The Best Thing About Last Night’s Hollywood Salute To Al Gore…

Posted in Cinema at 2:39 pm by

….is that thanks to the career revival of Jackie Earle Haley, we have now have a better idea of what Steve Nash will look like at the age of 46.

Because Anything’s More Entertaining Than Tracking Schilling’s Weight

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, The World Of Entertainment at 1:04 pm by

Manny Ramirez arrived early at Fort Myers. Dice K is being followed by a ton of reporters. Water is wet. There’s going to be a lot of projectile vomiting in the Boston area on St. Paddy’s Day. Zzzzzzz.

Rob Bradford’s doing a bang up job of making the mundane seem interesting this Spring Training, but even miracle workers need some downtime. I’m not sure how the intrepid Eagle-Tribune reporter missed out on The Greatest Television Program of All Time until now, but better late than never.

My surreal television moment of the day: Watching a show called “Cheaters” last night, which has a camera crew and private investigators follow suspected cheaters in relationships. The victim in this case was an 88-year-old named Lightning McLeod, who was in a relationship with a 33-year-old. After they built their case against the woman (obviously finding she had been unfaithful to McLeod), the host of the show, a man named Joey Greco (above), a team of cameras, and a cane-wielding McLeod confronted the two. Things got a little feisty, with the older gentleman (whom Greco had called a “dashing young man” earlier in the episode waving his cane at the cheaters.

Then came the Hallmark moment when Lightning McLeod warned his younger no-good doer: “Watch out, I’ll strike twice!” I’ve got a feeling Lightning was using this same threat back in days of prohibition. Oh, and did I mention Lightning made a Mohawk out of whatever hair he had left?

Zirin Vs. Whitlock : It’s On!

Posted in Basketball, social crusaders, Sports Journalism at 12:30 pm by

Though Jason Whitlock’s confusing, self-congratulatory coverge of All-Star Weekend hasn’t escaped notice at CSTB (pt. 1, pt. 2), Edge Of Sports’ Dave Zirin (above) is especially aggrieved at the AOL columnist he accuses of “acting like the love child of Clarence Thomas and Haystacks Calhoun.”

When you have the unholy arrogance to compare your crusade against “ghetto acting” black people to the actions of Rosa Parks, when you call young African American kids “the Black KKK”, and when you liken walking the Vegas strip to being in “the yard at a maximum security prison”, it’s simply time to say, “enough.”

In your own words, “Instead of wearing white robes and white hoods, the new KKK has now taken to wearing white Ts and calling themselves gangsta rappers, gangbangers and posse members. Just like the White KKK of the 1940s and ’50s, we fear them, keep our eyes lowered, shut our mouths and pray they don’t bother us.”

Please, please, please take a moment to listen to yourself. The Klan at its peak had 4.5 million members. They organized campaigns of lynching and terror to keep people of color from voting, holding jobs, or even existing in peace. To compare an NBA player’s entourage with this bloody nightmare makes you sound scared, small, and simple.

You actually write, “This must be the way Rosa Parks felt on that bus. She was just tired of eating white racist (spit). I’m tired of eating black racist (spit).”

Wow. You, Jason Whitlock. The new Rosa Parks. I suppose it is Black History Month, the one time we hear a great deal about Ms. Parks and her contribution to building a better world. I don’t quite recall her droning on about strip clubs and lap dances the way you do (maybe I just missed it). I don’t remember her reveling in the excess that seems to define your personal life. I’m not positive but I don’t think she ever referred to herself as “Big Sexy”. I do know she cared more about fighting for the less fortunate than cozying up to power. Maybe she was just “bojangling.”

Stevie Franchise Closer To Shutting It Down

Posted in Basketball at 12:14 pm by

(the bad news is that there’s no sign of Bill Bellamy quitting)

The New York Post’s Marc Berman
reports Knicks PG Steve Francis’ ailing right knee might result in early retirement.

“You know a terrorist alert, when a security alert is orange,” Francis said. “That’s my frustration level.”Francis’s comeback lasted all of five games. He had rehabbed in Houston for five weeks before returning two weeks ago on the West Coast trip entering the All-Star break.

After missing Friday’s foul-aided 95-93 win over Milwaukee, Francis sat out last night’s 101-92 loss to the Nets. Asked if this may be it, Francis said, “I don’t know. I don’t want to say something that isn’t there but I’m not sure. You just got to be smart.”

The following tidbit appeared in the Nets.com pregame notes yesterday :

Bernard Robinson slipped on the ice outside of his hotel, hurting his knee.

Fill-in your own snowboarding joke.

Not only is Flip Saunders calling Sid Hartman a liar, but he’s convinced that he’s at the top of his profession.

“I made a decision back when I left college at Tulsa and went to the CBA that this (NBA) is the route I would go and that’s where I’m at,” Saunders said. “When I am old — and I am not that old, yet — I could see myself coaching a high school team or a small college team, just to coach, but I am not at that point yet.”

Rick Pitino and Tim Floyd were unavailable for comment.

(video link swiped from True Hoop).  Yuck, yuck yuck. While this isn’t one of the “lame commercials” the Owner With A Boner raged about, I’m also unconvinced the D-Wade signature model Sidekick III is a particularly good deal.

