A Classy Way To End The Holiday

Posted in Free Expression, Merry Fucking Christmas at 10:43 pm by

Men’s room wall, Casino El Camino, Christmas Day, 2007. Handwriting analysts, do your worst, but I’ve got my suspicions about who might be responsible for such vandalism.

Lowe On Ronaldinho’s Fall From Favor

Posted in Football at 10:09 pm by

After a sluggish showing in a home defeat to Real Madrid Sunday night, Ronaldinho was off to Brazil for La Liga’s winter break. Not a moment too soon, either, as the Guardian’s Sid Lowe writes the veteran striker has been “getting the stick. And not just any old stick, either, but a bloody great plank encrusted with nails.”

When Ronaldinho arrived at El Prat last night in the comic get-up of the teenage bad-boy – sunglasses, silly hat, sparkly jacket, BA’s chains and Suggs’s trousers – it was barely an hour after the final whistle at the Camp Nou. It was the fastest he’d moved all night and rather than wagging thumb and little finger at adoring fans, he sneaked silently through a side door. If he is late back again, busy holed up in the boot of a car or working on his pneumatic drill impression, few will care. In fact, right now, plenty of Barça fans couldn’t care less if he doesn’t fly back at all.

And they couldn’t care less because last night Barcelona were beaten 1-0 by Real Madrid in what used to be called the derbi and is now dubbed the clásico but was only classic in the way that old telly programmes which weren’t very good the first time are classic. Because a Julio Baptista goal inflicted Barça’s first home defeat for almost two years. Because they failed to score for the first time since a 0-0 with Espanyol almost three years ago. Because defeat leaves them seven points behind Madrid, closing an annus almost as horribilis as the Queen’s. Because, in an admirable display of clichéd fools seldom differing, both Marca and AS’s websites declared it a “white Christmas”, while Sport and Mundo Deportivo called it “the nightmare before Christmas”. And because the league looks done already: “It’s over,” insisted Marca’s Roberto Palomar, “the difference between Madrid and Barcelona is the difference between an antelope and a lion. And I don’t remember a single documentary where the antelope wins.”

The only person Ronaldinho destroys these days is himself. Overweight, unfit and unhappy, there have been flashes of brilliance and plenty of goals – last year he scored 21 – but there’s no escaping the decline. Worse still, he’s seen as the embodiment of all that’s wrong with a Barcelona team going down the galactic route, while Madrid head in the other direction. He missed over 50% of Barça’s training sessions last season, can’t get on with Samuel Eto’o, and has already pulled out of two games this year – on the morning of the match. As one columnist put it, “Ronaldinho is the best player in the world but the worst sportsman at Barcelona”; “Dinho”, another declared, “is deceased … or gone fishing.” Last night wasn’t just about last night. For Ronaldinho it was a challenge: now or never. And as the fans whistled him from the field, the inevitable conclusion was never.

The Zen Master’s Mom Dresses Him Funny

Posted in Basketball, Sports TV at 8:02 pm by

note to Jeff Van Gundy : if there is such a thing as “sanitorial splendor”, it doesn’t have much to do with Phil’s costume.

Aspiring Tool : I Wanna Be Will Leitch’s Agent

Posted in Blogged Down, Sports Journalism, The Marketplace at 4:19 pm by

“It’s like they’re running all over the sports landscape trying to money-whip everybody into their barn” says Sports Illustrated’s Terry McDonnell of ESPN’s recent attempts to raid the world of print journalism for pricey talent, with notable acqusitions including Howard Bryant (Washington Post), Rick Reilly (Sports Illustrated) and T.J. Quinn (New York Daily News). The New York Times’ Richard Perez-Pena takes note of the competitive environment…and expects us to swallow the following :

“It’s the exact same model as what happened to athletes,” said Leigh Steinberg, a top sports agent. “We’re seeing free agency for sports journalists.”

He and Scott Boras, the agent for Alex Rodriguez and other stars, said that change had no doubt already produced an unnoticed milestone: In a sports locker room somewhere, in an interview between a prominent reporter and a low-level player, the scribe is the better-paid person in the conversation.

