The Fiver On West Ham’s Shocking Coup

Posted in Football at 9:12 pm by

In what has to be considered the biggest transfer surprise since Ken Griffey Jr. decided Cincinnati was sufficiently close to his Florida home, West Ham United have acquired Argentine internationals Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano from Brazil’s Corinthians.

For the Guardian’s usually unflappable Paul Doyle and Paolo Bandini, this measures pretty high on the WTF scale.

Unless Salvador Dali faked his own death in 1989 and is, in fact, living in a derelict tenement in east London as a 102-year-old West Ham fan, it’s safe to say no Hammers supporter could have imagined the news that broke this afternoon, viz: that the recently-promoted minnows have upgraded from Hayden Mullins and Bobby Zamora to … Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez!

Short of Beyoncé Knowles ditching rich and successful rapster Jay-Z to hook up with your broke, bungling Fiver, no match-up could be more shocking. After all, the Argentinian stars have for years been linked with Arsenal, the MU Rowdies, Bayern Munich, Milan and a slew of other glamorous clubs. As well as Spurs and Portsmouth. “The pair have been signed for an undisclosed fee and put pen to paper on permanent contracts this afternoon,” declared the West Ham website not two minutes ago. “All other aspects of the transfers will remain confidential and undisclosed,” it continued mysteriously, as the whiff of rat wafted through Fiver Towers.

Might the dazzling duo be cosying up to the Hammers to showcase their ability to adapt to European football, thereby jacking up the fee and wages they could command from fatter cats in year or two? Could they simply be amused by the prospect of pushing Tottenham “delusions of grandeur” Hotspur farther down the London hierarchy? Or did Kia Joorabchian sway the pair to join West Ham by speaking very highly of the club?
“Who?” we hear you ask.
“West Ham,” we answer. “That hokey outfit from grassroots London.”
“Not them, you clowns, this Joorabchian geezer,” you retort.
“Oh, he’s the Iran-born, London-based businessman who pondered taking over West Ham last year. He may have told the lads it’s a lovely club. Incidentally, he runs Media Sports Investments, the company that two years ago became the main financial backers of Corinthians. It was instrumental in amazing South America by bringing Tevez from Boca Juniors to Brazil in 2004. Spanish newspaper AS has reported Roman Abramovich has a stake in his company, but Joorabchian has rubbished these claims with great vigour.”

Of course the fact that the pair have not joined a club likely to challenge, say, Chelsea for domestic or European honours is obviously coincidental.

Sir Charles, Unafraid Of Gay Cooties

Posted in Basketball at 5:15 pm by

…but shockingly, he can resist the charms of Chris Meyers.

“I think if they want to get married, God bless them,” Barkley said. “Gay marriage is probably 1 percent of the population, so it’s not like it’s going to be an epidemic. Hey, trust me, I’m never going to kiss you and say, ‘Chris, you’re sexy.”‘

Heyman : Sultan Of Surly Staying In S.F.

Posted in Baseball at 4:59 pm by

SI.com’s Jon Heyman describes Barry Bonds re-upping with the Giants in ’07 as “common sense”.

“He’s going to want $10 million, and there’s only one team I can see giving it to him. That’s the Giants,” one opposing executive said. (Another executive thought that figure was on the high side, that Bonds would need to accept non-guaranteed incentives to get there, even with the Giants. But that executive also sees Bonds staying in San Francisco.)

Giants people understandably want more information before negotiating with Bonds. They want to see how his court case turns out and how he finishes out the season. The legal matter may drag on for a while, what with Bonds’ former trainer Greg Anderson refusing to testify and back in prison for what could be a long time. And as for Bonds’ performance, it’s showing great signs of life. “He’s playing really well,” the competing GM said. Bonds’ slugging percentage is up to .512, his on-base percentage to .459 and his batting average from the mid-.230s to .258 after his 12-for-23 hot streak.

There’s also a growing question as to who else will want him nearly as much as the Giants. While a slim majority of major league executives interviewed here a few weeks ago said Bonds would be able to find a job elsewhere, there’s that question of “Where?” And that bigger question of “How much?”

The A’s and the Angels are the two most obvious places that could offer Bonds a chance to stay on the West Coast and to DH. But I couldn’t find any evidence that either will seriously pursue him.

While Bonds and the Giants — 3 games off the NL Wild Card pace — take on John Smoltz tonight in Atlanta, the Nats have jumped out to an early 2-0 lead over W.C. contenders Philadelphia, scoring a pair in the first inning off Randy Wolf.

