02.14.10

Johnny Weir : Forced To Room Amongst The Non-Glamorous

Posted in Fashion, olympics at 7:56 pm by

Following the protests of PETA over his choice of a fur-trimmed ensemble at last month’s U.S. Nationals, figure skater Johnny Weir tells Reuters he’s reduced to living in the Olympic communal village after “all these crazy fur people changed my mind.”

“Security wise, staying in a hotel would be very difficult,” Weir told reporters after turning up for an 0800 news conference sporting a striking red and white silk scarf looped around his neck and with his nails manicured.

“There have been threats against me. Threats of harming me personally and I didn’t want to get hurt. So I decided to stay in the village and my team has made it as comfortable as possible.

Weir, who plans to join the fashion world once he has hung up his “leather skates made of cow” for good, felt he was unfairly targeted.

“There was a lot of attention put on a tiny piece of fur,” said the 25-year-old, the 2008 world bronze medalist. “While I do understand anti-fur activists views about fur and the fur industry, they aren’t part of my life.

“One thing that is horrible is when somebody pushes a belief on you like a religion. I was definitely threatened and felt very threatened. People are nuts.

“I’m an easy person to pick on because I’m very open I like fur and I like things that come from dead animals. It’s easy put your cause against an athlete going to the Olympic Games, it’s good free publicity for these activists.”

Antonio Margarito’s Hands Of Stone Gauze Won’t Make Their Return In Big D

Posted in Boxing at 11:15 am by

A small portion of intrigue was just omitted from the Manny Pacquiao/Joshua Clottey undercard, as Top Rank announced yesterday disgraced welterweight Antonio Margarito (above, right) would not fight Carson Jones in a previously scheduled 10 round bout on the March 13 event at Cowboys Stadium.  From the LA Times’ Bill Dwyre :

Margarito (37-6, 27 KOs) was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission after his upset loss to Shane Mosley at Staples Center in January 2009. Mosley’s trainer discovered prior to that fight that Margarito had a plaster-like substance in the hand wraps under his gloves.

Margarito was allowed to re-apply for a license for the first time Thursday. But the CSAC is balking at that, calling his violation severe. Some officials in the sport believe that other states may give him a new license.

02.12.10

Either Sean Sutton Has The Worst Aching Back In Stillwater…

Posted in Basketball, The Law at 6:26 pm by

….or the former Oklahoma State men’s basketball coach has a deeply serious problem with prescription medication.  From KOCO.com :

A spokesman with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics confirmed with Eyewitness News 5 that Sutton was arrested Thursday after attempting to pick up prescriptions ordered from out of state. Sutton was arrested at a FedEx, located at 1410 Airport Road, according to Payne County prosecutors.

State drug agents obtained a search warrant for the packages, which contained four types of tablets — anything from sleep aids to Clonazepam and Adderrall. Agents confronted Sutton at the FedEx and arrested him.

Apparently, Sutton was previously warned by authorites on two separate occaasions that he’d face charges if he continued his pill-popping ways.  Sad stuff, but if there’s anywhere in our society Under Armor should be worn besides the field of athletic competition, it oughta be for mug shots.

Hugo Chavez : Despite Human Rights Issues, An Outside Shot For 5th Mets Starter

Posted in Baseball at 3:42 pm by

7 runs allowed over 2 innings for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez? Hey, if John Maine has a similar outing in 3 weeks, no one will suggest he’s not gonna have his contract voided. And considering Chavez fared no worse than countryman/Amazins’ reliever Francisco Rodriguez (above, left) yesterday, perhaps there’s a spring training invite in the offing? As pathetic stunts go, Chavez is just as deserving of a week in a Mets uniform as Garth Brooks or Mike Glavine.

Kerber : Pitino’s Lying

Posted in Basketball at 11:50 am by

Are Knicks fans ready to embrace the “Karen Sypher” chant several times next season? Shortly after his Louisville squad was humbled by St. John’s last night, Cardinals coach Rick Pitino vociferously denied he’d expressed interest in coaching the Newark Nets next season.  Trouble is, the New York Post’s Fred Kerber claims Pitino is being less than truthful.

