02.07.10

Plaschke : Buying Into The Saints-As-American’s Team Theme A Little Too Enthusiastically

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Journalism at 1:33 pm by

A little less than two weeks back, Sports On My Mind’s D.K. Wilson castigated those who’d “cheer for a football team owned by a rich, drunken White fool who is quick to break out an umbrella and dance on the graves of the dead who are a by-product of a Crescent City™s sullied gifts to a nation.” He wasn’t specifically singling out Bill Plaschke (above), but it’s nice to imagine otherwise, especially when the LA Times columnist gushes, “America needs the New Orleans Saints to win the Super Bowl.” (“one team’s history can be found in a museum featuring paper bags once worn by embarrassed fans and tear-stained tissues used by happily weeping fans…the other team’s history can be found in a Mayflower moving truck.”)

As our country lurches and heaves through the ankle-deep sand of its economic recovery, it has not helped the national psyche that every time we turn to our national pastimes for assurances that the little guy can still survive, we run smack into Goliath.

The New York Yankees won the World Series. Gee, that was fun. The Lakers won the NBA championship. Loved here, hated everywhere else.

North Carolina won the Final Four. Bear Bryant’s old team won the Bowl Championship Series. Jimmie Johnson won his fourth consecutive NASCAR championship. The Connecticut women’s basketball team has won 61 consecutive games.

And now Peyton Manning is getting ready to win another Super Bowl?

Things That Are Actually Super: Greylurker215′s Leftfield Approach to Selling Baseball Cards on eBay

Posted in Free Expression, The Internet, The Marketplace at 10:14 am by

I got up early this morning to file a (blessedly) rare Sunday morning iteration of The Daily Fix, with the editor-dictated focus of Super Bowl-related predictions. Unsurprisingly, I was dealing with some pretty weak sauce. Some of this was doubtless due to the fact that it’s no more fun to write a Super Bowl prediction column (or, worse, a point/counterpoint Why Team Assigned To Me Will Win column) than it is to put together a bloggy compendium of said columns. But there’s also the fact that it’s kind of hard to come up with a fun angle on a game that everyone has already more or less written off as an afterthought. Maybe it won’t be; after all, last year’s Super Bowl was supposed to be, and it wound up being kind of a blast to watch. But it probably doesn’t matter all that much: the national ritual will proceed apace whatever the score, and — and here here is something you already know — the game is kind of secondary to the commerce on NFL Sundays, anyway.

If there were some sort of prop bet out there for how many loathsome commercials will air during the broadcast — how many times one Guy will do something violent or stupid or cruel to another Guy in order to get a Lite beer that tastes like seltzer some wheat farted into; how many truck commercials will trade on gay panic to get you into some steroidally bloated pickup; the shape of the next excretion in GoDaddy’s series of commercials pitched at a dumber-than-average-11-year-old’s idea of sexy — it would certainly make for a more interesting gambling experience than the old Colts (-5). (Also, there may actually be that prop bet out there) Market-related nausea is nothing new to me, both because I’m a delicate flower and because anyone who can tie his/her shoelaces without stopping to read instructions really should feel kind of insulted by Bud Light commercials, but I’m not looking forward to the ritualized commercial-bombing that will arrive with the seven-layer dip this evening.

That may be why I was so weirdly taken with the strange, possibly-an-art-project baseball card auctions being undertaken by Greylurker215 on eBay right now. In these auctions, Greylurker215 — a Philadelphia native whose real name is Rick Jones — is selling common cards from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s for very low prices that somehow still probably overstate the cards’ actual market value. For instance, and I say this as someone who probably has this card at home and has worked in the baseball card business, there is no actual resale value to the 1994 Tim Costo Leaf card that Jones is selling for 49 cents, plus shipping. And yet, as those of us who have cared about baseball cards at any point in our lives already know, market value is kind of incidental to regular value. If Jones has a goal in mind with this stuff, making that point would seem to be it. Here’s what Jones writes about the Costo card:

Costo played for the Reds briefly in 1992 and for most of the second half of 1993. Once this card was issued, his ML career was over.

In 1994, he played 19 Games for Indianapolis in the Reds system. He played 4 more seasons at the AAA level.

Both the Reds and Indians thought highly enough of Costo to draft him and swap him back-and-forth. I suspect 1994 was a rehab year, fighting back from injury, but that is just a guess.

Fit: Costo is at least Optional to a 1993 Reds set. A quick look suggests to me that he makes the set. My book does not call this a Rookie Card. So, another may exist to cover the set. If not, or if one doesn’t own one, this card will do.

Jones then adds that the scan he uploaded for the auction doesn’t do the card justice. “In person, it is brighter and more attractive than the scanner was able to show.”

And all of Jones’ auctions are like this: little bits of information about the player on the card, a description of the card itself, a note on the card’s notional “fit” (into a team set, into a personal set), and then a little mission statement. Sometimes, Jones’ notes betray a baseball fan’s perspective, as with this Kevin Gross 1988 Topps card (.50, plus shipping) or a unique attentiveness to the card’s photography (as with this 50-cent Rick Schu card from the same set) Sometimes there’s more going on. As part of his “Fun Pairs” auctions, Jones puts together cards of players with something in common — here’s one for Danny Goodwin and Tom Goodwin, no relation — and offers some thoughts. Of the Goodwins card, Jones writes, “We hope the pair will motivate: a.) an artistic display, b.) an expanded set, or c.) a parent/child research project.” And here’s what Jones wrote about a 1974 Topps Greg Luzinski card on sale for 71 cents:

In 1974, Luzinski did not play at all between June 5 and August 26. He still managed to go .272, 7 HR, 48 RBI.

