Sultan Of Sloth Bails On Team Picture, Arm Feels Fab

Posted in Baseball at 9:47 am by

Kudos to Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe for resisting the temptation to say something about a wide-angle lens not being available.

Maybe he thought there was no reason to waste perfectly good film or digital space, but David Wells took a pass on the team’s annual Photo Day yesterday morning, when the players smile for a variety of cameras — including in-house photographers and baseball card shooters.

Wells, whose good-natured media boycott is now eight days and counting — he jokingly told Bob Holtzman of ESPN he’d do an interview ”after Manny” — wants to be traded by the Sox, so why pose for mugshots in a uniform he is planning to shed by Opening Day?

Wells still isn’t putting any weight on his surgically addressed knee, but ”his arm is fabulous,” according to manager Terry Francona.

There’s some tough talk from the Mets’ Bret Boone in Ken Rosenthal’s latest Fox Sports entry. Claiming “I’m not interested in hitting 14 home runs with 56 RBI’s, hitting .260,” (which, would represent something of a huge comeback for the second baseman), Boone says,

I’ve been at the top,” he says. “I’ve been one of the better second basemen. I’ve been one of the better players in the game. And I’m not interested in going back to where you look at me and say, ‘Good little player.’ I’ve been that guy before. I’m not interested in playing at that level.

As for Boone’s immediate future, only one thing appears certain: He will not be a backup. Either he returns to being the one player he once was, or, in his words, “I’m gone.”

“I came into this game playing every single day at second base,” Boone says. “That’s how I’m going to leave.”

Neil Warnock To Blades Supporters : Start Snitchin’

Posted in Football at 2:26 am by

Apparently, blowing a 2-1 home lead to QPR fosters paranoia at Bramall Lane. The Independent’s John Culley explains.

Sheffield United’s players have had better weekends. As if a second home defeat in three games were not enough, encouraging Watford and Leeds to believe they might yet deprive them of automatic promotion, they have also had to stomach the news that if they are spotted drinking in public between now and the end of April they will be fined two weeks’ wages.

What is more, manager Neil Warnock (above, left) is encouraging United fans to “shop” their heroes if they see them flouting the ban.

It follows a disturbance in a public house the day after United won the Sheffield derby the previous weekend in the wake of which United’s former Wednesday midfielder Alan Quinn was arrested.

Warnock said that Quinn, who is currently out of the side through injury, will be cleared of any wrongdoing and therefore escape disciplinary action. But he is so determined that nothing will undermine United’s Premiership ambitions Warnock will not allow his players into a pub even for a soft drink.

“I’ve spoken to a number of people about the incident and Alan is in the clear as far as I am concerned, even though going into a Wednesday pub was not the brightest thing to do the day after the derby,” Warnock said. “But none of my players will be going into a pub between now and the end of the season because you can get into trouble even if you are only drinking orange juice.”

The Celebrity Roast (In Hell) That No One Deserves

Posted in Baseball at 2:19 am by

MLB.com is flogging the DVD, “One Night In Februrary”, a roast of Cardinals manager Tony La Russa that poses the question, was anyone really waiting for Mike Gallego’s stand-up debut?

From the San Jose Mercury News’ Daniel Brown.

Though La Russa has managed the St. Louis Cardinals since 1996, the evening has a decidedly A’s flavor. Notable amateur comedians include Eckersley, Gallego, Carney Lansford, Dave Stewart, Dave Henderson, Terry Steinbach and Mark McGwire. Jose Canseco shows up, too, but only in punch lines.

Stealing the show, as usual, is Tommy Lasorda, who kills with a long windup about seeing Gallego in heaven with the ugliest woman he had ever seen. God tells him that it’s because Gallego wasn’t such a good guy on Earth; this is Gallego’s penance.

Later in heaven, Lasorda sees La Russa with Bo Derek.

“Lord,” Lasorda said. “Tony must have been really good.”

“No, Tommy,” God replied. “Bo was really bad.”

Unfortunately, not all of the 90 minutes are as witty. It drags at times, and some of the rambling stories appear fueled by what must have been a hefty bar tab.

Sadly, no invites for Steve Kline or Ruben Sierra, either.


Percival Considering Retirement

Posted in Baseball at 9:55 pm by

P Troy Percival, out of action since tearing a muscle in his pitching elbow last July, suffered further pain in his right arm today during a simulated game. The Tigers reliever is expected to retire.