Aside from the likes of Reilly spending very little time in locker rooms (save for their own health clubs), it might’ve been interesting to have just one example cited. Other than Joe McEwing being quizzed by anyone who isn’t on welfare. But Perez-Pena isn’t the only one overly excited by the brave new world of writers-raking-it-in. Darren Heitner (above) of the ferociously unreadable Sports Agent Blog is eager to fill a niche.

It is just a matter of time before agents become a staple of the negotiations for up and coming journalists. Who knows¦some day I may get a call from Will Leitch of Deadspin.com or a blogger who does not actually go by a name, like TBL of TheBigLead.com, asking for representation. These bloggers may end up being the future big time players making top dollars in the media market. Jamie Mottram, writer of Mr. Irrelevant and host of The Blog Show, went from heading AOL’s FanHouse to being in charge of Yahoo! Sports’  new blogging platform. There are success stories out there in the blogging world.

But even if blogging ends up being a fad and slowly dies away, companies like SI, ESPN, and Yahoo! are banking that internet sports news is going to be the main way that sports fans receive their content. They are displaying this faith by paying large sums of money to sports journalists, prying them away from traditional media entities. As a sports agent and journalist, I am very interested in what future sports journalist contracts end up looking like, and hope that I am one day involved in a sports journalist’s contractual negotiations.

Regardless of my personal feelings about Leitch’s work, I have a hard time believing a thrice-published author and widely-recognized TV pundit is without the benefit of representation (perhaps, y’know, a lawyer?). And even if that were the case, I’d have an even tougher time imagining Leitch putting his career in the hands of a delusional internet troll, particularly one whose own blog makes the average Deadspin commenter come off like Red Smith by comparison.

Still, the old adage, “there’s somebody for everybody” comes to mind in this instance, and while I love the idea of Heitner getting a call from “a blogger who does not actually go by a name”, I see no reason why Alex Benesowitz would need to remain anonymous.

SMW : Somebody, Please Make Mark Jackson A Coach

Posted in Basketball, Sports TV at 2:10 pm by

Mark Jackson will be working ABC’s telecast of the Suns/Lakers game later today, and Sports Media Watch’s Paul Sen predicts the former St. John’s standout “will spend the two-and-a-half hours stating the obvious, making painfully lame, pithy comments, and taking over the telecast.”  With a bit of wishful thinking, Sen opines that Jackson “could easily make a far better coach than analyst.”

Jackson’s name has been mentioned as a slight possibility to fill the inevitable New York Knicks coaching vacancy — ironic, due to the fact that Jackson and current Knicks coach Isiah Thomas have more in common than excellence at the point guard position.

In 1998, Thomas was hired to be the lead analyst for the NBA on NBC. He was paired with Bob Costas in a two-man booth, and was arguably worse in that position than he is now as Knicks head coach. Midway through the season, the Detroit Pistons did the world a favor and fired Doug Collins, allowing NBC to hire him and partially save their lead broadcast team. That year, Costas, Collins and Thomas worked the NBA Finals, and NBC had enough good sense to ‘promote’ Thomas to the studio team the next season. The resulting two-man team of Costas and Collins was one of the best NBC had during its NBA coverage.

The parallel is uncanny. In 2006, ABC named Jackson the lead analyst for its NBA package, pairing him with Mike Breen. During the 2007 NBA Playoffs, the Houston Rockets fired Jeff van Gundy, and ABC added him to the team of Jackson and Breen. So far this season, Breen and Van Gundy have worked in a two-man booth for most games, due to Jackson’s YES Network duties, and those telecasts have been far easier to listen to. In fact, the teams of Breen and Van Gundy and Dan Shulman and Hubie Brown have easily been the best ESPN has had since taking over the NBA in 2002.

With one team already having a coaching vacancy (the medicore one-time contender Chicago Bulls, who fired Scott Skiles yesterday), here is hoping that this Christmas, NBA general managers can give fans a true gift and hire Jackson away from the broadcast booth.

Surely Sen is aware that if Jackson were to relinquish the microphone for the clipboard, YES would struggle to find a suitable straight man for Ian Eagle?

Vecsey : Skiles Was The Scapegoat For Paxson’s Moves

Posted in Basketball at 12:17 pm by

Though acknowledging “when salary caps and guaranteed long-term contracts can’t be easily consumed, the coach is considered extraneous”, the New York Post’s Peter Vecsey (not responsible, I admit, for the outta context headline above) reminds us that aside from whatever else deposed Bulls coach Scott Skiles did wrong, we wasn’t the GM.

