Manchester United To Fans : No Hillsborough Mockery, Please

Posted in Football, Mob Behavior at 4:42 am by

April 15 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Hillborough Disaster, so named for the Sheffield football ground where 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death in during panicked scenes at the start of 1989 FA Cup Semi-Final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.   Depending on the results of Friday’s Champions League draw, Liverpool might find themselves visiting a domestic rival on that historic day for the second leg of the quarter finals. The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor reports Manchester United are prepared to unveil a campaign directed at their own supporters’ sensitivity towards the victims of the tragedy.

When the two clubs met at Old Trafford on Saturday a banner saying “Murderers” was draped over the middle section of the Stretford End. There were songs directed at Hillsborough and some Liverpool supporters could be seen making aeroplane gestures to mock the Munich air disaster of 1958.

Many visiting fans also chanted “There’s only one Harold Shipman” “ apparently celebrating the fact that his victims were from the Manchester area “ and a video has appeared on the internet of Liverpool supporters throwing an inflatable plane around outside the ground.

Uefa’s president, Michel Platini, has already pledged to do all he can to make sure Liverpool do not have to play the second leg on the actual anniversary, promising that the organisation is “aware of the huge significance of the 15 April date for both Liverpool and their fans”.

Privately, there is a sense at Old Trafford that it would be better if the two clubs can avoid each other at such a delicate time in Liverpool’s history. However, if they are to meet in the Champions League for the first time United intend to be proactive and investigate various ways of trying to promote a more respectful relationship. How that will take effect has not yet been discussed but one possibility is that Ferguson, the manager, and the club’s ambassador, Sir Bobby Charlton, one of the survivors of the Munich air disaster, will speak out about the importance of good fan behaviour.

United would take their lead from Manchester City’s campaign in the build-up to the 50th anniversary of Munich in January last year. On that occasion City were so concerned that a minute’s silence could be disrupted that their own supporters’ club wrote to United asking, unsuccessfully, for it to be changed to a minute’s applause. However, the publicity that was generated and City’s concerted efforts over the course of several weeks helped to ensure that the club’s supporters behaved impeccably.


Hey Cinderella, Show Us Your Tits: Duke’s First-Round Victim Earns Another Round of Scrutiny

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts, History's Great Hook-Ups, Lower Education, The Law at 11:08 pm by

Brendan Flynn had some good comments on my Portland State post; we probably could have gone back and forth all week, which only serves to underscore the main point of my post – that the topic is probably worthy of some in-depth coverage in the Oregonian. Especially considering (as I updated), that Portland State itself publicly admitted its Division I status was in danger the next day.

My other point amidst the verbiage was that, during this time when we romanticize the small schools and the mid-majors and underdogs, they aren’t all the same, in terms of academics, money, or philosophy. Having a double-digit in front of your line on the NCAA bracket isn’t necessarily a mark of purity. The New York Times‘s Pete Thamel has already explored this topic with regards to Binghamton; today, he reports the university has been named in a federal sexual misconduct complaint (H/T to SI.com):

A woman who raises money for Binghamton University athletics has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging œegregious acts of sexual misconduct by two senior athletic department officials.

Elizabeth Williams, a major gifts officer for Binghamton athletics, began processing the complaint with the E.E.O.C. on March 5 and formally filed it Tuesday. In it, she named Jason Siegel, a senior associate athletic director, and Chris Lewis, the assistant athletic director for development….

Williams was hired in March 2008 as the university™s regional director of major gifts, and she switched to raising money for the athletic department in January. She said the harassment began her first day in the department, when she was told by Lewis that she needed to engage a donor at a Binghamton game because he liked œchesty, loudmouthed women.

One week later, Williams said, she attended a dinner in New York with Siegel, Lewis and major donors from a fraternity. Soon after dinner began, she said, a donor began putting $100 bills on the table and asked her to tell him to stop when there were enough there for her to sleep with him.

According to Williams™s complaint, Siegel and Lewis encouraged and participated in harassment the rest of the night. She said that they speculated on her chest size and that Lewis suggested she strip for a donor who was planning a bachelor party.

At their hotel after dinner, according to the complaint, Siegel grabbed Williams™s breast in an elevator and told her he wanted to œmake sure it was up to standard. She said Siegel spoke with her the next morning in the lobby, saying: œWe™re all O.K., right? Nothing happened last night.

Williams said similar behavior continued at work, where she said Siegel consistently stood close enough to touch her body, stared at her chest and spoke to her using sexual innuendo like œusing her assets. When she made a work recommendation to Siegel in February, she said in her complaint, she was told she was œnot hired to have opinions, but rather to look good and flirt with donors.

And let me add, I am glad to be publishing this on a blog where there won’t be seven comments in the next half-hour asking for her picture.

