11.24.06

Holidays On Ice, Live From The Verizon Center

Posted in Hockey at 12:28 am by

Atlanta took a 4-2 decision over the Caps Tuesday night, but the real numbers to remember are 10 fighting majors, 176 penalty minutes, 3 suspensions and more than $40K in fines.

Thanks to the NHL’s deal with YouTube, the above footage might stick around for more than a few days.

Of new Rangers acquisition Brad Isbister, Hartford’s most dilligent beat(down) reporter Sidearm Delivery observes,

A Wolf Pack team with hardly any Europeans– much less a single Russian player– gets another big, useless, underachieving North American guy that we can all boo heavily until the day he either scores a goal or beats up somebody.

Ref Kerry Fraser is back in the NHL after a rehab stint in the AHL, and he’ll be wearing a helmet for the first time in his 33 year career. Writes Orland Kurtenblog’s Mike Halford,

Did you even realize that Kerry Fraser hasn’t been doing NHL games this year? I guess the plethora of theatrics provided by other zebras (here’s looking at you, Mick McGeough) has taken the spotlight away from hockey’s answer to Conan O’Brien’s hair?

As a Vancouverite, it’s tough to narc on Fraser’s hairdo when we were privy to years of Mark Crawford’s homage to Kurt Warner’s wife.

For Sale : Barry’s Batman

Posted in Baseball at 12:01 am by

The New York Times’ Jack Curry on the attempt by Sam Holman of the Original Maple Bat Corp. to sell his business on eBay.

When Holman (above, right) listed the corporation last month, his product description detailed how he was ready to unload everything, including his future services. He cited the building in Quebec, two acres of land, the patents, the trademarks, the machinery and a world-class client list of 150 major leaguers. Bonds, Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard and Alfonso Soriano are some of the marquee players on the list. Holman said the company needed œinspired vision and wherewithal to move forward.

At least 20 people bookmarked Holman™s entry, meaning they wanted updates during the weeklong bidding process. Holman received several calls and e-mail messages. Some people wanted to devise his exit strategy. Others wondered if the listing was a prank. And still others wanted to combine businesses.

Not every inquiry was worth Holman™s time. One official from a lumber company contacted Holman and was excited about collaborating and making Sam Bats as accessible as hammers.

œThe guy called me and says, ˜Do you think that we could sell them at Home Depot?™  Holman said. œI was in disbelief. Did he even know what a baseball bat was?

Since Bonds is Holman™s most prized client, his bats are made with the best premium lumber that Holman can buy. Still, Holman said only 5 percent of that lumber is of the quality that allows him to carve Bonds™s 2K1 model (2001 is when Bonds hit a record-setting 73 homers).

Holman is so serious about his relationships with his clients that he would not specify the length or weight of Bonds™s bat. He merely said it is about 34 inches and 32 ounces. Conversely, Holman did not mind discussing the potential value of his corporation.

When Holman parcels out his lumber for bats, he ostensibly does it by looking at a player™s statistics. Bonds™s bats are made with the top wood, followed by three other sluggers ” Pujols, Soriano and Howard.

It is not that other players get inferior wood, but the best players get the best. In fact, Holman said someone would have to offer him $1,000 to dream of getting a bat made from the wood he uses for Bonds™s bats.

Pat Dobson, a ten year big league vet and a 20 game winner for the 1971 Baltimore Orioles, passed away yesterday at the age of 64. Dobson was one of 4 20 game winnners in the O’s starting rotation that season, pitching alongside Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar and Dave McNally for the AL Champs.

There’s been considerable hand-wringing the past several days over the crazy contracts proferred to Juan Pierre, Alfonso Soriano et al., and no one is more aware of how the market’s changed than Rickey Henderson.

In the spirit of this special day for families, here’s the shy, retiring Steve Keane of The Eddie Kranepool Society’s take on Tom Glavine’s Big Decision.

What the fuck is Glavine™s hold up here? If he is that concerned about his family then retire. Show me you™re a real family man and leave that 300 wins out there and go home and play house. This guy is so full of shit I can see right through him. He wants to go back to the Braves but with New York money and the one thing going for the Braves is their GM has not has his legs cut out from under him. John Schuerholz will take Glavine back but at the Braves’ price not Glavine’s.

11.23.06

Chilling Words For The Professional Hoops Fans Of Memphis

Posted in Basketball at 9:13 pm by

From the Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Amos Maki and David Williams :

Prospective Grizzlies owners Brian Davis and Christian Laettner plan to cut player payroll while maintaining a playoff-caliber team, using their basketball smarts to find bargain-priced talent.

That ownership strategy is outlined in confidential information obtained Wednesday by The Commercial Appeal. The information indicates the team has 2006 losses of $29.7 million, but under new management could be profitable by the end of the 2008-09 NBA season.

It also explains how the former Duke University basketball teammates plan to fund their purchase of Michael Heisley’s 70-percent majority share by selling approximately $170 million worth of “ownership units” of their Grizzly Acquisition Holdings LLC.

According to the prospective owners’ plan, ownership units start at $2 million. A $10 million investment buys representation on the advisory committee that will provide input on operations and strategic direction. But “ultimate discretion for most matters, including the budget,” will rest with Davis and Laettner, whom the information portrays as keys to the franchise’s success on the court and in the community.

“Davis and Laettner, based on their collective knowledge of professional basketball and the NBA, believe talented players can be recruited at lower payroll costs in order to execute the Business Plan,” according to the information.

No wonder Jerry West is retiring. For all his achievements in the Association, he’s clearly unqualified when it comes to identifying and procuring econo talent. And who amongst us hasn’t observered Christian Death over the years and said to ourselves, “there goes the future Billy Beane of basketball”?