Three years ago, the Bulls won 47 games with the above mentioned core, plus Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler. Last season they won 49 games. In between Curry forced a trade to the Knicks that yielded Tim Thomas, the No. 2 of ’06 and the No. 9 pick in ’07; Chandler was dealt for P.J. Brown and J.R. Smith, and Ben Wallace was signed to $60M, four- year free-agent contract.

What do the Bulls have to show for that? Thomas was waived long after being sent home by Skiles. Smith was traded to the Nuggets for a pair of second rounders and Howard Eisley. The No. 2 pick was used to take LaMarcus Aldridge and sent him to Portland for Tyrus and Victor Khryapa. And last June’s No. 9 selection got them Joakim Noah.

Don’t look now but Aldridge is precisely the type of player the Bulls would love to have patrolling their paint . . . and they wouldn’t have had to trade two of their top six for, say, Pau Gasol.

“Looks like we finally returned the Portland favor from 84!” a Bulls official laments.

Brandon Roy might have also helped from that ’06 draft. No, nobody knew he was going to be All-Star good when the Timberwolves tabbed him and traded his rights to Portland for Randy Foye. But we all kinda knew Roy was 6-foot-6 and a smooth operator and Chicago’s backcourt remains conspicuously undersized.

What’s more, why delete Chandler and add Tyrus, an obvious long-term project, and the 6-foot-7 Wallace who had the benefit of the 6-foot-11 Rasheed Wallace playing alongside him when the Pistons won the title, when you’re trying to compete for a championship in the present?

Looking back (which helps a bit, I admit), of all the moves John Paxson made would anybody do any of them?

Though the Chicago Tribune’s Sam Smith alleges Ben Wallace told Paxson “He (Skiles) quit on us, so we’ve quit on him”, a direct quote from Big Ben is far less illuminating (” “How would I characterize my personal relationship with any coach?”). Yahoo Sports’ Kelly Dwyer hints that Skiles’ taskmaster rep might make him a better fit for the amateur ranks.

Losing games early in the season was a Skiles trademark, but this year’s model seemed to be losing by more points than in years past, and every rotation player saw his contributions falter as the team limped along. Youngsters like Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah were yanked in and out of the rotation in what appeared to be borderline-arbitrary moves. Griffin went from receiving DNP-CDs to starting to taking in DNP-CDs again in one four-game stretch, and the offense was by far the league’s worst.

Skiles’ NBA future seems pretty grim at this point. He did nothing short of a remarkable job in 2004-05, and should have won the Coach of the Year award. He constantly had these Bulls overachieving and rarely taking nights off in a league that takes entire weeks off at a time. He knows the game, doesn’t destroy players on the sideline or in practice, and has taken two teams (Phoenix being the other) into the second round of the playoffs.

But the stereotype that followed him into Chicago four years ago, that of a coach who will burn out and lose his players after a few strong years, hasn’t been affected. He seems the perfect college coach at this point, which is a shame, because the man truly knows the NBA game. Jerry Reynolds recalled an anecdote during a Kings broadcast last night where he had to ask Skiles — then a point guard for the opposing team — to explain the proper way to run a play to Rodney McCray, then playing under Reynolds for the Kings. The dismissal was needed, but it doesn’t make it any less unnecessary.

Enterprising Giants Fans Gouging Pats Acolytes

Posted in Gridiron, The Marketplace at 11:16 am by

This is exactly the sort of behavior Robert Kraft deplores. Unless he finds a way to get a piece of the action.  From the Newark Star-Ledger’s Jeff Whelan.

No sooner had the Gatorade on coach Tom Coughlin begun to dry off when some Giants ticket holders rushed for their computers: More than 200 of them put tickets for the Patriots game up for auction on eBay within 24 hours of the Giants’ 38-21 victory over the Bills.

One sales pitch urged potential buyers to “BE A PART OF HISTORY!” Others offered parking passes — something almost as valuable as a ticket to the game at Giants Stadium this year.

And it wasn’t just eBay. There were also 3,000 tickets up for auction yesterday afternoon on StubHub, a similar online auction site which specializes in tickets.

