Remember Vince Coleman claiming Shea Stadium’s bumpy infield would hurt his Hall Of Fame chances? Hello? OK, if that rings a bell, how do you think Vince might’ve reacted to this weekend’s one day international between Sri Lanka and hosts India being abandoned on account of poor field conditions? Please do not say “explosively” The Times Of India attempts to explain just what occured at the Feroz Shah Kotla.
The fifth and final One-Day International between Sri Lanka and India in New Delhi was called off after 23.3 overs on Sunday due to a dangerous pitch upon which the tourists had toiled to reach 83 for five before play was halted.
Match referee Alan Hurst had classified the pitch “unfit”, a newspaper reported, quoting from the official’s report to the International Cricket Council.
The classification was the worst of six possible categories, the newspaper said, and attracts a suspension of the status to host international matches for a period between 12-24 months.
“The pitch did not meet the requirements for an ODI match,” the paper quoted Hurst’s report as saying.
“This meant the players were unsure of what the ball would do. However, of more concern was the dangerous bounce that occurred randomly and accounted for batsmen being struck on a number of occasions.
“The pitch did not allow players to play with any confidence and was totally unsuitable for international cricket.”
Sports Minister Manohar Singh Gill said the fiasco was shameful for the country.
“It is very unfortunate and a great embarrassment for the country. It should not have happened,”
(Ty Conklin, sadly absent from an outdoor NHL game for the first time ever)
Dan Shaughnessy’s SI.com love letter to the Winter Classic – it’s so upbeat, he says the NHL is “Number Four!” – is a nice thing for the game of hockey, but he stumbles just a bit along the way:
Hockey owns New Year’s Day the way baseball owns the Fourth of July and football owns Thanksgiving. Sure, there’s still plenty of college grid action on the first day of the year, but many big bowls have been pushed back in the name of ratings and rankings. The NHL has stepped in with the Winter Classic which will be held this year at Fenway Park, featuring the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers…
Seizing the (New Year’s) Day, league czars took the game to Wrigley Field last year and the 2009 Classic produced the NHL’s highest regular season television rating in 13 years. Now the torch has been passed to Fenway Park and the Bruins of Original Six lore. Boston is positively agog at the sight of a Zamboni parked in front of the Green Monster. I kid you not.
The average high temperature in Boston on January 1 is 38 degrees, but nobody seems to be worried about the cold.
Surely Boston sports fans don’t consider such a temperature to be “cold.” In fact, as Fanhouse’s Chris Botta reports, it may even be hot enough to get the game postponed.
Like most of the East, Massachusetts had unseasonably warm weather the last two days. On Monday, the rains came. NHL ice man Dan Craig said his weather forecasters initially told him to expect a 50 percent chance of snow on New Year’s Day. Now their projections have changed to rain….
The decision to play the 1 PM ET game on Friday between Boston and Philadelphia comes down to two factors, according to Craig. “Our focus is on player safety and fan safety.”
I’d like to say I’m looking forward to the game, but with both my alma mater and my lifelong favorite team in bowls until 4:30, I probably won’t be making time for the pathetic Flyers in what’s really just another conference game. As an event, the Winter Classic’s surely cooler than an NFL contest in London, but it doesn’t count for extra in the standings.
Which is not to say the morning football action is of major consequence, but hey, it isn’t every decade that Northwestern plays on New Year’s Day (or every century that they win a bowl). And Penn State’s still looking for its first win over a BCS Top 15 opponent (which at least gives them something in common with the University of Texas).
As any number of “18-1″ tees brandished around the NY/NJ area in the spring of 2008 indicated, going 16-0 in the regular season is a somewhat hallow achievement if you can’t win the Super Bowl — presumably the goal of every NFL head coach, including Indianapolis’ Jim Caldwell. However, the day after the Colts extended a lifeline to the NY Jets by sitting key starters during the 2nd half of yesterday’s 29-15 loss to Gang Green, Caldwell was castigated by Indy Star columnist Bob Kravitz, who suggests the 1972 Miami Dolphins “should be sending a case of champagne up to Colts President Bill Polian and coach Jim Caldwell first thing this morning.”
The Colts treated the second half as if it were gum on the bottom of a shoe. They sent in backup quarterback Curtis Painter to hold on to a 15-10 lead, and it was like having Mel’s Detailing put the finishing touches on the Sistine Chapel.
It felt wrong. It was wrong. Cheap, really.
In the end, this doesn’t make the Colts more or less well-equipped to handle the coming postseason. The truth is, they could win the whole thing (in which case Polian and Caldwell will accept the mantle of genius) or they could lose their first playoff game (in which case, we will mention this game a couple thousand times). This wasn’t about that, and really, nothing changes in terms of the team’s Super Bowl aspirations.
What mattered — or at least mattered to some of us, including the players — was the chance to become one of football’s forever teams. The Jets? At home? With that offense? And then a game at Buffalo next week? It was right there. Right there.