Trying (Desperately) To Find Something For The Knicks To Be Thankful For

Posted in Basketball at 7:02 pm by

A 4-9 start — 4th worst in the league — has the New York Knicks on pace for a 25 win season. If you’re a Knicks fan, this is good news for the following reasons ;

a) barring a sudden change of heart by JD of the Straight Shot, Isiah Thomas is a goner (sadly, JD cannot be fired).

b) Such lowly status means more ping pong balls and greater odds of replacing Eddy Curry with Greg Oden (shown abusing high schoolers, below).

The only mailbag I find superior to my own (sorry, gang) is that of the Newark Star Ledger’s Dave D’Allesandro. In addition to tackling the thorny issue of the new Nets alternate unis neglecting to feature the words “New Jersey” anywhere on ‘em (“you™ve had two years to reconcile the fact that you™re essentially renting this team for your temporary amusement, knowing that they are going to repudiate your loyalty, and NOW you™re seeing red?”), Dave proves yet again he’s a superior agony aunt to anyone this side of Dan Savage.

Dave: I™m just wondering, when will VC wear his VC VI? ˜Cause I think he’s still wearing the 5 from last season. I’ve seen the VI already, and it’s not that pretty — is there some problem that’s going on?
Jonas Bautista

JB: I had no idea what you were talking about, but he seemed to know, and he said, œSixes aren™t out yet. Coming soon. And someday you can both explain that to me. I™ll assume it has nothing to do with microprocessors.

Though there’s still a bit of confusion over the Kramer character vs. Michael Richards, Bench Renaldo has fond memories of the former’s Michael Jordan obssession.

More proof democracy doesn’t work : Fred Hoiberg received 6 write-in votes in the Chaska, MN mayoral election (link courtesy I Heart KG).  That’s almost as weird as learning Ricky Davis owns a pad in my old hometown. Funny that I’ve never run into him at Whole Foods, but maybe he’s a Stop & Shop kinda guy.

The Sage, Veteran Leadership Of Warren Sapp

Posted in Gridiron at 4:19 pm by

To paraphrase Shea Hillenbrand, the ship is sinking in Oakland, so much so that DT Warren Sapp (above) has emerged as a relative voice of maturity in the locker room. From the SF Chronicle’s David White.

As bleak as things have been for the Raiders, they appear to have reached a new low Wednesday.

Wide receiver Jerry Porter has an unexplained hip injury, and is in no mood to give thanks.

Running back LaMont Jordan is done for the season, and wonders where he’ll be next year.

And, defensive tackle Warren Sapp became the first Raider to tell receiver Randy Moss to …

“Sit down, shut the f — up and let’s play football,” Sapp said about Moss’ wishes to get out of town.

“Whatever happens next year happens,” Jordan said about his future plans.

“You want me to be honest?” Porter said when asked what he’s thankful for. “Not a mother — thing.”

Sapp called out Moss for saying it may be time for No. 18′s ship to sail.

“Guess what, fellas?” Sapp said. “One guy doesn’t win, make, nor do anything to a football team unless you’re Peyton Manning. One guy don’t make my world go round.

“You’re not going to get him to understand that there’s 57 other guys in here trying to get this job done, so if you have an issue with upstairs or whatever the f — it may be, you have a month and a half. … Then go talk to those people about whatever you got going.

“But you’re not going to get that, so, so be it.”

ADDENDUM : As luck would have it, I’ve not even cut & pasted the hottest Warren Sapp story of the day.

Who figured the Dolphins’ most useful off-season pickup at QB would be named Harrington rather than Culpepper? Former Lions QB Joey returned to the scene of some of his greatest humiliations today and tossed 3 TD passes — a pair to Marty Booker (7 catches, 115 yards), one to Randy McMichael, in Miami’s 27-10 turkey shoot of Detroit. The Dolphins have won 4 in a row with Harrington at the helm, and managed to hold the Detroit tandem of Arlen Harris and Aveion Cason to a pitiful 21 yards rushing.

A-Rod’s Yogi Snub

Posted in Baseball at 3:44 pm by

The New York Times’ Harvey Araton makes the holiday oh-so-special with news of Alex Rodriguez’ latest public relations gaffe.

Corny as it all may seem, scripted as Derek Jeter can sound, he typically puts the best franchise face forward. At a memorial service last month in California several days after pitcher Cory Lidle™s death in a Manhattan plane crash, there was Jeter, right alongside Torre. Where was Rodriguez? He is not the manager, or the captain, as is Jeter, but what about his alleged standing as the team™s reigning superstar, its most scrutinized player, A-lightning-Rod?

Too many times — as with the Sports Illustrated confessional on the eve of the playoffs — Rodriguez seems to miss the impact of his actions, or inaction.

Last Wednesday, after attending his own charity poker tournament in Manhattan, he canceled on a major fund-raiser the next night at the Yogi Berra Museum in Little Falls, N.J. According to a person in the Rodriguez camp who spoke yesterday on condition of anonymity, A-Rod™s mother, Lourdes, had suddenly been hospitalized — certainly a legitimate excuse and far better than the reason David Wright™s people gave for him not showing. (Wright had been inadvertently double-booked that night.)

But Wright is a Met, A-Rod a Yankee, and because he has a history around town of blowing off events (including one of Torre™s last year), because the call to the museum to cancel was made not by Rodriguez but by one of his employees, because there was an A-Rod sighting last Friday night at courtside of the Knicks-Heat game in Miami, the museum people and the Berra family and even the Yankees™ president, Randy Levine, were said to be in a snit, with the impression that A-Rod too often gives: he just doesn™t get it.