Buyers — many of them from Massachusetts — have been willing to shell out up to $1,600 a piece for a chance to see Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his teammates take a shot at the history books, according to Joellen Ferrer, a StubHub spokeswoman. One wildly optimistic Giants fan listed an asking price of $210,000 for a pair of tickets.

“It looks like it’s on pace to be one of our top 25 events of all time. It’s definitely one of our hot sellers,” said Ferrer, of StubHub, a 7-year-old company. “Although it’s meaningless to the Giants, it’s still going to be a great game to watch.”

The Giants season-ticket base is known to be older and more family-oriented, making a “meaningless” Saturday night game in late December less appealing to attend. And Patriot fans are just a few hours north, a short enough drive to keep a thermos full of New England clam chowder warm for a tailgate party.

Yes indeed, I imagine there will be copious of amounts of “chowder” brought to East Rutherford that evening.

MLB To Tribe Fans : Have A Lousy Christmas

Posted in Baseball, Merry Fucking Christmas, The Marketplace at 1:49 am by

The following message from David Scheid arrived early this morning, though there’s a good chance it was originally earmarked for David Horowitz’ “Fight Back”.

i know, i am not putting a ton of thought into my little bro’s christmas gift. i mean, it’s obvious. so i was counting on the mlb to have my back. so i went to indians.com and (after getting side tracked by a hard hitting story about jensen lewis’ holiday plans and christmases past (he beat sonic the hedgehog in one day and his fave christmas song is by mariah carey)) started the process of buying my sib a $100 CLEVELAND INDIANS gift card.  there is an option to gift wrap it. i don’t know what they would do to a card but i figure i missed his birthday this year (and every year since i was like 17) so i would splurge for him.

well, i can only say that hear i am 12:40 AM on christmas morning and i am shocked, sickened and appalled (and i don’t even drink or check out online porno anymore)!

my options are:
chicago cubs
New york mets
saint louis cardinals (straight up gross).

dude. wtf?

Indeed, dude.  WTF, indeed.   Surely there’s several cases of Chief Wahoo wrapping paper in the MLB.com warehouse?


Peter Ridsdale’s Forgotten Pop Career

Posted in Football at 10:04 pm by

While not nearly as sensational a story as the DIY video endeavors of Manchester City’s Micah Richards, the Guardian’s Tom Lutz interrogated former Leeds chairman / current Cardiff City exec Peter Ridsdale on the occasion of the latter’s ‘United We Fall: Boardroom Truths About the Beautiful Game’ hitting the bookshelves.  Mindful of Ridsdale’s alleged role in Leeds’ financial collapse, Lutz asks “can you walk the streets without getting a pasting?”

Do you ever miss going to Elland Road?
When I first left Leeds I found it strange because I had been there since I was a schoolboy, every week. In the book I apologise for the mistakes that I made, and I think the book also begs the question of whether others should put their hands in the air and say they made mistakes.

And which people would that be, Peter?

[Tersely] I think if you read the book you can draw your own conclusions.

Gah! Reading’s for girls, Peter. Real men have fights in Leeds city centre and play football. Were you much of a player yourself?
I played in goal for my county when I was younger. I played every weekend and loved it.

Who was the best player you brought to the Leeds?
There were some great players, but I’d go for Mark Viduka, who had great feet and created as many goals as he scored. Then there was an unknown striker called Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who we bought for £2m and sold for £12m, but of course nobody gives us any credit for that one.

You were in top pop band Midnight Orange in your youth …
Ah yes, I was lead singer. It was in the 60s and we played all sorts of stuff – (If Paradise Is) Half As Nice – I modelled my haircut on Peter Noone out of Herman’s Hermits. [Detecting the squeak in Small Talk's voice] You’d be too young to remember all this of course.

Yup, Small Talk is a hip young cat with its finger on the pulse of the modern scene. Apparently there’s a band from Leeds called Kaiser Chiefs …
I think the Kaiser Chiefs are great, absolutely great. We’ve got their CDs here at home. They’re something to be proud of as a lad from Leeds.

Rodney Marsh has just appeared on I’m a Celebrity … Have you ever been invited to go on?

