02.28.06

Human Whoopee Cushion Vs. Vescey

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down, Sports Journalism, Will Leitch Sucks at 6:55 pm by

The New York Post’s Peter Vescey is Will Leitch’s latest nominee for “Your Hometown Columnist Sucks”, a pretty rich concept considering that a “columnist” in Leitch’s own hometown would be the person who transcribes the cinema start times.

Writes Will,

is Vecsey at least funny? You tell us: “Following his 1-for-16 misadventure in Game 1 against the Sonics, Mike Bibby, desperate to figure out his shooting problem, drove to the nearest Wendy’s to see if its employees could put their finger on it.” Um, what?

Admittedly, that’s not even close to Vescey’s best line. But still funnier than anything you’d find in a month of reading Deadspin.

Though hardly above reproach, Vescey is the guy who suggested that Pat Riley stopped talking about “The Disease Of Me” and switched to “The Disease Of Thee” when he noticed Madonna was sitting courtside. The same Vescey that labelled the Daily News’ Filip “King Kong Bondy” and was tearing into Will’s pet Stephen “Anal” Smith when Deadspin was just a twinkle in Nick Denton’s eye.

Some other recent classic gems from Vescey’s “Hoops Du Jour” :

Georgia™s runaway bride, Jennifer Wilbanks, has been indicted for filing false statements and false police reports. She faces up to six years in the pokey, or, if the judge really wants to stick it to her, six Hawks home games.

John Stockton, by the way, returned to the Delta Center Wednesday night at the Jazz unveiled an eight-foot statue of him outside the arena. The statue inside the arena is known as Carlos Boozer.

After eyeballing Sunday™s 64-62 eyesore (the Pistons won despite missing each and every one of 15 field goal tries in the fourth quadrant) Larry Brown announced he was going in for additional hip surgery. He denies he has any intentions of switching hospitals.

Michael Olowokandi finally earned his Timberwolves keep by provoking Nene into a fist-fight, the way it was meant to be, mano-a-mano instead of mano-a-fanatico. Both received the same four-game sanctioned sentence and we all know who came out ahead on that score. The Crying Wolves, who hosted Toronto last night, have dutifully improved on this Kandi-free diet, winning that game in Denver and the next vs. the frontcourt-less Blazers.

This just in: So it shouldn™t be a total loss, Latrell Sprewell petitioned David Stern to turn over Olowokandi™s paychecks to his near starving family.

Say this much about Darko, his team has made the playoffs both of his seasons. Joe Dumars deserves a lot of credit for for not trading up and taking LeBron James.

David Stern™s league, chock full of provocatively dressed and undulating dance teams, has banned players from listening to music during pre-game warm-ups. Vince Carter and others got the word iPods are not part of the NBA™s standard uniform and thus cannot be worn.

Carter, who received the iPod as a gift for being the only person not attacked at the Vibe awards, is appealing Stern™s fearless ruling.

Donald Stern and Mark Cuban have worked out a deal re fines. In the future, any money collected from the owner will be used to bribe people to watch his next show.

Kobe made a point of thanking the Clippers for their interest when the Lakers played them during preseason, but, œlike I always say, no means no.

As far as I can tell, Vescey’s biggest sin is that he’s far more skilled at disembowling ESPN and TNT’s on-air talent, than our Man from Mantoon.

CSTB Podcast, Week 7

Posted in CSTB Podcasts, Internal Affairs, Rock Und Roll at 5:53 pm by

With all the crazy conjecture about how to weigh a prospective draft pick’s results on the Wonderlic Test, what an amazing coincidence that this week’s edition of the CSTB Podcast features “Pat McInally’s Big Score”, a WHRB-riffic mix by the Harvard man and former Bengals punter. McInally scored a 50 on the Wonderlic, but more importantly, his terrific musical taste shows that he’s still a master of “hang time” long after retirement.

WBC Solidifies Glorified Exhibition Status…

Posted in Baseball at 4:29 pm by

…except for the “glorified” part. The enforced pitch counts and bush league mercy rule were rotten enough, but get a load of the following from the Associted Press :

Organizers said Tuesday that games in the first two rounds of the tournament will be ended after 14 innings, even if teams remain tied.

In addition, the tournament’s technical committee may suspend semifinal games after 14 innings if “pitcher availability for both teams would be substantially jeopardized by not suspending the game and pitcher availability would be substantially enhanced by resuming the game as a suspended game on the next day.”

Ties would count as half a win and half a loss in determining a team’s winning percentage, organizers said.

Rain also could cause situations that deviate from normal major league rules.

Games can be suspended, even if they have not gone long enough become regulation games. If the game affects which teams will advance, organizers will attempt to schedule the completion of the game for the following day. If the game is suspended again during the first two rounds or the game isn’t finished, the team that is ahead would be declared the winner if it is a regulation game; it would be a tie if the teams are even or it would be ruled “no game” if it hasn’t become a regulation game.

