01.19.10

Colorado’s Most Famous Jim Ross Doppelgänger Reminds Us (Once Again) He Dislikes Billy Beane Almost As Much As Michael Lewis

Posted in Baseball at 11:52 pm by

While hope may spring eternal on Opening Day for most MLB franchises, in the learned mind of Fox Sports’ Tracy Ringolsby, last place finishes in 2010 for Kansas City, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Washington and San Diego are foregone conclusions.  And don’t forget the Oakland A’s, who despite a fair bit of regular season success in the 2000′s, are accused by The Man In The Cowboy Hat of having “got caught up in the hype about Moneyball.”

When the quartet of Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Rich Harden keyed four consecutive division titles in the first four years of the century, but failed to advance past the first round of the postseason, changes were made. But strong pitching was still a key when the A™s return to the AL West title in 2006 and advanced to the ALCS behind a rotation build around Zito, Harden and the additions of Dan Haren and Joe Blanton.

None of those starting pitchers, however, remain. And the A™s have fallen on hard times, searching for an identity, changing lanes consistently. Figure this out. Two years ago they dealt Dan Haren to Arizona for a package of young players that was built around outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. A year later, they dealt Gonzalez, closer Huston Street and lefty Greg Smith to the Rockies for outfielder Matt Holliday. And then, last July, they dealt Holliday to St. Louis for a package of prospects supposedly built around third baseman Brett Wallace, who the A™s then dealt to Toronto this off-season for another prospect, outfielder Michael Taylor.

Now they find themselves the only member of the four-team AL West without hope for the coming season.

Fired Fox Sports Radio Host Is The Last Man In America To Learn Of SAS’ Broadcasting Chops

Posted in Sports Radio at 7:14 pm by

Former ESPN Radio, TV and interweb fixture Stephen A. Smith returned to the airwaves this month with a daily program on Fox Sports Radio.  Smith’s predecessor, Steve Czaban (above), found out the hard way the only thing worse than being unemployed is having all sorts of spare time to listen to the guy that took your job.

My replacement, Steven A. Smith, certainly has his own, ahem, style. I said, he HAS¦ HIS¦ OWN¦ STYLE! The best thing about him I have realized already, is that when he makes a point, he™ll repeat it for you just in case you missed it.

AND LOUDER!

Which I think we can all agree, helps make any point a little better.

I was listening and wondered: œDidn™t he just say that? Oh, wait. Maybe I hit the œ8-second jump back button my car radio TIVO. Then I realized, I don™t HAVE an in-car radio TIVO, and he DID just say that.

Again.

I remember when I would sometimes wander a bit on a non-sports tangent. I would always get angry text messages about 3-4 minutes into it, imploring me to get back to sports. So usually, at about the 6 minute mark without any sports oxygen, I would realize, I better get back to the sports surface.

Mr. Smith appears to have a much bigger dive tank.

For example, on the Friday before the most glorious four-game orgy of NFL playoff action “ in the meaty tenderloin of the 3-hour show, the 7 a.m. eastern hour “ Mr. Smith spent the first 19 minutes flirting with his two female co-workers on the air.

He also mentioned (several times) how gorgeous another un-known saleswoman in the office was, a woman I am certain will remain unknown to 99.99% of his audience from now until, um, eternity.

He finally got around to some NFL talk a few minutes before the break. Yet sadly, he only offered a half-hearted thought/prediction/hope on a single game (Cowboys v. Vikings). I listened closely. I couldn™t really tell if he was making a prediction, or not.

Then, he asked his two female co-workers what THEY thought about the game! Awesome! I had been waiting to hear their breakdown all morning, so wow, this was gonna be good!

One said she was rooting for the cowboys. The other said¦ well, I forgot.
Then, it was time for a break. Whew. Hard work, a solid segment in the books.

Mike Greenberg : Singlehandedly Setting Black/Jewish Relations In The Bristol, CT Area Back 50 Years

Posted in Racism Corner, Sports Radio, Sports TV at 11:00 am by

(l-r : Greenberg, Golic.  Off-camera, a seething, not quite post-racial society)

Of the monumental malapropism uttered by ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg Monday morning, Hip Hop Wired.com opines, “I’m sure ˜coon’ and ˜king’ could easily get confused right?  If the answer is no, then everyone is in agreement as such a statement makes some speculate why ˜coon’ would even come out of his mouth, of all words.” While the usually innocuous Greenberg has apologized for the gaffe, such an embarrassing incident calls into question whether or not the broadcaster will continue to be fast-tracked by Disney and ABC and/or repeatedly paired with Mike Golic in painfully unfunny, forced faux “Odd Couple” scenarios.  One man’s inadvertent racist remark could well be another’s career lifeline.