This may have been the turning point in the Philadelphia psyche in the 20th Century. The odd Pennants in 1915 and 1950 notwithstanding, Phillies fans kept their sanity by scoffing at any apparent promise.

When the popular, talented Luzinski went down, that fit our template.

When he returned, it tempted us to start noticing that the Phillies really were pretty good.

I sent Jones a message through eBay to try to figure out what he’s up to with these auctions, and should talk to him more later this week. For now I can tell you that he’s a former Strat-o-Matic champion who teaches “an intergenerational class” on Sunday nights. “I approach the cards as objects of art and transmission of cultural understanding,” Jones says. “They are a means of doing baseball history.”

Considering these auctions’ spot on the wild, windswept no-bidder/no-watcher fringe of the internet’s free market wasteland, there’s something subversive-seeming about Jones’ project, which is at 313 auctions and counting. Challenging the idea of the common card is one thing — kids do that all the time (or at least my friends and I did when I was little), and I certainly aimed to do that when I was writing cards for Topps. But substituting non-market values for these cards’ (wholly absent) actual market value, and doing it on eBay, is both genius and actually kind of touching, if you look at it from the right angle. Today among Sundays, it feels especially welcome. Thanks to Matthew Abrams for furnishing the first link (to the Goodwins pairing, if you were wondering).

02.06.10

Klapisch : Bobby V’s Return To Flushing A Matter Of “When” Rather Than “If”

Posted in Baseball at 9:15 pm by

With one unidentified Mets official saying of the Bobby Valentine/Steve Phillips power struggle, “we fired the wrong guy”, Fox Sports’ Bob Klapisch takes aim at the current Mets’ manager’s job security, writing, “it wouldn’t take a full-blown dark age to oust Jerry Manuel; one long losing streak in late May would be enough.” (link lifted from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

Valentine had a street named after him in Japan. A beer. A hamburger. He was also the first foreign manager to ever prevail in the Japanese World Series. Yet, he’s back in the U.S. after a six-year run in the Far East, the victim of a personality clash with his bosses.

That’s the surcharge of hiring a classic alpha-male. Eventually, inevitably, someone gets intimidated by Valentine’s energy. A Marines official all but said Valentine had out-grown the team. “It was best for both parties, he said, that Valentine move on.

So he’s back on prime-time TV, where the dividend will be two-fold: Valentine’s work in the studio will demonstrate how well he breaks down the game and evaluates talent and otherwise remind viewers why he was able to resurrect the Rangers in the mid ’80s and the Mets in the late ’90s.

His legacy in New York is still strong. In a poll conducted by Metsblog.com, a popular fan site, Valentine received a 97 percent approval rating. The only obstacle is whether Wilpon and Minaya would consider Valentine too overwhelming.

It’s a reasonable question, since Valentine would instantly become the franchise’s most dominant figure. Still, if the Mets don’t act, some other team will.

The NFL Network Will Just Have To Get By Tomorrow Without Warren Sapp

Posted in "Wife Beater" Is Not A Fashion Statement, Gridiron, Sports TV at 8:40 pm by

It’s been a tough weekend for Miami Hurricane alumni-turned-broadcasters. First Michael Irvin files a defamation suit over rape allegations that may or may not have cost him his Dallas radio gig, and now Warren Sapp finds himself benched from his analyst role hours before the Super Bowl. I know these things usually don’t come in 3′s, but if I’m Jimmy Johnson, I’m calling it an early night. From the Miami Herald’s Jose Pagliery :

Sapp partied from late Friday into early Saturday morning at the Shore Club hotel, at 1901 Collins Ave., where police believe he attacked his girlfriend shortly before dawn.

The woman — police did not identify her — called authorities at noon Saturday and reported the alleged attack. Officers arrived at the hotel and met with the former NFL star before taking him to police headquarters, said police spokesman Detective Juan Sanchez.

After detectives questioned Sapp and his girlfriend, police charged Sapp with misdemeanor domestic battery. He was taken to Miami-Dade County jail Saturday evening.

“In light of these circumstances, Warren Sapp will not appear on NFL Network while we review the matter,” the company said in an e-mail to The Miami Herald.

Another Reason Wilma McNabb May Never Take To Philadelphians

Posted in Boxing, Football at 8:16 pm by

Another Iggles offseason means another round of speculation and debate on whether the Birds move on with Donovan McNabb at the helm, or to hand the reins to Kevin Kolb in the hope that Kolb develops and gels along with the young core of offensive players that emerged in 2009. McNabb has vociferous critics amongst Igglephans, perhaps the most strident being Bernard Hopkins, a man who grew up on Phillys meanest streets, spent his teenage years robbing drug dealers and who honed his craft in a state penitentiary, eventually going on to be considered by many as the worlds best pound-for pound fighter during his prime and whom is regarded by many as the baddest dude in the city of Philadelphia. Be it cold hard facts, bitter lashing over a perceived personal sleight or garnering free publicity for his upcoming fight, The Executioner let loose his latest salvos on the subject of #5. From the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Bob Brookover :


At first, the 45-year-old prize fighter from Philadelphia promoted his long-awaited rematch with 41-year-old Roy Jones Jr. set for April 3 in Las Vegas.

