Isiah Thomas Hospitalized ; 30 Minute Moratorium On Nasty Jokes Starts Immediately

Posted in Basketball at 2:58 pm by

From WCBS-TV.com :

Harrison. N.Y. police were sent to the home of former New York Knicks president Isiah Thomas early Friday morning in response to a call that he had overdosed on sleeping pills, a source confirmed to CBS Station WCBS-TV in New York.

Thomas was rushed to White Plains Hospital for treatment, but his condition is not yet known.

Barry Watkins, vice president of communications for Madison Square Garden, told The Journal News newspaper, “Isiah is fine.”

Sources tell WCBS-TV that police arrived at Thomas’ home shortly after midnight in response to a 911 call from a cell phone and that Thomas’ condition was being classified as an overdose.

According to the Daily News, police say the victim consumed “roughly 10 Lunesta sleeping pills.”

Obviously, we have no way of determining if this was an accidental overdose, but a number of recent events in Thomas’ professional life would drive any number of persons down a self-destructive path. With the possible exception of his employer, James Dolan, it’s hard to think of a public figure disparaged as routinely as Thomas in the New York papers (or this very blog). Isiah’s playing accomplishments at the collegiate and pro levels will hopefully be remembered long after his rotten performance as a hoops executive is forgotten, and here’s hoping this is just a minor setback before he raises enough money to buy the Nets from Bruce Ratner.

From The More Than Anyone Needed To Know Dept. : Joe Benigno-Gazingo’s Preshow Ritual

Posted in Sports Radio at 12:46 pm by

Newsday’s Neil Best seems to think Joe Beingno has the dubious honor of being frontrunner for the position of Mike Francesca’s yammering bud on the Russo-less “Mike’d Up”.  Warning : the following content, while not necessarily unsafe for work, might prove nauseating and/or frightening to persons of a timid sensibility (link courtesy Maura Johnston).

If Joe Benigno lands the gig as Mike Francesa’s WFAN sidekick, they ought to put up a historic marker to commemorate the occasion in the station’s third-floor men’s room.

It is there, Benigno informed the world on Oct. 10, that he spends an hour or more before dawn most days, reading newspapers, seeking solitude and, um, getting his game face on.

“We’ve learned too much new,” Francesa said, speaking for all of us as Benigno described his morning routine in their first segment together – and everyone in the studio vowed never again to borrow a tabloid from him.

Francesa seems comfortable with Kim Jones, as in an amusing exchange as the show ended Wednesday:

“You can never be too rich, too thin or have too much pitching; that’s all you have to know about life,” Francesa said.

“Amen,” Jones said. “I wish I knew the first two. I don’t care about pitching.”

Let’s just say that line wouldn’t have worked as well from Benigno. (Much as the third-floor bathroom story would not have come out quite the same if Jones had told it.)

Nick Stevens : Not Merely The Pats’ Most Vocal Supporter, But A Lover Of Fine Cinema, Too

Posted in Free Expression, Gridiron at 11:24 am by

It’s been at least a few days since I’ve heard anyone drop dialogue from John Landis’ Blues Brothers movie into a conversation.  And I suspect it will be a few more days before it happens again.

Newt Gingrich, John Kerry and Billy Beane Walk Into A Bar…

Posted in Baseball, politics at 10:58 am by

…Except it’s not a bar. It’s the New York Times’ opinion page. And nothing funny happens, really. They just start talking about how a Sabermetric approach might help save America’s “overpriced, underperforming health care system.” This is on the New York Times’ opinion page, again. None of this is a joke. So:

Studies have shown that most health care is not based on clinical studies of what works best and what does not ” be it a test, treatment, drug or technology. Instead, most care is based on informed opinion, personal observation or tradition.

It is no surprise then that the United States spends more than twice as much per capita on health care compared to almost every other country in the world ” and with worse health quality than most industrialized nations. Health premiums for a family of four have nearly doubled since 2001. Starbucks pays more for health care than it does for coffee. Nearly 100,000 Americans are killed every year by preventable medical errors. We can do better if doctors have better access to concise, evidence-based medical information.

Look at what™s happened in baseball. For decades, executives, managers and scouts built their teams and managed games based on their personal experiences and a handful of dubious statistics. This romantic approach has been replaced with a statistics-based creed called sabermetrics…

Evidence-based health care would not strip doctors of their decision-making authority nor replace their expertise. Instead, data and evidence should complement a lifetime of experience, so that doctors can deliver the best quality care at the lowest possible cost.

Man, Joe Morgan and Jerry Manuel are going to be fucking pissed about this. Can’t we just have David Eckstein and Shane Victorino fix the health care system through a series of head-first slides and hustle plays?

