(cheer up Black America, Mike and Jerry are looking out for your collective self-esteem)
“In conversations with black friends and other black sports figures, it’s become evident that a lot of African-Americans are taking a pretty personal interest in seeing the United States men’s basketball team succeed” claimed ESPN’s Jemele Hill yesterday. “The Redeem Team — what an appropriate nickname — is not only dispelling notions about American basketball,” continued Hill “but showing that black NBA superstars are just as patriotic, coachable, team-oriented, fundamentally sound, mannerable, hard-working, and disciplined as their foreign basketball brethren.” Her unique take on contemporary hoops and wider culture has Sports On My Mind‘s D.K. Wilson wondering, “vidication for what, exactly? Vindication for malfeasant acts by the press and shock jocks, including those of ESPN Radio, who used the losses of the 2004 US Men™s National Team in Athens as their personal race-bait pulpit?”
Four years ago players like Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant begged off the Olympic team fearing their personal safety; 9-11 was why Colangelo and Brown could not procure the commitment of the NBA™s best American players, not some pap about trumped-up, jingoistic ideals. in 2006 the dynamic white duo of Colangelo and Krzyzewski took the US team to a veteran™s hospital to visit troops who had been maimed in the Iraq War. That visit and K™s many national pride speeches did nothing for the team™s morale – they still lost.
The problem was the makeup of the 2004 team. The problem wasn™t tattoos or cornrows, but a team of position misfits with too many young players at or near the top of the food chain.
So, if I™m getting all this straight, we are to believe that the black community was devastated by the US Men™s basketball losses of 2004 and haven™t recovered since.
Maybe we can be blamed for the downturn of the US economy. After all, we™ve been so busy grieving over our lost sense of collective pride since 2004 that we have not been able to show face and shop till we drop like good little consumers. After all, when 13 % of your population is doing nothing but working and hitting the Mickey Dees drive-thru for the family dinner and immersed in a Diaspora-wide self-imposed exile from the local strip mall, what happens to the rest of the country?
Thank god for white people taking up the slack for us and going into ever-deepening debt for us and by doing so, showing us the American ideal, huh?
I find it curious that all these black people Hill spoke with find their sense of self worth tied to a basketball team. Neither I nor any black person I know or speak with on any regular basis derives any feeling of special pride in the US Men™s National team winning the gold medal. And the team™s losing would cause us no particular personal angst.
Hey, attributing sentiments to persons you either can’t or won’t name is all the rage. It’s hard to calculate which is lamer, Jemele Hill’s compulsion to act as a conduit between her “black friends” and a national audience, or another pseudo-journalist who presents himself as the everyfan’s shoulder to cry on.
A night after Matt Leinart tossed 3 intereceptions in Arizona’s exhibition victory over Oakland, Sir Mort reports the Cardinals have named Kurt Warner their starting quarterback. I’m hardly a religious sort but after considering the respective career trajectories of Warner and the former Heisman winner he’s displaced, I might have to seriously look into mass adoption and/or marrying Cloris Leachman.
After losing DE Osi Umenyiora to a torn lateral meniscus last night, Big Blue’s Col. Coughlin admits to the Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano that lobbying for Michael Strahan’s return has crossed his mind. Much as I’d love to see any number of local ad campaigns featuring Strahan alongside a diving Brett Favre, there’s other retired players with excellent credentials that might fit within Jerry Reese’s budget. Andy Robustelli, for instance.
Jason Kidd promised Elaine Wynn, wife of casino mogul Steve Wynn, that he would give her his newest Olympic medal if the Americans fulfill the redeem dream.
“It’s not a (gambling) marker or anything like that,” Kidd told The Arizona Republic. “She’s just a great friend and a really great person.”
They met last year when Kidd and the USA team stayed at the Wynn while training in Las Vegas.
“Last summer, we stayed at the Wynn for (what seemed like) a lifetime, close to three weeks,” Kidd said. “We met at a banquet, we got to talking, and she really understands the game.
“I told her I’d make a deal with her, that if we won the gold medal, I’d give it to her. She thought I was kidding. But I told her I had one already, and the way they treated us at the Wynn, it was the least I could do.”
