Granted, the Washington Redskins have every right to be totally pumped about today’s beating-in-progress (35-20 with about 10 minutes to go) over the NFC East leading NY Giants. But is a mere takedown of Tiki Barber on the part of DT Joe Salave’a worthy of crawling on all fours followed by lifting his right leg?
It really isn’t fair. Phil Mushnick shouldn’t be forced to write a column on Christmas Eve.
Time-Warner Cable’s News 8 was on the spot early this morning, spicing up an otherwise slow local news day with the story of the 8 foot statue of Stevie Ray Vaughn being defaced.
A local correspondent who will remain nameless (in case he or she ever wants to do the weather at News 8 ) comments below :
Subject: My new hero(es)
Body: Some beautiful person and/or persons defaced the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue at Town Lake in Austin last night.
This ugly, overbearing, bronze statue has been a blistering eyesore for the tasteful masses for years now. News 8 (Time Warner’s sad 24 hour news station) covered it early this morning, revealing that the word “POSER” was painted on the front, “See you in Hell” at the base, and some unnamed profanity on the reverse. Some passerbys’ quotes include a woman in her late 40s with fashionable jogging gear: “I’m an artist, too, and I appreciate what that is, and everyone does, and — well — obviously some don’t.” (Um, what “real” “artist” is jogging at 8am?) An even older fellow, looking very confused: “I don’t know what they’re protesting against.” (I would wager that they were drunkenly protesting against mediocre, Hendrix nutsack-swinging, drug-fueled GARBAGE that is pervasively revered by the small “c” local celebrities who speak for Austin.) And finally, a random, ugly, bearded tourist from Florida: “No respect for the dead…All he did was make good music and make people happy.” (Many people take exception to this — people like myself, who, as a sign shop employee, was forced to hear his poisonous aural carrion day after fucking day on KLBJ-FM.)
I’m not glad the motherfucker’s dead, but bitches, please, this is the most overrated guitar player of all time, a product of a pissant city that thinks so highly of itself to call itself the “Live Music Capitol of the World.” His wanky, artless garbage encouraged many other morons to pick up an axe and continue the suffering he started, and make places like Antone’s be able to book filth like this 7 nights a week.
I love the Blues. I love these drunks who did this in the middle of the night. I love News 8 Austin for getting their cameras down there to shoot and record it before the City sent out their underpaid minions to wash it off around 10am. It shall live in eternity on my DVR (until I get it burned to DVD, at least).
This shall be the best Christkkkmas ever. My heart races with joy.
Shady correspondence college “University High School”, subject of a New York Times expose last month, is pulling the plug writes the Times’ Duff Wilson.
University High School, a correspondence school in Miami being investigated for giving fast, high grades to qualify high school athletes for college scholarships, is going out of business Dec. 31, its founder, Stanley J. Simmons, said yesterday.
“It’s a disaster,” Simmons, 75, said in a telephone interview from his Miami home. “I’m finishing up everything, and I’m going back into retirement.”
In Miami yesterday, a leasing agent said University High School had vacated its unit in an office building. The small space was available for $1,300 a month. The school name had been removed from the building directory and a sign that read “Enabling homeschoolers nationwide – University High School” had been removed from the office door.
Simmons, who founded the school in 2000, said he had sold it about 14 months ago to Michael R. Kinney, 27, of Miami, who had operated it for him for years. Simmons said Kinney defaulted on his monthly payment after The Times wrote about the school last month, prompting state investigations.
Simmons said the school was “totally mismanaged – probably more than mismanaged” – and also that Kinney was responsible for the venture to help high school athletes qualify for N.C.A.A. scholarships. “There’s no way that I would consider remaining in the business,” Simmons said.
Simmons wrote a letter for the remaining students, telling them to pay their fees and finish their tests before Dec. 31. The letter concluded, in all upper-case letters, “If you are serious about receiving your high school diploma, we recommend that you act now!”
