03.26.08

Russian Millionaire’s Tall-Lady Collection Exposed in Los Angeles Times

Posted in Basketball at 3:20 pm by

Let me speak for all the adjunct staffers of CSTB when I say this: we have heard your message. Your voice has been heard. And so you shall have the women’s basketball coverage you demand!

Or…well, I don’t think anyone was asking for it. But as part of working on a post this morning for the Wall Street Journal‘s Daily Fix blog — I’ll be picking up a few days a week there, for I don’t know how long — a reader of said blog forwarded an article from the Los Angeles Times about a Russian plutocrat’s sports-related hobby. (No, WSJ doesn’t require that a plutocrat or millionaire appear in every article) (Or rather, not that I know of) You expect flamboyant wastefulness and outrageously shitty taste from Russian oligarchs, but Shabtai von Kalmanovic isn’t about show horses or dipping random things around his house in platinum or competitive jet-sailing or whatever it is that tacky ultra-billionaires do. He is, explains Megan Stack, more of a Diana Taurasi guy:

He has been linked romantically to Liza Minnelli. He did prison time in Israel, accused of being a Soviet spy. He has amassed what he says is the largest collection of Judaica in Eastern Europe. This is a man who can do just about anything that catches his fancy.


As it turns out, he’s got a thing for basketball, a sport he played growing up in Lithuania. He has dumped millions of dollars into rebuilding Spartak, the franchise he owns, into what is now one of Europe’s best women’s basketball teams.

Kalmanovic cherry-picks the brightest stars from the Women’s National Basketball Assn., pays them as much as 10 times more than they earn in the United States, and brings them to Moscow in the WNBA off-season, where they live in luxury and play before halfhearted audiences…

Nobody is making money off Spartak. On the contrary, it’s better described as an extravagance than a business: Kalmanovic has to pay Russian television to air the games, and they often end up being broadcast in the middle of the night. Nobody even bothers to sell tickets to the games. Too much bureaucracy, Kalmanovic says. The spectators are mostly schoolchildren, soldiers and locals looking for a free night of entertainment.

On this point, the players are defensive. Basketball is different in Russia and the United States, they say, but that doesn’t mean the interest in it is lower.

“You can’t compare the two,” Diana Taurasi, one of the team’s stars, says firmly.

Meanwhile, Kalmanovic says his players are on par with George Michael and Madonna, and he spoils them rotten. A staff of 25 assistants, not counting drivers and housekeepers, caters to their whims. They are chauffeured in Mercedes-Benzes, put up at Europe’s finest hotels and greeted with bouquets at every airport, whether they’ve won or lost. They aren’t allowed to carry their own luggage — they’re women after all, Kalmanovic says.

“If [the players] will go to the game and think, where’s her child or is the TV working at home and where will she eat after and is the flight home booked and will the money arrive on time — if she has any concern other than basketball, I cannot demand the maximum from her,” he says. “I have to take away each and every concern.

“They should be treated like people of art, like stars.”

Bisher’s Opening Day Bomb

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism, We Aren't The World at 9:40 am by

For the second time this week, a columnist from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has managed to find fault with MLB’s decision to open the 2008 season in Japan. First, Jeff Schultz weighed in, followed Wednesday by the venerable Furman Bisher (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory), who presumably didn’t get up in time to watch Rich Harden (above) baffle the Red Sox this morning. Perhaps the AJC can go for the hat trick tomorrow with a guest editorial from John Rocker?

Money can change any habit. Eight springs ago the Mets and Cubs opened the season, not in Cincinnati. Guess where? Tokyo. That Tokyo, the guys who gave us Pearl Harbor. Some people don™t like you to bring that up, trade with Japan is so hot. But I™ve got a long memory. I saw what a few bombs can do to our property.

Oh, well, ˜scuse me. It™s just tough to get away from it when you turn on your TV in the morning there are the Boston Red Sox playing the Oakland A™s in the Tokyo Dome. Not only that, but the Red Sox pitcher is Daisuke Matsuzaka, who didn™t grow up in Wampole.

Why not? A Japanese newspaper chain, Yomiuri, foots the bill for this Oriental excursion. Yomiuri is not exactly the Chicago Tribune of Japanese baseball. Yomiuri owns several teams. The Tribune owns only one team, and that team hasn™t been in a World Series since World War II. (Sorry to have to bring that up again.) Yomiuri™s team has been the Yankees of Japan, and I™m not sure, but I think they call themselves the Giants.

It would be my guess that in Japan, emperors don™t throw out first balls, or even have any kind of presence at such a sweaty game. I saw a game in the Tokyo Dome once, but it was more dome-shaped then. It now appears to have gone oblong to oblige the new long-ball society. Managers are interchangeable, it seems. Bobby Valentine is still managing a team in Japan, and Trey Hillman, who managed five seasons in Japan, is now managing the Kansas City Royals, which, on the surface, appears to be a demotion.

