Toronto Trades Williams

Posted in Basketball at 8:05 pm by

From the Globe & Mail :

Wayne Embry didn’t take long to start making moves.

Less than one week after taking over as the Toronto Raptors interim GM, Embry traded centre Aaron Williams to the New Orleans Hornets for two second-round draft picks.

“We are a team in transition and need to play our young guys,” Embry said in a release Tuesday. “Out of respect to Aaron, I thought it best for him to be with a team where he has a chance to play and that is in a playoff hunt.”

The Raptors will get a second-round pick in 2006 that originally belonged to Miami and New Orleans’ second-round choice in 2009.

Not sure if tonight’s “SportsCenter” will show it, but New Jersey’s Vince Carter missed a dunk tonight against the Pistons for the ages — taking off from the foul line, VC muffed the attempt at posterizing Tayshaun Prince and nearly ended up in the 5th row. “He wanted to make Prince his Frederic Weis,” intoned Marv Albert, who did admit a minute later having been fed that line by a producer.

Though the Lakers are roughing up the Knicks at MSG this evening, there is a silver lining for New York. At halftime, Larry Brown’s team is on pace to hold Kobe to under 60 points.

Senators Scold Man In The Iron (Mike) Mask

Posted in Hockey at 6:41 pm by

From TSN :

Ray Emery’s Mike Tyson goalie mask had a shelf life of one NHL game.

The Senators backup goalie wore the mask in a 5-0 home loss to Boston on Monday night, then decided to drop it Tuesday.

“We didn’t ask him not to wear the mask,” Senators GM John Muckler said Tuesday. “We just had a discussion about what was right and what was wrong. He said he would take it off.”

A huge boxing fan, Emery has also had masks that featured former middleweight champ Marvin Hagler, and Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion.

“He told me the reason he put Tyson on his mask is because he was an idol of his, as a boxer,” said Muckler. “He knows now that (Tyson) he’s lost that right because of his conviction as a rapist and also as a female abuser. And he told me he would take the mask off.”

Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, presumably not wearing a mask bearing the likeness of a convicted rapist, had 44 saves, the most for any Boston netminder since Bill Ranford a billion years ago. Thomas was having a fine stretch with Boston’s AHL Providence affiliate and is now 6-1-2 in his first 9 starts for the parent club.

“Intimate” Is Just Another Word For Squished-In

Posted in Baseball at 5:56 pm by

Oakland’s plans to reduce capacity at McAfee Coliseum next season have already been noted, though the SF Chronicle John Shea took the time to pester A’s fans about the scheme.

Green tarps are covering five upper-deck sections at the Coliseum. By the April 1 exhibition against the Giants, all 53 sections will be tarped and off limits to fans.

And a small sampling of fans found nobody with a positive reaction to the change.

The A’s are trying to establish a more intimate atmosphere as well as a higher demand for tickets, which could be tougher to acquire in some cases because the capacity will be 34,077 (not including standing-room tickets), down from 44,073.

“We’re trying to create an environment that’s fun, easily accessible and brings you closer to the field, an environment that could create a real home-field advantage for us,” said A’s president Mike Crowley, who came up with the idea.

Owner Lewis Wolff’s plans for a new ballpark — the site of which is undecided — also include a cozier capacity in the 35,000 range, and the A’s look at this season as a possible dress rehearsal for such a venue.

But in a survey of fans in line buying game tickets at Saturday’s FanFest, it was difficult to find anyone who appreciated the concept of closing the third level.

“I think it’s silly,” said Oakland native Charles Edwards, 50. “Losing those seats for teams like the Yankees and Angels, they’ll lose revenue. They’re going to choke themselves. I think Lew Wolff is a good owner, but I don’t think closing the upper deck is going to do it for them.”

Steven Moya is a 13-year-old from Antioch who enjoyed sitting in the upper deck.

“That’s kind of dumb,” he said of eliminating the seats. “I think they’ll lose money because of that. Plus, it’s a better view from up there.”

When told the A’s wanted to create a cozier atmosphere, Moya said, “That’s not cozy. You’re all squished in.”

Crowley said the A’s don’t intend to lose revenue because of the lesser capacity. In fact, he subscribes to the less-is-more philosophy, suggesting the limited capacity would create a higher demand for tickets and prompt fans to buy them earlier rather than walk up shortly before the first pitch.