Simmons, who holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Michigan, taught in Miami schools and a community college before opening a series of correspondence schools beginning in 1976. He served 10 months in a federal prison camp after pleading guilty in 1989 to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, a felony, in connection with a diploma-mill university. Since then, he has operated correspondence high schools.
Kinney could not be reached and has repeatedly declined to comment. “He caused all these problems,” Simmons said of Kinney.
As genunine lynch mobs attempt to run Matt Millen out of Motown, the Detroit News’ Jerry Green remembers prior, primitive efforts to express fan dissatisfaction.
The question was popped at me at least three times from different colleagues last Sunday as the Lions were being dismembered, again. œHave you ever seen it worse?
It has taken a series of my flashbacks to determine the response: œNever worse than this year, but a couple just as bad.
(it’s a Match Game kinda Christmas Eve around here)
For example, the Lions were a fractured football team in 1966. Harry Gilmer, the coach, had himself a familiar problem. He had to play quarterback roulette – Milt Plum or Karl Sweetan. The locker room was split, and Alex Karras (above) stoked up a near rebellion against Harry Gilmer, the coach. One day after practice, Gilmer took me by the arm and escorted me from the locker room as I listened to Karras.
Under duress? Gilmer knew William Ford would be firing him when the season ended. There was no angry fan parade drummed up by a radio station. The rabble displayed more ingenuity – if that is the proper word.
As Gilmer walked off the field at Tiger Stadium after the last loss in a 4-9-1 season, they bombarded him with snowballs. Some of the players rushed to protect Gilmer from the abuse with their capes.
Inside, Gilmer greeted us with his comment about the snowball attack.
œAt least they didn”t have rocks in them, Gilmer said, his departure assured.
From the Baltimore Sun’s Mike Preston.
In “The Source: Brian Billick’s Weekly Diary” on the team’s Web site, Billick (above, left) finally admits to what we’ve known since the end of 2004: that he lost touch with the team, especially this season when the Ravens were expected to make a Super Bowl run.
His mea culpa talked of his inability to give the Ravens the best opportunity to succeed. He even followed up with a mea maxima culpa by declaring: “I am not sure I have kept this focus of priorities properly for this team.”
“In the last two weeks, I hope that I can re-establish that sense of priority for this team for now and in the future,” Billick wrote. “What we do these last two weeks can have a very tangible effect on our success in the future. I do not want to let pass by these two chances to re-establish the focus, passion and sense of accountability we have to each other and this organization.
“This begins first and foremost with me, and I intend to live up to that obligation by rededicating myself to the fundamental reason I love this job: a love for coaching and all that accompanies the obligations of being a coach/teacher. It is my hope that this last month of the season the players have sensed that rededication in me and know I will do everything I can to carry that mentality into next year.”
Enough of the confession. What’s the purpose?
Is this a pre-emptive strike before meeting with owner Steve Bisciotti at the end of the season? Is Billick being refreshingly honest, or is he begging for his job? Billick was asked to elaborate, but his answer echoed his diary entry. So, I called the Ravens’ two sports psychologists, but they were both too busy with Kyle Boller.
But I did ask three other head coaches in other sports. One said Billick should have kept those comments private and shared them with his players. Another said he was trying to appeal to the fans, and another said it was obvious that Billick was trying to show accountability while pleading with Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome for one more year if he could win the last two games.
But is Bisciotti willing to give his head coach another year of revolving quarterbacks? Does he think Billick can revive a locker room that has some disgruntled superstars who are tired of listening to an old message? Does Bisciotti ignore Billick’s overall record and Super Bowl championship after watching his team slide the past two seasons? Was this year an aberration or a sign of things to come?
And the answer is …
It’s a shame Bisciotti doesn’t have a diary.
While some of you are well immersed in your holiday debauchery, others amongst us (present company not included, of course) are already getting a head start on those New Year’s Resolutions…to the extreme. From Thursday’s New York Times and Stephanie Cooperman (link courtesy Sam Frank).