Asshat FSU President Apologizes to “Dipshit” Samford University

Posted in College Spurts, Free Expression, Gridiron, Lower Education at 7:19 pm by

Ok, a moment away from TV and the Twitter. From the Tallahassee Democrat:

In a March 18 letter to the Samford University president, Florida State University President T.K. Wetherell apologized for a comment he made at a Tuesday news conference that could have been associated with Samford.

The letter, addressed to the university’s president, Andrew Westmoreland, says Wetherell is “deeply embarrassed and very sorry for the remark in which I inadvertently described Samford University in an unflattering manner.”

The letter goes on to say:

“I was speaking with the reporters about Head Football Coach Bobby Bowden’s winning record, and, in reference to his record at smaller institutions, I said that I was not concerned with a certain Orlando Sentinel sports reporter’s challenge of Coach Bowden’s win record ‘at dip**** schools.’ I immediately apologized to the group and said that I meant ‘smaller schools, a long time ago.

Mike Bianchi, the Orlando Sentinel scribe in question, has previously documented most of this.

So if Samford University’s a dipshit school, what sort of word would Wetherell use to describe the NCAA penalties? “Pissant” doesn’t seem colorful enough, though Bobby says it’s like “they’re killing a flea with a hammer.”

And The Award For Creepiest Book Jacket Of 2009 Goes To…

Posted in Baseball, Leave No Child Unbeaten at 3:39 pm by

…Ray Negron’s kiddie tome, “One Last Time”, presents what the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner calls “a softened and idealized version of (George) Steinbrenner,” though mentioning the book’s genesis occured when the author was caught writing graffitti on Yankee Stadium and was made assistant to the traveling secretary a bat boy by the controversial principal owner.

Negron, 53, grew up in the Bronx. His brothers fell into drug use, a cousin was murdered, and another cousin died of AIDS. Yet he has made a living in baseball, working for the Yankees, the Cleveland Indians and the Texas Rangers, and playing briefly in the minor leagues.

œIf it wasn™t for that ballpark and George, I don™t even know that I™d be alive today, Negron said. œSo I can honestly say that ballpark and that man saved my life. That™s what this book is all about.

A bat boy named Ray is the central figure in all three of Negron™s books, the latest of which was released on Tuesday. The co-stars of the others were children stricken with illness, but Steinbrenner shares the lead role this time.

Steinbrenner comforts Ray the bat boy, who cries upon learning that the old ballpark is closing and stages a final game for the Stadium™s ghosts. The emotions were similar for the character™s inspiration.

œIt™s my way of being able to finally walk away, Negron said. œIt™s very, very personal.

Manny At The (Other Bat) : Not Quite Sir Don Bradman

Posted in Baseball, Cricket, General, Sports TV at 3:06 pm by

Who better to promote DirecTV’s PPV cricket package than a U.S. sporting superduperstar with zero experience playing the game in question? I’m sure it was more fun than doing a supermarket opening, but I wonder how many more public appearances Manny will garner based on his coming cheaper than Charles Barkley?

Pudge < A Ramon Castro / Robinson Cancel Platoon?

Posted in Baseball at 2:49 pm by

Mike Pelfrey’s been fairly effective against the Astros today (1 earned run, 3 hits, 3 K’s, 6 IP) as the Mets are beating up on the Astros, 8-1, thru 5 1/2.  The visitors decided earlier this week that Ivan Rodriguez represented an upgrade on the existing backstop tandemo of Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles, said transaction coming after Pudge’s solid at bats in the WBC.  Conversely, Omar Minaya ignored comments from his own ballclub about Rodriguez’s availability, instead opting to stand pat with Brian Schnieder and Ramon “An Adam Dunn-like Zest For The Game” Castro.  Get ready to see plenty (well, as much as he’s willing to up with) of the latter, Mets fans, as Schnieder suffered a PCL strain two days ago.

That great cultural arbiter Chipper Jones spoke poorly of his recent WBC creature comforts, telling the AJC, “I don’t know if you ever stayed in Toronto, but it’s not exactly Las Vegas.” Indeed, forcing this philistine to toil in a city without a Hooter’s is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment.

The Perils of Comments From People Who Read Commentary

Posted in Blogged Down at 12:51 pm by

This is a little bit of bloggy inside baseball, but I thought it was interestingly weird enough to post, and it’s not like anything else is going on today in the world of sports, right? Don’t worry, there will be basketball coverage: I just wanted to get something up while GC is doing SXSW stuff and all the other contributors are working at their actual gigs.

