07.29.08

The Best Newspaper Headline Of Your Editor’s Vegas Vacation

Posted in The World Of Entertainment, Tourism at 10:03 am by

Indeed, it’s something we can all feel good about.

And in the NL Central, It’s a Half-Game Up on Heinz

Posted in Baseball, consumer affairs, Food at 5:01 am by

The Cincinnati Reds get busy at the trade deadline by naming an official ketchup.


Orestes (Madison County) IN – Red Gold, Inc. has announced a new sponsorship program with the Cincinnati Reds, just in time for the Reds Hall of Fame Induction weekend activities.

With this multi-year sponsorship, Red Gold Premium Quality Ketchup is the official and exclusive brand of ketchup available in Great American Ball Park.  According to Greg Metzger, Director of Marketing, œThis is a great opportunity for the Red Gold company to support the Cincinnati Reds and their loyal fan base while becoming part of their rich baseball tradition.

Cincinnati consumers and Reds fans™ have enjoyed the quality of Red Gold Brand tomato products, which are hometown favorites, for years. Now fans will be able to enjoy the great taste of Red Gold Premium Quality Ketchup on hot dogs, fries, bratwursts and hamburgers served at concession stands throughout Great American Ball Park.  The striking and vibrant Red Gold Brand logo will be prominently showcased in all thirty-two concession stands.

This sponsorship of the Cincinnati Reds is yet another example of Red Gold™s involvement in the local community while supporting the hometown team.

And another example of a “Cincinnati” product that’s from Indiana or Kentucky.

Meanwhile, following up on GC’s earlier note, the Enquirer reports that Reds broadcaster Jeff Brantley is free to use Hunt’s, Heinz or Del Monte, since he and all the other broadcasters “have been asked to stay out of the players lounge and dining room.” If this had happened last year, do you think Joe Nuxhall would have been included in the ban?

That’s 105,408 Major Penalties

Posted in Get Out Of Jail, Hockey, The Law at 12:21 am by

(minor league hockey buffs Beecher and Schillinger, moments before the coin flip to determine who’d become Cornacchia’s cellmate)

Bush-league blueliner David Cornacchia of the Florida Everblades received a prison sentence for flying under the influence of alcohol and Ambien. The ECHL star’s behavior certainly topped Courtney Love or Peter Buck.

From Angela Busch of the Naples Daily News:

œSeveral times requested more alcohol … slapped male flight attendant with open hand … put in plastic restraints … exposed genitals in an apparent attempt to urinate … head-butted the assisting passenger … captain requested emergency approach to Dallas-Fort Worth airport.…

œI don™t think anyone could listen to or read that (report) without being horrified, U.S. District Judge John Steele said, just before sentencing the 27-year-old Cornacchia to one year and one day in federal prison, with supervised release for three years, including substance abuse and anger management programs, plus a $4,000 fine. 

œAt no time during that flight did I mean to hurt anybody … I harmed mostly myself, obviously, Cornacchia said. œI haven™t been drinkin™ for seven months here, and I just want to move on with my life and try to keep playing hockey.…

Cornacchia™s status as a professional athlete bought him free rounds of golf, free dinners, attention from women, adoring fans ” even here in Southwest Florida.

In two and a half months, a whole new Everblades team will take the ice at Germain Arena. Some will know Cornacchia™s story, some may not. Some may choose to take Ambien to help themselves through those long road trips. Some may mix it with large amounts of alcohol.

Night after night, they™ll take the ice, the fans will cheer, and they will spend five minutes in the penalty box if they head-butt an opponent.

Meanwhile, in a U.S. federal prison as close to his family in Toronto as he can get, Cornacchia will sit in his cell, day after day, his hockey gear in storage, the taunts of nearby inmates the only cheers he hears.

07.28.08

Todd Jones : Blogging Pioneer, Paragon Of Heterosexuality, Former Closer

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 6:53 pm by

Fernando Rodney’s been installed as the new closer in Detroit following a Todd Jones blown save on Friday.  The latter reliever tells the Detroit News’ Bob Wojnowski, “”I’ve been to the depths of everything emotionally, but this is just one of those things you have to go through, too.” With this kind of range, there’s no reason Jones can’t make his acting debut in a dinner theatre production of “The Rod Beck Story”.  (link taken from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

“You know, you’re born into the big leagues and then you’re born a closer and then one day you’re no longer trusted with the brunt of the load in the ninth inning. My day came — what is it, July 27? — so there’s no spilled milk here.”

Jones stopped and referenced Leyland, who always stood behind him but couldn’t do it now.

“I mean, I love that guy,” Jones said, his lip quivering, his voice cracking.

Leyland wanted it known he wasn’t scapegoating Jones, that he greatly appreciated his effort, that urgency simply was mounting.

