05.28.07

Q : What Do Bloggers And LeBron Have In Common?

Posted in Basketball at 5:13 pm by

A : The Chicago Tribune’s Sam Smith has all sorts of problems with both of them. In what has to be considered impeccable timing, the morning after King James gave the Cavs a new lease on life with a near triple double in Cleveland’s 88-82 Game 3 win over Detroit, Smith claims USA Basketball oughta forget about LeBron, insisting “his game hasn’t been a good fit for international competition or with the U.S. team, and it might be better off without him.”

No one wants to say it publicly, and no one disputes that James is a transcendent talent, but there wouldn’t be any great sadness if James decides to stay home in 2008.

There were some minor attitude issues, and one famous scene last summer in which Bruce Bowen, who is dropping out of contention for the team, openly lectured James about treating administrative staff members with respect.

James, team insiders said, had a habit of ordering people around without ever learning their names.

The bigger issue for the USA Basketball staff is James’ fit as a player. He doesn’t shoot particularly well, but he liked to keep the ball glued to his hand in last year’s world championships. He is a willing passer and really was at his best when playing point guard toward the end of the tournament.

But Chauncey Billups and Jason Kidd will play this summer, and both are far better floor leaders than James. With a terrific playoff run, Williams is dribbling his way into that crowd. They all are better than James at running a team.

Also, coaches worried about James’ ego and view of himself within the team. They found too often when he wasn’t getting his points, he’d try hard late in games to get numbers, apparently so he wouldn’t have to answer questions about poor statistical games.

There also was some discomfort about internal jealousies, so James, along with Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony, was named a team captain to avoid that issue. But now Kobe Bryant joins the team, and his game is more suited to international play because he is a better shooter and defender than James despite James’ immense talent.

Johan Santana On The Art of Changing Speeds

Posted in Baseball at 3:50 pm by

Despite being taken deep by Luis Terrero and Paul Konerko, Minnesota’s Johan Santana is well on pace to claim his 6th win of ’07, as the Twins lead the White Sox, 8-4 entering home half of the 8th inning.

If you’re fortunate enough to watch the highlights tonight, there should be just a little bit of discussion concerning A.J. Pierzynski’s attempts to play footsie with Joe Mauer. You’ll also see Torii Hunter robbing Jim Thome of a solo HR to left center, but that’s just business-as-usual for the former.

Former Twin Kyle Lohse earned a complete game win for Cincinnati today as the Reds snapped a 6 game losing streak with a 4-0 victory over the Pirates. Ryan Freel was carried off the field after colliding with Norris Hopper while in pursuit of an Humberto Coto fly ball in the 3rd inning ; Farney was unavailable for comment.

Pats DE Hill Dead At 24

Posted in Gridiron at 3:33 pm by

Following a Jetski accident on Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain on Sunday evening, the body of New England Patriots DE Marquise Hill was retrieved and identified earlier today. From the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Around 10 a.m. today, Steve McManus of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said officials decided to focus on recovering Hill’s body after witnesses saw him go under the water without resurfacing. Authorities were using information from family members to determine Hill’s exact location at the time he and a woman fell from the craft, McManus said.

The accident was reported about 9 p.m. Sunday after a man and woman were reported falling into the water from a recreational craft. They apparently were heading to the Seabrook boat launch. The Orleans Levee Board Police said that a passing boat had briefly picked up the man, but he jumped back in the water to look for the woman.

The woman, who was rescued after a passerby heard someone calling for help, had apparently grabbed onto a piling or other structure in the lake.

A 3 year NFL vet, Hill was a member of Nick Saban’s 2003 National Championship LSU squad.

Is Your Organization Ready To Get Motivated?

Posted in Baseball at 1:51 pm by

Hot Shit College Student Writes,

With all the free time Dusty Baker has, you’d think he’d make sure the Premiere Speakers Bureau website updated his photo. You have to sell yourself, Dusty!

To which I can only add, I sincerely hope Dusty is commanding a bigger fee than Tom Candiotti.

The Rick Ankiel Watch, Continued

Posted in Baseball at 1:33 pm by

All kidding aside (ie. looking for an excuse to jettison Scott Spiezio from the major leagues), the improbable comeback of Rick Ankiel might be enough to have So Taguchi and Preston Wilson wondering about their spots on the Cards’ 25 man roster.

