05.22.07

It’s Tuesday Night – Has Anyone Committed A Shooting Foul On LeBron Yet?

Posted in Basketball at 6:09 pm by

“I go for the winning play,”  LeBron James said after last night’s 79-76 Game 1 loss in Motown. “If two guys come at you and your teammate is open, then give it up. Simple as that.” Makes sense on paper, but public and media alike expect King James to be more than A Witness in a Christopher Russo Big Spot. But beyond the final moments of Monday’s Eastern Conference battle, the Plain-Dealer’s Bud Shaw is trying to figure out how one of the game’s top stars never went to the foul line.

Kid, Wise, Business, Athlete – none of the LeBrons managed to find his way to the free-throw line on a night of too much sharing and caring on the part of the Cavaliers’ best player.

Don’t blame the refs for Detroit’s 79-76 win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. They let both teams play. James got mugged on one or two drives – at least that’s the story he ought to tell after flipping one layup attempt over the backboard. But they also once let him remove the ball from Richard Hamilton’s hands via Hamilton’s headband.

“That’s surprising to me,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said of James’ inability to get to the line.

More surprising is how little offense the Cavaliers run to get James the ball in scoring situations. Too often he gets it with precious seconds gone from the shot clock and is asked to part the Red Sea.

James didn’t complain about the non-foul calls or question when Rasheed Wallace (seven blocks) turned into the Human Eraser. He didn’t get to the basket enough to be a convincing victim.

He may be the resident superstar of the playoffs, but the legacy of the Pistons’ teamwork and success – five consecutive conference finals – means James isn’t going to get the automatic foul call every time he sets his GPS for the basket.

That’s the playoffs. When you take three shots in the fourth quarter, what can you say?

Sohu.com has characterized Jeff Van Gundy as responsible for Yao Ming’s “humiliating” first round exit. So much for CSTB’s investment in Jeff V.G. t-shirts in the Far East, then.

Easy, Tiger : PETA Vs. LSU

Posted in College Spurts, Going To The Zoo, When Mascots Attack at 4:09 pm by

From PETA’s latest press release :

This morning, PETA sent an urgent letter to Louisiana State University (LSU) Chancellor Sean O™Keefe urging him to permanently scratch live animal mascots from the LSU team rosters and use only humans in tiger costumes instead. PETA™s letter comes in the wake of the death of Mike V, the school™s Bengal tiger mascot, who died last Friday of complications from surgery. Mike was 17 years old. PETA points out that according to wildlife experts, tigers and other large carnivores suffer extremely in captivity because they are denied the opportunity to engage in many behaviors that are natural and important to them. PETA also reminds O™Keefe that replacing Mike with another tiger would mean taking a cub from his mother months before the two would normally part, causing both mother and cub to suffer severe stress and trauma.

“Most college teams”and all major professional teams”use human mascots, who are far more capable of interacting with fans than scared animals are,” says PETA Director Debbie Leahy. “The biggest tribute that LSU could pay to Mike would be to make sure that no more of these magnificent animals are forced to live a life of deprivation just to make a public appearance a few days a year.”

Though you might not be down with PETA’s tactics or philosophy, no one can dispute Ms. Leahy’s claim that human mascots are far more capable of interacting with fans.

Surely Someone Has Video Or Audio Documentation Of The Greatest Confrontation Of All Time?

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio at 3:30 pm by

It seems as though the Mets’ 10-7 defeat of the Yankees was just the second best thing that happened in Flushing last Saturday, according to the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman.

Suzyn Waldman, still upset over FranDog mocking her Clemens gaga trip the Sunday that Rocket announced his return to the Bronx (the frantic WCBS-AM radio description was played over and over), tore into Chris Russo after the two came face to face outside the Mets radio booth at Shea.

Russo, according to well-embedded moles, tried defusing the situation by telling Waldman, “We were just having some fun.” Waldman wasn’t buying Russo’s damage control/jive. She said she hoped he had “his two days of fun,” but had “ruined her life” in the process.”

Following her down a corridor, Russo tried calming Waldman. But his attempt to soothe backfired. Momma P, screaming, dropped two fat F bombs on Russo before accusing him of “talking behind my back” for “20 years.”

Waldman’s partner John (Pa Pinstripe) Sterling was marked absent during the blowout. No doubt he was high … far … gone.

