12.19.08

Who Knew That C-Webb Cared So Much About SEC Football?

Posted in Basketball, Sports TV at 3:05 pm by

There’s no truth to the rumor Chris Webber was asked to throw a shoe at Rich Rodriguez, but refused to do so for less than $50K.

Miller On “The Wrestler”‘s Scariest Moment : Smart (?) Mark Self-Recognition

Posted in Cinema, Professional Wrestling at 2:17 pm by

“I followed wrestling all through my 20s, and continued to order the major PPVs every year ¦ right until (Chris)Benoit murdered his wife, suffocated his son and took his own life, in 2007. That was it for me” writes ESPN The Magazine’s Bill Simmons, who interrupts his lavish praise of Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler” with a personal note to let us know that while he could turn a blind eye to 99 wrestlers dead before middle age, number 100 was just too much to bear.   A tad less grandstandy is Bill Miller, who in writing for Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Online muses, “we wrestling fans know of the deaths and the sadness in the business, but what we often fail to realize is origin of it all.”

As affecting or satisfying or fulfilling as The Wrestler will be for most hardcore fans, it’s also mildly offensive. The business is shown in such a poor light that it is more likely to reinforce rather than question the decision lapsed fans have made to stay away. Everyone around the business is shown to be nice and personable, but also fundamentally deranged. Be it the aging star, the hardcore indy vet or the doting fans, they are societal misfits, all. They all want something to be bigger than it is. And they all want to ignore what it does to the players for at least enough time to enjoy the show.

In Mickey Rourke, the makers of this film seem to have chosen the perfect vessel for depicting the real. Much has been written about the parallels between Rourke’s life journey and that of his character, all of it poigniant. Both Randy the Ram and Mickey enjoyed stardom, partied too hard and fell out of the limelight. Both are now in line for redemption. Yet as a wrestling fan one can’t help but see one sadder fact that is not in parallel: Mickey Rourke the actor works in a business where his redemption can allow him to regain his place in life: money, fame, etc. Randy the wrestler works in a business where redemption means getting to wrestle in a National Guard Armory and receive a plaque at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony.

It’s hard to tell what effect the movie will have on professional wrestling. It seems unlikely that such a punishing film will cause people to gain or regain their fandom. It seems likely that some people working in the business will see a bit of Randy the Ram in themselves or their peers and at least consider making some changes. In the end, though, I think the movie may affect wrestling fans the most. The perception of us may end up being crystallized through the audience’s reaction to Necro Butcher: a nice, respectful guy on the outside who has a side that will always leave him an outcast of society.

Mets Brass on Reliever: You Can Call Him J.J.

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 4:20 am by

… but you doesn’t have to call him Johnson Putz.

The New York Times, on baseball and Yiddish vulgarity:

The columnists Steve Kelley of The Seattle Times and Art Thiel of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer said they never heard Putz™s name used as an insult against him, either at the ball park or by letter writers and talk-radio callers in Seattle. Putz played for the Mariners from 2003 to 2008.

Putz said that he had rarely heard his name used derisively, even in high school in Michigan.

œDude, I was bigger than everybody in high school, he said.

But his last name may be no joking manner, particularly in New York. The 2000 United States Census reported that nearly two-thirds of the estimated 178,945 people in this country who speak Yiddish at home live in New York. New Jersey had the third-highest number of Yiddish speakers, after Florida.

The state of Washington had an estimated 423.

Oy vey!

Phuckin’ Communications Commission

Posted in Baseball, Free Expression, Parental Responsibility at 3:14 am by

It’s certainly appropriate that the Phillies’ long-awaited championship could somehow draw the ire of a federal agency, thanks to Chase “World Fucking Champions” Utley. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The FCC reports it received 26 complaints from the public about Utley’s language, which was heard live, in the late afternoon, on at least five television stations and one radio station, KYW (1060). Nielsen Media Research estimated that more than 825,000 local viewers saw part of the parade on CBS3, 6ABC, NBC10, Fox29, or Comcast SportsNet….

The complaints – copies of which were requested by The Inquirer under the Freedom of Information Act – assign equal blame to Utley and the stations. The identities of the complainants were redacted.

“If they didn’t want such words to be broadcast, they should have aired [it] on a delay to catch any obscene language,” wrote a viewer from Philadelphia. “Pull their license to broadcast.”

Another viewer wrote: “He should be disciplined for his lack of respect towards his fans and in particular the children exposed to such vulgarity. . . . The broadcasters are not at fault. Chase Utley is.”

Another: “This was not a casual slip. This was an intentional misuse and abuse of the public airwaves. . . . How am I to explain such profanity to my child?”

(The above, one might conjecture, is from NHL boss Gary Bettman)

A radio listener who wrote, “I heard it here in Camden,” said: “That sort of language is no big deal. . . except that Howard Stern was driven off free radio by you, the FCC, because of content and bad words and the like. It’s only fair that broadcasters be held to the same standards. . . . Fine KYW as much as you are legally allowed to fine them! . . . Lord knows the US Treasury could use the money.”

To which he no doubt added, “Baba Booey.”

