The Bummer That Is The NY Knicks Beat

Posted in Basketball, Sports Journalism at 6:12 pm by

Though the New York Times’ Howard Beck nicely summed up the career travails of Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury since the pair parted ways 8 years ago, the New York Observer’s John Koblin paints a rather grim picture of what it’s like to cover the 2007-08 New York Knicks (link courtesy Jason Cohen).

œIt™s Madison Square Garden, it™s New York City, it should be one of the top beats in New York, said Newsday beat reporter Alan Hahn.

Instead: œIt™s maddening. What it should be and what it is”it™s a shame.

Frank Isola, the 12-year Knicks-beat veteran for the Daily News, said, œIt used to be fun here. Now, there are some nights when you™re trying to talk your boss out of sending you here and maybe lie and tell him you™re sick or something.

œI™ll admit, said Howard Beck, the New York Times Knicks reporter, œthat the beat makes me miserable.

What really separates the complaints of Knicks writers from those of every other browbeaten city reporter”and reporters are definitely a whiny lot”are their unironic, and apparently accurate, tales of systematic repression.

œIt™s the gulag, said Mike Vaccaro, a columnist for the New York Post.

œWe all know what it™s like to cover a normal team, said Mr. Beck, who previously reported on the Lakers for the L.A. Daily News. œCovering the Knicks is so much worse.

œSome of the things they practice here are completely against what you™d expect a normal team to do, said Mr. Hahn, a second-year reporter on the beat who said that he now misses his old job as a hockey reporter covering the provincial New York Islanders. œThey come up with things all the time. There™s zero access to players. They would rather you don™t even write.

The stories from the reporters are endless: layers of institutional paranoia; public relations officials who openly eavesdrop on private conversations with executives and players; the threat”and implementation”of cutting off reporters who are perceived to be critical of the team.

œEveryone is so worried about upsetting Jim Dolan, or getting fired, and as a result people aren™t themselves, said Mr. Beck. œIf you transplanted the same individuals and put them in another city, then they™d be far more interesting. They™d be themselves.

When I spoke with Mr. Isola, the News reporter, on Saturday afternoon on the Garden floor, he pointed to a media relations official watching us. œHe™s taking note that I™m talking to you, he said.

There are very, very successful teams out there that treat the media with dignity and respect and recognize that 90 percent of the time it™s a mutually beneficial relationship, said David Waldstein, the former Knicks beat reporter for The Star-Ledger. œEvery writer who covers the Knicks gets the impression that we are treated as the enemy.

(Starting this season, The Star-Ledger eliminated the Knicks beat, opting instead to run wire copy.)

œWe have three people here tonight, said Mr. Vaccaro of the New York Post on Monday night. œThat™s 16 inches of copy and 16 inches of free space for the Knicks to sell their product, for better or for worse. To make those three stories as difficult as possible to write seems counterproductive to me.

Later in the piece, Isola claims that since he asked the Knicks to stop having him tailed around MSG by security, he’s essentially been cut off from all communication. When Isiah Thomas’ contract extension was announced last spring, Isola had to find out elsewhere.

Twins, Rays Swapping Garza For Young>

Posted in Baseball at 5:48 pm by

A day after writing the Twins could listen to offers for closer Joe Nathan, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s La Velle E. Neal III reports Minnesota might’ve found their centerfield replacement for Torii Hunter.

The Twins and Tampa Bay Rays are close to finalizing a multi-player deal, according to several sources with knowledge of the discussions. The deal could be announced as soon as today.

The main pieces changning teams would be outfielder Delmon Young, the first overall pick in 2003, and righthander Matt Garza (above). But indications were strong on Wednesday that as many as six players could be involved.

In addition to Garza, the Twins would send Tampa Bay shortstop Jason Bartlett and reliever Juan Rincon for Young, shortstop Brendan Harris and outfielder Jason Pridie. Pridie was with the Twins during spring training of 2006 as a Rule 5 pick.

The addition of Young could lead to the Twins non-tendering outfielder Craig Monroe, who was dealt to the Twins from the Cubs a few weeks ago.

While one Twins follower is less than thrilled at the prospect of adding Young, it is interesting to see Garza apparently switching teams without the Mets parting with Lastings Milledge, Carlos Gomez or Fernando Martinez. Whether or not today’s mooted deal impacts the asking price for Johan Santana remains to be seen, but I can’t imagine the acquisition of Young improved the Mets chances.

