Hoosiers Hire Sampson

Posted in Basketball at 5:08 pm by

Bob Huggins has been in the Big 12 less than a week and the competition’s already running for cover. From the Sports Network.

Kelvin Sampson has reportedly agreed to leave Oklahoma to take the men’s basketball head coaching vacancy at Indiana.

Sampson would replace Mike Davis at the storied program, according to the Bloomington Herald Times, and an official announcement could come as early as Wednesday.

In 12 years at Oklahoma, Sampson has compiled a 279-109 record. The Sooners have been to the postseason every season since he arrived for the 1994-95 campaign and have reached the NCAA Tournament 11 times.

Sampson’s tenure in Norman was highlighted by a run to the Final Four in 2002, which ended with a loss to Davis’ Indiana squad in the national semifinals.

The North Carolina native guided the Sooners to nine consecutive 20-win seasons and has the highest winning percentage (.719) in school history.

Sampson led Oklahoma to three straight Big 12 Tournament championships (2001-03) and the Sooners played in the title game five times in the last eight campaigns.

The two-time national coach of the year has a career record of 455-257 in 23 years with Oklahoma, Washington State and Montana Tech.

Mind Crimes, Redefined

Posted in Baseball, Rock Und Roll at 4:15 pm by

Metal Mike might’ve moved to San Diego, but his aesthetic lives on in Flushing. From what even Chris Ballard would agree is the bane of all internet activity, Blabbermouth.net (thanks to Maura Johnston for the tip).

QUEENSRŸCHE frontman Geoff Tate will sing the national anthem at the New York Mets/Washington Nationals game Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York on April 5 at 7:10 p.m. According to a posting on QUEENSRŸCHE’s official web site, the anthem will be aired live during the radio broadcast and after the anthem, a mention will be made of the group’s new album, “Operation: Mindcrime II”.

“Operation: Mindcrime II” is scheduled for release on April 4 via Rhino. Legendary heavy metal vocalist Ronnie James Dio (BLACK SABBATH, DIO, RAINBOW) makes a guest appearance on the album as “Dr. X”.

Bruce Ratner Vs. Tomorrow’s Leaders

Posted in Basketball at 12:51 pm by

From The New York Daily News’ Hugh Son.

The controversial Atlantic Yards project shouldn’t get $100 million in state funds until a desperately needed Sunset Park high school is built, a Brooklyn elected official said.

The stalled high school project – promised and then scrapped three times in 37 years – is more deserving of state funding than developer Bruce Ratner’s $3.5 billion arena, office and residential tower project, said state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D-Fort Greene).

“There shouldn’t be any dollars going to that arena until that high school is built. Period,” Montgomery told the Daily News.

The $93 million school project – in limbo amid budget disputes between Gov. Pataki and the city – should “definitely go to the top of the list” for funding, Montgomery added.

Education advocates and Sunset Park parents fear the school will be shelved yet again amid an ongoing battle regarding at least $4.7 billion courts have ruled the state owes city schoolchildren.

A Ratner spokesman declined to comment.

If you’re searcing for a gift for Shaquille O’Neal, a copy of Who’s Who In The NBA might be a good place to start.

On the occassion of Danny Fortson’s 30th birthday, consider the following statement :

Danny is just a great human being no matter what may be written about him!

Randy Johnson, Father Of The Year

Posted in Baseball at 12:14 pm by

Though the good folks at the New York Daily News were unable to provide a compelling enough snapshot of The Little Unit (She-Unit?), thanks to the wonders of Photoshop, I am counting on someone to deliver the goods to CSTB very shortly. Thank you.

Rangers Waive Durazo

Posted in Basketball at 11:52 am by

Designated Hitter Erubiel Durazo and P John Wasdin have been released by Texas.

While the Rangers have no shortage of players who can DH or play first, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Durazo (above) on someone’s major league roster by opening day. Personally, I’d refer to see him go head-to-head in a televised tryout versus Carlos Pena on Saturday night, kind of the like the NCAA tournament’s play-in game (or the first season of “Dream Job”, only with less talking).

Houston’s $15.6 million insurance claim on Jeff Bagwell has been rejected by Connecticut General Life. The insurance company takes issue with the club’s declaration that Bagwell is “totally disabled”. Well, let’s see. Bagwell can’t throw and has struggled to hit the ball out of the infield this spring. Not only do the Astros have a case, but going by the lowest of baseball standards, the Mets might want to try the same thing with Kaz Matsui.

Pete Rose has come out in favor of punishment for players found guilty of using steroids “during the last two years.” That should kill Matt Lawton’s remaining chances of making the Canadian Baseball Hall Of Fame.

