Looking For Drollery, Settling For Trollery

Posted in Blogged Down at 10:48 pm by

Of the in-house variety! Somehow ignoring the historic contributions of Rog, the New York Times’ Allen Salkin muses, “There are those who have blogs. Then there are those who leave comments on other people™s blogs, sometimes lots and lots of comments, sometimes nasty, clever, brilliant, monumentally stupid or filthy comments.” Expert witness Shel Israel opines, “œPeople are doing it for the same reason another generation of people called in on talk radio. They are passionate, they live in a world where nobody listens to them, and they suddenly have a way to speak.

So how better to examine this modern phenomena than by considering comments submitted to Gawker.com….by a Gawker Media employee?

The real-life identity of one of Gawker™s most frequent contributors, and a best of the week honoree, LolCait, was a mystery to the editorial staff until a few weeks ago. That™s when Richard Lawson, a 24-year-old sales coordinator in the Gawker Media ad department, who was worried his insider status could be discovered and ethically embarrass the company, confessed that he was LolCait.

His success shows how good commenting has become social currency online. Mr. Lawson, who studied playwriting in college, said he started leaving comments after he was hired five months ago, just to see if he could survive the audition as a Gawker-approved commenter. He made it, and was later singled out for a comment that was in the form of a fake entry from the socialite Tinsley Mortimer™s diary.

œThat was when some of the other commenters started saying, ˜Hey, I like your stuff,™ Mr. Lawson said in a telephone interview.

His basic style is œeasy jokes, puns, random celebrity jabs, he explained. In response to a news item about the rapper Foxy Brown slapping a neighbor with her Blackberry, LolCait commented, œThis is like the time Spinderella stabbed me with her Treo.

Easy jokes? Did Oscar Wilde ever crack wise about Salt-N-Pepa’s dj and a PDA? I think not.

Compare & Contrast The Following Snapshots From Flushing & Philly

Posted in Baseball at 3:40 pm by

(Fred Wilpon – wishing he’d stayed home to watch the Jets lose)

(east coast baseball team, celebrating rumors of a Sadistic Exploits reunion).

‘Tis better to start the season 4-12 than finish 5-11, apparently.  Congrats to the Phillies on surviving a brutal start, a patchwork rotation, numerous blowups with the local media and the division’s worst second worst bullpen en route to claiming the 2007 NL East title.  And while Jimmy Rollins deserves an MVP nod or several, here’s a recommended pitching strategy for handling Ryan Howard in the playoffs — either walk him, or save yourself the trouble and just put it on a tee.

Mets In A Hole, Glavine Held The Shovel

Posted in Baseball at 12:26 pm by

Marlins 7, Mets 0 (bottom of the first)

Tom Glavine’s line for the day : 37 pitches, 0.1 IP, 7 earned runs, 5 hits, 2 walks, 1 HBP.

Steve Traschel was just on the phone — he’s very hopeful his former teammate isn’t going through any marital problems.

Stern : Don’t Blame Vescey For Jayson Blair

Posted in Basketball, Sports Journalism at 12:08 pm by

Peter Vescey’s vacation just happened to coincide with the sort of over-the-top upheaval in the NBA that you’d otherwise expect the Post’s “Hoops Du Jour” columnist to be completely on top of. Perhaps by way of over compensation, Vescey returned this Sunday, proclaiming “the NBA couldn’t have experienced a worse summer had Isiah Thomas bought the league.”

Anybody with intimate knowledge about a degenerate gambler knew this kind of sports scandal was inevitable, just as common sense dictated referees were without a doubt more susceptible to violating a sacred trust than players and coaches. Of all those with a controlling hand on the wheelhouse of wins and losses and, oh, yeah, altering or enhancing point spreads/totals, wiseguys always knew, if they’re going to get to anybody in the pros, tempting a referee or threatening to tattle on one who has something to hide is your best shot.

Moreover, nobody’s more abused and thought less of than referees, not even sports writers.

I only point that out on the exceedingly slim chance referee Tim Donaghy isn’t sick, isn’t addicted to the thrill, the action, of betting. If that’s the case, pure greed and a superiority complex may have been the determining factors for his morals rotting. Who knows, he may have felt the incessant insults his nightly chores invites entitled him to steal an extra five or 10 grand tax free to pay off mounting losses and bills, or maintain a lifestyle beyond his $200,000 annual means and indulge in decadence without his wife catching on.

Thanks to Donaghy, the league’s 60 referees will be taking immeasurable grief for seasons to come. The integrity of every single call that goes against a team will be questioned even more fanatically, just as their body of work will be scrutinized even more scrupulously and meticulously by the league office.

There isn’t enough money in circulation to pay me to walk in their shoes, and that was before this scandal. How is anyone supposed to handle such nightly pressure? The league might want to think about outfitting each ref with a bodyguard and a personal psychiatrist.

David Stern repeated to me his message of total support he communicated to the refs when he addressed them last week at their camp in Jersey City.