Even with all of the conditions outlined previously and those mentioned above, I am deathly concerned that someone-is-gonna-get-hurt. Perhaps a no-sliding edict would be fitting? Anyone who tries to break up a DP is adopted by Tommy Lasorda?

The Prospects Are Real, The High Schools Are Fake

Posted in Basketball, Lower Education, Sports Journalism at 3:26 pm by

With all the talk of Wunderlic tests over the last few days, it’s worth remembering that prospective college athletes must first pass some basic barriers before even getting to college. Luckily, as the New York Times reports today, there are a wide variety of unaccredited, ultra-dodgy ”prep schools” designed to help students more gifted at hoops than standardized test-taking get to “Yes, you may attend UTEP/Mississippi State.”

 It’s a lengthy and exhaustive piece, not given to bloggy excerpting, but the article details the rise of unaccredited high schools – many of them with student bodies consisting entirely of a basketball team and faculties consisting entirely of a basketball coach — that function as basketball factories/the last bastion of “spelling classes” in high school education. The schools serve their students through inflated grades (which lower the ceiling on Prop 48 SAT requirements — the higher the GPA, the lower the SAT required to qualify) and SAT/ACT tutoring. Oh, and practicing four hours a day, year-round.

Some of these institutions recently joined other private schools to form the National Elite Athletic Association. With more than two dozen teams from Los Angeles to Toronto, this conference is seeking a shoe contract and a television deal. Its teams sometimes travel thousands of miles to play in tournaments that often attract more college coaches than fans. Those coaches will pay $100 for booklets of information about the players.

“I believe that our high school associations create mediocrity,” said Linzy Davis, a conference founder, who coaches in Stockbridge, Ga. “We have rules in high school associations that say a coach can coach a kid at this time and not at this time. Meanwhile, you have the Europeans that can practice eight hours a day.”

Sounds pretty aboveboard, right? Well, no, but also:

An investigation by The New York Times found more than a dozen of these institutions, some of which closed soon after opening. The Times found that at least 200 players had enrolled at such places in the past 10 years and that dozens had gone on to play at N.C.A.A. Division I universities like Mississippi State, George Washington, Georgetown and Texas-El Paso.

“I would say that in my 21 years, the number of those schools has quadrupled, and I would put schools in quotation marks,” Phil Martelli, the men’s basketball coach at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, said. “They’re not all academic institutions.”

The National Collegiate Athletic Association acknowledges that it has not acted as such places have proliferated. For years, its Clearinghouse has approved transcripts from these institutions without questioning them.


(not the actual logo of a real academic institution, sadly)

There’s much more. But while this is the first most people will have heard of, say, Boys To Men Academy in Chicago (16 students and a curriculum consisting of courses from an online correspondence school and production by Michael Bivins), it is not the first visit to the papers for Philadelphia’s Lutheran Christian Academy, which got a similarly lengthy run-down in the Washington Post two weeks ago. Thanks to Brendan Flynn for the link.    

WEEI’s Pete Meat Visits CSTB’s Hometown

Posted in Sports Radio at 1:51 pm by

In what sounds like one of the uglier stunts (plug in vulgar rhyme at your own leisure) in recent memory, WEEI’s Pete Sheppard tried his hand at curling, stopping by Wayland, MA’s Broomstones Curling Club. From Metro West’s Lenny Megliola.

Clearly Sheppard wasn’t going to get a handle on the sport in one night. He tried pushing the 42-pound stone three times, and quickly lost his balance each time, crumbling to his knees. Some states would have stopped it right there on the three-knockdown rule.

Kupchik asked him if he wanted to try it again.

“Naw, that’s enough,” said Sheppard (above, left). “You absolutely get winded.”

He was game enough to try the broom thing, sweeping in front of the stone. That proved to be even more difficult. When he got to the circle he did a total wipeout, sliding on his belly into the center of the circle. Curlers using the other lanes stopped and cheered. It was great form. For the breaststroke.

“You OK?” Kupchik asked. “I don’t want to push you.”

Spectators watching from the second-level lounge area gave Sheppard a standing O. “I have a new-found respect for curling,” he told them. “Believe me.”

Not much of a curler, this guy, but a helluva sport. He tried. “(Big Show host Glenn) Ordway would’ve had a heart attack,” said Sheppard.

WEEI’s Whiney Awards are taking place tonight at the TD BankNorth Garden. Tickets are $40, and while I realize a portion of the procees are going to charity, unless they can end all human suffering (ie. blow up the radio station) with the money, this doesn’t sound like a great deal.