“He handled it like the entire pro he is,” Leyland said. “We’re not throwing Todd Jones under the bus. I have to make decisions that I think are in the best interests of the ballclub, and right now, I think it’s in our best interests to try somebody else for a while.”

“I’m a pro, I’m a Tiger,” Jones said. “I’m a big boy. I’m 40, so you knew this day had to come sometime. I can’t question anything (Leyland) has done because he’s done a lot for me, taken a lot of heat for me, and I’ve done a pretty good job for him too. I don’t like it but I’ll live with it because I respect the guy that told me.”

“As much as (Jeff) Brantley might be baseball’s leading purveyor of hot air, that still doesn’t excuse Griffey making an on-field motion even more distasteful than Brantley’s mullet” scolds Yahoo Sports’ ‘Duk of claims Junior made a throat-slashing gesture towards the Reds’ mouthpiece this past Saturday night while crossing home plate.  Without wishing to debate matters of decorum, can we really blame Griffey for expressing the same sentiments held by virtually every person that’s ever heard Brantley call a game?

Henry David Thoreau, Fuck Off : Carl Stevens’ Ode To Manny

Posted in Baseball, Free Expression at 2:28 pm by

WBZ’s Carl Stevens considers the crumbling relationship between Manny Ramirez and the Boston Red Sox (above), though isn’t it a tad one-sided to paint Boston’s disgruntled left-fielder as being all about the money? Standing room tickets are $50 at Fenway Park, the franchise is a cash-printing machine, yet the poor, suffering ownership are being encouraged — by the local media, no less —- to cut salary in 2009, if not sooner.

It’s hard to imagine what Manny might have to moan about given a $20 million annual salary. But he’s a rather crucial component in Boston’s two World Series Championships in the past 89 years. For those who cannot abide by Ramirez taking games off, bitching about his contract status in midseason, etc., there’s only one solution that makes sense before Friday’s trade deadline : a straight-up trade swap with Detroit for Gary Sheffield.

The Fiver Explains How Joey Barton Got His Get Out Of Jail Card

Posted in Football, The Law at 2:00 pm by

Newcastle midfielder/reprobate Joey Barton was sprung from prison earlier today after serving just two months of a half-year stretch for beating someone up in front of a Liverpool McDonald’s. Though it seems a bit mysterious how authorities arrived at the conclusion Barton had seen the error of his ways, the Guardian’s Barney Ronay attempts to imagine just how the parole hearing went down :

INT. A MANCHESTER PRISON. DAY.

A THREE-MAN PAROLE BOARD IS SITTING BEHIND A TABLE INSPECTING A THICK FILE MARKED “BARTON J”. A SULLEN LOOKING MAN WEARING A DENIM SUIT COVERED IN ARROWS IS SEATED BEFORE THEM. HE LOOKS BORED.

Man in suit: “Joseph Anthony Barton, your files say you’ve served 74 days of a six-month sentence. Do you feel you’ve been rehabilitated?”

Joey Barton: “Rehabilitated? Well, now let me see. I don’t have any idea what that means.”

Man in suit: “Well, it means that you’re ready to rejoin society.”

Joey Barton: “I know what you think it means sonny. To me it’s just a made-up word. A politician’s word, so young fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie, and have a job. What do you really want to know? Am I sorry for what I did?”

Man in suit: “Well, are you?”

Joey Barton: “There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. Not because I’m in here, or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try and talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone and this 25-year-old’s all that’s left. I got to live with that. Rehabilitated? It’s just a bull$hit word. So you go on and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don’t give a sh1t.”

THE MAN IN THE SUIT PRESSES A LARGE RUBBER STAMP INTO AN INK PAD, STAMPS HIS FORM AND LIFTS THE STAMP TO REVEAL THE WORD “APPROVED” IN BLOCK CAPITALS.

Mutoni’s URL Registration Wasted : Knicks Ready To Trade Renaldo

Posted in Basketball at 1:40 pm by

Newsday’s Ken Berger reports the Knicks and Nuggets are negotiating a swap of the latter’s Renaldo Balkman for F Bobby Jones and PG Taurean Green. Clearly, the the clock has run out on predictions Balkman would emerge as the next Dennis Rodman — though there’s still plenty of time for him to hang out with Eddie Vedder and Jack Haley if so inclined.

The deal would mark the end of Balkman’s mostly confusing tenure with the Knicks, who selected him with the 20th pick two years ago when Isiah Thomas said Phoenix would’ve swiped him if he hadn’t. That scenario appears even more dubious now that the former coach of the Suns, Mike D’Antoni, is ready to ship Balkman out for little more than roster fodder.

The deal was proposed late last week and is being discussed internally by both clubs, the front-office official familiar with the situation said. If the two-for-one deal goes through, it would leave the Knicks with 17 players under contract, although Green and Jones – who have non-guaranteed contracts – expect to be waived. It would get the Knicks back to the 15-player roster limit and save them Balkman’s $1.32 million against the salary cap.

