02.25.06

George Shinn’s Community Spirit, Ruben Patterson, Sex Offender

Posted in Basketball at 12:43 pm by

Along with a funny item about Jazz coach Jerry Sloane nearly being kicked out of the arena by an Oklahoma City security guard, the Salt Lake Tribune’s Phil Miller reported the following after the Jazz played the Hornets this past Wednesday night ;

The PA announcer introduced some special guests sitting in the front row, a pastor and his wife from a New Orleans church that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Then they introduced a taped message from the host of “Extreme Makeover,” who surprised them by saying the home-improvement TV show would be fixing up their church.

A nice, heartwarming moment. Then, a really odd one. The PA announcer said, “The surprises aren’t done yet,” and introduced Hornets owner George Shinn (above), who got up and talked about the commitment the Hornets have made to return to New Orleans, and how the people of Oklahoma have welcomed them there. He was clearly building up to a big donation to the pastor and his church. Sure enough, Shinn finally said, “… and so tonight, we’d like to present you with … ”

$10,000? $25,000? Free labor? Nope.

“… a basketball autographed by all the Hornets. God bless you both.”

Wow. ALL the Hornets? Even Bostjan Nachbar? Gosh, thanks.

And I’m wondering: Where do you display that in a church?

The Rocky Mountain News’ Ivan Moreno writes that not everyone in the Denver area was pleased with the Nuggets’ acquisition of Ruben Patterson. And not merely because they were Earl Watson fans, either.

“It’s disgusting. What does that say to victims?” asked Tamika Payne, executive director for the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “(The victim’s) life is forever changed, yet he can go about his life as if nothing happened.”

Ruben Patterson, a forward acquired in a trade Thursday, must register as a sex offender when he arrives in Colorado.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on May 9, 2001, that Patterson had entered an “Alford plea” to third-degree attempted rape. He was accused of forcing his family’s nanny, who was 24 at the time, to perform a sexual act in 2000, while he was playing for the Seattle SuperSonics.

The plea meant that Patterson acknowledged there was enough evidence to convict him, but that he maintained his innocence.

“The coalition is very disappointed that violence against women is being accepted,” Payne said. “That’s what him joining the Nuggets states.”

Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson said that upon arrival in Colorado, Patterson will have five business days to register as a sex offender in the county he will live in.

Javier : Sammy Will Show Up For WBC

Posted in Baseball at 12:21 pm by

When the player’s own agent says we shouldn’t expect to see him in a uniform again, what do we make of Dominican Republic GM Stan Javier’s claim that Manny Ramirez (supposedly on holiday ’til March 1) and Sammy Sosa (unofficially) retired will turn up for the World Baseball Classic?

Given the strength of the Dominican lineup, Sosa is a terrific candidate to hit 10th.

The spectacularly clueless Ronnie Lane (above) was at it again on XM yesterday. A typically gushy caller asked Lane “just how often is this World Baseball Classic going to take place?”

“Not very often,” advised Lane. “Every three years, I think. Same cycle as the Olympics.”

Next week, Ronnie Lane on the term of office for US Presidents (give or take 5 or 6 years) and the exact day income tax returns are due (May 20?) and the age of consent in the District Of Columbia (don’t ask).

Calculating Sutton’s Win Total

Posted in Basketball at 12:02 pm by

If Oklahoma State manages to beat Texas Tech this afternoon, the win is credited to absentee coach Eddie Sutton’s career total rather than that of his son, Sean. The Oklahoman’s Mike Baldwin (above, left) —- moonlighting from his role as chieftan at the Underworld lingerie factory — examines historical precedent.

There™s some debate about whether Oklahoma State basketball coach Eddie Sutton should be credited for wins during his medical leave of absence.

OSU™s decision to count the wins for Sutton, though, isn™t uncommon.

Major League Baseball, the NBA and NFL all have credited coaches/managers with wins during a medical leave.

So why is Sutton™s situation drawing attention? Maybe it™s because there™s an assumption Sutton will never coach again.

œI don™t think you can make any assumptions, said Steve Buzzard, OSU™s media relations coordinator. œEddie Sutton hasn™t retired. Eddie Sutton hasn™t resigned. Eddie Sutton is still the head basketball coach at Oklahoma State.