The Japanese might know a thing or two about bombs being dropped on their property as well, but they’ve somehow managed not to let horrific events of more than 6 decades ago prevent their embrace of what oughta be considered one of American’s finest cultural exports. It’s astonishing that neither Bisher nor his colleague Shultz take much positive away from this.

Is The Hick From French Lick Covered In Teflon?

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down at 1:52 am by

While the Pacers continue to insist to anyone who will listen that Donnie Walsh has no agreement in place with the New York Knicks, Sports On Mind’s dwil has the temerit to use, well, actual results to challenge the notion Larry Bird is an appreciably better franchise executive than Isiah Thomas.

Isiah Thomas has been just crushed in the press for his basketball decisions and presiding over a floundering franchise. The year Larry Bird arrived in Indiana, they were 61-21. Since they have won 44, 41, 35, and have won only 29 games so far this season. Yet in yesterday™s press conference in Indianapolis Bird said now that Walsh is gone he can remake the franchise. And according to ESPN™s Stephen A. Smith, Bird overruled Walsh on many key team and player decisions, leaving Walsh as a figurehead general manager. Bird is generally attributed – acclaimed – for the firing of Thomas as head coach, according to longtime Indianapolis Star columnist, Bob Kravitz, “Bird was the one who pulled the trigger on Isiah Thomas, replacing him with Rick Carlisle.”

However, it is safe to say that Bird has been atrocious in his capacity as decision-maker and has been the primary reason for the recent downturn of the Pacers franchise. But Bird blamed Walsh for his own failings and said:

œNow it™s one voice; it™s mine. Now it™s a real challenge, Bird said about replacing Walsh and cleaning up a franchise that has struggled on and off the court. œIt™s something that will be great for me to turn around. We have to make changes necessary to make it better, and I think I can do that.

Larry Bird gets a pass for his failings (this fact has been chronicled by MODI at Cosellout better than by any other writer or sports media outlet) while Thomas has been excoriated for least three years.

Larry Bird remains œLarry Legend while Isiah is a pariah. When we fill positions and perform as poorly as the next white guy, their history is obfuscated to the point where we don™t know where fantasy meets reality in order to provide them with yet another chance to excel.

03.25.08

Michael Wilbon Flunks Out Of Current Events

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down, Sports Journalism at 10:51 pm by

From the Washington Post’s Chat House, Monday, May 24, 2008 :

I can sympathize with Wilbon. Where could someone possibly find out about “this situation”? Living in our Information Overload, how can a pundit for a major newspaper / major cable network manage to discern who this mystery blogger might be?

The story’s been a well kept secret, and only the cagiest characters amongst us can claim to know the players without a scorecard. Should a journalist of Wilbon’s vintage really be expected to keep up the most obscure and “underground” web outlets?

The Nature Boy Turns Back The Clock

Posted in Free Expression, Professional Wrestling at 9:01 pm by

I probably won’t be shelling out the PPV cash for Wrestlemania XIV this Sunday night, not unless the Braves/Nats game is rained out. And besides, no matter what happens when Ric Flair takes on Shawn Michaels, I think we might’ve already seen a superior performance from the former last night.

It Might Be Opening Day, But Jeff Schultz’ Knee-Jerkiness Is In Mid-Season Form

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism, We Aren't The World at 6:58 pm by

Admittedly, I overslept this morning and missed Boston’s 6-5, 10 inning win over Oakland from Tokyo. But it’s not that big a deal — both clubs will have 160 regular seasons games within North America, and MLB’s global marketing manuevers (while obviously a commercial initiative) aren’t so rotten when you consider how the game is showcased. Compare and contrast this morning’s curtain raiser with last October’s Dolphins/Giants tilt at Wembley Stadium and ask yourself, which event made it’s respective sport appear exciting and which seemed like a huge bore?

Not that I’m usually psyched about ways to make the likes of John Henry and Hank Steinbrenner even richer, but consider how baseball will continue to grow and that exceptional athletes from far-flung locales who might otherwise try their hand at soccer or basketball, could well be playing in the big leagues soon. Hasn’t an international talent pool made the NBA relevant all over the world? Other than New York City, I mean.

None of those arguments, I’m sorry to say, are likely to carry much weight with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jeff Schultz, who sneers, “I imagine Japan will reciprocate this breach of tradition by opening the sumo season at Fenway Park.” (link swiped from The Griddle)

I get the whole global marketing thing. I don™t get taking one of the few special traditions remaining in sports and turning it into some infomercial like a Vegematic.

The first pitch for A™s fans was scheduled for 3:05 a.m. Pacific time. Advantages?

