05.31.08

Dear Members Of The Carlos Beltran Hate Fuck Society,

Posted in Baseball at 8:42 pm by

Mr. Benigno-Gazino, can we at least agree that Carlos Beltran’s 2-run, game-tying HR off Jonathan Broxton today at Shea qualifies as an actual, big-deal, clutch accomplishment?

Mike Francesca, is the above photo not sufficient evidence that Beltran is actually capable of showing some emotional range besides petulance? Or am I guility of doctoring an old photograph of Joe McEwing and Bill Pecota?

Celtics Blog To The Sports Putz : You’re Not One Of Us

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down, Sports Journalism at 7:56 pm by

(Cannon, muppets. Not shown : Sports Putz)

OK, it wasn’t nearly that pithy. But after ESPN’s Bill Simmons made the reasonable observeration, “Nobody is beating the Lakers this season. Not Boston, not Detroit, not anybody. They have the best team, the best player and a Hall of Fame coach. It’s really that simple”, Green 17 of Celtics Blog responded, “yesterday, you became the giant turd in the punchbowl”.

Comparing the stadium entertainment between LA and Boston is not an appropriate way to compare basketball teams. But this “article” follows similar negative drivel, bashing one dimension of KG’s game while ignoring everything else he does. Or your repeated criticism of Doc, which is fair in some respects, but also neglects to credit everything Doc does bring to the table.

Why do you hate this team Bill? Why? The consistent negativity you write with is reminiscent of a cranky Peter May. That’s what you’ve become man. The original Boston Sports Guy, the voice you’re trying to resuscitate in your little sick out with ESPN, would be just as disgusted and disappointed with you as us Celtics fans are.

From here on out: Stop It. Just Stop. We no longer want you talking about our team publicly. You’ve lost all credibility with Celtics fans. All of it. Don’t bother with some lame and dumb reverse jinx excuse to explain your writing. And really, spare us the joyous article after we do win the title. None of us want to hear about it from Showtime Simmons. Enjoy rooting for Kobe, we hope you’ll be happier sitting next to Diane Cannon, just don’t tell us about it.

I didn’t actually get the impression Simmons was praising LA’s in-game entertainment, nor actually pulling for a Laker championship. But if Bill is really sitting next to Dyan Cannon, the latter must’ve pissed off someone in the ticket office.

Does Detroit Need To Get Rid Of ‘Sheed?

Posted in Basketball at 7:34 pm by

After last night’s Eastern Conference finals dismissal at the hands of the Celtics, Iced Antonio McDyess (baby) isn’t exactly going out on a limb in predicting Detroit GM Joe Dumars might break up the Pistons (“he’s not blind and the fans are not blind. What went on this year, I can just say we didn’t give it all we got.” The Detroit News’ Chris McCosky is a tad more specific, promising “it was the end, most likely, of Flip Saunders’ coaching tenure. It was the end of Lindsey Hunter’s playing career…and it might be the end of Rasheed Wallace’s time in Detroit.”

Wallace has one more season on his contract, and the plan has always been to let him play out that final year, even if his role is reduced.

But, for the second straight year, Wallace flamed out in the conference finals. Last year, he openly defied Saunders’ defensive calls in Game 5 against Cleveland, then got himself thrown out of Game 6.

This year, the season ended with earning a $25,000 fine from the league for bashing the referees after Game 5, coming late to shoot-around Friday morning and playing one of the worst playoff games of his career.

He managed just four points, missing 10 of 12 shots (0 for 6 from three-point range) and three turnovers.

Pistons president Joe Dumars gave Wallace a pass after last season. You wonder if he will give him another.

“You could say it’s a lot of things, but like I told the guys, at the end of the day, when we lose, we all look bad,” Richard Hamilton said. “We all look bad. We know what it takes to win and when we don’t do it, it’s on us.”

Fascinating to think that Flip Saunders — hardly an incompetent head coach compared to some of the characters currently employed —- might be looking for work this summer.  Does anyone remember that time way back when (all of 4 weeks ago) Mark Jackson was actually considered a viable candidate by more than one team.

Has Joey Crawford Put Enough Of A Personal Stamp On These Playoffs?