Qualcomm Stadium : Come For The Fish Tacos, Stay For The Violations Of Civil Liberties

Posted in Free Expression, Gridiron at 3:01 am by

Buck up, Bolts fans.  Your not-so-super Chargers might’ve seen their season end with a 17-14 playoff loss to the J-E-R-K-S Sunday afternoon (Nate Kaeding, meet Vincent Gallo), but in at least one department, you’re clearly superior to the NY/NJ franchise. It’s been years since Meadlowlands security were nearly this adept at brutalizing the public. (video link courtesy Rob Warmowski)

Whiting : Yoko Broke Up Bobby V’s Marines

Posted in Baseball at 2:44 am by

Believe it or not, the Wilpons aren’t the worst bosses Bobby Valentine’s ever worked for. How, pray tell, did the former Mets skipper go from being the toast of Chiba, Japan to becoming a lamer-than-duck at the start of the Lotte Marines 2009 season? The Japan Times’ Robert Whiting claims acolytes of Marines president Ryuzo Setoyama battled Bobby V’s rebellious fans “with a stealth smear campaign intended to sully Valentine’s reputation.” (link swiped from Baseball Think Factory)

Setoyama supporters whispered Valentine was taking kickbacks from foreign players, that he had recruited one gaijin player from a local bar, and that he had hired his own son to design new Lotte uniforms, while collecting a hefty royalty on their sale.

They also claimed that he had sexually harassed Lotte female employees, that he was anti-Japanese and even racist, noting he used terms like “the f—–g Japanese way.”

A key, if unusual, combatant in the effort of the front office to discredit Valentine was a moon-faced, middle-aged woman named Yoko Yoneda, who, at the start of the 2009 season, had been elevated to the No. 3 spot in the front office, in charge of media relations and VIP suites.

With a fondness for garish fashion ” black, zebra-striped polyester shirts and loud pink dresses ” and carrying a mauve business card that described her as a “fortune teller” who did “character and color analysis,” she was surely one of the strangest NPB executives in the annals of the game.

Yoneda made news at the beginning of the season, when she ordered reporters to stop wearing jeans and to use keigo, or formal Japanese when speaking to the players. This was the cause of great mirth to some observers, since most reporters had nothing else in their wardrobe and most players, for their part, were so uneducated they could not understand honorific Japanese.

A former cheerleader at high school baseball powerhouse PL Gakuen, Yoneda had been introduced to acting owner Akio Shigemitsu, by the president of Otsuka, and had been given a job in the Lotte front office in 2006.

No one could figure out what the nature of her relationship was with the diffident billionaire’s son, who denied there was anything romantic going on. He simply explained in a news conference that Yoneda was an “eccentric character” who told his fortune.

01.18.10

Short Of A Jake Busey Film Festival, There’s No Worse Way To Mark MLK Day

Posted in Basketball, The Marketplace at 7:45 pm by

Though the Nuggets weren’t amongst the NBA’s 24 teams playing on Martin Luther King Day, television viewers in the Denver area might’ve caught the above commercial (link courtesy Rufus Raxlen), which begs the question : if Chris Andersen can’t guard a 12-year-old, why should anyone trust him to recommend a decent mattress?

Daulton : Much To Say About McGwire…

Posted in Baseball at 7:25 pm by

….but not nearly so much about John Cusack’s performance in “2012″ So what does it say about PED Hysteria 2010 that a nearly lucid/rational take on Big Mac’s recent admissions was proffered by none other than self-styled End Times expert Darren Daulton? From Bugs & Cranks’ Landon Evanson :

What were your impressions of the Mark McGwire steroids confession?

I always thought the whole thing was pretty comical. I think it gives a real good pulse of the American people and what we perceive as this big military, industrial, world-wide, number-one country that presented itself in a manner that turned on one of their own and just really collapsed like a house of cards. I mean, if I was a foreign country and wanted to take over this country, I™d get a prescription for steroids and stand at the border and wave them, and then watch the American people fold.

I thought it was pretty comical, it seemed like there were 250 million victims out there, so that was the comical part. I think it was all just useless, but it did give us a pretty good read on what our society is like.

Do you have any comments on rumors that former teammates Dykstra and Dave Hollins used them?

No. Heck, no, I could care less, there are a lot more important things in the world, and again, this is useless information. What does it do? What has all of this done? Finding out whether or not a guy does steroids or not, I could never understand this. There are a lot of things that a lot of people do behind closed doors that they probably don™t want the public to know about. Whether you™re cheating on your wife, your husband, or you™re doing drugs, you don™t want your boss to know about something, you™re hiding something from somebody, or you™re watching porn and you™re masturbating. Whatever it is, everybody™s got one of these or they wouldn™t be here, but it seems like everybody gets to cast the first stone when somebody else is caught doing something, or allegedly caught. It makes them feel better, and again, this is kind of the pulse of the American ego, as long as we can point our finger at somebody, we™re okay, we feel better about ourselves.