Dioner Navarro, good, Dave Navarro, very very bad. For today at least. The former (above) hit a game-tying 8th inning HR off Matt Thornton, and Tampa Bay went on to beat the White Sox, 5-3 in ten innings at the Cell earlier Thursday. Chicago squandered an opportunity to gain ground on Detroit, 6-4 losers to the Yankees and slump-busting A-Rod.

Either David Wells is headed to San Diego or Terry Francona thought starting Julian Tavarez against the Blue Jays tonight would be a good way to see if anyone was still paying attention.

The Reds signed Jason Johnson, most recently of Boston, previously of Cleveland, to a minor league deal. Wayne Krivsky might not win Exec Of The Year, but he’s the most fervent dumpster diver of recent memory.

Colts’ Vinatieri Has A Busted Hoof

Posted in Gridiron at 4:42 pm by

All of a sudden, the Liquored-Up Kicker doesn’t look so bad by comparison. From the Indianapolis Star’s Phil Richards.

Clarification of the nature and extent of the injury to Indianapolis Colts placekicker Adam Vinatieri™s left ankle should come tomorrow, when coach Tony Dungy promised a doctor™s report would be issued.

œHe has a sprained ligament, not a fractured bone in the ankle, and he™s on pace for the opener, team spokesman Craig Kelley said after practice. œThat™s what we feel and that™s the extent of our comment.

The question arose because earlier in the day, Vinatieri™s mother, Judy Vinatieri, said the Colts kicker suffered a broken bone in his left, or plant, foot.

œThat™s what he told us about a week and a half ago, Judy Vinatieri said. œThey sent him to a specialist. They found a small broken bone in his foot.

Vinatieri hasn™t kicked in a game since suffering the injury during conditioning drills on Aug. 14. The Colts open the regular season Sept. 10 at the New York Giants.

On the bright side, Mrs. Vinatieri had no further updates on Carl Pavano’s condition.

The Buffalo News’ Bob Disceare has a problem with the NFL’s salary structure, in particular, rookie compensation.

Does an orthopedic surgeon straight out of residency leapfrog Dr. Frank Jobe and Dr. James Andrews on the earnings list?

Is the bright, young attorney made a partner before he tackles his first case?

Yet the highest paid tight end in the National Football League is Vernon Davis (above), who was granted a five-year, $25 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers, with $15 million of it guaranteed. And that’s just to find out if Davis, the No. 6 overall pick in the April draft, is good enough to play in the NFL.

It’s absurd is what it is. Wouldn’t you want to be on the set when the producer tells Sean Penn, “See that kid over there? We’re paying him twice as much as you. Yeah, this is his first movie. He’s a little green. But you should see the way he hammered his lines in the school production of “Oliver.’ We think he’s going to be a good one.”

Like that wouldn’t result in a murder rap?

Strange thing is, these top rookies always hit camp noting how much they stand to learn from the veterans. They can’t wait to pick the brains of players in the know. And why not? Within the context of the salary cap they’ve already picked their pockets.

Dicesare seems to know almost as much about the movie business as he does professional football. And when was the last time we read anything about Sean Penn taking a swing at someone, 15 years ago?

To Quote Hank Jr., “Are You Ready For Some Confusing, Conceptual Art?”

Posted in Fashion, Gridiron at 4:07 pm by

Even Ed Hochuli looks terrible in the new Reebok uniform (image courtesy Mark Ohe)

I Have A Perfectly Good Excuse For Today’s Late Start…

Posted in Baseball at 3:04 pm by

…and it’s all this guy’s fault.

Anyhow, I wasn’t quite sure why Modesto left Taiwan’s Ching Lo out there to die for so long in last night’s 13-4 loss to San Jose, but after I got a load of the Nuts’ relief corps, it made a little more sense.

It was truly awesome to be in the same zip code as Len Sakata, never mind the same ballpark.

Thrilling as this California League contest might’ve been, apparently it didn’t hold a candle to the Inland Empre local derby between Lake Elsinore and Rancho Cucamonga. 30 runs, 25 hits, completed in a crisp 3:15.

Tigers : Last Night A DJ Saved My Life

Posted in Baseball at 2:37 pm by

Hot Butter’s “Popcorn”, inexplicably played over the Yankee Stadium’s PA moments before Craig Monroe’s fateful 3-run HR last night.

Though I suspect the AL East is all but wrapped up, perhaps it was a mistake to put Howard Spira in charge of the song selection?


Olney : Wells To S.D. For Kottaras

Posted in Baseball at 8:49 pm by

From ESPN. com and Buster Olney :

The Red Sox moved steadily toward the completion of a trade of veteran left-hander David Wells, identifying Class AAA catcher George Kottaras (above) as the player they want if they complete a deal with the Padres. Boston has continued to talk to the Dodgers and Cardinals and perhaps the Reds, but it appears that San Diego is the front-runner to get Wells.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt now that he’s going to be traded,” said one source familiar with the conversations.