Posted in Basketball at 12:26 pm by

In addition to scoffing at the Bulls’ rehire of Doug Collins (“how Chicago chairman Jerry Reinsdorf can endorse a person he fired in 1989 under shadowy circumstances after the Bulls were evicted from the Eastern finals defies comprehension”), the New York Post’s Peter Vecsey still hasn’t quite gotten over the final moments of the Spurs’ Game 4 loss to the Lakers earlier in the week.

Despite repeated evidence to the contrary, ex-coaches and former players-turned-TV-analysts continue to stamp Joey Crawford as one of
the NBA’s elite officials. I challenge them to cite a controversy within the past 20 or 30 years he was judged to be correct.

If the league office isn’t calling Crawford on David Stern’s carpet, or fining and suspending him, it’s apologizing for a game-deciding mistake – his non-call on Derek Fisher jumped into Milk Bonespur Brent Barry in the waning seconds of the Lakers’ two-point Game 4 victory.

With the aid of instant replay – and the help of Crawford’s seeing-eye dog – the league felt compelled to admit a foul had been committed for fear its fans would buy into the twisted perspective of those same commentators that the game is whistled differently in the last minute of a game than the first 47.

Naturally, mixed messages lead to confused reception. On one hand, the league boasts that only the highest-grade refs are assigned to work late into the postseason. Then it undermines them by announcing they screwed up.

Nobody can deny Fisher created contact, yet nobody on TNT’s air (or connected with the Spurs) expected Barry to get “bailed out” from behind Joakim Noah’s arc? Reggie Miller and Kenny Smith admonished Barry for not “selling” the foul to officials the way Indiana Bones and Walt Frazier did. Yup, Brent should be ashamed of himself for not kicking his opponent as Reggie was wont to do.

Later in the column, Poison Pete declares ABC/ESPN’s “Bill Russell-Kevin Garnett made-for-TV lovefest could not have been more contrived”.
I missed the chit-chat in question, but I am willing to take Garbage Time All-Stars‘ word for how it went down.

JLB Credit’s Most Infamous Wage Slave : Beating The Kiwis Is Joyless

Posted in Cricket, Sports Journalism at 12:03 pm by

Taking a somewhat dim view of the New Zealand national cricket team‘s recent tour of England, David Mitchell aka Peep Show’s Mark Corrigan (above) writes in Saturday’s Guardian, “everyone’s thinking, “if those guys were really good at sport, they’d be in the rugby team.” Thankfully, Mitchell wasn’t assigned to cover the England/US soccer friendly earlier in the week.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this attitude to New Zealand is justified. They genuinely are a decent side who have beaten England plenty of times (although not that often in England) but that just doesn’t seem to matter. Fundamentally I don’t think enough of us care how good New Zealand are at cricket – and they probably don’t care much in return.

It’s not an age-old clash, England against New Zealand – there’s no ancient rivalry, not much post-colonial bitterness, no history of war, it’s just two countries that both think the other is kind of fine. In the rugby they’ve managed to pep it up with the haka and other Maori stuff but in the cricket there’s just no story. And people crave stories in sport – a proper narrative like in a film: a pacy start, an exciting jeopardy-filled middle and then a happy ending, just like the Ashes in 2005. What a shame they made that lousy sequel.

Manchester United have just got to the end of a great narrative: 50 years since the tragedy of the Munich air disaster and 40 years since they first won a European Cup they are once again the pre-eminent club in Europe if not the world. I don’t like football but even I can see that, the tedium of all the actual matches aside, this is a story that has everything – including potentially, if the fans take my advice, an ending. Yes, now is definitely the time to stop supporting Manchester United.

I mean, what are they going to do next year? It’s either going to be repetitive or disappointing. The credits are rolling, the story is at an end; put down your popcorn and leave the cinema. People talk about supporting clubs “through thick and thin” but what they mean is “thin and thick” (assuming thick is good and thin is bad, like penises rather than pancakes) – no one wants to see triumph and then disaster; they want it the other way round; that’s how nice stories work.