“Just because one of their members engaged in a criminal activity, it’s unfair to impugn the reputation of any other referee. Same as it’s unfair to impugn the reputation of other FBI agents because Richard Hanson sold secrets to Russia. Jason Blair failed to follow the ethics of his profession but, guess what, it didn’t influence me not to return your phone call. I don’t think less of you because of what Jayson Blair did.”

Chronically Sacked QB Eschews Profanity

Posted in Gridiron at 11:58 am by

(possibly a favorite tract in the Carr household)

David Carr might be starting for Carolina today against Tampa Bay in place of Jake Delhomme, and much to the amazement of the Charlotte Observer’s Tom Sorensen, the former Houston Texan claims he neither drinks nor swears.

Have you ever had a beer?

“I have, yeah,” Carr says earlier this week, his street clothes coordinated black and white from his cap to his shoes. “But probably when I was younger. I did a lot of things when I was younger that I was not supposed to do. But I have three boys now (sons Austin, Tyler and Cooper). It’s just not me.”

The lack of alcohol I can understand. The lack of profanity is difficult to grasp.

What if a receiver runs the wrong route today and, even with the black glove, the pass is intercepted?

“As far as dog cussing guys, life is too short for that,” says Carr. “It’s not something I’d go out and make a point of.”

What if an enemy player such as Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks hits you long after you release the ball?

“I’d get hot, I’d get hot,” says Carr. “But I know Derrick and if he did he’d probably have a reason for it. He hits the 3-wood a long way and we’d probably talk about it when we play golf in the offseason.”

I’m not giving up here. What if a really mean player who can’t hit a 3-wood and lacks a good reason for hitting you late hits you anyway?

“I’d have something to say, but I couldn’t tell you right now because I’m not in that mindset,” says Carr.

Can you conceive of becoming so angry that you swear at him?

“Probably not,” says Carr.

America’s Team No More – TBS Cancels The Atlanta Braves

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 11:21 am by

Once upon a time, Atlanta Braves telecasts (along with NWA Wrestling) were the foundation of Turner Broadcasting’s WTBS. Today, the Braves are as poor a fit for the cable superstation as Bob Horner’s trousers on a normal-sized person, explains the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Tim Tucker.

The Braves’ season finale at Houston marks the end of an era that began in 1977, when Ted Turner had the novel notion of bouncing his bad baseball team’s games off a satellite to cable systems nationwide. Although Braves games will continue to be televised in Atlanta and much of the Southeast, the team no longer will be national programming on TBS ” a casualty of the evolution of the TV industry.

“A very important part of my life won’t be there anymore,” said Bill DeArmond of Winfield, KS, a college professor who credits the distant team with helping him through personal tragedies.

As the number of channels ” and baseball teams ” available on television has exploded, the national audience for Braves games has eroded. From a peak rating of 4.9 in 1983, the national Nielsen cable rating for Braves games is down 84 percent, to 0.8 this season ” an average audience of 716,000 households. (The rating is the percentage of U.S. cable TV households tuned in on average.)

So like countless other TV shows of declining popularity, the Braves are being … canceled.

“It’s going to be hard, going to be a very emotional day,” said longtime Braves broadcaster Skip Caray, who will call today’s game with his broadcaster son, Chip Caray. “These [viewers], we’ve been a big part of their family. The connection is going to be severed, and it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to them.”

The Braves played a key role in sustaining the cable industry through its infancy.

“Without that [programming], a lot of cable systems would have died,” said Terry McGuirk, at the time Turner’s right-hand man and now the Braves’ president. “I remember going over to Charleston one time, and the cable-system guy had, like, 15 VCRs playing tapes of really bad-quality stuff. Then all of a sudden, we arrive on the satellite with the Braves.”

Whipping It Out With PJ Proby

Posted in Rock Und Roll at 11:05 am by

It took some doing, but the Independent’s Robert Chalmers managed to wrangle an interview out of PJ Proby, the Texan rocker whose staggering rise and fall in the UK is best typified by the following incident, “in the late 1980s: Proby left the stage after half an hour, telling the audience: ‘I’m sorry. I cannot go on. I am suffering from gonorrhoea, more popularly known as the clap.’”

If he’d died when he might have done “ in the mid-1960s, when he was ordering Jack Daniels for breakfast and hosting nightly parties where he’d discharge his .45 more often than some would deem prudent “ PJ Proby would need no introduction. Early death, as his former associates Ritchie Valens, Eddie Cochran and Elvis Presley might testify, is the one foolproof way to cement a reputation in popular music.

But Proby survived, and there is probably no star whose profile has plummeted so rapidly and from such a height. He had top 10 hits in the mid-1960s with songs like “Hold Me” and “Somewhere”, but his greatest talent was for performance. He developed increasingly exaggerated stage mannerisms, one hand cupped behind his ear, the other reaching out as though attempting to adjust an invisible side-mirror. ‘

He was the first white singer to introduce an unambiguously direct sexual element to his act. If Presley’s choreography could be likened to the trouble-free eroticism of a chorus girl, PJ Proby’s instincts were closer to those of a low-life stripper. “Am I clean?” Proby would scream. ” Am I clean? Am I pure?”, massaging his thighs as he executed pelvic thrusts whose coarse vigour appalled the parents of his young female audience, especially on his first tour of Britain.

