12.30.07

Sean Wright-Phillips : Sporting Businessman Of 2007

Posted in Football, The Marketplace at 9:17 pm by

Though he didn’t figure on the scoresheet for Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat of Newcastle yesterday, Sean Wright-Phillips has managed to follow in the entrepreneurial footsteps of such classy sports pioneers as Fred Smerlas, Fran Tarkenton and Alex Rodriguez. Losing The Dressing Room fills in the blanks.

Some of you may be aware of Babestation, the channel right up the far end of the Sky Digital cluster wherein over-made up girls with blonde highlights, clearly either lapdancers at establishments that had just closed down after a police raid or university students who lived locally for a purpose, lie around in thongs on a bed in a studio space the size of a full stockroom and occasionally jiggle their breasts or thrust their arses out in a bored fashion.

Anyway, it’s partly financed by Shaun Wright-Phillips. Although he denies it’s as much as £20,000 in what passes for conversation in this 1Xtra interview, clearly he has the tone of a schoolboy caught out leafing through the stuff he found in a hedgerow. Our other favourite bit of this is when he has a pop at Joe Cole for “listening to his own stuff, he doesn’t like to mix it” (own stuff, needless to say, Oasis), just after revealing the entire rest of the dressing room listens to the same R&B as him.

Mike Brady Couldn’t Possibly Work Under Those Conditions

Posted in History's Not Happening, The World Of Entertainment at 7:29 pm by

A generation later, Mark Linn-Baker would pen an almost identical memo to his show’s producers. Presumably, his notes were greeted as warmly as those of accomplished thespian. the late Robert Reed (link swiped from Boing Boing)

The most generic problem to date in œThe Brady Bunch has been this almost constant scripted inner transposition of styles.

1. A pie-throwing sequence tacked unceremoniously onto the end of a weak script.
2. The youngest daughter in a matter of a few unexplained hours managing to look and dance like Shirley Temple.
3. The middle boy happening to run into a look-alike in the halls of his school, with so exact a resemblance he fools his parents

And the list goes on.

Once again, we are infused with the slapstick. The oldest boy™s hair turns bright orange in a twinkling of the writer™s eye, having been doused with a non-FDA-approved hair tonic. (Why any boy of Bobby™s age, or any age, would be investing in something as outmoded and unidentifiable as œhair tonic remains to be explained. As any kid on the show could tell the writer, the old hair-tonic routine is right out of œOur Gang. Let™s face it, we™re long since past the œlittle dab™ll do ya era.)

Without belaboring the inequities of the script, which are varied and numerous, the major point to all this is: Once an actor has geared himself to play a given style with its prescribed level of belief, he cannot react to or accept within the same confines of the piece, a different style.

When the kid™s hair turns red, it is Batman in the operating room.

I can™t play it.

KDJ : An Angry Proponent Of “Douche Bag” Rather Than “Douchebag”

Posted in Blogged Down, Gridiron, Mob Behavior at 6:08 pm by

“I just returned from the Patriots win over the Giants,” writes the proprietor of Ken Dorsey’s Jockstrap, “and I™ve come to a new conclusion; Patriots fans are douchebags.”  Wow, take that Fitzy! “I guess since their coach is a ball bag, I can™t really expect the fans not to be too” sighs KDJ, perhaps looking the other way at his beloved Cowboys being owned by, well, something of a ball bag.

Tonight, I™ve learned that there™s nothing worse than a Patriots fan. By the end of the first quarter, security had to escort people out about eight times (just in sections 301-303). In our section alone, we had about four or five Patriots douche bags. Most were just the usual morons who just continually point to their own jersey; I guess if you™re wearing a Moss jersey and he scores it means one of two things; he scored, so you scored as well, or Moss scored because you were wearing his jersey and you wanted to make sure we all understood that.

One personal favorite douche sat behind us. He spent the entire game chanting, œOverrated! Overrated! Overrated. Both my wife and I thought it was odd that a Giant fan would call a 15-0 team overrated, until the 4th quarter when I actually turned around and realized it was a Pats fan. It might be the first time in football history that 14-point home underdog was called overrated.