After Flip Saunders’ 3rd Consecutive Eastern Conference Finals Loss…

Posted in Basketball, History's Not Happening, Tourism at 1:39 am by

…I humbly offer the following bits of consolation to the Motor City :

a) your hockey team is still involved in some tournament or another.

b) it takes a special city to provide a home to a band that dropped a trio of 7″‘s paying homage to Suicide, INXS and Sparks earlier this spring.

c) as long as Todd Jones is pitching for the Tigers, lonely young men from all over North America will consider Detroit a likely destination.

d) while the Pistons didn’t win Antonio McDyess the trophy he’s long coveted. Boston and LA might have this year’s NBA Finals dance partners, but they don’t have any FAYGO.

05.30.08

Normal Service Will Resume Soon

Posted in Internal Affairs, Technical Difficulties at 7:08 pm by

Or else.

-

Graziano : Minaya’s Ready To Deal, Delgado’s Ready To Rot

Posted in Baseball at 4:37 pm by

‘Tis curious on the morning after Carlos Delgago (above) made a nice play on a liner down the first base line, the Newark Star-Ledger’s Dan Graziano would label the Mets’ 1B, “a statue in the field.”

According to officials with three major-league teams, who requested anonymity because they were discussing another team’s plans, Omar Minaya has been calling around this week to gauge the availability of players he thinks could help the Mets improve.

Specifically, the officials said, Minaya has let it be known that he’s looking for a first baseman (Baltimore’s Kevin Millar has come up) and a right-handed arm for the bullpen. One of the officials also said the Mets were expressing interest in outfielders (particularly Pittsburgh’s Jason Bay and Xavier Nady), since it’s now clearer than ever that they can’t count on Moises Alou to play for them at all.

This tells us that the Mets are determined to turn around this season and make a run for the World Series, whatever it takes. But perhaps more importantly, it means they might finally be admitting to themselves that this core group that’s been together since 2006 isn’t a winner, and may require radical changes if it is to reach its goals.

Some changes have already been made. Carlos Delgado has been booted from the starting lineup the past two nights, and it’s about time. Currently, Delgado is of no value to the Mets whatsoever. He’s a statue in the field, a ghost in the clubhouse he ruled just two years ago, his on-base percentage is a sickly .294 and they have to use a pitcher to pinch-run for him because they don’t think he can score from second on a single.

Willie Randolph said before last night’s game that he expected to put Delgado back in the lineup tonight, but given the chance to pinch-hit him for Damion Easley or Fernando Tatis in the eighth against righty reliever Matt Lindstrom, Randolph passed, and it was the right call. Delgado couldn’t hit Lindstrom’s fastball if Lindstrom were throwing from second base. He’s toast, and the fact that he was sitting the past two nights (especially with the Mets already missing both corner outfielders) sends the message that the status quo is no longer acceptable around Shea.

The allegedly worthless Delgado is 3rd on the club with 8 HR’s, and he’s on pace to drive in 86 runs. Mediocre numbers for a first baseman, granted, but would Graziano consider Carlos D. to be any more or less washed up than Jeff Kent or Jim Thome?

Inky Dinky Don’t : Whitlock’s Bizarre Fuck You To The Tattooed

Posted in Basketball at 2:34 pm by

A plethora of technical issues will prevent much discussion (’round here, anyway) of the end of the nasty Spurs dynasty, but on the sociological front, Fox Sports’ Professor Jason Whitlock claims “there’s one issue driving improved ratings that likely won’t be touched by all the NBA talking heads on TNT and ESPN. Tattoos. Or rather the lack of tattoos in the conference finals.” Good thing those championship contenders narrowly avoided trading for J-Will, huh?

Part of the reason more people are watching these playoffs is because the average fan isn’t constantly repulsed by the appearance of most of the players on the court. Most of the key players left in the playoffs don’t look like recent prison parolees.

The only accurate way to describe Garnett, Pierce, Duncan, Allen, Manu, Parker and even Kobe is “clean cut.” Yeah, there are a couple of tattoos in that group ” Duncan has something on his back, Kobe still has his post-rape-allegation tat ” but the Lakers, Spurs and Celtics have far less ink on average than your typical NBA franchise.

Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony have more tats on their hands than the entire Spurs roster.

I know many of you probably think the number of tattoos doesn’t influence viewing habits. You’re wrong. Like everything else televised, appearances matter. There’s a reason you don’t see nude scenes in movies with fat people. Trust me, fat people have sex. It’s just no one wants to see it. Not even fat people.

