Issacs : Don DeLillo’s A Fraud

Posted in Baseball, Free Expression at 7:08 pm by

I could mention that Mike Lupica has a fiction career, too, but there’s enough suffering in this world already. The Columnists.com’s Stan Issacs has had enough of Don DeLillo’s great baseball jones (street). (thanks to Repoz for the link).

On the occasion of the recent opening of the new movie œGame 6 written by the acclaimed and defamed novelist, Don DeLillo, let me refer to a passage from the first chapter of DeLillo™s 1997 novel, œUnderworld. It revolves around the game that has come to be known as œThe Shot Heard ˜Round the World, Bobby Thomson™s home run in the 1951 Giants-Dodgers playoff classic.

FBI boss John Edgar Hoover was at the game, so DeLillo™s overly ripe imagination has Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason and the boorish restauranteur Toots Shor sitting with him in the Polo Grounds.

Immediately after Thomson hits the climactic home run, DeLillo pens this description:

œJackie [Gleason] utters an aquatic bark, it is loud and crude, the hoarse call of some mammal in distress. Then the surge of flannel matter. He seems to be vomiting someone™s taupe pajamas. The waste is liquidy smooth in the lingo of adland and it is splashing freely on Frank™s stout oxford shoes and fine lisle hose and on the soft woven wool of his town-and-country trousers.

As if that isn™t enough, he goes on later: œFrank persists in looking down. He allows one foot to list to port so he can examine the side of his shoe for vomit marks. And, œSays Gleason, ˜Don™t™ think you™re the first friend I ever puked on. I puked on better men than you. Consider yourself honored.™ 

If it is possible to desecrate the memory of a great baseball game, DeLillo has done it. As one who was at that game, who treasures the sight of Thomson hitting that home run as one of the dearest moments in an adult lifetime of covering sports, I am appalled by the juxtaposition of the celebrities fouling the pages and my memory. I say DeLillo is a blackguard, a wretch, a disgrace, a good-for-nothing miscreant and more than anything else, a fraud.

I™ll note that one critic has called DeLillo œThe great American novelist. And that another has described him as, œAmerica™s greatest unread author.

I don™t care what the critics think of him. I just wish he™d attend to his artistry without having to rely on the built-in interest of great baseball games to whet people™s interest.

Accused Kid Fucker Pioneers New Defense Strategy

Posted in The Law at 5:25 pm by

When the going gets tough, defense attorneys get desperate. There’s the time-honored “she asked for it” defense. Robert Chambers’ innovative “rough sex” defense. Mike Tyson’s baffling “she should’ve known what would happen” defense.

But with all discredit to the gentlemen above, the following item from the New York Post’s Laura Italiano might be a new all-time low. The first ever “she wasn’t hot enough to rape” defense.

My client made $500,000 a year,” the defense lawyer, Howard Greenberg, said after a Manhattan Supreme Court appearance for James Colliton, who is being held without bail. Colliton was a tax attorney for Cravath, Swaine and Moore, a top Midtown law firm.

“He had the wherewithal to pay for any piece of tuchus on the planet,” Greenberg continued. “And he paid that skank?”

While we can all acknowledge that everyone is entitled to a fair trial and their choice of representation, I hope that Greenberg’s friends and family are all thrilled to be associated with a man who refers to an alleged (child) rape victim as a “piece of tuchus” or “that skank”.

Mets’ Zambrano Shelled, Injured

Posted in Baseball at 5:13 pm by

Today’s ugly line for the Mets’ Victor Zambrano against St. Louis ; 2 and 2/3rds innings, 6 earned runs, 8 hits, a pair of HR’s allowed to Albert Pujols) and an to-be-confirmed hamstring strain in the Cards’ 8-6 win. Zambrano was scheduled to start New York’s 2nd game of the season, Wednesday night against Washington.

Pujols had 3 HR’s on the day, connecting off Pedro Martinez in the 3rd with one on.

RF Victor Diaz was hitless on the afternoon for New York, and is widely rumored to be starting the season at Norfolk.

Boeheim : Let’s Water Down The Dance

Posted in Basketball at 12:56 pm by

If the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament galvanizes attention for 3 weeks with a 65 team field, imagine how awesome it would be if every Division I program was invited?

Thought that’s not exactly what Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim is suggesting, let’s hear him out just the same. From the Rocky Mountain News’ Gary Holtz.