Julian Tavares Regrets Nothing

Posted in Baseball at 10:32 am by

The Globes’ Gordon Edes collects the quotes from Boston’s 2nd bench clearer in as many days.

”What do you mean, ‘regret’?” Tavarez said when asked if he was sorry he hit Gathright with a blow to the jaw in the eighth inning of a 12-11 win over the Devil Rays, adding another line to the rap sheet of scrums between these clubs. ”I wish I don’t have to [throw a punch], because I’m not here to fight, you know. Little things happen in baseball, you know. No big deal.”

Incensed at what Gathright’s teammate, Carl Crawford, called a sucker punch, delivered with Gathright on one knee and trying to push away Tavárez’s left leg that was planted on his right forearm (”I can show you the marks,” said Gathright, who did just that for reporters), the D-Rays expect that baseball disciplinarian Bob Watson will view the incident with more gravity than Tavárez did.

”I think that may require a suspension, absolutely,” said Joe Maddon, the Tampa Bay manager who is replacing Lou Piniella, accused by Curt Schilling last season of fomenting some of the bad blood between the teams. ”That kind of action cannot be tolerated, and I don’t want any of our guys ever doing anything like that, I know that.”

The Journal News’ John Delcos does his best to determine which relievers are making the Mets’ big league roster and who will find themselves bound for Norfolk.

Duaner Sanchez and Jorge Julio seem certain to work the eighth and seventh innings, respectively, as the bridge to Billy Wagner. Bradford figures to be the situational right-hander, which would account for four relievers.

Should Randolph carry 11 pitchers, he’s looking at two more relievers. One of them probably will be a lefty, either Royce Ring or Darren Oliver.

If Randolph takes 12 pitchers north, he could conceivably take both left-handers and another reliever.

Who would it be? Yusaku Iriki? Pedro Feliciano? Heath Bell? Juan Perez? Perhaps a veteran such as Jose Lima, who could be a swing guy and work as both a starter and a reliever.

It won’t be Mitch Wylie, a Rule 5 pick who yesterday opted to become a free agent rather than accept a minor-league assignment.

The wild card is Aaron Heilman, who would go to the bullpen if Brian Bannister makes the roster as the fifth starter, which is the only way he would stick, Randolph said.

“I haven’t heard anything,” Bannister said, giving the four-word greeting that serves as hello for him these days.

Today against the Marlins at Jupiter, Heilman will make his final spring start, which could help Randolph make his decision.

“Aaron changes everything,” Ring said. “If he’s in the bullpen, everybody will be juggled, and they would probably only take one lefty.”

Indie’s Lawson On “Ugly, Dishonest” Football

Posted in Football at 9:04 am by

On a day in which Patrick Viera (above, right) returns to Highbury (for tonight’s Arsenal/Juventus Champions League Quarterfinal), the Independent’s Dominc Lawson wonders why today’s footballers can’t be nice, polite gentlemen like those well-bred cricket and rugby players.

Rugby Union has long since turned professional. But the interesting thing is that the now well-remunerated players still maintain the same standars of conduct on and off the field as they did when it wan amateur game. In contrast to the way in which the modern professional football player writhes in mock agony at the slightest tap, the rugby union player reacts in the opposite fashion: even after receiving a thump that would fell an ox, he pretends not to be hurt.

The same is true of professional cricket. Batsmen are frequently struck sickening blows from fast bowlers, but it is a matter of professional pride never to rub the bruise, agonising as everyone knows it to be. In other words, rugby and cricket are manly games, while English football, symbolised by the effete and narcissistic David Beckham — no longer is. This development is frequently blamed on the foreign players who now dominate the Premier League, but I doubt whether such racial analysis would stand up to scrutiny.

Yes, I know that the greatest players — Pele and George Best spring to mind — have something about their movement on the field which is profoundly aesthetic. But, taken as a whole, the modern game is about as beautiful as a pub brawl.

Sucking Up A Storm With S.I.’s Chris Ballard

Posted in Blogged Down, Sports Journalism at 6:32 am by

A long transcontinental flight gave me time to catch up on some old mail, a couple of unfinished books, yesterday’s papers, ‘The Fog Of War’ and least interesting of all, Chris Ballard’s “Writing Up A Storm (How The Web Is Changing Sports Coverage”) in the latest Sports Illustrated.

It’s tough to argue with Ballard’s assertion that sports bloggery is packed with drooling, gossip-mongering social reprobates with little or no training, credentials, etc. Because after all, it takes a journalism degree to deliver the hard hitting content you’ll find in a serious sports mag like S.I. For example, did you know the Knicks’ David Lee and S.I. swimsuit model Anne V. are dating?