As I’ve mentioned before, I cannot live on the adoration — and extensive profit-sharing revenue — I receive from this blog. I need other jobs, and find them wherever I can. This usually means writing for other (paying) venues and hoping that all the small paydays that result from that add up to enough for me to keep my lights on, internet a-flowing, turtles fed, security staff paid, etc. One such gig is my now somewhat-more-official gig at The Wall Street Journal, where I cobble together their Daily Fix sports roundup a couple times a week. (I did it this morning, actually)

It’s a fun enough job, although the notional prestige factor far outweighs the financial returns. I’m unable to decide whether I’m a sell-out (who sold out for cheap) or successfully subversive for cashing checks that come out of Rupert Murdoch’s account, but I do know to watch my step when it comes to treading on the tasseled loafers of that readership. For the most part, libertarians and right wingers and crypto-socialist goofs like me all enjoy sports in the same way, so as long as I keep my feelings on regulation out of the mix, it’s not an issue. But woe to the WSJ writer who even mentions the name of our current president…and double woe to that dude or lady should their post receive a link-back from Fox News.

Here’s what happened yesterday: Dan Shanoff, Blogging Franchise and new WSJ contributor, put up an amusing, utterly harmless post detailing President Obama’s 20-minute, bracket-oriented sit-down with ESPN’s Andy Katz. Obama, as is his tendency when it comes to things non-political, was frank and breezy and seemed pretty cool. I can think of at least a couple things I disagree with in his handling of the ongoing crumbling of capital’s very foundations economic crisis, but he picked a plausible Final Four and was totally on point about how shitty the Pac-10 was this year. Shanoff limns Obama’s picks in a half-mocking/half-dutiful simulation of the way the political media likes to parse politicians’ neckties and hairdos for some symbolic significance. All very nice.

Except…there are currently 62 comments on it. And of course argumentum ad comment section is always, always kind of a cheap trick — from Deadspin to YouTube, comments sections are often where the most typo-prone goofs of the internet do their trollish thing. Most blog posts at WSJ don’t do too much comment-related traffic, but Shanoff’s immediately had a bunch, and they nearly doubled between last night and this morning. A couple of classics — “we need a leader not a jerk like Osama;” and the downright YouTube-ian, “guys believe it or not omaba i think he is charging for publicity like ,interviews,magazine pictures and all the stuff why because is extra money for our country just simple like that Remember guys they have secret stuff” — arrived yesterday afternoon.

A flurry of negative new ones arrived this morning, many of them referencing Coach K’s typically humorless recitation of what appears to be the opposition talking point on Obama even having a bracket. “”Somebody said that we’re not in President Obama’s Final Four,” K said. “And as much as I respect what he’s doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets.” Burn-zyzewski!

Fox News’ story on K’s (absolutely newsworthy!) comment linked back to Shanoff’s blog post and dragged over more commenters; Shanoff’s post, now 24 hours old and third on the page, got three more comments during the time it took me to write this post. This might be why the term “echo chamber” gets used sometimes. And…yeah, that’s it. Enjoy your basketball.


Will The Last Prominent American Not Injured In The WBC Please Turn Out The Lights?

Posted in Baseball at 6:31 pm by

A mere 13,000 or so paying customers witnessed Team USA’s stirring come-from-behind victory over Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic last night, a dogpile-riffic result that will serve as silm consolation for those Red Sox fans learning of Kevin Youkilis’ WBC-related injury.  From the Boston Globe’s Chad Finn :

Kevin Youkilis will miss the remainder of the WBC with a mild left ankle sprain and mild Achilles tendinitis in his left foot, the Red Sox said tonight in a statement. The slugging first baseman left the team and returned to Fort Myers, Fla., where he was examined.

The Red Sox also said Youkilis’s MRI results were negative and that he would wear a walking boot to limit movement in the area and allow it to heal. The team does not expect him to miss significant time.

According to the statement from the Red Sox, “Youkilis originally experienced some pain in his left ankle several days ago and it worsened in last night™s game vs. Team Puerto Rico. He will no longer participate in the World Baseball Classic and will return to Red Sox camp tomorrow.

According to a report by ESPN.com’s Amy K. Nelson, Team USA manager Davey Johnson said the injury happened three or four days ago, and that he noticed Youkilis was in pain during last night’s 6-5 victory over Puerto Rico.

“He wasn’t going to miss last night’s game for the world,” Johnson said.

Adam Dunn was slated to play first base Wednesday night in Team USA’s game against Venezuela to determine seedings for the semifinals. But the Washington Nationals would prefer Dunn remain in the outfield, Johnson said. Utilityman Mark DeRosa is on the roster, but the Cleveland Indians don’t want him playing first, Johnson said.