Apparently, the best way to get to a billionaire is to go around his team president.

And that, multiple sources maintained yesterday, was how supporters of Rick Pitino tried to make known to the Nets’ incoming owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, that the Louisville coach was interested in coaching New Jersey next season.

The sources said Pitino supporters sought to reach Prokhorov through members of the billionaire’s inner circle.
“I have no idea about that and I have no comment,” Thorn said.

“If I had interest in the Nets, I would call Rod,” Pitino said. “If I had interest in any job, I would call Rod. If it was Program X out in the Midwest, I would call Rod. He would be the first person I would call for advice if I had any interest at all in going back [to the NBA].”

Pitino was equally emphatic after Louisville’s loss last night, explaining that the rumors are having an effect on his recruiting.

“I’ve worked my ass off in the last two weeks traveling to obscure places every single night after practice, 18 hours in recruiting,” Pitino said. “Now I gotta call every single recruit up and say its nonsense.”

IOC To Women Ski Jumpers : Fuck Off

Posted in olympics at 11:27 am by

While the status of Lindsey Vonn remains questionable for the Vancouver Winter Olympics, let’s consider the case of Lindsay Van. As the above MSNBC clip (link courtesy Rob Warmowski) explains, the reigning Women’s World Champion ski jumper isn’t a participant at the 2010 Games, as the IOC considers the women’s competition no more legit an event than Zamboni racing or snowman-building.

Raissman : Hernandez’ 1B Tutorial = Conflict Of Interest

Posted in Baseball, softball at 11:17 am by

As noted in this space a few days ago, Mets GM Omar Minaya requested that SNY’s Keith Hernandez take a break from fine dining and take some time to help Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans look a bit less like Dick Stuart around first base and more like, well, Keith Hernandez. The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman considers Hernandez’ unofficial coaching role and predicts this will all end in tear something he’ll be writing about after Opening Day.

Maybe Mex is just a helpful guy. Maybe it’s a loyalty thing. Also, when a team official – even beleaguered GM Omar Minaya – makes the call, it amounts to a show of respect that must be answered. This is not the first time Hernandez has lent a hand. He once tutored John Olerud and Todd Zeile.

Those particular sessions may as well have been on Mars. They attracted no attention. Project Murphy (Nick Evans was also along for the ride) was chronicled by SNY’s cameras. There was follow-up via a conference call with Mets beat reporters.

The publicity payoff was big. In an offseason during which the Mets have already been left for dead, Hernandez’s coaching was viewed as a positive, even in the Valley of the Stupid.

There is reason to look forward to hearing how Hernandez reacts if Murphy’s hands turn to stone and his feet get tangled. Or when his throw to start a 3-6-3 double play sails into left field.

Will Hernandez hammer Murphy? Will he rip himself for providing a lousy lesson plan?

He better say something. Any sign of Hernandez pulling punches will open the door for anyone claiming a double standard, that Hernandez is becoming a windy shill.

02.11.10

The Anti-Homophobia Video The England F.A. Doesn’t Want (Very Many Of You) To See

Posted in Football, Mob Behavior at 6:59 pm by

The above clip was meant to be the subject of a launch event at Wembley Stadium today, along with global availability on YouTube.  However, activist Peter Tatchell tells The Independent’s Ian Herbert, England’s Football Association chickened out at the last minute.

“They were scared it would be seen as offensive and didn’t have the courage to justify their initial decision to pursue the idea,” he said. Tatchell, one of the originators of the idea, has always preferred a light-hearted MTV-style film, featuring music and footballers, though he supported the script when something very different was pursued. Tatchell also argues that the FA should have done far more to drive the pursuit of players for the video, which was left to the PFA.

The FA’s ability to make progress with the video seems to have been affected by the decision to dissolve its anti-homophobia working group and recruit for new members of a more broadly-based, reconstituted group. The first meeting of the new group takes place next month. The FA insisted last night that it needed more time for consultation on the strategy before it could launch the video, though the last-minute cancellation has actually provided a launch of its own.