Are The Halos Hunting Mr. Apology?

Posted in Baseball at 10:55 am by

Though Jason Giambi (above, right, with close friend David Chase) homered last night off Tim Wakefield in the Yankees’ 6-2 defeat of the Red Sox, the New York Post’s George King is cranking up the speculation regarding the embattled part time player’s next employer.

MLB isn™t the only outfit interested in Jason Giambi. According to a person with knowledge of the Angels™ thinking, the AL West leaders have an interest in acquiring the Yankees™ DH to bolster a lineup that is last in the league in home runs.

The Angels™ interest in Giambi, who was in a 1-for-26 slump and batting .268 going into last night™s game, was before the recent controversy surfaced. It™s likely the Angels, who have 30 homers, will wait to see what MLB does before pursuing a deal the Yankees would have to listen to very seriously.
The Angels have utility man Chone Figgins to move as well as backup catcher Jose Molina. And their farm system is loaded with young arms. However, if the Yankees have to eat a sizeable portion of Giambi™s salary to make the trade they would want more back for Giambi. As for Giambi, he has a blanket no-trade clause. However, the Angels play 20 minutes from West Covina, where he grew up, and an equal distance from the Orange County beaches Giambi enjoys.

I’m sorry to say I’ve not spent nearly enough time socializing with either King or Giambi to know exactly what “Orange County beaches” is supposed to be a euphasmism for.

Reeves : Who Says You Can’t Fire All 25 Players?

Posted in Baseball at 10:34 am by

Unimpressed by last night’s 14-4 drubbing of the Twins (nor, presumably, Sunday’s 14-0 defeat of the Astros), the Fort Worth Star Telegram’s Jim Reeves suggests Rangers owner Tom Hicks might finally see “a real offense at work” when he travels to Athens for Liverpool’s Champions League final tomorrow, along with proposing “Jon Daniels and Ron Washington should be fired immediately..they should be Nos. 26 and 27 in line for the guillotine, right after every player on the 25-man roster loses his head.”

Tom Hicks won’t let the Rangers actually go through the painful but necessary process of actually rebuilding. The ‘R’ word is banned at The Ballpark for fear that it will scare off more fans, cutting into Hicks’ precious bottom line.

Instead, they patch their gaping holes every off-season as best they can, then talk optimistically about having the firepower to compete with the Angels and A’s in the American League West. Firepower? How did anyone ever look at this outfield and think it could be competitive?

Of course, no one expected free agent acquisition Frank Catalanotto to bring a .140 batting average off the disabled list in late May. Or that Brad Wilkerson could possibly be as bad in 2007 as he was in 2006. Or that Nelson Cruz still wouldn’t have figured it out by now. Imagine how bad things would look if the Rangers hadn’t taken a flier on Sammy Sosa.

Should all these miscalculations, along with a series of less-than-scintillating trades cost Daniels his job? It would be tough to argue that it shouldn’t but that would also sustain one of this organization’s biggest flaws, and that’s the constant change that has marked Hicks’ reign as owner. Daniels, to his credit, has tried to stress continuity. That said, if he’s still relying on the same people Hart brought with him to scout and evaluate talent, it’s well past time to make some changes.

Hicks, when he’s through dallying with his soccer team, needs to either fire Daniels right now or commit to him completely, because the next few months could easily determine the Rangers’ future for years to come.

Daniels, if he still has his job, will preside over the team’s most important draft in years next month, when the Rangers have two first round picks (Nos. 17 and 24) and five of the first 54. They absolutely must do a better job of drafting than they have in recent years. One reason that the Rangers can’t just “blow it up” and play the kids is that there are so few prospects on the horizon at Oklahoma City or Frisco.

Isn’t Ron Borges A Little Young For Retirement?

Posted in Sports Journalism at 7:50 am by

In a development I neglected to note last Friday, embattled Belichick baiter Ron Borges — recently busted for plagiarism and a blatant conflict of interest in two incidents well covered at Bruce Allen’s Boston Sports Mediaannounced his “retirement” from the Boston Globe. BSM’s David Scott — who has been all over Borges like, well, the Hooded Casanova on a Jersey housewife — recognizes that something stinks on Morrissey Blvd.

There is no way this is entirely Borges decision as the wording of the statement would ask that you believe. “. . . to pursue new projects in sports journalism” sounds an awful lot like “don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Ronny.”