Asked why the A’s wouldn’t remove the tarps for select games involving the Yankees, Red Sox and Giants — along with the mid-June weekend Dodger series — Crowley said, “That’s counter to what we’re trying to do. It’s going to be intimate whether the Yankees are in or the Royals are in.”

“I understand what they’re trying to do, but as a fan, it was very affordable to sit up there,” said Oakland’s Rebecca Ramirez, 44.

Nancy Duty, 46, of Pleasanton, said, “I don’t understand it at all. It’s very frustrating. I’m a single mother and can’t afford a lot of lower-level seats. The culture of people who follow the team, it’s not the culture where you pack the house. A lot of people who live here don’t have a lot of money. They pack it in San Francisco, but they’ve got (Barry) Bonds and a new stadium. Oakland isn’t the same. I don’t know if you can manipulate that by closing the top.”

Don Nelson’s Acting Debut

Posted in Basketball, The World Of Entertainment at 1:33 pm by

Though what may well be a hoops version of “First And Ten” has already been noted in this space, the Fort-Worth Star Telegram’s Randy Galloway has further gory details. Though not, however, an explanation for why Ken Howard doesn’t get jobs like this.

Don Nelson spent three days in Tinseltown last week, shooting the pilot for a new TV show.

George Clooney, he ain’t. But George Clooney, he now knows. Clooney is the show’s producer.

Nellie gets to play himself.

“I’ve been acting like a coach forever. I guess Hollywood must have noticed,” he joked.

So as the Mavericks tear though the NBA, Hollywood asked Nelson to serve as the coach of a mythical NBA expansion team called the San Diego Stingrays.

“I guess you’d call it a reality comedy show,” said Nelson. “We’ve got no lines to memorize, they just give us basketball situations that come up, and tell us to say what comes natural.”

Nellie claimed he showed up on the set for the first time “scared to death.”

But after three days of shooting film, he added, “I never had so much fun in my life. I loved it. They called me ‘One-Take Nelson.’ I even got a standing ‘O’ from the crew after the last shoot.”

Speaking of NBA characters, Vlade Divac plays the aging “superstar” signed by the expansion team; Norm Nixon is Nelson’s general manager; and his assistant coach is Marques Johnson, a former player for Nelson.

“There are no professional actors,” said Nelson. “Everybody, including the players, has some experience in the NBA.”

Del Harris, Nelson’s longtime assistant coach with the Mavs, and also the No. 1 assistant for Avery, got a big laugh out of Nellie gone Hollywood.

“When he retired, all the media wondered how long it would take for Nellie to return to coaching,” he said. “At least by Hollywood standards, it was less than a year.”

Alex Rodriguez, Jerky Boy

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 1:10 pm by

The Journal News’ Peter Abraham on Princess A-Rod’s latest assignment. (link taken from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

That Alex Rodriguez is something. Not only is A-Rod the reigning Most Valuable Player of the American League, he’s also willing to give you a wake-up call.

Nike.com has lined up Rodriguez and seven other prominent athletes to make calls to sleepy consumers. All you have to do is send in your phone number and what time you want a call. Given that I sleep late whenever possible, this seemed ideal.

My first thought was to have Maria Sharapova make the call. What could be better than a little pillow talk with a leggy tennis star?

But given my duties as Yankees beat writer, it had to be Rodriguez. Perhaps he would tell me whether he had changed his mind again and would play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Maybe he would apologize for his poor playoff performance. At least there might be some poker tips or a subtle jab at Derek Jeter.

Alas, it was a recorded message.

“Pete! This is Alex Rodriguez,” he shouted. “Mornings are the most valuable time of the day, and I should know. You snooze, you lose. So get up, get out and do something with your morning.”

While Nike are entitled to employ whatever tactics they wish in pursuit of 100% of the globe’s athletic footwear market, you’d think they’d stop to consider for just one second, how this will hurt Tom Candiotti.

Because Nothing’s Hipper Than A Red Beret

Posted in Mob Behavior, The Law at 12:48 pm by

(Curtis, far right, dozes off while listening to Bob Klapisch, center, ramble on about how much he paid for Chain Gang’s “Son Of Sam” b/w “Gary Gilmore And The Island Of Dr Moreau” 7″)

With NYC’s 5 boroughs far safer than during the heyday of the Guardian Angels, Curtis Sliwa’s vigilante-with-goofy-uniforms have a new approach in the modern age, writes Newsday’s Justin Rocket Silverman.