The Colts casually gave away this thing, spitting on football history along the way. Maybe an organization that has lost its first-round playoff game four times in seven years knows a better way, but we’ve seen what happens when this team stops trying to do its best to win. Saw it in 2005. Saw it in ’07.
Though Kravitz is correct in stating resting starters down the stretch guaranteed nothing for the Colts in previous seasons, he can’t possibly say yesterday’s moves didn’t leave Indy better prepared for the games that really count. If one of the Jets pulls a Mo Lewis on Manning (I know, pretty unlikely), yesterday’s crowd isn’t merely annoyed, they’re downright homicidal. Caldwell has to measure risk versus reward and I suspect when it comes to making history, he’d prefer not to be the guy who allowed his franchise QB to suffer an injury that would all but certainly derail the Colts’ title aspirations. If Kravitz believes Curtis Painter is ready to be the modern Jeff Hostetler or Earl Morrall, he’s the only one.
Congratulations to Texas Tech head football coach Mike Leach who achieved the near impossible Monday afternoon, somehow managing to overshadow Urban Meyer’s bout of the wishy-washies by making headlines with something that’s becoming a huge concern for major programs, i.e. yet another case of alleged player abuse. Leach has been suspended from the Red Raiders’ January 2 Alamo Bowl meeting with Michigan State, and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal’s Don Williams has a few details ;
ESPN’s Joe Schad reported on his Twitter account that Leach has been accused of isolating a player in a closet after that player did not practice because he had a concussion. That report has not been confirmed by the A-J.
“At Texas Tech, all such complaints are considered as serious matters, and as a result an investigation of the incident is underway,” the statement said. “Until the investigation is complete, Texas Tech University is suspending coach Leach from all duties as Head Football Coach effective immediately. The investigation into this matter will continue in a thorough and fair manner.”
The statement said the decision to suspend Leach was made in consultation with Tech President Guy Bailey, Chancellor Kent Hance, Board of Regents Chairman Larry Anders and Vice Chairman Jerry Turner.
(ADDENDUM : Leach’s accuser has been publicly identified on the Independence Bowl halftime show as Tech WR Adam James, son of ESPN analyst Craig James. Lou Holtz helpfully added, “when I have a headache, I like to sit in a dark room.”)
Night 2 of Transmission’s Free Week at Red 7 features a 7-band bill that’s sure to put the “aw” back in “sprawling”. And if you get impatient and/or someone you’re harassing isn’t at Red 7, Harlem, Woven Bones and The Stuffies are playing Emo’s the very same night— and that’s free, too.
When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth
Dikes Of Holland
Air Traffic Controllers
(a rare photograph of Eddy Curry leaving his feet)
“They leave the locker room together almost always after games and when the media looks like it is about to approach, usually a code word is uttered,” writes the New York Post’s Marc Berman of the Knicks duo he calls “The DNP Boys”, lumbering, chronically injured C Eddy Curry and concentration-challenged PG Nate Robinson. “They’ve been friends before this but now they are inseparable as they share a corner of Mike D’Antoni’s doghouse.”
“Me and Nate have always been tight,” Curry said yesterday. “He’s always been one of my closest friends on the team, especially after Jamal (Crawford) left. Our families are real tight even before this. Right now it’s magnified because we’re always the last people on the bench.”
Robinson’s status appears more hopeless than Curry’s. The motivation to play Curry is stronger because he has two years left on his contract and could be traded to open up more 2010 cap space. Robinson is in his final year.
Curry is genuinely hurt, partly because Mike D’Antoni has kept him out of the loop. New acquisition Jonathan Bender, whose dealing with a sore hip, is still a health risk. So Curry should remain patient.
My only problem is D’Antoni’s communication skills, which is poor considering his rep as a player’s coach. Knowing how sensitive Curry is, would it have been so tough for D’Antoni to sit Curry down and tell him he is giving Bender a shot and to stay ready? Seems simple enough.
Unless Berman figures Curry will someday provide sensational copy on the level of the Stephon Marbury scoops the columnist was gifted the past two years, I cannot imagine under what possible circumstances he’d advocate giving the All-Decade Underachiever anything besides garbage time minutes in D’Antoni’s uptempo offense. Unless he’s rooting for Curry to drop dead, which doesn’t exactly jibe with all the TLC the New York media routinely foists upon the former Bull.
From PR USA.net comes something I can only characterize as one of the most confusing press releases I’ve ever read :
VZillion, Inc. (Pink Sheets: VZIL), innovator of the virtual Internet, has signed Mark Jackson, one of the NBA’s most acclaimed point guards and sports analysts as VZillion’s Sports Innovations Agent — a go-to source for sports figures, entertainers and other high profile individuals searching to expand their brand as well as their revenue stream. In this role, Jackson will develop corporate and celebrity sports relationships and be an advisor to the sports innovations division of VZillion. Jackson will also be ushered in to serve on VZillion’s advisory board.