“I am an artist,” Proby announced at the time, “and I should be exempt from shit.”

This proclamation went sadly unheeded in the UK where he was banned from every major theatre, and by BBC and ITV; a fever of prohibition that began after his velvet trousers split on stage at Croydon in January 1965. To his irritation, censorship is what he tends to be remembered for.

“My trousers split across the knees,” he says. “Never to the crotch. These days Iggy Pop gets his tackle out on television and nobody pays any attention.”

His last steady partner, singer Billie Davis, moved out of this house years ago, making a succession of withering observations in the popular press. (” In the time that we dated,” Davis complained, “he had one erection. It lasted three hours. He was so pleased that he spent the whole night smiling at it. I didn’t get a look in.”)

Producer Jack Good flew PJ Proby to London to appear on the Beatles’ first UK television special, where he was introduced by Paul McCartney as an established American star. Proby says that he boarded the plane wearing garments pilfered from Hollywood sets. “I took Paul Newman’s shirt from Left Handed Gun. I stole Russ Tamblyn’s boots from Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.”

The singer believes every detail of this story, though the details sometimes change. Still, it can’t have been easy to have been plucked from obscurity only to have his priapic live performances halted by what he still claims to be a conspiracy orchestrated by the late guardian of British morals, Mary Whitehouse. (The manager of the ABC Luton brought the curtain down on Proby on 1 February 1965; three weeks later, following in-depth scrutiny of his ripped trousers in the Daily Mail, he was barred from every major venue in Britain.)

“Were you tearing your clothes deliberately?”

“No,” Proby says. “And I don’t blame the tailor. They’d never experienced anything like me in England. Adam Faith and Cliff Richard? They were momma’s boys. I was Britain’s Errol Flynn, the rough mother of pop. I was Jimmy Dean all busted up. I was Marlon Brando. They wanted rid of me.”

Move Over Culturcide, Negativland : GSM Hijacks The 2nd Most Popular NBA Game

Posted in Basketball, Video Games at 10:48 am by

While my own fantasy of seeing Renaldo Balkman on the cover of “NBA Live ’08″ would surely result in the worst selling video game since “James ‘Buster’ Douglas Knockout Boxing” for the Sega Genesis, I’m very impressed with Golden State Of Mind taking matters into their own hands.

Country Time : No Jacket Required

Posted in Baseball at 10:32 am by

Showing the kind of veteran leadership he’d love to pass along to the likes of Lastings Milledge, Mets reliever Billy Wagner’s critical remarks about his manager and pitching coach have hit the papers just hours before the Mets’ biggest game of the season. From the New York Post’s Mike Puma (link courtesy Chuck Meehan) :

In a New York magazine article that hits newsstands tomorrow, Wagner points a finger at Willie Randolph and pitching coach Rick Peterson as part of the problem.

“We’ve been throwing four innings a night – for months!” Wagner told the magazine. “Our pitching coach has no experience talking to a bullpen. He can help you mechanically, but he can’t tell you emotions. He has no idea what it feels like. And neither does Willie. They’re not a lot of help, put it that way.”

Wagner, who is signed through 2009, tells the magazine he accepts responsibility for his failures and doesn’t put too much stock into fan reaction.

“If I walk in after a save and this fan’s up there yelling, ‘We love you!’ – yeah, you love me today,” Wagner said. “I blow a save, ‘We hate you!’ Well, you hate me today.”

Considering the fragile state of the Mets’ starting rotation — a collective that at one time or another has included such Cy Young candidates as Brian Lawrence, Jason Vargas and Dave Williams — perhaps Country Time’s lament of “four innings a night” is best directed at the general manager?

True Love Conquers All

Posted in History's Great Hook-Ups, Sports Journalism at 10:20 am by

The following link comes courtesy of Repoz who sighs, “proving agan there is always somebody out there for everybody….ok, maybe not Michael Kay.” From the Canadian Press :

Punk rocker Bif Naked married sportswriter Ian Walker on Saturday in surprisingly traditional nuptials at a downtown Vancouver church.

In his blog, Walker describes himself as a failed pro athlete who once aspired to a hockey career. He’s written about his tryouts for the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League and the Vancouver Canadians minor-league baseball team.

Naked, who was briefly married in 1990, has several albums out, the last Superbeautifulmonster in 2005. She fronted punk bands before going solo, writing poetry and songs, some of which talk frankly about her bisexuality.

Though they knew each other from working out at the same gym, Naked and Walker began dating last year after connecting at mixed martial arts event Walker was covering where Naked was the emcee.

“I always knew her as this hot chick from MuchMusic, with the tattoos,” said Walker, who besides writing for the Vancouver Sun also blogs on extreme sports.


Repeat After Me – Let’s Go Nats!