I think it™s useless information. Out of all this, who cares? What™s it going to matter? It really doesn™t. You know what you™re going to find out, is that they™re just like you are.

01.16.10

What Would Dr. Freud Make Of Gilbert’s Gun Collection?

Posted in Basketball, Firearms at 9:02 pm by

Back on January 5, I described Gilbert Arenas’ gold-plated Desert Eagle pistol as “The Perfect Combination of Deadly & Gaudy”. Turns out, I didn’t know the half of it, as the Washington Post’s Christian Davenport helpfully explains. “It’s a ‘bling’ thing”, declares Davenport of the newly convicted Arenassubsequently dumped by Adidas– though I suspect the former learned his lingo from Christopher Reeve’s character in the movie “Street Smart”.

The .50-caliber semiautomatic Desert Eagle, which with gold plating costs about $2,000, was not the most powerful in the arsenal that prosecutors say Wizards star Gilbert Arenas brought into the Verizon Center locker room. That would be the Smith & Wesson .500 magnum revolver, area gun dealers said. Arenas pleaded guilty Friday in D.C. Superior Court to a felony count of carrying a pistol without a license.

“It’s serious business,” said Jamie McAdams, a saleswoman at Maryland Small Arms, a gun dealer in Upper Marlboro.

“They bill that as the most powerful production handgun available,” said Steve Schneider, owner of Atlantic Guns in Silver Spring and Rockville.

Unless you’re an Arnold Schwarzenegger action hero, it’s a pistol made to be fired with two hands, or off a rest. Its kick is vicious and can send the unstable shooter staggering backward while the bullet hurtles forth with such force that it can, as several YouTube videos attest, make a watermelon explode like a starburst.

Omar Minaya, Suddenly Available To Speak With Reporters

Posted in Baseball at 5:38 pm by

(above : NY Post back page that can be recycled, as need be, over the next two summers)

Did anyone else find it curious the Mets selected assistant GM John Ricco for bulldog duty this week, entrusted to tow the Amazins’ party line during an unseemly pissing match with Carlos Beltran and Scott Boras? Well, anyone other than the Daily News’ John Harper, who called Omar Minaya’s inability to be reached by telephone Thursday, “another sign that ownership no longer trusts him to be their front man, that he’s a lame-duck GM whose powers have been significantly reduced.” “They don’t have telephones in Arizona,” quipped WFAN’s Joe Benigno-Gazingo yesterday morning, a jibe that must’ve registered with someone in the Mets hierarchy, because, voila, Minaya was once again, capable of making public statements by day’s end, though this time, of the conciliatory variety. From the New York Times’ David Waldstein :

“Everything is fine. Listen, we have no problems with Carlos Beltran,” Minaya insisted. “I have no problem with him and ownership has no problem. We love him. The only issue was with the process, not the player.

On Friday, Minaya suggested there might have simply been a misunderstanding.

œWe spoke on Tuesday and he told me about the diagnosis, Minaya said of his initial conversation with Beltran about the pending surgery. œI said, ˜O.K., as long as it follows the protocol,™ and I wished him well with everything in general. I told him it has to follow the protocol.

When asked specifically whether he gave Beltran permission to have the surgery, Minaya said it was not his to give.

œThat has to be sorted out between the doctors first, he said. œThat™s the protocol.

Of course, whether Beltran had any idea about the team™s protocols regarding surgery was unclear.

Without knowing for certain what was discussed between the Mets’ CF and embattled GM, it seems more and more likely this “follow the protocol” rhetoric is a very awkward way of saying Minaya OK’d Beltran’s surgery, yet didn’t have the authority to do so. It wasn’t enough for Minaya and Dr. David Altcheck to approve the procedure — apparently, the only way Beltran could maintain the sanctity of his Mets contract was by obtaining written permission from Ricco, Fred & Jeff Wilpon, Kevin Burkhardt, Matthew Cerrone, Pete Flynn, Mr. Met, Julian Casablancas and the late Doris From Rego Park.

01.15.10

Takes One To Know One : Clark On Big Mac’s Creepiness

Posted in Baseball at 5:24 pm by

Former St. Louis 1B Jack Clark is scheduled to appear at the Cards’ Winter Caravan with Mark McGwire this weekend, but tells the Post-Dispatch’s Rick Hummel, “I won’t even say hello…I’m not going to shake his hand.”  That’s probably a-ok with McGwire, presuming the Bunyanesque Fraud reads the following comments of Clark’s :

“All those guys are cheaters, “A lot of them should be banned from baseball, including Mark McGwire. A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez): Fake, phony. Rafael Palmeiro: Fake, a phony.