However, the fan of the day was one piece of shit, wearing a #44 Pats jersey. He had the name ˜Evans™ written on duck tape on the back of it. I™m guessing he couldn™t afford the new jersey. Anyhow, douche bag spent the entire game turning and taunting the Giants fans behind him. Every time the Pats got a single first down, guess what he did? You™ll never guess. That™s right, he did the ˜first down™ point just like every third-rate wide receiver does now. His favorite (when the Pats were losing) was to turn around and chant, œyour conference sucks! This had to be the first time a team™s conference was thrown back at them. I guess he overlooked the whole divisional thing and the fact the Pats played in a division with three losing teams, two of which have a combined 4-27 record.

Fabien Bartehz Lookalike Suggests Billick Might Be A Goner

Posted in Blogged Down, Gridiron at 3:47 pm by

Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer gleefully casts a shadow over Baltimore’s efforts to quietly play out the string today against Pittsburgh with the following missive :

Several Ravens sources have told FOX Sports that ownership and high level executives and ownership has been privately polling and asking players if Billick has lost the locker room. Not only are they asking player opinions, they are asking employees from equipment men to those on the trainer’s staff for their read as well trying to ascertain how much faith the locker room has lost in the head coach.

The general consensus is that Billick had long ago lost some of the guys but more recently the majority of the team had tuned him out. Not only has he lost the locker room, many insisted he couldn’t win the players back either.

Thus, while Billick may get another year to coach this team, owner Steve Biscotti will have to make that decision with the knowledge that his players have lost faith in the coach.

Devin Hester – Your 2007 MVP For Teams Out Of Contention.

On an entirely different tip, the ’07 Award For Confusing A (Poor) Interior Monologue With Blogging looks to be a neck & neck race between the legendary Alex Benesowitz and the Sporting News’ Kevin Sullivan.

The latter, of course, has a much hotter posse.

Coming To Your Local Bookstore : Jose’s “Vindicated”

Posted in Baseball at 1:47 pm by

(above – author of an unreadable, self-serving fantasy. On the left, Jose Canseco)

Was “I Fucking Told You So” considered a poor title? I never thought I’d say this, but at times like these, I really wish ESPN would get back into the made-for-TV movie business. From the New York Post’s Peter Cox.

José Canseco has inked a deal to publish a sequel to his blockbuster steroid tell-all, “Juiced,” his lawyer said.

“It will be an unjaundiced view, without the rose-colored glasses that [The Mitchell Report] obviously put on,” said Robert Saunooke, Canseco’s attorney.

As reported by The Post earlier this month, the former major leaguer and admitted steroid user humbly calls the new tome “Vindicated.”

Saunooke said the sequel is set to be published by Penguin Books and will be co-written by former Sports Illustrated reporter Don Yaeger.

Saunooke declined to discuss any big players named or any big details revealed in the book, but said that it would be a more complete version of the Mitchell Report, which stunned the nation with steroid allegations against the likes of Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte.

Saunooke said when former Sen. George Mitchell initially began his investigation, he contacted Canseco and Saunooke, who provided “tons of information and background” on steroid use in Major League Baseball.

But when the report was released, he and Canseco were disappointed by not seeing players like Rafael Palmeiro and Pudge Rodriguez named.

Saunooke said one of the topics for the new book will be how Mark McGwire asked for immunity prior to his appearance before Congress in 2005.

The Bitchy, Brawling Blazers

Posted in Basketball at 12:18 pm by

Friday’s 109-98 win over Minnesota marked Portland’s 12 consecutive victory, a streak The Oregonian’s Jason Quick credits to a highly contentious training session in a San Antonio gym on December 1. “The practice was basically set up for a fight to happen” claims coach Nate McMillan, who comes off as something of a mad genius for instituting a number of conditions recounted by Quick (“there would be no switching when screens were set, forcing the defender to fight through picks. And there would only be one dribble allowed by the ballhandler, a tactic designed to instigate more movement by the offense to get open.”)

The first sparks were ignited early in the practice, when the team was in the midst of executing a three-man weave against defenders. Joel Przybilla, the rugged, veteran center, set a pick on Maretell Webster, the third-year player out of high school. Webster cried foul, saying Przybilla set a moving screen. Przybilla, who later said he was in a foul mood that day, shot back and asked Webster why he complains about everything.