Eventually, at Hopkins’ urging, the subject turned to Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who was not far away on South Beach being interviewed by the NFL Network about tomorrow’s title game between the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts.

“The people now say, ‘Take him to Arizona, he has a house there,’ ” Hopkins said. “But my thing is, I’ve been telling you this since after the [Eagles' 2005] Super Bowl [loss]. At the end of the day, you have a guy that is a front-runner. You have a guy that doesn’t even give a hint that he’s upset. He smiles. He doesn’t show any type of feeling of ‘Damn, we’re so close and we kicked the bucket.’ “

McNabb could not be reached for comment yesterday, but Rich Burg, a publicist for the Eagles’ quarterback, said Hopkins’ anger stems from a meeting between the two men at the NovaCare Complex earlier in this decade.

Hopkins attended a practice in 2004. Burg said McNabb was unaware Hopkins was visiting until a brief meeting before the practice. Burg said the meeting was too brief for Hopkins, who felt shunned. Burg worked for the Eagles’ media relations department at the time.

“If there is anyone who is craving attention, it’s Bernard Hopkins,” Burg said. “He tries to get it all the time by using Donovan’s name. Donovan has shown his class by ignoring the entire thing.”

Hopkins said if McNabb had better body language during a game that Eagles fans would like him more.

“Fake me out,” Hopkins said. “Throw Gatorade. People would look at that – even if it’s an act – and say to themselves . . . ‘He’s upset because they just blew it just like I’m upset as a fan.’ They would say ‘He relates to the fans.’ He doesn’t relate to the fans by his body language. The fans can’t feel you.”

“When you have that smile and you come out of the tunnel doing the Michael Jackson dance and the score is zero-zero – are you kidding me?” said the oldest man to ever hold a middleweight boxing title. “You’re dancing and doing all this moonwalk and the score is zero-zero and you’re saying, ‘I’m ready.’ I told people McNabb needed to go three years ago and they were, ‘Oh, you’re hard on McNabb.’ Now the same people are saying, ‘Oh, you’re right. He needs to go, he needs to go.’ “

Hopkins finished his rant by accusing McNabb of believing he was above his teammates.

“He’s the guy inside the house who gets the extra food, the extra clothes, he gets treated a little better,” Hopkins said. “Now, the guys that are outside picking up the corn – they get treated a little different outside. But the house all of a sudden got upset, because he’s not playing well and [McNabb] wants to know, ‘Why you all doing this to me? . . . Why are people in personnel talking about me? I’m one of you, right?’ Are you kidding me?

“So he . . . goes on HBO and you talk about racism. He’s going to go and speak about racism, about who has to go above and beyond because they’re African American, than [the] other quarterbacks. . . . He’s right about that. [But he's] the wrong messenger.

“You know when O.J. became black? When he was facing life. That’s when he became black. That’s what these guys do. They get wrapped up in this world. See, Tiger Woods knows he’s black now. All that other bull, ‘I’m half this and I’m half that.’ – all right, Tiger, what color are you now?”

Skinny White Guy Defends Wing Bowl Title

Posted in Beer, Food, Going To The Zoo, Mob Behavior, Sports Radio at 12:36 pm by

Jonathan “Super” Squibb outlasted the likes of Lights Out Taylor, The Mouth of the South, Obi Wing, Fat Bastard, Oink Oink and the Hungry Hungry Hebe to emerge victorious for the second straight year at WIPs annual Wing Bowl at The Wachovia Center in Philly yesterday

The South Jersey resident downed 238 wings, 3 wings shy of the Wing Bowl record held by Joey Chestnut. Squibbs victory will set up a showdown next year with the 3-time Wing Bowl champion Chestnut when the recent “locals-only” policy will be rescinded.

The Wing Bowls festivities also included guest appearances by Jersey Shores Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi (above) and Susan Finkelstein, who is facing trial for allegedly offering sex for World Series tickets to an undercover police officer.

Dan Gross reports in the Philly Daily News that Ms Polizzi was “brutally booed” upon her entrance and when ridng a mechanical bull. Ms Polizzi was a good sport about it, returning the boos with an extended middle finger and she brushed off the abuse with “Its Philadelphia”.

02.05.10

Fitzy To Peyton : How Do I Hate Thee? Let Me Count The Ways

Posted in Gridiron at 7:34 pm by

Far be it from me to tell Nick Stevens how to do his Peyton-baiting job, but if you gonna provide a laundry list of reasons to despise the Colts’ All-Universe QB, how do you forget this incident?

Bill Shaikin Prepares For The Manny Ramirez Farewell Tour

Posted in Baseball at 6:08 pm by

MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reported earlier this week that Dodger manager Joe Torre plans to give LF Manny Ramirez some time off this season, an interesting plan considering Manny had a 50 game unpaid vacation in 2009. In the considered view of the LA Times’ Bill Shaikin, this is less about Manny Being Manny and mostly points to Ramirez being unemployed in 2011 (“given the absence of a market for Ramirez over the last two winters as well as the suspension and the decline in his production last season, who’s to say he even gets a contract offer?”)

If Scott Boras has leverage, he does not hesitate to use it. In 2006, J.D. Drew told everyone he planned to return to the Dodgers. Boras showed Drew how there was more money to be made in free agency, then asked the Dodgers how they might sweeten Drew’s contract. So Drew opted out of his contract with the Dodgers and signed with the Boston Red Sox.