Phil Mushnick : Manufacturing Outrage, Thrice Weekly

Posted in Gridiron, social crusaders at 10:53 am by

Can we all agree that when it comes to eliminating the scourge that is Violence Against Women, there is no method more efficient than insisting fantasy football analysts become more socially conscious? From the not-at-all grandstanding Phil Mushnick in Friday’s NY Post :

On ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” Wednesday, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen was brought in to discuss NFL matters, including possible punitive action against Chiefs’ RB Larry Johnson, accused of assaulting a woman, his fourth such charge in the last five years.

Mortensen speculated that Chiefs’ coach Herm Edwards is unlikely to allow Johnson to slide. After all, Mortensen concluded, Edwards is the father of two daughters.

Huh? Assaulting women is a depends-on-your-point-of-view issue? Had Edwards (or any other adult male) been the father of two sons he reasonably would be more likely to overlook or even excuse Johnson’s conduct? What if he had one of each; would he be on the fence? One needs to be the father of daughters to grasp the gravity of – or even over-react to – such charges?

Come to think of it, those who should be most disturbed by the charges against Johnson are those whose mothers are women.

On CBS Sports’ Fantasy Football Web site, yesterday, the issue was analyzed with no-nonsense clarity: “Owning Johnson in Fantasy play is a very risky proposition at this point.” Now that’s more like it. Yup, it’s less a case of women beware than buyer beware!

Meantime, Giants’ lineman Barry Cofield Sunday explained the gyrating sack dance he performed that day: “I call it the, ‘Don’t tase me, bro.’ I hope everybody enjoyed it.” Yeah, in the throes of an NFL crime wave, funny stuff.

Mushnick may or may not be aware the phrase “don’ tase me, bro” was popularized not by an NFL serial offender, but by a widely circulated You Tube clip that showed a student being zapped during a John Kerry Q&A. (Unrelated) crime wave or not, Cofield’s homage is funny stuff.  But if Phil would like to suggest a more appropriate form of between-the-lines self expression — surely there’s a way in which to celebrate a touchdown and stage a protest against Larry Johnson’s heinous deeds — I’m sure Chad Johnson’s suggestion box is wide open.


Great Culture Clashes Of The Modern Age : Saints Cheerleaders Vs. The Guardian

Posted in Gridiron, non-sporting journalism, We Aren't The World at 9:36 pm by

Sunday’s Chargers/Saints game at Wembley Stadium isn’t merely a crucial battle between a pair of underachieving sides, it also affords the the local media with innumerable fish-in-a-barrel opportunties to mock the fuck out of American football. Or at least the game’s trappings, as evidenced by the Guardian’s Tom Lutz giving a pair of New Orleans cheerleaders the third degree.


You reached the holy grail of cheerleading last night when you appeared at Watford v Cardiff. Small Talk imagines it will be a comedown when you have to go back to the Louisiana Superdome.
DiAnne (above, left) : [Possibly uttering the phrase for the first time in history] Watford was fun! The fans really enjoyed us and cheered us on. We love dancing.

Yeah, but Watford is a bit, well, Watford.

DiAnne: [Conceding the point slightly] It was a bit muddy, but we still had fun. It was great.

On to world issues now. Who’s going to win the US election?

DiAnne: [Politely but firmly] We don’t talk about politics. [Rapidly changing subject] We do Saints politics though and they’ll win on Sunday!

George Bush used to be a cheerleader, who’d make a better one: Dubya, Barack Obama or John McCain? Who admittedly can’t raise his arms above his head, but there you go.
Ashlyn (above, right) : All three.
DiAnne: We’d put all three on the team.

But John McCain can’t raise his arms above his head¦
Ashlyn: It’s just like our team, everyone brings something different. It makes a team a team.
DiAnne: Exactly, we’re different ages and different looks and it adds to the uniqueness.

World Series Game Two : Rays A Tougher Foe Than Kim Myers

Posted in Baseball at 9:02 pm by

A night after Cole Hamels, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge combined to frustrate the Tampa Rays and their legion of bandwagon-hopping loyal fans, the AL Champs have a 4-0 lead over the Phillies in the top of the 5th.  “Tonight, in the biggest start of his career, Brett Myers will get a chance to be the rockstar” wrote The 700 Level’s Enrico.  Thus far, however, Myers’ performance has been Kevin DuBrow-esque (3 earned runs, 6 hits, 2 walks, O K’s), but on the positive side of things, the easily-outraged (by demonstrative wide receivers) Joe Buck resisted any temptation to draw parallels between Myers and Los Lonley Boys.

Awful Announcing analyzed the relatively low TV ratings for Game One earlier today, but no allowances were made for MLB’s competition in the form of the revived “90210″ or the Tiffany Network’s wonderfully titled (but not so wonderfully written or acted) “The Mentalist”.