This Isn’t Even Close To The Most Terrifying Advertisement On North American Televsion

Posted in Blogged Down, The Marketplace, Total Fucking Terror at 4:00 pm by

Deadspin’s Will Leich claimed in a post earlier today the below PSA is “definitive proof Canadians are terrifying.” So much for David Cronenberg’s career, then. (thanks to Mac for the link)

There’s at least two commercials running south of the border that are far scarier in this observer’s opinion. The first is spot for Hanes underwear that inexplicably asks us to believe Michael Jordan is the host of a television talk show. “The Magic Hour”, anyone? (Though the prospect of Charles Oakley taking the Ed McMahon / Hank Kingsley role is kind of hard to resist). Even more incredibly, we’re supposed to believe Cuba Gooding Jr. would be booked as a guest on a said chat program. In 2007.

The second is a slightly more contemporary ad for Wachovia Bank, in which the firm’s sad-sack employees are awakened on Christmas morning because some kid left his passport in a safe deposit box. Nice fucking work Wachovia, either your employees are going to running errands on the biggest holiday of the year or you’re setting your customers up for grave disappointment.

Source Who Might Be Full Of Shit : Mets Will “Think About” Dangling Reyes For Santana

Posted in Baseball at 1:34 pm by

Perhaps foreshadowing an ESPN report that has Andrew Marchand claiming knowledge of the Mets being contenders in the Johan Santana sweepstakes, the New York Daily News’ John Harper spoke with another unnamed insider with alleged insight into Wilpon Inc.’s pursuit of the otherworldly left-hander.

One executive who knows Omar Minaya well said yesterday that he believes the Mets’ GM will be “very creative” in pursuing a deal for Santana.”He always wants to do something big,” the executive said, “and this is a time when he needs to do something big. And this is as big as it gets for him. I believe he’ll exhaust every possibility, even if it means getting other teams involved, to make a deal for Santana.”

But would Minaya give up shortstop Jose Reyes to make it happen?

“I know he wouldn’t want to,” said the executive. “But I do believe he’ll think long and hard about it if he absolutely has to. As explosive as Reyes is, Omar needs pitching to win a championship, and it has become so hard these days to acquire front-line pitching that I think he’d have to consider it.”

People in baseball say the Mets do have other young players the Twins would consider, including outfielders Carlos Gomez, Fernando Martinez and Lastings Milledge, and pitchers Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Mulvey.

But would some combination of those players get it done? Probably not. With lefthander Francisco Liriano expected back from elbow surgery, the Twins think of themselves as contenders next year and need to bring back players in a deal for Santana they can sell to their team and their fans as ready to help them win.

Metsblog’s D.J. Short, struggling through this afternoon’s “Mike & The Mad Dog” program with the rest of us, points out that while Francesca and Russo seem all too quick to pack Carlos Beltran’s bags, the center fielder has a full no trade clause. There’s also the matter of Beltran making far more money than Minnesota would willingly pay. But who could imagine a guy willing to play in pain, arguably the finest center fielder in club history, would be considered so expendable by a pair of baseball sophisticates like Mike and Chris?

Who Will Raise Funds To Cure Painful Online Chats?

Posted in Free Expression, Mob Behavior, Sports Journalism, The Internet at 1:03 pm by

Given the Sports Putz’ willingness to use his unique skills (cough) to raise money to defeat cancer, I suppose 6+ hours of Bill Simmons chat could be considered collateral damage. But much like Truman’s decicion to level Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I hope a good deal of soul searching went into this on the part of ESPN.com

Bill Simmons: (12:09 PM ET ) Mike from Cleveland asks: “Dont know if you’ve seen Mr.Brooks, but Dane Cook is in it and when he dies I couldnt help but yell out THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY TO HAVE YOUR THROAT SLASHED to mock his playoff baseball commercials.”

Bill Simmons: (12:10 PM ET ) Glad you brought this up. I hate to give away a key plot point in an Oscar winner like Mr. Brooks, but here we go… if you don’t like Dane Cook, definitely rent this movie if you ever wanted to see something horrible happen to him.

The Horrible Sound Keeping You Awake Is Scott Boras Having The Last Laugh

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, General at 11:25 am by

Charles Star suggests that despite perception Scott Boras was left on the outside looking in during Alex Rodriguez’ recent negotiations with the New York Yankees, the mega-agent is no sap.