Amputation Averted In Scotland’s 4th Division

Posted in Football at 1:28 pm by

From Reuters :

Finnish player Markus Paatelainen has revealed how a newspaper article in his homeland helped save his leg from amputation after a blood clot developed hours after he was caught on the shin by a late tackle.

The 23-year-old brother of Finland international and current Cowdenbeath manager Mixu was left in agony when he was scythed down playing for the Scottish fourth division side in a 4-0 league win at Elgin City on Saturday.

He began to feel severe pain in the leg on the journey home and remembered a story he read about impact-related blood clots.

Paatelainen, a former Aberdeen player, told The Scottish Sun: ‘My parents send me Finnish newspapers every week and I read about an ice hockey player who was in a similar situation two weeks ago.

‘When I started to feel the pain while I was on the bus it was unbearable and I thought it might be the same thing. I knew I had to go to hospital then so I got Mixu to take me.’

Markus was caught on the outside of his shin by the tackle and also twisted his knee causing a blood clot.

Hospital x-rays revealed there was no break, but doctors spotted the clot after measuring pressure on the shin and operated immediately at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Mike Schmidt’s Spring Book Tour

Posted in Baseball at 11:29 am by

Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt was in Clearwater, FL yesterday — site of his abortive managerial tenure with the Phillies’ FSL affiliate — spreading the good vibes about his forthcoming tome, ‘Clearing the Bases: Juiced Players, Monster Salaries, Sham Records and a Hall of Famer’s Search for the Soul of Baseball’. I’ve not seen an advance copy of the book yet, but it could clearly use a longer title. From the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Todd Zolecki.

“My position is to try and tell the story from an insider’s perspective. What interested me more was the psychology of it. Not only from a player’s standpoint, but from how people outside perceived the game and that issue. There’s a lot of discussion about the money in baseball and the pressure and the standards that current players are held up to as opposed to when I played. It’s sort of a study in the human nature on how things like this can happen and how they did happen, how turning a blind eye on the subject allowed baseball to recover in the late ’90s and 2000 with the offensive explosion. And now, how the right steps have been taken by the players association and the commissioner’s office to cleanse the game of pretty much everything.”

Schmidt talked about other topics yesterday, too:

Mark McGwire, and whether he would vote for him to make the Hall of Fame: “Yes. Players need to be judged against their peers today and not against players over time for a lot of reasons. Obviously, the speculation about substance abuse is somewhere in the mix, but there are smaller ballparks, livelier balls, livelier bats and different strike zones… . These guys have not been banished from the game. With these guys, their accomplishments on the field stand for themselves.”

If he would vote for Rafael Palmeiro, who tested positive for steroids: “I think Palmeiro is a little bit of a stronger issue. I think what he’s gone through in the past year and a half may have hurt his chances altogether… . I might take a pass on Year 1, [but] he certainly is a Hall of Fame caliber player.”

If he thinks Pete Rose’s chances at the Hall of Fame are dead: “Major League Baseball has created a Pete Rose purgatory, and that’s where he is. And that’s where he’s always going to be. It’s unfortunate that the commissioner’s office has decided to allow that to be the reality. I don’t think Pete would mind if they said ‘No’ to Pete. Pete wants them to go one way or the other and get him out of the void he’s in.”

Police Harrass Attractive Man…

Posted in The Law, The World Of Entertainment at 9:36 am by

…while Jim Rome prepares the obligatory Andrew Ridgely joke, which he’ll repeat five or six times on the radio, then again on his television program.

The Mirror has the best headline about this particular incident : “GEORGE MICHAEL HAD SEX TOYS AND GIMP MASK IN CAR”, though I do think pokerjoel24@yahoo.com ought to complain about the use of such innuendo.

NBA Salaries : Who’s On The Hook For How Much?

Posted in Basketball at 9:24 am by

The next time Chris Sheridan wonders why the average fan should care about salaries, the above average fan might want to check this out.

And after doing so, if he or she is a fan of the below average New York Knicks, said fan might wanna think about walking into traffic.

The Newark Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Allesandro is reporting that Chicago’s buyout of Tim Thomas’ contract will preclude a subsequent signing by New Jersey or Philadelphia.

Bulls GM John Paxson told agent Arn Tellem that he is determined to give Thomas the money he has left on his $14 million contract and allow him to become a free agent, but only if Thomas signs with San Antonio or Phoenix.

The negotiation continued yesterday with no settlement. But Paxson has control of the discussion: If Thomas is not waived by Wednesday, the Paterson native won’t be eligible for the playoffs regardless of what team he chooses to play for.

Entering the weekend, it was believed that Paxson didn’t want Thomas to go to Philadelphia, because the Bulls are chasing the Sixers for the eighth seed in the East. But the Nets have been added to his list of undesirables because they still have two games against Chicago this season.

Sherman On The Mets’ Starters

Posted in Baseball at 9:12 am by

As the battle for the 5th spot in the Mets’ rotation heats up with intra-squad games begining today, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman takes a long look at the state of New York’s starters.