Just Blogging With Boze: Morgan State Head Coach Disgraced Again…

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down, College Spurts at 3:43 pm by

…Only this time, it’s for emoticon abuse. The former Cal head coach spent eight years in the hoops wilderness — that is, coaching AAU ball and working for a pharmaceutical company, pursuits that are both broadly dodgier than paying for recruits — after getting nailed for dropping 30k of his own money to secure guard Jelani Gardner. Bozeman’s back in the game, now, leading Morgan State to a MEAC championship this season and earning the Bears a role as the sacrificial 15 seed in the Southern region. Equally notable, though, is Blogging with Boze, Bozeman’s shockingly LOL-littered — I refer to authorial-deployment LOLs, not necessarily those experienced by readers — online presence. Brendan Flynn, who discovered this masterpiece of goof, shares his impressions:

It’s really weird. Maybe like a guy blogging as Michael Steele pretending to be Todd Bozeman (above). Or perhaps the repetitive use of “da bears” is an illusion to that annoying SNL skit? But then there is also the use of z instead of s and at least one of these : )

Maybe this what recruits want? I guess it beats cash and illegal jobs for their parents.

A $5 gift certificate to the CSTB Online Store goes to the first reader to track down Bo Ryan’s blog.

Gallinari : Done For ’09 And Perhaps Longer?

Posted in Basketball at 10:26 am by

How much research did Donnie Walsh and the Knicks’ training staff conduct into the physical condition of Danilo Gallinari prior to the young Italian being selected as the 6th overall pick in last June’s NBA draft? Sadly, that’s just one of the questions (indirectly) posed by the New York Post’s Mark Hale this morning, as Gallinari left the team and the country yesterday, reportedly contemplating season-ending back surgery.

That a 20-year-old still has pain dating from an injury suffered in July has led to mounting speculation he has a degenerative condition and more than one bulging disc.

On Monday, he visited a New York surgeon, and Gallinari plans to see two more surgeons in Italy, his home country, and return no later than Monday. Team president Donnie Walsh expects Gallinari to see one more doctor after the trip – Gallinari has already seen four – and then have a decision next week.“We’ve always known that there could be a possibility of surgery, but all the doctors advised us to do what we’ve done because there’s a good chance that it could get cured that way,” Walsh said.

“That’s my question. Should we continue what we’re doing or will surgery be an answer here?”

A couple of weeks ago, Gallinari – who was not available to the media yesterday – admitted his back and leg pain was not improving, saying, “It doesn’t change much. … I feel always the same discomfort for all the games.”

As Nate Robinson said yesterday, “You should see how much treatment he has to go through just to come out for practice and games.”

Is Our Cinderella Learning?

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts, Lower Education at 4:29 am by

Oregonian columnist John Canzano is often mocked by his detractors (generally speaking, I am not one) when he goes all Rick-Reilly-meets-Dave-Zirin and writes, for example, about the Juarez murders during Oregon State’s Sun Bowl visit. He has also, for better or worse, been the guy most associated with holding the “Jail Blazers” accountable (or unfairly tarring them as bad actors, depending how you look at it).

So it was sort of surprising to me to see this little dismissive tangent in the comments section of his most recent column about Portland State, after someone noted that the Vikings helped bring up the rear of the latest University of Central Florida report on tournament team graduation rates.

(REPLY FROM JC: The manner in which grad rates are measured is inherently skewed against the mid-majors or commuter campuses that will take second chance or higher risk student athletes. I’m shocked PSU isn’t last.)

This is a familar argument (see also: John Chaney) that has a lot of truth to it, but isn’t this exactly the sort of subject that should rate one of those “socially conscious” columns at a time when everybody else is doing game previews and human interest?

For example, how does Binghamton and Robert Morris and Utah State and Western Kentucky graduate 100% while PSU is 17%? And isn’t the fact that Portland State is one of just 7 tournament teams that will face NCAA penalties for its substandard APR, well… news? (three straight substandard APRs can get you booted from postseason play).

To be fair, PSU’s graduation rate last year was 43% – in basketball, where a graduating class can be just two or three students, numbers definitely don’t tell the whole story – but they do still tell a story. It’s also interesting to note that in the current study, PSU had a 50% graduation rate for African-American players but a 10% graduation rate for white players – most schools trend the other way.

Btw, this blog may have been the first to suggest PSU as a first round winner. It certainly hasn’t been the last, but I’m not too convinced. Neither are the sports books, which has Xavier as a 10 1/2 point favorite (for that, I sure do like the Vikings). Xavier’s coming off two recent losses, but they were both basicallly meaningless, the last one coming against an underrated Temple team in front of a Philly-partisan crowd. And while I always hesitate to read too much into conference comparisons, Big Sky regular season champion Weber State, which beat the Vikings by double digits both home and away, just got eviscerated by San Diego State in the NIT.

One thing’s for sure, Portland’s ostensible proximity to Boise won’t work against the Muskies… or so PSU coach Ken Bone told the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“Our gym seats 1,400 people. We don’t fill it up. We had two sellouts this year.”

Last year in Omaha, when we played Kansas in the NCAA Tournament, we had no more than 25 fans there. Hopefully this year we’ll get 40 to 50. Maybe a couple parents…my wife and three daughters will be there. That’s about it.”