In Rodriguez’ defense, Miami losing to the Knicks at home isn’t the sort of thing that happens every day (sorry, Yogi), and given Stephon Marbury’s steadfast support of A-Rod (from one universally beloved superstar to another), the least Alex could do was reciprocate.

Who Will Win The Battle To Overpay Carlos Lee?

Posted in Baseball, Fashion at 3:37 pm by

The competition for the services of free agent OF Carlos Lee appears to be down to Houston, Baltimore and Philadelphia, and ESPN.com’s Buster Olney finds Pat Gillick’s alleged interest to be very curious.

If the Phillies wind up winning this bidding, it’s doubtful that there will be a more glaring example of a front-office strategic flip-flop that costs the team tens of millions of dollars: On July 30, the Phillies essentially gave away on-base percentage machine Bobby Abreu to the Yankees because they wanted to get out from underneath the $23 million still owed to him, in ’06 and ’07 salary. And now, four months later, they are on the verge of signing another player who is A) roughly the same age (Abreu is 32, Lee is 30); B) much worse defensively, considering his range and throwing arm; C) an inferior athlete — Lee’s thickening body greatly concerns some general managers; and D) much, much, much more expensive, with the team’s financial obligation for an impact corner outfielder increasing by perhaps as much as $85 million, if the Phillies’ bid takes them over $100 million.

Hot Foot’s Sidd Finch reports that Urban Outfitter is peddling some pricey “retro-style” Mets tees. Whether or not this initiative was in any way inspired by David Wright and Jose Reyes’ recent foray into the world of male modeling, I cannot say for certain. But I can, however, vouch for the orange & blue Mex shirt offered by “I Am Keith Hernandez” filmmaker Rob Perri being an excellent conversation starter.

Inge, World’s Scrappiest Human Tapped For History’s Lamest Honor

Posted in Baseball at 2:04 pm by

And yeah, I am counting the Plug Awards.

From MLB.com :

St. Louis Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein (above) and Detroit Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge have been named the Holiday Inn Look Again Players of the Year for the National League and American League, respectively. Voting took place for the inaugural awards exclusively on MLB.com throughout last month.

Eckstein beat out utilityman Chris Burke of the Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann, Milwaukee Brewers reliever Brian Shouse, Chicago Cubs utilityman John Mabry, outfielder Eric Byrnes of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, San Francisco Giants utilityman Mark Sweeney, third baseman Wes Helms of the Florida Marlins, New York Mets second baseman Jose Valentin, Washington Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson, San Diego Padres right-hander Woody Williams, outfielder Shane Victorino of the Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates left-hander John Grabow, Cincinnati Reds utilityman Ryan Freel and third baseman Garrett Atkins of the Colorado Rockies.

If intangibles were a quantifiable statistic, Eckstein would surely rank among the league leaders in that category.

There’s a gag in here somewhere about measuring the immeasurable, cockroaches and Holiday Inn, but I’ll save it for an afternoon you’re not eating with the family. Fire Joe Morgan has already weighed in once on this crucial issue, and hot diggity, they’ve done so again.

“it isn’t dumb luck that the year’s top role players came from the season’s World Series opponents.”

No. It’s because the awards were determined by fan voting during the month of October, a month in which the Cardinals and Tigers played more games than anybody else. That’s why.

Matthews : Mets Getting Older, Not Better

Posted in Baseball at 1:27 pm by

If the New York Mets open the season with an outfield of Alou, Beltran and Green, it’s a pretty fair bet that Carlos B. is going to have to do a lot of running to his far right and left. Newsday’s Wally Matthews, disregarding the glovework of Alou and Green, is more concerned with the Mets’ greying roster, sneering “they claim to be ‘building’ off their near-miss/collapse (your choice) of 2006, but the only thing they are building is a nursing home.”

Last week, the club gleefully announced its sweetheart stadium deal that will hand over to them, rent-free, tax-free and finance-charge free, a virtually limitless source of income for the next several generations of Wilpons.

And in return, they give us Moises Alou (above, left).

And Jose Valentin. And Orlando Hernandez. And let us not forget Damion Easley.

These four gentlemen have one important thing in common. They are all old, verging on ancient. The youngest is Easley; he turned 37 on Nov. 11, a month after Valentin. The oldest, of course, is El Duque, whose official age is also 37, but whose actual age can only be verified through carbon dating. Then there is Julio Franco, the only active Met who can get into Shea on a seniors pass.

Somewhere in the middle sits Alou, 40 years old and more importantly, healthy enough in 2006 to appear in just 98 games. That is one more than the man he is expected to replace, Cliff Floyd, who was let go because, well, he gets hurt too often and misses too many games.

What this means is that the Mets have done the near impossible. They have managed to find themselves an outfielder not only older than Floyd, but equally infirm.

If there is logic in this sort of thinking, it must exist on an intellectual level I am incapable of comprehending.

In my simple way of thinking, in baseball, older generally does not mean better. It means more likely to break down late in the season, at precisely the moment when a team will be least able to afford it. Kind of like what happened at the end of last season, when, in rapid succession, the Mets lost Floyd, El Duque and Pedro Martinez to a malady no doctor can cure: old age. Yes, we know Pedro is a mere 35, but his arm is 150.

Last year, it looked as if GM Omar Minaya had a master plan to keep the Mets in perpetual contention and the Wilpons in perpetual cable subscriptions and season-ticket renewals.

Now, the plan appears to be Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran and an annually-changing cast of aging mercenaries.

They passed on Alfonso Soriano, who would have owned leftfield until Jeff Wilpon was old enough to shave, and if they make a big expenditure this winter, it is likely to be on Barry Zito, who at his best will merely be one more slop merchant in a rotation of junkmen.