Buried in a story about how Goldman Sachs avoided getting burned in the mortgage crisis was this paragraph:

Meanwhile, two Goldman managing directors acted as liaisons, helping bring Alex Rodriguez back to the New York Yankees baseball team, a classic Goldman deal that enhances the value of the firm™s 40 percent stake in the YES network – which it is trying to sell - while also pleasing Yankee fans. The symmetry was perfect: like the Yankees, Goldman, more than any other bank on Wall Street, is both hated and revered.

So now you tell me: did A-Rod approach people at Goldman Sachs on the advice of Warren Buffet? Or is it more likely that Goldman Sachs approached him, with an assist from Warren Buffet? Or asked A-Rod to give Warren Buffet a call.

I have a feeling that ARod may be making $30MM a year after all, with a little help from friends that aren™t the Yankees. Scott Boras is no dummy. He knows how important the sale of YES is to more than just the Yankees.

Star makes a salient point, one especially helpful to me, having presumed YES’ market value hinged more on the quality of Michael Kay’s “CenterStage” than actual Yankee wins and losses.

A Warning To All North London Sex Criminals : Beware The Boiled Sweets

Posted in Football, Leave No Child Unbeaten, Mob Behavior at 11:07 am by

Graham Rix, unavailable for comment?  From The Sun :

PAEDOPHILE star Chris Langham was pelted with boiled sweets when he went to see Arsenal play.

Fellow Gunners fans jeered œWe know where you sit at the Emirates Stadium.

Married Langham, 58, was at the match weeks after winning early release from a ten-month sentence for downloading child porn.

The Thick of It actor saw the Gunners beat Wigan 2-0 on Saturday.

I don’t know if he has any plans to attend soccer matches, but right about now might be a good time for Wallace Langham to change his name back to Wally Ward.

Because You’re Never Too Young To Put On The Foil

Posted in Hockey, Leave No Child Unbeaten at 5:06 am by

Video link culled from the Fanhouse’s Eric McErlain.

When Getting Hit By The General’s Unfriendly Fire Is Inevitable, Relax And Let It Happen

Posted in Basketball, Firearms, The Law at 2:54 am by

From News Channel 11.com :

Texas Tech Coach Bob Knight is under fire for allegedly opening fire. Two Lubbock residents say they were hit by pellets during dove hunting trips involving Knight. Mary Ann Chumley says she was accidentally hit by a stray pellet last month. James Simpson says he was hit in the neck and back after yelling at Knight and another man for hunting too close to his house. Knight calls the allegations of intentionally shooting at the man ridiculous.

Knight oughta be excused for the odd errant gunshot here and there. You have no idea how hard it is to kill a dove by throwing a folding chair.

East Coast Bias On Sean Taylor : Measuring The Man Versus The Number

Posted in Blogged Down, Gridiron at 1:38 am by

“NFL players, and the teams for which they play, are proxies for our own self-image” writes East Coast Bias’ J-Red, reflecting on the slaying of Redskins S Sean Taylor. Said identification, however, rarely encompasses genuine empathy for the man under the helmet.

(photo by the Washington Post’s Tracy Woodward)

We all know that guy. That guy who lives and dies with X college or NFL team. His entire existence, from car flags to basement shrine, is defined by the ups and downs of a defined number of people (most of whom are of a different race or physical build or intellectual composition) who play under that guy’s colors due to chance (the draft, recruiting) or circumstance (free agency, transfer).

Unless you met Sean Taylor, you just lost a good free safety via non-football means. Just like when Sam Mills of Carolina got cancer and Samari Rolle showed epilepsy, and Derrick Thomas died in a car accident, no fan can cope when their favorite number is lost off the field.

Did you ever think to wonder why the method of tribute always involves the player’s number? Sean Taylor, the man, is not the source of grief in Washington. Number 21 is gone, and he will be sorely missed. Number 21 was an integral part of the Washington fanbase. Life/football without Number 21 is unimaginable.

I seriously heard people wonder if the game this week would be cancelled. Why? Because Sean Taylor died? No. Because Number 21 died, and that might have a negative impact on his teammates’ ability to score points and limit the points scored by the opposition.

Sean Taylor is just another young urban black male murdered. Number 21 is a hero who the entire NFL will honor Thursday, Sunday and Monday.

Given that Taylor was unlikely to play this Sunday (he was in Miami recovering from a Nov. 11 knee injury) I’ve not heard much argument his absence, in and of itself, put Washington at a competitive disadvantage . Coping with his death is another matter of course, and with that in mind, we’ve yet to heard Taylor’s peers eulogize him as “Number 21″. Thankfully.

Country Time On The ’08 Mets : “What Team?”

