Smith says the biggest problem was the show being shifted from its original 6:30 p.m. ET time slot to sometime around 11 p.m. ET ” sometime, that is, after the live games leading into his show ended. Says Smith, of that show, which lasted 17 months: “I believe to this day if my show had a definitive time slot, it would have been more successful.”
Plenty of TV sports types have gone on to broaden their on-air horizons. Smith now sees them as his role models. Like Robin Roberts ” “I adore her” ” and Bryant Gumbel ” “I idolize him.” He admires Keith Olbermann, another crossover case who has a largely political talk show on MSNBC while also working NBC’s NFL studio and writing columns for mlb.com. But he says his ESPN exit is nothing like Olbermann’s fiery 1997 departure and is instead a matter of wanting to branch out.
The New York Post this week opined Smith is “a self-promoting, race-based gasbag.” But Smith, asked if he now sees himself primarily as a sort of spokesman, is low-key: “I’m not this voice, or that voice. But if people want to hear a perspective from the African American community that otherwise wouldn’t be heard, I’d be honored to deliver that message.”
The Post column in question was penned by (who else?) Phil Mushnick, whose farewell to one of his favorite punching bags concluded with “despite all ESPN’s media platforms, it no longer had room for a wildly popular, in-demand fellow who’s one part Martin Luther King and one part Daniel Webster . Smith’s so delusional he’d insult those he considers his greatest admirers. He apparently feels that black Americans find him less full of it than everyone else.” That’s a fair enough critique, and entirely more cutting, if not reasonable, than Mushnick’s repeated charge that Smith’s oratory skills were nothing more than “jive infused plattitudes”. That Smith was an insufferable legend-in-his-own-mind is hard to dispute or defend. But for much of his spell in the public eye, Mushnick would have his readers believe Stephen A.’s greatest sin wasn’t arrogance, but rather sounding too black.
Translated, the league took care of the little guy and blew off the big dope. Oafism, we’ll call it. Or, positionism. Why was Howard suspended and Rondo not even punished? Why the double standard? Shouldn’t the Bulls and Magic wonder why Rondo gets to play his Game 6 and Howard doesn’t? And if the roles were reversed — Miller as the perpetrator, Rondo as the victim — don’t you think Miller would have been flagrantly flagged?
In a compelling postseason with rising TV ratings, the league doesn’t need officiating inconsistencies to detract from the gripping action. We aren’t far removed from the Tim Donaghy point-shaving scandal that, while apparently an isolated case, red-flagged some suspicions about hanky-panky. As a difficult game to officiate, pro basketball always will have a gray area when it comes to calls. But it’s inconceivable that on the very same night in the playoffs, one hard shot to the head results in a suspension while another hard shot to the head warrants no action. Jackson is dead wrong about Rondo going after the ball. In the final seconds of overtime, with Miller on an unimpeded path to a game-tying basket, Rondo turned into one of Bill Belichick’s linebackers on a goal-line tackling mission and went straight for the face. In Memphis on a December evening, it’s a flagrant foul. In Sacramento on a March afternoon, it’s a flagrant foul.
Between George W. Bush’s failure to claim a 3rd Presidential term and the retirement of NBC’s John Madden, there’s been considerable speculation that terrorist impressionist Frank Caliendo would at long last, leave the public eye.
Apparently, the booking department at Austin’s venerable Paramount Theatre haven’t received the memo. No, not the one about Caliendo sucking (he was originally booked to appear Sept. 11 2008 — never forget!), rather the note acknowledging the comedian’s already tenuous grasp on cultural relevancy will soon rival that of Rich Little.
That’s $51.25 to see Caliendo do Barkley, folks. No wait, I’m sorry, the Paramount’s press release says Frank can mimic Jim Rome, too.
“It caught me by surprise, because I haven’t been on the website for a while. I didn’t know anything about it,” said Michael Coleman, Torquay Tigers club secretary.