Wouldn’t it be great if Bleecker Bob’s reopened as a clubhouse for Steve Bartkowski’s legion of fans in the Tri-State area? No? Alternatively, on the occasion of Brett Favre’s solid-if-not-spectacular showing against the Giants last night, the New York Times’ Jeff Bercovici reports the former Packers QB’s sizeable NYC cult has a chosen a unique home to follow his new exploits. It’s a slippery slope, from Bob Dylan to Phil Ochs to Music For Dozens to His Favreness, but who am I to begrudge these Brett boosters a fun night out?
Over the years, a few retired players have stopped by, Mr. Daley said, adding, œHopefully, Brett will come in now that he™s in New York. One of Mr. Daley™s employees pointed out that Favre, a recovering alcoholic and painkiller addict, no longer drinks. Mr. Daley™s response: œWell, we™ll find out if he comes in.
(* – OK, I do realize we’re not even talking about the same building and if I bothered to do any research, I’d already know the original Folk City is now a Duane Reade, a Washington Mutual or a combination Duane Reade/Pinkberry.
John Maine took them out of this one early, as has been his habit since late May, but five runs should certainly not be too much to overcome for a team with a $140-million payroll and two players, Jose Reyes and David Wright, whom the Mets and their fans consider legitimate MVP candidates.
Yet there was no fight in this team, something we have seen time and again the past three seasons, regardless of whether the manager’s name was Willie or Jerry, the venue was home or away, the opponent a contender like the Phillies or Cubs, or doormats like the Astros.
They came out flat and went down meekly in their first 14 at-bats against Brandon Backe, who had won just once in a month and allowed 11 runs in his last outing Aug. 16. They finally showed some life in the eighth, courtesy of Ryan Church, fresh off the DL, who singled, and Brian Schneider, who continued his recent hot streak with a two-run homer to right. But that cut the Astros’ lead to a mere five runs, 8-3, and although Jose Reyes also doubled in the inning, he was stranded by Carlos Delgado, who tapped out.
Suddenly, the pregame words of Luis Castillo — “The team is playing good and I need a rest, so I’ll take a couple more days” — came back to you as further evidence that not everyone in a real Mets uniform may want this as badly as those wearing the replica jerseys in the stands.
Ryan Church making it through an entire game and Schneider’s home run aside, Matthews can hardly be blamed for finding little to praise about this stinker. But poor opponents or not, going 14-5 over their last nineteen contests is hardly a sign of a club phoning in it (keep in mind the Mets won 4 one run games over that span), nor is there much sense in citing the inflated payroll in this instance. Certainly any team that features the likes of Reyes, Wright, Beltran and Delgado ought to fancy itself a contender. But when you consider how much of that $140 million is applied to players missing in action (Castillo, Alou, Hernandez) or simply absent for long stretches (Martinez, Church, Wagner), Jeff Wilpon has every bit as much right to whine about injuries as Hank Steinbrenner. To his credit, he’s not done so, and the Mets’ resilience— not a characteristic we often association with the 2007 squad — deserves citation. If not from Matthews, then from persons who aren’t working a schtick that’s long past it’s sell-by date. Maine’s condition is obviously a matter of concern, but that’s a separate issue compared to whether these guys care about winning.
Brandon Backe is not gonna be confused with Bob Gibson anytime soon, but he’s hardly without credentials. Combining with Roy Oswalt to retire 35 consecutive Mets between Friday and Saturday’s games, Backe was similarly untouchable in Game 5 of the 2004 NLCS (and more than competent in Game 4 of the ’05 World Series). Matthews makes it sound as though the Mets were baffled by R.A. Dickey. Which they were, two months ago. But it’s the height of hysteria to claim being shut down by Backe is in and of itself a harbinger of the Mets going into the tank.
In the tradition of the old-fashioned Sunday photo sections once found in the newspapers our grandparents read, I present this Sun-Times series of the “hottest” White Sox fans in town. For those of you who haven’t been to the South Side, or visited the skyboxes of the Cell, I’m just saying, the working man’s paper wouldn’t kid you as to South Side hot. And btw, please note that most of them indeed do have teeth.
“When we decided to build the stadium I wanted to anticipate the possibility of financial restrictions, so I concentrated on youth. I also felt the best way to create an identity with the way we play football, to get players integrated into our culture, with our beliefs, our values, was to get them as young as possible and to develop them together. I felt it would be an interesting experiment to see players grow together with these qualities, and with a love for the club.” He pauses, smiles wryly, and adds, “It was an idealistic vision of the world of football.” – Arsene Wegner, as interviewed by the Independent’s Glenn Moore, August 23, 2008.