Really, 26 complaints is peanuts – I guess the PTC just doesn’t have much of a membership in Philadephia. And it seems a shame this incident was too late to be part of the Supreme Court case on “fleeting expletives.” I would have loved to hear what Sam Alito had to say.

12.18.08

Hopefully, ESPN.com’s Redesign Will Prevent Future Incidents Such As This

Posted in Blogged Down, The Internet at 2:24 pm by

“I made a huge, gigantic error, and I would like to use this forum as a chance to set the record straight,” wrote Dave Lozo of Dave Lozo Dot Com yesterday. Did Dave mistakenly order “Beverly Hills Chiuhuahua” on PPV? Download the new Fall Out Boy album thru a file-sharing client? No, if we’re to accept his urgent tone, Mr. Lozo did something far worse.

I scrolled up to “Bookmarks” on ESPN.com and the drop-down menu appeared. However, in my haste to visit another Web site, I mis-clicked, and accidentally clicked on Rick Reilly’s story about why everyone hates Tyler Hansbrough. My browser then loaded the “Life of Reilly” page, and there I was, face-to-face with a Rick Reilly story.

You can imagine my panic. I froze. Like a child molester who hears sirens at a playground. I didn’t know what to do. I Googled, “taking back a page view,” but nothing helped. I called my friend who works as an IT guy, and he said it was too late, that a click can’t be taken back. I even tried to hack into the ESPN mainframe to delete my view, but to be honest, Googling “hacking into the ESPN mainframe” wasn’t helpful, either.

I would like to state for the record that this was an accident. I didn’t mean to do it. If I could take back that page view myself, I would. No one regrets this more than me, but I feel as though this click should not be counted when calculating Reilly’s numbers, which I am sure are presented to interested advertisers and are used by Reilly himself to extract more dollars from ESPN. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I knew I added to Reilly’s totals or forced an advertiser to pay an extra penny to strip an ad across the top of his page.

AJC’s Bradley : Braves Lucky To Avoid Taint Of Furcal Matter

Posted in Baseball at 2:04 pm by

Did SS Rafael Furcal renege on an agreement to return to Atlanta? Braves GM Frank Wren certainly thinks so, but in the eyes of the Journal Constitution’s Mark Bradley, who calls Furcal “the little man with the iffy birth certificate”, “sometimes the best deals are the ones you thought you™d made but didn™t make because somebody weaseled out at the end.”

Let™s not wonder overmuch about why Furcal did what he did (or didn™t do). Let™s note instead that the Braves, who already have a pretty fair shortstop, were about to lavish $30 million on one who™s five years older. Presumably this was preparatory to another trade – Yunel Escobar in a package for Jake Peavy – but I™m not ready to give up on Escobar. And I saw enough of Furcal on his first Atlanta tour to believe he hasn™t become what he should have.

So here™s what Furcal is: A little man of 31 (or so we believe) who has had a bad back and who has made the All-Star team once (that in 2003). For all the questions about his temper and his attitude, there™s a chance Escobar will wind up being a better player than Furcal. Heck, he already has a higher career OBP.

The Braves didn™t become a fourth-place team because one thing went wrong. They™re where they are because nearly everything fell apart. They™ll only get back to where they once were by building from the ground up. They shouldn™t get in the habit of swapping young for old. They shouldn™t be pursuing anyone who isn™t a big-time starting pitcher or a run-producing outfielder.

Last I checked, Furcal is neither.

Looking For Love In All The Wrong Right Places

Posted in Free Expression, History's Great Hook-Ups at 12:31 pm by

It might be selling the past artistic achievements of Jon Benjamin, Todd Barry and former Dave Bass associate Aimee Mann short to claim the above clip is their finest hour. But it’s amongst their top 3 minutes and 42 seconds.

The First Retail Casuality Of The NBA’s Dress Code Is…

Posted in Basketball, Fashion, The Law at 12:22 pm by

…Casual Male, who alleged in a lawsuit filed yesterday that former Bulls / current Knicks C Eddy Curry owes more than $41,000.00 for fancy, big-dude duds.  From the Chicago Sun-Times’ Kara Spak :

“It’s just a matter of him buying clothing he didn’t pay for,” said Edward Margolis, the attorney representing Casual Male and Jared M. Custom Clothing, a business popular with professional athletes that once was owned by Casual Male.

Margolis confirmed that the defendant was the former Bulls player, who is on the New York Knicks’ roster.

Purchases on Curry’s shopping trips, which occurred between January and April 2006, included $22,000 in suits, eight sweaters ranging from a $750 wool crew-neck to a $1,390 cashmere V-neck and more than $3,700 in ties.

We Shall Now Consider The Possibility That Ole Miss’ Andy Kennedy Is Not A Proper Leader Of Young Men

Posted in Basketball, Racism Corner, The Law at 10:38 am by

I’m not sure where Ole Miss’ head hoops coach ranks on a list of the state of Mississippi’s highest paid educators, but it might not be a stretch to assume he’ll be earning far less in the future, as the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Sharon Coolidge explains.