Wells is from San Diego and has pitched for the Padres in the past, and it may be best for all parties that he winds up going where he wants to go, because there is the possibility that at age 43, Wells would simply retire if he didn’t like the team to which he was traded.

Kottaras is playing for Triple-A Portland, where he is hitting .233 with two homers and 13 RBI. The Red Sox organization is in need of catching, and Kottaras has a reputation as a solid defender.

The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported earlier today that LA turned down Boston’s request for OF Matt Kemp. In the same section, Gordon Edes, searching desperately for something positive to report, mentions that T.J. Matthews signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox, and “tickets are still available” for PawSox games likely to feature rehab stints from V-Tek, Trot Nixon and Alex Gonzalez.

Major Pussy Awards Announced

Posted in Cats, Gridiron at 8:02 pm by

From the AP / MSNBC :

A cat rescued two years ago from Philadelphia™s Veterans Stadium is being honored as pet of the year.

The cat, named Hagrid-of-Hogwarts, was one of a litter of two-week-old kittens removed from the stadium just before it was imploded.

Now, the brown-and-white tabby has been named best household pet for 2006 by the American Cat Fanciers Association. He beat out 821 other cats who competed in 50 shows across America and Canada.

Judges liked Hagrid™s glossy coat and his eager way of playing. He also drew attention with his thumb-like extra toe on each front paw, which he uses to scoop up toys.

In a related story, Junior (shown above) has been named CSTB’s Worst Cat Of All Time. He beat out 2 other cats and several cat ghosts. Judges cited his intense clinginess, tendency to vomit repeatedly and near-chronic flatuence. He also drew attention with his cruelty towards other animals and thoroughly selfish demeanor.

Barra : Where’s A-Rod’s Maris?

Posted in Baseball at 7:45 pm by

Chien-Ming Wang (above) outduelled Nate Robertson earlier today as the Yankees beat the Tigers, 2-0 in the first game of a twinbill. The Third Baseman was 0-3 and might not have received a candygram, warm hug nor standing ovation from the sparse crowd in attendance. The Village Voice’s Allan Barra, while pointng out that “no athlete in American professional sports has more separating him from the average fan than Alex Rodriguez,” does cite historical precedent for the sort of hysterical abuse A-Rod’s received.

When he came to bat in the first game of the Boston massacre series (in which he hit .333 with no home runs but scored or drove in 10 of the Yankees’ 49 runs), the Red Sox fans let loose with torrents of abuse, prompting Yankee announcer Michael Kay to quip, “That must make A-Rod feel like it’s a home game.” “I’ve never heard anything like it,” says Alex Belth of the Bronx Banter website. “There may have been booing for a Yankee player that was more vicious than this, but not in the last 20 years at least.”

Veteran sportswriter and Lou Gehrig biographer Ray Robinson has heard something like it. “The torrent of boos that Yankee fans inflicted on Mickey Mantle from about 1958 to 1960 was shocking,” recalls Robinson. “What was baffling about it was that Mantle had, by 1959, two Most Valuable Player awards and five World Series rings. I’ll say this: Rodriguez has reacted to the booing with a lot more maturity than Mantle did. Mickey led the league in smashed water coolers and batting helmets.”

Though the booing of Mantle is now largely forgotten, many old-timers recall it as lasting up to the 1961 season, when Roger Maris became the target of fan abuse, and Mantle, almost overnight, was transformed into a hero. It doesn’t look as if there’s any Roger Maris in sight to take the heat off Alex Rodriguez.

Clearly there’s only one thing the Bombers can do to alievite A-Rod’s pain : hire Barry Pepper and let the fans (old ones, at least) pelt him with rocks and garbage. If need be, draft in the half dozen people that rented “Knockaround Guys”.

Carl Pavano has been told not to pitch for two weeks. They might want to advise him against driving, too.

The Mets aquired catcher Mike Nickeas from Texas today in exchange for OF Victor Diaz. Mike DeFelice’s playoff share keeps getting smaller.

Zito On Fire, A’s Poised For The Sweep

Posted in Baseball at 4:38 pm by

Though I’m suffering a slight cultural hangover after witnessing Chan Marshall cover The Hot Boyz last night, the considerable charms of a Curt Schilling/Barry Zito matchup were too tempting to resist. Well, that and it’s Dollar Dog day at McAfee. I’ve got a labrador and a collie/greyhound mix at home in Austin, and they’d be furious if I passed up a chance to adopt another hound for a mere buck.