Add into the mix that Borges, as recently as last week, was clamming up on the plagiarism allegations because of a pending legal matter (a Totten-confirmed arbitration hearing) and the resulting picture is one of dubious moves and public missteps and the sad end to a Globe writing career that had several highlights despite recent lowlights and attention-grabs by Borges.

Now, the Globe looks silly because a plagiarist just quit on them; Borges looks silly because he’s now got to overcome both plagiarism accussations and the perception that he’s sleeping with the enemy (or at least canoodling with a subject he “covers”); and the rest of the Globe’s reading public (and working cohorts) look silly because we can’t be sure of what exactly is going on at the once-proud sports desk.

Newsday’s Baumbach Stalks Twenty Somethings Online

Posted in Baseball, The Internet at 1:34 am by

The Yanks’ Tyler Clippard might’ve humbled the Mets the other night, but crusty Jim Baumbach manages to cut the rookie pitcher down to size.

Myspace tells us so much more about Tyler, things we obviously had no clue about. For example, Tyler lists his interests as, “Baseball! BUCKEYES! FINS! GIRLS!”

He lists “Dumb and Dumber” as one of his favorite movies, so he better hope he’s still on the roster when they travel to Anaheim again. The clubhouse guys there always seem to have that playing on the big screen for the players.

When he’s asked to list his heroes, young Tyler writes, “wow my heroes would be my DAD, my Grandfather, all our troops fighting for us in Iraq, especially u BOBBY!”

And then there’s the place where he posted some photos of himself pitching, drinking and looking at himself shirtless in the mirror ¦ typical pictures from a 22-year-old.

Soon, young Tyler’s page will probably go private, which means only his myspace friends can access it. Unless, of course, he chooses to be his generation’s Curt Schilling.

Without hoping to stifle anyone’s right to express themselves fully, I do hope MySpace can do something to prevent Curt Schilling from posting shirtless pics of himself staring into the mirror.

Spanish Scoreboard Watching With Sid Lowe

Posted in Football at 12:25 am by

On Sunday afternoon, an extra time goal from Roberto Carlos (above) at Recreativo Huelva put Real Madrid in the driver’s seat for the ’06-07 La Liga title. Later that evening, Real’s local rivals did their part to keep Barca’s title hopes alive. The Guardian’s Sid Lowe reviews a glorious day glued to the tube transistor.

Radios pressed to their ears, Atlético’s fans had just heard how, after 85 minutes, Ikechukwu Uche had made it 2-2 between Recre and Real Madrid. With time running out and three matches remaining, Sevilla, who’d recovered from 120 minutes of football, 48 hours of hard drinking, and a 72nd-minute goal from Rodolpho Bodipo to beat Deportivo 2-1, were top on 67 points. Madrid and Barcelona were second on 66 each with Barça still to play. And Valencia, for whom Joaquín scored a last-minute winner against Mallorca, were right behind them on 65. Madrid’s challenge had derailed, luck finally deserting them.

Up in their La Coruña hotel, Sevilla’s players were hopping about and embracing; down in Atlético president Enrique Cerezo’s office, Barcelona counterpart Joan Laporta was grinning through a mouthful of pork pies; and out in the rain Atléti’s fans were chanting, “whoever doesn’t bounce is a Madridista” and boing-boinging away. Kick-off approached and – against the odds – it was set to be the perfect night.

Long singled out as the match where Frank Rijkaard’s side would lose the title, Atléti-Barça had become a moral dilemma for the colchoneros, a swirl of mixed emotions. Not because they particularly like Barça – ooh-oohs for Samuel Eto’o and Lilian Thuram, chants against Oleguer Presas and choruses of Y Viva España showed that – but because they particularly dislike Real Madrid. And because they feared that, yet again, they would unwillingly prove Madrid’s greatest allies, with an Atléti victory almost certainly handing their arrogant, gloating neighbours the league.

For some fans the prospect, like Anne Widdecombe getting down and dirty with David Mellor, was just too horrible to even contemplate – maybe even horrible enough to throw the game. All week, the club insisted they’d go all out for victory, Cerezo growing increasingly irritated at the wicked whispers, but the fans weren’t so sure. One poll showed 39% wanted to lose rather than hand Madrid the title, while this column’s unscientific straw poll (which is the only type of straw poll this column is suited to, since scientific experience amounts to scorching Miss Danks with a Bunsen burner) suggested the figure was even higher. One banner employed footballing mathematics to declare the Calderón “101% Anti-Madridista”, while another was more explicit: “Don’t fuck up my pools coupon: we want an away win.”

