(finally, some year-end accolades for these two hard working broadcasters)
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from “‘Tits Out Teenage Terror Totty” author / Philly exile Steven Wells, and his final column of 2006 for the Guardian tackles a subject near and dear to many of our hearts (even if it’s been rehashed a thousand times) : ABC and ESPN’s painful coverage of the 2006 World Cup.
The Best We’re Not-in-Islington-Now-Toto Moment Award goes to … ABC/ESPN for explaining that “Ecuador are the Denver Broncos of world soccer.” This beat out literally hundreds of other entries, including: “If this was basketball, it’d be like Shaq vs. Kobe”; “Trinidad & Tobago – The George Mason of the World Cup”; “Is he going to use the driver or the pitching wedge?”; “Wayne Rooney is a little bit like an American linebacker”; “Nakata is the Terrell Owens of this Japanese team”; and “Australia don’t have many men on the end line”.
The Worstest Soccer Commentator Ever Award … goes to ABC/ESPN’s Marcelo Balboa for starting every single freaking sentence with “You know what?” and his relentless excusing of every single bit of diving, cheating and time-wasting as “part of the game”. Never has the Wells TV screen come so close to being booted in so many times.
The First Ever Ian St John Award for the Most Improved Commentator of the World Cup 2006 goes to … (hushed silence) … former play-by-play announcer for baseball’s Florida Marlins and New York Mets – ABC/ESPN’s David O’Brien (ecstatic applause). Dave started the tournament defending ABC/ESPN’ s deliberate dumbing-down policy and alienating every single soccer fan in America by calling them an “antsy mean-spirited … petulant little clique”. But after receiving an avalanche of antsy, mean-spirited and petulant criticism, (“When the US team boards a plane to head home in disgrace, O’Brien should be handing out the peanuts on the flight” – Tom Hoffarth, LA Daily News), O’Brien relented, easing up on the “volume of items” (the non-stop barrage of “facts” of the sort used to fill the long aching gaps between adverts in televised baseball) in favour of more “foot-to-foot action”. Well done that man.
Ghost riding the whip “ a stunt in which a driver gets out of his car and dances around and on top of the slowly moving vehicle to a thumping hip-hop beat “ has gotten at least two people killed, led to numerous injuries and alarmed police on the West Coast and beyond.
A fad among devotees of a West Coast strain of hip-hop music called œhyphy, the stunt has been celebrated in song and performed in numerous homemade videos posted on YouTube.
œIt did not take Einstein to look at this thing and say this was a recipe for disaster, said Pete Smith, a police spokesman in Stockton. œWe could see the potential for great injury or death.
Earlier this month, Davender Gulley, a ghost-riding 18-year-old, died after his head slammed into a parked car while he was hanging out the window of an SUV in Stockton, police said. In October, a 36-year-old man dancing on top of a moving car fell off, hit his head and died in what authorities said was Canada’s first ghost riding fatality.
Hyphy was born in the San Francisco Bay cities of Oakland, Richmond and Vallejo in the late 1990s, and devotees often hold late-night car rallies called œsideshows where crowds perform risky stunts, including ghost riding.
œGhost riding refers to the absence of a driver. œThe whip is urban slang for your car. Typically, the driver drops the car into neutral and dances around and on top of the vehicle while it inches forward.
Sometimes it is a solo act; sometimes a half-dozen or more passengers get out and dance, too. The stunt is usually performed late at night, on a deserted road or in a parking lot.
The Vallejo-bred rapper E-40 introduced mainstream listeners to ghost riding with the single œTell Me When to Go, whose lyrics describe how to pull it off. Another single, œGhostride It, by Oakland rapper Mistah F.A.B., offers a step-by-step guide: œPull up. Hop out, all in one motion. Dancing on the hood, while the car still rollin’.
The former owner of the Hagerstown Suns has acknowledged that the minor-league baseball club was at fault when two patrons were served french fries doused with oven cleaner.
(not so bad with a dash of paprika, by the way)
Still to be determined in a lawsuit against the owner is whether the ballpark visitors were injured from eating the fries, as they claim, and whether they are due compensation.
Big Game Maryland LLC admitted in a stipulated agreement filed in Washington County Circuit Court Dec. 19 that it breached a duty owed to plaintiffs Stephen Parrotte and Brian L. Marquiss, both of Hagerstown.