I’m not going to get involved in reality television. [Out of nowhere] I’m a businessman who takes very seriously doing my job well. You make mistakes and you have to hold your hands up and in most countries in the world people acknowledge that when you make mistakes you’re better for it, if you put the lessons learned into practice. Whereas in this country we want to grind people down and that’s what’s happened to me over the last four and a half years and this is an opportunity to keep my head down and get on and complete the task at Cardiff.

[Small Talk puts a tentative tick in box marked "Not interested in reality TV shows"] Erm, so you’re saying there’s a culture of knocking people in Britain then?
I can only speak from experience but some people have said very nice things about me, for example during the incidents at Galatasaray, and over the things that were thrown our way during the Woodgate/Bowyer trial and yet today you’d think from reactions today that I’d never done anything right as Leeds chairman, yet for five years we were one of the top teams in the country.

Yikes! Let’s bring it down a level, Peter. What was the last CD you bought?

I’ve just bought Katie Melua’s one actually. I particularly like If You Were A Sailboat.

Ah, sailboats – that’s lovely and calming. And Katie’s a nice looking lady, even if she did go out with that bloke from the Kooks
Yes, a nice looking lady indeed.

Child Abuse, Dolan Style

Posted in Basketball, Leave No Child Unbeaten, The Marketplace at 8:50 pm by

On the same day Alan Hahn quotes an unnamed Garden source as explaining the Knicks’ failure to acknowledge Kobe Bryant becoming the youngest player in league history to score 20,000 points (“the team does not recognize the accomplishments of opposing players”), Newsday colleague Juan Iglesias-Lopez warns us of the impending DVD release of “New York Knicks Baby”.

Smoothly and clearly narrated by legendary Knicks point guard and current MSG broadcaster Walt “Clyde” Frazier, the 30-minute video first introduces infants to the Knicks through simple exercises and past and present highlights in the “Intro” and “Tip Off” segments, the first of nine DVD chapters.

The activities selected for instruction, such as spelling “K-N-I-C-K-S,” and bouncing, dribbling and passing the ball — tasks that Knicks coach Isiah Thomas has a hard enough time teaching his own players — are nevertheless age-appropriate.

The highlights of Knicks action is peppered with clips of infants and toddlers, in NBA-sized sneakers, attempting to shoot and dribble a basketball.

In the following chapters, babies learn numbers, colors and shapes, and how to spell simple words such as “ball,” “hoop,” “team” and “play.”

The animations are inviting and engaging, as is the jazzy music played in the background throughout the video. Children will enjoy the imagery.

The DVD’s one misstep occurs when, in a segement of bloopers from the making of the Team Baby DVDs, viewers see two oddly chosen shots of crying kids, one of whom is a baby girl who is clearly suffering as her bonnet is adjusted by the video production staff.

Curiously, there’s no word yet of how production is going for TBE’s “Houston Rockets Baby” and whether nor Calvin Murphy has been enlisted to narrate.

CSTB Founder and Jesus Celebrate Birthdays

Posted in Blogged Down, Firearms, Internal Affairs, Merry Fucking Christmas at 8:05 pm by

Happy Birthday to CSTB founder Gerard Cosloy, who slides in just before the Savior Himself with a birthday today. I don’t know how old GC is, as I rarely check his My Space page since I was knocked out of his Top 10 Friends section … but Happy Birthday nonetheless. You too, Jesus!

Stink Graduates From The Jeff Kent Academy Of Truck Washing

Posted in Sports TV, Vroom Vroom at 5:40 pm by

Granted, this is a pretty lazy way of acquiring content, but the worst part is the beating I’m gonna receive if anyone asks Kellen Winslow Sr. about it.

Jon Solomon’s Marathon – Because You Can’t Count On Steve Somers To Spin Culturcide’s “Depressed Christmas”

Posted in Merry Fucking Christmas, Radio, Rock Und Roll at 3:30 pm by

Jon Solomon‘s Annual 24 Hour Holiday Radio Show kicks off in about 90 minutes on WPRB (streaming live via iTunes, Windows Media or Real Player), and if you’re like me (alone, cold, surrounded by unopened bills, empty bottles and hungry pets), you’ll be listening to a good portion of the broadcast.

