If Bert Parks Were Alive Today…

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 12:53 am by

….his browser history would probably feature something a little hotter than this.

Still, without sounding too judgemental, I think it’s amazing the lengths some women will go to in order to meet Rick Fox.

Because The Good Old “Welcome To NY : Now Fuck Off” Tee Isn’t For Everyone

Posted in Total Fucking Terror at 12:31 am by

The New York Times’ David Dunlap on the thorny matter of what exactly constitutes an appropriate souvenir from the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil.

Shoppers on the lookout for something new, unusual and uniquely New York will find plush 9/11 search-and-rescue puppies on sale opposite ground zero.

Yes, it is a child™s version of the dogs that were taken to the ruins of the World Trade Center after Sept. 11, 2001, to search for survivors. And human remains.

The 8-inch-tall doe-eyed puppies, which cost $11.95, wear blue T-shirts with two offset squares symbolizing the voids left by the twin towers.

œGrandparents and parents would come up to us afterwards, she Tribute Center director Lynn Tierney, œand say: ˜We™re so moved. Is there anything here that would help me start a dialogue with my children or grandchildren about 9/11?™ 

The puppies were a response to that demand, she said, and arrived about two weeks ago. œThey™re really popular, Ms. Tierney said. œPeople recognize immediately that we™re paying homage to a critical part of the story.

In fact, she said, her 7-year-old niece in Sturbridge, Mass., is getting a puppy for Christmas. (Publishing this information, she added, would not spoil the girl™s surprise because she did not read The New York Times.)

That’s a sweet note to end on, especially as I don’t believe the anatomically-correct Rudy Giuliani doll is appropriate to a 7-year old. Still, I can’t resist : if there are any touristas from Main Street, USA who are having a tough time “starting a dialogue” with their offspring about the horrors of 9/11, perhaps a handheld video game would be the perfect ice-breaker?


Yahoo’s Peter : Cowboy Lawyer Was The BALCO Leak

Posted in Baseball, The Law at 11:46 pm by

As Reggie Bush knows all too well, the folks at Yahoo Sports are becoming serious entrants in the snoop-stakes. From Yahoo’s Josh Peter.

The FBI has targeted a defense attorney for leaking confidential grand jury information linking Barry Bonds and other world-class athletes to alleged steroid use.

The defense attorney, Troy Ellerman (above), has been the subject of an FBI investigation, according to Larry McCormack, a former private investigator who worked on the BALCO federal steroids case and who said he was a co-tenant in an office with Ellerman in Sacramento, Calif., where they worked together on cases, at the time of the alleged leaks. Other sources have said they were interviewed by the FBI.

McCormack, who said he did investigative work on behalf of BALCO founder Victor Conte Jr. in the early stages of the case, said he told the FBI that Ellerman relayed confidential grand jury information to a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle in 2004.

“I felt it was wrong,” McCormack said of the leaks during a recent interview. “I said it was wrong from the get-go.”

Michael Rains, the attorney representing Bonds, said he doesn’t believe Ellerman leaked grand jury information or transcripts in part because, according to Rains, Ellerman would not have had access to some of the information that was reported by the Chronicle in 2005.

“I find that hard to believe to begin with, that Troy would do that,” Rains said Wednesday. “But obviously I don’t know the man very well, and the first time I met him was in connection with this case.

“I’ve always thought it was people within the government that have leaked this stuff ,and I still believe it.”

McCormack, recently fired from an organization that Ellerman leads, said that he spoke with the FBI about three months ago on the advice of an attorney, told the federal agents what he knew about the alleged leaks and cooperated with the subsequent investigation. McCormack said FBI agents met with Ellerman on Dec. 13 and later told McCormack that the investigation is complete and everything came out fine but disclosed little else.

McCormack said he agreed to talk to Yahoo! Sports because he was concerned about his own reputation in the rodeo industry and fears that he will be seen simply as disgruntled over his dismissal from a job Ellerman got him with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

Panic In Plano Over Bogus MySpace Profile

Posted in Baseball, Free Expression, Technical Difficulties at 10:08 pm by

From the Plano Courier Star’s Kevin Hageland. (link courtesy Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

Although MySpace is often used as a means of social networking, the popular website is now at the center of a controversy that has resulted in the dismissal of at least two players from the Plano Senior High School baseball team.

Seniors Brandon Shaw (above) and Colin Hatzmann were dismissed from the Wildcats Tuesday afternoon in connection with comments made on MySpace.

Shaw said a fraudulent profile for Plano head baseball coach David Allen was created four-to-six months ago, where various players would leave comments about the team and more specifically, the coach.

œI™m not going to lie, some of the comments were kind of mean, Shaw said. œBut we weren™t trying to be hurtful, it was just a spoof. The things we were doing were all in fun.”

(Windows Media Player video footage from WFAA.com)

A tip of the cap to Shaw and Hatzman (above, right) on a gag well played. Though it should be stressed, there’s a right way and a wrong way to make someone look dopey with a fake MySpace profile. For instance, whoever is responsible for this one did just enough to make someone think it was for real.

On the other hand, this profile strikes me as unusually cruel, even by juvenille standards, and I’m really surprised the target of said prank hasn’t used his considerable Ivy League connections to have the page removed. The thing about effective satire is that it has to maintain the slightest shred of believability, and there’s little chance anyone is going to fall for this one. Even if you went out of your way to invent the most uninteresting, self-obsessed schmuck imaginable, you’d probably come up with a more appealing character than this imposter.

All of that said, I do realize that not everyone can possess a super cool profile, and my New Year’s Resolution for 2007 will be to spend less time editing mine.