In a city of strikingly low crime rates, where rough streets such as 103rd in Corona are increasingly rare, the Angels have been forced to redefine the nature of their work as the citizen protectors of the helpless.

“The patrols we have now are more focused and targeted on certain problem areas,” said Curtis Sliwa, who at 25 started the Guardian Angels while working as a night manager at a McDonald’s in the Bronx. “We are also given more things to do as role models and mentors instead of physical interventions in the streets.”

Now also working as mentors, the Angels run after-school centers that combine academic tutoring with martial-arts training. Some Angels teach college courses on violence prevention for public-school teachers.

“We can add a lot of street energy to what is normally very clinical classwork,” Sliwa said. “We make it hip, we make it happening and we make it cool to use the Guardian Angels philosophy in dealing with these problems.”

Red Sox Sign New SS, No. 9 Hitter

Posted in Baseball at 11:44 am by

Boston and free agent SS Alex Gonzalez came to terms yesterday on a one year, $3 million deal that should, at the very least, ensure the Red Sox are able to put 9 guys on the field. From the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman and Tony Massaroti.

Gonzalez (above) will replace the disappointing Edgar Renteria, whom the Sox dealt, along with $11 million, to the Braves in early December for third base prospect Andy Marte. Since the Renteria trade, the Red Sox have maintained steady contact with Gonzalez while also keeping options for a shortstop open, both internally ” Alex Cora, Dustin Pedroia ” and via trade ” Julio Lugo.

Gonzalez, who turns 29 on Feb. 15, is a very slick and smooth-handed defensive shortstop without much to show at the plate. A .245 career hitter with a career on-base percentage of just .291, Gonzalez had a relatively strong year last season with the Marlins. He managed 31 walks, two off his career high, shaved his strikeout total from a career-high of 126 in 2004 to 81 and upped his on-base percentage to .319 with a .264 batting average.

The Gonzalez signing certainly fits into the pattern of deals the Red Sox have made in this abnormally busy offseason. Defensively, with Mark Loretta at second base and Crisp in center field and now Gonzalez, the Sox have improved markedly up the middle. Also, with Gold Glovers Mike Lowell manning third base and J.T. Snow at first, the infield defense leapfrogged to one of the best in the league.

The one-year deal is also telling, since the Red Sox have tried hard not to get locked up in multiyear deals with players whenever possible. The team is hopeful that with more seasoning in Triple-A and/or the majors this season, Pedroia (above), their No. 1 pick two years ago, will grow into the shortstop position.

MSG On Thin Ice – Sex Pest Charges Continue

Posted in Hockey, The Law at 10:42 am by

Lest anyone think that Anucha Browne Sanders is alone in claiming there’s a fucked up working environment at the World’s Most Famous Arena, she’s actually the 2nd person to level such charges at MSG. From the New York Daily News’ Terri Thompson and Michael O’Keefe.

Courtney Prince, once the captain of the Rangers’ cheerleading squad, the NHL’s version of the Knicks City Dancers, says she is hardly surprised that former Knicks executive Anucha Browne Sanders filed a lawsuit last week accusing Knicks President Isiah Thomas and MSG of sexual harassment and discrimination. In court papers and in her first extended interview about her own sexual harassment lawsuit against the Garden, Prince told the Daily News yesterday that Garden bosses:

- Made arrangements for the skaters to “have drinks with the bosses and guests” at bars near the Garden as part of their job requirements. The bosses repeatedly asked “Who’s loose?” and “Which is the wild one?” One boss told Prince “who he’d want to perform oral sex on” and “who to have sex with from behind.”

- Ignored her complaints that a guest of the Garden, a professional golfer, “came up behind me” and rubbed his sexually aroused body against her at a celebration at a bar. Rangers flack Jason Vogel allegedly told her: “If I was dancing with you, I’d do the same.”

- Ordered skaters to stuff their bras and lose weight.

- Purchased alcohol for skaters who were underage.

- Attacked her character and spread false rumors about her after she warned other skaters not to be alone with certain bosses.

It should be noted that Gothamist was on this one nearly two years ago.

Araton : Blame D’oh-lan!

