As international scouting and hoops coverage become more sophisticated, it’s tougher and tougher to keep a quality player under wraps. The San Antonio Express’ Johnny Ludden on the Spurs’ covert methods surrounding French F Ian Mahinimi, a player likely to spend at least one more season in Europe before making his NBA debut.
“Coltish” was how one scout described Mahinmi (above) after seeing him for the first time in France. The Spurs had their own name for him: John Mason.
Not wanting to tip off their interest in Mahinmi before the 2005 NBA draft, the Spurs gave him an alias. “John Mason” sounded like a basketball player, so the name stuck. Anyone eavesdropping wouldn’t know the difference.
Or so the Spurs thought. With the draft only two weeks away and the Spurs in the middle of the NBA Finals, general manager R.C. Buford opened the Sports section of the San Antonio Express-News and felt his stomach drop. “When you’re talking ‘Detroit basketball,’” read the headline stretched across the top of the page, “you’re talking John Mason.”
Buford relaxed after reading further. The story profiled the Pistons’ public-address announcer, who, in addition to popularizing the chant “DEE-TROIT BAS-KET-BALL,” also happened to share the same name as the one the Spurs selected for Mahinmi.
“All I saw was ‘John Mason’” Buford said, “and thought somebody had found us out.”
Milwaukee sent C Jamal Magliore to Portland today in exchange for G Steve Blake, F Brian Skinner and C Ha Seung-Jin. The Racine Journal News’ Gery Woelfel finds the move curious, at least from the Bucks’ perspective.
Even after trading T.J. Ford to Toronto, the Bucks seemed set at the point guard position with Mo Williams and Charlie Bell still around. Williams was the Bucks™ starter two years ago, and Bell played admirably off the bench last season.
But now the Bucks traded for Portland™s Steve Blake (above), and it™ll be interesting to see how he fits into the equation. Blake was a starter last season in Portland and, if he doesn™t start in Milwaukee, the Bucks are likely to have one unhappy camper on their hands, especially since Blake is in his contract year.
The Independent’s Sam Wallace on the brewing competition for one of Holland’s top scoring threats.
Manchester United will now consider a bid for the Feyenoord striker Dirk Kuyt (above), a long-term target for Liverpool, to replace his departed countryman Ruud van Nistelrooy after it was confirmed yesterday that they have agreed an eye- watering £18.6m fee for Michael Carrick, who will inherit Roy Keane’s No 16 shirt at Old Trafford.
Kuyt has been tracked by Liverpool all summer after playing a central role in the Netherlands’ World Cup finals campaign, although the Merseyside club have refused to meet a £12m valuation of the player. They may have to revise that opinion after it emerged yesterday that United have made enquiries about Kuyt’s situation, as their manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, seeks to strengthen his forward line in the wake of Van Nistelrooy’s departure.
As revealed in The Independent last week, Carrick’s fee was settled in the early hours of Thursday morning at £18m – and Tottenham sought to present the deal in their favour yesterday by revealing that the total could rise to as much as £18.6m. That amount would be payable only if United were to achieve significant success in the Premiership and Champions’ League, but Tottenham can be sure of at least £14m.
There’s no shortage of drama surrounding Ashley Cole making an early exit from Arsenal training yesterday. Even Allan Iverson was disappointed.
Sven Goran Ericksson’s agent, the wonderfully tagged Arthole Still, claims to have “four managers of the highest quality” lined up to succeed David O’Leary at Aston Villa, when and if his client’s takeover bid goes down. “…thus ruling out Mr. Erickson,” quipped the Guardian’s headline writer.
(pic swiped from Subspace, used without permission)
That’s Azerroth The Jovial, above, the self-described Black Metal Comedian. He’ll be appearing at Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse tonight at 9:45pm, along with a screening of “Metal Storm : The Scandinavian Black Metal Wars”.
Tickets are only $2. If I don’t see you there, that’s cause I’m helping Xavier Nady pack.
(Gibby, right, tries to entertain on the set of “The Passion Of The Christ” with tales of Patsy Kensit’s sugar tits and his suspicions that Joe Pesci was Jewish. On the left, Jim Caviezel, naps)
As you’ve probably read, actor/director Mel Gibson is in a bit of hot water over alleged anti-semetic remarks and boorish behavior that occured after he was pulled over on a DUI charge Friday evening. Without wishing to sound cavalier about the insane rantings of a Holocaust revisionist’s son, or his putting the public at risk by driving drunk, the following points need to be made :
1) Some policemen are Jews.
2) In some circles, “sugar tits” is considered a term of endearment. The Red Sox clubhouse, for instance.
3) At least he hasn’t played the “I AM REM” card.
4) A couple of inappropriate, hateful remarks, booze-fueled or not, may or may not be the true measure of Gibson’s character. There are other ways of interpreting his nutty world-view.
Predictably, Giants TE Jeremy Shockey has been widely castigated all over the web and yack radio today for his comments in Monday’s papers (calling Tom Coughlin “an ass”, defending the party-hard lifestyle, etc.), but here’s a quote that seemed to escape notice in some quarters. From the New York Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano.
One thing Coughlin clearly doesn’t approve of is Shockey’s on-field antics, especially when he comes off the field waving his arms or stomping his feet if Eli Manning doesn’t get him the ball. Under Fassel, Shockey said, “I could come off the field like that and he wouldn’t say anything.” But he knows that this year he has to “not look so negative if I don’t get a ball.
“That’s how I am,” Shockey said. “I’m not doing it in a negative way. I’m really hard on myself. It’s not towards Eli or anybody else. Sometimes it’s the call, sometimes it’s the play, sometime it’s the coverage they have on me when they have three guys on the tight end. It ticks me off. (Tight ends) coach (Mike) Pope says ‘You should smile when you walk off and you get double-teamed.’ Well, (shoot), I want to punch somebody.