The Giambino : Once A Boy, Now Fully Groan

Posted in Baseball at 11:30 am by

“Life is good for Jason Giambi,” insists the NY Daily News’ Marc Feisand, though reminding us that ” it hasn’t been so easy for the Yankees’ slugger for the past few years, as he found himself embroiled in the BALCO steroids controversy, battled a mysterious illness and watched his status as one of the fiercest hitters in the game wither away in the blink of an eye.”

Those experiences could have destroyed Giambi’s career. Instead, they strengthened his resolve.

“I’ve gone through some tough times, so I’m definitely stronger,” Giambi said yesterday. “I might have come over here as a boy, but I’m a man now. There’s no doubt about it.”

Giambi has realized his desire to win outweighs his desire to post numbers for the back of his baseball card.

“Over the last couple years, being hurt with my wrist and my knee, I didn’t go on the DL,” Giambi said. “I may have sacrificed some personal numbers, but it gave me more gratification when we won. It was better than hitting .290 and not making the playoffs. You learn that as you get older that it’s all about winning.”

More importantly, Giambi has erased the fear of failure from his head. After all, when you’ve hit .208 with 12 home runs as recently as three years ago – and survived – what is there to be afraid of?

An indictment?  Dropping dead?  Shrinkage? Anybody else have an idea?

The Vinsanity of Steph Guarding Carter

Posted in Basketball at 12:01 am by

Nets 101, Knicks 92

That was one brutal 3rd quarter. But if your idea of fun TV is watching Vince Carter repeatedly blow past an overmatched No. 1 Point Guard In The NBA Stephon Marbury, this was probably more entertaining than Joan and Melissa Rivers.

I don’t know how many malls they have in that part of the world, but Channing Frye might wanna get the heck out of the way the next time Bostjan Nachbar drives the lane unless his wants to be a fixture at Slovenia’s version of Spencer Gifts.

Along with taking shots at Otis Smith and Scottie Pippen in Sunday’s Hoops Du Jour column, Peter Vescey couldn’t lay off renowned sprint champion Charles Barkley.

Just when I thought Mike D’Antoni had reached the penthouse in my esteem, he crushed Charles Barkley with the truth. During a recent TNT telecast the monotonous mope criticized the Suns coach’s stunted rotation, ignorantly claiming Phoenix had the deepest bench in the league and arguing the reserves should be used more.

D’Antoni responded by saying he wasn’t sure he should take basketball advice from someone who “choked” away championships and had his own playoff conditioning questioned.

Last year during the playoffs, I told Jerry Colangelo I was aghast he had retired Barkley’s number. For a decade or so he ostracized his former franchise player with good reason; the Suns outgoing chairman/CEO believed Barkley’s after-hour playoff carousing had cost him a championship.

“Two championships,” Colangelo replied.

At the risk of Dan Steinberg claiming I’m making fun of a guy with serious issues, I sincerely hope Darryl Strawberry had a good seat for Maryland’s wild 89-87 win over Carolina yesterday afternoon in which son D.J. had a career high 27 points. While the Terrapins got off to a 2-5 start in the ACC, they’ve now won 5 straight against conference opponents and look likely for an NCAA tournament invite.


Brooks : The Goonies Are Good Enough

Posted in Hockey at 6:56 pm by

After Thursday’s widely publicized slugfest between the Sabres and Senators, Ottawa won the rematch last night, a 6-5 decision that also happened to feature a brawl between Buffalo hitman Andrew Peters and Brian McGrattan (who’d not dressed in 10 games). The New York Post’s Larry Brooks, no doubt mindful of how the Sabres/Senators feud has generated more attention for the league than anything else in recent memory, contends “that was the essence of hockey in Buffalo on Thursday, and that always will be the essence of hockey no matter how deeply committed Gary Bettman and his administration are to the misguided mission of cleansing the sport of its soul.”

It’s a violent game and always has been. It’s a game of physical intimidation and it always has been. Chris Drury should have kept his head up.

They can add all the gimmicks to the NHL they want, they can attempt to turn the game into a skills competition, but the attraction of hockey is primal.

It’s taken nearly two full seasons, but the pendulum is slowly beginning to reset itself. Toughness is reasserting itself as a value. Look around. The NHL is again becoming more rocky road than vanilla.

Sixth Avenue should understand that those who would assail the sport because of the images from Thursday featuring the fight between goaltenders and coaches screaming at one another from the tops of their benches have no interest in the sport under any circumstance.

Sixth Avenue should recognize that its primary focus must be on maintaining its core base. Sixth Avenue should be concerned with the astonishing number of empty seats in the lower tier in both Detroit and Dallas on Friday night. These were seats that always were filled before the lockout and before the administration accelerated its program to sanitize the game.

Rather than provide any insights (heaven forbid ) regarding the deadline deal that sent Keith Tkachuck to Atlanta, San Jose’s acquisition of D Craig “Pop” Rivet, nor Dallas’ Jere Lehtinen putting an end to Vancouver’s 6 game winning streak with an OT goal earlier today, instead, we’ll bask in the soothing tones of Don Cherry.

Awards Season Update : Stan Collymore Star Vehicle Lauded

Posted in Cinema, Football at 6:07 pm by

“Basic Instict 2″ won the Razzies for Worst Film and Sharon Stone was recognized as Worst Actress yesterday. From the AP :

Razzies founder John Wilson said that while Stone (above) still looked good in her late 40s, the movie had no other reason to exist.

“Yes, she still has some excuse to drop her robe, but the dialogue, the story, the overall attitude of the character is cartoon-like,” Wilson said. “You have to sort of wonder, is she vamping the movie or does she think she’s giving a serious performance? Is she the lone person on the project who got the joke?”