It’s true. I lived walking distance from their arena for three years and am ashamed to say I never went to a game; they are sixth fiddle in Portland behind the Blazers, Oregon, Oregon State, the Winter Hawks and the University of Portland (which at least draws when Gonzaga comes to town). There are of course, advantages to such anonymity – unless, that is, CBS is currently working on a moving halftime story about what a difficult, character-building experience it was for Jeremiah Dominguez to be falsely accused of assault while on spring break last year.

Update: Today Portland State abolished its men’s wrestling team. From the university’s own press release:

The program has not achieved an appropriate academic progress rate (APR) as mandated by the NCAA. In fact, two years of excellent APR scores by the wrestling program will still not be sufficient to avoid penalties severe enough to impact Portland State™s entire athletics program, including its Division I status.  


Someone Is Teasing The Great Chefs Of Europe : Oliver Miller’s Barnstorming Tour

Posted in Basketball at 7:12 pm by

Dennis Rodman may be at the top of the bill, but the above headline already reveals which participant is likely to raise the spirits of restaurant owners coping with The Continent’s economic struggles.  From BallinEurope.com  :

Dennis Rodman is returning to Europe, this time as the main headliner of a group of NBA Legends for a European tour in November 2009.

The first planned event will take place on November 13, 2009, at the Sportpaleis in Antwerp, Belgium.

And another sports Belgian sports site said organiser Geert Baeyens is hoping to get games scheduled in England, Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

Other players listed to participate in the NBA Legends event are Tracy Murray, Lamond Murray, AC Green, Shawn Kemp, Stacey Augmon, Norm Nixon, Darwin Cook, John Starks, Kenny Anderson, Oliver Miller (above), Stanley Roberts, Moses Malone, Robert Reid, Orlando Woolridge, Johnny Egan, Rodney McCray, Darryl Dawkins, Spud Webb, Dee Brown, Dominique Wilkins and Gerald Wilkins.

The second release called the event œScottie Pippen & his NBA-Legends. But Pippen apparently has pulled out, as the Sportpaleis website said Rodman has replaced Pippen.

I hate to cast doubt on the veracity of the above report, but Johnny Egan averaged 7.8 ppg in an 11 year NBA career…that ended in 1972.

The D-League’s “Name Your Opponent” Playoff Scheme

Posted in Basketball at 5:09 pm by

(above : Toros mascot Da Bull modeling his throwback duds while scanning the NBDL standings in what Quinn Snyder likes to call “The War Room”)

In what might’ve been the biggest minor league sports innovation since the XFL put a hidden camera in Jerry Lawler’s underpants, the D-League recently announced that for their 2009 playoffs, the league’s 3 division winners could select their own first round opponents from the teams seeded 5-8 (best overall record has the first selection, and so on).  With Austin Toros and the Colorado 14ers in a tight battle for the Southwest Division crown, the San Antonio Express-News’ Mike Monroe wonders “what will the team’s basketball staff do if the Toros win the division and earn the right to name their first-round foe?”

œEverything will be on the table, said Dell Demps, the Spurs’ Director of Pro Player Personnel, who doubles as general manager of the Toros. œWe’ll sit down with the coaching staff and weigh everything.

Included in the decision-making process: The outrage factor.

œJust think if you pick a team with a better record than the one you would have been slotted to play, Demps said. œYou think that’s not going to give them a little added motivation?

Matchups will be a big factor, too. So will history. The D-League’s first round is a one-and-done, with the team with the best record playing at home. If the Toros have a perfect home record against one of the potential opponents, that will weigh heavily.

It’s intriguing to imagine how the system might work in the NBA. Since divisions were realigned in 2002 (when the Hornets moved from Charlotte to New Orleans), Stern and Jackson have sought a way to add value to division titles. Giving the winners a choice of first-round playoff opponents would accomplish that goal.

Imagine the choices in the Western Conference.

As of Monday morning, the Pacific-leading Lakers would be able to choose among the Hornets, Trail Blazers, Jazz and Mavericks. The Spurs, leaders of the Southwest Division, would get choice No. 2, with the Northwest-leading Nuggets getting third choice.

The No. 4 seed would be stuck with whichever team was not selected by the division champs.

The Lakers probably wouldn’t pass up playing the No. 8 Mavericks, but if the Trail Blazers were to slide to No. 8, it might be a different story. The Lakers have lost seven straight games at The Rose Garden. That might be cause for pause.

And if the Spurs were to choose among the Blazers, Jazz and Hornets?

There is no good answer, unless one of those potential foes had a key player out with injury.