The most meaningful competition will reveal whether the Mets have a depth or dearth of starting pitching. Aaron Heilman (above), the front-runner for the No. 5 starting slot, will work today, as will a few players with a chance to push the righty: Brian Bannister, Jeremi Gonzalez, John Maine and Alay Soler.

Omar Minaya and pitching coach Rick Peterson believe that group, plus Jose Lima and Yusaku Iriki, offer viable options behind a front four of Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, Steve Trachsel and Victor Zambrano. Minaya depleted the rotation comfort level by trading Kris Benson and Jae Seo in an attempt to deepen the bullpen. The result, however, means the erratic Zambrano is probably back in the rotation while Heilman is likely to be moved from the pen, where he excelled last year, to the rotation.

If either falters or age/injury besets Martinez, Glavine or Trachsel, the Mets will be left with a buffet of untested and journeymen pitchers to step in.

One AL executive surmised, “The Mets are in a lot of trouble if any of their five starters goes down or doesn’t perform well.”

An NL GM more optimistically said: “I think that is reasonable depth. Bannister is a legitimate sixth starter, and Maine and Gonzalez have a chance to give a few decent starts. But I’m sure the Mets don’t want 25 starts from that crew.”

Minaya said he was “comfortable with the numbers, but I’m always looking to upgrade the quality.”

Minaya tried hard to get Javier Vazquez in the offseason and has told confidants he believes the club still needs at least one top-flight starter to win a championship, which is why he will work his radar to see if Jose Contreras, Barry Zito or another front-end arm goes on the market during the season while hoping that last year’s first-round pick, the buzz-producing Mike Pelfrey, comes fast. Minaya also must pray that Martinez and his fragile foot can produce another season of 30-start greatness.

Even if the Mets had kept Benson and Seo, it would not have made Martinez any more expendable. Those are the types who can replace Trachsel, not someone as great as Pedro. Now, however, the Mets must ask if they have enough resources to replace even Trachsel.

Seattle’s Matt Lawton hit a broken-bat HR during an intrasquad game on Monday. Carl Everett suggested checking the bat, which probably went over better than Carl administering a piss test on the spot.

Something About A Keg : The Giambino’s New Trainer

Posted in Baseball at 8:55 am by

Estranged from his longtime personal trainer/running mate Bobby Alejo, Yankees DH/1B Jason Giambi has enlisted the services of a new bulk-up expert writes the New York Daily News’ Sam Borden.

Sure, Jason Giambi can smash home runs over the fence of just about any ballpark, but how would he do pulling a car down the street? Or carrying a boulder? Or lifting a keg?

The Yankees first baseman very nearly found out how he measures up in those situations because his new personal trainer this winter was power lifter and World’s Strongest Man competitor Mark Philippi (above).

Alas, while Philippi had Giambi do a number of exercises that might be unfamiliar to the average gym-goer, Giambi never hooked his harness to a Chevy or tried to throw a telephone pole as seen in WSM competitions on TV.

“He’s got all that stuff at his house,” Giambi said. “He’d be like, ‘Hey, you want to come over and work with those things?’ and I’d be like, ‘Uh, no man.’”

That doesn’t mean it might not happen in the future. Throughout their training, Philippi joked with Giambi, saying that, “I don’t want to take you over to the garage (where he keeps his WSM equipment) and screw you up,” but he said he does think that kind of training could be beneficial if the two work together again in the future.

“Sled-dragging, pushing of cars, that could be really helpful in strengthening his legs,” Philippi said in a telephone interview. “I could see that making a difference. Things you could do that would translate well to the baseball field.”

Buck O’Neal, Class Act

Posted in Baseball at 8:43 am by

The next time Goose Gossage fails to make the Baseball Hall Of Fame, Harry Carson is asked about his longtime Canton snub or Kanye West gets stiffed for some lame trophy, consider the way Buck O’Neal reacted yesterday to the news that he wasn’t amongst the 17 Negro Leagues alumni inducted into Cooperstown. (From the Kansas City Star’s Sam Mellinger and Jeff Passan).

œShed no tears for Buck, he said. œNo, no. Ol™ God™s been good to me. You can see that, don™t you? If I™m a Hall of Famer for you, that™s all I need. Just keep loving ol™ Buck.

O™Neil put a happy spin on the day, just like always. There was no disappointment, no how-could-they-leave-me-out talk. He focused more on how far America has come, that the grandson of a slave was given a fair chance at the national pastime™s highest honor.

He said not being elected didn™t hurt nearly as much as the real disappointments in his life, like when he was denied attendance at his local segregated high school in Florida. There will be no bitterness from O™Neil, only smiles.