A controversial exercise program has attracted a growing following of thousands nationwide, who log on to CrossFit.com for a daily workout, said its founder, Greg Glassman. Participants skip StairMasters and weight machines. Instead they do high-intensity workouts that mix gymnastics, track and field skills and bodybuilding, resting very little between movements.
The emphasis is on speed and weight hoisted, not technique. And the importance placed on quantifiable results has attracted hard-charging people like hedge fund managers, former Olympians and scientists. But some exercise experts are troubled by the lack of guidance for beginners, who may dive into stressful workouts as Mr. Anderson did. (He had not worked out regularly for two years.) “There’s no way inexperienced people doing this are not going to hurt themselves,” said Wayne Winnick, a sports medicine specialist in private practice in Manhattan, who also works for the New York City Marathon.
Other critics say that even fit people risk injury if they exercise strenuously and too quickly to give form its due, as CrossFit participants often do. For people who like to push the limits of fitness and strength – there are many police officers, firefighters and military personnel in the ranks of CrossFit athletes – the risks are worth it, because they consider it the most challenging workout around.
The short grueling sessions aren’t for the weekend gym warrior. The three-days-on, one-day-rest schedule includes workouts like “Cindy”: 20 minutes of as many repetitions as you can of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 squats. “Fight Gone Bad” entails rotating through five exercises, including throwing a 20-pound ball at a target 10 feet away. And only veteran CrossFit devotees even attempt, and few complete, “Murph,” a timed mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats and then a second mile run. (A weighted vest is optional.)
Mr. Glassman, CrossFit’s founder, does not discount his regimen’s risks, even to those who are in shape and take the time to warm up their bodies before a session.
“It can kill you,” he said. “I’ve always been completely honest about that.”
But CrossFitters revel in the challenge. A common axiom among practitioners is “I met Pukey,” meaning they worked out so hard they vomited. Some even own T-shirts emblazoned with a clown, Pukey. CrossFit’s other mascot is Uncle Rhabdo, another clown, whose kidneys have spilled onto the floor presumably due to rhabdomyolysis.
Already considering a reported 4 year offer from the Texas Rangers, free agent pitcher Kevin Milllwood is getting the full court press from the Red Sox, writes the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman. And no, he can’t play center field.
The Red Sox, according to an industry source, are believed to have already made an offer of four years to Millwood, but he is currently looking for a six-year deal. The obvious middle ground would be five years, which happens to be the length of the deal that another coveted right-hander, A.J. Burnett, got from the Blue Jays. Burnett received an annual average salary of $11 million and Millwood, who is represented by Scott Boras, is believed to be asking for more than that.
The Red Sox already have added starter Josh Beckett and want to bolster their rotation further, especially with the acknowledgement that they will have to trade David Wells. Given the team™s deficiencies at center fielder, leadoff hitter and shortstop, Wells might have to be traded to fill those holes.
Danny Horwits, agent for first baseman J.T. Snow, said the Red Sox are one of three teams left trying to sign the free agent. The 37-year-old, recognized by many as the best defensive first baseman in the game, could make up his mind shortly after Christmas, said Horwits.
With apologies to Mike Doskocil for unauthorized use of one of his more memorable lines, the following are CSTB’s in-house picks for the year’s finest popular recordings.
Sun Kil Moon – Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes (Calo Verde)
The Dirtbombs – If You Don’t Already, Have A Look (In The Red)
Spoon – “I Summon You” (Merge)
Bob Mould – “Paralyzed” (Yep Roc)
Sensational – Speaks For Itself (Quartermass)
Howard Hello – “More Of The Same” (Temporary Residence)
Boards Of Canada – “Dayvan Cowboy” (Warp)
Jason Forrest- Shamelessly Exciting (Sonig)
The Futureheads – “Man Ray” (Sire)
John Parish – ‘Once Upon A Little Time’ (Thrill Jockey)
Pissed Jeans – Shallow (Parts Unknown)
Tom Sharpling & Jon Wurster – Hippy Justice (Stereolaffs)
The Rebel – Kit (Hook Or Crook)
Please note that titles associated with any of CSTB™s business interests (with one exception) were ineligible. If you™d like to submit your own list via our comments section, please, feel free to do so. Unless you were planning on including the Hold Steady, in which case you can fuck off.