Posted in Baseball at 8:10 pm by

Pick for yourself which was the more improbable occurrence Saturday afternoon — the Phillies’ magic number stuck at 2 thanks to a fantastic performance by Matt Chico (well, competent enough), or the Padres’ clincher being denied via the bat of Tony Gwynn (Jr.). As a result, not only are the Phillies and Mets deadlocked on the eve of game no. 162, but the Rockies’ lifeline has been extended for at least a few hours. Colorado is currently leading the Snakes, 4-0, (Matt Holiday, 2-2, double, 2 RBI’s) and if that score holds up, they’ll enter play tomorrow needing another win over Arizona coupled with a San Diego defeat in Milwaukee in order to force a Monday playoff for the Wild Card.

In recognition of Manny Acta’s charges doing their best to aid the Mets this weekend (after beating New York 5 times in their last 6 meetings), here’s an except from Thom Loverro of the Washington Times’ admission the Nationals weren’t even close to as bad as advertised.

I might as well get the first, and most painful, atonement, out of the way ” general manager Jim Bowden. Why is it the most painful? Because it’s Bowden, of course.

First, he brought in two players no team wanted ” Ronnie Belliard and Dmitri Young ” at bargain prices. You could argue both of them have turned out to be among the most valuable players on the roster ” Belliard because of his ability to step in when Cristian Guzman went down and Young for filling in at first base and contending for the National League batting title.

Then he and his staff managed to invite the best scraps from the heap to piece together a pitching staff that performed well enough to keep a weak-hitting team competitive all season.

I may be atoning, but it wasn’t unreasonable to think the pitching staff would be a disaster.

After all, Bowden himself admitted in spring training that he had never seen such uncertainty about a starting rotation ” four spots open.

“I’ve never seen it or heard of it,” Bowden said. “I’ve been in the game since 1984, and I can’t tell you before that. But I’ve never seen it.”

And then the one starter they were counting on ” John Patterson ” made just seven starts this year. Let’s face it, they got lucky, but as Branch Rickey once said, “Luck is the residue of design.”

That’s as close as I can get to atoning to Jim Bowden.

And a lot of people probably need to fess up for doubting Dmitri Young. When I saw him in spring training ” in minor league camp, no less ” I wouldn’t have given him much of a shot to finish spring training, let along make the major league roster. And when he did make the roster, I figured he would last three weeks before he would be on the disabled list with a pulled hamstring.

So not only did he make it through the first month, Young wound up being among the best hitters in the National League, batting .323 in 452 at bats going into last night’s game. He was banished from the Detroit Tigers last fall, even when they were getting ready for the playoffs, became one of the leaders of the Nationals clubhouse.

Indeed, who doesn’t (heart) Da Meat Hook? The cuddly Chad Cordero? The handsome and highly intelligent Robert Fick? The Beltway’s no. 1 Mark E. Smith fan, Jon Rauch-Rumble? Who couldn’t possibly fall in love with a team whose fan base includes “Taxi Driver” enthusiast / noted sabermatrician John Hinckley Jr.? Who dares doubt these Nats can’t win their 74th game of the season tomorrow against 92 year old Jamie Moyer? I know all the residents humans in this house will be rooting for ‘em, perhaps even decked out in full Nationals regalia — depending on what time the game at Shea ends and what the result was.

I’m sorry. When it comes to fashion (and everything else), I’m kind of fickle.

Pitching Not the Problem at CBP

Posted in Baseball at 4:54 pm by

The usual post-Adam Eaton bullpen patchwork (including 2-plus innings from ostensible Monday starting pitcher Kyle Lohse) kept the Phillies in a 2-0 game until the 7th, but with a pair of errors the Nats now lead it 4-0. Guess David Wright had a good point:

If we go out and win the next two, it puts a lot of pressure on Philadelphia. We know what it’s like to be chased. Now all of a sudden, the pressure turns to them.”

Ok, I’m not superstitious (if I were, I’d blame GC for talking about Maine’s no-hitter) but Aaron Rowand just led off the 7th with a solo homer. Phillies’ offense vs. the Washington bullpen from here.

K-State’s Mastery Of Texas, In Progress

Posted in Gridiron at 3:43 pm by

Kansas State 14, Texas 7 (3:05 remaining, 2nd quarter)

Jevan Snead would like to know if he can transfer back to UT. Time to bust out the “FaceOff” identity change kit, I suspect.

(update: Kansas State 24, Texas 14, halftime. Colt McCoy left the game after tossing his 2nd INT in 3 possessions. I’d dig out the old gag about x-rays of his skull revealing nothing, but if every Longhorn receiver had the ability to catch a ball in traffic like Quan Crosby, McCoy would look a lot smarter. Of course, there’s a world of difference between giving Crosby a shot at leaping over defenders and chucking a pass directly into coverage.  As it stands, McCoy’s protection today has been as questionable as some of his decisions, but I’d still say the sophmore is running neck and neck with Jose Reyes for regression-of-the-month. More on this one later, I’m not used to typing in a monsoon.)