These complications are hardly a source of encouragement to those straight players tempted to speak out, let alone those who are gay. “Everyone always talks about the success of the anti-racism campaign but that worked because our members could create the movement themselves,” a senior PFA executive said last night. “The push for the anti-homophobia campaign is external to us.” It was an apposite observation. Gay footballers are the outsiders, and will probably be so for some time to come.

White Lightning Turns To Green Power, or Tim Dwight Encourages You To Put On A Sweater

Posted in Gridiron at 3:07 pm by

There’s always something a little patronizing about quirky-pro-athlete stories on athletes. I’m certainly not immune to this, and have written more than my share of pieces (here and for actual pay) on this. The squirminess of this Wall Street Journal piece about how some NBA players — not all, don’t worry — really enjoy reading, for instance, gets at the root of that. “Can you believe this guy’s into reading?,” these stories seem to ask. “I mean he’s so TALL.” I’ve written these stories with “blogging” or “not-the-worst rock music” or a dozen other things standing in for books, I know. And I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m bragging, but I’ve made literally hundreds of dollars doing it. There’s a market out there for these stories, still, but I’m thinking more and more that that market is kind of goofy. That is, I’m working on being a little less shocked that entities I know best as fantasy sports statistics or televised avatars have actual lives that extend beyond the edges of my television. Like, lives as people.

Still, though. When flagrantly dodgy ex NCAA point guard Teddy DuPay debuts his hemp-intensive online Ponzi scheme, I’m not just going to shrug it off. And neither am I going to disagree with Pete Segall when he writes, of this Des Moines Register story detailing former NFL return guy/human-missile Tim Dwight’s conversion into a would-be photovoltaic energy businessman, “In some ways this is just as weird as Teddy Dupay’s ponzi-weed scheme.”

Dwight (above)  doesn’t say anything in the brief story above that you wouldn’t hear in state senate testimony from a solar energy entrepreneur who hadn’t returned kicks for 10 NFL seasons. And honestly there’s nothing really that weird, at least relative to the lives or career paths of people I know, about what Dwight reveals about himself in this 2009 piece from an Iowa City a Des Moines TV station’s website:

Coupled with his passion for yoga is a passion for benefiting society in all ways shapes and forms. He has a foundation called the Tim Dwight Foundation, which works with children™s hospitals in Iowa City as well as gives scholarships to deserving students from the state who will be attending Iowa, Iowa State or Northern Iowa.

…Currently Dwight is working in the renewable-energy industry as part owner of a small California company called Integrated Power Corporation; they design solar applications for commercial buildings and commercial use. Dwight has a mission, and that mission is to make the world a better place, not just for us, but for future generations as well.

œIn about the last three to four years living in California I really started to hone in on what was important. Was it a BMW, or was it a smaller car that made less an impact on my pocket book that gets me from A to B? Dwight said. œI think of it like ˜What can I do everyday to have an impact on our world?™ And hopefully my impact will add up and lead to other people making a difference and maybe we can save humanity for another 1000 years.

Again, nothing so strange, really, just a human being a human and trying to do some stuff. I’m still working on seeing it that way. These old biases are deep; I’ve been thinking about things this one way for most of my life, but eventually I’m probably going to get tired of having my mind blown by the fact that pro athletes do things that transcend some (maybe kind of condescending) stereotypes. Eventually.

(Also, if you click through to the KCCI piece, you’ll see that I’m burying the bloggy lead, which is that Dwight apparently shaves his body. Let’s, please, leave that lead buried, okay?)

The Only Reasonable Response To Seeing Jonathan Coachman On ESPN News

Posted in Sports TV, Technical Difficulties, The Law at 1:46 pm by

Seriously, if Westley Strellis uses the above excuse, no judge in America will convict him.

02.10.10

Eskenazi : SF’s New Ticket Pricing Scheme Is A Gigantic Failure

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 5:32 pm by

(above : Tim Lincecum, whose tickets will undoubtedly cost a bit more than Surfin’ Barry’s)

Calling the Giants’ plans to charge fluctuating ticket prices based on the appeal of certain matchups “downright evil”, the SF Weekly’s Joe Eskenazi decries the new system “because it completely upsets the ‘Hey! Let’s go out to a game!’-notion that makes baseball unique.”  Though that notion was upset an awfully long time ago in places like Boston or the Bronx.