œThere are a lot of bars that™ll still be open in Oakland, Roger Kahn said. œJack London used to drink there all the time.

Baseball officials want to grow the game in the Pacific.

Shouldn™t they be doing a better job nurturing the sport closer to home?

Now there are kids asleep before the first pitch of the World Series and the first pitch of the season.

The Braves open Sunday night in Washington, a made-for-ESPN event in the Nationals™ new stadium. They return home after one game. As unconventional as that is, at least they™re in the same time zone. And continent.

Opening Day was special for Hank Aaron. œNo matter how many years you play, when that bell rings, you get jitters, he said.

He tied Ruth in 1974 with a homer off Jack Billingham in Cincinnati. But his fondest memory came in 1956 as a Milwaukee Brave. It was another home run, but this one came off the Chicago Cubs™ Bob Rush in extraordinary circumstances. The Farmers™ Almanac database indicates a low of 33 degrees in Milwaukee on that April 17, with some rain and snow flurries.

œIt was cold ” I mean, freezing cold, he said. œThe manager, Fred Haney, had a meeting and said, ˜If anybody talks about how cold it is, it™s going to cost you $50.™ That was a lot of money back then. Then we beat the Cubs and I hit a home run. I™d have to say I remember that opener more than any other just because it was so cold and I was able to hit a home run.

Now, we have memories. Japan gave us Daisuke. We gave them Opening Day. Nice trade.

Interesting that Schultz would quiz Roger Kahn and Henry Aaron about the impact of an Opening Day overseas. As opposed to say, gauging the opinion of Japanese fans for whom seeing Jack Cust David Ortiz up close in a game that counts has great resonance.

That said, I do understand why the sanctity of Opening Day would register so strongly with an AJC columnist. Other than a 7th game of a World Series (maybe), that’s one of the few days each year the Braves are likely to sell out Turner Field. “Grow the game at home”? Despite record attendances and revenues in the midst of a) unparalleled competition for the entertainment dollar and b) a wide-ranging drugs scandal that failed to quell the public’s obsession with the game, Schultz would have you believe American kids are being fucked over.

At the risk of sounding like an apologist for The Used Car Salesman, maybe The Southern-Fried Mushnick can explain whether or not this event took place late enough in the day to bother tuning in?

Herman : Can George W. Request A Battery Mate Besides Captain Red Ass?

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 3:18 pm by

The Austin American-Statesman’s Ken Herman poses the sensitive question (and I’m paraphrasing here), what happens when a respected leader is forced to associated himself, however briefly, with someone well known as a substance abuser? I don’t know the answer, but hopefully Paulie Go Nuts won’t be too troubled by the Commander-In-Chief’s recreational drug history (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).

Hall of Fame baseball player George W. Bush (Little League Hall of Fame. You can look it up.) will throw the ceremonial first pitch Sunday at Nationals Park, new home of the Washington Nationals. The game will be nationally televised.

Bush has been an outspoken critic of steroid and substance abuse by baseball players. His name came up once in the Mitchell Report that documented the widespread abuse of performance enhancing substances by baseball players.

œIn his January 2004 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush denounced the use of steroids in elite sports and called on athletes, owners, and unions to address the issue, the report noted.

The Nationals™ starting catcher – and hence a natural choice to catch the cermonial first pitch – is expected to be Paul Lo Duca.

Lo Duca™s name comes up 37 times in the Mitchell Report, which said a former Mets clubhouse assistant who has acknowledged providing substance-enhancing drugs to players œestimated that he engaged in six or more transactions with Lo Duca.

So here™s the potential opening-night visual: The president who is concerned about substance abuse in baseball winds up and throws the ceremonial pitch to a catcher linked to substance abuse. It™s all smiles and happiness as president and catcher pose for the post-pitch photo.
Clearly, this is shaping up to be a public relations nightmare for the White House and MLB combined and there’s only one way to save face — a Dick Cheney / Lastings Milledge photo op.

Utah State – The School Where Fun Goes To Die

Posted in Beer, Lower Education at 3:00 pm by

I like root beer as much as the next person —- possibly more, considering I once cut across 3 lanes of traffic to get to a A&W Drive-Thru in Vegas.  But this is totally retarded.

Jose’s Sequel To “Juiced” : You Might Wanna Wait For The Movie Of This One, Too

Posted in Baseball at 1:17 pm by

Sommerville, MA resident Joe Lavin claims to have procured a copy of Jose Canseco’s latest literary axe-to-grind, “Vindicated”. Along with a number of shots aimed at Roger Clemens, the tome’s biggest revelation (?) delivers on Jose’s oft-hinted charge that Alex Rodriguez is “not the saint he’s perceived to be.”  From Joe Lavin.com :

Canseco says he didn’t inject Rodriguez, but that he “introduced Alex to a known supplier of steroids.” Canseco didn’t mention Rodriguez in the first book because he “hated the bastard.” He was worried that people would have “questioned [his] motives” had he included Rodriguez.

