06.26.10

Revealed : The Video That Ruined Boosted Udoh’s Stock

Posted in Basketball at 7:30 pm by

Baylor PF Ekpe Udoh was a surprise selection of the Golden State Warriors at no. 6 in Thursday’s NBA Draft, particularly as he was projected to be picked much later in the evening. ESPN’s Chad Ford gave the Warriors a D- for the draft, calling the 23 year-old Udoh “a classic candidate to disappoint.”

If you’re wondering what possessed Golden State to squander the 6th pick overall on a guy who bears great similarity to two players already on the Warriors roster, Brandon Wright and Anthony Randolph, perhaps the following video clip, forwarded by Josh Rosen, sheds some light.

Some have speculated the Warriors never saw the footage of Udoh attempting to post up on New Orleans head coach Monty Williams, but I think the answer is something far scarier. I suspect GM Larry Riley did see the clip, but misidentified the participants and thought he was drafting the guy who was playing such capable D.

LBJ Handler To Doh’lan : The King Will Dine On Neutral Turf

Posted in Basketball at 2:16 pm by

After it was revealed earlier this week the Knicks hoped to woo LeBron James with a fancy meal courtesy of Danny Meyer, Phil Suarez or Drew Nieporent on the first night of the Chosen One’s long-awaited free agency, James’ minder, the wonderfully dubbed Maverick Carter (above, left) tells the NY Post’s Marc Berman a reporter he’s heard of there’s no roadshow in the offing.

“LeBron is not going on a tour,” Carter told ESPN.com. “He never planned to go on a tour and has not been a part of any team’s plans for a recruiting trip.”

Carter said James prefers to meet with teams on neutral ground but not at his mansion in Akron, Ohio.

Carter’s pronouncement throws a wrench into the Knicks’ extravagant plans but does not kill them entirely. The Knicks have known about the possibility of having to take the party to Akron — or wherever James would like to meet.

A source said P. Diddy, James Gandolfini of “The Sopranos” and Philip Seymour Hoffman have been added to the Knicks’ growing celebrity roster assembled to try to convince James to sign with the Knicks.

The addition of Hoffman to the Brainwash LeBron movement is rather ingenious considering his well known affection for basketball.

WSC’s Plenderleith : US Can’t Look Past Ghana

Posted in Football, World Cup 2010 at 10:48 am by

(Markus Merk, the Koman Coulibaly of his era)

Of today’s USA v Ghana Round Of 16 knockout clash, When Saturday Comes’ Ian Plenderleith muses, “no coach or player on either side would ever publicly admit to looking beyond the next game.” So Plenderleith does so himself, correctly noting the victor of this evening’s match in Rustenberg has a relatively clear path to the semi-finals, as well as providing a reminder what happened the last time the two sides collided.

Ghana, possibly with one eye on the Serbia v Australia scoreboard, looked tentative against Germany, and frustratingly failed to finish off ten-man Australia. Although they played well against Serbia, their goal and their victory came thanks to a fortuitous handball. There’s something of the old Portugal about them “ lots of nice approach play, but an absence of penetration or conviction to their finishing, with both Asamoah Gyan and Prince Tagoe looking ponderous in front of goal.

Ghana must attack the US early, when the American defence has looked slow and sleepy in all its games so far. If the Ghanaians allow the US to set the pace, they could miss their best chance to score and then dictate the match, with the Americans more likely to be effective on their swift counter-attacks the later the game goes on.

Four years ago in Germany the US had to beat Ghana to advance from the group stage, but fell well short in a lacklustre 2-1 loss in Nuremberg. In that game German referee Markus Merk awarded Ghana a penalty for a phantom foul by Oguchi Onyewu, and US fans have duly moaned about it ever since. In 2006, though, the US knew they’d been too poor over three games to justify progressing, and that knowledge has always undermined the complaints about Merk’s awful decision. Clearly today’s game will be a measure of how far both countries have come in the intervening time.

06.25.10

MLB Advanced Media, Have A Fuckin’ Heart…

Posted in Baseball at 6:56 pm by

….and please allow the handful of persons reading this blog who’ve neither caught the White Sox’ 6-0 defeat of the Cubs today, nor have access to an obscure program like “SportsCenter”, to watch WGN’s coverage of the Great Carlos Zambrano Meltdown Of 2010 (So Far).  I know, it’s early in the season, but if Big Z wants to top this one, he might have to do it in another uniform (and there’s not nearly so many TV cameras covering Long Island Ducks or Newark Bears games).

During what’s a mostly disastrous season, it should be recalled that Jim Hendry actually came out a winner when he shipped the otherwise unmovable Milton Bradley to Seattle for Carlos Silva. Given the various risks/rewards on the table, who amongst us (especially those looking for easy blog/newspaper content) isn’t rooting for a Carlos Zambrano-for-Oliver Perez swap?