Knicks 98, Jazz 90
Sans AK-47, the Jazz seem lottery bound (though to be fair, they struggle with him, too) and I can’t help but be reminded that games against the bad teams, count too. At least that what the Knicks’ opponents usually tell themselves.
On a night when the Knicks ended a 7 game losing streak, the duo of Jamal Crawford (above) and Stephon Marbury combined for 50 points and were both terribly effective from 3 point range, it might be a tad nitpicky to get on Quentin Richardson’s case. He’s been going through a tough time with the recent death of his brother and his dad’s subsequent heart attack, but let’s be honest — Q was shooting poorly before that happened. On Friday, he was 2 for 12 from the field (0 for 7 from downtown), totalled zero assists and looks to be the biggest free agent bust of the year not named Jerome James.
MSG’s painfully unfunny Brandon Tierney was especially giddy when chatting with Knicks assistant Mark Aguire after the game. “I was kidding Kenny Smith the other night, ‘it’s a good thing we’re sponsored by Heiniken, I need to start drinking!’ But tonight, let’s forget about the beer, let’s get the champagne!”
I believe Vin Baker is calling MSG this very moment, curious if Tierney needs a co-host.
A few days after Kobe went off for 62 against Dallas, Allan Iverson and Vince Carter scored 53 and 51 points respectively Friday night. A.I., however, was on the losing end, as the rapidly improving Hawks beat the Sixers, 111-108.
Carter’s half century led the Nets in a 95-88 away win over Miami, who’ve now dropped their 2nd since Pat Riley resumed the coaching reins.
Keith Olbermann was in rare form this afternoon while interviewing Johnny Damon after the latter’s introductory press conference to announce his signing with the New York Yankees. After asking Damon about his highly pubicized haircut and shave yesterday, Olbermann retold the tale of being asked to get rid of a mustache he once sported as an Los Angeles TV sports reporter, only to be paid $25,000.00 to regrow it after “research” indicated viewers prefered Keith with facial hair. We really need to hear that story again as soon as possible, maybe tonight on MSNBC.
Moments later, while raising the general subject of players changing teams in the modern era, Olbermann added “not that I haven’t moved around myself”. Indeed, who can forget the deep feelings of abandonment that were felt nationwide when Olbermann left ESPN for MSNBC? Or the way MSNBC’s hardcore fans were kicked in the teeth when Keith became host of Fox’s short-lived “National Sports Report”? I think it is fair to say that while Johnny Damon’s mercenary acts will soon be consigned to sports trivia history, the career trajectory of Keith Olbermann has toyed with the emotions of so many, the comparison is just plain unfair.
ESPN’s Peter Gammons is reporting the Blue Jays will send Orlando Hudson and Miguel Batista to Arizona in exchange for 3B Troy Glaus.
As if this week didn’t have enough bad news for the Red Sox, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mike Kiley suggests Boston and the Cubs are talking about Corey Patterson as Johnny Damon’s replacement in center field. The bit how about the Cubs “wouldn’t have to worry about Patterson coming back to haunt them” were Patterson sent to the AL is pretty funny. The same could be said of Corey toiling in Triple A, too.
St. Louis has signed 2B Junior Spivey to a one year deal, along with OF Juan Encarnacion.
Kansas City, fast resembling a team capable of winning 70-75 games next season (providing Buddy Bell is fired during Spring Training), has brought in the much-traveled OF Reggie Sanders, splashing out on an uncharacteristic $10 million, two year pact.
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Lori Nickel.
You were probably joking the other night when you asked your buddy if he was in good enough shape to play for the stricken and anemic Green Bay Packers.
