01.29.08

A Forthcoming Football Classic From My Favorite Author

Posted in Gridiron, The Marketplace at 1:07 pm by

“Not actual cover”.  No kidding.  And to think CSTB’s aesthetics are being insulted.

The Fiver Reveals The Inspiration Behind Newcastle’s Hiring Of A Pseudo-G.M.

Posted in Football at 12:28 pm by

If you’re amongst those wondering just what possessed Newcastle United to poach Leeds manager Dennis Wise (above, left) and install him as the Magpies’ new director-of-something-or-other — and Kevin Keegan might be as curious, too — the Guardian’s Scott Murray and Sean Ingle have the inside knowledge.

DENNIS WISE: A TIMELINE[Ambient note - the following story should only be read while listening to this piece of music]

Monday January 28, 2008: 11.59am
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley goes to lunch.

3.17pm
Mike Ashley finishes lunch.

3.18pm
Mike Ashley decides to put on his replica shirt.

3.19pm-3.27pm
Mike Ashley squeezes into his replica shirt.

3.28pm
The replica shirt restricts Ashley’s lungs to such an extent that the blood supply to his brain is cut off.

3.37pm
Tragedy is thankfully averted as Mrs Ellen Shearer, the suspicious-looking Newcastle tea lady, pops round with Ashley’s mid-afternoon buns, finds a distressed Ashley thrashing about, and cuts him out of the replica shirt (using the sword of Damocles she was on her way to hang in the manager’s office).

3.38pm
It transpires Mrs Shearer did not in fact arrive in time to avert tragedy totally, as while the blood supply to Ashley’s brain was cut off, he phoned Leeds manager Dennis Wise, giving him a £1.5m-per-year rolling contract and a seat on the board as an “executive director on football-related matters”.

Tuesday January 29, 2008: 9am
A new morning. Kevin Keegan insists he is “very happy” about the Wise affair, despite having said, upon being asked three months ago if
he would assist then-manager Sam Allardyce as director of football, that Allardyce “would be a fool to let it happen and the guy who goes in would be a fool to accept it. The chairman, who is not a fool, would be a fool to go and do it, too. It doesn’t work.”

9.01am
Keegan disappears from view for the entire day – absolutely not, y’know, to draft, y’know, a resignation letter, y’know, just in case – in a large puff of smoke which blasts from his lugs.

9.02am-12.13pm
Continuous belly laughing can be heard from the south, approximately 100 miles away, where not only has never-popular ex-Chelsea legend Wise left Elland Road for good, Dave Bassett – blamed by many Leeds fans for a dreadful run of form which is jiggering their automatic promotion push – ends his stint in charge as caretaker boss after 36.73 seconds.

5.04pm
Surround-sound laughter suddenly moves up an entire octave in pitch thanks to increased wave oscillations in the Leeds area, where guffawing becomes increasingly manic due to managerial appointment of Gary McAllister, a former fans’ favourite and more importantly Not Dennis Wise.

Posnaski Recalls The Young Hooded Casanova

Posted in Blogged Down, General, Gridiron at 9:12 am by

The Kansas City Star’s Joe Posnaski takes us down memory lane for a brief summary of Bill Belichick’s 5 season, 36-44 tenure as the final head coach of the original Cleveland Browns. “Maybe he learned key lessons about being a head coach there,” muses Posnaski. “For a Browns fan who had to watch that team wither and die, that ain™t much consolation.”

I don™t think it would be rewriting history to say that he was absolutely despised ” more than just about any coach I can remember. That™s probably not hard to imagine: He isn™t exactly Tom Hanks now, and that™s with four Super Bowls under his hoodie.

Still, you can multiply those feelings about about 20. People really hated this guy in Cleveland, and he earned a lot of it. He was, as ever, disdainful of the press and fans. He famously cut favorite son Bernie Kosar and slammed him immediately afterward with his œdiminishing skills comment. Unlike Roger Clemens, Kosar never really was able to find a cool, age-repellent split-fingered fastball and prove Belichick wrong. His skills really were diminishing. Still, it was a pretty cold-hearted thing to say and do in the middle of a lousy 1993 season (Though it did lead to one of the great headlines I™ve ever seen in a newspaper: œThey cut me, Dad).

The incident I remember most when Belichick was coach in Cleveland happened when I went up to do a column of some kind, and they had us working in this press area that overlooked the field. Just as the players were about to go out to practice, someone announced, œSHADES! and Browns minions walked around and violently pulled down all the shades so that we would not be able to see anything that was happening during practice. Hey, lots of coaches close practice, but I can™t forget the disdain on the faces of the Browns employees pulling the shades. It was about a step below being taken hostage.

