Mike Modano Can’t Skate & Use Expedia At The Same Time

Posted in Hockey, olympics at 8:59 pm by

On the all-time scale of excuses for poor performances, this is pretty lame.

(Finland’s semi-finals bound Teemu Selanne sneers at loser Mike, “….and you still work for Tom Hicks”)

No less an expert than Don Cherry (cue monumenal coughing fit), however, was on Jim Rome’s radio show earlier today and suggested that Peter Laviolette decision to bench Mike Modano in the third period yesterday was “humiliating” and not at all justified given Modano’s years of service to Team USA. Presumably, Tommy Lasorda got sick of waiting on hold.

Cherry also said that no less an icon than Bobby Orr was “a big fan” of Rome’s. “He really liked that thing with you and the football player,” chortled Cherry.

Unless Rome’s had his ass kicked by another football player, I’m assuming the former Bruins coach meant Jim “Don’t Call Me Chrissie” Everett.

Vancouver GM Dave Nonis is pissed that Finland’s hockey authorities have been less than forthcoming about the extent of D Sami Salo’s shoulder injury. Salo’s healthy teammates will take on Russia in the Olympic semi-final tomorrow at 1pm EST. Prior to that, Jaromir Jagr and Martin Straka will take aim at Rangers teammate Henrik Lundqvist, as the Czech Republic battle Sweden for the other spot in the final.

NBA Trade Deadline Mania

Posted in Basketball at 8:13 pm by

The deadline has come and gone, and several players tipped to change teams (Paul Pierce, Darius Miles, K-Mart, Manny Ramirez, etc.) haven’t been dealt. To recap the trades that were consumated while your author was peforming his duties as a labrador valet ;

1) Sacramento’s Brian Skinner (above) to Portland in exchange for Vitaly Potapenko and Sergei Monia.

2) ) Marc Jackson and Linton “Don’t Call Me ‘Kwesi’” Johnson (not shown above) to the Hornets ; Bostjan Nachbar to New Jersey.

3) G Flip Murray to Cleveland ; Mike Wilks and a 2nd round pick to the Sonics.

WBC Suffers More Casualties

Posted in Baseball at 7:52 pm by

It’s not enough that more players have bailed on the World Baseball Classic — Manny Ramirez and Francisco Cordero being two of today’s latest names to bow out —- now, the managers are jumping ship as well. From the Associated Press :

Roberto Kelly (above) has quit as manager of Panama’s team in the World Baseball Classic, complaining he didn’t get enough support from local baseball officials.

“I can’t work with the federation in the way it’s being run,” Kelly said in a local radio interview this week. He was with the San Francisco Giants spring training camp in Arizona, where is an instructor.

“If they don’t give us the backing we deserve as manager, we don’t have any reason to be in charge of the team,” Kelly said.

He complained that local officials had some players back from the Classic so they would play in the Panamanian championships and alleged that he had been the target of racist comments.

He was replaced by Anibal Reluz, a veteran of the local league.

The AP quoted Tommy Lasorda as saying “I’ve seen a couple of guys who were asked to play and they turned it down. They turned it down? I don’t like that one bit. I think you owe something to your country.” Hopefully every member of the Cuban national team agrees with the WBC’s goodwill ambassador.

Corpsey The Clown Guarantees Title

Posted in Baseball at 1:46 pm by

Where does someone purchase sunglasses like those? I’m thinking of rocking the “Weekend At Bernie’s” look this spring and need some help.

Pats Prefer Not To Place ‘Chise Tag On Inhumanly Clutch Kicker

Posted in Gridiron at 1:29 pm by

From the Providence Journal’s Tom E. Curran.

(“Yes!!! Bob Kraft’s gonna give another speech!”)

Adam Vinatieri will come one step closer to hitting the open seas of free agency today.
The Patriots have until 4 p.m. today to designate a franchise player, and all indications are that they won’t use the designation. New England made Vinatieri their franchise player in 2002 and 2005. Not doing it today means that — unless the team and the kicker come to a contract accord before March 3 — he will be an unrestricted free agent.

