former Padre Brian Giles but are concerned that their chances are dwindling. Giles’ agent, Joe Bick, said yesterday that with San Diego now out of the mix – the Padres and Giles broke off negotiations after it became clear they didn’t have a financial match – Giles’ options are wide open but the Yanks are privately skeptical that Giles truly wants to come to the East Coast.

The Dodgers have emerged as a strong candidate to land Giles, 34. Adding a corner outfielder is one of the Dodgers’ offseason priorities and new GM Ned Colletti knows that it likely will take a contract in the neighborhood of three years and $30 million to sign Giles.

The Yanks have expressed interest in Phillies outfielder Jason Michaels, but are waiting to hear back from the Phils about possible trade talks. They’ve also discussed troubled Dodgers outfielder Milton Bradley (most team insiders are against acquiring him) and could opt to use Bubba Crosby at the start of the season and then hope the trade market loosens up during the summer.

Matthews On Carlos D’s Flip-Flop

Posted in Baseball at 7:58 am by

(Flushing’s new company man imagines Wally Matthews pitching batting practice without a safety net)

Newly acquired Mets 1B Carlos Delgado is in a bit of a quandry. Were he to continue his ongoing protest against the Iraq War by refusing to stand during the Sunday playing of “God Bless America”, he risks the ire of his new bosses, and some portion of the yack radio corps. By agreeing to take part in this dubious patriotic display, Delgado is now labelled a sell-out by Newsday’s Wallace Matthews.

In 1966, Muhammad Ali refused to submit to the draft and fight in a war he opposed on religious grounds. That decision cost Ali nearly four years of his athletic prime and countless millions.

Nearly 40 years later, Carlos Delgado, with more than $40 million guaranteed him over the next four seasons, has been faced with a choice not nearly so gut-wrenching and with none of the consequences that confronted Ali.

He could continue the silent protest he had begun as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays and continued during his one season as a Florida Marlin, in which he would slip away to the clubhouse while his teammates stood for the playing of “God Bless America.”

Or, if he wanted to fit in with the Mets, he could swallow his convictions and stand like everyone else.

Delgado chose the latter.

“Fred has asked and I’ve asked him to respect what the country wants to do,” said Mets senior executive vice president and first son Jeff Wilpon, who must not read the front of the newspaper. “If the team rule is everybody stands for ‘God Bless America,’ he’s going to stand. We told him we would like it if he did.”

The official line of Mets thinking is that to allow Delgado to continue his protest would create “a distraction” on the team. Delgado was asked yesterday if that was the case in Toronto or Florida.

“Not at all,” he replied. “It was never an issue.”

And yet, here, in a city that considers itself the most sophisticated in the country, if not the world, it seems as if conformity ranks second only to offensive production. “If you hit, they’re gonna like you,” Delgado said. “If you don’t hit, they’re gonna boo.”

No matter how well he performs as a Met, he already is less than he could have been.

Vescey In Lil’ Cease Name-Drop Stunner

Posted in Basketball at 5:33 am by

While the Houston Chronicle’s Johnathan Feigen suggests the Rockets’ inability to win without Tracy McGrady makes the MIA T-Mac an MVP candidate, the NY Post’s Peter Vescey is unimpressed with the way Jeff Van Gundy is coping with bad fortune.

Sounding very Larry Browntide-ish following his team’s seventh straight loss, Jeff Van Gundy podiumized the Rockets’ front line. For a minute straight, Houston’s Town Crier blanket indicted Yao Ming, Stromile Swift, Juwan Howard, et al., a half a dozen different ways for their alleged flagrant failure, game in and game out, to cover the pick and roll as per his faultless instructions.

Van Gundy, adding a page to Jim Bouton’s ageless book, “I managed good but, boy, did they play bad,” says he spends every waking hour trying to figure out how to get through to his imbecilic bigs regarding that particular defensive approach. This is just the latest working example, I submit, that infidelity has become the fastest spreading communicable disease. If there’s nothing holy within the Junior Mafia, if Lil’ Cease (above) had no compunction about turning on Lil’ Kim, and real life mafia members are turncoating every other trial, it’s no wonder coaches are giving up their players on an everyday basis.