No other reason to exist? Excuse me, Mr. Film Snob, but I will maintain (once again) that Sharon Stone is far too easy a target, but shouldn’t “B.I. 2″ (as us hardcore fans like to call it) receive some credit for launching the cinematic career of noted dogging enthusiast / Ulrika-beater Stan Collymore?

Adebayor Flips His Wig, Chelsea Claim The Worthless Cup

Posted in Football at 3:57 pm by

Chelsea 2, Arsenal 1 (Carling Cup Final, F.T.)

Though I’ve have given this one a miss had Setanta U.S. charged $20 for the privilege, as it turned out, what might be the last major cup final in Cardiff would’ve been more than worth such a tariff. Dieder Drogba (above) scored both goals for Chelsea, including an 85th minute header off a cross from Arjen Robben. Theo Walcott gave the Gunners an early lead with a terrific give-and-go collaboration with Justin Hoyte ; moments earlier, Petr Cech had prevented Arsenal from opening their account with a terrific save of shot by Julio Bapiste.

John Terry, made a surprise (for anyone who didn’t read yesterday’s papers, anyway) start after passing a late fitness test ; the Chelsea captain made an early exit after taking Abou Diaby’s boot to the face in the 66th minute. It took about 5 minutes for Terry to be carried off, which partially accounts for the 11 minutes (!) of stoppage time.

The other delays can be blamed in part on a late brawl that ensued after a John Michel Obi challenge on Arsenal’s Kolo Toure’ (still doing excellent work long after his dismissal from “The Real World”). The pair were ejected and a red card was also shown to Emmanuel Adebayor, who seemed willing to take on anybody he could find, whether or not they were wearing a blue shirt. Brian Cox and Vernon Maxwell both agree — Manny’s got to cool it in the future.

Though I hate to find myself parroting the Sky announcing team, it would be a shame it this match were remembered mostly for the ugly scenes in the final minutes (y’know, someone running a headline about Adebayor going nuclear) rather than fixating on one of the year’s more exciting matches. Chelsea have shown that Abramovich’s zillions were enough to guarantee at the very least, their bringing the 3rd most important domestic trophy back to Stamford Bridge. And for Henry-less Arsenal, this was nothing short of a coming out party for the club’s teenagers. And if that conjures the uncomfortable image of Arsene Wegner double checking the catering plans on “My Super Sweet 16″, that’s your problem, not mine.

Wells To Boston Fans : Enough Already

Posted in Baseball at 1:16 pm by

Perhaps the camera loves The Sultan Of Sloth. If so, he most assuredly does not love it back, as told to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo.

“Outside the ballpark, it was hard. You can’t go anywhere, especially if you’re not pitching well. You get the business from [fans]. You can’t enjoy your family time. Your alone time is gone because you’re subject to photographs nonstop. It was the worst. You go to a mall with your kids and you have people always wanting to take pictures. They should call it ‘Picturetown’ not ‘Beantown.’

“Listen, I know the people are Red Sox-friendly. They love the Red Sox. I understand that. They have to understand that when we’re not at the ballpark, we’re not subject to autographs and pictures and we need to be able to enjoy ourselves. I don’t think they see that and don’t get it.”

New York, where Wells spent four seasons, “is a cakewalk compared to Boston,” he said. “But you know what? Boston is a great town. When I was playing against them, it was great coming in. Great stuff in that town. Great restaurants and nightlife. Historical stuff.”

“But you have to be able to deal with it. That’s why Manny [Ramírez] is always a little loopy — because he can’t do stuff. If you want to be subject to that kind of stuff, God bless you. But as you get older, you want to relax.”

What particularly upset Wells in Boston was the obscenity-laced heckling he — and his family — would be subject to when leaving the park.

“Once I heard that, with my family there, I just shut everybody down,” he said. “I ignored everybody. To me, fans aren’t going to make or break me. If they overstep the boundaries, then we’re going to have a situation. They can say all they want about me and it’s not going to reflect on the field how I do. It never has.”

The New York Times’ Murray Chass has a peculiar take on the rationale behind the opt-out clause in A-Rod’s monster deal.

As rich as the contract is, a record $252 million over all and salaries of $27 million in each of the final three years, there is no need for Rodriguez to walk away from the contract after its seventh season for economic reasons. But had Rodriguez stayed with Texas for the first seven years, the opt-out clause might have served as a way for him to go where he really wanted to go six years ago.

The Mets were Rodriguez™s first love, but Steve Phillips, then the Mets™ general manager, shattered that desire by recoiling at the initial asking price uttered by Scott Boras, Rodriguez™s agent, and running as fast as he could in the opposite direction.

By having the opt-out clause, Rodriguez, now 31, preserved his ability to go to the Mets while he was still young enough to make a difference and to give the Mets a chance to make up for the mistake they made in December 2000.

“Mistake they made”? The Rangers and Yankees have won as many World Series with Rodriguez on their payroll as the Mets have without him in the last 6 years. Given the emergence of David Wright and Jose Reyes, not to mention a Flushing clubhouse that seems the very picture of tranquility compared to that of their crosstown rivals, this “mistake” is surely a matter of Chass imagining Rodriguez and Boras’ point of view.