On Race & Reason With J.A. Adande

Posted in Basketball, Racism Corner at 5:30 pm by

(Steve Francis, left, shown with Bill Bellamy, star of 1997′s Palme d’or winning, “Def Jam’s ‘How To Be A Player’”. Neither are allowed to have much to say, being, y’know, entertainers.)

As the fallout from the Nuggets/Knicks brawl at MSG continues to dominate the papers and airwaves, the LA Times’ J.A Adande has emerged as a rare voice of reason amidst the bombast, suggesting that both the media and the Association’s reactions confirmed that “the sight of black players attacking white fans had undeniable racial reverberations.”

there will always be racial components when you’re dealing with a league in which more than 70% of the players are African American. But it’s not that simple in this case. The NFL has a similar proportion of African American players (66% last year, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport), and almost all of the notable misdeeds, right down to the stomp on a helmet-less head by Tennessee’s Albert Haynesworth ” have been committed by African Americans.

Somehow NFL players have received the status normally reserved for white people in America: the right to be judged individually, not collectively. After Timothy McVeigh blew up that building in Oklahoma City, security guards didn’t cast a suspicious eye on every white man driving past a federal building. But ask any person of Middle Eastern descent how hard it was for them to board an airplane after Sept. 11.

In Tuesday’s Times, Adande quoted the Knicks’ Stevie Franchise, who made the mild observation “because there are more black players in the NBA, it’s under the microscope more than baseball or hockey.” There’s at least one self styled expert on racial matters who’d have you believe Francis is precluded from having an opinion because he’s lost his shooting touch. Meanwhile, in his LA Times blog, Adande contends with some equally thoughtful characters.

“I am apalled by the race card he plays. First, let’s be clear, I am a white guy. So if you need to take my remarks from the ‘white guy’ perspective, so be it. I believe you to be a pretty objective guy, so I don’t think you’ll lean towards the race card.

Francis race card comments are totally flawed, irresponsible, and cause me (and probably many other fans) to be less interested in seeing NBA games. What an idiot! He should get a suspension for those comments. However, it’s not a crime to be stupid, so I guess Stern will just have to shake his head on this and know that idiots play in the NBA.

I sure miss the good ol’ days of the 70′s and early 80′s when the NBA players seemed far more passionate about playing and winning than sissy fighting and making racial comments.”

I think Francis has made some dumb statements in the past (my most memorable is when he told me: only read magazines when I’m on the cover”), but he’s well within reason this time. It’s perfectly natural to wonder why basketball players are condemned for fighting when it’s seen as a natural part of the sport in other leagues. And it’s also inaccurate to believe there are more fights now than there were in the 1980s and 1970s.

“Your column is one of the worst columns I have ever read. Do you really believe that had white players been fighting (and I could not tell you if there were any whites – I only saw men fighting) there would be no reaction? Or that if a black was lost on Mount Hood, there would be no coverage? You mark yourself as a racial bigot.”

If a black what was lost on Mt. Hood? A black goat? Then there’d be no reaction. And black people go missing all the time; you just don’t see hours of television devoted to it.

The New York Times’ George Vescey weighed in earlier today on the the matter of whether or not the modern NBA is any more or less violent than the old school

Saturday™s brawl, which reminded me of battles I witnessed decades ago, sometimes at the œold Garden and sometimes at the 69th Regiment Armory, a dismal barn over on the East Side.

One constant was fisticuffs ” the wild flailing of elbows, guys in tight little shorts poleaxing each other for the sheer fun of it. The league was smaller then, and teams played each other over and over again, with enough frequency to exacerbate hard feelings.

There was no such thing as œhard fouls or œprofessional fouls. Pat Riley had not invented the concept of the Inner Clothesliner. Men just walloped each other: œThat™s for what you did to me last week in Fort Wayne.

In my mind™s eye, the Knicks are always playing the Syracuse Nationals on Saturday afternoon, circa 1953. Syracuse™s resident tough guy was Wally Osterkorn (above), a nasty-looking dude with dark sideburns, long before Elvis and the Fonz made sideburns effetely stylish. Known as the Ox to Syracuse fans, Osterkorn later did four years for burglary before admirably straightening out his life.

In a 1995 interview with The Post-Standard of Syracuse, Osterkorn recalled how he used to harass Bob Cousy: œHey, Bob! C™mon down the lane! I™ve got something for you!

And some people thought Isiah Thomas invented the tactic of deciding who should go down the middle and who should not.

Caught In A Mosh

Posted in Total Fucking Terror at 3:16 pm by

From the East Arizona Courier’s Jon Johnson. (link taken from Boing Boing)

(noted New York Yankee fan Scott Ian sends his holiday best wishes to the CSTB readership)

Safford Police were called to the city’s garbage truck yard to investigate a white powdery substance to make sure it was not poisonous.

Garbage truck driver Marty Solberg said he had seen the substance fall out of his truck when he emptied it at the dump. Solberg was concerned because earlier he had seen the word “Anthrax” written on the side of a Dumpster at the entrance to Discovery Park.

Police secured the garbage truck and called Graham County bioterrorism coordinator Brian Douglas to the scene.

Douglas took a sample of the substance that was still inside the truck to be tested.

As Douglas was collecting the sample, officers were busy locating the source of the substance. Officers were then informed by the EAC Security that two empty flour bags were found in the Discovery Park Dumpster. EAC Security also noticed the words “AC/DC” and “Iron Maiden” written on the back of the Dumpster.

“We didn’t get the connection with ‘Anthrax’ the band at first,” Douglas said. “The other band names were on the back and not on the same side as the Anthrax one was.”