And Pepe Sanchez Is One of the Best American Athletes from Argentina

Posted in Blogged Down, politics at 1:45 am by

I recently did a Texas Monthly piece on sports and Presidential candidates, and while it was a cinch to call the Democrat “the Oregon State basketball’s coach’s brother-in-law,” there did not seem to be an easy reference for his Republican opponent. He was a Navy boxer (which is what I finally went with), a well-known critic of the UFC, enjoys Bill Bidwill’s money and thought highly of Pat Tillman (whom he’d never met). But you just don’t get a heavy sports vibe off the guy.

Little did I know, his true love must be Coyotes hockey. From Newsweek, via Greg Rajan:

If the need arises and the range is close, Mark Salter will edit John McCain in midsentence. After 19 years at each other’s side, neither man gives it a second thought. When a writer for The New Yorker was interviewing them last year about their latest best-selling book, the talk turned to hockey and the Arizona senator’s admiration for Wayne Gretzky, who coaches the Phoenix Coyotes. “Wayne Gretzky is one of the all-time best American athletes!” McCain proclaimed. But even before his boss finished speaking, Salter had spotted a slip-up: the hockey legend is from Ontario. “Yes,” Salter interjected, “Gretzky is one of the best American athletes ¦ from Canada!”


Hey, the Americas are the Americas, correct?

Is There Really No Way Brett Favre Can Be Traded For Manny Ramirez?

Posted in Blogged Down, Gridiron at 1:14 am by

(to be fair, the Madden Curse usually involves a broken bone or a torn something-or-other.  But enforced retirement will do, too)

Seriously, I’m rooting for round-the-clock coverage of Manny Ramirez’ most recent pissing match with Red Sox ownership, if only because if leaves less airtime for discussion and debate of Brett Favre’s stand-off with the only team he’s ever played for the team he’s spent almost his entire career playing for.. Fitted Sweats’ Jeff Johnson is eager to see the latter situation resolved, if only because “the only people dumber than Favre thus far are pride-filled head coach Mike McCarthy and GM Ted Thompson who are displaying the classic, Wisconsin person-with-authority ineptitude, blindness and inflexibility.” That’s a hell of a way to talk about Jay Tiller, and quite unfair to boot.  But either way, Johnson’s not buying McCarthy’s professed commitment to Aaron Rogers :

Is this fucking tee ball? Special Olympics?

“Brett, Aaron™s parents dropped him off here at 3:30 and he has yet to touch the football. So please give it to him.”

This is like the goddamn twilight zone. I don’t give a shit about Favre’s legacy. Or treating the man with respect. Or the people who say he’s been on the decline and last year was a fluke. Last year Favre had a halfway decent supporting cast and had his best completion percentage EVER. Look it up. He’s simply a better QB than Rodgers. Even as old as he is, he’s in the top 5 or 10 QBs in the NFL. It’s foolish to bench the guy for waffling.

07.27.08

Fred Smoot Discusses Gilbert Arenas’ Sharks, Raises Concerns About Next Leap Year

Posted in Basketball, Football, Sports Radio at 10:41 pm by

Fred Smoot is probably a smoodge smidge past his prime as a player, but the Redskins cornerback is just about primed to assume his rightful share of adulation as a Bizarro Washington D.C. Sports Hero. From his teammates Clinton Portis and Chris Cooley — of sub-Chappelle Show multiplicitous alter ego status and confirmed Party Mormon/Motley Crue Superfanhood status, respectively — to general genius Gilbert Arenas, there is already a weird wealth of sporting goofballs in the nation’s capital making their presences felt online and on television. Which is good, in part because otherwise it’s hard to know what Wizznutzz would be writing about, other than the next generation of R&D on the Ike Austin Cheeseboot Pro. It’s going to be big.


Smoot’s recent showing on a D.C.-area sports talk radio show — reported by DC Sports Bog’s Dan Steinberg and relayed to me by Brendan Flynn via TrueHoop — shows why F-Smoo, too, may yet take his place in the D.C. sports goofball firmament. And maybe, considering Smoo’s ace reportage on Great Falls, VA neighbor Gilbert Arenas, a second gig as some sort of pro athlete society columnist. Is Lenny Dykstra’s magazine still hiring?

“I rode by his house not too long ago and I think he put an oasis in his backyard, he’s got his pool and his waterfall back there,” [Smoot said]. “I seen a piece of mountain in his backyard the last time I passed through there. So when they finish carving into that mountain, I can go back there and see what he got going.” Right. A mountain. Oh, did I mention that Chris Knoche was on ESPN980′s Sports Reporters on Wednesday, and he said that he heard from a kid on the work crew that Gilbert’s putting three bull sharks in a massive aquarium that’s part of his new million-dollar outdoor pool complex, which, like Smoot said, features a waterfall, as well as a grotto?

