Helping A Man With Bugs In His Beard Write Sunday’s Column

Posted in College Spurts, Sports Journalism at 2:09 pm by

It’s getting tougher and tougher for Phil Mushnick to write an entire column. From Friday’s New York Post.

With the NCAA tournament serving as an annual reminder of how big-time college ball is predicated on educational fraud committed by big-time universities, we’re reminded of the coach who was told by his star player that his midterm grades are out: Four F’s and a D.

“Son,” said the coach, “I think you’re spending too much time on one subject.”

Incredibly, Phil passed up the chance to comment on the University Of Florida trying to build a school the basketball and football teams can be proud of.

The Apologists’ Ship Be Sailing

Posted in Basketball at 1:31 pm by

We are a couple of days beyond suspended Albany Patroons coach Michael Ray Richardson’s ill-advised remarks concerning big time Jewish lawyers (if not his way of dealing with hecklers), and there’s a few persons who suggest Richardson’s been dealt a raw deal.

Joey at Straight Bangin’ observed,

Michael Ray (above) seems to be more along the lines of the funny antisemite rather than the dangerous antisemite. Amidst all the stupidity in the world, sometimes you just have to laugh. And really, I think he was trying to be nice in a weird way. I probably shouldn’t write that, but the guy didn’t say he hated all Jews or wished that they’d go back to making bricks in Egypt. It wasn’t a message of intolerance. He said Jewish people are crafty (which, we can all agree, is dumb and negative and not well thought out) and then cited what he thought was proof of it. I mean, does anyone think he was being purposely malicious? I think he was being dumb. And there are, in fact, a disproportionately large number of Jewish men who own teams or run leagues.”

While I can’t really disagree with much of the above, I do think the line between “funny” and “dangerous” anti-semitism is awfully thin unless someone is willing to call the dopes in question out.

No Mas’ Christopher Isenberg — who profiled Richardson for the Village Voice in February of 2000 — cites some of that story’s more colorful quotes in putting Michael Ray’s return to the headlines in perspective.

Michael Ray Richardson doesn’t speak politically correct English. He isn™t the guy who knows it may be more expedient to say: “The Jewish people have a deeply celebratory spirit.” He™s the dude that says, “Them Jews know how to party!” But if you hear him say it, you know his heart is in the right place. He was proud of James Brown, and he was happy that Israelis could appreciate a performer who he felt represented to a certain extent the collective spirit of his people. It clearly made him feel more at home and more comfortable in Israel. If they could truly appreciate James Brown, you could feel him thinking, maybe they could truly understand and appreciate him.

I really can™t think of any better way to illustrate that Michael Ray is the opposite of a racist. Confronted with the reality of Israel he abandoned preconceived notions and evaluated people on how they actually behaved. Michael Ray has done that in every country he™s been to. And that™s why he™s been loved all around the world.

Now because he has the temerity to say that Jews are good lawyers, Jews are industrious people, Jews use their wits to get ahead in a world where they are more often hated than loved, we are going to excommunicate him from basketball like he™s Tim Hardaway or Al Campanis.

It™s not right. Michael Ray is proud to have a Jewish lawyer because he thinks they are the best lawyers. Certainly it™s a stereotype, but it™s a stereotype rooted in a reality. A disproportionate number of the great lawyers in America are Jews. A disproportionate number of the great basketball players in America are black. We have learned to be very careful around these facts because here the line between fact and “stereotype” can get very blurry and if you’re not careful, you can get into deep water real quick. Michael Ray was unwise to have been so indiscreet around reporters, but it wasn’t exactly Elders of Zion territory.

There’s a lot of stereotypes that are to some degree or another, rooted in reality. And some are equally rooted in looking for scapegoats, cheap excuses and ways to reduce another culture to a caricature. I can fully accept that Richardson meant no harm with (some of) his comments, but I don’t think the Al Campanis analogy is inappropriate, either. Jews are inviduals, just like everyone else. I can cite a good number of ‘em with zero connections to media, banking, standup comedy, the music business, basketball or blogging.

OK, maybe only a handful, but a legit handful just the same. Were a sports executive or TV pundit to suggest the success or failure of black athletes was down to genetics, he’d probably catch a bit of heat. I mean, that’s been the pattern.

Seeing as I’ve not even followed the CBA of late (Isiah Thomas keeps insisting they’re out of business), it’s hard for me to propose an appropriate punishment for Richardson. Being drummed out of pro hoops seems awfully harsh, and perhaps either a public apology or clarification of his remarks would’ve done more good. I’m not sure how Richardson can clarify calling a paying customer a fucking faggot (if in fact, that’s what he said), but I’ve yet to seen anyone —- Isenberg included — excuse that alleged outburst.

Somewhat lost amidst the MRR controversy is Albany falling behind Yakima, 2 games to none in the CBA finals. Amongst the highlights of the Patroons’ 92-87 loss Wednesday night was F Carl Mitchell throwing a punch at teammate Felipe Lopez (yes, that Felipe Lopez). From the Albany Times-Union’s Tim Wilken.