“But I’m thinking ‘All White Night’ and hoping no one would find any racism in that. But the picture is likely to be the work of an individual person and it’s certainly not the club’s thoughts.”
The picture was withdrawn soon after it attracted widespread media attention, being replaced by Disney character Snow White.
The Herald-Sun helpfully adds, “the Ku Klux Klan, also known as the KKK, is a white supremacist organisation which has a record of violence towards African-Americans, Jews and other minorities”, perhaps proving that “Mississippi Burning” didn’t do so well in Australia.
Of the humiliated Heat — losers in Game 5 to Atlanta,106-91, the Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman writes, “to do something stupid Friday and compromise its chances in a potential Sunday game would be beyond foolish. It would mirror so many of the team’s previous misplaced macho moments.” Even so, it’s unlikely Miami will soon forget a particular incident from late in Thursday’s contest.
If you’re nostalgic for the Association Of Yore, Game 5 recalled much of the aggressive play typified by Pat Riley’s early tenure in Miami, though as Slam’s Marcel Mutoni put it, “the only difference between then and now is having someone crazy enough to attempt a between the legs windmill dunk late in the fourth quarter with the outcome no longer in question ” and missing it to boot.”
The monumental diss to Castro aside, Jerry Manuel opting to bring in a career minor leaguer — albeit one removed from the first grand slam in Citi Field’s short history — to face Lindstrom with the bases loaded, two out and the Mets trailing by one in their final frame left many in attendance scratching their skulls. Had only we remembered it was Omir Santos’ birthday! From Amazin’ Avenue’s James K :
Jerry Manuel wanted to give Santos a birthday present. Happy 28th Omir. That sprint underneath the stadium from the bullpen while wearing cleats sounds treacherous.
Castro: you messed up by being born on March 1. And also for having a .723 career major league OPS (nevermind Santos’s career .652 minor league OPS).
The Star Ledger’s Steve Politi has dubbed Wright “the face of panic”, and as WFAN’s Benigno & Roberts were quick to point out today, the Mets’ third baseman is striking out at a pace reminiscent of Ryan Howard, sans the home runs. Wright is catching crazy heat for that oh-so-capital WFAN offense of Not Coming Thru In A Big Spot (copyright 1993, Chris Russo Enterprises) and assuming the Mets aren’t going to be any better than a 4th place club the rest of the year, can we just consider this phase a prelude to this former fan favorite turning heel? There’s a rich NYC history Wright can draw upon (spraying bleach at reporters with a supersoaker, under -tipping at Hooter’s, etc.) and even if he never gets another clutch RBI, I look forward to whatever happens next.
[Dempster, left, is officially named the Cubs' 2009 Bob Howry, right.]
The Cubs drop 2 of 3 in the desert, getting beat thrashed 10-0 in today’s matinee. Two things bother you about today’s outing, mainly the streaky nature of the Cub bats (like last year) and fearing that Ryan Dempster’s 2008 was a fluke career best. Of the $52 million the Cubs pay him thru 2012, they look to get about $10 mill back, tops. Gordon Wittenmyer talked to Dempster about his 5.40 ERA and single-win April here, with Dempster telling it this way:
”Crooked numbers,” he said. ”Bad inning management.
”I’ll just keep plugging away and keep trying to execute pitches. It seems like other than that one crooked number I’m putting up right now, I’m actually throwing the ball all right and giving us a chance. But if I can just stop doing that, it’ll give us a better chance to win the game.”
Yeah, stop doing that. Surely, Paul Sullivan will find a way to blame Milton Bradley for all this. Check out Sully’s recounting of Bradley’s woeshere, when 2 hits and a walk in Tuesday’s win were cause for him to rehash (yet again) MB’s debut as a Cub.