Signed as a free agent prior to the 2005 season, Percival has given Detroit a total of 8 saves for their $12 million investment. And they still like him better than I-Rod.

Baltimore has signed OF Richard Hidalgo to a minor league contract. Though maddingly inconsistent from year to year, Hidalgo is a relatively low risk acquisition for the Orioles. And as Chris Russso has reminded us, the film “Hidalgo” was very underrated.

I’m not sure which is lamer, Frank Thomas’ bitterness over his final year in Chicago, or the way Kenny Williams took the bait. Though Ozzie Guillen’s quote might be the funniest part,

I won’t put my nose in something above me,” Guillen said. “He never mentioned my name and if you don’t mention my name, I try to stay away from every part of the conversation.”

Indeed, it would be incredibly out of character of Ozzie to offer an opinion on this.

One of CSTB’s most devoted readers (who’d prefer not to be mentioned so he won’t lose his job at a prominent new media firm) sent me a link, purportedly of the new Willie Randolph/Joe Torre commercial for Subway.

I’m almost certain this was the wrong link.

Mets’ SNY, Cablevision Reach Accord

Posted in Baseball at 7:25 pm by

And with this, the employment options for Bud Mishkins of the future have become that much brighter.

(no studio anchors for SportsNet NY, just Herman Miller chairs looking snazzy).

From Bloomberg.com (link taken from Metsblog)

Cablevision Systems Corp., the New York-area’s No. 1 cable television operator, reached agreement to carry the network that shows Mets baseball games, people familiar with the negotiations said.

The accord between Bethpage, New York-based Cablevision and SportsNet New York ensures that the company’s 3 million customers will be able to see the Mets when they open the season April 3 against the Washington Nationals.

The agreement allows the sides to avoid a pricing standoff like the one in 2002 between Cablevision and Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network, which shows baseball’s Yankees.

Billy Wagner’s Fond Memories Of Philly

Posted in Baseball at 3:06 pm by

The New York Mets’ new closer, as interviewed in today’s Newark Star-Ledger by Don Burke (link taken from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).

Those people, it doesn’t matter how successful you are. I don’t get it. They boo you. They scream at you. Anybody who’s going to boo you when you don’t hit 100 miles per hour, what does that tell you? There are some fans who are fantastic, who were very supportive, and made you feel welcome there. But, for the most part, you had the guys who just came to the ballpark to yell at you. If you’re having a bad season there, forget it. You can’t get out of that funk. They won’t allow you to. You have to go into Philadelphia and become so thick- skinned, somebody that you’re not. It’s hard.

Q: How do you think you’ll be received when you visit Citizens Bank Park this season?

A: Oh, I’m going to have a big, old bull’s-eye on my back. But I’m going to approach it like I do everything else. I’ve got three hours to spend with you. You want to spend your three hours yelling at me? Go ahead. Then I’ll go home and go to sleep. You’ll get to tell your grandkids that you yelled at me for three hours. If you want to stand there and yell at me — as long as you’re not saying anything about my family — you can call me whatever you want to call me. I don’t care because I think it’s hilarious. I spent most of my time (in the bullpen) laughing at these people. I think Major League Baseball should have some of these fans come down out of the stands. One’s going to hit and one’s going to pitch and it’s going to be in a big situation. Let’s see how easy it is. They sit up there and tell me how easy is it. ‘I could do that. You bum. You (stink).’ All right, find out how it is. Come down here.

Q : Are Phillies fans as bad as it gets?

A: They’re easier on the visiting team. I’m sure they won’t be easy on me this year. But if that makes your day, if that makes it special for you, go right ahead.

A Reminder Not To Adjust The Volume…

Posted in Basketball, Sports TV at 2:27 pm by

…if attempting to watch this afternoon’s Rockets/Magic tilt on NBA TV. The game will be shown sans announcers, but with “enchanced courtside audio”.

Which, translated, means that when Jeff Van Gundy asks Stromile Swift, “would you please ask to be traded?”, we’ll hear it, loud and clear.

Manchester United Lift Worthless Trophy

Posted in Football at 2:20 pm by

Congratulations to Manchester United and their young rocket scientist, Wayne Rooney, on overwhelming Wigan, 4-0,winning one of the planet’s least meaningful knockout competitions, The Carling Cup aka The League Cup.

