Though Vickie Hunter and Heather Whinna’s “Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music?” is a real eye-opener for sneery types all-too-certain that Christian rock is without any redeeming value, the promoters of the event below are doing their share to remind the good people of Philadelphia that secular music has no monopoly on sucking like crazy.
One of the masterminds behind this would-be Christ-loving Coachella is Ron Luce, the founder of Teen Mania Ministries and holder of an honorary doctorate from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.
There’s more reasons to be wary of Battlecry, by the way, than pure aesthetics or guilt by association. Luce and his pals have a political agenda, one that may or may not be a perfect fit with your notion of teen empowerment.
With that unpleasant Keith Hernandez incident finally behind us, it’s time to showcase the oratory offerings of a real proponent of gender equality, The Kid From Brooklyn (Windows Media Player Required)
(link taken from The Kid From Brooklyn.com)
The Sultan Of Surly was walked 3 times by the Mets last night (twice intentionally), and the urine-stained hands of Moises Alou (above, 1 HR, 5 RBI’s) took full advantage. Despite, as the Daily News’ John Harper points out, hitting a mere .222 with two RBI’s in the 3rd or 4th spot in the SF batting order, Barry Bonds is still “being treated like royalty.”
Condemnation of Willie Randolph today seems almost unanimous. Especially if you’re only reading a half dozen blogs.
“the respect afforded (Bonds) by Willie was almost absurd.” - Jaap, Archie Bunker’s Army
“Pitch to him (Bonds) and make him beat you because in the first at bat, if he beats you, then your down one, maybe 2-0. instead alou raps one out and it’s 3-zip, just like that.” – Jason Mollica, Metsblog
I can™t kill Glavine here, he has been great-I can kill Willie Ran-DOOF for making Glavine walking Bonds, yes he is Barry Bonds, but he is not the juicing, looming fear-instilling Bonds of a few years ago. – Shari Forst, Take The 7 Train
Walking Bonds in an 0-0 game with one guy on base while he is not exactly knocking the cover off the ball makes no sense on so many levels…the season is not even 20 games old and Bonds is being pitched to like the division is on the line in game 160. – The Metropolitans
I don’t think you can kill Randolph for issuing walks to perhaps the greatest hitter of all-time in both situations, especially when Bonds has owned Glavine over the years (995 career OPS). But when will managers realize Bonds isn’t the same Bonds of years past? – Ryan McConnell, Always Amazin’
Moises Alou’s checklist:
Pee on hands.
Pee on Mets.
Irony of ironies, Alou’s chances were set up in part by Mets pitchers intentionally walking a .222 hitter twice, the first coming with two outs and a runner on first to bring up Urine Man. - Metstradamus
From the AP :
Baltimore Blast coach Tim Wittman has been suspended for the next two seasons by the Major Indoor Soccer League for putting a game official in a choke hold.
Wittman was also fined an undisclosed amount following a review and investigation, MISL commissioner Steve Ryan announced Monday.
Wittman had already been suspended for the remainder of the 2005-06 season, including the playoffs.
According to newspaper reports, Wittman put penalty box official Rob Plannette in a choke hold after Baltimore lost 8-6 to the California Cougars in Stockton, Calif., on March 18. A California player broke up the altercation, and Wittman was escorted off the field by his goalkeeper.
In the slightly more rarified outdoor air of the UEFA Champions League, Villareal and Arsenal are currently tied at 0-0 in the second leg of their Semi-Final. Unless Villareal can score in the next 10 minutes or so, Arsenal will advance to the final in Paris on May 17.
From the Detroit News’ Joanne Gerstner. (link taken from Detroit Bad Boys)
Former Pistons Bad Boys Rick Mahorn and Bill Laimbeer got a good laugh of out the crowd in Game 1 with their new videoboard announcement.
The pair reminded the crowd in the third quarter not to be disruptive or unsportsmanlike, per NBA rules. It’s the same rules that are read aloud at every NBA game. Except Laimbeer and Mahorn put a new spin on them.