05.21.07

Anyone Who’s Anyone Is On Larry Zierlein’s Mailing List

Posted in Gridiron at 10:53 pm by

On a day in which NFL news would otherwise be dominated by Chris Henry’s disputed piss test and Clinton Portis describing Michael Vick’s alleged cruelty to dogs as “not too bad of a crime”, kudos to Pro Football Talk for their dilligent coverage of Steelers OL coach Larry Zierlein.

Zierlein (above), is accused by PFT of forwarding a “hardcore pornographic video clip” to “multiple high-level team employees and their secretaries” after he received a copy of the offending file from Steelers director of personnel Doug Whaley.

Zierlein’s son, Lance hosts a yack show on Houston’s Sports Radio 610, a program that according to the Brazosport News, has failed to mention the supposed e-mail incident.

The worst part of this story is that Joe Cullen’s mailbox was full.

Who Wants To Go To The Men’s Room With Dick Versace?

Posted in Basketball at 5:49 pm by

Former Grizzlies GM Dick Versace on his past lottery experiences, as told to the Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Roland Tillery.

One of Versace’s memorable lottery experiences happened in 2002, when he saw how the Houston Rockets’ luck turned into center Yao Ming.

The Rockets won the No. 1 overall pick when one of their 89 assigned combinations was the first selected. When the league drew for the No. 2 pick, a combination assigned to the Rockets also came up.

That was discarded and the new numbers chosen belonged to the Chicago Bulls. Memphis won the fourth pick that year.

“I’m a suspicious person like everyone,” Versace said. “I’m looking at this situation and I’m saying ‘OK, how could they do it? How could they cheat? How could they fix it?’ I’m racking my brain.

“I’m one of those guys who will go to those very difficult, hard-to-figure-out movies and I always figure it out. But I’m looking at these Ping-Pong balls bouncing around and there’s no way.”

Versace says the NBA goes to great lengths to protect the integrity of the lottery.

He called “hogwash” the notion that the lottery is fixed to reward a team the league deems most worthy.

“I’ve been in that room three times,” Versace said of the closed-door lottery proceedings. “They take all your cell phones and you’re not allowed to leave the room. If you have to go to the bathroom, you’re escorted by a security guard so no information can leak out. … It’s a fair deal. It’s as fair as it can be. But it is still a lottery and luck is a big part of it.”

NBC To The NHL : Heidi-Ho!

Posted in Hockey, Sports TV at 4:45 pm by

(the Sens’ Daniel Alfredsson. If you’re an American, you might not be aware he did something special the other day)

NBC pulled it’s coverage
of Saturday’s Senators/Sabres Game 5 when the game reached OT, flipping to the Preakness Stakes. Though this Stanley Cup playoff was made available via Versus (ie. a channel no one has), the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick correctly surmises, “the balance of the semi-final may as well have been played on a pond outside of Plattsburgh.” Gorrila Crouch’s Dave May expounds on the matter :

The NHL has to reach some type of agreement with NBC to avoid things like this happening as it only serves to remind both the casual sports fan and the hardcore NHL fan of how irrelevant NHL hockey is to major media companies. That™s not how you go about trying to grow the sport and make it more popular. Remember when ESPN was carrying the games and couldn™t say often enough how re-runs of the Cosby show had more viewers than NHL games? The NHL has to do a better job promoting the game and having the deciding game of the Eastern Conference finals dropped doesn™t help one bit.

NBC isn™t a non-profit and they don™t work for the NHL™s P.R. department. So it™s not their job to continue to run an NHL broadcast beyond its time slot while pre-empting a horse race that will likely draw more viewers and bring in more advertising revenue (I™m guessing those ads were probably not geared towards NHL fans given the different demographics between the two sports).

But the NHL has to also make sure that NBC understands that there is a real chance a game could go into overtime. While cutting away from the game during the regular season is understandable, that just isn™t something that the NHL can agree to during the playoffs. If NBC can™t guarantee that they will show a playoff game to its conclusion then it is probably in everyone™s best interest that the game be shown in its entirety on Versus.

