03.30.06

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.