Even after discovery of the flour bags and the realization that the Anthrax scrawled on the garbage dumpster was most likely in relation to the band, Douglas decided to err on the side of caution.

“We decided to get our ducks in a row, he said. “It went from an emergency to a nonemergency, but we decided to test it anyway.

Clearly, they’ve got a serious problem in Safford. It sounds like this dumpster’s been sitting around unattended for twenty years.
With the above tale in mind, I’ve wondered how many times Biohazard had difficulty getting anyone to deliver food or drinks to their dressing room.

If Purveyors Of Horrible Music Can Be Deported…

Posted in politics, The World Of Entertainment at 1:25 pm by

….why isn’t the Home Office doing anything about Razorlight? Leave it to the Independent’s Ben Russell to ignore this burning question.

The Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik (above) faces fresh embarrassment over his relationship with the Cheeky Girl singer Gabriela Irimia after it emerged that he helped her campaign to avoid deportation.

The Liberal Democrat frontbencher spoke to the Immigration minister, Liam Byrne, and asked a Labour MP to help the 24-year-old avoid being returned to her native Romania.

His intervention is revealed just days after Mr Opik’s former fiancée, the ITV weather presenter Sian Lloyd, publicly broke off their six-year relationship citing his affair with the singer.

The Cheeky Girls, Gabriela Irimia and her twin sister Monica, have worked in Britain since 2001, but were reported to have been threatened with deportation in August. The duo have recorded a series of singles, including the hit “Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum)”; “Hooray Hooray (It’s a Cheeky Holiday)”; “Take Your Shoes Off” and “Have a Cheeky Christmas”.

Mr Opik, the party’s Northern Ireland spokesman, was a staunch supporter of the party’s former leader, Charles Kennedy, and was the only public backer of Mark Oaten’s abortive leadership campaign.

Senior Liberal Democrats confirmed yesterday that Mr Opik, 41, who met Gabriela at Channel Five’s All-Star Talent Show two months ago, had intervened in the case but said he had “acted with total propriety”. A party spokesman said: “He passed on information about their immigration status to the MP who covers their constituency, Michael J Foster.

Athens : Inside/Out

Posted in Basketball, The Law, When Mascots Attack at 12:58 pm by

If only the late, great Laura Carter had been working security, this sort of thing would’ve never happened.  From the Augusta Chronicle’s Rebecca K. Quigley.

University of Georgia hoopsters pounded the Jacksonville Dolphins Tuesday night, but mascots Hairy Dawg (above) and Spike got an unprovoked beating of their own from a pair of drunken high-schoolers at the game as guests of a UGA student.Immediately after the halftime show, thousands of fans at Stegeman Coliseum saw the teens run from their seats to the court floor and, according to a UGA police report, “attack two University of Georgia mascots.”

UGA students Tyler Martin, dressed as Spike, and William “Trey” Dunn, dressed as Hairy Dawg, were knocked to the hardwood floor, but not before the tangle of teens and mascots took down three young girls who had just finished performing in the halftime show.

A UGA police officer working security at the game separated the 18-year-olds from the pile and said they smelled of alcohol and were carrying small knives. Breathalyzer tests showed both had 0.12 percent blood-alcohol levels, well above the 0.08 level at which a driver is presumed to be drunk.

Police arrested Charlie Taylor Douglas of Reynolds and Richard Alexander Perry of Fort Valley on charges of battery, reckless conduct, underage possession of alcohol, public drunkenness and carrying a weapon on school property.

Isiah To Cowardly New Yorkers : Say It To My Face

Posted in Basketball at 12:37 pm by

If the New York Post’s Marc Berman is going to solicit advice for Isiah Thomas from everyone the Knicks Prez/coach has kissed, why doesn’t Anucha Browne Sanders warrant a phone call?

“He has to understand he can’t do what got him to be the best as a player, one of the best small men whose ever played the game,” Magic Johnson told The Post in a phone interview from St. Thomas, where he is vacationing. “He’s not just the coach. He’s also the president of basketball operations. He’s looked upon as both. I think there’s a line he has to see, and say, ‘Can I cross this line in getting into confrontations with these players and these coaches?’

“He’s wearing two hats,” Johnson added. “It’s difficult for him. Being tough is what got him to be the best because he never backed down from anyone. He’s always been a tough guy and that’s what made him a Hall of Famer. He’s got to say, ‘I’m not playing anymore. I am the president. I am the coach, but I do want my winning personality to rub off on the guys and some of that toughness,’ all the things that made Isiah great.”

Thomas was combative yesterday when asked how he’s been received on the street the past few days.

“I’ve had a lot of nice things said to me, no one’s had the courage to come up to my face and say anything what you guys have written,” Thomas said.

On hand for the Knicks’ loony double OT win over Charlotte last night, the Journal News’ Mike Dougherty takes issue with the MSG A/V Department.

Every time Michael Jordan shows up at Madison Square Garden, some lowly intern has to pull the infamous John Starks dunk so it can be replayed on the big screens. Don™t they have worthwhile footage, say of the Knicks sending Jordan home for a long summer? Guess not.

I don’t want to tell David Stern how to do his job, but can the Daily News’ Frank Isola be suspended for threatening a player?

Let me be the first to issue a warning to Andre Miller, who is going from Denver to Philadelphia: When the Knicks play the Sixers on Saturday he better not go anywhere near the paint if the Knicks are losing. Because that would be rubbing it in the faces of the poor, fragile Knicks.

Don’t Tom Hicks’ Contributions To Baseball Mean Anything?

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 11:32 am by

I’m still rooting for Gary Carter to become the first white manager.

Inept Franchise, Recording Artist, Together At Last?