Posted in Baseball at 1:24 am by

MLB.com’s Marty Noble gets an earful from Mets closer Billy Wagner, who might be free to write a Newday column if Wally Matthews ever wants to pursue a career as Tom Sizemore’s stunt double.

“Someone asked me what I thought of our team,” Wagner said. “I replied, ‘What team?’ We’ve lost 13 games [Tom Glavine's victory total], and now we are going have to give up something to get those games back. I’m afraid we’re just going to create other holes if we give up a [Lastings] Milledge, a [Mike] Pelfrey or a Heilman.”

“I’m trying to be positive,” he said. “I’m saying we have some good players. But I’m worried. The Braves are getting better, and the Phillies made a move [acquiring Brad Lidge]. We’ve brought back some people, and that’s good. But losing Tom is big. It’s a lot more than the 13 games he won. It’s what he did for John Maine and Oliver Perez and how professional he was. People want to focus on one bad game or just the day-to-day stats. I do that myself when I read about football. By I’m involved in this, and I know how important [Glavine] was. We don’t have him [in 2007], and we don’t even get to the last game with a chance. He was one of the few leaders we had.

“We’re down 13 games already, plus all the games Tom deserved to win,” he said. “Without Aaron, it’d be like another 10 or 12. It would be a big chance to take. Without Aaron, [the bullpen] don’t even exist. No way you can trade him.”

Wagner’s concerns go beyond personnel, to the Mets’ thoughts of using Orlando Hernandez in relief and other relievers’ roles. “[Hernandez] pitches great for five games and then can’t pitch for two weeks,” Wagner said. “If we put him in the bullpen, we’re going to ask him to pitch three times a week. Can he take that?”

Wagner went to bat for his former batterymate as well, saying he has no problem with Johnny Estrada, who was acquired in trade last week. But he believed Lo Duca was an integral component in the team dynamic.

“Maybe he wasn’t the best receiver. I don’t know. But Paulie competed,” Wagner said. “He battled every day, and we had some guys who didn’t show up every day. They were satisfied if they got a hit and we lost. Paul was [angry] if he had four hits and we lost. And every one of the pitchers trusted him. He was a big part of what we did [in 2006], and now he’s gone, too. … It just worries me that we’re missing some important guys.”

It’s hard to know what to make of Wagner’s claim that Glavine was one of the few leader-types on the Mets. On a veteran club with World Series winners including El Duque, Pedro Martinez, Luis Castillo and Moises Alou (not to mention a manager and first base coach of some repute), how dependent should the Mets have been on Glavine’s guidance?

Given Wagner’s already documented tendency to lecture the likes of Lastings Milledge — keep in mind Da Edge has been in the organization longer than Country Time — doesn’t he consider himself a leader? And if so, who exactly is he calling out here?


Conclusive Proof Baseball’s Cocaine Problem Was Out Of Control In The ’80′s

Posted in Baseball, History's Not Happening at 9:26 pm by

“I found some pretty embarrassing footage of Mariano Duncan,” writes Rog “and I’m not talking about his booting routine grounders at SS.”

“I grew up in LA and I don’t ever remember seeing this fine cinematic masterpiece. Orel Hershiser hasn’t made moves this bad since his last start for the Indians. Mike Scioscia is lucky that he kept a low profile, lest he wishes to see his ‘performance’ played on the big screen at Angel Stadium. Jerry Reuss has some pretty choice moments, too.”

Even with the above monstrosity fully in mind, I cannot claim the New York Mets don’t have a musical skeleton in their closet even scarier than Metal Mike Piazza’s Dream Theatre collection.

McCarthy Bails On Mets, Returns To Phillies

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio at 9:16 pm by

I’ve not checked the Monster.com ads this evening, but there’s a good chance a baseball team in Flushing seeks an announcer with solid baseball experience, and most importantly, the ability to sound kind of like Gary Cohen to persons who aren’t paying very close attention.

From Phillies.com :

Tom McCarthy, who spent the last two seasons as a play-by-play announcer for the New York Mets on WFAN, is returning to his roots as a member of the Phillies broadcasting team, Rob Brooks, Manager, Broadcasting announced today.

The New Jersey native broadcast Phillies games from 2001 through the 2005 season. In addition to play-by-play on radio, McCarthy also hosted the Phillies’ pre- and post-game shows. His contract is five years in length.

