PopArt columnist / ukulele maven MJ Hibbert is slightly too classy to be consider for CSTB’s semi-regular Bidding War Alert. Kuff & The Buttheads surely must feel Hibbert breathing down their neck. (video link courtesy Jason Cohen)
PopArt columnist / ukulele maven MJ Hibbert is slightly too classy to be consider for CSTB’s semi-regular Bidding War Alert. Kuff & The Buttheads surely must feel Hibbert breathing down their neck. (video link courtesy Jason Cohen)
Now that coaches must wear helmets, how many will the Dodgers’ Larry Bowa shatter this season?
The early line is none…. From a story that was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs:
Bowa did not wear a helmet during the Dodgers’ Grapefruit League opener Thursday against the Braves, the first time he was required by rule to do so.
“That’s not for me,” said Bowa, a former player and manager in the Major Leagues in his first year with the Dodgers. “My question is, how can I be in the league 40 years and the league says who wears a helmet and who doesn’t? One guy got killed and I’m sorry it happened. But bats break and they can be a deadly weapon. Do something about bats.
“Umpires get hit with line drives. I’ve probably seen 50 of them get hit. If coaches have to wear helmets, umpires should. I’ll sign a waiver. And there should be a grandfather clause. These are very cumbersome. They talk about delay of game, and when the helmet falls off, you’ll have to stop the game. It should be an option. I know I’m talking for a lot of guys who won’t say anything. I’ll write a check for 162 games if I have to to not wear it.”
Philosophically, it’s hard to say he’s wrong, especially since the ball that killed Mike Coolbaugh didn’t hit him in the head. And who’s to say a line drive couldn’t do to someone what a puck did to Chris Pronger? Can you imagine Bowa in a chest protector?
The Mets and Cards are tied at 3 after 5 innings in Port St. Lucie, the day’s highlight thus far coming on Juan Gonzalez’ 3-run HR in the first inning off Johan Santana. As the contest dragged on, Gary Cohen wondered aloud about the wisdom of pitchers running in the outfield and foul territory during spring training games. While Cohen dismissed the practice as “an anachronism”, Keith Hernandez insisted “the fans love to see the great players” (doing wind sprints, presumably). Ron Darling (above), however, had what should’ve been the last word on the subject, opining “if you see a pitcher get lit up for 5 or 6 runs, I doubt you’ll see him running on the field afterwards”.
(UPDATE : Cardinals 4, Mets 3. Albert Pujols greeted the recovering Duaner Sanchez with a solo shot in the top of the 6th. Darling claims Sanchez has lost 25 pounds in the off-season, presumably the result of fewer late night cab rides to tasty eateries.)
On Wednesday, Randy (above), a co-host on “BLI in the Morning” on WBLI, asked a caller from Mastic: “Did your pipes freeze under the trailer, or do you have that stuff down there to keep them warm?”
The caller, who was entering a contest, said she lived in a house and was “very angry” with him, to which Randy replied: “Just think, if you win this game, the whole trailer park will be excited.”
Station managers asked Randy to apologize on Thursday’s show, but he never did, co-host Dana DiDonato said.
“At this point, a hollow apology and a mere suspension will not be appropriate,” said William Floyd School District Board President Bob Vecchio, who called for Randy to be fired and for area residents to boycott the station and its advertisers. “You can’t get a free pass when you attack an entire community.”
Not to take issue with Pres. Vecchio, but this isn’t even close to the most offensive thing Randy’s done.
Weeks after the Guardian’s Steven Wells checked out the phenomenon that is Sons Of Ben, the worst kept secret in American’s 6th or 7th most popular professional sports league was confirmed yesterday. From the Philadelphia Inquirer’s William Bender.
After months of speculation and political wrangling, Major League Soccer announced that, in 2010, Philadelphia will become its 16th team, playing in a 20,000-seat stadium to be built on the Chester waterfront.