Chat Show Weasel Disses Velvet Revolver

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 1:09 am by

Ladies and Gentlemen, the impossible has happened. TV yackmeister Jonathan Ross has managed to make Scott Weiland (above, right) seem like a sympathetic figure. From the Independent’s Arifa Akbar.

Five months ago, Jonathan Ross was the media anchorman for the Live8 Concert in Hyde Park where a line-up of famous artists performed to raise awareness of Third World debt.

Dressed in a characteristically flamboyant suit, he interviewed music icons such as Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams and Annie Lennox and spoke of the urgent need to “make poverty history”.

But this weekend, the television presenter was sounding a rather different note. Speaking to the singer, Damon Albarn, on his chat show, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, he admitted he was filled with “regret” at not having spoken out against the lack of African performers at the event on 6 July and singling out bands such as Velvet Revolver and Pink Floyd’s reunion as part of his criticism.

“It was, at times, very patronising. I could have swapped Velvet Revolver for just about anyone. I can understand why they did it. They wanted maximum exposure in the Western media and to do that they need stories. Pink Floyd reforming gets you an awful lot of attention.

“Other acts were chosen to attract different parts of a Western audience, certainly to get the media attention, which they achieved and which they wouldn’t with African musicians,” he said.

But Michael Eboda, editor of the black newspaper, New Nation, which ran an investigation into how many blacks acts had been asked to perform, said Ross’s comments were too little, too late.

“Everyone’s forgotten about Live8 now. It’s a shame he [Ross] didn’t say this at the time. It may have had some impact, whereas now, it has very little effect,” he said.

I’m not sure what the big deal is. Surely Tim McGraw qualified as an African performer?


Pete Rose’s License To Ill Expires

Posted in Baseball at 9:17 pm by

From the Associated Press :

Pete Rose’s eligibility for the baseball writers’ Hall of Fame ballot expired Monday when the 2006 candidates were announced, a group that includes Cy Young Award winners Orel Hershiser and Dwight Gooden.

Albert Belle, Will Clark and Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen were among 14 first-time candidates on the 29-man ballot. Bruce Sutter is the holdover who came closest to election, falling 43 votes shy last year

The headline above comes from Ben Schwartz who elaborates,

In other words, Pete Rose™s motivation to go public, publish books, and act contrite for crimes he still doesn™t admit he committed ALSO ENDS WITH his eligibility for the Hall of Fame EXPIRING. That means, Rose can go back to hustling without apologies and claim permanent martyr status in baseball next Shoeless Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver.

Then again, if Albert Belle makes it, the Hall will have all the bad attitude it needs to more than make up for Rose.

I would like to point out that Tom Sizemore is still very eligible for the Fake Penis Hall Of Fame. And congratulations, by the way, to John Lydon on his election to an equally rarified club.

D-Rays To Commence Dealing

Posted in Baseball at 6:38 pm by

As the Winter Meetings loom in Dallas next week, Tampa prepares for their own variation on house cleaning. From the St. Petersberg Times’ Damian Christodero.

The most advanced talks apparently concern centerfielder Joey Gathright (above), who it is believed has drawn interest from 10 teams, including the Dodgers, Marlins, White Sox, Cubs, Angels and Giants; and catcher Toby Hall, with inquires from the Dodgers, Mets, Marlins, Rockies and Diamondbacks.

Friedman would not specify what he wants in return. Speculation is he asked the Mets about pitcher Aaron Heilman, the Dodgers about catching prospect Russ Martin and the Marlins about minor-league pitchers Josh Johnson, Yusmeiro Petit and Anibal Sanchez.

Friedman said he wants prospects for any position who will be big-league ready some time in 2006.

“We do not see them as mutually exclusive,” Friedman said of obtaining youth and immediate help.

Helping the trade value of closer Danys Baez was the signing of B.J. Ryan by the Blue Jays for $47-million over five years. With Billy Wagner expected to get at least that much, Baez, at $4-million next season, is a bargain.

Baez’s contract is such a bargain that he’s considered a luxury the Devil Rays cannot afford, hence his trade bait status for the past year.

Playmaker Benching Leaves TV Skit Shorthanded

Posted in Gridiron, Sports TV at 6:31 pm by

A very determined Sean Salisbury is running a passing drill of some sort on “SportsCenter”, assisted by Tom Jackson, Ron Jaworski and…..Stuart Scott.