Your CSTBracket Reminder: We’re Doing This

Posted in Basketball, Internal Affairs at 3:52 pm by

…and it’s not necessarily for the love, as you can see by the image of this (possible) prize. Choose wisely, and you could be bringing home The Franchise (in lumpy digitized form). Or an autographed photo of me in my Corliss Williamson jersey and favorite pair of corduroys. These sound like threats, that was not my intention. Sorry.

Anyway, a reminder: the CSTBracket is live and fairly lively, and still your best value when it comes to sharing a bunch of ill-considered predictions with a few dozen people you don’t necessarily know. Go here if you’re interested and haven’t joined yet — the league ID is 49714, the password is cstb, and your instincts on Western Kentucky totally make sense.

Ice Grill: Wale Bravely Attempts to Broker Hockey/Hip-Hop Truce

Posted in Hip Hop, Hockey at 2:50 pm by

I like Wale. I think he’s a good rapper and I like his songs and I also like that he mentions the Nets in his lyrics. No one does that. Maybe Treach or the Artifacts were shouting out Chris Morris and Rafael Addison back when I was a kid and I missed it, but that really works for me. But as much as I respect the guy, I’m just not sure that it’s possible to lend hip-hop credibility to the Washington Capitals, or to hockey in general. But bless the guy for trying — the DC-born MC has come closer to it than anyone since the days when Big said “You either sold crack rock/or you had a wicked slap shot.” The D.C. Sports Bog’s Dan Steinberg — who basically has the best beat in sportswriting for stuff like this — reports:

One of Wale’s first Twitter updates from the arena was this: “im the only black person here.” Now he was saying he’d become a regular, and pledging to bring more fans from “around the way.” So I asked if he really planned on returning for more hockey.

“That [stuff]?” he asked. “Dog, I’ll be back. . . . The shootout was so cliché, though. Oh, Ovechkin wins it, in a shootout, in overtime, the first hockey game I go to. Like, really? Sure. I could have told you that was gonna happen before I went.”

…A few minutes later, the Russian came out. “I heard you put my name?” Ovechkin asked.

“In like three songs,” Wale said. “You got me a lot of new fans.”

Three songs with Ovechkin’s name? I only knew of the one.

“But a lot of them are underground,” Wale said. “It’s my alias. Wale Ovechkin’s my alias.”

Heck, that’s even his gamer tag: Wale Ovechkin. A metaphor, he called it. He’d never been to an NHL game before Saturday, and only occasionally watches highlights on ESPN, but he knows who Ovechkin is, and what he represents.

“He’s the [stuff],” Wale said. “I want to bring what he brings to hockey to my music.”

A-Rod’s Advisors Continue To Let Him Down

Posted in Baseball at 2:26 pm by

When those in your inner circle allow you to pose for a photograph like this (as seen in Details), the question arises — how many times can a guy commit career suicide?

One Final Reminder : CSTB’s (Not-Affiliated-With-SXSW) Wednesday Afternoon Throwdown

Posted in Internal Affairs, Rock Und Roll at 12:24 pm by

Cynics might call this the play-in-game for the real tournament, but they’d be wrong.  First of all, much the way supermarkets and taverns are legally prevented from using phrases such as “Super Bowl” and “March Madness”, you’ll note that I’m not claiming connection to a rather prominent music conference/trade fair happening in Austin this week.  Instead, like so many others, I’m merely taking advantage of all their years of hard work.

Secondly — and I can’t believe I have to mention this again — there is no need to RSVP for tomorrow’s party.  Just show up.   In the very unlikely event the venue is filled beyond capacity (and with so much else happening on the same block, I’m not counting on it), if you come back 15 minutes later you’ll probably get in.

Former Dykstra Minion : Lenny’s Got Some Issues (Of A Magazine No One Wants)

Posted in Baseball, Racism Corner at 12:03 pm by

We’ve already seen published reports that Lenny Dykstra’s Player’s Club magazine is a financial mess, but Tuesday brings allegations the former Mets/Phillies outfielder is not merely a cash-strapped Twizzler-addict, but a racist and homophobe to boot. The New York Daily News quotes excerpts from “You Think Your Job Sucks? Try Working for Lenny Dykstra“, an article penned by former Player’s Club photo editor Kevin Coughlin, appearing in the next issue of GQ.
In the article, Coughlin described how Dykstra attacked a magazine layout he said looked “faggy” – in front of a gay page designer.

“Later, Lenny says to me, ‘Did you see the look on that f-g’s face?’” Coughlin wrote.

He also recalled a phone conversation in which Dykstra declared, “Nobody can call me a racist – I put three darkies and a b—h on my first four covers.” The first four Players Club magazine covers featured Derek Jeter, Chris Paul, Tiger Woods and Danica Patrick.

“What was that, Lenny?” Coughlin asked into the phone.

“I said I put three spearchuckers on the cover!” he said Dykstra replied.