Former University of Cincinnati head basketball coach Andy Kennedy, now head coach at Mississippi, was arrested this morning on a charge of assault, accused of attacking a taxi driver and hurling racial slurs at the man, according to police and court records.

Also arrested was William Armstrong, the director of operations at Mississippi, on a charge of disorderly conduct, reports show.

The men are in town for the SEC/Big East invitational at U.S. Bank Arena. Mississippi plays No. 8 Louisville tonight.

Reports state Armstrong, 31, was drunk and thrown out of the Lodge Bar downtown early this morning.

After that, he and Kennedy got a cab. A report says Armstrong taunted the driver œin which his conduct was likely to cause a violent response.

A separate report says Kennedy œwas the aggressor and punched the driver, Mohammed Ould Jiddou. During the attack Kennedy used œracial slurs.

Police say a person standing nearby witnessed the assault and that Armstrong was so intoxicated he refused to calm down when asked and requested that he be taken to jail.

New Yankee Stadium, Same Old Shit: Steinbrenner’s Sweetheart Assessment Deal

Posted in Baseball, Greedy Motherfuckers, Money, Ugly New Stadiums at 1:59 am by

Times, as you might’ve heard, are tough. People out of work in record numbers, economy setting fire to itself, states over budget, Terrell Owens being scapegoated by the media. Everyone suffers in times like these, and every community finds its own way to make ends meet. Louisville, Kentucky, is doing its part by shutting down the city’s famed Otter Creek Park (unless CSTB alum Joel Hunt’s letter-writing campaign stops it). It’s hard to top that standard of shortsighted ridiculousness, but the state of New York is doing its best to close a $15 billion budget deficit by basically making every regressive economic move it can. Doubling sin and sales taxes, jumping up tuition at state and city colleges, cutting civil service jobs like whoa, increasing licensing fees for barbers, putting slot machines in nursing homes, charging citizens 65 cents every time they burp: it’s all here.

Well, not “all.” Because the rich folk and the major corporate and financial entities in New York at which they work/ed still aren’t getting taxed. There aren’t quite as many of them — and they aren’t quite as wealthy as they were before — but New York is still an awesome place to be really rich. Let’s take a hypothetical on this point.

Say you are a hugely rich, constantly drunk-seeming loutish billionaire scion of a serial manager- and turtleneck-abuser and era-defining dickweed. And you own a parcel of land with an iconic stadium on it in the city’s most benighted borough (give or take a Staten Island). And, you know, you want to build another newer stadium right next to that pre-existing stadium, but in order to do that without incurring a big tax hit, you need to get the land on which your stadium sits assessed at…actually, you know what, let’s dump the hypothetical. Here’s Juan Gonzalez — yes, this Juan Gonzalez (no, not really) — in the New York Daily News:

Mayor Bloomberg’s aides secretly pressured city tax assessors to inflate the value of land under the new Yankee Stadium so the team could qualify for nearly $1 billion in tax-free bonds, city e-mails show.

In March 2006, the city’s chief tax assessor put the market value for the stadium site at $27 million, far lower than the Yankees wanted. A Finance Department official ordered him to redo the report. Within hours, he jacked up it up to $204 million…

(The emails) how that top aides in City Hall, the Law Department and the city Economic Development Corp. were obsessed with getting a high assessment for the new stadium site to please the Yankees. The city was forced to turn those e-mails over to the congressional and state committees. The Daily News obtained copies.

On Dec. 22, 2005, Michael Kalt, an aide to former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, wrote EDC officials, “I don’t want to get into this much further on e-mail, but we have to take into consideration that the AV [assessed value] is only so high because we’re choosing a methodology to support the tax-exempt financing.”

Kalt was City Hall’s point man for the Yankees project. He knew the Yankees needed a high assessment because the team was planning to pay back $940 million in tax-exempt financing with something called PILOTs – payments in lieu of taxes. The higher the assessment, the more tax-free bonds the team could ask the IRS to approve.

Kudos, obviously, to Kalt on doing such an awesome job that he’s now a vice president with the Tampa Bay Rays. I am tempted to leave it there, but I feel I should mention to non-New Yorkers that the entire Bronx, including the zoo, is worth like $700. Still, I’m glad that the Steinbrenners — proud non-New Yorkers and f-cakes that they are — didn’t have to pay any extra taxes on their new stadium. You will be, too, when you’re paying the city’s new soda tax.

12.17.08

Wayne Coyne, Bob Stoops, Wait ‘Til Next Year

Posted in Basketball, The Marketplace at 11:11 pm by

Wednesday’s home loss to the lowly Clippers dropped Oklahoma City’s record to an Association-worst 2-24, but the locals’ honeymoon with the Thunder isn’t quite over. What does Clay Bennett have in common with fading pop sensations Hanson and F-150 plugger Toby Keith (aside, from, y’know, sucking)? As the Fanhouse’s Tom Ziller pointed out, he’s been named “Oklahoman Of The Year”.