…More highlights from Smoot’s appearance:

On his energy bar (which is called “Smack” — ed): “It’s all organic. I made this bar mostly out of honey, and it don’t have a lot of preservatives or calories in it, that’s what i tried to cut out of it.”

On his social life: “I settled down man. See, c’mon, Fred Smoot, when you first met me I was about 20 years old. C’mon, now I’m 28, 29. C’mon. As time goes on we get older, we make better decisions.”

On his girlfriend’s race: “She’s from South Carolina, country girl….Actually she’s a tweener, she’s what I call a tweener, play as a linebacker and a D end. You know, her mom’s white, her dad’s black.

On her profession: “She’s a lawyer. You know, I had to get somebody who could actually equal my talking. You know, that was one thing I had to do.”

On his personality: “Well, you know, I like to be more than a football player. I think with athletes, a lot of people don’t get to meet the real us….Me, I’m gonna be Fred Smoot 365 days a year.”

Which reminds me: you’ll have no way to check this, really, since I only post once a week or so at most (I’ve been busy of late: when all the real writers go on vacation, in July and August, I tend to get a lot of work), but I wanted to make this promise to the CSTB readership. And I hope you’ll hold me to it. I, too, promise to be Fred Smoot 365 days a year. Starting…now.

Carlos Beltran’s ’08 Gold Glove Campaign Picks Up Steam

Posted in Baseball at 7:05 pm by

Presuming Jay Horowitz knows how to bulk email a link to the above clip, that is.

We Are the (Bush League) Champions

Posted in Baseball, Gridiron at 5:49 pm by

The Philadelphia Soul have joined the Phantoms, Wings and Kixx in Philadelphia’s sporting pantheon; i.e. the one that doesn’t count against the drought. Is there any doubt the MLS Cup will be next?

The Phillies, on the other hand, may only ever win a Series if the innings where they face good starting pitching never count. Against relievers they are absolutely golden. Thanks to a rain delay the Phils and Braves are still just in the 8th; after trailing 5-0 (Adam Eaton allowed three runs as the first man out of the pen) they took a 12-5 lead on home runs from five different players (including Jimmy Rollins, for the first time since June 16). Then in the last ten minutes Rudy Seanez and Ryan Madson gave back five, meaning Lidge is on to work the 9th.

The big buzz among the phans, however, is regarding J.A. Happ, who was pulled from his AAA start for no apparent reason after 2 2/3 innings, presumably because he’s either getting traded or returning to the big club.

The Pacific Coast League’s Lamest Promotion

Posted in Baseball at 3:02 pm by

While a pitch count of 100+ hasn’t prevented Johan Santana from working into the 9th inning at Shea (Mets lead, 9-1), a temperature of 105 degrees has caused damage to the box office receipts of the PCL’s Dodgers affiliate.


There’s about 200 people —- including yours truly — watching the Las Vegas 51′s, winners of 4 consecutive, take on Felix Pie and the Iowa Cubs. Despite the sparse attendance , a lucky couple was upgraded to cushy front row seats, by virtue of their winning the 1-800-Pack Rat Sweepstakes.

It’s a fairly shitty prize considering the front rows are empty (and offer no shelter from the sun).

After Mitch Jones’ 3-run homer over Cashman Field’s RF wall opened the scoring, the tannoy announcer solemnly intoned, “today would’ve been Leo Durocher’s birthday.”

Isn’t it still?

The 51′s sold about 16 thousand tickets combined for Friday’s win over Omaha and last night’s 13-8 defeat of the Cubs. 15 degrees cooler + leftover Brad Penny bobbleheads makes a huge difference, apparently.

(addendum : a fellow patron suggested with a straight face that today’s Arena Bowl might be a drag on ticket sales. It’s entirely possible, much as I believe the ballpark will fill up just as soon as church service have completed.)

(update dos : 51′s 8, Cubs 7.  Despite blowing leads of 3-0, 6-4 and 7-6, the hosts closed to within 4 1/2 games of division-leading Sacramento. Vegas SS Chin-Lung Hu — greeted in each plate appearance with The Who’s “Who Are You?” , was 3 for 3 and scored 3 runs, the last of which being the game-winner.  Hu worked out a walk against Kevin Hart, moved to second on a balk and eventually came in to score when John Lindsay drove a ball to the warning track with the outfield drawn in.  Given a round of sincere applause by Cubbie fans — possibly suffering from heat stroke — Hart fired his glove into the Iowa dugout. I’m pretty sure his glove was traveling faster than whatever he threw to Lindsay).