(update dos : Kansas State 41, Texas 21. I suppose it would be considered good news that McCoy returned in the 2nd half, but his 4 INT’s on the day have directly led to 20 Wildcats points. In addition, Texas’ special teams allowed a 2nd quarter 85 yard kick return TD to James Johnson, followed by an 89 yard punt return TD by Jordy Nelson.)

(kind of related update : Colorado 27, Oklahoma 24. Even Willie Randolph can’t believe the Sooners blew a 24-7 halftime lead. It isn’t even October and we can already rule out a National Champion emerging from the Big 12).

Mets On The Ledge, Rescued By Maine & Da Edge

Posted in Baseball at 2:33 pm by

Mets 12, Marlins 0 (last of the 7th)

An otherwise enthralling Kansas State/Texas game is going to have to wait. Or rather, I’m gonna have to wait to leave the house. Despite Fox’s assbackwards national blackout, through the auspices of Gameday Audio I’ve been following the Fish/Mets matinee, in which the not-quite-dead hosts hold a commanding 11-0 lead. Lastings Milledge, playing his first game in 8 days, has a pair of home runs, and starter John Maine has 13 K’s without allowing a hit through 7 innings.

I think most of us (other than say, Orioles fans) might agree there would be considerable satisfaction in seeing the pitcher who was swapped for Anna Benson throw the first no-hitter in the Mets’ 45 year history.

During a miserable week in which poise and professionalism have been in short supply, it’s kind of amazing no Mets were ejected over the course of two bench clearing incidents in the 5th inning.

There’s no score yet at CBP between the Nationals and Phillies, mostly because the game won’t start for another 10 minutes.

The late Gene Mauch suggests that Maine be made available for long relief tomorrow, when and if Tom Glavine runs into trouble.

(UPDATE : Mets 12, Marlins 0, last of the 8th. After striking out Mike Jacobs and inducing Jason Wood to line out to Carlos Gomez, Maine’s no-hit bid was broken up by Paul Hoover’s infield single. Maine, as you might expect, is receving a wild ovation upon being pulled for Willie Collazo. Presumably, the Mets’ pen can hold a 12 run lead. Though after the last few weeks, perhaps we shouldn’t take anything for granted).

The Penn State Offense, Summarized

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 1:59 pm by

Because I need something to complain about today (though I suppose I could just be grateful I can’t watch).

1st and 10 at ILL 25 Austin Scott rush for 6 yards to the Illin 19.

2nd and 4 at ILL 19 Austin Scott rush for a loss of 6 yards to the Illin 25.

Timeout PENN ST, clock 09:59.

3rd and 10 at ILL 25 Anthony Morelli pass intercepted by Vontae Davis at the Illin 18, returned for no gain to the Illin 18.

The Nittany Lions trail lost to Illinois, 27-20 in the fourth quarter.

’64 Phillies To Mets : We Feel Your Pain

Posted in Baseball at 11:55 am by

Gene Mauch’s 1964 Philadelphia Phillies had a 6 1/2 game lead in the National League with 12 to play. They proceeded to lose 10 straight and were passed by eventual World Series victors St. Louis.  If none of that sounds familiar, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi — the “fuckin’ retard” of Brett Myers fame — tracks down a few members of that doomed ballclub, looking for quotes about the ’07 New York Mets. (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

“I feel sorry for them; they’ve been in first place the whole year,” Tony Gonzalez, a starting outfielder on the ’64 Phils, said yesterday from his home in Miami. “And there’s a chance they won’t even get the wild card.”

I was through it in ’64 and wouldn’t want it to happen to anybody else,” he said. “No matter what you do, you keep falling down. The Mets scored nine runs the other day and still lost. Their bullpen was the best in the league earlier in the year, and now they can’t get anybody out. The same funny things happened to us in ’64. . . .

“[Johnny] Callison hit three homers in a game, and we still lost. Chico Ruiz and Willie Davis stole home to beat us. In another game, Felipe Alou strikes out and reaches first on a passed ball with two outs, and then Hank Aaron hits a homer into the upper deck and beats us. I think ’64 was worse than what’s happening with the Mets because of the way we lost.”

Ray Culp, whose sore elbow kept him from pitching during the Phillies’ late-season ’64 collapse, said he “absolutely can sympathize” with the Mets, “because if they let it slip away, they’ll have some bad memories.”

“That,” said Culp, a real estate investor in Austin, Texas, “is not my most pleasant year to remember.”

Even if the Mets continue to falter, the image of the ’64 Phillies never will be erased, said Jack Baldschun, who had 21 saves for the ’64 Phillies. “I’ve always said if we had won the pennant, we wouldn’t have gotten as much press as we did for losing it.”

Dennis Bennett, who went 12-14 for the ’64 Phils, wasn’t as sympathetic to the Mets’ woes.

“I don’t feel sorry for them,” said Bennett, who owns a cocktail lounge/restaurant in Oregon. “I feel happy for the Phillies. I signed with the Phillies, so a piece of me is still with them.”

