Seo Staving Off Billingsly…For Now

Posted in Baseball at 10:24 am by

Prior to last night, you’d have to say the Mets got the better end of their swap of Jae Seo for reliever Duaner Sanchez. But while Sanchez was yet again a key component in Friday’s New York victory, Seo was terrific for the Dodgers last night, allowing just two hits in 6 shutout innings, earning his first win of 2006 in LA’s 3-0 win over San Diego. From the LA Daily News’ Tony Jackson :

The evening’s unquestioned star was the embattled Seo, whom Little never admitted was on the verge of losing his spot. The importance of his performance nevertheless was magnified by the fact top pitching prospect Chad Billingsley was simultaneously throwing eight shutout innings for Triple-A Las Vegas against Colorado Springs, allowing one hit.

Seo’s performance might not have happened if not for Little’s meeting.

“We were trying anything we could do to try to help him out,” Little said. “I don’t know much about (the Korean) culture, what their approach is to pitching, but I just talked to him about going out there and pitching a game without setting his goals too high. What he needed to do was throw a one-inning shutout and see if he could accomplish that goal. Then after that inning, set another goal.”

No interpreter was present for the meeting.

“He understands,” Little said.

Jon Wiseman can’t resist comparing Seo’s Friday night with that of former Dodger Jeff Weaver, who was treated harshly by the White Sox, allowing 8 earned runs in 2 and a third innings. Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski, making his first appearance in Anaheim since last October’s ALCS, was roundly booed. According to his manager (quoted by the Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley), he oughta be used to it.

”A.J., because they boo A.J. everywhere,” Sox manager Ozzie Guillen responded, when asked who would get the most boos over the weekend. ”Even in his backyard, his wife and kids boo him.’

Umberger’s Revenge

Posted in Hockey at 9:43 am by

Flyers 5, Sabres 4

It’s very hard to argue that Ryan Miller shouldn’t have prevented Buffalo’s 4th goal last night ; for one thing, it wouldn’t have been the toughest save of all time.  For another, the puck came off the stick of a dead man.

James Mirtle points out in the wake of Dallas’s 4-1 victory that prevented their elimination at the hands of Colorado last night,  Jose Theodore might well be ready to turn into the same Jose Theodore the Canadians were dying to unload.

It’s Official : David Wright Almost As Valuable As Ty Wigginton

Posted in Baseball at 1:55 am by

Mets 5, Braves 2

I’m sure it gets better than this, but what with my Kevin Finnerty-style memory loss, I can’t remember a 6 game lead over Atlanta. My short term memory is slightly better, however, so I can still recall David Wright hitting a pair of long home runs, Pedro Martinez (with apologies to Greg Maddux) looking every bit the Cy Young front-runner, Endy Chavez continuing to run down fly balls that would elude most Carlos Beltran understudies, Kaz Matsui (.345 BA) extending his hitting streak, Duaner Sanchez-untouchable-again (no runs allowed in 16 innings)…and most clearly of all, a John Franco-esque three out save by Billy Wagner, working his way out of his own jam.

If John Franco had been 20 MPH faster.

Some other perspectives from men who didn’t have dates on a Friday night :

Game over, you tomahawk-chopping dilettantes. Pedro beats Smoltz again. President Carter gets dragged under by a changing tide again. (Sorry, sir, we have to part ways when it comes to that cap you were wearing. But didja catch the size of that footlong that Rosalynn was working on? It oughta be suspended for ingesting performance-enhancing substances, not Iriki). – Greg, Faith & Fear In Flushing

Plain and simple, the Mets beat Atlanta tonight because Queens’ best was at their best. Petey, save for the two run home run to everybody’s favorite hateable third baseman, was brilliant for seven innings. Jose Reyes and David Wright, the young cornerstones of the franchise, produced. Reyes got on base 3 times and scored twice, while Wright hit two home runs. And Billy Wagner, Country Time, nailed down a big save in a big spot. Sure, it was dicey…the bases were loaded…and it wasn’t September. But it was Atlanta…and it was the Braves. And that’s big enough for me at this point.Metsradamus

If I have any complaints at all with this game, it’s that Billy Wagner hasn’t gotten the memo that he’s supposed to be a lights-out closer.

