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.