The NCAA™s policy is for individual schools to make the decision. Professional teams usually take similar approaches to medical leaves.

Yankees manager Joe Torre underwent surgery for prostate cancer in 1999. During Torre™s recovery, Don Zimmer served as interim manager. Even though Torre wasn™t with the team, he compiled a 21-15 record.

œThere™s nothing on the books regarding these situations, said Michael Teevan, media coordinator for Major League Baseball. œWe basically check with our statisticians.

The NBA and NFL have similar philosophies. Whether a manager/coach leaves to attend a funeral, wedding or deals with a family illness, nearly everyone has been credited with wins during their absence.

Don Nelson, coach of the NBA™s Dallas Mavericks, took six weeks off in 2001 after prostate surgery. The Mavericks were 13-8 during Nelson™s absence. In 2000, Cleveland Indians manager Charlie Manuel had eight inches of his colon removed during emergency surgery. Manuel was credited with the wins, not interim coach Grady Little.

There was an exception this past year. Rams coach Mike Martz left the team after a 2-3 start due to a bacterial infection of a heart valve. Joe Vitt coached the remainder of the season. Martz was credited with the wins and losses. But when Martz was fired after the season, NFL officials switched the 4-7 finish to Vitt.

Personally, I am fully in favor of all future Oklahoma State basketball wins (Men’s and Women’s squads) being credited to Mike Martz.

With an NCAA tournament berth hanging in the balance, Kentucky has a killer trio of opponents at the end of their regular season. no. 24 LSU tonight, no.10 Tennessee next week and no. 12 Florida next weekend. The New Orleans Times-Picayune’s Jim Kleinpeter points to recent lineup changes — increased playing time for Brandon Stockton, Ravi Moss and Lukasz Obrzut (above) — as being the catalyst for the Wildcats’ current 3 game winning streak, though it seems inevitable that CSTB’s spam filter will again resume capturing vile messages about Tubby Smith.

Richard Gere Ages Like Fine Wine

Posted in Cinema, The World Of Entertainment at 11:31 am by

Actually, Dick’s Harvard appearance yesterday is merely a convenient excuse to remind you all that not every rumor about a politically conscious celebrity turns out to true.

In another journey into pretending-we’re-People Magazine territory, here’s wishing Damon Wayans much luck with all business endeavors…that have a name other than “Nigga”.

Cinematical’s Adam Finley reports there’s a sixth Air Bud film in the works.

This time the plot apparently revolves around Buddy’s puppies, who set out to rescue him and his wife Molly from dognappers. It sounds as if sports doesn’t play a major role in this installment. This is unfortunate, because after seeing Bud play basketball, football, soccer, volleyball, and baseball, I was hoping the next movie would somehow involve fencing. I really wanted to see a dog running around with a sword in its mouth and jabbing people in the shins.

Combined NY, NJ Rosters Open Up To D’Alessandro

Posted in Basketball at 10:16 am by

The Newark Star Ledger’s Dave D’Alessandro’s post-game notes from last night’s Nets defeat of the Knicks at MSG feature a number of noteworthy quotes from both sides of the Hudson ;

Jerome James, on the DL with fluid on the righ hamstring (“whatever that is”)

James, who signed a five-year, $30 million contract over the summer, was asked if he made a mistake coming to the Knicks.

“Mistakes are made on taxes,” he said, adding that he wasn’t fretting over his current status as the whipping boy of the team.

“I came from the bottom,” he said. “I played in Yugoslavia. Playing in the U.S. is a cakewalk compared to that. I’m not worried about it.”

Larry Brown, on benching Slam Dunk Contest victor Nate Robinson,

“I can’t worry about that right now,” Brown said. “I’m proud he won the slam-dunk contest, but I don’t think they have a scoring system like that when we play a game.”

Malik Rose on a certain lumbering teammate,

“Eddy’s too passive sometimes,” Malik Rose said in a sympathetic way. “He needs to get some dog in him. I wish I could slap him before each quarter.”

Lawrence Frank on Nenad Kristic’s lights-out shooting,

“We are going to tell him every game is being broadcast back in Serbia.”