Smoltz stopped throwing that splitter because of the arm problems it caused, and now he’s gone back to it. I respect him as much as any opponent the Mets face, but I’d be really surprised if he made it over 200 innings this year.Mike’s Mets

Amazin’ Avenue’s Eric Simon notes that Binghamton’s Henry Owens struck out 4 batters last night in 1.1 innings collecting his 5th save in the Mets’ 4-1 defeat of Erie. Owens has 31 K’s and just 5 walks in 13.1 innings of relief so far.

EA Sports Strikes Again

Posted in Gridiron, Video Games at 1:24 am by

Usually, the cover jinx takes a little longer than a day to kick in.

USC’s 2004 BCS Title In Jeopardy?

Posted in Gridiron at 1:17 am by

It would be fair to say that Reggie Bush had an extremely shitty Friday.

From Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel :

Assertions by Michael Michaels “ the lead investor in a doomed sports agency and the owner of a Spring Valley, Calif., home occupied by the family of Reggie Bush “ could cost the University of Southern California its 2004 Bowl Championship Series national championship.

BCS officials told Yahoo! Sports on Friday that if Bush is ruled ineligible by either the Pacific 10 Conference or the NCAA for even one game during the 2004 season, the BCS will discuss amending its rules to allow it to force the Trojans to vacate the national championship.

“This is the type of thing the BCS might have to look into if other governing bodies, the conference and the NCAA, take action,” BCS administrator Bill Hancock said.

Michaels’ claims, which he has promised will be backed up by corroborating evidence, moves the timeline of Bush’s potential ineligibility back to the Trojans’ 2004 undefeated BCS national championship season.

In a statement released to Yahoo! Sports on Friday, Michaels’ attorney, Brian Watkins, said that in October 2004 Michaels was approached at a San Diego Chargers football game by Bush’s stepfather LaMar Griffin about investing and partnering in New Era Sports & Entertainment, a new sports agency.

In November 2004, Michaels then met with Griffin, longtime Bush friend Lloyd Lake and Bush himself to discuss the plan where the USC running back would be the firm’s central client when he turned pro in the spring of 2006.

“In November 2004, in San Diego, Reggie Bush, recruited by his stepfather to validate Mr. Griffin’s company, convinced [Michaels and Lake] of its viability,” Watkins said in the statement.

“There was the representation that Reggie would come with his stepfather,” Watkins told Yahoo! Sports on Friday. “Reggie ratified that.”

Michaels said that soon thereafter Griffin asked him to pay off $28,000 of Griffin’s personal debt, which Michaels obliged.

While Sports Illustrated’s Peter King quotes Saints GM Mickey Loomis as virtually guaranteeing New Orleans will select Bush with tomorrow’s 2nd pick,  The Houston Chronicle’s Richard Justice derides the Texans’ decision to opt for Mario Williams writing that Bush would’ve given Houston “a couple of things they don’t have. Like excitement and credibility.”

Texans owner Bob McNair has this ridiculous notion that the No. 1 pick must be signed before the draft.

You’re wrong, Bob.

The No. 1 pick is seldom signed before the draft. Yes, holdouts are part of the process with the top players. Yes, Bush wanted an obscene amount of money. Tough luck. Taking a hard line with Bush makes absolutely no sense.

You overpaid for Gary Walker, Todd Wade, Morlon Greenwood and others. Now you’re going to play hardball with Bush? That makes you look incompetent and petty.

Franchises aren’t destroyed by holdouts. Emmitt Smith twice held out. Would the Texans have passed on him?

Were the Texans scared off by Bush’s family living in a house furnished by a sports agent? If that was an issue, why did they continue to negotiate with him until Thursday?

Or did the Texans change their mind about Bush? Did they decide he wasn’t the best player available in this draft?

Maybe all those other teams, maybe all those other talent evaluators, aren’t as smart as the Texans. The Texans decided their need for a pass rusher was more pressing than taking the best player on the board.

There’s a word for this kind of logic in professional sports. It’s called stupidity.


