John Mason, Aka Ian Mahinmi

Posted in Basketball at 11:41 pm by

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.

Dirk Wears Red Shirts?

Posted in Football at 11:08 pm by

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.

Is It Consider Prop Comedy If The Prop Is A Burning Church?

Posted in Cinema, Rock Und Roll at 8:28 pm by

(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.

In Defense Of Mel Gibson

Posted in Cinema at 6:20 pm by

(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.

Today I Didn’t Even Have To Use My AK

Posted in Gridiron at 5:47 pm by

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.

The Post’s Marchand Resists Temptation To Use The Term “Al-Yankzeera”

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 5:35 pm by

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.

Please God, Let These Be The Day’s Final Trades

Posted in Baseball at 5:11 pm by

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 yesterdayis 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).

Potentially The Biggest Deadline Deal Of All : Matt Stairs Is On The Move!

Posted in Baseball at 3:52 pm by

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.

Dodgers Acquire Maddux

Posted in Baseball, General at 3:35 pm by

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.

Padres Pick Up Todd Walker

Posted in Baseball at 3:32 pm by

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.

Mets’ Sanchez Injured, X-Man Traded For Perez

Posted in Baseball at 3:01 pm by

I’m trying to catch up with an afternoon of transaction lunacy and the first thing I’ve found when rewinder the Krukfest on ESPN, is the alarming news that Mets setup genius Duaner Sanchez is suffering from a seperated shoulder. The other shoe falling is the sound of RF Xavier Nady being traded to Pittsburgh in exchange for Oliver Perez (above) and yes-he’s-still-around Roberto Hernanez.

Addendum : Fox’s Ken Rosenthal reports that Sanchez was injured in a taxi wreck last night in Miami…and he’s out for the year.

Country Time, Jr. GM

Posted in Baseball at 11:12 am by

There’s a chance this wasn’t Roger Clemens’ favorite portion of Monday’s Houston Chronicle, as penned by Jose De Jesus Ortiz.

Former Astros closer Billy Wagner is ready to give Mets general manager Omar Minaya scouting reports as the National League East leaders pursue a trade for Roy Oswalt (above). Wagner also has assured Minaya that he could help straighten out slumping closer Brad Lidge.œI told Omar, just put (Lidge) out there with me, Wagner, the Mets’ closer, said via phone Monday morning. œI™ll get him straightened out.

œWhat would it mean if we got Roy Oswalt? Wagner said. œIt would be called championship. Put it on the board. I don™t even think Omar would have to ask me about Roy. If he asked me about Roy, I™d tell him, ˜He™s a gamer, goes out there, takes the ball and is ready to play to win.™ That™s what I™d tell him. It™s all about pitching. It™s all about pitching.

The Tigers have picked up the left handed power hitter
they coveted today, trading minor league RHP Brian Rogers to Pittsburgh in exchange for Sean Casey. Detroit optioned Chris Shelton to Toledo — so much for that hot April. Philadelphia’s fire sale continued, as Pat Gillick sent lefty Real Cormier to Cincinnati for onetime Padres prospect, right-hander Justin Germano (above).

Pop culture maven Roch Kubatko, not content with referrencing “The Jetsons”, says of the speculation surrounding Miguel Tejada,

Forget the Rangers and their Hank Blalock proposal. The Dodgers are fixated on Alfonso Soriano, not Tejada. It hasn’t been confirmed that the Angels added local product Nick Adenhart to their package, but the Orioles would have bitten by now if they liked what was put in front of them.

If Texas was willing to part with Mark Teixeira, a deal would be completed. But what’s the rush? People close to Teixeira know he wants to play here once he becomes a free agent (and that isn’t after the 2006 season. I swear.)

Anyone still believe Tejada is leaving Baltimore?

If the Orioles wanted to deal with the Dodgers, they could have traded Melvin Mora, the player Los Angeles really coveted before he signed his extension. Like many teams, they’re sniffing around Daniel Cabrera, hoping that the Orioles lose patience and make him available.

Edes : Sox, Padres & D-Rays In 3 Way Dance?

Posted in Baseball at 9:08 am by

With the return of Mike Lowell’s hitting form…it’s time to send him back to the National League?  From the Boston Globe’s Gordon Edes.