But best of all, from D’Allessandro’s online Nets Blast, is the following explanation for why Chicago’s John Paxson will cut Tim Thomas loose, despite making the player available to sign with one of the Bulls’ Eastern Conference foes,

You might want to consider something a GM told us yesterday. œYou want to screw with Arn Tellem, you™re basically screwed for the rest of your tenure.

O’Connell Gloats Over Wembley Delays

Posted in Football, Ugly New Stadiums at 2:17 am by

The new Wembley Stadium won’t be ready for May’s F.A. Cup final, meaning this will be yet another year in which the knockout tournament, as well as the Football League’s playoff finals, will be contested in Cardiff.

Bane of morning radio, the Guardian’s Christian O’Connell isn’t quite overcome with sorrow at this predictable result.

The government has come in for a lot of flak for originally refusing to bankroll the project and I sort of agree. Not because of the money but because it should have taken a leaf out of China’s Beijing 2008 little red book of tricks and allowed child labour on the site. They’re cheap, have no unions and, most crucially, have very small hands that would have been perfect for the more decorative work.

Part of the reason for delay must be because Wembley has not got a sponsor for the stadium. Any venue or stadium worth its salt these days has a sponsor. Take Arsenal’s Emirates stadium, Bolton’s Reebok and Wigan’s JJB Arena. A stadium’s name is a valuable commodity in the modern sporting world. I like the idea of a giant arch but would anyone really mind if it was called the McDonald’s National Stadium with a pair of golden arches that loomed 500 feet over north London? Maybe a major rail operator could come to the rescue. It would be a perfect fit for the two brands as both are always extremely late and full of drunken idiots on a match day.

Who cares when it’s finished anyway? I’m a Southampton fan – it’s not like I’m going to be anywhere near the place for a long while. So come May I’ll get my kicks by camping next to junction 30 of the M4 and watching smug Chelsea fans getting stuck in traffic.

O’Reilly’s Latest Crusade

Posted in Free Expression, The World Of Entertainment at 1:18 am by

Incredibly, Bill has announced no plans to threaten Keith Olbermann’s daily hour on Dan Patrick’s radio show.

Media Partners Tightens Grip On Serie A TV Rights

Posted in Football, Sports TV at 1:13 am by

From SoccerTV.com :

Italian sports marketing agency Media Partners has outbid German sports marketing agency SportFive for the international TV rights to Serie A matches hosted by AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Juventus starting with the 2007-2008 season.

The new 3-year deal for the international TV rights to the home games of the 3 biggest Italian Serie A teams is a joint-venture between Media Partners and sports agent Ricardo Silva.

Media Partners currently holds international TV rights to home games for Serie A teams Lazio, Cagliari, Lecce, and Treviso through the 2006-2007 season. Media Partners also holds international TV rights to programming produced for the AC Milan Channel. Media Partners has licensed those rights to FOX Sports International in the US and Canada, and to ESPN International in Latin America and Oceania.

SportFive currently holds international TV rights to home games for 16 Serie A teams, including AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Juventus through the 2006-2007 season.

Besides losing the Serie A international TV rights to the 3 biggest Italian teams, SportFive also lost the international TV rights to the German Bundesliga starting with the 2006-2007 season when it was outbid by a joint venture between Austrian online casino Betandwin.com and German sports agent Thomas Krohne.

Sunday’s Carling Cup final between Manchester United and Wigan Athletic will be shown stateside on the satellite Setanta US channel at 10am EST ; Setanta’s new broadband service will carry the match as well.

02.24.06

Only A Fool Has Himself For An Agent

Posted in Baseball at 10:18 pm by

Especially if his name is Gary Sheffield.

Part One.

Part Two from Friday afternoon, as reported by Newsday’s Jim Baumbach in tomorrow’s paper.

Gary Sheffield admittedly came close to “blowing a gasket” Friday about the state of his $13-million option for 2007, telling Yankees owner George Steinbrenner not to “play” him in negotiations.

But then Sheffield did something only he can do with a straight face. He took it all back, then left Legends Field insisting he holds no grudge against the Yankees. “I’ll be fine tomorrow,” Sheffield said. “It’s just that I’m venting.”

Sheffield explained in his second round with reporters that the main source of his anger was how ESPN portrayed his Tuesday meeting with Cashman, when Sheffield was told his option likely will be picked up.