Boras had absolutely no leverage with Ramirez, even with the opt-out clause, and he let Ramirez know that. He also let Ramirez know there would be no DH job awaiting him. Boras didn’t even try asking the Dodgers to sweeten the contract, because he and the Dodgers knew there was no chance Ramirez could get anything close to $20 million anywhere else.

Ramirez might not have gotten a contract anywhere else. After he hit .396 in that monster two-month run with the Dodgers in August and September 2008, how many teams besides the Dodgers extended him a contract offer? None.

So how many teams do you think might have extended him a contract offer this winter, with the baggage of his 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy? None.

Wednesday Feb. 10 : The Cheapest Pre-Valentine Date This Side Of The Public Library

Posted in Internal Affairs, Rock Und Roll at 4:25 pm by

No less an authority than the Austin American-Stateman’s Joe Gross recently hailed Expensive Shit as “a wall of mud, complete with two drummers pulling and pushing the beat hither and yon”. We all need more YON in our lives. As for the Air Traffic Controllers, who knows who will be playing w/ myself and J.J. on this occasion? Chances are it will not be Rick Wakeman. But if we buried the hatchet, wouldn’t that be great for everyone?

(above : Expensive Shit at the Mohawk, November 11, 2009)

HoZac recording superstars Rayon Beach blew us away at their last Trailer Space appearance and this is a perfect opportunity for you to embrace the duo before someone on Terminal Boredom declares they were much better before they’d formed or recorded.

Liz Burrito, last seen laying waste to microphones and audience sensibilities at the most recent Dikes Of Holland show, rounds out the portion of the bill we know how to spell correctly.

as always, this event is free, please bring your own beer, and consider throwing some money at our host, Spot Long of Trailer Space (1401-A Rosewood, Austin, TX). Those Jimmy Castor Bunch albums aren’t gonna buy themselves (and if they could, they’d be the smartest records ever pressed).

Video Game Scribe Is Non-Metallic K.O.’s Greatest Enemy Since Chuck Knoblauch

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Video Games at 2:16 pm by

OK, perhaps that’s going a bit far.  But after reading Owen Good’s “The Replacements : Still Replaced In Video Games”, published last week at Kontaktu (and mentioned in this space the day following), MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann is hardly overcome with sympathy for the veteran ballplayers who are without union representation.

I’m not a gamer, so I can’t speak to how disturbing it has been to have tried to maintain the simulation experience without Brendan Donnelly, Matt Herges, Ron Mahay, Kevin Millar, and Jamie Walker. But having covered the nuclear labor winter of fifteen years ago, I can’t agree with absolving the real-life guys of the responsibility they have for the choices they made in the spring of 1995.

Hundreds of Millars still said “no.” They may indeed have been punished later for refusing to fill out a uniform during those dark weeks of Replacement Ball. There is nobody to argue for some recognition for their less obvious sacrifices. Millar, Donnelly, and the rest, were – for whatever reason – willing to accept this nightmarish farce, to provide backbone in that parallel universe where 1995 saw the World Champion Dunedin Jays, and NL MVP Jeff Stone of the Phillies, and fireman of the year, 40-year old, five years removed from his last big league pitch, Willie Hernandez of the Yankees.

They made a choice. The punishment was more symbolic than vengeful. Besides, if you feel your video game is incomplete without Brendan Donnelly, you may be a little too into video games.

Introducing Thursday Night’s Hot Trending Topic : J.J. Hickson & The Abuse Of D-Wade

Posted in Basketball at 11:20 am by

The Heat’s 4th straight loss would be grim enough news for Miami fans, but the above clip (probably) hitting a half million views in by the end of the day today is a particular poke in the ribs for Dwayne Wade (and equal parts a very short debutante ball for J.J. Hickerson)

02.04.10

BREAKING NEWS : Steve Phillips Returns To TV…

Posted in Baseball at 5:46 pm by

(above : the loneliest Rotters fan alive)

…and on the bright side, he probably won’t be providing any baseball analysis.   From the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman :

Steve Phillips, fired late last October from ESPN over an embarrassing extramarital affair with a young staffer at the network, will go public with his story for the first time Monday during a “Today” show interview with Matt Lauer.

Sources said the Phillips interview is expected to air during the early portion of the show.

The “Today” interview comes at a time when Phillips will likely be looking to land another broadcast job in baseball.

Rather than seek a booth job (sorry) with one of MLB’s broadcast partners, I believe Phillips is better off pursuing an acting career, perhaps playing parts almost entirely based on his lothario-reputation. Maybe a Bristol, CT based take on that crummy Showtime series where David Duchovny can’t keep it in his pants.

The ‘Lil Wilpons’ Most Desperate Promotional Scheme To Date

Posted in Baseball at 5:00 pm by

More questionable than a Joe Benigno-Gazingo bobblehead? In worse taste than using Paulie Go Nuts to sell tickets? Well, in this case, absolutely.  The Mets’ NY-Penn League affiliate Brooklyn Cyclones last week unveiled an attempt to cash-in on a cable TV sensation that with any luck, will have been totally forgotten by next summer.

On Wednesday, July 21, the Brooklyn Cyclones will be hosting “Jersey? Sure!” Night “ paying homage to a pop-culture phenomenon and giving away limited-edition collectible jerseys.  The high-quality mesh jersey will feature the Cyclones logo on the front and a picture of the team™s mascot, Sandy the Seagull, in a fist-pumping pose on the back, with the words œJersey? Sure! at the top.  The first 2,500 fans in attendance on July 21st will receive a jersey.