And that is another lesson seemingly lost on the Mets. You sign a comparatively-young outfielder – Soriano is 30 – for seven years, you can bank on seven years of high-level production.

If Wally has a problem with the Alou deal, that’s fair enough, and his points about the vet-heavy roster are well taken. But Mets fans should be giving thanks today that Omar showed no interest in bidding for Soriano’s services. With the exception of Adam Dunn, Soriano made more errors (11) in LF than anyone else in the majors. As noted earlier, the Cubs have invested $138 million in a guy who struck out 160 times last season — anyone who believes Soriano is going to develop plate discipline at the age of 31 is kidding themselves.

Zito at $15 million+ per year is a risk, no doubt. But the Mets already made a major investment in “a comparitively young outfielder” while “banking on seven years of high-level production.” His name is Carlos Beltran, and not only is he younger than Soriano, his all-around skills compare pretty favorably. Moises Alou will provide a fraction of Soriano’s offensive production (at a fraction of the price), but he’s clearly a stop-gap option rather than the foundation of the franchise.

Besides, a mixture of homegrown, younger talent (substitute Wright, Reyes, Heilman for Jeter, Posada and Rivera) plus a smattering of aging mercenaries sounds suspiciously like the formula that helped the ballclub across town win 9 consecutive division championships.

I’ve had some rough family Thanksgivings and I’m probably the worst person on earth to give advice on diffusing tension. That said, if you want to stay in Greg Prince’s good books, by all means, do not diss Rico Brogna.

What the fuck do you know about my team other than it’s my team? That should be all you need to know. I get enough reminders at work, one month after the fucking Yankees won the fucking World Series, that my team isn’t very good. I know I’m practically all alone as a Mets fan in New York and now my favorite Met has been traded to fucking Philadelphia and all you can say is it wasn’t such a bad idea?

I hate to admit it, Greg, but I can relate. Much as I’d like to claim the Mets’ swap of David Cone for Lt. Dangle and Ryan Thompson had absolutely nothing to do with a) a trip to the emergency room, b) a somewhat contentious break-up and c) a hangover that hasn’t quite dissipated, I cannot.

Riles Recites The 3 D’s

Posted in Basketball at 11:48 am by

Blowout losses are becoming a regular occurrence for the Miami Heat, and last night’s 106-86 drubbing at the hands of San Antonio left Pat Riley sounding like a man who’d like to spend more time with Stan Van Gundy’s family. From the Miami Herald’s Israel Guttierez.

Riley laid into his team with a tirade that could almost be heard from the hallway outside the locker room, explained after the game exactly what’s happening with his team.

”[It has] been that way every time we get challenged,” Riley said. “Every single game that we play against somebody who is competitive and stays the course, we’ll find a point in the game where we’ll just let it go.

“We went from competing in the first quarter, and then we stopped communicating with each other, and then we started to complain. Then we got disgusted at ourselves. Then we went from disgusting to discouraging to despicable. That’s what I’m dealing with, and I’m part of that problem. I’m going to have to find a solution to this.”

‘Eleven years I’ve been here and I built this franchise with some people who really care, and I’ve gone through some rebuilding and a lot of pain to get to this point, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to allow people to crap on this franchise,” Riley said. “They can crap on me, but not the franchise.”

Perhaps the only sight more surprising than Utah running their league best-record to 11-1 with a 110-101 defeat of Sacramento was Darko Milicic coming up with a big 4th quarter (11 points, 4 recounds) in Orlando’s 96-91 win over Indy. The Magic have an early lead in a screwy Southeast Division, what with Miami struggling and Washington unable to win on the road, and could be a threat in the sea of mediocrity that is the Eastern Conference if Darko shows up every now and then.

Vick Bristles At Mora Sr.’s Critique

Posted in Gridiron at 9:47 am by

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Steve Wyche.

Falcons quarterback Michael Vick did not appreciate remarks made by Jim Mora ” the father of Falcons coach Jim Mora ” who, during a radio interview last weekend, agreed with a suggestion by the host that Vick was a “coach killer.”

“Honestly, I really don’t know what to say,” Vick said Wednesday, the first time he was available to address the subject. “I can’t even respond to that. He’s a commentator. He’s going to say what he wants to say. I think it was inappropriate, but he’s a commentator, and he has every right to say what he wants to say. I’m just going to keep playing football. At the same time, it’s crazy.”

Here is what the elder Mora, the former New Orleans and Indianapolis head coach, who now is a broadcast analyst, said to host Craig Shemon, who suggested Vick was a “coach killer” during a Fox Sports Radio interview.

“I think you’re correct, and it worries me a little bit because my son is the head coach down there, ya know?” the elder Mora said. “But he’s a great athlete; my son likes him a lot; he’s a good kid. But he’s not a passer. And you need a passer at quarterback to be successful consistently in the National Football League. And he ain’t getting it done in that category. I agree with you.”

Vick has every right to take umbrage. The term “franchise killer” would be far more apt.

There’s at least one published report claiming Jay Culter will start for the Broncos against the Chiefs tonight (in the game hardly anyone can see)

If former Detroit QB Joey Harrington were to lead the Dolphins to a blowout win at Ford Field today and Matt Millen is still employed on Monday, I see no reason to believe the Lions won’t retain the latter for life.

The Globe’s Keith Reed reports the Patriots are suing StubHub for providing a means for fans to break the state of Massachusetts’ anti-scalping law. If Phil Mushnick was up this early, he’d remind you there’s no shortage of professional sports franchises that want StubHub’s piece of the action and have instituted their own ticket reselling schemes.