Donnie Baseball : I’d Have Moved To Left For Mex

Posted in Baseball at 9:41 am by

Your Sunday morning dose of the (Bob) Klap(isch) in the Bergen Record concerns MLB & Rawlings’ latest online poll to select the finest defensive players of all time. Klapisch regurgitates a debate that raged through many a NYC tavern a generation ago, “Just who was the area’s best first baseman of the 1980s, Keith Hernandez or Don Mattingly?”

Yankee fans defend Mattingly to the (virtual) death, insisting he was the superior athlete, not to mention the more productive hitter. Met fans say no one could match Hernandez (above, left) for quick hands, his ability to field bunts and the gift for anticipating where the ball would be hit.

“Come on, you know I’m not going to touch that one,” Joe Torre said with a laugh. “I’ve always hated Keith because he took my job [with the Cardinals in 1975]. But there’s no way to choose between them.”

Jason Giambi picked Mattingly for sentimental reasons “ “Donnie was my favorite player” “ while Alex Rodriguez was on the verge of choosing Hernandez because, as a die-hard Met fan growing up, “I watched every single Met on WOR for four straight years. I saw so much more of Mex than I did Donnie.”

A-Rod didn’t officially choose Mattingly, however, because as he said with a rueful smile, “Yankee fans already hate me.”

Mattingly wasn’t surprised to hear the vote was split even in his own clubhouse. This is, after all, a debate for the ages “ one that Mattingly helped fuel in 1986 when he said he’d move to left field if Hernandez were ever traded to the Yankees.

But that’s not to say Mattingly was conceding to his Mets counterpart. Quite the contrary. Donnie Baseball said, “I could pick it with anyone.”

Yet, Mattingly had nothing but praise for Hernandez, standing by his assertion that if it would’ve meant becoming teammates with the Met first baseman, he would’ve vacated the position.

“I meant what I said, I would’ve moved to left for Keith,” Mattingly said Saturday. “I would’ve done it because we would’ve been a better team with the two of us on the same field. I wouldn’t have minded if he played first instead of me.

“Funny thing is, I didn’t get to see him play that much, maybe once in a while on TV. But whenever I saw Keith field bunts up the first base line and make that throw to third, I’d say, ‘Wow, that’s incredible.’ I remember thinking how great he was on plays like that.”

Aging Everquest Enthusiast Tells Adoring Public “I Don’t Look Like Gabe Kapler”

Posted in Baseball at 4:33 am by

Posting at Sons Of Sam Horn Friday, Boston’s Curt Schilling (above) sought to assure his fans that his recent discussions with Red Sox brass were “comfortable” and that “we’ll just have to let hacks and idiots like CHB stir up something that does not exist.”

I’d love to tell you I look like Gabe Kapler with my shirt off, I don’t. However I weigh 243 pounds right now, which is exactly 2 pounds under what I weighed in at at seasons end last year. The clothes make me look fat…….

I’ve forever needed baseball a whole hell of a lot more than it needs me, I’ve always known that. I have also always known that it is a business, even when you don’t want it to be.

Please trust me when I say, and have said, this will have zero bearing on my preperation or performance this season. I don’t pitch for contracts, never have. My three best years were in the first year of new contracts. I pitch to win, just like most of the other guys in this game do.

One of the lines CHB failed to put into the article he wrote a few weeks back was me, on the phone, calling him an asshole. He knows as sure as he’s reading this right now that I think he’s a giant sphincter.

At some point soon he’ll realize that the dislike for him here is not because he’s the guy always taking the ‘other side’ while trying to illicit opinions and responses from readers, but rather he’s disliked because he treats people like shit.

The 2nd Greatest Endy Chavez Catch Of All Time

Posted in Baseball at 12:01 am by

YouTubage courtesy Sam Frank.


Denver’s Nash Dead At 24

Posted in Gridiron at 11:28 pm by

From the Denver Post’s Bill Williamson.

Tragedy struck the Broncos for the second time in less than two months Saturday when backup running back Damien Nash died after a charity basketball game he was hosting in St. Louis, his agent, David Canter, said Saturday night.

Nash was 24. Officials at Christian Hospital said Nash was pronounced dead at the hospital at 6:41 p.m. local time. The St. Louis coroner’s office confirmed the death but said they had no further details.

Signed as a free agent in August, Nash played in three games for the Broncos last season and finished with 18 carries for 66 yards. He started as a rookie in 2005 with Tennessee, which drafted him in the fifth round. He played in three games for the Titans.

Nash was hosting the game at Riverview Gardens High School to benefit the Darris Nash Find a Heart Foundation, a charity that raises funds for heart transplant research. Damien Nash recently founded the charity in honor of his older brother, Darris, who has had a heart transplant.

Tonight’s news is as shocking as it is sad. When was the last time you saw the words “death” and “charity basketball” appear in a news item with no mention of Sean Combs?

Dwil : Where’s The Respect For Georgetown?

Posted in Basketball at 10:57 pm by

No. 12 Georgetown’s 61-53 defeat of No. 10 Pittsburgh yesterday moved the Hoyas into first place in the Big East and on the brink of their first regular season conference title in a decade. The revival of the once proud program that launched the careers of Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo and Allan Iverson amongst others is unquestionably one of the bigger stories of this college basketball season. Dwill of Sports On My Mind, however, contends “the NCAA™s biggest nightmare is a successful Georgetown Hoyas basketball team.”