The team, which will be named with fan input, already has an unprecedented level of support for an expansion franchise, said MLS commissioner Don Garber. And it would likely alter the dynamic of the I-95 rivalry between New York and D.C. United – perhaps siphoning some South Jersey fans in the process.“I live in New York and I know what it’s like for Giants fans to attend a game at the Linc,” Garber said. “I know what it’s like to be a Mets fan and try to go down and attend a Phillies game.”
Wait until Red Bull fans meet the Sons of Ben in Chester.
“There’s already some animosity between their supporters club and our people,” said Dan Ryazansky, who runs MetroFanatic.com, a site frequented by the Empire Supporters Club and other New York soccer fans.
“I’ve never seen this level of interest from the public sector, never have had a supporters’ group the size of Sons of Ben before a team’s ever launched,” Garber said after yesterday’s announcement at the Wharf at Rivertown, which adjoins the Chester stadium site. “I think there’s something very special being incubated here in Philadelphia for Major League Soccer.”
Former Tampa Bay / Metro Stars executive Nick Sakiewicz has been installed as the club’s first CEO, and while he’s unquestionably qualified for such a position, Philly Phans might well gaze longingly at the star power another MLS franchise has brought to the boardroom. Sure, Sakiewicz knows the league, but how does he look in fishnets?
Interesting stuff this Friday morning from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Art Thiel, who quotes King County executive Ron Sims predicting the Emerald City’s long-term NBA future lies not in keeping the Sonics, but in convincing the owners of another failing franchise (New Orleans, Memphis) to move. As for Seattle’s present present hoops team, Sims figures the situation to be hopeless.
“David Stern is not going to stand in Clay Bennett’s way, because Stern likes his teams to be able to move,” Sims said by phone Thursday. “Bennett (above) so far does not want to sell, since he has six first-round draft picks over the next few seasons and likes what he has.”
Even in the likely event of a June defeat in federal court for his attempt to get out of the club’s KeyArena lease, Bennett, in Sims’ view, will endure the necessary losses to relocate the team in 2010 to his hometown of Oklahoma City.
Super Sonic Soul’s Peter Nussbaum would probably change the word “endure” to “embrace” as the current Sonics seem to exist purely to build a foundation in another market.
The franchise of Payton, Kemp, Gus, DJ, Lenny, Haywood, Rule, Mac-10, Karl, Sam … reduced to a probable 22-win season, and this coming off consecutive 30-odd win seasons?
I don’t think it would be unrealistic to expect the Sonics to enter the lottery again next spring, considering the odds of them picking up any true help this summer is somewhere between slim and none. Short of dealing away the entire non-Durant portion of the roster for more expiring contracts, this team just doesn’t look capable of winning 30 games next year, either.
Thanks alot, NBA. I didn’t know it was possible to destroy a 40-year-old business in the span of two years, but, well, when you’ve got Clay Bennett doing David Stern’s dirty work, I guess anything is possible.
Sam Cassell and PJ Brown are Boston bound, Devin Harris’ Nets debut was a smash and the Mavs and Spurs are in the middle of a scintillating heavyweight battle….yet, I expect you to watch a video clip hailed by Yahoo’s J.E.Skeets as “one of the most awkward interviews I have ever seen.”
It’s rough, granted, but this one’s worse.
Red Sox LF Manny Ramirez blew off Boston’s visit to the White House yesterday, a situation that has Odds & Sods wondering, “is Manny Ramirez a liberal?” Hey, I thought veterans were generally excused from long trips to bullshit exhibitions.
The Red Sox have met with the President twice during the Bush Administration, after each World Series victory. Both times, Manny Ramirez has chosen not to attend.
In 2005, Manny received an œexcused absence from the club, with Johnny Damon stating that he was caring for a sick grandmother. Today, the president joked œManny Ramirez isn™t here. I guess his grandmother died again.
There are many plausible explanations for the pair of absences. Manny was putting extra time in at the gym. He was comfortable in Fort Myers and didn™t want to leave. He may have been too busy selling personal belongings on eBay.