The two had a misunderstanding under the Yakama basket at the end of the first half. Mitchell said Lopez was mad at him for taking a bad 3-point shot. Lopez said Mitchell said something unflattering about him to one of the Sun King players. Lopez hit Mitchell on the side of the head and, while Kareem Reid tried to step in and keep the two apart, Mitchell hit Lopez in the face.

“He came up on me and swung and punched me,” Mitchell said. “He started coming up on me and I was like, ‘if someone is going to punch me …’ I feel bad because that ain’t me, man. Your own teammate punch you during a game? What the hell is that?”

Lopez said he was embarrassed about the situation.

“I heard him (Mitchell) say something and it was bad,” Lopez said. “I’ve been playing basketball for a long time and I wasn’t comfortable with what he said. We exchanged blows. I was not going to take it lightly.”

Don Cherry Has His Collar Up

Posted in Hockey, Sports TV at 10:23 am by

Sonny Rollins, unavailable for comment.

Raissman On YES’ Orchestrated A-Rod Rips

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 9:22 am by

After sitting through a screening of “Yankees 2007: Pride, Power, Pinstripes”, The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman insists “there will be times when A-Rod commentary will not only reflect what’s on the minds of the Yankee high command, but be passed down directly from Pinstripe Mountain through YES production boss John Filipelli,” but also admitting “Watching to see which Yankee issues are totally ignored, and which controversies are played prominently, is far more entertaining, informative and intriguing than hearing Kimberly Jones ask Derek Jeter why he wants to win so badly.”

The moment of truth came when the subject of A-Rod was introduced during a panel discussion of YES analysts moderated by Michael Kay. Justice’s mouth might as well have been taped. And Al Leiter (he was “encouraged” to rip Rodriguez last June but refused to single him out for the Yankees’ problems) didn’t chime in, either. However, it was made abundantly clear that there are YES voices who ain’t waiting until late June to begin smacking Rodriguez around.

After Kay asked the panel for its take on A-Rod’s opt-out clause, Ken Singleton (above), a mild-mannered guy, basically told Rodriguez to shut up.

“Just play ball,” said Singleton, showing more passion than usual. “Go out and try to win a championship. Get as close as you can. If you don’t win it just give the effort. Show that you tried.”
Singleton went on to highlight A-Rod’s miserable playoff performance (1-for-14, dropped to the eighth spot in the lineup) against Detroit. “That’s not what Alex Rodriguez is supposed to be,” Singleton said.
Girardi entered the discussion, saying A-Rod is already a major “concern” for Joe Torre.

“I think he is a concern because he’s not able to relax. Alex takes on all the pressure of not winning a World Series,” Girardi said. “He has to find a way to relax. … Until Al stops trying to be perfect it’s going to be tough because he can never live up to the expectations of the contract. It’s just impossible.”

Ever since Justice put the wood to the Yankees’ third baseman last June (“If the game is 9-2, he might make it 9-4. If the game is 7-1, he might make it 9-1. But when it is 2-2 late in the ballgame he can’t get it done.”) it has been bombs away on A-Rod on YES.

Taking him to the woodshed on a “preview” show is further proof that A-Rod analysis, mechanical and psychological, will be an integral part of YES’ Yankee telecasts. But some issues will be completely ignored – such as Derek Jeter’s “relationship” with Rodriguez.

The Poochy The Rockin’ Dog Of Fledgling Sports Leagues

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 8:59 am by

What they lack in aesthetics, the NXBL more than makes up for in chutzpah.

And if nothing else, any initiative that might allow John Rocker another comeback attempt oughta be worth a peak.

Overpaid Guys With A Crazy Sense Of Entitlement Return To Williamson County

Posted in Baseball at 8:32 am by

Astros 6, Express 4

A Houston roster packed with Express alumni visited Round Rock last night, and while the preseason tilt between the NL Central hopefuls and their PCL taxi squad might not have been a classic for the ages, it wasn’t without incident :

a) Former Baylor standout Jason Jennings allowed 2 runs (one earned) on 3 hits and a walk over 4 innings, but all of the damage of substance was done during an interminable first inning in which the newly acquired righty struggled with his location (ie. Williamson County).

b) Carlos Lee singled, hit an RBI double, stole a base, and went to bed with the comforting knowledge that firearms enthusiast Luke Scott is providing his protection in the batting order.

c) Morgan Ensberg responded to being dusted off by Round Rock’s Hunter Douglas in the fourth inning by feigning a charge to the mound, then wielding his bat towards the Round Rock dugout. The local paper will have you believe Ensberg was just kidding, but that’s merely because he doesn’t look very threatening.

d) Brad Lidge and Hunter Pence are already in mid-season form. The former served up a two-run laser shot to dead center to the latter ; Pence (above) was on fire during spring training and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb in predicting his probable strong showing in CF for Round Rock will impact Chris Burke’s job security.