Kinda makes you wish the network would’ve hired someone with Hall Of Fame pass-catching credentials.

Oakland Signs Loaiza

Posted in Baseball at 5:44 pm by

The A’s have inked right-handed starter Esteban Loaiza to a three year, $21 million deal.

Loaiza, who will be 34 on opening day, was 12-10 (3.77 ERA, 173 K’s, 55 BB’s) for the Washington Nationals last season.

I’m no Nick Denton, but I count 7 bona fide starters on the A’s roster for ’06, and only one of them — Barry Zito — is entering his walk year.

Supposedly, the Cubs have signed free agent John Mabry to a one year deal. No financial details are available, nor has anyone explained how Mabry was able to find work so easily .

Mets Sign Wagner

Posted in Baseball at 4:00 pm by

The Sporting News’ Ken Rosenthal is reporting the Mets have signed reliever Billy Wagner to a 4 year, $43 million contract — all 4 years are guaranteed, with the Mets holding an option for a 5th year that could push the value of the deal to $50 million.

WFAN’s Chris Russo says the Mets’ opting for Billy Wagner (35 years old) over Trevor Hoffman (38) is “a tough call”. Replied Mike Francesca, “I didn’t see Hoffman pitch once last year.”, which makes sense considering the Padres play a lot of late games and Francesca probably has to get up by noon.

Earlier today, the Mets announced the acquisition of Pirates OF Tike Redman.

Lip-Synch Maven Stalked By Drunk Driving Frontman

Posted in Basketball, The World Of Entertainment at 2:19 pm by

From the New York Post’s Richard Johnson.

Ashlee Simpson can handle hecklers, but she couldn’t deal with the menacing Lower East Side artist Peter Missing. Simpson was in the middle of a sweatshirt shopping spree at Loft Shoe Productions on Ludlow Street last Wednesday when the toothless, grizzled anarchist, best known for his graffiti of an upside-down martini glass to protest drunk driving checkpoints, came into the store. According to witnesses, Missing nastily stared Simpson down until she fled next door, leaving her mother, Tina, to sort out her $600 tab. “We’ve had to kick him out before,” said owner Anne Hanavan. “He’s not appealing, and he tries to sell his paintings to our celebrity clients.”

Shame they couldn’t at least have a chatted — there was a great mash-up in here somewhere.

In a completely unrelated story, Cincinnati assistant basketball coach Keith LeGree has resigned after being charged with driving while under the influence over the weekend. Presumably under the influence of alcohol, as opposed to the new Bun B. CD, but they didn’t really specify.

Delgado Caves, Agrees To Stand For Turgid Tune

Posted in Baseball at 12:58 pm by

(Omar, Willie, Carlos and Jeff all say “Fuckin’-A, USA!”

From the AP :

Now that he’s been traded to the New York Mets, Carlos Delgado says he is willing to stand on the field during the playing of “God Bless America.”

After putting on a Mets jersey at a Shea Stadium news conference Monday, Delgado said he spoke about his anti-war protest with New York chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon.

“I gave him my views on that subject and I also said I would not put myself in front of the team,” Delgado said. “The Mets have a policy that everybody should stand for ‘God Bless America’ and I will be there. I will not cause any distractions to the ballclub.”

In a completely unrelated story, free agent C Mike Piazza has told prospective employers that he’ll stand for the duration of Queensryche’s “Operation : Mindcrime”

Non-Shocker in Detroit: Mariucci Fired

Posted in Football at 12:02 pm by

The Associated Press is reporting that Detroit Lions head coach Steve Mariucci has been fired:

After Detroit lost 27-7 to the Atlanta Falcons on Thanksgiving to fall to 4-7, reports swirled that the team was considering firing Mariucci. When Mariucci was not let go over the weekend, some thought his job was safe for the final five games of the regular season.

Mariucci and the assistants were fired late Monday morning, said a team official, who spoke with the AP on the condition of anonymity because the team had not yet made the official announcement.

Mariucci’s record with the Lions was 15-28. His hiring was hailed by fans and media alike, but he was not able to turn around a team that has won one playoff game since 1957.