Dykstra told The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Everything in there is a lie. I’m not going down in the dirt with this guy,” he said of Coughlin. “He’s [ticked] offbecause he got fired. He was masquerading as a photo editor.”

Hanging On The Telephone (Store He’s Smashed Up) With Sean Williams

Posted in Basketball, The Law at 4:16 am by

New Jersey suffered a blowout loss to the Nuggets Monday night at the Pepsi Center, an outcome that probably wouldn’t have changed had F Sean Williams not been cooling his heels in a Denver police station. The BC alumnus was arrested and charged with felony criminal mischief after a dispute at a local mall.  Many of us are unhappy with AT&T’s erratic 3G coverage, but violence and vandalism never solved anything.  From the Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Alessandro :

The incident occurred at 2 p.m. Monday at the AT&T Mobility store inside the Park Meadows Mall. According to police, Williams had a verbal altercation with the clerk, and picked up a computer monitor and threw it. The monitor and other equipment was broken, causing damages estimated to be about $1,200 to $1,300.

Williams was then taken into custody “without further incident,” and transported to Douglas County Jail, where he posted bond.

As the Nets prepared to play the Nuggets here, they only said they were aware of the incident, without acknowledging specifics.

“All I know is that there was an altercation, and he was arrested,” team president Rod Thorn said. “It’s in the hands of authorities.”

Thorn didn’t even know whether his second-year forward had an attorney, brusquely dismissing it with, “That’s up to him.”

According to Pinson, no attorney was affiliated with the case as of 11 p.m. last night.

When asked whether the team would take disciplinary action against the erratic 22-year-old, Thorn replied, “I don’t know enough about it yet. We’ll see what transpires.”

One Brave Young Man’s Attempt To Bring Amateur Wrestling Into The Mainstream

Posted in College Spurts at 3:10 am by

Nebraska 125-pounder Paul Donahoe2007 National Champion in his weight class — was booted from the Cornhusker wrestling squad last summer after nude photos of the grappler and teammate Kenny Jordan appeared on a gay-per-view website fratmen.tv.  Months later, Donahoe — now enrolled at New Hampshire’s Division III Edinboro University —  will participate in Saturday’s NCAA Championships in St. Louis and tells the Boston Globe’s Stan Grossfield, “I didn’t hurt anyone. I don’t think I did anything wrong. Who should I apologize to?”

“I am straight, but on the forums people make a lot of gay jokes about me,” Donohue says. “I’m not too concerned. They can talk about me all they want, it doesn’t matter. If a guy wants to be with a guy, who cares?”

“I want people to watch the sport,” he says. “It’s not like other sports. It’s not something that you go out and do for fun, because if you go out there and someone’s tougher than you, you’re going to take some whipping. But once you become a wrestling fan, I’m pretty sure you’ll always be a wrestling fan.”

“Obviously, I did it for the money,” he says of the photo shoot. “We kept thinking no one would ever find out because it was a gay website and we really wanted that money.”

His expenses were covered for a trip to Los Angeles and he was paid several thousand dollars. He was given the name “Nash” and identified as being from New England. He and Jordan were shown DVDs of naked women.

Once the video was posted, Donahoe was initially identified by the letter “N” and the word “wrestling” tattooed on his left thigh.

“They were supposed to cover it up but obviously they left it,” he says. “Gay kids in Lincoln [Neb.] wrote, ‘Hey, nice website. I saw you.’ I wrote back, ‘Don’t tell anyone,’ but with word of mouth, people found out.”

Donahoe was tossed off the team but not out of the university. Nebraska self-reported the violation to the NCAA.

“They said I promoted my image,” says Donahoe. “That’s illegal in the NCAA rules. I had to pay all the money back, a couple of thousand, to a nonprofit.

“I believe it was unfair for Nebraska to dismiss me from the team. For one, there’s plenty of athletes throughout the University of Nebraska who have had DUIs and who have been in fights and are still playing. But I guess that’s OK. Posing nude, I guess, is worse than someone drinking and driving and risking someone’s life, in their eyes.”


Pardew In Televised Rape Rap

Posted in Football, Sports TV at 8:14 pm by

Though it would not be considered inappropriate to describe Alan Pardew’s recent stint as manager of Charlton Athletic as abortive, there’s an awful lot wince over after the gaffer-turned-substitute TV analyst compared a challenge by Chelsea’s Michael Essien to rape.   From the Guardian’s Owen Gibson :

After the Ghana international clattered into Manchester City’s striker Ched Evans, Pardew said: “He’s a strong boy. He knocks him off.” His fellow pundit Alan Hansen interjected to say, “he mauls him”, before Pardew continued, “he absolutely rapes him”. The comment was not spotted at the time by the host Adrian Chiles, Hansen or any of the programme’s production staff who, it is understood, thought Pardew had said that Essien “rakes him”.