It flies in the face of Terry Francona telling third baseman Mike Lowell last week on the West Coast that he would not be traded, but according to a major league executive who said he spoke directly with one of the three teams involved, the Red Sox are working on a three-way deal with Tampa Bay and San Diego in which they would end up with Devil Rays infielder Julio Lugo and Padres setup man Scott Linebrink, with Lowell going to the Padres. The Devil Rays presumably would end up with prospects from one or both clubs.

Though SI.com’s Jon Heyman claims the Mets are showing late interest in Houston’s Roy Oswalt, the Newark Star-Ledger has Wilpon Inc. chasing after another premiere NL starter.

Late last night, the Mets were in negotiations with the Giants in an effort to acquire right-hander Jason Schmidt. The deal is a long shot, but it was intriguing enough to both sides that they were exchanging names. Interestingly, Lastings Milledge, who’d been the key name in the Mets’ murky efforts to land Barry Zito from Oakland, is not one of the names involved in talks with the Giants. San Francisco, according to a person close to the talks, would rather make Aaron Heilman the centerpiece of a Schmidt deal, adding a prospect or two around him.

The Mets likely would be willing to deal Heilman, especially for a pitcher with Schmidt’s resume, but if they did so they’d look to make another deal for a relief pitcher, possibly from the Roberto Hernandez/Salomon Torres/John Grabow group of available Pittsburgh Pirates. There are plenty of middle relievers on the market, and the Mets believe they could find someone to replace Heilman as their seventh-inning man.

Finally, for a guy who receives zero consideration when his club needs a 5th starter, Aaron Heilman has crazy trade value. The Baseball Prospectus’ Will Carroll has another scenario for the Mets’ middle reliever.

The Mets haven’t made the most of Aaron Heilman. Once expected to be a rotation fixture, the pitcher has instead found a home in the bullpen. He could find a home closer to his midwest roots if the information I got from a Mets official pans out. I’m told that the Mets are discussing shipping Heilman to the Cardinals in return for free-agent-to-be Jason Marquis. The Mets would need to fill the bullpen slot, possibly reaching out for Roberto Hernandez or shifting Brian Bannister to the pen.

The Mets have nothing working with Lastings Milledge (quick trivia question: Why is he named “Lastings”?) He was ejected, not removed, from his Triple-A game today after arguing balls and strikes. Any suggestion that this was indicative of an impending deal didn’t do the homework. It didn’t take good sources on this one, it took checking the boxscore.

Ryan Franklin : When “DFA” Stands For “Done Fuck All”

Posted in Baseball at 8:49 am by

Not did the Phillies have to suffer Bobby Abreu whining on his way out the door yesterday, but Ryan Franklin’s farewell to the club was less than fond as well, writes the Philadelphia Daily News’ Marcus Hayes.

Yesterday, the Phillies designated Franklin (above) for assignment. They have 10 days to dispose of his contract. The Rangers and Pirates are believed to be interested.

Did Franklin feel betrayed? Lied to?

“Yeah,” Franklin said. “They signed me to be a starter. I did nothing in spring training to show them I couldn’t start.

“After Leiber got hurt, they brought the young guys up, and I said, ‘Why? Why can’t I get an opportunity?’ ” Franklin said.

This is the latest misjudgment in Gillick’s first season. After touting their improved bench, infielder Alex Gonzalez played so badly he retired, catcher Sal Fasano broke down and was designated for assignment last week, and infielder Abraham Nunez is hitting .167. In the bullpen, Franklin, Arthur Rhodes, Aaron Fultz, Julio Santana, Ricardo Rodriguez all have failed to perform to expectations.

Franklin was failing, but hoped that starting might help him out.

Franklin said he asked manager Charlie Manuel twice, in private, and was rebuffed. Franklin finally got a chance: A spot start in Toronto. He declined, since it was made plain it would be a one-start deal.

“This really worked me mentally,” Franklin said. “I never would have signed if I had known this.”

Ben Schwartz Celebrates The Cubs’ Successful, Meaningless Weekend

Posted in Baseball at 3:33 am by

(Carlos Zambrano won his 9th straight decision on Sunday)

Taking 4 from the Redbirds has done little to improve Ben Schwartz’ mood.

Just another day at Wrigley: a four game sweep of the Cardinals, a former Cub inducted into Cooperstown, talk of trading a future Hall of Famer because we’ve just got so much talent to burn, and everyone’s counting the days to October.