“I think this year more than ever has proven there are teams that might not get in or just barely get in that can win games,” Boeheim (above) said at a media event held by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

“In the past, years ago, I think there were always teams that maybe wanted to get in, but you really knew they couldn’t win any games in the tournament if they got in. In college basketball today . . . the quality of teams has tremendously increased and the number of teams has increased. If it wasn’t a logistical problem, I think we would have expanded the tournament a long time ago. I think we need to get by that somehow.”

Boeheim said he was in favor of an expansion of “more than one or two, but I’m not looking at 20, either. Whatever seems to fit.”

No mention from Boeheim or the author how the regular season and/or conference tournaments might be devalued a tad if the field were expanded, but Boeheim might be on to something. Making 60% of all the teams playoff eligible has worked wonders for the MLS — fast on track to becoming North America’s 8th or 9th favorite professional sports league, so perhaps the amateurs can give it a try, too.

Vescey’s Plan To Fix The Knicks

Posted in Basketball at 12:42 pm by

If you guessed that the New York Post’s Peter Vescey would’ve made a constructive suggestion on how to repair the sunken Knicks franchise prior to the current squad winning their 20th game of the season, congratulations.

The first order of business is for James Dolan to hire a confirmed planner, a person experienced at erecting franchises pre-foundation and/or rebuilding them by creating something out of perishables or nothing tangible to the unskilled eye.

Not only must this significant someone be given complete power to inflict his will and know-how on the Knicks’ extreme make-over, but the entire Garden as well.

This would abruptly end the dream portion of Cablevision’s programming.

Dolan’s superior choices are five in number – Jerry Colangelo, Jerry West, Donnie Walsh, Geoff Petrie and ex-Knick Kiki Vandeweghe (above) whose father, Ernie, played for the above-mentioned ’51 outfit. Kiki, of course, transformed the Nuggets from layoffs to payoffs in less than two seasons and is a rising free agent.

The other four have repeated success stories to their credit. Despite a year (both Jerrys, for sure) or two on their contracts I cannot envision their respective bosses impeding any such switch. Who knows, Suns owner Robert Sarver may even encourage Colangelo to follow his son’s footsteps out of Phoenix.

If selling Cablevision, the Garden and its two prime tenants, the Knicks and Rangers is out of the question, and Dolan doesn’t find any of those names appealing, I guess there’s always Pete or Rob Babcock.

(My guess is the players are praying Brown will tell his “win the right way” story walking. His reputation as a great teacher and motivator has fallen to the point where he will have to climb a ladder to reach bottom.)

With all due respect to Poison Pete, it should be acknowledged that not every portion of MSG’s empire is fucked. Last night’s loss to Ottawa aside, Manhattan’s hockey team are about to complete a strong campaign, and for the first time in what seems like centuries, have some sort of foundation in place for subsequent seasons, too.

Palace’s Jordan Vs. Dildo Duo, Dein

Posted in Football at 12:10 pm by

I’ve implied that Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan is soccer’s answer to Mark Cuban on more than one occasion. Aside from the fact that Cuban’s team might actually win something of note, I no longer think the comparison does Jordan justice. As a quote machine, he’s killing Cuban. From the Daily Mail’s Neil Aston.

“What do I think of (Birmingham City chairmen) David Sullivan and David Gold?” asked Jordan (above). “Well, what do you expect me to think of two people who sell dildos for a living? I see other clubs’ chairman as the enemy. I want to go in there and beat them up. Some of them like David Sullivan.

They are disingenuous, duplicitous and I don’t appreciate the ethics with which they do their business. I don’t appreciate the personal comments they have made to me and I don’t like the the way they do business. As for (former Palace manager) Steve Bruce, no problem. ”

It was reported that Jordan, who has pumped more than 30 million of his personal fortune into Palace, apologised to Arsenal’s David Dein after claiming that football was “a bullshit world full of bullshit people.”

“Like I would apologise to David Dein,” he scoffed. “David Dein is the kind of person who will do favours that you just don’t want. Everytime I see David Dein at a social event he has a player for me who has probably got one lege and he will do me a favour by letting me have him for twice the price. He thinks he is smooth.”

Birmingham’s Sullivan reponded to the Mail’s Neil Moxley :

“I’m flabbergasted at what Simon has said, although I’m very impressed by his vocabulary. I’ve got an economics degree and I didn’t understand two of the words he used.”