Great timing, Arsene. After witnessing Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Fulham — just the 2nd time Arsenal have lost at Craven Cottage in 44 years — the Telegraph’s Duncan White concluded, “If Arsenal want to match their stated ambition of competing with Manchester United and Chelsea this season, then Wenger is going to have to be a busy man this week.” The far less diplomatic Mark Vallis of The Gooner declares, “I can™t remember a more gutless, insipid performance so totally lacking in energy and imagination.” I guess he’s not seen the trailers for “Righteous Kill” yet.
Brede Hangeland’s goal was what has now become classic Arsenal. The cross comes in, their big goon from the back goes in. Our centre half, this time William Gallas, goes half way with him and then decides against it. The bloke, completely unchallenged, puts the ball in the net. How easy is that? If that was your pub team, you™d be going mental. Please bear in mind that our William is the captain and leader of men. Officer material? Yeah right. He does all that touchy, feely, silly bollocks at the start of the game, and then disappears when it matters. When it all goes horribly wrong, his head either comes off, or drops right down to his knees. Sometimes it even does both.
Theo Walcott? The first time I was aware of him was when he was subbed off. He even had the gall to look a bit miffed about it. Theo, you did very well to last for as long as you did, mate. Rejoice!
Adebayor and RVP? Are they meant to be a partnership? I mean in the sense that they combine together to bring out each other™s strengths. I think if it was a marriage, and I was Wenger, I™d be looking to call in Relate. They might as well not be on the same pitch. Centre backs are not the only people who have to play in pairs. If I see Van Persie hit the wall again with a free kick, I™m going to f**king scream!
I™m trying desperately hard to finish on a positive note, but that™s proving a lot harder than I would have liked. If Eboue does have a niche, then it™s certainly in the centre of midfield, by virtue of the fact that he™s a crap right back and an even worse right wing. Is that good enough?
Though South Korea’s upset victory over Cuba to claim Olympic gold will rightfully receive more attention this evening, the USA’s 8-2 defeat of Japan — featuring major contributions from P Brett Anderson (above) and former Longhorns C Taylor Teagarden — not only earned the Americans a hard-fought bronze medal, but also resulted in a memorable press conference attended by MLB.com’s Mark Newman :
Manager Senichi Hoshino and outfielder Norichika Aoki appeared and faced the music in front of the usual swollen media crush from their homeland. Aoki, who had hit the three-run homer in the top of the third to stake Japan to a 4-1 lead, was close to tears when he responded to a question about what he would say to the Japanese people.
“I really would like to say sorry to them,” Aoki said. “This is not how it’s supposed to end. We came here for the gold medal. It was a great pity. This doesn’t mean anything if there is no medal, but I sensed the fun, and I’d like to say this is a great game.”
The news conference moderator was in the process of announcing the end of questions and comments, when suddenly Hoshino interjected one last thing:
“I’d also like to say sorry — but this is because the team as a whole was not in good shape, and in the future we will show you better baseball.”
There’s no truth to the rumor Hank Steinbrenner plans to either hire Hoshnio to replace Joe Girardi, or sue Japan’s skipper for stealing his best lines.
Yankees 2B Robinson Cano was 1 for 4 tonight in New York’s 5-3 win over Baltimore —- the first victory for starter Carl Pavano in 31 months, the New York Times’ Jack Curry suggests (seriously) that Cano’s poor ’08 production can be traced to the lack of Larry Bowa’s verbal abuse.
Bowa said he used œtough love to get through to Cano, who he called a good kid and a good player. But Bowa emphasized that the key to coaching Cano was to not tell him only what he wanted to hear. Bowa said he told Cano when he was good and when he was bad, an honest approach that eventually worked.
Still, Bowa had some trying times with Cano. He explained how Cano once stopped at third base while Bowa was waving him home. When Bowa confronted Cano, Cano told him the outfielder had a good arm. Bowa was furious and told Cano he could play second base and coach third, too. The two did not speak for a week.
And to think, after all this time we’d been led to believe the Yankees were sorely missing Jorge Posada and Chien-Ming Wang rather than their 3rd base coach. I’m a little curious, however. What do you think would happen if a player —- rookie or veteran — chose to speak to a reporter about the results of an obstensibly private conversation with a coach or manager?
I give it until say, mid-October before “Football Night In America” execs decided to cut their losses on the Dan Patrick/Non-Metallic K.O. reunion, thus paving the way for the most unlikely midseason success story since Steve Fisher Jerry Manuel : Nick Stevens’ NBC debut.