Margarito’s Defeat Of Cotto : Even From Outer SpaceSec. 203, This Was The Fight Of The Year

Posted in Boxing at 12:10 pm by

(there’s something happening down there…and I don’t think it’s the comedy stylings of Fred Travalena)

Never mind living up to the hype, Antonio Margarito’s TKO victory over Miguel Cotto in the 11th round last night exceeded most lofty expectations, except perhaps, for those of the defeated favorite.   Margarito knocked Cotto down twice in the 11th, the latter’s corner throwing in the towel on the second occasion.  Neither blow was the most devastating punch Margarito threw all evening, rather, the accumulated damage Cotto suffered for several rounds had left him almost entirely defenseless and out of gas by the fight’s conclusion.

Margarito was apparently ahead on two of the three judges’ cards when the fight was stopped, and while I wouldn’t dispute Cotto landed a larger percentage of quality punches earlier in the fight, few of ‘em had a lasting impact on his tenacious challenger.   From the 7th round onward, Maragarito had successfully worn Cotto down (consecutive uppercuts in a neutral corner exemplifying the shift in momentum), and barring a glaring error by the former IBF champ, it seemed just a matter of time before Cotto would suffer his first professional loss.

Max Kellerman suggested the bout would begin with a ferocity reminiscent of Hagler/Hearns, and while that wasn’t the craziest projection ever uttered, there was no chance these fighters would maintain that short of pace beyond the early rounds.  What was surprising is that Margarito looked so sharp while withstanding Cotto’s initial assault, while conversely, Cotto did a masterful job of staying upright, let alone landing a few effective counterpunches over the course of rounds 9 and 10.

During a week in which the Columbus P.D. did battle with paying customers at a Crew/West Ham friendly of all things, there was something kind of awesome about Maragarito and Cotto’s rival fans waving their respective flags, trash talking throughout the night….and when it was all over, mostly exchanging handshakes or high-fives.   Fighting at the MGM Grand was confined to the ring, and I witnessed no unpleasantness in the casino afterwards either (the proliferation of Ed Hardy tees excepted).  Whether the high ticket price or the bonhomie generated by a tremendous match have something to do with it, I dunno, but maybe the beer muscles develop faster at NYC’s sporting venues.

For Adam Eaton, or Brett Myers?

Posted in Baseball at 5:25 am by

The New York Post suggests Manny Ramirez might be bound for Philly. I say put him in a package with Jon Lester – then the Sox could pick up Ryan Howard two years sooner than they’re inevitably gonna.

…[S]ources said the Mets’ No. 1 nemesis, the Phillies, have the best chance to trade for Ramirez because Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel has perhaps the strongest relationship with him of anyone in the majors.

Manuel was Ramirez’s hitting coach with the Indians from 1994-99 and his manager in Cleveland in 2000, and the two have remained close.

This is true enough. In fact, Franz Lidz didn’t exactly have himself a scoop:

“I remember the day he flushed a towel down the toilet and messed up the whole water system at Jacobs Field,” Manuel said.

Ramirez thought nothing of it…

In Cleveland, Ramirez would have mail sent to Manuel’s house. Manuel knew Ramirez well – still does – and said the slugger’s antics and flightiness should not be mistaken for a lack of intelligence.

“Don’t take it for him not being smart, because he’s sure not dumb,” Manuel said.

That said, Manuel believes one of Ramirez’s strengths as a player is that he doesn’t overthink things.

One day, Manuel and Ramirez were doing a little hitting and a little joking in the batting cage at Yankee Stadium.

“Shut up, Charlie. I know what I’m doing,” Ramirez playfully told Manuel.

“I’ve got a feeling if you knew what you were doing, you wouldn’t be worth [a darn],” Manuel shot back.

What’s up with the “a” inside those brackets? Does that mean Charlie said that Manny wasn’t worth “shit,” rather than “a damn”?

Anyway, such a move would certainly remove the clubhouse diva title from the Phillies’ reigning MVP and shortstop. And since the Red Sox need relief help and Brett Myers makes $12 million next year, the two teams could fashion a “my problem for yours” sort of arrangement. But of all the major league cities Myers could end up in, the one where he actually committed an alleged act of domestic violence might be the least likely. And in the end, it’s really, really hard to see the Phillies trading for a player of that temperament or salary, no matter how rich and aggressive John Middleton may try to be.

Plus, it’s an item in the Post. But if I were Theo Epstein, I would totally give Ed Wade a call.

07.26.08

Mitchell On L’ffair Pattinson : Don’t You Hate It When That Happens?