œNo one came close to Clay Bennett as we set about selecting this year™s Oklahoman of the Year, says Louisa McCune-Elmore, Oklahoma Today editor in chief. œHis accomplishment presents an extraordinary moment in the life of Oklahoma, probably among the top achievements in our capital city™s history.

Those who know him best describe Bennett as a man of action. œPeople respect Clay, says former Oklahoma City mayor Ron Norick. œWhen Clay is involved, things are going to happen. Bennett grew up in Oklahoma City , graduated from Casady School in 1978 and married his high-school sweetheart, Louise Gaylord, in 1981.

Bennett™s respect for hard work and his civic involvement have garnered this Oklahoman of the Year great regard from his peers, both locally and in the wider community of the NBA. œI feel confident about the good hands the [Thunder] is in, says NBA commissioner David Stern, œbecause they™re in Clay™s hands and in the hands of his investor group.

WSC Pays Tribute To The Rich, 8-Year History Of The FIFA Club World Cup

Posted in Football, Sports Journalism at 8:15 pm by

Cynically suggesting that Manchester United’s participation in the dubious Club World Cup is yet another exercise in peddling shirts around the globe, When Saturday Comes Daily compares and contrasts the lucrative Japan tournament with the progress of Blyth Spartans (second round victors over Bournemouth yesterday) in the World’s oldest knockout competition.

Spartans now face Blackburn, and their new manager, in just over a fortnight. It’s the first time they have reached the third round of the FA Cup since 1977-78 when they took Wrexham to a fifth-round replay, played in front of 42,000 at St James’ Park. Indeed Spartans would have won the first match at the Racecourse Ground had they not be required to retake the corner kick that produced their last minute goal because the corner flag had blown over. Other non-League sides have matched Blyth in upsetting League opponents over the last 30 years, but there have been far fewer such occasions over the past decade as the big four tightened their stranglehold on the tournament. Hence Barnsley’s victories over Liverpool and Chelsea last season were heralded as giant-killings even though there was only one division between the victors and their victims.

Last season’s FA Cup was altogether remarkable with three of the four semi-finalists coming from below the top level. While no one should expect that to be replicated in 2008-09, this season’s competition has already produced several memorable matches with eight non-League teams through to the third round and a ninth still playing their second round match. Another aspect of the pre-modern FA Cup has been revived this season, with an interminable tie between Chesterfield and Droylsden who have now had three attempts to resolve their fixture, accompanied by fog, a disrupted goal that caused a mass brawl and now a floodlight failure.

While Manchester United are attempting to become “club world champions” by dint of defeating opponents from Japan and either Ecuador or Mexico, the big cheeses of England’s 2018 World Cup bid are also in Tokyo, slapping backs, buying meals and listening attentively to every bland platitude uttered by the 24 members of FIFA’s executive committee. It will be a while yet before Lord Triesman and his team settle on a theme for the promotional DVD but you can bet that it will incorporate the white cliffs of Dover, Big Ben and Shakespeare. There might even be a mention for the world’s oldest cup competition, even if the major clubs have by then abandoned it in favour of mid-season exhibition games in Abu Dhabi.

Angry Angles : Marvin Lewis Suggests Someone Else’s Job Is In Jeopardy

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Journalism at 6:39 pm by

I certainly hope Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was kidding around earlier today when he told the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Dustin Dow to buzz off, otherwise “they might have to send somebody else over to do your job.”  (audio, WLW).  Marv’s the lamest duck in the country who isn’t being pelted with shoes — precisely where does he get off threatening someone else’s livelihood?

Just Be Grateful There’s Not An Isiah Rider Of Poultry

Posted in Basketball at 4:04 pm by

Video taken from NESW Sports via True Hoop.  Perhaps the production values are a bit limited, but this kills the Spike Lee-directed Knicks commercial that had Jerry Ferrera cavorting with a cardboard cutout of Nate Robinson.

Tropicana Field – Possibly An Even Worse Venue For Football

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 3:32 pm by

Recalling the 1980 incident in which the Raiders’ Ray Guy punted a football off a Superdome scoreboard, the St. Petersburg Times’ Greg Auman asks the question that’s firmly in the minds of thousands awaiting Saturday’s St. Pete aka Magicjack Bowl between Memphis (6-6) and Southern Florida (7-5) ; “could a football hit the catwalks at the Trop?”

The highest catwalks ” the A and B rings ” are at least 142 feet above the field, far too high for any football. The C catwalk, which goes directly over the end zone in rightfield, is 99 feet up, leaving the only reasonably reachable catwalk as the D ring, which never crosses the field of play but sits at 59 feet in centerfield and slightly higher over the stands in rightfield.

The Times sent a reporter to Tropicana Field last week, with former USF goalkeeper and semi-pro kicker Mike Pepper attempting to hit a catwalk from the field of play. Pepper hit the D catwalk, but not in any normal game situation ” he put two balls over the outermost ring, punting out of bounds from the far 20-yard line.

Pepper, the morning-show host and assistant program director at 1010 CBS Sports, also hit the D ring once, with the ball caroming off the restaurant in centerfield and bouncing into the touch tank in right-center where fans can touch live cownose rays.

