Illston’s ruling was an indictment of not only the government’s case but its entire approach toward Bonds from day one. John Ashcroft’s Justice Department always seemed irrationally determined to prosecute Bonds. It was as obsessive as the fisherman Santiago attempting to bring home the great marlin in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.
Whether or not you are a Barry Bonds fan, or consider him to be just a step above a seal-clubbing, pitbull-fighting bank executive, every person of good conscience should be aghast at the way the Justice Department has gone about its business. Barry Bonds, Greg Anderson and maybe thousands of others have had their rights trampled on, all for the glory of a perjury case that looks to be going absolutely nowhere. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama have strongly indicated that the government is getting out of the steroid monitoring business. That is welcome, but after so many years, so many tax dollars and so many reputations destroyed, it all feels positively Pyrrhic.
At the end of The Old Man and the Sea, when Santiago finally returns to shore, his 18-foot catch has been reduced to a skeleton. A crowd gathers to gawk and imagine what the magnificent marlin once was. Santiago completed his journey with nothing, but he felt purified for the battle and slept deeply and proudly. As we pick through the bones of Barry Bonds, I can’t imagine Jeff Novitzky feels the same.
Asked by a Russian journalist whether he wanted to play for United, Tottenham’s Roman Pavlyuchenko (above) declared: “It would be wrong not to dream about this.
“I have realised that the English Premier League is exactly why you should start playing football in the first place.
“And Manchester United is the leader of it. Once your first dream comes true you must start dreaming of another target.”
But in saying how pleased he was to team up with Robbie Keane at Spurs, he was scathing about Berbatov, who made the move from White Hart Lane to Old Trafford.
“Robbie Keane returned to the Spurs as if he never left the club,” he told Gazeta Daily in Moscow.
“It’s evident that he’s a man of authority inside the team which is good for us. He was always liked as far as I can judge.
“If Berbatov returned it would be taken quite differently. I heard tales that he was an arrogant snob who after a training session would just throw his dirty boots to the man who takes care of our footwear saying: ‘Clean them for me!’
“No one likes such people. Still he’s now playing for Manchester United.”
Crystal Palace — mired in 14th place in the Championship —could’ve well done with this afternoon off, given the sort of fixture congestion that awaits the South London club. “I have to be careful what I say as it is obviously tea and coffee money for the FA,” mutters manager Neil Warnock (above, left, photographed with another fella who isn’t in a great mood tonight), who thankfully for readers of the Independent, isn’t nearly so careful about what he writes.
On Wednesday I found we now have to play Burnley on a Wednesday night, 11 March, instead of the Tuesday, because they are involved in the FA Cup the previous Sunday. Having got £300,000 for the TV coverage of that match, plus the gate money, we have to change to accommodate them. Apparently it is a rule which was brought in because of my then club Sheffield United’s involvement in the semi-final against Arsenal in 2003 when we had to play Nottingham Forest two days later. So I’ve been personally done twice.
Why am I so upset? Because in six days we now play Burnley, Swansea and Barnsley away. We will get back to Palace from Burnley at 4am on the Thursday “ so there will be no training that day. We set off for Swansea on Friday morning returning at 11pm. After Sunday off we travel to Barnsley on Monday. So the team are playing in three long-distance matches on the road in the space of six days “ they will be travelling 1,256 miles. So will our fans. Yet we have eight days’ spare at the end of the season between the last two games. The fixture guys are saying we cannot play then. Obviously there could be tornadoes developing.
I ask you, first the FA, now the Football League, it has got me thinking it has to be pay-back time. Do you think Alex Ferguson or any of the others would be asked to do this? Is there any wonder we complain, and ask the question, “why are amateurs running the game?” It is obvious to me the people making the decision on the fixtures and on the commission cannot have played the game.
I tried to ring Dave Cookson and Paul Snell, who I’m told are the officials responsible at the Football League, but they have had to deal with more important business with the Carling Cup. I wouldn’t think Crystal Palace are high up on their agenda.
I want to invite Dave to travel with me for those six days as my guest. I will personally pay his travel, accommodation and expenses to be with me. That is the only way to show people sat in an office making decisions like this just how ridiculous it is. I’m still waiting for an answer.