The oft-quoted model for the new, likely soon-to-be-ubiquitous baseball pricing system is airline ticket purchasing. It’s almost certain readers have experienced first-hand the joys of last week’s $300 tickets this week being priced at $410. It’s a strong incentive to buy early before myriad contrived supply-and-demand factors are tossed into the algorithm and you end up paying through the nose. As noted before, inducing people to spend quickly and pinging those who do not is a sound business practice — if not an endearing one.

On the other hand, it just seems downright wrong that you should be made to pay more for a baseball game because it’s a “great day for baseball.” It seems exploitative that you should be made to cough up extra dollars when Tim Lincecum is on the mound; will we be given a deep discount when Zito is pitching or Pablo Sandoval takes a day off? Further following the airline model, will we be charged extra for using the restroom? Do clean seats cost more? Do I have to pay extra to stay out of the all-felon, all-drunk, all-jerks talking loudly about work on their iPhone section?

I can understand why the same seats that cost $5 vs. Pittsburgh will run you five times that when Boston comes to town (or more, if it’s a really nice day and Lincecum ends up taking on Josh Beckett). But the notion of “premium game pricing” sends fans an unmistakable message. It means “premium” teams visit AT&T Park, but the home squad is not one of them.

If You Like Music That Sucks, You’ll Love Chicago Alderman Tom Tunney

Posted in Baseball, Rock Und Roll at 2:56 pm by

“While I’d never want a dirty bomb to detonate in Chicago,” writes Kevin Rhys, “if it has to happen I have three dates to propose.” Kevin’s entirely rational response comes on the heels of confirmation that Wrigley Field’s hosting of Jimmy Buffett concerts was a mere prelude to routinely scheduled aesthetic atrocities. From the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman :

Elton John and Billy Joel and the Dave Matthews Band will headline three more concerts this summer at Wrigley, thanks to an “exception” to the night-game ordinance that Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) plans to introduce at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Elton John and Billy Joel will reprise last year’s wildly popular concerts on July 7 ” a Wednesday night.

The Dave Matthews Band ” whose bus driver notoriously unloaded 800 pounds of human waste on a tour boat passing under the Kinzie Street bridge in 2004 — is expected to headline Friday and Saturday night concerts in September. The dates haven’t been finalized.

Last summer, the Cubs held an unprecedented three Wrigley concerts in one summer week — two by Elton John and Billy Joel, one by Rascal Flatts.

When the Southport Neighbors Association argued that it was too big a burden, in part because of a conflict with the group’s neighborhood festival, Tunney called it a one-year experiment. He promised that, if things didn’t go well, “There’ll be no more concerts.”

Even On Tecmo Bowl, Phil Simms Gave The Wrong Advice

Posted in Gridiron, Video Games at 12:51 pm by

Video link swiped from Randy Costanza.

02.09.10

H.E.B. -Kickstarting The Garrett Gilbert Hype Machine Just A Bit Early

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron, The Marketplace at 10:42 pm by

Look, I realize I live in a town where college football is the first, second, third and fourth most popular sport, but there’s something thoroughly wacky about the local supermarket chain flogging t-shirts in honor of the Longhorns sophmore QB before he’s ever started a game.  If I’m Damion James, I’m feeling downright unloved.

Mex The Magnanimous Tells Murphy, Evans “If You Need Me…Call Jay Horowitz”

Posted in Baseball at 10:12 pm by

As P.R. stunts go, Keith Hernandez tutoring Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans on the finer points of fielding first base is more likely to pay positive dividends for the 2009 NY Mets than the club lowering a portion of Citi Field’s centerfield fence by 8 feet.   But the former is an interesting development coming a day after the Amazins announced the return of Mookie Wilson to the organization, with the former outfielder providing his baserunning expertise this spring.  It is probably just a matter of time before Captain Fucko is summoned to Port St. Lucie to school young Mets relievers on the best way to torpedo the acting manager and/or consort with suspected mobsters Why not take advantage of every piece of advice these wily veterans can provide?

