(giddy City fans celebrate the decision to replace Stuart Pearce with Lily Savage)
Manchester City recently signed up to take part in Stonewall’s Diversity Champions program ; the former Maine Road residents have pledged to recruit gay staff and eliminate homophobic language in the workplace. The Mirror’s headline read “MAN ON MAN CITY”, by the way. Given that the office in question is the football pitch, I wish them luck, as does the Guardian’s Sam Delaney.
It used to be simple to work out who was who at the football. If you drank beer, beat people up and urinated down your mate’s leg on the terraces at half time, you were one of the lads. If you wore expensive designer woollens, drank wine and ate olives, you were gay and had got lost on the way to a West End show. These days, since football got gentrified and everyone turned a bit middle class, the lines have blurred. At Chelsea on a Saturday, they can’t move for actors, writers and choreographers, who cram into Stamford Bridge cheek by jowl to watch the Premiership champions. Before the game, they meet up at SW3′s gastropubs and bistros to share bruschetta and petit chablis. Some of them might be gay; the majority aren’t. But they engage in a lifestyle that old-fashioned football fans would have associated with being homosexual.
The majority of football fans these days consider themselves tolerant, liberal-minded blokes. But they sing the odd illiberal chant in the spirit of intimidating opposition players and maximising their side’s chances of winning. Almost no topic is taboo in pursuit of this aim, and there’s a certain amount of mischief involved. Throwing gay taunts from the stands at a self-important, straight player like Sol Campbell may have more impact on his game than it would on a genuinely gay man. Where’s the fun in saying to someone, “You’re gay!” if they can turn round and respond, “You’re quite right! I am! As gay as a baby goose! Rock on!”
Still, the message from Man City and Stonewall is that, however ironic you think you’re being, chanting homophobic songs doesn’t tally with being a self-proclaimed liberal. Football is an integral part of our national culture: if it is permeated by casual homophobia, what does that say about our society?
Nwankwo Kanu : He’s tall, black, he’s had a heart attack. And now you can add to the list, he’s scored 4 goals in his four games of the season, 3 of ‘em coming in Portsmouth’s thoroughly dominant, 4-0 win at Middlesbrough on Monday.
Let the roll call commence,
1) The zillion-dollar arm/ten cent skull combo platter that is Jeff George has signed a contract with Oakland.
2) Hard-drinking, N-word dropping Kerry Collins has agreed to become Vince Young’s valet in Nashville. Or his mentor. I’m not sure which.
3) No-show job specialist / one-man season killer Rhett Bomar, formerly of Oklahoma, has enrolled at Division I-AA Sam Houston State.
In other news, Mack Brown has named Colt McCoy the new starting QB at Texas. Not since Richard Grieco supplanted Johnny Depp on “21 Jump Street” has anyone had such big shoes to fill. (I was gonna go for the Gary Cherone/Sammy Hagar tandem, but then this entry would’ve taken on more of a Klosterman tone than the industry-standard sub-Simmons crap that keeps the advertisers happy).
A Denver TV station is reporting that a DNA sample taken from John Mark Karr doesn’t match the DNA found in the underwear of the late JonBenet Ramsey.
Not only does this mean that JonBenet’s killer is still at large, but also has to be considered a massive blow to the career prospects of Will Arnett (above), who had to be first in line to play Karr in the inevitable made for television exploi-drama.
From the South Florida Sentinel’s Nancy Othon.
A Palm Beach County circuit judge found former Major League Baseball pitcher Jeff Reardon not guilty by reason of insanity on Monday of robbing a jewelry store.
Reardon, who played in two World Series, was taking a dozen medications that impaired his judgment. Attorneys said Reardon was distraught over the 2004 death of a son and had been taking anti-depressants and mood stabilizers.
Defense attorney Mitch Beers, who used a voluntary intoxication defense, said the robbery episode, with Reardon’s “thank you” and “please” on the note, was like something out of a Woody Allen movie.
After Judge Stephen Rapp’s ruling was announced on Monday, Reardon said he was pleased and relieved. He had been worried about going to jail, he said.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a speeding ticket before for crying out loud,” Reardon said.
Guilty of something else entirely (ie. having very little to say) is Mets closer Billy Wagner, whose blogging debut turns out to be even worse than that of David Wright (link courtesy The Big Lead).
Surmising that the AL East is all but done and dusted, the New York Sun’s Tim Marchman examines the bigger question marks for the New York Yankees as they, uh, play out the string?
First, who’s who in the bullpen? The closer is decent enough, but past that things are, in October terms at least, a bit of a puzzle. As outstanding as Scott Proctor has been all year ” and he’s showing no signs of slowing down, with a 1.83 ERA this month ” I doubt he strikes anyone as the menacing (and reliable) presence one would ideally want on the mound in the 8th inning of a playoff game with Paul Konerko, Jim Thome, and Jermaine Dye coming up.