Flustered, Webster retorted with, “Why don’t you make a dunk for once?” inciting Przybilla’s bad mood.

With tempers simmering, the drills moved to a four-on-four format. Webster made a hard drive to the basket, where he was met by Przybilla. The center caught Webster in the air, bear-hugged him and threw him to the floor.

“That’s when your pride comes in and some ego gets in the way,” Webster recalled. “I started yelling at him, telling him, ‘If I get a shot at you . . . ,’ and I remember this: While I was arguing with Joel, I looked at coach, and he was just sitting there smiling. He was looking at me like, ‘Well, get into it then. Show me something.’

“And you know what, it seemed to ignite everybody, not just for me and Joel, but for everybody. The intensity of the whole practice changed.”

Soon, Channing Frye said he was “talking trash” to his teammates. And the normally stoic Brandon Roy was cussing and snapping at the teammates guarding him. And Steve Blake got so angry that he kicked a chair, prompting Nate McMillan to chastise him in front of the team.

“We were there as guests, that was not our furniture,” McMillan said. “So I told him to pick up the chair.”

Nobody’s Perfect. Except New England

Posted in Gridiron at 8:25 am by

Patriots 38, Giants 35

“The only outcome I™m rooting for would be Jared Lorenzen putting up crazy numbers against N.E. backups, thus leading to a public outcry for Eli™s benching against the Buccaneers. Sure, it™ll never happen, but neither will New York™s first-stringers be allowed to risk injury late in the game, not if Coughlin has an ounce of smarts remaining.”

Ahem. So much for any expert prognosis that one of both of these teams would send the scrubs in. Despite having nothing whatsoever to play for (beyond individual records and making Don Shula cry), the Patriots and Giants turned an otherwise meaningless contest into a genuinely competitive, if not compelling game. I’ll still contend this was a mere historic footnote compared to what’s in store during the postseason, but there’s a lot to take away from this one. For instance, knee injuries to Giants LB Kawika Mitchell, safety Craig Dahl and center Shaun O’Hara, all of whom were sacrificed to the all-important cause of trying-to-knock-the-Pats-off.

That said, I won’t go nearly as far as WFAN’s Mike Francesca, who along with characterizing last night’s game as “everything that’s good about the NFL”, unloaded on Giants fans who sold their tickets. “How stupid did you feel,” bellowed Francesca, “watching your Giants leave the field to an enormous ovation at the end of the first half…if you managed to cozy up to a television.”

Just out of curiosity, how many games at the Meadowlands has Francesca paid to attend in late December? It’s kind of amazing to hear WFAN’s listeners accused of disloyalty by a guy far too smart to actually sit in row ZZZ in freezing temperatures. And who amongst us wouldn’t love to read of the Sultan Of Self-Importance in the middle of something like this?

With Randy Moss (2 TD’s, 6 catches, 100 yards) passing Jerry Rice for the single season TD reception mark, we can safely proclaim New England’s draft day acquisition of the former one of the most lopsided deals in modern sports history. And while New England overcoming a 12 point second half deficit on enemy territory was decent enough playoff preperation, it cannot be ignored that Eli Manning was just a few dropped passes away from having outplayed Tom Brady. Sadly for Eli, one of those drops wasn’t committed by Ellis Hobbs ; suffice to say that if a mistake free game was required by Manning to pull off the upset, that particular overthrow of Plaxico Fantastico was gaffe of the night.

I won’t call it costly, however. Luckily for Manning and Tom Coughlin, nothing was at stake, and if the former plays nearly as well against Tampa next weekend, he’ll have done plenty to challenge the perception he’s got no heart. Perhaps even within his own team’s front office.

12.29.07

Calamity James Vs. The Moneyballizing Of Soccer

Posted in Football at 8:19 pm by

Given that Saturday marked yet another blooper reel worthy gaffe by Portsmouth’s David James (above), one that essentially gifted Middlesborough a 1-0 home victory, perhaps an editorial in Sunday’s Observer wasn’t the best occasion for the keeper to proclaim “years ago, the only statistic that counted in football was how many pints you could drink in a night.”