Posted in Baseball, The World Of Entertainment at 11:20 am by

I know it’s the height of baseball’s silly season, but when your headlines start reading like those of The Onion, maybe it’s time for a new editor. No, Fran Spielman’s piece in today’s Chicago Sun-Times, Cubs Woo Dave Matthews Despite Poo, is neither:

a) a report on Jim Hendry’s $75mil/6 offer for a new shortstop;

b) evidence that even sports reporters think Matthews’s music is shit;

or c) very interesting at all.

Rather, it’s an excuse to shoehorn a reference to our beloved DMB’s sordid past while reminding us that as long as teams are forced to abide by MLB’s dictatorial revenue-sharing policies, everyone suffers:

After committing nearly $300 million to free agents this winter, the Cubs are more desperate than ever for cash not subject to Major League Baseball’s revenue-sharing edict.

Enter the Dave Matthews Band, whose bus driver unloaded 800 pounds of human waste on a tour boat passing under the Kinzie Street bridge in 2004.

The Cubs are asking City Hall for permission to hold their second pair of outdoor concerts in two years — this time starring Matthews on the weekend that follows July Fourth.

For every dollar the Cubs earn on game days, 34 cents must be shared with other teams. For every dollar raked in at a concert, the Cubs get to keep 100 percent.Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said he’s “not ready to give approval yet,” in part because there’s “more work to do on neighborhood protections, greater police presence and who the artist is.”

Longhorns Win The SWC Reunion

Posted in Basketball at 2:39 am by

Texas 80, Arkansas 76

Since it doesn’t appear as though anybody wants to be Colt McCoy’s understudy, this was an awesome result for the local university’s athletic department (still coping from the bombshell revelation that one of their touristy season ticket holders likes kitty kats).  After beating LSU in Houston earlier this month, Texas’ last second defeat of the Razorbacks has the hosts sporting a 2-0 record against the SEC going into this Saturday’s trip to Knoxville.  Kevin Durant was beating himself up on the postgame show about some foul shots he missed in the 4th quarter, but were it not for his 28 points and 13 rebounds, Texas would have easily lost their 3rd game of the year.

There were more lead changes in the 2nd half than I bothered to calculate, and while Durant was double teamed in the low post pretty often, guards A.J. Abrams and D.J. Augustin were efficient from long range, connecting for 6 three-pointers between them.  Rick Barnes credited Connor Atchley with the finest game of his collegiate career, and while Atchley’s line wasn’t a work of art (26 minutes, 7 points, 1 rebound, fouled out) his 4 blocks were bigger than Val Kilmer’s sense of entitlement.

St. John’s suspended C Aaron Spears on Wednesday for the wonderfully vague “violaton of team rules.”  I wasn’t aware Norm Roberts had a rule against sharing the same name as Usher’s drummer, but like Ryne Sandberg, I supposed Roberts is trying to draw the line somewhere.

No (half-assesed) summary of Wednesday’s college hoops would be complete without acknowledging the tremendous job Washington did keeping Big Baby in check.  Finally, the Huskies should be able to emerge from the stigma of being associated with Nate Robinson.

David Lee Has A Tip(-in) For The Clock Operator

Posted in Basketball at 1:09 am by

Knicks 111, Bobcats 109

Perhaps the only thing less likely than the undermanned Knickerbockers beating the team with the NBA’s 2nd best record in OT on Monday was tonight’s double OT thriller against the lowly Bobcats. Not only did New York erase a 17 point halftime deficit (and survive a brutal shooting night by Stephon Marbury), but the frontline of Eddy Curry (29 points, 9 rebounds), Channing Frye (30 points) and David Lee (a ridiculous 19 rebounds) showed uncharacteristic poise and toughness. David Lee’s game winning tip-in from a Jamal Crawford inbounds pass with 0.10 seconds remaining has to rank up there with Trent Tucker’s 3 pointer on Martin Luther King Day, or Larry Johnson’s 4 point play against Indy in the ’99 playoffs on the scale of Knicks’ can-you-believe-it moments.

If you’re near a TV this morning, one of the best shots on the highlight shows displays Knicks fans giving Michael Jordan some grief (good naturedly, I’ll assume) after Lee’s bucket. One of the worst shots from the same highlight programs has Ahmad Rashad sitting next to MJ.  Can’t win ‘em all.

I’ll throw this question out to anyone up this late who cares to answer it : New York had 8 bodies available Wednesday (9 if you count Jerome James). With Quentin Richardson and Stevie Franchise injured, Collins, Jefferies and Robinson suspended, what is preventing Isiah Thomas from signing someone (perhaps Tulsa’s Cheyne Gadson, currently averaging better than 20 PPG in the D-League) to a 10 day contract?

New Jersey’s 113-111 decision over Cleveland maintained the Nets’ 1 and a half game advantage over the Knicks in the Atlantic Division.  If you thought that was funny, well, that’s how I intended it.  If it struck you as a dull recitation of a basic fact, well, you’re right,  too.  Vince Carter (38 points) won the duel with LeBron (37), though both players went to the line so many times, you’d have thought there was a mandate about protecting superstars or something.  VC hit a pair of free throws and made a key steal in the final seconds, but please, don’t put Grandma on the phone.

Dallas’ 103-95 win at Seattle might prove costly, and not just because Avery Johnson forgot the words to the Dehumanizers’ “Kill Lou Guzzo” on the bus ride to Key Arena. Chris Wilcox landed on his Dirkness’ right ankle during the first quarter trying to pull down a rebound, while the Sonics’ Rashard Lewis injured a tendon in his right index finger moments earlier after his hand was stuck in the net attempting to block a shot.