What’s The World Coming To…

Posted in Basketball at 11:16 pm by

…when Mike Breen and Bill Walton take time to note the presence of former WCW World Champion David Arquette at tonight’s Western Conference playoff Game 3 between the Suns and Lakers, and totally ignore Dyan Cannon (sitting next to Magic Johnson)?

I hope that Eric Kuselias, Colin Cowherd and anyone else who has moaned about the NBA-being-not-as-good-as-it-was-in-the-’80′s were out watching some art film rather than witnessing tonight’s duel between The Black President and LeBron James. Despite my fervent hope that the former would use these playoffs as his personal stepping stone to a better shoe deal, I have no idea how Washington is going to shut down James over the course of a best of 7 series. Though sending him takeout from this place might do it.

Texans Bypass Bush, Sign Williams

Posted in Gridiron at 10:02 pm by

From the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain :

In a stunning move that will reverberate through the first round of Saturday’s NFL draft, the Texans have signed North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams to a contract, meaning he’ll be the first player selected.

The contract is for five years with an option year at a total of almost $54 million, with almost $26.5 million guaranteed.

Williams, 6-7, 295, had an exceptional performance at the Indianapolis scouting combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.70, bench pressing 225 pounds 35 times and having a vertical leap of 40 inches.

Although the Texans said the controversy involving Bush and his parents’ living arrangements in San Diego had nothing to do with their decision, they intensified negotiations with Dogra on Thursday and worked all day today to complete the deal.

Williams’ best position is left end, but the Texans gave Baltimore free agent Anthony Weaver a $12.5 million signing bonus to play that position. Williams will play right end, probably forcing Antwan Peek their best pass rusher back to outside linebacker.

As the debate continues over which of the top rated QB’s available in tomorrow’s draft represents the best bet for pro success, Joe Montana casts his vote for Vince Young (TMC.net) :

“I think he’s a step above the other two,” said Montana, who was in the Triangle to discuss hypertension awareness and his health-outreach program, BP Success Zone. “I can’t see anyone being much better than Vince all around.”

The four-time Super Bowl champion and three-time Super Bowl MVP said there was a time black quarterbacks such as Young might not have been drafted to play quarterback at all, instead being converted to wideout or defensive back.

“Before, if you had an African- American on your team, he usually was the best athlete and you wanted him to have the ball all the time,” Montana said, adding that teams’ position needs, not prejudice, might have caused the uncertainty about where Young might be drafted.

The Boston Globe’s Mike Reiss reports that the Patriots, in addition to the Broncos, are keen on acquiring Javon Walker from Green Bay.

In somewhat less scintillating news, the Vikings have introduced new uniforms for the 2006 season. Sadly, we’ll never get to see Daunte Culpepper in the new purple pants.

Steve Howe, RIP

Posted in Baseball at 8:49 pm by

Steve Howe, National League Rookie of The Year in 1980, was killed early Friday morning when his truck flipped over in Coachella, CA.

Howe pitched for the Dodgers, Twins, Rangers and Yankees during an oft-interrupted 16 year big league career, one best remembered for the 7 times Howe was suspended for violations of MLB’s drug policy.

Roch Kubatko, Instant Message Pest

Posted in Baseball at 8:34 pm by

The Orioles are trying to hang on and preserve a win over Seattle after Daniel Cabrera’s best outing of the season (7 innings, 6 K’s, 4 hits, 2 walks, a two-run homer allowed to Jose Lopez)…and the Baltimore Sun’s blogging fiend Roch Kubatko is bored.

I just had a nice IM exchange with Brady Anderson. I asked if he had anything blog-worthy for me. He didn’t at the moment, but said he was working on some cool stuff and would keep me posted if it goes through.

(all those HR’s from the lead off spot and he couldn’t afford a shirt?)
Could that “cool stuff” be a tell-all book? Or maybe just a new rumpus room for the Anderson estate?