As Floyd Landis’ Ex-Manager Enters Rehab…

Posted in cycling at 2:41 pm by

…we have to wonder, how will his alleged witness tampering of Greg LeMond impact his inclusion in the Geoghegan Hall Of Fame?

They Have The Death Penalty In Florida, Right?

Posted in "Wife Beater" Is Not A Fashion Statement, Rock Und Roll, The Law at 10:20 am by

On one hand, there’s nothing funny about domestic violence.

On the other, we’re one step closer to a VH-1 series where the schmuck on the left is made to room with Scott Weiland. Though I think “The Fraud Couple” would be a good working title, I suspect the network will ultimately opt for  “Scott Or Not?”

Sweet Lou, The Great Communicator

Posted in Baseball at 9:32 am by

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Chris De Luca on the ever-changing status of Cubs hurler Ryan Dempster. Hey, it’s all pitching, right?


Here we were, on the brink of Lou Piniella’s biggest shakeup as Cubs manager. Closer Ryan Dempster and fifth starter Angel Guzman were going to swap roles in the blink of a blurry eye. It was the big secret Piniella had been dangling in front of reporters all weekend.

It had the potential to be a really bad move. But before it got to that point, it turned into one of the most embarrassing mixups at Wrigley Field since Sammy Sosa’s mysterious exit at the end of the 2004 season.

For Dempster, it was a bizarre and unnecessary twist that resulted in a full 360-degree turn — from closer to starter back to closer again without a pitch being thrown.

There was Dempster shortly after the Cubs’ 10-6 loss to the White Sox on Sunday, embracing a move back to the rotation — one he clearly had been relishing.

”It didn’t shock me, but I was definitely surprised,” Dempster said of Piniella broaching the subject of starting after the closer blew a 5-1 lead in the ninth inning Thursday night at Shea Stadium. ”I was excited. Honestly, it was was probably as excited as I’ve been in a long time. Excited to get back out there and start and, hopefully, do it for a long time.”

A long time? Less than 30 minutes later — after a closed-door meeting with Piniella, pitching coach Larry Rothschild and general manager Jim Hendry — Dempster was back in front of his locker, as near to red-faced as the unflappable closer can get.

”April Fool’s,” Dempster said. ”Um, yeah, obviously, we just kind of talked about things, and for right now, I’m going to go back down there and close.”

Huh?

For now, Dempster will continue to close and right-hander Angel Guzman will be groomed for a ninth-inning role he never has filled during his professional career.

In other masters-of-ego-massage news, St. Louis’ Tony La Genius coped with his club’s weekend capitulation to the Tigers by letting the local scribes know he’s pissed off with Jim Edmonds’ curious route to a long fly ball by Sean Casey.

Fish Reliever’s Devotion To The Legacy Of Billy Koch

Posted in Baseball at 9:15 am by

The Palm Beach Post’s Tom D’Angelo on one man’s efforts to ensure Billy Koch is not so quickly forgotten in the big leagues.

Justin Miller’s body art, those pieces visible in public, led Major League Baseball to rule that he has to wear long sleeves when he pitches.But it’s the one seen only inside the sanctity of the major-league clubhouse that can be described as a real pain in the butt.

Tattooed on the newest Marlin’s buttocks is the phrase: “I (heart) Billy Koch.” Koch, a former reliever who spent time with the Marlins, paid Miller $1,000 plus picked up the $80 tab from Mom’s Tattoos in Dunedin before the 2004 season for the advertisement. Koch felt so bad for Miller’s wife, Jessica, for “having to see it every day,” that he gave Jessica an additional $500.

“It gets some funny remarks, like, ‘What is wrong with you?’ ” Miller said.

Miller became the league’s equivalent of Dennis Rodman during spring training of 2004 when the league ordered him to cover his arms, claiming the tattoos would distract hitters.

“I don’t understand it, but it was easy to do,” Miller said. “They asked me and I said no problem.”

Miller’s art remains a work in progress. Virtually his entire body is covered except from the neck up and, with the exception of his tribute to Koch, other areas that aren’t typically exposed in public.

But that could change, too.

“I think about getting my head tattooed all the time, but not until baseball is over,” he said.

On behalf of men and women across North America, I urge Miller to reconsider. Please, tattoo your head as soon as possible.