Anyway, it™s easy to deduce that Belichick was a complete waste in Cleveland ” but that wouldn™t be fair. He really took over an ancient team living on past glories which, as Herm Edwards will tell you, is about the worst kind of team to inherit. Those first three years were dreadful, but I™m not sure there was much that could have been done. Kosar really was diminishing, Belichick was just trying to fill the void with old Giants (Joe Morris anyone? Mark Bavaro?).

You can™t just give him a pass for those four out of five losing seasons. He alienated one of the greatest groups of football fans in America. He turned Cleveland Stadium ” one of the great home advantages in football ” into nothing; his home record was a blah 19-21 (the previous six seasons ” including the 1987 strike season ” the Browns won at home 63 percent of the time). He refused to take a chance on a young quarterback (being one of I believe the two remaining members of the Eric Zeier could have been a great NFL quarterback club, I cannot forgive this). He had a very shaky draft record (Touchdown Tommy Vardell?). And in 1995 things started falling apart BEFORE word leaked out about the move to Baltimore.

After all that, Belichick became an assistant coach again, grumbled, took the Jets job, resigned from the Jets job, went to New England and inherited a pretty good team ” or at least a pretty good defense with Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, Ty Law and Lawyer Milloy and an offense that had good receivers, a young Kevin Faulk, the nucleus of a good offensive line and Drew Bledsoe at quarterback. That team went 5-11. It didn™t look good for Belichick. The next year, famously, they started out 5-5, and seemed headed for nowhere until Belichick made the monumental decision to make Tom Brady the quarterback. They won six in a row, won the tuck game, he outsmarted Mike Martz, the Patriots went on the most dominating NFL run since the merger, and all that. And they now save a spot in the Smithsonian for Belichick™s brain.

Not to nitpick (and I’ll presume Joe’s being slightly less than serious on this minor point), but Belichick’s “monumental decision” to give an unheralded 6th round draft choice the keys to the car was entirely based on Tom Brady being the next guy on the depth chart after Mo Lewis nearly murdered Drew Bledsoe. That said, Mr. Hoodie No Goody did opt to start Brady in Super Bowl XXXVI after the latter suffered an ankle injury early in New England’s AFC Championship win over Pittsburgh. As bizarre as it may seem 6 years after the fact, there was actually something approaching a (manufactured) QB controversy in the short build up to the title game in New Orleans.

How might history have been written had Bledsoe been given back the job he lost due to injury? We’ll never know for sure, but my guess is that Kurt Warner would have two rings instead of one, and Brenda would today be co-hosting “The View”.

Men In Black (& Blue) : Your Easily Impressed New York Football Giants

Posted in Gridiron, Tourism at 2:06 am by

Sure, they’ve been to Wembley this year, but nothing, and I mean NOTHING, compares to the splendor of an Arizona tarmac. In particular the one Antonion Pierce and friends landed on Monday. Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport has long been considered one of the World’s Modern Wonders, right up there with the Taj Mahal and the original ESPNZone in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

A Suitable Super Bowl XLII Simulation…

Posted in Gridiron, Video Games at 12:14 am by

…if you’ve not touched a video game console in a generation. With all due respect to Tecmo Bowl’s legion of admirers, Tony Eason would rather have a CD by Juice Newton.

01.28.08

Sonics Owner Delivers The Kiss-Off

Posted in Basketball, Free Expression at 9:32 pm by

Police efforts on behalf of James Dolan to quash public dissent have been previously noted in this space, and with all due disrespect to J.D.’s fascistic tendencies, there’s a guy from Oklahoma City who might be an even bigger creep. The Seattle Times’ Jayda Evans ran the following letter from Sonics fan Sam Kidder a day after the Sonics’ 103-101 loss to Sacramento.

“Clay Bennett (above), the beloved owner of the Sonics, had the gall to show up at the Sonics-Kings game tonight. When I shared my opinions with him, he had me kicked out of the building! I heard someone mention on sonicscentral that Bennett would be at the game tonight, so I looked for him in the luxury boxes. I spotted him in the box above section 127, sitting with Presti and Bill Russell. Of course my girlfriend and I moved over to the seats right below him. I looked up at him and started chatting with him. Here’s the dialogue that followed…

Sam: Clay, what’s up? You’re a thief Clay!
Clay: shrugs, smirks and blows me a kiss (I swear to God this is no lie)
Sam: I’ve been a season ticket holder since age 10. Don’t steal my team!!!
Clay: makes a face of mock pity
Sam: Sell the Sonics!!!
Clay: walks to the back of the suite, never to reappear

[Thirty] seconds later, two Key arena police officers and a street-clothed man pulled me and my girlfriend out of our seats. They asked for my ID, confiscated my tickets, and escorted me out of the building. I asked the plain-clothed man if he worked for the police or Bennett, and he said “Both.” He then told me I needed to show more respect or else I’d be banned from the arena. I told him I’d be back every game…

In retrospect, I was a little out of control but it is still ludicrous that Bennett would have me kicked out despite the fact that I didn’t utter a profane word.”