Sanity Prevails : NBA To Ban Tights

Posted in Basketball, Fashion at 2:24 am by

Finally, an act of fashion fascism that everyone can get behind. From ESPN’s Darren Rovell and Marc Stein:

League and team sources have told ESPN.com that the NBA, starting next season, intends to ban the tights sported at various points this season by several players, including three MVP candidates: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Although NBA officials are not publicly commenting on the issue, sources say that the league simply does not like the look of players wearing visible hose. It’s believed that the league office, which already has regulations in place to curtail short lengths, can unilaterally outlaw tights by simply amending its uniform code before the 2006-07 season.

Sources say that the NBA informed its 30 teams at last month’s competition committee meeting in Houston that tights would be banned immediately after All-Star Weekend. But the league wound up holding off on that ban, perhaps to avoid a new controversy after the initial furor sparked by the off-court dress code faded quickly and quietly.

Players who wish to wear tights are required to send the league a written request from a team doctor detailing a “medical need” for the leggings. That’s because the league, according to sources, believes that some players are merely wearing them because they like the look.

Davidoff The Soothsayer

Posted in Baseball at 2:12 am by

Not willing to settle for anything as mundane as preseason predictions of Divisional Champs, MVP, Rookie Of The Year, etc., Newsday’s Ken Davidoff looks into the future and tries to determine when the following milestones, amongst others, will take place.

The first woman general manager: This will mark the ultimate intrusion of the “old boys’ club” that sports’ executive suites have nearly always been. Kim Ng (above, right), assistant general manager of the Dodgers since 2002 (she worked the same job with the Yankees from 1998 through 2001), is the favorite to get the chance, but if young men can shoot up the ladder as quickly as Theo Epstein and Queens native Jon Daniels did – both were hired at age 28 – then why can’t a young woman do the same? ETA: 2007

The first use of instant replay: Man, this sure is taking a long time, isn’t it? Selig opposes it – hence the delay – but one more brutal postseason of umpiring ought to put the issue high enough on the agenda. ETA: 2008

The first player with 500 or more home runs to not make the Hall of Fame: Mark McGwire’s day of reckoning comes soonest, as he’ll be on his first ballot this coming winter. He has virtually no shot of getting to Cooperstown next July, but he’ll probably be on at least 5 percent of the ballots, in perpetuity, and such a player stays on the ballot for 15 years.

I’m going to trust in the good work of our world’s journalistic community and count on new information coming out about McGwire’s sins. And I’m going to trust, once more, in the moral fiber of the Baseball Writers Association of America. McGwire will need 75 percent support to get in. I say he never makes it. ETA: 2021

The first Mets no-hitter. Kudos to Newsday colleague Mike Casey for this suggestion. They’ve employed Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, Frank Viola, Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine … and not once, in 44 seasons, can anyone throw nine innings without giving up a hit? ETA: 2462

Sandormir On Internal Debate At ESPN Over Bonds Series

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism, Sports TV at 12:56 am by

Along with an item in today’s New York Times by Murray Chass pointing out the possible conflicts of interests facing former Sen. George Mitchell in his investigation of the Sultan of Surly (ie. he’s on the Red Sox board of directors and is a major Walt Disney Co. sharehoder), Richard Sandomir sheds light on unease at ESPN over the network’s mooted Barry Bonds reality show.

The emotional, sometimes angry debate within ESPN centers in part on whether it has put itself in an untenable journalistic position by aggressively reporting on Bonds’s pursuit of Hank Aaron’s career home run record while simultaneously carrying, at least through midseason, a series that provides Bonds editorial control of its content.

Other serious concerns are whether ESPN is paying for access to Bonds, who is difficult to cover, and giving him hours of time to rehabilitate his image.

“This has conflicts that need to be resolved,” said Jeff Brantley, an ESPN analyst who played with Bonds on the Giants in 1993. “Take this one: Pedro Gomez is covering Bonds on a daily basis, and if he asks tough questions, will Barry be allowed to go back at Pedro on his show?”

Vince Doria, ESPN’s news director, who admitted to having early reservations about carrying the series, said yesterday that Bonds would be “ill-served” if he uses the series to “belittle some of our people.”

Gomez, who was among those who objected most pointedly during the meeting, declined to discuss what he said. Others who cover baseball for ESPN were also said to be among the harshest critics of the series.

Doria said the reactions among the ESPN reporters, analysts, anchors and production workers included those who “felt it was a deal that we shouldn’t have made, some felt it was fine, some felt in between.”

