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.