However, for the man who once skipped a game to take his citizenship test and proudly ran out into left field with an American flag the next day, meeting the President of the United States would surely be an honor?
Could this be a political statement by Mr. Ramirez? Have Republicans™ bombastic boasts about immigration and the Spanish language soured him? Has his status as a constitutional scholar emboldened him to protest the prone condition with which Cheney and other Bush appointees have held that document?
In Green Bay’s defense, they’ve gotta be ready, just in case. It’s kinda like someone at Spin.com having to be ready for a Weiland O.D.
Wojohowicz helpfully forwarded an item from Mother Jones concerning the use of music in U.S. military prisons as a means of eliciting confessions, intelligence, etc.
I’m use the Pentagon know exactly what they’re doing. But if someone wanted to torture me to the point of taking the rap for the killing of Charles Lindbergh Jr., there’s only one band that could do the trick.
By the numbers, R.A. Dickey (above) is the sort of person known mostly to either dorks (so, you know guilty as charged) or fans of the teams he’s played for. Who in turn know him as a guy who delivers a marginally effective long-relief stint here and there. And while his Baseball Reference page suggests that he is indeed that dude, an article from yesterday’s New York Times explains that Dickey is 1) an unlikely medical oddity and 2) now a knuckleballer, tossing a strange, 77-MPH version of the pitch. Your knuckleball cultists of the world — the faculty at the Candiotti Institute, Rob Neyer — will be interested to hear about the second part, but I’m kind of struck by this, from early in Allan Schwarz’s piece:
In an age when more and more pitchers have ugly scars crawling up their elbows, where surgeons™ scalpels have replaced their ulnar collateral ligaments in what is known as Tommy John surgery, Dickey does not need to worry about strains or painful pops.
He does not have an ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. None. Dickey either was born without one, or the tissue simply disintegrated when he was a teenager.
A dozen years after discovery of his situation cost him a virtual million-dollar payday, when he was told to give up his dreams of becoming a major league pitcher, Dickey today is one of the most intriguing players in any spring training camp. He did not just prove skeptics wrong by building a career that has included brief stays in the big leagues. Now 33, Dickey has reinvented himself as a knuckleballer, one promising enough that he could prove quite valuable in 2008 and beyond.
œFor him to be able to throw at all is pretty phenomenal in itself, said Rick Griffin, the Mariners™ head athletic trainer. œBut he™s doing it in the major leagues. People in sports amaze you physically, but this is something you™d never suspect. It™s like a running back in the N.F.L. having no anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. It™s amazing.
…œIt™s a real blessing now, Dickey said. œI™m real resilient, simply because I don™t have to worry about that ligament being sore, or tearing it. There™s nothing to tear.
Right fielder Shawn Green, who played with the Mets for the last year and a half and spent parts of 15 seasons in the majors, told The Post yesterday that he has retired.
“I had planned on retiring at the end of this contract,” the 35-year-old Green said yesterday in a phone conversation. “If something where I could live at home popped up, then I would have had to take that under consideration. But I still don’t know what I would have done.”
That decision never really had to be made.
The affable Green, a former member of the 30-30 club who once smashed four homers in one game, wrapped up his tenure with the Mets last season. He said yesterday that a bunch of teams then showed interest in him, but he indicated that he simply wasn’t willing to be that far from his California home.
Indeed, not everyone is cut out for the Long Island Ducks.
I don’t know if Kenny G is really Miguel Batista’s “musical idol” (“I’m reminded of the time Dick Allen met his idol Paul Mauria”, writes Repoz), but who else would the Seattle hurler discuss “breathing techniques” with? Not that J.J. Putz doesn’t have an interesting method, mind you.
Not shown : Jeff Greenfield getting bleached.