Ed O’Bannon – The Jean-Marc Bosman Of The XBox

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts, The Law, The Marketplace, Video Games at 4:32 pm by

On Monday, a U.S. District court rejected the NCAA’s attempts to dismiss a class-action antitrust suit filed by former UCLA standout Ed O’Bannon. O’Bannon has long argued that accepting a college scholarship doesn’t waive an athlete’s rights to compensation when his or her likeness is used in commercials, video games or other merchandise. As Yahoo Sports’ Dan Weitzel observes, “O™Bannon™s attorneys can now begin the discovery process that may unlock how the business operates, which could have impact beyond this case.”

œThe key to this order is that it opens the door to the discovery process, and we soon can begin collecting evidence from the NCAA [and its member schools and conferences], taking depositions, and uncovering everything that it wanted to hide and keep from the public™s and athletes™ view, said Jon King, partner at Hausfeld LLP, one of the firms handling the class-action suit.

œThis is a truly historic day “ to our knowledge, no one has ever gotten behind the scenes to examine how student-athletes™ current and future rights in their images are divided up and sold, King said.

œAs Supreme Court Justice Brandeis once stated, ˜Sunshine is the best disinfectant,™ and we™re about to let the sunshine in.

The case could lead to former student-athletes getting a cut of the multi-billion dollar college sports revenue pool and dramatically impact the way college athletics operates.

Mets’ Pelfrey On How To Drop 8-12 Pounds Of Ugly Fat (Without Being Decapitated)

Posted in Baseball at 2:43 pm by

œI was pretty upset with not only how the team played, but with how I played last year, knowing that™s not me, Mike Pelfrey confessed to the New York Post’s Mike Puma yesterday. œI had a lost year. I had a terrible year. A campaign, Puma gently suggests, that might’ve been hampered by a lack of conditioning. Sound familiar?

Pelfrey doesn™t blame his weight for last season™s troubles ” he says he got to 257 pounds at one point last summer and will arrive in Port St. Lucie around 230 ” but also knows that better shape physically translates into a better mental approach.

œI™m going to come out and have a good year, not only for myself but for the team, Pelfrey said. œWe need to come back and start off good and get the ball rolling.

œI understand that people look at the rotation and they have question marks. There should be, Pelfrey said.

œGuys got hurt. I had a bad year, but guys are healthy now and I™m going to bounce back and have a good year. It™s amazing to me how big of a question there is about the rotation [by fans]. I hear about it and I just laugh..

Pelfrey praised the Mets™ decision to sign Kelvim Escobar. The right-hander won 18 games for the Angels in 2007, but is expected to compete for the eighth-inning setup role.

œWhen he first got signed, I thought maybe they were going to give him a chance and throw him in the rotation, Pelfrey said. œI thought maybe he could be a dark horse. Slot him in there and he could be a big-time difference maker. I don™t think that is how it™s going to be, but that idea excited me at first.

Kwame Brown – Openly Campaigning For The NBA All-Defensive Team

Posted in Basketball at 1:29 am by

Believe it or not, there’s a Pistons-related story this week even crazier than the FBI’s file on threats against Chuck Daly. The Detroit News’ Terry Foster carefully documented Kwame Brown’s reaction to coach John Kuester’s humbly suggesting “we have to make sure (Brown) continually plays the consistent defense that I want to in the scheme. That is pick-and-roll, high pick-and-roll.”

“Listen, man, I don’t want something to be flared up on what I say,” Brown said. “I will do what the coach says in order to get better, although that is a first because there is one thing I do bring to the table and that is defense. That’s the first time I heard that. It’s the first time a coach said I don’t play defense. But like I said, I will learn to play the defense he wants me to play.”

Instead of turning to the 27-year-old Brown, for help, the Pistons start 35-year-old veteran Ben Wallace at center and have used undersized, 6-7 Jason Maxiell and Chris Wilcox in reserve. Brown is frustrated and some of that might have flared up during a blowout loss to the Pacers. Kuester summoned Brown into the game but didn’t like how long it took him to get off the bench and decided against using him.

