Coming To Your 2011 Long Island Ducks…Manny Ramirez?

Posted in Baseball at 9:18 am by

After an underwhelming 2010 with the Dodgers and White Sox, could it be that  OF Manny Ramirez — one of the most potent offensive forces in the game as recently as two years ago — might find himself jobless in 2011?  With a free agent market overflowing with veteran DH possibilities including but not limited to Jim Thome, Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon an Vlad Guerrero, you’d expect agent Scott Boras to insist, “Manny Ramirez is a Hall of Fame hitter…they’re going to be seeking those extraordinary talents before they proceed elsewhere.”  From the LA Times’ Bill Shaikin ;

“It’s just like Guerrero,” Boras said. “His last Angels season, where he had an injury season and he had 50 RBIs, was not a customary Vlad Guerrero season. He went to Texas and reestablished himself.

“This is really the course for great veteran hitters. We’ve seen, following an injury season, a player goes out and performs at optimum levels, because these players are still uniquely skilled. They’re still great hitters.”

“You look at Manny’ injuries, first of all,” Boras said. “He had a sports hernia. That was correctable. He had a calf injury. That was related to playing in the outfield.”

“Barry Bonds, at the very same age [actually, at 37], I got him a five-year contract for $90 million. It’s not really about age. It’s about what your level of performance is.”


Who’s Afraid Of Bobby Valentine? Perhaps The Mets’ New Gang Of GM’s

Posted in Baseball at 11:25 pm by

The New York Mets’ exhaustive headhunt for a new manager appears to have come down to a choice between two retreads, Terry Collins and Bob Melvin, neither of whom strike Fox Sports’ Bob Klapisch as particularly inspirational figures. “Why has this managerial search been so maddeningly vanilla? Why does Sandy Alderson pretend Bobby Valentine doesn’t exist?” I’d have guessed an ownership mandate to hire someone far less expensive (especially now that the Wilpons have no fewer than 4 general managers on the payroll), but Klapisch cites other, more depressing reasons.

If experience was enough of a factor to disable Backman’s dream of managing the Mets, Alderson’s inexplicably neglecting the one person whose credentials dwarf the rest of the field’s.

That’s Valentine, of course, who took the Mets to the World Series in 2000. He’s currently working for ESPN and would return to the Mets in a heartbeat if he were officially courted.

Alderson would’ve been better off telling Mets fans the cold truth: Valentine just isn’t his type of manager. That’s the real reason his phone’s been silent. It’s not that the Wilpons hold any sort of grudge against Valentine ” people close to both Fred and Jeff say they would’ve welcomed Valentine back had Alderson decided to hire him. Instead, Alderson and DePodesta have a distinct idea about a manager’s importance and, ultimately, his job description.

Valentine would be larger than life in an organization that will now demand strict, buttoned-down behavior from its subordinates. Alderson will pick Collins or Melvin because they’re better suited to act as his proxies.

The question’s whether that philosophy will resonate, not just with the fans, a third of whom have stopped coming to see the Mets since 2007, but with the players themselves.

No One Tell LeBron About The People’s Choice Awards, Or He’ll Really Lose It

Posted in Basketball at 3:31 pm by

Since Time doesn’t have an annual award called “Gratuitous Prize For Ric Flair To Win” or “Trophy For Howard Stern-backed Candidate”, their annual “Person Of The Year” honor is usually the source of considerable low comedy, no more so than in the case of Heat G LeBron James, who doesn’t quite get the bogus nature of the whole thing. At least not the way the Palm Beach Post’s Ethan J. Skolnick explains it.

Barack Obama. Sarah Palin. Steve Jobs.

And LeBron James?

œWhat list is that? James asked Monday.

The Time magazine œPerson of the Year list.

œI hadn™t heard that, said James, who was on the magazine™s cover in August 2008. œThat™s pretty cool. Brings a smile to my face.

James is one of 25 candidates that readers can rate on the Time website.

œI™m in a position in my life where I™m very happy, you know, and I™m going to continue to get better every day, James said. œBut Person of the Who, what is it?

Person of the Year.

œNah, nah, that™s too much, James said, laughing.

Especially with the Chilean Miners on it.

œThat™s crazy, what those guys did, the courage and what they stand for, I shouldn™t be nowhere near that list, James said.