Posted in Basketball at 1:47 am by

Sparing us an autopsy of last night’s latest Knicks embarrassment — a turnover-crazy, blowout loss to Atlanta that had Larry Brown clearing the bench midway through the 4th quarter — the New York Times’ Harvey Araton wonders how an experienced business dude like James Dolan could’ve allowed the charges against his basketball GM to hit the headlines.

What could James L. Dolan, the Garden’s chairman, have possibly been thinking when he, the person with the last call as the holder of the golden checkbook, instead signed off on the dismissal of Browne Saunders after she filed a complaint within the company against Thomas?

Did his high-powered lawyers really advise Dolan that Browne Sanders had no case in court and could be vanquished without negotiating a suitable severance that would, as the lawyers say, make her whole? Or was Browne Sanders another Jets stadium to spurn, another perceived infidel to slay, another chance for the son of a rich man who wanted to be a rebellious rocker to smash his toy basketball team all over the stage?

When Dolan needed to be a pragmatic manager and chant: “War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing,” he opted for his longtime anthem, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” Could he really be so uncompromising and disdainful of the public and his critics that he would destroy Thomas in the interests of defending him, and expose his organization and the N.B.A. to so much residual shame?

Adds the New York Post’s Peter Vescey,

I don’t want to suggest Garden executives are getting a bit paranoid, but after tonight’s State of the Union address, they’ve demanded Isiah get equal time.

Egomaniacal Blogger Nitpicks Over Print Media Exposure

Posted in Internal Affairs, Rock Und Roll, Sports Journalism at 1:30 am by

Nah, not this one.

Rather, I’d like to stress that while Rob Harvilla of the East Bay Express might have the best intentions, I never refered to Mark E. Smith as “psychotic”. Many words come to mind, but “psychotic” is certainly not one of them. For the purposes of setting the record straight, here is the full text of my correspondence with Mr. Harvilla.

i’ll be attending tonight’s warriors/cavs game and assessing the musical content therein, after reading your postings about stern’s complaints re: in-game music, cuban’s silence experiment, etc.

i was wondering if you’d like to comment on this phenomenon as part of my column. do you share stern’s view that “welcome to the jungle” and such has overwhelmed and cheapened the game itself?

Not really. I mean, the game itself is unchanged. I’d prefer to go to a ballgame without that sort of extraneous stuff going on, but people like to be prompted, pumped-up, cajoled, etc. I don’t begrudge them that, nor do I let it influence my enjoyment of the game itself. If I did, I would’ve stopped going years ago.

are there go-to sports tunes (“let’s get retarded/it started,” “rock ‘n’ roll part 2,” etc) you wish would be retired?

hmmm, all of them? Though given that Gary Glitter is compensated each time “Rock’n'Roll Pt. 2″ blasts over a stadium tannoy, perhaps the venue operators could substitute The Fall’s “Glam Racket” instead. Few patrons would know the difference, and instead of lining the pockets of a convicted child-sex pest, America’s sporting institutions could lend some financial aid to Mark E. Smith — a great friend and role model to young people all over the world.

are there personal favorite tunes of yours you’d like to see replace those old cliches?

I’ve often thought some of Drunks With Guns’ finest compositions (“Wonderful Subdivision”, especially) would really work for professional football.

is there too much music/distraction at your average sporting event, or not enough?

Generally too much though as I said before, I have no quarrel with anything that turns on other groovy people (said in Rick Moranis voice). However, I think White Sox organist Nancy Faust has performed some unusually inventive and at times, otherworldly interpretations of contemporary hits.

I heard a casio version of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle” at an NHL game recently that was vastly superior to the band’s patented Superchunk-minus-the-idiosyncracies formula. So that wasn’t bad.

do you have an opinion regarding the controversial “hot dog cannon”?

I don’t think we should be using it on the Iraqi insurgents, if that’s what you mean.

Chivas USA Acquire Razov

Posted in Football at 1:16 am by

From the AP :

Chivas USA acquired forward Ante Razov, the fourth-leading goal scorer in MLS history, from the MetroStars on Monday for forward Thiago Martins.

Razov (above) has 84 goals in 10 seasons with the Los Angeles Galaxy, Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew and MetroStars. He had seven goals and six assists in 25 games last year with Columbus and the MetroStars.

Martins had three goals and one assist in 22 games last season.