Unreal Is Here Now : Chavez Credited With AIG’s Windfall

Posted in Baseball, Football, The Marketplace at 2:13 am by

The New York Times’ Tal Pinchevesky on the growing celeb status of the New York Mets’ Endy Chavez, and how the outfielder’s remarkable Game 7 NLCS catch might’ve benefited the insurance company AIG.

On July 13, Chávez will be recognized with the kind of treatment typically lavished on the game™s biggest stars: The first 25,000 fans at Shea Stadium will receive an AIG-sponsored Endy Chávez bobblehead to commemorate the catch.

œI heard they™re trying to make the bobblehead about the catch ” I™m excited to see what they™re going to do, Chávez said in a recent interview. œWhat can I say? I feel proud.

For Chávez, who had spent much of the 2005 season on the Philadelphia Phillies™ bench, the sudden fame prompted by one memorable play took him by surprise.

œI knew I could play defense, he said. œBut I™m not used to robbing home runs. It was a special moment in that game, a Game 7. We had no tomorrow.

Three weeks after Chávez™s catch, AIG revealed its third-quarter earnings for 2006, with a net income of $4.22 billion compared with $1.75 billion for the same quarter in 2005. In the month after the catch, AIG shares surged to their highest value in 21 months.

No one is suggesting that single play led to those financial achievements, but AIG has boosted its investment in baseball. Aside from the Chávez doll promotion, AIG has renewed its Homers for Kids program at Shea as well as a similar charitable effort with the Houston Astros. The company also recently announced its sponsorship of 14 Class AA baseball teams and 6 Class A clubs, which will involve wall signs featuring the AIG logo and slogan.

AIG officials declined requests to be interviewed. In a statement, the company said that it was œproud to be associated with the New York Mets and Mr. Chávez™s catch.

Terry Lefton, an editor at large at Sports Business Journal specializing in sports marketing and sponsorships, said the catch demonstrated the potential power of baseball marketing to AIG.

œThis got them juiced about baseball, Lefton said. œThey had a good quarter, which didn™t necessarily include the time during which the catch was made. It™s hard to draw a straight line and say X is caused by Y. But I can see why AIG would want Chávez. They are part of that catch.

If Endy can do that much to boost AIG’s bottom line, said firm should brace themselves for the inevitable fallout after their 2006-07 sponsorship of Manchester United led to the Red Devils losing the FA Cup final, 1-0 to Chelsea on Saturday. Perhaps there is no greater evidence that stateside interest in English club soccer has jumped the shark than Chris Berman dubbing Chelsea’s Ivory Coast superstar striker, Didier “I Want A New” Drogba.

05.20.07

Country Time’s One-Woman Fan Club

Posted in Baseball, Free Expression at 10:32 pm by

If Saturday’s 9th inning drove her crazy, I shudder to think how she’d have reacted to the Mets’ struggles on Sunday night against rookie Tyler Clippard.

Fictional Boxer Rocky Balboa Convicted

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 8:21 pm by

(Stallone, above, convicted of testosterone possession “ and I always
thought it was special effects “ still denies those plastic surgery rumors).

News that Sylvester Stallone has been fined and convicted for possessing performance enhancing drugs in Australia is baffling to those of us who saw his performance in Rocky Balboa. As in, since the drugs are obviously not working, why are you still using them?

Stallone fined for drug imports

Hollywood star Sylvester Stallone has been convicted and fined for bringing banned substances into Australia during a visit to Sydney in February.

Last week Stallone pleaded guilty to importing 48 vials of human growth hormone and possessing four vials of testosterone.

Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court heard Stallone tried to deceive Customs Officers when they found the growth hormone in his luggage at Sydney airport, by passing off a fake prescription as genuine

Stallone apologised, saying he was using the substances to treat a medical condition, and did not know he was breaking Australian law.

He has been fined just under $3,000 and agreed to pay court costs of $10,000.

The 60-year-old was in Australia in February to plug his latest film Rocky Balboa.

Western Conference Finals Game One : AK-47′s Disappearing Act

Posted in Basketball, Food at 8:10 pm by

Spurs 108, Jazz 100

Sunday afternoon marked a rare CSTB field trip to San Antonio — it’s amazing how many guys on highway billboards in that part of the country look exactly like Manu Ginobili.