“(Roger) Clemens, (Barry) Bonds: Fakes. Phonies. They don’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

“They should all be in the Hall of Shame. They can afford to build it. They’ve all got so much money.

“And they could all go there and talk about the next way to rub something on your skin. The whole thing is creepy.

“They’re all creeps.”

Next up : Will Clark, on why Barry Bonds isn’t a very nice person, Brady Anderson on Brett Boone’s inflated numbers.

Congratulations To Sundiata Gaines & The Utah Jazz..

Posted in Basketball at 5:02 pm by

…on knocking the no. 1 seed Cleveland Cavaliers out of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament with an unlikely first-round upset. Seriously, if you’re the sort that continues to insist the NBA regular season is best slept on, isn’t it about time to admit you don’t really like basketball that much?

Don’t Like The QPR Manager? Don’t Worry, A New One Will Be Along In A Few Minutes

Posted in Football at 12:19 pm by

(Briatore : kind of like the George Steinbrenner of lower division soccer, sans the winning)

Employing longball tactics that recalled, well, the dullest, most spirit-sapping days of Gerry Francis’ 2nd tenure at Loftus Road, Queens Park Rangers manager Paul Hart is hitting the bricks after just 5 matches in charge of the Stupor Hoops. Assistant Mick Harford is the new interim manager, the second time the former Luton Town striker has held such a position with QPR.

A 3-2, FA Cup 3rd round defeat to Sheffield United on Tuesday before fewer than 5000 fans was apparently the last straw for Hart, who became the 10th manager terminated in 3 years by Flavio Briatore, who seems even better at firing people than he is at rigging Formula One races.

Jay Reatard

Posted in Rock Und Roll at 11:24 am by

(Reatards reunion, Nocturnal, Memphis, 9/23/09)

Much has been written over the past 48 hours about the death of Jay Reatard and out of respect for those who knew him far longer than I did, I’m not gonna further add to the pile other than to suggest you read this entry from the Amoeba Records blog.

01.14.10

John Lucas Would Like An Asterisk On His Career Coaching Record

Posted in Basketball at 4:35 pm by

OK, that’s not quite what the veteran NBA coach / substance abuse specialist said.  But Lucas, currently toiling as an assistant to Mike Dunleavy with the Clippers, told NBA Fanhouse’s Chris Tommason his 2002-2003 Cleveland Cavaliers were given an unspoken directive to lose and lose often, what with the big prize of LeBron James looking in the June ’03 draft.  Sound familiar, Doc Rivers?

“As angry as I am about the situation of being there, I was there at the wrong time,” Lucas said. “But, for the organization, it was absolutely the right move. I’m angry because I should be a big boy because I got paid a lot of money (Lucas was fired with 1 ½ years left on his contract). But you want a chance to be able to be there for a while. You knew what the mission was. You just hoped you could get there to get that.”

Instead, Lucas got fired. He didn’t take another NBA job until Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy, a friend since the two were Houston teammates in 1977-78, invited him back last fall to serve as an assistant.

“The Cleveland Cavaliers situation really beat me up,” said Lucas, who was suspended by the NBA for the first two games of the 2002-03 season due to illegally bringing in James for a voluntary workout with Cavaliers players in May 2002, late in James’ junior year. “I didn’t know until you get into the inner loop, after you take the job, what their real mission is. … So I was really beat up from the Cleveland situation and so it took me this long to be back (in the NBA).”

Before the 2002-03 season, the team traded its top three scorers in Lamond Murray, Andre Miller and Wesley Person, getting little for Person and Murray. Miller had led the NBA in assists in 2001-02 with a 10.9 average.

Lucas said he was told during the 2002-03 season to use young players, and was discouraged from using veterans such as forward Tyrone Hill and point guard Bimbo Coles.

“What you can’t talk about is, ‘We’re trying to get LeBron,”’ Lucas said of the climate that season. “You can’t say that (to the fans).’

Myers Promises To Stick It To The Phillies (At Least Once A Year)

Posted in "Wife Beater" Is Not A Fashion Statement, Baseball at 12:37 pm by

Most persons widely known to have used their spouse’s face as a punching bag would consider themselves lucky to maintain gainful employment, never mind earn a seven-figure salary for a baseball team that eventually gave him a World Series ring. That’s not the case with phormer Phillie Brett Myers (above), however, who upon being introduced to the Houston press corps yesterday took the opportunity to unload on his old club. From Philly.com’s Andy Di Martino :

“I wanted to go back to Philadelphia, but they didn’t show an interest, they had other obligations, which is fine with me,” Myers said. He then promised to “stick it” to the Phillies every time he faces them.