The franchise tag allows a team to keep a player out of free agency. Usually, that means paying him a salary equal to the top five salaries at his position. But if a player is already the highest paid at his position, he must be given a 20-percent raise over his previous year’s salary.

The Patriots gave Vinatieri the 20-percent bump last year and paid him $2.51 million. But the expense of franchising Vinatieri in 2006, $3.01 million, is just too rich for New England. By comparison, the highest salaried kicker on the books for 2006 according to the NFLPA Web site is Arizona’s Neil Rackers, who will make $1.8 million.

Best-case scenario for Vinatieri and the Patriots is a new deal before March 3. Rackers, the league’s most productive kicker over the last two seasons, signed a four-year, $6.4-million extension with the Cardinals last November that included a $3-million signing bonus. Certainly, Vinatieri would command the same money, maybe more.

In the unlikely event Vinatieri and New England can’t come to terms, what are the odds a midwestern club might opt for a less idiotic, liquored up kicker?

Not very good, I admit. But if I was trying to fill an extra 10 minutes on WEEI, I’d certainly bring it up.

Human Whoopie Cushion Goes On Vacation, Attention To Detail Slips Even Further

Posted in Blogged Down, Will Leitch Sucks at 1:16 pm by

It’s sad enough when the understudies list Chelsea/Barcelona on ESPN2 as part of “To Watch Tonight” after the match has ended, but what to make of today’s revelation that Spurs G Tony Parker fancies himself to be a rapper?

Fuck, how did the rest of the world miss that one?

Just to save you some time, here are some upcoming Deadspin scoops that will be appearing in the days ahead ;

* – Ron Artest might be crazy.
* – Shaquille O’Neal has also recorded a “rap” album.
* – Steve Nash is Canadian.
* – Kyle Korver is white.

You’re very welcome.

Seattle Gets Watson, Patterson To Denver

Posted in Basketball at 12:59 pm by

From ESPN.com’s Marc Stein :

The Seattle SuperSonics, desperate for a defensive-minded point guard as an alternative to Luke Ridnour, will receive Watson, swingman Bryon Russell and a future second-round pick from Denver in a three-team deal. NBA front-office sources told ESPN.com that the trade has been forwarded to the league office for approval before Thursday’s 3 p.m. trading deadline.

The Nuggets, after unsuccessful bids to make a splashier move for Ron Artest and then Steve Francis, will instead import Sonics rebounding specialist Reggie Evans (above), Portland swingman Ruben Patterson and the Blazers’ Charles Smith as a salary-cap throw in.

The Blazers joined in on the Seattle-Denver talks in its ongoing quest for salary-cap relief and receive Nuggets guard Voshon Lenard and Sonics center Vitaly Potapenko. Lenard carries an expiring contract ($3.5 million this season) and Potapenko has only one season left on his deal at $3.7 million in 2006-07. With Patterson due next $7 million next season, Portland saves just over $3 million in salary.

Patterson will be reunited with former Cincinnati teammate Kenyon Martin in Denver ; the 8 year vet credits God with making the trade happen, surely the first time anyone has refered to Kiki Vandeweghe in such glowing terms in a very long time.

Stephen A. Smith claims in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer that the Sixers seriously contemplated sending Allen Iverson to Denver in exchange for “a bunch of garbage” (ie. Nene Hilario and Voshon Lenard’s expiring deals, and the gimpy Kenyon Martin) because A.I.’s camp was pushing for a trade. Which would seem to contradict Iverson’s public statements over All-Star Weekend that he dearly wanted to stay in Philly.

Asking Carl Everett To Repeat Himself

Posted in Baseball at 10:37 am by

Perhaps worried that newly acquired Mariners OF Carl Everett (above)might go an entire week without making another controversial statement, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Jim Moore cut to the chase…and invited Everett to repeat his more questionable remarks one mo’ time.