Jim Jackson will return handling pre- and post-game shows on WPHT The Big Talker 1210 AM and the Phillies radio network. “I’m excited to be back in Philadelphia,” said McCarthy. “I enjoyed my two years with WFAN and the Mets. Both are first-class as are the Phillies. I’m looking forward to returning and can’t wait for spring training to get here.”

Steve Alford Is Not Conrad Hilton

Posted in Basketball at 8:39 pm by

I’m not gonna bore you to death with details of my Thanksgiving Weekend, mostly because a) I barely remember anything and b) unlike Slam’s Farmer Jones, I did not have the pleasure of staying at the Steve Alford All-American Inn while driving between Indiana and Ohio.

I was psyched. My wife was not; instead of some little independent motel in the middle of nowhere, she was hoping we™d stay at a Holiday Inn or Motel 6 or some other vaguely reputable chain, since those seem less likely to end with Anthony Perkins interrupting your shower. I wanted to explain that Steve Alford would never allow a psycho-killer night manager at his hotel, but we were both tired, and she wouldn™t have appreciated the explanation. I told her just to trust me.

The Steve Alford All-American Inn is not unlike its namesake: Physically unremarkable. No frills. Unfancy. Gets the job done. It was pretty comparable to a Holiday Inn or Motel 6, except that those places generally don™t have Big Ten MVP trophies sitting on a shelf behind the check-in desk.

Here is what else it had:

-A bunch of Alford™s jerseys, from high school, college, the Olympics and the pros, displayed in frames on the lobby wall.

-A workout room with white wallpaper that has basketball-related words on it: œPost-Up, œRebound, and, yes, œSlam.

-Two hoops”height adjustable, with glass backboards and everything”in the parking lot. I would have gone out and shot on one, except we got there at 1 a.m. and left at 8 a.m., and it was freezing, and I didn™t have a ball. But otherwise.

-A giant inflatable basketball shoe in the front. About 6 feet tall, to scale, looking vaguely like a Reebok Pump. And yes, it says œLobos on the back.

While Alford’s New Mexico squad are off to a 6-0 start this year, alma mater Indiana beat Georgia Tech earlier tonight, 83-79 in Bloomington, with Hoosier freshman Eric Gordon led all scorers with 29

Jay Mohr – In No Danger Of Dying From Excellence

Posted in Sports Radio at 6:50 pm by

Is there any surprise in learning Jay Mohr is just as adept hosting live radio as he is blogging and acting? The Big Lead, following a tip from that unimpeachable source The Offshore Online Sportsbetting Message Board, reports that Jay Mohr, while guest-hosting Jim Rome’s Premiere Radio Network show last week, suggested that former A’s/Blue Jays pitcher Joe Kennedy, “died of mediocrity”.

Though Mohr is generally a whipping boy around these parts, I can sympathize in this instance. People occasionally say stupid things when they’re exhausted, and Mohr must’ve been physically spent after moving his many Academy and Emmy Awards into the PRN studios.

Some Of Mike Francesca’s Best Friends Are Asian Doctors

Posted in Sports Radio at 5:17 pm by

Newsday’s Neil Best suffered through Tuesday’s “Mike & The Mad Dog” program and was treated to an overdose of social commentary from Fatso & Fruitloops Mike Francesca and Chris Russo (link courtesy Luke Halpert).

It took less than 12 hours for the late Sean Taylor to go from dying from a gunshot wound suffered in his own home to being the latest symbol of what is wrong with America’s athletic youth on WFAN.It began with an hour-long discussion of how Taylor’s anger, his love of guns and his loyalty to imagined bad influences from a troubled youth had led him inevitably down the path of . . . um, having someone break into his house and shoot him.

The comedic moments included Russo explaining why these things don’t happen to hockey players and Francesa discussing his neighbors, who include Moises Alou, Jose Reyes and “Asian doctors.”

The clincher came at around 2:15 p.m., when a caller informed the hosts that Taylor’s father is a police chief, and that Taylor evidently did not grow up in inner-city squalor.

“Are you sure about that?” Russo said. “I wasn’t aware of that. So we’re using the wrong guy here to talk about dysfunctional homes is what you’re telling me.”

(My wife told me she read about Taylor’s police chief father at 7 o’clock this morning.)

Indeed, several of the newspaper accounts of Taylor’s shooting yesterday prominently mentioned that Taylor’s father, Pedro, is the chief of police in Florida City.