These days, football is a very different beast. The English game is ever more Americanised in its obsession with stats. Top football clubs are now using a model of statistical analysis similar to that used by Billy Beane in Major League Baseball to tell us how we won, how we lost, how to pick the side, or even how to buy players.

Most people know that I like a stat or two, so I’m not dismissing their value. As a kid I spent hours poring over football annuals, obsessing over clean-sheets records, attendances and county-league statistics. But data is a complicated business. Statistics are meant to be absolute, but once you start asking how they have been collated, or what they mean, you find yourself needing not just one stat but several. You can see how I became obsessive.

Peter Schmeichel best showed how numbers can be fiddled. Years ago there was a story going round that Schmeichel got the hump because of the introduction of ProZone, so decided to prove a point. The very next match, so the tale goes, every time the ball was down the other end, Schmeichel did sets of sprints across the edge of his area to raise his high-intensity running stats. Anyone watching probably thought: ‘Oh look there’s Schmeichel keeping himself warm’; but he ended up beating one of the forwards on stats for that game.

Where does coaching, that age-old skill, come into all of this? If footballers are recruited on their statistical performances, then where is the opening for managers to coach the best out of a player? The young footballer who shows flashes of brilliance but needs an arm around the shoulder, or a kick up the backside, may never get a chance under a stats-obsessed manager. A decent old-school coach doesn’t need to look at a load of stats to work out how good a player is. I certainly can’t see Harry Redknapp doing it – he knows his players and he doesn’t often buy a bad one.

Beane’s stats revolution may work for a team emerging from administration and needing a cost-efficient solution to get into the play-offs, but, like Beane’s Oakland A’s, they’re never going to win the title. Pints aside, the only statistic that really counts in football is the result.

Gus Johnson – Too Much Broadcaster For Just One Team

Posted in Basketball, Sports TV at 5:20 pm by

To mangle a point raised by My Teams Are Cursed, what would you say if you tuned into a Yankee game and instead of the dulcet tones of John Sterling, instead heard Tigers legend Ernie Harwell?  Aside, from “thank god”?

Well, that’s kind of what happened during last night’s telecast of the Pistons’ home win over Indy. MSG fixture Gus Johnson worked the game, filling in for Pistons mouthpiece George Blaha who was occupied covering Michigan State’s loss in the Champs Sports Bowl to Boston College.

Apparently, this was some sort of dream come true for Detroit native Johnson, and I’m surprised Knicks ownership allowed it (assuming they knew). But I’m also certain that double standards make for an unhappy workforce, so I look forward to Jamal Crawford being granted permission to suit up for the team of his choice on his day off.  Likewise if other Garden employees wanna try their hands at moonlighting (Steve Mills might make a terrific department store manager.  Surely there’s a newspaper or website that will give Jerome James a shot as their restaurant critic?), hopefully they’ll be given the same opportunities.  And if some of ‘em are having too much fun to come back, all the better. (links courtesy Awful Announcing)

Bruins Opt For College Hoops Aficionado

Posted in Gridiron at 3:43 pm by

From the AP :

Rick Neuheisel is coming back to UCLA — this time as head coach.

Neuheisel, who quarterbacked the Bruins to victory in the 1984 Rose Bowl and later served as an assistant under Terry Donahue, was hired Saturday as his alma mater’s 16th coach.

Neuheisel spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, who finish the season Sunday against Pittsburgh. He served as quarterbacks coach in 2005-06, and was promoted to offensive coordinator last January.

He had a 66-30 record as a head coach at Colorado from 1995-98 and Washington from 1999-2002. He hasn’t been in the college game since Washington fired him in 2003 for participating in a betting pool on the NCAA basketball tournament. He sued for wrongful termination from Washington and settled in March 2005 with UW and the NCAA for $4.5 million.

Neuheisel began his road back to coaching in the fall of that year as a volunteer assistant coaching quarterbacks at Seattle’s Rainier Beach High School.

Neuheisel’s resume also includes the San Diego Chargers’ single game passing percentage mark of .818 (18 for 22), compiled in a October 11, 1987 game against Tampa Bay.  Since Neuheisel’s achievement occurred during the NFLPA’s strike of that autumn, it’s probably not something he considers a career highlight.