The trade reunites Razov with Chivas USA coach Bob Bradley, who coached him in Chicago from 1998-2002 and a portion of last season.

S.A. Mulls Skipping Future Austrlian Tours

Posted in Cricket, Racism Corner at 1:11 am by

With mounting allegations of players suffering racist abuse, South Africa’s cricket authorities might not send the team back to Australia if incidents continue. From the Independent’s Colin Crompton.

The Cricket South Africa chief executive, Gerald Majola, said: “It is very serious and if it continues, yes, we would look very seriously about whether we return.”

Makhaya Ntini, Garnett Kruger, Herschelle Gibbs and Ashwell Prince, who are black, were targets of racial abuse during the first Test in Perth last month.

“It is not right when a country has a history like ours,” Majola said. “The sad thing is, it has continued around Australia. It hasn’t just been limited to one state or one city.”

Cricket Australia’s chief executive, James Sutherland, said a crackdown on racist fans was planned. “These types of people are not wanted at cricket. If there is a cost-effective method of keeping them out, we will certainly look into it.”

TVNZ’s has more on Cricket Australia’s response.

ricket Australia is considering following the example of European football and devising a register of “undesirable” fans that would be distributed to gate attendants in a bid to stop boorish, racist spectators from entering international venues.

“Though violent behaviour hasn’t been prevalent at international cricket matches this summer, CA chief executive James Sutherland believes the same method could be applied to curb the racist taunting of players by fans, such as that which distressed the South African team,” Fairfax reported on Tuesday.

Sutherland told the newspapers: “Look at the way they address the issue of hooliganism in England.

“We hope we don’t need to get to that stage, but they have been successful in keeping undesirable people out of grounds,” he said.

Unless Sutherland is refering to the Premiership clubs’ practice of pricing tickets beyond the means of many of their fans, it is hard to fathom what he’s talking about.


Mets’ 4th String Catcher Unveiled

Posted in Baseball at 10:56 pm by

Young hopeful Jeff Wilpon (above) gets a head start on Spring Training, flanked by Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran. Not did the Mets choose to not offer Mike Piazza a contract, but they’ll save plenty of cash in ’06 by not issuing Wilpon a uniform, catcher’s mask, chest protector, etc.

A link to the Wilpon photo op was culled from Metsblog, who noted this evening that HBO’s “Real Sports” is preparing a segment on the unique throwing mechanics of former Mets catcher Mackey Sasser (above).

Where’s Court TV When We Really Need It?

Posted in The Law at 10:43 pm by

From MSNBC :

DEDHAM, Mass. – A dominatrix was acquitted of manslaughter charges Monday in the death of a man who allegedly suffered a fatal heart attack while strapped to a replica of a medieval torture device.

The jury in Norfolk Superior Court deliberated for eight hours over two days before finding Barbara Asher, 56, not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and dismemberment.

During his closing argument, prosecutor Robert Nelson re-enacted the bondage session that allegedly killed Michael Lord, of North Hampton, N.H., in July 2000.

Donning a leather mask and speaking to the jury through the zippered mouth, he said Asher did nothing to help Lord as he flailed about and died while strapped to the rack in a makeshift “dungeon” in Asher’s Quincy condominium.

“She did nothing, nothing for five minutes,” Nelson said, his voice muffled through the mask.

It was Nelson’s theatrical closing that provided the most dramatic moments of the trial.

The prosecutor pointed and hollered at Asher. He dumped a box full of hoods, collars and paddles onto a table, and proclaimed that Asher was trying to protect her business.

“That’s why she didn’t call the police,” he said.

With both hands, he reached back and clutched the top of a blackboard to simulate Lord being strapped to the rack.

He paused as his head hung forward as if to simulate Lord’s alleged death.

Page objected, and Norfolk Superior Court Judge Charles Grabau agreed.

“That’s enough, Mr. Nelson,” the judge said. “Thank you for your demonstration.”

If You’re Not Hungry Looking At This…

Posted in Food at 10:34 pm by

….common sense has already won.

Canucks Lose Jovo, Blues Lose Weight

Posted in Hockey at 7:36 pm by

TSN reports that Vancouver D Ed Jovanovski will undergo abdominal surgery this week and shall be out of the Canucks’ lineup for the next 6 weeks, thus rendering him unavailable for Team Canada.