œThis won™t stop me, he said. œI™ve got a whole lot to live for. It would have been ˜Buck O™Neil, Hall of Famer.™ Now it™s just ˜Buck O™Neil,™ which is all right. Or how about ˜Buck O™Neil, humanitarian™? That sounds better anyway.

Barca’s Eto’o Vs. The Numbskulls

Posted in Football at 1:33 am by

Whether or not the latest stain on Spanish soccer will result in greater action than just minimal fines, I have no idea, but at some point, La Liga officials have to recognize these episodes are not only overshadowing the terrific football being played…but they render it irrelevant.

From the Telegraph’s Sid Lowe.

Spanish football was last night bracing itself for another wave of condemnation after Samuel Eto’o, Barcelona’s Cameroon striker, threatened to leave the field in protest at racist abuse during his side’s 2-0 victory over Real Zaragoza.

76 minutes into Saturday night’s clash at the Romareda, when Barcelona won a corner, Eto’o, who had been subjected to sporadic abuse by a small section of the crowd throughout the match, went to collect the ball and bottles thrown at him before a chorus of monkey chants went up.

Eto’o pointed at Alvaro, Zaragoza’s black Brazilian defender, in an attempt to underline the absurdity of the abuse, but his response served merely to increase the vociferousness of the chants. Victor Jose Esquinas Torres, the referee, ran over to a club official and demanded that an announcement be made over the PA system. His point was clear: if this behaviour did not stop, the game would be abandoned.

As Esquinas Torres returned, Eto’o, who was clearly upset, had decided to march off, saying: “I’m not carrying on like this. I’m not playing any more.”

The referee sought to stop him, but it was not until players from both sides, and Barca’s coach Frank Rijkaard, had spoken with him that he agreed to continue.

When Ronaldinho finally took the corner, Zaragoza’s concentration had been broken. Edmilson latched on to the ball and his shot beat the keeper, Cesar, but was tipped over the bar by the midfielder Albert Celades, who was sent off.

Ronaldinho then scored from the penalty and ran over to embrace Eto’o to celebrate. Three minutes later, Eto’o crossed for Henrik Larsson to make it 2-0. By now, Eto’o was being booed by virtually the whole stadium.

The Spanish Coalition Against Racism (Cecra) is calling for players to take part in a 5 minute delay of next weekend’s kick-offs, as a show of protest against the Spanish Football Federation’s inaction.

The Mirror is reporting — as tipped some weeks ago — that Newcastle have offered Celtic’s Martin O’Neal their managerial job, which might interfere with the England F.A.’s hopes of making O’Neal the successor to Sven Goran Ericksson.

I’ve never heard U.S. national goalkeeper Kasey Keller sing, but apparently, his vocal stylings are considered criminal in Germany.

On a day when both Will Leitch and Jim Rome took the time to sneer at ill-advised remarks by David Beckham, perhaps these unfunny Twin Brothers Of Different Mothers might want to consider that Becks might still be able to manage double digits on the Wonderlic test.

Rome, whose soccerphobia is so played out that Nike used a soundalike in one of their dopier footie commercials, declared Beckham, “the World’s Greatest Soccer Player.” In 2001, that would’ve been a huge stretch. In 2006, well…lemme put it this way. There isn’t anyone in Leytonstone, Manchester or Madrid declaring Kurt Warner the best player in the NFL.

There’s something a little screwy about ESPN giving Jim Rome a vehicle to laugh at Beckham’s grammar. Granted, the midfielder has never proven himself to be anything other than a comical public speaker, but Rome and his radio callers manage to rape the English language at every available opportunity.

In Springtime, A Boy’s Thoughts Turn To Kissing Jose Lima

Posted in Baseball, History's Great Hook-Ups at 12:05 am by

Jeremi Gonzalez shows the entire world that he doesn’t care about the rumors.

02.27.06

Berman On The Quick-To-Quit Knicks

Posted in Basketball at 9:51 pm by

Declaring that coach Larry Brown “is is no different than his players now. Overpaid, underachieving ” stealing Knicks owner James Dolan’s money”, the New York Post’s Marc Berman reveals the club’s biggest transgression to date ; somebody on the roster is spending their meal money on something other than food.

Brown has practiced his players too hard, demeaned them too often and changed their roles too often. Those are not traits of a great coach. Ultimately, that is why he has lost the locker room, why the young players have regressed instead of gotten better, why they are 15-40, the joke of the NBA, the shame of the city.

“We have too many young players right now,” the $40 million defensive genius said as recently as Friday night.

Brown should stop his whine about the Knicks being too young and start doing what he was brought in to do ” get the most out of them, make them a team.

The Knicks’ core group now isn’t as green as Brown wants you to believe. The starting perimeter is Stephon Marbury, 29, Steve Francis, 29, and Quentin Richardson, 26.

