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.


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.