In addition, the Cyclones are offering a try-out to a popular MTV star.  WFAN™s Boomer & Carton recently discovered that prior to his newfound celebrity, in an effort to œimpress the ladies, Jersey Shore™s Mike (œThe Situation) Sorrentino falsely told people that he was a back-up third baseman for the Brooklyn Cyclones.  The Cyclones are now inviting The Situation to make his dreams come true by taking batting practice and ground ball drills with the team.

Along with  promising “Dugout Dance Battles” (“contestants will battle to techno beats on top of the dugouts between innings”), the ‘Clones’ blog claims “we’re working on the jersey design now (think ‘Affliction’meets giant seagull)”.

Chass : Omar Can Only Plead Poverty To One Caller At A Time

Posted in Baseball at 2:20 pm by

(above : Mets C.O.O. Jeff Wilpon surveys construction of a future venue for the Dave Matthews Band)

When Darryl Strawberry is willing to bite the Wilpon-feeding-paws by declaring the Mets’ off-season less than spectacular, that’s a pretty fair sign Omar Minaya’s winter haul of Jason Bay and uh, R.A. Dickey, has left media and fans alike not quite blown away.  Murray Chass rang a few unidentified player representatives for their take on the Mets’ tentative approach, and the replies are fairly damning.

More than one agent cited the Mets™ inability to deal with more than one free agent at a time as the primary reason they lost out on free agents. œWe™re interested in your guy, more than one agent recalled the Mets saying, œbut we have to deal with this other guy first.

In one instance, the Mets were a player™s first choice, an agent said, but he was one or two down on the Mets™ pecking order “ a phrase used by another agent “ and the player and the agent weren™t going to wait for the Mets to deal with them. They went elsewhere.

Another agent said that Omar Minaya, the Mets™ general manager, told him at the winter meetings in December that the Mets would address their catching need in January. œHow can they wait and be sure what will be there? the agent asked.

Another agent called the process frustrating. I have other names for it: foolish, wasteful, destructive, irresponsible, to suggest a few. Surely, a general manager is capable of talking to more than one agent simultaneously, working on parallel tracks, even if one signing depends on another.

Reports and rumors have been almost rampant that Minaya is not running the team™s baseball operations but that Jeff Wilpon, the chief operating officer and son of owner Fred, is. I™d like to believe that because that would explain why the Mets have had such a dreadful winter.

F-Mart : Sarge Jr.’s Cock Blocking Me

Posted in Baseball at 1:59 pm by

And to think David Roth was demoralized by the Gary Matthews Jr. signing. Mets prospect Fernando Martinez hit a two run homer in the Dominican Republic’s 7-1 defeat of Mexico yesterday (your winning pitcher, Amazins’ starting rotation hopeful Nelson Figueroa), but tells the New York Post’s Bart Hubbach his future big league home might be somewhere other than Flushing.

When [Carlos] Beltran had surgery, I thought I had a chance, and maybe they would give me a chance at center,” Martinez told MLB.com. “But they get Gary Matthews Jr., and now I’m not sure where I am. I just can’t give up.”

Martinez has been on the Mets’ horizon for years, signing as a 16-year-old. But a string of injuries derailed his progress, and he’s likely to start this seaon looking at another year in Triple-A.

That scenario has him thinking about moving on from the Mets.

“I know I’m a big league player, and I can perform at a high level,” Martinez said. “It’s in my hands, so I have to keep working hard and maybe earn a spot. Maybe I make it to the big leagues with the Mets or maybe another team, but I know I can do it. I just have to keep working and waiting for my opportunity.”

02.03.10

Ronay On John Terry’s Zipper Problems

Posted in Football, History's Great Hook-Ups at 9:38 pm by

How messy have things become for England / Chelsea captain John Terry of late? Terry’s crimes range from A-Rod-esque poor p.r. to allegedly having an affair with a teammate’s girlfriend. Such is the international furor over Terry’s indiscretions, former U.S. coach Steve Sampson was forced to appear on “Fox Football Fone In”, ratting out John Harkes for similar offenses once upon a time. The Guardian’s Barney Ronay surveys the fuss over “the Most Important Story In The History Of Getting Tearful And Stern about the ‘responsibilities’ of being England captain”, and concludes it’s all “a cloud of hot air floating on hot air buoyed by hot air heated by the heat from hot air.”

Weighing in with the arms-spread fight-intros on behalf of England’s Brave John Terry is the Sun, whose exclusive deal with the England captain probably sparked off the whole tedious business by cutting every other red-faced football hack out of the official EBJT picture. Today it counter-attacks by suggesting Wayne Bridge’s ex Vanessa Perroncel has previously tango’d with “five Chelsea stars” [whom we can't name; the fifth one the Sun couldn't even name - Fiver Lawyers], which makes for a convenient “five-a-side”-type gor-blimey sneer. Maneater, you see. Loose cannon. EBJT the victim. This is the case the Sun, and his media crisis manager Phil Hall, are making for their man.

On the opposite side of the table, grunting, swearing and attempting to lever your thumb down like Sly Stallone in Over The Top, we have Max Clifford. Today The Master is insisting his client Perroncel “knew some of the players but she didn’t have affairs with them”, and that in this whole saga she had been “betrayed by someone close to her” and “never wanted this out in public”, the equivalent of Blu-tacking a sign across her nose with the words “NOT A PUBLICITY-SEEKER”.