Cut-ins of Laimbeer’s angry on-court eruptions from back in the day were intermixed with his statements of what not to do.
There’s no truth to the rumor there’s a video planned for Wednesday’s Game 2 in which Isiah Thomas preaches the virtues of fiscal responsibility.
Without Isiah Thomas, Larry Brown or Stephon Marbury to dump on, the playoff possessed Peter Vescey of the New York Post turns his attention to one of his favorite targets : anyone who has a higher profile TV gig than himself. In this case, Mark Jackson.
To my unmitigated bewilderment, Mark Jackson held only Lawrence Frank (above) culpable during his ABC postgame, unchallenged analysis. Normally never this far off target, Jackson, a regular Nets TV commentator, indicted “the man in the suit on the sideline” and absolved Kidd of any and all blame.
How can one of the top ten playmakers in NBA history be so pointedly twisted?
Put Jackson in Kidd’s sneakers; I can just imagine him abiding by the game plan when it clearly wasn’t working.
Yup, he’d be the last quarterback to recognize his team was being blitzed and that an audible needed to be called at the line of scrimmage.
Nope, can’t envision Jackson tuning out an inexperienced coach, can’t visualize him demanding Carter relocate to the low docks after three or four botched jumpers in order to find out what kind of mode he was in that day – aggressive or bail out.
When, exactly, does an accredited floor general stop distributing live ammo to one of his disoriented troops? When he has shot 15 blanks . . . 16 . . . 20?
Is Jackson telling us Kidd needs Lawrence Frank’s permission before making any alterations? How can that be? I thought the point guard, especially one of the all-time geniuses at the position, is supposed to be the coach’s extension cord, with a green light to respond accordingly to what’s going on out there.
It’s not as if this would’ve been the first time in his 12-year career Kidd disobeyed a direct order. It’s not as if he hasn’t tuned out a coach or two or three. It’s not as if he ever has been shy about changing up on the run, or reacting to the rainfall of ricocheting jumpers.
In any event, there were more than a couple of culprits for the Nets, who endured the ignominy of being the only homeland not to secure Game 1. And despite Jackson’s contention, Kidd’s performance warranted a slap from Bob Ryan.
Prior to tonight’s Game 2 against Indiana, the Newark Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Allesandro listened to Nets coach Lawrence Frank’s impassioned defence of Vince Carter.
Lawrence Frank was agitated at the media’s reaction to Carter’s Game One performance, and pulled out every shot chart number to illustrate his point. Carter had 13 — count ‘em — 13 shots at the rim, the coach said, which proves that he was not settling for jumpers, even though he hit only four of them. And of those nine misses from point-blank range, only two of them were contested.
Jumpers? He had to take them, the coach said: He was open. And only once in the entire game did he launch a shot against a double-team.
So Frank spent most of the day defending his leading scorer against the media hordes, and he did it vociferously at times.
“I’m allowed to be” defensive, the coach said, “because I take the stuff very personally. I respect (criticism) but that doesn’t mean I have to like (it) when one of my guys is being crushed. Watch the tape again. Look, when you’re a primary scorer, there are going to be a couple shots that you’re going to (miss) and you live with it. But he had so many great attacks. It didn’t fall for him. It doesn’t make him any less of a player, doesn’t make him any less of a person. Look, this guy has helped turn the franchise around. We’re going to be fine.”
Not a word about the condition of Carter’s bulimic dog, however.
The Miami Herald’s Israel Gutierrez writes the Heat’s Udonis Haslem, suspended during last night’s Miami victory over Chicago, turned ESPN’s Bill Walton down to zero while watching game 2 from the comfort of his home.
‘To be honest, a lot of people have been over the top,” said Haslem, who never actually mentioned Walton by name. “Commentators in the last game went over the top saying `mental instability.’
“That’s not his call to make. He doesn’t know me personally, so he can’t call me mentally instable.”
Haslem said he has never even had a ”five-minute conversation” with Walton (above), making the reaction all the more upsetting.