Actually, the sweep was the first four game sweep of the Cards since 1972, if I can go by the WGN booth, and the October talk is mostly about whether Dusty Baker will be fired or not (right, Hendry still hasn’t made up his mind yet). The real news this weekend at Wrigley appears to be the introduction of The James Gang’s “Funk #49″ into the between innings play list. Given the choice, I’ll take Walsh over Buffett (if that’s the choice). Also weird was hearing WGN plug Lollapallooza’s Grant Park shows, and hearing the name Sonic Youth during a Cubscast.

What can you say as a Cub fan … it’s one of those years when you know by July you’re out of it, so sweeping the Cards two times in a year at Wrigley is about as good as its going to get. As far as the Maddux trade goes, it’s a lot of trying-to-be-polite double talk. Dusty and Hendry have made it clear, in every venue they can, that they aren’t looking for a deal. Maddux deserves real respect — so you actually have to call them. It’s kind of like E-Bay, but you can’t bid in increments of .50. The way to make clear you’re not looking to lose Maddux is to say “No.” And Maddux is equally passionate about staying, telling the Trib, “Jim [Hendry] has to do what’s best for the organization, and if that’s trading me, I’m happy to go, and if that’s keeping me, I’m more than happy to stay.” The way Dusty talks, the best thing the Cubs have to look forward to in ’06 is Carlos Lee leaving the NL.

After the game St. Louis confirmed their acquisition of 2B Rafael Belliard from the Indians in exchange for 2B Hector Luna. This is really gonna hurt Junior Spivey’s feelings.


Goat Alert : Jenks, Lidge

Posted in Baseball at 4:18 pm by

Orioles 8, White Sox 7

I’m sure there’s a lot of people in Chicago who’d like to see Cor3y Patterson hit with a pitch. Trouble is, most of ‘em are Cubs fans.  There’s probably someone in Baltimore who’d like to see Miguel Tejada hit with a pitch, but enough about Peter Angelos.  Not exactly a heroic afternoon in Charm City for Javier Vazquez (above), who again once again, hit the wall, big time after his pitch count passed 75. Nor did Neil Cotts or Bobby Jenks cover themselves in glory. It was a  heck of a way to squander a 5 RBI day for Jermaine Dye, a yet another opportunity lost to gain ground on New York, Detroit or Minnesota.

Arizona 7, Houston 6

Roger Clemens’ Sunday line : 7 IP, 9 K’s, 2 hits, no runs…and sure enough, a no decision. Conor Jackson’s 2 run HR off Brad Lidge in the 9th inning gave Arizona a 7-5 lead.  Earlier, Eric Brynes hit a 3 run HR off Chad Qualls.  Brynes made a tremendous running catch with two out in the bottom of the 9th and Adam Everett on 2nd representing the tying run, robbing Brad Ausmus of extra-bases.  Jorge Julio picked up his 13th save…and Lidge’s trade value (presuming there’s even a chance of his being dealt in the next half day) seems to drop every time he touches a baseball.

Franchise F.C. Cancels The Buffet

Posted in Food, Football at 2:26 pm by

The Independent’s Tim Collings wonders why Martin Allen would leave Brentford for Milton Keynes Dons. Obviously, he’s not seen the toilets at Griffin Park. Allen, however, describes his first days on the new job.

After a further chat, about budgets, ambitions and players, during which Allen (above) was assured that his wish-list was within the chairman’s price range, they reached agreement. Since then, Allen has recruited six players and is hunting for one more, but some have gone.

Two of the departed left swiftly, having failed to attend meetings to discuss their futures. He knew he had to act decisively. “If they couldn’t make their way in to see the new manager of a club that was just relegated, then I could not see they would be dedicated to turning this club around,” he said.

That was followed by the axing of the players’ buffet lunch. “The chairman here is very generous,” said Allen. “But we are just one division from the Conference… I think they needed a reality check. There was no food at Barnet [where Allen was manager for two years] or Brentford. It was all brought in. And that didn’t stop us…

“This was a challenge, to see if they were with you or not. I opened the doors into their room and took a look – and there they were with their Tupperware boxes with sandwiches, fruit salads, yoghurts, rice and pasta salads. There was a real buzz. For me, the manager, it was a joy to see. There was no sulking and moaning and they understood my reason.