June 25, 2010 In Tweets : Congrats To North Korea On Their Improved Performance Against Cote D’Ivoire

Posted in twitter twatter at 6:50 pm by

  • (with apologies to Bob Colby) #
  • i believe the real kids called it, “doing the boob” RT @themidgetmen will settle for head nodding at wild america show at ‘hawk #
  • @themidgetmen if that’s anything like Sunny D-Lite, I confess, I’ve never tried the beverage in reply to themidgetmen #
  • in other words, fuck you Ron Washington & Rangers fans. The pennant race isn’t a fair fight. RE http://bit.ly/9tqkf1 #
  • great tease from CSN : “Tune in later, for full reactions to Big Z’s meltdown!” White Sox 5, Cubs 0, last of the 5th (Beckham, solo HR) #
  • short of Wire Train, there could be no worse band name than Wiretree. #
  • seriously, on a weekend when Rayon Beach, Fleshlights, Wild America, Cruddy and Naw Dude are all playing, local paper touts Wiretree. #
  • yes, saturday IS a great night for local music. But you wouldn’t know it from tweets like this. RE http://bit.ly/alkHu5 #
  • Fisk threw out first pitch at the Cell today ; fair to say he’s equally revered in CHI and BOS. Not so much in the Bronx(or Deion S’ house) #
  • Odds on “Oh Canada” being booed for Jays’ “home” games in Philly? http://bit.ly/a6MB11 #
  • (video by David Ray Ramos)

  • two kindsa people in the world : those who know the Marked Men are fucking awesome. And unlucky characters who’ve never seen them. #
  • Greg Ginn. On wine. http://bit.ly/8XX1HP #
  • re : WFAN’s Idol-esque announcer contest. Is Russo eligible? #
  • $100 for a game-used Aaron Heilman jersey is slightly more than i paid for a Rich Becker home jersey in ’99 http://bit.ly/dpSvpw #
  • swore i wasn’t ghana laugh RT @JeffSchultzAJC: Anybody struggling to work up a hate for Ghana? Nick Saban didn’t coach there, did he? #
  • fan appreciation at Wrigley, Ricketts-style http://bit.ly/cfnyza #
  • Rock Rock Express’ Rojo Johnson bobblehead. eBay bait handed out July 7 http://yfrog.com/f1qo7j #
  • dyslexia sucks. Thought I’d just read NC State hired David Yow as their A.D. http://es.pn/bXl4ES #
  • Nets trade Chris Douglas-Roberts to Milwaukee for a 2012 2nd round pick http://bit.ly/a5jXya #
  • CBS Sports.com is emailing press release challenging ESPN3 claim that #USA v #ALG was most-watched broadband event ever. zzzzzzz #
  • @dcsportsbog reveals a selection of John Wall tees. The play on the old Bullets logo is cool http://bit.ly/cjN2hm #
  • arguably the two most exciting sides in WC2010 play to a scoreless draw, #POR 0, #BRA 0, both advance from Group G #worldcup #
  • what’s up w/ alleged Red Sox fan Denis Leary hooking up w/ edgy Jeter in nonsensical promos for “Rescue Me”? #
  • please don’t take offense at being unfollowed ; followers are being added/deleted by an automated program. Long story #
  • what, other than money, prevents NYP’s Mushnick from complaining about Sprint pop up ads on his column that won’t fucking close? # Read the rest of this entry »

Portland’s Dysfunctional, Mournful Draft Night

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down at 2:06 pm by

(is that a carefully worded statement from Vulcan Inc. in your pocket or aren’t you happy to meet Luke Babbitt?)

After a wind-twisting that made the Wilpons’ treatment of Willie Randolph seem downright respectful, the Blazers fired G.M. Kevin Pritchard last night, hours before the start of the scene witnessed by Ben from Blazers Edge in Tualatin, OR with Portland scouts Chad Buchanan and Mike Born left to address the media.

The scouts, dressed in what appeared to be matching black shirts, looked like mourners. Their excitement over what they had accomplished, which no doubt will be very real sometime in the near future, was entirely manufactured tonight.

Buchanan, who carried on as stoically as he could, addressing questions in detail, admitted that the situation “was obviously difficult.” In between discussing player tendency breakdowns, Buchanan kept returning to the same themes. “Kevin was a tremendous leader,” he said. “He did an unbelievable job like he always does.” Respect and regret.

Mike Born sought out the eyes of those in the audience, many of whom edged forward in their seats with anxiety as the questioning continued. It wasn’t clear what Born was seeking in the eye contact. Comfort? A connection? Someone who would understand what he had been through and what had just happened? He looked exhausted, finding his legs again after completing a marathon. No, the team hadn’t decided yet what to do with the newly-acquired Ryan Gomes and his partially guaranteed contract. Yes, it was extremely difficult to trade longtime Blazer Martell Webster.

No matter how much Buchanan and Born liked their three draft picks, and surely no one likes these players more, you couldn’t help but get the feeling that they would trade them all back for Kevin Pritchard.