Your Hot Minor League Pitching Duels For Friday Night

Posted in Baseball at 6:27 pm by

(pairings culled from Notes From A Minor Key) :

Scranton-WB Red Barons at Norfolk Tides : Seung-Hak Lee vs Jose Lima

Nashville Sounds at New Orleans Zephyrs : Zach Jackson vs Billy Traber

Salt Lake Bees at Tacoma Rainers : Alex Serrano vs Kevin Appier (above)

High Desert Mavericks at San Jose Giants : Luis Cota vs the rehabbing Noah Lowry (above)

Mets’ Iriki Suspended

Posted in Baseball at 5:50 pm by

From Baseball America :

Yusaku Iriki, a righthander who was pitching Triple-A Norfolk, has been suspended for 50 games for violating Minor League Baseball’s performance-enhancing drug regulations.

Iriki, 33, is in his first year in the U.S. after going 35-35, 3.73 in nine seasons in Japan. This season he was 1-2, 3.74 in 22 innings at the time of the suspension.

Iriki becomes the 10th minor leaguer suspended for performance enhancing drugs this year. Nine of the 10 suspended players are pitchers.

Iriki’s mugshot and bio have already been removed from the Tides’ website.

Mets P Brian Bannister has been placed on the 15 day disabled list ; OF Victor Diaz has been recalled from Norfolk.

The Mets will face John Smoltz, John Thomson and Kyle Davies over the next 3 days at Turner Field, a trio surveyed with aplomb by MetsGeek’s Andrew Hintz.

The Journal News’ John Delcos asked Pedro Martinez, tonight’s Mets starter, to compare the Mets’ rivalry with the Braves to that of the Red Sox and Yankees.

“I haven’t been here long enough to know,” Martinez said. “But you’re talking about the best rivalry in sports.”

With apologies to those who’d have cited ‘Bama/Auburn, Arsenal/Spurs or Duke/Carolina, I’ll give Pedro a pass on this one. For one thing, there should be no tough talk from the Mets end until they’ve finally beaten the Braves for the division crown. For another, there are still plenty of tickets available in Atlanta this weekend.

Braves games previously scheduled to air on Turner South will now end up on Fox Sports Net South, as the Fox inspired homogeneity of baseball on cable contines.

Everybody Say “Fuck, No”, Are The Knicks Interested In ‘Zo?

Posted in Basketball at 4:58 pm by

What could possibly disuade the New York Knicks from making a run at Alonzo Mourning or Kenyon Martin in the offseason? Other than the former’s kidneys and the latter’s knees, is common sense too much to ask for? From the New York Post’s Marc Berman.

The Knicks will again bid for Kenyon Martin now that he assuredly will be traded by the Nuggets this summer, but Larry Brown has also asked Isiah Thomas to target another potential injury risk: Miami’s free-agent center Alonzo Mourning.

Brown is desperate for Thomas to obtain an inside banger, a rugged rebounder and shot-blocker. Brown does not appear to believe that Eddy Curry or Channing Frye will become stout defenders.

Martin is as available as ever – though the Knicks are one of few potential suitors, as they were at February’s trading deadline – because of Martin’s long-term contract ($54 million over four remaining years) and knee problems. He missed 26 games because of tendinitis in his surgically repaired knee.

As a potential draw, some of Mourning’s kidney doctors are based in New York.

Mourning made just $1.7 million this season and the Knicks could easily outbid the thrifty Heat by using all or part of their $5 million mid-level exception. Owner James Dolan’s generosity gives the Knicks the advantage of extending long-term deals to risky players.

The Nuggets will likely look to dump Martin for an expiring contract; the Knicks have two of those, in Maurice Taylor and Jalen Rose.

I dunno about defending, but I wouldn’t put it past Eddy Curry to become very stout.

Interesting stuff from the Oregonian’s John Canzano today about rumored attempts to talk Florida’s Joakim Noah into reconsidering his decision to stay in school.

Nevermind that Noah quickly said he’s returning for his junior season at Florida. The deadline to declare for the NBA draft is Saturday, and until it passes Noah will tempt those who would profit from having another star-caliber player in the mix. Noah’s mother said agents are still calling even as her son attended a Florida spring football practice this week, and worked out on campus on Thursday.