Oakland are ahead, 4-1, with Bobbly Kielty having taken Schilling deep in the 2nd.Barry Zito just induced Dustin Pedroia to fly oiut to left with the bases loaded in the top of the 6th ; Zito (above) has 7 K’s on the afternoon.

Boston’s vaunted traveling support are conspicous by their abscence. Either that 3-16 stretch really put a crimp in their swagger, or Oakland’s baseball fans aren’t nearly so quick to put up their seats on StubHub for the sake of filthy Boston lucre.

I thought I saw Mike Timlin signing autographs over by the Red Sox pen, but I must have been hallucinating. More likely he was chatting with a process server.

(UPDATE : Oakland 7, Boston 2. Turns out I have wildly misinterpreted the Dollar Dog Promotion. Quote of the day from KYCY’s Ken Korach, refering to Schilling’s drilling of Nick Swisher earlier this year : “You never want to see Bud Selig’s signature imprinted on any part of the body.”

Sadly, Korach then went onto explain that “Bud Selig, the Commissioner of Baseball, has his signature affixed to every official Major League baseball”, just in case anyone didn’t get the joke the first time).

Sky Vs. Saturday Football On Live TV

Posted in Football, Sports TV at 1:55 pm by

As Sky continues to pursue criminal cases against UK pub landlords who opt for foreign satellite feeds of otherwise unavailable live football, the Guardian’s David Conn takes a dim view of Murdoch Inc.’s role in the betterment of the game.

Landlords of locals in Portsmouth, Rochdale and West Bromwich have successfully defended prosecutions in recent months, arguing that they were not acting dishonestly when they bought boxes and smart cards to enable them to show live Premiership games from Greek or Arabic TV stations.Paul Dixon, a solicitor from the firm Molesworths Bright Clegg, who represented four of those acquitted and has nine further cases pending, accuses the Premier League of heavyhandedness. “It is arguable that the landlords are not even breaching civil laws or contracts by paying for a broadcast from overseas, but by mounting criminal prosecutions the Premier League is bullying publicans simply to protect Sky’s monopoly over football,” he said.

The Premier League is sensitive to that charge but argues that it is duty-bound to defend the exclusive TV rights for which Sky pays so handsomely. “That money goes into football, including the grass roots,” a spokesman said. “Landlords who show matches without paying Sky are breaching copyright law and we will prosecute. In the next month we will be targeting raids against the suppliers of the equipment.”

News Corporation has become one of the world’s most powerful media empires substantially on the payments of English people who have nowhere else to go to watch live league football. BSkyB’s most recently published figures boast 8.2m subscribers, a third of British homes, paying an average £388 each a year, making Sky’s total earnings from domestic subscribers £3.2bn. Industry research has found most football fans would drop their Sky subscriptions if it lost the rights to Premier League matches.

Prosecutions of modest provincial pubs might look a touch rabid, but as watching football in the pub has become a central feature of our sporting culture, it has become a huge business for BSkyB. Its charges have steepled, ranging up to £2,210 per month, £26,520 a year, for a town-centre pub subscription.

With 47,000 commercial subscribers, mostly pubs and clubs, it is believed that BSkyB recoups its whole outlay for the Premiership TV rights solely from this market. No wonder landlords are keen to explore beaming Al-Jazeera in for a fraction of the price, or that the Premier League is fiercely enforcing the crackdown.

It is remarkable that the Office of Fair Trading here and the European Commission, twice, have bludgeoned away at the Premier League’s monopolistic TV arrangements yet failed to ensure that a single live match is available on terrestrial TV.

Cote : Fins Are Snubbing Scott

Posted in Gridiron at 1:30 pm by

The Dolphins are inducting saftey Dick Anderson and tackle Richmond Webb into their Honor Roll, but the Miami Herald’s Greg Cote would like to see safety Jake Scott receive similar recognition.

It is believed that today, at age 61, Scott is living on Hanalei Bay in coastal Kauai, Hawaii, still steadfastly incommunicado. He has grown to the status of franchise legend from equal parts accomplishment and mystery. There is an odd nobility to the man with his back to the parade.

Scott is to this day the club’s career leader in interceptions with 35, one more than Anderson despite the latter playing 10 Dolphins seasons to Scott’s six. Scott had more Pro Bowl selections, five to three. Scott also was the Perfect Season Super Bowl MVP. And is Miami’s career leader in punt return yards, by the way.

Scott is being ostensibly penalized for his lack of longevity when Honor Roll inductee Paul Warfield played only five years with Miami.