After Steve Yzerman scored his 200th career power play goal against the Wild tonight, Robert Lang’s 14th of the season at 14:58 marked the first even strength goal for the Red Wings in their past 5 games.

Carolina, currently holding the NHL’s best record, acquired St. Louis’ leading scorer (11 goals, 33 assists) C Doug Weight and LW Erkki Rajamaki in exchange for right-winger Jesse Boulerice, centre Mike Zigomanis and the rights to unsigned draft pick Magnus Kahnberg, along with first-round and fourth-round draft picks in 2006 and a fourth-round pick in 2007. SI/CNN’s Allan Muir’s review of the deal :

As nice an addition as Weight is, this move feels like it was as much about Carolina keeping him away from Ottawa, Philadelphia and maybe Atlanta as it was about shoring up the ‘Canes’ depth. Considering that Weight was the premier trade deadline target of those teams, and how tight the East could be down the stretch, that makes this deal a two-fer for Carolina.

For its part, St. Louis did pretty well in the deal. The three bodies the Blues acquired — Mike Zigomanis, Jesse Boulerice and Magnus Kahnberg — won’t make anyone forget Weight (or replace one-third of his offense combined), but they’ll help fill out the roster as the team makes other moves in the next few weeks.

MNF : Michaels Out, Kornheiser In?

Posted in Gridiron at 6:01 pm by

From the NY Post’s mini-Mushnick, Andrew Marchand :

With Al Michaels’ future on Monday Night Football in doubt, ESPN is strongly considering putting talk show host/columnist Tony Kornheiser on its telecast next year, The Post has learned.

While ESPN is expected to decide after the Super Bowl if it will force Michaels to honor the eight-year $32 million contract he signed this summer, sources say the network has devised a Plan B around Kornheiser.

If the network allows Michaels out of his contract then the new team is expected to be led by Mike Tirico. Tirico will be joined by Joe Theismann and Kornheiser, if Kornheiser agrees to ESPN’s offer that is believed to be for around $1 million.

The addition of Kornheiser, who writes for the Washington Post, would be a radical move in the same vein as when Dennis Miller was named to the Monday Night booth.

ESPN executives, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, recently met with Kornheiser about accepting the role. If Kornheiser takes the offer then he is expected to continue to co-host Pardon the Interruption.

Though Kornheiser would bring a little more sports journalism credibility (though substantially less hair) to the role than Miller did, given how well the previous experiment worked out, this is a curious choice. That said, there is something funny about the notion that any number of Disney/ABC/ESPN on-air personalities could be replaced at a moment’s notice by the company bringing Kornheiser in on the relative cheap.

And with that in mind, is Jamie Sale’s future 2nd husband ready to go to Iraq?

In an unrelated and untimely note, who amongst us hasn’t wanted to see portraits of Tony, Michael Wilbon and Stat Boy in Pumpkin form?

Pirates Add Warm, Cuddly Mascot

Posted in Baseball at 4:07 pm by

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s JoAnne Klimovich Harrop (link swiped from Baseball Musings).

The Pittsburgh Pirates will introduce a new staff member April 16.

Joining the Pirate Parrot will be another team mascot.

“He will not replace the big green chicken because everyone loves him,” said Tim Schuldt, vice president of marketing, sales and broadcasting for the Pirates. “The new mascot will be warm and cuddly with one gold tooth. He looks like a Pirate. One will work the one dugout and the other will work the other. Fans will love him.”

I’ve got just the man for the job — he’s already a big part of recent club history, has spent lots of time on a boat…and knows all about stealing Kevin McClatchy’s money.

(advance warning : I didn’t make up the joke about the boat and stealing money. Whoever did is entitled to a free autographed photo of Stevie Ray Going-Going-Gone.)

Isola : Blame Isiah

Posted in Basketball at 3:57 pm by

Declaring “the biggest scandal at MSG continues to be the performance of Isiah Thomas’ team” (I guess he’s never been groped by someone quoting from “Love & Basketball”), the Daily News’ Frank Isola is quite ready to kick Zeke when he’s down.

It’s been one of the ugliest weeks in Knicks history and for Thomas, who is the face of the franchise for all the wrong reasons. The only things we know for sure are that a) neither Anucha Browne Sanders nor Thomas will go down as the most well-liked bosses to ever grace the Garden and b) the responsibility of trying to turn the product into something worth watching falls to Larry Brown.

