It Only Took An Hour For Rob Neyer’s Opening Day Chat To Go Surreal

Posted in Baseball, The Internet at 11:36 pm by

If ESPN’s Rob Neyer wants to wrest the marathon chatroom record from the Sports Putz, I say all the power to him. Especially when some of the discourse went like this :

Welcome to the Fuku Dome: Jay Mariotti Rips Off CSTB Today

Posted in Baseball at 11:02 pm by


As long as Gerard brought it up, on a day when I was content to retire my #14 Trib rant, yeah, Kerry Wood did have a lousy day. For whatever reason, the Man With The Glass Arm is our closer and Caros Marmol his set-up man. So be it. At least when losses start to pile up on blown saves, even goat-worshiping Curse fans won’t be able to blame the supernatural when they’ve got Kerry Wood. Or so I thought, until I read Jay Mariotti‘s column, devoted entirely to breaking the spirit of Kosuke Fukudome with talk of voo doo in Wrigley.


(CSTB mascot Tanner Boyle, on hearing he was traded to Jay Mariotti’s column today)

But there was a pause in the interview room. And a blank stare from Fukudome. Because even on a day when he made headlines, here and abroad, the $48-million import also received his first dose of Cubdom. It wasn’t enough to trash Milwaukee’s bearded, washed-up Eric Gagne, who was rescued when the Brewers nicked Bob Howry for a run in the 10th and won 4-3 … the Cubs turned what should have been a historic afternoon into another trademark loss. But then, this is what the Cubs do. This is who the Cubs are. Maybe Fukudome is starting to understand the pain.

“We lost the game. I wish we could have won,” he said through Araki. “It was great that I had a home run to tie the game, but since we lost the game, it values a little less.”

Mariotti went further, even disputing Moises Alou, who recently came to the defense of Curse poster boy Steve Bartman. And note Mariotti’s rather suspicious invocation of Bad News Bear Tanner Boyle in a Cub reference, done in this space not one week ago by yours truly.

Yet it also seems a good time to issue a cobwebbed reminder about Cubdom: Never, ever tempt fate. Do not pick this team to win the World Series, as a shocking number of media have done in this 100th-anniversary season. Do not coin the cryptic phrase “Cubbie occurrence,” as Lou Piniella did in spring training. Do not roll out a statue for a legend and let him declare, “This is the year,” as Ernie Banks said. Do not foresee the Cubs and Detroit playing for a championship as they did in 1908, which Sports Illustrated predicts. And do not tell the Associated Press that the Bartman Ball wasn’t catchable anyway, as Moises Alou revealed when he ran into columnist Jim Litke at a Macy’s department store in New York City.

“Everywhere I play, even now, people still yell, `Bartman! Bartman!’ I feel really bad for the kid,” Alou said. “Know what the funny thing is? I wouldn’t have caught it, anyway.”

Then why did Alou whip down his glove in left field like Tanner Boyle in the “Bad News Bears” movie? Why did he complain about it so angrily after the game? I know, I know — it was five years ago, let it go. But such revelations only reconfirm that Cubdom is spooked.

Well, Jay, maybe because either way it was a play that could have changed the game? I thought Alou showed some class, especially after the way the Cubs dumped him. As for your attempt to discourage Fukudome after his first Cubs game and a three run knock in the 9th … well, blow me. Since you don’t let readers leave comments on your column site anymore, I’m at least happy to know you’re reading CSTB for ideas.

Jeter Can’t Live Without The Voice Of God

Posted in Baseball at 10:45 pm by

While the Yankees’ 2008 home opener against Toronto was delayed by at least a day, one prominent Bomber has fully prepared himself for the absence of a key Stadium fixture. From the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner :

It won™t be Bob Sheppard (above) at the microphone today when the lineups are introduced here at windy, drizzly Yankee Stadium for the final opening day. Sheppard is recovering from an illness and hopes to be back by midseason.

But Sheppard™s voice will still be heard. Last season, Derek Jeter took a step to make sure of that.

œOne of the things I had him do was record him introducing me, Jeter said a few minutes ago, œso I™ll always come to the plate with Bob Sheppard.

The Captain sense of history is admirable, but he might have all sorts of recording to take care of. Michael Kay’s not gonna live forever.