Brantley said he was satisfied with the responses of ESPN management, but is still concerned how the series will look and if it will make the network seem, as he put it, “stupid.” He wondered if the series would stay on the air if it was substandard.

An interesting question. How long has “Cold Pizza” been on, anyway?


Amaré Stoudemire’s Biggest Problem…

Posted in Basketball, The Law at 8:02 pm by

…might not be his left knee. (from New Times, link swiped from True Hoop).

(Carnie Wilson is in no way implicated nor connected to the story above, but it’s amazing whose photo pops up when you type “Carrie Wilson” into a search engine).

Anna & Kris Benson : Splitsville

Posted in Baseball, History's Great Hook-Ups at 7:45 pm by

It’s being reported, well, all over the place, that Orioles P Kris Benson and his (cough) outspoken model-slash-activist wife Anna have filed for divorce.

Though I first suspected Jon Solomon’s Kris Benson voodoo doll might have someting to do with this, one of CSTB’s inside sources in Charm City reports there’s someone else in the Baltimore organization who might’ve come between the couple. I’m sworn to secrecy on this and can only reveal that the gentleman in question brings a long history of pitching success to the Orioles and is sporting a rather new tattoo.

If you’re skeptical, hey, so was I. I really didn’t think Leo was Kris’ type.

Hell In The Cell : London Underground Vs. Terror Series

Posted in Free Expression, The World Of Entertainment at 4:06 pm by

From the Islamic Republic News Agency :

Posters negatively portraying a Muslim as a criminal have been banned from being displayed at Tube stations on London’s underground railway network.

London Underground (LU) said that the adverts for a new television series using the phrase “America’s latest hero is a Muslim straight out of jail’ could not be used because it was sensationalist and will offend people.

“Following consultation with Viacom, which manages advertising on the Tube, it was decided to ask for the words `is a Muslim’ to be removed,” an LU spokeswoman was quoted saying by London’s Evening Standard newspaper Thursday.

The spokeswoman said that the text was “clearly intended to be sensationalist and could give offense.” She added that the decision was taken “in line with our standard policies which seek to avoid gratuitously insulting large groups of Londoners.”

The posters were intended to promote the hit US drama series `Sleeper Cell’ about an undercover FBI agent, who infiltrates a terrorist network by posing as a spy.

The digital channel FX, which is showing the programs, said that the advert would still appear in newspaper. It said that the American drama was the first to feature a Muslim as the lead heroic character.

Without denying anyone’s right to be offended by an inoffensive poster, I would like to say the following about “Sleeper Cell” ;

1) Until the final episode, where they appear to use an American Legion field in place of Dodger Stadium, the series was entertaining and provocative in ways we usually associate with a pay-channel that has 3 initials. Yes, it was every bit as good as “Arli$$”.

2) Blake Shields deserves some sort of award for “credible performance in a production that couldn’t afford Philip Seymour Hoffman”.

3) UK readers who are curious about this drama might be interested to know that much-maligned DJ Tim Westwood is surprisingly sharp in the role of Farik. Unless that isn’t Tim Westwood (in which case, he still sucks).

McAdams : Nixon Wrong To Blame Unbalanced Sked For Imbalanced Tavares

Posted in Baseball at 3:24 pm by

In addition to mocking the departed Tony Graffanino, the Providence Journal’s Sean McAdam takes issue with Trot Nixon’s recent complaints concerning how frequently divisional rivals face each other.

The commisioner’s crime? He installed the dastardly unbalanced schedule in 2000.

“This,” said Nixon, “is a prime example of why Bud Selig needs to take a look at teams playing each other 19 times.”

Sorry, but Julian Tavarez is fully capable of behaving foolishly against a team he hardly knows. In fact, he did so Monday.

The last time Tavarez pitched in the American League, the Devil Rays didn’t even exist. So there was no long-held animosity, no past incidents that contributed to his eruption Monday. Tavarez simply lost his cool — as he’s done frequently in his career — and, unprovoked, slugged Joey Gathright in the jaw.

Nixon is smart enough to know that the unbalanced schedule — in which Red Sox fans are treated to three visits to Fenway by the Yankees, rather than two by the Detroit Tigers — has been a boon for baseball.

The more times the Yankees play the Red Sox, or the Cardinals play the Cubs, or the Dodgers play the Giants, the better it is for the game and for the fans.

If hot-headed relievers can’t maintain their composure — in a spring training game, no less — that won’t change by going back to a balanced schedule. It’s too bad that Nixon felt the need to rationalize Tavarez’s irrational behavior.