We’ll Take Any Opportunity For A Gratuitious Swipe At The Captain

Posted in Baseball, General, The Marketplace at 1:40 am by

Observes Repoz,

I find it funny that Movado means always in motion, yet they showcase Jeter…who has about as much movement as The Clocks’ – “Tick Tock Man” moving up the charts!

Raptors End Skid, Sam Mitchell Fan Club Goes Live

Posted in Basketball at 1:19 am by

(Toronto’s Fred Jones blows by some unidentified non-entity)

25 points from Chris Bosh helped the Raptors stop a 6 game losing streak, as Toronto subdued the Cavs, 95-87. The result probably isn’t enough to disuade the creators of Give Sam His Pink Slip (apparently the url for Fire Sam Mitchell was taken), though I’m wondering if there’s one remaining professional coach in North America who isn’t the subject of such a site.

The day after I struggled to recall specific Thanksgiving Week upsets of days gone by, the preseason NIT served up a pair, as Butler beat no. 25 Tennessee, 55-44, and Gonzaga knocked off no. 2 North Carolina, 82-74 at MSG.

Speaking of the ‘Zags, In the week since the Sun’s John Hollinger characterized Adam Morrison as a bust, ‘Stache has managed a trio of 20 points + games, the latest of which coming in the form of a 26 point effort, as Charlotte defeated Boston, 92-83.

One of Hollinger’s other busts, Randy Foye, didnt play much of a role in the T-Wolves’ 107-89 win over the Knicks, but on a night when Eddy Curry and Channing Frye were painfuly passive in the paint, Minnesota had more than enough firepower (21 from Ricky Davis, 19 from KG) to get the job done. The Marbury/Stevie Franchise backcourt experiment is over and Jamal Crawford has returned to the starting lineup ; both positive signs, but not nearly enough to compensate for the Knicks’ dreadful shooting from long distance (2 for 10 from three point range) and lack of an inside presence. There’s something kind of amazing about the quintet of Curry, Frye, David Lee, Kelvin Cato and and Jerome James going to the line for a combined 4 shots in one night.

11.22.06

Inevitable Denny Green Firing Not Quite A Revelation

Posted in Gridiron at 10:33 pm by

With all due respect to actual reporters (as opposed to cut & paste mavens), can someone explain to me how this qualifies as a scoop? Seriously, it would be a bigger story if someone reported the Cardinals were keeping Denny Green beyond December. Or even that he still had the slimmest of chances to save his job over the next 6 weeks.

Admittedly, the Steve Mariucci element is slightly newsworthy, but Dennis Green being a lame duck in Phoenix is kind of like Kurt Angle’s painkiller addiction. “Confirming” either is sort of like proving the existence of gravity in 2006.

The NFL has finally ruled on the Ricky Manning situation, and make no mistake about it : under the Roger Goodall administration, if you call someone “fag”, “fucking jew” and proceed to beat him up, you’ll be suspended for one entire game. For the 9-1 Bears, said penalty should have a chilling effect on all future plans to verbally and physically harrass laptop users.

Tiki Barber (27 yards, 10 carries) has taken issue with the Giants’ play calling during Monday’s 26-10 loss to Jacksonville. The Hartford Courant’s John Altavilla jots it all down.

Barber seemed confused about offensive coordinator John Hufnagel’s decision to abandon the run after the Jaguars had early success stopping it and the Giants fell behind, 13-3. Barber felt the focus should have remained on the ground instead of switching to an up-tempo offense.

“Yeah, it’s a challenge, but we are not scared of anyone,” Barber said. “We have played against the best defenses in this league … and we’ve run the ball. We’ve done effective things. We have executed in the pass game.

“So I think you put yourself halfway to failure to say we can’t do something because of another team’s personnel. It’s a slap in the face of me and a slap of my front five guys. We don’t take to that very kindly.”

Tiki’s remarks were played on WFAN this afternoon, summarily followed by Mike Francesca and Chris Russo unloading on the running back for having the unmitigated gall to suggest he wanted the ball more than ten times a game.

Greatest Press Release Of November 2006

Posted in Rock Und Roll at 8:40 pm by

From the interweb’s no. 1 repository of conceptual humor, Blabbermouth.net :

The dust is still settling from the successful tour that JOURNEY and DEF LEPPARD just finished. The bands were together pretty much from late June until this past Sunday (November 19), playing to sold-out crowds all across North America. Neither band has ever been afraid to share a stage with anyone else, but DEF LEPPARD guitarist Phil Collen (above) told Launch that his group had to work extra hard this time to keep up with their touring partners. “JOURNEY really upped their game, you know, they’re a great band, and then, you know, we’d have to go on after that,” he said. “And, you know, if you’re following ‘Don’t Stop Believin”, which was, like, a huge hit, and still is ” you know, it’s, like, one of the Top 10 downloads of last year ” you (chuckles), you better be up to your game. So that just made us just raise the bar ourselves.”

La Russa : I Can’t Watch The Rug 24-7

Posted in Baseball at 7:35 pm by

Not content with casting aspersions towards Hank Rollins’ hand-eye coordination, Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa submits to an interrogation by Inside Bay Area’s Dave Newhouse.

Q. On the steroids issue, how have you come to grips with this whole mess, because you’ve maintained that you didn’t know what was going on in your own clubhouse in Oakland?

A. I suspected a couple of guys; that’s what I said. I still believe Dave McKay, my longtime coach who has as much integrity as anyone I know. He supervised our (conditioning) program and said nothing happened under A’s supervision that was illegal. Were things slipped under the rug where the A’s and Dave and Tony we’re not (aware)? Evidently. Jose (Canseco) said there was.