Actually, he™s near the bottom. As of mid-day Thursday, the prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had the highest rating. Lady Gaga was second.

Faux Irish, Real Racist? Inquirer Columnist Says Phillies Should Kick Out McFadden’s

Posted in Baseball, Racism Corner, Sports Journalism at 3:28 pm by

Sometimes an exaggerated comment-baiting argument can be a force for good–I’m not convinced the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s John Gonzalez really thinks the Phillies ought to (or contractually can) do as he suggests, especially since his argument requires a lawsuit to play out first, but highlighting a race discrimination suit against the bar McFadden’s in the context of their partnership with Citizen’s Bank Park brings more light to a nasty little story. And if you don’t think that’s fair game, your Grandpa probably booed Dick Allen.

Last week, a class-action civil-rights lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court. It claims that McFadden’s and its parent company, East Coast Saloons, are guilty of “racism and racial segregation” and that those practices are “not only tolerated, but mandated.”

The complaint goes further and alleges that the general manager of the Old City bar, Walt Wyrsta, texted a fellow manager on Oct. 28: “We don’t want black people we are a white bar!” (Wyrsta could not be reached for comment.)

Despite being an establishment that’s heavily patronized by college kids and other people in their 20s, the Old City location has a dress code. Among the prohibited items: excessively baggy clothes, work boots, hooded sweatshirts, and athletic jerseys. It also requires customers to tuck in their chains.

The suit was filed on behalf Michael L. Bolden. The 29-year-old is a part-time bartender at McFadden’s in Old City and has been employed by the company since 2007. According to the complaint, the bar has 75 employees but only five are black, including Bolden (who has an African American father and a Cuban American mother). The suit claims that Bolden, who is also a lawyer, had his prime shift changed about the same time McFadden’s allegedly attempted to dissuade black customers from frequenting the bar….

If these latest allegations about McFadden’s are true, it’s long past time for the local baseball team to boot the bar from Citizens Bank Park. A young man died there. That’s tragic and heinous. Now the company that owns the establishment is being accused of fostering racism. That’s not the family-friendly image the Phillies want to project.

Even if the lawsuit isn’t true, that dress code is a piece of work. But I’m actually less inclined to rip McFadden’s for the 2009 tragedy. I mean, they should be held accountable in court for overserving if they’re guilty of that, but the bar itself was not the reason that those people came there on that night, the Phillies are (and people drinking in the parking lots is probably still a bigger problem than people drinking in that bar).

Of course, all the other food in CBP is done by Aramark, the Philadelphia concession company. One could just as easily come up with half a dozen reasons why the Phillies shouldn’t work with them.

The Tiffany Network Takes On A Near Impossible Task : Making “Listen Up” Seem Like A Relatively Good Idea

Posted in Sports Radio, Sports TV, The World Of Entertainment at 11:04 am by

On Sunday, The Hollywood Reporter announced, “A popular sports radio talk show host has sold his life story to CBS for a sitcom deal.”  That’s a fairly amazing coincidence, as it seems Colin Cowherd has peddled a very similar program to the same broadcaster.

His radio show, The Herd with Colin Cowherd, is a syndicated program is known for Cowherd’s obnoxious commentary that sometimes results in headline-making arguments with players and fans

The Cowherd script sold as a multi-camera comedy to CBS, with writers Bill Martin and Mike Schiff attached (Hank, Grounded For Life), as well as executive producers Eric and Kim Tannenbaum (Two and a Half Men).

Cowherd himself has a producer credit on the untitled project, which is at CBS TV Studios.

The episode in which Colin steals material from a popular sports blog and upon being called out, encourages his listeners to shut the site down, is obvious Emmy-bait, surpassed only by a subsequent show that features our hero mocking John Wall’s dead dad.  I think we can all agree, the real key for this endeavor is getting the casting right, and in the unlikely event Cowherd is too shy or busy to portray himself, CBS will have to find the right mix of charm, intellect and humility to play the part. Given that Jay Mohr is already occupied, do you think Craig Kilborn is willing to return to network television?


Tom Ricketts Is No Undercover Boob

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, The Marketplace at 8:34 pm by

Earlier this week, the Ricketts family went public with plans to finance extensive renovations at Wrigley Field by using up to $300 million in bonds floated by the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority. Unimpressed by the shakedown, Kent Sterling writes, “the honeymoon between fans who already pay the highest ticket prices in baseball for a fifth place product, and the guy who tries to tell them that he™s part of that long suffering club while peeling bills out of their pockets is over.”