Posted in Cricket, Sports Journalism at 6:55 pm by

England’s surprise selection of unheralded fast bowler Darren Pattinson for their unsuccessful 2nd Test of the summer versus South Africa has been characterized by one observer as “numb-skulled”.  In the considered opinion of “Peep Show”‘s David Mitchell, however, it was a simple matter of mistaken identity.  From Saturday’s Guardian :

The England cricket team’s newest member, Darren Pattinson, must have been thrilled when, just last week, he got the phone call it felt like he’d been waiting all his life for: “The sofa you ordered is now in stock – when would you like it delivered?” And the day kept getting better when someone else rang up and asked him to play for the national side. Pausing only to ask “Which country and which sport?” and to rearrange delivery of the sofa – the fifth day of the Test should be safe, he thought – he rushed out of the house eager to meet his team-mates, who were some interesting people from another country.

Poor man, it’s not his fault. If, say, the Sri Lankan selectors rang me up and asked if I fancied turning my arm over, I’d be sorely tempted – but I think I’d probably check it wasn’t an administrative error. And that’s what Pattinson’s selection smacks of. Is his mobile number just one digit different from Matthew Hoggard’s? It must be something like that. In a way they’re lucky they got someone who, it turned out, had played a bit of cricket.

And I think we should go easy on that sort of cock-up. It happens to us all: I was once filming a comedy show which also required a child actor, and the director had, rather shamefacedly, to admit to the producer and me that he’d got the kids’ names mixed up after the auditions and booked the crap one by mistake. But of course we were far too nice to say that to the child, and we just coped. So I think it reflects very well on the England selectors and team that they similarly took the mistake politely in their stride.

No – no blame can be attached to anyone over this unfortunate episode unless you listen to those conspiracy theorists who would have us believe that Pattinson was picked deliberately. This is almost unthinkable as it implies a confluence of cynicism and incompetence unprecedented even in the grisly annals of England selection policy. To act by the letter rather than the spirit of the national eligibility rules is understandable where brilliant players are concerned, but to do so for a roof-tiler who’s a keen cricketer in his spare time seems very unlikely. To overlook tried and tested bowlers for a newcomer who’s only played 11 first-class games would make sense if he were a 19-year-old hope for the future, but when it happens to someone who’s 29, then it’s definitely just an admin screw-up which we can all have a good laugh about.

Night Of The Living Heitners : One Tourist’s Vegas Nightmare

Posted in Internal Affairs, Tourism at 6:25 pm by

(conditions at CSTB’s resort of choice leave a bit to be desired. Tonight’s entertainment headliner : TBA)

While on a periodic fact-finding mission in Las Vegas that just happens to coincide with the Cotto/Margarito bout (and Friday’s blatant demonstration that Team Nike USA are at the very least, one of the best teams in North America), I’ve learned a few things. Hardly revelations, mind you, but bona fide discoveries for a sheltered character like myself.

a) I went to my hotel’s barber this morning and he was dressed as Wayne Newton.  No, thank you. I badly need a haircut, but I’m not gonna partonize a Wayne Newton impersonator who doubles as a barber.  (if this was in fact, Wayne Newton, I suppose I apologize).

b) You’re all familiar with Hot Chicks With Douchebags, right?  Nowhere on the site is there a disclaimer explaining every one of their photographs was shot in Las Vegas.

c) if a showroom can get away with charging $63 to see Jim Gaffigan, Neil Hamburger should command at least $100 a head, plus an additional $50 if you’d like to leave the show early.

d) I guess Roy Horn hasn’t fully recovered yet.

Chase Utley – The Most Celebrated Cat Fancier Since Greg Ginn

Posted in Baseball, Cats, Going To The Zoo at 12:57 pm by

While the Phillies’ 8-2 loss to Atlanta last night coupled with Mike Pelfrey’s steller performance against the Cards dropped Philadelphia to 2 games behind the Mets in the NL East, there’s a much bigger picture to consider this morning. All-Star 2B Chase Utley’s received praise from a local monthly for his efforts on behalf of needy kitty-cats, an initiative that not affords him considerable praise and respect from this corner (ie. there’s about 28 cats living in a house behind mine that would surely love the run of the Utley Estate), but I’m doubly impressed the Philly superstar would dare risk ridicule from persons who think owning a cat is like OD’ing on Depo-Provera.

Cleveland has traded 3B/OF Casey Blake to the Dodgers in exchange for C Carlos Santana and RHP Jonathan Meloan. With Blake and Xavier Nady no longer being shopped, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Tom Krasovic claims the Mets are interested in Brian Giles, with Binghamton’s Fernando Martinez being the Padres’ prefered ransom.

Though I’m no hurry to see F-Mart become his era’s position-player answer to Scott Kazmir, Giles wouldn’t be nearly as useless playing right field for the Mets as Evan Roberts made it seem this morning on WFAN.  Giles’ HR totals have decreased considerably over the past few years, which Roberts sneeringly implied had something to do with PED’s.   Without knowing anything for certain about Giles’ chemical intake, he’s also been toiling for the past 5 seasons at Petco Park, the place where pets fly balls go to die.

