07.31.08

Britain’s Richest Jock Playing A Team Sport…

Posted in Basketball at 9:01 pm by

….isn’t David Beckham.  Nor is it the grandma-screwing Wayne Rooney.  Rather, the United Kingdom’s most well compensated professional athlete who doesn’t tool around in a race car is none other than Chicago Bulls F Luol Deng, as the Independent’s Ian Whitell explains.

Some fifteen years removed from life in an Egyptian refugee camp, the Great Britain basketball international Luol Deng, 23,  will today join the elite of British sport’s leading earners when he signs a six-year contract with the Chicago Bulls that could be worth as much as $80m (£40m).

(Deng, shown at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium moments before staff from the club shop presented him with an £1000.00 invoice for his personalized shirt. Apologies to Dave Chappelle for the stolen gag).

Last summer, as an indication of his potential, the historically frugal Bulls offered Deng a $57.5m (£28.75m) deal which the player rejected, a move which seemed risky as he and Chicago endured a disappointing season.

Team and personal incentives can add a further $9m (£4.5m) but a weekly salary of around £120,000-130,000 instantly catapults Deng into the company of top-end Premier League footballers such as Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand on the £6.5m-per-year mark. Lewis Hamilton, Britain’s highest paid sportsman, earns around £15m a year.

Deng’s story is all the more remarkable given his childhood. His father Aldo, a government minister, was forced to flee from the second Sudanese civil war in the late 1980s, taking his family of 16 children first to a holding camp in Egypt before seeking and gaining political asylum in Britain.

Once he became established in South Norwood, south London, from the age of nine, Deng’s basketball skills were developed at Brixton’s renowned junior programme, where contacts helped him move to the United States for high school and college from the age of 14.

Not Playing In Peoria : Prude Questions Erin Andrews’ Journalistic Integrity

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism, Sports TV at 6:32 pm by

(young bimbo / an embarrassment to the trade. and on the left, Erin Andrews. Image taken from Home Run Derby)

ESPN’s Erin Andrews “is good-looking enough and has enough of a high-profile job that she would get plenty of interviews and attention even if she showed up in a burlap sack,” gushes the Peoria Journal-Star’s Mike Nadel,  while asking “did she really feel playing the sexpot was necessary to practice journalism?”  Hey, it works for Len Pasquarelli, but Nadel took exception to Andrews’ demeanor and choice of attire whilst working the visiting clubhouse before Wednesday’s Cubs/Brewers tilt (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).

Andrews sauntered around the visiting clubhouse, flitting from one Cubs player to another. Her skimpy outfit ” designed to accentuate her, um, positives ” had players leering at her. Some made lewd comments under their breath. Others giggled like 12-year-olds.

œGood for you, Rammie, Andrews said three hours before the game, bending forward to shake Aramis Ramirez™s hand.
œGood for you.

Ramirez, who had three doubles in the Cubs™ 7-1 victory the previous night, sheepishly accepted Andrews™ congratulations. She didn™t ask him any questions because he was sitting on the players-only sofa; she seemingly just wanted to show œRammie her support. Weird.

Moments later, the blonde reporter was chatting with Alfonso Soriano. At one point, she placed her hand suggestively on Soriano™s left biceps.

Was I reading too much into all this? I don™t think so. I™ve been a paid observer for a long time … and I wasn™t exactly the only one who noticed.

As two Cubs stood near their lockers, one asked the other: œHot? Or just attractive? Does she do anything for you?

This went on for at least an hour. Finally, Piniella emerged from his office, ready for his dugout media session. As he turned the corner, there was Andrews in all of her bare-legged, high-heeled, low-necklined glory.

œHey, hey, hey! Look at this! Piniella said, loudly and excitedly. œAre you doing a baseball game today or a modeling assignment?

Indeed, it is a sad day for sports journalism when someone has to use their good looks to get ahead in the business. But enough about Ron Darling, could it be that Nadel isn’t just a little jealous?

Heyman : Manny’s A Dodger

Posted in Baseball at 3:50 pm by

There’s a ton of guys in Southern California who love collecting Red Sox memorabilia.  For instance, did you hear the one about the parking lot magnate that managed to put Derek Lowe, Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez in the same clubhouse?  SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports after morning developments had Mets fans cursing the prospect of Ramirez turning up in the NL East, it turns out the left-fielder will soon be trading barbs with T.J. Simers.  While the offensively-challenged Dodgers can rush their Manny/Lt. Dangle tees into production, Pittsburgh will send Jason Bay to the Red Sox, with Heyman citing 4 minor leaguers going to the Pirates (though he’s not yet specified which players, nor what organization they’re coming from, Boston or LA).