What I said was that edge those A’s had in strength and stamina were the product of five, six days a week in the gym, which no one in baseball was doing at the time. I watched Mark (McGwire) do this in season and out of season. If you and I did that for a year, we’d get stronger.

Q. But steroids also provide an unfair edge, correct?

A. Baseball dramatically went over the edge in an illegal way. And it happened on the A’s on my watch. I got suspicious of two guys who got stronger without working.

Q. McGwire has crawled into a hole after his embarrassment before Congress. Will he ever emerge?

A. I talk to him a lot, and it’s all positive. He’s got stuff he’s learned that he could share with hitters. I think he would like to do that, and sooner or later, I think he will do that. I don’t know how he’ll handle questions about his playing days, but I believe in him, and I trust him.

Q. You played the game clean. Does it bother you that others chose to get ahead by cheating?

A. I’m going to get philosophical. You’ve got heated competition, so we’re going to do anything we can to get an edge. This has been true since the first day the game was played ” spitballs, stealing signs, all that stuff. There’s a line, and if you cross it illegally, you should get suspended.

According to the Houston Chronicle’s Richard Justice, the Orioles big signing of the week might be someone other than Roger Cedeno.

It appears to be down to the Orioles, Phillies and Astros for Carlos Lee, and the bidding has gotten insane. It’s believed the Orioles have offered as much as a six-year contract worth about $80 million to $90 million, according to the Baltimore Sun. If those numbers are even close to accurate, the Astros ought to take a pass and find another way to improve the club.

Carlos Lee is a very nice player if the price is right, say, $48 million over four years. If things get crazy, you maybe could justify spending $75 million over five years. The Astros shouldn’t go beyond that number. He’s simply not worth it. All it means is that Tim Purpura would have to be more creative. He could try to trade for Vernon Wells or Carl Crawford. He could make a run at J.D. Drew.

Milwall Give Donachie Keys To The Den

Posted in Football at 2:38 pm by

Credited with steadying the ship at Milwall following Nigel Spackman’s dismissal, midtable Milwall of League One have named caretaker manager Willie Donachie their permanent boss.

Liverpool and PSV Eindhoven are scoreless after 26 minutes in their Champions League Group C clash. I’ve got to go purchase dog food and shall be TiVo’ing the rest, and I’ll thank you very much not to text me the result, nor any further news about what Homeland Security are doing to keep us safe. I hate having surprises spoiled.

(UPDATE : Liverpool 2, PSV 0, and Didier Drogba suffered an ankle injury in Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat at Werder Bremen. Thank you to everyone who respected my wishes by texting incorrect scores and misleading headlines about terrorist attacks).

Olney : No Suitors For The Sultan Of Surly

Posted in Baseball at 2:02 pm by

ESPN’s Buster Olney chatted with WFAN’s Mike Francesca and Chris Russo today and predicted that unless Barry Bonds returns to San Francisco, he’s done.  Olney insisted that no one else is willing to absorb the headache Bonds is likely to bring to a clubhouse and few, if any franchises are keen to go down in history as the organization that gave the Sultan a chance to break Hank Aaron’s HR mark, regardless of the box office boost.

I keep hearing the Orioles will have difficulty signing elite free agents and whaddya know, Baltimore has snared the highly coveted Roger Cedeno.  I think that’s the missing piece to the puzzle in Charm City.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman is blunt regarding the Yankees’ 2007 expectations for Randy Johnson and Carl Pavano — the Bombers are on the hook for $36 million.

Sports Illustrated selected the New York Mets as no. 13 in their top 16 Worst Dressed Teams In Sports.  Apparently, David Wright and Jose Reyes’ GQ spread doesn’t count.

Asking “would Microsoft pay an overseas competitor $26 billion just for the right to talk to one of its software engineers about a job?”, Forbes’ Tom Van Riper suggests MLB purchasing Japan’s NPB rather than paying for posting rights (link swiped from The Griddle)

Since 2000, Japanese teams have collected $75 million or so in posting fees for players like Kazuhia Ishii and Ichiro Suzuki. But the money, while helping the bottom line, can’t stop the larger trend of talent-loss and declining attendance. For the U.S. teams, it has been an expensive way to snag talent. A merger helps fix both, in theory.

Fan interest in Japan is still passionate, even though attendance has suffered since stars began parading to the U.S. in 1995. Many flock to their television sets during the wee hours to see their countrymen playing in America. Young kids are constantly seen playing pickup games and carrying their baseball gloves around, pastimes that have mostly gone the way of the10-cent bubble gum card in the U.S. In short, Japanese pro baseball is a gem that’s lost some luster in recent years, due to bad positioning in the global marketplace. They are a net exporter of talent that also lacks a sophisticated global media platform. Not a great place to be. For would-be suitors, now is a good time to buy.

Integrating the league into the Majors’ sophisticated television, radio and Web strategy would undoubtedly bring in more revenue from broadcast rights and merchandise, especially with the plethora of cable channels looking for programming. A cash infusion would also upgrade minor league and player-development operations, currently much smaller than what the U.S. has. Players on both sides would have more freedom to come and go as the marketplace dictates.

Essentially, MLB could step in and run the Japanese league as a business, rather than the expensive tax write-off the teams are currently treated as under their corporate owners.

Marchman Praises Bullshit Beauty Contest

Posted in Baseball at 12:01 pm by

Sort of. Arguing that Justin Morneau’s MVP election is “dumb and indefensible, good evidence of why no one takes baseball writers seriously,” and calling the prize “as relevant as a moss-covered, three-handled family credenza, or a tin of Boer War rations, slightly more meaningful than a Gold Glove,” the New York Sun’s Tim Marchman…looks forward to similar mistakes being made in years to come.