Houston expects Myers to be the No. 3 starter in 2010 behind Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez. They gave Myers $5.1 million in the one-year deal with an $8 million mutual option for 2011. That’s cash the Phillies probably weren’t willing to offer at this point, but it’s believed the team never really made a serious offer to Myers.

If Myers was truthful when he said he wanted to return to Philadelphia, the two sides could have made it work — if the Phillies were interested. The fact that they weren’t — even with uncertainty at the back of the rotation — shows the Phillies either a) Had concerns about his health/durability or b) Decided they were finished with Myers’ attitude. It could be a combination of both.

I’m guessing “B”.

Art Rust Jr., Dead At 82

Posted in Sports Radio at 1:15 am by

Once upon a time, NYC sports yack radio as we currently know it, did not exist.  Long before WHN begat WFAN (and Jim Lampley and Pete Franklin gave way to Mike Francesa and Chris Russo),  Art Rust Jr.’s weeknight “SportsTalk” on WABC was the only game in town.  Rust, aka “Art Rustoleum Jr.” in the words of WFAN’s Steve Somers, ghostwrote the first of two Darryl Strawberry autobiographies, as well as authoring  the 1976 tome “Get That Nigger Off The Field”.  Rust passed away yesterday after a battle with Parkinson’s, and is recalled by the New York Times’ Richard Goldstein :

Mr. Rust was not the first New York radio sports host who bantered with listeners over the phone; Bill Mazer had an earlier popular program. But Mr. Rust œcertainly set the groundwork and the foundation for a WFAN, Steve Somers, a host for that station, told the MSG Web site.

Steve Malzberg, Mr. Rust™s producer, said œthere was a warmth to Mr. Rust™s broadcasts.

œIt was feeling like you knew Arthur George Rust Jr. and he was in your home, he said.

Mr. Rust reveled in his love of sports history. He was also known for his œRustisms. A left-hander was a œportsider and home plate was the œdish.

He called Yankee Stadium œthe big ball orchard in the South Bronx.

As he put it in 1976: œI lived to see blacks elected to the Hall of Fame. I lived to see Emmett Ashford, the first black umpire. I lived to see Aaron break Babe Ruth™s home-run record. I lived to see Frank Robinson become the first black manager in the major leagues. The system is breaking.

œHowever, he added, œan interesting development: My 10-year-old daughter, Suzanne, wants to know why women can™t play major league baseball.

01.13.10

Mets Medical Staff To Beltran : Did You Go To Hollywood Upstairs Medical College, Too?

Posted in Baseball at 10:28 pm by

Who could possibly blame Mets OF Carlos Beltran for obtaining advice other than that of the Amazingly Inept medical crew and having what’s being called “minor” arthroscopic knee surgery earlier today? Well, for starters, his employers, who might just consider Beltran’s initiative a material breach of contract, as the New York Post’s Joel Sherman explains (link courtesy Metsblog) :

A person familiar with the situation told the Post that the Commissioners Office and the Players Association have been alerted that œthe Mets are claiming this was done without clearance and that the Mets are threatening to take some form of action. There is a potential issue out there.

This is not a unique occurrence; players and teams have disputes about the proper course of medical action all of the time, and the two sides usually come to some kind of understanding without an attempt at legal actions or fines. And the likelihood is that there is not much the Mets could do for two reasons, a person who has worked on these kind of issues said:

1) The Mets were not in the dark on any of this. According to a friend of Beltran, Beltran was under Dr. David Altchek™s care from October through December. It was only in December when he could not perform that Beltran went to see Steadman. And the friend said Mets doctors and trainers were kept abreast of the diagnosis in Colorado, even if the Mets did not agree with the remedy.

2) Beltran’s personal physician, Dr. Richard Steadman is a reputable surgeon who has been involved for a long time in doing procedures on athletes across the sports spectrum. The Mets, according to one official, might have a greater case for a grievance if Beltran had gone to another country and/or to a less reputable doctor.

Either They Take Their Football Very Seriously In Knoxville…

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 7:12 pm by

…or there’s a curious lack of perspective amongst those consumed with the Volunteer program’s ups and downs. Admittedly, almost everything about Lane Kiffin’s stunning one-and-done tenure and exit from the University Of Tennessee smacks of uber-sleaziness — even by Kiffin’s established standards — compare and contrast the scenes taking place around the UT campus with what we’re seeing on our televisions from Haiti.