Ankiel has singlehandedly chased Rock Round starter Jared Gothreaux, hitting a pair of homers, a double and driving in 5 runs in his first plate appearances.  Memphis currently leads, 11-3 in the 5th, but alas, former Met Matt Ginter (above) is not eligible for the win, having pitched poorly (4 hits, 1 walk, 3 earned runs) in two innings of work.

Though Felix Pie’s brief tenure at Wrigley left a bit to be desired, he’s got little left to prove at the Triple A leve.  The Iowa CF has homered and raised his batting average to a lofty .394, as the Cubs lead Oklahoma, 5-0 after 3 innings.  Former ChiSox fixture Neil Cotts has allowed nothing more than a single to Redhawks C Guillermo Quiroz.

05.27.07

Someone Please Stop T.J. Simers Before He Calls Bryant “Kobester” Again

Posted in Basketball at 5:49 pm by

Kobe Bryant has told the LA Times’ Mike Bresnahan he’d like to see some changes made. And he was considerably more blunt with ESPN’s Ric Bucher, demanding the Lakers rehire Jerry West and give the Logoman full authority to do whatever-it-takes (short of reacquiring Shaquille O’Neal, I suppose). The Times’ T.J. Simers, however, is less than intimidated, asking, “What’s he going to do if he doesn’t get his way? Stop passing the ball to his teammates?”

What’s he going to do, ask for a trade? Demand a trade? Sure, the Lakers will do that. How about Atlanta’s entire roster for the Kobester, and keep Smush Parker because he’s such a fan favorite.

The Kobester can wear a sandwich board and walk all around Staples Center protesting his dislike for the current Lakers situation, and it really doesn’t matter. He’s got his contract, his obligation to perform, and like any other employee will be asked to make the best of it.

One team wins a title every year, and a lot of great players go into the off-season frustrated. Happens every year. A player sounds off about being frustrated, and the fans like it. It’s good for someone’s image. Sounds like he really cares.

The Kobester wanted his own team. That’s what he said when it appeared Shaq might be leaving, and when he got it, he referred to it as “my team” on more than one occasion. So much for “his guys.”

He says the time is “now” for the Lakers, as if Kupchak, Buss and Phil Jackson don’t know that, or agree with him. The Dodgers say now is the time to win every year. The Angels do the same. The only team around here that doesn’t say such a thing every year is the Kings.

The last word on Boston’s lottery woes goes to Peter Vescey correspondent Brian McGunigle, who wrote “œif the Celts had been trying to lose, Brian Scalabrine would™ve gotten a lot more playing time.

There’s Been A Rick Ankiel Sighting In Williamson County

Posted in Baseball, General at 5:31 pm by

Actually, there have been several this week. Earlier today, former Cards pitcher turned outfielder Rick Ankiel’s RBI single off Round Rock’s Josh Miller (just promoted from Corpus Christi) provided Memphis with all the offense they’d need ; Redbirds starter Blake Hawksworth (7 IP, 5 hits, no walks) and 2 relievers combined on a 2-0 defeat of the Express. Former Met / New Weird America icon Matt Ginter did not make an appearance for Memphis.

Rather than go through the entire PCL scoreboard, I’ll just stick with the most depressing line I can find : Chan Ho Park today against Omaha —- 4.2 IP, 14 hits, 7 earned runs, 2 walks, and a pair of 4th inning HR’s allowed to Cody Clark and Mitch Maier. At the risk of repeating one of the lamer jokes in CSTB history, it impossible for me to ignore the Zeyphers starting Ricky Ledee, Mike DeFelice and Ferando Tatis and wonder if the people of New Orleans haven’t suffered enough.

OK, the game was played in Kansas. But surely someone in New Orleans was listening on the radio.

I realize the Rangers have Sammy Sosa on some kinda bargain contract, but surely he’s being paid enough to hit the cut off man? An RBI single by Boston’s Mike Lowell broke a 4-4 deadlock between Texas and the Red Sox earlier today, but J.D. Drew probably wouldn’t have been in scoring position had Sammy not made a futile heave to the plate on Drew’s RBI single moments earlier.