How crazy is it then that the Packers have become so desperate for bodies they called 25-year-old free agent Ryan Flinn (above) on Wednesday. Flinn slept through the call initially because on Tuesday night, he was twirling vodka bottles to music until 2 a.m. as a bartender in Orlando.
“Kind of like the movie ‘Cocktail,’ but a little more exciting,” Flinn said.
And two days later, Flinn was in Green Bay preparing to be the punter and holder for the Packers’ game on Christmas Day against the Chicago Bears, who hope to clinch the NFC North title with a victory at Lambeau Field.
Optimistic and enthused with his most unexpected big break, Flinn is yet another anonymous player plucked off the street in an emergency situation by the 3-11 Packers.
Punter B.J. Sander, who suffered a bruised knee from the hit he took in the Baltimore game Monday night, was not going to be able to play in the next 10 days, so the Packers put him on injured reserve Thursday. That allowed them to sign the 6-foot-5 Flinn, who will make his NFL debut Sunday.
More amazing than the above tale is the fact that the only place I could find a photograph of Flinn on the web was from Billy Cundiff.com. Had I been previously aware there was a site devoted to keeping Cundiff’s dozens of fans in touch with his latest career developments, along with providing terrific interviews with other members of the NFL kicking/punting fraternity (or at least those barely maintaining membership with said body)…well, I don’t know what I would’ve done. Traded in my laptop for a hand grenade? My mind isn’t merely blown, I’ve been Vanderjagt’ed up.
From the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s David Chanen and Judd Zulgad.
The attorney for Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper said Thursday that a crew member on a players’ boat cruise admitted he had engaged in sexual activity with a woman, and the attorney questioned why that boat company employee wasn’t charged while four Vikings on the cruise were.
Attorney Earl Gray (above) said he learned about the employee’s activities on the Lake Minnetonka boat when he read the case documents from Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office investigators.
“Mr. Culpepper is charged with an offense that can’t be proved and he will be found not guilty,” Gray said. “The only reason he was charged is because of his name.”
The employee is a male relative of the owners of Al & Alma’s Supper Club and Charter Cruises, which supplied two boats Oct. 6 for the annual party thrown by first-year players for their team, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the case. None of the sources identified the employee by name, and the charging documents in the case do not name any of the crew members.
The employee touched the woman sexually during a lap dance, sources said.
Gray said Culpepper is obviously upset about the charges. He’s not worried about whether his client would have to “finger teammates” if he goes to trial.
“Not in a case such as Daunte’s. The case is so thin. I haven’t crossed that bridge yet,” Gray said. “Usually the state has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Former St. Joseph’s coach Jim Boyle, who led the Hawks to two NCAA tourney berths during a 9 year head coaching career, has passed away at the age of 64. Boyle played for St. Joe’s under the good Dr. Jack Ramsey, and also served as an assistant coach with the Nuggets.
The New York Post’s Tim Sullivan does a nice job of undermining Louis Orr’s position as head coach at Seton Hall, by cranking up speculation that the school might approach former coach / current Spurs assistant P.J. Carlesimo. Much as I love the idea of P.J. returning to the Swamp (perhaps with Latrell Sprewell as a member of his coaching staff?), Carlesimo’s recent performance in television advertisements for the “NBA ’06 : The Life” reveals a previously unseen comedic talent. If Christopher Guest can’t find a place for P.J. in one of his upcoming works, perhaps a new version of “The White Shadow” could be developed?
(obviously, the wrong Chavez. I promise not to regurgitate the joke with the picture of the other Dave Stewart, however).
OF Endy Chavez, last seen toiling for the Phillies after a brief stint with the PCL’s New Orleans Zeyphrs, has signed a one-year deal with the New York Mets.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dejan Kovacevic reports the Pirates have expressed interest in free agent OF Eric Byrnes.
Team officials have spoken the past two days with Mike Sasson, Byrnes’ California-based agent, to make initial inquiries about the five-year veteran who became a free agent Tuesday when he was cut loose by the Baltimore Orioles.