While at least one columnist reports Scott Boras has demanded an additional $10 million (on top of the prior $45 million proposed over two years) from the Dodgers in order to deliver Manny Ramirez to spring training, an item in Saturday’s LA Times suggests the counter offer isn’t purely down to greed on the part of player and agent. Could it be that Dodgers ownership simply won’t have the loot to make payroll?
The fine print of Boras’ proposed deal was significantly different from McCourt’s in that it requested that no part of Ramirez’s salary be deferred. McCourt wanted to defer most of Ramirez’s salary, according to a source with knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because negotiations were still in progress.
Under the terms of the contract that Ramirez was offered by the Dodgers on Wednesday, he would have received $10 million this year. And by exercising the option for the second year of the deal, he would’ve received $10 million in 2010.
Ramirez would have been paid the remaining $25 million over the next three years without any added interest. He would’ve received $10 million in 2011, $10 million in 2012 and $5 million in 2013.
Asked if the Dodgers had any problems with cash flow or concerns about their projected revenues that would deter them from paying Ramirez’s entire salary in the year it was earned, spokesman Charles Steinberg replied, “I have no idea.”
Colletti acknowledged Friday that the Dodgers’ offer included deferred payments but refused to detail them.
“The deferred component was part of the deal from the very beginning,” Colletti said.
Boras acknowledged that, saying it was why he asked for more money in his initial counterproposal to the Dodgers’ latest offer. Boras requested a two-year, $55-million contract that included a player option for the second year, according to sources.
The Times’ Brian Kamenetzky has had just about enough of this story, writing “Like ’24′ somewhere around the middle of Season 5, I’ve officially lost patience with this program.”
I’m tired of sources close to the negotiations and individuals with knowledge of the situation, all speaking in shadows like Deep Throat in a parking garage. As much as I want the Blue to be competitive and interesting — it’s a lot more fun to be around the park when the team is competitive and interesting, and they risk being neither without ManRam — I’m this closeto hoping some other team swoops in with a last-minute offer even if it means Boras is vindicated when it’s done. At least the ending will have a twist.
If you had told Frank McCourt he could have Manny back next season for somewhere in the neighborhood of two years/$45 million, he’d have jumped on it in a heartbeat. As my dad likes to tell me, the enemy of good is better. Don’t be greedy and overplay the hand. It’s OK to overbid on Manny if it means the nearly four million folks who fill the stadium and buy jerseys and wigs and pony up for parking will have good reason to make up the difference, especially when the payroll will be lower than last season’s even with Manny on board.
There’s an Associated Press report making the rounds which cites Johan Santana’s elbow stiffness as possibly keeping the Mets’ starter out of action for a further spell ; the talismanic lefty has already been bumped from two scheduled exhibition starts. From the New York Daily News‘ Adam Rubin :
Santana says doctors told him it’s the triceps tendon that is causing stiffness in his pitching elbow. With pitching coach Dan Warthen and manager Jerry Manuel already on the bus for Lakeland, Fla., Santana said he’ll wait until Sunday to map out a plan for pitching. But it’s clear he won’t be in a Grapefruit League game for a while. Santana said he hopes to throw a light bullpen session on Sunday. He then wants to face hitters in a batting-practice-style setting two or three times before entering a game. With potentially two days rest in between each BP, we’re possibly talking two weeks before a game appearance.
Kick off is at 3pm GMT and I’m pretty sure you can count on my fellow patrons being highly annoyed at my 90 minutes of iPhone activity during what should be an otherwise thrilling League One relegation battle. How long before Twittering in public joins racist chanting on the list of offenses that justify ejection?
This means Fat Albert, a guy who routinely took plays off and once stepped on an opposing player’s face with his cleats, is the highest paid defensive player in football. For us, the positive is this fat tub of crap is out of the AFC South. Sure, he was lazy. He was also damn talented. When he finally did put his mind to something, he was hard to block. For Titans fans, this loss is the equivalent of the Colts losing Peyton Manning. Haynesworth WAS the Titans. He was their best player. He was the lynch pin that held their outstanding defense together. Now, in the span of two years, the Titans have lost defensive linemen Travis LaBoy, Antwaan Odom, Antonio Johnson, and Haynesworth. That’s a lost of talent left to walk away.