Noah said he wants to return to help the Gators repeat. By the way, Florida coach Billy Donovan left one of his assistants behind in Gainesville during what amounts to high season for recruiting. Why?

College kids change their minds sometimes, I suppose. Which is sort of the subject of today’s column.

I’m staring at messages from two different agents who wanted to know if I might have Noah’s phone number since I wrote a couple of columns about him from Indianapolis.

“We’re trying to reach him on behalf of a client regarding a lucrative endorsement opportunity,” one of them, a female who identified herself as Cheryl, said. “It’s for hair products. I didn’t know who to contact.”

So naturally, she called a bald sports columnist.

Despite having dropped 37 points on the Nets last night in Indy’s 107-95 Game 3 win, True Hoop’s Henry Abbot is shocked to discover that Jermaine O’Neal Is A Nerd.

Phoenix’s Mike D’Antoni and Shawn Marion each claim the Suns will need to run more against the Lakers tonight for Marion to fully thrive. MVP Nash, however, says “we’re losing the irreverence that’s important to our team.”

Hey, if you want irreverence, try watching this a few dozen times before tip-off.

A long time ago, I stopped reading Flea’s blog at NBA.com.  Quite frankly, I was getting a migrane.  Wizznutzz, as always, has the workload covered.  He’s got an intern to do it for him.

NCAA Reaffirms Restrictions On Cartoon Racism

Posted in College Spurts, Racism Corner at 4:21 pm by

(cheer up, maybe there are some openings at Gawker Media?)

From Josh Centor’s recently launched Double-A Zone :

At its meeting in Indianapolis this morning, the NCAA Executive Committee, which is comprised of presidents and chancellors of NCAA member institutions, retained Illinois, North Dakota and Indiana University of Pennsylvania on the list of schools subject to restricts on the use of Native American mascots, names and imagery at NCAA Championships.Bradley was removed from the list and was placed on a five-year watch list due to the fact that the school had previously removed all Native American imagery associated with its athletics programs.

This was the second and final appeal for Illinois, North Dakota and IUP. The first appeal was rejected by a committee made up of NCAA staff members.

Cubs Graciously Host Ruth Kin

Posted in Baseball at 3:59 pm by

That’s Babe Ruth’s daughter, Julia Ruth Stevens, re-enacting her dad’s “Called Shot” at today’s Brewers/Cubs game.

(far left, Bob Brenly, copping a feel….for baseball history!)

Hopefully, the Yankees will take a tip from this promotional stunt and invite Luis Gonzalez to wave to the crowd before a game against the A’s later in the year.

Bobby Howry, Scott Eyre and Scott Williamson combined for 3 scoreless innings in relief of Greg Maddux (6 IP, 2 ER, 6 K’s), with the Cubs winning, 6-2.  Ronny Cedeno hit a 2 run HR off Milwaukee’s Dave Bush in the 5th ; Jacque Jones added a solo shot to left center off Justin Lehr in the 8th.

The Legacy Of Fausto Vitello

Posted in skateboarding at 3:27 pm by

Thrasher publisher and Independent trucks founder Fausto Vitello died last weekend at the age of 59. Though Margalit Fox’s obituary in the New York Times would have you believe that Fausto was “revered by skateboarders” and the Godfather Of Gnarly, it should stressed that neither he nor the Thrasher empire were universally beloved.

(Glen E. Friedman on his tenure taking photos for Thrasher.)

The Return Of Todd Bozeman

Posted in Basketball at 3:08 pm by

Former Cal-Berkeley hoops coach Todd Bozeman, former mentor to Jason Kidd and coming off an 8-year NCAA ban, has landed on his feet. If you can call being hired to rescue a team that just went 4-26 under Butch Beard landing on your feet.

From the Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Baker

With phrases such as “new direction” and “turning point,” Morgan State athletic director Floyd Kerr introduced Todd Bozeman as the school’s 15th men’s basketball coach yesterday.

“Everybody says this is a sleeping giant,” said Bozeman, 42. “This is a tremendous opportunity.”