To quote Hal Hartley’s Simple Men, “The difference … is I just fucked with the law, he fucked with the government.” Which is the line Roger Clemens crossed when he went under oath on taking illegal steroids and then lied to Congress about it. By challenging the Mitchell Report, Clemens isn’t dealing with a patsy like Bud Selig anymore. As ESPN‘s Mark Fainaru-Wada reports:
(Clemens, above, will be signing this week at the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover Building)
An 18-page memorandum compiled by congressional staff members provides a damning analysis of statements given under oath by Roger Clemens — underscoring a perjury case that could be looming for the seven-time Cy Young winner.
The document, released Wednesday by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the majority leader of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, lists “seven sets of assertions” Clemens made during his Feb. 5 deposition and Feb. 13 testimony that are “implausible” or “appear to be contradicted by other evidence before the Committee.” (Read the complete memorandum here.)
The memo is described as an analysis created by majority staffers at the request of Waxman, whose committee has played a central role in investigating performance-enhancing drug use by professional and Olympic athletes. Earlier this month, the committee took depositions and heard testimony from, among others, Clemens and his former personal trainer Brian McNamee, who described the pitcher’s extensive use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Clemens has vehemently and repeatedly denied ever taking steroids or human growth hormone, but those denials — and others — are highly suspect, according to the congressional analysis.
The document, at various points, describes Clemens’ statements as “not truthful,” “implausible,” “contradicted” and called “into question.” In one section, the memo suggests there is “evidence that Mr. Clemens affirmatively sought to mislead the Committee.”
Kudos to the St. Louis Cardinals organization for proving that while they’re powerless to stop their manager from driving drunk, they’ll not tolerate similar behavior from one of their players (presuming he’s alive to punish). From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Tim O’Neil :
An arrest warrant has been issued by the Irvine Police Department for Cardinals utilityman Scott Spiezio (above, first from right) on six charges stemming from a crash in late December.
The warrant alleges driving under the influence, driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more, hit and run, aggravated assault, assault and battery.
This afternoon, the Cardinals released a statement saying, “The ballclub is immediately releasing player Scott Spiezio in response to a six-count arrest warrant issued for Spiezio today.”
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told an Associated Press reporter in Jupiter that he did not have specifics on the warrant and had not spoken to Spiezio.
“I had heard there was an incident in California,” La Russa said. “I didn’t think anything would come of it.”
A tune-up to the 2008 Grapefruit League slate saw the Mets play to a 4-4 tie with the University Of Michigan on Tuesday, with their closer taking particular umbrage at….having to come off the mound to field a bunt? From Newsday’s David Lennon :
Forget the Phillies. Billy Wagner (above) nearly started a beanball war with the University of Michigan after one overzealous Wolverine tried to bunt on him in the fourth inning. With a runner on second and one out, centerfielder Kevin Cislo pushed his bunt foul.
Wagner, clearly annoyed, shook his head a number of times, and Cislo wisely swung away, grounding out. Wagner said he couldn’t believe that Cislo, a junior, bunted.
“If he got that bunt down, I would have drilled the next guy,” Wagner said. “Play to win against Villanova.”
“He couldn’t bring himself to drill the kid,” Willie Randolph said. ” Nolan Ryan might have. Nolan or Roger [Clemens] may have done it, kid or not.”
The game ended in a 4-4 tie, but the big loser was Notre Dame alum Aaron Heilman, who has to sing the Michigan fight song in the clubhouse after allowing a run. “Hail to the Victors” was played over the stadium speaker in the first inning.
“I heard it and it made my stomach cringe,” Heilman said.
Mike Pelfrey tossed two innings of scoreless, one-hit ball in the Mets’ 4-2 loss to Detroit earlier today. Willie Collazo allowed all 4 Tigers runs in the 7th, including a two-run single to non-roster invitee Wilkin Ramirez. Magglio Ordonez left the game after being plunked by Pedro Feliciano in the 5th inning. Presumably, Mags wasn’t trying to bunt. But you never about these sneaky players representing the Great Lakes State.