The award’s very silliness is the point exactly. This marvelously preposterous award, and the pretext for bewilderment it will offer future generations, are wonderful additions to the game’s ridiculous lore. Looking through the indices of past MVPs, there’s little joy in seeing the names of Willie Mays, Ted Williams, and Mickey Mantle; there is, however, great joy in seeing the names of George Bell, Jim Konstanty, and Marty Marion. A name has been added to this pantheon. Between now and the time the Venutians invade, thousands and perhaps millions of drinks will be won on bets involving Justin Morneau’s name. That’s a joy no superfluous validation of Derek Jeter’s already overvalidated greatness could bring. It’s an occasion to be celebrated.

Murray Chass
campaigns for Marvin Miller’s election to the Baseball Hall Of Fame in today’s New York Times, and garners a funny quote from the pioneering head of the Players Association.

Probably the most inexplicable result in the 2003 voting was that some of the 41 committee members who played during Miller™s tenure didn™t vote for him.

Only two players acknowledged that they didn™t vote for Miller. Reggie Jackson said the Hall of Fame should be for players only, and Mike Schmidt said, without singling out anyone, that he looked at the ballot and decided not to vote for anyone.

œThe only players I talked to, Miller said the other day, œwere those who said: ˜I don™t understand this. I don™t know why this happened. It™s ridiculous.™ 

Miller was not surprised at the outcome, and he won™t be surprised by another negative outcome when the results are announced Feb. 27.

œIt would be nice, he said, œbut when you™re my age, 89 going on 90, questions of mortality have a greater priority than a promised immortality.

Jackson, who was in the first class of free agents 30 years ago, disclosed that he had changed his thinking.

œI™ve given more thought to it, Jackson said Sunday by telephone from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. œI™m just trying to have a broader view and be objective about people who have had a great impact on the game. Their kind of significance merits notice. The people who were influential in the development of the game need credit for that.

Does that group include Miller?

œMarvin Miller absolutely should be included in the Hall of Fame, Jackson said.

Pseudo-Snake Encourages His Adoring Public To Get Their Priorities In Order

Posted in Gridiron at 11:08 am by

The Denver Post’s Mike Klis has the dubious pleasure of scribbling in a notebook when Broncos QB Jake Plummer deigns to speak with the media.

Plummer, who otherwise doesn’t read the papers, watch TV sportscasts or listen to sports talk radio, understood his position as starting quarterback for the 7-3 Broncos has once again created local unrest.

“There have been people who have tried to run me out of here since I got here,” Plummer said. “If I listened to that stuff, I wouldn’t still be here leading this team. Hey, one day their wish will all come true. Until then, sorry.”

He has been through this before. There was speculation earlier Plummer could have been replaced during the Cleveland game Oct. 22, and if not, he would have to play well against Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. Or else.

He was not replaced in Cleveland, and played two of his best games against Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. But then he threw three interceptions in a win against Oakland and completed just 46.4 percent of his passes in a loss to San Diego, and again speculation has stirred.

Only this time, the quarterback controversy hasn’t so much stirred as boiled.

“There’s a lot of starvation and people dying in the world, but I’m the most important topic in Denver,”
Plummer said. “It’s sad.”

Between 2000 and 2006, Plummer earned more than $34 million dollars. I can’t remember exactly how many Super Bowl rings he won during that span, but if he’s feeling conflicted about the ridiculous scrutiny he’s under compared to the really important shit, he could always donate half his paycheck to Oxfam.

Bad news for the Jared Lorenzen Fan Club : Colonel Coughlin says he’s sticking with deer-in-the-headlights Eli Manning until, well, the Giants hire a new coach? Manning is crippled? Given the massive investment in Eli (and the way Philip Rivers is making Ernie Accorsi look bad, week after week), I’m surprised the question even comes up.

The Next Step In Philly : Dump Burrell, Sign Ralph Malph

Posted in Baseball at 10:47 am by

Not the 2006 NL MVP. But perhaps I should double check.

Michael Irvin, The New Jimmy The Greek?

Posted in Racism Corner, Sports TV at 10:13 am by

(truly, an embarrassment to his race. Also, on the left, Michael Irvin)

What better way to celebrate the one year anniversary of Michael Irvin almost losing his job, than with Pro Football Talk suggesting the Playmaker…oughta lose his job?

Appearing Monday on ESPN Radio’s The Dan Patrick Show, Irvin pulled a Jimmy “The Greek” when suggesting that one possible explanation for Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s strong performance is that one of his ancestors got it on with one of those big man slaves to which CBS’ Snyder referred nearly 20 years ago.

Said Irvin of Romo: “He doesn’t look like he’s that type of an athlete. But he is. He is, man. I don’t know . . . some brother down in that line somewhere. . . . I don’t know who saw what or where, his great-great-great-great-grandma ran over in the ‘hood or something went down.”

Recognizing the idiocy of Irvin’s comments, Dan Patrick said, “Oh, that’s the only way he can be a great athlete?”

“That’s not the only way, but it’s certainly one way,” Irvin said. “If great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandma pulled one of them studs up out of the barn [and said], ‘Come on in here for a second,’ you know, and they go out and work in the yard. You know, back in the day.”

Irvin likely would claim that he was joking, if the standard that has been applied to white men who have made similar comments were also applied to the Playmaker. He was, after all, laughing through some of his comments.

But does that make the comments any less ignorant, or any less racist? Irvin basically is saying that, when a white man is a great athlete, there must be something out of the ordinary occurring, because the average white man simply can’t do the same things that the average black man can.