Taylor : There’s More To Sven Than A Zipper Problem

Posted in Football at 11:31 am by

(“no, I don’t think ‘sorry’ really covers it”)

In light of this afternoon’s 3-1 home win over Newcastle, the Guardian’s Daniel Taylor is in a contrite mood towards Manchester City’s Sven-Goran Erikkson, a manager he previous characterized as “nothing more a hopeless charlatan, lining his pockets, chasing blondes and chuckling at our expense while making himself super-rich without doing anything to justify his bloated salary.”

Yes, City have been a bit lucky at times this season – and against Manchester United they surely pulled off one of the flukiest wins of all time – but who could genuinely have imagined Eriksson would have guided them to the Champions League places heading into October? And who seriously could have imagined his cosmopolitan selection of new signings would have gelled so quickly to give City their best start to a top-flight season for 30 years?

The questions are posed because it is no exaggeration to say that, for spells against Newcastle, City’s slick, first-time, pass-and-go football was as fluid as it has been since this stadium was built. Elano, in particular, was majestic, the outstanding player by a country mile, but perhaps it is time, too, to recognise some of the unsung players. Most of the praise this season has been reserved for Micah Richards and Michael Johnson, but what of the impact Dietmar Hamann has had since being restored to the team? Or what of the way Vedran Corluka and Javier Garrido have slipped seamlessly into the defence? Not one of Eriksson’s signings has let him down and he must relish the fact Elano cost roughly a third of the money Manchester United forked out for Anderson, his Brazil team-mate.

For those of us who watched Eriksson from close quarters when he was England manager and wondered how on earth this bumbling little fellow had ever got such a lofty position, that deserves an apology.

The 7-4 scoreline in favor of Portsmouth over Reading is not a typographical error. And while Marcus Hahnemann took it on the chin at Fratton Park, there was a far more flattering result for fellow U.S. keeper Kasey Keller, who presided over Fulham’s 0-0 home draw with Chelsea.

I realize Colombian soccer isn’t under the jurisdiction of the NFL, but can’t Roger Goodell fine Leider Preciado, just for the fun of it?

The Hooded Casanova Is Sued…

Posted in Gridiron, The Law at 10:19 am by

…and for once, it has nothing to do with Bon Jovi tickets and a busted marriage. From the AP’s Dennis Waszak Jr. :

-A New York Jets season-ticket holder filed a class-action lawsuit Friday against the New England Patriots and coach Bill Belichick for “deceiving customers.”

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J., by Carl Mayer (above) of Princeton Township, N.J., stems from the Patriots being caught illegally videotaping signals from Jets coaches in New England’s 38-14 season-opening win Sept. 9.

“They violated the integrity of the game,” Mayer’s attorney, Bruce Afran, told The Associated Press. “This is a way of punishing Belichick and the Patriots.”

Mayer is seeking more than $184 million in damages for Jets ticket holders.

The lawsuit maintained that because other teams found illegal videotaping by the defendants, Jets ticket holders should be compensated for all games played in Giants Stadium between the Jets and Patriots since Belichick became head coach in 2000.

The two calculated that because customers paid $61.6 million to watch eight “fraudulent” games, they’re entitled to triple that amount — or $184.8 million — in compensation under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.

Mayer and Afran, who consider themselves public interest lawyers, have been thorns in the side of New Jersey politicians for years, filing lawsuits and demanding investigations to advance their grievances. They are well known in the state but generally have had little success in their causes.

Both have lost bids for elected offices, and Mayer once served as a presidential campaign adviser to Ralph Nader.

The 2007 New York Mets : On The Brink Of History

Posted in Baseball at 2:14 am by

Marlins 7, Mets 4

I’ll say this much for Oliver Perez — he lasted longer in a must-win game than Steve Traschel. But that’s about it. Proving as capable of handling a high pressure spot as, well, Tom Glavine on Monday night, Perez grooved one to Jeremy Hermida in the first inning, went plunk-crazy in the 3rd (shortly after allowing Byung-Hyun Kim’s 4th base hit of the entire year) and was victimized by a ground ball Jose Reyes should’ve kept in the infield in the fourth.

Speaking of whom, just a year removed from an MVP caliber campaign, Reyes’ miserable 2nd half cannot end soon enough. The shortstop was 1-5 on Friday night, his 9th inning single being just his 4th hit in his last 34 at bats. I would hate to think Reyes’ regression can be blamed on Rickey Henderson’s supervision, but I’ll try to look on the bright side. Maybe Jose’s gotten better at cards.

I’m equally loathe to second guess the manager each time something goes wrong, but I’m still not convinced the urgency of the situation has been impressed upon Willie Randolph. Trailing by 3 runs in the last of the 8th with none out and Carlos Delgado on first, Randolph chose to let Paul Lo Duca hit, despite Captain Red Ass’s noticeable limp. (Ramon Castro would catch the top of the 9th). Boogie Shoes hit a weak fly to center, typically tossing his helmet a moment later.

Why, pray tell, are Marlon Anderson, Carlos Gomez, Lastings Milledge or Castro on the roster if they can’t be called upon to pinch-hit for a player in tremendous pain? Tom McCarthy opined the Mets wouldn’t worry about Lo Duca failing to beat out a ball on the infield “because he wouldn’t do that anyway”. Good to know, then, there’s no apparent relation between hitting and healthy legs.