Anyone who thought the Ricketts were a cabal of silly boobs with too much money and too few hobbies sold them way short.  People with billions in assets didn™t find that money on the side of the road.  They know that public money is used quite often for private entertainment enterprises, and that not asking for it is idiotic.  It isn™t as idiotic as the state or city to say yes.

Smilin™ Tom Ricketts, the glad-handing fellow who wants us to believe he loves nothing more than sitting in the bleachers with a beer and a heart full of love for his Cubs, is actually quite a bit more than that.  He™s a grifter just like the rest who wants someone else to pay for everything, but no one will tell you who if anyone is writing the check.

Did it not occur to Ricketts that Wrigley Field is just a little bit long in the tooth and in need of significant repair?  Of course it did, but clamoring for publicly funded upgrades while still trying to find his office would have been unseemly.  So he waited until the team withered this season, and then uses the facilities to explain why free agents won™t help the Cubs win.

The people of Illinois should call this slickster™s bluff.  Go ahead and try to build a new stadium in Schaumberg or Aurora.  My guess is that Ricketts knows that the only thing that keeps the Cubs from being the Pittsburgh Pirates is real estate.  If he believes that Cubs fans are paying $55 per for bleacher seats to watch Alfonso Soriano drop fly balls and wave at sliders low and away, Ricketts should test that theory by bolting for the ˜burbs.

Putting An Entirely New Spin On The Headline, “Carl Edwards Takes Pole”

Posted in Blogged Down, Vroom Vroom at 4:12 pm by

Since when is there something newsworthy about a sports blog that generates as much traffic in a month as this humble offering does in a day? (sound effects of self-righteous wailing, crashing of furniture, etc.) Well, perhaps when you consider the former site is Queers4Gears.com, Mike Myers’ effort “to get the word out to gay Nascar fans that they are not alone”, it’s easier to understand a story on the cover of this Sunday’s New York Times sports section, as authored by Dave Caldwell.

“Nascar has more fans who are accepting of me being gay than gays have been accepting of me being a Nascar fan,” Myers said in a recent telephone interview.

Queers4Gears is not the only car Web site for gay men and lesbians, but it seems to be carrying the most momentum. Myers’s tongue-in-cheek “gaynalyses” of each race, he refers to drivers as divas and leans hard on the soap-opera-style drama of the sport, but he also writes standard recaps of every Sprint Cup race.

He also wants to keep the site lighthearted and fun. Some readers expected Myers to comment when Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, whom many regard as antigay, delivered the invocation before an August race in Atlanta. Myers chose not to.

“I’ve been so encouraged by the acceptance that I’ve gotten, I don’t want to upset the pot, so to speak,” Myers said.

Race fans, no matter their sexual preference, just like to watch races.

“I’m not there to ask drivers about what they think about gay marriage,” Myers said. “I’m there to ask them about racing.”

Finally, a motorsports scribe Tom Glavine can approve of. In all seriousness, Myers is no more obliged to be a social crusader than any other blogger. And I can fully relate to his comment about Nascar fans being more accepting of him than his gay friends are of his stock car fandom. Except I’ve yet to find anyone particularly accepting of my interests in girls’ field hockey.

Oh My Goodness, Gracious : Are Sterling & Waldman, High, Far & Gone In 2012?

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio at 11:47 am by

While the following might not meet with nearly universal approval in the manner of  ESPN’s recent parting of the ways with Joe Morgan, it still provides hope to whatever reasonable portion of Yankee fandom exists.  The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman points out that with end of WCBS’ $12 annual contract with the Yankees next season, radio voices John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman (above) become (gasp) free agents.

How much would ESPN be willing to pay for the radio rights to Yankees baseball? And would pinstripe honchos be satisfied having their games go out over ESPN-1050′s weak signal? That situation could be corrected if ESPN ever purchases another station with stronger reach.

There also has been talk about the Yankees buying a radio station. With the radio biz in the toilet, and in the current lousy economic climate, that is not likely to happen.

Where does this leave Sterling and Waldman? If WCBS retains Yankees rights the chances of them returning are much better than if a new outlet takes over. If that happens, all bets are off.