DC United, Brutally Dissed By Washington Sports Establishment

Posted in Basketball at 1:09 pm by


So Donovan McNabb, Alexander Ovechkin, and Stephen Stasburg were roped into paying homage to the NBA’s latest no. 1 overall pick. Was Chris Ponitus — arguably as big a household name as any of the above (especially in the Ponitus household), unavailable with public speaking engagements or did the Wizards just fail to pick up the phone?

Raissman : Santana Rape Accusation Far From A Non-Issue

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism, Sports Radio, Sports TV, The Law at 10:25 am by

Of a Wednesday TMZ report citing an October 2009 sexual assault accusation against Mets starter Johan Santana, The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman wonders, “If the name on the complaint was “Alex Rodriguez”, would there have been a real sense of urgency across the media board?” Though I’ve already weighed in (albeit in 140 character or less form), Raissman is just as right as he’s bald when warning, “no one knows where the story is headed…and no one can accurately predict how much of a distraction it will be to Santana and his teammates.”

Some of Santana’s pitching performances (velocity down, blah, blah, blah) have been subject to question. Now every time a Santana performance is deemed subpar, there will be a new set of inquiries. Are continuing media reports of this seamy sexual encounter interfering with his brain waves? Is dealing with his family taking his focus away? Johan, how long has all this stuff been on your mind?

And what happens when Jane Doe goes public, in front of microphones and cameras?

Some outlets, such as ESPN-1050, ignored the story for much of Wednesday afternoon. Instead the station opted to pound its listeners with Bonnie Bernstein updates featuring news of Team USA’s dramatic 1-0 World Cup win over Algeria, the Wimbledon marathon match and Lawrence Taylor being indicted on sexual assault charges.

The oversight was not without irony.

“You have to watch carefully how this thing is going to play out,” said WFAN’s Mike Francesa, pointing out that the story could take on a life of its own.

This is a talkie who has been around for all those Mets days of whine and bleach, rape allegations and drugs. Those stories did not end in happy recaps.

06.24.10

Baker : Twins, Mets In Rush To Rent Cliff Lee

Posted in Baseball at 7:11 pm by

The (hopefully) eminent return of Carlos Beltran to the Mets’ outfield might well render the rapidly improving Angel Pagan surplus to everyday requirements. Jenrry Mejia (above), recently demoted to Double A Binghamton, is being retooled as a starter, more for 2011 in mind than the current campaign. As such, is it any surprise two players the oft-maligned Mets player development dept. can finally take some credit for, might ultimately be trade bait for the best arm available (and perhaps more importantly for the Wilpons, one due far less remaining salary in 2010 than Roy Oswalt)? The Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker —ruling out the financially challenged Texas Rangers — considers the Mets and Twins the finalists for the services of Cliff Lee.

The Twins have been seen as favorites because they have a blocked top catching prospect in Wilson Ramos that they could make a centerpiece to a deal along with a mid-to-back-end starting pitcher. Seattle has apparently let teams know that acquiring a good catching prospect is high on their priority list.

But the Mets have some pretty good young players of their own. Not catchers, mind you, but if the rumors coming out of New York are true, the M’s might have to ship Lee off to the Big Apple.

That’s because the rumors — and they are only rumors, but with some logic — say the Mets might offer top pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia and current major league outfielder Angel Pagan in a Lee swap. Wow, that one would be tough to decline.

An item from yesterday in the New York Post, suggests the Mets are unlikely to deal Mejia. But that’s what teams always say before they deal a guy. Who knows? Would the Mariners have to send more than just Lee to New York? Possibly.

Indeed, who knows? Perhaps the Mets are showcasing Josh Thole at this very minute. Who can really say for certain? Other than those with televisions, telephones, etc.

June 24, 2010 In Tweets : #extendminaya Hashtag Fails To Gain In Popularity

Posted in twitter twatter at 6:50 pm by

Lippi : Blame Me (But Italy’s Players Are Cowards, Too)

Posted in Football, World Cup 2010 at 4:04 pm by

Italy crashed out of Group F earlier today following a 3-2 defeat to Slovankia ; to rely on cliche’, the scoreline flattered to deceive on behalf of the remaining World Champions, and in the words of the Guardian’s Paul Wilson, “if the French fell out among themselves, Italy simply failed to turn up.”  Coach Marcello Lippo’s postmatch statements were a tad contradictory, on one hand taking full accountability, but adding, “The players didn’t play right, they didn’t press, they didn’t build, they didn’t do anything.” From The Telegraph :

“There are no excuses because when a team comes to a match as important as tonight’s with terror in their legs, their heads and their hearts, and don’t manage to express themselves,” bemoaned Lippi.  “It means that the coach hasn’t prepared them in the right way,”

“I didn’t think we could win the World Cup but I though we would do better.”

In a strikingly honest assessment of what went wrong, Lippi pummelled himself verbally for 15 minutes.