Naturally I had to beat a dead dinosaur to death, wondering how he could deny that these prehistoric creatures existed when evidence shows otherwise.

“That’s what they say, but nobody’s ever seen ‘em,” he says.

I tell him I went to the Burke Museum on the University of Washington campus and saw actual dinosaur bones, and asked him if he wanted to go there when he got to Seattle.

“I don’t go to that stuff,” Everett said. “Do me a favor, the next time you see a paleontologist, ask him if they agree with one another.”

What that meant, I have no idea.

Asked whether he had any regrets for what he said in Maxim, Everett said: “For what? Read the article. There should be no regrets.”

Well, what about your views on homosexuality, that being gay is wrong?

“It’s in the Bible,” Everett said. “A woman and a woman can’t have a baby, and a man and a man can’t have a baby.”

But what would you say to gay Mariners fans? Aren’t you concerned about offending them?

“I didn’t say nothing about the person,” he said. “It’s the act …”

Everett isn’t a piece of work as much as a body of work, and I’m standing in front of the artist trying to grasp what he’s attempting to say.

“What about your comments that it’s been proven that 99 percent of baseball fans don’t know what they’re watching?” I ask.

I want to ask him, “proven by whom” but Everett launches into something about 99 percent of sportswriters not having a clue either, and our stories are the ones read by fans, so consequently …

That line of thought somehow leads to Peter Gammons again. Everett ripped the Boston Globe baseball writer and ESPN commentator in Maxim, saying: “Peter Gammons sucks. He hears something and then throws it out there, and some of it is true, so it makes him sound like a genius. But he knows nothing. He knows nothing unless somebody tells him something. That’s it.”

No, there’s more. “Peter talks because Peter can’t write,” Everett says on his first day at spring training. “Have you seen him in the clubhouse? I guarantee the guy’s gonna say something about the Seattle Mariners. How can you believe what a guy says who’s not here?

Sonics, Nuggets Nearing Deal?

Posted in Basketball at 10:23 am by

Perhaps ending speculation that the Knicks are close to acquiring Denver’s Earl Watson, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Gary Washburn reports the following ;

The three players rumored to be ex-Sonics by noon today did not play in Seattle’s 114-109 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

Reggie Evans, Vitaly Potapenko and Flip Murray sat at the end of the bench at Philips Arena and watched as their more secure teammates snapped a seven-game road losing streak and allowed some hope to breeze into the locker room.

But the Sonics could be a dramatically different team by this time today as club officials are close to a deal that would bring former Sonic Earl Watson (above) back to Seattle for Potapenko and Murray, according to two NBA sources. Evans could be involved in another deal.

Watson, 26, signed a five-year, $29 million deal to be the Nuggets’ reserve point guard but has been displaced by sparkplug Earl Boykins. Watson has been expendable since the Nuggets have sought rebounders and a legitimate shooting guard.

Murray and Evans would have to approve any deal, but Evans has already requested a trade.

The Orlando Sentinel’s Brian Schmitz writes the Magic are considering offer the perpetually injured Grant Hill a buyout. Hill is owed $16.9 million next season, funds Orlando would no doubt prefer to stockpile when making a run at next summer’s free agent class (set to include Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Vince Carter and Paul Pierce, amongst others).

Quintet Of ’86 Mets To Distribute Subpar Coffee, Donuts

Posted in Baseball at 10:04 am by

Metsblog’s Matthew Cerrone reports that Ron Darling, Tim Teufel (above), Sid Fernandez, Howard Johnson and Mookie Wilson will be serving up Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and uh, donuts this Sunday morning at Shea Stadium when Mets single game tickets go on sale.

So if nothing else goes right this week, at least Wally Backman knows where he can get a free breakfast.

Claiming (obstensibly with a straight face) ” I’m not someone who’s lived my life thinking about [public relations] first”, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is chatted up in today’s LA Times by Tim Brown. Considering everything that has occured during McCourt’s brief reign of error, said interview is shockingly insubstantial.

