09.30.09

Sir Alex : Champions League Mismatches Are Your Best Entertainment Value

Posted in Football at 10:33 pm by

Prior to Manchester United’s 2-1 home defeat of Wolfsburg F.C. in the Champions League earlier today, paying customers at Old Trafford were greeted with programme notes from United manager Alex Ferguson (above), reassuring them they’d made a prudent investment. Portions of those notes were quoted and placed in proper context by the Guardian’s Fiver duo of Barry Glendenning and Rob Smythe, who helpfully characterize Fergie as “a traditionalist who has been in love with Europe’s premier club competition ever since he sneaked into Hampden for Real Madrid’s 7-3 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in 1960.”

“I do not agree the preliminaries are meaningless and simply a money-making exercise,” he said, as a group of hired heavies lifted his new 98-inch plasma on to the wall brackets in the Dave and Paramount Comedy Channel room of his humble 302-up, 302-down abode. “The group system is a league. All sports competitions have a starting point that includes the minnows, from the FA Cup to Wimbledon in tennis, or the Open in golf.

“You can’t start with the FA Cup final, or Wimbledon final and cut out the competitive build-up. When you put it like that, it is nonsense of course. But that has not prevented a spate of recent criticism and accusations of the game exploiting the fans,” he continued, pouring a bottle of Cristal down the sink because one of his team of butlers had served it at 3.141 degrees centigrade rather than the requested 3.142. None of Ferg’s comments, of course, explain why – if it’s not about money – the competitive build-up could not be the early rounds of an unseeded knockout.

Either Gregg Doyel Loves Tim Tebow More Than Jesus Urban Meyer…

Posted in Gridiron at 4:32 pm by

…or the CBS Sports.com columnist has money on LSU Saturday night. On the same day the NFL essentially ‘fessed up on the matter of blows to the head being bad for your health, Doyel says of the recently concussed Florida QB, “Tim Tebow will want to play, but we already know that. Tebow will need to be protected from himself.”

Don’t quote to me studies that say Tebow can play. Don’t waste your time, or mine. Every time an expert conducts a new study on concussions, it discovers that the old study and the previous experts were wrong — that the recovery time after a concussion is longer than anyone used to think. And right now, experts think it takes at least two weeks to recover well enough from a concussion to resume normal activity.

Do you think playing quarterback in two weeks against the enormous and fast LSU defense qualifies as “normal activity”?

Urban Meyer has the chance, the obligation, to be a good man. He needs to ignore Tebow when Tebow says he’s ready, because that’s what players say. They say they’re ready. And he needs to ignore the doctors when the doctors speculate Tebow is ready, because that’s all doctors can do on concussion recovery. They speculate. And you know what? The health of a human being is too important to be left to speculation and wishful thinking.

(The Other) Cowherd On The O’s Trembley – Sound Familiar, Mets Fans?

Posted in Baseball at 3:49 pm by

With Cleveland having announced the termination of Eric Wedge earlier today, the MLB Death Watch turns to Orioles skipper Dave Trembley, who’s compiled a brutal 20-49 mark in the O’s last 69 games. “Trembley,” writes the Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Cowherd, “reminds you of a guy in a knife fight and all he has to defend himself is a swizzle stick…he didn’t have the weapons to compete in the dock-brawl that is the American League East. And everyone knows it.” Change a few of the names and you might confuse Cowherd’s column for an autopsy on another hopelessly overmatched manager whose team gave up on him months ago.

This is a team that desperately needs to inject a winning attitude into its young players before they get beaten down and develop the same 1,000-yard stare as some of the veterans.

This is a team that needs to show its dwindling and dispirited fan base that it won’t settle for the kind of ugly baseball it has seen the past two months.

And that has to start with a fresh face in the manager’s office.

Let’s face it: The Orioles hit rock bottom with this collapse. It’s going to leave a bad enough taste in the players’ mouths in the offseason as it is.

To go into a new season with the same guy calling the shots would be unthinkable.

Study : Ex-NFL’ers 19 Times More Likely To Be Demented

Posted in Gridiron, Medical Science, Mental Health at 1:32 pm by

You don’t have to be Chris Harvard to know a brain-rattling career playing football might lead to significant quality-of-life issues further down the road. But when the NFL has steadfastly denied a correlation between their high-impact, contact sport and brain dysfunction, it’s an awfully big deal when a new study commissioned by the league reportedly shows former players are far more susceptible to Alzheimer’s than the rest of the population. All the more reason for John Kitna (above) to never retire, then.
From the New York Times’ Allan Schwartz, who’s been doggedly pursuing this story for the last few years.

œThis is a game-changer ” the whole debate, the ball™s now in the N.F.L.™s court, said Dr. Julian Bailes, the chairman of the department of neurosurgery at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, and a former team physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers whose research found similar links four years ago. œThey always say, ˜We™re going to do our own studies.™ And now they have.

Sean Morey, an Arizona Cardinals player who has been vocal in supporting research in this area, said: œThis is about more than us ” it™s about the high school kid in 2011 who might not die on the field because he ignored the risks of concussions.

All rates appear small. But if they are accurate, they would have arresting real-life effects when applied across a population as large as living N.F.L. retirees. A normal rate of cognitive disease among N.F.L. retirees age 50 and above (of whom there are about 4,000) would result in 48 of them having the condition; the rate in the Michigan study would lead to 244. Among retirees ages 30 through 49 (of whom there are about 3,000), the normal rate cited by the Michigan researchers would yield about 3 men experiencing problems; the rate reported among N.F.L. retirees leads to an estimate of 57.