But after receiving 35 complaints from members of the public the BBC yesterday issued a statement that read: “Alan Pardew apologises unconditionally for any offence caused by remarks he made in the Match of the Day 2 programme last night.”

The comments were condemned by women’s groups. Lee Eggleston, the chairwoman of Rape Crisis England and Wales, said the term was “completely inappropriate”. She said: “That something as serious as sexual assault has been misused to describe football is appalling. He has trivialised and undermined the seriousness of rape and anyone who has suffered sexual violence will rightly be angry.”

Great Meetings Of The Minds (Or, Until C.C. Deville Sits Down With Bill O’Reilly, This Will Have To Do)

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 7:51 pm by

Just in case you’re not interested in the Venezuela/Puerto Rico result.

The Ombudslady’s Farewell : Schreiber’s Last Words Of Advice For The WWL

Posted in Sports Journalism, Sports Radio, Sports TV at 6:08 pm by

Just a few months into her position as ESPN’s 2nd ombudsman, Le Anne Schreiber won the respect of much of the blogosphere for her willingness to chastise Colin Cowherd.  Now, as she ends her two year tenure as George Solomon’s successor, Schreiber endeavors to “find the taproot of discontent from which the whole blooming variety of complaints emerge.”

If arrogance were indeed the taproot, the message to ESPN from fans would be simple: “Get over yourselves, it’s not all about you.” And the solution would be as simple as ESPN asking the loudest and most self-smitten of its many personalities to tone it down.

In a previous column, I wrote, “The endlessly swirling synergy of events programming continuously reinforced by pre- and post-event shows, by preseason and postseason shows, by news shows that cover those events and by opinion shows that derive their topics from those events is a business model both extremely effective and extremely transparent.”

I would like to revise that statement by deleting “extremely effective.” We now know that any business model based on the assumption the rich can get endlessly richer is bound to implode.

That is why, when searching for the taproot of discontent within those 30,000 messages, I settled upon the excesses of coverage that provoke fans to send me their virtual shouts of “MAKE IT STOP. PLEASE. IT’S TOO MUCH.” Those viewers are sounding a potentially empire-saving alarm.

What’s the one last message I want to leave ESPN? I guess it would have to be: Don’t be so predictable. Subtext: Stop trying to make the publicity-rich ever richer. Spread the wealth around before fans turn on ESPN the way investors have turned on bankers.

Brown : Where’s The Respect For My 28-38 Bobcats?

Posted in Basketball at 4:02 pm by

Along with Chicago, Jersey, the Knicks and Indy, Charlotte are one of 5 teams within 2.5 games of the (L)Eastern Conference’s 8th and final playoff spot.  While this is relatively rarefied air for the Bobcats, I’m not sure being ten games below .500 is sufficient cause for a headline reading “In His 9th NBA Stop, Larry Brown Is Winning Again”.  Perhaps being a tad closer to contention is what it will take to answer Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer‘s second-hand query, ” Brown wonders what it will take to earn the respect of NBA referees. Pretty late in the year to ask Michael Jordan to suit up, I imagine.

Some key calls and non-calls during Saturday’s 108-100 loss to Minnesota frustrated him. Brown isn’t saying those calls decided the game; he knows his defense gave up 53 percent shooting. But several judgments left him wondering.œA couple of crucial times (each game), we don’t get a call, Brown said at an optional practice Sunday. œ Emeka gets murdered in a six-point game, Randy Foye walks terribly in a big play “ twice, not once.

But it was Minnesota forward Brian Cardinal’s foul on Gerald Wallace, knocking him to the floor on a drive to the basket, that most troubled Brown.

œNo matter whether they say you went for the ball, if you hit a guy in the head it should be a flagrant foul, Brown said.

œWe don’t get respect. But the big thing is, if you don’t come out with that energy early, that sense of urgency, then shots become easier for the opponent.”

The WBC’s Lamest Incident To Date : Frontier Justice, Matt Lindstrom-Style

Posted in Baseball, We Aren't The World at 1:38 pm by

Much as it pains me to agree with Jim Rome on anything, Matt Lindstrom’s pathetic overreaction to being taken deep by the almost-Cadillac-ing Bryan Englehardt was right up there with Charles Barkley hitting Angola’s Herlander Coimbra with an elbow in the 1992 Summer Games.  Had Englehardt actually paused nearly as long as Lindstrom seemed to think after hitting an otherwise meanlingless solo HR with his club trailing by 6 runs, where was the harm?  This was probably the final moment on a major baseball stage for Englehardt or the target of Lindstrom’s brushback pitch, Vince Rool.  What twisted, douchebag version of “respecting the game” finds it permissible to tarnish that moment?  It was a sad reminder to the rest of the world that the likes of Usain Bolt — just to name one athlete far more vilified than Lindstrom — have no monopoly on crap sportsmanship.