(funny, I always thought Alan Smith answered to the name “shithead”)

I’m sure when the Glazer family borrowed heavily to buy the club, this was exactly the sort of glittering achievement they had in mind.

In the Rome derby, Roma are currently leading Lazio, 1-0, courtesy of a 31st minute Francesco Taddei strike.

One of FSC’s slightly pumped-up commentators was heard to exclaim, “Taddei is never going have to pay for a dinner, again in Rome,” which, I think is a pretty fantastic statement to make as there’s at least some portion of the fans in attendence who’d just as soon punch him in the face.

Paolo Di Canio hasn’t sieg-heiled anyone yet, but it’s still early.

Those Tests Are Rigged, Anyway

Posted in Blogged Down, Racism Corner at 1:51 pm by

Racism is a heavy charge to be throwing around. So with that in mind, I’m not so quick to label a website that has taken particular glee in

a) suggesting that Mike Tyson can’t read,
b) wondering if Isiah Thomas can use a computer and
c) mocking Vince Young for his allegedly lower-than-low score on a standardized test.

I’m not saying the blog in question has some kind of agenda in questioning the intellectual capacity of prominent black men or anything. I mean, if that isn’t a demographic their 2 advertisers actually care about, why should the author or publisher?

Young, by the way, is offering you the opportunity to have your picture taken with a Heisman Trophy runner-up and National Champion for just $99. As VY is likely to stroll away with more cash that afternoon than a year’s worth of online casino ads are paying The Whoopie Cushion Family, if nothing else, he’s got a head for business.

Bonzi’s History With The Czar, Danny Ferry

Posted in Basketball at 12:32 pm by

The much-travelled Bonzi Wells, currently with the Kings, has his tumultous history reviewed by the Sacramento Bee’s Martin McNeil.

Wells was frustrated with Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello, who replaced a burned-out Hubie Brown early last season. Wells averaged just 21.6 minutes and 10.4 points and said Fratello didn’t communicate with him during the season.

“I just felt like he was scared of me,” Wells said of Fratello, “for what, I don’t know. He may be just a scary kind of dude and couldn’t handle a cat like me, who allegedly had this bad kind of rap. And he just didn’t want to deal with me. I think he fed into that.

“People never heard any reports of me doing anything in Memphis because I didn’t do anything. I had a great time. I’m not that type of dude. I can be, but I’m not that type of dude, really. And he just found some reason not to play me.”

In his postseason banishment, Wells said Fratello kept him from entering the gym for a team meeting after Game 3, then sent security guards to his house to tell him to stay away from the arena for Game 4.

“I called (team president) Jerry West, and he told me it was out of his hands,” Wells said. “He said (Fratello) didn’t want me around. (West) said he was upset about it, and the team wasn’t going to take any money from me.

“I didn’t understand that because he was the president. I asked him to tell me what I did. If I did something, then I could understand. But nobody ever told me what I did.”

Wells said he never received an explanation from Fratello or West as to what happened. He holds no ill will against West, who traded Wells to a better situation in Sacramento.

When the Grizzlies visited Arco Arena on Feb. 7, Fratello refused to talk about Wells or the playoff exile.

“I can’t get into that. I mean I could tell you, but it wouldn’t serve any purpose at this point,” Fratello said.

Then there was an incident while with the Blazers when Wells spit on Ferry, now the Cleveland Cavaliers’ president of basketball operations.

Wells’ agent, William Phillips said part of that story always gets omitted.

“Ferry (allegedly) called him a (racist name),” Phillips said. “That part of it never gets reported. And Ferry becomes the president of basketball operations.

Ferry did not return a phone call to The Bee.

Ferry’s Cavs are currently trailing Detroit, 46-35 with about 11 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

Dusty Recommends Hawkins For Closer Role

Posted in Baseball at 11:05 am by

The above headline, is not a joke. I think. From the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck.

The Chicago Cubs may have decided that LaTroy Hawkins wasn’t cut out to be their full-time closer after the shaky start last year that cost him the job and eventually prompted a trade to the San Francisco Giants, but Cubs manager Dusty Baker won’t discount the possibility that he could successfully fill that role if the Orioles need him in the ninth inning.