OK, that’s a little rich coming from a blog that mainly concerns itself with stories exactly like Kiffin’s. But that’s why I think the new USC head football coach should’ve used the events in Port-au-prince as a diversionary tactic during last night’s blink-and-you-missed-it press conference at Tennessee. Would a lynch mob have still chased Kiffin outta town had he used all 60 seconds of his speaking time to plead for donations to Haitian relief? Probably, but at least he could’ve attempted to exploit a major global tragedy — it’s one of the few crimes against humanity he’s not being accused of today.

Barkley : Steroids User Or Not, The Kruky Monster Cashed In

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio at 1:04 pm by

TNT’s Charles Barkley was a phone-in guest on Dan LeBatard‘s 790 The Ticket show in Miami yesterday, and the recent SNL host chimed in on the topic du jour, as you might expect from the ever-opinionated Chuckster.  The below was transcribed and culled from Sports Radio Interviews :

On Mark McGwire using steroids:

œI was listening to a little bit of your conversation when you came on about the baseball situation.  There™s two things that bother me about writers.  Number one when they act like they are holier than thou.  But also this notion where this guy hasn™t been nice to us.  I don™t judge basketball players by whether they™re nice to me or not.  When I go on television my job is to talk about their basketball.  You have too many reporters and you™re definitely not one of them, crying like a little girl talking about well he hasn™t been very nice to the press.  So what?  That™s not your job.  Do your job.  Don™t act like your holier than thou and you™re protecting every detail of the game or the guy hasn™t kissed up to you all these years.

On whether or not he thinks guys who used steroids in baseball should be Hall-of-Famers:

œI think that Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens¦I think those guys should all go into the Hall-of-Fame and let me explain why.  We know there is at least one list that has 104 people right?  (Host: Yes)  Clearly there was more than 104.  My problem with the whole era is these are the only guys that are going to get penalized, the Hall-of-Famers.  All the other guys played in that era and I heard John Kruk and I like John Kruk he said ˜well I was clean.™  Well he still benefited by the financial structure.  All the players during that era all benefited through the financial structure.  But my biggest problem is, like I was saying, to penalize four guys and keep them out of the Hall-of-Fame when clearly a bunch of guys were doing it – we know of at least 104 and clearly there was more – to penalize four guys and don™t put them in the Hall-of-Fame when a bunch were doing it, I think that™s totally unfair.

01.12.10

The Indy’s Wallace On The Malcolm Glazer Global Fundraiser

Posted in Football, The Marketplace at 7:07 pm by

With presentations taking place in Zurich, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Paris and Frankfurt, Manchester United and the Glazer clan are trying to raise a half billion pounds from new investors, an occasion that has the Times’ Oliver Kay declaring, “if it sounds frantic, or indeed desperate, it is certainly an approach that throws up as many questions as answers.”  The Independent’s Sam Wallace paints a far more grim picture, warning, “with the Glazer Family debt now at more than £700m and no Ronaldo to sell next summer to balance the books, it would appear that United will attract the interest of Uefa if they are still under the same ownership come 2013.”

Among the “risk factors” that the club identified for the benefit of potential investors in their latest bond prospectus was the threat posed by Uefa’s new rules on clubs with debt. Under the “financial fair play” initiative that will be introduced at the beginning of the 2013-14 season, clubs wishing to play in the Champions League will have to demonstrate to European football’s governing body that they can balance their books.

In the bond prospectus United identify the risk that Uefa’s financial fair play initiative could become a problem for any club that has become so heavily indebted. Yesterday, sources at Uefa confirmed that this would be the case. They pointed out that United would have another three and a half years to address the matter of their debt, although even in that timeframe there is no guarantee they could do so.

The Uefa president, Michel Platini, calls the initiative the end to “success on credit” and it was aimed at clubs such as Chelsea and latterly Manchester City who have spent far beyond the revenue they have generated. Back in the pre-Glazer plc days, it would have been hard to imagine that it might apply to United.

While United run at an operating profit, it is the repayments on the loans taken out by the Glazers that drag them down. As United say in the bond prospectus: “These rules are intended to discourage clubs from continually operating at a loss. There is a risk that, in conjunction with increasing player salaries and transfer fees, the financial fair play initiative could limit our ability to acquire or retain top players and, therefore, materially adversely affect the performance of our first team.”

The bond prospectus also revealed that the Glazers now have a facility that allows the parent company to take up to £70m from the club’s profits to pay down the £202m debt on the family’s payment-in-kind loans. This is the part of the debt that the American owners are personally liable for and taking money out of United’s profits to pay it is likely to go down as badly with Uefa as it does with the fans.