While Allen Iverson sat out tonight’s cancelled Suns/Nuggets tilt by giving Stephen A. Smith one final scoop (ie. claiming he’d never asked for a trade), Rep. Chakka Fattah (R) of Pennsylvania’s 2nd Congressional District is keenly focused on the most issues most important to his constituency.

Rodman Still Trying To Make News

Posted in Basketball at 1:00 am by

(desperate for publicity while offering nothing of enduring value. On the right, Dennis Rodman)

In a story you (hopefully) won’t read in any self-respecting newspaper sports section, Dennis Rodman and his Bad Boy All-Star team (no, seriously) are taking on the Harlem Globetrotters on Feb. 17 in Las Vegas, which happens to coincide with the NBA All-Star weekend, also in Vegas.

From Harlem Globetrotters website (no, seriously, they have a website):

That afternoon, basketball history will be made in Las Vegas when the Ambassadors of Goodwill meet and play a spirited and competitive basketball game against Dennis Rodman and his Bad Boy All-Star team. Never have these amazing athletes met on the court for championship competitive play. The game between the Globetrotters and the unpredictable, record-setting and championship winning Rodman will be recorded as one of the greatest and very likely the most unusual basketball events of all-time.

Did the Globetrotters PR flacks not witness the Nuggets-Knicks?


This Is Not A Picture Of Jim Thome

Posted in Baseball, The Law at 7:46 pm by

From the Chicago Tribune’s Dave Wischnowsky.

A Chicago man faces identity theft charges after the pilfered financial records of dozens of Major League Baseball players, including Jim Thome, Moises Alou and Pedro Martinez, were discovered tucked away inside his North Side apartment.

David Dright, 38, of the1500 block of West Chicago Avenue, plucked discarded”and unshredded”loan applications, tax returns and other documents from a dumpster near the offices of SFX Baseball of Northbrook, which negotiates contracts for professional baseball players, according to Assistant Lake County State’s Atty. Joe Fusz.

It’s unclear why the documents would have been discarded without having been shredded first, as suggested by the Federal Trade Commission.

SFX’s website cites the following :

SFX Baseball provides our clients the following services:

Negotiation of Baseball Contracts (including winter ball, where appropriate)
Representation in Salary Arbitration
Development and Updating of a Budget and Financial Plan
Preparation of All Tax Returns
Negotiation of Off-field Contracts, Including Product Endorsements & Appearances
Day-to-Day Personal & Financial Assistance

No mention of paper shredding, however. Presumably, a higher commission is required for that.

Don’t Call It A Wally Comebackman, He’s Been Here For Years

Posted in Baseball at 6:40 pm by

From the AP :

Two years after he was fired by the Arizona Diamondbacks just four days following his hiring, Backman was announced Wednesday as manager of the South Georgia Peanuts in the independent South Coast League.

Though the six-team South Coast League is a long way from the Major Leagues, Backman said he is grateful for the opportunity.”I’m very excited to be back in baseball,” he said. “I can’t even begin to tell you how much I missed the game.”

No word yet on Bernard Kerik’s chances of being named the Peanuts’ third base coach.

Either the Mets are playing it coy on the Mark Loretta front, haven’t read that Julio Lugo signed with the Red Sox or are prepared to have Jose Valentin play 140 + games at 2B in 2007. Marcus Giles signed with San Diego yesterday, affording Bob Timmerman the opportunity to recall…the “Fright Night” soundtrack?

I do realize the Mets have Damion Easley under contract, but I remain concerned about all the quality second baseman who are quickly signing up elsewhere. Wally Backman, for instance.

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal
suggests an approach to Jeff Suppan represents the Mets’ Plan B if Barry Zito signs with one of his other suitors.

The Giants and Pirates also remain interested in signing Suppan. The Pirates, however, are not expected to be competitive if Suppan’s price rises to his desired level, which one interested general manager says is $44 million over four years.

Mara Kin : Just Ballin’

Posted in Gridiron at 4:45 pm by

(Jim Jones : suddenly, all the rage on Wall Street)

From the New York Post’s Kate Sheehy and Bill Hoffman.

The son of the legendary late Giants owner Wellington Mara tackled and choked a fellow broker on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange yesterday after the man mocked the team, sources said.Veteran floor trader Bob Tomasulo, a 57-year-old grandfather, was assaulted and barraged with obscenities in front of stunned co-workers after kidding with Stephen Mara about the Giants’ embarrassing 36-22 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, witnesses and Tomasulo told The Post.

“Mara started screaming, ‘I’m gonna f- – -ing kill you! Don’t f- – - around with my family! Don’t insult my family!’ ” one broker said.

“Bob was like, ‘Hey, what is your problem? It’s just a game!’ And Mara yells, ‘No, it’s not just a game, it’s my f- – -ing family!’ “

Tomasulo said the bizarre broker brouhaha broke out at around 10:30 a.m., after he walked past Mara and pretended to do a basketball jump shot, mocking the celebratory on-field routine performed by Big Blue players after touchdowns and sacks.

Tomasulo, an Eagle fan, said that he and Mara, 47, had enjoyed a friendly sports rivalry for years and that last week, the son of the former Giants owner kiddingly told him, “We’re gonna kick your guys’ you-know-what.”

“I said, ‘Yeah, probably,’ ” Tomasulo recalled.

“[Yesterday] morning, I just did that stupid little jump shot, and I said, ‘Maybe you have a basketball team instead of a football team.’

“[Mara] just snapped. He charged me like an animal. He charged me like he wanted to sack me.

“At first, he got me in a bear hug and bent me over a trading post. At first, I thought it was a joke. Then he proceeded to choke me. I passed out for a minute.”