My favorite part every year comes at around 2 or 3am when Jon defends himself against charges of financial misconduct, using sick children as props and just generally goes fucking nuts over the way the news media has hounded him for years.

Or maybe that’s the Jerry Lewis Telethon. I get the two events mixed up sometimes. The music on Jon’s show is usually much better, though. Will this year’s marathon feature the festive-stylings of The Christfits? You’ll just have to tune in to find out.

Note To Roger Clemens : This Is What A Revealing You Tube Clip Is All About

Posted in Free Expression, Leave No Child Unbeaten, The World Of Entertainment at 2:09 pm by

The partial backstory can be found at Nicole Bitchie. Which much of the news media and public otherwise occupied, perhaps this was the wrong day of the year to drop such revelations?

Broadsheet Xenophobia Vs. Roustabout Tabloidism : You Don’t Have To Be British To Hate Isiah (But It Doesn’t Hurt)

Posted in Basketball, Mob Behavior, Sports Journalism, We Aren't The World at 12:24 pm by

(believe it or not, the above gentleman a) made his own sign, b) wasn’t attending a Knicks game when the above photo was taken, c) might not be so easily manipulated by sleazy foreign editors, d) knows less about the NBA draft than Craig Carton)

“Do you think it might be a sign that we™ve all gone off the rails when one of the dominant papers in the city publishes a ‘Fire Isiah’ poster and instructs fans to hold it up at games?” asked Ken Berger, a Newsday columnist amongst those less than amused at the Daily News’ attempt to co-opt genuine fan frustration with the state of the New York Knicks (95-90 losers yesterday afternoon to the Los Angeles Lakers). The New York Times’ Richard Perez-Pena is equally queasy from he calls “tabloid pugnacity”, pointing a finger at the real villians — newspaper editors who weren’t born in America (link courtesy Cosellout).

On Wednesday, The Daily News published an article that it said was œfor all the Knicks fans who feel the same way as the ejected fan, telling them, œconsider the sign on the opposite page our holiday gift.

In big block letters, the following page said, œFire Isiah. In much smaller type, it added, œTo be held up during next Knicks blowout.

The next game was not an embarrassing defeat ” the Knicks actually won ” but the signs were common in the stands.

Most of American journalism pays at least lip service to the idea that news reporting should not take sides in the matter being covered, even when it comes to the performance of the home team. But New York City™s tabloids, The Daily News and the even more opinionated New York Post, do not always feel bound by that rule.

That may be partly a result of both papers™ having had a number of editors from Britain and other parts of the world where newspapers have fewer pretensions to being impartial.

The œFire Isiah spread œwas what I would describe as good, roustabout tabloidism, said Martin Dunn, editor in chief and deputy publisher of The Daily News, who is British.

One thing newspapers forget, he said, is that œpeople don™t spend their lives debating the great matters of state. They like a bit of fun now and then. A bit of rabble-rousing.

Suddenly, Matthew Modine’s Entire Career Was Worth It

Posted in Merry Fucking Christmas at 11:53 am by

video link supplied by Ben Schwartz.

Da Bulls To Skiles : Merry Fucking Christmas, You’re Fired

Posted in Basketball at 11:43 am by

With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, we can have a cheap laugh at the expense of Sam Smith’s history lesson in Monday’s Chicago Tribune.

Thanks to Artis Gilmore, no one is about to be fired, cut, traded or released.

It was 20 years ago Monday when one of the most popular players in Bulls history was released on Christmas Eve because of then-NBA rules that forced teams to waive players Dec. 24 or pay them for a full season. The so-called guarantee date subsequently was moved into January.

The organization was overwhelmed with negative publicity and community condemnation for dumping Gilmore, which makes the Bulls organization perhaps the most sensitive to the personal aspect of the holiday season.

Hey, guys, continue with your holiday shopping, but no one should relax.

About 5 hours after the above item was posted, the AP reported Chicago has fired head coach Scott Skiles.


A Photo Op Most Of America Could Do Without

Posted in Gridiron at 5:06 pm by

The Hooded Casanova (left) explains to a pair of anonymous schlubs that if they wanna wreck any homes score with the ladies, they’re gonna have to to upgrade the wardrobes.