”Don’t make it worse by commenting on my character,” Haslem said. “I’m not that type of person, so don’t make me look like that. It upsets me because it goes back to how I was raised, and I wasn’t raised like that.”
Haslem even spoke to his agent about looking into using a different type of mouthpiece that wouldn’t be easily removed from his mouth.
From the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman :
Yesterday, in various media corners, there was some surprise – even shock – over Hernandez’s sexist commentary. For others, including some women in the sports media, Hernandez was conducting business as usual.
Hernandez said yesterday that he “never had a problem” with women reporters covering baseball. This was news to Suzyn Waldman. Despite Hernandez’s proclamation about baseball being a “man’s game,” she has earned a living in it for nearly two decades. Now, as the analyst on Yankee radiocasts, Waldman is the only woman doing that job in the big leagues.
“I wasn’t surprised (by what Hernandez said) since he said a lot worse to me nearly 20 years ago,” Waldman (above) said. “You get shocked, but he really got me good (with a vile response after she tried introducing herself) my first time in the Mets clubhouse. But this is nothing new. And it isn’t just about Hernandez. You hear this stuff every day. If you let it stop you, it will.
“There are people like Keith Hernandez all over the world. That isn’t going to change,” Waldman said. “He believes what he is going to believe.”
What Hernandez did yesterday also amounts to huge backtracking. That’s to be expected. Only a fool would stick to his guns after making a fool of himself. But it was stunning that there still were people maintaining that what Hernandez said Saturday was no big deal. Maybe they should talk to some women who are baseball fans – particularly Mets fans.
It took a little bit of searching, but finally I’ve found a point of view less sophisticated than my own.
From the daily blog of the Baltimore Sun’s Roch Kubatko,
Keith Hernandez had a decent argument until he brought gender into it, which happened to be instantly. A massage therapist has no business in a major league dugout, male or female.
What’s going to happen in a game that requires a massage therapist to race onto the field? Is Brian Giles suddenly going to strip off his shirt, lay face-down in the outfield and ask to have a knot worked out of his neck? And exactly how long would umpires allow a game to be delayed for this?
I can just imagine Orioles head trainer Richie Bancells frantically asking if there’s a massage therapist in the house after Jeff Conine pulls up lame while running to first base.
Where do we draw the line? How about the guy who makes omeletes in the Orioles’ clubhouse before weekend games? You never know when a player might get hungry during the seventh-inning stretch.
If Daniel Cabrera keeps walking so many guys, snacks might actually become necessary. At least a juice box break. Fruit’s always nice, too. Some grapes, maybe
Ben Schwartz writes,
30 years ago, former Cub Rick Monday saved an American flag from being burned on the field of Dodger Stadium. A legendary moment, recounted on the Cubs web site today, but until now I never knew the important role Tommy Lasorda, then a Dodger 3rd base coach, almost played in Rick Monday’s heroic act. As Tommy modestly recounts:
“A lot of people don’t know this, but he beat me to the flag,” recalls Lasorda. “I saw Rick start running over from center field to left. I didn’t know what it was, but as soon as I saw him start, I took off and I ran out there, and of course, by that time, Rick had picked up the flag and continued running. When I got there, I see these two guys and I told them, ‘Why don’t one of you guys take a swing at me?’ because there were 50-something thousand people in the ballpark and I only wanted them to swing at me, so I could defend myself and do a job on them.”
Now you know the rest of the story …
(the old face of OLN, presumably)
From the AP :
The Outdoor Life Network, a cable channel owned by Comcast Corp., is changing its name to Versus.
OLN, which began soliciting suggestions for a new name about a year ago, said Versus was chosen “not only for its bold nature, but because it universally evokes competition.”
The new name will take effect in September, in time for the NHL season, OLN announced Monday.
Richard Baluyut, unavailable for comment.
The Kings’ suspended Ron Artest, making more sense than Stu Jackson. From the Sacramento Bee’s Sam Amick.