“The doctors told me I have a bruised larynx. My blood pressure spiked to 260 over 140,” said Tomasulo, adding that he was treated by NYSE medical staffers.

Eventually, however, Mara did release Tomasulo from his grip, claiming he was afraid he’d be charged with roughing the passer.

Haven’t These Kids Suffered Enough?

Posted in Basketball at 3:05 pm by

Does this really look like the sort of guy who’d warn Carmelo Anthony not to go into the paint?

Still, the shot blocking demonstration is pretty hardcore. Supposedly Mark Aguirre has forced Eddy Curry to watch this video 300 times in an effort to improve the latter’s toughness.

Lenny Dykstra, Romantic

Posted in Baseball, non-sporting journalism, The Marketplace at 2:53 pm by

While there’s hardly anything novel about another article explaining that yes, Lenny Dykstra is a self-styled investment expert, you can count on most of them to uncover a quality Nails quote or two.  “An ex-ball player slides into stocks” by Fortune’s Pat Jordan, is no exception. (link taken from Always Amazin’)

When I mentioned to one of his former teammates that Nails was a stock guru, he laughed and said, “Would you give Lenny your money to invest?” But the Dude may have the last laugh. He claims his total net worth is close to $50 million from his businesses and investments combined.

The next morning, the Dude is in his hotel room trading on his three computers while watching Bloomberg TV, talking to his broker and explaining his other holdings. He owns several Castrol Quick Lube centers, a landscaping business and a property development company.

Real estate has always been very, very good to Dykstra even when the market wasn’t. Since his playing days, he has understood the importance of a good location. He bought his first car wash for $1 million in 1995, and it is currently in escrow for $11 million.

“That’s why they call it real estate, dude, because it’s real.
I’d go down to the city and ask about the future of an area – what’s coming here, when? I looked up this one parcel owned by a little old lady in Corona. She paid $43,000 for it forever ago. I had this big sweepstakes check made up, put $1 million on it, and knocked on her door. I thought she’d have a heart attack. I paid her the million for 2½ acres, subdivided it, built a car wash, a Conoco fueling center, and then sold it,” he says. All righty, then.

The Dude’s next move is putting together an annuity of his own, which he calls the Player’s Club. “Guys are done playing at 35,” he says, “and there’s nothing worse than to make a man change his lifestyle. When that money’s flying in, they don’t think about paying the bills when they get older, ’cause they never been 35 and outta work. If you don’t have cash coming in, you either gotta change your lifestyle drastically or go broke. You can’t pay for the big house with the big lawn and the big driveway. The wife says, ‘What happened, honey?’ What’re you gonna tell her? Get a job? She’s gotta take care of the kids.”

The Dude grabs a piece of paper and a pen and begins scribbling. On one side of the paper he writes “Paycheck” and “$3,000,000.” On the other side he writes “Monthly Expense $100,000.” Figure in taxes, and “in 12 months it’s gone,” he says. He slashes at the paper as if drawing an explosion. Then he writes next to the explosion in huge letters: “Divorce.”

The Philly Curse

Posted in Basketball at 1:34 pm by

“The worst thing is, just reading, looking at the newspapers, you see terrorism on the front page, then you see all the deaths in Philadelphia on the local page and all that negativity, then you get to the sports page, and when there’s supposed to be something gratifying, you see even more negativity. You see the Donovan [McNabb] thing, then you see T.O. [Terrell Owens], then you see the trade talks with me. The whole paper is like a book, ‘Tales Of The Dark Side.’ That’s just the way it is here. I realize it. I understand it’s going to be like that. If I’m here next year, if I’m here the year after, it’s always going to be negativity.” – Allen Iverson, Philadelphia Daily News (Phil Jasner), February 3, 2006.

And with A.I. providing his own intro (above), we’ll move on to the Inquirer’s Phil Sheridan, providing a roll call of Philly sporting giants leaving town in their prime.

The parade has a new grand marshal. Unfortunately, it’s not the parade Philadelphia has been waiting for since 1983. This parade – the one that sees our greatest players marching out of town – is perhaps the main reason we haven’t had that other parade.

There go Reggie White and Randall Cunningham, on the Eagles’ float.

Charles Barkley sits in the back of one convertible, laughing. Eric Lindros rides in the next, scowling.

Curt Schilling and Scott Rolen wave from Baseball Heaven, the World Series rings catching the sun.

Oh, and look! The old-timers, Wilt Chamberlain and Dick Allen, are in that vintage Thunderbird.

Finally, there goes Iverson – A.I., The Answer, Bubba Chuck, the Little Guy – as the marching band plays “Thanks for the Memories.”

Every city watches top players leave. That’s part of sports in the modern era, with free agency and salary caps and the fading of that value we used to call loyalty. But there can’t be any city, anywhere, that has seen such high-caliber players leave under such painful and controversial circumstances.

We’re talking about Hall of Famers here, or players who will warrant serious consideration. We’re talking franchise players who, for whatever reason, can no longer coexist with their franchises.

The details differ, but the answer is always similar. The root causes for the continual departure of top players and the ongoing failure to win championships are basically the same. The teams find and acquire these superior players, but never put together the right combination of talent, coaching and chemistry to win a title.

Some Iverson career highlights on YouTube — be sure to read the comments about the choice of musical accompaniment.

The Sports Network’s Warren Blatt recites the usual littany of reasons why this deal “won’t get the Nuggets over the hump” (ie. Iverson “comes with baggage” and, point taken, it isn’t as though Dallas, Phoenix or San Antonio have gotten any worse in the last 24 hours), while ESPN.com’s Marc Stein quotes unnamed Sixers as saying “outsiders can’t understand how difficult it is to play with a guard who wants the ball for 15 to 16 seconds every possession.” Not unless they’ve played with Stephon Marbury, that is.

