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.
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.
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.
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!”
(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.
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.
“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?
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.
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.
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).
(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.
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.
“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.