So the Michigan findings suggest that although 50 N.F.L. retirees would be expected to have dementia or memory-related disease, the actual number could be more like 300. This would not prove causation in any individual case, but it would support a connection between pro football careers and heightened prevalence of later-life cognitive decline that the league has long disputed.

The Michigan researchers found that 6.1 percent of players age 50 and above reported that they had received a dementia-related diagnosis, five times higher than the cited national average, 1.2 percent. Players ages 30 through 49 showed a rate of 1.9 percent, or 19 times that of the national average, 0.1 percent.

Bob Cook’s Found A Potential Kiddie Coach Even Scarier Than Marv Marinovich

Posted in Cinema, Leave No Child Unbeaten, The Law at 1:09 am by

There’s considerable outcry around the globe over the United States’ attempts to extradite Roman Polanski, but Your Kid’s Not Going Pro’s Bob Cook refuses to join the chorus in support of the former Mr. Sharon Tate.  “if someone who committed a crime like Polanski™s was found to have slipped through the background-check cracks and was now coaching your child™s team, or your niece™s team, or was your local Catholic priest/soccer coach,” wonders Cook,  “would you say, ‘Eh, he™s brilliant, it was a long time ago ” let him coach.’ Or would you say, ‘How in the FUCKITY FUCK FUCK did this league let him near children?’”  Well, it depends.   Would he autograph my copy of “Knife In The Water”?

Bob, you say, Roman Polanski, one of the great directors of our time, is never going to waste his life teaching soccer to 6-year-olds in the suburbs. And, Bob, you say, Polanski has long proven himself no threat to society ” he doesn™t start romantic relationships with 15-year-old actresses anymore. And, Bob, you say, the man had a hard life, full of tragedy.

But the fact remains that if this were Roman Polanski, pipefitter, instead of Roman Polanski, filmmaker, legally speaking this would not be a guy who gets petitions on his behalf. He would be the kind of guy parents take up a petition against to get him to stop coaching the girls™ field hockey team. Are we parents overprotective about having this kind of person around? You bet. But I™m sure Martin Scorsese, one of the backers of the Free Roman Polanski petition, would shudder a little if he ever thought someone who plied a 13-year-old with champagne and Quaaludes, and forced himself upon her, was coaching his kids™ teams.

09.29.09

D-Steve’s New Ink: A) Unsightly, B) Gang-Related or C) All of the Above?

Posted in Basketball, Free Expression at 11:36 pm by

Even though I’ve more or less given up on what used to be my favorite NBA team — and have seen my alternate favorites announce that they’ll be bringing Blake Griffin off the bench in favor of a guy who looks like an extra from the recent remake of The Hills Have Eyes — I still get excited for this time of year, basketball-wise. There’s still a sense of hope in most clubhouses, Eddy Curry might be under three-bills, the professional curmudgeons haven’t had time to declare themselves “disgusted” yet (although the Lakers wearing Manny Ramirez wigs on media day will surely give Bill Plaschke something to mash his keypad about), and players patiently explain to the assembled media what they did in the offseason.

Usually, this means tattoos. Yeah, Matt Bonner became a Canadian citizen and Kevin Durant kicked his flaccid raps in that goofy Nike Hyperize commercial, but for the most part: tattoos. Last fall around this time, Stephen Jackson broke down his brilliant offseason ink, and it made me glad. It’s like the old back-to-school feeling, except there are no tests or grades (so it’s like Bob Huggins-era Cincinnati) and everyone’s really overstated and immature and on their own shit (so it’s like Oak Hill Academy). And so, of course, DeShawn Stevenson of the Wizards shows up at media day with a bunch of goofy tattoos. This post by John Taylor of the Washington Times — one of the very best Moonie-run papers on this coast — features photos of all three. They are, in order, a tattoo of Abraham Lincoln on Stevenson’s adam’s apple, a stylized fissure running down the top of his forehead (“because I don’t crack,” Stevenson, um, explained) and a backwards “P,” in the Pittsburgh Pirates font, on his cheekbone. Good times, right?

Well, the P being backwards is weird. But the P being there at all — especially given the Fresno-born Stevenson (above) explaining that it’s there in honor of the Pittsburgh Pirates, which he claims as his favorite baseball team — is kind of jarring. “There’s no reason the ‘P’ has to be backward,” Bethlehem Shoals writes at The Sporting News. “I call gang sign,” he adds. I’m not sure what else to call it, personally, and the gang-sign thing makes more sense than… well, how do you get a tattoo backwards, and what’s up with the giant 5′s around Abe Lincoln’s face? Pardon me while I get all esoteric on you:

Stevenson’s Lincoln tattoo is bordered on both sides by the number five, which — like the stylized Pittsburgh P — is pure, familiar Bloods gang semaphore. (I know this from wikipedia, obviously). There are explanations for all that on the other side of that link, but it all goes back to ultra-arcane, byzantinely corny secret-society street gang stylistics. Whether this is just Stevenson being a doofus and getting a bunch of tattoos because he can’t think of anything else to do and me being (a devastatingly handsome masculine version of) Tipper Gore or not, I don’t know. I mean, Abraham Lincoln is on the five-dollar bill, after all, and maybe that’s the only reason why D-Steve thought to put those huge fives on both sides of his neck.