I can only pray I’m watching the TV the first time Manny runs through one of Larry Bowa’s stop signs.

(UPDATE : The Globe’s David Lefort reports Pittsburgh receives the recently demoted IF Andy LaRoche and P Bryan Morris from the Dodgers, pitchers Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss from the Red Sox.  If this station had their own version of Joe Benigno-Gazingo instead of the syndicated Dan Patrick, he’d be yelling about signing Barry Bonds).

When Keeping It Real Goes Horribly Rhetorical

Posted in Basketball at 3:21 pm by

“Hopefully, he’s not fighting anymore and going after a guy in the stands,” said Houston’s Yao Ming of (probable) new teammate Ron Artest, to which the latter replied, “I guess once Yao Ming approves (the deal), I’ll be a Houston Rocket.”  More of Artest’s rebuttal, as quoted by the Sacramento Bee’s Sam Amick :

“I understand what Yao said, but I’m still ghetto,” said Artest, who will earn $7.4 million next season and be a free agent next summer. “That’s not going to change. I’m never going to change my culture. Yao has played with a lot of black players, but I don’t think he’s ever played with a black player that really represents his culture as much as I represent my culture. Once Yao Ming gets to know me, he’ll understand what I’m about.”If you go back to the brawl, that’s a culture issue right there. Somebody was disrespecting me, so he’s got to understand where I’m coming from. People that know me know that Ron Artest never changed.”

Not only did Artest seem to take exception to Yao’s brawl-related comments, he expressed a similar desire for a long-term commitment from Houston as he had with the Kings at the outset of their unofficial divorce in early July.

“We’ve still got to make sure there’s still a commitment (from the Rockets),” Artest said. “That’s the main thing, is to make sure there’s still a commitment. When I speak to the powers-that-be of the Houston Rockets’ organization, we’re going to find out how much they really want me there. We’ll find out. I’m still waiting to find out if this is just a trade or if this is like a long-term commitment-type thing. I haven’t spoken to anybody yet. I’m still waiting.”

Bob Sura and Jon Barry aren’t considered representatives of black culture?

Schilling : Boras’ Hands Were All Over Manny’s Trade Demand

Posted in Baseball at 1:23 pm by

While the proposed Manny Ramirez-to-Florida deal is being described as “dead” by one of Ken Rosenthal’s sources, Boston’s shy, retiring Curt Schilling tackle the Mannymania issue whilst chatting with WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan earlier today.  Asked if he thought the time had come for the Red Sox to jettison Ramirez, Schilling replied “would I be the only guy in the New England area that said no if I did?”, adding a mild critique of Pedro Martinez for good measure (“the things that Pedro said going out of town about Terry [Francona], that crushed me because of what I saw Tito do for him. Manny’s the same way…”).  The portion of Schilling’s interview that bear serious consideration, however, was no. 38′s thoughts on the role of Ramirez’ agent, Scott Boras.  Transcript taken from the Boston Globe’s Steve Silva :

œI think absolutely he™s absolutely had a hand in this ¦ I think he absolutely has a piece of this. Scott Boras (above) stands to make zero dollars if the Red Sox pick up Manny™s options the next two years. Manny™s not 1- years from retirement, he™s maybe four obviously, that™s where he™s at. So does Scott Boras want to get a two year-deal for Manny or a four-year deal for Manny? At the end of the day it falls on the player because Manny™s an adult¦ I can™t fathom Scott hasn™t had some¦ you read his comments, he just has no ability to answer a question short, tactfully, and straightforward. It™s a 12 paragraph way to say 19 syllable words that you just can™t figure out what the hell he™s saying.

While the Mets are said to be pursuing Luis Ayala and/or former Tom Glavine caddy David Weathers, the Marlins picked up left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes from Seattle in exchange for former Mets prospect Gaby Hernandez.  Rhodes was effective in limited duty for the Mariners this year, while Hernandez has struggled since being called up to Albuquerque.   I don’t really have much to add concerning this huge transaction, other than I am very surprised no one has tried to vandalize Mel Rojas’ wikipedia entry.