Mariucci has more than two years remaining on the $25 million contract he signed in 2003. The Michigan native came to the Lions from San Francisco, where he was 60-43 over six seasons.

Feelgood Bobby V. Hailed As Force For Social Change

Posted in Baseball at 9:24 am by

I sincerely hope Todd Hundley and Pete Harnisch have cancelled their home deliveries of the Washington Post. In a piece scarily reminiscent of the Ron Howard film “Gung Ho”, the Washington Post’s Anthony Faiola credits Chiba Lotte Marines manager Bobby Valentine with “having triggered a social earthquake in Japan.” (link courtesy Baseball Think Factory)

The success of the “Bobby Way” is being hailed by many here as a home run for a growing movement to curb the Japanese tradition of harsh management. Hiroshi Miyata, president of Nippon Metal Industry Co., called on corporate Japan in a newspaper editorial last week to start “treating our employees in the same way that Bobby does.” The current and former managers of three of Japan’s top baseball teams offered rare praise for Valentine’s methods, suggesting that the notion of severe training should be reexamined in the wake of the once-lowly Marines’ victory.

This month, the Tokyo-based Macro Mill research company conducted a survey of Japanese job hunters, asking them to list their ideal boss. Valentine was the only foreigner in the top 10.

“Bobby is a role model for Japan,” said Naoki Fujiya, a 36-year-old house painter who waited hours in line to catch a glimpse of Valentine and the Marines at last week’s parade. Fujiya said his boss had hit him several times for making errors. “But I think we all see now that you can do your best even when you treat the people who work for you with respect,” he said. “I wish Bobby was my boss.”

Anger at harsh management tactics boiled into a national debate in April, following a West Japan Railway crash near Osaka in which 107 people died. The train’s 23-year-old driver was believed to have been in a panic because he was running behind schedule, exceeding safe speed limits in an attempt to make up time.

Public outrage ensued after company employees began to speak out. A group of employees filed a lawsuit against the company this month in which one train driver said he was forced to undergo 71 days of “reeducation” — including cleaning trains and writing essays reflecting on his mistake — after overshooting a train platform by two yards. Another driver, who was subjected to reeducation after departing a station 50 seconds late, committed suicide during his ordeal.

Some have questioned whether the Japanese would perform successfully under alternative management methods. The 55-year-old Valentine, still muscular from daily workouts and with traces of gray in his dusty brown hair, put those arguments to rest this year.

Mushnick Cancels US Weekly Subscription

Posted in Sports Journalism at 9:09 am by

Along with protesting what he calls “the NFL’s Traditional Salute To Lap Dancing” during the Falcons/Eagles halftime show, the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick — having ignored my fan mail for years — prints the following observation from another loyal reader :

From Dan Brady of Hamilton, N.J.: “Nick and Jessica isn’t a break-up. Joe and Marilyn, now that was a break-up.”

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I think we’ve learned all we need to know about the sensibilities of Phil’s target audience.

Blount’s Blunt Reaction To Benching

Posted in Basketball at 9:02 am by

Whether he picks and chooses when to leave his feet or rather, there’s just an overall lack of effort from Celtics C Mark Blount, coach Doc Rivers chose the time-honored “send a message” tact of benching Blount this past Friday night against the Bobcats.

Blount (above), for his part, would appreciate some clarity. From the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett.

œThere was no explanation, Blount said. œI didn™t know.

What he would like to know now is the team™s plan for his future. While Doc Rivers insists Blount can play an important role off the pine, the coach is committed for now to Kendrick Perkins as the starter. If Blount™s minutes dwindle, he may be checking his options.

œThen I™ve got to go call Mark (Bartelstein), my agent, and got to let him know what™s going on, he said. œYou know, we™ve got to sit down and talk.

œIf they want to go in a different direction, what can I do about that? I™m still here. I still can work. I’m still practicing.”

Asked about speaking with Blount, Rivers said, œNo, we™re not going to have any meetings. You earn your time on the floor, and that™s how we™ll do it. And when that happens he™ll play “ and he did; he played hard (yesterday), which is good. That™s a good start.