Dwyre : Tonight’s Cotto v. Margarito Fight Sets The Stage For De La Hoya To Duck Both Of ‘Em

Posted in Boxing at 12:21 pm by

I’ve been in Las Vegas for about 24 hours now, and let’s just say chit chat surrounding this evening’s welterweight clash between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito is of greater interest to the locals and tourists alike than Terry Tiffee’s Olympic hopes. Writing in Saturday’s LA Times, Bill Dwyre takes a glimpse at future scenarios, including one he predicts will favor the bank account of Manny Pacquiao.

Oscar De La Hoya, 35, wants to fight one more time. Despite losing three of his last six fights and correctly toying with retirement for several years, he remains the box-office bonanza for his sport. If he fights, it is a huge deal. If he fights somebody really good, they start throwing around the word “mega.”

Add to that all the farewell schmaltz that can be trotted out, and boxing has a real gem to sell.

The date and site have been chosen: Dec. 6 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Mark it down. Christmas comes early for fight fans.

De La Hoya has lost mega-fights to Felix Trinidad and Floyd Mayweather Jr., so there is incentive to try to avenge either of those, especially in the case of Trinidad, who handed De La Hoya his first defeat in a controversial decision in 1999 that still irks De La Hoya.

Arum answers both of those scenarios.

“Mayweather is retired, and Trinidad walks around weighing 200 pounds,” he said.

That leaves the winner of Cotto-Margarito as the obvious next one up. Except for one thing — De La Hoya’s uncanny sense of his fan base and the marketplace.

“If Margarito wins, Oscar won’t fight him,” Arum says. “He won’t fight another Mexican in his last fight. I tested him on that. I asked about [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr., which would be his easiest test. He said no. The Mexicans would hate him.”

Interestingly, even though he would be missing out on a huge payday, Margarito seems to understand De La Hoya’s predicament and even agrees with his decision.

So, if Cotto wins, he would appear to be the choice, even though there was some recent talk that De La Hoya didn’t like that matchup much either, because he lives in Puerto Rico much of the time now and his wife is Puerto Rican.

07.25.08

The X-Man Returns To New York

Posted in Baseball at 9:21 pm by

….but not to Queens. For the mere price of OF Jose Tabata, pitchers Phil Coke, George Kotos, and Ross Ohlendorf, the Yankees have acquired OF Xavier Nady along with Damaso Marte.  Never mind what this does to the price of Raul Ibanez, who’s gonna be the one to break the news to Kuff & The Buttheads?

Bald-Faced Bitch-Slap

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down, Medical Science, Sports Journalism at 8:17 pm by

The Portland Tribune‘s Dwight Jaynes, June 5th

What I™ve done, I think, is become a blogger in columnist™s clothing. The secret to the blogosphere is that bloggers usually don™t have that proximity to coaches and athletes. They aren™t hindered by a need to get along or kiss up to the people they write about. That affords them a certain freedom they can use or abuse. 

Dwight Jaynes, July 24

The Trail Blazers, specifically General Manager Kevin Pritchard, may be in violation of federal regulations in regard to public comments about the medical condition of former player Darius Miles…

[Pritchard]‘s statements could be a violation of the privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Availability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Since the HIPAA privacy rule went into effect on April 14, 2003, pro and college teams in all sports have been very reluctant to reveal specific details of player injuries without the permission of the player. 

Longtime D-Miles fan John Canzano of the Oregonian, July 25

Don’t lose sleep over the puppet piece in the Portland Tribune today… Miles’ agent would like the Blazers to stfu when it comes to talking about his career-ending injury so someone will sign him.

The Trib is getting used her (sic) by Miles’ agent. Loved the kiss up line from the writer to the agent about, “teammates and coaches believe him to be relatively harmless to team harmony.”

Jaynes actually wrote two posts columns about Miles on the 24th. I agree the HIPAA issue really isn’t one, but what about the drug suspension leak?

A Prior Generation Somehow Never Learned About Yaz’ Toilet Habits

Posted in Baseball, Sad Toilets at 6:48 pm by

(above : just Whipple being Whipple)

Manny Ramirez, supposedly suffering from a sore right knee, won’t be a participant in tonight’s Yankees/Red Sox encounter. Porfolio’s Franz Lidz is amongst those predicting Manny’s days in a Sox uniform are numbered, suggesting last week’s outburst to the Boston Herald was the most ill-advised stunt in the left-fielder’s long career. Topped only by this, however :

I once asked a prominent relief pitcher to describe the most idiotic thing he had witnessed in the big leagues. “That’s easy,” he said, and launched into the story of a former teammate”an All-Star outfielder”who refused to use toilet paper. A clubhouse attendant supplied the player with a daily ration of hand towels, which, when soiled, would be flushed.