“They’re changing the game from how it was back in the days, back when the game was really hardcore. The game was so hardcore back when Larry Bird played and Bill Walton and those guys. Those guys were playing hard. Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, the Detroit Pistons. Those guys were playing flat-out hard and aggressive. And now, it’s like they’re changing the game. It’s a new game. All the records that everybody’s setting, like LeBron James and all these new stars, they’re very good, but it’s not like it was back in the day. All the scoring titles and everything; it’s easier to score now. The whole game is so soft now.”
Q: Do you think things like the brawl last year have sped up the league’s shift towards tightening up things?
A: The game’s changed a lot. You’ve got to adjust to the softer game now. It’s very soft, but it’s hard to understand what they’re trying to accomplish with the changes in the game. I was watching a game on ESPN Classic today, and guys are fighting each other and stuff. Nobody got kicked out. That’s a long time ago. And this is just a minor, minor, minor incident, and they could’ve given me a flagrant one and a fine, but they want to take a whole game. It’s very disappointing.
If it was a foul, then, yeah, it’s cool. But it wasn’t like I threw an elbow at him, and the referees were right there. I didn’t throw no elbow. I spoke to Stu Jackson, and he told me he did it because of all my other problems that I had throughout my career.
The Bee’s Ailene Voison takes the matter up with the NBA’s dean of discipline.
“There was no flagrant foul,” league vice president Stu Jackson (above) explained from his office in Manhattan. “This is a ‘contact’ rule. The action we’re taking is because of the fact Ron made contact with Manu Ginobili’s head. While the contact was not severe, it was a potentially dangerous play. And the fact he is a recidivist was taken into account.”
Jackson threw me on that one.
Thus, the suspicion lingers. What if Bruce Bowen had taken that shot Saturday night? If Mike Bibby had been the King swinging his arm? Would they have received the same sentence? Maybe yes. Maybe no.
“Mike Bibby would have been suspended,” Jackson insisted, only to reiterate his previous comments. The penalty fits the crime, he says, because the culprit is Ron Artest.
During a visit to Shea last week, some colleagues and I were slightly befuddled by a scoreboard announcement that Tom Seaver had a a scheduled appearance at an establishment known as Last Licks.
As it turns out, Last Licks is a Scarsdale, NY concern that doubles as an ice cream parlor and sports memorabilia store. That’s Al Leiter, above, trying to earn some extra money now that he has to get by on his YES Network salary.
Last Licks claims to have a Jorge Julio signing planned in the near future — I’m not sure who is being more wildly optimistic, the propreitors or the Mets reliever, but I wish them both the best of luck.
According to Newsday’s David Lennon, Mets CF Carlos Beltran might be available to hang out at Last Licks this coming weekend as the club is close to putting him on the disabled list.
Beltran is reluctant to return before he is feeling 100 percent, even though last Friday’s MRI revealed no structural damage to his hamstring. The team’s diagnosis was nothing more serious than inflammation, and Randolph still plans to use Bel.tran as a pinch hitter in the Giants series. “If we’ve got to win a game or we need him, I’ll put him in,” Randolph said.
That would complicate the Mets’ decision to put him on the disabled list, however. As it stands now, if Beltran winds up on the DL later this week, it would be retroactive to last Friday, speeding up his return. Otherwise, if he appears as a pinch hitter, the Mets lose those valuable days in between. At this point, there seems to be no rush to get him back in the lineup or use him off the bench, for that matter.
“When all is said and done with Beltran, we’re being conservative,” general manager Omar Minaya said. “It’s April. We want to have him for four or five months. Fortunately, we’re off to a good start, so that allows us to be conservative.”
What they decide to do next with Beltran may be more radical if Minaya chooses to summon Milledge from Triple-A Norfolk. Milledge was batting .400 (24-for-60) for the Tides with seven doubles and four stolen bases in 18 games. With his athletic ability, there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t be a great defensive substitute for Beltran. And at the plate, Milledge already has to be considered a serious upgrade over Endy Chavez, who entered last night hitting .222 (6-for-27).
Randolph said that Victor Diaz is likely to be the club’s first option if Beltran is placed on the DL, but he’s not the only one. When asked about Milledge coming up, Minaya hedged a little in his response, but definitely left the door open.