Despite an 8-4 drubbing of the A’s today, O’s skipper Sam Perlozzo is said to be on the hot seat, and the Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec tips my favorite Peter Golenbock co-author (aside from Mickey Mantle’s cock) to resume the position.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, Unfunny Columns Are Harder To Read

Posted in Baseball at 1:04 pm by

A day after Joe Torre was reduced to blaming crap umpiring (on behalf of the underachieving Bobby Abreu), the Yankees are trying to avoid being swept at the Stadium by the Angels, where they currently hold a 2-0 lead in the 4th inning. Today’s efforts, however, might be too little, too late for novelist Jane Heller, who uses the New York Times’ “Cheering Section” to make the following dramatic announcement.

I gave it everything I have. I am sick and tired of the œI trieds and the œWhat do you expect me to dos? I™ve been begging for answers and all I have gotten are platitudes. Enough is enough.

And so I am divorcing the New York Yankees ” all 25 men on the active roster, in addition to the manager, the coaches and the general manager. Oh, and the trainer, too. And, of course, the owner and all his baseball people.

The grounds for the divorce will be mental cruelty. I mean, I made a commitment to these guys, emotional and financial, and they betrayed and humiliated me by allowing the Red Sox ” the Red Sox! ” to run away with the division. When I think how I defended the Yankees to their legions of detractors, it hurts. It really hurts.

I was so loyal, so trusting, so willing to shell out $165 so I could buy Major League Baseball™s Extra Innings package and watch all the games from my house in California. And yet look at how they treated me. I will tell you how they treated me ” as if I were a Kansas City Royals fan.

Yeah, I know. There have been injuries. A sore back. A cracked fingernail. A bone spur. A hammy. Please. I am not stupid. If a guy does not want to show up for me, he should simply say so and stop making excuses.

And yeah, there have been disruptions in routine. But again. A rainout is no reason to act all out of sorts and say, œI guess I just didn™t have good stuff.

maybe the love died when Zimmer quit and Torre had to make managerial decisions on his own. There were all those nights when Joe would call for Tanyon Sturtze in relief ” so many nights that he turned that poor guy™s arm into a pretzel, the way he is doing now with Scott Proctor. There were also the nights when he would pull Mussina or Wang or whichever starter was actually pitching brilliantly and efficiently in favor of a reliever who would blow the game. (See Sturtze.)

And then there was his flip-flopping: œI won™t use Mo in the eighth; œI have to use Mo in the eighth. Those mixed messages can really get to a person in love. We all need to know where we stand, don™t we?

Coming to next Sunday’s cheering section : Andrew Vachss on why he’d rather witness child abuse than watch Bronson Arroyo pitch.

Phil Out Of Touchnick – Post Crusader Slides Even Further Into Irrelevancy

Posted in Professional Wrestling, Sports Journalism at 12:39 pm by

Today’s NY Post entry from Phil Mushnick is mostly composed of the Conscience Of News Corp railing against the televised poker boom. Apparently, said craze (which crested, what, 3 years ago?) could well lead to an epidemic of collegiate gambling. And just when you might’ve hoped Phil would’ve had something to say about one of the hotter sports media stories of the past week, he instead turns his attentions to a tried and true tackling dummy.

Connecticut™s Sacred Heart University, during its May 13 graduation ceremony, bestowed an honorary doctorate on Vince McMahon (above). Charles Manson must™ve been unavailable.

McMahon™s speech to the Class of ™07 was prefaced by an explanation that the honor is in recognition of œall you are and all you promise to be. A Catholic institution, Sacred Heart™s mission statement encourages a œresponsibility for the common good of society.

To that end, no clips of McMahon™s vulgar, kid-targeting WWE TV shows were shown. And, so as not to embarrass him or the school, a long roll call of drug-afflicted and prematurely deceased pro wrestlers also was avoided.

Incidentally, because he™s the recipient of an honorary doctorate, Dr. McMahon will remain unable to legally prescribe steroids to himself and to his wrestlers.

05.26.07

‘Sheed Dismisses Floppy Youngster

Posted in Basketball at 6:33 pm by

Chris McCosky of the Detroit News with the sort of thing that would ordinarily qualify for bulletin board material….were the player being dissed not so completely out of his depth.

Rasheed Wallace , asked about his “battles” with Anderson Varejao (above) : “It ain’t no battles. That kid ain’t old enough to be in what you’d want to call a battle. All that flopping, they need to make that a technical foul next year. They do all this other stuff to give me technical fouls. That’s not defense (Varejao falling to the floor on Wallace’s winning shot). I am glad we had veteran referees who saw that.”

Now playing in Freehold, NJ : Lloyd Daniels as “The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave”.