“He has the stuff,” Baker said after Friday’s workout at the Cubs’ spring training facility. “Sometimes, it takes guys time to do that. Mike Jackson was a setup guy for a long time and had some success [as a closer] after not having much success in the beginning.”

Hawkins has had some success. He recorded 14 saves in 14 attempts for the Minnesota Twins in 2000 after struggling in the starting rotation for three seasons, then came back in 2001 to save 28 games … but the devil is in the details.

He blew nine saves that year and had a 5.96 ERA. The Cubs tried him in the closer’s role and he saved 25 games in 2004, but he blew nine saves and was ineffective in the ninth inning for the Cubs and Giants in 2005.

“Sometimes, he has trouble finishing guys off,” Baker said. “That last out can be hard to get.”

Larry Stone Pays Homage To Scott Spiezio

Posted in Baseball at 10:59 am by

The Seattle Times’ Larry Stone takes note of the many ex-Mariners trying to win jobs around Spring Training, though one in particular really stands out.

The training complex at Roger Dean Stadium is like a Mariners nightmare flashback. Everywhere one turns, it seems, is a screaming reminder of ill-fated trades, misguided personnel decisions, and faded splendor.

On one side is the St. Louis Cardinals camp, where (cue the scary music) Scott Spiezio has resurfaced as a backup infield candidate. This may surprise those who believed, based on last year’s .064 average, that Spiezio would have difficulty winning a backup job on a high-school team. Never mind a pennant contender.

In various recent interviews, Spiezio has had the gall to intimate that his pathetic two-year stint with the Mariners was the fault of: a) stick-in-the-mud teammates who broke his spirit; and b) management that didn’t give him a fair shot; rather than c) an abject inability to perform.

Cheaper By-The-Minute Way To Hear Tom Candiotti Unveiled

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio, Sports TV at 10:50 am by

From the Toronto Sun’s Mike Ganter.

The Blue Jays telecasts are going to be short one analyst this season.

Former Blue Jays pitcher Tom Candiotti is joining the Arizona Diamondbacks’ broadcast team this summer, meaning Jays play-by-play man Jamie Campbell now will be sharing the booth with a rotation of three analysts, instead of four.

Returning will be former Jays Pat Tabler, Rance Mulliniks and Darrin Fletcher with Tabler getting the bulk of the work.

No word from Ganter how Candiotti’s new gig might eat into his availability for the terrific Hollywood Is Calling firm.

Lawrence Laments 2 GM’s Who Aren’t Coming To MSG

Posted in Basketball at 10:25 am by

As the fruits of Isiah Thomas’ labor continue to make the rest of the league look good — Gilbert Arenas being the latest beneficiary — the New York Daily News’ Mitch Lawrence bemoans missed opportunities in the form of executives Bryan Colangelo and Kiki Vandeweghe.

Bryan Colangelo is expected to leave Phoenix after rebuilding the Suns into a Western Conference power. Colangelo is reportedly about to become the Toronto Raptors’ president, and business associates say he is resigned to leaving the Suns. Meanwhile, Kiki Vandeweghe is on his way out in Denver, where he rebuilt the Nuggets.

The Raptors have had their eyes on Colangelo since firing the overmatched Rob Babcock earlier this season. Colangelo scored his greatest success at Thomas’ expense, with his January 2004 deal to rid the Suns of Stephon Marbury and Penny Hardaway and their long-term, maximum-salary deals. That gave Phoenix the necessary cap room to sign Steve Nash as a free agent. In Toronto, Colangelo would be working in the same division as the Knicks.

“Toronto is going to wind up with one of the smartest young GMs around,” said one league official.

In Denver, Vandeweghe (above) is serving out the final season of his deal and will be on the market this summer. He has confided to friends that Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke, with a reputation for being frugal, doesn’t intend to meet his salary demands.

While Vandeweghe made the mistake of overrating Kenyon Martin, he transformed the Nuggets from a team that won 17 games in 2002-03 into a playoff team the next year. That had never been done since the league went to an 82-game schedule in 1976. One of the keys to Denver’s turnaround came when Vandeweghe traded Antonio McDyess to the Knicks in June 2002 for Marcus Camby and a first-round pick that turned into Nene Hilario.