Benítez’ Unpleasant Task – Getting Smoochy With Hicks

Posted in Football at 2:03 pm by

While Setanta US is screening Arsenal’s visit to Sevilla (with ESPN 2 showing Man United at Sporting Lisbon), tomorrow night’s clash between Porto and Liverpool might hold the key to Rafa Benítez’ future at Anfield. Having successfully pissed off ownership with a sarcastic performance for the media last Thursday, Benítez is now reduced to something Ron Washington will hopefully never experience — having to apologize to Tom Hicks. From the Guardian’s Andy Hunter.

(image taken from The Red Half)

The Liverpool manager let it be known through “close sources” yesterday that he is prepared to offer an olive branch to George Gillett and Tom Hicks, having risked his future at a club he undoubtedly cherishes by raging against their transfer restrictions and lack of faith this past week. Yet the Americans believed that would be the case last Friday, 24 hours after Benítez first brought their dispute into the public domain, and the following afternoon at Newcastle he courted the sack by stirring the nest once more. A contrite message today will confirm the manager’s belief that he has a future, plus a belated understanding that he has picked the wrong fight, although the final judgment call is not his to make.

The Liverpool manager’s “bigger picture” differs to the business model of Gillett and Hicks and understandably so, but to be denied access to Bosman transfers illustrates the lack of confidence in Benítez. For a proud man responsible for winning the European Cup with a mediocre squad in 2005, who almost claimed a second last season and has also lifted the FA Cup, Uefa Cup and two Spanish league titles, this is nothing less than an insult.

Liverpool remain unbeaten in the Premier League and while progress has at times been painfully slow, it is there. Benítez has made mistakes in the market, too, but, fortunately for his owners they have been quickly shipped out of a squad whose overall value has risen significantly with the Spaniard in charge. Both sides now have a duty to find some common ground before it really is too late.

Belated Thanksgiving Thoughts From The Planet’s Most Whipped Man

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down at 12:12 pm by

Lest you thought MVN.com’s hoops blogs were the sole province of misogynists, homophobes and illiterates, NBA veteran Doug Christie took advantage of the “anybody-can-do-it” portal and shared his profound holiday wishes with ordinary citizens like you and me.

Thanksgiving is so special to me and my family, as it lets you reflect on all that you™re thankful for. I want to share some of the things I™m thankful for now with you all.

I™m thankful:

for knowing Jesus and putting him first in our life
for being alive
for being married to Jackie
for having our children
for them being healthy
for the many blessings God has given me and my family
for being able to help so very many people in some way
for having this blog on MVN and be able to have a voice and talk to you all
for our country
for another year of learning how to be a even better person than last year
for being healthy
for making it to the NBA and playing 14 years
for all the good in this world
for our wonderful book
for our great DVD – the Christies un-cut
for our reality show
and for the love we (me and my family) have for mankind, even though some have wronged us. We forgive all.

The Stan Issacs Blues Explosion

Posted in Free Expression, non-sporting journalism, Tourism at 11:25 am by

Former Newsday staple Stan Issacs has unveiled his “47th Annual Isaacs Ratings of Esoteric Distinction”, an exercise he explains thusly (link swiped from Neil Best’s Watchdog) :

The ratings, which were launched upon an unsuspecting world in 1960, and moved to thecolumnists.com in 2001, were conceived as a loving spoof of The Ring magazine boxing ratings. In those days Ring was the only entity that dealt in ratings, but they have mushroomed like, well, mushrooms, inspiring the IRED to rush in where nobody else dare tread.

Indeed, along with ranking the top Chocolate Ice Creams (Double Rainbow? In a global top ten?), Issacs endeavors to rank the elite in Paintings, Characters In Robert Service Poems, and best of all, Rest Stops On The New Jersey Turnpike.

(1) Walt Whitman; (2) Molly Pitcher; (3) Joyce Kilmer (above); (4) Thomas Edison; (5) Alexander Hamilton (6) Woodrow Wilson; (7) Clara Barton; (8) James Fenimore Cooper; (9) Richard Stockton; (10) Vince Lombardi.

Marchman : Santana’s Worth The High Price

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 10:36 am by

Amidst reports the Yankees and Twins are talking-4-real about the latter trading Johan Santana, the New York Sun’s Tim Marchman proclaims the hurler, “a left-handed Pedro Martinez, though that would insult his uniqueness.”

“He is the best pitcher in the sport as unquestionably as Martinez once was, and as Greg Maddux was before him” gushes Marchman, who just became Peter Greenberg’s favorite baseball writer of all time.