Noting the dichotomy between prior media criticism of the late Gene Upshaw and the tributes that followed his passing (“the long-time head of the NFLPA has been beaten up and vilified for a leadership style that was highly effective in the 1990s and new millennium but not stereotypically militant enough to please the media critics who hypocritically blast Al Sharpton and label any black man who chooses a different path a sellout”), the Kansas City Star’s Jason Whitlock insists, “few things are celebrated and exalted more vigorously in America than a dead black leader.”
Leaders who happen to be black spend most of their days in this country dodging arrows ¦ until they™re dead or rendered harmless.
It™s why most Americans are uncomfortable with Jim Brown and love Muhammad Ali, the two transcendent athletes from the 1960s who represented black empowerment. Ali, felled by Parkinson™s Disease, lit the 1996 Olympic torch and is a beloved figure now that he mumbles and shakes.
Brown is the same unbending, uncompromised free-thinker who makes people uncomfortable because he wears a funny hat and believes gangbangers and parolees can be productive U.S. citizens.
We™ll love Brown when he™s gone. The same way we fell in love with Martin Luther King and Malcolm X once they were no longer a threat.
Now that Upshaw is dead you™ll be hearing and reading a lot about his leadership-through-accommodation method. It actually worked. It grew the league to the point where all the old NFL players are insanely jealous and feel as if the current players owe them money.
Yep, the whole œreparations movement powered by Mike Ditka and all the other angry old men is a direct byproduct of the success of the NFL, which Upshaw played a huge role in.
Of course, when he was alive Upshaw was trashed for his inability to convince the current players (mostly black) to hand over a portion of their earnings to the retired players (mostly white) who built the game. There is no precedent for retired workers having their post-career benefits significantly improved ¦ other than retired NFL players.
Though Whitlock makes a salient point about the relative lot of the NFL’s retirees, if most Americans, are as he claims, “uncomfortable” with Jim Brown, if might have more to do with the multi-sport Hall Of Famer’s lengthy rap sheet than his social activism. There are few persons who’ve been charged with as many questionable acts as Brown that still have a place in mainstream society. That he’s still considered one of the last century’s iconic figures — on and off the field — despite a nasty propensity for treating women like punching bags or worse — says to me that plenty of Americans keep an open mind. Or perhaps they just don’t give a hoot about violence against women. What’s Whitlock’s excuse?
“The term ‘Team GB’ is infuriating. Where did it come from and why the hell do we need it? Do the French Olympic squad call themselves ‘Equipe F’?” asks David Mitchell (above) of “Peep Show” / “That Mitchell & Webb Look” infamy via his Guardian blog. “Why do we have to give our squad a twee little name?” I dunno, because “Team Sarah Records” was already taken?
If Coca-Cola didn’t spend money on their logo, they’d sell less sugary liquid and make less profit. But when public money is spent like this, as it is whenever a government ministry changes from being the department of something to the department for something, it is just being pissed away for no reason. Branding our Olympic squad Team GB has not in any way helped it win more medals and those who would argue that it has, perhaps citing some bullshit about the homogeneity of the team, are either morons or they think our athletes are.
At the very least the money would have been better spent providing a few more puncture repair kits for the cyclists.
The obsession with giving non-profit-making organisations the same branding paraphernalia as private companies that actually have a use for it is capitalism’s final victory. Even when people aren’t motivated by financial gain, as Team GB certainly primarily aren’t, they have to ape the mannerisms of those who are. It’s nothing more or less than playing shop, it’s pathetic.
And, worse than that, it’s been ineptly done because the Team GB logo is crap. It’s like something I might have knocked up on an Amstrad PCW for the school drama society. The word “team” is lower case, pointlessly and incorrectly, and it slightly overlaps the “GB” in a way that looks like a mistake. Below the words is a drawing of the top of a lion done in the colours of the Union Jack, which is OK but I think is nicked off the logo for one of our presidencies of the EU (maybe that means we got it cheap), but this time the lion’s head and top of its back are stuck on top of the Olympic rings, as if the lion underwent a horrific accident and now has to drag itself around on a huge Olympic logo-shaped roller skate, presumably mewing about British sporting glories past. If they were relying on this, rather than national pride, to appeal to consumers, they’d be screwed.