Logan : Francis Aquisition Part Of Knicks’ KG Pursuit

Posted in Basketball at 1:26 am by

Newsday’s Greg Logan offers at long last, some insight as to why Isiah Thomas was so hellbent on trading one of his few tangible bargaining chips (Penny’s expiring contract) for another shoot-first, get-traded-later guard in the form of Steve Francis.

Although Thomas said he’s satisfied with the team as it is, several NBA executives said it’s likely Knicks shooting guard Jamal Crawford will be traded to Denver for backup point guard Earl Watson by today’s 3 p.m. NBA trade deadline. The Nuggets need a shooting guard, the Knicks need a backup point guard who doesn’t require shots, and the salaries fit NBA trade guidelines.

Thomas and coach Larry Brown put a unified, happy face on the deal for Francis, who makes $13.77 million this year and is under contract for another three seasons totaling $48.7 million. Brown went so far as to compare this deal to the one that added Earl Monroe to a backcourt that already included Walt Frazier and Dick Barnett before the Knicks won their last NBA title in 1973.

“Nobody thought Earl would fit in with the group here,” Brown recalled. Including Crawford and Quentin Richardson in the equation, Brown said the Francis-Marbury combination will reduce pressure on their teammates. “The more experience and more quality people we have in the backcourt will make their development a lot easier.”

But executives and personnel experts around the league questioned the odd coupling, said Brown was not in favor and suggested yesterday’s deal was part of a risky long-term strategy by Thomas to trade for superstar Minnesota forward Kevin Garnett (above, right) this summer.

One NBA general manager said Thomas sold Knicks owner James Dolan on a strategy to stockpile as many marketable assets as possible to make a play for Garnett, who has grown increasingly restless with the Timberwolves, who now might be ready to consider trading him.

If you think that strategy makes sense, you might be ready to believe this report from Straight Bangin’.

Readers old enough to remember the 13th episode of “The White Shadow”, “Mainstream”, might take particular interest in this story. Oh, what Coach Reeves could’ve done with a perimeter threat.

With all the negative publicity surrounding MySpace these days, it’s important to remember there are all sorts of places a kid can get into trouble on the internet.

Big League Umps Refusing To Work WBC?

Posted in Baseball at 12:32 am by

Enforced pitch counts, mercy rules, and now, minor league umpires for the World Baseball Classic.

What ought to be a terrific tournament is losing more credibility with each passing day. There’s only one thing that that can save the WBC at this point ; Ron Villone has to reconsider his decision to skip the competition.

Mike Carminati poses the question that nearly every American adult has asked his or herself at one time or another : who was the Brady Anderson of base on balls?

(the Brady Anderson of home runs would like you to remember there are at least 3 or 4 pictures of him on the internet in which he’s wearing a shirt)


Jose Mourniho, Drama Critic

Posted in Football at 11:07 pm by

Chelsea 1, Barcelona 2 (first leg, round of 16, Champions League)

A crucial pair of late away goals (the decider coming on Samuel E’to’s header, above) have Barca on the brink on th Champions League quarterfinals…and Chelsea manager Jose Mourniho, once again, railing at the referees.

From the Independent’s Glenn Moore.

Jose Mourinho accused Lionel Messi of play-acting last night but he was careful not to say anything which could lead to a referee being hounded into retirement. However, he left no doubt that he felt Chelsea’s Champions’ League defeat by Barcelona was a result of Terje Hauge’s decision to dismiss Asier Del Horno 37 minutes into the knock-out tie for a lunge on Messi.

After last year’s match, Mourinho criticised Anders Frisk, the Swedish referee, who then retired after receiving death threats. Mourinho was called “an enemy of football” by a senior Uefa official and fined and suspended.

Last night he was more careful, if still emotional. “If I say what I thought about the sending-off I can be suspended,” he said.