And Ron Villone, so unexpectedly effective all season, is showing every sign of becoming the latest casualty of Torre’s complete inability to resist overusing his better relievers, as he’s given up runs in a third of his appearances this month and seems to have lost a bit of whatever zip there was on his pitches.Resting these two while still keeping them sharp will probably be the most important thing for the teams’ playoff hopes over the next month.
This leaves the mystery man, Kyle Farnsworth. Farnsworth has been exactly what anyone who followed his career before this year would have told you he’d be: alternating between brilliant and clueless, a perfect example of why being able to pop 99 mph fastballs at will isn’t the goal of pitching. The key is to get him in one of his mysterious grooves where he stops thinking (make your own joke) and thus stops giving up runs. If the Yanks can coax him into a perfectly blank state he can absolutely be that Jeff Nelson-type shutdown presence in the 8th inning. I wouldn’t bet on it.
Second is of course the mystery of Alex Rodriguez (above). As far as I’m concerned, the main mystery should be whether or not the people who are convinced he’s singlehandedly responsible for crippling the American economy along with his team, actually watch Yankees games. His batting line this month is .280 BA/.381 OBA/.494 SLG, enviable numbers in line with Derek Jeter’s career averages, but then again striking out 10 times in three games does raise questions.
Assuming that we can find the root cause of his woes somewhere between his mysterious injuries and the pressure of being labeled a failure whenever he doesn’t hit four home runs in a game, it would probably be for the best to continue the unexpected but entertaining Nick Green experience as much as possible in hopes that a rejuvenated and refreshed Rodriguez can come out strong a month from now.
As things go, however, were Rodriguez actually to sit out a substantial number of games he’d probably be labeled a fraud, and so we’ll continue to see a fried A-Rod swinging through pitches he shouldn’t even be offering at. A hearty hand to all those who have kicked the man while he’s down.
Not everyone has it in for A-Rod, however, as the whifftastic third baseman had the support this weekend of John Wooden and Reggie Jackson. The former advised him never to record a spoken word album for New Alliance, while the latter merely brandished a pistol and mumbled something about The Queen before being wrestled to ground by Leslie Neilsen.
Saying of the US Open’s plans to institute instant replay on disputed calls, “the only thing missing is Warner Wolf shouting, ‘Let’s go to the videotape,’”, the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman takes the opportunity to let us know just how much he thinks tennis sucks. In case you were wondering.
In the spirit of full disclosure, it is necessary to report that I have little use for tennis. The nose-in-the air atomosphere – and attitude – permeating the sport turned me off years ago. The same holds true for golf. Still, I cannot tell you that the foofs running the PGA are thinking of adding any kind of instant replay – or a Tiger Cam for that matter – to their sport.
With that in mind, perhaps instant replay in tennis should be applauded. Anything that could further drag down tennis’ test-pattern-like TV ratings is fine with me. One of the most compelling parts of a U.S. Open match – or any other tournament – is when one of these spoiled players – on the men’s or women’s side – wigs out over a line judge’s call. Seeing a player freak is such a beautiful thing. The more players who go ballistic on some flunky judge the more fringe fans feel compelled not to change the channel.
Would John McEnroe have ever become such a marquee personality if instant replay was in tennis when he was defining obnoxious? Think about all the endorsement booty this blowhard would have missed out on if he ever had the ability to use a replay challenge?
Indeed, without his colorful outbursts, Jeff Tarango’s endorsement income might’ve dropped from the low 3 figures to zero.
So far, the most enjoyable portion of Universal HD’s coverage of the Open’s first day has been Al Trautwig assuring us the Knicks are ready to contend for a playoff spot.
OK, that’s not fair. I’ve had the sound off.
As the Red Sox prepare for three games with the not-too-shabby-in-August-Athletics, the Boston Herald’s Tony Massarotti makes the not-quite astonishing claim, they “look like they’re starting to quit.”
œHe said he couldn™t play. What the (expletive) do you want me to do? Red Sox manager Terry Francona snapped yesterday morning when asked about Manny Ramirez™ absence from the lineup prior to his lifeless team™s 6-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
œIf a guy says he can™t play, he can™t (expletive) play. Go ask him. He said he can™t (expletive) play.
And he wasn™t alone.
So now, with precisely five weeks and a mere 32 games remaining in their season, here is the question we must ask: Do the Red Sox really want to play anymore? Do they want to win?
Red Sox ownership and management have been the target of much displeasure in recent weeks, but it is now time for Red Sox players to take their turn. What happened in Seattle was a joke. From 2003-05, part of the Red Sox™ charm was they continued to play, no matter what, and they found ways to win (last year, especially), despite numerous opportunities to fail.