“Good leadership permeates. . . . It cascades down, not just to the players, but to the secretaries and the hot dog vendors and yes, even the elevator operators” says USC professor Warren Bennis to the LA Times’ Kurt Streeter. Despite the Dodgers’ recent success since adding Manny Ramirez (last night’s blowout loss in Philly aside), management guru Bennis warns, “we’re looking at a team that is labile.”
“That’s a fancy word in physiology,” he said. “A labile physical system is one that is in a state of flux.”
“Right now, Frank McCourt needs to be extremely astute with everything he does . . . [With a labile system] any intervention, any small movement, could have a huge impact, an impact that could be felt for years.”
We spoke of Arte Moreno, the Angels’ owner. When his team pulled off the recent trade for Mark Teixeira, Moreno went into hiding, allowing others to take the spotlight.
By contrast, when the Dodgers pulled off the startling trade for Ramirez, McCourt was front and center in the media, as he so often seems to be.
A sure sign that an organization has lost its way, Bennis says, is when it has constant turnover in key positions. If this is the case, the Dodgers are stuck deep in the dark forest.
My guest leaned forward. “McCourt sounds so damn equivocal whenever he is asked about Colletti’s future. That needs to stop.
“Right now, when the team is fighting for the playoffs, McCourt should show total confidence in Colletti,” Bennis said, his voice firm. “There is a time for legitimate doubt, a time when he may decide to move in another direction, but the time to show doubt is not now, not midseason. What he communicates to everyone in his entire organization is a sense of not being able to make up his mind.”
When the Cubs lose 13-5 to the Nats, and much of that done to the bullpen, I say it’s time to turn to the AL West. Is it just me or is watching the LA Angels of Anaheim in August one of the more interesting baseball tourneys of late summer? The Angels ranked as best team 10 days ago, hovering 32 games over .500. Then in their last 10 games they’ve gone 3-7 against fellow contenders the Twins and Rays. The AL West is a vacation spot most teams would like to visit, and I gotta say, everyone’s October evaluations have to be calibrated to the no-competition zone the Angels call home. Best record, yes, but against who? After losing 9-0 tonight in Orange County Los Angeles, The OC Register‘s Bill Plunkett buys into the party line that the Angels are “scary good,” not that their division is scary suck-ass bad. Except for a three game set at The Cell next month, then three out here versus the Yankees, the Angels will coast to a division title on the likes of the As, Rangers, and Mariners.
ANAHEIM — Maybe the Angels peaked “ or maybe they just peeked.
Manager Mike Scioscia feigns ignorance of his team™s place in the standings. But since reaching a season-high 32 games over .500 10 days ago, the Angels have played like a team that knows very well it could moonwalk backwards to the tape and still finish first in the American League West.
The result has been their worst 10-day stretch of the season “ seven losses in their past nine games after a 9-0 beating by the Minnesota Twins Friday night.
Afterwards Scioscia called this stretch œprobably the worst baseball we™ve seen all year and closed the doors to the media for 18 minutes after the game (nearly double the stipulated ˜cooling-off™ period).
œThere™s nobody happy with the way we™re playing baseball right now, Scioscia said. œThat (losing a sense of urgency because of their large lead) is one of the things we™ve talked about. The challenge of this season is game to game, not where you are in the standings or whether you™re chasing someone or not.
œThat™s part of the challenge. But the way you get there is day to day, game to game. Anything short of that becomes a distraction. ¦ We need to filter out all distractions. That™s step one and that™s what we™re addressing.
Just a few days ago, Scioscia used that same word “ œdistraction “ to describe the standings.
œIt™s certainly under that umbrella, Scioscia said Friday, adding that concerns about œwhat role a player is playing or how many hits he’s getting also fall into that category.
Scioscia™s message to his team in that closed-door meeting could be summed up in œtwo words “ stay hungry, left-hander Joe Saunders said.
œDon™t be complacent, he said. œPlay the way we™re capable of playing every night. ¦ Don™t take anything for granted “ 15-game lead or whatever.
œHe said this team is scary good. For this to happen to us, it™s almost a fluke.
If the following allegations turn out to be true, there’s probably a few dozen honorary deputy’s badges the Diesel will have to return. On the other hand, if Ray Liotta doesn’t want to participate in the Broadway musical version of “Unlawful Entry”, Shaq might want to consider the part. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s John Hollis.
NBA star Shaquille O™Neal has been ordered to steer clear of an Atlanta-area woman who took out a restraining order Thursday.