That Tim Duncan could repeatedly abuse Utah and post up at will was no surprise ; that the Jazz would mount one of the more painstaking, methodical would-be comebacks after being blown out in the 2nd quarter, was a mild shock. Mind you, said initiative largely consisted of the fantastic Deron Williams driving the lane —- until a D.W. trey with less than a minute left, the Jazz didn’t attempt a three pointer during the entire 4th quarter, despite entering the final stanza trailing by 16.

Tim Duncan and Fabricio Oberto did a masterful job shutting down Carlos Boozer, but Utah’s lack of a perimeter game can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the ice cold Memhet Okur and the completely out-of-sorts Andrei Kirilenko. While the former probably didn’t get as many touches as he’d like, AK-47 struggled to create his own shot and appeared weirdly deferential. During a second half that had the Spurs on cruise control for long stretches (and Duncan and Bruce Bowen resting for the end of the 3rd quarter), the game was crying for someone in an ugly turquoise jersey to take the fucker over. Williams seemed the only Utah player up to the challenge.

Though I’m certain the Jazz can muster a better effort in Game Two, I have difficulty imagining how they’ll survive if Duncan is allowed to continue using the paint as his personal playground. And while Spurs-hatin’ has become a sport of sorts around these parts, I am doing my best to find some silver lining in the likelihood of San Antonio’s 4th title in 8 seasons. For instance, mulling over the words, “Jacques Vaughn, World Champion.” Or hoping that another title will give assistant P.J. Carelismo the gumption to finally accept Dick Wolf’s invitation to play himself in a “Law & Order” episode not so loosely based on Peege being strangled by Latrell Sprewell.

Admittedly, I am grasping at straws.

While Owner With A Boner-esque criticisms of San Antonio come far too easily for a secondary market newspaper (just ’cause you lot can marry Jeanne Tripplehorn and Chloe Sevingy is no reason to dump on another city), I’d like to pay homage to one of the burg’s finer cultural landmarks. Not only are the food and margaritas at La Fogata exceptional (the latter so much so, that I almost fogata how to drive) but the Mexican eatery’s Wall Of Fame was one of the finest I’ve seen. Celebrities shown in La Fogata’s picturesque surroundings include Ben Wallace, David Robinson (more than once), Sean Elliot, Jered from the Subway commercials, Ahmad Rashad and Willow Bay.

Let’s Hope The One Of These Signs Has Been Heavily Discounted

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 6:40 pm by

as seen at the Mets Team Store, 42nd Street between 5th and 6th, Friday, May 18.

Oakland’s Cust Of Living

Posted in Baseball at 11:29 am by

How hot is Oakland’s Jack Cust? Even Barry Bonds thinks he oughta be tested. Recently acquired from San Diego (for whom he tore up the PCL the past two seasons in Portland), Cust has 8 HR’s, 20 RBI’s and 16 walks in 13 games, his latest heroics coming with a 3-run dinger off Matt Cain in the A’s 4-2 defeat of the Giants yesterday.

ESPN’s Buster Olney points out Cust will earn less this entire season than Roger Clemens will rake in for merely 3 days on the Yankees roster. While that’s true, Buster isn’t considering all the money the Bombers will save by not having to fly or room the Rocket on road trips.

I had hoped I would never again have to type the name “Brian Knobs” for any reason whatsoever. Damn you, Jonny Gomes, damn you.

Kudos to the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick for pointing out this morning that a trip to a modern big league ballpark (well, Shea Stadium, anyway) means putting up with all sorts of annoying, infantile sounds effects coming over the tannoy. Given that Phil’s readership might’ve actually attended a game sometime in the last 20 years, said column was about revelatory as declaring water to be wet.

Deja Vu All Over Again : Yanks To Void Giambino Deal?

Posted in Baseball at 11:01 am by

I realize the following from the New York Daily News’ Bill Madden and Teri Thomspon is dated May 20, 2007, but I could swear it already ran in early 2005.

Jason Giambi’s admission to USA Today that he once used steroids could lead to the Yankees taking another shot at voiding his contract.

According to baseball sources familiar with the situation who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, the Yankees will revisit the possibility of terminating Giambi’s deal if it is determined that he used illegal drugs after they signed him to a seven-year, $120 million contract in 2001.