Suddenly, with this club, the bodies are dropping like flies. And while it is impossible to discern the severity of many injuries, we all know it is easier to play hurt when a team is winning. When a club starts losing – and losing badly – that is when we really get to examine the stuff they are made of. Based on the weekend, you should not be impressed.
In the immortal words of Jim Mora: Playoffs? At this rate, the Sox will be lucky to finish with 85 wins.
(Dustin Pedroia, deeply hurt by the insinuation that he’s not ready for prime time)
Seth Mnookin claims Tito’s lineup on Sunday “would have been more appropriate for a spring training game than a late-August match,” but I don’t think he gives nearly enough credit to the immortal Cha Seung Baek — sharp as he might’ve been at Tacoma, there’s something kind of amazing about seeing the Red Sox — with or without Manny — shut down by a guy with all of 40 big league innings under his belt.
Citing factors as diverse as the Home Run Derby, the Sports Illustrated cover jinx (certainly it managed to fuck with Captain Red Ass), Mets Geek’s Eric Simon suggests that in the season’s 2nd half, “David Wright forgot how to hit.”
What he really needs from Willie Randolph are some days off. He™s only 23, but he played in 160 games last year and has played in 126 of the Mets™ 128 games this season, and he also played in the All Star Game (as well as participated in the aforementioned homerun contest). Factor in all of the preparation time he spends in the cage, on the field and in the weight room, and all of these things add up to a tired ballplayer. I™d really like to see Wright get a couple of games off here and there to give the kid some rest. Given the Mets™ division lead as well as the firepower up and down their lineup, there™s really no reason why Chris Woodward isn™t getting more starts at third.
The Mets need to get Wright back on track before the postseason. They haven™t clinched anything yet, but Baseball Prospectus says they are 99.9920% likely to win the division and 99.99985% to make the playoffs, so they have the luxury ” like a football team who clinches early ” to rest some of their starters in anticipation of the playoffs. With the lead that they have, there is no excuse not to have everyone rested and ready to rock when October dawns.
I might also propose that in addition to the grind of playing every day, personal appearances, endorsements, etc. can really take a lot out of a guy, even a youngster like Wright.
In the bottom of the 3rd today against the Phillies, Wright was credited with one of those everyday, ground-rule, RBI singles off the 3rd base bag. I could try to explain the play to you, but my brain my explode. Carlos Beltran, as Gary Cohen pointed out, crossed home plate some 7 minutes after Wright hit the ball, and Charlie Manuel has been ejected for the 2nd time in the series. The Mets batted around in the 3rd against Jamie Moyer and lead Philadelphia, 6-0.
From Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal :
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa isn’t sure which actor he would choose to play his role in Three Nights in August, the Buzz Bissinger book that is being made into a movie.
La Russa’s three favorite actors ” Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington and Jamie Foxx (above) ” all are African-American.
Seems to me that if Jamie Foxx can put the likes of Colin Farrell and Jake Gyllenhaal on his back, he’s more than capable of pulling off a white baseball manager. And given La Russa’s inability to detect any ‘roid useage on the part of Mark McGwire while supervising him on two different teams, Foxx is really the perfect choice. Who would know more about playing a blind man?
The wild scoreline from this weekend’s soccer slate certainly wasn’t Chelsea’s snoozy 2-0 win at Blackburn, Villareal’s 0-0 La Liga opener at Real Madrid, nor was it Red Bull NY’s improbable 6-0 humiliation of Dave Checketts’ Real Salt Lake. Instead, I’ll submit the following result, as reported on by the Guardian’s Tony Leighton.
The rise and fall of Fulham, who capped three years as full-time professionals by winning the treble of Women’s Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup in 2003, plumbed new depths in a humiliating 14-0 defeat by the champions Arsenal yesterday.
(Fulham’s 2002-03 squad)
Since being cast adrift by their parent club in May, Fulham have become an amateur outfit struggling desperately for players as well as finance. A mass exodus took place during the close season, with Chelsea, Bristol Academy and Charlton Athletic the main beneficiaries.
With fund-raising proving extremely difficult, the club secretary Fred Brockwell admitted: “After the summer we’ve had we’re looking to survive at best this season. When we decided to carry on rather than fold the team after what happened with Fulham, we set ourselves a budget target of £30,000. But that came down drastically when we couldn’t get any sponsorship, and we are having to rely on the efforts of the players and supporters to raise cash.”
After a 5-0 opening-day defeat by Chelsea and yesterday’s pummelling at Arsenal, for whom Lianne Sanderson scored five times, Fulham are facing a harsh season