No one wants to watch Delonte West or Larry Hughes play basketball. It’s uncomfortable and disconcerting. You don’t want your kids to see it. You don’t want your kids to think they should decorate their neck, arms, hands, chest and legs in paint. You don’t want to waste time explaining to your kids that some millionaire athletes have so little genuine self-confidence that they find it necessary to cover themselves in tattoos as a way to mask their insecurities.

It’s a fascinating argument, and one you can instantly flush down the toilet when you consider the appearances of ink devotees Shaq or Dennis Rodman never caused one hoops fan to change the channel. Or, to point to the very series still undecided, has Big Sexy not noticed the arms of Rip Hamilton or Rasheed Wallace?

You’re In The Army Octagon Now

Posted in Hot Fads, The Woah at 11:32 am by

Sen. John McCain once famously called MMA “human cockfighting”, but as the sport moves closer to the American mainstream, the U.S. Armed Forces “are using the sport not only as a way to build morale and aid in recruiting, but also as a training aid to enhance the skills of soldiers” writes the New York Times’ Michael Brick.

To rally the troops, military leaders have welcomed professional fighters with names like Ace and the Huntington Beach Bad Boy. The Army has conducted tournaments among soldiers. In an opinion article for Army Times last year, Maj. Kelly Crigger urged commanders to field a team of fighters on television in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the dominant pro league.

œMany of those viewers are eligible recruits, Major Crigger wrote. œThe U.F.C. provides a great venue to get the Army name into the minds of millions of young Americans.

Across the service, the embrace of mixed martial arts has come with some reservations. The sport™s emphasis on solitary glory runs counter to the Army™s recent efforts to shift recruiting themes from individual development (Be All That You Can Be; Army of One) to group unity (Army Strong; Go Army).

But as the sport found its audience on channels aimed at young men, recruiters and drill sergeants soon took notice.

Military officials have sought practical applications. In 2002, the Army published a new field manual section on mixed martial arts techniques. Its author, Matthew C. Larsen, the director of the Modern Army Combatives Program, considered competition a powerful motivator.

œAs long as we™re all about our values and upfront about what the Army stands for, and that™s being warriors, the question is, what kind of warriors? said Mr. Larsen, who served as a young Marine in Tokyo and earned several black belts. œThe game of mixed martial arts is just that, it™s a game. But the game can be training for the real thing.

Mr. Larsen has promoted his program cautiously, acknowledging that too much focus on competition could train soldiers to win competitions, not battles. But the shifting nature of modern warfare, especially as conducted in the cramped corridors of Iraqi homes, has helped make his case.

œThese guys could be in any situation, from a life-and-death battle with a bad guy to trying to subdue a citizen who has Stockholm syndrome, and you don™t even want to hurt that guy, Mr. Larsen said. œBut you™ve got to have all these moves for all those different situations.

Seems to me we’re long overdue for another remake of “From Here To Eternity”. I suggest the feckless Shia LeBouf would be a fine choice to reprise the role of Montgomery Clift’s Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt, refusing to take part in the military’s MMA competitions. Harrassed by his fellow soliders, Prewitt finds sole support from Private Angelo Maggio (with Jared Leto tackling one of Frank Sinatra’s finest dramatic parts).

05.29.08

The Former Ultimate Warrior Defends His Legacy

Posted in Free Expression, Professional Wrestling at 8:31 pm by

It’s been a few months since we’ve run an item on The Former Ultimate Warrior. While the shoot interview above is several months old, I do hope for those seeing it for the first time, it proves as reliably provocative. Some of us have been waiting years for Gary Cole to get a crack at a lead role, and hopefully this will be just the catalyst.

From The No Fucking Way Dept.

Posted in Blogged Down, Internal Affairs, The Marketplace at 6:29 pm by

I don’t mean to doubt the veracity of any public claim that CSTB is worth $1,470,044.00. But if someone offered me a tenth of that amount to turn over the entire operation, I’d be outta hear faster than you could say “speed and cruelty”. They could Coors Light/Today’s Action Army the blog to death for all I cared. I’d hand over Jason Cohen’s email address (I might even have David Roth’s social security number somewhere) and the keys to the executive washroom. The transition would be seamless to the point where you’d never remember I was here in the first place.