But if Stevenson really did just get a bunch of gang tattoos on his face and neck, that would… really have been fucking stupid of him. At least J.R. Smith can just take down his Twitter page when it gets too five-poppin’ for the Nuggets. Stevenson’s going to have to walk around explaining that the thing on his cheek isn’t a stylized, over-angular “9,” but rather his un-erasable statement of for-lyfe fealty to one of the most deservedly loathed organizations in the world. Or a botched salute to the Andy Van Slyke/Barry Bonds Pirates of the early ’90s. Either way: even Stephen Jackson thinks this isn’t a good look. Thanks to Brendan Flynn and Sid Kapstenel for the links.

Miller : No Harm In The Halos Pouring One Out For Adenhart

Posted in Baseball, Beer at 9:32 pm by

But ain’t much that we can do
Except pour brew throughout the crew to make sure we all remember you
And believe me it hurts
To see the boy you broke bread with six feet in the dirt

Geto Boys, “Six Feet Deep”

“The increasingly ritualized practice of baseball teams spraying and/or consuming bubbly after every postseason achievement has gotten as stale as the carpeting in the Yankees’ plush new clubhouse after Sunday’s deluge,” opined Newsday’s Neil Best in the wake of the Yankees’ clinching the AL East title.  A morning later, after the Angels had captured the AL West crown with a boozy salute to drunk-driving victim Nick Adenhart (above), the O.C. Register’s Jeff Miller took a curious approach, both amplifying Best’s remarks (“these volume-10, mosh-pit, brain-cell holocausts have run their course. Baseball doesn™t need any more swim goggles, not this early in the achievement process”) while hailing the tribute to Adenhart as “an act of inclusion, a blind and unadulterated embrace of a lost teammate.”

If you thought they were disrespecting him in their revelry, you didn™t see any of the Angels who approached his locker late Monday night “ music still pounding and suds still exploding “ and bowed their heads in prayer.

You know, Adenhart even appears in some photos of the clinching party. When a group of Angels returned to the field after the game, they headed toward the warning track in center.

Once there, they pounded their fists on the No. 34 insignia and emptied even more beers over Adenhart™s likeness that has been on that wall since his death.

Then they did something really cool. They stopped, turned around and posed, arms wrapped around shoulders, championship ballcaps askew, untucked T-shirts dripping, hair mopping and smiled for the cameras.

Hovering just above the raucous group, visible, if just barely in some frames, was the face of Nick Adenhart, the forever Angel.

Now that™s a team picture.

The sentiment’s noble enough, I just hope all of those guys took cabs home.

NY’s Fitness Hoops Experts At Odds Over Curry’s Condition

Posted in Basketball at 5:39 pm by

After Newsday’s Alan Hahn had done his best to prepare us for a slim, trim, chisled Eddy Curry Supression Ring, Knicks Media Day resulted in what can safely be called varied reports about the fitness of New York’s lumbering underachiever.



For the first time in years, Curry will take the basketball court with a healthy, well-conditioned body and a relatively clear psyche.
- Howard Beck, New York Times

Curry, whose season was a complete waste last year, is also expected to make his preseason debut against New Jersey. He™s lost about 40 pounds but he still looks huge and his conditioning leaves a lot to be desired. Both Walsh and D™Antoni admitted that Curry needs to get in better shape.

If Curry plays well he would increase his trade value and thus the Knicks could clear additional cap space to sign a second superstar to join LeBron. (Until LeBron re-signs with Cleveland we™re assuming that he™s coming.) If Curry plays well he could also opt out of his contract and score a lucrative deal during the off-season. It™s a win-win for Curry and the Knicks¦but only if he™s stops overeating and improves his fitness. – Frank Isola, New York Daily News

In somewhat less controversial news, Curry’s tattoo artist has successfully battled a ban on the practice in  DeKalb, IL.  Let freedom ring!

“The Deer Hunter II” Or The Greatest Catch Of All Time (That Wasn’t A Catch)?

Posted in Baseball at 1:13 pm by

With Atlanta having won 15 of their 17, who can begrudge the Rockies from taking advantage of every possible break as they cling to their Wild Card berth? “”Greatest. Catch. Ever,” was how Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez described a diving grab / game-ending double play pulled by off by Bambi-killer Clint Barmes to conclude Sunday’s 4-3 victory over St. Louis.  But you’ve got to hand it to those folks in Denver ; though they never found Jon Benet Ramsey’s killer, they have raised serious doubts about whether Barmes fielded the ball cleanly, as the Post’s Troy E. Renck explains.

(photo taken from Colorado Rockies Photos)

Photos taken by The Denver Post and a spectator in the right-field stands at Coors Field during Sunday’s dramatic 4-3 victory over the Cardinals reveal that second baseman Clint Barmes bobbled the final popup, with one picture showing the baseball on the outfield grass. Barmes rolled on the grass, jumped to his feet and fired to first to double off Albert Pujols to end the game.

But did he catch the ball?

“Only me and Barmes know the truth. It’s the same as (Matt) Holliday touching home plate,” outfielder Ryan Spilborghs said Monday of the controversial slide that clinched the Rockies’ 2007 playoff berth. “It’s better that. it’s (mysterious).”

Barmes could not be reached Monday, but said after Sunday’s game, “It all happened so fast. . . . I think as I was going down it hit my glove and then it went across my body or something. I don’t know. I know I came up with it in my bare hand.”

Quizzed about the play by Renck, SS/ethicist Troy Tulowitzki responded with “who cares now, we won.”  Bill McCartney couldn’t have put it any better.