If you’re wondering how the New York Mets might make up 2 games in the standings next season to the Phillies, fear not, as baseball lifer Razor Shines has replaced Luis Aguayo as the club’s third base coach.  In other Mets news, OF Fernando Tatis was named the 2008 NL Comeback Player Of The Year.  Wait ’til 2009, Mike Hampton.

The Misfortunes Of Desire, Pt. II

Posted in Baseball, Modern Art, Ugly New Stadiums at 5:55 pm by

Survival Research Laboratories’ 1988 visit to Shea Stadium has already been noted in this space, but who would’ve suspected SRL would be primed for a return visit? In front of such a small audience, to boot?  Video link swiped from MetsBlog.

Mike Leach’s Community Auditions

Posted in Gridiron at 5:09 pm by

“In this profession, this business, you do what you gotta do. If there’s a couple guys running around our stadium here that could cover (Tech receiver Michael) Crabtree, we would invite them to come down.”  So grunted Kansas head coach Mike Mangino of the possibility Saturday’s visit from Texas Tech will feature a halftime field goal contest winner as the Red Raiders’ new kicker.  From KBTX’s Joe Brown :

Matt Williams, who recently transferred to Tech from Tarleton State, was picked to take part in a kicking contest during a Tech game a few weeks ago. First prize was a month’s free rent, which Williams won by successfully booting a 30-yard field goal.

As Williams was walking back to his seat in the stands, he was flagged down. “They relayed a message to me saying that Coach (Mike) Leach (above) wanted to talk to me,” said Williams.

After the meeting, the two parted ways, but Leach didn’t forget Williams. And with the team’s recent kicking woes — two kickers missing six extra points and half of their field goal attempts — the coach is seriously considering suiting up Williams for Saturday’s game against No. 18 Kansas.

Having already gone through two kickers – who have combined to miss six PATs and half of their field-goal attempts – the sixth-ranked Red Raiders are now seriously considering giving Matt Williams a shot against No. 18 Kansas this weekend.

“He’s got a real good shot,” said Assistant Coach Clay McGuire. “Only Mike Leach could bring a guy out of the stands and make it work.”

Only Mike Leach? Man, how soon they forget Steve Aponavicius.

Urination Plot F-7 : Pavement Rarity Devalued By Kitty Piss

Posted in Cats, record collector disease, Rock Und Roll, The Mailbag at 2:20 pm by

Who amongst us wouldn’t gladly pay $100 or more for a copy of Pavement’s 1990 Drag City 7″ EP ‘Demolition Plot J-7″?  Well, anyone other than people with families and real bills to pay.  Through the auspices of Tim Cook, we’re directed to an eBay auction for said vinyl masterpiece…currently up for bids in what the seller responsibly details as something less than mint condition.

Been hanging onto this one (double wrapped in plastic and sealed in a box in the closet) for a long, long time.

The vinyl is in perfect, playable condition.

The cover…another story. Used to store my 7″ records in open boxes on the floor back in the late 80s-early 90s. Had a cat at the time that, in his increasing senility, eschewed the litter box one afternoon in favor of the record box. Unfortunately this very rare Pavement EP fell victim to the Urination Plot F-9 and the odor today is as strong and distinctly feline in origin as it was the day I pulled the record, dripping, from the box. The yellow stain affecting primarily the bottom half of the cover, as well as the liner notes, is perhaps a darker yellow today than it was in 1991.

In desperation I attempted to clean the paper cover with a damp, soapy sponge (what the hell?!), followed by disinfectant, followed by a later dousing with Nature’s Miracle or similar product, which resulted in one 1/2″ tear and several approximate tears to the front. In addition, the front image is rubbed-out in two places. The back cover is not without its own problems.

So sorry. But if you’re a fan of both rare Pavement AND all things feline, this one’s for you!!

(I can supply a pic of the responsible cat, now deceased, upon request.)

WaPo’s Lee: Yes, NBA Players Besides Etan Thomas Care About Politics

Posted in Basketball, politics at 1:35 pm by

There’s an easy overlap on the great venn diagram of dorkery between politics and sports, at least in my circles (yes!) of friends. Maybe it’s because we like knowing lots of things about and holding detailed opinions of people we’ll probably never meet; maybe it’s because we are temperamentally drawn to take a perhaps overzealous emotional and intellectual interest in things over which we have little influence. Maybe it’s because IM mockery admits of so little difference between objects of derision. It’s probably a little bit of all those.