Can someone please explain to us why Irvin hasn’t been fired or suspended or even called out for his comments?

Good question. There’s no shortage of TV spurts commentators who are widely disliked. Heck, the Bristol University faculty is teaming with ‘em, and there’s a couple of blogs that would be shit out of luck if these clowns were canned. Irvin causes more exasperation — much of it felt by his colleagues, if their facial expressions are anything to go by —- than any talking head this side of Fran Healey (who isn’t getting much face time these days).

But the real explanation might be more simple : when Irvin chats with Dan Patrick on the radio, many listeners (present company included) start hunting for a CD. So it is entirely possible that PFT was one of the few paying attention. And if you had to pick one day on the calendar to make a completely ridiculous statement, you might as well have done so on the same afternoon half the adult population was watching Michael Richards self-destruct on YouTube.

DiGiovanna : Angels The Favorites In Matthews Jr. Chase

Posted in Baseball at 9:52 am by

From the LA Times’ Mike DiGiovanna :

The Angels have emerged as the favorites to land free-agent center fielder Gary Matthews Jr., whose career year with the Texas Rangers has put him in line for a four- or five-year deal that will probably net him at least $10 million a year.

Matthews, 32, had lunch Tuesday with Angels Manager Mike Scioscia and General Manager Bill Stoneman, emerging from a 1 1/2 -hour meeting feeling even better about a team he has targeted since the end of a 2006 season in which he hit .313 with 102 runs, 44 doubles, 19 home runs, 79 runs batted in and a .371 on-base percentage.

Reached by phone Tuesday night, Matthews said it “wouldn’t be a stretch” to say the Angels are the leading candidate to sign him.

Matthews, whose highlight-reel catches made him a regular on ESPN’s “Web Gem” segments last season, wouldn’t provide the booming bat that the Angels, who failed to land free-agent sluggers Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez, were seeking to protect Vladimir Guerrero.

But he would be a defensive upgrade over Chone Figgins, he would provide considerably more power out of the leadoff spot, and he would enable the Angels to move Figgins back to third base and down in the order, or package Figgins in a trade for a power hitter.

In light of where the market has headed over the past few weeks, I have to conclude the following :

a) Omar Minaya, criticized on more than one occasion for overpaying for talent, was extremely savvy in locking up David Wright and Jose Reyes last summer. Can you imagine what either would be worth on the open market a year from now?

b) There’s no way Jeromy Burnitz can stay retired with these sums being tossed around. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, either.

(UPDATE : It’s official, 5 years, $50 million, and Matthews is a Halo. It might’ve taken a few years for the market to come around, but A-Rod and Carlos Beltran are looking like relative bargains today).

Francesca & Russo Defend Jeter’s Honor

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio at 1:25 am by

Joe Cowley had the temerity to rank Derek Jeter a mere 6th on his AL MVP ballot, behind winner Justin Morneau, Jermaine Dye, Johan Santana, The Big Hurt and Big Papi. The Sun-Times scribe justified his tally to the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner thusly,

œI thought the guys in front of him were more important to their teams, Cowley said. œJeter is like a great lineman on a great offensive line. If the guard goes down, are they still going to be able to run the ball? Yes.

œAre they a playoff team without Jeter? Yes. I don™t think Derek Jeter single-handedly, with those numbers, carried them to where they finished. I think they still could have found a way.

For his trouble, Cowley suffered a very public chewing out, courtesy of WFAN’s Mike Francesca and Chris Russo (above). (link swiped from Repoz & Baseball Think Factory) File this one under “NSFWB”*.

The last time the duo piled on a phone-in guest so heavily, the guy flew an airplane into the side of a building.

* – “Not Safe For Working Brains”

Finally, Someone Who Wouldn’t Prefer A CD By Juice Newton

Posted in Mob Behavior, Radio, Video Games at 12:43 am by

(like we’re supposed to believe he had nothing to trade)

While Agent Zero refuses to play the Do You Know Who I Am? Card to score a Nintendo Wii
, others will go to extreme lengths to garner a PS3 writes the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Amy Carlson Gustafson (thanks to Brian Turner for the link).

Just how far will people go to get their hands on a new PlayStation 3?
Just ask KDWB-FM, 101.3′s morning show host Dave Ryan, who on Tuesday morning asked folks if they were willing to give up their baby for 24 hours in exchange for one of Sony’s highly coveted video game consoles. More than a dozen people called to offer up their kids, but only a few realized it was all just a gag.

“We got more calls than we could handle,” said Ryan, who referred to the practical joke as a “social experiment.” “They were lined up willing to turn their kids over to strangers for a freakin’ PlayStation.”

KDWB morning show executive producer Steve “Steve-o” LaTart said he was surprised how many people were interested in the bogus swap, which consisted of handing over your child to LaTart for 24 hours in exchange for a PS3.

“There were a lot of phone calls that we didn’t even get to and I would say three quarters of them were serious,” said LaTart.

People with babies of all ages . including a 2-day-old and a 1-week-old made it on air. One of the more serious sounding calls came from a woman named “Katie,” who agreed to give up her 1-month-old for three days. She wanted to sell the PS3 on eBay to make some extra money for the holidays.

“In a way it’s flattering that we’ve built up 13 years of trust and that’s great . yet at the same time, hey we thought we knew Kramer too, you just never know,” said Ryan referring to Michael Richards, who played Kramer on “Seinfeld,” and his recent racist comments.

After the KDWB crew admitted on air that it was all a hoax, Ryan was dumbfounded when “Katie” called back.

“She said, ‘So, does that mean I don’t get the PlayStation?’ I’m like yeah, you’re a dumb ass., and you don’t get the PlayStation.”