The plaintiffs claim they ordered vinegar on their fries at a game in Municipal Stadium on April 24, 2003, and instead were served fries inadvertently doused with oven cleaner from an unmarked plastic jug. They claim to have suffered serious, permanent injuries from eating the fries.
I’m not sure which part of this story is more surprising, that someone in Maryland wants vinegar on their fries or that the Suns ever cleaned their ovens.
The Dallas Morning News’ Tim Colishaw insists “Texas fans should embrace the Giants’ decision to lure Zito across the Bay Bridge with a seven-year, $126-million contract. The Rangers have a better chance of becoming the best team on paper in the West (they are close right now) without Zito at $18 million per year than with him.”
By that logic, it seems only fair the Rangers should pay some portion of Zito’s salary.
Frankly, if Jesus Christ “ the Messiah (peace be upon Him) was present today, how would He react? And whom would He stand with and against?
If Jesus Christ (peace be upon Him) was present today, he would order an encounter against those who would propagate corruption, obscenity and perversion, and try to nullify and exterminate the merits and the rights of women and diminish their position “ a position that virgin Mary (peace be upon Her) “ is their role model and sample.
Considering that Peter Davis once sent me an Xmas card of Santa shooting up, this might not be the worst holiday greeting of all time.
It’s well established that the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick is an veteran ambulance chaser. These days, however, he’s following the meat wagon in a Rascal.
Later in the second quarter (during Monday’s Jets/Dolphins game), ESPN’s Steve Young, this week’s special in-booth guest/needless distraction, was asked to assess Miami’s QB situation. He suggested injured Dolphins QB Daunte Culpepper lacks dedication. “I see where he’s been missing meetings,” said Young.
In the fourth quarter, after Culpepper, who heard Young’s comment, confronted Young off-air to tell him that he doesn’t know what he’s talking (to a national audience) about – he had not missed any team meetings other than when he had knee surgery – Theismann issued a clarification on Young’s behalf.
That, too, is typical of the new ESPN, where ex-star players are hired by the ton, then thrown on national TV to say anything about anyone, no accountability needed, as if it’s one big blog. Last year, Young declared that Chris Simms was disadvantaged by his soft upbringing, which not only enraged Chris’s dad, Phil, it was a terrible guess presented as insight.
But that’s our Phil — always quick to bash the fuck out of the Worldwide Leader when they take credit for a story someone else broke, but loathe to acknowledge he’s commenting on “news” that’s all but done and dusted for anyone with an internet connection.
That’s the question posed (ok, not in those exact words) by the New York Times’ Ben Shpigel who notes the customarily bold Omar Minaya (above) has failed to obtain Daisuke Matzusaka, Kei Igawa, Jeff Suppan, Barry Zito or Freddy Garcia this winter.
With unattractive options remaining on the free-agent market, Minaya will have to take another look at the Mets™ minor league prospects and decide if he is willing to part with any of them for what he termed œan impact pitcher.
That label does not appear to apply to pitchers like the Oakland Athletics™ Danny Haren or the White Sox™s Jon Garland or Javier VÃ¡zquez, pitchers who have interested the Mets. All are good, solid pitchers and would fit nicely into the front section of their rotation.
But if the Mets consider dealing Lastings Milledge or, less likely, Mike Pelfrey or Philip Humber, Minaya seemed to suggest that they would want someone with a more established pedigree.
œHow many impact guys are out there? Minaya said during a conference call yesterday. œThey don™t just become available. To make trades, we could do things. But who are the impact guys? Those impact guys come around once in a while. But that being said, we™ve always been aggressive and proactive in pursuing those guys.
œWe have a lot of quality prospects. Scouts use the term ˜high ceiling.™ If you have those kinds of premium prospects, those kinds of impact pitchers become available in trades.
I’ll submit that Minaya might very well have an impact pitcher already in his possession. But there’s no sign of any inclination to give Aaron Heilman another try at starting, not with the losses of Chad Bradford and Robert Hernandez (nor Duaner Sanchez’ status still questionable).
In the eyes of Newsday’s Ken Davidoff, Minaya’s inability to sign Zito (“a pitcher who would have cost them only money”) means the Mets have “officially taken a step back.”