Even Kerry Wood & Eric Gagne Think Tom Gordon Had A Lousy Opening Day

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Sports TV at 9:41 pm by

Courtesy of a 5 run, 4 hit, 1 walk, 0.1 IP performance by stand-in Phillies closer Tom Gordon, the Washington Nationals find themselves on pace to go 162-0, while Philadelphia is on pace…to force Brad Lidge to pitch ASAP, regardless of his physical condition. Lastings Milledge (above) hit his first HR in a Nats uniform, said blow coming off Ryan Madison after having been plunked earlier in the game by Brett Myers. The Philly starter also hit Paulie Go Nuts with a pitch — presumably, this is Myers’ way of saying he deplores Lo Duca and Da Edge’s attitudes towards women.

While DC fans can try to become accustomed to first place (and with Odalis Perez and Matt Chico as their no.1 and no.2 starters, who am I to say they can’t hang around in the race until mid-April?), Bugs & Cranks’ Jon Steiner returns to the scene of Sunday night’s crimes against broadcasting.

After tossing out the ceremonial first pitch to an angry chorus of boos, Bushie made his way upstairs to chat things over with Joe Morgan ” evidently, his long-time lover.  Whether Bush was a bit nervous about his upcoming trip to the Ukraine (unlikely, as Bush has not heard of the Ukraine), or just confused by all the bright lights, W. kept his comments to a minimum.  When asked about an inside joke that Bush and Morgan had shared years earlier concerning Morgan being the GM for the Rangers, Bush said only, œYeah¦I remember that.  Well.  Then he laughed in that schoolboy shit-eating I-can™t-believe-I™m-actually-the-president type laugh.  I can™t either, Mr. President.  This is the eloquence for which we™ve been waiting all these years!

When he was posed with a question about the Mitchell report, Bush again attempted to mystify his listeners: œI™m glad¦I™m happy with the recognition that it was a problem.  First of all, that is a shit-sucking sentence.  But it also reminds me of his response to the Iraq Study Group report: œInteresting stuff.  He didn™t read that either.

Perhaps the idiocy of the evening is best summed up by the orators™ closing remarks to one another:

Morgan: Have a good time in the Ukraine, Mr. President.

Bush: You betcha, sir.  You too.

George, Joe is NOT going to the Ukraine tomorrow.  You are.  Please don™t screw this up.

Cubs Silence A Critic, If Not The Brewers

Posted in Baseball at 9:29 pm by

“I just wish (the statue) had been done 15 years ago,” Hank Aaron said today of the unveiling of Ernie Banks’ statue at Clark and Addison. “Be that as it may, I for one am going to be very proud of the fact that I had the opportunity not only to play baseball with you but to share in your dream.”

My sentiments exactly, although I only got to watch Banks play in person once in 1971. The Tribune Co. today effectively silenced me on one of my most-hated Trib embrace-the-loserdom embarrassments, which has been the lack of any proper tribute to players like Ernie Banks while Trib employees like Harry Caray were given statues. Ernie Banks received one today, which MLB.com’s Jim Molony reports is modeled on an August 29th, 1959 at-bat against Warren Spahn. Banks noted he played for “one team, one owner, and one mayor” during his entire career, none of which did him any justice. Banks hit 512 HRs on 1953-71 Cub teams. Can you imagine what he would have done on winning teams? Banks said he learned everything he knew about life from Phillip K. Wrigley. Fortunately he stopped listening when it came to baseball. So, while my list of complaints with the Cubs is down one today, I’m glad this one is gone. And unlike that beer-goggled view of Caray, Banks’ sculptor spent some time making him look good.


The Cubs then lost the opener to Aaron’s old town, Milwaukee, despite a Fukudome 3-run homer in the 9th. And if anything made me miss Harry today, it’s not hearing him struggle with pronouncing that name all year.

RJ : It’s Not The End Of The World (But Please, Don’t Make Me Watch The Knicks)

Posted in Basketball at 5:18 pm by

Facing all but certain elimination, the New Jersey Nets’ Richard Jefferson cannot be stopped when it comes to providing the Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Alessandro with a playoff caliber quote or two.

The only thing that will work for the Nets, meanwhile, is for Atlanta to lose eight in a row. But when they claim that they’re not going down without a fight, they say it with a straight face, so that’s a good sign.

RJ even said this with a straight face: That “controlling your own destiny” stuff is overrated.

“Let’s be real. Let’s say miraculously we were to win every single game down the stretch. I have a feeling that we would have a pretty good chance of making it,” Jefferson said. “So in turn, you still do (control your destiny). Now, in two days from now, three days from now it might change. But you have to go at it with a positive attitude. You can’t all of a sudden say, ‘Oh no, oh no, oh no,’ because what happens if you lose a game? Is the world going to end? No.”

