A Pair Of Goal Of The Year Nominees

Posted in Football at 11:30 am by

1) Nicholas Anelka, in Bolton’s 3-1 home win over Arsenal (as mentioned yesterday)

2) Ronaldinho, long in the long teeth, but still capable of dazzling, in Barca’s 4-0 defeat of Villareal (link courtesy The Offside)

A 29th minute strike from Louis Saha off a through ball from Wayne Rooney has Manchester United in front of Chelsea, 1-0, with the 2nd half having commenced a few moments ago.  While I’m enjoying FSC’s relay of the Sky Sports feed, I’m deeply troubled by the idea Lamar Hunt might not be able to watch in the hospital.

After his skull-smashing collision with Chelsea keeper Peter Cech last month, Reading’s Stephen Hunt reports that in addition to death threats and widespread press criticism, someone looked at him funny in the supermarket.

Non-Shooting Stephon In A Snit

Posted in Basketball at 11:02 am by

While I mentioned the Knicks’ 106-95 loss to Chicago in passing last night while covering a far more crucial sporting event (a battle between two D-League titans — and by the way, before it was over, Ryan Hollins was blocking or changing every shot he faced.  Unless his showing against Austin was a weird abberation, I can’t see any reason he’ll not be earning real money somewhere. Not the United States, mind you), I only briefly touched on what seemed to be an unusually quiet night for the Self-Proclaimed No. 1 Point Guard in the NBA. The New York Post’s Marc Berman elaborates.

Stephon Marbury denied he pulled a Kobe in not looking to shoot, although it sure looked that way.

But he didn’t deny one thing – he’s furious at Isiah Thomas.

Marbury got benched to start the second half, finishing the night scoreless, shotless and deep in Thomas’ doghouse as the Knicks last night started to resemble last season’s Team Titanic soap opera.

Marbury disputed Thomas’ claim that he was not fit to play. A ticked-off Marbury said, “I wanted to play. I was feeling sick this morning but I was fine when I got to the arena.”

Incredibly, Thomas waited until the team was on the court to start the second half before telling Marbury he was sitting.

Of his no-shot performance, Marbury said, “I just didn’t have no openings. I was trying to move the ball and get the ball the way he wants us to play.”

It’s a stunning turn of events, these past six days. All along, it was thought if anyone would get the most out of Marbury, it would be Thomas, his neighbor and “father figure.” But they appear at the same crossroads that Marbury faced with Brown. But Marbury’s trade value is depleted.

“I hope it’s going to get better,” Marbury said, his voice sounding hurt. “The way it’s looking, it doesn’t look like it’s going up. It looks like it’s going down.

“I don’t know what’s going on, to be honest,” Marbury added.

Asked about their reputed great relationship, Marbury said, “This is business. Personal is personal. I can separate the two.”

I’m tempted to use the expression “coach killer”, but would prefer not to pay royalties to Jim Mora Sr.

In addition to Quentin Richardson suffering from a hamstring injury, the Knicks will be without Channing Frye for the next 3-6 weeks after the latter hurt his ankle landing on PJ Brown’s foot.

Starbury wasn’t the only megastar keeping a low profile at the Garden last night.  The Chicago Tribune K.C. Johnson reports Ben Wallace was benched for most of the game for violating Bulls coach Scott Skiles’ team rule forbidding headbands.

After Friday’s drubbing of the Celtics, Newsday’s Alan Hahn has a (backhanded) compliment for Boston’s city planners.

I™ve been to Boston more times than I can remember over the past 12 years and I can remember the city when œThe Big Dig was just a concept under discussion. They™re still only putting the finishing touches on it, but moving I-93 under the city made a dramatic aesthetic difference to the city. Instead of being shadowed by rusted, dirty elevated highways, you can now stand outside the Garden and see the city skyline. And if you look toward the Garden, you can see a lot of perennially-disappointed Celtics and Bruins fans.

Plaschke On Jarrett’s Acrobatics

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Journalism at 10:55 am by

In his recent interview at Sports Media Guide, the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan described bloggers cutting and pasting original material the use of one sentence paragraphs as his “pet peeve”, calling the practice, “an easy device.”

So with that in mind, here’s some snippets from Bill Plaschke of the LA Times leaning heavily on the carriage return, in homage to USC’s Dwayne Jarrett.

Two months ago, the idea that USC could play in the national championship game was as wild as a John David Booty pass to Dwayne Jarrett that …

Wait! He caught it!

One month ago, the notion that USC could be one of the nation’s top two teams was as off-target as a Booty pass to Jarrett that …

Whoa! He caught another one!

Throughout this strangest of autumns, USC’s chances of winning a national title remained as remote as the idea that the Trojans could beat Notre Dame on Saturday night with Jarrett catching a pass with one hand, catching another pass on one toe, and catching a touchdown pass after crushing a safety.

Which he did, and did, and did.

Thus whittling weeks of convoluted paragraphs into a single sentence:

If the Trojans beat UCLA next week, they will deserve to play Ohio State for the national title, because they just crushed Notre Dame.

Indeed, they did.

However, Michigan crushed Notre Dame earlier in the season.

Just as convincingly.

Apparently, USC’s one loss to unranked Oregon State isn’t nearly as damning in Plaschke’s eyes as Michigan’s close call visiting the number one team in the land.

There’s no way we can work a negative reference to Paul De Podesta into this entry?