There they go: lurching and wrestling and Chinese Burning across a self-contained media land of shout-boxes and mud-flings and cash-grabs. Where will the money fall? Who will end up on top? Entirely innocent west London beefcake EBJT? Or The Master and his hurled together betrayed-comely-victim schtick? Who does the Fiver back? If only it was possible to find someone sympathetic in all this, beyond poor old Fabio Capello who, even now, is discussing with his assistant Franco Baldini the essential rules of dating your friend’s ex, like a pair of screechy New York singletons on their fifth Martini in a downtown bar called Fagulous.

Rany Jazayerli : Not Merely Believing The Hype But Applying It Liberally Throughout The Ages

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 7:41 pm by

“‘Everybody thought we had the greatest offseason in the history of whatever and people in the game were saying we did as good as anybody in improving the team,’ a Royals official said.”

The above quote appeared in a Dick Kaegel puff piece for MLB.com, hailing Dayton Moore and the Kansas Royals on their off-season acquisitions of (seriously) Rick Ankiel, Coco Crisp, Willie Bloomquist, Mike Jacobs and Kyle Farnsworth. And while I’m loathe to bash KC too strongly considering what we’ve witnessed from Omar Minaya this winter, Rany On The Royals’ Rany Jazayerli (above) considers the above statement to be “the single most delusional quote in the history of the franchise” (“I could criticize this quote from now till kingdom come, but really, this quote transcends criticism. It is a masterpiece of hallucinatory thinking. I™m convinced the secret to cold fusion is locked somewhere inside that quote.”)

The only proper response is not criticism “ it is mockery. Let™s imagine what this anonymous Royals™ official would have said about some famous historical events:

France, 1940: œEverybody thought we had the greatest series of concrete fortifications and trenches in the history of whatever and generals were saying we did as good as anybody in defending our border.

The set of Heaven™s Gate, 1980: œEverybody thought we had made the greatest movie in the history of whatever and critics were saying we did as good as anybody in crafting a 3-hour, 39-minute film.

Massachusetts, 2010: œEverybody thought we had run the greatest campaign in the history of whatever and politicians were saying we did as good as anybody in running for Senate.

Planned Parenthood’s Pre-emptive Strike Against The Tebow Commercial

Posted in Gridiron at 7:02 pm by

A Planned Parenthood spokesperson told USA Today they won’t be running the above ad during the Super Bowl because “we feel the money is better spent with our affiliates at their health centers.”  Indeed, you can buy a lot of bullet-proof vests with 3 million dollars. Since CBS has no problem allowing Focus On The Family to co-opt the nation’s biggest unofficial holiday, hopefully the above clip will be widely post/embedded.

If You Happen To Find Yourself In The Alleged Live Music Capital Of The World During Mid-March (Pt. II)…

Posted in Internal Affairs, Rock Und Roll, Tourism at 5:22 pm by

(clockwise : The Muffs, photo taken from Deana Flows, The Spits, TV Ghost, Awesome Color)

….you’ll be thrilled to learn that after last year’s universally beloved CSTB-sanctioned 7 band bash at Beerland, we’re returning to the scene of the crime with yet another star-studded bill. On Wednesday, March 17 from noon onwards, America’s 37th most popular sports blog is presenting The Muffs (first Austin appearance since 2004), The Spits, Woven Bones, Awesome Color, TV Ghost, Cruddy and Denton’s fantastic Uptown Bums. Admission is free and all we ask in return is that you TRY NOT TO BLOCK THE DOORWAY when a certain publisher is carrying large boxes to and from his vehicle. Is that too much to ask? Can you please attempt not to stand right in the fucking path of persons pushing inhumanly heavy objects thru the most narrow of corridors? For once in your lives?

Thank you.

Heroes of Contrarianism: What Might “The Feminists” Have Done To WaPo’s Sally Jenkins?

Posted in consumer affairs, Gridiron, Sports Journalism at 4:22 pm by

Lord knows I wrote enough, probably more than enough, about self-congratulatory contrarianism the other day. But while Paul Shirley’s great-sucking-abyss of a career-killer about Haiti was probably not worth the words I spilled on it — and anyway, is a week old, and thus occurred in 1972 in Internet Standard Time — and certainly was vacuous, it didn’t take place in a vacuum. (Alternate bon mot: “while it reflected a great emptiness on its author’s part, it didn’t take place in a vacuum”) (you’re welcome).

While Shirley’s spectacularly ill-chosen subject matter (certainly) earned him a pink slip from the WWL, this sort of fake-fearless yeah-I-said-it stuff is not going anywhere — his was the dumbest recent example of what is an ascendant style, and his punishment had more to do with his incredibly poor judgment than boldly telling readers what imaginary elites don’t want them to hear. Thanks to Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins’ recent piece on the Focus on the Family Super Bowl ad Tim Tebow cut with his mother Pam, we have a new (if slightly less morally egregious) look at the bold new face of Glib Imaginary Journalistic Courage. Sally?


I’ll spit this out quick, before the armies of feminism try to gag me and strap electrodes to my forehead: Tim Tebow is one of the better things to happen to young women in some time. I realize this stance won’t endear me to the “Dwindling Organizations of Ladies in Lockstep,” otherwise known as DOLL, but I’ll try to pick up the shards of my shattered feminist credentials and go on…

I’m pro-choice, and Tebow clearly is not. But based on what I’ve heard in the past week, I’ll take his side against the group-think, elitism and condescension of the “National Organization of Fewer and Fewer Women All The Time.” For one thing, Tebow seems smarter than they do.