“I failed to train the team well enough, they weren’t ready for such an important match. For an hour and 15 minutes, for psychological reasons I think, nothing worked,” he said.

His stark words took some of the sting out of the Italian reporters who were waiting to savage a campaign that began with two 1-1 draws.

“I have no intention of getting straight back into coaching and training after this,” added Lippi. “I’ll take some months off and we will see.”

Cubs To Participate In Chicago Pride Festivities

Posted in Baseball at 10:57 am by


(Banks, years before the phrase, “let’s play two” would’ve been taken in any other context).

The Tribune’s Paul Sullivan reports the Cubs (along with the Blackhawks) will be the first major sports franchises to feature floats in Chicago’s annual Gay Pride Parade. Presumably, if Mike Ditka’s Chicago Rush were still in business, they’d be front and center in the celebration.

Cubs legend Ernie Banks (above) will ride on the Cubs float along with others team employees in the annual parade, which will be held Sunday on the North Side.

“Participating in the parade is part of being good neighbors and reflects the community efforts of the entire Ricketts family and the Cubs organization,” said Senior Vice-President of Community Affairs Mike Lufrano. “The Cubs have supported the parade for many years. While this is the team’s first float, it is an extension of the strong, existing support and connections the Cubs have always had with the community.”

06.23.10

Dibble vs. Knight In Televised Pissing Match

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 9:34 pm by

Who’d have thought another fine performance (albeit in a losing cause) by Nationals phenom Stephen Stasburg would provoke such a spectacular war of words between MASN broadcasters Rob Dibble and Ray Knight? In the unlikely event Nats fans watching today’s postgame show were unaware of Dibs‘s or Knight’s impressive postseason achievements once upon a time, both gentlemen were all-too-quick to remind.

June 23, 2010 In Tweets : R.A. Dickey’s “Marriage Ref” Booking Surely Confirmed

Posted in twitter twatter at 9:05 pm by

  • @columbustom Perez alone makes up a fair hunk of the $120 million. Dickey pick-up = genuine thrifty smarts. #extendminaya (joke!) in reply to columbustom #
  • RT @columbustom I love Dickey but w/a $120M payroll you shouldn’t have to catch lightning in a bottle with a career scrub. #
  • Esp. since ownership outed him for PED’s RT @BloggingBombers: Surprising to hear Luis Gonzalez is the 1st D-Back to have his number retired. #
  • Thx for making me think of Garth Brooks, Jim. RT @jimbaumbach: Billy Crystal to Seinfeld: talk to me when you get an AB in spring training. #
  • NY Post’s Kevin Kernan suggested today that a Beltran return to the lineup might disrupt “chemistry”. For the team or the writer? #
  • W/ all due respect to Strasburg and his 4 starts, R.A.Dickey (8 IP, 0 runs, 4 hits) is more deserving of an NL All-Star nod. #
  • Seinfeld on Jason Bay’s struggles : “maybe he’s trying too hard to be funny” #
  • And Fred Travalena’s dead. RT @neelc13: Jamie Kennedy and Jay Mohr? I guess Andrew Dice Clay was too rich for the NHL’s blood. #nhlawards #
  • Except Brad Benson RT @hotfootblog: Seinfeld tells @KBurkhardtSNY there’s nothing less funny than having his material read back to him. #
  • Solo HR, Reyes. Bonderman looks like he knows Leyland’s gonna extinguish a cigarette on his forearm. Mets 2, Tigers 0 #
  • It’s about time Joe West wrote a song for R.A. Dickey #
  • Not everyone’s digging Seinfeld on SNY. compared to Jay-Z & Eminem w/ Michael Kay a few weeks back, this is Algonquin roundtable stuff. #
  • Seinfeld’s segued from Lady Gaga to the bedbug commercials. Between this & his flirting w/ @KBurkhardtSNY, I can probably take the month off #
  • Seinfeld on a sponsored tarp : “whenever fans are unhappy and disappointed, we want our logo up there.” y’feeling Jerry, Citibank? #
  • RBI double for Wright scoring Reyes, Mets 1, Tigers 0, last of the 3rd. #
  • Seinfed on Jose sliding headfirst : “who is in charge of that? Who is in charge of sliding?” #
  • sorry for the fate of the dukies, @wrightfan05. but no good is served by assuming everything’s a-ok at Johan’s country club #
  • which d’ya think is slightly higher, percentage of bogus rape claims or accusers who are intimidated/shunned? #
  • one isolated case. RT @wrightfan05: remember those boys at duke. they believed the girl & found out she wasnt credible they got screwed #
  • last word on Santana : there’s many different reactions to trauma, many eg, of crummy police work. We have no idea if accuser is credible. #
  • RT @kristinirene: Anyone w/ a roommate? Not welcome at Bellevue.”Bellevue pastor explains why lesbian coach was banned” http://bit.ly/cjleB7 #
  • RT @danreilly11: the only two people who know what happened are Johan and the accuser. I just hope it didn’t happen & this ends quickly. #
  • in all seriousness, if anyone thinks the Santana story is best blown off, yr Big Ben’s kinda public/media #