The Yankees regime, led by Hal Steinbrenner, will be more concerned with obtaining maximum dollars in a new radio deal than who the broadcasters are. Loyalty ain’t even a factor here. This would give a station the freedom to make that call. A call that will determine the future of Ma and Pa.


President Pacman

Posted in Boxing, politics, Rock Und Roll at 2:36 pm by


This timely glimpse into the future of US-Philippine relations is a guest post from singer-songwriter and sweet-science aficionado Paul K.



Manny Takes Oath of Office, US Prepares for Title Fight in the Pacific


In this populous, primarily Catholic and Muslim island nation, hopes are high that a Pacquiao administration will revitalize US-Filipino relations and deal knockout punches to both terrorism and poverty. The new president (47-1 with 36 by KO) will govern from the center, he has said, remaining in the 146-lb. bracket and avoiding the corners.

In the US, Commerce, State and Defense department officials were cautiously optimistic, even as rumblings were heard not only in Washington but in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Of chief concern is the seeming slipperiness and speed of the new Filipino president and the fear that a bloated US military could have trouble pinning down the elusive, height-challenged (5’6”) champ. Also potentially troubling is the question of whether Pacquiao, whose fight nickname is “Pacman” after the 1980′s video-game gobbler, will be able to maintain his usual grace in juggling four careers: boxer, actor, pop singer and head of state.

Current events in the Philippines will surely test Pacquiao’s storied ability to bob and weave. With banana, coffee and oil prices at ten-year highs the Philippines remain impoverished, having been all but swindled out of the bulk of dividends from the so-called “Asian economic miracle.” Manny’s strategy will undoubtedly rely on massive infusions of capital as well as “punchstat”-style goal-achieving record-keeping and the use of the regulatory counter-jab, according to a well-placed source.

“Pacman won’t go out but on a stretcher,” the source, said to be an aide to Rep. Kelly Pavlik (D-OH), claims bluntly. “He won’t stop, won’t back off, wouldn’t even consider throwing in the towel.”

The new president’s former trainer, Freddie Roach, told reporters what else to expect of the administration. “Manny will come out swinging, working to both uppercut American imperialism and undercut China’s miserable productivity-to-earnings ratio,” Roach said. Speaking from the Los Angeles set of his television show “Roach Motel” through a voice-actuation synthesizer, he added, “The guy (Pacquiao) does his homework and I know he’ll have his export-based economy ramped up high within weeks of the opening bell.”

Such words do not come easily to the ailing Roach, whose reality show, which documents the goings-on at a “reality-show contestant’s ‘training camp,’” recently plummeted in the ratings and is in danger of cancellation. “We’ve been getting pounded in there lately,” he said, “but with Manny sworn in maybe we’ll get some better shots landed, ratings-wise.” Mr. Pacquiao appeared twice on the show during last year’s campaign.

The swearing-in took place at a soccer field in General Santos City, the teeming, now-famous slum outside Manila the new president still calls home. The champ bankrolled a turkey and rice feast immediately after the ceremony for residents of the neighborhood. Filipino attorney Jesus de la Corte, the former celebrity chef and one time aide-de-camp to Imelda Marcos, delivered the oath while holding a Roman Catholic bible.

Braves Hire Elia, Quicky Shift Handful Of Weekday Games To Evening Start Times

Posted in Baseball, Free Expression at 1:19 pm by

Congratulations to 73 year old Lee Elia, hired yesterday by the Atlanta Braves as a special assistant to GM Frank Wren.  During a prior tenure as manager of the Chicago Cubs, Elia proved a tad sensitive to fan criticism ; presumably, a city that struggles to sell out playoff games will be more to his liking.


Toronto Scribe To Bosh : Let Me Count The Ways In Which You Suck

Posted in Basketball at 6:58 pm by

The morning after being posterized by Rajon Rondo , it’s unlikely Heat F/C/scapegoat Chris Bosh is in the mood for much tough love from a Toronto columnist. And to be fair, the Globe & Mail’s Michael Granger does stick up for Bosh a little, testifying the defensively-challenged Texas, “isn’t the most narcissistic and obnoxious-seeming guy on his new team “ not by a long shot.”