Galloway Nearly Stung By Sven’s Psuedo Sheik

Posted in non-sporting journalism at 3:05 pm by

On the heels of appearing alongside swim instructor Michael Barrymore and rebounding reprobate Dennis Rodman on Ch.4′s “Celebrity Big Brother”, Iraq war opponent and MP George Galloway found himself the focus of unwanted media attention. From the Guardian’s Duncan Campbell.

Galloway (above) had been invited out to a late night meal by two men apparently keen to help his party, Respect. The pair, introduced as Pervaiz Khan and Sam Fernando, described themselves as “Islamists” which, given that neither had a beard, also seemed peculiar.

Soon the conversation turned, according to Mr Galloway, to the issue of just how they could help – along the lines of “can we sponsor members of parliament? … fund political parties?” What could they mean? “I told them absolutely not, it’s completely illegal,” said Mr Galloway yesterday.

Then the men starting making remarks about Jewish people, said the MP, “and invited me to agree with them. For example, when I said the Daily Express was the worst pro-war, anti-Muslim paper in the land, they asked ‘because it’s owned by a Jew?’. ‘No,’ I said, ‘because it’s owned by a pro-war pornographer’.”

Then came talk about the Holocaust, with Mr Fernando saying, according to Mr Galloway,”you’re not allowed even to quibble about the numbers, not even to say it might have been five million”.

At midnight Mr Galloway made to leave but, before he departed, Mr Khan said that his driver wanted a picture taken with him as he had seen him on TV. “His driver was built like a bodyguard, had a mouthful of gold teeth and, when I asked where he was from he answered, enigmatically: ‘Up north’.”

At which stage, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Princess Michael of Kent, the Countess of Wessex and countless others might ruefully have been able to warn Mr Galloway that he was in the crosshairs of “the fake sheikh”, aka News of the World reporter, Mazher Mahmood, who frequently pretends to be a wealthy Arab and who keeps his identity hidden behind a silhouette picture byline when his scoops appear.

Rockets Name Stat Hound Their Next GM

Posted in Basketball at 2:47 pm by

The owner is named Leslie, yet he’s never been a woman. Neither has the current GM, Carroll. So with that in mind, is it really such a big surprise the Rockets’ next GM is named Daryl, yet he’s never played the game? From the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen.

In an astounding change of direction and style that stunned the Rockets and the NBA, owner Leslie Alexander has chosen Boston Celtics statistical analyst Daryl Morey (above) to be his next general manager. Morey will succeed Carroll Dawson after the 2006-07 season.

Morey, the Celtics’ senior vice president of operations and information, has worked under Boston owner Wyc Grousbeck for the past three seasons but has never been a player, coach, scout or general manager.

Morey, 32, will become the Rockets’ assistant general manager under Dawson next month before assuming the GM position after next season.

Morey’s position with the Celtics is his first in sports. He teaches a course at MIT, where he received his masters in business administration in “Analytical Sports Management.”

With the Celtics, he is not listed with the basketball operations department led by executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge and general manager Chris Wallace. Morey “focuses on arena operations, risk management, basketball analytics, and ticket sales strategy, pricing and technology infrastructure.”.

Joe Morgan was unavailable for comment.

Angels’ Cable Talks Collapse

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 2:23 pm by

“Emerging technologies”, is of course, a euphamism for being able to watch Angels games on an as-yet-uninvented octagon Taco Bell tortilla-wich, as hawked by that intensely annoying Dave Foley lookalike.

From the LA Times’ Bill Shaikin.

The Angels pulled the plug on Fox Sports Net on Wednesday, putting their fans in jeopardy of losing television coverage of opening day and virtually every road game this season.

Six weeks after Arte Moreno (above) called a 10-year, $500-million contract extension with FSN “a done deal,” the Angel owner terminated negotiations with the cable company. Instead of the proposed 150-game television package, the Angel coverage reverted to the 50 games required under the existing FSN West contract.

That schedule leaves the Angels with no television coverage for 39 of their 51 games before Memorial Day, including Monday’s opener. Club executives scrambled Wednesday to discuss patchwork deals with local stations, including Channels 13 and 56.

The deal is dormant, though, after Moreno decided negotiations had reached an impasse. Although both sides agreed long ago on the basic terms ” 10 years and $500 million ” sources said the parties could not resolve issues surrounding emerging technologies.