“I have played during 20-point blow-outs. I have come in during the last two minutes of a game,” Brown said. “It doesn’t matter. I am paid to play whenever they tell me to. It does not matter to me.”

Brown remains confident. He started for the Lakers in 2006 when Chris Mihm was injured. Brown said he’s one of the top three defensive players in the NBA. That’s why Kuester’s words make him laugh.

“I know I can defend guys in the post,” Brown said. “But like I said, I will try to get better at the defense he wants me to play. Obviously, it’s a different kind of defense that he wants every day. I will get better at that, but the only way to do that is to get out there on the floor and play.”

The Awl’s Walls: I’ll Watch Your Super Bowl When You Bother To Read A Book

Posted in Gridiron, non-sporting journalism, politics at 1:17 am by

On balance, I enjoyed the Super Bowl. You know, the football game from a couple days ago, the one with the commercials and that Tom Jones-looking guy (above) singing Who songs at halftime. I enjoyed it because I like NFL football games more than I am frankly comfortable with, and because the game itself was pretty interesting, and because the Saints won. I’m obviously aware that the last fact doesn’t in any way end or mend any of the myriad problems of still-suffering New Orleans itself, or do anything to justify the facile day-late/dollar-short super-sentimentalism of the sport-pundits who pretended that it could. And neither does a satisfying football game offer me much comfort in re: our broader discourse or commodified pleasures or the vexations of being a fan or whatever the hell it is that I’ve been on about the last couple weeks. Of course.

But there are times when it is nice to simply watch oneself some sports. Despite the Super Bowl’s primary purpose as a branding opportunity and a showcase for bleeding-edge misogyno-masochistic advertising innovations and all the issues I have with being addressed as if I am an aggrieved and learning-disabled sentient penis by advertisers — despite all that — I do enjoy a well-played football game. The last three Super Bowls have delivered on that (and of course on all the other stuff), and so I have generally enjoyed them.

And yet of course there’s obviously something pretty rotten about the whole thing. I linked in Sunday’s Daily Fix to Hunter Thompson’s 1973 “Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl” piece for Rolling Stone, and while I don’t necessarily like Thompson any more now than I ever have (not really that much) the piece is at least pretty funny and interesting in a time-capsule sense. What was fucked about the first post-Watergate Super Bowl — or what we might imagine as that, working off the druggy, malevolent, disaffected-unto-violence vibe of Thompson’s piece — just seems so much more interesting than the manufactured consent and dumb pomp and casual bile and rampant pissy childishness that defines the Super Bowl cultural experience circa now. I mean, this is what the game is, and as long as there are teams I’m at least vaguely interested in playing in the game, it’s what I’m going to watch on that given Sunday. But there remains the sense, despite the fact that I actually do enjoy watching NFL games despite all the above, that this just kind of isn’t for me.

All of which is to say that while I’m not simpatico with the perspective of Seth Colter Walls’ boycott-the-Super-Bowl diatribe at The Awl, I get what it is about the whole experience that bothers him so much. “Right now our TV bipartisanship is a lot like our political bipartisanship,” Walls writes. “It all takes place on the conservatives’ turf. It’s never a massive ‘come together’ television event when the National Book Awards are announced.” He continues:

If you only watch the Super Bowl because everyone else watches it and you feel like you ought to watch it, too, allow me to suggest that, next year, you give it a rest. If your interests have to do with anything other than sports or celebrities, at least know that the same courtesy of mass-interestedness will never be extended in your direction during peak moments of excitement related to whatever it is you care most about.

Meantime, there’s no need to inflate the numbers of Super Bowl watchers“and no urgency to make its ad time all the more lucrative for the proponents of cheap chauvinism to trade in on“unless you really want to be there. Personally, while I’m quite content to pay higher taxes in New York so that the rural dudes I grew up with can have some sort of subsidized health care available to them while they are increasingly out of work, I confess I’m somewhat weary of simultaneously having to listen to cultural products aimed at my male cohort proffer the casual suggestion that I simply must be a sissified queer for paying attention to a girl instead of that game where a bunch of dudes play grab-ass. Just saying.