Somewhere Bosh, for all his efforts to interact with fans via Twitter and YouTube and Facebook forgot the essence of it; which is “ as in any interaction “ try to imagine walking even half-a-kilometer in the other person™s knock-off Guccis.

Teasing fans with the idea that they might have some say where you™re going to sign as a free agent doesn™t cut it. Musing about winning an MVP award before winning your first playoff series doesn™t cut it. Starring in your own DVD about your own tattoo doesn™t cut it.

Implying that all those 20-and-10s you put it up in Toronto were stats in the proverbial forest because they weren™t on US television doesn™t cut it; and complaining that one of the hardships of life on the wild white frontier “ in Bosh™s case a luxury condominium building over-looking Lake Ontario to the south and the lights of one of North America™s most sophisticated cities to the East “ was that he “couldn™t get the good cable”, doesn™t cut it.

Of the Heat’s identity crisis, the Miami Herald’s Greg Cote opines, ‘this team needs real coaching, and that is what puts the onus on Erik Spoelstra.” As opposed to, y’know, Pat Riley hinting he might grab the reigns if shit got out of hand. That’s not onus-esque in the slightest!

(Hopefully) The First (& Last) Hip Hop Recording To Critique Mike Shanahan

Posted in Free Expression, Gridiron, Hip Hop at 4:47 pm by

When Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan infamously benched Donovan McNabb in favor of Rex Grossman in the 4th quarter a couple of Sundays ago, did he ever imagine — perhaps while offering feeble excuses like questioning McNabb’s “cardio endurance” — said decision would resonate so long and loud?  Black Boo of DC’s Mambo Sauce was amongst those displeased with the move, and while the above results (as posted by the WaPo’s Dan Steinberg) are acceptable enough, count me amongst those who cannot wait to hear Boo’s thoughts on Adam Dunn’s all but inevitable departure.

In Praise Of Eamon Dunphy, The Living Antithesis Of Awful Announcing

Posted in Football, Sports TV at 4:23 pm by

TV soccer mouthpieces ranging from Big Ron Atkinson to Tim Lovejoy have been pilloried in this space previously, so it’s nice to focus on the positive for change, even if it’s just someone else’s opinion.  The Guardian’s Scott Murray considers the state of modern football analysis and declares, with few reservations, former Milwall midfielder, RTÉ’s Eamon Dunphy (above, middle)  to be “the most entertaining, blindingly brilliant pundit of all time.”

His scattergun performances are legendary, impossible to definitively list. But high points include: accusing fellow pundit Liam Brady of putting in a performance for Ireland during the early 1980s that was “a monument to cowardice”; accusing fellow pundit Johnny Giles of deliberately breaking another player’s leg in the early 1960s when at Manchester United (Giles refused to speak to Dunphy off air for a couple of years as a result); accusing fellow pundit Brady, annoyed at a montage of Arsène Wenger prancing around on the touchline, of having “jumped the fence, baby” (Brady being involved with Arsenal youth training); and, when asked early one morning during the 2002 World Cup if Russia were likely to win a game, replying in the still-refreshed manner “I think they fucking should” before failing to reappear after a quickly convened commercial break.

The man is a genius. Anyone who disagrees now stands accused of taking football way too seriously. Shame, shame, shame on British television, which has never unearthed a delicious talent like this.

A Basketball / “Unlawful Touching” Story That Has Nothing To Do With Rick Pitino

Posted in Basketball, Leave No Child Unbeaten, Lower Education, Parental Responsibility at 12:19 pm by

Should an educator lose his or her job for something former Raptors coach Sam Mitchell surely thought about doing several times?   Given the rather negative reactions  to any inference of schoolchildren being whipped, it’s not surprising that Murrah High School (Jackson, MS) basketball coach Marlon Dorsey is under fire for alleged child abuse. But what sort of parent witnesses such assaults and then waits another two days — until he’s seen a repeat occurrence — to blow the whistle?


Donnie Walsh : Very Fortunate Isiah Is Such An Easy Fall Guy

Posted in Basketball at 8:51 pm by

Isiah Thomas’ recent delusional ramblings remarks about someday succeeding current Knicks team president Donnie Walsh (above) were roundly mocked in this space and numerous others. In the considered view of Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen, Walsh should give thanks each time Zeke makes another moronic public statement ;  there’s no better distraction for Knicks problems that have nothing to do with Thomas.  “Why is Isiah still the big story in New York even though Walsh has been running the franchise for a relatively long time now?” asks Thomsen, who answers his own question by citing the Knicks’ last minute bid to involve Thomas in their attempts to woo LeBron James.  There’s a perception, rightly or wrongly, that Thomas is at least as close to James Dolan as Joe Walsh.