One afternoon the reliever came in from batting practice to find the locker room awash in frantic maintenance workers. When he asked a plumber what all the fuss was about, he was told that a washcloth-clogged toilet had overflowed and was threatening to submerge the bathroom stalls. “Of all the dumb stuff I’ve seen that particular outfielder do,” the stopper told me, “that was the dumbest.”

That particular outfielder was, of course, Manny Ramirez.

Nike Bows To Blog Pressure, Halts Teabag Advocacy

Posted in Basketball, Free Expression, The Marketplace at 6:19 pm by

From the Oregonian’s Brent Hunsberger :

Nike said today it will drop ads for its Hyperdunk basketball shoes that critics said played off some viewers’ homophobia.

In its second statement on the controversy, Nike said it would withdraw advertising critics found offensive “to underline our ongoing commitment to supporting diversity in sport and the workplace.”

Nike spokesman Bob Applegate told The Oregonian that three separate print, poster and billboard ads would be removed “as expeditiously as possible.” The ads were created by Portland’s Wieden+Kennedy and titled “That Ain’t Right,” “Isn’t That Cute,” and “Punks Jump Up.” He declined further comment.

At least two well-trafficked blogs – Gawker.com and ESPN’s TrueHoop — along with comments posted on Wieden+Kennedy’s own blog WKStudio, called on Nike to withdraw at least one ad appearing along the streets and subways of New York City.

I can fully understand why a large corporation like Nike would want to appear sensitive in this matter — particularly when called on the carpet by Gawker Media, truly the conscience of the nu-media as we know it. That said, I do not believe one is necessarily a homophobe because they are afraid of looking like Frederic Weis .

Protect Ya Neck, Jose

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 11:55 am by

Or, if you prefer, “No-Longer In First Place Skipper Lectures Reyes On Baseball Etiquette”.  From the Philadelphia Daily News’ David Murphy :

As Jose Reyes circled the bases at Shea Stadium with his right index finger held high in the air after his go-ahead, three-run home run off Ryan Madson on Wednesday night, Phillies broadcaster Larry Andersen (above, left) suggested on air that one of the team’s pitchers “oughta put one in his neck” for his showmanship.

That didn’t happen, but Charlie Manuel acknowledged before yesterday’s game that some members of the team thought Reyes’ display was insulting.

“I look at both sides of that,” Manuel said. “He’s a very talented player and he can be one of the best players in baseball. But at the same time, he’s got some growing to do, and he’s got some learning to do.”

“A lot of times, if you take the personality away from a guy, he doesn’t perform as well,” Manuel said. “That’s a fine area there . . . Cockiness can be good if it’s handled right.”

Given that Reyes — suddenly a whipping boy for the Philadelphia papers, too! — manages to turn up at the ballpark earlier than 15 minutes before the first pitch, perhaps Manuel ought to worry about his own clubhouse.

This Week’s Second Joe Niekro Reference

Posted in Baseball at 2:18 am by

(Cubs mgr Leo Durocher: did he burn out talent like this?)

The Cubs managed a typical ’08 Wrigley win this evening, in producing enough runs against the Marlins so that even our bullpen couldn’t throw it away. And they tried, loading the bases twice in the final two innings of what finally ended up a 6-3 victory. Is that a legit stat — the number of runs needed to win a game with Howry coming in? Even Ron Santo and Pat Hughes have been bitching about him lately, which in Cubworld is like Tim Conway punching someone out.

There’s lots going on with the Cubs: a reported $500 K worth of draft violations, a closer on the DL for a blister (does Valtrex work on hands?), the Peoria Chiefs Julio Castillo up on assault charges for beaning a Reds dugout, Mark Cuban beating out Bud Selig’s pal in the Cub bidding “ and yet MLB’s Tom Singer decides to ask the endlessly rehashed “How did the Cubs collapse in 1969?” Was it a black cat at Shea, a billy goat, too many day games, Leo Durocher running Ernie Banks into the ground — and finally, he gets to the truth. The Cubs were owned by Philip K. Wrigley who made yet another dumb-ass trade. Why doesn’t anyone ask why the Cubs never mattered in 1970? As lame as the ’69 collapse is, Wrigley never bounced back the way the Brewers did after the Cubs clipped them in ’07. Writes the man with a nose for news:

¢ The Curse of Joe Niekro?

Now, maybe we’re talking. Niekro was a young lad of 24, coming off a 14-win season, when the Cubs dealt him on April 25 to San Diego for another right-hander, Dick Selma.

Selma did help the 1969 Cubs with 10 wins. But he went 0-6 on the other side of that mid-August hill. He never won another game for the Cubs, and only 15 for anyone else.

Niekro went on to 197 more wins across the next 20 seasons.

There was no shortage of explanations or excuses or examples of divine intervention for those who wanted to find them.