Stark : Abreu, Lidle Salaries Dumped On The Yankees

Posted in Baseball at 2:06 pm by

From ESPN.com :

The Yankees will send the Phillies 20-year-old minor-league shortstop C.J. Henry — their No. 1 pick in 2005 — and 27-year-old left-handed reliever Matt Smith, in exchange for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle. The Phillies will also pick one other minor-league player from an agreed-upon list, while the Yankees will take on responsibility for Abreu and Lidle’s contracts. Abreu is owed $15 million for 2007 alone.

Abreu has a full no-trade clause in his contract and has the right to accept or reject the deal. In the past his agent has said any team trading for Abreu would have to pick up his $16 million option for 2008 to get him to waive the no-trade clause. However, Abreu himself recently has backed off that stance.

Abreu was pulled from the lineup
prior to the first game of the Phillies’ twinbill with the Marlins.

Chase Utley’s 4th inning double in the above contest — Philly’s up, 5-2 — extended his hitting streak to 30 games.

Sherman To Rocket : You Fucked Up

Posted in Baseball at 1:53 pm by

Depite having not allowed more than 2 earned runs in any of his ’06 starts for Houston, Roger Clemens’ return to the Astros, while undoubtedly lucrative, has done little to add to his legacy, nor vault Houston back into contention. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman rubs it in.

Faced with a four-team field from which to choose, The Rocket un-retired to the club looking the worst as the trade deadline neared.

However, Houston GM Tim Purpura said “zero” when asked if he either had considered dealing Clemens before tomorrow’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline or if the fickle righty had asked to be moved to avoid the risk of pitching in meaningless games in what is now his fourth “retirement season.”

Nevertheless, the Rangers called recently just to make sure, and the Yanks and Red Sox have stayed in touch, as well. Before signing May 31, Clemens had narrowed his final choice to Houston and Boston, and he threw such bouquets at the Red Sox upon signing with the Astros that a few executives spoken to in the last week said they wouldn’t be surprised to see Clemens wind up with Boston again. Clemens had liked the idea of mending fences in Boston, and finishing his career where it started and potentially going into the Hall of Fame as a Red Sox.

In an e-mail exchange, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein would not divulge any of Boston’s plans. Officials from other clubs cited Epstein among the most active GMs. One AL executive said “it is interesting the stuff he is trying to get done.”

The Astros were working hard to land either Alfonso Soriano or Miguel Tejada with the idea of sparking a feeble offense and, potentially, appeasing Clemens. But perhaps the industrious Epstein could acquire a power hitter and turn that hitter into Clemens. However, the Red Sox and Orioles have not re-generated their Tejada talks from the offseason.

Arizona have an early 1-0 lead on Clemens and the Astros today at Ken Lay Memorial Field, Luis Gonzalez scoring on Chad Tracy’s first inning double.

Despite leaving yesterday’s win over the Braves after taking a pitch off his right knee, the Mets’ Carlos Delgado (above, right) has 3 RBI’s so far today, two of ‘em coming on a first inning, 2-run HR off Chuck James. Carlos Beltran hit a line-drive, grand slam into the left-field seats a shot time later, and New York leads Atlanta, 8-3 in the bottom of the 3rd. We’ve heard no chants of “bring in Baez” but that’s only because they’re a spiritual bunch at Turner Field.

With Bruce Sutter being inducted into the National Baseball Hall Of Fame & Museum today, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan would like to see Bill James and Buck O’Neil enter the same rarified air. While I have no argument with either man’s qualifications, for James, the dilemma is obvious. Which one of his biggest fans introduces him to the overflow Cooperstown crowd, Larry Bowa or Joe Morgan?

Musselman’s Former Charges Sing His Praises

Posted in Basketball at 1:23 pm by

(Musselman informs Kings players that practice is cancelled and they’ll spend the afternoon doing inventory at the Darla warehouse, instead)

If everyone lost their job for a) not getting along with Danny Fortson or b) failing to see the potential in Mike Dunleavy, the unemployment rate in this country would be close to 50%.  And with that in mind, check out some quotes from Sacramento Kings coach Eric Musselman’ former players during his tenure in Oakland.  From the Sacramento Bee’s Sam Amick.

