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.


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.

Pearl Apologizes…To Clayton Bigsby

Posted in Basketball, Racism Corner at 11:29 am by

(not, presumably, the hood in question)

Given University of Tennessee Men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl credit where due ; these days, it’s pretty tough to come up with a remark controversial enough to keep Lane Kiffin out of the newspaper. The Tennessean collected the following remarks from Pearl yesterday at an Knoxville banquet.

Pearl was one of the featured speakers at a kickoff for charity fundraiser among TVA employees.

He took questions from the crowd. One person asked him about his three new players this year.

“I’ve got a tough job. I’ve got to put these guys from different worlds together, right? I’ve got guys from Chicago, Detroit. I’m talking about the hood! And I’ve got guys from Grainger County, where they wear the hood!” Pearl said. After a pause, he added, “That wasn’t part of the script.”

Later, Pearl issued a written statement, apologizing if anyone was offended by the joke, which he called inappropriate.


The Free-Speaking Jim Rice : Completely Clueless Or Simply Auditioning To Become The New Joe Morgan?

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 9:02 pm by

Exactly a month after being roundly mocked for (allegedly) telling a bunch of little leaguers Derek Jeter was one of the modern game’s no-goodniks, Hall Of Famer Jim Rice has inspired similar ridicule after describing K.C. starter / Cy Young candidate Zach Greinke (above)  as “a right-handed Roger Moret.”

Though the bench-jockeying Greinke’s been tossed from tonight’s game with Boston, it was Wednesday’s 6 scoreless inning against the Red Sox that caused Rice (blogging via the auspices of Sullivan Tire) to opine thusly ;

He doesn™t strike me as the dominant force that Pedro was during his statistical peak. Don™t get me wrong, Greinke pitched very effectively but he was not the unhittable beast on the mound that Pedro or Clemens (or even Johan Santana) were during their reign of dominance.

He only gave up two hits in 6 innings but struggled with his command and, with 5 strikeouts, it™s not like he was punching tickets up and down the Red Sox lineup.

This is about all the Sporting Blog’s Chris Littman can take, noting, “that intangible ‘How Jim Rice Feels’ column was somehow left out on Baseball Reference.”

I humored Rice and looked up Moret. In his playing days, he was two inches taller and about 20 lbs. lighter than Greinke. At no point did Moret approach Greinke’s strikeout numbers from this season. In fact, his best year, 1974, he had 111 to go with 79 walks. Is that a K/BB ratio that looks anything like what Greinke is sporting this season?

But look, Rice saying he was unimpressed by Greinke based solely on one start that was one of his most average of the year is like saying you were unimpressed by The Roots on a night Questlove didn’t play drums.

I’m not sure if I get the analogies — Littman’s or Rice’s.  For starter’s Greinke’s had some personal issues, but he’s never been, as far as I can tell, in a Moret-esque state of locker room catatonia (though anyone who had to put up with Buddy Bell’s flatulence might’ve blacked out once or twice).   As for Jim Ed, though it’s tempting to say he oughta keep a low profile from here on out, better that he gives his honest opinions, first hand impressions (ie. exactly what Sullivan Tire is paying for!) than merely allows today’s ballplayers to slide by on reputation.  I’m not sure how you’d keep a job talking or writing about (American League) baseball without having seen Greinke pitch several times this season, but if anyone can manage to do so, it oughta be the former Fenway Franks spokesperson. |

And Questlove’s perfectly alright.  But he’s no Chuck Biscuits.  (The Sporting Blog link culled from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

Trick Or Treat : Cincy Amusement Park Remembers McNair Below His Playing Weight

Posted in Gridiron, The World Of Entertainment at 8:34 pm by

The New York Daily News’ Neil Nagraj
tells the tale of the most ill-advised family funday attraction since Brian Potter unveiled Sammy The Snake.

Kings Island Amusement Park’s Halloween Haunt features skeletal renditions of various celebrities, including Heath Ledger surrounded by pill bottles, Farrah Fawcett in her iconic red tank top, pitchman Billy Mays, and a pajama-clad Michael Jackson.

“You™re gonna see Ted Kennedy, Ed McMahon, and there™s still other ones yet to be placed,” Kings Island spokesman Don Helbig told Cincinatti NBC affiliate WLWT.

The fright-fest at the Ohio park also contained a depiction of slain NFL quarterback Steve McNair and his mistress Sahel Kazemi – an exhibit that has since been pulled from the display, Fanhouse.com reports.

The scene contained a skeleton representing McNair, wearing his NFL jersey, sat on a couch, with a lingerie-clad skeleton representing Kazemi sprawled across his lap. The display also featured a Titans helmet with the top blown off, Fanhouse.com reports, and a gun at the skeletons’ feet.

It really is shocking stuff. Isn’t Heath Ledger considered old news?

Brad Lidge : Doing Everything In His Power To Make Otherwise Meaningless Games Interesting

Posted in Baseball, Free Expression at 12:57 pm by

Philadelphia closer Brad Lidge blew his 11th save of the season last night, sucking up a storm in a 7-6 loss to the Marlins that could only add to Charlie Manuel’s anxiety with the post-season looming.  The Sports Hernia has helpfully uncovered an alternative take on Lidge’s latest disaster, so enjoy it while you can before those killjoys at MLB Advanced Media quash a passionate man’s grieving process.

Minaya’s Remaining Friends : Disguised As Empty Seats At Citi Field

Posted in Baseball at 12:37 pm by

Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to Atlanta was the Mets’ 13th in their last 16 games, the club’s midseason flirtation’s with .500 a distant memory in what Newsday’s David Lennon projects will be the Amazins’ worst campaign since finishing 66-95 in 2003. Though GM Omar Minaya (above) and manager Jerry Manuel have received (qualified) votes of confidence from ownership, Lennon suggests the noose around the former’s neck has begun to tighten.

Ramon Peña, a Minaya confidant who was in charge of the Mets’ operations in Latin America, is the second of the team’s high command to lose their jobs in the past two months after Tony Bernazard, the vice president for player development, was axed on July 27. Bernazard was removed for his embarrassing behavior, which reportedly involved challenging minor-leaguers to fights and berating other team officials in public.

As for Peña, a person familiar with the situation said Wednesday that his firing was the result of both poor performance and questionable conduct. When asked to elaborate, the person said, “There can’t be any more Tony Bernazards.”

But just as Bernazard was close with Minaya and COO Jeff Wilpon, Peña also was tight with the GM, though it ultimately was Minaya’s decision to fire him – under some pressure from ownership.

The Wilpons have been simmering behind the scenes about the Mets’ terrible performance this season and this week’s firing of Peña is the first of what is expected to be a bigger housecleaning within the organization.

Perhaps Omar’s personal assistant, Leonor Barua, previously trotted out for an embarrassing Sports Illustrated puff piece on her boss, might be considered for Pena’s role?