The two perimeter players off the bench are Jalen Rose and Jamal Crawford. The starting center, Eddy Curry, has been in the league five years. Brown now starts rookie Channing Frye at power forward, but he’s worthy. Last time we proofed them, Malik Rose and Maurice Taylor weren’t teenagers.

The veterans have shown no leadership and Brown has been incapable of motivating this group. The players want to run. Brown wants to run set plays.

The players don’t seem to care about winning anymore. Two Knicks ” without mentioning names ” munched down on Chicken McNuggets and McDonald’s fries an hour before tip-off Saturday night in Washington.

During the Wizards’ rout, a heckler yelled at new Knick Steve Francis, “Hey Stevie, Where are you going next?” Francis turned to the fan and quipped, “To the bank.” It took only three days for Francis to feel the emptiness of a lost season.

I already wasted the joke about Jerome James and “conduct beneficial to McDonald’s” last week, so it couldn’t have been him.


(it’s hard ’nuff to contend with Tim Duncan, but now Malik Rose has to ignore the scent of those french fries, too)

Tony Parker has 20 points and 12 assists through 3 quarters tonight, with San Antonio leading New York, 100-70. Gilbert Arenas managed to score 46 against NY the other night on a mere 16 shots ; Michael Finley has 22 on only 8 attempts from the floor.

Apparently, Robert Horry’s hips have been realigned. Not at a garage, either.

It was a tough loss for the Nets this evening, falling in overtime to the Hawks, 104-102. Jersey had no answer for Atlanta’s Josh Smith down the stretch, and Vince Carter narrowly missed a 3 at the end of O.T. that would’ve won the game; Nenad Kristic gathered the rebound but blew the lay-up that would’ve forced another extra session.

There’s nothing funny about spousal abuse. Well, usually. Depends on the spouse, I suppose. But based on Maute Bol’s performance on “Celebrity Boxing” a while back, is there any surprise in learning he and his wife filed complaints against each other “after a verbal dispute turned physical”, yet “neither was injured”?

The Most Sickening Story Of The Week Arrives Early

Posted in Baseball at 5:33 pm by

From the Associated Press :

Roger Clemens’ son took dad deep on the Rocket’s first pitch of spring training, crushing a trademark fastball over the left-field fence Monday.

“That was probably one of the harder fastballs I cut loose,” Roger Clemens said after throwing to Koby and other Houston Astros minor-leaguers. “He got my attention.”

Then the Rocket got Koby’s. The next time his oldest son came to the plate, Roger buzzed him high and tight with another fastball. The younger Clemens dodged the pitch and then smiled at his father.

“He was like, ‘Sorry about that pitch inside. I was trying to change the view of the ball for you a little bit,’” said Koby, a third baseman who was drafted by Houston last summer. “I said, ‘I knew what you were doing.’”

Aside from the only normal human reaction —- ie. I’ve seen “The Great Santini” once and I really don’t need to see it a second time, thanks — this incident brings us two points to ponder ;

1) If an 18 year old is taking the Rocket deep, perhaps Team USA should look elsewhere for pitching help
2) If an 18 year old is taking the Rocket deep, why hasn’t the former been recruited for Team USA’s WBC squad?

Open Season On Philly Fans, Pt. II

Posted in Baseball at 5:19 pm by

Yesterday it was Billy Wagner. Today, it’s Tim Worrell weighing in on the paying customers who fill Citizens Bank Ballpark. From the Philadelphia Daily News’ Paul Hagen.

Phillies fans might recall Tim Worrell as a relief pitcher who habitually wore the dour look of a man who had just sucked a lemon during most of his tenure in red pinstripes.

Or they might recall him as the guy who asked to be placed on the disabled list for “personal psychological reasons” 2 months into last season, collected about a million bucks while sidelined and then forced a trade to the Diamondbacks.

They probably would not have recognized the jolly fellow who was horsing around with his new Giants teammates recently at Scottsdale Stadium after signing a 2-year, $4 million free-agent contract this winter.

Even when asked if he had a moment to discuss his impressions of Philadelphia, he continued to smile. He also continued to walk toward the door. “That’s past. Looking forward,” is all he had to offer.

Worrell, however, wasn’t as brusque with the Sacramento Bee. He made it clear that, on the whole, he’d rather not be in Philadelphia.

“Philly is a tough place to play when things go right,” he told veteran Giants beat reporter Nick Peters. “I’m a West Coast guy. I grew up in California [Pasadena] and I live in Arizona. It’s a different mentality back there. I don’t want to say it’s wrong, but I’m just not used to it.

“It was a night-and-day difference, a shock to my family. [Philly fans] want to win, but they seem happy being miserable.”

OSU’s Damage Control, 55 Years Later

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 4:44 pm by

Oklahoma State President David Schmidly has sent a letter of apology to his Drake counterpart, David Maxwell, expressing regret over Johnny Bright being sucker-punched by Oklahoma A&M’s Willbanks Smith during an October, 1951 football game.