If the Yankees do proceed, it will be the second time they have considered such a move.
The club looked into ending its relationship with the player in late 2004 after the San Francisco Chronicle reported that it had viewed transcripts in which Giambi told the grand jury investigating the BALCO steroid scandal in December 2003 that he had used steroids and human growth hormone before signing with the Yankees and while playing for them in 2002 and 2003.

Had the Yankees tried to void his deal then, they would have faced considerable legal hurdles from the Players Association, as they would now. According to sources familiar with his contract, the deal contains language saying it can be voided if he uses illegal substances while with the club. But to win that battle, the Yankees would have to get past provisions in the collective bargaining agreement that the Players Association maintains supersedes those in a player’s contract.

The commissioner’s office is investigating Giambi’s comments to the newspaper and will summon him to a meeting to discuss them. What he says in that meeting – or doesn’t say – may go a long way toward determining how the Yankees proceed.

While attempts to void Giambi’s deal might coincide with his recent published remarks, this also hits the papers while he’s in the midst of a decidedly underwhelming spring — with his club 9 1/2 games behind Boston. Can we assume when and if Giambi goes on another tear, the Yankees will feel better about his $23 million + salary?

05.19.07

Thank You, Joe Buck, For The Cogent Analysis

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 4:19 pm by

Joe Buck (above), yapping during the top of the 4th inning of today’s Yanks/Mets encounter:

“I give Jason Giambi a lot of credit for being at least the one guy who has come close enough to an admission of wrongdoing.”

“Close enough.” repeated Tim McCarver.

“Close enough, but it’s not there.” replied Buck.

Can the balloting for the 2008 AL Comeback Player Of The Year Award begin now?

Damon Jones – An International Incident Waiting To Happen

Posted in Basketball at 4:17 pm by

The Cavs’ bench came up big last night in Cleveland’s decisive Game 6 win over New Jersey — a result Dave D’Alessandro calls yet another example of the Nets’ “mind-boggling inconsistency and some puzzling disappearing acts on the part of their stars, interspersed with some brilliance by their captain and lodestar.” The Akron Beacon-Journal’s Brian Windhorst, however, caps off what he calls “the biggest Cavs win in 15 years” with the week’s most important tidbit ; Damon Jones’s attempts at making time with members of the Fourth Estate.

Before the game, Damon Jones was being interviewed by two beautiful Italian female journalists. The English was broken and I’m not sure all message was getting through, but Damon was engrossed and trying his best. He must’ve felt good about his performance, because once they were gone he proclaimed: “I can talk a cat off a fish wagon with my cool lyrics.”

Angry & Moanin’ Mariotti To Ozzie : Get Off The Air

Posted in Baseball at 1:41 pm by

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen slipped a few f-bombs past the The Score’s 7 second delay on Friday when he rang in to challenge A.J.Pierzynski’s comments about being benched. Longtime foe Jay Mariotti of the Chicago Sun-Times calls O.G. “the conductor of a runaway train to self-destruction.”

Instead of listening to smooth jazz, ”Kathy and Judy” or a recording of chirping birds, the Blizzard was listening to North defend A.J. on his way to Wrigley. The first sign of a coach or manager losing control — of himself, his clubhouse, his livelihood — is when he picks up the phone and calls into a show. Guillen did just that. Not a year after calling me ”a [bleeping] fag” and two days after reportedly making fun of Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui by wearing a ”Matsui Mask” at batting practice, the Blizzard was going down his dark, dirty road again.

I’m no shrink. But if Guillen can’t remember what he said on the radio, he needs a long rest and shouldn’t be managing. It’s a shame, really, because the man was a sharp strategist and leader two years ago. Now, he is surrounded by chaos. Why let Mark Buehrle bat in the seventh, with a runner on second, when Guillen would pull him later in the inning? Why remove Buehrle when shaky Mike MacDougal opened the floodgates of a three-run inning that included, yep, a passed ball by Hall? Why let MacDougal keep pitching in the eighth and allow two more runs — one after a bad throw by Hall, his second error of the game?

Things are so crazy for Guillen, his team can’t even get through batting practice without tumult. Joe Crede was smacked in the face with a grounder off the bat of third-base coach Razor Shines, forcing the third baseman to the bench with a fat lip. ”The guy looks like he was born in Venezuela,” said the Blizzard, again covering himself in dignity.
”He has lips like me.”

No one’s laughing anymore, Ozzie.