“I really think Pittsburgh would be a great fit,” Sasson said. “It’s a blue-collar town, and Eric’s a lunch-pail kind of guy. He’ll break through walls for you.”
Though I tend to think Byrnes would have to play for far less than the MLB minimum salary to qualify as “a lunch-pail kind of guy”, if I were the player, I’d be pretty nervous about my agent making such a sales pitch. What happens the first time Byrnes crashes into, but not through, the fence? Unless and until Sasson is willing to guarantee this breaking-through-walls stuff, he really ought to tone down the hyperbole.
From the New York Daily News’ Ben Widdecombe.
A homeless inventor is pursuing a quixotic, multimillion dollar claim against the New York Yankees, claiming the team owes their 1996 World Series victory to one of his devices.
(the real MVP of the 1996 World Series)
Phil Simkins is the creator of the Kool Rope – a rubber tube that can be frozen and worn around the neck as a personal cooler – prototypes of which he sent the Bronx Bombers nine years ago. He says the extra practice time they surely got in the gruelingly hot summer of ’96 allowed them to beat the Atlanta Braves – thanks to him.
This week he sent a letter to Yankees President Randy Levine demanding “A one time payment of 1.5 million dollars … a loan of 1 million dollars to get his cooling unit invention into production … a $200,000 donation to the Coalition for the Homeless … [and] a press conference to acknowledge his contribution to the team’s championship year and for his unparalleled sacrifice to the team.”
Yesterday, Simkins told us that Yankees trainer Gene Monahan acknowledged the use of the “personal air conditioners” in a 1996 conversation.
“Hearing those words, my heart began to pound heavily, since I knew that I was now a part of Yankee history by helping to keep the players cool,” Simkins says.
The Yankees, strangely, had no comment.
From the Associated Press (link courtesy Jon Solomon) :
Hours after U.S. baseball officials reapplied for a permit that would allow Cuba to join next year’s inaugural World Baseball Classic, the island’s communist government said Thursday night it would donate any money received at the tournament to hurricane victims.
Officials from Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association reapplied Thursday to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, seeking permission for Cuba to play in the 16-team tournament, scheduled for March 3-20.
The permit is required because of U.S. laws and regulations governing certain transactions with Cuba, and the Bush administration last week denied the first request, seemingly because Cubans would have received money.
“Although we have never competed for money, in order to offer options the Cuban Baseball Federation would be willing for the money associated with participation in the classic to go to those displaced by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans,” a statement read on Cuban government television said.
In other international news, Angels prospect Kendry Morales was refered to as a “defective” on an XM afternoon show hosted by Ronnie Lane. Lane, no doubt mindful there’s a world of difference between a defector and a defective, was too polite to point out the caller’s error.
(if you’ve never donated money to PBS, well, we’ve got a bone to pick with you.)
From Thursday’s NY Daily News and William Sherman.
The ghoulish body parts for sale ring stole the bones of “Masterpiece Theatre” host Alistair Cooke just before he was cremated, the Daily News has learned.
The celebrated broadcaster and actor died March 30, 2004, of lung cancer that spread to his bones.
The next day, without permission of any family members, body snatchers surgically carved out the 95-year-old’s diseased bones.
The bones were sold for more than $7,000 to two tissue processing companies for eventual transplant procedures, sources told The News.
“I hope those guys burn in hell for what they did,” said longtime Cooke family attorney David Grossberg.
The alleged leader of the body-snatching ring is Michael Mastromarino, whose operations are under investigation by the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.
Mastromarino ran Biomedical Tissue Services Ltd., a tremendously profitable tissue recovery business that sold body parts, including bone, skin and cardiac valves.
After processing, Cooke’s bones could have been used for dental implants or numerous orthopedic procedures including dowels for damaged spines.
Pro Basketball News’ Sam Amico reports that the NBDL’s Austin Toros, 2-5 through their first 7 games, have signed former Nets/Spurs G Alex Scales (above).
Ken Pomeroy attempts to answer the question “why is Gonzaga overrated?” St. Louis is currently giving the Bulldogs everything they can handle, with Gonzaga trailing at the half.