But as election day draws nearer, those of us — it may be just me and a couple of my similarly unemployable friends — with J. Edgar Hoover-style dossiers in our head on different athletes’ political affiliations have been greeted with a great bounty of “(this type of professional athlete) has opinions on the election, too” stories. (Here’s a good one from the AP that reveals how important leadership and experience are to white guys on the Kansas City Chiefs’ O-line) In today’s Washington Post, Michael Lee catches those of us who care up on what athletes in what had previously seemed the most apolitical of pro sports — well, apolitical except for one very tall Huffington Post contributorthink about the election.

Support for Obama is far from unanimous around the league. Spencer Hawes (above), a second-year center with the Sacramento Kings, created a Facebook page for fans of conservative pundit Ann Coulter and had a bumper sticker on his car in high school that read, “God Bless George W. Bush.” Hawes, 20, said he is backing Republican nominee John McCain and is excited about voting for president for the first time. Hawes hasn’t campaigned on behalf of McCain but said, “but I’d be ready and willing if I was asked.”

But most players interviewed for this story said they were backing Obama.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher and New York Knicks point guard Chris Duhon were also at the Democratic convention in Denver. Duhon, a teammate of Obama personal aide Reggie Love at Duke, attended the final presidential debate between Obama and McCain at Hofstra University last week.

New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul encouraged people to vote in a Web commercial for the Obama campaign-sponsored Web site. Detroit Pistons guard Chauncey Billups introduced Obama at a rally in Michigan. Greg Oden, Jerryd Bayless and Channing Frye of the Portland Trail Blazers spoke on behalf of Obama at a voter registration drive at Portland State University.

While Hawes’ politics were already common knowledge to readers of your better sports blogs, the newfound engagement of Chauncey Billups was at least a nice surprise. I was wondering what he was up to since he quit blogging several years ago.

LAT’s Penner : Once Again Enjoying Life As A Man

Posted in Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl?, Blogged Down, Sports Journalism at 1:25 pm by

“Big Changes In Store For LA Times™ Penner”
read an CSTB headlne on April 28, 2007, topping an item in which Los Angeles Times veteran sportswriter Mike Penner announced his transition from guy-to-gal.  After a stretch writing for the Times under the name Christine Daniels, LA Observed’s Kevin Roderick suggests the sports journalist might be fortunate if he’s not donated all his dude clothing to Goodwill (link courtesy Watchdog).

Eighteen month after writing a column about becoming Christine Daniels, veteran sportswriter Mike Penner has quietly returned to work at the Los Angeles Times, according to multiple sources close to the LAT’s Sports staff. Penner’s column in April 2007 about his sexual transformation became one of the most-viewed Times’ stories of the year and was followed by a story in the LAT from media writer James Rainey and tons of other media attention. Daniels for a time chronicled her transformation in a blog at LATimes.com; the blog entries have been removed and the Times has so far posted nothing about Penner’s return. I emailed him and Sports Editor Randy Harvey, who replied, “We’re looking forward to Mike’s byline appearing in the paper and on the website with increased frequency. He continues to be a valued member of our sports staff.”

There’s no word yet how these developments in Penner’s personal and professional lives might impact the mooted FX series “4 oz.”, a drama allegedly set to feature a transsexual sportswriter as the primary character.

(UPDATE : As it turns out, Sports By Brooks was all over this story a few days ago. I don’t make a habit of reading SBB on a regular basis, and observations like this are part of the reason why :

The timing of the move, in the wake of massive layoffs at the LAT, is a little curious. Penner was out of sight when the cutbacks happened (and more could be on the way). Because he/she had become a celebrity, at least locally, you wonder if that save Penner from getting laid off. He™s never been a mover and shaker in the LAT™s sports department, and you would think that he might™ve been on the firing line.

Holy fuck.  There I was thinking it took considerable guts for Penner to face so much public scrutiny and ridicule over something that has nothing to do with his ability to do his job…and SBB figures this was less about gender I.D. and more of a career move.  The sportswriting version of “Juwanna Mann” if you will.)

Arizona : Olson’s “Still Our Coach” (But Check Back Tomorrow)

Posted in Basketball at 12:42 pm by

A story atop ESPN.com’s front page claims Arizona head basketball coach Lute Olson, 74,  is stepping down after having missed the entire 2007-08 campaign while on a leave of absence.  The University, however, disputes the veracity of Dick Vitale’s claim, according to the Tuscon Citizen :

“Nothing has changed,” UA sports information official Richard Paige said. “Lute is still our coach.”

Olson missed the annual Rotary Club luncheon on Wednesday, and assistant Reggie Geary spoke in his place.

On Tuesday, Olson met with reporters during media day and said, “energy is not a problem.”

UA sophomore forward Jamelle Horne told the Citizen earlier this week that Olson looked fine in practice.