Scott accomplished as much or arguably more in six years as Anderson did in 10. Moreover, his Dolphins career was cut short only because Don Shula abruptly traded him away, 30 years ago this week, in maybe the worst, most knee-jerk decision and deal Shula ever made.

Coming off yet another Pro Bowl season, Scott and a fourth-round draft pick were shipped to Washington in exchange for safety Bryan Salter, who amounted to nothing. Shula and Scott had sparred for years; the coach’s doghouse might as well have been named Jakeville. The trade came one week after Scott refused a club-ordered painkiller shot that would have allowed him to play in an exhibition game.

Scott never forgave Shula, the cause of his unending estrangement from the franchise.

The Dolphins’ company line is that Scott was among players under consideration and that his not going onto the Honor Roll is ”not based on personal relationships or whether somebody would be there [for the induction] or not,” club senior vice president for media relations Harvey Greene said Tuesday.

Decline Of Standards, Patriotism, Traced To Patrick Bateman’s Favorite Rocker

Posted in Gridiron at 1:13 pm by

From the Kansas City Star’s Jeffrey Flanagan.

Longtime Chiefs fan Hayden Abbott wants you to know he™s not a prude and he™s not interested in taking the fun out of Arrowhead Stadium.

But Abbott thinks it™s time Chiefs fans end their tradition of ad-libbing œChiefs to œhome of the brave during the national anthem. Abbott wants to start a campaign to stop the ad-lib, and he even called the Chiefs about it, though there wouldn™t seem to be a lot the Chiefs can do to prevent 78,000 people from singing whatever they want.

œI just think it™s disrespectful to change the word to ˜Chiefs,™‚ said Abbott, 70, an Air Force veteran.

œAnd I love the Chiefs. I™ve had season tickets ever since the Chiefs came here, and I have a great time out there. I tailgate and have a few ˜pops™ just like everyone else. But I think that™s one tradition that we need to change.

Abbott, who incidentally played on the great Kansas State basketball teams in the late 1950s, can™t exactly remember when the tradition of altering the anthem started.

But it is believed to have happened in 1993 when Joe Montana™s good friend, Huey Lewis (above), sang the national anthem before a Chiefs home game and belted out œhome of the CHIEFS! instead of œhome of the brave.

œWe live in a great country, and we need to respect what people have done to make it great, Abbott said. œThey were brave people, and we dishonor them by changing the words. I™m sure people will think I™m just some crazy guy complaining, but I know a lot of people who feel the same way I do and just don™t want to say anything.

Willie : On Returning, Floyd Might Not Start

Posted in Baseball at 1:08 pm by

(Kaz tells former teammate David Wright that he still can’t find that Salvation Miracle Crusade commercial on YouTube)

You’re not supposed to lose your gig to an injury, but then again, Endy Chavez wasn’t supposed to be a key cog in the Mets running away with the NL East. Newsday’s David Lennon discussed the matter of the oft-hobbled Cliff Floyd prior to the Mets’ 10-5 win at Pete Coors Is A Drunken Facist Field last night.

If Floyd expected his position to be waiting for him upon his return, manager Willie Randolph suggested otherwise.

“I’m not saying he’s going to take Endy’s job,” Randolph said. “A lot depends on how Cliff looks and how he starts to play. But I’m not going to change from what I think is best for the team. When you get to the postseason, you play the best guys, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

That hard-line stance is not shocking from Randolph, who loves Chavez’s defense and the additional boost of energy he brings to the lineup. Chavez, who started in leftfield again last night, is capable of making plays that the less nimble Floyd could not even consider.

Chavez also is batting .310 with a .352 on-base percentage in 106 games, and has delivered in a number of critical situations this season. Floyd, by comparison, has been a disappointment at the plate, hitting .245 with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs in 80 games. And with a potent lineup already in place, overstocked with lefthanded hitters, the Mets don’t really need Floyd.

Randolph dismissed the abundance of lefthanders as a weakness, saying they are capable of doing damage regardless of who is on the mound. But the Mets’ team average sinks 13 points to .260 against lefthanded pitching, and Floyd (.159) and Carlos Delgado (.232) look like they can be neutralized.

“You can’t always have the perfect balance,” Randolph said. “But we can be dominant and we’re going to face a lot of righthanders.”

With a day to go before new additions are no longer post-season eligible, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports the Mets might have one last move to make.

The Mets, seeking to upgrade their backup catcher and add infield depth, are talking to the Rockies about acquiring catcher Danny Ardoin and infielder Luis Gonzalez for a minor-league pitcher.