Still in his early prime, Santana throws in the middle 90s, changes speeds masterfully, and has unrivaled control, and thus should be able to easily adjust when, years from now, he does lose a bit of his edge to age. He has never thrown more than 120 pitches in a game, and despite this has averaged 228 innings the last four years. From 25 to 28, he has pitched 912.1 innings, and his park-adjusted ERA has been 56% better than average. Since integration, two pitchers have done better at the same ages while pitching at least 800 innings: Martinez and Maddux. Roger Clemens’s mark was exactly the same.

The only recent parallel for a pitcher anywhere near this young and this good being traded is Martinez. In 1997, just 25, having won his first Cy Young Award for Montreal and in the last year of his contract, he was even more desirable than Santana is now. The Red Sox ended up having to relinquish Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. for him. At the time, Pavano was Baseball America’s no. 9 prospect. Armas was highly regarded for his great pedigree and a terrific fastball. This isn’t notable just because Pavano was arguably as good a prospect then as Philip Hughes is now; it’s also notable because he actually represents something like the downside of trading a prospect for a truly great pitcher like Martinez or Santana. Pavano may be the punchline to a bad joke, but despite the fact that his greatest achievement as a Yankee was to miss a rehab start with a bruised butt cheek, he’s had a good career. He was the best pitcher on a world champion in 2003.

It’s unlikely that Hughes will do as much, given the reality that young pitchers just get hurt a lot and sometimes mysteriously fail to develop. To invoke another top prospect of a decade ago who suspiciously resembles a top Yankees prospect of today, it’s unlikely that Joba Chamberlain will have a career nearly as good as that of Kerry Wood, whom Montreal could not have had for Martinez. And both Pavano and Wood are considered terrible disappointments.

Houston Nutt’s Unemployment Lasts Approximately Two Hours

Posted in Gridiron at 9:47 am by

Though knocking off the no. 1 team in the land earned Houston Nutt a proposed two year extension as Arkansas head coach, it proved to be too little, too late — not with other suitors competing for Nutt’s services, anyhow.  Chances are very slim, by the way, that Mitch Mustaine will attempt to transfter to Ole Miss in the near future.  From the AP :

Houston Nutt wasn’t out of a job for long: He was hired as Mississippi’s football coach just hours after resigning at ArkansasNutt agreed to a contract late Monday night, and replaces Ed Orgeron, who was fired Sunday after the Rebels lost to rival Mississippi State and finished 3-9.

The hiring of Nutt was confirmed by a person close to the program who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not yet been made.

Nutt resigned even though the Razorbacks upset then-No. 1 LSU 50-48 in triple overtime last week.

Redskins’ Sean Taylor, Dead At 24

Posted in Gridiron at 9:25 am by

From the Washington Post’s Amy Shipley and Jason La Canfora :

Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died early Tuesday from the gunshot wound he suffered a day earlier in his Miami home.

“He did not make it through the night,” said Taylor’s attorney, Richard Sharpstein, who called the incident “a ridiculous, unnecessary tragedy.”

The bullet severed Taylor’s femoral artery, causing massive blood loss. He underwent seven hours of surgery, and there were some initially optimistic signs after he emerged from the operation early Monday evening. Described at first as “unresponsive and unconscious,” Taylor had squeezed a doctor’s hand and made facial expressions, Redskins officials and a family friend said, providing some hope.

Taylor died “a couple of hours ago” surrounded by some family members, family friend Donald Walker said shortly after 6 a.m. “Things turned for the worse,” Walker said by phone from Taylor’s mother’s house. There “seemed like a lot of hope after he responded to the doctor’s command. But he lost a lot of blood.”

Taylor confronted one or more intruders early Monday morning at the bedroom door of the house he shares with his fiancee and 18-month-old daughter, and was shot in the upper thigh near the femoral artery, Sharpstein said. The fiancee and child were uninjured, but Taylor lost significant amounts of blood and received a number of transfusions, according to Sharpstein and a source at the hospital.


Michael Redd – (Almost) The Modern A.C. Green

Posted in Basketball at 9:38 pm by

Maybe you were already aware the Bucks were in first place in the Eastern Conference’s Central Division. And perhaps you’ve noticed the improved physical condition of Milwaukee F Michael Redd. But did you know that (in the words of ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard), Redd was “celibate for three-and-a-half years before he tied the knot in August 2006?”

Honeys knocked on his door at 2 a.m., followed him to his car after games and left seductive messages on his phone, but through it all he was faithful, to his Lord and to his future wife, Achea. His teammates thought he was crazy.

“You gay, man?” they asked. “Scared?”

Once they realized he was neither, they got behind his decision.