Many players who once seemed to despise Musselman now swear by him, perhaps because of the lesser talked-about effect of his tenure. Gilbert Arenas, Erick Dampier and Antiwan Jamison, among others, had some of their finest years under Musselman and landed huge contracts after leaving Golden State. Musselman was fired with one year left on his three-year contract.

“What happened at Golden State? He brought a team up, did what it took, and we won (17) more games than the year before with the same group,” said Arenas, the two-time All-Star Washington guard. “That should speak for itself.”

Arenas’ first impression wasn’t so flattering. On the first day of training camp, Musselman told him that Bobby Sura was going to be the opening-game starter. Musselman was, as Arenas learned, telling a white lie to motivate him into having a good camp.

“I was like, Uh, uh, not on my watch,” Arenas said. “But he got me going. He reminds me of an Avery Johnson (Dallas) type of coach. He’s fiery. He’s going to push you. He’s a player’s coach, and you rarely find that in this league.”

Months after Dampier called the coach “Musselhead”, he became the first player to invite Musselman to his house. With some Warriors teammates, they had a catfish dinner courtesy of Dampier’s mother and sisters that showed Musselman the importance of player-coach bonding.

“That was a point in time where there was pressure, and I felt we should have won the (Minnesota) game,” said Dampier, who is now with Dallas. “It was (said) just out of frustration. If I could go back and do it over, I never would’ve said that.

“Eric gave me the opportunity that no other coach has given me, the opportunity to show the real Erick Dampier. He’s a player’s coach, even though he’s never played in this league.”

My Hebrew comprehension skills are running behind English and Spanish these days — not necessarily in that order. Luckily, NetsDaily is able to translate, and it seems as though Maccabi Tel Aviv is after the Nets’ Zoran Planinic.

Demanding that “Team USA needs to crap the bed in the 2006 tourney. Nothing will get Gil and Antawn out from under Krzyzewski’s iron fist quicker than an early, ignoble exit.”, the Daily Bacon’s Rex Chapman (whose life is not about playing games) questions Coach K’s qualifications to lead our national side in the World Championships.

I’m not sure whether Krzyzweski’s command of Japanese will be sufficient to ride the referees into calling fouls after the merest flutter of a USA Basketball player’s limb while allowing American defenders to maul and hump their opponents mercilessly on defense. More importantly, he could convince Gilbert that he is fouled every time he drives the lane – the first step towards his eventual mutation into a moose.

The more a player toils under Krzyzewski, the worse he sucks in the NBA. Remember Trajan Langdon? No, I don’t think you do. Only if you leave Duke early, like Elton Brand, do you have a chance of overcoming his anti-professionalism. (Grant Hill resisted, so before he was drafted, a team of midget orthopedists replaced his ankles with plaster and applesauce.)

It’s Hard Out Here For An English Professor

Posted in Hip Hop, non-sporting journalism, Racism Corner at 12:35 pm by

The only thing more exasperating than today’s editorial (excerpted below) in the Chicago Tribune by Notre Dame’s William O’Rourke is the possibility, however remote, that he might be invited to speak at the next EMP Pop Conference.

Joe is now 15 (and I am 60) and he is overscheduled, which I don’t mind, except that it makes me overscheduled. I often drive him around and he plays CD compilations consisting mainly of rap tunes on the car’s player.

“I’m gonna get my gun!” Around our neighborhood here in South Bend, Ind., young folks do often go and get their guns.

I, of course, dislike Joe’s taste in music, but can’t keep from recalling that my parents abhorred my music. The Beatles? Janis Joplin? So, I try to temper my criticism–I don’t want to sound like too much of a hypocrite. So, I let Joe listen to his music of choice. The sexual content and language of a lot of it shocks me–me, a child of the ’60s! Petey Pablo’s “Freek-A-Leek” is one of the worst offenders.

We live in what’s called an “urban” neighborhood, which translates into poor black people living within shouting distance of the white college professors. So I make Joe listen to my anti-rap tirades. My tirades sound pretty much like the anti-rap speech the character played by the rap star Ludacris makes in the film “Crash.” Oh, the irony, Ludacris’ character sounding like Bill Cosby, or for that matter Bill O’Reilly, attacking rap for what it does to black culture, shortly after he and his buddy have carjacked a monster luxury sport-utility vehicle. I wondered, after “Crash” won the Oscar for best film this year, if a white screenwriter had penned that anti-rap monologue, or if a black writer had done it. In any case, the gangsta rap group Three 6 Mafia won the Oscar for best song, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.” Pick your irony.