Guardian Sub-Editor Takes Saturday Night Off

Posted in Football, Sports Journalism at 8:58 pm by

Well done, young Wayne. Not only are you amongst your nation’s most well-compensated sportsmen, but you’re already a free agent. I’ve called Rooney a moron and worse, but he’s successful smashed the space-time continuum. Beat that, Juan Pierre!

John David Booty/Brad Quinn Duel Forsaken For Bush League Hoops

Posted in Basketball at 8:25 pm by

Fort Worth Flyers 27, Austin Toros 24 (end of the first quarter)

Austin’s entry to the D-League have made some major improvements to the in-game presentation since the last time I paid to attend a pro hoops contest at the Convention Center. For one thing, the scoreboard hasn’t malfunctioned yet. Then again, there are still a few minutes left in the first quarter.

There’s also no sign of any US Army recruiting or induction ceremonies taking place, which is very encouraging. On the other hand, the University Of Phoenix has set up shop in the lobby, so, y’know, pick your poison.

KVET’s broadcast of the game konked out when the opening lineups were being introduced, which is fair enough seeing as the company dude on the microphone claimed this game was close to a sellout. While the attendence is more than respectable for Thanksgiving Weekend, there are at least 750 empty chairs in the 3000 capacity room.

$10 for the cheap seats seems a fair enough price (especially when you can easily move wherever you want, save for courtside) but I’m not sure what’s up with the $2.50 service charge being tacked onto walk-up sales. I realize they have to spring for Brad Buckman’s meal money, but c’mon.

I’m also happy to report Toros coach Dennis Johnson, 52, doesn’t look a day over 60.

F Scott Merritt (above), a former teammate of D-Wade’s at Marquette, has 10 points for Austin. After hitting an early 3, drug test casualty Brad Buckman took a seat with two fouls.

There’s a guy a few rows in front of me who is quickly filling a memory card with a few too many shots of the Toros’ dance team. Either he’s related to one of ‘em or is working on a very interesting web site. Then again, given the state of the economy, I wouldn’t bet against a combination of the two.

(UPDATE : Flyers 32, Toros 31, 6:14 remaining, 2nd quarter. Much as I’d like to claim Buckman’s been whistled two more times for breathing, on each occasion he’s been rung up for pretty blatant loose ball fouls. I don’t know what kind of crazy rules you learned during your 36 hours in Greece, Brad, but they play a different kind of ball in the NBDL. I’m not sure what kind, mind you, but perhaps we’ll both learn simultaneously)

(UPDATE DOS : Flyers 57, Toros 53, 7:35 remaining, 3rd quarter. Fort Worth’s Ryan Hollins has blocked 4 shots and altered at least as many — he’s not super smooth with the ball in his hands, but he’s causing all sorts of problems for Austin in the paint. Anthony Fuqua, begining his 2nd tour of duty with the Toros, has had a couple of highlight-reel worthy dunks, but accomplished little to speak of on defense. Then again, he’s always got the directorial credit for “Training Day”, and that’s more than the rest of us can claim.

On the matter of celluloid history, Toros G Brock Gillespie, above, formerly of Rice and the Listado De Jugadores respectively, supposedly had a bit part in “Glory Road”. Not, presumably as one of the West Texas starting 5.

Biggest cheer of the night : when the score “USC 21, Notre Dame 3″ was announced. Fuckin’ football town.

I’ve been trying to follow the Bulls/Knicks game via NBA.com’s in & out video feed, with limited success. Unless you’re impressed by Stevie Franchise and Jamal Crawford’s accuracy from the foul line, there’s not much for a NY fan to be happy about. There’s nothing like a visit to MSG to make Luol Deng look all studly. A 14-6 run by the Knicks late in the 4th quarter narrowed Chicago’s lead to 7 points with 2:12 remaining, just in time for Eddy Curry to shoot an airball from the charity stripe. Trailing 100-93 with about a minute left, the Knicks’ David Lee was called for charging Andres Nocioni while driving to the hoop. Lee tried arguing that Nocioni is unsuccessfully rocking the Martin Donovan look, but nobody wants to hear it).

(UPDATE X 3 : Bulls 106, Knicks 95. Zero points, zero shots for Stephon Marbury in about 19 minutes of play. Even worse, the brooding, towel-over-the-head thing was done to death by Taz and Sabu back in the day, and unless Steph’s getting career advice from Bill Alfonso, there’s really no excuse.)

(UPDATE FO’ YOU : I spoke too soon regarding the Austin Convention Center scoreboard. With the Flyers up, 92-84, the board read 112-84. Perhaps someone is really eager to see the end of that Notre Dame/USC game.)

Preparing For USC/Notre Dame By OD’ing On The Early Games

Posted in Gridiron at 7:22 pm by

Oklahoma will travel to K.C. for the Big 12 Championship Game a week from today, courtesy of their 27-21 victory at Oklahoma State. Trailing by 6, the hosts got the ball back with 1:38 remaining and backup QB Zach Robinson had a couple of shots at the end zone, both falling for incompletions. Earlier, Robinson had fumbled on 4th and goal with Sooners LB Demarrio Pleasant recovering. Allen Patrick (163 yards, 1 TD) came through in what Chris Russo loves to call “a big spot” in place of the injured Adrian Peterson, and Oklahoma now have further opportunies to moan about the blown call in the loss to Oregon, as they’d be a one-loss title contender otherwise.

With apologies to Georgia Tech/Georgia, what might’ve been the most entertaininggame of the day was played between two schools with a combined 3-21 record.

Despite last week’s loss to Cincy, Rutgers still has a shot at a BCS bid, thanks to the combination of the Scarlet Knights’ 38-7 demolition of Syracuse and South Florida’s 24-19 upset win at West Virginia.