“Everybody that’s competitive is going to get mad,” Shockey added. “Like Plaxico (Burress). Everybody makes a big deal about him, why he acts like he acts. Well hell, he’s a competitor. Would you rather him walk off, or come back with an AK-47?”
I wasn’t aware that was a possibility, but rather than doubt Shockey’s credibility, perhaps giving Burress a very wide berth would be a good idea.
I don’t wanna snitch on the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman, but it would appear as though he’s been sneaking columns into the Post under the all-too obvious psuedonym “Andrew Marchand”.
On Friday the YES-produced Ch. 9 telecast failed to even show the crowd’s reaction as Alex Rodriguez walked to the plate for his first at-bat in The Bronx since the epic “To boo or not to boo” debate peaked with Rudy from Manhattan taking a moment from plotting a presidential run to call WFAN.
Despite the monumental buildup, Ch. 9 chose a pitch-by-pitch replay of a Jason Giambi strikeout instead of A-Rod and the fans.
When Rodriguez was neatly tucked in the batter’s box, Michael Kay said, “Here is Alex Rodriguez, who just got a very warm hand from the crowd.”
Wow. That would have been nice to see and hear.
During Rodriguez’ second and third strolls to the plate, drop-in advertisements, voiced by Kay, superseded the crowd’s reaction.
While we couldn’t see or hear for ourselves, Kay and Bobby Murcer (above) informed (propagandized?) us that Yankee fans love Rodriguez and he works really, really hard. On Saturday, Kay said his “work ethic is amazing” and “it is not for show.”
On Friday, Murcer said there were “a lot of cheers tonight for Alex Rodriguez.” Kay told us, the fans were chanting “A-Rod’s” name.
But yesterday on YES, when Rodriguez struck out three times and the boos were easy to pick up from our couch, neither Kay nor Murcer somehow heard a thing.
MLB’s non-contenders continue to live up to their yearly obligation to replenish the New York Yankees roster, the receipts being somewhat dubious. Will the last Pirate on the ship turn the lights out? Pittsburgh are sending Craig Wilson (above, center) to the Bronx in exchange for P Shawn Chacon.
In a somewhat less splashy transaction, Braves P Jorge Sosa —- designated for assignment yesterday — is bound for St. Louis, having been traded for Rich Scalamandre.
El Birdos welcomes Sosa with wings spread wide :
He’s no good. had a fluke season last year, but a bad player overall. he has yielded 20 homers in 90 innings this season . . . . . i’m not sure what the point was; whose spot on the pitching staff does he take? maybe this is the prelude to another trade — marquis for somebody.
My earlier claim that the Mets were sending Oliver Perez and Heath Bell to the Padres for Scott Linebrink is apparently, 101% bullshit. First person to write in with a joke about how long it will take Rick Peterson to sort out Perez wins a free copy of “The Making Of MLB2K6″ on VHS.
From this jaundiced perspective, Jim Bowden’s inability to get anything more out of Alfonso Soriano than a pair of draft picks in ’07 (presuming the 2B-turned-leftfielder doesn’t sign a new pact in DC) ranks as a fireable offense. Even more so than DUI. Capitol Punishment’s Chris Needham on Soriano Staying Put :
From day one, Bowden said that he wanted each team’s best prospect. Nobody was willing to give that up, which, I suppose, is understandable. But that doesn’t mean that Bowden should’ve lowered his price. He knew what he had in Soriano: Two months of prodcution + 2 first-round draft picks.
Look at it as a reserve price auction. Let’s say that you’re selling an engagement ring because your fiancee hated your leather pants, and there was an ugly incident where she was beating and scratching you in front of a cop. When you’re selling it on Ebay, you’re probably going to set a reserve price. You don’t want some schlub like Billy Beane coming in and paying $1.75 for a ring you just laid several thousand rubles for.
I guess the only concern I have is whether Bowden’s obsession with Soriano and the accompanying trade talk prevented him from making deals for Ortiz, Armas or Hernandez, but given how crappy they’ve been pitching, it’s unlikely the Nats would’ve received anything useful anyway. (And there’s a chance that Armas and Ortiz could return draft picks at the end of the season anyway).
And the balance of power in the American League remains, uh, largely unchanged. KC have sent Matt Stairs (above) to Texas in exchange for RHP Joselo Diaz.
Texas has also acqured Kip Wells from the Pirates, sending reliever Jesse Chavez to Pittsburgh in return.
Boston’s hopes of snatching Tampa Bay’s Julio Lugo will have to wait until next spring, at least. The Dodgers picked up Lugo today, shipping Joel Guzman and Sergrio Pedroza to the Devil Rays in the process.
Dayton Moore’s house cleaning isn’t quite finished : the Royals have traded Jeremy Affeldt and Denny Bautista to the Rockies for Ryan Sheely.
From CBS Sportsline’s Scott Miller.
Right-hander Greg Maddux is leaving the Chicago Cubs after all: He’s headed to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who acquired him seconds before the trade deadline Monday for shortstop Cesar Izturis, CBS SportsLine.com has learned.
Maddux, who approved the deal because the Dodgers are a contender and because he owns homes in Dana Point, Calif., and Las Vegas, immediately will join the Los Angeles rotation. The move also reunites Maddux with Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, who was an executive with the Cubs early in his career, during Maddux’s first tour with the Cubs.
Undaunted by the knowledge an association with Todd Walker can result in a massive warehouse fire, the San Diego Padres have traded for the not-so-slick infielder, sending RHP Jose Ceda to the Cubs.
If you’ve ordered an Oliver Perez Mets jersey from MLB.com, well, too fucking bad. The Mets have flipped Perez and Heath Bell to the Padres in exchange for Scott Linebrink.