“You’re constantly bumping into him during drills because he wants you to realize he’s back,” Horne said. “He’s getting after it. He’s been yelling at everyone.”

Guregian : Pats Steaming Over 3 Additional Brady Surgeries

Posted in Gridiron at 10:58 am by

Though Tom Brady announced via his website last week that he’d undergone a recent arthoscopic procedure on his left knee, the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian reports the N.E. QB has gone under the knife a further 2 times in the past week.

The fear is the patellar tendon graft used to replace Brady™s anterior cruciate ligament is in danger of becoming compromised. Should that occur, the entire ACL reconstruction would have to be removed and redone from scratch.

That would push back his rehab and recovery period, which in turn, could delay his return to the field.delay his return to the field.

Brady had the initial surgery performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Oct. 6 at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles, where he is still being seen for the follow-up procedures.

The QB wrote on tombrady.com that œthe infection is very treatable and, through a course of antibiotics, it will be knocked out of my system. Brady referred to the second procedure as being œproactive, on the part of the doctors, and that the results have been positive.

However, with the additional procedures performed to flush out and irrigate the joint, and continued biopsies taken, either there are still signs of infection or his doctor is being overly cautious with the reigning NFL MVP.

Guregian states in the above video clip there’s some frustration in Foxboro over Brady’s insistence on having his own doctors perform these procedures, though you can sort of understand either side’s perspective.  The team has a lot riding on Brady’s eventual recovery. The All-Universe QB, however, might not want to entrust his medical treatment to the same folks who supervised Ted Johnson’s trip to palookaville.

To Live & Die In The Airport Lounge

Posted in Sports Radio, The Marketplace, Tourism at 3:13 am by

(apologies to My Teenage Stride for appropriating the above headline)

(pic swiped from Jaunted.com)

JetBlue opened the long awaited Terminal 5 at New York’s JFK Airport earlier today, meaning your road weary editor had the dubious pleasure of being one of the first touristas (other than this creepy character) to stumble into the newly opened WFAN Store.  I’m sorry to report most of the swag on offer is fairly generic licensed NY team attire, with a handful of WFAN tchotkes (mugs, hoodie) strategically hidden at the back of the shop.

How much longer must travelers wait to purchase an anatomically correct Steve Somers plush toy? Or, for that matter, the hottest Halloween costume in recent memory, the WFAN Joe Benigno Mask & Cape?


Reznet’s Walker – Deepy Bummed Over Joba Booze Bust

Posted in Baseball, Racism Corner at 7:45 pm by

“It’s the ugly undercurrent with the Joba Chamberlain DUI story,” insists Newsday’s Anthony Rieber.  And he’s not talking about the Yankee pitcher’s diploma from the Jim Leyritz Driving Academy, either.”

“The stereotype always goes back to the drunken Indian,” said Dalton Walker, a 26-year-old Native American journalist in Sioux Falls, S.D., who covered Joba at Nebraska and blogs about Native American athletes at www.reznetnews.org (“rez” is short for “reservation”).

“I knew it was coming,” Walker said. “Just because of that old stereotype about the drunken Native American. People are going to put that together, even if the story didn’t mention he was Native. It’s definitely not a reflection on Indian country. He just happened to be a Yankee baseball player who is Native American.”

Joba’s pitching exploits at Nebraska University and with the Yankees have brought pride to Native Americans everywhere, not just in his own tribe. Two days after Chamberlain was pulled over for speeding and cited for suspicion of drinking under the influence in Lincoln, Walker — who grew up on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Northern Minnesota — posted a blog item under the headline “Joba’s Arrest: Pouring Alcohol on an Open Wound.”

“Once I heard about Joba driving under the influence,” Walker wrote, “I texted a friend that it pushed us 10 years back as Native people.”

Later in the blog post, Walker retracted that startling statement. But his initial reaction speaks volumes about how fragile the perception of the public image of Native Americans can be.

“I thought, ‘This is not good,’ ” Walker said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “Nobody should be driving under the influence, but it’s going to hurt him because he’s a New York Yankee pitcher and he represents Native people along with who he is. And the stereotype always goes back to the drunken Indian, which is out there alive and well. If you don’t believe me, you can look at the comments by everyday people, everyday readers, on New York tabloid Web sites.”

The change we need? Marinerz Hire Brewerz’ Zduriencik az GM

Posted in Baseball at 6:02 pm by

The American League team with the most room for improvement, The Seattle Mariners, announced the hiring of a replacement GM today, Jerry Zduriencik (above, ruined image swiped from The Newcastle News), the former Milwaukee Brewers’ Vice President-Special Assistant to the General Manager for Player Personnel.