Read the rest of this entry »

Singles Going Steady: Pale Hose Eschew Long Ball, Break .500 Anyway

Posted in Baseball at 5:25 pm by

Sometimes it’s tough to write about a team as a homer during an upturn.  When things begin to go well on the field, opportunities for savaging the responsible parties dwindle and the mind turns to attaboys and accolades.  And, really, who wants that?  You just can’t wail, gnash teeth nor unleash withering bathos against the impression that tens of millions of player contract dollars are being *well*-spent.
So it’s with a thimble of selfish regret that I report the Chicago White Sox have remarkably returned as a contender in the AL Central power struggle.  A tussle, to be sure, only slightly more epic than an outbreak of hair-pulling in the back of a second-grade classroom, yet the playoffs seem to hinge upon it.
The Sox, who once considered adopting the pointless solo home run as the team mascot, have left behind their free-swinging ways, a decision that has paid handsome dividends.  With the rhythmic regularity of Mountain Dew belches from Bobby Jenks, the Pale Hose have notched 12 of the last 14 and moved above .500 for the first time in 2010.  They’ve mowed through the National League on an 8-1 road trip, dealing defeat to the Cubs, Pirates, Nationals, and last night, the far more serious Braves, piling on 16 hits and finally, a dinger.  Prior to last night’s Carlos Quentin 3-run bomb, the Sox’s turnaround was engineered without a single home run in 8 games, a drought that reaches back to the 1940s.
Bats that no longer twitch trying to correct.200 averages in one swing are one story.  On the bump, the prospects are no less bright.  Sunday’s complete-game Jake Peavy victory against the Nats is a signal of a rejuvenated rotation including the awakening of Gavin Floyd and a general deep-inning work ethic. Reliefwise, outside of Sergio Santos (control problems) and Scott Linebrink (meatball delivery problems), the rested pen holds, the LOOGYs get their men and the leads get protected.
As a package, this is no longer a team that can be counted out of a division dominated by the Twins and the Tigers, whose arms can’t match up to these when firing on all cylinders.

Sometimes it’s tough to write about a team as a homer during an upturn.  When things begin to go well on the field, opportunities for savaging the responsible parties dwindle and the mind turns to attaboys and accolades.  And, really, who wants that?  You just can’t wail, gnash teeth nor unleash withering bathos against the impression that tens of millions of player contract dollars are being well-spent.

So it’s with a thimble of selfish regret that I report the Chicago White Sox have remarkably returned as a contender in the AL Central power struggle.  A tussle, to be sure, only slightly more epic than an outbreak of hair-pulling in the back of a second-grade classroom, yet the playoffs seem to hinge upon it.

The Sox, who once considered adopting the pointless solo home run as the team mascot, have left behind their free-swinging ways, a decision that has paid handsome dividends.  With the rhythmic regularity of Mountain Dew belches from Bobby Jenks, the Pale Hose have notched 12 of the last 14 and moved above .500 for the first time in 2010.  They’ve mowed through the National League on an 8-1 road trip, dealing defeat to the Cubs, Pirates, Nationals, and last night, the far more serious Braves, piling on 16 hits and finally, a dinger.  Prior to last night’s Carlos Quentin 3-run bomb, the Sox’s turnaround was engineered without a single home run in 8 games, a team drought record that reaches back to the 1940s.

(Above: Alex Rios puts it where they ain’t.)

Bats that no longer twitch trying to correct.200 averages in one swing are one story.  On the bump, the prospects are no less bright.  Sunday’s complete-game Jake Peavy victory against the Nats is a signal of a rejuvenated rotation including the awakening of Gavin Floyd and a general deep-inning work ethic. Reliefwise, outside of Sergio Santos (control problems) and Scott Linebrink (meatball delivery problems), the rested pen holds, the LOOGYs get their men and the leads get protected.

As a package, this is no longer a team that can be counted out of a division dominated by the Twins and the Tigers, whose arms can’t match up to these when firing on all cylinders.

Red Sox Hatred At Fever Pitch : Mickey Mouse Mugged In Anaheim

Posted in Baseball at 4:41 pm by

A 7 foot statue of Mickey Mouse decorated in Boston Red Sox colors/logos, placed at Anaheim’s Discovery Science Center as part of a promotion for the upcoming All-Star Game, was damaged by rodent-phobes over the weekend. The OC Register’s Mark Eades provides details without suggesting the statue had been mistaken for Dustin Pedroia.

Officials with the center noticed that Mickey had been vandalized Friday. The statue was removed Monday.

It appeared that someone had taken whacks with something at one of Mickey’s arms.