“Of course I saw on television in the dressing room, of course I know, but you also saw the game. It is more easy for you to say what you thought.

“Can we take back the suspension for Del Horno? Can we suspend Messi for play-acting? It is a cultural city Barcelona, you know all about theatre. Would it be right to send a B team to the Nou Camp and concentrate on the cup and the league?

Last month, Major League Soccer announced the relocated San Jose Earthquakes would now be known as Houston 1836, a decision that seemed curious at best to some H-town residents.

The Houston Chronicle’s Bernando Fallas, responding to rumors the franchise’s name will be changed sometime before Houston’s April 2 home opener against Colorad, is of the opinion that 1836 was a-ok.

It’s no secret that many influential Hispanics were, from the beginning, consulted about the name, and no objection was made then.

The name fell victim to a strong push by some in the corporate and political communities. It also fell victim to a drive by some within the media.

In the end, it was less about those who felt offended by the name and more about specific agendas set forth by some.

So if I’m to understand correctly, because “some prominent Hispanics” had no quarrel with 1836, less prominent Hispanics are precluded from taking offense? Fallas cites “specific agendas”, but no agenda could be more precise than sucking up to a new major sporting franchise and probable Chronicle advertiser.

Ohio State Waits On Greg Oden, But There Are No Messages For Randy Odin

Posted in Basketball at 9:20 pm by

SI.com’s Seth Davis ponders the plight of Ohio State, awaiting word on the size of the award due to deposed coach Jim O’Brien after his recent lawsuit victory, and anxiously wondering what sort of penalties the NCAA will impose on the men’s hoops program.

Everyone knows that Thad Matta has signed the nation’s top recruiting class, led by Greg Oden (above). When Oden and the other recruits signed their letters of intent in November, Matta gave them a letter promising he would let them out of their commitments if the Buckeyes were banned from the 2006-07 postseason. If the NCAA handed down another postseason ban now, Ohio State would have to make a Sophie’s choice: Appeal immediately, thereby staying the penalty and allowing itself to play in this year’s NCAA tournament, or throw the current team under the bus and accept the NCAA’s judgment, thereby ensuring it can participate in the postseason next year with Oden & Co. in the lineup. And let’s not forget, all of this comes against the backdrop of Indiana’s interest in Matta as a possible successor to Mike Davis. That interest would be much more mutual if Oden weren’t coming to Ohio State.

Those are, admittedly, some outrageous possibilities, but the way this whole episode has twisted and turned, it seems almost anything is possible. In the end, the most likely outcome is that the NCAA finds that Ohio State committed major infractions and orders the school to vacate the ’99 Final Four. Judge Clark then awards O’Brien his $3.5 million-plus in damages. The Buckeyes play in the NCAA tournament next month. Matta says “No, thank you” to Indiana and Oden prepares to enroll in the fall as planned. O’Brien walks away with his wallet filled but his reputation sullied. And a long, sordid chapter finally comes to a close, with no winners in sight.

G Je’Kel Foster had 17 points tonight in Ohio State’s 79-68 win over Michigan State.

Texas 65 Kansas State 64

The no. 7 Longhorns survived a scare from the unranked Wildcats, with some frantic action in the final moments. There was a charging call on PJ Tucker with less than a minute left and Texas up by one, followed by a massive block in the lane by LaMarcus Aldridge on the ensuing K-State possession. Daniel Gibson missed the subsequent front end of a one and one, with Lance Harris coming up brickfaced with 20 seconds left.

For Texas, winning their remaining home games against Kansas (Saturday night) and Oklahoma (March 5) is probably what it will take for any hope of a no. 1 seeding (though I can’t recollect the last time a team with 4 losses of 20 points or more was a real can. K-State, however, looks bound for the NIT.

Forward David Noel has 22 points midway through the 2nd half against NC State, with North Carolina leading 60-44.