Putting a 120-yard football field into Tropicana Field is a snug fit. A well-kicked extra point or short field goal through the uprights in rightfield could easily hit the D ring, if not the 64-foot-wide video board behind the stands in right.

Murray Chass Longs For The Days When Baseball Execs Couldn’t Spell “Blog” If You Spotted ‘Em The Log

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 1:12 pm by

Perhaps the above quote is a slight exaggeration, but from the tone of the following excerpt from Mr. Chass’ blog site, it is hard to determine which he’s more offended by ;  Padres assistant GM Paul De Podesta maintaining a blog, said blog bypassing the mainstream media in reaching the public…or the brutal injustice done to the career prospects of P Jake Peavy (link lifted from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

Assessing the wasted weeks of trade talks, Peavy’s representative Barry Axelrod said, œI don™t think it was helped by it being so public and out there, identifying the few teams they could talk to.

œYou see the spectrum of the way teams do these things, the agent continued, œSan Francisco and Boston, who play it very close to the vest, to the Padres, who are completely open with their goals, including a blog by a high-ranking executive stating their goals.

Axelrod refered to Paul DePodesta, special assistant for baseball operations, who reports not to Towers but to Sandy Alderson, the chief executive officer in the Padres™ top heavy executive echelon.

It should come as no surprise that a statistics-oriented guy has a blog. Those pursuits seem to go together these days. But a club executive writing a blog?

œIn all candor, DePodesta wrote in a recent blog about the team™s trade of shortstop Khalil Greene, œthe other part of this deal is the trade of Khalil™s contract which was due to pay him $6.5 million in 2009.

He has blogged nothing about Peavy since Oct. 16, at which point he wrote, œSo, to answer the most basic question: are we going to trade Jake Peavy? We™ll see if someone offers us a compelling deal that makes us better.

As Axelrod mentioned DePodesta™s blog, I think I could hear him shaking his head in some disbelief.

œI think the public nature was harmful, he said. œIt was hard on Jake. It was hard to be the focal point of the team wanting to get rid of you.

Will it continue to be hard on Peavy? œI imagine it will be, his agent said, œJake being the competitive guy he is, being with a club that will be hard pressed to be competitive.

Maybe the Padres are counting on Peavy™s likely frustration to prompt him to agree during the season to be traded to someone other than the Braves and the Cubs. Maybe as the July 31 trading deadline approaches, Peavy will have had enough of a team that lost 99 games in 2008 and is headed for an even worse record halfway through 2009.

Maybe we will be able to keep up with developments through DePodesta™s blog.

Much Like The Rest Of The Print Media Biz, Lenny Dykstra Is (Allegedly) Loathe To Pay His Bills

Posted in Baseball, non-sporting journalism, The Marketplace at 10:45 am by

The New York Post’s Keith Kelly claims Players Club — the glossy lifestyle mag aimed at retired jocks, founded by former Met/Phillie Lenny Dykstra, “is leaving behind a string of unpaid bills and a constant parade of shifting editors and office addresses.”  Except for the part about changing editors, it doesn’t sound altogether different from my old ‘zine, though an anonymous source warns of Nails, “if you demand payment, then you are the enemy.” (thanks to Ira for the link)

In the latest upheaval, Chris Frankie, the acting editor, resigned Dec. 4 along with two other staffers. Now Loren Feldman, former editor-in-chief of Philadelphia magazine, is said to be ready to join as the new chief editor.

“Loren Feldman is the new editor,” said Dykstra.

Meanwhile, Frankie says he’s owed back pay.

But Dykstra sees things differently: “That’s not true. Frankie owes me money. Whatever he’s talking about is delusional.”

Counters Frankie, “That’s beyond ridiculous. How could an employee owe an employer money?”

Beyond three months’ back pay, Frankie said he’s also owed for business expenses.

Frankie, who had originally helped Dykstra write the TheStreet.com’s “Nails on the Numbers” column, got the editor job in August after Dykstra’s talks with Neil Amdur, a former sports editor at The New York Times, collapsed at the last minute after a fight over Amdur’s ability to hire deputies.

Frequently, sources said, Dykstra got staff to use their own credit cards to pay for expenses related to the magazine, and took months to re imburse the employees.

Although the magazine is less than a year old, it has al ready had four different printers and three different editors. Several vendors have also stopped doing business with the magazine.

The latest vendor to suspend business is Getty Images, which sources say is owed around $40,000.

Dykstra claims that’s not true. “I have a great relationship with them,” he said of Getty.

Guy With $21 Million No-Show Job Purchases Courtside Seat At Staples

Posted in Basketball at 9:27 am by

While estranged PG Stephon Marbury has been ordered to stay away from the New York Knicks, there was nothing preventing him from purchasing a front row seat to watch his teammates run out of gas against the Lakers, narrowly missing handing Los Angeles just their 4th loss in 25 games. At Staples, Marbury found himself sitting alongside David Beckham. Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Rock, Gwen Stefani, Andy Garcia and Jack Nicholson. “A-list stars and a B-list point guard” sneered the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola, which strikes me as blatantly unfair.  Is Andy Garcia still an A-list star?