In all honesty, I find these sort of figures profoundly depressing. All those thousands of bikini photos and Sports By Brooks is barely worth more than CSTB? It just doesn’t seem fair. Either pandering doesn’t pay what it used to or the industy leaders (ie. that oh-so-smutty Baseball Musings) have made it impossible for the rest of us struggling hopefuls to compete.

The Kid Stays In The Papers : Gary Carter’s Formal Apology

Posted in Baseball at 5:27 pm by

“‘I’ll still be the manager of the Mets before he will” sneers Newsday’s David Lennon after reading Gary Carter’s press release. Hey, I’d wager Lennon would get an interview sooner than Wally Backman. Hey, how come nobody’s asking Art Howe or Jeff Torborg if they’d be interested in applying?

œI have been inundated with requests for interviews regarding my comments about the New York Mets managerial position. In order to be fair, I cannot honor all the requests and would like to issue the following statement instead:

œMy goal over the past six years has been to work my way back to the major leagues as a manager or coach. In order to accomplish that goal I agreed to start at the bottom by managing two years in Port St. Lucie in the Mets minor league system. This year the Orange County Flyers of the Golden Baseball League selected me to manage their team, and to help me reach my goal. I took that position to allow me to stay in baseball and be close to family members who live in this area, and to come back home to where I grew up.

œAs part of my arrangement with the Flyers, I have been given the option to return to the majors if a coaching or managerial position becomes available. I have always maintained an open dialog with the Mets, and my recent contact with them was to explore if there was something I could do to help this team that I care about. My intentions were not malicious, but I acknowledge that my actions have been hurtful to Willie and his players.

œI want to publicly apologize to Willie Randolph, and the Mets, for my radio comments. Throughout my career, and in many cases to my detriment, I have been open and honest with the media and at times discretion may have been a better choice. I continue to be an avid fan of Willie and the Mets, and have confidence that this team will be successful.

œThank you to all my fans who understand my tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve and let my enthusiasm get the best of me at times. I am honored by your support.

Stu Jackson’s Job Description Just Became Slightly More Complicated

Posted in Basketball at 4:25 pm by

“Good thing Vlade Divac isn’t in the league anymore because he’d wind up owing the NBA his whole salary by the end of the year,” says Rog, noting this morning’s announcement the Association would begin monitoring the ghastly practice known as flopping. While some will contend the new measures are long overdue, the timing of said edict leaves no doubt whatsoever Rasheed Wallace is the single most influential man in the game.

Canucks D-Man Luc Bourdon Dies in Motorcycle Crash

Posted in Hockey at 3:23 pm by

Vancouver Canuck Luc Bourdon

TSN reports that Vancouver Canucks defenceman Luc Bourdon was killed in a motorcycle accident in northern New Brunswick on Thursday. He was 21.

“Luc was a winner, he was a competitor,” said Kent Hughes, his agent. “There was no quit in him. He persevered through a lot. He was a great guy and a great teammate.” Hughes added that he never knew about his client’s new hobby. “I had no idea,” he explained to CKNW in Vancouver. “Another client of ours, Kris Letang, said Luc let him know he was riding his dad’s motorcycle with some friends a week or two ago. I have since been told – though I don’t know – that he actually bought a motorcycle two days ago.”

Canucks GM Mike Gillis made this statement:

“We are deeply saddened by today™s news and on behalf of the entire Vancouver Canucks organization, I would like to extend my sincere sympathies to Luc™s family. Luc was an extremely talented player with a bright future. He brought great passion to the game and was a valued team member on and off the ice. He will be greatly missed.

Bourdon was one of the Canucks’ top prospects and an asset former GM Dave Nonis hesitated to include in any potential deal for more scoring.

A Curious Reaction To Milwaukee’s Signing Of Julian Tavarez

Posted in Baseball at 3:20 pm by

Seen during the 8th inning of the Brewers’ 8-1 loss to visiting Atlanta earlier today.

Captain Red Ass and Chad Cordero are doing commentary for MASN during this afternoon’s Nats/Padres game. Much weirder than hearing Boogie Shoes praise the aggressive base-running of Lastings Milledge is the revelation that Lo Duca and Cordero currently resemble identical twins.