Jacque Jones hit a 3 run HR off Florida’s Josh Johnson, one of the key blows in the Cubs’ 6-3 come from behind victory Monday night. Afterwards, he discussed the warm reception he’s received on the North Side since his arrival from Minnesota with the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan.
“I’m angry right now, you know what I mean?” Jones said. “It’s almost funny. It’s almost funny.”
Jones then ripped into Cubs fans for a perceived lack of support, pointing out he’s not the first Cubs player to get harassed at Wrigley.
“I’m not confused at all,” he said. “I’ve seen friends go through it. Sammy Sosa hit 60 home runs three years in a row, went into a little slump and … hey, like I said earlier, they have a right to voice whatever opinion they want to voice.
“But it’s not going to make me play any better. It’s not going to make me play any worse. I’m just going to go play the game the way I know how.”
Jones said he was “hearing all kinds of stuff” in the outfield throughout the game.
“I’m just getting used to it,” he said. “Where I came from, they were passionate about baseball. We probably didn’t draw as many [in Minnesota], but they were there through thick and thin. [The booing] is something I’ve got to get used to. I’m blocking it out as much as I can.”
Carlos Zambrano tied a career high with 12 strikeouts but got no offensive support. When he broke a bat over his knee after striking out in the third inning, manager Dusty Baker cringed, fearing his pitcher could be injured. But Baker absolved Zambrano.
“He needs a little bit of craziness,” Baker said, “just to be himself.”
Buffalo 8, Philadelphia 2 (Buffalo leads 2-0)
(3 goals and an assist Monday night for the Sabres’ J.P. Dumont)
Robert Esche : 5 goals allowed on the first 10 Buffalo shots. Which might have a little something to do with his eagerness to mix it up before the first period ended. From TSN :
Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff took one last big shot at the Philadelphia Flyers, saying they played like “idiots” when the score got out of hand.
Two nights after Philadelphia’s R.J. Umberger was knocked woozy by Brian Campbell‘s heavy but legal hit in Buffalo’s Game 1 victory, the Sabres flattened the rest of the Flyers in an 8-2 blowout win Monday night.
“Use a different word if you want, but I thought they did,” Ruff said. “The more they acted like idiots, the more we wanted to play.”
Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock took offence to Ruff’s description after the Flyers took 17 penalties, including Denis Gauthier‘s ejection and Ben Eager‘s two misconducts when the play deteriorated as the Sabres built a 5-0 first-period lead.
Los Angeles Dodgers 1B Nomar Garciaparra, shown above, hitting a grand slam off Houston’s Brad Lidge in the top half of the 9th inning tonight at Minute Maid Park. The Dodgers are currently leading, 6-2.
Earlier, J.D. Drew ended Andy Pettitte’s bid for a no-hitter with a solo HR in the 7th inning.
Montreal 5, Carolina 5 (OT, 9 minutes left)
There’s something strangely satisfied about the hottest game to take place in the state of North Carolina this year featuring neither Jake Delhomme nor JJ Redick. The Hurricanes spotted Montreal a 3-0 first period advantage, but it’s been absolutely insane ever since. If you know anyone who has NHL Center Ice, right about now would be a good time to enter their house with a gun or a knife (or alternatively, a bag of chips if you’re on speaking terms).
Over at the Continental Receeding Hairlines Arena, the Rangers had no Jaromir Jagr, no Darius Kasparitis, no Henrik Lundqvist, and most importantly, no way in hell of stopping John Madden.
Though the Devils have never relinquished a 2-0 lead in a playoff series, that’s kinda like saying Karl Rove has never stopped breathing. It’ll happen someday.
The above headline is supplied by Repoz, who writes
You remember how Narvel Felts’ ug-mug was perpetually scrunched up? Well this god-offal tune just straightened it out for good!
Indeed, it’s no “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk”.
…as Fran Healy continues sticking pins into a 1987 Starting Lineup action figure of Keith.