Heyman : Manny’s Signed Off On Marlins/Pirates/Red Sox Three Way Action

Posted in Baseball at 11:54 am by

SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports there’s an increased likelihood Manny Ramirez is headed to the NL East and in the words of WFAN’s Chris Carlin, “…to the wrong team”, as Boston’s spacey slugger might be Miami-bound as part of a three-way swap that also includes the Pirates.



The Red Sox approached Ramirez in advance of their negotiations, and got his OK. He signed off on the paperwork, contingent upon the two $20-million team options for 2009 and ’10 being dropped. The move will set the stage for Ramirez to become a free agent this winter, assuming a trade can be completed by the three teams.

In the talks, Ramirez would head to the Marlins with Jason Bay coming from Pittsburgh to Boston to replace him and the rebuilding Pirates getting younger players, perhaps including Jeremy Hermida from the Marlins. People involved in the discussions say several combinations of players were still being discussed, but the focus appears to be narrowed now to include just those two teams with Boston. It’s still possible Ramirez could remain with the Red Sox, though it’s now believed more likely than not that a deal will be consummated close to today’s 4 p.m. ET deadline.

In one oft-discussed arrangement on the table, the Marlins would surrender Hermida, power-hitting outfield prospect Mike Stanton and hard-throwing young pitcher Ryan Tucker. However, the Marlins were said to be trying to keep the highly regarded Stanton out of the trade and the prospects could change. Josh Willingham was discussed as a replacement for Hermida at one time, but Willingham was determined to have a medical issue and it appears Hermida would be the main player leaving Florida.

It would appear Theo Epstein and Boston ownership have determined that Jason Bay is a better option for the final two months of the ’08 season than Manny Ramirez taking 6 seconds to go from home to first base.  Manny’s done some remarkable things during his career, but none more impressive than forcing a franchise gunning for their first repeat championship since 1916 to accept a lesser player in return, right in the middle of a pennant race.

It is also hard to remain unimpressed with Larry Beinfest, who determined last spring that he preferred not to pay $20 million a year for the allegedly moody Miguel Cabrera.  Instead, Beinfest’s Marlins could be on the brink of acquiring a power hitter with Hall Of Fame credentials, without paying even a portion of that player’s gigantic salary.  If the Fish win a World Series with a lineup that includes Annibal Sanchez along with Hanley & Manny Ramirez, does Theo get a playoff share?

(UPDATE : Gammons says this isn’t happening, supposedly the Marlins want an additional $2 million on top of Ramirez’ remaining ’08 salary.  Would you trade Manny Ramirez, two minor leaguers and $9 million for Jason Bay?)

Kenny Williams: An Enigma Concealed In A Puzzle Wrapped In A Desperate Need To Bench Paul Konerko

Posted in Baseball at 11:10 am by

(Above: White Sox GM Kenny Williams evaluates lunch options)

As Paul Konerko’s lineup position falls faster than the S&P 500, Kenny Williams knows he has to put an end to his jobs program for the fastball-impaired. Hampered by the .214-hitting, wild-throwing first baseman’s no-trade clause, Kenny’s justified in contemplating some oblique machinations. But…really, Ken Griffey Jr.?

Intriguing. Early in ’05 Williams came close to getting Griffey, which proves that at least one World Championship didn’t hinge on Junior’s input. But the bulk of the mystery lies in what his role would be. The White Sox are more than set at left and right, and while Griffey would bring a welcome on-field impatience with irritating broadcasters, Ken Harrelson’s not the Ken that matters. Getting Konerko out of the lineup probably means putting Swisher at first and Griffey in center, but that’s a lot of gap for the creaky 38-year old to cover. A reconstituted Jim Thome means Kenny can’t clear out left by moving Jermaine Dye to DH. So, Dye to CF? Quentin to CF? Dye to first? What’s he building in there?

Then there’s the small matter of who is being shipped to the Reds. Late word names Nick Masset and Danny Richar, which leaves serious holes in a Scott Linebrink-deprived bullpen. Beyond lending even more credence to the notion of Kenny grabbing Huston Street from the A’s fleamarket, involving the pen means the final price for Griffey isn’t in yet. Outside of OF Chris Young, I can’t think of anybody Kenny’s let go that resulted in regret. In fact, if it was announced that Carlos Quentin was to be shipped to Oakland for Street or Ducscherer, I would merely tell myself (after emerging from a three-day bender) that Q was about to fall apart. In Kenny We Trust.

Are You Ready For The Hooded Casanova’s Sex Tape?