Joe has forced me to listen to Eminem and his band D12, and after a while I began to realize M&M (my preferred spelling) has some talent.

J-E-T-S Vs. P-E-S-T-S

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Journalism, Sports Radio, Sports TV at 11:28 am by

Finding something a little self-serving about the New York Jets’ various exclusive tie-ins with CotterVision (aka SportsNet NY), the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman examines the club’s habit of treating the rest of the working media like shit.

D’Brickashaw Ferguson, practicing his postgame routine that will follow every Jets loss, ran away from the welcoming committee of boss scribes.

His actions prove he will fit right in with Gang Gone. Clearly, Ferguson is already a student of Jets history. Perhaps Eric Mangini (above) had Ferguson study film of Woody Johnson’s performance with the media last November following the Jets’ 27-0 loss to Denver in the Mile High City.

Walking briskly toward the exit, Johnson told reporters: “They gave everything they had . . . That’s my last comment.”

Unfortunately for everyone covering the Jets, and the faithful who follow them, that was not – and won’t be – Band-Aid Boy’s final public pronouncement. Moments like these are what those assigned to cover this second banana franchise have come to expect.

Still, there is a strange dichotomy when it comes to the media and the Jets. While the organization routinely has treated the print media like garbage, the current regime is overly concerned with the TV and radio products it controls and produces.

As for the players, well, some of them will oil their mouths up when they are paid for it. Who can forget those memorable words Checkbook Chad Pennington voiced during the 2004 season? “It’s not your right (to cover the Jets),” Pennington said. “It’s a privilege.” This is the same guy who, in 2003, authored his own media blackout, which conveniently did not extend to his paid gig on ESPN-1050 radio.

That’s just the Jets way.

Sunday’s Hottest Baseball Story..

Posted in Baseball at 8:47 am by

…isn’t the Yankees (supposedly) closing in on Bobby Abreu, nor is it Texas’ interest in Houston’s Brad Lidge. The day’s most overwhelming item has nothing to do with Barry Zito-for-Lastings Milledge, and it certainly has no connection to the fate of Alfonso Soriano, Miguel Tejada or Greg Maddux.

Actually, it isn’t even a story from this weekend. But it provides some documentation, however nebulous, that Junior Spivey is Alive, if not well, in Memphis. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Joe Strauss.

Memphis Redbirds second baseman Junior Spivey reacted harshly to a three-game suspension he served after missing a sign and then having a dugout confrontation with manager Danny Sheaffer last Sunday.

Spivey described the suspension as “absurd” and “a crazy, crazy deal” to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. The suspension and an accompanying $250 fine resulted from Spivey swinging through a third-inning take sign. He and Sheaffer exchanged words after the manager pulled him from the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader against Iowa.

Spivey, a former NL All-Star, returned to the club Friday but did not appear in the Redbirds’ win over Salt Lake. He did, however, share his feelings over recent events.

“I can understand fining me or making a point by yanking me,” Spivey told the Commercial-Appeal. “But suspending me? That’s embarrassing. And you know how that looks in the eyes of the fans. It makes it look like I’m the problem. I can’t be blamed for the struggles of this team.”

Spivey, signed to a $1.2 million guaranteed contract last December, is hitting .173 with 12 errors in 67 games.

Newsday’s Ken Davidoff takes note of Carlos Beltran’s dramatically superior road numbers compared to his production in Flushing and suggests “Beltran, the past Shea Stadium boos still ringing in his ears, does press at Shea Stadium. ”

Perhaps, but Beltran’s ’06 isn’t merely the “huge success” that Davidoff describes.  It’s also an MVP caliber campaign from a player who was jeered repeatedly during the Mets’ first homestand.  After witnessing Aaron Heilman and Carlos Delgado receive similar treatment from Queens’ cultured baseball experts last week, I have to wonder if it would take a 25 game lead in the NL East to shut some of these people up.

Todd Jones writes of Trade Deadline Nerves in today’s Detroit Free Press.  To coin a recent phrase from a popular commerical, there’s a future for Todd in the beverage distribution business.