Dowbiggin ID’s The Media Equivalents Of Dave Semenko

Posted in Hockey, Sports Journalism at 10:02 am by

Or more to the point, in the aftermath of Wayne Gretzky bailing on the Phoenix Coyotes last week — with the fiscally challenged franchise about to start the season — the Globe & Mail’s Bruce Dowbiggin points out the Great One received a smidgeon of criticism (most notably from G&M colleague Paul Blair and caring-sharing clotheshorse Don Cherry), no. 99′s iconic status remained secure in several spots.

Gretzky has traditionally received the benefit of the doubt from the media pack thanks to his marvellous career and pleasant demeanour with reporters. Even when he was snared in the Rick Tocchet gambling scandal heading into the 2006 Olympic competition, the NHL legend caught a large break from many in the fourth estate. (One overtaxed Gretzky loyalist called the gambling allegations a œcrucifixion.) Thursday was no exception as many leapt to Gretzky’s defence. Nick Kypreos on The Fan 590′s Hockey Central ripped the NHL for leaving Gretzky on an island while the Coyotes’ bankruptcy drama unfolded. Veteran broadcaster Darren Pang tried to soften Gretzky’s unexplained absence from training camp: œIt has bothered and hurt Wayne Gretzky that he has not been at camp.

Others said he deserved an exemption from criticism based on his contributions to the business in America. œThe pot-shots and the gratuitous illegal hits ¦ on Wayne Gretzky right now have been ridiculous, TSN’s Pierre McGuire said. œNo man has done more in terms of reaching out and trying to build the game in the NHL than Gretzky.

Yet, after the revelations of his huge compensation “ $8-million (U.S.) a year “ and then the absence from the Coyotes’ training camp, few in Phoenix shed tears as he headed off into the sunset. East Valley Tribune columnist Scott Bordow said Gretzky’s œassociation with the Phoenix Coyotes was a complete and utter disaster.

09.28.09

Oakland’s JaMarcus Russell : Not The Type To Let A Poor Performance Ruin A Beautiful Day Outdoors

Posted in Gridiron at 7:59 pm by

I know some of you dig Fantasy Football, but last time I checked, there were no points awarded for starting the dangerously delusional. In the wake of Oakland’s 23-3 loss at home to Denver yesterday, the Tribune’s Jerry McDonald sneered, “if it is truly Rich Gannon’s mission in life to say negative things about the Raiders, they rewarded their former MVP with a smorgasboard of material for the show he does for Sirius Satellite Radio.” No material more damning than the miserable showing of former no. 1 draft JaMarcus Russell (above), whose postgame comments revealed (take your pick) either a stunning surplus of confidence or residence on Planet I-Don’t-Give-A-Fuck.

Believe it or not, Russell has actually had a worse passer rating than Sunday’s 22.6, bottoming out at 19.0 in last year’s 24-0 loss to Atlanta. He weathered the postgame scrutiny as he usually does, with a calm, easy manner, a half-smile that suggests he knows there are better days ahead.

And you wonder if Russell knows something you don’t know or simply has no grip on reality.

He threw two first-quarter interceptions that led to 10 points, and afterward neither play was his fault. On the first, Heyward-Bey’s feet were tangled with a defender while Russell was throwing out of the end zone, with Renaldo Hill getting the interception.

On the second, Russell said a defender turned Heyward-Bey back in, resulting in a gift to Andre Goodman.

“I try to play with no regrets and I think I did,” Russell said. “Other than that, we just didn’t show up on certain downs. We’ll continue on. The road is not over. There are a few more games to play, I think, and we’ll just continue to go out there.”

Russell wasn’t crestfallen, nor was he inspiring or particularly troubled by the boos.

“I know that the guys in my locker room are behind me,” Russell said. “When the fans get to that, it’s kind of where they seem like they’re fed up. But again, until you come out and play like I know we should and get back on track it will be a different story.”

Rockets Marketing : Because Those Pops Mensah-Bonsu Jerseys Aren’t Gonna Sell Themselves

Posted in Basketball at 7:26 pm by

No Artest, No Yao, No T-Mac, no problem, not with this sort of civic pride.  Look for the Knicks to produce a similar pre-season video once Cablevision’s Human Resources Dept. signs off on having having a little guy crawl around MSG cubicles.

Well, That’s One Way To Quell A Mutiny : TTU’s Leach Bans Twitter

Posted in Gridiron at 4:11 pm by

A pair of consecutive losses to in-state rivals would be cause enough for concern at Texas Tech, but the media have become painfully aware of late there’s dissension amongst MIke Leach’s ranks. As such, the former offensive genius has banned his charges from entering the public-discourse minefield known as Twitter, as Lubbock Online’s Adam Zubavich explains :

œThe policy is nothing football related outside of football, Leach said Monday during his weekly news conference. œAny way you look at it, little Twitter things that relate to football is a violation of team rules. If somebody plays for us, they don™t have a Twitter account.

Leach said players™ Facebook accounts will be monitored to make sure they don™t disclose sensitive team information.

All-American offensive lineman Brandon Carter and fellow senior Marlon Williams, the Red Raiders™ leading tackler this season from his linebacker position, both expressed disappointment with Tech™s 2-2 start. On Sunday afternoon, Williams also wrote, œWondering why I™m still in this meeting room when the head coach can™t even be on time to his on (sic) meeting.

When asked Monday on the Big 12 teleconference about Williams™ comments, Leach said: œAnybody that™s a malcontent doesn™t stay around here very long, because we™ve got a pretty good line of recruits that are fully willing to replace him. Insterestingly enough, he doesn™t have a Twitter page anymore.