The ESPN report, still posted on its Web site as of Friday evening, made it appear as if Sheffield felt the option already had been picked up, directly followed by Cashman’s denial. “It looks like I’m a 2-year-old who can’t relay a message,” Sheffield said.

“It never was a done deal; he just said it’s a possibility,” Sheffield said, referring to the message he received from Cashman on Tuesday.

“One side, I trust you, but don’t play me. Don’t play me. I don’t care who it is. I don’t care if it’s The Boss. I don’t care if it’s him … The owner? I’ll talk to him the same way. Just don’t play me.”

Asked what the phrase “play me” means, Sheffield explained, “You think you can tell me anything and I’ll be happy and then I’ll go out and perform like I always perform and then you say, ‘OK, we’ll pick it up.’ It doesn’t work like that with me.

“Just like all these guys feel comfortable here, I want to feel comfortable, too,” Sheffield added. “Why do I always have to have my back against the wall and have to prove something to everybody? ”

Asked about his relationship with Cashman, Sheffield said, “I trust him, but I don’t trust him totally. I don’t trust anyone totally. Until it’s on paper, I don’t trust you.”

What Do Eddy Curry And Channing Frye Have In Common?

Posted in Basketball at 10:05 pm by

(Other than being tall guys either deemed untouchable by management and/or the future of the franchise, that is.)

Neither of ‘em them can guard Nenad Kristic to save their lives.

Some credit has to go to the free-falling Knicks in that they managed to turn a 15 point deficit with less than 2 minutes remaining into a 4 point loss. Given there was no attempt to foul with 20 seconds left and a 7 point difference, I’m not sure I’ll even call it losing with dignity.

Steve Francis’ New York debut : 16 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists. Nate Robinson was deactivated for the night, which probably means Spudd Webb bothered to shave for no reason.

There’s been a Latrell Sprewell sighting. Sort of.

Feeling Bad For Jeff Bagwell

Posted in Baseball at 9:18 pm by

As if the twilight of Jeff Bagwell’s career wasn’t messy enough, consider the following.

a) his ex-wife shills for an online casino

and,

b) his current wife has a picture of Brad Ausmus on her pants.

Urine Trouble : Pistols To Skip Hall Induction

Posted in Rock Und Roll at 8:46 pm by

I’m just sad that we’ll never get to hear Scott Stapp’s induction speech.

On the bright side, Joe Montana just called. He said he’ll be happy to attend.

Candlepin TV Revival In Boston

Posted in Sports TV at 7:47 pm by

From Boston Sports Media

If you grew up in the Boston area and remember “Candlepins for Cash” and other such bowling classics, get ready for a revival of sorts:

BOSTON, Wed., Feb. 22, 2006 – WLVI-TV (Boston’s WB) is proud to announce the revival of candlepin bowling on local television: “Candlepins for Dollars” will premiere on Boston’s WB Saturday, March 4 at 6 p.m. Anchor Frank Mallicoat will host the show with color commentary by Mike Morin, host of WZID-FM’s “NH in the Morning” and the late “Candlepin Stars and Strikes” on WNDS-TV, Ch. 50. The show will feature professional bowlers and be taped at Pilgrim Lanes in Haverhill, Mass.

“Candlepins for Dollars” will air Saturdays from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m., with a rebroadcast on Sundays from 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

I’m sorry, but “Candlepins For Dollars” doesn’t have the alliteration of “Candlepins For Cash”, nor, apparently, has the latter’s host, Bob Gamere (inspiration for the Bob Gamere’s Cock record label) been invited. No word from Boston’s WB (not for long!) on whether or not Gamere’s successor, former Red Sox 3B/SS Rico Petrocelli was contacted, either.

A Crucial Moment In NFL History

Posted in Gridiron at 6:49 pm by

Earlier today, the 49′ers won the coin flip to determine who would make the 6th selection in the upcoming 2006 draft.

San Francisco finished the season at 4-12, tied with Oakland.

Years from now, people will ask where you were, what were you doing and how did it feel…when you learned the Niners had the 6th pick.

For me, it ranked right up there with the Apollo moon landing, Nixon’s resignation and the breakup of the Test Icicles, not necessarily in that order.