The Planet’s Most Whipped Man Channels His Inner Jackie Harvey

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down at 4:39 pm by

All say this much for the utter blogging futility of Doug Christie — if he continues the regular postings, Alex Benesowitz might only be the 2nd lamest writer working under the MVN umbrella.

As the NBA season moves along, it™s wonderful to watch some of the young budding stars step into their own (Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, Chris Paul). Also, your veteran players are stepping up and being leaders (Boston™s big three, Chauncey Billups, Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Manu Ginobili, Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant).

There™s some teams playing good team ball as well (Boston, Detroit, Utah, Phoenix and San Antonio), some pleasant surprises (Atlanta keeps playing hard, New Orleans, Golden State is no fluke – fun to watch, and the L.A. Lakers can be as good as anyone). On the other hand some surprises are not so good (New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat with Dwayne Wade injured, Houston Rockets -thought they might be more dominant, but maybe they need more time with new coach, and I thought Dallas might come out like gang buster™s). Good sign for them?

At any rate, it™s interesting to watch as things take shape. Who will be there at all-star weekend? Who will be there at the end? I can™t wait to get out there.

Everybody stay tuned!

Former WCW Mouthpiece Madden In Annual “Clean Up Your Act” Furor

Posted in Sports Radio at 2:34 pm by

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bob Smizik on the continuing escapes of WEAE’s Mark Madden.

Madden, who has made himself one of the best known media figures in the region at least partially by inflammatory statements, sexual innuendo and insulting popular sports figures, has been ordered to tone down his act by his bosses at ESPN in Bristol, Conn., or face dismissal.

According to multiple sources, Madden was close to being fired when the full extent of his on-air behavior was made known at ESPN headquarters.

Although the local station has long used the ESPN brand, it was under the direct control of ABC Radio. When Disney, the parent company, sold off most of its stations, the remaining sports stations last spring came under more direct control from ESPN headquarters. When made aware of the sexual nature of some of Madden’s comments, ESPN, concerned about its wholesome image and that of Disney’s, acted swiftly.

According to several sources, ESPN received a tape recording of Madden’s show, displaying his propensity for off-color comments, from a listener.

To ensure he behaves, the board operator on duty for Madden’s show, which airs weekdays from 3-7 p.m., has been told to dump any off-color remarks by Madden and go to the built-in seven-second delay that all talk shows have. Usually, the board operator must be alert for off-color remarks made by callers. Now his primary duty is to keep a leash on Madden.

Off-color remarks, sexual innuendo and attacks on public figures are a small part of Madden’s show, but they have become his calling card and enthrall his listeners who wait for him to go off on somebody. His attempts to defame such popular sports figures as Arnold Palmer, Jerome Bettis, Franco Harris, Jim Leyland and Myron Cope are part of that act.

Typical of his rants was this one, made about a year ago when he was fired as a panelist on a sports discussion show on WTAE-TV and tried to place the blame for his dismissal on the Steelers in general and owner Dan Rooney in particular:

“The Steelers are like the Mafia. The Steelers are like Pittsburgh’s own version of the Kremlin. Don’t even tell me it’s run by good people. Don’t even tell me the Steelers are run by good guys. Never tell me Mr. Rooney is anything more than another typically greedy control freak again. That’s all he is.”

A Wily Vet Sacrifices His Cock For The Giants’ Playoff Hopes

Posted in Gridiron at 1:45 pm by

“Feagles’ Penis Spearheads Giant Comeback” was considered for the above headline, but there’s still another 30 minutes to go. I realize we have another week of football to play, but I’m gonna go ahead and call this the Roughing The Kicker incident of the year.

Reiber : Coughlin’s NY’s Best

Posted in Gridiron at 1:12 pm by

Though characterizing Big Blue’s Tom Coughlin as “an uninteresting marionette and a caricature of an actual human being”, Newsday’s Anothony Rieber ranks Col. Coughlin ahead of the Rangers’ Tom Renney, the Islanders’ Mike Nolan, the Mets’ Willie Randolph, new Yankee hire Joe Girardi and last-but-least Isiah Thomas as the New York area’s top professional coach.  Of Thomas, Rieber writes, “only in James Dolan’s crazy world is he still employed. He’s No. 7 only because there’s no No. 8.”  Ahem.  That’s one hell of a way to diss Dave LaPointe.