During a rambling halftime interview with a dozen reporters, Marbury revealed that he has been in contact with several clubs and claims he will be signed once he is released.

“All I’ve got to do is get free,” Marbury said. “Once I get free, the team I’m going to go to, I think a lot of people will be shocked. All the people that say nobody wants me on their team… I’m all of these different things…Frank Isola said I’m a cancer … I’m doing my thing though.”

Asked if that means that basketball is no longer his thing, Marbury said, “I’m doing my thang.”

Mike D’Antoni started the process of removing Marbury from the roster when he didn’t play him on opening night. D’Antoni didn’t want Marbury backing up Duhon, so now Marbury is serving as Spike Lee’s understudy. A case could be made that the Knicks have two unofficial mascots: Spike and Stephon.

“I’m still earning my check by doing nothing,” Marbury said.

12.16.08

The Guv’nor’s Impeachment : Rovers Fire Ince

Posted in Football at 11:22 pm by

Paul Ince’s tenure as the Premiership’s first black manager lasted all of 177 days, a run of 11 consecutive winless matches leading to his termination at Ewood Park earlier today.  In the eyes of the Times’ James Ducker, Ince was doomed from the start.

David Bentley was one of the first to take umbrage at Ince™s training methods, the England winger reportedly storming off in disgust after being ordered by a coach to do 20 press-ups as punishment for having his arms folded. Bentley soon found an escape route via Tottenham Hotspur, which might help to explain his show of dissent, but subsequent declarations from players backing Ince have tended to ring hollow. The truth is that Ince was on a collision course with his dressing-room early on, and in the age of player power, there was only going to be one winner.Some members of Blackburn™s board wanted Ince out after the 3-1 defeat by Liverpool at Ewood Park 11 days ago, although it was the abject display away to Wigan Athletic at the weekend that proved the final straw. If ever a performance reflected a manager who had œlost the dressing-room, this was it.

Blackburn™s players often complained privately that Ince was not on the training ground enough, instead leaving Ray Mathias and Archie Knox to put them through their paces, quite literally.

John Williams, the Blackburn chairman, will stand accused in some quarters of not giving Ince enough time, but he can hardly be blamed for making a change now with the team seemingly in freefall and facing a run of crucial fixtures. With wages reputedly accounting for 85 per cent of turnover, relegation is unthinkable for Blackburn. œIt would be a disaster, one source said yesterday. œIt is not even worth contemplating.

Gary Bettman – The NHL’s Answer To Al Bergamo

Posted in Hockey, Parental Responsibility at 9:58 pm by

As the hysteria surrounding Sean Avery’s recent inflammatory remarks hits new lows, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke at an Edmonton luncheon attended by 400 (roughly twice the size of Versus’ average viewership for hockey) continued the onslaught (from the Canadian Press)  :

“What Sean Avery said was wrong. It was offensive. It was disgusting. We have a lot of women who are fans. We have a lot of children who are fans, and to be perfectly honest I wouldn’t want to have to explain to my 12-year-old daughter what he said.”

Would it really be that hard? Surely a creative parent could fashion some analogy that involved the NHL being “dumped” by ESPN, but later seen “dating” a less discriminating suitor?   Seriously, if Bettman’s 12 year old has never heard the phrase “sloppy seconds” before, he deserves some sort of award for Father Of The Year (the year 1952, that is).   The Star’s Rosie DiManno, no fan of a player she calls “classless” and a “goofball”, wonders “when it was decided that, on the depth chart of intolerable infractions, slinging dirt at one’s ex-girlfriend was more reprehensible than racist barbs, unprovoked in-game assaults and the total farcing of hockey as professional sport.”

It is not the league’s responsibility to impose chivalry on its players, nor to extrapolate from Avery’s slur a psychological diagnosis that needed redressing in the form of anger management counselling. Certainly not when no such brainpan re-scrambling was foisted on the likes of Todd Bertuzzi and other hotspurs who have wrought severe injury, rather than simply wounded feelings.

It is infantilizing of women and inherently sexist to assume we need Big Daddy protection via the paternalistic intervention of a sports commissar. If intercession was required, there have been far more flagrant transgressions in The Avery File to warrant heavy-handed punishment and mental readjustment. “Sean had been warned that he was getting close to the line too many times,” Bettman told reporters. “He’s probably been over the line on a couple of occasions that we couldn’t prove.”

Bollocks. This was about the perceived daintiness of women as opposed to the stronger resilience of men subjected to both verbal and physical abuse, Avery the well-chronicled ambusher. Said Bettman: “We needed to be clear this was the type of conduct we did not think was acceptable or reflective of what we do.”

But if protecting a woman’s virtue “ ugh “ is such a priority, why did no hockey authority comment on sworn evidence from the recent trial of disgraced coach/agent David Frost, when his own defenders testified that two-on-one sex, even five-on-one sex, was a common bonding ritual for teammates?