I recall NBA commissioner David Stern alluding to a “social contract” following the brawl in Auburn Hills. For all the Association’s concern over dress codes, referee gambling, etc., at what point does Stern address the embarrassment caused by the likes of Dolan and Bennett?

Townsend To Liverpool Fans : What Did You Expect?

Posted in Football, Sports Journalism at 7:54 pm by

Given that I’ve previously linked to a number of items devoted to ridiculing Liverpool co-owner, Tom Hicks of Rangers/Stars infamy, I’ll take the occasion of the Reds’ 2-2 home draw with Aston Villa to except a dissenting opinion, one from the Independent’s Nick Townsend who contends “for most of the past year Liverpool supporters have been very happy to hitch themselves to the Americans’ wagon train.”

How swiftly has the 2008 City of Culture become the city of censure. It brings to mind that Oscar-nominated film No Country for Old Men. Liverpool’s answer would be: No City For Old Americans On The Make, as many of the faithful perceive them.

Undoubtedly there will be those who insist that Hicks and Gillett can never emerge from the dark side of their affections; particularly those who delude themselves that Liverpool can again become the club they remember so fondly, and, indeed, football recalls so respectfully, under Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley. A campaign group, Reclaim the Kop, promote the club’s “traditional values”, and their spokesman claims that Hicks and Gillett have “underestimated us badly, and badly underestimatedour love for Rafa”.

They have certainly eschewed “the Liverpool way” in preference for doing things the Tottenham way; namely, identifying a possible successor, Jürgen Klinsmann, to follow Benitez, while the Spaniard is still in post. Even Sir Alex Ferguson has stuck his not-inconsiderable oar in, insisting that the Klinsmann talks had been “a bad piece of business on Liverpool’s part”.

However, though the co-owners may indeed have committed a naïve and, in some eyes, near-treasonable, act, why the corresponding support for Benitez? The Spaniard was given the resources to acquire Fernando Torres and several others, yet he has singularly failed to satisfy the pre-season expectations. Even qualification for next season’s Champions League is under threat from, of all rivals, Everton.

For the moment, the supporters attribute the club’s shortcomings primarily to the Americans, whom they regard as having merely purchased the club as an investment vehicle. They lament the loss of Anfield’s soul in the process. Hicks and Gillett may dispute that claim, yet there’s a simple moral here: if you harbourgreat expectations of your team “ Europe and the higher echelonsof the Premier League “ don’t expect the club’s owners to be local, benign benefactors, the kind of men who in the past sought glory by association and if necessary, at cost. They still exist “ but in the lower leagues.

Seven of the top half of the Premier League owners and chairman are foreign; many are only occasional visitors. Remove Arsenal and Everton from the top eight and they are, in descending order, American (Manchester United), Russian (Chelsea), American (Liverpool), American (Aston Villa), Thai (Manchester City), and the Israel-based son of a Russian-born Lithuanian (Portsmouth).

Those high achievers sail under a flag of convenience, and if that happens to be the Stars and Stripes, so be it. That’s the deal when you metamorphose from community club to global institution, as Liverpool have done. You accept the fact that those involved will be remote, possibly absentee landlords; men, at least partly, if not primarily, lured by the prospect of profit, for whom tradition and history don’t count for an awful lot.

Bad news for lovers of free speech / stories about having sex with an 80-year-old prostitute : “Roo Unzipped” remains unpublished.

Michael Silverman’s Fear Of An Ugueth Urbina Planet

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 7:06 pm by

The Boston Herald’s Red Sox beat reporter, as quizzed by Sports Media Journal :

Q. Covering the Red Sox, who were your best interviews?

A. Mo Vaughn and Pedro (Martinez) were the top two. David Cone, for one year, was great. Bret Saberhagen. Mike Lowell. Gabe Kapler. David Ortiz.

They understood why we were there. As long as you didn’t catch them when they were trying to get on the field or do something, they didn’t mind sharing whatever the issue of the day was, or sharing nothing at all but being able to talk about non-baseball things. They all had a sense of humor and realized that the relationship between media and players does not have to be tense and adversarial.