Understandably, Piniella is getting grilled about his .500 April. And while Piniella can talk all he wants about injuries and slumping millionaires, he himself appears less decisive than last year. Whose closing? Marmol or Gregg? Soriano finally bats lower in the order after last week’s series of injuries, then bounces back up to lead-off. I’m not criticizing Piniella, he’s had a lot to adapt to, not to mention rejiggering a 40% new team. His crew has the talent “ Zambrano homered and was a triple short of hitting for the cycle Tuesday. But the Cubs right now look like guys hoping for Inspiration instead of grinders who show up to work. The Herald’s Bruce Miles delivers this dirty laundry list of today’s rout:
It was an all-around failure for the Cubs:
¢ Cubs batters managed just 2 hits off Davis, who pitched 7 innings and stymied the Cubs with his deliberate approach on the mound.
¢ Ryan Dempster, the Cubs’ starting pitcher, gave up 6 hits and 5 runs.
¢ Dempster walked three batters, and it got only worse from there. Carlos Marmol, returning from a knee injury, set alarm bells ringing by walking four in one-third of an inning. Closer Kevin Gregg, in the game to get some work, walked three and couldn’t finish a mop-up inning.
When it was all over, the Cubs limped home with a 2-4 road trip, and their overall record stands at 10-10.
There have been rumblings that the Cubs were overconfident coming out of spring training after having won the National League Central two straight years.
With April almost over manager Lou Piniella may have seen Wednesday as a time to launch a strike – perhaps too late to be pre-emptive – against complacency.
“We’re not going to be able to just go out there and play without intensity and go through the motions and think we can win baseball games, I can tell you that,” Piniella told reporters. “And the quicker that sinks in, I think, the better.”
The New York Daily News’ Tracy Connor has had a peak at Selena Roberts’ long-awaited ‘A-Rod : The Many Lives Of Alex Rodriguez’, a tome that claims the embattled Yankee third baseman began taking steroids as early as high school and continued doing so as recently as 2005.
Sports Illustrated writer Roberts, who broke the story that A-Rod flunked a steroid screening in 2003, reveals fellow Bombers nicknamed the third baseman “B—h T–s” in 2005.
That was after he put on 15pounds in the off-season and seemed to develop round pectorals, a condition called gynecomastia that can be caused by anabolic steroids, she writes.
In addition, an unnamed major-leaguer is quoted as saying Rodriguez and steroid-tainted pitcher Kevin Brown were seen together with human growth hormone – HGH – in 2004.
Brown, who was named in the Mitchell Report on steroids, denied through a lawyer that he ever shared the hormone with the highest-paid player in baseball.
Two other anonymous Yankees said they believed A-Rod was using based on side effects they saw – and a clubhouse staffer said management wondered if he was using banned substances.
“No one ever asked Alex directly that I know of, but there was a lot of suspicion in house,” the employee is quoted as saying.
In one shocking disclosure, the book accuses A-Rod of “pitch tipping” when he was with the Rangers – letting a friendly opponent at the plate know which pitch was coming in lopsided games.
Rodriguez expected players he helped would do the same for him when he was having an off night and needed to get his batting average up and it wouldn’t affect the outcome of the game.
Full credit, by the way, to David Williams who claims ignorance as to why Rodriguez’ teammates would refer to him as “Bush Tetras”.
On going from a shy, quiet kid to the sexual beast he became:
œI really wasn™t that high on ladies when I was in high school and coming up. I thought they were a major distraction, I was focused. All of a sudden I come to the level of getting to the big leagues and I remember my first experience, I went to San Diego and a girl called and said she was a reporter and wanted to meet me. I went downstairs and there it was, she was definitely a 10 and boom I was like, œWell this is what it™s like. I thought it was pretty incredible. At that time in my life, there was no question. I wasn™t turning it down.
How many women did he sleep with?
œI don™t know. More than you should have, just put it like that.
More than 1,000?
œOh yeah, of course.
More than 5,000?
œOh no, I won™t stretch it that far.
What is the most women he™s been with at one time? Four?
Facebook user Benjamin Shaykin tells visitors to his wall the above image wasn’t altered in any fashion. If he’s telling the truth, it’s a hell of a way for the nation’s No. 1 ticket seller to acknowledge incredible generosity on the part of the Steinbrenner family.