Indeed, there are some at MSG “who know how to show people love”. While Stephon has two points at halftime of tonight’s Pacers/Celtics tilt, I’m certain Knicks fans will appreciate the classy thoughts expressed above, and shall wish their former inspirational leader nothing but the best in his pursuit of an NBA Championship.
Had flashbacks to my Giants beat days today as Mike Francesa discussed the Mets’ David Wright and Ryan Church boycotting his show (and declining even to meet with him off the air) because of assorted comments about them last season.
Francesa on Church: “I don™t really care if Church comes on the show now or forever. Church is going to be out of New York long before I™m going to worry about whether he comes on my show or not. He™s not a big deal in any way.”
Francesa on Wright: “I think he™s being very immature because he™s had a straight ascendancy and he doesn™t want any criticism . . . He needs to grow up.”
The genesis of Francesca’s feud with Church is an earlier claim by the former that the Mets’ oft-disabled RF wanted to leave New York. When Church denied the report, Francesca cited unidentified sources inside the Mets clubhouse — persons he’s still yet to identify.
Many readers may feel that if you are going to complain about crowd noise at a football match, then an angry letter about the fact that your view of the pitch has been severely impeded by 22 men in shorts who insist on running about all over it during the entire length of your visit is surely on its way. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the average age of those attending football matches is rising (or at least craning) ever upwards. Soon, most of the grounds will be, more or less, entirely in the knobbly hands of the prostate generation. It will alter the game irrevocably. For a start, the interval will have to be extended to an hour just so we all have time to piddle.
The fact is that when you are getting on in years, you increasingly find high-tempo, all-action entertainment physically and mentally draining. I had to spend the day in bed after watching The Dark Knight, a film that frankly made me feel as if I had been falling down the stairs into a darkened cellar for two and a half hours. No, there will come a time when fans at football matches will no more want explosive excitement from their afternoon match than we do from our afternoon TV schedule. We will want something light, cheerful and familiar, possibly refereed by Hannah Gordon or Alan Titchmarsh.
(just try to wipe the smile off this man’s face. No, really, I’d like you to try)
Citing the “shrill banter, contrived characters, and prefabricated opinions” most often heard on WEEI’s “The Big Show”, the Boston Globe’s Chad Finn used the pages of his paper’s new weekly, The O.T., to challenge the region’s most popular sports chat program. “I’m convinced that provided with an equal signal, some savvy program director could build what WEEI claims to be: the premier sports radio station in the country,” claims Finn before making the following incendiary suggestions (amongst others).
Have a well-considered opinion and the knowledge to defend it in an entertaining manner: No, passing yourself off as some sort of insider because of an association with the Celtics two decades ago does not count, particularly when there is mounting suspicion that you haven’t watched more than a handful of out-of-market NBA games since the days of short shorts and sky hooks. In a related note: Yelling the loudest doesn’t make you right. Didn’t your mom ever teach you that?
After you’ve beaten a story to death, please resist the temptation to beat on the corpse daily for another several weeks: Wait, wait, wait ¦ you’re telling me Manny Ramirez quit on the Red Sox? And they traded him? When did this happen? How come you never mentioned this, Mikey? HOW COME YOU NEVER MENTIONED THIS??!!
Talk politics or the news story of the day when the moment calls for it: Credit where credit is due: WEEI was riveting radio in the days after September 11. The tone was sincere, heartfelt, and human. Since then, however, the tone regarding politics and world matters has become so extreme that certain hosts make Dick Cheney look like a beatnik. Worse is the increasingly snide disregard for those with different circumstances, views, and ””the case certainly can be made” pigment. It’s one thing to be provocative, but too often that crosses the line to irresponsibility. Sure, a certain element is enthralled - hillbillies and cavemen, mostly. Others are simply waiting for the inevitable repulsive comment that leads to your downfall.
Enough with the drop-ins from comedians who’d bomb at the Ha-Ha House of Whiskey and Waffles: And if some clown named Shecky does find his way into the studio — either as a guest or as your nighttime host — have some dignity and refrain from hee-hawing and chortling and racing to laugh loudest as if he’s the reincarnation of George Carlin. He’s not. He’s a D-lister with a captive audience, and his best jokes wouldn’t make the cut for the Whiner Line. Which, by the way, is the best thing you have going. We might note the material comes not from you, but from the listeners. We’re going to assume you miss the irony of that.