Are you going to ask me who was the worst?

Q. Who was the worst?

A. Uggie Urbina – he was a scary dude. You couldn’t go near him. Now that he’s in prison in Venezuela (for murder) I can say it. I barely interviewed him. If I did I’ve repressed the whole experience. I didn’t enjoy him at all. He was a grunter.

Carl Everett had his moments where you understood after talking to him awhile that you could never communicate on the same level. He wasn’t an evil man – just different from most baseball players.

Q. Which questions make you cringe?

A. I love it when someone calls Francona “coach”, as in “coach, can you explain this”. You know he’s just waiting to figure out first of all how to rip you to shreds or to bite his tongue that day. He has no patience for that. Sometimes people ask questions that you can’t go down the road with this manager. He won’t blast a player and he’ll always jump to their defense, so if someone asks a leading question to try to get him to rip a player and he has to dance around, I cringe. I know he’s not going to answer it and you wonder how he’ll turn it on the reporter.

I ask my share of stupid questions, too. Sometimes you ask someone how they feel after giving up five runs in the eighth inning, and they say, “how do you think I feel.” It’s never a good moment. We know the answer but sometimes we need the quote, even if the comments are rote and predictable.

Harris & Nash : The Loving Partnership That Never Was

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down at 6:27 pm by

While the Bergen Record’s Al Iannazzone floats the possibility of the Nets’ Jason Kidd returning to Dallas in exchange for Devean George, DeSagana Diop and perhaps Jerry Stackhouse, the Dallas Morning News’ Eddie Sefko reports the Mavs’ Devin Harris will miss 2-3 weeks with a bone bruise to the point guard’s left ankle. All of which provides us with a rather clumsy segue into the following observation from You Go Live In Utah‘s Amanda :

Thanks to Wikipedia, I have just learned that Devin Harris was brought to Dallas to train as a junior point guard under the tutelage of Steve Nash. How rad would that have been? They could have become a Point Guard Dream Team and there would be a made-for-ESPN movie about their professional relationship. There would be a montage of shots of Steve Nash standing behind Devin Harris helping him on his swing and follow through on the driving range. There would be footage of Devin Harris catching flies with chopsticks while a wise Steve Nash sits cross-legged in the corner on a straw mat. There might even be an emotional scene towards the end where Steve Nash is traded and Devin Harris stands outside Steve Nash’s house in the rain with a boombox blasting Chicago’s “You’re the Insperation” and crying.

I can’t think of anyone who would deny David Lee the right to earn some endorsement dough. Particularly if there’s someone dopey enough to give it to him.

Ordine : Not Tonight, The Hendricks Report Gave Me A Headache

Posted in Baseball at 4:19 pm by

The Baltimore Sun’s Bill Ordine, eschewing the Eric Bedard trade rumors for a moment, has reviewed agent Randy Hendricks’ statistical report defending Roger Clemens’ late career performances (“a convergence of Bill James, Moneyball and the TV detective show Numb3rs, where the brainy sleuth catches the bad guys using mathematics”) and announces, “it gives me a headache, but I’m impressed with the effort.”

In short, the argument seems to be that the flow of Clemens’ career follows peaks and valleys that would occur in any exceptional player’s career and comparisons are drawn to other outstanding pitchers who have had long careers, including Nolan Ryan, Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson. You’ll see references to an array of pitchers from Dizzy Dean to Sandy Koufax. Be prepared to wade through three dozen or so charts.

In partial conclusion, it is being argued that Clemens’ adaptation to a somewhat different pitching style (split-finger fastball) and essentially a careful reduction in workload by contract and careful pitch counts were important factors in his longevity.

I’ve not read the report yet but I’ll presume the Rocket staying home on road trips helped a bit with wear and tear during his final stints in Houston and New York. Well, that, and the unyielding support of a broadcasting legend.

Chicagoan : Blue Men Shoved Something Down My Throat

Posted in The Law, The World Of Entertainment at 2:24 pm by

(not necessarily unavailable for comment, but surely David Cross deserves a bit of peace and quiet, too)

From MSNBC / WMQ :

James Sroden took his 8-year-old grandson to the Blue Man Group in October of 2006 at the Briar Street Theatre in Chicago. But in the days after, he said he was bleeding from the nose, having nightmares and losing filings in his teeth after he said two blue men forced a camera down his throat.

In the lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court, Srodon said the Blue Man Group actors used an “esophagus cam” to project an image of Srodon’s mouth and throat onto a large screen for the audience’s amusement.