True Hoop’s Henry Abbott, while acknowledging Iverson’s night owl tendencies will drive others to despair (“Does he stay out late? Indeed, there’s a boatload of evidence. Oh to be omnipotent and be able to provide you with the list of professional athletes who share that trait.”), deftly sums up why George Karl, Rex Chapman and their luxury taxed owner made this fateful move.

Do you understand the kind of heart it takes for a 160-pound man to scare NBA players?

You know those glow sticks they give little kids on Halloween? With the neon goo inside? Where you and I have blood, Iverson has that glowing stuff pumping through him. He’s just on fire, all the time. If you could spread that magical juice throughout your roster, you’d win the title every year–talent and size be damned.

Knott Now, No Way : Moonie Rag’s ‘Melo Mugging

Posted in Basketball, Racism Corner at 12:28 pm by

Congratulations to the publishers of the Washington Times.  In the form of Tom Knott, they’re employing a practicioner of hate fuckery so unabashed, he makes Gerry Callahan come off like a thoughtful person.

Carmelo Anthony is the wannabe bad man from West Baltimore who was last seen backpedaling on the Madison Square Garden floor after sucker-punching Mardy Collins.

“Stop backpedaling” could be the title of the next underground DVD in which he appears, so named after his successful debut in the 2004 DVD called “Stop Snitching.”

The basic premise of “Stop Snitching” is not to finger the friendly neighborhood drug dealer who sometimes has to kill people.

If that is the principle, then we all should pack handguns and kill each other with impunity.

Maybe we should endeavor to become a snitch-free country and kill, kill, kill.

For now, nobody likes a snitch in Anthony’s old neighborhood, so aptly romanticized by the milquetoast gas bags who came up with “The Wire” on HBO. Theirs is a portrait of the Wild West in urban America, of desperados who wear baggy clothes instead of cowboy hats and boots, of pathologies that result in dying young.

Perhaps Anthony felt naked without a “piece,” or just confused by his competing worlds, because you do not backpedal after cold-cocking someone who never saw the punch being delivered.

He is a long way from the streets of Baltimore, and it is doubtful the streets he once knew would want him back in backpedaling mode.

In Knott’s defense, at least he’s able to juggle a secret blogging sideline with the paying gig, which is more than some of us can claim.

The Post’s Mike Morrissey Graciously Aids Texas’ Zito Recruitment

Posted in Baseball at 10:10 am by

(washed up, not worth a huge investment. On the left, Barry Zito)

While the New York papers are crammed with items discussing the Mets’ meeting with Barry Zito and Scott Boras yesterday (the New York Daily News’ Adam Rubin, the Times’ Ben Shpigel, Newsday’s Ken Davidoff — tipping the Giants to make a sizeable offer) leave it to the New York Post’s Michael Morrissey to crank up the smear machine before Zito’s even tried on a Mets cap.

“I don’t know if he cuts it in New York,” one insider who knows Zito flatly told The Post.

“I think he’s slipped,” one major-league scout told The Post. “The last two times I’ve seen him the last couple years, he wasn’t on at all. He struggled getting his breaking ball over for strikes, and when he does that, he’s in trouble. He can’t get by on a power arm.”

The scout allowed that Zito might not be slipping, per se, but at the very least he’s getting by with less exertion, getting by because he knows how to pitch. And that could be the cumulative effect of his workload.

Zito is a workhorse, first in the American League in starts in four of his six full years. He has thrown at least 213 innings every year since 2001. Whether he can go another five or six years without a serious injury is what the Mets and Rangers must factor into the equation.

Asked whether they would give Zito a six-year deal, both a major-league scout and a major-league GM guessed they wouldn’t. If the Mets don’t offer a sixth year, it could prevent a deal from getting done.

“Can you think of a guy who’s gone a six-year period without being hurt?” the scout said. “There’s not a ton of guys.”

The doubts about Zito’s ability will linger. The person who doesn’t know if Zito can cut it in the Big Apple wonders if his laid-back personality is simply a bad fit in a Type A city. And that won’t be known unless and until Zito takes the mound as a Met.

Ingle On Football Italia’s Swan Song

Posted in Football, Sports TV at 9:33 am by

Serie A’s charms were once on full display on terrestrial UK television, but as satellite and cable have brought an overflow of Premiership, Football League and La Liga action into the homes of the soccer addicted, British interest in the Italian game has waned, writes the Guardian’s Sean Ingle.

On Saturday afternoon, after Internazionale’s Serie A match against Atalanta has been untangled and dissected, James Richardson will face Bravo’s TV cameras, smile, and utter one final arrivederci. Then, with a flick of an editor’s switch, 14 years of Football Italia will come to an end.

Few will witness its last rites – these days it struggles to pull in 20,000 viewers – but a great many will mourn its passing, and the absence of Richardson (above) from our screens. Anyone who resists football’s twin turkey twizzlers, cliché and monosyllable, as he does, should be commended; anyone who can make David Platt and Paul Elliott sound interesting (surely the TV presenter’s equivalent of the philosopher’s stone) deserves a knighthood. Instead Richardson – who by rights should be a well-cultivated moustache away from being the next Des Lynam – is twiddling his thumbs and wondering what might have been.

It was all so different in 1992 when three million tuned in for Channel 4′s first Serie A match, a this-way-and-that 3-3 between Sampdoria and Lazio. In those early years viewing figures were buoyant, helped by Paul Gascoigne, Des Walker, Platt and Paul Ince chasing the lira, as well as the lack of competition from domestic TV. With Sky having poached the rights to England’s top flight, Channel 4 was up against ITV’s piecemeal coverage of the old Second Division. Serie A offered San Siro glamour; ITV had Grimsby.