While the Daily News’ Adam Rubin wonders if Willie Randolph will dare allow slumpng Carlos Delgado to face the Dodgers’ highly touted lefty Clayton Kershaw this weekend (hint : not unless Carlos D. learns to hit from the right side), the Houston Chronicle’s Jose De Jesus Ortiz reports that recently waived Mets reliever Jorge Sosa has signed a minor league contract with the Astros, and will report to Triple-A Round Rock.

Sosa will become the 4th ex-Met to wear an Express uniform this season, joining a glittering cast that’s included Alberto Castillo, David Newhan and Victor Diaz. Watching Round Rock this year has been kinda like going to a Long Island Ducks game, except it’s 25 degrees hotter and there’s fewer guys named Buttafucco in the stands.

Mariners To Seattle Lesbians : Get A Room

Posted in Baseball at 3:02 pm by

Seattle’s KOMO TV reports a pair of women were ejected from a Mariners game for kissing. Each other.  Said item doesn’t specify whether the game was Eric Bedard’s gem Wednesday against Boston, but presumably the below incident happened recently.

Sirbrina Guerrero says she only gave her date a peck, but a mother sitting with her son complained to security and, as a result, they were told to stop or leave.

“And he (the security guard) goes ‘there’s a lady whose son says he saw you guys making out, and I did, too. And you have to stop.’ And I said ‘well, we weren’t making out, but we were kissing and I’m not going to stop,’” said Guerrero.

Guerrero says the only reason she was called out was because of her sexual orientation.

“(The security guard said) the mom doesn’t want to explain to the kids why two girls are kissing. So I said ‘well, I’m not going to stop, so you’ll have to kick me out. So he said ‘so I suggest you leave then,”‘ she said.

Safeco Field officials refused to comment on the incident. However, officials did send KOMO News a copy of the field’s code of conduct which states “displays of affection are not appropriate in a public family setting.”

But Guerrero and her friends don’t buy it. After Guerrero was flagged at the game, they took pictures of other couples who kissed but were not reprimanded. Those couples, they said, were heterosexual.

When asked whether she and her date were acting lewd in any way that would have prompted such a firm response from the security guard, Guerrero said, “We were eating garlic fries. The last thing we wanted to do was make out with each other. Honestly, that’s what it was.”

I remain hopeful this is a misunderstanding and not indicative of homophobia on the part of the Mariners.  I’ve spend at least 30 minutes designing a “J.J. Putz Drives Me Nutz” t-shirt for sale via Cafe Press, and I’d hate to think none of the thousands of Seattle male buyers would feel comfortable wearing it to Safeco.

Bulls Opt For An Unexpected Retread

Posted in Basketball at 12:56 pm by

Previously rebuffed by Mike D’Antoni, the Chicago Bulls are expected to announce the hiring of Doug Collins as their head coach. Collins has a career record of 332-287 over stints with Chicago, Detroit and Washington, but never took the Bulls beyond the Eastern Conference finals.

Earlier this spring, Collins claimed no interest in the Phoenix coaching vacancy, and presumably the allure of Chicago’s no. 1 pick in the June draft played some small part in changing his mind. He’s also turned down a pair of overtures from Milwaukee in the past two years.

Given the circumstances surrounding Scott Skiles’ firing (ie. his squad had tuned him out, wished he was dead, etc.) it seems a tad curious to bring back a coach who wore thin on players with far greater talent than anyone on the current Bulls roster.

Not to Mention May Sweeps Ended on the 21st

Posted in Blogged Down, Hockey, Sports TV at 4:33 am by

Once again we turn to the New York Times’ “Slap Shot” for a bit of sensible debunking, in this case re: the NHL’s terrific ratings. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am pretty darn impressed a hockey game is up there with the Tour de France as the Outdoor Life Network’s VS’s highest-rated program ever, but can you imagine saying that in 1985, when the so-called “Big 4″ sports had no real competition (from other sports, or anything)?

Anyway, the words of Jeff Z. Klein:

There has also been a lot of talk about how this year™s ratings are way up, like 275 percent up, over those of the 2006 and 2005 finals.

Well, there™s a reason for that. The U.S. ratings for the last two finals were so minuscule as to be practically nonexistent. It™d be virtually impossible not to manage an increase in viewership this year, which mathematically would happen if, say, you convinced each member of your immediate family to watch on separate TV sets.