Jefferson says for the first time, he’s going to watch the playoffs this year. His Final Four: Boston, Detroit, L.A., San Antonio. Usually he’s not especially interested in this stuff, because the disappointment of being eliminated still stings. This time, he’s into it. The games matter. The excitement is building. The climax should be thrilling.

Does that mean he’s watching the important games now, such as Knicks versus Hawks?

“No – God, no,”
he said. “Knicks-Hawks. That would be like watching us and the Knicks.”

Never Mind Nellie & Webber, You Don’t Wanna End Up In Giannakis Panagiotis’ Doghouse

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down at 5:11 pm by

C Marc Jackson, who as recently as ’06/07 played regularly for the Hornets, was the leading scorer and 2nd-leading rebounder for Olympiakos this season. Said production didn’t prevent Jackson from being jettisoned, a situation explained yesterday by the Boston Globe’s Peter May :

In a move that can only be explained by these three words – that’s European basketball – Jackson was released just before the start of a three-game playoff series with CSKA Moscow, and was replaced on the roster by Qyntel Woods. (That’s a story for another day.)

A Greek mole said the main reason for the move was that Jackson and new Olympiakos coach Giannakis Panagiotis (above), who also happens to be the national coach, have not seen eye-to-eye since Panagiotis took over six weeks ago. He considered Jackson to be more interested in stats, a liability on defense, and a bad influence on Lynn Greer, one of the team’s best players (and former Milwaukee Buck, who, like Jackson, went to Temple). Former Sun/Grizzly Jake Tsakalidis is getting more time in Jackson’s spot and Olympiakos also will be able to add Baby Shaq (Sofocles Schortsianitis) for the playoffs. He has been on a weight-loss program all season.

The Association’s Craig Kwasniewski reviews the plethora of injuries suffered by the Lakers the last several years and wonders if the club’s training staff bear any responsibility.

How is it that a team like Phoenix is able to avoid similiar problems? They cured Steve Nash’s chronic back, they cured Grant Hill’s ridonkulous ankle problems and Shaquille O’Neal is moving around like it’s 2005. Even Amare Stoudemire has completely recovered a career-threatening micro-facture surgery! And didn’t Raja Bell return from a horrible-looking spained ankle? How are these guys able to go at it a nightly basis and the younger Lakers sit in designer suits?

Daniels On Vin Scully, National Treasure

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio, Sports TV at 4:47 pm by

On a day in which the Dodgers are doing their best to ruin humiliate the Giants — Lt. Dangle having already taken Barry Zito to, well, the truck wash — the L.A. Times’ Christine Daniels pays homage to Vin Scully, “his tenure an L.A. story unlike any other, providing a sense of permanence to a city perfectly captured by Steve Martin’s line in the movie L.A. Story’: ‘Some of these buildings are more than 20 years old!’”

Scully represents more than an era in Los Angeles sports history; he also represents an era in sports broadcasting when announcers were as indelibly linked to the teams they covered as the logo on the players’ caps.

When Scully was hired by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950, his contemporaries included Mel Allen with the Yankees and Russ Hodges with the Giants. They were icons, with larger-than-life personas, as they served as the immediate conduits of information and news to fans hungry for details about their teams.

That was the template that served baseball for decades. Jack Buck with the St. Louis Cardinals. Ernie Harwell with the Detroit Tigers. Bob Prince with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Harry Caray with the Cardinals, then the Chicago Cubs.

Over time, that part of the job description changed. More teams meant more job movement among announcers. New media, such as the Internet, meant more sources for information.

By 2008, Scully might not be the last of the great baseball play-by-play icons; Jerry Coleman in San Diego and Dave Niehaus in Seattle remain franchise and community fixtures. But the pool is shrinking.

What has Scully meant to the Dodgers since 1958?

“Everything, with an exclamation point,” former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley said. When the Dodgers first arrived in Los Angeles, O’Malley said, Scully was “the face of the Dodgers. It wasn’t the manager. It wasn’t a player. It wasn’t the owner. It wasn’t where they played. It wasn’t any of those things. He was the face and the voice of the Dodgers. And he made so many friends for us, then and now.”

More than just defining L.A. baseball culture, Scully invented it. For a city perpetually on the move, Scully became essential listening for harried freeway drivers who, once grounded, continued the habit with portable transistor radios — and today with audio supplied via satellite and the Internet.