Leach called Twitter œstupid to begin with, and said college football players get enough attention as it is.

œIf they don™t get enough attention, I™ve got graduate assistants and student assistants that™ll sit there and listen to them embellish stories and talk and tell them how great they are all they want. They don™t need Twitter.

Jonathan Meades’ Tour Of Scotland’s (Really) Lower Divisions

Posted in Food, Football, Free Expression, non-sporting journalism at 2:02 pm by

Food and architecture critic Jonathan Meades’ recent BBC 4 series “Off Kilter” concluded with the narrator’s journey through what the Beeb describes as “towns only known from football coupons.” The Guardian’s Martin Kellner found the grim 3rd episode, “a stunning film, but one unlikely to be streamed on visitscotland.com.”

Where there was a choice between focusing on a row of wheelie bins in an urban wasteland or a troupe of bonnie tartan-clad Scottish lassies skipping through a field of bluebells, guess which Meades chose. In fact, the only tartan that appeared anywhere in the film illustrated a typical Meades diatribe against the 50 million Scots who live elsewhere, whom he called “lachrymose believers in this land of tartan shortbread, mail order cabers and bagpipe glens”. Their beef with the English he dismissed as “a 200-year-old PR stunt, the world’s longest-running exercise in victimhood”.

Over archive footage of fierce pit-head picketing Meades talked of “the human cost of efficiency, and adherence to the bottom line”, and “tens of thousands rationalised into involuntary idleness”. Fife, he said, was where we see “the social and environmental effects of the initially attritional and consequently violent coiffeur clash between the free-trading ideological helmet modelled by iron steel girder Margaret from Finchley and the smug warm-over worn by King Arthur of Stalindale, South Yorkshire”.

The programme was full of fine fancy writing like this “ like Michael Moore with wit. Comparing Scotland’s part-time footballers with their counterparts in England’s top division, he characterised the Premier Leaguers as “a bespoke cast of gladiatorial yob-gods, wag-roasting Croesus kids, who once a week descend from their Parnassian blingsteads to run around for 90 golden minutes of bravura vanity”. I cannot remember when I have enjoyed a TV programme more but I doubt there will be much dancing in the streets of Raith.

Jim Zorn – Doing His Part To Heal The City of Detroit

Posted in Gridiron at 10:46 am by

(head coaches generally don’t wear helmets, but it might be time for Jim Zorn to break from tradition)

If the Lions chose to celebrate yesterday’s 19-14 defeat of the Redskins by returning to Ford Field to high-five long suffering Detroit fans, how might they mark, say reaching .500? Individual backrubs? Fellatio doesn’t seem out of the question if the Lions could pull off a a miraculous playoff berth this season, and I don’t wanna guess what might happen if Detroit made it all the way to their first Super Bowl — though an orgy scene / human sacrifice scene not unlike those depicted in Season Two of “True Blood” (with former GM Matt Millen in the role of Sam Merlotte) comes to mind. Where the Redskins are concerned, however, ESPN.com’s Matt Mosely writes of their embattled head coach, “it’s easy to second-guess Jim Zorn on his decision to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the Lions’ 1-yard line early in the game, mainly because it didn’t work”. Sadder still, Fred Smoot tells the Washington Post’s Tom Bosely, “We can right the ship. The Lions did it.” When they’re looking to the 1 win -in-their-last-19 games Lions for inspiration, it’s an appropriate time to question the Redskins’ psyche, as Boswell does unflinchingly.

They may have to fight through an incredible amount of self-delusion about the talent level on their team. This week, Clinton Portis said he thought the Redskins had the most talent in the NFL. Comments like that have been common in the Redskins’ locker room for the past 10 years — regardless of all available evidence. Not only is the view tolerated at Redskins Park, it is encouraged and marketed. Where does this fallacy arise? In the owner’s suite, where the price of players is equated with their performance?

Most perplexed of all at day’s end was Coach Jim Zorn, who didn’t seem to grasp, entirely, that his two dubious burn-the-book decisions in the first quarter had cost the Redskins at least seven points — more than the ultimate margin of defeat.

Zorn decided against a short field goal, then was stopped on fourth and one at the Lions goal line. Then, just minutes later, he accepted a penalty, allowing the Lions to replay third down — a classic tempt-fate tactic. Detroit, instead of being forced to try a 50-yard field goal, converted the third and 13 and eventually completed a 99-yard touchdown drive.

“I didn’t think we’d be denied” at the 1, Zorn said. “I thought, ‘No way they can drive 99 yards on us.’ I didn’t believe that would happen.”

In the first quarter, most coaches go by percentages, not prophecy.

09.27.09

The Sultan Of Sloth’s Solemn Edict : The Nu Stadium Will Hurt The Yankees

Posted in Baseball at 9:20 pm by



Sunday’s 4-2 defeat of Boston
marked the Yankees’ 100th victory of the 2009 season, clinching the AL East crown, prompting the Journal News’ Peter Abraham to whip out an uncanny Frank Cashen impersonation (“It™s always the young guys ” and oddly those didn™t have much to do with it ” who celebrate the most”). Prior to Joe Girardi’s first pennant winning party as a manager being overshadowed by the Giants and Jets, TBS’ David Wells (above) warned the New York Post’s Justin Terranova the Yankees’ new home fortress might cost them big-time.

œThe Yankees lose some advantage because that ball flies out for everybody, Wells said. œIt™s a new park and the road teams are just as comfortable as the Yankees are. It used to be a death valley out there in center, now it™s a joke.