As fouled up as things are at the Garden, Colangelo or Vandeweghe might have been able to get the Knicks back on the right path.

Without disputing that either man would represent an improvement over Isiah Thomas, surely Lawrence recalls that Vandeweghe is the guy who made Nikoloz Tskitishvili the #5 overall pick?

Sweden, Rangers’ Lundqvist, Claim Olympic Gold

Posted in Hockey, olympics at 9:42 am by

Sweden 3, Finland 2

A Nicklas Lindstrom goal for Sweden at the start of the 3rd period broke a 2-2 deadlock in the Olympic final, the assists coming from Mats Sundin and Peter Forsberg.

25 saves for Sweden G Henrik Lundqvist (above), including a bunch during a furious finale as the Fins tried desperately to tie the game. Lundqvist’s heroic performance was nearly matched by that of Finland’s Antero Nittymaki, the Philadelphia Flyers’ outstanding goaltender who was nearly unstoppable prior to this morning. The planet could do a lot worse that to watch these two national sides battle each other in longer series.

This was Sweden’s 2nd gold medal in ice hockey ; they beat Canada in 1994 with a team that included Forsberg, Kenny Jonnson and Jorgen Jonnson, all 3 of whom featured on the 2006 squad.

In international hockey news of a slightly less flashy variety, the Austin Ice Bats defeated the Odessa Jackalopes last night, 4-3, in the former’s final game at the Travis County Expo Center. Having been preoccupied with UT hoops and the Mosley/Vargas fight, I’m sorry to say I missed this historic event. I was unable to attend the final night of hockey at the old Maple Leaf Gardens, Montreal’s Forum or the old Boston Garden. Now, I can add the Travis County Expo Center to that storied list.

Batista Hits Fort Myers, Blames/Credits God

Posted in Baseball at 9:00 am by

Perhaps that crazy, batting stance is God’s Will? From the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Joe Christensen (link courtesy Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

3B Tony Batista, 32, was one of the quirkiest players in the majors before he left to play the 2005 season in Japan. From his unorthodox, wide-open batting stance to his quiet deeds of charity — such as the time he showed up at a random church in Kansas City with $16,000 in cash — Batista is nothing if not original.

Now baseball’s international man of mystery has resurfaced. This time, as the new third baseman for the Twins.

“God brought me here,” Batista said. “I missed one year, but I’m back.”

Here’s what the Twins know: Batista is a two-time former major league All-Star who signed a two-year, $15 million deal to play for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in the Japanese Pacific League.

But after a respectable 2005 season that saw him hit .263 with 27 home runs and 90 RBI, Batista was released. The Hawks let him keep all $15 million, allowing him to sign with the Twins for relative peanuts.

According to Gaku Tashiro, a reporter from the Japanese daily Sankei Sports, Batista’s contract was the biggest a Japanese team had ever given to a foreign player with no experience playing there.

“He was released for several reasons,” Tashiro wrote in an e-mail to the Star Tribune. “Manager Sadaharu Oh expected a lot. [Batista] was predicted to hit many home runs. But his numbers were not high enough for a high-paid foreign player and No. 3 hitter.

Batista played in 134 of his team’s 136 games, but he led Pacific League third basemen with 14 errors. Five of the six teams in that league play on artificial turf, which is interesting as Batista moves to the Metrodome, with its slower and more forgiving FieldTurf.

With Fukuoka, he said, he handed out Bibles inside the clubhouse to his Japanese teammates.

“And they read the Bible,” he said, without sounding surprised. “So I think God probably said, ‘You’re done over there. So go back here to Minnesota and talk about Jesus Christ to those guys.”

For those who can’t get enough of cultural misunderstandings, here’s video of Batista getting hit by a pitch in Japan (Windows Media Player required).

Light’s Out : Mushnick Family Needs More Beauty Sleep

Posted in Sports TV at 8:38 am by

From Phil Mushnick in Sunday’s New York Post,

Reader Mike Murray notes that the NBA’s All-Stars last Sunday night combined to shoot 28 of 52 ” 54 percent ” from the foul line. Good thing it was on much too late for kids.

The contest in question began at 7pm central, 5pm Western time.

After so many years railing against the supposedly late starting / running times of major sporting events, why is it, you think, some television network hasn’t put an expert like Phil in charge of their scheduling? Say, Fox for instance?