“We used to joke with Mike about it,” guard Mo Williams says. “But we never doubted him because of how he carries himself. He’s so sincere you can’t help but respect him 100 percent.”

Although he got off to a rocky start in the weight room last season, Redd is now obsessed with fitness. Gone are the meat-topped pizzas, the soul food, the burgers, the candy, the popcorn, the soda, the late-night meals of pasta and bread.

And that has meant the end to the Oliver Miller jokes. “It’s good not to hear those anymore,” Redd says.

Not so fast, there’s always time for Oliver Miller jokes. Of hefty Knicks Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph, Hoopsworld‘s Mike “The Island Of Dr.” Moreau writes, “You guys are both overweight “ this is your fault. Both of you need to lose those five bags of sugar you are carrying around in your uniforms. You will room together on the road with our new assistant coaches: Jared Fogle and Clay Henry from Subway.”

I guess this wouldn’t be a great time to tell Mike about the Chocolageddon.

Randolph scored 28 for the Knicks tonight in a 113-109 home win over Utah.  Though Deron Williams suffered the indignity of being outdueled by Stephon Marbury, he can take some consolation in knowing he’ll soon return to a region where one can be married to Jeanne Tripplehorn and Chloe Sevigny at the same time.

Mets Reveal Commemorative Shea Patch

Posted in Baseball at 6:49 pm by

From MLB.com :

The New York Mets today unveiled the commemorative logo celebrating the 45-season history of Shea Stadium in conjunction with the final year in their long-time home. The Mets will wear this logo as a patch on the right sleeve of their uniforms during all 2008 home games.

Past commemorative patches worn by the Mets include tributes to Shea Stadium’s 40th Anniversary (2004), the 40th Anniversary of the club’s inception (2002), the first Major League game to be played in Tokyo (2000), the 50th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier (1997), the 25th Anniversary of the Mets’ 1969 World Championship (1994), the 125th Anniversary of Major League Baseball (1994), a Mets’ 25th Anniversary (1986), America’s Bicentennial (1976), the 100th Anniversary of Major League Baseball (1969), and the World’s Fair (1964, 1965).

Rejected patch designs include the 5th Anniversary of The First Time Doug Sisk Tried Mouthwash (1989), and the 30th Anniversary of Donald Manes cutting his own wrists in the Shea parking lot (1996).

While predicting Mets interest in Dan Haren and Livan Hernandez (!), SI.com’s Jon Heyman is somewhat less than blown away with the club’s recent backstop acquisition.

The Mets are going to have to do better than Johnny Estrada for catcher. That trade made sense in that Guillermo Mota’s time was up in Queens. But Estrada seems to have issues everywhere he goes, and the Mets will be his fourth team in four seasons. He may be the only player not to have gotten along with Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin, well known as a prince of a guy.

The Mets have talked to the Nationals about Brian Schneider in addition to talking to the Orioles about Ramon Hernandez and the Rangers about Gerald Laird. The Mets often talk about wanting a defensive catcher. So it’s about time they get one.

Cubs Retain Wood, Prepare For New Closer Search Shortly After Opening Day

Posted in Baseball at 6:33 pm by

“Kerry Wood has outlasted three managers and countless players, and also figures to outlast Tribune Co.” writes The Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan of Wood’s decision to sign a one-deal pact with the Cubs, spurning “some lucrative multi-year offers” from other clubs in the process. So there you go, after pitching a grand total of 119 combined innings the past 3 seasons, Wood can be presented as a survivor.

Kerry Wood called it “a pretty easy decision” to return to the Cubs, and left no doubt he’s psyched about the opportunity to replace Ryan Dempster as the closer in 2008.

“I would think anybody that plays this game wants to be in that position,” Wood said after signing a one-year, $4.2 million deal that includes significant incentives for number of games finished.

“If you’re playing short, you want the ball hit to you and to make the last out of the game. So sure, you say you want to be in that role, and the adrenaline of it every night and the excitement of it.

“It’s not an easy job. Dempster got some harsh criticism last year, and I think he was fourth or fifth (in the Majors) in saves percentage. And he had a rough time out there (from fans) going out and doing that. It’s fun. It’s a rewarding job, and you definitely know when you’re in the game, the game is on the line.

“I feel strong enough to go out and do it, sure,” he said. “Physically I feel like I can do it. I know what it takes to go out and eat 200-plus innings, and I know what kind of toll it takes on your body. With what I’ve been through, I don’t think it’s wise of me to take that chance again right away.”