“Those fans are putting them on a plateau and they expect them to win,” Wells said. “The team spent $200 million, we spent a lot of money to support you. You guys have to win and if not you are going to hear about it.”

Indeed, Boomer has a point. Having only won 55 out of a possible 78 home games, the Yankees have clearly struggled in The House Randy Levine Built. And besides, an 81 game home schedule is far too small a sample size from which to project what might happen in October,

Barry Bonds’ Personal Diarist Urges Dodgers To Reward Colletti

Posted in Baseball at 8:27 pm by

“More than ever,” insists MLB.com’s Barry M. Bloom, “the Dodgers need some continuity and G.M. Ned Colletti will provide them that if he’s given a long-term deal.” Thus, along with eulogizing Mary Travers and quoting Bob Dylan’s “Blownin’ In The Wind” in its entirety, Bloom argues LA’s third post-season appearance in 4 seasons demands a contract extension

The Dodgers have a mutual option on a contract for the 2010 season. Colletti probably will not come back unless he is offered a multi-year deal. There’s no reason to blame him. At 93-63, these Dodgers will finish with the club’s best record since 1988, the last year it won the World Series. Last year, Colletti’s team, playing within the blush of the Manny Ramirez acquisition, went to the National League Championship Series for the first time since that 94-win, championship season. They lost in five games to the Phillies.

This is the type of progression that management has to love after adding a guy who had never been a GM prior to his hiring by the Dodgers after a disastrous 71-91, 2005 season. Coming a year after they made the playoffs for the first time since 1996, that season of internal conflict cost GM Paul DePodesta and manager Jim Tracy their jobs. And perhaps that’s way it should have been.

Actually, I’m not sure what the arguments are against it. He spent too much money on Jason Schmidt, who came up with a bad arm? He took a chance on Andruw Jones? With the Dodgers trying to save money, Colletti acquired Ramirez from the Red Sox in ’08 and Jon Garland from the D-backs last month and both opposing teams paid the balance of their contracts. One should offset the other.

One should offset the other? Schmidt was signed to a 3-year, $47 million deal. Garland’s remaining ’09 salary at the time of his acquisition by LA was $1.2 million. That Colletti’s experienced modest success in baseball’s weakest division is hard to argue with, but it shouldn’t be necessary for him to ghostwrite Bloom’s blog, nor should he take much credit for a ’06 Wild Card berth that was accomplished with a roster largely assembled by DePodesta.

09.26.09

Sunday At Beerland : the Air Traffic Controllers’ Evening Of Atonement

Posted in Internal Affairs, Religion, Rock Und Roll at 8:54 pm by

There’s at least a half dozen jews in the greater Austin area, and I’m confident all of them will be attending tomorrow night’s Air Traffic Controllers show. Joined by guest drummer J.J. Ruiz, whose guitar playing is well known to fans of Naw Dude, Wild America and the Teeners, Sunday’s ATC set is especially geared to commemorate Yom Kippur 2009, as the following actvities will be prohibited on the venue premises :

1. No eating and drinking
2. No wearing of leather shoes
3. No bathing or washing
4. No anointing oneself with perfumes or lotions
5. No marital relations

After sundown on Monday, as is the ATC custom, we’ll all go out for Chinese. Heck, I’m open minded. Even Tebow’s invited!

If you can make it downtown by, I dunno, midnight, be sure to check the always impressive Elvis aka the Best Band In Austin Most Likely To Get Sued To Death.

The Guardian’s O’Brien : “White Boy” Is A Pretty Weak Racial Slur

Posted in Football, Racism Corner at 5:59 pm by

The matter of El Hadji Diouf being accused of racially abusing an Everton ballboy was noted in this space a few days ago, and perhaps mindful of the difficulty in oppressing a cultural/economic majority, the Guardian’s Dara O’Brien writes, “bananas are pretty traceable. They tend to leave a trail of bananas. And there seem to have been precious few bananas lying round. But this doesn’t mean calling somebody “white boy” is a racist slur.”

For too long the fact that we’re roughly 90% of the population (2001 census) has disguised just how oppressed we whites really are. When he allegedly said “white boy”, well it just reminded me of all those other times people called me “white boy” just to put me down, just to make me, and the other 55 million white people in the UK, feel small.

No, of course not. If you’re white, you just don’t get a go at being the victim of racism. Did that ballboy go home and cry when he was called “white boy”? He didn’t. The phrase carries no power at all. What’s the insult? He might as well have said “Tall boy!”, or “You with the blue eyes!” for all the pain it was going to cause.

For people who complain that it’s unfair that white people can’t be slurred the way black people can, well, life’s just tough isn’t it?

Jets’ Kerry Rhodes In A One-Way Twit Spat

Posted in Gridiron at 3:05 pm by

“Rodney Harrison Spars With Kerry Rhodes on Twitter” read the headline on Gang Green Nation earlier this week, as former Patriots icon turned TV talking head Rodney Harrison (above)  allegedly turned to the latest nu media craze to blast the Jets’ safety with such zingers as “you talk big for someone who has yet to even win in the playoffs you think you will ever accomplish what i accomplished?”  Alas, after Rhodes replied with “u crossed line. and i never talk smack u started it. i kno u respect my game! Tweet it!”, we now learn via The Sporting Blog’s Michael Tunison that Rhodes has been provoked by, well, someoone who isn’t Rodney Harrison.  Not sure if ESPN’s Adam Schefter is familiar with the handiwork of
Konrad Kujau, but everyone should be aware the Twitter account “adolf88″ is probably phony, too.