“There is a crack in one of the arms and some damage to the baseball Mickey is holding,” said Matt Bourne, a spokesman for Major League Baseball.

The statue was positioned in front of the museum on June 3 by Major League Baseball and Disney as part of a contest related to the upcoming All-Star Game at Angel Stadium on July 13.

Bourne said Major League Baseball is attempting to fix the damage caused by the vandals.
“It will be returned to the Science Center if it can be properly fixed,” Bourne said.

Blatter, Out Of Control: Newsweek On How The FIFA Chief’s Dodgy Contracting Screws World Cup Fans

Posted in Football, Greedy Motherfuckers, The Marketplace at 2:12 pm by

On questions of dickishness, we probably ought to judge sports commissioners on a curve. But even judged by the same sliding scale that allows some to judge David Stern a class act who GETS RESULTS despite Stern’s generally coming off as a cocky bully and haughtily laughing off one new NBA owner’s business ties with Robert Mugabe — and tolerating another NBA owner actually being Clay Bennett, which is nearly as bad — FIFA’s Sepp Blatter (above) has long been renowned as hilariously pompous and high-handed. Which, admittedly, is kind of a commissioner-y trait, but which makes the grandiose allegations of corruption Blatter has faced — you can start here, but there are numerous books on just this topic (which I haven’t read) — look that much worse.

Pretty serious — book length! — allegations of bribery and nest-feathering and general underhanded quasi-gangsterism have followed the Swiss FIFA chief through three terms atop the organization, but he has proven to be surpassingly and surprisingly bulletproof. So in a sense there’s nothing really new in this piece by Newsweek’s Luke O’Brien, which alleges that Blatter steered a super-lucrative hospitality contract towards a travel company affiliated with his nephew, Philippe. That company, MATCH, bought up two million nights’ worth of hotel rooms in South Africa during the tournament, then goosed prices to over twice their usual amount with a series of surcharges that were downright Ticketmasterful in their market-perverting unpleasantness. Hotels not affiliated with MATCH raised prices even more in an attempt to keep up. “Even $20-per-night hostels were asking $70 for a bunk bed in a dorm room,” O’Brien writes.

Which, you know, is something that happens. For a B&B in Johannesburg, high seasons don’t come much higher than an event that promises to bring 500,000-odd people to your country, credit cards akimbo. But even that pumped-up market can only bear so much tweaking and gouging, and O’Brien argues that Blatter’s sweetheart contract wound up screwing both fans and the South Africa as well.

The end result was what you might expect: foreigners, who were already paying $1,500 or more in airfare to visit South Africa, simply decided not to make the trip. Lots of people. Numbers are impossible to truly gauge because Blatter runs FIFA like one of those banks down the street from his offices in Zurich, but the best guess of Danny Jordaan, the head of the local organizing committee, is that more than half of the foreign visitors projected to show up at the tournament will instead be watching it from their sofas at home.

South Africa and FIFA both say plenty of foreigners are attending, but their numbers differ: the government says 456,000 came and FIFA, in a statement, cites 372,000 foreigners, with 97 percent of the 3,009,000 total purchasable tickets sold”though there is no way to tell how many of those tickets have actually been used. By contrast, according to Forbes, around 2 million foreign visitors came to Germany when it hosted the Cup, and all 64 matches sold out.

What™s worse, some international fans had already bought pricey game tickets ranging from $80 to $160. But now they couldn™t afford to use them. They directed their wrath at Blatter. On the forums of BigSoccer.com, angry fans inveighed against FIFA and its president. One commenter described FIFA as œunorganized organized criminals. There was even chatter about a class-action lawsuit. FIFA has tight security controls on transferring ownership of tickets and an impossibly opaque system for reselling them. Fans could get a refund, but only if FIFA offloaded the tickets for similar value”a big problem when foreign demand plummets and South Africans can™t afford to pay the same prices as tourists.

Is O’Brien stretching with any of this? I’m a firm “maybe” on that one — blaming ticket prices and a gouge-intensive hotel situation for poor World Cup attendance (both in general and at the games) during a serious global economic recession seems to kind of underplay the importance of the aforementioned serious global economic recession. But given Blatter’s rap sheet track record, it’s hard not to see the hotel screw-up — along with such other incidences of high-handed scummery as the underpayment (by a FIFA subcontractor) of those South African security guards who briefly protested before being asked to reconsider by riot police — as another example of Blatter being Blatter. That is, being a commissioner who is not only far less holy than he acts, but something of a morally slippery, power-drunk autocrat even by commissioner standards.

Albert Belle’s Influence On World Soccer Finally Acknowledged

Posted in Football, World Cup 2010 at 1:50 pm by

In the aftermath of the US Men’s national team’s dramatic 1-0 defeat of Algeria to clinch Group C earlier today, Rafik Saifi forward/midfielder has been accused of assaulting a female reporter. From Yahoo’s Martin Rogers :

While walking through the interview zone, Saifi (above, left) spotted writer Asma Halimi, who works for Algerian newspaper Competition, and struck her with his open hand in front of dozens of witnesses. Halimi responded by striking the player in the mouth.