After Channel 9 dropped the Angels for the Dodgers, leaving the Angels with nothing beyond the 50 games guaranteed on FSN West this season, the club asked FSN to broadcast additional games. However, with the current contract expiring in 2009 and Moreno exploring the possibility of launching his own cable channel thereafter, FSN refused to air additional games unless the Angels agreed to the long-term extension that would kill such a channel.

Among the highlights of today’s Cardinals/Mets exhibition on SNY ; Braden Looper getting shelled, Xavier Nady busting out, and Gary Cohen shamelessly plugging Choco’s Pizza of Port St. Lucie, while praying desperately for a free delivery. “It’s been a long spring, folks,” pleaded Keith Hernandez. Note that SNY’s dynamic duo have been honing their unique chemistry for all of two whole weeks.

Kids Commit The Darndest Hate Crimes

Posted in Leave No Child Unbeaten, The Internet at 1:42 pm by

Under the catchy headline “Boy Bullied On Hate Website”, the following comes from the Mirror’s Richard Smith.

A heartbroken schoolboy told last night of the misery he endured as cruel yobs taunted and insulted him on a vile website.

The website was set up by two pupils who had been picking on the 12-year-old for almost a year.

They put pictures of him in school uniform on it along with a series of bizarre claims and hurtful jibes – including the repeated accusation that he was gay. The website also included a section where visitors could post their own foul-mouthed insults about the lad.

One callous visitor even wrote: “A cool hate website.”

One bully used the site to offer a £5 prize to anyone who stole the boy’s school diary.

The site included one entire section that gave lists of the victim’s bogus likes and dislikes.

The likes included: “Gays, boys’ legs, gingers, people who he fancies.”

The dislikes were listed as: “Everyone who’s not gay, the peeps who made this site, anyone who’s not in the YMCA.”

Another bizarre area was dedicated to the bleach that the lad was falsely said to use to colour his hair.

One bully wrote: “He uses his own brand. It’s called Gays R U. It’s on da market now in all good gay stores!”

The spiteful rant went on to list a series of likely side-effects from using the bleach, including: “Gayness, drowsy fatness, freckles, face deformities, squeeky voice, etc.”

It does seem tragic that in an age when the internet can be harnessed for so much good, callous individuals insist on using it to foster intolerance.

Kravitz “Underwhelmed” By I.U’s Unveiling Of Sampson

Posted in Basketball at 9:22 am by

The Indianapolis Star’s Bob Kravitz wanted to “be roused out of my cynical stupor” at yesterday’s press conference introducing Kelvin Sampson as the new Indiana head coach, but no dice.

I honestly, truly, desperately wanted to come to this news conference — which inauspiciously started 20 minutes late — and be convinced that all my initial impressions of this puzzling and unexpected hire were wrong.
Can I be honest here?

I was underwhelmed. This wasn’t a pep rally to incite and unite the Hoosier Nation. This was a confessional. IU’s administration spent more time in a defensive posture than any of Mike Davis’ recent teams.
Even the smattering of students who showed up at Assembly Hall — hey, shouldn’t you clowns be in class? — had to be roused to action by athletic director Rick Greenspan, who awkwardly implored the crowd to “give (Sampson) a big cheer.”

For a week, Greenspan’s office had been contacting former IU players, Isiah Thomas included, asking if they’d come to Bloomington and show support for a new coach. Well, roughly 10 former players showed up, the most notable being Brian Evans and Greg Graham. There was no Thomas, no Kent Benson, none of the luminaries from the Hoosiers’ glory days.

Perhaps the most notable absence, though, was Robert Vaden, who continues to insist he will leave IU and follow Mike Davis wherever he goes. The rest of the team was there — a bored D.J. White looked like he’d rather be in geology class — but Vaden made the loudest statement by saying nothing.

Football’s Most Marketable Face

Posted in Football, The Marketplace at 8:52 am by

For real.

Massarotti On Schilling In Transition

Posted in Baseball at 7:52 am by

Comparing Curt Schilling’s recovery / re-education as a pitcher to the challenges faced by Pedro Martinez circa 2002, Tony Massarotti examines the Boston starter’s mindset in today’s Boston Herald.

Curt Schilling made his final spring training start yesterday, an abbreviated four-inning stint in which he threw 67 pitches in the Red Sox™ 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at City of Palms Park. Schilling™s fastball touched 94 mph, but it was routinely between 90-91.

œThe hitters will let me know. You™d hate to make the adjustment before you have to, Schilling said when asked if he may have to pitch differently at this stage of his career.