Because of this, I’ll only ever watch football if I’m in the company of a friend whose excitement can have a cheering effect on me. And so it happens I didn’t watch the Super Bowl yesterday. Not because I’m more interested in “proving a point” than I am in having fun, but because even more than I don’t care about football, I don’t care about supporting the ludicrously out of date notion that this country hangs together in any manner save for geographically.

02.08.10

Phightin’ Words Indeed : Philly Blogger’s Vile Diss Of Beloved Mets Mascot

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, When Mascots Are Attacked at 9:15 pm by

(universally despised empty-skull. And on the left, Mr. Met)

Do we really need someone representing the city that brought us the ECW Arena, the Wing Bowl and John Sharkey delivering a lecture on intelligent mascot schemes? In Ruben We Trust is stretching the boundaries of credibility in claiming “Tommy Lasorda might be one of 5 people in the world to dislike the (Philly) Phanatic”. And he’s really pushing it by lifting a photograph of Mr. Met that I took off the television. But that’s nothing compared to the following rip-job :

Mr. Met has been voted in the Mascot Hall of Fame and all, but I personally see nothing clever about that baseball-headed moron, and this is coming from someone who appreciates tradition and history. Back in 1960-something, when this jackass was unveiled, Mets fans must have instantly wondered the same thing – Why is a man in a Mets jersey walking around with a baseball the size of the moon on his head? I can’t fathom the amount of stupidity that went into Mr. Met’s creation… Okay, so the Mets play baseball, right? And they need a mascot? I got it! How about we have a man wearing a giant baseball on his head. And it can wear a Mets jersey! You’ve got to be kidding me. That would have been an outstanding idea in a world that strives to be as bland and as uninnovative as possible. And uninnovative is actually a word – I looked it up, bitches.

See You In Hell, Mr. Blassie: Happy 92nd!

Posted in Professional Wrestling at 7:24 pm by

["The men despise me, they hate me, and I can readily understand why.  They hate to see a man in that ring that is ten times better at anything that they do ... regardless of what is, the art of making love, anything." - Classy Freddie Blassie, 1918-2003.]

The above is fall two of Fred Blassie’s March 1962 title bout with Rikidozan, officiated by Johnny “Red Shoes” Duggan and called by KTLA’s inimitable Dick Lane.  This is prime West Coast Blassie when the Classy one was the promotion’s star, most hated heel, and champion (including his then trademark biting, with teeth sharpened Ty Cobb-style on a steel file).  You can check out the first fall here, and feel the hate and heat Blassie could draw from a hometown LA crowd against a Japanese champ.  A Happy birthday goes out to the greatest all-around everything in wrestling:  champion, heel, manager, and my favorite interview ever “he woulda been 92 today.  You can check out his interview style here (going shoot on Hogan),  interviewed as LA champ here, his managerial finesse on display in the Piper’s Pit with Kamala the Ugandan Giant here, managing and promoting Muhammed Ali on The Tonight Show, discussing his $40,000 bathroom and smashing Iron Shiek action figures with Regis Philbin (as Philbin dares slug the Sheik), a guest shot on The Dick Van Dyke Show, or the above 1962 championship bout from one of his greatest feuds, with  Rikidozan.  Years later, when Rikidozan was dead (reportedly killed by yakuza gangsters), a Japanese film crew interviewed Blassie in his last years, still working for Vince McMahon.  When asked how he recalled Rikidozan, Blassie swore he wasn’t through with the dead man yet and would wrestle him in Hell.   The cartoonist Drew Friedman once printed up an insulting postcard of Mr. Blassie.  He received a copy of said card in the mail addressed to “Pencil Neck Drew Friedman” with the note … “Keep looking over your shoulder.  I’ll tear your heart out through your knee cap. As Ever, Fred Blassie.” Here’s to you, Freddie.