Ardoin, 32, was designated for assignment by the Rockies last Friday. A poor hitter but strong defender, he likely would replace Mike DiFelice. Ramon Castro, the Mets’ primary backup catcher, underwent surgery last week to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

Gonzalez, 27, primarily is a second baseman, but he has played all four infield positions in the past two seasons as well as left field and right. He would give the Mets protection if Jose Valentin again is slowed by his right hamstring injury. Chris Woodward is currently the Mets’ only backup infielder.

In return for Ardoin and Gonzalez, the Rockies likely would receive Class AA right-hander Matt Lindstrom, 26, or Class AA right-hander Henry Owens, 27.

While the Boston papers are packed with references to Reggie Lewis, the LA Times’ Tim Brown and Steven Springer point to David Wells being traded to the Dodgers.

Because “Clarett Crunch” Just Sounds Wrong

Posted in Food, Gridiron at 12:50 pm by

From the Columbus Dispatch’s Kathy Lynn Gray.

Buckeye HerOes cereal, the newest university-licensed food, will hit store shelves in time for Saturday™s football opener against Northern Illinois at Ohio Stadium.

“We couldn™t make them ˜block Os™, so we made them Os,” said Rick Van Brimmer, director of OSU trademark and licensing services.

Three OSU football stars from last year ” Bobby Carpenter, A.J. Hawk and Anthony Schlegel ” are starring on the HerOes box.

The honey-nut-flavored toasted oats will cost $3.49 for a 14-ounce box at Kroger stores, where they™ll be stocked as early as Thursday, said Monica Gordon, spokeswoman for the chain™s Great Lakes division.

Shoppers already can fill their carts with OSU pasta, chips, salsa, hot dogs, mustard and hot sauces, as well as candy Buckeyes.

“People get excited when football season rolls around and look for unique items to enhance the parties they have,” Gordon said.

If the cereal sells, OSU will come out with a box featuring another former Buckeyes star, probably in early January, and boxes with other OSU ex-athletes perhaps twice a year after that, Van Brimmer said. Some cereal-box faces under consideration: Woody Hayes, Jesse Owens and Jack Nicklaus.

Enough kids are skipping breakfast, as is, without subjecting them to the visage of Woody Hayes first thing in the morning.

Astros Pay Up For Roy O.

Posted in Baseball at 12:08 am by

I’m trying to recall the last time a player went from almost being traded at the deadline to signing an extension within a month. Barry Larkin is the only name that comes to mind, and presumably, this will have a more favorable result for the club in question. From the Houston Chronicle’s Jose De Jesus Ortiz.

Informed that the Astros had just given him a five-year, $73 million contract Tuesday night, ace righthander Roy Oswalt (above) immediately placed a call to Weir, Miss., to give his father Billy the news. In the ensuing news conference, Oswalt fought off tears as he acknowledged his father’s guidance.

Oswalt’s contract is easily the richest multi-year deal ever given to a pitcher by an Astros franchise that has had legendary aces such as Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens and J.R. Richard, to name just a few.

Oswalt, who could have tested free agency after the 2007 season, will earn $13 million in each of the first two years of the contract. His salary moves up to $14 million in 2009, $15 million in 2010 and $16 million in 2011. He has a complete no-trade clause and a $2 million buyout of a $16 million club option for 2012.

Craig Biggio, Jason Lane and Luke Scott all homered in Houston’s 10-3 beatdown of Milwaukee. Astros CF Willy Tavares saw his 30 game hitting streak come to a close, but not before suffering a beaning at the hands of Tomo Ohka.

Without the services of manager Joe Girardi, the Marlins won their 9th consecutive Tuesday night, putting the hurt on the, uh, still-hurting Mark Mulder to the tune of a 9-1 scoreline. Dan Uggla hit his 21st HR of the year, and ended with 3 hits and 4 RBI’s on the night. Florida are 1 1/2 games out of the NL Wild Card, pending the finish of the Reds/Dodgers game at Chavez Ravine.


Hanging Out At Zach’s Place

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down, Dogs at 8:24 pm by

Though I kinda thought the Andy Dick episode was the nail in the coffin of MTV’s “Cribs”, True Hoop’s Henry Abbott caught a re-run of the Zach Randolph segment, and it sounds like it could’ve been the greatest reality TV moment since Michael Barrymore invited Dennis Rodman for a late night swim.

I had just a little moment of nervousness when Zach let his three pit bulls out of the fence and they just started running around free. They heeded his commands pretty well, though, and two out of three laid down when Randolph said something to them that sounded to me like German. Maybe the other one doesn’t speak German.