How can Georgetown a Jesuit Catholic school with a white student body rivaling those of Marquette and Notre Dame field and all-black team, save for the inter-racial guard Jeremiah Rivers, son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers?

Ahhh, it™s the coaches. John Thompson III is black – and the son of legendary Hoya head coach John Thompson. But JTIII came to Georgetown from Princeton where he fielded a predominantly white team, so what™s the deal at G-town?

The answer white people come up with which is often parroted by black people is Thompson III is surrounding himself with players with whom he is comfortable. Oh wait, that™s the answer these people come up with to excuse the whiteness surrounding their own white leaders; not true for black people. For schools like Marquette and Notre Dame and other schools like them, the excuse is high academic standards. Blacks just don™t have the SAT scores to enter schools with such high academic standards like Notre Dame, Marquette, Duke, Vanderbilt, Stanford, etc. They don™t have the ability to match the standards people like Irish alum Paul Hornung say should be lowered to allow black athletes in colleges and universities like Notre Dame.

The apologists for these schools, and they are legion, shrug and say, œIt™s unfortunate, but that™s the way it is. And for JTII and his father before him it is some sort of Underground Railroad and a secret test-lowering standard alliance with the Georgetown academic department that allows the Hoyas to put an all-black team on the court and the bench.

That™s the real reason Georgetown™s recent 11-game winning streak has barely caused a blip – if you discount the local Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area – on the national and Internet sports radar. And if you don™t think it is the reason, it certainly is the reason no one wants to hear or read. It™s the reason the Hoyas entered the week at only #12 in the country a scant one spot ahead of Air Force. To think of the national fervor such a streak would cause if it was happening on Tobacco Road and on the pristine floor of Coach K Court. We™re talkin™ about Air Force! Not North Carolina, not UCLA – Air Force!

Today there are no writings implying academic improprieties at Georgetown, no cries of thuggish, sullen athletes playing defense as if they were committing assault. Today there is no talk of the JTIII-led renaissance of the Hoyas™ program from its ebb time during the Craig Esherick, post œBig John era. And there is certainly little talk of how good a college coach JTIII is, no consideration for national coach of the year – or, for that matter, Big East coach of the year.

Elton Brand Is A Shot Blocking Machine

Posted in Basketball at 7:53 pm by

I don’t think it would be unfair to say the Clippers have underachieved this year, and while LA’s less glammy squad is engaged in a dogfight for the 8th spot out West with Golden State and New Orleans, Dunleavy Sr.’s charges put some distance between themselves and the former with today’s 103-90 dispatch of the Warriors.

Elton Brand (above) tied his career high with 8 blocks, while scoring 31 points and hauling in 12 rebounds, showing signs of the dominance he displayed all too often last season. Von Wafer, who’d previously been tearing up the D-League, celebrated taking Doug Christie’s spot on the Clippers roster with a DNP.

Though Vince Carter was on hand last night for Jason Kidd’s 84th career triple double (22 points, 10 assists, 13 rebounds) in Jersey’s 109-96 win over Sacramento, the New York Post’s Marc Berman suggests a sign and trade resulting in Carter moving across the Hudson might be possible in the offseason.

It’s clear Nets brass Rod Thorn and Ed Stefanski have the hots for Channing Frye, whom the Knicks deem expendable because of the emergence of David Lee. And there’s been indications they also like rookie Renaldo Balkman, who was not available during their recent talks.

(There’s a sense the Nets would rather let Carter go to Orlando for nothing than trade him across the river. The last Nets-Knicks deal was 25 years ago in the Len Elmore compensation package.)

On Your Feet Or On Your Knees : Wilson’s Call For A Return To Terracing

Posted in Football at 6:28 pm by

Noting that traveling Manchester United supporters had to shell out £45 to see their club defeat Fulham at the aptly named Craven Cottage earlier today, the Observer’s Paul Wilson opines “all-seat stadiums might have been an appropriate and necessary response to a dreadful tragedy, but they changed football in ways that few could have foreseen at the time.”

Lord Justice Taylor tried his best, specifically recommending that clubs should not use seats as a means of ramping up prices, but his wishes were ignored and seats, wages, television deals and almost everything else have been ramped up to a level that everyone in Life on Mars except John Simm would find staggering.

Yet as events at Lens so vividly demonstrated, seats in themselves are no panacea. Not when fences still exist, Uefa stage games at unsatisfactory venues as if Heysel had never happened and the police default mode is to treat all fans as hooligans. Even in this country, where the high cost of seats is rather loftily held to have solved the hooliganism problem now plaguing Italy (by pricing out the young and the troublesome), being forced to sit down is proving divisive. Hardly a game goes by at Anfield or Old Trafford without repeated Tannoy requests for fans to show consideration for other supporters and sit down. There is nothing more annoying than paying a fortune for a seat then being forced to stand because people in front of you are standing, and this ongoing argument itself is likely to provoke a major disturbance before long.

So should we bring back standing areas, as more than 100 MPs have requested? I would say yes, because they improve atmosphere, allow easier and cheaper admission, are still enjoyed in Europe and in other sports, and need not be considered inherently dangerous in modern stadiums with CCTV and improved stewarding. But I was not at Hillsborough, nor did I lose a friend or relative in the crush, and I fully respect the view that even a slight risk of a repeat is too much of a risk to take.