Marchman To Mets Fans : Get Off The Fusspot

Posted in Baseball at 4:57 pm by

Along with projecting this year’s Bombers to be “the best Yankees team since 1998,” insisting that Miguel Tejada “deserves to play for a real team,” and dismissing the Mariners as “Orioles West”, the New York Sun’s Tim Marchman assuages the fears of Mets followers with, uh, the following :

I don’t worry about the Mets’ rotation. It wasn’t any good last year, and they won 97 games.

“It was, too good,” you protest. “They won 97 games!” Yes, because of the offense and the bullpen. The rotation ERA was 4.67, while National League starters as a whole, few of whom pitched in parks as spacious as Shea Stadium, were at 4.66.

Further, the Mets finished in first place by 12 games, which is a lot. They have to get a lot worse, and at least one other team will have to get a lot better, for the Mets to lose their spot atop the mountain. Could it happen? Yes. Will it? Probably not. Jose Reyes and David Wright are still improving, and the likes of Jose Lima and Steve Trachsel won’t be kicked around Flushing this year. All this should offset any decline from the likes of Carlos Beltran and Tom Glavine. Mets fans, by nature, are fusspots. This year they needn’t be.

While John Maine was solid against the Dodgers today (5 K’s, 6 IP, 2 earned runs), David Newhan went nuts (2 HR’s, double, single, 2 RBI’s) in the Mets’ 13-2 win. In the midst of an underwhelming spring for most of the Amazins’ position players, Newhan and Da Edge have performed exceptionally.

The Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker calls Rey Ordonez making the Mariners big league roster “one of the more improbable sports comebacks in recent memory.” I guess Geoff wasn’t so blown away by Russ Ortiz claiming the 5th spot in the Giants’ rotation.

Rangers reliever Eric Gagne will start the season on the DL ; even Kerry Wood is skeptical about Gagne ever coming all the way back.

Kazakhstan : Still Losing The Public Relations War

Posted in Cinema, Tourism, We Aren't The World at 1:59 pm by

Though the Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’s reasonable objections to the situationist comedy of Sacha Baron Cohen have been noted in this space previously (October 27, 2006, October 10, 2006, November 15, 2005), the New York Post’s Marianne Garvey reports on an unusual attempt to clear the air with American intellectuals. Or failing that, students at St. Francis.

Yesterday, students at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights sat through a guest lecture on the nation by Barlybai Sadykov, deputy permanent representative of Kazakhstan to the United Nations – and found it anything but entertaining.

Half the class dozed off, some played games on their laptops, and many sent text messages during the hour-long lecture by Sadykov, in which he disputed Borat’s tall tales about the country.

“Kazakhstan is becoming increasing important in the world,” Sadykov told the class. “Its economy is flourishing, and we have a large abundance of natural resources – in fact, we make 1.5 million barrels of oil a day.”

“We have very good relations with other countries, especially Israel,” Sadykov said.”Kazakhstan is not only a developing country, we are well equipped technologically and are an advanced society. Our people are highly educated. We have modern cities that are economic centers. We have very modern buildings.”

Gillispie’s Leverage : A&M Coach Spurns Arkansas Offer

Posted in Basketball at 12:47 pm by

From the Houston Chronicle’s John P. Lopez :

Texas A&M basketball coach Billy Gillispie will remain head coach of the basketball program he has turned into a national power, three high-ranking sources close to and within the A&M system have confirmed.

Gillispie apparently has not officially confirmed to athletic director Bill Byrne or the regents that he will accept a new contract that will pay him in the neighborhood of $2 million a year, including guarantees added to the deal that runs through 2012. But regents and athletic department officials feel confident the new deal, and construction on the new A&M basketball facility scheduled to begin Monday, are the guarantees Gillispie was pursuing.

“The fence will go up (at the construction site) and they’ll get it rolling,” one source said of the 50,000-square-foot, $20 million facility that will include practice areas for men’s and women’s basketball, offices and training areas.

After several meetings with A&M athletic director Bill Byrne, Gillispie received notice today that the A&M Board of Regents will rubber-stamp the contract and expedite the start of construction on the facility.

Gillispie has been contemplating an offer from the University of Arkansas to replace fired coach Stan Heath. If he accepts the A&M deal as expected, regents expect Gillispie to be, “a lifer.”

Though I’d be more impressed if A&M could find a way to give Acie Law the money, it’s worth noting that Gillispie’s new pact — if Lopez’ sums are correct — will make him the highest paid coach in the Big 12 (based purely on salary).

Richard Lester, Eat Your Heart Out

Posted in Rock Und Roll at 11:56 am by

If you’re wondering why the Geege gets slapped early in the video, keep in mind that even in Hookset, NH, whispering to a girl, “you look like a young Genya Raven” is considered rude.