He later added: œI don™t have to throw 96 on the corners to get people out because I know where (a hitter™s) holes are, and I know where to go to get to those holes.

Spring training means nothing, but it™s probably wise to temper expectations just the same. Schilling turned 39 in November. He is roughly 16 months removed from major ankle surgery. He™s coming off the worst season of his major league career, though anyone who remembers October 2004 knows the right-hander has a get-out-of-jail-free card that lasts as long as he does.

Does that mean he can™t win in 2006? Heavens no. Like Martinez, Schilling is smart, stubborn and a fierce combatant.

And like Martinez, it may take him some time to figure it all out.

Two years ago when he went 21-6, Schilling™s fastball routinely touched 93-94 mph and peaked at 96, occasionally 97. If that velocity returns, great. If it doesn™t, Schilling needs to find ways to keep hitters off-balance the way Martinez did, particularly because his fastball is so straight that you could hang laundry on it.

Admitted Schilling: œLocation and velocity are of paramount importance to me at times.

The truth is that some of the velocity may be gone. And that absence may be the difference between a strikeout and a foul ball, perhaps explaining why Schilling™s pitch counts escalated like gas prices during much of last season. He had trouble putting hitters away. And for a strikeout pitcher especially, that can be a harsh, harsh reality.

Chase Utley, Cockfighter

Posted in Baseball, Cinema at 6:26 am by

From the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Todd Zolecki.

Baseball treasures its traditions, which is why the national pastime is so special to so many people.

Hot dogs, peanuts, Cracker Jack.

The traditional blood sport of cockfighting has not made its way into baseball’s fabric, and it probably never will considering that it is illegal in 48 states and the District of Columbia. So imagine the surprise of two Phillies season-ticket holders when they recently played a Phillies highlights DVD only to find a Spanish-language cockfighting video.

The Phillies had sent about 4,000 DVDs to season-ticket holders who had not renewed their season tickets, and as far as they know, only two have featured the sport where specially bred gamecocks are placed in an enclosure to fight to a bloody death.

The DVD manufacturer, ProAction Video, took responsibility for the error. It said when it started its Phillies DVD run, a few DVDs from a previous run to another customer inadvertently remained in the molding equipment.


Some of the cockfighting DVDs were stamped with a Phillies graphic, which featured second baseman Chase Utley (above) and the title Power of the Plan.

The Phillies said in a statement that they “regret if any recipient was offended as a result.”

Presumably, the Phillies also regret if any recipient was delighted as a result.

D’Allessandro, Readers, Stalking Mile Ilic From Afar

Posted in Basketball at 3:36 am by

From the always entertaining mailbag portion of Dave D’Allessandro’s Nets Blast :

Dave: A couple Euros for your thoughts… 1) Planinic. I don’t know if you remember, but I’ve been asking for more p.t. for this guy since the pre-season. He can plain get by his defender and into the paint. Problem was, was he didn’t always make great decisions after his first move. Now he’s doing better w/ the pick and roll and kick outs. Just patting my back for my Planinic observations. 2) How is our project, 7 footer from Croatia or Serbia (I don’t remember) doing in the Euro league? Can we realistically rely on him for next year or is he 2 years away?
Rich Wong

Hey, Rich: The second Euro is Mile Ilic (he™s Serbian), and Ed Stefanski™s brief update can be found here. The emerging consensus is that he™s a better athlete than Krstic, but his upside can™t be gauged until they bring him over and work him out. I asked Krstic about him yesterday, and he gave one of those what™s-the-use gestures: œIt™s the same as me, he said. œThey won™t play him, and they won™t give him the ball. But if a buyout can be done, Ilic will be spending his summer in East Rutherford. As for Zoran, the Nets should be very proud of him “ not only because the light finally went on in terms of recognizing that he has to drive the damn ball, but because he never bitched and moaned during the dark days of January and February. And don™t forget, it was his energy boost at New Orleans that got this nine-game winning streak started, just as it was Scott Padgett™s five 3-pointers that blasted them off on that 10-gamer. He was looking at the stats last night, and I told him, œDid you ever think you™d play a game in which you had more assists than Steve Nash? And he replied, œI still haven™t taken my eyes off the 1-for-9 yet.

Heyman On MLB’s Bonds Investigation

Posted in Baseball at 3:25 am by

Major League Baseball announced yesterday that former Sen. George Mitchell (above) will head an investigation of steroid use amongst Barry Bonds and others in baseball. For Newsday’s Jon Heyman, this is far too little, too late.