If, as expected by many (including NFLPA head Gene Upshaw, shown above), a new collective bargaining agreement cannot be reached between the league and players’ union by March 3, the 2006 campaign would proceed without a salary cap. From The Sporting News :

If that happens, new deals could be prorated only over four years rather than seven and salaries could only increase by 30 percent per season. Players also face the loss of benefits, if there is no accord.

Upshaw has insisted the biggest obstacle to a deal is discord among the owners, not NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Owners have not been able to reach consensus on a new revenue sharing plan, something that the union contends must be resolved before any new collective bargaining agreement could be signed.

Upshaw also has said he would decertify the union and suggested if the deal runs out, he did not believe players would agree to a salary cap in the future once there is an uncapped season.

The uncertainty has forced team officials to devise contingency plans for offseason moves. Even as workouts were beginning, many team officials were projecting two different scenarios: doing new contracts with a new labor agreement or proceeding without one.

I hate to admit this, but I’m almost rooting for a work stoppage in 2007, if only to monitor the psychic toll it will take on Joe Benigno.

Hawks Suspend Stoudamire

Posted in Basketball at 5:02 pm by

The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Sekou Smith reports the Hawks have taken disciplinary action against G Salim Stoudamire for the time-honored infraction of “conduct deterimental to the team”.

Coach Mike Woodson said he did not want to make internal team business public, but when asked if Stoudamire’s suspension had anything to do with the player’s demeanor when he comes in and out of games, Woodson said it did.

“There’s a standard of behavior in the locker room, on the floor and everywhere else that I think you have to uphold as a good teammate that just isn’t there,” Woodson said. “I’m not going to tolerate it. Not from Salim (above) or anyone else on this team.”

There’s no truth to the rumor, by the way, that Larry Brown has suspended Jerome James for conduct beneficial to McDonald’s.

Maybe Charlie Manuel Would Prefer A CD By Juice Newton?

Posted in Baseball, Video Games at 2:33 pm by

Ladies and Gentlemen, if you’re old enough to remember the same video game characters as Charlie Manuel, it might be time to consider killing yourself before the self-recognition gets any worse.

From the Philadelphia Daily News’ Marcus Hayes.

Most players were more than willing to sit on the rotating chair as strobe flashes blasted milliseconds apart, recording their exact likeness for the game “MLB ’07.” The game is due out in 13 months, according to Sony artist Chris Rogers, who oversaw the proceedings.

“It was pretty cool,” said reigning Rookie of the Year Ryan Howard, 26, who also will be included on the game “MLB ’06: The Show,” due out next week. “You dream about this as a kid.”

A dream? Well, consider:

Howard and his peers have grown through the generations of computer games and their systems. Most, too young for the Atari revolution, first played a version of the ricochet game “Breakout” on a personal computer before graduating to the wonders of Nintendo staples “Super Mario Brothers,” “Donkey Kong” and “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out.”

“You got to fight Bald Bull,” recalled manager Charlie Manuel, a “Pacman” fan who, at 62, owns a “Tetris” game.

Manuel left video games behind after that but his players graduated to versions of “Mortal Kombat” before the arrival of John Madden’s wildly popular NFL versions, which still enrapture millions; minor leaguer Michael Bourne is the acknowledged club champion.

“I had to quit Madden back in ’99,” said Chris Roberson, the organization’s top minor league position player. “I had to start concentrating on baseball.”

His tone turned guilty as he acknowledged falling off the wagon: “Bourne got me back on it last year.”

Sheridan’s Strange Defense Of The Stevie Franchise Trade

Posted in Basketball at 2:12 pm by

Focusing on the Knicks’ cash reserves (ie. Cablevision’s gouging of customers all over New York), ESPN’s Chris Sheridan says of the Knicks’ payroll, “why should that matter to the average fan? All they should care about is results, not costs?”

Well, aside from the results being rather piss poor, there is the salary cap to contend with. And there’s also the squandering of an asset like Penny Hardaway’s expiring deal in exchange for a player (Francis) whose skills and temperment so closely match that of an untradeable, highly paid point guard New York already possesses. But other than that, yeah, why pay attention to money?

The New York Post’s Peter Vescey provides more ugly numbers for us to ponder ;

In obtaining Stevie Disenfranchised from Phony Orlando ” converting him into, with my deepest apologies to Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Knicks ” Thomas has raised the team’s salary next season to $125 million.