Today marks the 35th anniversary of The Immaculate Reception, which the Fanhouse’s J.J. Cooper recalls as “the greatest play in sports history”.  Bobby Thompson, Mookie Wilson, John Starks and Diego Maradona were all unavailable for comment.

In The Interests Of Equal Time…

Posted in Baseball at 12:56 pm by

..here’s somebody you might’ve heard of before. Still, I remain disillusioned. F.P. Santangelo can’t afford a digital video camera?


The Guardian’s Ronay : Standing Up For Your Right To Verbally Abuse Sol Campbell

Posted in Football at 7:53 pm by

Portsmouth defender / former England international Sol Campbell went public this week with his own anti-heckling campaign, leading the Guardian’s Barney Ronay to muse “Campbell may actually have a point. Or maybe not. It’s hard to tell.”

Campbell is a fairly unique human being. His career spans the entire 15 years of the thoroughly loopy Premier League. Nobody really knows what this is likely to do to you. It’s like an unregulated public experiment – we might as well have bombarded him with radiation or transformed him into a gas and attempted to light him with a wooden splint. Campbell’s personal fortune stands at £20m, amassed solely through hoofing a ball around and being good at headers. His is a life divided between being informed that he’s a) a truly wonderful guy and one of our most valued citizens; and b) a git. No wonder he’s got some funny ideas about himself.

He does, however, raise an interesting question about where to draw the line on all this. Abuse is always a relative thing. For example, it’s possible to offend the Queen simply by turning one’s back on her, or asking her, unbidden, if she enjoyed her terrine campagnarde au jus de truffes. If we really are going to start ejecting 10,000 people at a time from our football stadia – Campbell’s suggestion – for the wrong kind of offensive shouting, somebody needs to lay down some ground rules.

Sarcasm, for example. Is it acceptable? Nothing cuts quite so deep as an acutely delivered sarcastic barb. It’s not immediately clear where Campbell stands on this issue. For example, placing the word “not” at the end of a sentence – as in “Sol Campbell’s really bossing the defensive set pieces . . . not!” – might be classed as acceptable banter. Sarcastic applause, on the other hand, particularly when accompanied by clapping really slowly and adopting an offensive “duh!” expression, may stray beyond the pale.

The more you look at it, the more complex the various means of causing offence to professional footballers become. Stamp down on shouting and swearing and you’re likely to see a rise in more subtle, if equally wounding, practices. Damning with faint praise, for example. “Campbell has his merits,” the home support might chorus, callously, the next time Portsmouth travel to Spurs. “He’s rather good at headers. And he really can kick the ball miles.”

Then, of course, there’s the mercilessly accurate academic dissection, not to be underestimated. Virginia Woolf had to go to bed for a week after reading a particularly unsympathetic review of one of her novels. With abuse no longer in vogue, one can foresee a time when police have to interrupt a mass recitation of perfectly paced 2,000-word analysis of why Jermaine Jenas represents a redundant semiotic in the hypertext of the modern midfield.

Cockblocked : One Less Sports Entertainment Option In Austin, TX

Posted in Cockfighting, The Law at 7:28 pm by

Not to strike a cavalier tone regarding animal cruelty, but let’s face the facts : UT hasn’t played a football game since Thanksgiving. The Ice Bats and Toros are both on the road this weekend, as is the Longhorns men’s basketball team (currently trailing Michigan State, 64-54 with 6 minutes remaining). Can restless Austinites really be blamed for trying to organize some DIY competition? From the Austin American-Statesman’s Claire Osborn :

Roosters were still wandering around crowing Friday in the front yard of a house where Travis County sheriff’s deputies Thursday night arrested 16 people suspected of involvement in a cockfighting operation.

Deputies received a call about 5 p.m. Thursday about the operation off Blake-Manor Road at a house at 20800 Galilee Court. They found numerous people jumping over fences and fleeing the scene when they arrived, said Capt. Phyllis Clair, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.

Hale said that in his 21 years with the sheriff’s office, he’s received one call about dogfighting but no other animal cruelty calls that involved fighting.

Some neighbors said Friday that they never suspected cockfighting was taking place.

“All we heard were roosters crowing and normal chicken sounds,” Vonda Sparks said.

It could be worse. You could live next door to this band’s practice space.