The Oklahoman’s Barry Tramel discusses the incident, along with how it came to be documented.

It almost never happened.

The publicity. The outrage. The scars. The apology.

Only the football gods made it possible for Iowans and Oklahomans, much less all Americans, to know the ugly tale of that day at Lewis Field.

So says Don Ultang, one of the Des Moines Register photographs who won the Pulitzer.

Ultang, long retired and now living in Johnston, Iowa, refutes many of the long-standing legends from the Johnny Bright incident.

First, the Register photographers were not dispatched to Stillwater in anticipation of racial problems. The Register regularly sent photographers to Drake, Iowa and Iowa State football games. Even bought a plane, a Beech Bonanza, with Navy veteran Ultang as pilot, to get to games all over the Midwest.

Ultang said his editors never mentioned the possibility of racial problems in Stillwater. At the game, a friend, Bob Speigel, said he had heard rumors around campus about A&M™s desire to knock Bright from the game.

œWe had no idea what we were getting into, Ultang said.

Thus, the Register cameras were not focused exclusively on Bright. In fact, the initial hit by Wilbanks Smith was captured by Ultang only in the background of the photo.

The photographers routinely stayed only for the first 10 minutes of road football games. Then they would scurry back to the airport, fly back to Des Moines, process their film and make the first-edition deadline for Sunday™s paper.

Ultang and his sidekick, John Robinson, shot the first few minutes and left Lewis Field with no idea of what they had photographed.

œThe football gods wanted us to have this, Ultang said. œIf a lot of things hadn™t been just right, nobody would have known it had happened.

Oh, The Vulgarity

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio at 4:05 pm by

The St. Louis Cardinals’ move from KMOX to KTRS has been mentioned in this space previously, but not with the impassioned plea for decorum provided by the following gent’s letter to the St. Louis Post Dispatch ,

I live 120 miles from St. Louis and have listened to KMOX for years, attend six or seven Cardinals games each year, and am a baseball fan.

I don’t listen to KTRS much simply because it just doesn’t have the class of KMOX. I’m not sure of the market that KTRS is trying to reach, but listening to on-air personalities using vulgar phrases seems pretty tasteless to me.

I’m certainly not a prude, but have found a long time ago that I can communicate just as effectively without marginal talk like that.

I’m sure the Cardinals will make more money in the short run with KTRS ownership. But in the long run, I’m not sure the dumb-down image of KTRS as the Cardinals flagship station will serve the Cardinals’ image well.

Max Jaeger, Mattoon, Ill.

Mr. Jaeger has a point. I checked out KTRS’ daily schedule and was dismayed to see that legendary shockjock Paul Harvey (above) appears on the station 3 times every weekday.

It’s The Pits : NBA’s Love Affair With Killer Canines

Posted in Basketball, Dogs at 2:04 pm by

In Sunday’s Boston Herald, Mark Murphy spoke with a number of players — Mike James, Gerald Green and Rip Hamilton, to name 3 — who are devoted pit bull owners.

New York’s Qyntel Woods, as we know all too well, has already demonstrated his own brand of TLC for the breed in question.

There does seem to be a certain cachet associated with the care and breeding of these powerful dogs, and with that mind, I have the perfect pet to recommend to a certain 7-footer recently relocated to Orlando.

Brown Wonders How Soon ‘Til Garbage Time Starts In The 2nd Quarter

Posted in Basketball at 1:25 pm by

The New York Daily News’ Frank Isola reports that Garden boss James Dolan will be joining the Knicks for tonight’s game in San Antonio. I’ve checked to see if JD & The Straight Shot have any Central Texas gigs to coincide, but sadly, this appears to be a basketball trip.

More happy stuff from Isola,

The Knicks’ players were unavailable one day after losing for the 19th time in 21 games. Washington’s Gilbert Arenas scored 46 points in 30 minutes Saturday night and could have done more damage had his team not been so far ahead that Wizards coach Eddie Jordan rested the All-Star guard in the fourth quarter.

Still, it was an incredible performance and one that again revealed the philosophical differences between Brown and Stephon Marbury, his point guard. Marbury reinjured his left shoulder during Saturday’s loss and likely will sit out tonight’s game against the defending champion Spurs.

Brown can accept the injury rationale, but had a hard time understanding why Marbury ran the team the way he did in the first half. Marbury, who was guarding Arenas, tried to keep pace and ultimately was outscored 33-15 in the half. Marbury recorded just two assists as the Knicks fell behind 71-45 at halftime.

“We tried to run with him and we gave up 71 points,” Brown said.

Later, Brown said that he has to gain control of the team, which may have been a veiled reference to Marbury breaking off plays. In previous seasons, teammates have criticized Marbury for ignoring plays called from the bench.