Q: How excited are you about coming to the Celtics?
SM: “This is the happiest I’ve been since being drafted, man. I’m so happy that it doesn’t even feel real. It feels, it just feels like, it feels different to finally be able to get the opportunity to go play for a team that’s established. Everyone is on the same page. There is one goal, and that’s winning a ring, winning the trophy.
“I’m walking into an environment where it’s stable, controlled by the players because the players police themselves. You don’t have to have the coach police what is going on. Everyone seems to have it together and it looks like a family. That’s what it’s all about.”
Q: What would you say to your skeptics who wonder why the Celtics are signing you despite your past problems?
SM: “That’s OK. That’s just a perspective that has been adapted from what someone else told them. If they weren’t there and weren’t in that circle, then they don’t know.”
Q: How does it feel to go to a team that is pretty much drama-free?
SM: “You don’t know how good it feels to know that it’s just one thing, to have fun. [Kevin Garnett] was like, ‘Basketball is going to be fun again, kid.’ Man, I can’t wait. I’m so excited. I haven’t slept in like three days.”
Q: If this chapter ends with a championship, have you thought about how emotional you could be?
SM: “I don’t know what I’d do. I think teams that watch me, they understand about me that I’m a straight shooter. They might not like that. But at the end of the day I’d rather people respect me. I’m not a liar. If I played like [garbage], I played like [garbage]. To win a championship, that’s what you do it for.”
Q: What will it be like to wear the Celtics uniform?
SM: “It’s historical. I don’t even know how to explain that. I’m so humbled by it. I’m grateful for the opportunity. If you look at the teams that we had there with [Larry] Bird, [Kevin] McHale and [Dennis] Johnson and Danny Ainge, it’s like, wow, this is the type of team that is formulating to that style of team. And with the additions they are trying to add, bringing on a guy like Mikki Moore, who is a great energy player, I just want to come in, help, and be one of the pieces that fit into the puzzle, that’s all.”
Newsday, which covers the New York suburb of Long Island, was bought by Cablevision in a $650 million deal last May that was widely criticized on Wall Street as a puzzling move into a troubled newspaper market.
Cablevision had to write down Newsday’s value by $402 million on Thursday, pushing its fourth-quarter results to a loss, as U.S. print advertising sales and circulation have dropped with more readers seeking free news on the Web.
But Cablevision Chief Operating Officer Tom Rutledge said the cable TV company was aware of the difficulties faced by the traditional newspaper business.
“Our goal was and is to use our electronic network assets and subscriber relationships to transform the way news is distributed,” he said on a conference call with analysts.
“We plan to end the distribution of free Web content and make our news gathering capabilities a service for our customers,” he added.
Rutledge’s comments could raise speculation that the paper may seek cost cuts by reducing print operations. It could also look to cross-promote Web access as part of the Cablevision programing package.
[Snooky, a key witness in the Vick trial, on learning Vick will be on the streets again by May.]
The AP today claims that suspended Atlanta Falcon Michael Vick is approved for home confinement, and there must be some very nervous dogs out there knowing he’s back on the street. Matt Damon lookalike Mark Maske reports it for The Washington Post:
Michael Vick has been approved for release to home confinement, possibly in May, a government official told the Associated Press. The NFL quarterback is serving a 23-month federal prison sentence in Leavenworth, Kan., for his role in a dogfighting operation based at a home that he owned in Virginia.
The AP report has not been independently verified.
Vick’s attorneys had indicated in bankruptcy court proceedings that they expected Vick to be transferred to a halfway house in Virginia for the final portion of his prison term.
DC Sports Bog‘s Dan Steinberg, previously maligned by former colleague Tony Kornheiser as “Cheese Boy”, neglects to identify the questioner pestering the Wizards’ injured Brendan Haywood below, but calls the conversation, “Enlightening. In the same way pouring 40 feet of mud-flecked chocolate pudding on top of your face would be enlightening.”
What are they talking about in terms of a timeline for you, and what are you looking at?
Don’t have a timeline. If I’m healthy, I’m back, but if I’m not, I’m not.