The real test comes tonight with the ratings for NBC™s broadcast. Be on guard for stories tomorrow that say the ratings tonight were twice those of last year; remember, last year™s were historically tiny.

Click on the link to see Klein’s chart, which shows, for example, how the ’97 Red-Wings Flyers final drew a 4.0, while the ’04 Tampa-Calgary, ’06 Carolina-Edmonton and ’07 Ottawa-Anaheim mustered a 2.6, 2.3 and 1.3, respectively.

There are lots of other factors to consider, including the overall decline of sports ratings in general, and of course, the lockout, but Klein’s final question is still fair enough:

Can Wings-Pens draw an audience large enough to equal the modest levels of 8, 9 or 10 years ago?

The breakdown I would like to see on Friday is how much of the inevitable increased viewership lives outside of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Because the U.S. network would have had exactly zero viewers from one of the two team’s markets each of the last three finals, and something tells me Anaheim did not draw droves of loyalists/bandwagoneers in quite the way Detroit and Pittsburgh do (or Raleigh and Tampa for that matter).

And if the ratings elsewhere in the U.S. have gone up because of the Red Wings’ Yankees-like (both history and recent dominance) appeal and Sidney Crosby’s Q rating, is that a price that hockey really wants to pay (i.e., “let’s hope those small-market Canadian teams don’t get back to the final very often)?

05.28.08

Wednesday’s Portraits In Male Bonding

Posted in Baseball at 10:11 pm by

(l-r : the Mets’ Fernando Tatis gets a hug from his embattled manager. Not shown, the Aaron Heilman Of 2006 who made an appearance earlier tonight)

(l-r : don’t fucking ask.)

It Took A Devestating Earthquake For The Spurs To Be Considered Entertaining

Posted in Basketball, Natural Disasters, We Aren't The World at 9:21 pm by

(the Celtics lead the Pistons at halftime tonight, neither side daunted by a billion fewer eyeballs following their movements)

From Reuters :
NBA playoff games have been taken off air by China’s state television network because they are considered too entertaining for a nation still recovering from the Sichuan earthquake.

All entertainment in China was stopped last week for three days of national mourning for the victims of the 7.9 magnitude quake that struck the western province on May 12.

State TV sports channel CCTV 5, like most other stations, returned to normal programming last Thursday and showed the Western Conference finals game between the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs on May 22.

But subsequent encounters in that series and the Eastern Conference playoff finals between Detroit and Boston were not shown.

“These games are not in accordance with the atmosphere of the nation after the devastation of the earthquake. They are too entertaining” Jiang Heping, director of the state TV sports channel, told Reuters.

In light of the horrific events in his country, I will resist the urge to suggest Jiang has not actually seen Tim Duncan play.

“This Ain’t No Ordinary School, This Is K.U.”

Posted in Basketball, Hip Hop at 7:25 pm by

How harsh is Future’s “Kansas Jayhawks – The Champions” (mp3, link courtesy Jeff Jensen)? After repeated plays, even Duke fans are gonna wish North Carolina had won.

Slouchy Chad Puzzled By Tennis Gambling

Posted in Gambling, Sports Journalism, Tennis at 7:13 pm by

Noting the epidemic of fishy goings-on in the world of racquet sports, the Washington Post’s Norman Chad wondered this past monday, “Who exactly is betting on all these tennis matches?”  I dunno, someone who knows they’re fixed?

In my sordid, quasi-adult life, I have bet on football, basketball, baseball, poker, blackjack, roulette and the occasional marriage. I have even tipped a keno runner. But it has never occurred to me to lay a red cent on tennis.

In addition, I know several reputable and disreputable gambling types – fellows who would wager on the length of a priest’s sermon – and none of them has ever called a bookie and said, “Psst – give me two dimes on Elena Dementieva in Prague.”

Amongst those suspended was suspended was Giorgio Galimberti (above), ranked 1,009th in the world with a 9-21 career record.

To me, his gambling excesses are understandable – what’s he supposed to do when he loses in the first round, hang around the hospitality room for free sparkling water? Trust me, if he’s in town the rest of the week, he is likely either hooker-bound or bookie-bound. And when choosing between those two vices, I always lean toward the latter, for I cannot recall a single time I ever left a prostitute with more money in my pocket than I brought.