Vizquel To Wear Aparicio’s Retired #11: Carlton Fisk Wishes AJ Pierzynski Would Stop Leaving Messages

Posted in Baseball at 6:49 pm by

What hath been done may indeed be undone.  Unretired backup SS Omar Vizquel has managed to seal a deal to wear the retired-in-1984 uniform number 11 of Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio, the White Sox’ most decorated at the position.  Arrangements were made necessary by Vizquel’s traditional #13 having already been taken at the Sox by a shortstop with front office connections.  Calls to the Venezuelan consulate to confirm the complicated deal between countrymen was brokered by golf detractor/Presidente Hugo Chavez went unreturned.  Helpfully recorded by the NSA, but unreturned.

Vizquel has worn 13, but in Chicago, that number belongs to manager Ozzie Guillen. And he wasn’t about to relinquish it.

“Ever since I signed with the White Sox, the first thing Ozzie Guillen said (was): ‘You can forget about 13, that’s going to be my number,”‘ Vizquel said. “He knows that’s my number and I really would love to wear it. But I think what Ozzie Guillen has done for the Chicago White Sox, winning them a championship and all the years that he played there, No. 13 already has a name. … As long as a Venezuelan is wearing it, I’m pretty happy with it.”

Calcaterra : Phillips Ought To Apologize…To Mets Fans

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Sports TV at 5:03 pm by

Zipper Problem Steve appeared on NBC’s “Today Show” this morning, discussing his recent stay at the Tiger Woods-approved Gentle Path rehabilitation clinic. Though Circling The Bases’ Craig Calcaterra admits to feeling bad for the former Mets GM / ESPN analyst (“just because his wounds are self-inflicted doesn’t mean they aren’t wounds”), he’d like us to consider the real victims in all of this ; fans who suffered thru Phillips’ tenure in Flushing.

On a lighter note, the article says that Phillips’ program was an AA-style 12-stepper. Anyone who knows about those knows that a key part is making amends. And the amends don’t just have to be things the recovering party did while specifically subject to the addiction in question. Which means that, sooner or later Mets fans, expect Phillips to call you up and apologize to you for the Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar, Pedro Astacio, Mike Bordick, Bobby Bonilla, Rickey Henderson, Kenny Rogers, and Jeromy Burnitz deals.

I remain hopeful that someone will give Phillips a second chance in broadcasting. Mostly because his public statements, if not behavior, have provided precious fodder for this blog, but also because I genuinely believe persons suffering from one addiction or another deserve chances to turn their lives around. Y’know, the sort of chance Phillips was so eager to deny Josh Hamilton.

Saints Fans Rejoice, Abuse Small Children

Posted in Gridiron, Leave No Child Unbeaten, Mob Behavior at 3:37 pm by

Sure, it was a dramatic moment, but as much as I loved witnessing the fade of  Peyton Manning’s Christlike veneer, there’s no excuse for the torture of innocent kiddies. I count not one, but two toddlers being repeatedly being shaken and/or flung skyward.  For shame,  people of N’awlins (or nearby residents wearing black and gold), for shame.

Brewers Announce Statue To Honor Used Car Salesman

Posted in Baseball at 11:41 am by

Citing Bud Selig’s stewardship over MLB’s wild-card, interleague play, economic prosperity and the WBC, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt reports the Brewers will honor their former owner with a statue at Miller Park.

Selig™s statue will join those of Hank Aaron and Robin Yount, which were unveiled on April 5, 2001, the first year of Miller Park™s existence. The first two statues were donated by the Allan H. (Bud) Selig Foundation.

The ceremony to unveil the new statue will be staged on Aug. 24 at 1 p.m. at Miller Park.

The statue will be cast in bronze, measure over seven feet in height not including the base, and is being designed and produced by Brian Maughan, who (along with Douglas Kwart) also created the Yount and Aaron statues.

It makes sense to give Selig a statue at Miller Park, considering it probably would not have been built without his persistence as Brewers owner in the late ’90s. Selig also was responsible for bringing the Brewers to Milwaukee, leading the group that bought the team out of bankruptcy in Seattle in 1970.

Not to be outdone, the Philadelphia Phillies will soon confirm they’ve commissioned a similar edifice paying homage to the individuals most responsible for their recent success. In the future, if you’re meeting friends at CBP, you’ll have the option of getting together in front of the statue of Jeff Wilpon and Omar Minaya.