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.)