Bondy : I’m Smarter Than I Look

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 4:01 pm by

“I am not a stupid sportswriter,” proclaims the New York Daily News’ Filip Bondy (would Peter Vecsey care to chime in?), while denouncing the Mets’ claims of 51,489 and 47,093 tickets flogged for their last two games as “dreamy fabrications”.

Congratulations to the Mets, who successfully have taken over the lead in New York for fabricating attendance figures.

This was no easy accomplishment, because the Knicks have been piping numbers for several years now, pretending they had a string of sellouts when there were tickets available at the window and empty seats galore. The James Dolan era has produced more imaginary spectators than any in memory.

I know that these are supposed to be ticket sale numbers, not an exact turnstile count, and that there inevitably are some no-shows. But the Mets would require a 40% no-show rate to make this believable, and their crowd is working class. Very few Met fans are going to buy expensive tickets and then watch the game on television.

I was at these two games and personally witnessed entire, vast regions of the upper deck devoid of life. This is a stadium that seats 55,601.

There were no more than 35,000 fans in the park on Monday, and no more than 25,000 on Tuesday.

I don™t quite understand why it is necessary to pretend that the Mets are drawing fans in droves to their lame-duck, decrepit stadium. Hopefully, when they move to Citi Field, there will be real bodies in the seats instead of air.

Without disputing the main thrust of Bondy’s argument — the Wilpons will spit in the public’s mouth and swear it was Diet Pepsi — ’tis a bit of a stretch to claim Mets season ticket holders are all “very working class”. And there’s nothing unusual about well-paid New Yorkers blowing off a game in poor weather, particularly if the team in question has won 1 of their last 8 games. In that respect, the Knicks comparison is all too apt.

Skull Docs : Mets Endangered Church

Posted in Baseball, Medical Science at 3:09 pm by

An MRI of Ryan Church’s head revealed nothing (hey, some of us could’ve told you that a few years ago), but the New York Times’ Alan Schwarz solicited expert medical testimony charging the Mets with gross irresponsibility in allowing the outfielder to pinch-hit after suffering his 2nd concussion in two months.

Several experts in sports-related concussions said that Church ” who has told reporters that he has had a headache and has felt dizzy and tired almost every day since his injury ” should not have been allowed to play at all because his symptoms had not cleared.

The experts said common guidelines for concussion management require that athletes be free of symptoms ” sometimes for several days ” both before and after physical exertion before they can return to competition. They also said that because Church had sustained a more severe concussion in spring training that cost him a week, the risks for him were greater.

œThat™s a situation that could be very dangerous, said Dr. Mickey Collins, assistant director of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Sports Medicine™s concussion program. œI haven™t examined this player personally, but if there were a second trauma to a person still experiencing symptoms, the risk could be much higher to a player™s health because he hasn™t healed from the first concussion.

Dr. Robert Cantu of Brigham and Women™s Hospital in Boston, one of the nation™s leading experts in concussion management, said: œYou™re playing roulette with your patient. You know the chances of him having another concussion are low, but you™re running the risk of exacerbating the symptoms that he does have. Now a person who would be asymptomatic in a week or two can have those symptoms go on for many months.

œIt™s his call, Randolph said. He added: œHe™s been feeling a little bit groggy, and most of what he feels is that uneasiness with his total, you know, mind. It™s kind of weird because he feels like he™s kind of foggy. He says he can hit, he can do that. But in the outfield, he™s unstable out there.

Randolph added: œWhen you™re talking about head injuries, I™m pretty lame on that. I don™t even know how to respond to, you know, when we can put him out there.

Church has gone 1 for 4 as a pinch-hitter since the concussion. Before almost every game, he has told reporters of symptoms. At one point he said, œI™m just sick of feeling like this.

After sustaining a concussion in July 2006 while playing for the Brewers, Corey Koskie attempted to come back despite symptoms including headaches, dizziness and nausea. He experienced far more severe symptoms for six months, and eventually had to retire.

œThat™s pretty much the reason I™m here today ” thinking I could play through it, Koskie said in a telephone interview from his home in Minnesota.

Regarding Church, he added: œI think he™s nuts. He doesn™t want to get to the point where he™s not going to get better. Tell him to call me. It™s not worth it.