The lawsuit alleges the Blue Man actors circled him, held his neck and arms and “forced his head back” to insert the camera.

“He was an unknowing and unwilling participant of a stunt that went bad,” said Sroden’s attorney, Anthony Romanucci.

“When I started struggling, it seemed like this fellow, he tried to be more aggressive with this device and shoved it way down my throat,” Sroden said. “In the days after that, the nightmares continued. A few days later, I really panicked because I had blood coming from my nose.”

“I want other people to know about this. I was a guy who wanted to take his grandson out for a fun afternoon,” he said.

The Blue Man Group’s Chicago general manager said he stunt is just an illusion.

“Essentially, we have a piece in the show where an actor holds a camera to an audience member’s mouth, doesn’t enter their mouth, and then we play a video,” Kori Prior said. “We have been performing this show in this theater for 10 years and have never had this issue before.”

The Kruky Monster’s ATHF Debut

Posted in Baseball, Gridiron, The World Of Entertainment at 1:40 pm by

Though I’m mostly impressed with Sir John Kruk’s performance last night on “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”, it should be stressed that such a “Baseball Tonight” / Adult Swim crossover is not without precedent.

For instance, I’m pretty sure the character of “Squidbillies”‘s Early Cuyler was closely based on Rob Dibble.

On a similar tip, here’s Williams Street’s stonecold Lock Of The Week :

Capital Punishment Paddles Captain Red Ass

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 1:06 pm by

Yeah, very funny. Way to support the guy who’ll be the heart and soul of Manny Acta’s clubhouse. Let’s just hope Chris Needham doesn’t have a younger sister.

01.27.08

A Particularly Ill-Advised Attempt At Mimicking The Dugout

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 9:44 pm by

You can decide for yourself whether a scenario in which Cecil Fielder walks by Prince’s bedroom and overhears “awraahhhhh aaaarggghhhh ya girl. Hoooly shit. I’m gonna wax that ass and then let you wash off that big black Louisville Slugger with that mouth” is actually funny.

Given that father and son are hardly on speaking terms, however, it defies plausiblity.

Still, given that it’s not beyond the realm of possibility the author might someday meet Prince Fielder, there’s a slim slice of entertainment value in imagining Milwaukee’s MVP candidate having an open and frank discussion about whether he — or any person on Planet Earth — actually calls their cock a “big black Louisville Slugger”. Out loud, anyway.

I Like Big Bucks And I Cannot Lie : The Animal Kingdom’s 1,350 Pound Answer To Roger Clemens

Posted in Going To The Zoo, Sports Journalism at 8:00 pm by

“These days, with steroid scandals clouding many top sports, doubts waft like sawdust in the bull arena too,” writes the LA Times’ Dee Dee Correll, “and Big Bucks (above, left) finds himself facing a question about what makes him a winner.” It seems one of the Professional Bull Riders Tour’s most fearsome beasts is going to submit to drug testing. And all this time, I just figured B.B. had an intense workout regiment.

Big Bucks, a past world champion, is a celebrity in his universe. His owners say he’s steroid-free and they don’t mind that he’s been the first to undergo testing — they just don’t want him to be unfairly singled out.

Testing for steroids is becoming more common in horse racing, but it’s virtually unheard of in the rodeo world.

Neither the International Professional Rodeo Assn. nor the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Assn. tests animals, and their officials said they hadn’t heard of anyone else taking the PBR’s approach.

It’s a decision that will prompt some internal discussions, said Cindy Schonholtz, animal welfare coordinator for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Assn. in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Despite their pursuit of testing, PBR officials say they don’t expect to find many, if any, problems. Steroids might not have been uncommon about a decade ago, they think, but usage probably tapered off as owners realized the downside: sterility that rendered the bulls useless as breeders.

“I just don’t think there’s a lot of abuse out there,” said Texas veterinarian Gary Warner, who works closely with PBR and helped develop a bull steroid test.

Though steroids could make a bull more aggressive — possibly desirable in the arena — they probably don’t make him bigger, Warner said, primarily because once the steroid is injected, the bull can’t be forced to work out to build muscle.

Even if the bull did bulk up, that’s not an advantage in the ring, Warner said. “These guys have to express athleticism more like a dancer. They’re graded on how high they kick, how tight a circle they move in.”

But good performers sometimes face accusations, he said. “That’s where rumor mills get started, and management gets caught in the middle,” Warner said. “I know those cowboys, and they’re awful good folks. But who’s to know? My hat’s off to PBR. It will solve the problem of everyone pointing the finger.”