Alexis Miller, a 23-year-old hip-hop artist known professionally as Maryjane, claimed she ended an intimate relationship with O™Neal last month. She alleged he then threatened to pay performers $50,000 each not to work with her.
œIt™s been very difficult for her, said L. David Wolfe, Miller™s Atlanta-based attorney. œHer fears are not only for herself but also the people around her. He said Miller, who has a young son, is œpretty traumatized.
Wolfe said Miller had known the 7-foot-1, 325-pound All-Star center for about a year and a half, and that the two became intimate over the past six to eight months.
The court affidavit quotes an e-mail from O™Neal as saying, œI dnt no who the [expletive] u think u dealin wit u will neva be heard from one phone call is I gotta make now try me. Sho me.
Not to sound cavalier about these serious charges, but I remain skeptical. There’s all sorts of reasons a guy of Shaq’s size might be breathing heavily on the phone (Mike D’Antoni’s practices, for one). And the offending electronic message is very similar to a letter I received from Tommy Hoops after I threatened to revoke his commentary privileges.
Never let it be said (not within earshot of the gentleman above, anyway) that (cat)fishing is not a sport. Thanks to Howard Draper for the link, and and especially for the photograph that has now become my mac’s wallpaper, thus displacing Joceyln Pierce.
(l-r : fighting the good fight against anti-Bomber bias, instant messaging with “a Mets fan”)
Earlier this year, Chris Mottram accurately described genetic lottery winner Hank Steinbrenner as “the blogging gift that just keeps on giving.” How lucky for all of us then, that amongst Mottram’s new colleagues at the Sporting News is none other than….drum roll….Hank Steinbrenner.
Today’s NY Post reports that in the Sept. 1 edition of TSN, Hank makes his editorial debut with the curious claim, “most of the national media is full of Yankee haters.”
“That’s why I have to point out the injuries,” Steinbrenner writes in his column in the magazine’s relaunch issue. “Because the media sweep that under the rug and say we’re playing poorly.
“But next year, in a new stadium, we’ll be much better.”
Scribbling with similar aplomb in his first entry at the revamped WEEI.com, Will Leitch — thankfully untroubled by any new association with Ron Borges —- gets things off to a tremendous start by quoting an unnamed person in his third paragraph for the Boston media giant.
A friend of mine, a Mets fan, told me that he feels sad about how poorly the Braves are playing this season. œThey™ve been such a great and proud franchise the last umpteen years. I do not understand this sentiment, and suspect you don™t either. If the Cubs lost 100 games, this Cardinals fan would be doing backflips.
Far be it for me to call bullshit on this paragon of serious journalism. But I’m gonna do so anyway ; even if we somehow believe Stephen Glass Will Leitch has a friend (or a friend who is a Mets fan), the unattributed quote is far too fantastic to hold water.
With all due respect to my (imaginary) friends who root for the Braves, there is not one Mets fan on the fucking planet that would describe Atlanta as “such a great and proud franchise the last umpteen years”. More likely, if Leitch really had such an acquaintance, he or she would be quick to summarize the Braves as a blight on the entire southeast, with their wife-beating skipper, the Hooters-waitress-fucking Chipper and sickeningly racist tomahawk chop.
Seriously, of those who attended the Mets’ sweep of Atlanta at Shea this week, how many of you felt even a twinge of sympathy for the club that currently employs Tom “The Mole” Glavine, public education advocate Mike Hampton and at one time, made a millionaire out of social critic John Rocker? That’s right, ZERO.
In slightly related news, I’m happy to hear Deadspin’s traffic is up considerably since Leitch’s departure. You know, with the blog having been such a great and proud franchise all these years.
While the Daily News’ Bob Raissman suggests Mike Francesca “would likely have thrown an on-air fit” had he not been granted a one-on-one audience with Brett Favre earlier this week, Newsday’s Neil Best claims there’s a bunch of budding Walter Shitty’s dying for a chance to fill the shoes of Francesca’s departed co-host.
I just got a tip from an electronic journalist – who is a better, or crazier, man than I – who is at Bar A in anticipation of today’s Mike Francesa show there.
Said journalist reports thare is quite a mob of Mad Dog wannabes hoping to impress the big guy during today’s remote and earn a spot on his new show.
For shame, Mr. Best. “Mad Dog wannabe” is no way to talk about Southside Johnny.
“Nike is enlisting the services of a repressive regime to crush its enemies” charges the Guardian’s Marina Hyde, and while I’d otherwise be worried for the welfare of Sonny Vacarro, Hyde explains this is all about the sneaker giant quashing a particularly nasty rumor.