My Guzie Doesn’t Weigh A Ton

Posted in Baseball at 7:00 pm by

With the possible exception of Kaz Matsui, I’m not sure there was a more expendale (or untradeable) everyday player in the National League than Nationals SS Cristian Guzman. The slimmer “Guzie”, as the 2 or 3 people he’s still on speaking terms with like to call him, is strangely optimistic heading into the 2006 campaign writes the Washington Post’s Dave Sheinin.

“The people are going to like the new Guzie,” he said. “I’ve got a little surprise for them.”

What the poets say about spring training, that it symbolizes rebirth and a cleansing of sins, holds a special poignancy for Guzman, whose 2005 season was one big, messy pile of unproductive at-bats, embarrassing statistics and armchair psychoanalysis from the media, fans and team officials.

He batted just .219, and his OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of .574 would have been last in the majors by 80 points — among players who had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title — had he not missed two weeks in July with a strained hamstring. Only a strong finish (he batted .325 in the season’s final month) kept his season from becoming one of historic futility.

“You know when you struggle the whole year, you have to be strong to be happy every day,” he said. “When you do nothing for your teammates [to help win games], you get a little bit down. But [now] I smile all the time.”

If nothing else, Guzman looks better and sees better this spring. At the team’s urging, he dropped eight pounds over the winter in his native Dominican Republic, and he underwent laser eye surgery shortly after the season ended in October, which has improved his vision even beyond what contact lenses were doing for him.

Still, the Nationals are at least as concerned about his mental state as his physical state. Less than two weeks before spring training began, the team signed Royce Clayton to a minor league contract, telling the veteran shortstop — and the media — that Guzman’s job is there for the stealing.

“We’re not going to sit back,” General Manager Jim Bowden said at the time, “and watch Cristian Guzman have another year like he did last year.”

Though it was a fairly transparent ploy to jolt Guzman into a sense of urgency — the fact he is owed another $12.6 million over the next three years makes him impossible to trade and nearly as impossible to bench — Guzman on Tuesday shrugged off a question about Clayton.

“It’s okay for me,” he said. “Everybody needs a job. That’s not working for me. They can bring Derek Jeter. It’s the new Guzie right now.”

It’s Like Double Stuff Oreos Never Happened

Posted in Food, The Marketplace at 4:43 pm by

Longtime Chips Ahoy Division fan David Schied writes,

I saw this while watching Lisa Loed’s no.1 hit single on VH1 last night.

David didn’t have much else to say. And can you blame him?

CSTB Podcast, Week 6 : It’s Lima (99) Time(s)

Posted in CSTB Podcasts, Rock Und Roll at 2:41 pm by

Though we’ve been graced in prior weeks by such luminaries as Mike Holmgren, Eddie Sutton and of course, blues-rock legend Stevie Ray Going-Going-Gone, I’m confident that this week’s “99 Times The Pain Megamix” from Jose Lima, will prove to be the most popular CSTB podcast in the series’ limited history.

And if not, hey, we’ll just cut him. Or give him a higher number.

Shitty Franchise, Meet Stevie Franchise

Posted in Basketball at 2:20 pm by

With a more than slight revision to his earlier prognostication, the New York Times’ Howard Beck reports the Knicks have swapped Penny Hardaway and Trevor Ariza for Orlando’s Steve Francis.

The only thing that makes less sense to this observer than pairing Francis and Stephon Marbury in the same backcourt, would be for Portland to try and match the latter with Sebastian Telfair. But there’s only so much complete desperation to go around.

I’m less optimistic about Isiah Thomas’ chances of making a deal for Kenyon Martin or Darius Miles with Hardaway’s expiring contract out of the mix (which isn’t to say I was exactly looking forward to the latter’s arrival).

Ichiro Starts The Long-Overdue WBC Trash Talk

Posted in Baseball at 2:11 pm by

If there’s anyone left to play in the tournament by the time March 3 rolls around, at least we can count on Ichiro Suzuki for some good copy. If he really said any of this stuff, of course.

(how about “Team USA smells like the Men’s Room at Arby’s” next time?)