As far as Texas bull owner Jerry Nelson is concerned, steroid use is “still an issue.”

“You can tell by looking at some of those bulls and their sizes. It’s just like human beings. You can tell who’s on it and who ain’t,” he said.

Everybody Wants To Shag The Teardrop Explodes QB

Posted in Gridiron, History's Great Hook-Ups at 6:14 pm by

The New York Times’ Allen Salkin hits the Style section to examine the dichotomy between a studly Joe Namath type (“a playboy, likely to be seen at a nightclub squiring a model” ala Tom Brady) and an All-American akin to Roger Staubach (“a strait-laced type, likely to marry his college sweetheart and, by modern standards of celebrity, barely a sex symbol at all”, or as he’d be known in contemporary times, Eli Manning).

All quarterbacks have the potential to be sex symbols, said the sociologist Pepper Schwartz (above), a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle and an author of books about sexuality. œThe quarterback is a thinking athlete ” that nice yin-and-yang mixture of descriptions that has a sexual connotation, she said. œIt™s the meeting of highly different qualities that produce an explosive punch of eroticism.

I don’t really have much idea what Dr. Pepper is referring to, but I do suspect Jared Lorenzen could do far worse than quote the above passage on his Match.com profile.

A Subtle Broadside Against David Simon

Posted in Reading Is Fundamental, The World Of Entertainment at 3:49 pm by

Either the New York Times’ Steve Friess doesn’t watch The Wire, or he does, and takes Bill Wyman’s side.

Thousands of guests were evacuated to the arena of the MGM Grand, a second property of the Monte Carlo™s parent company, MGM Mirage…

When Blurry, Long-Range Snapshots Of The General’s Head Are Inevitable, Relax And Enjoy It

Posted in Basketball at 3:43 pm by

Somewhere off in the distance, The General explains to his Red Raider troops that if someone can’t find a way to stop A.J. Abrams, they’ll be watching the special features disc from the “Knight School” DVD box on the bus ride home.

(addendum : there is no “Knight School” box. And chances are, Tech flew back to Lubbock. But I’m trying to keep things light around here. There’s nothing funny about about Bobby Knight putting his hands around a young man’s neck. Not without photographic evidence, anyway).

Kidd To Nets : Get Me Outta Here

Posted in Basketball at 2:32 pm by

New Jersey travels to Minnesota tonight, but if PG Jason Kidd had his druthers, he’d be toiling elsewhere reports the Bergen Record’s Dave D’Alessandro.

Kidd’s agent Jeff Schwartz, recently asked Nets president Rod Thorn to move his client to a contender before next month’s trade deadline, according to several league officials who cannot be identified without betraying confidences.Thorn would not comment when asked about the request, but it is becoming increasingly clear he may not be able to grant it even if he wanted to.

The primary reason: The Nets are extremely vulnerable now, and they have learned that they cannot get anything close to resembling a fair deal for a 34-year-old point guard making $20 million, even if he is still capable of performing on a Hall of Fame level.

Thorn cannot trade Vince Carter, because the 31-year-old former All-Star has just signed a long-term deal valued at $62 million and is currently underperforming. Thorn also cannot afford to be without Richard Jefferson, who will be part of the nucleus going into the post-Kidd transition stage. And the team cannot get a fair return for its young front-court players, who are on their rookie contracts.

That leaves Kidd as the most viable trading chip, even though it would probably result in an irrevocable shift in philosophy, style and long-term planning.

One could easily argue, however, that any team with an eight-game losing streak — one that is two losses away from falling into 13th place in the Eastern Conference is due for some kind of demolition anyway.

Dakota Wizards F / blogging maven Rod Benson is averaging a robust 12 rebounds per game in the D League, and as a result, he tells his Yahoo readers “I’ve got guys coming at me from every angle now.”

I’ve got people calling me who I never gave my number to. I’ve got people blowin’ up my MySpace page and my Facebook. I even get AOL Instant Messages from guys talking about jobs. I got an email from a guy who asked me if I had an agent. I was like, “Dog, of course I do. C’mon now.” My teammate even got a phone call from HIS agent. His agent first asked how he was and if he was ready to leave or if he was content with the D-League. Then the guy said that he had a job for me, Rod Benson, for $50,000 a month and for my teammate to tell me. My teammate pretended that his phone was breaking up, just to ask this guy to repeat himself. The agent continued to ask about me. My teammate fired him the next day.