Considering how widely reported the spat was between Rhodes and Harrison, how was the real identity behind the feed first discovered by a self-admission from the imposter? When the Twitter battle was being mentioned during NFL pregame shows last week, how did no one at NBC bother to ask Harrison about his supposed involvement in the back-and-forth?

Adam Schefter, meanwhile, the one who took pains to stoke the Rhodes-Harrison Twitter fight, has been mostly critical of the imposter, but stopped short of acknowledging his own credulity in believing it was Harrison without checking to see if it actually was the former Patriot.

Making the Fans in Gwar Garb Look Smart, Part 266: Raiders Seek to Ban Gannon from Booth

Posted in Gridiron, Sports TV at 2:58 pm by

It’s not really fair to compare the end-stage Al Davis Oakland Raiders to Kim Jong-Il’s North Korea, right? I mean, both are just kind of belligerently and flubbily doing their own things without regard for the rest of the world’s opinion, both are favorites of people who dress up like they’re in Gwar (note: check to see if this is true about NK before posting), both answer dissent with blustering, ham-fisted conspiratorial un-reason, and both are kind of pariahs in their respective scenes, but… there’s a question of scale. I’m aware of that. I guess my perspective is just off after reading this report from the San Francisco Chronicle’s David White on the Raiders’ attempt to ban CBS commentator and former Raiders QB Rich Gannon (above)  from (first) the broadcast booth and (then, after that didn’t work) pre-game production meetings for this Sunday’s game against the Broncos. The Raiders did this for… well, really petty and vindictive and hard-to-understand and generally crazy reasons, but also ones that classily and totally reasonably invoke 9/11:

Telling Gannon to stay away from team headquarters is a new wrinkle that may not be enforceable. League policy says teams must make the head coach and players available to the network television crew for production meetings.

“It is not permitted under league policy regarding cooperation with our network partners,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said when asked if the Raiders could ban Gannon from the production meetings…

“He’s attacked us on a regular basis since becoming a member of the media,” Raiders exec John Herrera said. “After affording him the opportunity to establish a career here, he has since gone on to attack us in a way that’s totally unacceptable.”

Herrera quoted Gannon as saying in several interviews they should just “blow up the building and start over” in Oakland. Team officials took that as literally as they did figuratively, and told Gannon as much before last season’s home game against the Chiefs.

We think in a post 9/11 world, that’s not a very proper thing to say,” Herrera said. “It’s uncalled for. He seems to be a guy who can’t get over the fact that he played the worst Super Bowl game in the history of the game and he wants to blame everybody but himself. I guess it’s our fault he threw five interceptions.”

Herrera, part of an outreach program in which Colin Cowherd callers are given jobs in NFL front officesan actual employee of the Raiders, was last seen getting in the grill of San Jose Mercury News reporter Tim Kawakami back in 2008. The SF Chronicle link came from Jason Cohen’s Twitter feed.

Does Pink Hat Nation Extend As North As Syracuse?

Posted in Baseball, Leave No Child Unbeaten, Lower Education at 11:13 am by

Well, yeah, if the following report from The Syracuse Post-Standard’s Elizabth Doren :

Van Buren Elementary fourth-grader Nathan Johns thought his teacher was kidding when he instructed him to go to the bathroom and turn his Yankees T-shirt inside out.

The blue shirt read œNew York No. 52 on the front and œSabathia for the New York Yankees™ pitcher CC Sabathia, on the back.

œ I thought to myself ˜Is he serious or is he kidding,™ said Nate, 9, a student in Peter Addabbo™s fourth-grade class. œBut he had this look like he wasn™t kidding at all.

Nate complied, and said he was later told to wear it that way until dismissal. At lunch, Nate said the fifth-graders made fun of him because he wearing his shirt inside out.

.œJust because my teacher doesn™t like the Yankees I should still have the right to wear a Yankees shirt, Nate said Thursday after school. The teacher has Boston Red Sox paraphernalia all over the classroom on display, he said.

Baldwinsville Schools Superintendent Jeanne Dangle said Friday morning the district is conducting an investigation into the incident, and has told the parents she will get back to them on the issue in a few days.

I can understand trying to tell the kids that CC’s a poor role model in these fitness-conscious times, but what’s up with the Red Sox shrine in a Syracuse classroom?  Sure, I had my own rumpus room in Austin, TX decorated with game-worn Matt Ginter and Terry Blocker jerseys, but I never asked anyone to remove a Yanks or Phillies hat or anything.

09.25.09

Red Sox Sister Co. Warns ESPN Of “Dubious Journalistic Ground”

Posted in Football, Gridiron, Sports Journalism, The Marketplace at 9:14 pm by

“Perhaps ESPNBoston.com™s newest business partnership will not prove to be a colossal conflict of interest in the long run,” opines the Boston Globe’s Chad Finn. “But upon first glance, that™s precisely what it appears to be.”

ESPNBoston.com, which became the second of ESPN™s planned network of city-specific sites to launch Sept. 14, is using Kraft Sports Group as its local advertising sales agent for the site. SportsBusiness Daily was the first to report news of the partnership on Thursday.

Kraft Sports Group is a holding company founded by Patriots owner Robert Kraft  (above, far left) in 1998, four years after he purchased the NFL franchise. Along with the Patriots, Kraft owns the Revolution of Major League Soccer as well as Gillette Stadium, the venue for both teams™ home games.