Eschewing the flurry of player movement that went down yesterday in the big time, the Guardian‘s touristy Ian Windwood attended a Las Vegas Wranglers (ECHL) game and declares, “hockey not only exists but actually flourishes outside of the NHL .” And he managed to plug the only sports book written to date by a CSTB contributor, too. Until Ben Schwartz’ “My Dinner With Dusty” finally finds a publisher, anyhow.
Even as the Zamboni machine rolled its way up the ice prior to face-off, it was clear that things were not as I had imagined them to be. In a cab on my way to the 9,500-seat Orleans Arena, part of the new and hellishly impressive hotel and casino complex of the same name, I pictured a deserted barn and hockey that was nothing but fists and insults. Basically, I imagined Slap Shot. Imagine my surprise, then, to discover an arena busy with at least 8,000 hockey fans, the majority of whom were as passionate as they were knowledgeable about the game being played before them.
The Las Vegas Wranglers are a very minor league hockey team. They are the feeder club for the Quad City Flames, who in turn are the feeder club for the NHL’s Calgary Flames. Not wishing to hurt the players’ feelings, I lowered my voice to tell my companion that the participants she was watching were unlikely ever to make it to the National Hockey League. Meanwhile, Tony was grabbing his Blackhawks top and yelling at the Salmon Kings that this was the closest they were ever gonna get to an NHL jersey. Maybe so, but that didn’t alter the fact that tonight’s hockey match saw the game played to a superior standard.
Yes, the ice may have been bad, but the ice is bad at Madison Square Garden as well, and that ain’t in the desert. Despite this being the penultimate Saturday in February, the temperature had been 70 degrees all day. On the ice the Salmon Kings and the Wranglers controlled the puck with crisp, precise passes; they unloaded deadly slapshots, deft wristers; they back checked and fore checked. Much to my amazement, no one fought. In fact, to my foreign eye the two teams appeared to do everything that players in the NHL can do, just at a fraction of the cost.
In his book Zamboni Rodeo, Texas-based journalist Jason Cohen spends a season with the minor league Austin Ice Bats. Paid hundreds rather than tens of thousands of dollars per week, hockey life at this level is markedly different from its NHL equivalent. It’s a world of all-night bus rides, early-morning practice sessions at rinks in deserted shopping malls, fast food and an uncertain living. As I looked at the Salmon Kings players just inches in front of me I found myself wondering about each man’s story. As teenagers, did they imagine themselves playing for the Montreal Canadiens, and exactly when did they realise their talents would never reach that high? Did they have wives, children to support? Where were they staying tonight, and how the hell were they going to get home to a small island just off the west coast of Vancouver?
The Wranglers pay a return visit to the Salmon Kings tonight. I’ll take a wild guess that some combination of airplane, bus and boat did the trick.
From the Pittsburgh Gazette’s Gene Collier (thanks to Dave Martin for the link) :
Myron Cope, colorful sports broadcaster and reporter whose Terrible Towel remains the banner of the Steelers nation, has died.
In declining health since even before his 2005 retirement after a record 35 years of Steelers broadcasts, Mr. Cope died this morning of respiratory failure.
He was 79.
One of the last of the great sports characters, Mr. Cope’s life and career were nothing less than book-worthy, even if he had to write it himself. Twice.
“Double Yoi” it was called both times, the second an updated version of the original 2002 volume, the title immortalizing one of Mr. Cope’s signature exclamations, which, along with “Okle-dokle,” “Dumbkopf!”, and “How do?”, became so familiar to his radio and TV audiences.
He was best known as the squawking talisman of Steelers football and had the good fortune of arriving on the scene just as the ballclub was escaping some four decades of losing. Cope hit the glory road sprinting in 1970 and never lost momentum for the next 30 years. Locally, his celebrity dwarfed many of the players, even those of Super Bowl pedigree, and was surpassed by only a very few.