From the AP :
Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez was reprimanded by the team’s television network for “inappropriate” remarks during a broadcast about a female member of San Diego’s training staff.
The former MVP first baseman said women “don’t belong in the dugout” when he spotted 33-year-old Kelly Calabrese (above), the Padres’ full-time massage therapist, high-fiving Mike Piazza in the dugout after he hit a home run during New York’s 8-1 victory Saturday in San Diego.
“Keith Hernandez made inappropriate comments regarding the presence of a female massage therapist of the San Diego Padres who was in the dugout,” SportsNet New York said in a statement Monday. “We immediately addressed the issue with Keith and reprimanded him, and he publicly apologized during Sunday’s game.”
Hernandez said Sunday that he was sorry if he offended anyone. He also said that baseball’s rulebook allowed only the head trainer and assistant trainer in the dugout.
But a Major League Baseball memo previously sent to all clubs said that in addition to the two trainers, one member of the conditioning staff was permitted in the dugout during games. After Hernandez’s remarks, MLB called the Padres and verified that, indeed, Calabrese was allowed.
There was a bench-clearing brawl at last Monday’s PCL game between Fresno and Tacoma, yet another example, according to the Fresno Bee’s Bryant-Jon Anteola, of further problems surrounding the employment of replacement umpires. (link taken from Baseball Think Factory)
The Grizzlies have had at least one person ejected in three of their first 16 games. In all, three players and two coaches have been tossed.
“These guys have to remember, this isn’t high school or college where players aren’t allowed to talk to umps,” Grizzlies outfielder Todd Linden said. “I can talk to you and discuss a pitch in this league.”
Observers say the replacement umpires are overwhelmed by the speed of the game, don’t maintain consistency with their calls, are losing control and flow of the game, and are putting their safety at risk.
During a Grizzlies game at Tucson, the home-plate umpire was hit in the throat by a foul pitch.
“We appreciate those guys who are coming out to call our games, but we need our professional umpires back,” Las Vegas 51s manager Jerry Royster said. “There are things they’re missing, some more obvious than others.
“These guys are different,” Grizzlies outfielder Abraham Nunez said. “I don’t know where the strike zone is. They call balls strikes, and strikes balls. It gets in your head, so you swing at everything.”
Said Grizzlies pitcher Jeremy Accardo, who began the season in the majors with the San Francisco Giants: “The biggest thing I’ve noticed is they’re not aware of some of the movement of break pitches and where it’s crossing the plate.
“Compared to the majors, the strike zone here is wider but less consistent.”
In the Grizzlies’ game against the 51s on Wednesday, a fan reached over the left-field wall and caught the ball. The third-base umpire ruled a home run, though fan interference should have limited the hit to a double, managers from both teams said.
The Grizzlies still held on to win the game 3-2, but that doesn’t help the ERA of reliever Jeff Miller, who was charged with the homer.
On Tuesday, Grizzlies second baseman Kevin Frandsen appeared to turn an inning-ending double play. But the first-base umpire ruled the play dead because a ball had rolled out of the Fresno bullpen and into foul territory.
Turner disputed the call and was tossed from the game. Immediately after the manager’s ejection, Grizzlies pitcher Erick Threets served up an RBI double.
The PCL has tried to keep identity of replacement umpires secret. Ballpark and radio announcers are not allowed to identify the umpires as they would in past seasons.
In addition, the replacement umpires are not allowed to speak to the media.
Last April, Sporting News Radio’s Scott Wetzel took the opportunity to roundly mock former North Carolina basketball coach Matt Doherty for considering a job at Florida Atlantic.
After leading FAU to their first winning season since 2002 and the school’s all-time best conference record of 14-6, Doherty was today hired as head coach at SMU.
Wetzel, who thinks there’s something hillarious about a guy trying to work his way back up the ladder in his chosen profession, is currently co-hosting SNR’s morning radio program. That’s Sporting News Radio, folks, the network that’s the first choice of those who can’t get ESPN Radio, Fox Sports Radio, and don’t have a local radio affiliate that offers its own sports programming. The same network that Paul Allen is dying to take a loss on.