Figuring the luxury tax will be bumped up several million from its present $61.9M, Camp Cablevision stands to be penalized an additional $60M that’s distributed among the teams (20 or so) under that number.

Factor in the millions lost (roughly $15M) from being disqualified from that group and you’ve got a payroll approaching that of the Yankees. With one slight difference: The Yankees win.

Exceeding the national defense budget while being ridiculed as a national disgrace has been known to cost executives their bathroom keys. On the other hand, if James Dolan doesn’t flinch at Thomas’ decadent waste of money, why should the fans (unless it continues to translate into higher ticket prices) or the media give a hydroelectric damn?

Between Francis and Marbury you can count on frustrated front-court teammates battling for the right to inbound the ball . . . it may be their only chance to touch it.

The good news is, Thomas doesn’t plan cities, our families or exit strategies.

The Newark Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Allessandro writes that yesterday’s Nets/Hornets trade is a mere prelude to New Jersey’s acquisition of Tim Thomas (above).

In a move that will enable the Nets to avoid paying the luxury tax, they dumped Marc Jackson and Linton Johnson III on old friend Byron Scott, whose New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets are in desperate need of frontcourt help. In return, the Nets received Bostjan Nachbar, a once-promising shooter from Slovenia who has been a crashing disappointment in his four-year care.

But that is merely a footnote to what has become the Nets’ primary objective at the deadline, which is to wait out the final minutes of Tim Thomas’s brief and fruitless stay in Chicago.

Team officials disclosed yesterday that the Nets will put a full-court trap on the Paterson native as soon as the Bulls buy him out and release him, though it all has to happen by Wednesday — the last day a player can be waived and still remain eligible for the playoffs.

“They’re talking again today, and nothing’s happened yet, but I’m very confident they’ll get something done,” Thomas said yesterday, referring to agent Arn Tellem and Bulls GM John Paxson. “I don’t think Chicago will hold me back. I think something will get done very soon.”

D-Backs’ Chief Emulates Insane Man In White Tracksuit

Posted in Baseball at 1:41 pm by

From the AP’s Andrew Bagnato (link swiped from Baseball Think Factory)

Arizona Diamondbacks general partner Jeff Moorad chose a unique way to fire up his players on the first day of full-squad workouts.

He quoted Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis.

Moorad’s message: Just win, baby.

For the record, Moorad wants the Diamondbacks to copy the mighty Raiders of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, not the team that has struggled in recent years.

“I borrowed the slogan,” Moorad told reporters after the clubhouse meeting. “I talked about the Oakland Raiders’ tradition of excellence, which was a team I followed as a kid growing up in northern California.

“I talked about some of the great players that I’d watched, from Kenny Stabler to Jack Tatum to Freddie Biletnikoff and Jim Plunkett and the like. I talked about the tradition of excellence that this organization has.”

Moorad’s speech was part of a morning meeting at Tucson Electric Park that included talks by managing general partner Ken Kendrick and new general manager Josh Byrnes. Spring training speeches tend to be forgotten by Opening Day, but the front office wanted to lay out its goals for the season.

The chief goal, of course, is to win the N.L. West for the first time since 2002.

“Each of us had our own themes,” Kendrick said. “Mine was focused around talking to them about the importance of our fans and what the fans mean to the club and what we need to do to make sure that the fans are well-cared for.”

(Arizona’s Jeff Moorad, shown above, dilligently massaging the lower regions of the man to his right)

Who Shopped J.R.?

Posted in Basketball at 11:49 am by

Apparently, not New Orleans/Oklahoma.

When the coach says of his 2nd year guard, “I’ve stopped trying to talk to people who don’t listen….he’s lying,” and the player responds with “his ego is too big in order to put something petty aside and try to win the game,” it does seem like they should ask for the trade deadline to be extended.

Boss Assaults Sweater…

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 11:31 am by

…but sadly, he was just kidding around. From the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman

The principal owner, a media recluse over the past few seasons, is handing out loaves to the hungry herd. On Wednesday, Ch.9′s Russ Salzberg got his.