Regardless of the ever-more-corporate-imaged NFL he’d walked into, Mr. Cope remained a wag and raconteur of a sporting era from the other side of that transition. Though he was riding the new Pittsburgh wave of Dan and Art Rooney Jr.’s strictly business acumen and seasoned football calculations, he still had both feet in the smoke-filled rooms and occasional “toddy’s” of Art Rooney Sr.’s world, which thrived on seat-of-the-pants adventurism.
Once at halftime in Cleveland, Cope found his intermission routine interrupted by an occupied restroom on old Municipal Stadium’s roof, which is where the radio booths were situated. His long-standing para-military ritual of urinate, get a hot dog, and get back to the action now jeopardized, he improvised. Without being too graphic, let’s just say that anyone walking by Municipal Stadium near that portion of the roof in the ensuring minutes had to wonder from where that sudden shower had come.
Mr. Cope’s magazine writing took its inevitable place among the nation’s very best. In 1963, he won the E.P. Dutton Prize for “Best Magazine Sportswriting in the Nation” for his portrayal of Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay.
“Cope’s columns in the Post-Gazette were in contrast to what had ever been in the paper, they were dazzling,” said Mr. McHugh, himself a writer of immense skills. “In the ’60s, there was a certain type of magazine style that no one was ever better at than Myron. He could talk to someone and extract all the humor possible from that person.”
In 1987, on the occasion of the Hearst Corp.’s 100th anniversary, Mr. Cope was named as a noted literary achiever, among them Mark Twain, Jack London, Frederick Remington, Walter Winchell and Sidney Sheldon.
From Reuters :
An Australian professional soccer player who attended a club celebration dressed as Adolf Hitler will be disciplined after Jewish groups complained, officials said Tuesday.German-born Andre Gumprecht, 33, attended a post-Grand Final ceremony Monday for his Central Coast Mariners team dressed in a khaki military uniform and mustache to resemble the former German dictator.
“Hitler was such a monster and for a lot of people, it’s a very sensitive thing to be confronted with,” Ernie Friedlander, a spokesman for the Jewish community group B’nai B’rith, told Australian newspapers.
Football Federation Australia chief executive Ben Buckley said he would be seeking an explanation from midfielder Gumprecht, who also runs a sporting academy for children.
“Such behavior is not only stupid, but is also not tolerated by the FFA,” Buckley said in a statement.
Gumprecht was born in Jena, in the former East Germany, and played second division soccer there before joining Australian team Perth Glory in 2002.
A second player, Tony Vidmar, who dressed as God for the “Mad Monday” celebration in the beachside resort of Terrigal, north of Sydney, donning white robes and blackening his face, would also face a disciplinary hearing, Buckley said.
I don’t claim to know everything about the job market, but it would seem to this observer like there’s not a huge demand for a washed-up QB who specializes in a) verbally abusing John Clayton b) sending photographs of his penis to disinterested colleagues.
On the other hand, maybe the McCain campaign could use a new master of ceremonies?
From USA Today’s Michael McCarthy :
ESPN said late Tuesday it was parting ways with longtime football analyst Sean Salisbury. The surprise announcement came only hours after the network announced its hiring of Cris Carter from HBO’s Inside the NFL.
“Sean Salisbury has made many contributions to our efforts for the past 12 years. We thank him and wish him all the best,” said ESPN spokesman Bill Hofheimer.
Salisbury said in a statement that he had “grown as much as I can at ESPN” and that he decided to expand his horizons with new opportunities in TV, radio, Internet, publishing, movies and public speaking. “My rÃ©sumÃ© speaks for itself as a football analyst, and I believe I can talk all sports with the best of them.”
Networks frequently shuffle their lineups in the offseason. Salisbury’s contract with ESPN was up, according to his agent Steve Mandell. “Sean is looking forward to the next phase of his career.”
From Deuce Of Davenport :
Johnny Bench is being honored on a limited edition bottle of Makers Mark at Kentucky’s Turfway Park. 3000 of these bottles have been made to commemorate their Lanes End Stakes. The booze will go on sale March 14th and proceeds benefit the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum and the Johnny Bench Scholarship Fund.