Per the USSMariner’s always-reliable Dave Cameron:

Now, Jack Z isn™t exactly the new school analytical type we were all hoping for. His strengths are all scouting based, and he won™t be the kind of guy to come in and turn the Mariners into the next Oakland/Cleveland/Boston/Tampa Bay. With Engle, Fontaine, and now Zduriencik, the Mariners are clearly going to try to win with the Atlanta/Minnesota/Anaheim method of just outscouting everyone else on earth and developing so much good talent from within that they can™t help but be competitive.

Guess what? It can work. It™s not the best possible path, but it™s not doomed for failure, either. If Zduriencik can prove to be as adept at evaluating major league talent as he has been at amateur talent, and the M™s commit to a development pipeline that enables the team to grow a roster of homemade all-stars, they could line themselves up to be a very good team.

Apparently this person is at least partially credited with the building of the Brewers’ successful young nucleus of everyday players, but shouldn’t Zduriencik also receive the shame for assembling that bullpen? My take really just a simple reminder: at least he isn’t Bill Bavasi!

DePodesta : We Can Finish Last Without Peavy, Too

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 5:57 pm by

“No one player makes a great team,” argued Padres assistant GM Paul De Podesta via his It Might Be Dangerous blog last week. Lest you think to yourself, “that’s a heck of a way to talk about Adrian Gonzalez”, De Podesta continued, “we don’t need to look any further than the 2008 Padres that went 63-99 with Jake Peavy.” The point of all this analysis?  The former Bill Plaschke whipping boy would have you believe that dumping trading Peavy is the first step to greatness. Let Paul count the historical examples!

There have been a number of occasions in recent memory where teams have traded or lost one of their best players only to be as good or better… immediately:

The 2008 Indians were 37-51 when they traded CC Sabathia, and then went 43-30.
The 2007 Twins finished 79-83, traded Johan Santana and let Torii Hunter leave in free agency, and then went 88-75 in 2008.
The 2003 Rangers finished 71-91, traded Alex Rodriguez, and then went 89-73 in 2004.
The 1996 Giants finished 68-94, traded Matt Williams, and then went 90-72 in 1997. There are many, many more, but here is my favorite string:

The 1998 Mariners traded Randy Johnson in the middle of a 76-85 season.
In 1999 the Mariners finished 79-83 without the Big Unit.
After 1999, the Mariners traded Ken Griffey, Jr and then went 91-71 in 2000.

After 2000, the Mariners lost Alex Rodriguez to free agency and went 116-46 in 2001.That’s three Hall-of-Famers in three successive seasons, and the Mariners improved each time. Baseball is a crazy game.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that trading a star player ensures success. What it does show, however, is that trading a star player can buoy a team. That is what we’re exploring.

Of course, much depends on new additions to the Friar lineup having what DePodesta might consider the necessesary buoyancy to elevate an offensively challenged team. The ’99 Mariners still had Junior and A-Rod, while the the 2001 M’s used some of what they saved on failing to sign Rodriguez on acquiring Ichiro Suzuki. No idea how Manny Ramirez feels about fish tacos, but if he’ll take a two-year deal and the Padres move the fences in for a second time at the place where pets home runs go to die…they still oughta finish behind the Dodgers and D-Backs next season.

Even In Harsh Economic Times, Doc Johnson Inc. Finds Prosperity In Sweden

Posted in Hockey at 5:05 pm by

Admit it, the first time you learned the headline “dildo downpour” was used in connection with a hockey story, you presumed it had something to do with Sean Avery’s return to the Northeast. (initial link courtesy Epic Carnival)

Livingston : Never Mind The Cover Up, How About The Browns’ Callousness?

Posted in Gridiron, Medical Science at 3:02 pm by

With few media outlets paying much heed to PFT’s earlier claim Browns WR Kellen Winslow (above) has dangerously swollen balls, Cleveland has all but confirmed the wide receiver’s claim his recently revealed staph infection was kept secret from teammates — despite a half dozen prior incidents of Browns players being diagnosed with staph. “Perhaps Winslow realizes now that, effectively, he is indeed a piece of meat,” observes the Plain-Dealer’s Bill Livingston. “The Browns just don’t believe in ‘tenderizing.’”

The temptation is to say “A plague on both their houses!”

Except the plague has already arrived, in the form of staph infections, chewing away at the health of Kellen Winslow twice, ending the career of LeCharles Bentley and endangering that of Joe Jurevicius.

Winslow, along with Bentley — who asked for and received his release in training camp — and, according to reports, Jurevicius, all never heard from Savage, the Browns’ top football man, during their convalescence.