Newsday’s David Lennon
— quick to point out that Omar Minaya let Brian Bannister and Heath Bell get away — spills the beans on a Flushing whispering campaign.

Common sense dictates that Randolph keeps his job. That the Mets don’t eat the $4.25 million they owe him through 2009. That, in a meltdown as complete as this, you can’t possibly target one person as the scapegoat.

Nevertheless, one person inside the Mets’ loop, asked about Randolph’s future, opined: “I think it all depends who gets in the Wilpons’ ear at the end of the season, and how ugly it ends.”

It’s an open secret, by now, that Mets vice president of development Tony Bernazard — brought into the organization by Minaya — is no fan of Randolph. Bernazard doesn’t seem to care who knows.

As to the “ugly” factor: Was last night ugly enough? Why wasn’t anyone warming up in the bullpen as Oliver Perez melted down in the third inning, hitting Cody Ross and Mike Jacobs on back-to-back pitches — after hitting Dan Uggla earlier in the inning — to force in a pair of runs?

The answer became clear in Randolph’s postgame session. The man who boasts of having seen everything explained, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.”

Philadelphia’s 6-0 victory over the suddenly mortal Nationals moved the hosts into sole possession of first place with two games to play. Cole Hamels (8 IP, 6 hits, a season-high 13 K’s) provided the sort of dominant, poised performance the Mets have been crying out for. It took 160 games, but it turns out J-Ro was right. The Phillies are the team to beat. And even if the Mets manage to get off the mat later this afternoon against Chris Sneddon, they’re counting on some help from Washington to stay alive over the next two days. It’s a desperate scenario, one a nearly tearful David Wright described as “pathetic”. As for this sickened observer, I’d like to think a 7 game lead with 17 to play was margin enough, even without Heath Bell in the bullpen, but apparently not. We’re watching history in the making, and unless something remarkable happens over the next 48 hours, these Mets will join the ’64 Phillies and ’78 Red Sox amongst history’s biggest (regular season) chokers.


Cubs Clinch 2007 NL Central; Steve Bartmann In House Arrest for October

Posted in Baseball, History's Not Happening at 10:35 pm by

As predicted in this space, the only thing stopping the Cubs from going over that cliff the Trib mentioned today was a roadblock called the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers’ season ended with their magic number dropping from 1 with the Cubs win over the Reds (6-0) and the Padre win over the Brewers (6-3). According to ESPN, the Brewers spent 133 days of the 2007 season in first place, essentially seat filling for the Cubs. There are those who cite history as against the Cubs winning the World Series, usually backed up by evidence of a mystical Greek goat and incontrovertible numbers proving that when Billy Corgan sings at Wrigley the Cubs lose. While the Corgan theory holds sway in my house, I also point out that history is definitely against the Cubs ever making the playoffs. So, Cubs 1; History 0. In fact, via CSTB technology, I have preserved the Cubs’ victory for readers of this blog, suitable for printing and framing (pictured).

With The Mets Trailing, 4-3, Let The Finger Pointing Commence

Posted in Baseball at 7:06 pm by

On paper, I’m perfectly happy with a match-up between the Mets’ Oliver Perez and Florida’s Byung-Hung Kim. That’s assuming, however, the former’s control problems don’t resurface and and two Fish runs aren’t tallied on bases-loaded HBP’s. The Marlins lead, 4-1, in the last of the 3rd at Shea, and while the New York Sun’s Tim Marchman wrote this morning, “it’s still early to talk about firings, though, no matter how dark things seem” please note it’s been several hours since the newspaper was published.

I don’t believe that bad performance is generally contagious in baseball. It’s far too much of an individual sport, and unlike, say, basketball, it’s usually not even clear how the contagion would spread. In this case, though, it’s obvious that something has gone horribly wrong with all these pitchers at one time.

There are three likely causes here. The first is that the Mets’ bullpen just isn’t all that good. Wagner and Heilman are elite pitchers, but the rest of the Mets’ pen simply consists of marginally skilled relievers. The choices made by manager Willie Randolph ” sending the execrable Mota in to face the heart of the Phillies’ lineup, for instance, or letting Florida’s Miguel Cabrera hit against soft-tossing lefties ” haven’t helped at all, but he does have to send someone to the mound. The real culprit may just be lack of talent.

The second explanation is that when everyone is collapsing, it has tangible effects. Mets’ relievers have simply looked nervous on the hill lately ” and who can blame them? When there’s a fresh goat every night, no one wants to wear the horns, and when you start thinking about failure, you’re more likely to fail. Heilman has been throwing harder than usual lately, and locating the ball far less well. That’s exactly the kind of muscling up that every pitcher knows isn’t a good idea, and he hasn’t been alone in doing it.