While several home spectators were still weeping outside the Bird’s Nest Stadium after Liu Xang was forced to pull out of the 110m hurdles, newspapers were going to press running a full-page Nike advert. A sombre, unsmiling image of Liu’s face, it was overlaid with the words: “Love competition. Love risking your pride. Love winning it back. Love giving it everything you’ve got. Love the glory. Love the pain. Love sport even when it breaks your heart.” In the succeeding days we would learn even more about how one insanely pressurised athlete’s misery would be co-opted to bolster Nike’s brand. “We are about sticking by athletes through thick and thin,” declared the sportswear giant’s brand president, Charlie Denson, “through injury and poor performances. That is why sports are such an exciting field – there are no guarantees. There is heartbreak and failure as well as excitement and triumph.”
There’s really nothing like a marketing executive explaining to ordinary folks why sport is exciting, ladling on all those abstract nouns which one often feels have been copyrighted by Nike. And if only they’d left it there, they might just have got away with it. But it turns out Nike are also “about” far less appealing things than triumph and hope and Redeem Teams.
On Tuesday, it was discovered that an anonymous internet user, claiming to be close to Nike, had written a web post in which they suggested Nike had forced Liu to pull out because he wasn’t going to win, and that would compromise the firm’s investment in him. Your basic internet conspiracy, but the corporation’s response was as swift as it was staggering. They announced: “We have immediately asked relevant government departments to investigate those that started the rumour.” Relevant government departments? But how enchanting to find Nike speaking like the foreign office of an independent republic, almost as if the sportswear firm has an extradition treaty with the Chinese government. It hasn’t, of course, so the rather more salient question is whether Nike has any qualms about getting the famously gossamer-touched Chinese government to leave no stone unturned in the hunt for – and let’s keep stressing it – an anonymous internet poster.
Newsday’s Steve Zipay reports the New York Rangers plan the retire the jerseys and numbers of Adam Graves, Andy Bathgate and Harry Howell in early 2009. Presumably, Pavel Bure and Eric Lindros will have to wait a bit longer for their honors.
In two ceremonies that will bring the number of jerseys in the rafters to eight, the Graves’ sweater will be retired in a ceremony on Tuesday, Feb. 3 before the game against the Atlanta Thrashers and Bathgate and Howell will be saluted on Sunday, Feb. 22, before the Rangers host the Maple Leafs.
Graves, 40, had learned of the plans to retire his jersey when Brian Leetch, his former teammate on the 1994 Cup championship team made the surprise announcement during the ceremony to retire his No. 2 sweater on Jan. 24. But the Bathgate and Howell plans had been kept under wraps until yesterday.
In stark contrast to the somewhat condescending efforts employed by a succession of other teams (Fish Sticks, Mets, Dodgers), Philadelphia GM Ed Stefanski (above) conducted a conference call with a number of Philly and/or hoops blogs yesterday (audio available at Recliner GM). Rather than a mere goodwill/PR gesture, this was an all-too rare example of the independent media being taken seriously. I’m not holding my breath waiting for Omar Minaya (or Rod Thorn) to attempt something similar, but when the day arrives… I’ll certainly be one of the first to complain about not being invited.
The proliferation of Olympic blogging strikes the Globe & Mail’s Christie Blatchford as a depressing, dumbed-down proposition. “On The Globe website, our slogan is “Join the Conversation,” but in the blogosphere, what follows isn’t usually a conversation but a brief, ungrammatical shouting match,” sighs Blatchford, who isn’t merely bummed out over the death of intelligent discourse, but she’s despondent over the increased workload for her and her colleagues. Surely Christie’s heard of doing more with less?
Michael Phelps’s last swim, as with all swim finals thanks to NBC, took place in the morning here, prime time back home. It meant that most Canadian papers could just barely squeak into the next day’s editions the news of his record eighth gold. Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star was poolside; she had five whole minutes to write and file the story. It does not make for thoughtful copy.
Ms. DiManno’s work ethic is legendary. When I remarked to her colleague Doug Smith that she had written five stories one day last week, he grinned and said, “Well, the paper has five sections.” On one of those multistory days, Ms. DiManno got a snarky comment about one of them on the Star website, “comments” being the remarks Web readers are encouraged to post about the stories they read.
“This feels more like a blog post, Rosie. A good blog, but a lame article,” wrote someone identified only as HEC30.