Harold’s (Anonymous) Pal Plays The “He Hugs Everyone” Card

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV, The Mailbag at 1:06 am by

Other than my faith in our education system, I have no reason to believe the following message, received late yesterday evening, is not on the level.

Harold is a personal friend of mine (like my little brother) so I know his side of the story which will soon come out at his attorney™s discretion. Not only am I personal friend of Harold, I am a professional fact-finding investigator in discrimination cases, including sexual harassment cases.

Under the law, nothing that Harold did fits under the definition of sexual harassment. According to the law; œAny unwanted (unwelcome) words, touching, gestures or action of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment. In order to have a case of sexual harassment the allege victim must tell the person initiating the actions or gesture that their actions and gesture is unwelcome and unwanted. If the person ignore the victims warning and persist with the behavior, that constitute sexual harassment. This never happened in the case of Harold Reynolds and ESPN™s Human Resource manager should be fired for not knowing the law and the definition of sexual harasssment.

Unwanted sexual advances are determined by the allege victim. To one woman, a hand shake can be considered sexual harassment. To another a mere look could be considered sexual harassment and to another a friendly hug can be sexual harassment.

What is unusual about the ESPN case against Harold Reynolds is that none of the white victims have been identified. In contrast, in the case of the allege black victim vs Duke University, not only was the so called black victim identified, but all of her family members and ex-boyfriends were also identified.

What about the allege hug. I believe Harold hugged the girl, because he hugs everyone. I was at the hospital when he hugged a little boy who was dying of cancer and was his last dying wish to see Harold. Not only did Harold hug the little (in his isolation tent), he knelt down besides the bed and prayed for the little boy while the boy™s cried.

I was there when he hugged a homeless bum who said he was Harold™s fan. Not only did Harold hug the man, he invited the man and his homeless friends to be his guest at the next game (in his box seats) and instructed me to take care of the tickets, food and all the arangements.

I was there when he hugged the man that sell the peanuts at the game. The man was a guest at Harold™s home for a family barbeque. Harold always invite people to his home, against my advice.

I seen him hug a little Asian girl that was part of Major League Baseball commerical.

I seen him hug (male) the head of an inner-city Little League that needed uniforms for all 13 team in the league. The hug came after he had purchased uniforms and equipment for all 13 teams.

I seen him hug his team mates, church members friends and people whom he has met for the first time (men, women, and children).

Keep Harold in your thoughts and prayers


Harold™s Friend


Eunuch Crushed By D-Rays

Posted in Baseball at 10:46 pm by

Nothing like a CSTB commentator suggesting a victory over Tampa Bay “should only count as half a win” to get the lowly Devil Rays all cranked up. They scored a club record 19 runs yesterday, chasing the nauseous (and nauseating) Randy Johnson (above) and snapping a 10 game road losing streak in the process.

The New York Times’ Jack Curry, no doubt mindful that the Yankees slipped behind the White Sox in the chase for the AL’s Wild Card bid, characterizes the deadline dealing on Mount Steinbrenner as follows :

Even as the Yankees continued their conversations with the Philadelphia Phillies about right fielder Bobby Abreu and starting pitchers Cory Lidle and Jon Lieber, they could not predict if the discussions would lead to any deals.

Because Abreu has $17.5 million left on his contract, the Yankees do not want to include valuable prospects like pitcher Phil Hughes and outfielder Jose Tabata in a deal. The Yankees believe that the Phillies could be growing more flexible about accepting lesser players or picking up a portion of Abreu™s contract.

Besides the Phillies, the Yankees are having the most active talks with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who could move relievers Roberto Hernández and Salomón Torres and outfielders Craig Wilson and Jeromy Burnitz. Cashman has been focused on adding pitching, but his continued interest in Abreu is intriguing.

If David Ortiz is gonna be shift-proof, it might be time for an opposing pitcher or manager to just set up a tee at home plate and have his club head to the showers. Late in the game, preferably. The Globe’s Gorden Edes reported earlier today that a Red Sox trade proposal that would’ve sent Coco Crisp to Chicago in exchange for Mark Buehrle was rebuffed.

The Oakland Tribune’s Josh Suchon writes “in the estimation of one executive with knowledge of the situation, there’s a 95 percent chance Barry Zito will remain with the A’s the final two months of the season.” That’s good news for Suchon, as it reduces the chances he’ll be run over by a speeding Hummer.