Congrats to Boise State on their perfect season, but the MPC Computers Bowl just won’t be the same without them.

Annoying “Love Monkey” Guy Lands On His Feet

Posted in Cinema, Hockey at 4:50 pm by

From the Canadian Press / TSN :

It’s time to start laughing about the Maple Leafs.The team and the NHL have given permission for their logos to be used in a movie called “Breakfast With Scot.”

The producers call it “a thoughtful comedy,” about a gay ex-Leaf and his partner, the team’s lawyer, whose lifestyle and relationship are turned upside down when they become the guardians of “a budding queen of an 11-year-old boy.”

The movie stars Tom Cavanagh (above) of “Ed” and “Scrubs,” and Ben Shenkman of “Just Like Heaven” and “Angels In America” star along with Noah Bernett of “Gothica.”

It’s nice to know enough time has passed when the words “Maple Leafs” and “11 year old boy” in the same sentence have absolutely nothing to do with sex crimes against children. I suspect it’s early days for the producers of “Breakfast With Scot”, but hopefully there’s room in the budget for a Don Cherry cameo.

Massarotti : Truth Is, Doc’s Damaged By Mute Pierce

Posted in Basketball at 4:01 pm by

After being routed by the Knicks at home, there’s little surprising about Celtics fans chanting for the removal of Doc Rivers. Except, writes the Boston Herald’s Tony Massarotti, the part about Celtics captain Paul Pierce “hanging his coach out to dry.”

At least now we know the Celtics™ new team motto:

Every man for himself.

œI have no reaction to the crowd, a terse Pierce (above) said when asked about the fans calling for his coach™s firing.

Pierce said nothing, though that was a fitting complement to his performance on the floor. Pierce finished the game with 12 points and just two rebounds, and he had more turnovers (six) than trips to the foul line (five).

Then, when he might have simply suggested that the players need to take responsibility for their performance, he gave a non-answer that will trigger a chain reaction of follow-ups.

Why didn™t Pierce defend his coach? Have Pierce and Rivers ever really buried the hatchet? And what does it say if the best player on the team seems to take some measure of satisfacion in his coach being criticized?

For now, know this: We live in a supersaturated media age where athletes literally go to camp to learn how to answer questions. The postgame interview generally has become a marketing tool. Most every player understands that he has everything to gain by spitting out cliches and company lines, and teams are expected to show a certain measure of solidarity, particularly at the most trying moments.

So far (and to his credit) Danny Ainge has emphatically stood by his coach. So has Celtics ownership. Now the C™s are slipping again, and the team™s best player has passed on a chance to endorse his coach, which can only make you wonder about the times that lie ahead.

And it makes you wonder, too, whether the captain of the ship is actually trying to lead a mutiny.

You know the drill : you’ve paid crazy loot for great seats to an NBA game, and some oversized jerk is blocking your view of the action. So what if his name is Erick Dampier?

Though the D-League season began last night, NBA.com has no stats nor information about the Austin Toros’ 101-77 loss at Albuquerque last night, the only NBDL contest on the schedule the league’s site was unable to webcast or update in progress. Though they’ve got the internet on computers these days, they might not have it in New Mexico.

Gunners Disarmed By The Sultan Of Sulk

Posted in Cricket, Football at 1:40 pm by

With all due respect to Joey Harrington, there’s been no bigger revenge/fuck you performance on Planet Earth this week than Nick Anelka’s evisercation of the Arsenal defence today. The enigmatic, much-traveled Bolton striker had a pair of goals in Bolton’s 3-1 home win, the first of which — and absolute laser into the top left corner that Jens Lehmann had zero chance of seeing, let alone stopping — is a likely goal of the year candidate. Anelka’s off the schneid in the Premeirship, and Bolton have leapfrogged Liverpool to claim 8th place.

Former QPR manager / current Plymouth boss / soundbite king Ian Holloway, a loser to Leeds United earlier today, finds the charms of the current Ashes series somewhat elusive.

I think it’s an old man’s game. I hated it when I was a kid and I don’t like it now. I don’t dislike any cricketers, it’s just a game I find absolutely earth-shatteringly boring! I can understand the last Ashes were brilliant and I’m sure it’s a wonderful game if you like it – but it’s not my bag. I like a bit of action.

As I see it, when the bowler bowls the ball, he walks back and the rest of the team, who are standing around not doing much, throw the ball around to each other. Then he gets it back and rubs it on his groin.

I’ve always been a bit worried about a game that lets its players do that in public. Why you’d want to ruin a lovely pair of white trousers by putting a red crease down the middle on your crotch I’ll never know.

Colonel Coughlin’s New Math

Posted in Gridiron at 1:23 pm by

As manufactued controversy swells surrounding Giants RB Tiki Barber having the temerity to suggest he oughta get more than 10 carries a game, Big Blue’s fearless leader continues to struggle with having an outspoken, articulate player under his supervision. From the New York Post’s George Willis.

An agitated Tom Coughlin took offense to any notion the running game was not important to him. He challenged reporters to “check your records” to analyze his commitment to the run and also, “Look at Tiki’s numbers over the three years,” he has been the Giants head coach.

“Were they the same as before I got here? Check that part, too,” he said.

Barber didn’t become a full-time starter until the 2002 season, when he rushed for 1,387 yards. He had another 1,216 yards in ’03, Jim Fassel’s final year as head coach. Barber evolved into one the NFL’s elite backs over the previous two seasons, totaling 3,378 rushing yards. Barber has 998 yards on 201 carries this season. Overall, the Giants have run the ball on 281 of their 636 plays this season, or 44.2 percent of the time. They ran on 14 of their 56 plays (25 percent) at Jacksonville.