Seriously, other than those stuck on airplanes or dentist offices, who regularly reads Sports Illustrated anymore? The photography is still top notch, some of the reportage of a high quality (Tom Verducci’s no slouch), but far too much of the modern SI reads like a desperate attempt to mimmick the breezy, personality-parade that is ESPN The Magazine.

(Sports Illustrated’s Rick Reilly — irrelevent in the pre-blog era, too).

I’m not sure what purpose it serves in the year 2006 to rail against the plethora of crud on the internet aimed squarely at the lowest common denominator. There’s a signal-to-noise quotient for all subjects, not merely sports. For every thousand poorly written, shit-stirring-for-the-sake-of-it-blog, there’s still a sizable minority of articulate, original voices that weren’t likely to be sanctioned by Time-Warner anytime soon.

(Though that said, it is worth noting that some of those voices, Dodger Thoughts’ Jon Wiseman amongst them, are SI contributors these days. Just like Chris Ballard.)

A couple of additional observations from this mess of an article :

1) Though I could certainly Die In Peace without reading another word about Bill Simmons’ career trajectory, there is something kind of amazing about an ESPN competitor giving Simmons that much coverage. I’m struggling to think of a good analogy — Fox’s Sunday NFL show profiling Chris Berman?

2) Next time, I sincerely hope Ballard and SI will commission more photographs of dudes hunched over their laptops. We really need more of that kind of thing.

3) “Leitch is not surprised by Deadspin’s popularity. “It seemed like there was a gaping hole for a site like this,” he says. “Most sites were either hard-core heavy stats, Bill Jamesian, or they were ‘Jets suck!’”

Indeed, I can’t tell you how long the sabermetric approach of The Sports Frog proved daunting to someone like me, who just wanted some light entertainment.

Likewise, the partisian sentiments flowing from a blog like Yard Work so completely overwhelm whatever else the site might have to offer in terms of satire, absurdity, etc. At bedtime tonight, after you’ve given thanks to Will Leitch for inventing the internet, be sure to give him very special credit for pioneering just whatever the fuck it is he wants to continue taking credit for.

4) As paradigm-smashing as the the current sports blogging boom might seem, Ballard’s version of da ‘sphere seems exclusively populated by, well, white guys of a particular vintage hunched over laptops. The sole non-male voices heard from, for better or worse, are the anonymous young ladies behind On The DL (correctly cited by Ballard as “the most risque thing about Deadspin).

Sheesh. They have the internet on computers now. Maybe next time (said in Geico caveman voice) Ballard can do a little research.


They Don’t Get Much Edgier Than Leo Mazzone

Posted in Baseball at 7:47 pm by

From MLB.com Spencer Fordin writes that Kevin Millar has convinced Orioles pitching coach Leo Mazzone to get a tattoo. I apologize in advance for the nightmares you are certain to have this evening.

“I’m going to break him in a little bit, and we’re going to bring The Edge to this club — that edge this team needs,” Millar said in his diary dated March 15. “Leo’s been in my ear a little bit that he wants one, and I told him I’ll think of one for him. I’ve got to go to my drawing board, but I’m going to take him once our families leave. We’ll have a day together.”

That goal came to pass over the weekend, with Mazzone sporting some brand new ink on his left shoulder. The design, instigated by Millar, is a red-and-blue pennant with the words “14 straight” written inside of it. The slogan refers to Mazzone’s run of success with his former team — the Atlanta Braves — which included 14 consecutive division titles.

“He’s fired up about it. He’s going to be shirtless for a while,” said Millar on Monday. “He’s a tough guy, but he got to the tattoo parlor and he was nervous. He kept asking me, ‘Millar, will it be all right?’”

Forgiving Barry Becomes The Sultan Of Suicide

Posted in Baseball at 7:38 pm by

From the AP :

“My life is in shambles. It is crazy,” Barry Bonds said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press. “It couldn’t get any crazier. I’m just trying to stay sane.”

Then, clearly joking, he went for shock value:

“Go to the Empire State Building and jump off, commit suicide and people can say, ‘Barry Bonds is finally dead.’ Except for in San Francisco,” he said. “I’ll leave something for them.”

Asked how he blocks out distractions, he says:

“What’s my job description? That’s what I’m doing at that time,” Bonds said. “No, I don’t forget [what is said]. I will never forget. I forgive you but I don’t forget. I forgive everybody.”

Much as I hate to imagine how gruesome it would be if the Sultan were to take a flying leap off the Empire State Building, I can’t be the only person wondering if Pedro Gomez would have the presence of mind not to follow him.