Tebow’s 30-second ad hasn’t even run yet, but it already has provoked “The National Organization for Women Who Only Think Like Us” to reveal something important about themselves: They aren’t actually “pro-choice” so much as they are pro-abortion…

Here’s what we do need a lot more of: Tebows. Collegians who are selfless enough to choose not to spend summers poolside, but travel to impoverished countries to dispense medical care to children, as Tebow has every summer of his career. Athletes who believe in something other than themselves, and are willing to put their backbone where their mouth is. Celebrities who are self-possessed and self-controlled enough to use their wattage to advertise commitment over decadence.

Okay. While Jemele Hill makes similar points in a similar way in a similarly themed piece at ESPN — the groups arguing that CBS choosing to air the ad after refusing political ads in the past (and a truly bizarre ad for a gay-dating service this year) are “special interests,” and those dreaded “feminists” are again telling women that they “can’t think for themselves” — she does so far less stridently than does Jenkins. Which is not to say that Hill’s piece isn’t strident: she compares Tebow to Tommie Smith and John Carlos, before applying a ESPN Certified Authentic stamp to the kid’s concussion-prone forehead and peacing-out in classic ESPN style. If Jenkins had left it there herself, she would still have written a forgettable bit of star-stroking boilerplate, but the piece wouldn’t have made much of an impact. And “an impact” was clearly the point, here.

The Drudge Report logs many times more traffic every day than does the Washington Post. Why this is, I don’t know — I’m baffled by the Huffington Post having a readership, but Drudge’s page looks like an Angelfire page created by a 15-year-old in 1995 and features an editorial approach so dependent on innuendo, cheap heat and scurrilousness that it makes the nip-slip-reliant HuffPo look like The Economist. The Post knows this — they have a self-proclaimed Drudge-ologist on staff, so you’d hope so — and have announced in the past that Drudge is in fact their biggest driver of traffic. While Jenkins’ piece didn’t make the cut with Drudge, it did get some play on some high-traffic conservative blogs (here’s one) and a scolding from Media Matters on the left. Which is to say that, on the same bankrupt terms as Shirley’s piece succeeded, Jenkins’ piece also hit its marks — it got people mad, talking, Tweeting, whatever.

What it almost certainly did not make anyone do was think about what the actual controversy here is, or think anything other than “Lady, what are you even talking about?” Leave aside that Jenkins’ piece didn’t address the central controversy surrounding the advertisement — again, that CBS is airing this ad after opting not to air ads in the past that might’ve offended the very people who’d cheer this particular decision — and you’ve got… well, a poorly conceived, point-missing piece, but also a clumsily curmudgeonly pander, something clearly written with links, rather than argumentation, in mind. Jenkins props up some very familiar, very helpless, and very pander-y straw men — those elite feminists and PC commissars, again, telling you what you can’t do, as ever — and then perfunctorily beats the shit out of them. It’s nothing that an army of millionaire conservative pundits — squeakers who simply cannot rest knowing that a guy with a ponytail is teaching economics at a state school somewhere — don’t do every day, but it’s still something to worry about, with the obvious caveat that this is a sportswriter praising a universally acclaimed college football star, and therefore not the sort of thing that really matters very much.

But what matters about it, I think, is how clearly it reflects, again, the way that the incentives of the market are running the wrong way, and way from both quality journalism and thoughtful opinion writing. The Drudge-touted piece Reuters retracted (due to “significant errors of fact”) yesterday about “Obama’s Secret Taxes” is an obvious recent example of this. That is obviously something different than this, but at the most basic dollar-and-cent level a click is a click, and the imperatives of the news economy demand (because they reward) slipshod scandal-manufacture on the news end and this sort of audience-stroking goofery on the pundit side. In the same way that Shirley’s piece elided every ethical or journalistic consideration in favor of glib provocation, Jenkins skips everything interesting about the Tebow story in favor of handing out high fives to everyone brave enough to watch commercials with their brains off. Congratulations, then, on taking a stand against your NOW overlords, readers, and kudos for standing up to those who argue that this issue might be more complex than, as Jenkins writes, “CBS owns its broadcast and can run whatever advertising it wants.” Everyone comes out a winner, here: Jenkins takes a brave stance against powerless “elites” (and a statement of theirs that she never quotes at length), and readers get the comforting news that nothing about this story is really the point except the fact that The PC Libtards Are Trying To Censor Tim Tebow, who it turns out is a pretty stand-up dude (and a virgin, if you hadn’t heard).

All very easy, and all very, very lazy. As Brendan Flynn wrote in the email accompanying the link to Jenkins’ piece, “There are an incredible number of athletes who believe in more than themselves and who devote time, money, and their name to numerous charitable and ideological causes. Perhaps Jenkins doesn’t recognize this, because not all those athletes choose to proclaim it in their eye-black. But of course she does.” For all her unconvincing thundering about elites condescending to You, trying to tell You what to think, Jenkins’ self-laudatory pseudo-courage and transparent pandering to easy biases couldn’t be clearer, or more condescending. Or, unfortunately, make more bottom-line sense.

02.02.10

Jorge Kin To 4-42 Nets : Don’t Get Mad, Get Stabby

Posted in Basketball at 8:11 pm by

The New Jersey Nets are hosting Detroit tonight at the lame duck venue known as the Izod Center, said contest coming days after the club spent quality time with what sounds like the most dubious guru this side of TSOL’s Jack Grisham.   From The Bergen Record’s Al Iannazzone.