The above link is courtesy Bob Timmerman’s The Griddle, home to a recommended recent interview with Rob Neyer.

Tony Womack’s Blame Game

Posted in Baseball at 9:56 am by

From today’s NY Daily News, Tony Womack sums up his 2005 campaign with the Yankees.

“I went through it because they put me through it,” he told MLB.com at Reds training camp in Sarasota, Fla. “It wasn’t like I did it to myself. I still like to play. It’s no fun knowing that you can still play and contribute to somebody when this team is holding you back. The Yankees held me back.”

When the Yanks struggled last season, GM Brian Cashman and Joe Torre tried to shake things up by moving Womack from second base to the outfield and calling up Cano; Womack didn’t last long as an everyday outfielder and ended up as a pinch-runner. He hit .249 while appearing in 108 games.

“The only thing that makes me mad is it messes up my baseball card,” Womack said. “I was consistent for a long time and then that comes up. It was a learning experience for me. I’m a stronger person. I had to be. I had to bite my tongue a lot. I had to keep myself going and make sure I got my work in.”

Former Mets 1B Roberto Petagine, most recently with the Red Sox, has signed a minor league deal with Seattle.

Beatle Paul’s Brother Tries Patented “Don’t You Know Who I Am?” Defense

Posted in The Law at 9:16 am by

Chris Jagger, Simon Townshend, Frank Stallone, Roger Clinton all unavailable for comment.

Beck : Francis-To-Knicks Deal “Likely”

Posted in Basketball at 8:46 am by

Citing a well-connected anonymous source, the New York Times’ Howard Beck reports the Knicks have made an offer to Orlando for Steve Francis that is likely to be accepted.

The current proposal, according to the person, would send guard Jamal Crawford, forward Maurice Taylor and possibly the swingman Trevor Ariza to Orlando. The Knicks would obtain Francis and forward Pat Garrity.

Penny Hardaway’s expiring contract, which the Knicks have sought to use in a number of potential deals, would not be included in the Francis trade. Hardaway could still be moved in a deal to land one of the Knicks’ other targets, among them Portland’s Theo Ratliff and Darius Miles, and Denver’s Earl Watson.

Not that Isiah Thomas should pander to public opinion or anything, but is there a human being alive who thinks pairing Stevie Franchise and Stephon Marbury on the same team, let along the same backcourt, seems like a good idea?

The Racine Journal-Times’ Gery Woelfel makes the following claim :

A trade that seems on the verge of going down involves the Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers. The trade would center around the Knicks sending Penny Hardaway and his soon-to-be-expiring contract of $15.6 million, along with a future first-round pick, to the Portland Trail Blazers for veteran center Theo Ratliff (above) and swingman Darius Miles. The Blazers then would use some of that cash to re-sign center Joel Przybilla, who will become a free agent this summer.

Heyman Boldly Predicts The Mets Won’t Embarrass Ownership

Posted in Baseball at 8:18 am by

There’s no possible way Newday’s Jon Heyman could’ve written this Wednesday piece without visiting Port St. Lucie in person. But a gratuitous swipe at Tom Coughlin is always welcome.

Along with the vast majority of his players, Fred Wilpon arrived at Mets camp well ahead of schedule. Then, in what has become a wrong of spring (as opposed to a rite of spring), Wilpon offered his predictable prediction by agreeing that his Mets team is ready to “take off.”

Wilpon’s almost annual Pollyana prognostications have prompted some guffaws over the years, such as the time he foresaw meaningful games in September and was off by five months. But this time we agree.

There is a lot to like about this Mets club beyond the obvious, which is that Carlos Delgado and Billy Wagner (above) give the Mets the power bat and power bullpen arm they sorely needed. This is an easy group to get excited about. Ticket sales are up 25 percent, Wilpon said, and it’s easy to see why.