It’s already 42 games into the Brown’s first season in New York and the coach still can’t make heads or tails of the roster Thomas assembled. Brown has been criticized for shuttling players in and out, failing to define roles and for using 25 different starting lineups.

Does that mean he’s a mad scientist at work or just bloody mad for taking the job in the first place?

It’s probably a combination of both. The word over the summer on Brown was that he had serious doubts about the players brought in under Thomas’ watch. Backup center Jerome James (above) has been a bust. Quentin Richardson, who appears to be playing with a bad back, has struggled and Eddy Curry lacks the drive to become a great player.

Thomas has spent millions to make over the team and yet the Knicks are 77-102 since he was hired. This season, the Knicks have tried to temper expectations by calling it a rebuilding year. But most of the players are veterans with long-term contracts. Plus, the Knicks traded their first-round pick – likely a lottery selection – to the Chicago Bulls in the Curry deal.

Former Georgia Tech PG Will Bynum, currently leading the NBDL in scoring with a 24 ppg average with the Roanoke Dazzle, is profiled in today’s Roanoke Times. Bynum, property of the Celtics through this season and next, is also averaging 6.7 assists per game, along with a league-high 6.2 turnovers.

Fresh off his failure to win Ch. 4′s “Celebrity Big Brother”, Dennis Rodman’s pricey weekend cameo with the Brighton Bears might cause the club to be docked points in the BBL league standings.

The Fiver On The F.A. Cup 5th Round Draw

Posted in Football at 3:34 pm by

Save a replay or two, the pairings for the F.A. Cup 5th Round have been determined and the Guardian’s Barry Glendenning and Paul Doyle were near a television set when the heavy shit went down.

Unless they were moonlighting for Mecca bingo, it’s difficult to imagine FA big cheese David Davies, Jason Robinson-doppelganger John Salako and Liverpool legend Ian Rush generating much excitement with nothing more than a glass bowl full of numbered balls, but the trio pulled it off with considerable aplomb at today’s draw for the FA Cup fifth round.

Mind you, it was touch and go. With Davies floundering in his role as MC, just a few sides left in the drum and the early fixtures barely registering a flicker on the Fiver’s interest-o-meter, it was more in hope than expectation that we stayed tuned to events at Soho Square rather than switching the channel to revel at the latest madcap scheme involving mischievous Toadfish replacing Harold’s tuba with Paul Robinson’s prosthetic leg on Neighbours. Luckily, our patience was rewarded as, with trembling hand, Rushie drew ball No4 from the FA tombola, thereby ensuring that the one tie football lovers everywhere wanted to see will take place.

But with Stoke City manager Johan Boskamp unavailable for comment on his side’s home clash with Reading or Bongo FC, we’re going to focus on the equally mouth-watering tie between Preston or Crystal Palace v Coventry or Middlesbore instead. “We wanted it done and dusted in 90 minutes. We now have a ridiculous number of games in a short space of time, but we’ve got to get on with it,” chirruped Crystal Palace gaffer Iain Dowie to an old lady who asked him for directions to the post office. “They are a good side and it was a tough game on Saturday.”

There are, of course, other matches of marginal interest taking place, as Glendenning and Doyle go on to specify.

A Monday Morning Dose Of The Klap(isch)

Posted in Baseball at 3:26 pm by

After declaring the WBC “teetering towards irrelevance”, here are some pre-Spring Training “hot or not” choices from the always-sizzling Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).

HOT: Billy Beane. He seems untroubled by his two biggest gambles of the winter: first, that Milton Bradley’s on-field skills outweigh his explosive temper, and second, that Frank Thomas was a better investment than Mike Piazza as a DH. Beane was even willing to take on the ever-petulant David Wells before making a wiser choice in Esteban Loaiza. If the experiments all work in Beane’s favor, the A’s will be ready to reclaim the AL West from the Angels.

NOT: Mike Piazza. He had to lower his price to a mere $2 million to join the cash-poor Padres. The fact that Piazza had to literally beg for meaningful work should put retirement on his list of options, although he obviously deserves a chance to hit his 400th home run first.

HOT: Younger players and all capable backups. Remember, this is the first year that amphetamines will be outlawed by Major League Baseball. An army of older players will be dragging, especially during day games after night games. The action on Sunday afternoons will be notably slower, par in 2006.