Detroit have been accused of going above and beyond
in their attempts to rile the home crowd into abusing former Motown QB Joey Harrington on Thanksgiving Day.  Pro Football Talk considers the Lions’ actions more cowardly than ironic.

A year ago, security at Ford Field relentlessly chased and ultimately jacked up a guy who dared to display a grocery bag with the words “Fire Millen” scrawled on it.  Now, the same staff at the same stadium goes out of its way to encourage harassment of a guy who finally played a good game in the venue — possibly because he was playing against the team for which he used to play.

Along with noting Tawney Kitaen’s recent drug bust, The Hater Nation can’t help but sound discouraged over public apathy surrounding Oakland’s visit to San Diego tomorrow.

There is no bigger testament to how far the Raiders have fallen than the fact that the team is coming to town and nobody cares. Even local knives salesmen have not seen their normal sales spike that typically accompanies a Raiders visit to the Murph.

Red Sox Closing In On Noted Malingerer

Posted in Baseball at 12:54 pm by

The Boston Globe’s Gordon Edes reports the Red Sox and free agent J.D. Drew are “days away” from reaching an agreement on a long-term pact.

His asking price, according to sources, is at least $14 million. That’s $4 million a year more than the Sox offered last winter to Johnny Damon before he signed a four-year, $52 million deal with the Yankees.

Statistically, Drew ranks among the game’s best players. In the last three seasons, he has an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of .946, which ranks 11th among players with at least 1,200 plate appearances, just ahead of Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees (.945). Only four outfielders had a higher OPS: Ramírez (1.014), Lance Berkman of the Astros (1.000), Vladimir Guerrero of the Angels (.961), and Edmonds of the Cardinals (.947).

Drew’s on-base percentage of .415 over the last three seasons ranked sixth overall, and third among outfielders, trailing only Berkman (.428) and Abreu (.419).

“If you get him on the field, he’s the best free agent outfielder of the bunch,” said an executive with a team that signed one of this offseason’s other prime targets.

Drew has been the subject of intense media criticism for a perceived lack of passion, especially when it came to playing hurt. His nickname in the Dodger clubhouse, according to one big league coach, was “Nancy Drew,” and according to one major leaguer who has played against Drew for much of his career, one Dodger player greeted the news of Drew’s departure by phoning friends in jubilation.

I think it sucks that Jeff Kent can’t keep his telephone conversations confidential.

Of Baltimore’s failure thus far to make a splash in this winter’s free agent market (Roger Cedeno, aside), the Sun’s John Eisenberg asks,

Just one question about the Orioles’ predictably doomed pursuit of free-agent top dogs Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee: Why even bother? Oh, and one more question: How many years of being put off by the escalating free-agent market does it take for you to stop being put off by the escalating free-agent market?

And while the Orioles are in desperate need of an overhaul, I might agree that those who lost out on the Carlos Lee bidding will soon consider themselves the winners. The San Jose Mercury News’ Andrew Baggerly claims the Giants outbid the Astros, but Lee prefered to sign with Houston, a move that if nothing else, signals San Francisco’s willingness to get out of the Sultan Of Surly Business for once and all.

The SF Chronicle’s Henry Schulman reports the Giants are very close to signing IF Rich Aurilla and OF Dave Roberts, along with progressing in their negotiations with 2B Mark Loretta and reliever David Weathers. Given Weathers’ excellent track record of carrying Tom Glavine’s golf clubs, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Braves were showing some interest.

Ryan : Cancel The Sausage Fest

Posted in Sports Journalism at 12:27 pm by

Sports Media Guide’s series of interviews with some of sportswriting’s more crucial characters continues with a Q&A with the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan.

Q. How did you come up with the sausage analogy for football?

A. Because it was perfectly logical to me. There are untold millions of my fellow Americans who sit down on Sunday or Monday night and enjoy what I call a thinly-disguised barbaric exercise “ who don’t care to think about what it takes to get these people on the field “ players sacrificing their bodies and routinely doing things other athletes would question and the judgments coaches make. Many times I’ve met football coaches I like at the high school or college level and I ask them “Why do you choose to do this for a living “ this game is so demeaning and you have to suspend so much humanity to do this “ there are better games than this “ why would a person of intellect and humanity choose to make a life in football?” Most people don’t think about this. So when I call pro football a sausage factory I’m calling attention to a truly barbaric exercise.

Q. How do you personally justify covering football?

A. I’ve said many times that for me baseball and basketball are fun and I love them – and football is a business. Even though I grew up with it and can enjoy a good game based on my accumulated knowledge of history and as a lover of sports drama, which it has to some degree though not to the degree of other sports, and it produces a wonderful atmosphere with large numbers of people in these stadiums and I can enjoy that and I am looking forward to the Ohio State-Michigan game which I can’t deny “ but if football were declared illegal in the next five minutes it wouldn’t bother me.

Daily News : NY Should Get The Fuck Out Of Dodge(ball)

Posted in Leave No Child Unbeaten, Lower Education, The Law at 11:59 am by

I find myself shocked and saddened by the following report from the New York Daily News’ Jennifer Birin. If items like this continue to appear…Phil Mushnick’s redundancy seems a foregone conclusion.

There are few physically beneficial aspects to the game of dodge ball, a game that can be socially and even physically damaging. Dodge ball-related injuries have even led many schools to take the game out of their gym curriculum. On Nov. 18, 2002, the state of New Jersey banned the game from public schools. New York followed suit soon after.