Why all the hatred, you ask. Well, Canseco claims that A-Rod was trying to sleep with Canseco’s wife. Apparently, even after Canseco had been nice enough to help A-Rod find a friendly steroids supplier, A-Rod kept calling Canseco’s wife.

And, in case there’s any further confusion about Canseco’s true feelings, he ends the chapter by saying:

“So A-Rod, if you’re reading this book, and if I’m not getting through to you, let’s get clear on one thing: I hate your f***ing guts.”

With prose like that, who needs Don Yaeger?

Car Giant, Fuck Off : QPR Unveil Glitzy New Sponsor

Posted in Football, The Marketplace at 1:00 pm by

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and predict the following press release means The Stupor Hoops will never again be reduced to placing Sellotape logos on the back of their shirts.  Not for a half decade, anyway.

(above : a rare contemporary photo of a Loftus Road boardroom negotiation in which none of the participants are brandishing a revolver)

Queens Park Rangers Football Club are delighted to announce next season’s Official Kit Supplier will be Lotto Sport Italia.

The deal could be worth as much as £20 million over five seasons, depending on the success of QPR as the Club embarks on its mission to achieve Premiership football. This represents the most lucrative sponsorship deal in the Club’s history.

Lotto Sport Italia will be providing new home and away kits and training wear for the First Team through to the Centre of Excellence, as well as developing additional lines of stylish and fashionable QPR branded clothing and shoes.

£20 million seems like a Lotto cash (sorry) for a club currently midtable in the old Second Division, but I suppose we can presume that if the new ownership group can’t buy promotion a year from now, at least they’re gonna look spiffy while trying.

The Guardian reports The News Of The World have removed photos of Derby County manager Paul Jewell doing things…well, things no one wants to see Paul Jewell doing while they read the paper over Sunday breakfast.

Bennett To Seattle : Your “Sonics” Name & Colors Are Worthless To Me

Posted in Basketball at 12:43 pm by


(…and he doesn’t want the Tacoma Sonics, either)

From The Seattle Times’ Percy Allen :

Sonics chairman Clay Bennett is so eager to sever ties with Seattle that he’s willing to leave the team’s name, logo, colors and history behind to avoid a messy divorce.During a breakfast meeting for team sponsors Friday at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel in Southern California, Bennett said he plans to influence the city to accept a buyout. He also told several sponsors that he wants to negotiate a settlement in which the city retains nearly everything associated with the Sonics except the players and coaches.

Sonics spokesman Dan Mahoney confirmed Bennett’s statement on Monday.

“That’s an accurate assessment,” he said. He added that the ownership group told the city last month it was willing to leave behind the Sonics name, logo and history.

In its $26.5 million settlement offer, which was rejected and panned by city officials, the ownership group sent a letter to city attorney Tom Carr that read: “We understand the city’s desire to reserve the Sonics name for a future franchise and will support the city’s effort with the NBA on this issue.”

Since Bennett’s on record, can’t some enterprising fan/litigator press the claim that Kevin Durant is a fairly prominent part of (recent) Sonics history, and as such, oughta stay behind?

All Hail Whoever Uploaded This : Jeff Krulik’s “Heavy Metal Parking Lot”

Posted in Cinema, Rock Und Roll at 10:09 am by

Of the 3 films directly inspired by Judas Priest, Jeff Krulik’s “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” is neither as chilling as “Dream Deceivers” (hello, Faxed Head!) nor packed with star power as the Dominic West vehicle (cough) “Rock Star”.  But it’s arguably the best work of the three.

My only complaint is that instead of opting for other “Parking Lot” exercises (“Neil Diamond Parking Lot”, “Harry Potter Potter Parking Lot”), I truly wish Krulik had stuck with Priest and the charming young people interviewed above.  If Michael Apted can revisit the same collection of characters every 7 years, why not Krulik as well?

(UPDATE : Brian Turner writes, the DVD I believe has a “revisited” bonus film (that goes on a bit way too long) where Krulik tracks down assorted parking lot attendees today and asks them if their cult fame has changed them. Sadly, I dont think the “I’d Jump His Bones” gal is on there.)

03.24.08

WWL : Walsh To MSG Is A Done Deal

Posted in Basketball at 10:56 pm by

Following a press conference earlier today in which Indiana Pacers chief executive Donnie Walsh announced he’d be leaving the club at season’s end —- after nearly a quarter century in charge — ESPN reported tonight that Walsh would soon sign a three-year, $15 million contract to run the New York Knicks.