Years ago, former Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer drew raised eyebrows around the NFL when he delivered hot food to flu-ridden free agent signee and pass-rush specialist Charles Haley. Haley was supposed to be a malcontent, a team wrecker. The Cowboys’ arch-rivals, the 49ers, had said good riddance. But he responded to Switzer’s small gesture of human kindness by creating a firestorm in opposing backfields, helping Dallas win the Super Bowl.

Crennel and Winslow’s teammates did speak to him while he was hospitalized, but how big a deal could picking up the phone have been for Savage? Anyone who has ever spent even one night in a hospital knows that messages received there carry values of compassion and empathy far beyond ordinary experience.

Isola : D’Antoni In No Hurry To Praise Eddy Curry

Posted in Basketball at 12:03 pm by

While True Hoop’s Henry Abbott could barely believe his eyes at the Knicks’ Zach Randolph actually breaking a sweat during last night’s preseason loss to the Celtics (“he was moving his feet on defense, and giving up the ball on offense, in ways that I have simply never seen before”), another scribe has us wondering if Eddy Current Suppression Ring has finally eaten himself out of the organization’s good graces. The former Bulls center “was once described as a cornerstone piece of the franchise, is now just an expensive 7-foot ornament” writes the NY Daily News’ Frank Isola.

“He’s going to have to play better than what he has shown me,” Mike D’Antoni said after Curry did not play in Boston’s 101-90 victory at the Garden. “He is going to have to pick it up. He has got to pick up his training.”

D’Antoni is using a short rotation, and even with Jared Jeffries sidelined for at least another month with a broken leg, Curry can’t crack the rotation. D’Antoni is even using Malik Rose ahead of Curry.

“Obviously, he missed a couple of weeks early and that set him back,” he added, referring to Curry sitting out the first week of training camp with a bacterial infection. “There is plenty of time for him to work and get back into the rotation but he has to make a heck of an effort. I think he knows that and hopefully, he will do that.”

Curry arrived for the start of the season in poor shape and does not seem to have the mental make-up to be a factor in D’Antoni’s system. Curry slipped out of the Garden Tuesday night without talking to reporters.

World Series ’08 : Let The Philly/Tampa Pissing Match Begin

Posted in Baseball, non-sporting journalism at 11:17 am by

Genuine malice or a worked print feud? Either way, it’s on between the Tampa Tribune’s Daniel Ruth and the Philadelphia Daily News’ Stu Bykofsy.  Of Tampa’s opponent in tonight’s World Series Game One, Ruth writes, “Philadelphia sports fans appear to have all of the sense of humor and whimsical joie de vivre of Pol Pot when it comes to their teams…they are known terrorists, communist sympathizers and pals with Kim Jong-il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Fidel Castro.”  And while Ruth is clearly engaging in (admittedly) contrived hyperbole, counterpart Bykofsy raised the ante with aplomb in today’s paper.

Philly has Independence Hall; Tampa Bay has the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. It connects Bradenton and St. Petersburg, which makes it truly a bridge to (and from) nowhere. It is a popular place to commit suicide. (Wait’ll the Phillies take the Series. Bodies will block the channel.)

When we win, we will have a parade up Broad Street. Where would Tampa’s parade be – in Arby’s parking lot?

In yesterday’s paper Ruth said Philly fans “want to eat your puppies and drink your blood. They are also Satan worshippers.” He called us terrorists and added something hurtful. Of our sacred cheesesteaks, he wrote, “Road kill is more appetizing.”

I believe he did the taste test himself because on one of my visits to Tampa, I met up with Ruth at one of Tampa’s finest restaurants. Like everything else, it was on a highway. I forget if it was IHOP or Denny’s.

In the paper, Ruth talked tall for a city where the people are called Tampons. It was pretty brave from a city where fans ring cowbells in the ballpark. Cowbells? Is the Trop a manure-filled pasture?

“What would Stu suggest the Rays fans do to demonstrate their excitement?” Ruth asked in print.

Easy. Do what Phillies Phanatics do – shoot off Glocks.

National Columnist Actually Has Something Nice To Say About The Trop

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 12:01 am by

What’s the real key to Tampa’s startling turnaround?  Player development? The managerial prowess of Joe Maddon?  Adding key veterans like Cliff Floyd, Troy Percival and Chad Bradford to their talented-but-youthful squad?  Or rather, as the New York Times’ George Vescey points out, The Rays’ willingness to allow paying customers to bring their own snacks to the ballpark. “One reporter recalls not being allowed to bring a sandwich into Tropicana Field under the old ownership,” writes Vescey, forgetting that Vince Naimoli (above) wouldn’t let that same reporter use his private toilet.

In most sports arenas and stadiums in this great land of freedom and opportunity, people can probably slip in a sandwich or unobtrusive snacks. But with inspections at every gate, fans are not allowed to bring anything substantial or drinks of any kind ” and often get the feeling they will be taken under the stands and beaten with rubber hoses if they try.