Although it’s banned, some schools have found a gray area to continue the game. In its place is a game called gladiator ball; the only difference is that the balls are softer. According to an affidavit from nationally recognized dodge ball expert Steven Bernheim, the game of gladiator ball is actually dodge ball, and not appropriate for children to play.

Personal injury attorney Eric Richman said, “In a poorly disguised attempt to insulate themselves from liability, school districts have changed the name of dodge ball to gladiator ball. Besides the obvious poor name choice, changing the name of an inherently dangerous, degrading and humiliating sport doesn’t absolve a school of its legal responsibility.

“Gladiator ball or dodge ball, or any sport that involves throwing multiple balls at 9-year-old children within a confined area, is simply school-endorsed bully-ism,” said Richman. “It degrades the weaker children and promotes no athletic skills. Some school districts have banned this sport while others, like South Orangetown [N.Y.], where Timmy Zinna goes to school, still just don’t get it.”

No beneficial aspects, Jennifer? Tell that to the guy who majored in Smear The Queer at Hampshire College. OK, it was really Ultimate Frisbee (easy to confuse the two), but I think the same point applies. Dodge Ball is a gateway sport, if you will, one that opens the door to many other complex pursuits (eg. paintball, or the game where you try to walk all the way to the back of a Radio Shack without being asked for your name and address) and I can only hope that New York’s incoming Governor — a man who undoubtedly took many balls to the face while growing up — will see the folly of such changes in the curriculum.

The Public Rehabilitation Of Ted Leonsis

Posted in Blogged Down, Hockey, Sports Journalism at 1:54 am by

(Leonsis. Not shown : carving station, desert cart)

Not only is Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis providing selected bloggers with press credentials, but he’s also quite willing to entertain the nu-media in the owner’s box, as DC Sports Chick describes so eloquently.

Ted was so friendly and easygoing, but would you expect anything else? He made a point of introducing us to the others in the suite and played the role of host very well. Ted shared a lot of fascinating insights about the team and also about his outside projects, like his film starring Woody Harrelson. I asked Ted about his timeline for completing The List, since he already has about 75 things done. He said the deadline is death- at his funeral, the completed list will be passed out to everyone and they can read it and say, “I did #52, 61, and 77 with him.” It’s nice that while it’s Ted’s personal project, he includes others to do some of the items with him. I think that’s typical of Ted: he likes to have a good time, but wants to ensure that others enjoy themselves as well. And we certainly did!

The food was plentiful, and delicious; there was a carving station, roasted veggies, chicken tenders, salad, plus the usual popcorn and pretzels. And don’t get me started on the dessert cart! Cheesecakes, chocolate fudge cakes, bags of Gummi bears and jelly beans, cookies, caramel apples…it looked heavenly. Fred had a slice of Snickers cheeescake that he said was out of this world. Well, he didn’t exactly say it, just looked it. The ladies will know what I mean.

My one regret is that I forgot to do one big cheesy fan thing: get a picture with Ted. I really enjoyed meeting him and hope to run into him again soon.

Seems like it was a terrific night for everyone. And Leonsis sounds nothing like the guy who physically attacked one of his paying customers less than three years ago.

The Utah Jazz : As Serious As Carlos Boozer’s Life

Posted in Basketball at 12:17 am by

(Jazz PG Deron Williams, shown draining a crucial 3 pointer with a minute left in the 4th quarter earlier tonight)

Utah’s come from behind, 114-108 victory over the Lakers at the Montgomery Burns Arena improved the hosts’ record to an NBA-best 12-1. I’m not sure how many more weeks will have to elapse before we acknowledge the Jazz are no fluke, so we let’s get it over with : Jerry Sloan is some kinda coach, and Carlos Boozer (35 points, 16 boards) hasn’t merely turned back the clock 3 years, he’s playing the best basketball of his career.

Speaking of comeback stories, Phoenix’s Amare Stoudemire (23 points, 5 blocks, 8 rebounds) is having his way with the Nets tonight. No one has treated New Jersey this shabbily since Jim McGreevy left office. The Suns are ahead, 82-63 entering the 4th quarter, and if Stoudemire isn’t all-the-way-back, that’s bad fucking news for the rest of the Western Conference. If tonight is evidence of what he can do at less than 100%, things will get really ugly when and if he’s fully recovered.

(UPDATE : 18 points so far for NJ’s Marcus Williams, 12 of ‘em in the 4th quarter. Which isn’t so easy to pull off with 4 IBM ThinkPads hidden in your shorts)

No Tru Warrier, No Problem
: Sans Ron Artest, the Kings have a commanding 102-90 lead over Seattle with 3 minutes remaining, thanks in large part to Kevin Martin’s 34 points. The Sacramento guard (above) has seen his minutes increase dramatically this season, and his scoring has skyrocketed as well, as Martin is averaging nearly 24 points a game entering tonight (compared with 10 ppg last season). His field goal and free throw percentages have also improved wildly, so perhaps the summer toiling in the Darla Records League really paid off.


Who Are These Men In White (And What Have They Done With The Real Knicks)?

Posted in Basketball at 9:01 pm by

Knicks 67, Celtics 53 (4:34 remaining, 3rd quarter)

Maybe it’s a mirage, but I’ve actually witnessed Eddy Curry (19 points, 9 rebounds) muscle an opponent out of the way for a rebound, Channing Frye (above) do much the same, Stephon Marbury pass up an open three to dish down low to Frye, and Steve Franchise…resemble a confident, competent scoring option?