The NBA has suspended Ron Artest for Game Two of the Kings’ Western Conference playoff series against the Spurs after Artest clobbered Manu Ginobli with his forearm during yesterday’s Game One blowout.
There’s no truth to the rumor Artest’s wages for Game Two will automatically be transfered to the promotion and marketing efforts of the Maloof brothers’ new record label, nor their remarkably bad initial signing.
Who’d have thought Darvin Ham’s tenure with the Talk ‘N Text Phone Pals of the Phillipine Basketball Association would’ve ended in tears? From the Phillipine Daily Inquirer :
Ham, highly touted before actually slipping into a uniform and playing here for the Talk ‘N Text Phone Pals, had it worse. He played three games, the Phone Pals were eliminated and he felt that he became a target in the league.
He said in the Times article that playing in the PBA was like “‘hooping in handcuffs’ because he had jet lag and he was unfamiliar with his teammates and persecuted by referees.”
“They try to put the pressure on the import,” Ham said. “It’s a team sport. Everyone should be held accountable. I think the imports suffer for the lack of performance the [locals] might put out.”
Worse, Ham felt slighted at being described as a “no extraordinary player” in the PBA website.
“I averaged a double-double over here with like 16 and 12,” he said, referring to points and rebounds. “These articles the PBA is putting online are like propaganda.”
True Hoop’s Henry Abbot predicts that O.J. Mayo “will never play a second of NCAA Basketball.” If that’s the case, why is Kansas State paying Bob Huggins all that money? But seriously, Thayer Evans’ “Battle Rages for the Soles of a Young Star” in today’s New York Times is an eye-opening look at the full-court press applied by Nike and Reebok in their attempt to woo one of the nation’s top high school starlets.
Nike and Reebok continue to jostle for positioning with Mayo, Ohio’s two-time player of the year, who averaged 28.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.3 steals in leading North College Hill to a second straight state championship.
During the Kingwood tournament, Reebok had a representative at the event, said Sonny Vaccaro, the company’s senior director of grassroots basketball.
The Miami Tropics’ coach, Art Alvarez, said Nike had two or three people on hand, including Don Crenshaw, the company’s basketball marketing manager, to watch Mayo.
“I know Nike wants to actively pursue him and try to get him over to Nike,” Alvarez said. “You know how the shoe war situation is. We’ve been a Nike A.A.U. team for a long time. If somehow within all these parameters we can accommodate him to Nike, that would be great.”
Mayo said that when he joined the Tropics to play in the Kingwood Classic he was not aware that Nike sponsors the team.
“I really don’t worry about the shoe contract,” Mayo said. “I’d play in Pumas if that’s what the team wore, but this team wears Nike and I wanted to fit in.”
Vaccaro (above), who is credited with signing Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady to shoe deals, said he did not view Mayo’s playing for the Tropics as a breakthrough for Nike. He said he expected him to return to the Greyhounds.
“Everybody’s treating this like the seventh game of the N.B.A. playoffs,” Vaccaro said in a telephone interview. “It’s not.”
Vaccaro said he had a “very close” relationship with Mayo and indicated that he is more concerned about where Mayo would be playing in July, when Reebok and Nike are the hosts at competing basketball camps for the top prep basketball players.
“Sonny’s kind of a man in the back,” Mayo said. “He handles a lot of business for me that I don’t really know about, not just as a basketball player.”
I wouldn’t ordinarily recommend a column of Phil Mushnick’s, but given that he devotes considerable space today towards favorable observations about Mike Francesca, Chris Russo, Stephen A. Smith, John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, said entry seems rather historic, if nothing else. There’s also this tidbit :
Ken Singleton’s cracks, last week, about Alex Rodriguez becoming the new “Mr. Rogers” because he hits so well in Toronto’s Rogers Centre, might have worked better if Mr. Rogers, as Singleton claimed, was, in fact, “retired.” Fred Rogers (above) is more than retired; he’s dead.