Posted in Blogged Down, Gridiron, Sports Journalism at 9:34 am by

Tommy Rider aka Tommy Casale describes himself as “a former sportswriter who traveled with the Patriots, stayed at the same hotel and stuff like that.” And with the end of his tenure at Patriots Football Weekly, Rider wants his legion of excitable readers to know “Bill Belichick never yelled at me and the players were more than accommodating 99 percent of the time.” Let the thrilling tidbits flow, as culled from Pregame.com :

Tedy Bruschi is much more popular with the fans than he is with his teammates. He isn’t the team leader people think he is. Actually, Bruschi rarely talks to any of his teammates. He and Mike Vrabel used to be close but they rarely interact anymore either. Bruschi is just an unlikable person in general and I think his teammates know what’s what and get sick of his act. He created an image that he presents to the public but his teammates know better. The real leaders of the Patriots are Tom Brady, Matt Light, Richard Seymour and the top guy, Rodney Harrison. Harrison is actually one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet off the field, which is a total contrast to his sometimes dirty play on it.

–Corey Dillon is about the most miserable piece of shit you would ever want to encounter. You should see the looks and gestures he would give fans when we went on the road. Sometimes an athlete’s reputation is blown up by the media but that wasn’t the case with Dillon. There is no doubt in my mind that he will end up in jail at some point. You don’t have to be a good guy to be a star in the NFL and no one is a better example of that than Dillon.

–Hold on for this one: I heard from someone who is close to the case that there is a sex tape of Bill Belichick banging the married woman he had an affair with. I shit you not. The husband who is suing that woman for being unfaithful to him has a tape of his wife and Belichick screwing while the two of them were still married. Belichick is a very powerful man so I imagine he’s doing everything in his power to squash this from getting out but it could only be a matter of time. A part of me doesn’t want to see it but another part of me can’t help but be intrigued.

What could be more awesome than a pseudonymous blog post trashing the character of public figures? That’s right, imagining a video of “Belichick banging the married woman he had an affair with”.  Thanks a million, Tommy.

Is Junior Heading To The South Side?

Posted in Baseball at 8:57 am by

And if so, wonders Kevin Rys, “does he still have the wheels to cover center field?” Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal claims the Reds’  Ken Griffey Jr. will become a member of the Chicago White Sox, pending the outfielder’s approval.  Rosenthal doesn’t mention who the White Sox are giving up, but we can safely assume Chicago aren’t offering Steve Stone as part of the deal.

The Newark Star-Ledge’s Dan Graziano
, having previously claimed the Mets were fielding offers for Scott Schoeneweis and Aaron Heilman, suggests the Mets weren’t ever in the mix for Griffey, as they “believe that there will be enough corner-outfield bats clearing waivers in August that they can wait and see what’s going on with Ryan Church before deciding whether they really need one.” The notion of Paul Byrd returning to Flushing has been raised, and anything that will allow me to regurgitate the huge stockpile of Chris Benoit photos I’ve collected over the years would be very welcome.

While We’re At It, Don’t Get Manny Started On Carlton Fisk Or Tommy Harper

Posted in Baseball at 3:09 am by

Really, ladies and gentlemen, who needs Glenn Stout when Red Sox historian Manny Ramirez is willing to open up on a regular basis to ESPN Deportes’ Enrique Rojas.

“The Red Sox don’t deserve a player like me,” Ramirez said. “During my years here, I’ve seen how they [the Red Sox] have mistreated other great players when they didn’t want them to try to turn the fans against them.

“The Red Sox did the same with guys like Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez, and now they do the same with me. Their goal is to paint me as the bad guy,” Ramirez added. “I love Boston fans, but the Red Sox don’t deserve me. I’m not talking about money. Mental peace has no price, and I don’t have peace here.”

Though the departures of Garciaparra and Martinez were unquestionably messy, ’tis hard to fathom what P.R. battle Ramirez hopes to win by recalling either scenario.   Garciaparra, best known these days for an awkward G2 commerical and being on the DL 100+ games a season, was hardly missed by the 2004 World Champion Red Sox, much as Martinez’ free agency was followed by 2 post-season appearances in 3 seasons (including, ahem, another World Series title). The only leverage the 36 year old left fielder can really wield in this situation — his own petulance — is precisely what makes it more difficult for the Red Sox to find genuine value on the trade market, even if they pick up 100% of Manny’s remaining ’08 salary.