Without sounding cavalier about the scourge of alcohol abuse in this great land of ours, Markers Mark is a fine product and this sounds like a very worthy cause. Had someone thought of this kind of thing earlier, a Bob Huggins commemorative bottle of well, anything could’ve been used to raise funds for any number of causes.
Says Cubs owner Sam Zell, on CNBC’s Squawk Box this AM: “I think … we’re going to fix the credit markets by creating a big enough spread between the risk-free cost of capital and what’s available so that greed overtakes fear and the game begins again.”
Nevermind lost houses, oil headed for $4 a gallon, or massive gov’t bank bailouts in the tens of billions, Zell understands it’s Democrats making the economy suck out loud, not reality:
(Obama, pictured, sabotages an otherwise
“Obviously what we have going on is an attempt to create a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Zell, chairman of Equity Investments Group and owner of the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other companies. “We have two Democratic candidates who are vying with each other to describe the economic situation worse.
“The reality is that if you live on Wall Street and you’re in the credit markets the world couldn’t be worse. If you’re a farmer and you’re getting $25 for your wheat, you’re having a great time. If you’re a CEO and you’ve got a balance sheet that’s bullet-proof, you’re in a great position. This whole thing is way out of control, way out of hand.”
…and his Arby’s Bacon Beef & Cheddar.
If it’s not Tracy McGrady, it’s Yao Ming. Sometimes it’s both. Usually it’s McGrady. But this time, with the Houston Rockets on a 12-game winning streak and Yao playing the best basketball of his career, it’s Yao. According to a terse Houston Chronicle report, Ming has a stress fracture in his left foot, and will be out for the rest of the season and the playoffs. Jonathan Feigen is slightly less terse on his Chronicle blog:
At a time the Rockets were going better than they have in a decade, not just winning games by the dozen but improving with more room to grow evident, the life was drained from the winning streak and the Rockets’ prospects.
This feels worse, though, than even that. No one so large has ever been asked to do what Yao has done for the Rockets. The previous giants were specialists. Those close in size that came close to his role – Arvydas Sabonis, Zydruynas Ilgauskas and Rik Smits – had foot and ankle problems that derailed their careers, but were able to eventually succeed. Bill Walton never was the same.
A stress fracture is far more foreboding than last season’s crack in his leg or the toe infection that required surgery. Those had the feel of fluke, the sort of things that happen. This seems more threatening.
We’ll know more when the doctors talk about his prognosis, but this feels dangerous.
It’s not quite that bad, Mr. Feigen. It’s very bad for the Rockets, who I think will indeed probably fall out of the playoffs in the super-competitive West. But I had a stress fracture as a cross-country runner back in high school, and I now lead a full, healthy life. Well, not full and not healthy. But unless Feigen is referring to the possibility of the Rockets signing ultra-stiff Jamaal Magloire (he’s available), I think “dangerous” is a bit of an overstatement.
UPDATE: The news itself hasn’t changed, but Henry Abbott, at TrueHoop, adds a bit of perspective not just in terms of what it means for big men to have bad feet, but about the international-relations dimension of Yao’s recovery and eventual return:
The relationship between the NBA, the Houston Rockets, and the Chinese government figures prominently in any and all matters Yao Ming. Even picking him first in the draft was not simple. Now, with Yao Ming slated to be the superstar showpiece of perhaps the most important sporting event in China’s recent history — the 2008 Beijing Olympics — there must be a hundred new ways these international relationships can be tested. With something this bad having happened, there will be blame to spread around, and future questions to work out. Will Yao Ming be ready to play in the Olympics? Whose decision will that be? Are the Rockets prepared to let the Chinese team make that call? And what about next season — now that China’s national basketball treasure has injured himself repeatedly Houston’s watch (he has also had a broken tibia) might there be concerns about his returning to the NBA at all?