You see? Everyone’s a writer now. Everyone’s an editor. It’s as if the College of Physicians and Surgeons not only encouraged patients to read all the medical websites, but also to do their own diagnoses.
It is not true that anyone can write. It is not true that anyone can write on deadline. It is not true that anyone can do an interview. It is not true that anyone can edit themselves and sort wheat from chaff. It is not true that even great productive writers like The Globe’s Jim Christie or Ms. DiManno can hit a home run every time they sit before the laptop. But the odds of them doing it are greatly increased if they haven’t already filed 1,200 words to the Web, shot a video, done a podcast and blogged ferociously all day long.
Journalism wasn’t meant to be a conversation, anyway. It was maybe a monologue, at its most democratic a carefully constructed dialogue. If readers didn’t like or agree with the monologues in paper A, they bought paper B. What was most important about their opinions was that they thought enough to spend the coin.
The Mets and Braves are tied at 3 through 5 1/2 innings tonight, and while David Wright has hit his 25th HR and Carlos Delgado has driven in a pair of runs, the evening’s unquestionable highlight (so far) had to be the following exchange between Tom Seaver and the SNY broadcast team during the last of the 4th :
(a graphic is shown listing Seaver’s career stats, including a won-loss record of 311-205)
Keith Hernandez : Tom, how’d you lose so many games?
(long pause. sounds of four grown men giggling)
Tom Seaver : well….Gary, it’s been great…I wish I could stay longer, there’s one out in this inning and by god the old limousine is waiting in the station….
Gary Cohen : Can you tell Keith has a day off tomorrow?
Seaver : His day off is Friday but he’s starting it Thursday?
Seaver : Yeah, what were you thinking, Keith? When you argued with the umpire when I struck you out on that pitch underneath your elbow? You took it because you were totally fooled…you were looking away for the sinker and I threw that 95 mile an hour slider…
Keith : You made me cry in the dugout. Willie Crawford said, ‘Keith, don’t worry about it. Most major leaguers aren’t able to hit that pitch, 3-2…with the bases loaded, a one-run ballgame, that kind of curve ball.” I’ll never forget it as long as I live.
Who dares question the baseball IQ of Alex Rodriguez? Gunned down by Toronto’s Lyle Overbay in the 9th inning of Tuesday’s 2-1 loss at the Rogers Centre, the Yankee third baseman tells the Daily News’ Mark Feisand that he’s been unfairly criticized, despite, as the scribe so wonderfully put it, this incident being “the second time in less than two weeks that Rodriguez was cut down while representing the tying or go-ahead run.”
“One thing I learned from Joe Torre and Lou Piniella was that a manager will never get mad at you for playing the game right, hustling and making an aggressive mistake,” Rodriguez said before Wednesday night’s win over Toronto. “They’ll get mad at you if you don’t push the envelope.”
A-Rod’s hustle – or lack thereof – was a popular topic on sports radio Wednesday, as replays showed the third baseman pause before leaving the batter’s box. Rodriguez shot down the theory that he wasn’t going all-out, explaining his momentary hesitation.
“There was a delay because I didn’t know where the ball was,” Rodriguez said, adding that he initially thought it was a foul ball. “Usually when there’s a lack of hustle, it’s not in the ninth inning down by one. Whoever is saying that doesn’t know about baseball. That doesn’t bother me one bit.”
Said Joe Girardi: “It looked like he was out-of-whack from the beginning. A lot of times when you get jammed, you’re not sure where you hit it. I remember (Paul) O’Neill used to hit balls and he’d have no idea where he hit them. We’d be screaming for him to run.”
Once Rodriguez realized where his ball was headed, he bolted out of the box and headed for first. Thinking he had a double all the way, A-Rod turned for second.
“I made a really wide turn around first. That’s what I’m guilty of,” Rodriguez said. “My only regret is that I wish I would have picked up the ball right away and had a better turn. That guy just made an unbelievable play.”
Sidney Ponson gave the Yankees all of 32 pitches tonight (2 innings pitched), with a quarter of ‘em ending up as base hits for the Blue Jays. New York currently trails Toronto, 5-0, and the Journal News’ Peter Abraham figures, “unless a walrus sneaks in from the tundra and attacks Roy Halladay in the dugout sometime in the next few innings, there is no chance the Yankees win this game.” I think an “A-Team”-style invasion led by Tim Johnson is somewhat more likely.