The situation I’m in actually reminds me more of the girl who got hot after high school, but still stayed with the same boyfriend she met when she was 14. Think of Jules and Seth from “Superbad” and how much more awkward it will be for them when they get to college. Every guy would come at Jules at the college level. That’s what’s happening to me right now. Every grimy agent in the world thinks they can convince me to take a deal with them.

Hey, watch the replay for yourself a few times — short of delivering a full-on body check to Hedo Turkoglu, Paul Pierce did everything possible to deny the Turkish forward a game winning trey as time expired in Orlando’s 96-93 win over Boston. For much of the season, I’ve presumed claiming the Eastern Conference title would be a formality for the Big 3, but the Magic duo of Dwight Howard and Turkoglu have been fantastic night after night. Of course, after seeing ABC’s brief clip of Howard being tutored by Patrick Ewing, we need to remember that Eddy Curry requires no such mentoring. Either that, or there’s no Scores in Orlando.

Decision 2008 : Draft The Spaceman

Posted in Baseball, politics at 1:39 pm by

With a relatively sparse selection of TV sports today (Celts/Magic, Michigan/Michigan State and Royal Rumble pregame festivities aside), we’ll instead turn our attention to the all-important matter of the pending general election, and the unlikely candidacy of former Red Sox lefty Bill Lee, as covered by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Mike Bernadino (link copped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory) :

“This guy is a plagiarist of the highest order,” says Lee of Al Gore. “An Inconvenient Truth is so passé. This is stuff I knew in 1969 from reading Buckminster Fuller. Like Dick Schaap said, I told him about global warming in ’72.”

But what about that Nobel Prize Gore received?

“Ever since he got it, we’ve had the coldest winter we’ve ever had,” Lee says. “There may be global warming in the Indian Ocean or in the Klondikes, but not here in Vermont.”

Despite his screed on Gore, Lee remains a staunch liberal who had supported the hopeless presidential campaign of Dennis Kucinich before he pulled out of the race Friday and sounds more frustrated than ever with his party.

“The Democrats are shooting themselves in the foot,” Lee says. “They’re going to be the Bickersons and allow someone else to come sneaking in saying they’ll save the economy, lower gas prices and lower the boiling point of water.”

He gives a throaty laugh.

“I’m going to have to run,” he says.

A father of four and grandfather of six, the Spaceman remains in high demand for nostalgia events. Recently, at a hospital fundraiser in Connecticut, a fan asked Lee about Roger Clemens and those steroid allegations.

Can’t share the Spaceman’s complete answer, but it included a mind-blowing reference to raves in San Francisco and left his audience slack jawed.

The Beatles fan is hoping Paul McCartney could somehow join up with a cover band called the Fab Faux. Lee also listens to jazz and “a lot of Beethoven ¦ real sinister stuff while watching war movies.”

Most of all, he laments the loss of civility and the spread of ignorance in American society.

“Everybody’s got ADD,” he says. “It’s because of the cell phone. Everybody’s running around, and there’s no politeness, no courtesy. No one is holding doors open anymore.”

Friday Night’s Clinic In Physical D

Posted in Basketball at 5:18 am by

Just a wild guess here : when and if the Kings rid themselves of Ron Artest, he’s not going to Utah.

01.26.08

Matthews : Cheapskate Wilpons Wanna Sell You A Bridge In Flushing

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 6:35 pm by

Mets owner Fred Wilpon “is on the verge of a Steinbrennerian windfall with the opening of Citi Field, and his son Jeff (above), is James Dolan without the guitar”, seethes Newsday’s Wallace Matthews, who not only rues the departure of former punching bag Lastings Milledge, but accuses the not-so-Amazins of “conducting their offseason the way Rudy Giuliani is running his presidential campaign: hoping to win by doing nothing.”

They shed Lastings Milledge, Paul Lo Duca and Tom Glavine. In return, they brought in Ryan Church and Brian Schneider, paid more money to Ramon Castro, Luis Castillo, Jose Reyes and Endy Chavez, and issued a stern warning to Duaner Sanchez to stay out of taxicabs in South Florida at 2 in the morning.

Meanwhile, Johan Santana still is a Twin, A-Rod still is a Yankee and Jose Reyes still is a Met.

And yet, to quote the words of Mets VP David Howard, “If you look at it objectively, [we] are a championship-caliber, playoff-contending team.”

And if you look at it rationally, Howard, or whoever is writing his material, very well may be out of his mind.

They act as if last season was some kind of hallucination, that the historic collapse (they led the Phillies by seven games on Sept. 12 with 17 games to play) never really happened, that despite what the NL East standings showed Oct. 1, the Mets actually were the best team in baseball and, as such, didn’t really need much in the way of tinkering in the offseason.