Following the practice, Blount engaged in an often circuitous discussion. On how he is doing, he said, œI™m here. I don™t know how to be scared. I don™t know how to hide. I™m here.

On whether Friday was disappointing for him, Blount replied, œNaw. Hey, whatever you want to know “ whatever you need to tell me “ I™m a real man. Call me or say what you™ve got to say. That™s it. You know what I mean? It is what it is.

Was it hard to sit like that?

œHey, you know, I™m here, and anything you™ve got to say just call me and let me know what™s up, he said. œI mean, that™s it. Talk to me.”

œYou tell me what™s going on. I would like to know, too. Nobody™s said nothing to me. . . . I don™t know. All I know is Mark Blount™s here and Mark Blount don™t know how to hide or be scared or whatever. So it is what it is, man.

When Rivers™ comments about his good effort yesterday were relayed to him, Blount shrugged.

œThey pay me to do my job, he said. œWhat do you want me to do? If I don™t play, what do you want me to do?

œI don™t know how to run from nobody. I™m from the old school “ an old school New York guy. So just keep hammering the nails in, baby.

Klapisch On The Resumption Of The Mets’ Mannymania

Posted in Baseball at 8:51 am by

As Newsday’s Jon Heyman noted yesterday, acquiring Carlos Delgado has not quelled the Mets’ interest in Manny Ramirez. From the Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch.

Omar Minaya spent the entire Thanksgiving holiday working the phones – or, to be more specific, working the Red Sox for a possible deal for Manny Ramirez. According to a National League executive, the Mets made notable progress, a development that was seconded by a club official who said Sunday night, “We have a shot.”

Ramirez is, and always has been, Minaya’s biggest prey, although the hunt until now has been slowed by two obstacles. First, Ramirez’ $20 million annual salary was more than the Wilpon family was willing to spend. And second, Ramirez, 33, would almost certainly cost the Mets hot-shot outfield prospect Lastings Milledge.

That’s one reason Minaya was exploring a deal for Alfonso Soriano – until the Rangers’ demands included Milledge, said the NL source. Once the price tag became too steep, Minaya resumed an earlier dialogue with the Red Sox, who were surprisingly receptive. It’s still unclear whom, exactly, the Red Sox would demand in addition to Milledge, but Minaya may be willing to convince ownership that with Ramirez in a lineup that already has Carlos Delgado, the East can be conquered outright in 2006.

Perhaps resigned to the likelihood of losing Billy Wagner, the Phillies, according to the Sporting News’ Ken Rosenthal, have stepped up their efforts to sign Tom Gordon.

Irvin’s Likely Story

Posted in Gridiron at 8:39 am by

From ESPN.com :

Former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin said Sunday night that a drug pipe police found in his car belonged to a longtime friend whom he’s trying to help recover from an addiction.

Irvin, an ESPN studio analyst and semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia after police searched his vehicle during a traffic stop Friday.

Irvin told The Associated Press late Sunday the pipe belonged to a friend of 17 years who left a Houston rehab center and came to Irvin’s house in Carrollton for Thanksgiving. Irvin wouldn’t reveal his friend’s name.

I’ll say one thing for Michael Irvin. Unlike some people, he can open his mouth without rolling over on Pedro Guerrero.

It should be an interesting day of chat radio. If, for example, Darryl Strawberry found himself in a similar situation, we can safely assume that for Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome, Dan Patrick, etc., the chronic Mets recidivist would be the object of ridicule. Whether or not similar treatment will extend to an ESPN colleague remains to be seen, but I suspect they’ll tread carefully.


Dodgers Show Little Initiative

Posted in Baseball at 8:10 pm by

ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting the Los Angeles Dodgers have added former Boston manager Grady Little (above) to their growing list of managerial candidates, along with Angels pitching coach Bud Black, former Angels/Phillies manager Jim Fregosi and Devil Rays bench coach John McLaren.

Little is currently employed as a roving catching instructor by the Chicago Cubs. Coincidently, MLB Trade Rumors.com made the unsubstantiated claim Sunday that if the Cubs fail in their attempt to acquire Florida’s Juan Pierre, Dodgers OF Milton Bradley would represent Plan B. As in, “Plan Boo Fucking Hoo, We’re Waiting For Milton Bradley To Go Nuts”.