So there’s been no timeline set for you in terms of a return to play?
They said this injury takes four to six months, so it depends on am I a four-month guy, a five-month guy or a six-month guy. I don’t know yet.
Are you a four-month guy?
Not right now. It’s been four months.
So you’re a five-month guy?
Don’t know. I’m not gonna give you anything on TV tonight. Come on. Stop with me.
I hear ya. Hey, if you had your druthers, when would you be ready to go?
When I’m healthy. You’re gonna find a million and one ways to ask me the same question, huh?
A practice like today, a practice this physical, when do you think you might be ready for something like that?
Don’t know. I hate to keep hitting you with the same thing, but I really don’t know. I’ll be reevaluated in a couple weeks. This might be a good interview for my doctor, she knows better than me. She’s got the x-rays, the MRIs and everything. And she’s a specialist in this area, so she knows way better than me.
Is she a good quote?
I don’t know. She’s a doctor, she’s probably gonna be even more bland than me.
Last night against New Orleans, writes Piston Powered‘s Dan Feldman, “(Rasheed) Wallace gave up on his teammates. The game was close, and he couldn™t control his emotions. He™s becoming the cancer many feared the Pistons acquired in 2004.” “Might the Pistons just release him now, with only 26 games remaining on his contract?” wonders ESPN’s Royce Webb, who strangely hasn’t proposed that Joe Dumars lower the boom on first-year head coach Michael Curry (currently presiding over an 8-game losing streak).
Cancer or not, Detroit probably doesn’t have such an easy time with the Lakers in the ’04 Finals without Wallace’s services. Second guessing last autumn’s Iverson-for-Billups swap is natural (and easy) enough, but I sincerely doubt Joe Dumars would like a do-over on Chucky Atkins, Lindsay Hunter and a first round pick for ‘Sheed.
“One great thing about rooting for Atlanta sports teams (save Georgia Tech!) is the prevalence of drumlines and other aspects of HBCU culture at the games,” Idolator’s Lucas Jensen writes. I’ll have to take his word on this; I’d always thought the best part of being a Braves fan was knowing that the players you root for go to the same strip club you do. (Or, if you prefer, “make really inspiring pre-game speeches“)
But Jensen does have a point that drumlines are a better, livelier musical entertainment option than the average, and definitely superior to the times when the Mets used to just play Mike Piazza’s King’s X CDs during batting practice. And it could get better still: the Braves are currently holding open auditions for bandmembers. It could be you down there on the field, depending on the kind of chops you display at playing different homonyms. Jensen continues:
The Atlanta Falcons have a drumline that comes out and highsteps along with that Petey Pablo song featured in (yep) Drumline. It’s a great spectacle, and it’s a change of pace from the lily-white pro games in other areas. And the Braves have the Heavy Hitters, and they are holding auditions today and next Thursday:
The Braves are looking for musicians with confidence and charisma, a flexible schedule, and the ability to work games in their entirety every Friday, Saturday and Sunday home game during the season.
PHOTO and VIDEO OPPORTUNITIES: Individuals trying out for the Heavy Hitters drum line will showcase their percussion abilities with instruments including snare, quad, base, and tenor drums, and symbols.
Enter through the Turner Field 755 Club Lobby, off of Ralph David Abernathy Blvd.
Free parking available across the street in the Green Lot
Thursday, Feb. 26 and Wednesday, March 4, 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Wow. I would love to showcase my “base” and “symbol” skills for my favorite baseball team! I know budgets are tight, guys, but could you hire a spellchecker? This does not make me confident for the upcoming season.
It’s not just Fred Wilpon and uh, Mike Pelfrey who’ve been taken to the cleaners of late. Former Mets mouthpiece Tim McCarver was awarded $100,000 in damages stemming from an arbitration claim the broadcaster filed against the Mogan Keegan mutual funds investement firm. From the Memphis Daily News’ Andy Meek :
McCarver, who once was a catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and is the namesake of the former Tim McCarver Stadium in Memphis, filed his arbitration claim last year against Morgan Keegan. The company assigned several brokers to work with the baseball icon when he first approached Morgan Keegan about handling his investments, and his claim mentions that as a native Memphian, McCarver liked the fact that Morgan Keegan is headquartered here.