Coming To UK Cable & Satellite : EPL TV

Posted in Football, Sports TV, The Marketplace at 8:40 pm by

(the F.A.’s Richard Scudamore, reacting to Warren Sapp’s audition tape)

The Independent’s Nick Harris
reports England’s top flight domestic soccer league — guarding against the possibility of Sky and/or Setanta making conservative rights offers in the future — will launch their own television channel in 2010.  Still probably too soon for Ron Atkinson to return to presenting, however.

Market evidence suggests there are now more than five million potential subscribers willing to pay upwards of £200 each per year for Premier League football. That equates to £16.50 per month, which is cheaper than most fans pay now, and might give the League a crude “baseline” income of £1bn. That compares well to the £566m earned currently each year from deals with Sky and Setanta. The major hurdle has always been that starting a channel from scratch would be costly and risky, with no sales or income absolutely guaranteed. However, the League is increasingly involved in broadcasting its international rights, producing previews, magazine shows, highlights and live feeds for foreign markets through Premier League Productions, a joint venture with TWI, a leading sports marketing firm.

If a sharp and sudden decline in bidding prices happens, threatening the financial dominance of the Premiership’s 20 clubs, PLTV will only become more attractive. Even after bidding has started early in the new year, the League is under no obligation to accept any specific offer, no matter how high. If the deals on the table are not lucrative enough, the League will have more than a year to get PLTV up and running

“PLTV would be a big step and it is not the first-choice option,” said one source. “But it is absolutely feasible, if not perfect. If that is the route the League and its clubs need to take to secure these important revenues going forward, it will happen. You could say it’s been on the shelf for a while, and it’s getting a dusting down.”

On Monday the League sent out its “Invitation to Tender” documents for 2010-13 inclusive. It is expected that six packages of live domestic rights will be offered, as last time, with a pack of 23 of the best games on Sunday afternoons at 4pm the pick of the bunch. Sky won the rights to four of six packages last time, or 92 games per season for three years, paying £1.314bn. Setanta won two packages, or 46 games per season, paying £392m.

One broadcaster said: “PLTV is a possibility, but I’m sure the clubs would rather have their money guaranteed and the product in the hands of established channels as long as they’re not facing a massive reduction in income.”

Simers : The Parking Lot Attendant Is Full Of Shit

Posted in Baseball at 7:29 pm by

Lt. Dangle-baiter T.J. Simers of the LA Times has effectively taken Dodgers ownership to task previously for their tendency to spit in fans’ mouths and claim it’s Mr. Pibb, but today goes just a bit further in questioning the integrity of Frank McCourt (“never have trusted much of what the guy has to say…and he hasn’t given much of a reason the last five years to change my mind”).   “Sixty days until pitchers and catchers report and do you have any idea what the Dodgers are trying to do this off-season?” asks Simers, though it probably won’t involve issuing mesh caps to Manny Ramirez or Derek Lowe.

Is McCourt following last year’s blueprint for success, hanging tough in a lousy division until he can take advantage of desperate free agents late into the off-season and then improving again on the cheap at the trading deadline?

I put in a call to McCourt, knowing his desire to always be transparent, and got his secretary’s voice mail.

When she didn’t return the call, I contacted Josh Rawitch, one of the team’s many PR guys. He took down my request, and I never heard from him again.

But I did read his “Inside the Dodgers” blog.

“I want to make sure everyone remembers that it’s a long off-season and that we are far from a finished product,” Rawitch wrote. “And to be honest, as we learned last year, the team that you go to Spring Training with is hardly a finished product either. Manny [Ramirez], [Casey] Blake, [Greg] Maddux, [Angel] Berroa, and many others never set foot in Vero Beach.”

The Dodgers have made a pretty big deal about inviting fans to their new spring training site in Arizona, but if I’m reading the PR guy correctly, it’s not like you’re going to see the players who really end up there making the biggest difference later this season.

I tried McCourt’s office again, and got his secretary, who said he was traveling. Don’t you hate it when you leave your cellphone at home?

I just wanted to ask if he’s given any thought to how Dodgers fans might take it if Angels owner Arte Moreno, missing out on Mark Teixeira and maybe deciding already he won’t bring Vladimir Guerrero back in 2010, opted now to sign Ramirez.

I believe Teixeira is the best free agent available, and by far, and if the Dodgers were to sign him you’d never hear me mention Ramirez’s name again.

But we’ve all been trained here in the Entertainment Capital to know better, never thinking of the Dodgers as big-time bidders, and doesn’t that say something about the McCourts’ ownership reign?

Whoop De Damn Destitute Denial : Derrick Coleman Says He’s Doing Just Fine, Thanks

Posted in Basketball at 4:41 pm by

With last weekend’s very public announcement of a Derrick Coleman Estate (!) Sale, “the Internet went wild with rumors that he squandered all his money” writes the Detroit Free Press’ Chris Lau.  Trouble is, the former NBA vet / Syracuse PF insists he’s far from broke.

“All the attention irked Coleman (above), the No. 1 pick in the 1990 NBA draft. He told the Free Press on Monday that the sale was for furniture from a Franklin Lakes, N.J., house he bought in 2001, when he played for the 76ers. Coleman said the furniture had been in storage since he moved back to Michigan.