Then again, the Celtics shooting 3 for 17 from 3 point range has just a bit do with New York’s large lead.

Da Bulls are being blown out by the Sixers tonight, and barring a crazy comeback, Chicago will start ’06/07 with a 3-9 mark. If the season ended today (and generally, the season doesn’t end in late November), Chicago wouldn’t insist on switching spots in the draft order with the Knicks — for the next 90 seconds I can continue to think airplane-glue induced thoughts about Greg Oden.

I’m not entirely sure at which demographic Nissan is aiming their shithead-living-in-a-Sentra advertisements. Not since Subaru’s ill-fated “this car is like punk rock” spots has an automobile manufacturer been so adept at generating badwill.

The 2006-2007 D-League campaign has tipped off, with the Sioux Falls Skyforce leading the Dakota Wizards, 60-52 at the half. Renaldo Major (above) has 15 points for Dakota and if he keeps this up, Plasticman’s gonna have to change his name to Renaldo Minor.

I don’t care what Darko’s birth certificate says —I’m turning off the Magic/Heat game because with each rebound and successive dunk by Alonzo Mourning, I feel like I’m watching child abuse. Not that I’d mind most of the time, I just can’t stand ‘Zo being the abuser.

The Hawks’ Tyron Lue — despite being ice cold most of the night — sank a huge jumper with about 30 seconds left, extending Atlanta’s lead over Toronto to 95-90. Immediately following, the Raptors’ T.J. Ford hit a 3 from downtown Athens, GA. After Chris Bosh missed one of two from line, Ford botched a layup that would’ve cut the lead to one. Earlier, Josh Smith made a terrific block on a Bosh shot attempt in the 3rd quarter that the former brought to the other end of the floor for a dunk ; Smith had 10 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks in Atlanta’s 97-93 victory.

Lee To Astros : 6 Years, $100 Million

Posted in Baseball at 4:45 pm by

It would be terribly simplistic to claim Drayton McLane just promised Carlos Lee the money he should’ve given Carlos Beltran. But there you go, I’ve done it. From the Houston Chronicle’s Jose De Jesus Ortiz.

The Houston Astros have called a press conference for 4 p.m. today to announce the signing of slugging outfielder Carlos Lee, bringing optimism to Lee’s new teammates.Lee’s deal is for six years and close to $90 million, a Major League Baseball official has told the Chronicle. With Lee, the Astros have another powerful bat to put in the middle of the lineup along with All-Star slugger Lance Berkman.

In other news, University of Houston product Woody Williams, a righthanded starting pitcher, also has reached a deal with the Astros, according to a Major League Baseball official.

Coincidently, Tim Marchman has a fine column in today’s New York Sun entitled “Average Players Commanding 8 Figures In The New Era”.

We’re in the midst of a stretch of bad free agent classes, and players lucky enough to find themselves in such classes always get paid more than it seems they should. Player salaries appear to have been artificially held down by collusive behavior by the owners in 2002 and 2003 ” the owners recently paid the union money to settle claims of collusion without admitting wrongdoing ” so it’s hard to judge today’s deals against those signed a few years ago, especially considering that baseball salaries naturally rise faster than the rate of inflation. There’s also just a lot of money in baseball right now, between a revenue sharing agreement that’s worked better in practice than it does in theory, new-television money, and above all the ever-growing popularity of the game. Some of it is going to work its way toward guys like Juan Pierre.

On the merits, these were probably ill-advised deals, especially the Gary Matthews signing ” they’re hardly anything fans of either team should get truly worked up over, but a team that makes enough such moves eventually turns into the Orioles.

Sapp : One Cheesesteak Widout (Poison)

Posted in Food, Gridiron at 4:34 pm by

Warren Sapp has always had a particulary contentious relationship with Philadelphia, be it haranguing Igglephans, Jon Runyan poking him in the eye,or as the QBkilla claims, attempted sabotage from Phillys eateries. From the Philadelphia Daily News Wire Services :

Sapp, now an Oakland Raiders defensive tackle, now refuses to eat out on road trips.

“You get your food poisoned,” said Sapp, a Buc from 1995 to 2003. “They don’t want you out there on Sunday. You don’t think about it. It just got crazy.”

He pointed specifically to three incidents: Before the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia at the end of the 2002 season, which the Bucs won on the way to the Super Bowl title; before a divisional playoff at Green Bay in January 1998; and at New Orleans, where the Bucs played a road game during the 1998 season.

“I know it’s real, especially in Philly, come on,” said Sapp, long an unpopular figure in the NFL for his play and his mouth.

Sapp said that about a month after the Bucs won the Super Bowl, he and a friend traveled from Philadelphia to New York to watch Michael Jordan in his retirement tour. First, they had dinner in Philadelphia, trading plates at the restaurant after their orders came. Then, Sapp said, his friend repeatedly threw up all the way to New York.

I am a bit hard pressed to think that the finer dining establishments in Philly that I would presume Sapp would dine at would just so happen to have something laying around the kitchen that would incapacitate without seriously poisoning a hated rival sports figure if one should just so happened to drop by. However, if say, Jeremy Shockey was to pop out for a quick cheesesteak before retiring back to his hotel room for the evening, he might just get some extra-special Cheez-Whiz on it if there happened to be a bottle of Ex-Lax handy.