Given that a significant amount of ESPNBoston.com™s coverage is dedicated to the Patriots, and a smaller amount to the Revolution, the partnership is beginning on dubious journalistic ground.

ESPN™s general strategy with its localized websites is to launch in cities where it already owns and operates an ESPN Radio station, then have the station™s staff coordinate ad sales for the website. Such was the case when ESPN Chicago launched in April.

While the ESPN mother ship has not been reluctant to criticize the franchise – it was relentless in its reporting and speculating during the œSpyGate™™ controversy of 2007 – the situation bears monitoring to see whether ESPNBoston.com™s curious new bedfellow has an effect on its reporting of potentially unflattering Patriots news.

Though it’s a bit early days to accuse ESPNBoston of lacking integrity, Finn would be remiss not to raise the points above.  He’s equally remiss, however, in failing to disclose (even if it’s old fuckin’ news) the Globe’s parent company, The New York Times, holds a minority stake in the Boston Red Sox.  Though I can’t think of an example of the Globe covering anything up to curry favor with John Henry, Larry Lucchino or Tom Werner, a number of shots have been taken by Globe writers at former players who’ve ended up on ownership’s shit list for one reason or another.  Heck, the team almost lost a General Manager a few years ago over what seemed like a victorious power play on the part of Lucchino, successfully (for a while, anyway) engineered with the help of the CHB.

Coming To Citi Field : An Event Even Less Popular Than A Mets Game

Posted in Baseball, Ugly New Stadiums at 7:40 pm by

(Sentinels head coach Ted Cottrell reacts to learning he’s not obliged to use Razor Shines as his offensive coordinator)

Not only is Fred & Jeff Wilpon’s Glittering Monument to Avarice & Greed available for mass weddings, flea markets and rock concerts, but a Mets press release breathlessly announces the return of professional football to Flushing this October. OK, it’s just the UFL, but technically, as long as the players receive compensation, they’ve lost their amateur status and can no longer entertain thoughts of playing for their local community colleges. Here’s some highlights from an e-mail I received earlier today from Amazins sales exec William “Bill” Ianniciello

The United Football League debuts this fall with the promise of exciting, traditional football played by talented professional athletes, including the rising stars of tomorrow, and an entertaining game experience. In its “Premiere” Season, the fledgling UFL will field four teams – the New York Sentinels, Florida Tuskers, Las Vegas Locomotives and California Redwoods.

In the first-ever pro football game at Citi Field, the New York Sentinels will host the Las Vegas Locomotives on Wednesday, November 4 at 7 p.m. As a Mets Season Ticket or Plan Holder, we are pleased to offer you an exclusive opportunity to purchase tickets for the November 4 game at 20 percent price discounts, with per-ticket fees waived, before sales to the general public. With this special offer, your ticket prices start at just $16.

For the Sentinels, led by head coach Ted Cottrell, this will be their only 2009 appearance at Citi Field. Please note that, for this game, all premium Citi Field club spaces will be open and accessible for your enjoyment.

OK, now I’m confused. Dazzled though I am by the star power of Ted Cottrell (what, Ray Handley didn’t return their call?) is this the UFL’s Premiere Season, or is, y’know, their “Premiere” season? But well played, Mr. Ianniciello. With the Giants and Jets off to terrific starts, you’ve got to pull out all the stops, and what could prove more enticing than the opportunity to roam around Citi Field’s Acela Dining Hall without fear of being pummeled for violating the dress code?

(Inexplicably Still-Employed) Jays GM : With Or Without Me, Toronto Can’t Compete

Posted in Baseball at 12:36 pm by

Perhaps operating under the delusion B.J. Ryan came to Toronto to pitch relief on a pro bono basis, Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi responds to calls for his head by essentially telling the Canadian Press that his resigning or being fired would solve nothing.  From the Candian Press :

“Let me make this clear: It doesn’t matter if J.P. Ricciardi is the GM, or Joe Blow is the GM. Two years from now, five years from now, seven years from now, the reality that we face in Toronto is the division is not going to change,” Ricciardi said in an interview this week. “The Red Sox and Yankees are not going away. If the Yankees want to, they can take their payroll to $300 million.

“The biggest thing that people forget is that when Toronto won the World Series, they had the highest payroll in baseball. There’s a direct equivalent to that. If we’re going to play in the big man’s division, and we’re not going to spend that money, it’s going to be really hard for us to compete with those teams.”

“I don’t wake up every day and say, `Oh my God, I’m holding on,”‘ said Ricciardi. “That’s working in fear and I’ve never done anything in fear. I’m proud of what we’ve done here and if it’s not good enough, it’s not good enough. There’s too many good things going on here that we made good decisions on to shake my confidence.

“I get this feeling that people are dying for me to lose my job, they think my world is going to come crashing down. I’m not built like that.”

The uncredited CP reporter cites “the vast inequities” in the AL East, a circumstance that didn’t stop the ’08 Tampa Rays from advancing to the World Series (with a payroll substantially less than Toronto’s).  If playing in the same division as Boston and New York is an unfair competitve disadvantage, how does that compare to signing Alex Rios to a guaranteed $70 million contract?  Or signing A.J. Burnett to a contract that allowed him to opt out of the deal after 3 years?  Were John Gibbons and Cito Gaston each appointed as manager because other candidates were offered more money to work for New York or Boston?  It seems the Jays should at least manage consistent 3rd place finishes before anyone takes Ricciardi’s poorhouse claims seriously.