In theory at least, standing areas offer the hope of turning back the clock to a time when the cost of admission to a football ground did not exclude anyone, when you could choose your immediate company, make as much noise as you wanted and feel part of a crowd rather than a member of an audience. All the things that used to distinguish football from a visit to the theatre, in other words. Clubs used to peddle the line that they were offering similar entertainment to the theatre and were entitled to charge similar prices to seat spectators in comfort, but this is clearly nonsense. Half the fans don’t want to be seated, in any case who goes to the theatre every week, and how many theatre-goers make away trips to Sunderland and Wigan?

Totally Rad : Lakers’ Faker Pulled A Lt. Dangle

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down at 4:10 pm by

Though I’ve alluded to this story on two previous occassions, CSTB’s Ombudsman (who may or may not look like this) has helpfully reminded me that not everyone might know what I’m talking about. From the AP :

Los Angeles Lakers forward Vladimir Radmanovic admitted Friday that he lied to the team about how he injured his shoulder during last week’s All-Star break.

“The truth is that I hurt myself in a fall while snowboarding,” Radmanovic said in a statement issued by the team.

He apologized for covering up what happened last Saturday in Park City, Utah . Initially, he told the Lakers he fell on a patch of ice while walking and separated his right shoulder. He is expected to be out two months.

“Being young and sometimes immature, I initially panicked and made up a false story about how I hurt myself,” the 26-year-old forward said. “However, over the past few days my conscience has been bothering me terribly. I am not a dishonest person and could no longer live with this deception.”

I don’t know what’s more amazing — that the Radster came clean, or that he was able to so easily rewrite Kwame Brown’s apology for stealing a birthday cake.

While Texas is 20 minutes away from a season sweep of Oklahoma (the Longhorns are leading, 41-28 at intermission behind — surprise, surprise — 19 points from Kevin Durant), you might wanna keep an eye on LSU’s budding upset of Florida. The Tigers hold a 34-21 advantage at the break, and I can’t remember the last time Corey Brewer and Joakim Noah combined for less than 10 points in a half. Not that I’m willing to look it up, either. CSTB’s bill with the Elias Koteas Sports Bureau is long overdue, and their skip tracers are even meaner than the company founder.

Once again, Kool Keith is totally ripped off.

No doubt wearing his HDTV hat, the Owner With A Boner calls online video “a snack”, while television is “a meal.” Clearly, Mark Cuban does not own a chain of movie theatres.

Amanda from You Go Live In Utah observered the Heat making a late run against Dallas Thursday night and concludes Miami is DOA. And not the good kind that wrote “Fucked Up Ronnie”, either.

The Mavs should have won by 30 or more. Barea, Agar and Croshere really know how to squander a lead and I thought they should have been pulled WAY sooner than they were. But back to the Heat, with Shaq only able to play 30 minutes, getting stupid fouls and having a free throw shot that is somewhat akin to an epileptic fit I don’t think they will survive without Wade. And of course, Dwyane Wade himself has told us what a fabulous leader he is.

Sosa Silent On Burning Joe Blow Question

Posted in Baseball at 3:08 pm by

Sammy Sosa made his return to the club that first drafted him in 1985 yesterday, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Jim Reeves suggests the Rangers’ spring training invitee could use a hand dealing with the inevitable PED inquiries.

Sammy sounded positively Mark McGwire-like in insisting that he didn’t want to talk about the past, becoming evasive and even slightly combative at times.

“Today it’s about Sammy Sosa and Texas… I mean it’s about the Texas Rangers and Sammy Sosa,” Sammy stammered, remembering that it’s supposed to be team first, then Sammy. “Today I don’t want to talk about Joe Blow or anybody else because my life has been too busy lately and I don’t want to go into other people’s business.

“I don’t have to convince nobody. I’m a baseball player. Whatever the individual person is thinking outside, whether it’s good or bad, I don’t have no control over that. You know what I mean?”

‘d hoped and somehow expected Sosa to be better prepared to answer the steroids question after a year away from the game to think about it. I thought he would tell us that he understands why the questions have to be asked but that he didn’t do steroids. Remind us that he’s never failed a steroids test. Point out that he’ll be tested just like every other player in the game now.

“I understand what you’re saying and everybody knows that, but let’s talk about baseball, let’s talk about 2007 and the talent we have in Texas and what we can do this year,” he said.

“All those things I want to accomplish, I want to talk about that. I don’t want to talk about whatever happened in the Congress, or whatever. This is not my problem. I have to make the team.”

Oh, but it is his problem and will be all season, assuming he makes the team. It’s part of what he must deal with mentally in returning to baseball. Answer the questions as best he can and even reporters will understand and eventually let it alone. But to dance around them only leaves the questions hanging, unanswered.

Given the questionable status of Orlando Hernandez and the uncertainty surrounding Pedro Martinez’ return, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney delivers his best Paul Caporino impersonation and bemoans the lack of depth in the Mets’ starting rotation.

The Mets don’t need a No. 4- or No. 5-type starter; they’ve got plenty of candidates for those roles, from young prospects Mike Pelfrey and Philip Humber to veterans Aaron Sele and Chan Ho Park. What they need is someone who has a chance to be a frontline starter or at least a middling starter — someone who can eat innings and consistently contribute a solid six. It’s unlikely that the only team with excess starting pitching — the Phillies, with Jon Lieber — would even consider making a trade with the Mets; if New York wanted Lieber, it would have to try to work through a third team, but you have to assume that Philadelphia GM Pat Gillick would be very careful to make sure that wouldn’t happen.