This brings us to the third explanation. Pitching coach Rick Peterson has received hardly any blame at all for this collapse, but he really should. Pitcher performance is ultimately his responsibility, in bad times as in good, and the Mets haven’t gotten the job done. More to the point, when pitchers are trying to blow the ball by hitters despite knowing that’s counterproductive, a coach whose forte is supposedly the mental aspect of the sport needs to come in for special blame. Peterson has been generally excellent since coming to New York, but if the Mets miss the playoffs, he’ll be the member of the team’s management most deserving of being fired.

(UPDATE : Marlins 4, Mets 3. Carlos Beltran hit a 2-run HR off Kim, a pitcher well experienced in lending a sense of hope to New Yorkers during their low moments).

Assuming their club isn’t swept this weekend, the following PDF might be of some passing interest to Mets fans.

If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a sports columist for a major tabloid but thought a lack of wit, insight or any sort of unique point of view might stand in your way, buck up — it didn’t stop Mike Vaccaro.

Finally, Metsradamus has obtained an early preview of the Mets 2007 season highlights DVD.

Dolan’s New Court Battle

Posted in Hockey, The Internet, The Law at 4:44 pm by

From the AP :

Madison Square Garden sued the National Hockey League Friday, saying the NHL has monopolized control of promoting its teams.

The NHL claims it will fine MSG, which owns the New York Rangers, $100,000 per day if they do not give the NHL complete control over the team’s Web site and other promotions, the suit said.

MSG said it had no choice but to bring the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan because the fines were scheduled to begin Friday.

The organization asked that a judge order the league to stop acting as “an illegal cartel,” limiting what the team does to promote itself through the Web and with merchandising efforts.

Indeed, with the league’s interference, the Broadway Blues are prevented from displaying their vast photographic archive devoted to the Rangers Ice Bitches City Skaters.

Arenas’ Memorabilia Jones Is Really Out Of Hand

Posted in Baseball, Basketball at 4:38 pm by

The shy, retiring Gilbert Arenas, not satisfied with hoarding vintage jerseys, tells DC Sports Bog’s Dan Steinberg that he’d like to purchase Barry Bonds’ 756th career HR ball from designer Mark Ecko. The same ball Ecko is said to be donating to the Hall Of Fame affixed with an asterisk.

“It’s history,” Gil began. “It’s still history. I mean, the guy’s a man before he’s some big slugger. I mean, how you just going to take what this man’s done for his career and, as another man, say ‘Hey, you were accused of this, you allegedly did this, I want to take this away from you.’ I mean, what if we took away your Ecko company?

“I mean, why graffiti the ball when, in everybody’s mind, they think he’s done it. So no matter what, when they look at the ball, they’re gonna be like, ‘Oh, he allegedly….You don’t have to mark it in history. Like, who are you? Are you Superman? You’re sitting here throwing all the rockets into space: ‘I want to send it to space?’ Are you serious? Like, come on.”

Someone asked whether Gilbert thought Ecko was just a hater.

“I don’t know what his relationship is to Bonds, but I just didn’t understand it,” Gilbert said. “Like, as an athlete, I don’t want nobody to say, ‘He was in the hyperbaric chamber, we’re gonna ban that tomorrow, now the 60 points he scored last year, I’m going to dot those shoes up.’ Let’s be for real.”

Tim Hardaway’s Non-Hateful Gay Photo Op

Posted in Basketball at 4:24 pm by

Congratulations to Tim Hardaway for taking the time to learn that homosexuals-r-people-too through the auspices of the Yes Institute.

Tim should also be credited for not taking my suggestion of reaching out to the YES Network. Not only would he have learned nothing in the process, but increased exposure to Michael Kay might well have turned the former NBA star from an admitted homophobe to a downright committed misanthrope.

The Most Important Piece Of Sports Journalism You Will Read In 2007…

Posted in The World Of Entertainment, Vroom Vroom at 4:03 pm by

…will have to wait, because I’m instead directing you to the aneuryism waiting to happen that is NASCAR.com’s Raygan Swan and her “Need Soap Opera? Check Out The NASCAR Garage”.

(McMurray, back in the garage with his bullshit detector)

Justin Timberlake brought sexy back but Jamie McMurray is bringing the drama back to daytime TV.

The 31-year-old blonde bomber made his soap-opera debut this week on Passions, a campy daytime drama that depicts supernatural adventures between rival families and foes along with the “whose bed have your boots been under” storylines that make every daytime drama a favorite guilty pleasure for all who watch.

Interesting enough, the same ingredients that make shows like Passions popular are some of the same ingredients that make NASCAR one of the most talked about sports on TV.

Like a soap opera, with a dash of reality television, NASCAR is not without family feuds, tawdry trysts and tussles, bouts with drugs and blunders under the covers.

And like a high school cafeteria, the NASCAR garage is where it all starts; it’s where the worst-kept secrets are revealed as soon as they are whispered.

Most industry players will tell you the garage is a real hot bed for gossip and drama; drama for your mama, your sister, your cousin, brother and your uncle, too.

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin explained why.

“NASCAR can be that way because we all travel together so much and we know so much about each other’s lives,” he said. “You know guys talk about each other when they walk away. It’s not like other sports where there are only two teams on the field.”