The trade value for LA’s Ticking Time Bomb is unquestionably low, so perhaps the right to negotiate with Little plus Corey Patterson would be in order?

Likely to lose B.J. Ryan to Toronto, Baltimore are honing in on free agent P Paul Byrd, reports the Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebic and Dan Connolly.

Playmaker Pulled Over, Barely Intelligible Public Apology To Follow

Posted in Gridiron at 7:50 pm by

(this is what happens when you associate with the wrong crowd)

From USA Today.

Former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin was charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia after police searched his vehicle during a traffic stop, Plano police said Sunday.

Irvin, an ESPN analyst and semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was arrested on an outstanding warrant for speeding in Irving after being pulled over Friday afternoon for speeding in Plano, the Plano Police Department said. Police spokesman Mike Johnson said he didn’t know what kind of paraphernalia was found.

Irvin paid a fine on the speeding ticket and posted bond on the drug paraphernalia possession charge. He was released about an hour after he was pulled over.

The sad thing is that everyone will assume that “drug paraphernalia” is code for “crack pipe”, when it could have been any number of things. Including a crack pipe.

Time For All Kickers Named Feely To Get Liquored Up

Posted in Gridiron at 7:40 pm by

Seahawks 24 Giants 21

There’s no truth to the rumor that Bill Parcells has already invited Jay Feely to Cowboys practice tomorrow.

Chaney : Stupid Is Forever

Posted in Basketball at 5:03 pm by

From the Associated Press :

Mardy Collins scored 19 points and had seven assists, and Dustin Salisbery added 16 points to lead Temple to a 73-56 win over Miami on Sunday.

With Temple (2-1) stretching its lead to 16 points in the final minutes, an object was thrown on the court, temporarily halting play and drawing the ire of coach John Chaney. He grabbed the microphone and told the crowd it wasn™t Temple™s way to be seen as œidiots.

œStupid is forever, Chaney told the crowd. œYou can™t change stupidity.

Hopefully, once he’s removed from the heat of the moment, Coach Chaney will remember that everyone deserves another chance.

It’s 5pm EST – Has Tom Brady Stopped Throwing Interceptions Yet?

Posted in Gridiron at 4:08 pm by

Kansas City 26, New England 16

I’m not listening to any Boston talk radio today, so someone else will have to tell me how much time elapsed after the final whistle before the first calls to put in Doug Flutie were taken.

All of that said, if the Pats weren’t missing something like a dozen guys, Tom Brady might not have been forcing so many throws into double or triple coverage. Likewise, if he had the luxury of a RB of Larry Johnson’s caliber (and I suspect he’d gladly settle for a healthy Corey Dillon), New England would have a wider margin in the AFC Least.

Despite their beating the Bucs and laissez-faire QB Chris Simms 13-10 earlier today, I’m one of the few who isn’t ready to proclaim the current Bears the new incanation of ’85′s Super Bowl Shufflers. For one thing, neither Thomas Jones nor Cedric Benson equate to Walter Payton, nor are Rex Grossman or Kyle Orton as talented (or annoying) as Jim McMahon in his prime. Though I’ll take nothing away from the genuinely imposing Brian Urlacher, I find his current Nike commericals to be intensely creepy, much like a shorter version of “Friday Night Lights” without the Explosions In The Sky score.

The $399 Diploma Mill

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 3:32 pm by

The New York Times’ Pete Thamel and Duff Wilson deserve congratulations for Sunday’s runaway top story, the saga of University High, a correspondence school that for the miserly sum of $399, has helped many GPA-challenged student athletes gain scholarships with Division 1 schools.

University High, which has no classes and no educational accreditation, appears to have offered the players little more than a speedy academic makeover.

The school’s program illustrates that even as the N.C.A.A. presses for academic reforms, its loopholes are quickly recognized and exploited.

Athletes who graduated from University High acknowledged that they learned little there, but were grateful that it enabled them to qualify for college scholarships.

Lorenzo Ferguson, a second-year defensive back at Auburn, said he left Miami Southridge High School for University High, where after one month he had raised his average to 2.6 from 2.0.

“You take each course you failed in ninth or 10th grade,” he said. “If it was applied math, you do them on the packets they give you. It didn’t take that long. The answers were basically in the book.”