A Prince George’s County resident, Bozeman cited George Mason’s run to this year’s Final Four as an example of a smaller school being able to accomplish bigger goals. “That lets you know it’s possible,” he said.

Bozeman said he is relatively familiar with the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference from going to games, serving as a media analyst and his contact with coaches such as Fang Mitchell of Coppin State and Dwight Freeman of Norfolk State. But he said he will not model the program after any of his coaching adversaries.

“We want to be able to go as high as we can,” he said. “We want to build a house with brick and cement, not straw that the wind will blow away. But coaches don’t win, administrations do. We want to attract players with the courage Dr. Richardson has.”

As to his checkered past — which included becoming the youngest coach (29) ever in the NCAA Sweet 16 and Elite Eight in addition to the NCAA sanction — Bozeman attributed it to youth.

“It was tough because I felt like I let a lot of people down. As a youth, you don’t really understand that,” he said.

Big Phil To England : Fuck Off

Posted in Football at 1:26 pm by

No sooner did a portion of the UK’s talking skulls in the broadcast trade weigh in with the opinion that hiring Luiz Felipe Scolari was a blow to British managers, the current Portugal boss has decided to remove himself from consideration.

As the head hunt resumes, perhaps Middlesbrough’s Steve McLaren will again find himself amongst the favorites.   ‘Boro erased a 3 goal aggregate deficit in yesterday’s 4-2 victory over Steaua Bucharest, punching a ticket to the UEFA Cup Final in Eindhoven on May 10. Despite a recent return from a thigh injury, Mark Viduka’s scored in this ridiculous come-from-behind win.

Middlesbrough, described as “kinda sucks” by international football expert the Mighty MJD back on March 18, have now made it to the UEFA Cup Final and the FA Cup Semi-Final in the same season.

History Lessons With Peter Vescey

Posted in Basketball at 12:56 pm by

In addition to predicting Mike Brown’s strategy before tonight’s Cavs/Wizards Game 3 (“maybe Brown will insist James post up more often. Maybe he’ll simply clear out the paint and give James a thoroughfare of green, yellow and red lights to stampede through. Maybe he’ll focus his attention/strategy instead on defending Gilbert Arenas, who has notched 45 points in two games. Or maybe, just maybe, Brown will dictate that Zydrunas Ilgauskas is infinitely more involved than a skimpy 4-for-7 in Game 1 and 3-for-13 in Game 2.”), the New York Post’s Peter Vescey plays This Date In History.

This week marks the 20th anniversary of Chernobyl. For those younger readers in the audience, Chernobyl is the largest disaster in the history of the world not owned by Cablevision.

I’ll Be Taking The Day Off June 6, Thanks

Posted in Mob Behavior, Rock Und Roll at 12:43 pm by

Thanks to Paul Sommerstein for the heads-up on the hottest new holiday since National High Five DayNational Day Of Slayer.

Official Statement on Participation

  • Listen to Slayer at full blast in your car.
  • Listen to Slayer at full blast in your home.
  • Listen to Slayer at full blast at your place of employment.
  • Listen to Slayer at full blast in any public place you prefer.DO NOT use headphones! The objective of this day is for everyone within earshot to understand that it is the National Day of Slayer. National holidays in America aren’t just about celebrating; they’re about forcing it upon non-participants.

    Taking that participation to a problematic level

  • Stage a “Slay-out.” Don’t go to work. Listen to Slayer.
  • Have a huge block party that clogs up a street in your neighborhood. Blast Slayer albums all evening. Get police cruisers and helicopters on the scene. Finish with a full-scale riot.
  • Spray paint Slayer logos on churches, synagogues, or cemeteries.
  • Play Slayer covers with your own band (since 99% of your riffs are stolen from Slayer anyway).
  • Kill the neighbor’s dog and blame it on Slayer.
  • NFL Network To Showcase Mel Kiper Jr. Killer

    Posted in Gridiron, Sports TV at 2:19 am by

    I wondered the other day what the NFL Network had planned for the morning of the NFL Draft, given ESPN’s massive commitment to the event. Showing my complete and utter ignorance of the sports TV industry (along with my inability to consult the fucking TV Guide), it turns out the NFL Network will be covering both days of this thoroughly non-entertaining event. From the NY Times’ Richard Sandomir.