During his heyday in the 1970s and ™80s, the rotund Rose was the ultimate example of not judging a book by its cover. Despite his flabby physique, Rose was actually a gifted worker. He could deliver a nice dropkick, was a proficient bump-taker and cut good promos.
Rose was the top heel for a number of years in the Portland territory, where he had legendary feuds with Roddy Piper and Jimmy Snuka. I first saw Rose wrestle in person in the early ™80s during his stint in the WWF. He and champion Bob Backlund had some entertaining matches together. I remember how surprised I was that Rose could keep up in the ring with Backlund, who was in incredible shape.
In 1985, Rose became the answer to a trivia question. Wearing a mask and billed as The Executioner, he wrestled in the very first WrestleMania match, losing to Tito Santana.
Rose came back to the WWF later in his career and worked as an enhancement guy. Severely overweight at that point, his gimmick was that he demanded to be announced as weighing 217 pounds. Fans from that era probably recall the campy œBlow Away Diet infomercial spoof that Rose did.
OK, that’s not exactly what Big Sexy wrote. But in today’s Kansas City Star, while pledging “this column is in no way an attempt to divert attention away from Zack Greinke™s bid for history”, Jason Whitlock insists those free-spending K.C. Royals oughta sign Barry Bonds.
“While virtually every other steroid cheater continues to play the game without incident or much backlash, America™s home-run king is being treated like a heavyweight champion with the audacity to conscientiously object to the Vietnam War.” Or, if you prefer, a really old guy whose pathological behavior may or may not be mitigated by his appeal as a designated hitter.
Barry is serving the second year of what his critics hope is a lifetime banishment from the game that milked his home-run power when it made good business sense and discarded him when it needed a poster child for steroid abuse.
I wish the Royals had the courage to reinstate Bonds. He could help their anemic offense and potentially lift the Royals into the playoffs. Tuesday afternoon I milled around the Royals clubhouse asking players what they thought of Bonds and whether they™d have a problem playing with the all-time great.
Surprisingly, I couldn™t find a Bonds critic inside the clubhouse.
œI™d feel honored to play with him, Royals catcher John Buck said. œYou can™t take away what he™s done in the game.
Billy Butler added: œI wouldn™t have a problem at all. I™d work with him. If he™d help our team win, I think it would be good for our team. Whatever is good for Kansas City.
It would be worth it. Greinke is bidding for a nice piece of history tonight and the new K will be half full. That would not be the case with Bonds in uniform.
I asked Dayton Moore if Bonds™ baggage would prevent the Royals from signing the slugger.
œNo, he said. œNot for me.
Can Bonds still be a productive player?
œI don™t know, Moore said. œI can™t answer that.
Neither can Whitlock for that matter. But nice work, Jason, for failing to ID any member of the superstar-packed Royals roster willing to pull a Turk Wendell and trash the greatest offensive player of the modern era.
I’m not entirely clear how Vasgarian’s unfunny observation was altogether different from Deadspin’s founding editor giggling over Aaron Neville’s alleged resemblance to Cleveland from “Family Guy“. Unless it’s a all a matter of context (ie. Matt Vasgersian’s transgressions are more mock-worthy because he’s not handing out any links).
“I don’t want Stu (Jackson) to be calling me or anything like that, but if you look at the stat sheet and you look at the way the calls have gone the last couple games, it’s not consistent,” McMillan said.
McMillan is particularly unhappy with the fouls called against his centers, Joel Przybilla (above) and Greg Oden, who have the already-challenging task of trying to contain Yao Ming, the Rockets’ 7-foot-6 All-Star center.
“Our guys, Greg and Joel, are getting called for touch fouls against Yao, and Artest and Battier are riding Brandon Roy every time he runs or he penetrates to the basket,” McMillan said. “I’m just saying that it needs to be called both ways.”
Officiating was a major topic for the Rockets after they lost Game 2 in Portland as Houston coach Rick Adelman complained Thursday that the Blazers had been allowed to manhandle Yao.