#15 Texas, attempting to rebound from consecutive blowout losses to Duke and Tennessee, are having an easy time with the 1-7 Texas State Bobcats, the host Longhorns up by 25 with about 10 minutes left. LaMarcus Alrdrige has 15 points and 9 rebounds thus far for Texas. Daniel Gibson, who suffered a concussion in the loss to Tennessee last Saturday, has 13 points.
Tonight’s potential upset-in-the-making : visitors West Virginia are up by 13 with 15 minutes to go over no. 8 Oklahoma (live right now on ESPN2).
Texas State were beaten by St. Edwards of the Heartland Conference (Division II) last week, the latter based just a stone’s throw from CSTB’s corporate headquarters. St. Edwards beat Tulane in overtime this past Monday, giving the Hilltoppers two Division I scalps already this season.
From the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Mark Zeigler.
If Jean-Marc Bosman had tried to transfer from RFC Liege to another Belgian club in 1990, to Lokeren or Westerlo or St. Truiden, he probably would have had a nice, if anonymous, career as a journeyman midfielder. His marriage might still be intact. He probably wouldn’t be broke and living with his mother. He might be a coach or general manager with a pro club somewhere.
The rest of the world would have never heard of him, either.
Instead, Bosman (above) tried to transfer from RFC Liege to USL Dunkerque, maybe five miles across Belgium’s southwest border into France. That changed everything, including, of course, the face of professional soccer as we know it.
Because the proposed transfer now involved more than one nation, Bosman’s lawsuit against Liege wound up in the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. And it was the ECJ’s 1995 decision, applicable to all 49 members of the European Union, that profoundly altered the way pro clubs across the planet acquire and keep players. The 10-year anniversary of the Bosman Ruling, as it came to be known, was last Thursday. Some say the sport still hasn’t recovered.
“Imagine if it was decreed that from tomorrow traffic lights would no longer exist,” European soccer agent Jon Smith told London’s Daily Mail newspaper. “That is what happened to football 10 years ago. It was absolute chaos.”
Bosman was an obscure 25-year-old midfielder with RFC Leige when his contract expired after the 1989-90 season. Cash-strapped Liege offered him a new contract with an alleged 75-percent pay cut; Bosman refused it. Bosman worked a deal that would send him to Dunkerque in France. Liege demanded a reported $900,000 transfer fee, a ridiculous sum for a player of his caliber; Dunkerque refused.
So Bosman sued. The case went through the Belgian courts and then to the EU’s version of the Supreme Court. A few days before the ECJ was set to issue its ruling, Bosman claimed he was offered nearly $1 million by European soccer officials to drop the case.
Despite desperate pleas from FIFA and all 49 European soccer federations, the ECJ found that the old transfer system contravened the Treaty of Rome, the 1957 economic agreement that provided for free movement of laborers within what would become the European Union. That meant once a player’s contract expired, he was free to seek employment anywhere. That meant free agency.
Ten years on, the tectonic shift in power from clubs to players remains a constant source of debate.
Some say it led to bankruptcy of smaller clubs that could no longer rely on transfer fees for homegrown talent, since bigger clubs could merely wait for a player’s contract to expire and snap him up for free. Others say it led to the influx of South American and African players now that Euros didn’t count as foreigners. Others blame it for the recent struggles of national teams from traditional European powers such as England and Germany, reasoning that young players in those countries don’t properly develop because they are bumped out of club lineups by high-priced foreigners.
As for Bosman, he bounced around the Belgian second and third division until retiring in 1996, shortly after the ECJ issued its landmark decision. He waited several years for a settlement from Liege, and the intervening financial difficulties, he has said, led to his divorce.
He is 41 now and lives with his mother in a small house in suburban Liege, surviving on modest donations from players’ associations and what’s left of the legal settlement. He also remains a pariah in his sport, unable to find a job as a coach or general manager. “An outcast,” his attorney says.