    After allowing ESPN to reap the rewards for carrying the draft since the presidency of Jimmy Carter, the N.F.L. will inaugurate draft coverage on its 30-month-old network tomorrow at 11 a.m. This is a coming-of-age moment for the NFL Network, which has 36 million subscribers.

    ESPN and the NFL Network will be at Radio City Music Hall tomorrow and Sunday, their main studio sets mounted on platforms raised above orchestra seats usually reserved to watch the Rockettes dance. They will be 75 feet apart, but Eric Weinberger, the NFL Network’s executive producer, jokingly said angles would be scouted to ensure that ESPN’s Chris Berman was not in the background of a shot of Mike Mayock, an NFL Network analyst.

    For the NFL Network, the question is how it will differentiate itself. The draft is, after all, formulaic programming: talk, wait for pick, watch clips, cover pick, analyze pick, interview pick, watch more clips, wait for next pick.

    Weinberger said his goal was to show more of the draft atmosphere than ESPN usually had, to focus on how drafted players would project as pros, and not have its voices argue over who will draft whom. (The ESPN crew is adept at debating and having team officials occasionally bark at their conclusions.)

    But in the end, the focus has to be on the formula. If anything sounds different, at least in Weinberger’s telling, it may be the presence of Corey Chavous (above), a St. Louis Rams safety who has developed an obsessive sidelight for an active player, amassing player tapes to evaluate their talent.

    “It’s his hobby, his lifestyle,” Weinberger said. “We were amazed when we first saw what Corey did two years ago.”

    Chavous jots player analyses in a notebook in a four-color code. “When Butch Davis saw it,” Weinberger said, referring to the former Browns coach who will assess the draft from NFL Films headquarters in New Jersey, “he couldn’t understand how the guy has time to do it.”

    Shinjo’s Bold New Career

    Posted in Baseball at 1:47 am by

    Baseball fans around the globe are thrilled this isn’t a story about Hideki Irabu.

    From the Mainichi Daily News (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory) :

    “I’ve decided to take my uniform off at the end of this season.”

    With these words, Nippon Ham Fighters outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo announced his plans to end one of the more unconventional careers in Japanese professional baseball.

    What the fans at Tokyo Dome didn’t realize when 34-year-old Shinjo (above, left) told them on April 18 that he was removing his uniform, was that he was speaking literally, according to Shukan Gendai (5/6-13).

    Many were shocked that Shinjo chose a mid-April date to announce his plans to quit — the season was only a few weeks old, after all — most say it’s characteristic behavior for the player nicknamed “Spaceman,” who’s as well known for his tendency to come out of left field (even though he’s a centerfielder) as for his baseball.

    “It was typical Shinjo. I wasn’t surprised at all,” baseball analyst Takenori Emoto tells Shukan Gendai, regarding the sudden retirement. “I think part of the reason there was so much showbiz in the announcement was that the entire Pacific League seemed to be caught up in Shinjo and he was basically running wild, doing whatever he wanted to. He didn’t give a damn about his team as long as he looked good.”

    “Actually, Shinjo’s thinking about releasing a collection of nude photos. Straight after he announced his retirement, the president of a major talent agency Shinjo is expected to join on his retirement called the player and said, ‘If you’re gonna do nude stuff, let me look after it for you.’ And, as a bit of an extra for his real fans, there’s also talk of Shinjo and his wife doing a nude shot together. If they don’t want to go all the way, it could be a shot of them in some pretty racy underwear. The Shinjos are a lot more appealing than David and Victoria Beckham,” Motoji Takasu, a publishing company producer, tells Shukan Gendai.