“L.A. may be the most important radio market in the country,” O’Malley said, “because of people traveling in their cars. And Vinny’s impact on radio is major. We’ve all heard about the transistors in the ballpark, but that’s one thing that gets overlooked — the importance of the radio market in L.A., which has embraced and adopted Vinny.”

QPR Bernie : Mosley Was “Set Up”

Posted in Football, General, non-sporting journalism, Vroom Vroom at 1:52 pm by

Right about now might be a great time for the Football League to determine that Queens Park Rangers ought not to be associated with an organization as unsavory as Formula One.

On the other hand, who knows what Roger Goodell or David Stern get up to in the privacy of their own pleasuredomes? For a company that seems so sickened by sado-masochism, these Murdoch newspapers are more than happy to use the accounts and descriptions of such activity to generate commerce.

Meeting Of The (Simple) Minds : Francesca & Rosenberg Redefine “Effervescence”

Posted in Sports Radio at 1:22 pm by

Last Friday, Miami’s sports radio listeners were graced with Mike Francesca’s fascinating observations about You Tube, Boomer & Carlton, and a bold prediction that Pedro Martinez will be 13-5 this season. “He’s the industry standard…we’re all working today because of him,” gushed a breathless Sid Rosenberg, who apparently spends so much time listening to his old employer’s radio station, they might wanna consider a subscription service instead of free streaming audio.

Noel Gallagher Didn’t Write This Song About Stephen Curry…

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts at 12:43 pm by

…though who’s to say he might not pen one in the future?  And yeah, there is a smidgeon of You Tube evidence that Davidson’s Curry is in fact, human.

Crucial Opening Day Comment Thread #1 :

Posted in Baseball at 11:25 am by

Please take a crack at identifying the contents of Da Meat Hook’s briefcase. Thank you.

Hyde : Cheapskate Loria’s Screwing Miami, MLB

Posted in Baseball at 11:06 am by

In a few hours, my beloved, fully-recovered-from-that-choking-thing New York Mets will commence the 2008 baseball season against the Florida Marlins, but the Sun-Sentinel’s David Hyde asks that we “not ignore the 800 pound Gorilla in the room”. Noting the hosts’ paltry $21 million payroll, Hyde snorts, “I’m no Bill James, but it seems in picking this Marlins roster the primary baseball question was, ‘Will you double-up on the road?’”

The Marlins got $600 million in public money for a new stadium and amenities. They can’t just brush the subject of their embarrassing payroll under the carpet anymore and hope no one notices. As much as they want to, they can’t just keep saying, “This is all we can afford until we get our new stadium.”

These owners get $30 million in revenue sharing from other teams, which neither H. Wayne Huizenga or John Henry got in their tenures. They also get $30 million in local and national TV money. All that before selling a ticket.

At some point, doesn’t someone like Commissioner Bud Selig or another team owner step in and ask Jeffrey Loria and David Samson, “Just what are you doing with all the money we’re giving you?”

Because it sure looks like it’s just being shoveled into their pockets. It also looks like the Marlins are keeping the decks cleared of costs to sell to a new owner as the $600 million stadium windfall nears.

No matter, Loria and Samson need to talk about why they have this curb-high payroll. If they want to answer along the lines of why dogs lick themselves ” because they can ” that’s fine. People understand greed. That’s their call.

But they need to say why Miguel Cabrera couldn’t be afforded when just two years ago, at the previous player purge, they said he was the anchor to the future.

I’m not holding my breath for The Used Car Salesman or a fellow owner to find fault with Loria. The former is essentially Loria’s employee, while I’m gonna assume Fred Wilpon wasn’t displeased to see Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis dealt to the American League.

Not to Mention the Premiere of “Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union”

Posted in "Wife Beater" Is Not A Fashion Statement, Baseball, Professional Wrestling at 2:55 am by

Frank Fitzpatrick’s Philadelphia Inquirer story on Kyle Kendrick and the final Phillies exhibition also seems to tell us how a certain overly excitable #1 starter planned to spend the night before Opening Day:

The impatient Phillies regulars were set to depart for Philadelphia early, as soon as Kendrick changed his spikes and finished talking with reporters. But as his teammates filed out of the tiny dressing room, the questions kept coming.

Frank Coppenbarger, the manager of travel and equipment, reminded the pitcher that the bus was ready to roll. Pitching coach Rich Dubee nudged him, urging the writers to let Kendrick leave.