Minaya, who should’ve won The Sporting News’ Executive of the Year award for 2006, deserves plenty of leeway, given what he has done in his first two years. But it’s fair to look at the Mets’ current pitching staff, scan the trade and free-agent markets, and wonder how they’re going to work their way back into the playoffs.
With Jeff Suppan off the board, Mets fans should feel better if the club can sign Jeff Weaver, who like Zito gives you innings and is represented by Scott Boras. Weaver is no Zito, however. As for trade options, to get a Brad Penny, Jon Garland or Dan Haren, the Mets would have to take away from the very stash of young pitchers to which they now point as an asset. And it’s not certain the price will drop.
Yes, the Mets won 97 games and made the NLCS last season, even though Pedro Martinez missed so much time. But it can’t be stressed enough how fluky 2006 was for the Mets. When you take a double-digit division lead by June, you can kick back, experiment and not sweat Martinez’s absences. There almost certainly won’t be such a cruise to October this next time around.
In which case you need people to get important outs for six months, not three. Tom Glavine, who turns 41 in March, now becomes the bona fide ace again. He hasn’t faced such expectations since the Art Howe days. Orlando Hernandez’s 162 1/3 innings pitched marked his highest total since 2000. Bank on a regression.
Though Davidoff’s points are well taken, let’s not lose sight of the enormity of what Brian Sabean has done. The Giants GM has elected to proffer the richest pact ever given to a pitcher to a lefty that’s won 20 games or more exactly once in his 7 year big league career. He’s committed $126 million over 7 years to a pitcher with an ERA of more than 4 runs a game over the last 3 seasons. I don’t think anyone will argue that Barry Zito is a quality pitcher that warranted a more lucrative deal than Gil Meche or Ted Lilly. But if Zito can command a contract of this size and length, what’s Carlos Zambrano going to be worth on the open market? Johan Santana? Dontrelle Willis?
The New York Sun’s John Hollinger hears Pat Riley’s cries for help and surmises, “it’s hard to fathom Kurt Hinrich as a danger to other players’ safety ” well, unless his barber is involved.”
Watch out Mardy Collins, there’s a new goon in town. He comes from the mean streets of Sioux City, Iowa, and doesn’t weigh 200 pounds soaking wet. But if you believe Pat Riley, this menace to society is going to claim another victim soon if he isn’t stopped.
“Hinrich pulled his hand. He does it all the time,” Riley told reporters afterward.”That’s what he does. Anytime Dwyane comes off screens, they will always grab his shirt or grab his hands. It’s a tactic down below the body ” the official can’t see it. He had Dwyane’s hand, and [when Wade] tried to pull it out of there, I think something happened.”
The footage of Wade’s injury has been replayed far and wide, and it is an innocuous-looking play. There was some hand fighting byWade and Hinrich away from the ball, and then Wade’s pulling up and grabbing his wrist at the top of the key. This kind of hand-to-hand combat goes on away from the ball all the time in the NBA game, particularly between wing players trying to get into position to receive passes.
Hearty congratulations are in order for the D-League’s Austin Toros, who earned their first win of the season with Thursday’s 96-85 decision over Sioux Falls. The Toros (1-12) were led by 24 points from former Georgia Tech G B.J. Elder, while Brock Gillespie — recovering from a miserable shooting performance Tuesday against L.A., sank 3 of his 5 three-point attempts. This victory puts Dennis Johnson’s side a mere 8 1/2 games behind Fort Worth in the race for the NBDL’s Eastern Division crown.
Crap protection for K-State’s Josh Freeman, 200+ yards on the ground for Rutgers’ duo of Ray Rice (above) and Brian Leonard (the vast majority to the ever-dependable Rice), and you’ve got an almost unwatchable, lopsided game that few persons in the New Brunswick area can see, thanks to the NFL Network’s clearance issues.
There’s no shortage of empty seats at Reliant this evening — perhaps the locals thought it was Mario Williams Appreciation Night.
How easily has Cal been moving the ball up and down the field against Texas A&M tonight? Peyton Manning is preparing his post game notes to he can call out the Aggies’ defense.
I know this is totally off-topic, but I saw the score of A&M’s hoops victory over Grambling State flash past on the ticker a few times today and had to make sure it wasn’t a mistake. Even George Karl thinks something is unseemly about this.