Because Even Bad Movies Are More Fun Than Watching The Psuedo-Snake

Posted in Cinema, Gridiron, Sports TV at 3:55 pm by

I settled for the highlights of KC’s win over Denver last night rather than watch the NFL Network’s regular season game debut, thusly, I have nothing to add regarding the wit and wisdom of Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collingsworth. Of the circumstances surrounding a Thanksgiving tilt that didn’t take place in Detroit or Dallas, The Feed’s Josh Alpers wrote,

Among those who couldn’t watch the game? Chiefs owner, AFL founder and longtime proponent of Thanksgiving football in the nation’s heartland Lamar Hunt. Forced into the hospital with an illness, Hunt had to listen to the game on the phone while his daughter held it up to a TV that actually carried the NFL Network. Thanks for devoting your life to pro football Lamar now go fuck yourself, love Roger Goodell.

With all due respect to Josh, surely a guy who has more money than God can arrange for a DirectTV hookup in the infirmary. If Tony Soprano is allowed to have a PPV boxing bash while recouperating from a gunshot wound, the Hunt family could’ve sorted something out.

As for me, I’m feeling fine, I’ve got a dish, and I blew off the game in favor of the following cinematic works ;

a) “Down In The Valley” (2005, David Jacobsen)

It’s a funny world we’re stuck in. If I stride to the counter of my local video hut with a DVD featuring Evan Rachel Wood riding Ed Norton’s cock, I’m just an independent film buff. If, however, I were to voice my appreciation for a movie featuring an actual teenage girl getting busy with an adult, I’d be looking forward to a stretch in the stony lonesome.

Anyhow, avoid ‘DITV’ like Jake Plummer’s pubic hair beard. Ed Norton did the schizo act far better in the way more formulatic (and watchable) “Primal Fear”, and if you wanna see David Morse doing the slow-burn-thing, there’s got to be a “St. Elsewhere” box somewhere that’s a better value. If the predictable storyline and phoning-it-in acting weren’t bad enough, Peter Sallet’s soundtrack is abominable, vearing from sub Iron & Wine wispiness to totally obtrusive tremelo bar hysteria. Granted, he’s setting a mood. But it’s the kind of mood that’ll have sane persons looking for the mute button.

2) “United 93″ (2006, Peter Greengrass)

I’ll concur with Jay Hinman ; considering we already know how it’s gonna end, that we’ve read the 9/11 report and there’s nothing remotely revelatory left to be told (not in this film, anyway), “United 93″ is an amazing achievment. Even by the standards of David Simon and Nick Gomez’ best works for the small screen, “United 93″ is incredibly tense and carefully crafted, with an absence of artifice that makes most documentaries look staged by comparison. The combined non-actor / no-name cast are super solid, and if you’re a frequent flyer like yours truly, there’s no way watching this won’t make you want to blow chunks (the ease with which the hijackers pull off their clumsy coup is horrible to contemplate given that airport security is no more consistent or efficient now than it was 5 years ago).

I have one tiny gripe with Greengrass’ opus : I was assured by the man at the video shoppe that during the most desperate moments of “United 93″, Wesley Snipes would turn to the lead hijacker and say “Always bet on black.” And then he’d kick ass and save the day.

I’ve replayed the final 30 minutes twice. Where the fuck is Wesley?

Under normal circumstances, I’d ask for a refund. But the other video store in my ‘hood doesn’t stock films featuring Evan Rachel Wood riding Ed Norton’s cock, so I’m inclined to let it slide.

A&M Punches McCoy In The Mouth

Posted in Gridiron at 3:05 pm by

Texas A&M 12, Texas 7

Taking his first snaps since being knocked out by K-State two weeks ago, Texas QB Colt McCoy had a brutal Friday afternoon, being picked off 3 times and getting clobbered with a pair of late hits in the 4th quarter, the 2nd of which led to his being wheeled off the field. The Longhorns were held to 71 yards on the ground (compared to 217 for A&M, 95 of which coming from QB Stephen McGee,) and never got their offense untracked.

Trailing 7-6 late in the 4th quarter, McGeee (above) led the Aggies on a 12 play drive that took nearly 9 minutes off the clock, culiminating in his own game-winning 8 yard TD dash.

For A&M’s much maligned Dennis Franchione, there’s a potential meeting with Nebraska in the Big 12 title game to look forward to (along with what oughta be a massive reputation boost). For the reigning National Champs…g’bye BCS, hello (pick one) Cotton Bowl/Holiday Bowl/Gator Bowl, probably with Jevan Snead under center.

(KORRECTION KORNER : Blogging and driving at the same time is a bad, bad idea. If Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State tomorrow, the Sooners represent the Southern half of the Big 12 in said title game. Were Oklahoma to lose, Texas will travel to Arrowhead to face Nebraska a week from Saturday.)

No. 8 LSU are up 14-6 over no. 5, Arkansas, shortly into the start of the 2nd quarter in Little Rock. The Tigers’ JaMarcus Russell just hooked up with Craig Davis for a 47 yard TD pass extending the visitors’ lead. Russell’s early line : 8 for 9, 106 yards, 1 TD.

Last night’s 17-14 defeat of BC was too little, too late to save Larry Coker’s job in Miami. There’s a bit of speculation regarding Rutgers’ Greg Schiano or former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez being sought at Coker’s replacement, but surely I’m not the only person who’d like to see Luther Campbell get the gig. Luke’s got strong ties to Hurricanes football, he’s beloved in the community, has plenty of experience dealing with the media and would probably be very a very aggressive recruiter. Anything to get him out of the music business.

Of course, the name Shula is associated with pretty huge football success in Miami, but in this instance, the soon-to-be-available Mike probably isn’t the answer.