Finally, Brett Myers, who will open the season this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park against Washington’s Matt Chico, offered the compelling argument.

“Let’s go, Kendrick! ” Myers screamed. “I told you, it’s Wrestlemania night!”

Hmmmh… suddenly I like Brett’s chances for the Hall of Fame. The one Pete Rose is in, that is.


The New York Times’ Expert Panel Disses Shea. Repeatedly.

Posted in Baseball, New York, New York at 8:47 pm by

“It’s a dump,” says SNY’s Gary Cohen. “But it’s our dump”.  WFAN’s Howie Rose puts the Mets’ ballpark in further perspective : œIt™s dilapidated and obsolete, sure, but I could say the same thing about the apartment where I grew up.”  The big difference being, Rose only had to risk seeing Frank Howard naked occasionally in his family’s apartment. The New York Times’ Ben Shpigel on the pending closure of the only venue I know that’s hosted both Survival Research Laboratories and Dave Kingman, Shea Stadium.

By any objective standard, Shea is bleak and outdated. It has not aged, shall we say, gracefully, its imperfections and architectural shortcomings growing more prominent over the years, particularly as glorious baseball-only parks have sprouted around the country. Those flaws are now magnified by Citi Field, the Mets™ new home in 2009, whose beatific presence beyond Shea™s right-center-field fence prompted Ron Darling, the SportsNet New York analyst and former Met, to make this comparison: œIt™s like driving a VW bus with a Maserati in the lot.

Ron Hunt said he was particularly fond of Banner Day, now defunct, when fans marched onto the field carrying signs with often-witty slogans. His favorite? One pointing out that the Mets would be in first place if the standings were looked at upside down. Al Jackson, a pitcher on the 1964 team, said he memorized flight schedules in and out of La Guardia Airport and could tell what time it was based on which planes were flying overhead.

Darling said: œThose planes just let you know that you™re not in Norfolk or Memphis or New Orleans or wherever. This is New York City, where everyone flies into. Everyone™s flying in and out of the city that you have the privilege of playing in. That™s never been lost on me.

Even in its heyday, Shea would never win best in show in an architectural competition ” Fredric Bell, the executive director of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects, said the stadium looked as if it had been designed on an Etch A Sketch. But when it opened a few days before the 1964 World™s Fair next door, it stood tall as a symbol of the future and a monument to progress.

œThere™s no redeeming architectural value in Shea, Bell said bluntly. œIt looks like it was built in a hurry. It™s a temporary structure that has outlasted its usefulness. It™s an expansion stadium for an expansion team and a replacement stadium for a replacement team. If Yankee Stadium is like visiting the Metropolitan Museum, then Shea is like a visit to the dentist™s chair.

Former Rangers Owner Masters Color Commentating

Posted in Baseball, politics, Sports TV at 8:32 pm by

So who are we Phillies and Mets fans supposed to pull for on Opening Night? The Braves currently trail the Nationals 2-1 in the middle of the fourth at D.C.’s brand new ballpark, where the guy who threw out the first pitch just stopped by the TV booth.

Jon Miller: Chipper Jones whacks one, deep left…

George W. Bush: …looks like he may have the first home run in this ballpark…

Miller: As called by President George W. Bush.

Bush: It is… first home run… that thing was a rope…. He blasted that thing didn’t he? Here it is. Yeah.

Joe Morgan: Pretty much down the middle.

Bush: Yeah. Down the middle.

Q: What Do You Do On A Saturday In Toronto?

Posted in Football, Mob Behavior at 6:57 pm by

A : Drive to Columbus, OH. And drink.

“They came, they drank, and some of them urinated next to a church,” says The National Post’s Sean Fitzgerald of Toronto F.C.’s traveling supporters and their hard partying ways, before and after yesterday’s 2-0 loss to the Crew.  Hey, at least they’ve stopped rubbing it in.

One man was arrested and a fleet of Columbus police cars was pressed into duty before Toronto FC even kicked off on Saturday, after more than 2,400 supporters traveled from Canada to central Ohio to watch their team open the Major League Soccer season. They left disappointed, but some left their mark.

Toronto supporters filled the entire south stand at Crew Stadium, while other pockets of red could be spotted throughout the venue. Their largest impact might have been in a muddy field next to the stadium, where a pre-game tailgate party created mounds of garbage and debris.

“They’re pissing all over the damn place, and as you can see, they’ve littered it up considerably,” Columbus police lieutenant Kevin Conley said. “And then they decided that they were going to surround one of our cars like they were the Indians and the car was Custer.”