For years and years there has been talk of the toxic environment Thomas is said to have created in New York. But if it was so toxic then why hasn’t Walsh replaced more of Thomas’ front-office staff? I’ve talked to Walsh about this many times since Thomas’ departure. And a couple weeks ago, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski revealed that Knicks director of East Coast scouting, Rodney Heard, a Thomas hire, may have organized illegal workouts of potential draft picks on behalf of the organization over the past four years.

Thomas has been vilified in the aftermath coverage of this story, and there is nothing wrong with that criticism. Thomas should be held accountable for his staff. Yet, Walsh has avoided criticism surrounding Heard, even though Walsh chose to re-sign him to a new contract.

If the Knicks truly want to silence their former boss, then they should assemble a roster that can win 50 games. No one will be talking about Isiah Thomas then.

Colin Cowherd’s Inexplicable Boner For John Wall

Posted in Basketball, Hate Fuck Radio, Sports Radio at 5:13 pm by

20 year old John Wall scored 19 points, dished out 13 assists and hauled down 10 rebounds last night in Washington’s 98-91 defeat of Houston. This was Wall’s 6th regular season game as a professional, and while I didn’t get to hear whether or not Colin Cowherd still considers Wall a bust merely because he’s not Rajon Rondo, there does seem to be some drama over what may or may not be veiled reference’s to Wall’s childhood, if not a nonsensical comparison to Michael Vick.

Keep in mind, this is the same Cowherd who a few years ago, argued the NBA regular season was barely worth paying attention to. At present, it’s increasingly hard figure out exactly who Cowherd’s brand of hate fuckery is supposed to appeal to — if ESPN’s long term radio strategy is to simply allow halfwits to generate cheap hit at all costs, perhaps Bruce Jacobs can take over for Greenberg and Golic?

How Long ‘Til Steinbrenner Gets A 200 Foot High Plaque In Cooperstown?

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 4:51 pm by

On the same day Murray Chass reminds us of Marvin Miller’s difficult path to enshrinement in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Chass’ former NY Times colleague George Vecsey opines it’s time to put the brakes on efforts to induct the late George Steinbrenner. “In the heady rush of deserved respect and understandable nostalgia, we need to slow down and evaluate the Boss.”  The same Boss, as Vecsey reminds us, whose associations with Richard Nixon and Howie Spira (above) will always loom large in any discussion of his legacy.

Steinbrenner was a builder, a successful club owner, but does he deserve to be in on sheer baseball merit? There is one argument that Steinbrenner was better than moral, better than smart. He was lucky. He turned a modest personal investment, said to be $168,000, into a $10 million package that, enriched by unforeseen cable television revenue, became the most lucrative franchise in baseball, worth $1.6 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

Then Steinbrenner got lucky all over again while barred by Commissioner Fay Vincent for conspiring with the gambler ” the best thing that ever happened to him and his beloved Yankees.

While Steinbrenner was verifiably out of power, his front office, most notably General Manager Gene Michael, protected the best young players in the farm system. You might have heard of them: Jeter, Posada, Williams, Rivera, Pettitte. For once, the Yankees did not trade away their future for expensive old stars. George came back and presided over one of the great eras of Yankees baseball.

So, maybe the voters should instead pick Joe Torre and Michael and even poor, addled Billy Martin, who is actually on this makeup ballot.

Secret To Pat Riley’s Competitive Advantage FInally Revealed

Posted in Basketball, twitter twatter at 12:43 pm by

It’s at moments like this that I dearly wish Don Cherry was a basketball analyst.


You Won’t Get That Sort of Passion in the WAC

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 11:15 pm by

(CSTB is pleased to report that no Missoula business has proposed anything similar for this week’s game against the North Dakota Fighting Sioux.)

Having apparently picked up Denver, UT-San Antonio and Southwest Texas State, the Western Athletic Conference is now waiting on FCS power the University of Montana.