    Cubs’ Sale Denied, Ben Schwartz Remains Hopeful

    Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 1:03 am by

    The following two links are supplied by Ben Schwartz,

    From Forbes’ John Rogers :

    Trouble stalks Tribune ( 28, TRB ), another of my holdings. It has been hit with circulation scandals, weak ad sales and ugly ongoing tax litigation from its acquisition of Times Mirror (other-otc: TMMR.PK – news – people ), which could end up costing Tribune $850 million or more. Wall Street seems to have given up on Tribune, but I have not. The company has prestigious big-city papers like the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, 26 TV stations, the WGN Superstation and the Chicago Cubs baseball team. It also has valuable investments in CareerBuilder.com and the Food Network. The stock changes hands at a 41% discount to my estimate of intrinsic value.

    From the St. Louis Post Dispatch :

    And quicker than you can say, “Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance,” the Cubs’ famous double play combination, a Tribune spokesman on Thursday shot down any talk of selling the lovable losers.

    “The Cubs aren’t for sale,” Tribune spokesman Jeff Reiter said. “It’s a great asset. It’s more than just a baseball team to us.”

    Tribune bought the Cubs in 1981 for about $25 million. Not only is the team a draw at Wrigley Field, but its broadcasts pump revenue into the Tribune’s Chicago radio, television and newspaper properties. The Cubs are one of the few Major League Baseball teams directly owned by a publicly traded corporation.

    Replies Ben,

    Now that Tribco’s first quarter profits have dropped thru the floor, hopefully this will lead to something like the Mark Cuban buyout Cub fans hoped for last November.

    To which I’ll add, if Cuban’s uninterested, there’s probably no shortage of suitable buyers and/or frontmen. Reggie Jackson. Deion Sanders. Or the dog-barbecue enthusiast who is unlikely to end up with the Nationals.


    “That’s A Bad Move By Delmon Young”

    Posted in Baseball at 9:30 pm by

    Understatement of the young century (You Tube, on the off chance you haven’t seen this 10 times already).

    Karl : What’s That Word For Asshole?

    Posted in Basketball at 7:35 pm by

    Which recently suspended member of the Denver Nuggets do you think coach George Karl is referring to in this item from the Denver Post’s Jim Armstrong?

    “Guaranteed contracts. That’s the biggest difference, I guarantee you. What’s the word where they think they deserve it? Entitlement? They negotiate minutes before they perform and I’m like, ‘Your performance does most of the negotiating.’ That’s the way you should be as a competitor, but there seems to be more of that entitlement mentality. It’s like, ‘No matter how I play, I deserve to be out there.”

    (back in the days when men had to earn their pay, etc.)

    That was one heck of a guaranteed contract Herb Kohl gave Karl, come to think of it.

    In yet another leak, Clippers GM Elgin Baylor is about to be named the NBA Executive Of The Year. Presumably, Billy Kupchak and Anucha Browne Sanders were not amongst the voters.

    The Clippers will attempt to take a 3-0 lead in Western Conference playoffs against the Nuggets later tonight. The best thing about the series moving to Denver (and probably not returning to L.A.) is that the chances of further Jim Gray/Billy Crystal chats are greatly reduced. On the other hand, an Al-Queada strike at the Staples Center might take out Bill Simmons, so here’s hoping Carmelo and Marcus Camby have a big night

    Selig : Bonds Passing Ruth Is No Big Deal

    Posted in Baseball at 5:54 pm by

    From the AP :

    Major League Baseball is not planning any celebration for Bonds if and when he tops Babe Ruth’s mark of 714 home runs, commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday.

    “Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record,” Selig (above, right) said. “We don’t celebrate anybody the second or third time in.”

    Selig does not figure to be in San Francisco ” or in Milwaukee or Philadelphia, where the Giants play next week ” as Bonds nears Ruth.

    “We celebrate records, that’s what we do. We’re being consistent,” Selig said during the Associated Press Sports Editors annual meeting with league commissioners. “There’s nothing to read into that.”

    Ruth is second on the career home run list, trailing Aaron’s total of 755. When Aaron broke Ruth’s record in 1974, commissioner Bowie Kuhn was not in attendance. Kuhn’s absence rankled many, including Aaron.

    Selig said he had read Game of Shadows but not seen Bonds on Bonds, the ESPN reality show about the slugger’s life.

    I do, however, have it on good authority the Commish is a very big fan of MTV’s “My Super Sweet Sixteen” and rarely misses an episode.