Channel 4 had another trick up its sleeve: Gazzetta Football Italia, a show that proved that intelligence and irrelevance were not magnetic opposites. When Richardson was not translating newspapers between slurps of his morning cappuccino on the Piazza Rotunda, or dismantling a five-storey ice-cream on the Piazza Navona – iconic images of Rome to rival Fellini – he was interviewing Roberto Baggio or Marcello Lippi, or persuading Platt to dress up as the Terminator. Once, famously, he got Attilio Lombardo to do the lambada.

“Almost every player has treated me graciously,” says Richardson. “I guess being English helped. Whenever there was a delay in getting an interview I would tell them that I had to catch a flight back to London; that always did the trick. Only Didier Deschamps and Alen Boksic asked for money; everyone else was very generous with their time.”

Now with Juventus in Serie B, Milan scratching around in the bottom half of Serie A and the calciopoli scandal still hanging queasily in the air, Bravo has decided to pull out. They are unlikely to be back: probably only the sight of David Beckham in a Milan shirt in January would make them change their minds. It all boils down to cold, hard economics: Bravo staples like Das Crazy Sex Show cost less to make and attract higher audiences. But sources close to the show continue to lament the lack of marketing and publicity. When Bravo’s website carries no mention of Saturday’s game, you cannot help thinking they are right.

Ryno’s Academy Of Baseball Etiquette

Posted in Baseball at 9:17 am by

For Hall Of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg, recently hired as manager of the Cubs’ Midwest League affiliate in Peoria, it’s a slippery slope from wearing a cap backwards to not winning a World Series in 98 years. From the Daily Herald’s Barry Pozner (link taken from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

They came one after another Saturday, a seemingly endless parade of repulsive sports stories.

There were pictures of pit bulls, guns and little kids, stories of a dead bodyguard, film of an NBA brawl, and one football player spitting in the face of another.

œYou just look at it all and it™s kind of scary,™™ Sandberg said Tuesday from his home in Arizona. œIt just seems to me that players don™t think there will be any discipline or consequences.

œThey don™t stop and think, ˜What will parents out there think? What will kids think? What will my teammates and my ownership think?™ It used to matter.

œI think there™s a problem in society and it carries over into sports, and that problem is a lack of discipline, and with that comes the breaking of rules,™™ Sandberg said. œThe lack of accountability in the sports world is obvious and it seems the athletes have the mentality that they™re above everybody else and above the law.

œWhat I hear from people on the street is them commenting on my speech at the Hall of Fame, saying how it was about time somebody talked about respect and talked about discipline and having character and all those things,™™ Sandberg said. œThat tells me that there are people who think something is missing.™™

œAccountability, discipline and team play,™™ Sandberg said. œWearing your hat backwards, having your shirt unbuttoned, and untucking your jersey on the field may seem like small things, but that lack of respect for the uniform is part of a general lack of respect for the game and how you play it.

œIt™s not a big jump from that to deciding you don™t have to move a runner up because it™s just 1 little run at stake, and what™s the big deal, right?


Denis Potvin And The Chant That Won’t Die

Posted in Hockey at 11:40 pm by

Though the Islanders’ 4-3 defeat of the Rangers at MSG tonight is of a more timely concern, let’s just pretend it’s still Wednesday morning while sucking on the history lesson provided by the New York Times’ Fred Bierman.

Although Potvin, who was the Islanders™ captain for eight seasons, retired from the N.H.L. in 1988, Rangers fans have turned an off-color, derisive chant that invokes his name into an institution at Madison Square Garden. Regardless of the opponent, the infamous Potvin chant is heard multiple times throughout any Rangers home game. Expect to hear it a few extra times when the Rangers play host to the Islanders tonight.

œIt is quite amazing that they™re still doing it, Potvin, now a television broadcaster for the Florida Panthers, said Thursday in a telephone interview. œThe whole thing has taken on a life of its own.

As time has passed, the chant has increasingly less to do with Potvin the player or the person. Instead, it has turned into a way for Rangers fans ” many of whom never saw Potvin play ” to express their general frustrations or to simply have a laugh during a lull in the action.

It was a check ” by most accounts a clean play ” on Rangers forward Ulf Nilsson on Feb. 25, 1979, at the Garden that instigated the chant. Nilsson was in his first season with the team, and Rangers fans had high hopes that he would spark their offense. But the hit by Potvin broke Nilsson™s ankle, knocking him out for the rest of season. The Rangers eliminated the Islanders in the playoffs that season and ended up losing to Montreal in the Stanley Cup finals. But Nilsson never fulfilled the high expectations set for him..

The Potvin chant was originally heard after the tune of œLet™s Go Band, a song played by organists at sporting events throughout North America. In an attempt to quell what was considered a vulgar chant, Garden officials stopped playing the song on the organ sometime around the mid-1980s. The chant was kept alive by persistent Rangers fans who began whistling œLet™s Go Band to encourage the Potvin chant.

At first, there was a real sense of anger behind the chant; the upstart Islanders were the best team in hockey, and Rangers fans were taking out their frustration on Potvin, who became the scapegoat for much of what became a 54-year title drought. As the Rangers continued to struggle and Potvin eventually retired, the chant softened and turned into a humorous way to express the frequent frustrations inherent in being a Rangers fan.

œThe big difference now is that people yell it with a smile on their face as opposed to the hatred that once was, Potvin said. œIt™s just one of those things that™s passed from one generation to the next, I guess. Kind of like season tickets.