The dogs also factor into what is easily the creepiest moment of the whole Randolph episode: the mother of his daughter is there, totally pregnant, and never gets introduced. Not one word out of her. That could have been the fault of some MTV producers, not Randolph. But he cements her place in the household hierarchy somewhat by standing in the driveway with her and his dogs and saying he has “five babies.” The mother of his children comes in fourth by Randolph’s count. The dogs were one, two, and three, and the unborn daughter brings up the rear.

Hefty Lefty Heading To The NL?

Posted in Baseball at 8:01 pm by

Not only did the Red Sox front office wildly miscalculate whether or they had enough pitching to get through August, they’re now adding insult to injury by making plans to send The Sultan Of Swat to the Senior Circuit just as I arrive in Oakland. I guess this means our Harley ride to Sausalito later tonight is cancelled, eh, David? From the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo.

The Red Sox are talking to the Padres, Dodgers and Cardinals about a potential deal that would send lefthanded pitcher David Wells to them in exchange for a player that can help the Red Sox next season, according to a league source.

Wells prefers to pitch on the West Coast, but is OK with being dealt if it is to a contending team.

In order for Wells to be eligible for a playoff roster he must be dealt by midnight on Thursday.

SF’s Jason Schmidt is getting shelled thus far at Turner Field ; Andruw Jones just connected for a solo HR off the foul pole moments after Chipper cracked a 3-run shot. The Braves are leading 8-2, and there’s a guy sitting uncomfortably close to Jon Miller’s microphone who keeps yelling, “try throwing it underhand, Jason!” (I’m pretty sure it isn’t Mike Krukow).

(UPDATE : 9-4, Atlanta. Barry Bonds has just hit his 2nd HR of the evening, and for those still paying attention, he’s just 28 away from Hank Aaron. Assuming the Sultan Of Surly is neither a) incarcerated or b) in a wheelchair in 2007, it isn’t inconceivable he’ll break the record).

Open Bar, Eh?

Posted in Blogged Down, Will Leitch Sucks at 7:20 pm by

I have to admit, I’m very impressed the Taco Bell Spicy Crunchwrap Supreme spokesmodel would put his petty jealousies aside when issuing the above invites. On the other hand, if you were about to marry this, you’d no longer be so picky about who you were hanging out with, either.

Though it’s a nice thought, I have a prior engagement at Brian Bannister Bobblehead Night on Coney Island. And I’d sooner leave Von LMO in charge of my house than willingly spend time at Blondie’s of the Upper East Side. Was the Ground Round all booked up?

Still, just cuz I’m busy doesn’t mean the rest of you lot can’t crash the shindig. Tell Ariana Huffington I said hi!

Grant On The Rangers’ Latest Swoon

Posted in Baseball, Leave No Child Unbeaten at 2:39 pm by

Looks like it’ll be another September of meaningless baseball in the Metroplex, and the Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant has seen it all before.

Less than 24 hours after falling nine games behind Oakland in the AL West, the clubhouse was as quiet as a mausoleum and just about as lively. Those few players who made appearances at their lockers would have preferred to talk fantasy football, their love lives or even Middle Eastern politics rather than broach one tiny little question about the club.

That question: How did this team get into the position in which it now finds itself?

That position: Forgotten, if not officially gone, in the AL West race. Even with a win Sunday night, the Rangers trailed Oakland by eight games with 30 to play. A comeback would be truly historic. This team, however, hasn’t shown enough consistency to suggest anything of historic proportions is possible.

“We just haven’t played well,” shortstop Michael Young said. “It’s not going to do me any good to look back at the last few months. All I know is we’re definitely capable of more.”

So why haven’t the Rangers accomplished more? Why do they seem headed for a seventh consecutive third- or fourth-place finish in a four-team division?

Grant points to the a leadership void in the clubhouse (blaming, in part, the trade of David Dellucci, above), lack of bullpen experience or defined roles in the wake of the Francisco Cordero trade, and poor 2nd halves from Kevin Millwood, Adam Eaton, Vicente Padilla and Kip Wells.

Strangely, the name “Buck Showalter” doesn’t appear once in this piece.

Rehabbing Mets LF Cliff Floyd was 0-3 earlier today in St. Lucie’s 5-1 loss to Palm Beach.

Newsweek reports the NFL has finally taken Gary Glitter’s “Rock And Roll, Pt. II” off the playlists of stadium tannoy operators (link courtesy Stereogum). This could be the big break the Billy Preston estate has been waiting for.

The Motherfucker Of All Flame Wars…

Posted in Blogged Down, Will Leitch Sucks at 2:08 pm by

…is not, sadly,between myself and a pseudononymous Spicy Crunchwrap Supreme acolyte, aka “jblo” who contributed the following to Deadspin’s (registration-required) comments section :

I’m sorry, but that’s just plain unfair.