It remains to be seen how quickly the Mets will come together, but at least they have assembled sooner than required. All but a couple of position players were on hand for yesterday’s workout, two days ahead of schedule. This is a team even Tom Coughlin would love; you aren’t early unless you’re days early.

Earlier, there was some radio static about Omar Minaya’s acquisition of a large number of Latino players. But that amounts to nothing more than hot air. Putting aside the fact that there’s a decent chance the Kris Benson trade was requested (if not ordered) from above, it’s insulting innuendo that Minaya doesn’t deserve.

Recently acquired 2B Bret Boone — who hit .170 in his brief stint with the Twins last year after being released by the Mariners — tells the Bergen Record’s Steve Popper, “I’m not going to sit here and make demands.” That’s pretty big of him.

The award for Least Provocative Column Of The Century comes courtesy of the New York Post’s Kevin Kernan, who writes that Manny Ramirez’ Boston-authorized March 1 reporting date, “could be another sign of his wanting to get out of town.”

“The Mets need to take advantage of another case of “Manny Being Manny,” exhorts Kernan. “It’s time to do everything in their power to make Manny a Met.”

With this kind of radical thinking, it’s amazing that Kernan is limited to writing for The Post. Surely there must be room in the front office of a big league ballclub for someone who can make such an unprecendented suggestion?

Oh, Henry : Gunners Squeak By At The Bernabeau

Posted in Football at 1:27 am by

Real Madrid 0, Arsenal 1, FT (Champions League)

Considering Arsenal’s history of struggles away from home in this competition, yesterday’s first leg quarter final win at Real Madrid is no small surprise. And once again, in the midst of a miserable domestic campaign, it was the North London side’s All-Universe striker who put the club on his back. From the Telegraph’s Henry Winter.

Against the odds, against seemingly half of Real’s fabled side, Thierry Henry collected possession from Cesc Fabregas just after the break and just ran and ran, as if his life depended on it. First he eluded Ronaldo, then Alvaro Mejia, then Guti and finally Sergio Ramos before guiding the ball unerringly from left to right past one of the world’s finest goalkeepers, Iker Casillas.

Henry’s goal was memorable, sparking chants of “adios” from the visiting choirs, who were enjoying the night of their lives. Henry was far from alone in his excellence. Jens Lehmann was magnificent, a constant figure of agile defiance. Kolo Toure was similarly superb at centre-half, there were stars all over midfield where Freddie Ljungberg and Jose Antonio Reyes sparkled most. But all admiring eyes kept being drawn to Henry.

ESPN2 will carry tomorrow’s long awaiting Chelsea v. Barcelona rematch at 2:30 EST ; Setanta U.S. will showcase Werder Bremen v. Juventus at the same time.


Lt. Dangle On Clubhouse Chemistry

Posted in Baseball at 9:14 pm by

From the Associated Press :

Citing his strained relationship with Barry Bonds in San Francisco, Jeff Kent said the tense atmosphere in the Los Angeles Dodgers clubhouse last season shouldn™t be used as a reason for the team™s 71-91 finish.

œThat™s not an excuse. Me and Barry fought all the time and we went to the World Series, Kent said Tuesday. œJust because we can™t all always get along doesn™t mean we shouldn™t win. It still shouldn™t have affected the way we played.

Is there a law preventing someone from pointing out the obvious where the ’05 Dodgers are concerned?

Cesar Izturis – 106 games played
Milton Bradley – 75 games played
JD Drew – 72 games played
Eric Gagne – 14 appearences

Drew, you had to figure was gonna down go sooner rather than later. But if the other 3 played a full season, LA would’ve been right in the mix in baseball’s weakest division. If you’d prefer to harp on the squabbling and/or the former GM blowing up the heart-and-soul of the team, don’t forget Kent’s shameful treatment of Hee-Seop Choi — chewing the first baseman out on national TV somehow didn’t turn LA into a contender.

There’s a news item on MLB.com claiming the Dodgers have extended Vin Scully through 2008. And that’s true, Scully is now 20 feet tall.