“In the first six minutes, they must have called seven or eight fouls on both teams,” Adelman told reporters. “Hand-checking, everything else. Then it was like, ‘Let’s don’t call anything else the rest of the game.’ They literally put their hands on him from outside the free-throw line all the way down.”
McMillan said he was well aware that Adelman had used the media to get this point across.
“No doubt, no doubt,” McMillan said. “He’s talked about that, (then) our guys have been whistled for those calls. What I’m saying is, if you’re going to call it on one end, then call it on both ends.”
Martin Short (above) will be Tom Scharpling‘s guest tonight on “The Best Show On WFMU” (8pm-11pm). Tom is promising much discussion of the 1994 classic “Clifford”, but please keep in mind they’ve only got 3 hours. There’s no way Mr. Short can answer every question on that topic.
Giants pitcher, Brian Wilson (above) was amongst the millions worldwide who’d fallen for the Twitter craze, but learned the hard way this weekend such free expression is under considerable scrutiny. From the San Jose Mercury News’ Andrew Baggerly :
Wilson posted some twitterings late Saturday night in which he said (paraphrasing from memory) œScottsdale is fun but overaggressive males are not, leaving the impression he was out on the town potentially getting into fights past 1 a.m. The Giants played a day game Sunday and Wilson blew a three-run lead in a 5-4 loss. A reporter blogged about it Sunday night, but didn™t accuse Wilson of anything. Wilson tweeted back, saying he was eating room service hamburgers. Later today, Wilson deleted all of his tweets prior to Sunday morning.
I went up to Wilson this afternoon and asked him one simple question: Is there anything you want to clarify to the fans?
œI just can™t believe anyone would question my character. What about all the positive media and things we™ve done? Sure, things happen in the offseason, everybody celebrates or whatever, but I™m not one to take my job and throw it down the drain. Especially based on how hard I work out, and the meal plan I try to stay consistent with.
œThis Twitter crap, I™ve obviously got to stop because people are taking it too serious. My aspect of that is I write a bunch of stuff that™s not true. It™s made up. Obviously I™m not doing things like going toe-to-toe with a ninja. Find me a ninja, for one.
œObviously, it™s my fault for making up a bunch of stuff but I know for a fact most of those followers know I™m not being serious. They just like hearing funny stuff. Some people don™t understand, but I™m not an idiot, so obviously, I™ve got to stop.
Just to clarify, I asked if Wilson was out late Saturday night.
œNo, I wasn™t out at all Saturday night. I was playing video games. But you know what, people will believe what they want to believe. That™s fine, I guess. The last thing I want to do is have people think I don™t take my job seriously.
True to his word, Wilson’s Twitter account, twitter.com/brianwilson38, has been deleted.
If Not-Shea’s worst offense is the horrible sightlines — and kinda-sorta-obviously dishonest salesmanship of those seats — then Yankee Stadium’s are less well-known to me, if only because I kind of figured it’d be a while before I went to that stadium. I know their bleachers apparently have laughably, implausibly bad views of the field (and that some peculiarly self-important louts aren’t happy about this) and that the stadium’s most expensive seats are often empty. But in his blog for the Lower Hudson Valley Journal-News, Peter Abraham exposes another absurdity of Hankenstein Gardens and Ball Yard — first- and second-class bathrooms.
How far does the class warfare extend in Yankee Stadium? All the way to the men™s room.
According to the charmingly titled Fack Youk blog, there are dividers between the urinals in the field level bathrooms but not in the bathrooms elsewhere in the stadium.
It™s astonishing that somebody had a meeting to decide this. But apparently they did. Somebody needs to investigate the quality of the toilet paper. I™d bet anything the field level seats have two ply and everybody else gets recycled sandpaper.