Motivational speaker Joachim de Posada (above), a relative of Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, put a needle in his face to prove pain is mind over matter. De Posada was going to stick himself with more needles, but was stopped.

“The whole thing was about confidence,” Chris Douglas-Roberts said. “He™s really into hypnosis. He strongly believes in hypnotizing people and stuff like that. He was an interesting guy.”

Assistant coach Del Harris had worked with de Posada before and brought him in to speak to the Nets. Asked what he thought when de Posada put the needle in his face, Devin Harris said, “Ow.”

It™s surprising the Nets allow anything sharp near the players after what they™ve been through this season.

“They™ve taken sharp objects away from me,” Brook Lopez said in jest. “We have to use safety scissors and everything. We™re pretty close to getting helmets, too.”

Tellum On The Association’s Hate For N8

Posted in Basketball at 6:19 pm by

Player agent Arn Tellum takes issue in Tuesday’s Huffington Post with the NBA’s decision to dock Nate Robinson $25,000 for trade demands made by the diminutive Knicks PG’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, “marking the first time that an athlete has been disciplined for a statement by an agent — in pro basketball, or possibly any other sport.”

Jim Valvano used to swear that he once asked a referee if he could draw a technical foul for thinking bad things about him. The ref said, “Of course not.” So Valvano said, “Well, I think you suck.”

The selective targeting of Robinson – who never even uttered a demand — is inappropriate and unwarranted. Basically, the NBA is using the policy to reign in players it regards as troublemakers. An employee should be allowed to express displeasure with his employer. Why should criticism be solely the prerogative of management? (Coaches are free to denigrate their players — how does that not diminish the NBA product?) And why punish a player for “lowering public opinion” when, in virtually all instances, public trade demand gambits backfire and rally fans to a team’s defense.

Agents demand — it’s what they do. Trade demands are a necessary tool for protecting a client’s interest — and for a sports agent, a client’s interests are paramount. To deny an agent or athlete this basic freedom will only chill free speech and encourage further erosion of player rights. The policy should be vigorously challenged by the players union.

To paraphrase the great Valvano: I think the rule sucks.

“The Avon Barksdale Story” : The Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift For That Special Someone…

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 10:30 am by

…..especially as there’s no Season 6 of “The Wire”, nor can you purchase the show’s blooper reel ala carte (video link taken from Nah Right)

Are You Ready To Tap Out For Jesus?

Posted in MMA, Religion at 10:18 am by

You may or may not be aware that one of the bigger issues facing evangelical groups like Clarksville, TN’s Xtreme Ministries (“Where Feet, Fist and Faith Collide”) is the ever increasing sissification of the church, but the as the New York Times’ R.M. Schneiderman explains, “subculture has evolved, with Christian mixed martial arts clothing brands like Jesus Didn™t Tap and Christian social networking Web sites like Anointedfighter.com.” Indeed, what could be a better marketing tool for the church than an all-male version of OK Cupid (for guys who like to roll around in cages together)?

The goal, these pastors say, is to inject some machismo into their ministries ” and into the image of Jesus ” in the hope of making Christianity more appealing. œCompassion and love ” we agree with all that stuff, too, said Brandon Beals, 37, the lead pastor at Canyon Creek Church outside of Seattle. œBut what led me to find Christ was that Jesus was a fighter.

The outreach is part of a larger and more longstanding effort on the part of some ministers who fear that their churches have become too feminized, promoting kindness and compassion at the expense of strength and responsibility.

œThe man should be the overall leader of the household, said Ryan Dobson, 39, a pastor and fan of mixed martial arts who is the son of James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, a prominent evangelical group. œWe™ve raised a generation of little boys.

These pastors say the marriage of faith and fighting is intended to promote Christian values, quoting verses like œfight the good fight of faith from Timothy 6:12. Several put the number of churches taking up mixed martial arts at roughly 700 of an estimated 115,000 white evangelical churches in America.

Nondenominational evangelical churches have a long history of using popular culture ” rock music, skateboarding and even yoga ” to reach new followers. Yet even among more experimental sects, mixed martial arts has critics.

œWhat you attract people to Christ with is also what you need to get people to stay, said Eugene Cho, 39, a pastor at Quest Church, an evangelical congregation in Seattle. œI don™t live for the Jesus who eats red meat, drinks beer and beats on other men.

02.01.10

Stephon Marbury Brings His Unselfish Brand Of Play To China

Posted in Basketball at 8:08 pm by

On the same day former Suns teammate Casey Jacobsen characterized the former (Self-Proclaimed) No. 1 Point Guard In The NBA to be  “one of the most polarizing players I ever played with”, the New York Post’s Justin “Don’t Call Me Vinny” Terranova reports Stephon Marbury had a less than auspicious debut with China’s Shanxi Zhongyu this weekend.

Marbury scored 15 points, had four rebounds, eight assists and four steals, but was criticized for passing up the game-winning shot against Dongguan Marco Polo. With his team trailing 102-101, Marbury dished the ball to another former NBA player, Maurice Taylor, who missed a 3-pointer that would have won the game.

In a Sina.com poll, one of China™s most popular Web sites, 80 percent were unhappy with the Coney Island native™s performance.

œMarbury™s skill was great, but the cooperation of his teammates was bad,
wrote one commenter on Sina.

Another user, œneo_liu, said œMarbury was not in his usual form¦for the last shot, he passed the ball to Taylor with only two seconds left. How could the ball make it in? If it were Kobe, he would have made the shot.”