The Missoulian’s Chelsi Moy reports the Griz have received special dispensation to continue playing annual games against in-state Big Sky rival Montana State, though it seems to me said rivalry will merely become a stage on which the lower-level school enjoys reflected glory and an every-ten-years upset, while doing nothing for the Griz’s strength-of-schedule (like, imagine if Oregon had an annual game with Portland State).

It would be exciting for the program, but would also change the local college sports experience. Right now the Griz and Cats are everything around these parts; most Saturdays Montana’s ABC and CBS affiliates pre-empt the likes of Texas-UCLA and Florida-Tennessee to show the in-state games. Montana’s history and success is as a national power at its level; I’m not sure going 7-4 against Louisiana Tech and Texas State while playing big games on a Friday night will have the same cache.

It’s ironic, really, that a bunch of teams are gonna leave behind the very thing that most people in college football claim to want (playoffs) so they can play in the uDrove Humanitarian or Kraft Fight Hunger bowl. On the other hand, what alumnus wouldn’t like a trip to Hawaii every other season?

(Update: Score one for the little guy: Montana’s staying in the FCS).

Dave Niehaus, RIP

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio, Sports TV at 10:43 pm by

The Seattle Times’ Larry Stone reports Dave Niahaus, Mariners broadcaster since the club’s inception in 1977, passed away earlier today after suffering a heart attack. A Hall Of Fame inductee in 2008, Niehaus was synonymous with baseball in the Pacific Northwest, and is arguably as important figure in Mariners history as Ichiro, Ken Griffey Jr., A-Rod or Randy Johnson.

Rick Rizzs, Niehaus’ longtime partner was shocked by the news.

“What a loss,” Rizzs said. “Holy cow. I feel numb. He meant everything to Mariner baseball. Everything. He was not only the voice of the Mariners, he WAS the Mariners. He was the face of the franchise. When you turned on the radio, everything was right with the world when you heard Dave’s voice.”

Former Mariners outfielder Jay Buhner worked with Niehaus in the booth and called him one of a kind.

“Words can’t describe what I am feeling right now,” Buhner said. “This is the saddest day of my life. It is like I am losing a Dad, someone that was a father figure to me. … He described everything with an art and painted a picture you could see in your mind. I’ve had the honor of working with him as a player and also in the broadcast booth, and there was no one better. He was a consummate pro at everything he did. I am going to miss everything about the guy ” going to miss his face, his ugly white shoes and his awful sport coats.”

Elite NHL Athlete To Finally Feel the Pain of Being Last Guy Picked

Posted in Hockey, Sports TV at 3:13 pm by

The National Hockey League has figured out a way to stir up interest in its 2011 All-Star Weekend; unfortunately, it won’t be for the game itself, but rather, team selection day on Friday.

Following a fan vote for the top six players in the league (three forwards, two defencemen and a goalie, regardless of which conference they play in) the NHL Hockey Operations Department will name 36 more players. That’s when things get weird:

¢ After the 42 NHL All-Stars have been selected, two captains will be chosen per team by the players.

¢ On Friday, January 28, 2011, a draft event will be held in Raleigh with all 54 NHL players (42 All-Stars and 12 rookies) during which the captains will draft the remaining members of their respective teams.

¢ First selection in the draft will be determined by coin flip and selections will continue on an alternating basis.

¢ Each team will be required to select three goalies, six defensemen and 12 forwards in any order they choose.

Seems to me that it would be a lot more entertaining if this happened right before the game, in true pick-up/shinny style. There’s nothing all that interesting about, say, Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan and Philadelphia’s Mike Richards being All-Star teammates. In fact, it’s more interesting (albeit only marginally so) to see hated conference and division rivals play together.

But to watch, say All-Star captain Sidney Crosby point at Richards, or pass up a Penguins teammate for a member of the Capitals? That should be good for at least 20 minutes of entertainment (which is 20 minutes more than any All-Star Game), and would be more so if it didn’t happen in a draft/press conference environment.

(Info via Puck Daddy.)

(Update: Eric McErlain, then of Fanhouse, foresaw it all.)

Pearlman To Mets : Just Hire Backman Already

Posted in Baseball at 12:45 pm by

You can count “The Bad Guys Won” author Jeff Pearlman amongst those touting Wally Backman’s qualifications for the Mets’ managerial vacancy.  “let me be the 100,542nd person to endorse him,” Pearlman gushes, though he offers a reason or 3 beyond mere nostalgia.