The N.C.A.A. has allowed students to use correspondence school courses to meet eligibility requirements since 2000. That year, the N.C.A.A. also shifted the power to determine which classes count as core courses to high school administrators. In doing so, it essentially left schools to determine their own legitimacy.

“We’re not the educational accreditation police,” Diane Dickman, the N.C.A.A.’s managing director for membership services, said in September.

The man who founded University High School and owned it until last year, Stanley J. Simmons, served 10 months in a federal prison camp from 1989 to 1990 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud for his involvement with a college diploma mill in Arizona. Among the activities Simmons acknowledged in court documents were awarding degrees without academic achievement and awarding degrees based on studies he was unqualified to evaluate.

In interviews last week, he said he should never have pleaded guilty and that he operated legitimate correspondence schools for adults.

In 2004, Simmons sold University High to Michael R. Kinney, its director. Kinney, 27, who was arrested on a marijuana possession charge in 2003 and is wanted on a bench warrant, declined to comment, despite requests by phone, fax and visits to his apartment.

Several University High graduates said they found the school through Antron Wright, a former XFL and Arena Football League player who is prominent in Miami’s high school athletic circles. He is considered a savior by some players, but one principal has barred Wright from his building for luring athletes to a rival school and introducing them to University High.

Rosen Rips Radmanovich

Posted in Basketball at 2:58 pm by

Though beating up on the Sonics’ Vladimir Radmanovich is about as dignified as pushing George Wallace down the stairs, who’s to say the former Alabama Governor wouldn’t have deserved it? From Fox Sports’ Charley Rosen.

Radmanovic turned down a six-year, $42 million pact from the Sonics, opting for a lesser one-year deal that will make him an unrestricted free agent next year. Even though he can’t handle the ball, can’t pass, doesn’t play defense, and is a totally one-dimensional player who must shoot close to fifty percent to benefit his ball club, Radmanovic can’t understand not only why he’s not getting beaucoup minutes, but why he isn’t starting in the first place.

Perhaps V-Rad should take a look at his stats ” he’s shooting less than 37 percent, has averaged less than three rebounds per game, has nearly as many turnovers as assists, and attempts less than one free throw per game.

Here’s what an ex-teammate had to say about Radmanovic: “The more this stiff played, the less chance we had of winning.”

So who’s more of a numbskull? Radmanovic? Or Seattle’s GM, Wally Walker, who made the original and outrageous long-term offer to begin with?

The Boston Globe’s Peter May reports on a Shammond Williams sighting.

It seems that the coach of FC Barcelona, Dusko Ivanovic, was more than a bit upset after his team lost, 82-70, to Llanera Menorca. Ivanovic, who has a reputation for being a bit of wing nut, lashed out at Shammond Williams (above), who called Boston home for a while. Williams picked up a technical and then, according to the game report, struck an opponent in the face near the end of the game. ”There are players who have shown me they don’t have any character, and if that’s the case, it’s going to be hard for them to stay at the club,” Ivanovic fumed. Well, a couple of days later, Williams redeemed himself with a 24-point performance in a 65-60 victory, and all was well again.

Self-Appointed Baseball Conscience Denies Shilling For Mets

Posted in Baseball at 1:51 pm by

(any excuse, however flimsy, to show the same photograph of Jean Louis Costes, is good enough for me)

From the NY Daily News’ Bob Raissman.

As part of their recruitment of Billy Wagner, Mets suits shipped him a DVD featuring celebrities praising the city. Tim McGraw, Kevin James, Jerry Seinfeld and Costas all made appearances in the DVD.

This was news to Costas.

“No one (from the Mets) contacted me to do anything,” Costas said. “If I’m in it, maybe they used an old clip. For all I know they used something from ‘Ken Burns: Baseball’ (the documentary). I didn’t do anything specifically for the Mets, let alone take part in the wooing of Billy Wagner.”

Presumably, the Mets didn’t use the Tim McGraw segments from “Jazz : A Film By Ken Burns”. But full credit to Omar Minaya — there are few NY icons more appealing than the former voice of the Cardinals, nor the author of such hits as “Indian Outlaw” and “Refried Dreams”.