Saifi then threw a sports drink bottle at a wall in the interview area, as Halimi was ushered away by security staff.

Saifi came on as substitute for the last five minutes of the USA™s 1-0 victory.

œI said nothing to him and he reached over and hit me, Halimi said to Yahoo! Sports. œSo I hit him back. I said nothing to him first.

It is understood that Saifi and Halimi had previously had a difference of opinion over an article she wrote for her newspaper.

œShe was standing there and the guy came here and he hit her, said Francisco Aguilar Chang, a reporter from Guatemala who witnessed the incident. œThen she hit him back and her nail caught his lip.

Fish Fire Fredi

Posted in Baseball at 10:35 am by

“Ownership™s expectation of playoff qualification is unreasonable. It invites the prospect of a decent season ” say, 87-75 again ” being considered a failure. It amounts to ownership™s implication that it has done everything possible to produce a good product, so any disappointment in performance is solely the players™ fault.”

So opined The Palm Beach Post’s Greg Stoda this past April upon hearing Marlins fraudster owner Jeffrey Loria declare the 2010 playoffs a reasonable target for his bargain basement Florida franchise. Of course, “disappointment in performance” can more easily be expressed in terminating the manager, especially one who is on the wrong side of the owner’s pet. And with that, Loria announced the firing of Fredi Gonzalez (above) earlier today, a 36-38 record deemed justification despite Florida’s competition in the NL East being much improved this season, Philly aside.

While Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra notes “the Miami-Dade government is giving Loria a cash cow of a new stadium despite the fact that his commitment to winning is wholly suspect”, it’s not too early to wonder where Gonzalez might surface, particularly if there are managerial vacancies in Arizona, Seattle or Chicago next winter.

“I’d Say The Slovenians Should Be Very Worried”

Posted in Football, World Cup 2010 at 9:54 am by

The highly sophisticated motivational techniques of punk historian Stuart Pearce and England manager Fabio Capello, revealed by illustrator Tim Bradford and When Saturday Comes. With a 22nd minute volley by Jermaine Defoe putting England up, 1-0 at intermission, who are we to say the above pep talk wasn’t highly effective?

06.22.10

June 22, 2010 In Tweets : Rain Delay Theatre Critic

Posted in twitter twatter at 10:10 pm by

  • new NFL preseason enhanced schedule RT @GregDiener: why are the Jets & Lions playing a Baseball Game at Citi Field right now? #mets #tigers #
  • Rand’s in Milwaukee but it sounds very similar to a high % of Flushing fuckwits http://twitter.com/RandBall/status/16816972497 #
  • Fuck off Rex Reed, Howie Rose remembers “Stripes” #
  • Angel Pagan likes all this Beltran talk ; RBI double to center, Mets 11, Tigers 2, last of the 4th #
  • Two run bomb for Boesch, finally something for the 4 Detroit fans left to cheer about. Mets 10, Tigers 2, top 4th #
  • Double, 2 RBI for Davis. Mets 10, Tigers 0. Would hate to be whoever’s supposed to clean Leyland’s room tomorrow. #
  • 2 run single for Pagan. Mets 8, Tigers 0, last of the 3rd. Leyland takes the from Sborz, who really sbombed. #
  • @FakeFredWilpon, care to explain why Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” is being shown on the Citi screen? No Karaoke With Carlin? #
  • That’s right, a photo of a tarp. What else do you expect? (shake shack queue might be managable now, however) http://yfrog.com/0jf8lwj #mets #
  • Time for “Chris Cotter, This Is Your Life (Director’s Cut) on the Citi jumbotron #mets #rain delay #
  • …and out comes the grounds crew at Citi. In lieu of Rain Delay Theatre, how about a Loudmouths marathon? #
  • RBI double, Jason Bay. Mets 3, Tigers 0, last of the 3rd in a steady downpour #
  • Francouer,getting killed today RT @AmazinAvenue: Mr. Personality taps out to Verlander to end the 1st. #jefffrancoeurisbetterthanslicedbread #
  • Anybody wanna buy a Mets toaster that makes Yankee toast? http://yfrog.com/3djb3rxj #
  • The view from sec 134. Mets 2, Tigers 0, btm 1st (Pagan 3B, R, Wright, sac fly RBI) http://yfrog.com/6bvvqhj #
  • For once, I’m glad I’m stuck on the 7 train. RT @JoeandEvan: Kevin James throwing out first pitch. #
  • only if they’re allergic to their best outfielder RT @AndrewMarchand: In the meantime, are the Mets better without Beltran? #
  • whoops RT @kevin_reiss: Former Astros SP JR Richard is not dead. WaPo regrets the error. (3rd item): http://bit.ly/92rzs3 #
  • upon hearing the news, K-Rod pointed to the sky,dropped to his knees, etc. RT @mlbtraderumors: Brewers Release Bruney http://bit.ly/bq8P6w #
  • nice clip of The Clean playing “At The Bottom”, ICA, London, May 2010 http://youtu.be/P_2qpc96jhE # Read the rest of this entry »