VZillion has in place several on-and-offline strategies to accomplish its goals, launching Virtu-Real apartments (real entity with virtual representation) to entrepreneurs seeking to create marketing and advertising opportunities that will allow their brand partners to reach their target audience in truly unique ways.
“As we enter 2010 and beyond, we look forward to having Mark Jackson champion this new role,” said Antonio Collier, founder and president of VZillion. “Mr. Jackson will be a vital part of bridging the virtual and real sports world and will provide new cooperative resources and lead strategies for not only the celebrities involved but to introduce general audiences to the power virtual environments have on everything from Madison Avenue to Wall Street.”VZillion utilizes 3D Virtu-Real apartment concept to deliver exclusive content in the form of live concerts, virtual shopping networks, sports & television programming and many other engaging and immersive experiences. VZillion will offer freemium services and collaborative environments and provide content and the monetization strategies needed to succeed on the Web.
That University of Texas football coach Mack Brown generates — along with his unpaid roster — a tremendous amount of loot for the UT athletic department cannot be disputed, regardless of how distasteful you find reports of Brown’s recent salary increase. However, the Austin American-Statesman’s Eric Dexheimer considers another debate, one that has Brown heading an “educational charity” with non-profit status, paraphrased by Dexheimer as “the latest symptom of a haphazard public policy that lumps UT’s football program into the same category as its law school and Blanton Museum of Art.”
To tax analysts, the issue is not how much money the Longhorns football team makes ” $87.6 million last year ” or whether the coach deserves his salary. Rather, said John Colombo, a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law, the question is: “Is Texas paying Mack Brown $5 million for his contribution to the educational environment at the university, or because it wants to win football games?”
The large sums generated through advertising and media rights by schools with highly competitive sports programs raise the question of whether those sports programs have become side businesses for schools,” a May 2009 study by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office noted.
The foundation for the tax breaks for university sports programs were set decades ago in laws and tax codes that acknowledge the educational value of athletics, as well as the social value of amateur sports. Yet today’s commercially sophisticated college-sports spectacles bear little resemblance to what the programs looked like when the laws passed.
“What Congress contemplated as the Harvard-Yale game in 1950 is not the same thing as Texas-Alabama in 2009,” said Colombo.
UT President Bill Powers Jr. said the athletic department, whose annual budget is about $138 million, according to the most recent U.S. Department of Education figures, has given $6.6 million toward academics in recent years. It also subsidizes the cost of teams in unprofitable sports, such as women’s rowing and volleyball.
Yet the CBO study found that much of the money earned by athletic departments pays for expenses ” stadium construction and coaching salaries ” whose sole purpose is simply to enhance large, revenue-producing sports programs. “I know that there is $32 million at the University of Kentucky that isn’t going toward women’s tennis,” Colombo said. “Because it’s going into John Calipari’s pocket.”
I’m usually quick to recite the typical sports radio defense for Brown’s obscene paycheck — ie. when the science department can draw 90,000 + on a Saturday afternoon, then they’ll have something talk about — but that $6.6 million contribution seems a little on the modest side against the backdrop of UT’s budget cuts. Even just to maintain goodwill, it seems the announcement of Brown’s pay raise should’ve been accompanied by a gesture towards towards someone outside of the athletic department.
Within minutes of the shocking announcement that University Of Florida head coach Urban Meyer was stepping down — days before his 12-1 Gators play Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl — the twit/twat/tweetosphere was abuzz with all sorts of tasteless speculation. But enough about my posts, an anonymous source tells the Gainsville Sun’s Pat Dooley that Meyer, “just doesn’t have anything left in the tank”, a December 6 hospital visit under the guise of “dehydration” being sufficient cover for what are now being called “constant chest pains”.
As the Times’ Pete Thamel correctly points out, there’s no obvious in-house successor for Meyer, and barring a complete breakdown in Pete Carroll’s relationship with USC AD Mike Garrett (which couldn’t possibly happen, right?), Florida might need a hand in headhunting. And I’m more than happy to assist — the choice has to be UCF’s George O’Leary. He’s got experience coaching one of the nation’s marquee programs (albeit briefly), and he already knows a thing or two about the brutal training conditions in the Sunshine State. Heck, it’s the holiday season, Gator Nation can have this tip for free.
Charlotte, NC police say a local man currently wanted on cyberstalking charges is a person of interest in the identity theft of Panthers OL Travelle Wharton. From the Charlotte Observer’s Eli Portillo :
On Wednesday, team officials said someone has been impersonating Wharton (above) to sell prepaid gift cards at area night clubs. The suspect has scammed people out of almost $25,000 since last December.
CMPD officials said Saturday they are searching for Christon Jermaine Brewer, 24, who’s been wanted for misdemeanor cyberstalking since June. On a wanted poster, CMPD said Brewer is known to use Wharton’s name as an alias.