Most of the visiting fans seemed well behaved, but some were feeling the effects of several hours spent on a bus with alcohol close at hand. Some taunted their hosts with insults and profanity.

“You know what? Part of the sporting spirit is being antagonistic,” said Andrew Gorsky, a 22-year-old Toronto fan. “You can’t deny it.

Juan Pierre Tries To Convince Dodger Fans His Suckiness Is Confined To Spring Training

Posted in Baseball at 6:42 pm by

“What’s Juan so upset about?” asked The Fanhouse’s Eamonn Brennan earlier this week. “It’s not as if Torre’s benched him for the beginning of the season”. Not so fast, buddy, that might be exactly what the soothing Green Tea proponent has in mind. And who can blame him? From the LA Times’ Dylan Hernandez :

“If they want to go a different route,” Pierre said, “I can live with it and I have to understand it but it’s something I don’t get.”

Pierre signed a five-year, $44-million contract a year ago to be the Dodgers’ starting center fielder, but was moved to left field before the start of spring training this year to make room for newly signed Andruw Jones. Today, Pierre could be moved again, this time to the bench.

“It’s a tough situation that they put not only all of us in,” Pierre said, referring to the three outfielders, including Matt Kemp, who are competing for the two corner spots. “But me too, because you sign here for one thing, a five-year deal, and you put up the same numbers you put up every year, and it seems like it doesn’t hold any weight or anything.”

Last season, Pierre had a .293 average, 196 hits and 64 steals. He has had a rough spring, entering Saturday’s exhibition game at the Coliseum batting .173. Ethier had six home runs and a .361 average.

“It’s spring training,” Pierre said. “I bat .200, but then I get 200 hits and do my thing. I work what I need to work on. I bunt a lot. . . . [But] if they go out and put a lot of weight on spring training, then it’s justified for them to do whatever they want to do with me.”

Bob Timmerman published a lovely photograph from last night’s exhibition tilt at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and it’s nice to learn the event was probably about as much fun to follow from the cheap moderately priced seats as it was to watch on television. The Boston Herald’s Jeff Horrigan is amongst those who’d probably like nothing better than to give Frank McCourt a big hug for such a well-executed event.

Franchise F.C.’s Moment Of Triumph

Posted in Football at 5:52 pm by

With all due respect to shorthanded Arsenal coming back from a two goal deficit to win at Bolton yesterday, 3-2, and the likes of jetlagged megastars David Beckham and Landon Donovan being humbled by Colorado in the Galaxy’s MLS Opener last night, the soccer story of the weekend might well be Milton Keynes Dons beating Grimbsy Town, 2-0, to take the…uh….Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

Before anyone wonders if this piece of silverware is enough to raise a fuss about, keep in mind the victors are only a few years removed from being considered national pariahs after abandoning South London.  And not everyone has forgiven or forgotten, reports the Observer’s Jamie Jackson.

‘I don’t know anyone who’s changed their minds. MK Dons isn’t a football club – while they do seem to have created growth, let’s hope that’s a temporary blip before a downward spiral to oblivion,’ says Kris Stewart, the driving force behind AFC Wimbledon, who were formed by angry fans once the FA allowed owner/chairman Pete Winkelman to uproot the club in May 2002, and who now play in the Ryman Premier.

The hostility caused by the relocation was followed by a near-financial disaster that sparked a firesale of 11 players – including Nigel Reo-Coker – after administrators arrived in May 2003. The club were relegated the following season from the old First Division, before arriving in the basement league in 2006.

‘Its been a difficult birth,’ says Winkelman, who grew up as a Wolves fan. ‘Because I hadn’t been involved in football I didn’t know the horror of moving a club. But Luton have tried to move here at least three times in the past 30 years. For some it’s difficult to forgive, which I understand. And I certainly now would not want to move the club.

‘But on Wednesday I was telling Portsmouth’s chief executive, Peter Storrie, how we’re the biggest city in the region outside of London. We’re only 40 years old, and in 20 years time we’ll be among the 10 most populated places in the UK. We attract the highest proportion of under-16s for games at any League club. Some 200,000 people moved here, and began new families – it is an audience that will not come to fruition for another 10 years.’