Chuck D. On LeBron’s Fear Of A Black Planet Hole

Posted in Basketball, Hip Hop at 2:56 pm by

(Chuck, shown many years ago after unsuccessfully lobbying Barry Bonds to stay in Pittsburgh)

While the likes of Michael Bloomberg waste valuable time on an exercise solely designed to boost the value of Cablevision shares, full credit to Chuck D. for taking a less hysterical approach to LeBron James’ free agency.  “If he comes to the black hole of New York,” (presumably Madison Square Garden, as opposed to the Straight Shot’s rehearsal space) the Public Enemy founder warns the Plain-Dealer’s John Soeder, “he’ll never win.”

“It ain’t an easy thing, winning a championship, so … don’t think it’s going to come any easier. What, he’s 25? Come on, now! Who says he has to win a championship?

“I think LeBron James is the best thing to ever happen to basketball. Not because of his game. Because of his attitude. We need more dudes in rap who really care about the history.

“I love LeBron James’ attitude. I love his sense of history. And I love what he means to Ohio and Cleveland. My thing is, just try harder.

“At the end of the day, it’s only going be one champion. Everybody [else] is going to lose, so he shouldn’t be down on himself. Kobe [Bryant] had to get over a hump. The Lakers had to get over a hump, all that you-don’t-have-Shaq stuff. That’s the way it goes.

“When LeBron James is at the hot twilight of his career, like a Kevin Garnett, maybe it’ll be warranted to leave Ohio and Cleveland, because he gave it all he got. But when you start off playing at 18, you can’t say, ‘I gave it all I got.”

This Is Not How The Schmoozer Got Started ; New WFAN Hire, Anita Marks

Posted in Sports Radio at 11:03 am by

I probably don’t have to tell you this, but former Miami Fury QB Anita Marks, “developed a reputation for being one of the best QB’s to ever play women’s pro football.”  More recently a sideline reporter for the UFL and formerly a yack-radio fixture in the Baltimore area (where her exploits are fondly recalled on a Sun message board), Marks made her WFAN debut last night alongside Adam The Bull, and I am sincerely thrilled the station has finally brought in an broadcaster with more impressive football credentials than Boomer Esiason.

Artus : Francouer’s Free Swinging Comes At A Heavy Price

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 10:17 am by

“As much as some like Jeff Francoeur’s presence in the lineup,” opines NJ.com’s Matthew Artus, “we would welcome his replacement just the same.”  Easily the weak link out of the Mets’ 3 starting outfielders (and with Carlos Beltran possibly returning sometime before early October), Francoeur is so frustrating, he’s provoked Artus to raise the spectre of Dave Kingman and Lance Johnson.  However, that pair “withstood their lack of patience by capitalizing on the other essential task required to reach base, with the former hitting with power while the latter just flat-out hit. Frenchy can’t mash the ball the way Kingman did, nor can he hit it anywhere close to Johnson’s productive levels.”

Of the two tasks expected of every hitter in baseball, Frenchy excels at neither. He doesn’t “like” to walk, and he doesn’t hit enough to make up for it. Almost all of his value is derived from his defense, which isn’t exactly the second coming of Roberto Clemente out in right field. If/When Beltran ever returns, he should be the odd man out of an outfield with Jason Bay and Angel Pagan because he doesn’t walk as well as either of them nor hit as well.

At the moment, Jeff Francoeur’s the everyday right fielder for the Mets because they simply do not have a viable alternative. F-Mart’s not ready. Nick Evans is forgotten. GMJ has ceased to be. And acquiring another player to fill that spot could unnecessarily block Pagan if and when Beltran returns.

Artus concludes by dubbing Francoeur,  “this generation’s version of a poor man’s Rey Ordonez”, which strikes me as grossly unfair.  To Ordonez, who early in his Flushing tenure at least, was a superior fielder at shortstop than Francoeur is at this moment.

Trash Talk About Mom, Still Not Quite Off Limits For France

Posted in Football, World Cup 2010 at 12:38 am by

Would’ve guessed losing to Mexico would be the high water mark of the France national team’s weekend? Prior to Sunday’s mutiny and Saturday’s expulsion of Nicholas Anelkavv, team harmony had already been compromised claims the Mirror’s Derek McGovern :



Apparently the unrest in the French camp is down to one man “ bullied midfielder Yoann Gourcuff. When chief tormentor Franck Ribery arranged a night out at a ˜gentleman™s club™ for the French players, Gourcuff opted to stay at home. Ribery allegedly confronted him and said: œDoes your mother not allow you to go, you homosexual slut?

A reasonable question, reasonably delivered.