NOT: Bengie Molina. What was he thinking, turning down $18 million over three years from the Mets?

CSTB Podcast, Week 3

Posted in CSTB Podcasts, Internal Affairs, Rock Und Roll at 12:54 pm by

The Fred Smerlas Super Session was the bomb — and I’m not just talking about his visit to the WEEI Men’s Room.

Michael Axelrod’s Get Your Hand Out Of My Face Mix has won acclaim far and wide — mostly, wide.

But I’m pretty confident that the third CSTB Podcast is the finest to date. Blues rock legend Stevie Ray Going-Going-Gone has seen fit to visit us from beyond the grave, and the results are positively shredding.

Arbuckle’s Fat Chances For Reds’ GM Job

Posted in Baseball at 11:36 am by

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Paul Hagen writes that Phillies assistant GM Mike Arbuckle will be interviewed this week for Cincinnati’s GM vacancy.

Arbuckle, 55, has been with the Phillies since October 1992 and has received high marks for his role in rebuilding what had been a moribund farm system.

The early inside track is believed to belong to Minnesota Twins assistant general manager Wayne Krivsky. He was the runner-up to Dan O’Brien 2 years ago and it has been reported that chief operating officer John Allen preferred Krivsky at the time but was overruled by Carl Lindner.

The LA Times’ Bill Shaikin reports on an unfortunate, and as of yet, not very lucrative case of cybersquating :

For sale: The domain name http://www.losangelesangelsofanaheim.com .

Terry Notko, a Laguna Hills businessman, spent $8.95 to register the name in November 2004. The Angels changed their name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim two months later, and Notko hoped he could cash in. But the Angels had no interest in buying the name, and he declined a $1,000 offer from the agency that controls major league websites.

After reserving the site for more than a year without providing any content, Notko is selling the domain name on EBay, starting today. He said he would share proceeds with Hope University, an Anaheim school that offers art, music, dance and drama training to developmentally disabled adults.

Notko said his decision to sell was not prompted by the trial between the Angels and the city of Anaheim. If the city has its way, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim name could disappear within weeks, but Notko said he did not believe that prospect would dissuade potential bidders for the domain name.

“It could be a collectors’ item,” he said.

Mushnick Effectively Skewers Kay, Russo

Posted in Sports Journalism, Sports Radio at 11:20 am by

OK, credit where it is due dept. The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick is frequently mocked around here and with good reason. His beard is a public health hazard and when he gets tired of beating a dead horse (overpriced sneakers, evil video games, Spike Lee, Vince McMahon, ballgames that start later than 6:30pm) he’ll shoot it with a cannon.

But every now and then, purely on the observational tip, Phil redeems himself, if only for a few minutes.

Last week, Michael Kay, after telling his ESPN-NY audience that he’d dined in a well-known steak house, said he wouldn’t give its name because he didn’t want it to become more difficult for him to get a table.

Oh, yeah, the moment Kay says the name of this already well-known restaurant, he’ll create such a run that even a fellow as influential, as famous and as fabulous as Michael Kay won’t be able to get in.

Friday, FAN’s Mike Francesa and Chris Russo chatted with Billy Joel’s saxophonist, Richie Cannata. Russo, a self-proclaimed huge fan of Joel and his band, had seen them perform, the night before. And that should strike all sports fans as important. (Naturally, Russo had the best seats in the house. He always does ” unless Francesa’s there.)

Russo asked where his ex-neighbor, longtime Joel Band bassist, Doug Stegmeyer (above, middle), has been. Cannata told Russo that Stegmeyer, “committed suicide, a bunch of years back.” Stegmeyer ended his life in 1995.

Mini-Mall Metal Venue Hosts Crucial Hip Hop Event

Posted in Hip Hop at 11:05 am by

Austin’s Backroom, often the home for such touring titans as Yngwie Malmsteen and Cannibal Corpse (though sadly, not on the same bill) was the site for a terrific lineup this past Friday evening ; Houston’s K-Rino, Baton Rouge’s Young Bleed (shown above), Dallas’ Money Waters and ATX’s own Basswood Lane all for a minimal cover…and minimal useage of the inhouse dry ice machine.

Said event was presented by the same hardworking chap that brings you HoustonSoReal, which either means the few dozen persons in attendence owe him a massive debt of gratitude. Or some money.