After promising to pay hundreds of millions in rights fees, Phil’s network could introduce such innovations as “Monday Afternoon Football”, and the first-ever World Series in which all games began at 3pm on weekdays (with a 6pm curfew, so as not to interrupt the family dinner).

Holocaust Revisionist Reverses Repudiation

Posted in Organized Hate, The Law at 12:37 am by

From the Independent’s Bojan Pancevski and Steve Bloomfield.

Far-right author David Irving’s repudiation of his views on the Holocaust and Hitler’s role in it has not lasted very long. In a prison interview just days after he told an Austrian court he had been wrong to deny the Holocaust, he reverted to insisting that the slaughter in Nazi death camps was exaggerated, and that Jews “bear blame for what happened”.

His latest statements, made just two days after he was convicted of Holocaust denial, could see him end up back in court. Prosecutors are demanding an increase in his jail sentence, and the Austrian supreme court must now decide whether he goes down for the full 10 years.

The author was jailed on Monday for three years for denying the Holocaust during two lectures and in a newspaper interview in Austria nearly 17 years ago. But despite the conviction, the 67-year-old did not shy away from the subject. Irving complained that the Jews held far too much power and predicted their disproportionate control in the US would see a second Holocaust “in 20 to 30 years”.

Just days after he told the Viennese court “I’ve changed my views”, he said it was part of the human condition to dislike Jews and that they were at least in part to blame for the 3,000 years of hatred they had had to endure.

Irving is locked up for 23 hours a day and is taking medication for a heart condition. He gets one hour’s exercise a day – “in a yard half the size of my drawing room in Queen Anne’s Gate, walking around with 70 other men who are robbers, rapists, swindlers, murderers and cocaine dealers”.

It all seems very cruel and unusual….to the 70 robbers, rapists, swindlers, murders and cocaine dealers who are forced to coexist with David Irving.


Texas Crushes Kansas, Roky Serandes 16,000 +

Posted in Basketball at 11:27 pm by

Texas 80, Kansas 55

Farewell to the Jayhawks’ ten game winning streak, and hello to another dominant performance by Texas’ LaMarcus Aldridge (18 points, 8 rebounds), a singular talent who might well provide an NBA team next autumn with a tougher, more durable version of Marcus Camby. Aldridge might not boast Player Of The Year-style stats, but if he were playing for a ballclub without nearly as many offensive weapons, his numbers would certainly be gaudier.

You might not be able to tell from this scuzzy jumbotron snapshot (lost my proper camera on the way to the game — there’s a reward!), but that’s Roky Erickson, performing “Starry Eyes” with the Longhorn pep band.

Jay Bilas was heard at halftime mentioning that he always prefered the Red Krayola.

Banner of the night : “Texas Is Ricin To The Top”. What could be funnier than a chemical warfare threat on campus?

I heard Ted Nation’s radio call of BC’s double OT win over at NC State earlier today. If I ever have to go back in time and, I dunno, shoot JFK, I want Ted on the scene to narrate.

Nats’ Lawrence Out ‘Til August

Posted in Baseball at 7:22 pm by

Washington RHP Brian Lawrence, acquired in exchange for Vinny Castilla last November, will miss most of the of the 2006 season after suffering a torn labrum.

Somehow, Lawrence managed to sustain such an injury without engaging in any activity related to the World Baseball Classic. I’m told there remains a possibility, however remote, that other major leaguers might risk sprains, tears, fractures, etc. while performing baseball-related tasks that are outside the confines of the WBC.

Owners, GM’s and managers should be outraged. I realize that MLB and the Players Union have a lot riding on this “Spring Training” money-spinner, but the integrity of games that really count is being compromised.

Human Whoopie Cushion’s Understudy Shows Deep Appreciation For Other Cultures

Posted in Blogged Down, Rugby, We Aren't The World at 7:01 pm by

The Mighty MJD’s weekly attempts to summarize Saturday afternoon’s slate of English soccer are kinda like listening to David Brinkley wax poetic about the Dangerhouse catalog. It’s a free fucking country, and if he wants to embarrass himself, hey, who am I to argue? I mean, it can’t be any worse than anything I might write about The World Series Of Poking Someone’s Eyes Out.