Eddy Curry Emerges From Man’s Hotel Room, Offers Creative Explanation

Posted in Basketball at 6:47 pm by

(come for the ghosts, stay for the awesome breakfast buffet)

If the Knicks seemed particularly listless while being blown out by Kevin Durant and the Thunder last night, perhaps that’s because the previous evening’s stay at Oklahoma City’s Skirvin Hilton — allegedly, a haunted hotel — provided little rest.  From the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola :

“I definitely believe it,” Jared Jeffries said. “The place is haunted. It’s scary.”

Eddy Curry claims he slept for only two hours Sunday night because he couldn’t stop thinking about ghosts roaming the hotel.

For years, guests staying at the Skirvin have reported ghost sightings and strange noises. Legend has it that sometime in the 1930s, a woman jumped to her death while holding her baby in her hands.

“They said it happened on the 10th floor and I’m the only one staying on the 10th floor,” Curry said. “That’s why I spent most of my time in (Nate Robinson’s) room. I definitely believe there are ghosts in that hotel.”

Townie News’ Patriots Autopsy : Now With Twice As Many Jokes About Tony Dungy Being Gaunt

Posted in Gridiron, Sports TV at 6:11 pm by

Until Nick Stevens began cracking on Tony Dungy’s resemblance to Skeletor, who actually thought the former Colts head coach was a dead certain soundalike for Mr. Hankey?

Big Mac’s Tearful Monday, Brought To You By W’s Press Flack

Posted in Baseball at 1:48 pm by

Comparing and contrasting Mark McGwire’s dramatic return to public life with the clumsy handling of Alex Rodriguez’ admissions of PED use a year ago, the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir reports yesterday’s media tour was stage manged by former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.

McGwire and his handlers surely knew his credibility would be enhanced if he confessed before spring training and made himself widely available, not only on Monday but Tuesday. An interview with ESPN is to be scheduled, but because it™s not exclusive, its thunder will be muted.

œI like the door-to-door strategy, in that he is telling his story in long form and in less confrontational settings, said Kevin Sullivan, a former White House communications director who runs a strategic-communications company. œHe needed to rip the Band-Aid off before heading to spring training.

Sullivan added: œI suspect McGwire will soon have some form of a press availability where he takes questions. He won™t be able to completely turn the page until he satisfies the pent-up demand and takes some questions.

The McGwire interview was a coup for the year-old MLB Network and justifies what the channel is paying Bob Costas. It provided McGwire with a stage for acceptance on a channel that is majority-owned by the league that has, after a long goodbye, welcomed him back to his old team. MLB has a little more than half the subscribers ESPN has. But MLB had an edge in Costas if, indeed, McGwire wanted to be interviewed at length by a smart interrogator.

(A corporate connection should be noted: Costas is represented by IMG, which owns half of Fleischer™s crisis-communications company.)

Klapisch Provides The McGwire Angle No One Else On Earth Was Wondering About

Posted in Baseball at 11:24 am by

In the wake of Mark McGwire’s published statements and subsequent weepy outpouring to Jean-Louis “Bob” Costas on the MLB Network yesterday, Big Mac’s variation on the tried and tested “I was just trying to stay in the lineup” defense has met with no shortage of detractors.  “Like all confessions that are motivated by public relations as opposed to, say, police interrogation, this one has many of the hallmarks of phoniness we’ve come to expect,” sneers Circling The Bases’ Craig Calcaterra, while Faith & Fear In Flushing’s Greg Prince wonders, “he wishes he didn™t play in the Steroid Era? How does he suppose the period in question, the mid-™90s through the early ™00s, became the Steroid Era? Was it listed on a calendar in advance?”  But full credit to fellow skeptic, Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record who doggedly pursued a storyline few others would dare consider — how did yesterday’s confessional sit with Steve Tracshel, notorious time-killer and the hurler who served up McGwire’s historic-at-the-time 62nd HR of the 1998 season?

In his heart, Trachsel knew it was all a charade, although he never uttered a word. He didn™t dare, not as McGwire and Sosa were riding shotgun on America™s longest love-in. The home runs were flying out of ballparks everywhere, and hardly anyone bothered to ask how or why.

œI™m not surprised Mark said it, Trachsel said. œI mean, we all suspected it. We all knew it. Now you have to say everything he ever did was tainted. All of it.

Trachsel remembers every last detail of his brush with history, including the fact that McGwire missed first base and had to be pulled back by first base coach Dave McKay.

œ[McGwire] should™ve been called out for that, Trachsel said. He smiled again: He knew any umpire who would™ve had the guts to challenge McGwire would™ve been overruled and eventually destroyed by baseball™s hierarchy.