Though this would seem to end Isiah Thomas’ tenure as team president, Zeke was circumspect in his comments before Monday’s home loss to the Nets, praising Walsh and reminding us all, “he gave me my first coaching job”.  And you thought trading for Mike Dunleavy  Jr. looked bad on Walsh’s resume.

As for the man who gave Thomas what might well be his last coaching job, James Dolan has obviously been immersed in talks with Walsh. Not only has Dolan refused to talk with reporters for over a year, but no one has logged in to JD & The Straight Shot’s MySpace profile (80 friends?  christ, anybody could better than that) for nearly a month.

Kareem Insists He’s Not Angry (But He’s Been Hearing That Crap Ever Since He Was At UCLA)

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down, History's Not Happening at 10:34 pm by

(tell your old man….Walton…Lanier…up and down the court…hey, we’re in a cockpit! Is this the only photo the editor can find?)

“Myths (about me),” muses Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in his LA Times blog, “persist even though there™s no truth to them.” So can we presume the former Lew Alcindor never lost a copy of “198 Seconds Of The Dils” in a fire?

One of the common myths about me was repeated last week when a friend of mine was playing in his weekly basketball league and a teammate asked him, œWhy was Kareem always so angry? That™s not the first time I heard this charge. What™s weird about it is that every morning when I get out of bed, bluebirds, squirrels, and deer help me get dressed while we sing œWe Are the World. By the way, squirrels really suck at tying shoes. And deer often mumble the lyrics.

Even that doesn™t make me angry.

What™s interesting about the question is that the person who asked the question is white. In fact, no black person has ever asked that question. That™s because they already know the answer. In the 1960s and 1970s, when the civil rights movement was at its most intense and volatile level, I often used my celebrity to speak out against certain injustices. This seemed to irritate some people who expected black athletes to simply be silently grateful for their opportunities and not rock the boat. However, being given this tremendous opportunity to play college basketball at UCLA, how could I not speak out to help the many other black athletes who were not being given the same opportunity? To not stand up for integration of college athletics would be to dishonor the brave heroes who spoke out and made my opportunities possible. People like Bill Garrett (who is sometimes called the Jackie Robinson of college basketball), Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, and dozens of others. How could I not be angry to realize that many great players were being denied a college education and/or the chance to play before larger crowds( and therefore be more valuable if they chose to turn professional)? They were being denied a future.

The integration of college sports would have happened without me. But I like to think that I made some small contribution by adding my voice to those who fought to make this a better world. For some, my voice may have seemed shrill or angry; but for those on the right side of the issue, it seemed loyal and compassionate.

How do I feel now? Grateful that we™ve come so far. Encouraged that so many people are still adding their voices to the fight for equality for all people. In other words, I feel happy. Just ask the bluebirds.

No Mere Referee Can Stop Jonathan Roy

Posted in Hockey, Parental Responsibility at 7:05 pm by

Small White Ball has all the details behind the crazy footage above.  I don’t follow the hockey juniors nearly well enough to know what sort of future Patrick Roy’s kid might have, but if I’m Mario Tremblay, it might be time to think about a change of identity and/or working in Eastern Europe.

Do I Look Like An Of Montreal Fan Or Something?

Posted in Basketball, Food, Internal Affairs, The Mailbag, The Marketplace at 6:07 pm by

Hi, Gerald. I’m writing to tell you about some promotional events happening at Outback Steakhouse around the NCAA Men™s Final Four Basketball Championship.

At Outback, if you order one of its limited time Bloomin™ Birthday entrée specials with a Coke Zero, you’ll receive one of four Coca-Cola Zero NCAA commemorative glasses (while supplies last). Each glass is designed with an NCAA Final Four “memorable moment.” With your Coke Zero and Bloomin™ Birthday Entrée order, you™ll also get the chance to win tickets to next year™s NCAA Men™s Final Four.

Everyone who purchases a Coke Zero and Bloomin™ Birthday Entrée order will also receive a gift certificate for a free Bloomin™ Onion in celebration of Outback™s 20th anniversary of the appetizer. The Bloomin™ Onion is Outback™s signature dish and the first item on the menu 20 years ago.

I have additional press documents I can send if you’re interested, or you can visit (REDACTED) or I can also send you a set of the commemorative glasses if you’re interested, or a $25 gift card to visit Outback. That way you can check these out for yourself or give it away to your readers.

Thanks so much for your time and please let me know if you have any questions or I can follow up in any way.

Sincerely,

Charlie Kondek
Director of New Media Relations
MS&L Digital
office: 734-XXX-XXXX

Sorry, Charlie. It’s a tempting offer, but one that would violate another company’s exclusivity. Perhaps you’re not aware, but Sizzler is The Official Crap Steakhouse Of CSTB.