From the New York Daily News’ Sam Borden
Johnny Damon helped the Red Sox break the Curse of the Bambino, but could his own defection to the Bronx be the start of a new hex?
His father certainly thinks so.
In a phone interview with the Daily News yesterday, Damon’s dad said he wasn’t particularly surprised to see his son end up in pinstripes and warned that Sox officials will lament the day they let Damon go.
“Mark it down: It’s going to be another Babe Ruth,” Jimmy Damon told The News from his Florida home. “They sent Johnny off just like they sent off Babe Ruth. It’s going to be another big, big mistake. They made the biggest mistake of their lives.”
Replied Keith Olbermann earlier today on ESPN Radio, “Now you know what to get Jimmy Damon for Christmas. A copy of ‘The Baseball Encyclopedia’.”
In a move that should fail to redress the balance of power in the AL East, the Red Sox have signed Randy Johnson’s former NY battery mate John Flaherty.
Brett Tomko (above) was 8-15 last season for the San Francisco Giants. Amazingly, losing 15 games with a 4.14 ERA was good enough for Tomko to see his salary nearly double, courtesy of a new two-year pact with Los Angeles. If there’s any truth to the tired cliche that a pitcher must be pretty good to be given the opportunity to lose 20 games, it would stand to reason that a 15 game loser is merely average.
Minnesota has signed OF Rondell White to a one year, $3.25 million contract.
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports the Red Sox and Diamondbacks are discussing a deal for the latter’s Troy Glaus, with the longtime third baseman moving to first base.
The Padres have added free agent 2B Mark Bellhorn, and pitchers Dewan Brazelton and Mark Sikorski. The Union-Tribune’s Bill Center writes the Padres have received permission from MLB to move Petco’s right center field fence in some 11 feet.
Pitchers David Borowski and knuckleballer Steve Sparks, infielders Eric Munson, Danny Klassen, Kevin Orie are all likely candidates for the Round Rock Express’ opening day roster. The quintet were signed to minor league contracts earlier today by the Houston Astros.
The A’s have announced plans to close the third deck of MacAfee Coliseum next season. As pointed out in the link from Athletics Nation, even if good seats are readily available in Oakland, it is a drag to have fewer cheap, walk-up options available.
Jets WR Wayne Chrebet, who outlasted Keyshawn Johnson enroute to 580 career receptions (and almost as many career concussions) has announced his retirement.
One of the more popular figures in Long Island history — perhaps more so than Peppi Marchello, less than Howard Stern —- Chrebet’s gutsy performances will long be remembered by Jets fans desperate to cling to anything positive from the last 36 years.
Surely Matt Lawton must be aware that by publicly admitting to injecting himself with Mr. Ed Juice, he’s pissed away any chance, however unlikely, of being named 2006′s MLB Comeback Player Of The Year? A simple, “I’m apologizing, and I don’t know what for” would’ve sufficed.
Though Will Leitch didn’t manage to score the exclusive mea culpa from Lawton (beaten again by that primary source for all baseball info, USA Sports Weekly), the vacationing Deadspinner did manage to come up with an incredibly tasteful link to the supposed MySpace page of Tony Dungy’s late son.
Much as Will would like to blame his lack of judgement on the fact he’s been writing from Matoon, IL’s only public place with wireless internet access, I can already tell you that’s a poor excuse. Blogging at a funeral is much tougher. But if you’re driving through the area and would like to witness Leitch neglecting his family on what should otherwise be a joyous time devoted to anything other than mocking someone’s dead kid, you can find him typing away at Common Grounds, 1612 Charleston Ave.
The Associated Press is reporting that Astros special assistant Matt Galante has been named manager for the Italy team at next spring’s World Baseball Classic (That Doesn’t Include Cuba).
Former Reds/Mets/Astros reliever John Franco (above) has been named pitching coach, recalling the old adage, “those who cannot do, teach.”
Gary DiSarcina, whose last name is, I believe, Italian for “very, very bad” has also been appointed to Galante’s staff.