I hate Will far more than Mel Gibson hates Jews. And unlike Mel, I can be completely sober when stating publicly that ethically challenged, xenophobic, frat-fuck pandering “nice guys” like Will are responsible for all of the wars in the world.

Instead, the real virtual brawl to settle it all is taking place right this moment between Michael Kay and Larry Bowa. Sort of.

Mangini Dubs Pennington The Best Of A Bad Lot

Posted in Gridiron at 1:22 pm by

From the Sports Network :

Chad Pennington will line up under center for the New York Jets in the season opener on September 10 against Tennessee, winning a four-man quarterback competition during the preseason.

Head coach Eric Mangini made the announcement on Tuesday, three days before New York will wrap up the preseason against Philadelphia. Pennington will not play in the exhibition finale.

“His presence, his ability to move the team, his leadership – all those things I’ve been looking for – he’s done an outstanding job with and its clear to me that he should be the starter,” said Mangini.

Yes, all that, plus the alternatives were Patrick Ramsey and Brooks Bollinger.

Here’s a nice quote from Dr. Gary Wadler, the US Attorney’s inhouse steroid advisor, concerning current Rams (and former Bucs/Panthers) tackle Todd Stuessie.

According to the Charlotte Observer, Steussie had three prescriptions for testosterone cream from between March 1, 2003, and March 16, 2004, with each prescription renewable five times.

“This wasn’t just a passing flirtation with these prohibited substances,” Dr. Gary Wadler told the Observer. “When I see (prescriptions) renewed five times, I say, ‘What are you trying to accomplish?’ “

Trying to look good for the ladies?

Watching The Defective : Post’s Costello Goes Inside A-Rod’s Head

Posted in Baseball at 1:00 pm by

This might be the lamest New York Post piece of all time that didn’t bear Steve Dunleavy’s byline.  From Brian Costello :

Like most Yankee fans, the psychologists believe A-Rod’s problems are 100 percent mental.

“It seems like it is in his head,” said Jonathan F. Katz (above), director of sports psychology for Altheus, an advanced performance center in Rye. “For an athlete, that means they’re starting to think about it. What athletes do best is react and play. The more they can trust their instincts and not think about it, the more likely they’re going to succeed.”

Anyone who watched Rodriguez go 2-for-20 with 14 strikeouts on the Yankees’ West Coast swing last week saw a player desperately trying to shake himself from a funk.

“The guy’s obviously pressing too hard,” said Robert Reiner, a clinical psychologist and the executive director of Behavioral Associates in Manhattan. “He’s human, remember that. A lot of guys before him in New York have gone through this. Ed Whitson is the poster boy for this stuff. Then you have [Chuck] Knoblauch and Mackey Sasser.”

Both of the psychologists agreed there is one thing Yankee fans can do to help Rodriguez: stop booing.

“Anybody who is a Yankee fan who is booing this guy has their head up their [backside],” said Reiner, a Yankee fan himself. “If you think you’re helping him by booing him, you’re wrong.”

Whoa, Nellie : Montgomery Bounced In Oakland

Posted in Basketball at 12:25 pm by

From the SF Chronicle’s Janny Hu :

In a bold and surprising attempt to end 12 years of playoff futility, the Warriors severed ties with Mike Montgomery this week and will replace him with former coach Don Nelson (above), the Chronicle has learned. The team announced Tuesday morning that it had parted ways with Montgomery, the former Stanford coach who compiled a 68-96 record in two seasons with Golden State. The team will introduce Nelson as its new coach at a public event Wednesday night at the Arena.

Several members of the coaching staff admitted unease this summer as they awaited a possible shakeup. Two league sources also said that Mullin recommended Montgomery be fired after the regular season but was overruled by ownership.

It’s unclear what prompted the reversal of opinion. According to one of the sources, the Warriors waited until Montgomery returned from vacation to negotiate a buyout. He was in Las Vegas last week working in Michael Jordan’s annual basketball camp.

That the Warriors are switching coaches perhaps isn’t as surprising as the identity of their incoming coach. Nelson was sued by Warriors owner Chris Cohan when he resurfaced with the Knicks for the 1995-96 season. While Nelson’s stop in New York lasted less than a year, his litigation with Cohan dragged on until 1999.

Surely I’m not the only person who’d love to see C-Webb as a mid-season addition to Nellie’s coaching staff? Seriously, if Nelson can return to the Bay Area, who’s to say Spree can’t be lured out of retirement, too?