This has been some kinda month for Deadspin’s Will Leitch. Not only has he been wowing a national TV audience with his star turn as Christian radio host Chris Kennedy (above) on “Friday Night Lights”, but I’m told he’s got a new best seller in the bookstores, “God Save The Fran”. It’s about time someone had the guts to write an entire book about how Fran Drescher has so much more going on than a nice pair of legs, and while I’m not sure Will’s the man for the job, America’s sports fanshis associates (and Will’s editor) would surely say otherwise.
If that weren’t enough excitement, Leitch is hosting a Super Bowl party and Mr. Irrelevant’s Chris Mottram is nearly beside himself with anticipation.
Going to a party hosted and attended by sports bloggers (along with endless amounts of beautiful women, I’m certain) in a nondescript sports bar in a strip mall somewhere around Glendale, Arizona is more intriguing to me than, say, the Maxim party (although not as intriguing as Dan Majerle’s party). Plus, Steinz and Ufford will be there. Actually, I think those two will be everywhere together this week. Word is that they’re sharing a hotel room. Hilarity is sure to ensue.
Granted, my own SB XLII party is unlikely to consist of much more than sharing a plate of nachos and a couch with a dog and two cats (one of ‘em prone to excessive coughing). But I couldn’t help wonder if a Leitch-hosted event would really be, y’know, off the hook (as the kids say) by comparison.
Judging from the snapshots on offer at Will’s Flickr page — helpfully linked to last week at Deadspin following the “God Save The Fran” publication shindig, this shall indeed be a killer event. A lot of major companies would balk at being associated with someone who exhibits this sort of cultural sophistication, but I salute both of them for standing by their man. Don’t let the pressure groups push you around, Harper-Collins and The Sporting News! Let freedom ring!
…at the risk of smirking at a genuine-no-fucking-around tragedy and the noble attempts to raise loot…might not the inclusion of, say, surviving members of Great White, be an appropriate inclusion on this star-studded bill?
Ka-boom! USA Today’s Bob Nightengale is reporting the New York Mets have completed a trade for Minnesota LHP Johan Santana in exchange for outfielder Carlos Gomez, pitchers Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra and Kevin Mulvey.
The deal is pending the Mets and Santana reaching agreement on a six- or seven-year contract extension and that Santana passes a physical; they have been granted a 48 to-72-hour window to do so. Santana has a no-trade clause that he will waive if agreement is reached on a contract extension.
I’m not sure if Wally Matthews is penning an apology column to Omar Minaya and Fred Wilpon at this very moment or if he’s preparing a screed about the 33 HR’s Santana allowed in 2007. Either way, I think we can safely say even with slightly diminished skills, Santana is a more glittering prize to plug into a Mets rotation alongside Pedro Martinez, Oliver Perez, El Duque and John Maine than say, Kyle Lohse.
I realize these guys aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s no reason to resort to arson. From the AP :
A volunteer at a community radio station set fire to the station because he was upset that his song selections for an overnight Internet broadcast were changed, police said.Paul Webster Feinstein, 24, has been charged with second-degree felony arson for the Jan. 5 fire that caused $300,000 damage to the studios of 91.7 FM KOOP. He faces from two to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted.
Feinstein told investigators that he was “very unhappy” about the changes to his playlist, said Austin Fire Department Battalion Chief Greg Nye. The songs were intended for an Internet broadcast that occurs when the station is off the air.
“He had a dream of a career in radio and was very disappointed about where it had led him,” Nye said.
Station president Andrew Dickens said Feinstein had been in a dispute with another volunteer about what kind of music should be put into a digital library for the Internet program.
Feinstein was a jazz fan and his Internet program was called “Mellow Down Easy,” Dickens said.
“We knew there was a disagreement, but I would characterize it as a little clash of personalities over types of music to be played and not a big blowout,” Dickens said.
The fire was the third the station has dealt with in the past two years. The first was ruled accidental. The second was caused by a malfunction in a heating and air-conditioning unit of a nearby business and forced the station to move.
This month’s fire knocked the station off the air for 19 days. It resumed broadcasting last week in donated space.
“We are kind of worried that people will look at us like a bunch of idiots,” Dickens said. “This is really just one of those out-of-the-blue situations. Who the hell would have thought somebody would have snapped?”
With the Red Sox & Mets’ attempts to land Johan Santana supposedly nearing a climax, and O’s owner Peter Angelos allegedly standing in the way of Seattle’s acquisition of Eric Bedard, Newsday’s Ken Davidoff turns his attentions to the lengthy report issued yesterday by agent Randy Hendricks in defense of client Roger Clemens. While The Rocket continues to flaunt his status as the Hardest Working 40-something Of All Time, Davidoff points out “it’s no great leap to say that illegal, performance-enhancing drugs aid and abet those very off-the-field workouts, rather than the two items being mutually exclusive.”
It’s a very interesting study, even more so if you dropped in from Mars and had no idea why such a report was being compiled. But it hardly lays a glove on Brian McNamee and his accusations, because the report could be 100 percent accurate (and it isn’t, as Rob Neyer explains here), and it wouldn’t challenge any of the Mitchell Report.
Undoubtedly, Clemens is an extremely smart pitcher who, as his velocity dropped, relied increasingly upon a split-fingered fastball and two-seam fastball, as Hendricks argues. His “legal” workouts, and the way prepared for every start, watching mounds of video, are legendary. But just like with Giambi and McGwire, why couldn’t he have done all of that, PLUS the steroids?
I covered the 2000 Yankees. For his first year and a half in pinstripes, Clemens was surprisingly mediocre. Then, when he returned from the disabled list, that July, he was a completely different pitcher: Better velocity, better bite to the splitter, more confident. We all thought, “What the heck happened to this guy?” I find it pretty believable that steroids helped create that guy. Hendricks points out that Clemens’ August ERA that year went back up to 3.23, but that’s still quite good, and a considerable improvement from the prior year and a half.
I admire Hendricks for putting this report together. I admire Clemens for throwing heat under the chin of the profoundly conflicted George Mitchell. Mitchell deserves far more scrutiny that he has received, as I might have mentioned in the past. But ultimately, this report does virtually nothing to refute the former Senator’s work.
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.
Mike Ashley finishes lunch.
Mike Ashley decides to put on his replica shirt.
Mike Ashley squeezes into his replica shirt.
The replica shirt restricts Ashley’s lungs to such an extent that the blood supply to his brain is cut off.
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).
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.