In fact, when it came to personnel, they didn’t really need anything at all.

All they needed, actually, was a little bit more of your money, because, as general manager Omar Minaya was quick to point out after the Mets lost six of their last seven games of the season, “We spent more days in first place than any other team in baseball.’”

Yeah. And Billy Conn was leading Joe Louis after 12 rounds, the Titanic sailed beautifully for three days and didn’t Lincoln just love the first two hours of the play?

Still, that was reason enough for the Mets to raise ticket prices by about 20 percent for the upcoming season. The reason for this, according to Howard, friend of baseball fans everywhere: “We’re not going to make business decisions based on a two-week period.”

The only saving grace in that statement is that perhaps Howard someday will use the same rationale to hold the line on ticket prices if the Mets ever manage to win a World Series on his watch. (And in other news, Pamela Anderson has asked me to marry her.)

Never Let Them Question Vito’s Fanhood

Posted in Gridiron, The World Of Entertainment at 6:32 pm by

Video link swiped from Watchdog. Apparently, ATHF’s Carl is a mere fair-weather fan compared to David Wright’s former stalker.

A Not So Classic Experiment : When Provoked, Bostonians Are Kinda Rude

Posted in Gridiron, Mob Behavior at 6:19 pm by

(it should be stressed that Boston pedestians are hardly the only persons to have shouted obscenities at a guy wearing a “Manning, No. 10″ jersey)

The Globe’s Matt Viser
sent a guy donning an Eli Manning jersey around various congested public places in downtown Boston “to test a theory that local sports fans are getting complacent in victory.” The results were somewhat less than shocking.

Drivers rolled down windows to hurl expletives, pedestrians wearing Patriots garb stopped in mid-step to point, yell, and snicker at the loser in the jersey.”Take that off!” yelled one man wearing Patriots gloves, hat, and coat.

“[Expletive] you!” said a man outside Boston University, pointing, smiling, and chuckling with glee as he climbed into his silver sedan.

One woman simply made eye contact, then stuck out her tongue. A cheery-faced man trying to collect money for a children’s charity on a Downtown Crossing street corner avoided shaking hands, saying only, “Giants? Giants?”

“Eli Manning sucks! Peyton Manning sucks! Even Archie Manning sucks!” yelled one man about 100 feet away from the store. “That’s right. You heard me.”

“What bet did you lose?” asked Scott Smith, a 31-year-old construction worker from Dorchester who has Patriots season tickets. “You’re lucky I don’t have any drinks in me.”

Near Copley Station, a truck window lowered and out came, “Giants suck!”

“You got a quarter, bro?” asked a panhandler outside of Wendy’s in Copley Square. “Hey, Eli Manning sucks!”

Though the rivalry with the Giants is barely a rivalry at all, it fits into the larger feud between the Capital of the World and the Hub of the Universe. Boston has always had a chip on its shoulder, sporting victories aside.

“We just want respect,” Bryan Puglia, a 23-year-old tuxedo salesman from Wakefield, said near the steps of the Old South Meeting House. “People should respect what we’ve done – and Spygate has nothing to do with it. We’ve proven we can go 18-0 without cheating. We’re the team to beat, we’re the elite.”

NHLPA On The European Plan : Hell No (We Might Not Go)

Posted in Hockey at 5:58 pm by

(members of Metallurg Magnitigorsk show their excitement after being told they’ll someday have the chance to punch Sean Avery in the face)

It’s shameful enough the NHL would stoop to denying MLB.com of their most talented blogger this side of Tommy Lasorda. The Players’ Association alleges they were never consulted regarding the league’s scheme to open the 2008-2009 regular season in Sweden. From TSN’s Darren Dreger :

“The NHL put the cart before the horse.”

That’s how NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly responded mere minutes after the National Hockey League made a duel announcement about its plans to send 4 of its teams to Europe for both regular season action and an exhibition showdown.

The Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers will open the 2008 regular season in Prague and Stockholm with the Rangers also scheduled to play Metallurg Magnitigorsk in an exhibition entitled, the Victoria Cup.

Kelly says the players may not agree to play in the Victoria Cup, “There is a chance we wouldn’t consent,” Kelly added

Kelly says there are a lot of details and issues that need to be addressed and says todays announcement placed unfair pressure on the union. He believes the players association will require a minimum of 30 days to poll its players and sort through the concerns that will range from travel to sponsorship agreements.

“If they want us to be a true business partner, then they need to include us from the beginning,” Kelly concluded.