That said, there’s an MLB.com employee who might finally be ready to move up to your client’s establishment.

Cub Fan to New York: Drop Dead

Posted in Baseball, History's Not Happening, New York, New York, Sports Journalism at 5:01 pm by

http://www.cantstopthebleeding.com/img/01_Barnes1.jpg
How bad has the 1908-2008 Cub Century been? So bad, even New Yorkers like the Sun’s Tim Marchman now root for the Cubs to win a World Series over their own Mets. As Marchman notes, “If only for the joy it would bring Banks and millions like him, who have suffered through black cats walking on the field; gormless fans snatching fly balls from the air during playoff games; the invasion of their ballpark, the most perfect city block in America, by endless waves of drunken, hooting maniacs, and other indignities, the Cubs really ought to win.

Save your pity for the Knicks and former Yankees and their FBI investigations. If the NY sports media feels sorry for someone — and I don’t believe that’s actually happened in baseball since Lou Gehrig’s “luckiest man alive” speech — you’re probably in a hole pretty deep. Hearing that from New York, wherein the 1969 Cubs and Banks were robbed of a Series appearance by a blind call at home plate, brings to mind the scene in The Bad News Bears where the Yankees cheer on the Bears for trying so hard despite beating the Bears. As Tanner Boyle put it so eloquently, “Hey Yankees… you can take your apology and your trophy and shove ‘em straight up your ass!”

Marchman even manages to shed some tears for the Cubs’ career donut-hole, Kerry Wood, noting, ” …and Kerry Wood, another throwback whose story, involving a will far stronger than his arm, makes him one of those heartbreaking characters that define Chicago baseball. He deserves a ring as much as anyone in the sport …”. Deserves one as much as who, his roster mate on The Mitchell Report, Barry Bonds? Stronger than Wood’s arm? Most biscotti can take more punishment than Wood’s arm. Wood drained the Cubs of millions, none of which was caused by a black cat. Wood wasn’t so heartbroken he didn’t mind taking bonus money for one of his bench-warming years decorating Wrigley’s bullpen. Somehow in NYC Wood reads like Brian’s Song.

Fortunately, the Cubs have a new owner who thinks like me and isn’t looking for pity. After Zell’s Tribco annoucned a $78 M loss in 2007′s 4th Quarter (the news would have come sooner, but they laid off all their accountants), Variety reports Zell told his dwindling LA Times staff he was going to save their jobs. “The challenge is, how do we get somebody 126 years old to get it up?” Zell said, referring to the newspaper. “Well … I’m your Viagra.”

Goddam right.

PS — “gormless?”

San Antonio’s 33 Day Nightmare Is Over

Posted in Basketball at 1:50 pm by

Breathe a big sigh of relief, Spurs fans and gourmands alike….Bleachy’s Brent Barry’s Back In Town.

Banned Blogger Contributes The Day’s Most Worthless Stat

Posted in Basketball at 1:37 pm by

Maybe I was imagining it, but I’m pretty sure I heard at least two callers on WFAN late last night wax pathetic about the glory of the college game vs. the snoozefest they consider to be the National Basketball Association.  And while the Tournament provided no shortage of first-class entertainment over the prior 96 hours, let’s spare a thought for the Professionals’ goddamn regular season.

Denver’s win at Toronto
was enough to make you wish the Nuggets and Raptors could hook up more than twice a year. Golden State withstood a furious Lakers rally and needed a pair of Stephen Jackson 3′s in the final minute to hang on for a 115-111 victory after blowing a 26 point lead.  Earlier in the day, San Antonio overcame their own poor shooting to beat Dallas, 88-81, giving defending champs a modest two-game winning streak after halting a 4 game skid two days earlier against Da Bulls.

Dallas lost the services of His Dirkness in said contest, and while Amanda from You Go Live In Utah is strangely silent on the matter, we’ll turn the floor over to Mark Cuban’s BFF, Tim MacMahon of the Dallas Morning News.

The most pessimistic of MFFLs think that the Mavs’ playoff hopes buckled along with Dirk’s left leg.As the resident sunshine pumper, let me point out that Avery Johnson has a winning record without Dirk. The Mavs are 4-3 in games missed by the big German since Avery took over for Don Nelson.

Dirk has a history of recovering quickly from ankle sprains, but this is his first experience with the dreaded high ankle sprain. The focus for the first 48 hours is minimizing the swelling in the ankle and knee, which is also sprained, with icing and anti-inflammatories.

Dirk will spend plenty of time on the Mavs’ underwater treadmill that T.O. used during his rehab. T.O. also slept in a hyperbaric chamber, and Dirk would do the same if the Mavs’ medical experts think it would help.