Today, however, Deadspin’s weekend stooge ventures into uncharted territory. Commenting on France’s 37-12 win over Italy in the Six Nations, MMJD observes,

Is anyone else shocked that the French can win at a sport as violent and physical as Rugby?

(France’s Florian Fritz, eager to meet the guy who questions his violent abilities)

Let’s see. Les Tricolores won the Five Nations in 1955, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1968 (a Grand Slam, having won all 4 matches), 1970, been part of a five-way tie in 1973, another Grand Slam win in 1977, yet another in 1981, a tie with Ireland in 1983, a tie with Scotland in ’86, a Grand Slam in ’87, winners in ’88, ’93, and a Grand Slam in 1998.

Since the creation of the Six Nations, France have won in 2002 and 2004. They were also runners-up in the 1999 World Cup, having beaten the heavily favored All Blacks in the semi-final in what had to be considered one of the biggest upsets of the era.

So if anyone else is genuinely shocked by France beating Italy at home, well, to quote the super-offended caveman from the Geico commercial, “next time, do a little research.”

Knotts Now, No Way : Comedy’s Don, Dead At 81

Posted in Cinema, The World Of Entertainment at 5:58 pm by

Don Knotts, who brought joy to the hearts of millions with his roles as Barney Fife and Ralph Furley, has succumbed to pulmonary and respiratory troubles.

Though the Chicago Tribune’s obituatry does a fine job of summing up Knotts’ career, unmentioned is the fact that he was the inspiration for Prince Rogers Nelson’s “You Sexy Motherfucker”.

OLN Still Struggling With Indoor Sports

Posted in Gridiron, Sports TV at 5:44 pm by

Much mirth was made of the former Outdoor Life Network acquiring rights to selected Arena Football League contests, and with good reason. OLN having already demonstrated production values somewhere between public access and SCTV for their first few weeks of their NHL telecasts, have now managed to make a minor league look, well, pretty minor.

When other satellite/cable outlets routinely offer taped content from other parts of the globe that look better than a live feed from Florida, there’s a serious problem. And while we all know that OLN has limited resources compared to say, a college radio station, what to make of the succession of sweating, would-be Sizzler greeters, grunting their way through the telecast? That human flesh appears to be several different shades of green or blue? Or the fact that OLN’s microphones seem to have been supplied by Radio Hut?

Austin — at 4-0, the only remaining unbeaten team in the AFL — are trailing 41-35 against Tampa at in the third quarter. The Storm’s Lawrence Samuels (above), the league’s no. 2 receiver and the the club’s all-time leader in receiving yards and tackles, has an INT and a TD catch so far today.

Arkansas’ Huge Road Win

Posted in Basketball at 2:06 pm by

Arkansas 73, Tennessee 69

The no. 10 Volunteers, stymied by a 24-6 run in the final 6 minutes, fell to an Arkansas squad that seemed to increase their energy on defense as the game wore on. Sophmore F Darian Townes (above) had 17 points for the Razorbacks, whom we can only hope have done their part to slow sales of those horrible fucking suspenders in the region.

Coming in tomorrow’s New York Times ; Vincent Mallozi profiles a middle aged couple who watched this entire game without once putting hitting the pause button on their Tivo.

Nobby Goes Nuts Against Everton, QPR Slice Blades

Posted in Football at 1:20 pm by

Newcastle 2, Everton 0

While the home side’s overall improvment since Graeme Souness departure continues, the individual performance of Nolberto Solano (above, left) this afternoon was nothing short of astonishing. The 2nd of the Argentine’s goals, a 76-minute laser blast from about 20 yards out, is a probable goal-of-the-year candidate. For Everton, this was their first defeat in 7 matches.

Sheffield Wednesday 2, QPR 3

(Marc Nygaard hugs it out (bitch) with Danny Shittu and Marc Bircham after his 6th minute score)

A late goal from striker Paul Furlong delivered the win to the visiting Rangers, who’ve now swept the season’s pair from promotion hopefuls Sheffield United, despite some 22 points and 13 places in the standings seperating the two clubs at the start of the day.

Via the crackly internet feed, this one had everything — an own goal to each team, a missed Rangers penalty, and a stellar job running the show by midfielder Richard Langley.

This just in : Geoff Horsefield has dropped out of Team Canada’s World Baseball Classic squad. Tommy Lasorda, unavailable for comment.