Something You Don’t See Every Day/Month/Year

Posted in Gridiron, Technical Difficulties at 1:05 pm by

I’m writing from Royal-Memorial Stadium, where Colt McCoy is struggling against the Texas A&M D (the Horns are trailing, 6-0, with 4:32 left in the first half).The gent in front of me, a Marooned Out Aggie, is sporting an ESPN Mobile phone.

This is tantamount to a very rare bird sighting. Or finding a working pay phone in lower Manhattan.

I’d take a photo of him with my phone cam, but the guy has about 5 inches and 60 pounds on me. So much like the times I found Lord Lucan, the Lindbergh baby and Richey Manic, you’ll have to take my word for it.

Perhaps Someone Else Should’ve Been Cast As Darby Crash?

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 11:12 am by

(unidentified Beefheart fan, pic culled from WFMU’s Beware Of The Blog)

I think we ought to keep an open mind on this one.

Hahn : Marbury/Francis Split Wrecks Knicks’ 2nd Unit

Posted in Basketball at 10:35 am by

In the wake of Wednesday night’s blowout loss to the T-Wolves, Newsday’s Alan Hahn argues Knicks coach Isiah Thomas’ decision to start Jamal Crawford and turn Stevie Franchise into the 6th man, “might have disrupted the one element of the team that had proved to be reliable – the bench.”

It’s not as if Marbury and Crawford need practice time together to get comfortable as a backcourt; of the Knicks’ guards, the two have played the most together during the past two-plus seasons. It’s Francis (above) who now has to adjust to coming off the bench, which is something he was not keen on last season, when Larry Brown held in him in reserve.

Thomas felt compelled to make this move, but it went against his exact reason why he hasn’t taken Channing Frye out of the starting lineup in favor of the more effective David Lee.

“When somebody is playing well in the role that they’re in, you probably shouldn’t mess with that and [instead] try to help the other guy and make him better,” he said two weeks ago in reference to the Lee-over-Frye debate.

It could be argued that Crawford, who leads the team with 17.7 points per game, was an important piece of the bench unit’s success. He and Robinson had provided the needed pop off the bench to invigorate the team. Francis needs to figure out how to be that kind of player off the bench.

The Post’s Peter Vescey writes, “Steve Francis ‘volunteered’ to give up his Knicks starting spot same as I left college before being asked to leave.”

If the state of the world is getting you down, here’s something that should brighten your day considerably : Richard Jefferson pays $65 an hour for video game tutoring.

The Wizznutzz Hit Parade Continues. Long may it stomp through DC.

Celebrating “Write Nothing Original Day” For The 3rd Year Time In 4 Years

Posted in Merry Fucking Christmas, Mob Behavior, The Marketplace at 8:45 am by

In homage to Adbusters’ annual “Buy Nothing Day”, I’m re-running an item that has become, for better or worse, an Xmas shopping fixture around here.

(v. 1 – CSTB, 11/29/03)

(v. 2 – CSTB, 11/27/04)

If you’re gonna take a stand against rampant consumerism and all-encompassing commercial exploitation of everything that moves, abstaining for a day is pretty fucking weak. How about “Buy Nothing EVER”? Certainly a more ambitious plan, but if you’re gonna be cheap most of the time anyway, you might as well embrace an activist agenda (hopefully distracting others from your personality defects).

There is something on the Adbusters site about “Buy Nothing All Year” which eloquently talks about bartering for goods and services, but I’ve got two non-philosophical hang-ups with this :

1) my ISP isn’t down with this bartering thing. They want cash, cheque or credit card payment in exchange for reading Adbusters’ wildly entertaining fantasies. I offered to mow their lawn, but no dice.

2) the plan seems sensible, if a bit utopian. But nowhere does Adbusters explain how I’m supposed to get a $29 DVD player

(Xmas shoppers go berserk upon hearing the news that Jandek’s ‘Austin Sunday’ is on sale for $7.99)

(Please note that in the 3 years since this item originally appeared, $29 DVD players have become somewhat commonplace. So feel free to substitute another big ticket item that’s a little more contemporary. On the other hand, even at $2.99, the DVD of “White Chicks” is most certainly coal in the stocking of someone you must not like very much.

Your US TV/Radio Options For The Ashes

Posted in Cricket, Sports Radio, Sports TV at 2:05 am by

Day Two of the First Ashes Test is well under way at the Gabba (Gabba Hey), and Australia have a commanding lead after declaring 602/9 earlier in the day ; Ricky Ponting (196) narrowly mising a double century. Three England wickets have fallen rather quickly, the first pair (Strauss and Cook) being bowled by Glenn McGrath. England are 50/3 at present with Kevin Pietersen facing Stuart Clark.

There’s been a bit of chit chat over the past two days about how U.S. based humanoids can follow the action. If you’re unwilling to pay DirectTV $99.95 for all 5 Tests (or pay a slightly lesser amount to LiveOnSports to watch streaming video on your PC), the following options should bring some version of ball-by-ball commentary to your home or cubicle :

1) ABC Radio (Australia) via Penguin Radio (Windows Media)
2) Radio Sport 1332 AM, Auckland, NZ (Windows Media)
3) CricketWorld Radio (Windows Media or Real Player). “Unofficial Commentary” which suggests they’re pulling a fast one on the rights holders.
4) Stan James Bookmaker (Windows Media). File under “last resort”

The BBC’s Test Match Special Coverage seems to be limited to those with UK based IP addresses. There are various schemes to access the Beeb’s restricted via proxy servers, but I’m getting a migraine thinking about it.