So what’s next? Well, the Mets may have to wait until some teams start to fall out of the race in late-May and June, and veteran starters become available. Depending on the standings in June, the Mets could take a look at Mark Buehrle of the White Sox, Jake Westbrook of the Indians, or the Astros’ Jason Jennings, three pitchers who will be eligible for free agency after next season.

But wanting and getting are two different things, and even if the Mets were to target someone like the Marlins’ Dontrelle Willis, they would have to bid against multiple teams to make a deal, and a lot of other organizations have better, deeper farm systems to trade from.

While hailing Tim Linecum’s first workout of the spring, the SF Chronicle’s Henry Schulman reports Barry Zito drilled the Sultan of Surly during BP yesterday. “Bonds had fun with it, feigning a charge to the mound,” wrote Schulman, no doubt mindful that Zito is the one guy on the Giants roster the soon-to-be-HR king couldn’t get away with beating to death.

Courtney Shows The Knicks Much Love

Posted in Basketball at 1:46 pm by

Knicks 95, Bucks 93

Much as I’m enjoying the Knicks’ improbable push for the no.8 spot (aided in no small part by the Heat losing D-Wade), in the event New York actually sneaks in, I’m starting the petition right here to give referee Courtney Kirkland a partial playoff share (at least as big as Jerome James’) after he whistled Andrew Bogut for breathing on Channing Frye with 8 tenths of a second remaining last night at MSG. For the free-falling Bucks, losers of 7 straight, 11 in a row on the road, there might be some consolation in their odds improving a tad in the Greg Oden/Kevin Durant sweepstakes, but Milwaukee didn’t play like a team tanking it on Friday.

David Lee left the game after landing on Bogut’s foot in the third quarter. His status is unknown (by me, anyway), though New York is lucky they didn’t lose Jamal Crawford (above) to a broken hip after yet another big-shot-celebration initiated by that most highly paid Knicks City Dancer, Nate Robinson.

After the T-Wolves stood pat at the trade deadline, would anyone blame Kevin Garnett (29 points and 19 boards in last night’s 116-104 loss to Phoenix) for showing his frustration with the organization? The following is culled from Saturday’s St. Paul Pioneer Press and Rick Alonzo.

Garnett wrapped up a two-minute interview after Friday morning’s shootaround by saying, “Thank God for opt-outs.”

The term opt-outs was a reference to opt-out clauses in some NBA player contracts. Garnett has one, and he can exercise it following the 2007-08 season, leaving the final year of his deal worth $24 million on the table to become a free agent.

Garnett made the comment after a question about whether the passing of the trade deadline might lift a cloud that had been hanging over the team.

Garnett said he didn’t know, and then he dropped his opt-outs comment on reporters as a parting shot as he turned and walked away.

A few minutes later, Garnett emerged from the locker room and was asked if he wanted to clarify his comment about opt-outs.

“I didn’t say that,” Garnett said over his shoulder as he exited down a corridor. “I said ‘opts.’ I said ‘outs.’ “

Garnett’s word games aside, it was interesting nonetheless.

The interview began with Garnett hinting he was disappointed the Wolves’ front office didn’t make a trade to improve the team.

“We’re trying to get better, right?” Garnett said. “It is what it is.”

La Russa, Rolen Kiss & Make Up

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio at 11:34 am by

(Rolen and La Genius in happier, if not damper days)

Though I’m sure Derek Jeter would’ve described the falling out as “no big deal.” From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Joe Strauss.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and third baseman Scott Rolen shared a firm handshake and a brief but congenial exchange outside La Russa’s office Thursday. After talking past each other during the team’s World Series run and literally walking past each other during last month’s Winter Warm-up, the four-time manager of the year and his seven-time Gold Glove infielder agreed to “turn the page” on a disagreement that had turned ugly and public.

“It’s not an issue. We’ve got other things to concern ourselves with now, like how to get ready to win ballgames,” La Russa said Friday afternoon.

Asked if he believes he and La Russa should discuss the matter further, Rolen said, “I don’t know if there’s value in that. It’s better to turn the page and move on. It’s certainly a happier existence than digging it up and continuing to disagree.”

La Russa, who makes a practice of phoning his players during the winter, did not contact Rolen, and the two failed to speak during a fundraiser in January.

Rolen said the lack of communication weighed on him as spring training approached. The matter became a source of concern to ownership and Jocketty.

“They knew it had to be resolved,” Jocketty said. “It needed to be done.”

“I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said it didn’t cross my mind,” Rolen said following Friday’s workout. “The closer you get, the more you think about it. You’re going to see each other and you haven’t spoken about anything. You’re going to be in the same place at the same time in a suit at the White House. Regardless of everything ” who, what, when, where and why ” it’s unhealthy and there’s no benefit.”

The Baltimore Sun’s Ray Frager reports the Orioles have a new policy prohibiting team officials (GM Jim Duquette, manager Sam Perlozzo, etc.) from taking calls from listeners when they appear on WBAL.

The Orioles say the policy is designed to enhance the programming for its radio rights-holder, CBS Radio. On flagship station WHFS (105.7 FM) and CBS’ all-sports ESPN Radio 1300 (WJFK, 1300 AM), no such prohibition would apply, the Orioles say.

”The club has always had its policy,” said Greg Bader, Orioles director of communications.

Not so, said Jeff Beauchamp, vice president and station manager of WBAL, which was the Orioles flagship for the previous 19 years.