This is not necessarily about security, either. It is because most team owners believe in the American dream of shaking every last nickel out of the customer. And look how well that ethic is working these days.

fans who were allowed to bring food into the ballpark rather than dropping a $10 bill on the counter for a hot dog and hoping the cashier might hand back a few quarters.

œIt™s tough to feed a family, said club president Matthew Silverman, who grew up in Dallas and used to go the Rangers™ ballpark, one of the few places where food was allowed.

œI would sit in the bleachers with my family and eat fried chicken, Silverman said.

Under this sane policy, fans can actually bring carrots and apples and cereal to the ballpark and not have them wrestled away by gristly guards. I know what you are thinking: œThere™s no healthy eating in baseball, what with the mandatory calories and salt and sugar laced into the junk food sold in the corridors of American arenas.

The beauty part, Silverman said, is that the dome™s vendor has signed off on the bring-your-own policy because, as Silverman explained, if fans eat their bento box of sushi or homemade potato salad, they may feel like buying an ice cream or souvenir later. (Patrons cannot lug goodies to their rented luxury boxes, however. That™s a different deal.)


MLB, Rays Firm Believers In 2nd, Third Chances

Posted in "Wife Beater" Is Not A Fashion Statement, Baseball, Rock Und Roll at 10:34 pm by

This year’s NL Champions have already proven they’ve got few reservations about sending a noted wifebeater to the mound, but who knew their American League counterparts were just as open-minded?  The St. Petersburg Times reported earlier today that San Angelo’s Los Lonely Boys will perform the national anthem prior to Game 2 of the World Series Sunday night.  Said invite was issued despite a) the trio’s flagging career fortunes and b) the rhythm section’s unfortunate habit of being charged with assualting women.

The Garza Brothers (no relation to Rays hurler Matt) haven’t been convicted of any such thing, but Delmon Young was shipped outta town for lesser offenses.  On the other hand, when considering the local alternatives, perhaps inviting ringers from Texas makes perfect sense.

EliteXC Consultant : Kimbo’s K.O. Artist Was Paid Off

Posted in MMA at 5:53 pm by

Tuesday’s announcement that UFC’s primary competitor in the Mixed Martial Arts sphere, EliteXC was declaring bankruptcy, is being called “the MMA version of the Death Of WCW” by Figure 4 Weekly’s Bryan Alvarez. Unlike the former Time-Warner sports entertainment property, Elite XC’s unraveling had much to do with one man’s refusal to follow a storyline, if we’re to believe the charges of Icon Sports’ T. Jay Thompson.

Thompson, who sold his company to EliteXC a year ago, tells MMA Weekly’s Tom Hamelin that viewers who found Seth Petruzelli’s demolition of the heavily favored Kimbo Slice so thrilling oughta know the former was employed to take a punch, not deliver one. He’d also like you to know that Santa Claus doesn’t exist and there’s no afterlife, either.

œI was there cageside and watched the whole thing happen, he said. œI think (CBS) got cold feet watching. The way the Ken Shamrock pullout was handled, all the way from the beginning to the end with Seth Petruzelli (above). Watching Jared Shaw jumping up and down and screaming as a representative of the company, I think was disgusting and embarrassing.

Almost as quickly as Heat was over, the Oct. 4 show was mired in controversy over comments Petruzelli made to an Orlando radio show. During his interview, Petruzelli implied that EliteXC officials had attempted to influence the outcome of the fight. Subsequent outcry from fans and media caused the Florida State Boxing Commission to open an investigation, another reason Thompson believes CBS pulled out of talks with EliteXC.

œI don™t have a smoking gun, (but) I™ve been around long enough; I™ve talked to enough people that were there, I won™t name names of executives in the company that I know. Seth was paid to stand up. I™m confident of that. If the commission wants to talk to me, I™ll tell them what I know.

Thompson believes his company and other MMA promotions under the ProElite banner are destined to languish in bankruptcy court, along with EliteXC™s fighter contracts. On Tuesday, he will meet with his lawyers to determine whether it™s possible to free Icon Sport from its parent company. He™s not overly optimistic.

œ(The promotions are) there for creditors to go after, really, he said.

As a promoter, Thompson says he™s made hundreds of mistakes in his 15-year career. Elite™s size and visibility did not give them that luxury.

œWhen things are going good, anyone can promote a show, he said. œKimbo Slice knocking someone out, it™s pretty easy to get good ratings. It™s when crises happen that you earn your money as a promoter. It isn™t an exact science. The people that have been at the helm of EliteXC didn™t have the years of experience that are needed to promote MMA shows.