Salzberg saw George Steinbrenner joining scribes in Joe Torre’s office for a session with the manager. He waited in the hall outside the office with his cameraman. When Steinbrenner exited, he asked Salzberg: “Are you alone?”

Then, he agreed to the interview.

Salzberg asked a couple of questions. The Boss provided short answers. Then, Salzberg offered an observation, saying: “George, you seem like you are mellowing a bit.”

That’s all Steinbrenner needed to hear. He immediately segued into Bosshtick. Steinbrenner grabbed Salzberg by the back of his neck with his right hand. He cocked his clenched left fist, preparing to deliver a chopping blow to the chin of the artist formerly known as The Sweater.

Steinbrenner, mugging for the camera, released Salzberg, laughed, and said: “Not mellow. Not mellow. Not mellow.”

I tried in vain to find an appropriate photograph of Steve Somers’ former radio partner, but alas, all I could come up with was this picture of Russ Salzberg and Tony Orlando.

Shpigel On The Mets’ 2B Competition

Posted in Baseball at 9:52 am by

Thank you, Ben Shipgel of the New York Times, for ruining my Friday morning with the following words, “the early feeling is that Boone will win the job if he can prove that he can still play.”

Unlike in right field, where Xavier Nady holds an advantage over Victor Diaz because the Mets traded Mike Cameron to acquire him, there is no clear-cut favorite at second base. And there is also the possibility that General Manager Omar Minaya could dump Kaz Matsui, picking up most of his $8 million contract, or revisit trade talks for the Devil Rays’ Julio Lugo, whom he has long coveted.

For the moment, the race comes down to Matsui, an often-injured converted shortstop; Bret Boone, a three-time All-Star who lost his passion for the game last season; Jeff Keppinger, a talented hitter with gap power who, after a severe knee injury last season, wants to prove that he can still play; and Anderson Hernandez, a 23-year-old who is probably still a year away.

Boone was one of the American League’s more feared hitters when he played for Seattle from 2001 to 2004 and has captured four Gold Glove awards, but he was released by Seattle and Minnesota last summer because of ineffectiveness.

Boone said that he had not lost any range and that regaining his swing was proving the biggest challenge. Even if Boone does not rediscover his previous form as a hitter, his defense may be enough to boost him into the lead.

True Hoops’ Abbott On The Blazers’ Paul Allen

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down at 9:41 am by

The Portland Blazers are crying poorhouse, they’re looking for a tax break and won’t discount the possibilty of moving.

Blazers’ owner Paul Allen, most recently treated like a hero by the national media for his stewardship of the Seattle Seahawks, fails to escape the wrath of True Hoops’ Henry Abbott.

Paul Allen seems like a smart guy, and an interesting guy, but clearly he’s not someone who knows how to run a successful businnes, despite starting with the advantage of billions upon billions.

He’s like an NBA player who negotiates a massive long-term contract, and then gets bitter as hell in its final years because it seems like they could have done better. Should have thought of that when you signed in the first place! The Rose Garden contract sucks? Who created it? The fans don’t love the team? They loved it before you came along.

My feelings about Allen are complex. I have loved having a hobbyist owner lavish excessive millions upon the team, the great sugardaddy spoiling us all rotten with lottery picks all those years. But his part-time passion, his being based in another city (or on a yacht), his billionaire’s recluse, his weird fraternizing with the likes of Geena Davis, and his non-take-charge attitude that allowed all sorts of shoddiness–those are enough straws on this camel’s back that I just simply won’t tolerate any whining from this guy.

Paul Allen, you don’t like owning the team? Sell it. You like owning the team? Then stop whining, roll up your sleeves, and fix it.

“Congrats On Your Last Game As An International Referee”

Posted in Football at 1:30 am by

To paraphrase Mike Piazza’s old comments about Pedro Martinez, how about those Chelsea fans? All that money and they can’t buy class.

From the Guardian’s Marcus Christenson and Jon Brodkin.

The Norwegian referee who sent off Asier del Horno against Barcelona has been warned on an internet chatroom for Chelsea fans in his homeland to expect a flood of death threats. One message urged people to find an email address for the official and another wished he would “burn in hell”.