Thanks to Jimmy Laakso for the link, and to Peter Abraham for the introduction to Fack Youk, which is clearly written by a tenured economist — I’m thinking probably this guy. Click the link above if you want to find out why rich people can’t be real fans. Oh, okay, here you go: “If you have a job that allows you to spend anywhere from $100K to $800K on two Yankees season tickets, you aren’t going to have much time in the day to read blogs or listen to sports talk radio. Wealthy folks also go out to dinner pretty often. When do they do that? Probably in the neighborhood of 7-10 at night, give or take, and three or four star restaurants aren’t going to have the game on TV.” Burn-ie Williams, overclass! (This whole thing is really embarrassing)
How much did an allleged smear job on the part of the Cleveland Browns influence Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree slipping all the way to no. 10 overall in Saturday’s NFL Draft? Tech head coach Mike Leach (above) seems rather perturbed with the damage done to his pupil’s reputation if not earning power, telling the San Francisco Chronicle’s Matt Barrows that Crabtree’s been slandered. “Michael Crabtree has been more successful as a receiver than that guy has a coach at this point,” Leach said. ” … Part of the reason is he’s (Crabtree) too shy to be like that.”
Said Leach: “My definition of a diva is someone who’s loud and self-absorbed. Michael Crabtree is the furthest thing from loud that I’ve seen.”
As evidence, Leach noted that the tape he had on Crabtree blocking in the running game was better than the tape of Crabtree making catches. “I think it’s one of the strongest parts of the game,” Leach said. “I mean, to the point where it’s impressive.”
Leach described Crabtree as the “ultimate team player who would serve the 49ers well.” As for Mangini? “Let’s see how all those non-divas do up in Cleveland this year,” Leach said.
Patrick Clark, last seen around these parts getting praise for his terrific piece about baseball in the Dominican Republic (it was in Triple Canopy, the web magazine co-run by CSTB referrer and friend-of-the-program Sam Frank), has started a blog on the subject of international baseball. This is a good thing, and even better considering the (rumored) bombshell — which Clark tells me comes from someone he “trust[s] very much and [who] travels in the right circles” — that leads off his first post. Those who follow baseball won’t be surprised to see kleptocratic execu-goof Jim Bowden (above) in the mix.
I heard quite a rumor through the grapevine the other day, to wit that Jim Bowden and front-office types in other organizations may have made up Dominican prospects, signed them, and pocketed the bonuses.
That is, as I understand the rumor, they would have filed scouting reports on boys who did not exist so that they could embezzle cash from their employers. So long as the bonuses they assigned to these fictional prospects were small enough, they could simply stash the imaginary prospects in their Dominican academies and let the fictional players wash out after a couple of years…
The bonus-skimming scandal is not the simple victimization story that it is sometimes portrayed as, and it is bigger and more complicated than we understand…The Esmailyn GonzÃ¡lez affair makes a useful example: the most telling aspect of that story is not that the boy and his advisor lied about the prospect™s name and birth date, but that when the Nationals inked the player for $1.4 million, they reportedly doubled GonzÃ¡lez™ next highest offer. To speculate, if GonzÃ¡lez (now known as Carlos Lugo) did not receive the entire $1.4 million (minus his advisor™s take), has he been ripped off? I think it™s more accurate to say that he™s been used to rip off the Nationals.
There’s more, and it’s worth reading; Clark has followed up on the story and will hopefully be chasing it as much and as hard as his day-job allows. After all my philoso-waxing about the difference between blogs and non-blogs and blog prose and non-blog prose earlier today, this is a nice reminder that blog posts can still serve a news (rather than musing-oriented, philoso-literary) purpose even when they don’t meet the probative/sourcing standards of print journalism. Yeah, it’s irritating when Murray Chass beats on about Mike Piazza’s (alleged) backne, but that’s mostly because Chass just seems to be curmudgeoning, rather than trying to move a story forward. In the right context, and with the right intentions, a rumor is worth reporting even if — as is the case with Clark’s revelation — it’s coming from a single, anonymous source. Especially if an enterprising journalist with some real resources at his or her disposal can follow up on it and bring some truth to light. If what Clark heard is true, this is a big story. We just have to hope it actually becomes one.