Believe me, it’s no great joy to stick up for Bonds; even his poor lawyers have to know that by now. And yet, it’s way too easy to be a part of the pack calling for his rather ample head.

One problem is that Bonds wasn’t nearly the only one taking steroids in his era. One player told Newsday that baseball would be “astonished” by the number of players who used drugs to enhance performance. If an investigation could really uncover the truth about who used and who didn’t, it may well discover that it’s a lot harder to find a home-run hitter who never took a steroid, never did a drug, during the era of 1990-2005, than to find ones who did.

The one thing we can surely say is that Bonds was the one who used them most effectively. Long before he picked up a needle, Bonds was the best player of his era. But maybe he also had the best drugs, the best chemist, a better cocktail. Steroids expert Gary .Wadler, the Manhasset doctor, said users like to compare notes about who has the best cocktail. Well, I think that argument is just about over now.

According to “Game of Shadows,” the book that juiced up this issue yet again, it was Bonds’ 10-drug cocktail that helped produce 73 home runs in a season in which he was walked a third of the time he came to the plate. If he hadn’t been walked so often, he might have hit 100.

Baseball’s other problem is that it wasn’t looking very hard while Bonds was doing what now seems obvious. So if the investigation is independent and honest, baseball isn’t going to look too good, either. Frankly, we were all too busy celebrating baseball’s rebirth to look. That includes commissioner Bud Selig, baseball executives, reporters, almost everyone.


Dodgers Extend Lt. Dangle

Posted in Baseball at 9:52 pm by

2B Jeff Kent signed a $11.5 million, one-year contract extension with the Dodgers on Wednesday, a pact that includes a club option for 2008 ($9 million) that becomes guaranteed if the Bad Lt. makes 500 plate appearances the prior year.

My initial reaction to this announcement was “you can purchase many pairs of sunglasses and little shorts for $11 million.” Dodger Thoughts’ Jon Wiseman, however, has a more sophisticated take.

It’s possible that Kent is one of those guys, like Roger Clemens, who is going to be performing at a high level past his 40th birthday. Nonetheless, the move comes as a shock, with the combination of age and recent wrist surgery raising questions about whether this would be the year Kent finally tails off, let alone 2007 or 2008.

It seems like a strange time to extend the commitment. I imagine that this is in part to try to keep the prickly player a little more content for the coming 162 games, along with a true belief on Dodger general manager Ned Colletti’s part that Kent is far from done.

On a different note, this definitely raises more questions about the future of Cesar Izturis and Willy Aybar in the organization. With Bill Mueller and Andy LaRoche at third base, Rafael Furcal at shortstop, Kent at second base and James Loney (and possibly Nomar Garciaparra) at first base from now through 2007, there isn’t a place for both Izturis and Aybar, if either. Even if Kent were to move to first base in 2007, only one spot opens up.

Right elbow troubles have put Blue Jays pitcher A.J. Burnett on the shelf to start the season ; Burnett is expected to miss at least two starts.

Steady Eddie, King Of Pranks

Posted in Baseball at 7:11 pm by

Step back, George Brett. The Seattle Times’ Greg Bishop declares Mariners reliever Eddie Guardado, the Prankmeister Supreme. And now we know what’s wrong with Christian Guzman.

Cristian Guzman could not stop itching. This went on for four days, until he found himself on the shoulder of a Minnesota freeway, outside of his car, scratching at his underwear like a man with the worst case of chicken pox in human history. The next day Guzman queried clubhouse attendants about the shampoo and soap they used in the team shower.

His Minnesota Twins teammates had heard enough. They started laughing, cackling, crying, falling on the ground. And right then, Guzman knew.

Mariners closer Eddie Guardado had struck again.

“He used to take people’s cars and hide them down the street,” says Matt Lawton, Guardado’s friend and teammate in Minnesota and now Seattle. “He put peanut butter in people’s shoes, hot sauce in their jocks.

“He’s got some classics. He’s the best I’ve ever seen. He’ll stay up late at night, plotting things to do.”

The David Ortiz story: “He goes, ‘Where’s my shorts?’ I go, ‘Look in the freezer. They’re nice and folded ”and hard as a rock. ‘So his focus was on the shorts. Well, I lined the inside of his jeans with peanut butter. He didn’t even notice. Peanut butter all up on him. I was crying, man. The reaction of the people, that’s where you get your humor.”