“Here I am, trying to do something positive,” Coleman said, referring to his business ventures, “and people spend all day calling my phone about a liquidation.”

Only adding to the buzz of Coleman’s financial situation was a Free Press article last week in which he talked about his latest venture, a Tim Hortons restaurant in the Millender Center downtown. It opened Monday, making it the 125th Tim Hortons in Michigan and 500th in the country.

“I’m about trying to help revitalize the city,” Coleman said in the article, “and bring a recognized brand downtown.”

Coleman said he recently decided to sell his furniture because his Beverly Hills home was furnished and he got tired of paying for storage. Sherwood Studios, from which he bought the furniture, will hold another sale — which it billed as “75% off” for “many custom pieces … plus stunning accessories” — on Jan. 24-25.

“These are items he doesn’t need anymore,” said owner Mark Morganroth.

Family Planning, Buffalo Style

Posted in Blogged Down, Gridiron at 1:13 pm by

Fitted Sweats‘ Jeff Johnson presumably has better things to do with his Sunday afternoons than attend a Bills/Jets tilt (which to be fair, turned out to be a pretty good game, despite Buffalo’s season going down the toilet).  Had he stayed indoors with the family, however, he’d not have witnessed the most memorable East Rutherford throwdown since John Calipari called the Star-Ledger’s Dan Garcia a “Mexican idiot”.

Yesterday at the Meadowlands in Mezzanine Section 212, a little Joe Pesci lookalike (minus about 25 years) who was cheering for the Buffalo Bills started turning around and yapping at a guy (who seemed pleasant enough) in a Jerricho Cotchery Jets jersey. The men were both seated in different rows in front of me.

I don’t know what precipitated this event (the Cotchery guy could have been a monumental ass, but I didn’t see it), but by some point in the middle of the second half, Little Joe Pesci turned around and challenged the guy to a fight. The guy merely laughed it off, which made Little Joe Pesci angrier.

He called the guy a “Faggot” about four times. Then he paused. Turned around. And then turned back towards the Cotchery jerseyed guy and said: “I’m going to get you pregnant. I don’t know how it is going to happen, but you are going to be the first pregnant guy ever.”

It was at this point that Little Joe Pesci captured my undivided attention, and I became almost unhealthily invested in making sure Little Joe Pesci experienced some type of pain, either mentally, emotionally or physically. How completely retarded do you have to be to come up with that as an insult?

Telling a guy you are mad at that you are going to get him pregnant–the ultimate act of love, some might argue–is telling him that you are pretty certain that a very intimate moment with him (in this case, um, a fighting moment?) would make you orgasm. And the ultimate impossibility of impregnating a man (thru his ass???) only tells the guy that you are really willing to give it your all sexually for a very, very long time, against all odds. It is at this point that it ceases to be an insult and more a sketchy, unrequited love thing, commonly found in letters written by nine year-old boys to Alyssa Milano circa 1987.

“We’re going to go out to the parking lot. I am going to remove my britches and get and maintain an erection in front of at least 55 drunken sweatpants wearing oafs in the waning light of this 31 degree Sunday afternoon, and then I am going to somehow dominate you physically, and put my penis inside of you. And, sure, my knees might get scuffed up on this gravel. And you might not stop punching me in the face and throat, but you are going to become pregnant….And that will teach you to root for the New York Jets so enthusiastically.”

That is a scenario that can only come from someone from Buffalo’s mind.

Omar : Madoff Swindle Won’t Stop The Mets From Overpaying Ollie Perez

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 11:01 am by

(if this man confessed a few days earlier, the Mets might’ve signed Rich Garces instead of K-Rod)

New York Mets GM Omar Minaya has assured Newsday’s David Lennon the club will remain financially competitive, despite his employers being taken to the cleaners by former Nasdaq chairman / Ponzi schemester Bernard Madoff.

“Based upon what we’ve been told, they’re separate entities,” Minaya said, referring to the Mets and Sterling Equities, the real-estate firm co-founded by Mets CEO Fred Wilpon. “My understanding is the baseball team is totally separate from the other business. I’m expecting to proceed the way we were before.”

Sterling lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the scheme run by Bernard Madoff, a longtime friend of Fred Wilpon’s.

Minaya said he wasn’t aware of the Wilpons’ misfortune until news broke about it last Friday. He has spoken with the Wilpons, he said, and has been told he can go forward with his plans to re-shape the Mets.

“We’re talking to other clubs and agents right now,” Minaya said. The Mets want to add a high-end starting pitcher to replace Oliver Perez; that pitcher could be Perez himself.”We’re talking to other clubs and agents right now,” Minaya said. The Mets want to add a high-end starting pitcher to replace Oliver Perez; that pitcher could be Perez himself.

I am willing to take Minaya at his word regarding the club’s finances, but was deeply disturbed to see a game-worn Robinson Cancel jersey being sold for $35,000.00 at the Mets’ 42nd Street Clubhouse Store last week.  However, a plastic bag containing Argenis Reyes’ dryer lint ($50) was a far more reasonable Xmas option in these trying times.