There was no stopping the fraudulence that ensued for several more minutes, right up to the point when Sosa came sprinting in from right field. The hugs and head slaps looked real, but Trachsel said they were Sosa™s creation.

œMark wasn™t crazy about the fact that Sammy was there [at home plate], he said. œHe really didn™t like [Sosa] very much, but he played it off pretty well that night.

Klapisch considers Trachsel “vindicated”, and if there was some way in which McGwire’s admissions would erase Game 3 of the 2006 NLCS, I might agree.

End Times: The Horror of the Washington Times’ Zombie Sports Section

Posted in Sports Journalism, The Internet, The Marketplace at 2:09 am by

GC has already covered the shuttering of the sports section at the flailing/failing Washington Times, which — unless I had a couple of really awesome Moonie-related zingers to roll out, which I don’t — would ordinarily be that. I had my own experience of the paper’s sports section thanks to my other gig at the Wall Street Journal’s Daily Fix blog, as the WaTimes’ sports section was a favorite with the Fix’s (ideologically Times-aligned) readership and thus the subject of a lot of referrals. And while the “Other Readers Enjoyed” links at the bottom of each of those referred pieces were generally pretty ridiculous — people who enjoyed nuanced takes on the business of sports also enjoyed spittle-intensive Andrew Breitbart editorials about how he can’t sleep because he just knows Matt Damon is a Democrat? — the sportswriting itself was very good. The paper that was wrapped around that sports section isn’t necessarily something I’d wrap fish in — I’m not trying to go out having my cod smelling like Cal Thomas, nahmean — but the sports section had a bunch of really good writers. All of whom, sadly, are now jobless.

It was sad to see the section disappear, both because it’s always sad when something like that (getting fired) happens to people with jobs and because it reminded me of what an incredibly terrible career I’ve chosen for myself. There’s such a thing as over-graciousness, and I should be clear that the Times for the most part itself can fuck right off as far as I’m concerned, but I do think that even the most worthless of newspapers add something to the broader discourse simply by dint of helping the bigger choir build voice; it takes a lot of little stories to understand bigger truths, and so prosaically on. The Times itself may be (is) borderline worthless, despite the late sports section, but the choir’s the thing. And the prospect of more silence even in the admittedly minor sphere of sportswriting — or, rather, the replacement of a disparate, multi-participant, often discordant choir with the market-driven LCD-chaos of a thousand rape-jokey, sub-tarded With Leather knockoffs — is untenable. And not just because I don’t think I can pay my rent dropping “yeah I said its” about how the WNBA is gay or whatever.

Given that all of us so inclined have already said our personal goodbyes to the nation’s most trusted Unificationist sports section, though, it seems strange that the Washington Times’ page still exists. And yet it does, in a strikingly bummerific wire-copy zombie iteration. At the National Sports Journalism Center’s blog, Jason Fry — of Faith and Fear in Flushing (and my first editor at the Journal) — describes the depressing zombie afterlife of the Times’ sports section.

I bristle when my peers treat papers that have shuttered their print operations but continue online like they™re extinct. Too many heartfelt farewells to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Ann Arbor News ignored the fact that both papers are carrying on as Web sites, or gave that fact insultingly short shrift. I wondered if the same thing was happening here. Surely the Times™ sports section would still exist online, right?

Right.

Unfortunately.

At first glance, the Times™ sports page looks the way it did a couple of weeks ago: There™s a carousel of top stories with photos, stats for the local teams and links to news from the various leagues and colleges. But aside from some farewells still hanging around (Lemke™s includes a blank list of upcoming Washington Times stories), everything is wire copy. Instead of lively blogs and columns, the page soon decays into columns of RSS feeds. It™s someone™s maintenance task, a robot section.

Fry goes on to propose what seems to me a workable stopgap solution to the current Carnival of Souls wire-copy merry-go-round. It’s worth clicking through to read the non-summarized version, but Fry’s suggestion is basically the Daily Fix all over again, or an iteration of Jeff Jarvis’ “do what you do best and link to the rest” maxim — essentially, someone curating a bunch of links to other papers’ coverage of D.C. sports stories.

There’s still probably too much pride/intransigence/willful backwardness in the newspaper business for that to really happen just yet. But something is clearly replacing something else, and it’s hard to know just now what whatever-comes-next will look like. Even when the victim is one of the most ideologically loathsome and consistently wrong papers in the nation, there’s some residual sadness to that. But the passing of this disappearing thing would be all the sadder if what replaced it was zombie-curated wire copy. There’s a certain reassurance in knowing that — however effed print media currently is — people still want to read things, know things. If anything could kill that, though, it’d be zombie sections like the one on display at the Times.