Paul Kinge is one convert. The 20-year-old student, who will be at Wembley today, says he ‘used to watch Chelsea with my dad. It was £16 for both of us, but around 10 years ago prices suddenly rocketed. I was born in Milton Keynes and the Dons are my team. I have friends from school the same – some supported Spurs or Arsenal, but it’s at least £100 for the day. We went to see MK Dons at Accrington Stanley last Monday and it was £16. I can sympathise with Wimbledon fans, but AFC seem to be doing OK.’

Sacramento’s Hawes Vs. Clay Bennett

Posted in Basketball at 4:27 pm by

When and Kings C Spencer Hawes hits free agency, can we safely assume the Oklahoma City Whatevers will not be amongst the bidders? Seattle native Hawes vented to the Sacramento Bee’s Sam Amick about the poor state of affairs for his hometown’s basketball fans.

“It’s a sad situation they’ve got going up there,” he begins. “It’s sad the way ¦ everyone’s handling it, from the league to the city, especially. It’s being poorly mismanaged. As a Sonics fan, you sit hoping someone is going to come in and intervene, that the people with the power will come in and put an end to it, and it doesn’t look like that’s happening.”

“You get a rich owner from Oklahoma City who is dead set on moving the team, and that’s it,” said Hawes, who spent his one collegiate season at Washington after attending Seattle Prep High School. “At first, he tried to hide (his intentions), and everyone saw right through that. Everyone from Seattle knew his intentions from the beginning. It was obvious.”

The Haweses have been Sonics season-ticket holders for as long as their only son can remember. Their house is a relative skybox to KeyArena itself, located in the Queen Anne neighborhood that overlooks the Sonics’ home floor from a hillside. When the Haweses come to tonight’s game to see their son play in his hometown for the second time in his career, they will walk to the game, just as they did when he was a child.

Hawes, who will decide today if his sprained left ankle is healed enough to participate, said he might have to take on a political battle that he can likely win: convincing his father, Jeff, to put an end to the family’s loyalty should the Sonics stick around for one or two more seasons.

“When your organization is getting snatched from underneath your feet as a fan, that’s a tough thing to deal with,” Hawes said. “I’m going to ask my dad, If they stay, what is he going to do with the season tickets? Are you getting rid of those? It’s hard to support a team where there’s no future for them.”

For Hawes, the situation could only be more personal if he was wearing a Sonics jersey. He can claim the next best thing, though, as he is the best of friends with Sonics rookie Kevin Durant, the resident face of the franchise.

“I know he likes the city, (and) he likes being there,” Hawes said. “But at the same time, he realizes that business is business and sometimes that’s how it goes.”

The Post Dangles A Delicious Detail Regarding The Matsui Wedding

Posted in Baseball, History's Great Hook-Ups at 4:11 pm by

“Shotgun”, huh? Either Hideki’s dad gave the Post more information than they could’ve dreamed of, or there’s an intrepid web reporter who isn’t entirely sure what the expression means.

Has Weiland Checked Out Rich Harden Yet?

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 4:07 pm by

Of the enigmatic A’s starter Rich Harden, Inside Bay Area’s Carl Steward writes, “for a fan of power pitching, is like crack cocaine, heroin and LSD all rolled into one.” If nothing else, Oakland might have some new candidates for those “I Live For This” commercials (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

The man is like a powerful drug, even at 3 a.m. from 5,000 miles away, as he was this past week while pitching in Japan. Harden still possesses the most seductive live arm in Oakland franchise history since Vida Blue circa 1971, albeit one that’s about as stable as Britney Spears’ psyche.

A’s fans know this story by heart, and by heartbreak. Harden spins a lethal game, pronounces that he’s finally healthy and that it’s going to be all good from here on in. Then he pitches two or three more times and really starts to convince everyone that he finally can be counted upon to avoid a breakdown.

Yoo-hoo, deja vu. Harden’s back again to tantalize those of us who resolutely said they wouldn’t become dependent on his mound magic again. In Tokyo, the right-hander rolled out some of his addictive stuff ever. The smoking heater. The criminal changeup. The filthy slider and the underwear-twisting split-finger.

Maybe the breakdown won’t happen this time. Maybe Harden will walk the training-room tightrope and make 30 or more starts in 2008. Maybe he’ll pitch 200 innings. Maybe he’ll finally win 17-20 games, help keep the A’s compelling throughout the summer and make a run at the Cy Young Award virtually every baseball writer has forecast for him since 2004, his last reasonably healthy season.