In worrying echoes of the treatment that prompted Anders Frisk to retire after he sent off Didier Drogba in Chelsea’s defeat at Barcelona last season, Terje Hauge (above) faces a possible campaign of intimidation. He insisted he was right on Wednesday to dismiss Del Horno for a tackle on Lionel Messi, despite criticism by Jose Mourinho.

Frisk and his family were threatened via letters and phone messages after Drogba’s dismissal and was accused by Mourinho of letting Barcelona’s coach Frank Rijkaard into his dressing room. The referee retired when the perpetrators got hold of his home phone number.

In Norway yesterday there was a message on a website for Chelsea supporters saying: “I hope the death threats pour in. Has anyone got the email address of Terje ‘dead’ Hauge?” Another said: “I promise you that you will receive a lot of death threats. Congratulations on your last game as an international referee.”

Sandomir On NBC’s Winter Olympics

Posted in olympics, Sports TV at 1:02 am by

Proclaiming it “a miracle that American viewers pay attention to the Winter Olympics at all,”, The New York Times’ Richard Sandomir writes that NBC’s ability to attact 21 million viewers a night is “a testament to NBC’s storytelling, the power of hype (though this time less potent than usual) and a strange quadrennial routine practiced by viewers these past 40 years. Somehow, they watch, as if the sports they formerly ignored had grown hundredfold in stature.”

Warning that “electronic breakthroughs will further fragment viewer attention spans, and make people wonder just why they watched the Winter Games at all.”, Sandomir makes the following suggestions for future telecasts :

* – Embrace pay-per-view, or at least study it. Let viewers pay to see live what NBC tapes for prime time. There are already lots of live events on cable, and a pay-per-view model might please some fans, especially figure skating’s. NBC would, of course, have to determine if such a plan would deprive its prime-time program of a significant number of viewers.

In Vancouver, women’s figure skating might start in the afternoon, so it would be held for prime time. Would the real fans want a peek at the world feed before NBC takes hold of it? Would NBC even allow it?

* – Accelerate the interactivity that it is being tested on eight Time Warner cable systems with technology from BIAP Systems. Digital subscribers can press their remotes to view medal counts, athlete biographies and news about the United States team, but the technology exists to let viewers buy video clips and vote midrace on who will win.

Winston Churchill, the chairman of BIAP (and no relation to the former British prime minister), said by telephone: “When the viewer feels like they’re in the vent, it will conquer passivity from the sofa.”

The PPV proposition sounds strangely reminiscent of the Barcelona Triplecast. The multiple interactive functions, not dissimilar from Sky Digital’s pretend-you’re-on-the-web array of features, can be a fun distraction, but I seriously doubt they’ve done much to boost the Murdoch property’s ratings for football or rugby beyond what they would’ve been without such bells and whistles.

Nats, Soriano Still At Odds

Posted in Baseball at 12:26 am by

The Washington Nationals haven’t found a new owner, nor resolved a dispute over their name. They do however, have a surplus of highly paid second basemen, the younger of which would be a better candidate for DH than say, a move to left field. Shame the Nats are in the NL, then.

The Washington Post’s Dave Shenin reports from yesterday’s bizarre press conference in Viera, Florida.

“The only thing that I know is that I’m happy to be here in Washington,” Soriano said, in response to a question about a potential move to the outfield. “I have one week to practice second base because I have to go to the [WBC]. And that’s what I have now in my mind. I no think about outfield.”

Any further examination of the two-hour meeting Thursday morning between Nationals officials (including Manager Frank Robinson) and Soriano and his agent at a restaurant near the team’s spring headquarters requires reading between the lines. And such a reading can leave only one obvious conclusion:

Nothing had changed fundamentally in either side’s position. The Nationals still want Soriano to play left field. Soriano does not want to. And in what amounts to a compromise, the sides essentially agreed to put off a confrontation over the subject for about a month, until Soriano returns from the WBC — the final game of which is March 20.

“Is he going to play left field? . . . Who knows?” Robinson said. “No decision is going to be made — as to whether he is going to play left field or second base — today, tomorrow or the next day, or when he comes back. Those decisions will be made before we leave Florida.”

Although both sides did their best to appear conciliatory during Thursday’s news conference, privately they are far less so. A source close to Soriano said the player is “very mad” and remains adamant about refusing the position switch. “It’s going to be ugly,” the source said, “because I’m telling you, he won’t play.”