When asked what he meant by “control,” Brown said: “We can talk all we want but if the team is shooting 65% and we’re turning the ball over and we get in early foul trouble you can’t make it a high-possession game. The second half we didn’t make it a high-possession game. We can’t play like them.”

Marbury has said the Knicks should run more now that he and Steve Francis share the same backcourt. It was a surprising comment since Marbury knows that successful running teams must play defense and rebound. The Knicks, however, don’t stop anyone and they don’t do windows.

The Newark Star-Ledger’s David Waldstein does his part to jumpstart speculation that the Knicks are primed to make a run at Atlanta’s Al Harrington during the off-season. Harrington’s mom describes herself as a Knicks fan — Mike Woodson would like to see her fined for tampering.

There’s no byline on the following item from today’s St. Paul Pioneer Press, which is just as well, given as the situation is pretty obvious to anyone watching Minnesota squander their franchise player’s golden years.

Don’t be surprised if the Timberwolves begin evaluating whether Kevin Garnett, who turns 30 in May, has reached his peak. If so, Garnett, who is being paid $18 million this year and is signed for another $66 million through the 2008-09 season, could be traded while he still has marquee value.

Before the NBA’s recent trade deadline, only one team inquired about Garnett’s availability, and that was to determine whether media reports about his availability were accurate. They were not.

Smizik : Please Avoid Bashing Lloyd

Posted in Baseball at 12:27 pm by

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bob Smizik, skeptical of reports that Jim Tracy can walk on water, has had his fill of criticism of the Pirates’ previous manager.

Poor Lloyd McClendon. He has been thrown under the bus so many times by the media and his former Pirates players that his features are barely distinguishable amid all the tread marks.

It started earlier this winter when, in an interview with Tim Benz of ESPN Radio, Zach Duke was critical of McClendon’s communication skills. Say what? Duke was 8-2 with a 1.81 earned run average as a rookie last season. The only thing McClendon needed to say to him was this: “Here’s the ball,” which he did just about every five days.

The message coming out of Bradenton so far has been somewhat more subtle but nevertheless disparaging toward McClendon. Everything about spring training is better. The drills are crisper, the players happier, the teaching more passionate. With all the adulation being directed toward Jim Tracy, McClendon’s replacement, and new pitching coach Jim Colborn it seems as if the only thing that stood between the Pirates and respectability was Mac.

Funny, I thought the reason the Pirates finished tied for the worst record in the National League was because they finished 12th or lower (out of 16) in the following offensive categories: runs, home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, walks and pinch-hitting batting average. I also thought it was because they finished 12th or lower in the following pitching categories: ERA, walks and hits per inning, strikeouts-to-walks ratio and opposing batting average.

Usually, when a team is so deficient in so many areas, it will find a way to the bottom without any help from the manager.

Though Smizik makes a good general point or two, McClendon’s record of 336-449 between ’01 and ’05 is the sort that might have any new manager looking good by comparision. Though McClendon surely wasn’t the only person responsible for the club’s stranglehold on last place, along with Kevin McClatchy and Dave Littlefield, he’s pretty high on the list.

The Wonderlic Tears : VY Smeared, Apologies Slow To Come

Posted in Gridiron, Racism Corner at 10:23 am by

After yesterday’s widely repeated reports that QB Vince Young had scored a pitiful 6 out of 50 on his NFL draft combine Wonderlic test, the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain writes that that Young’s total was actually 16. Certainly not a score likely to improve Young’s standing prior to the draft, but not evidence of “a learning disability” as one national talk radio creep chortled last night, either.

Writes crusader for truth Will Leitch,

Ignoring the fact that Wonderlic scores are supposed to be confidential — we repeat: Nothing ever ends up confidential. Nothing — we have to wonder about the grading skills of the “guy” in charge. If you’ve seen the sample Wonderlic test — which we encourage everyone to take — it’s difficult to understand how one could grade a test (particularly one so high-profile) so wrong. Strikes us as a bit fishy, actually.

Indeed, it’s almost as though someone has a stake in publicly humiliating Vince Young, negatively impacting his earning potential and worst of all, engage in the scurrilous practice of mocking the intellectual capacity of prominent black sportsmen.

Not that there was anything remotely provocative about a headline that read “If Your Wonderlic Score Is Lower Than Your Jersey Number.”

Ladies of Long Island, Take Note:

Posted in Baseball, History's Great Hook-Ups at 10:13 am by

“To say I’m a lot more mature at 30 than I was at 24 or 25 is an understatement.”

T-Wolves Fan Wins The Lottery

Posted in Basketball at 10:02 am by

I Heart KG is right on top of this incident at the Target Practice Center. We can only hope the injured party was helicoptered to the nearest medical facility.