“I don’t have any experience in that area, so whatever really I need to do I will do,” said Dirk, who had a protective boot on his left leg while addressing the media on the Mavs’ practice court. “I always have done that, whatever I need to do to get my health back is what I will do. Like I said, I will trust the doctor, our trainer obviously and they will make the correct decisions for me.”

Yes, You Can Find Sam Adams In Tokyo

Posted in Baseball, We Aren't The World at 9:38 am by

(from Monday’s Boston Globe, photograph by Daigo Fujiwara)

“Red Sox Nation?” What a bunch of [expletive] that is, That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans.

“Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.” – Hank Steinbrenner, Play Magazine, March 2, 2008

In other, less contentious news, Terry Francona reports Sean Casey will miss Boston’s pair of Tokyo games against Oakland this week as he’s suffering from what the manager describes as “Southern League Neck”.

The condition refers to the sort of discomfort one would develop on a long bus ride in the bush leagues, and should not be confused with the more modern ailment, “Atlantic League Neck” (ie. after several HGH injections supplied by Pete Rose Jr. a trusted teammate, a player no longer appears to have a neck).

A Non-CBS Affiliate Presents “One Shining Muppet”

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts, Sports TV at 12:21 am by

There’s no truth to the rumor the Triangle’s NBC17 employed a similar strategy for their coverage of the Duke Lacrosse rape accusations.

03.23.08

Where’s The Mets’ Compassion For Jane Jarvis?

Posted in Baseball, New York, New York at 11:14 pm by

A blog more concerned with actual baseball content would probably focus on Orlando Hernandez’ diabolically poor ’08 Grapefruit League debut, or Mets skipper Willie Randolph’s announcement that neither El Duque nor the underwhelming Mike Pelfrey will start the regular season in New York’s starting rotation.

Instead, prompted by the report below from the New York Times’ Glenn Collins, I’ll pose the following question : if the Wilpon family can find a way to help Darryl Strawberry so many years after he left the Mets, where’s the organization’s love for Shea’s longtime organist?

To a discriminating group of jazz aficionados, she™s known for her exuberant rendition of œCherokee, and her meditative œAll of Me.

To a larger group of Mets fanatics still mesmerized by the team™s glories and miseries in the 1960s and ™70s, she is legendary for the renditions of œMeet the Mets and œThe Mexican Hat Dance boomed on the mighty Thomas organ at Shea Stadium.

But now, at least temporarily, Jane Jarvis is something else: a displaced person.

Last Saturday™s crane collapse forced Ms. Jarvis, 92, to leave her apartment building at 311 East 50th Street, adjacent to the four-story brick building that was crushed in the disaster. She lived in one of 300 apartments that were evacuated, and thus entered a small population of Manhattanites who, while not injured in the collapse, have found themselves living in the odd twilight between victim and survivor. Some have found refuge with friends, others in hotels, others in shelters.

œThey got us out of the buildings so fast, she said, œall I had was my pajamas and a fur coat.

Weeks before the crane toppled, Ms. Jarvis said, she saw it œswaying in a windstorm, and we were praying to God that it wouldn™t fall, she said of herself and a caretaker, Joylyn Caleb. Then, last Saturday at 2:22 p.m., she saw the 146-ton crane collapse from the window of her 11th-floor studio apartment. œI remember there was a noise. And then the building shook.

Though not directly hit, her building sustained water damage and the elevators haven™t worked since, she said.

She spent four nights with her paid caretakers in a hotel in the Chelsea neighborhood, in a room found for her by a friend, Benny Powell, a jazz trombonist who has often performed with Ms. Jarvis.

œI don™t dwell on all of this, said Ms. Jarvis, who walks with difficulty. She projected the grandeur of a Gloria Swanson with an impish soupçon of Carol Burnett.

It was her role as the Pied Piper of Shea that secured her reputation from 1964 to 1979.

Ms. Ruckert, her friend, said in a telephone interview that œI was there on her last day ” and she had her name up on the board, and they gave her a plaque. Ms. Ruckert sighed. œShe was replaced by a machine.

Albuquerque’s Treanor : The Serpico Of The PCL

Posted in Baseball, The Law at 8:55 pm by

Fascinating stuff from the Palm Beach Post’s Joe Capozzi ; were it not for differences in age and place of employment, there’s a manager in Marlins system who could well have been the guy to bust Butch Hobson.

Long before he became Marlins minor-league manager Dean Treanor (above), he was known on the central coast of California as heroin dealer Mike Jackson.

Others back in the late 1970s and early ’80s might have known him as the Cal Poly student who peddled marijuana, or as the businessman with a taste for cocaine. Beneath the disguises was a former pitching prospect who would return to baseball after an unusual detour as a narcotics detective with the San Luis Obispo Police Department.