McCarver began to lose money, however, when investments he allowed Morgan Keegan officials to handle were placed in several Regions Morgan Keegan mutual funds that lost the majority of their value during 2007, according to McCarver™s claim.
œHis extremely busy schedule, at first as a player and then as a broadcaster, made it virtually impossible for him to have any other outside business interests, McCarver™s claim reads. œAll investments in McCarver™s accounts were selected by Morgan Keegan. The firm knew that McCarver was a totally unsophisticated investor and that McCarver placed trust and confidence in Morgan Keegan to select specific investments in McCarver™s accounts.
Bewley suffered a heart attack while driving in Athens, GA Monday evening.
Readers of a certain vintage will recall Bewley’s guitar work on songs like “Cool”, “Volume”, and “Feast On My Heart” bridging whatever stylistic chasm separated Andy Gill from RIcky Wilson. DFA’s 2007 reissue of Pylon’s 1980 debut LP, ‘Gyrate’ is a good place to start.
While Manchester United and Arsenal™s Champions League games provided entertainment for free on television, less than 3,000 turned up for the Quakers™ promotion clash with Rochdale on Tuesday night “ half the amount required for the club even to break even. Apathy is not the sole reason that the club finds itself in the hands of administrators for the second time in six years, but it is a major contributing factor. Thanks to the ambition “ some would say vanity “ of former chairman George Reynolds, Darlington are saddled with a superb state-of-the-art arena that houses 27,500 seats but hardly suits a club with League Two status. It has been filled once, for an Elton John concert, while crowds for the football team remain miniscule and the atmosphere awful. Even last season™s promotion push couldn™t get the town out to support the club in big numbers “ and repeated appeals from current chairman George Houghton for more support have fallen on deaf ears.
Reynolds claimed yesterday that the stadium was not too big and would have been filled if the club had made it into the Premier League.
But his wild ambition sounds somewhat jarring as the club spiraled into administration again yesterday, chairman Houghton saying he had œno choice but to relinquish control.
Houghton painted a worrying picture of the club™s ill-health, revealing that Darlington have £4m of debt and are losing £54,000-a-week. Administrator Dave Clark last night placed that debt nearer the £5m mark. Houghton has personally plunged £1.1m into the club since Christmas and, despite repeated appeals for more support, the club™s attendances have seldom broken the 3,000 mark.
New Jersey “barely resembled the Nets you’ve come to know and (barely) tolerate” writes Dave D’Alessandro of the hosts’ 111-99 defeat of Chicago last night at The Crocodile Hut. It’s not only Wednesday evening’s victors who are hard to recognize, however, as the Sun-Times’ Dan McNeil claims Bulls GM John Paxson “appears to be morphing into his unpopular predecessor, Jerry Krause. If he packs on a few dozen more pounds, then joylessly wins six NBA championships, he’ll have the act perfected.”
I liked Paxson a lot more when he was among the best analysts on radio. You still can hear his voice on occasion, but these days he analyzes mostly media. This is where he most resembles Krause (above), who referred to local typewriter tappers as ”fiction writers.”
Krause should have been one of this burg’s most beloved figures. No other architect came within a solar system of approaching his level of success, and it wasn’t merely because of that Jordan fellow.
Oddly, Krause chose to promote himself as a dislikable troll. He always wore a scowl. He always was mad at somebody. Sadly, that brash persona overshadowed his enormous accomplishments.
Paxson is approaching Krausian levels of irritability.
He took time aside from generally managing the Bulls late last week for an appearance on ”The Afternoon Saloon” on WMVP-AM (1000). Paxson said he can’t worry about what’s written or said about him. Then he turned around and whined about what has been written and said about him.
Reacting to a report of his declining health, Paxson again alleged that the gatekeepers were manufacturing ”garbage.”
”It doesn’t do me any good to continually defend my position because then I’m not doing my job,” he said.
His job is guiding the Bulls in their journey back to the middle. He doesn’t have them there yet, and it’s not looking like Plan C coach Vinny Del Negro is up to the task.
And why would anybody be suspicious of Paxson’s physical well-being? Might it have something to do with the consistently tired look on his face, now ashen and bloated?