Backman is exactly what the Mets need. He doesn™t take shit. He™s hard-nosed and gritty and a big piece of the franchise™s history. He™s insanely hungry. Most important, he™ll manage the sort of team that Citi Field requires. Throughout his minor league managerial career, Backman™s specialty has been run generation. He doesn™t field teams that wait for home runs. He steals, he hits and runs, he bunts, he demands hard slides and balls-out intensity. For years, the Mets have been extremely dull. Backman is anything but. Really, he™s the ideal candidate. No question.

In stark contrast, upon learning Backman has been summoned for a second interview with Mets GM Sandy Alderson, Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra dismisses such news as, “kabuki theater being put on by the team in order to make it appear that they are actually taking a hard look at the man who, inexplicably, has become the darling of the talk radio wing of the Mets fan base.”

He has never coached or managed in the big leagues. He has never coached or managed at AAA. He hasn™t even been in AA ball for the better part of a decade. While some point to his success managing the Brooklyn Cyclones, that™s the New York-Penn League for cryin™ out loud. Entry level for anyone, but apparently not Backman, according to his supporters.  Why? Because he played for the Mets. Goody, so did Kevin McReynolds, and I don™t see him on anyone™s short list

Margarito Trainer To Roach : “Don’t Play Mind Games With Mexicans”

Posted in Boxing at 2:54 am by

If you think Freddie Roach’s ears might be burning after watching the above clip, that’s nothing compared to the probable reactions at HBO Sports. What’s the point of sinking time and money into “Pacquiao-Margarito 24/7″ if Elie Seckbach is gonna come up with such sensational sound bytes in timely fashion?


For The Sake Of A Cranky Blogosphere, Won’t Someone Please Hire Joe Morgan?

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Sports TV at 10:15 pm by

Biz Of Baseball’s Maury Brown is amongst those who predict we’ve not heard the last of recently-deposed ESPN baseball analyst Joe Morgan, and believe it not, such speculation might provide solace for otherwise reasonable members of the baseball community. For instance, Bronx Banter’s Alex Belth, Emma Span, who wails, “now that Morgan™s gotten the hook, who embodies what I want to argue against?”  Hey, Tracy Ringolsby’s still working Rockies telecasts next year, right?

Surely no one with as broad and loud a platform, so much money and influence, no one who will make it so much fun to play the righteous underdog. So yes, I think in a perverse way, I™m really going to miss Joe Morgan.

Sandy Alderson has assembled a super-Moneyball team over in Queens and is being showered with praise, and Morgan™s only real anti-SABR peer, former New York Times columnist Murray Chass, is off in a basement somewhere writing a blog that he furiously insists is not a blog. Who am I supposed to yell at on my TV screen now?

Of course, as was pointed out to me last night, we™ll always have Buck and McCarver. I have no doubt they will outlive us all.

(KORRECTION KORNER :  Emma Span is the author of the Bronx Banter post quoted above, not Alex Belth.  My sincere apologies to both for the error – GC)

Note To All Div. I Coaches On Not-So-Secret Triple Probation : Pick Easier Tomato Cans

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down, College Spurts at 5:59 pm by

No. 23 Tennessee dropped a 79-64 decision last night to Div. II Indianapolis, marking the first time in Bruce Pearl’s tenure the Volunteers have been defeated by such lowly opposition.  While the result won’t do much to improve the mood of the recently humbled Pearl, Searching For Billy Edelin’s Dave Ryan prefers to look on the bright side ; “uually the Vols wait until their non-conference schedule actually kicks off to lose to a terrible basketball team.”

The problem was that Pearl’s team literally forgot how to score to open up the second half, allowing the Division II Greyhounds to go on a nice 15-0 run. The Vols were too busy coughing up the ball to ever mount a serious threat again after that, and were promptly trounced 79-64. Along with committing 25 turnovers, the Vols shot just 51% from the line and bricked on 22 of 29 three point attempts. It was simply awful, awful stuff out of this game last night. Guard Melvin Goins called the defeat “an embarrassment to ourselves and to our fans.” Unfortunately for Melvin, he forgot the part about this being an embarrassment to the sport itself. Is the domain FireBrucePearl.com taken yet?