I don’t mind saying I’m rooting hard for Harden. I love watching the dude pitch. What’s encouraging is that he’s still only 26 and can still salvage a sweet career if his body will just play along. He’s an exceptional young man and a fierce competitor. He deserves a break, as do A’s fans and the organization that has pinned so many hopes on his incredible potential to become one of baseball’s best pitchers. Face it, with a healthy Harden, the A’s might have a couple of World Series trophies by now.

Cuban Amends His Blogger Invite, Chaos To Follow

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down, Sports Journalism at 12:40 pm by

“Now that my ban on bloggers in the locker room has been lifted by the NBA,” writes Mavs owner Mark Cuban, “the ‘Joes’ of the blogger world will have the same access as the ‘Pros’. Those that get paid. I can’t wait to see the results.”

Suffice to say, the submissions at BlogMaverick are pretty embarrassing. Rather than leave this issue in the hands of his media relations department, the very Owner With A Boner expects the blogging rank & file to openly audition in the comments section of his own blog. And much as i would love to give Cuban some credit for getting his hands dirty over a matter issue most owners are barely conversant with….this is a total dick move on his part.

His sports blog/ Talk Soup analogy isn’t totally whack, though it’s a gross generalization.  We all know there are decent NBA-specific blogs and/or general sports blogs that would consider Mavs press credentials surplus to their requirements.  But Tim MacMahon is much closer to a traditional beat reporter — that the work appeared online rather than in print merely provided Cuban with an excuse to pull the plug.

We also should be aware there are blogs — some popular, some not — that would take these credentials pretty seriously and would probably bring far more to the table in terms of knowledge, insight and intellectual curiosity than Tim Fucking Cowlishaw.

By sanctioning these open auditions — Blogging Idol, with Mark Cuban playing the part of Simon Cowell — it might not necessarily be designed to humiliate bloggers and make a mockery of the medium.  But this is most certainly an act of ego-ism above and beyond the OWAB’s usual standard.   Though I poke fun at Cuban quite often, most of the time I figure he’s got the best interests of his team and Mavs fans in mind. This is case is a pretty big exception.

Klugman : Big In Germany, Stiffed By NBC

Posted in The Law, The World Of Entertainment at 12:21 am by

Your favorite chief medical examiner is a bigger sensation than Nein Nein Nein and Tokio Hotel combined. Just ask the Associated Press :

Former “Quincy, M.E.” star Jack Klugman sued NBC Universal Friday, claiming the studio is lying about the show’s profits and owes him money. Klugman, 85, played the crime-busting Dr. R. Quincy on the show from 1976 to 1983.His 1976 contract with NBC entitles him and his company, Sweater Productions, to 25 percent of the show’s “net profits,” according to the suit filed in Superior Court. Klugman claims his copy of the contract was lost when his agent died, and NBC has refused to provide a copy.

The lawsuit aims to force NBC to divulge the contract and award Klugman attorneys’ fees. It also asks the court to clarify the terms of the agreement.

“I recently heard that they made $250 million and it’s still on TV in Germany. I don’t want their money. I want my money,” Klugman told The Associated Press. “I worked my tail off. I got up at four in the morning and stayed at the studio. I did rewrite, I edited.”
NBC provided Klugman with an accounting statement showing the series had lost $66 million through 2006, according to the suit. However, Klugman said he believes NBC is lying, and that it made money.

If this case goes to trial and a judge sees the above clip, it doesn’t matter how much money Klugman is seeking. He earned every penny.


A Dining Tip For Anyone Visiting Seattle : Don’t Order The Roethlis-Burger

Posted in Food, Gridiron, The Law at 11:45 pm by

KOMO TV’s Kitsap Sun reported Friday on the most serious violation of the public trust in Greater Seattle area since the Dwarves faked the death of He Who Cannot Be Named.

Deputies said at 37-year-old man in Steelers garb took his daughters to a Mile Hill Drive fast food restaurant Saturday evening, and “began trading friendly barbs about his team and their victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL,” reports said.

One employee told the man that he’d “better not say that to the guy that’s making your food,” but the man thought it was a joke, reports said.

That is, until he opened his “clamshell-style” hamburger container and discovered what he called a “loogie” on his hamburger.

The 37-year-old told his daughters to stop eating, demanded a refund and called the restaurant’s district manager.

A deputy was informed by the manager that the person responsible may be a 24-year-old South Kitsap man who was near his quitting time when the incident occurred.

Eventually, the man confessed to spitting in the 37-year-old’s hamburger container to “gross him out … because he was a Steelers fan,” deputies said.