I was an undercover narc,” Treanor said matter-of-factly recently on a back field at Roger Dean Stadium. “I bought it all, from heroin on down. A lot of cocaine.”

Today, Treanor’s shaggy hair and beard are long gone and his No. 1 mission is to help minor-leaguers reach the majors. But there are still reminders – including an intimidating gaze and penchant for profanity – of the street-wise officer who helped the Drug Enforcement Administration work cases three decades ago.

Treanor, 60, doesn’t discuss his law-enforcement background with his players on the Albuquerque Isotopes of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League. But they can readily see his intensity for the job at hand, whether he is working out in the exercise room or getting tossed from a game for arguing with umpires.

Treanor said “baseball has been in my blood” his entire life. In 1970, he threw a no-hitter for Cal Poly and was drafted that year by the Cincinnati Reds.

After reaching Class AA, he tore his rotator cuff, an injury that ended his career in 1975.

“I was bitter when I left with the injury,” he said, “but it came down to needing a job. It was not waking up in the morning and saying, ‘I’m going to be a police officer.’ I saw an ad in the paper and applied.”

For 13 years, starting in ’75, he worked for his hometown San Luis Obispo Police Department, first in patrol, later in narcotics.

Soon, Treanor was disappearing from his wife and two children for weeks at a time, roaming the streets in search of drug dealers. He wore disguises like a West Coast version of New York undercover legend Frank Serpico.

Treanor remembers having to make sure his car looked like that of a crook, too.

“I went to one house to make a buy. Happened to look out the window and saw two guys going through my car,” Treanor said. “They were looking for a (police) radio, anything. I always kept a gun in the glove compartment for that reason, so when they opened the glove compartment they’d find that gun. I wanted them to see that.”

Today, his daughter and son still laugh with him about the times he took them shopping while he was in disguise.

“If we went to a clothing store, we were followed by an employee,” he said. “They pegged me as a potential shoplifter.”

The EPL’s Super Sunday AKA The Day Javier Mascherano Lost His Mind

Posted in Football at 8:36 pm by

While a pair of Dieder Drogba goals put a serious dent in Arsenal’s titles chances, Easter’s earlier clash of the titans, a 3-0 home victory for Manchester United over Liverpool, will make highlight-reels across the globe not so much for the heroics of Wes Brown, Cristiano Ronaldo or Nani, but rather for the ill-advised protest that led to the sending off of the visitors’ Javier Mascherano. “A dismissal which could be attributed not so much to arrogance,” insisted the Independent’s James Lawton, “as relentless stupidity.”

Javier Mascherano is rated as £17m worth of hard professional acumen. He is supposed to hold the keys of Liverpool’s defence. He persuaded his manager, Rafa Benitez, that his permanent signing was crucial enough to risk everything in its pursuit. Right now, though, you wouldn’t trust him to guide a pub team through a tumultuous Sunday morning. You wouldn’t back him to preserve peace at the Last Supper.

Mascherano took us to the heart of football’s latest public relations nightmare: how long can the authorities agonise over their free-falling reputation for maintaining even nominal respect for officials when players like Ashley Cole and now Mascherano make it so clear that they feel free to operate without a moment’s reflection on possible consequences?

From the moment Mascherano was booked for his 11th-minute foul on Paul Scholes, he conducted a non-stop attempt to influence Bennett whenever United committed a transgression. This was not infrequently, but the greatest certainty of all was that Mascherano was pushing ever closer to breaking point. This came, quite irrevocably, a minute before half-time when Liverpool’s Fernando Torres was booked for dissent.

Mascherano ran across the field to make his statement or, as Benitez would have it, ask his question. His eyes were wild. His face was filled with contempt. It was as though the Cole affair had never happened.

For the Football Association the point was being underlined in the most lurid colours. Anarchy was indeed marching through the first leg of what had been billed so extravagantly as Grand Slam Sunday “ and was doing rather more than represent the case for a serious review of existing disciplinary measures.

March Madness – Powers Boothe Style!

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts, Religion at 3:18 pm by

No. 12 seed San Diego trails Western Kentucky, 39-27 at the half in St. Pete, and while the Toreros’ Rob Jones has 5 points so far, he also the subject of a feature in Sunday’s Tampa Tribune.

Said piece, however, is less about San Diego’s Cinderella run and mostly about the freshman forward pursuing his hoops dreams in the shadow of his grandfather’s gruesome legacy. “I wonder if they even know where that saying came from,” says Jones of the popular expression “drink the Kool-Aid”, and while the Tribune’s Joey Johnston does his best to summarize the murder/suicide of 900 people, I’m aware the average sportsblog reader has a relatively short attention span. So I’m gonna turn things over to the intense thespian chops of Powers Boothe :

OK, the segue halfway through is a tad clumsy, but at least you were spared any graphic violence.