”It’s never been the case for the past 20 years,” Beauchamp said.

Stan Charles, a regular sports talk host in Baltimore on five radio stations from 1981 to 2001 — with only four of those years on the Orioles flagship — said he never experienced such a restriction during his time on the air.

In fact, when Steve Davis spoke about the issue on his program tonight — after interviewing pitching coach Leo Mazzone but taking no calls — the host said the policy wasn’t in place as recently as three weeks ago.


The Other Side Of Dennis Johnson

Posted in Basketball, Sports Journalism at 11:20 pm by

The last time I left Austin for NYC, the NBDL’s Toros made headlines when their mascot kicked a member of the opposing team in the head. Yesterday, the Toros were part of a far bigger story with the sudden passing of head coach Dennis Johnson. Such was my own shock over the news of DJ’s death, that I scarcely acknowledged his Hall Of Fame caliber playing career, (5-time NBA All-Star, 2 rings with the Celtics, one with Seattle), nor his cup of coffee coaching the Clippers.

That said, I wasn’t alone in giving Johnson’s pre-Toros history short shrift. As the Boston Phoenix’s Adam Reily reveals, the following October 21, 1997 report from the Boston Globe escaped the notice of most media outlets yesterday.

According to the police report, which was obtained from Channel 4, Dwayne Johnson [Johnson's 17-year-old son] saw the argument as it escalated to the point that Dennis Johnson grabbed his wife in a choking manner with his left hand and held a knife in front of her face.

According to the report, Donna Johnson yelled, “What are you going to do, kill me? Go ahead.” Dennis Johnson replied, “You don’t think anybody will hit you?”

After a few moments, Johnson let his wife go but was still yelling and holding the knife, the report said. When Dwayne attempted to stop the argument, his father said, “Don’t you even, or I’ll knock you the [expletive] out.” Donna Johnson replied, “No you won’t. You won’t touch him.”

Dwayne Johnson told police he believed his father would hit him, so he ran to a neighbor’s house and asked her to call 911. He then returned to the house, saw the argument had died down, and called 911 himself.

Writes Riley,

The Herald’s Steve Bulpett doesn’t mention the knife incident in his obit or “appreciation“–even though he covered it for the Globe at the time, and later chronicled its impact on Johnson’s coaching career.

Over at the Globe, meanwhile, columnist Jackie MacMullan alludes to the incident but steers clear of ugly details: “DJ dreamed of being an NBA coach, but a messy domestic abuse incident involving his wife, Donna, hampered his efforts to earn a legitimate shot at such a job.” Shira Springer ignores it completely. So does AP, so does Sports Illustrated’s Jack McCallum, and so does ESPN’s Bill Simmons in an otherwise fantastic homage.

Johnson was an amazing player, and he may have been a good man who just made a terrible mistake ten years ago. But pretending the events of that day never happened–or eliding them as “messy”–is awfully tough to justify.

Disease-Free Is Soooo Important

Posted in Baseball, History's Great Hook-Ups at 8:06 pm by

The Big Lead provided PTI with some yuck-yuck fodder today concerning an alleged MLB ballplayer looking for tail via Craigslist. Said item proved so popular, TBL is temporarily down for the count, and I can only presume some sort of bandwidth explosion has occured.

Mused Josh Alper, “one thing you’d never think a major league baseball player would have to do to get laid is put up an ad on Craigslist.” Yeah, well, you’ve obviously never spent a Friday night as Todd Jones’ wingman.

Hey, Wait, I’ve Got A New Complaint : Cobain Tune To Feature In Baseball Video Game

Posted in Baseball, Rock Und Roll, The Marketplace, Video Games at 7:16 pm by

Congrats to the folks at 2K7 Sports for finding a licensor that’s really willing to play ball, in this case Colin Cowherd dream date, The Widow Cobain. From Chart Attack (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

Game developer 2K Sports has included Nirvana’s “Breed” on the soundtrack of its Major League Baseball 2K7 video game.

The Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 game, which hits stores on Feb. 27, will also feature cuts from The Stooges, The Pixies, Wolfmother, Death From Above 1979, Cities In Dust, Editors and others.

The company will also use “Breed” in a commercial for the game, making it the first-ever Nirvana track licensed for advertising purposes.

The jury’s still out on Cobain’s penchant for gaming and/or baseball, though a quick trip to Wikipedia reveals that he apparently hated “America’s favourite pastime” as a kid.

I’m sure had Kurt lived long enough to see all the great things Bud Selig has done for the game (interleague play, an All-Star game that “counts”, a drug program that’s really working, etc.) the Bard Of Aberdeen would’ve changed his tune.

Still, I don’t wanna sound too bitter at being jilted. If 2K7 needs any music for their upcoming Vladimir Radmanovic Snowboarding title, they know where they can find me.

And not that I have any right to tell someone else how to do their job, but where’s the money-spinner for the El Duce estate? Surely there are some video-game friendly compositions waiting to be exploited.

Hopefully, The Last Haircut Related Entry of The Week

Posted in Fashion, Sports TV at 5:47 pm by

Though Woody Paige’s quiff was the subject of much mockery on today’s episode of “Around The Horn”, can anyone explain just what the devil is going on with Jay Mariotti’s hair these days?

I’ve had some fiendishly bad haircuts in my time, but whoever told Mariotti (above, right) that emulating a young Macho Camacho was a good look for a middle-aged man has a really sick sense of humor.