Introducing A Mets Bidder Considerably More Attractive Than Donald Trump (If You Like Fake Mustaches)

Posted in Baseball at 11:45 pm by

From the Hartford Courant’s Paul Doyle :

Renaissance man Bobby Valentine, who already holds jobs as an ESPN analyst and director of public health and safety in his hometown of Stamford, may be looking to expand his resume. ESPN reports Bobby V. is talking to financial backers in hopes of making a bid to purchase a piece of the Madoff Mets from the financially-strapped Wilpons. With Donald Trump and Mark Cuban already identified as prospective bidders, an auction for the Mets could be the most compelling game in Queens all season.

Keep in mind, Cuban’s hardly ID’d himself as a bidder, though it’s pretty clear that if Valentine did front a successful Mets purchase, at the very least we’d never have to see Pete Harnisch as a minor league pitching coach.

Ahmadinejad : London 2012 Logo Not Nearly Close Enough To A Swastika

Posted in olympics at 4:19 pm by

The BBC reports Iran President Mamoud Ahmadinejad has objected to the logo for London’s 2012 Summer Game on grounds completely separate than it looks terrible.

Iran’s National Olympic Committee sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee criticising the emblem and its perceived link to the city.

The letter also urges other Muslim states to oppose the “racist logo”.

A statement from the IOC said: “The London 2012 logo represents the figure 2012, nothing else.”

The London logo shows the numbers “2012″ in four jagged figures and until now has only been criticised for its design.

With 18 months until the Olympics, a statement from the London Organising Committee [Locog] added: “[The logo] was launched in 2007 following testing and consultation.

“We are surprised that this complaint has been made now.”


Duke Snider, RIP

Posted in Baseball, New York, New York at 7:12 pm by

Duke Snider, Dodgers CF for 16 seasons, Hall Of Famer and World Series champion with the Brooklyn in 1955 and Los Angeles in 1959, passed away earlier today in Escondido, California. A 7-time All Star and the Dodgers’ all-time leader in home runs (389 and RBI’s (1271) is eulogized by the New York Daily News’ Bill Madden who reminds us, “the debate as to who was the best center fielder in New York during that period – Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle or Snider – will go on for eternity.”

Brooklyn’s case for Snider was always made on his clutch hits, World Series home run feats and his spectacular outfield play. In 1949, Snider’s first full season in the big leagues, in which he hit .292 with 23 homers and 92 RBI after taking over in center field for the injured Pete Reiser, his tie-breaking 10th-inning RBI single against the Philadelphia Phillies won the pennant for the Dodgers on the final day of the season. A year later, in almost identical circumstances, the pennant came down to the last day of the season against the Phillies and Snider, who hit .321 with 31 homers, 107 RBI and a league-leading 199 hits in 1950, again came through with a ninth-inning single that would have broken a 1-1 tie had Cal Abrams, who was on second, not been thrown out at the plate on a perfect throw from Phillie center fielder Richie Ashburn. The “Whiz Kid” Phillies then went to win the game – and the pennant – on a home run by Dick Sisler in the bottom of the inning.

If Jeff Schultz Could Bear Chipper’s Next Child, Would It Be Named “Citi”?

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 6:48 pm by

OK, it’s a rather creepy question to ponder, but one that I’d not be so quick to ask if the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jeff Schultz weren’t so quick to distance himself from, “some cynics who not only question Chipper Jones physically, they wonder if money is his primary motivation.”  No need to name names, however, because, “This accusation generally comes from the short-sighted, ignorant and disturbed segment of the populace that vents on sports talk radio and posts comments on blogs, all behind the comfort of anonymity.”

If they think I’m doing this for the money, they obviously haven’t seen my bank account,” he said. “I’ve never played this game for money. Nor will I. My mind doesn’t work that way. I play this game because I love my teammates and they wanted me to come back.

“I still feel like I have something to offer, and the cynical fan can really kiss my ass. I really don’t care. There’s a bunch of true fans and the people who actually want to take the time to get to know me know who I am. The guy who sits in his mom’s basement and types on his mom’s computer, I couldn’t really care less about.”

Jones has made over $141 million in his career, including $127 million in the last 10 years alone. To blow through that much cash would require dropping paychecks into a food processor or possibly just being your average former heavyweight champion.

Doing it for the money?

There are a lot of reasons to be cynical about pro sports today. Chipper Jones isn’t one of them.

History’s Most Puzzling eBay Auctions, Pt. VI

Posted in The Marketplace, The World Of Entertainment at 4:54 pm by

Though the auction — described below — seems to have ended unsuccessfully, if the starting bid had been a more modest sum (say, $200), I’m pretty sure content plantation owner James Frey would’ve been all over this.

I am selling my story that I have been creating for 10+ years. It can be compared to stories like Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Matrix, Indiana Jones and other titles in those categories. This story needs to be completed by a professional writer or Ghost Writer. I would like to meet in person so that I can pass my works on.

I will share my story with someone in person only and not over the internet. My story is too valuable to be spread publicly and will give a lot of new ideas for movies and book series that should belong to the buyer.

ebay requires a physical object to be purchased. This is a CD with my story, as well as printed material, as well as verbal information from me. This will be exchanged person to person.

This story will bring in endless fame and money to anyone who takes it. I do not have money to hire a Ghost Writer and I do not want to die with this story untold.


Terry To Chelsea Teammates : Do As I Say, Not As I Sob

Posted in Football at 5:28 pm by

Despite a history of weeping in public not rivaled until the ascent of John Boehner, former England captain John Terry took it upon himself to urge Chelsea teammates to “man up” earlier this week prior to their Champions League encounter with FC Copenhagen.  Writes the Guardian’s insufficiently inspired Barry Glendenning, “it must have been the equivalent of being urged to lighten up by the pope.”

Just two days ago, in this space, came the astounding revelation that some Premier League footballers read actual books, with the Blackpool midfielder Andy Reid being singled out for his heroic attempt to negotiate James Joyce’s Ulysses. Assuming it’s this sort of unmanly behaviour with which Terry steadfastly refuses to have any truck, one can only imagine the futility of his struggle as he fist-pumps and snarls his way around the Chelsea dressing room, seeking out rogue copies of such classics as Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, which are notoriously bad for morale

Ultimately, for a dressing room to man up, it first needs to woman down. And contrary to what the marketing men would have them believe, those designer-monogrammed vole-skin men’s hanging wash bags so beloved of footballers are not “distinctively masculine” and need to go. So too do the expensive, scented lotions and potions of the dressing-room showers, to be replaced by odourless, Albanian prison-grey carbolic soap.

In place of that padded skull-cap with chin-strap, Petr Cech might at least consider adopting a fearsome Highlander style Kurgan skull-helmet, while for all we know, the increasingly effete flower Fernando Torres could be just one left-up toilet seat from hitting the richest vein of scoring of his career.

Ozzie To Red Sox Setup Man: My Kid Can Beat Up Your Kid

Posted in Baseball, Leave No Child Unbeaten at 4:49 pm by

(Above: Oney Guillen contemplates a career in the GOP)

When White Sox reliever Matt Thornton went on record in December about Ozzie Guillen’s son Oney’s tweeting and media habits being clubhouse poison during the slap-fight between Guillen and the departing-for-Boston Bobby Jenks, it became impossible to ignore the ramifications: instead of expecting confidentiality, players in their manager’s office had to watch their backs for daggers courtesy of the Guillen family’s half-bright middle child whose thirst for cheap attention far outstrips his capacity for excellence on the diamond.

Said Thornton:

What happened here with Oney tweeting what he did, that’s crossing a pretty big line in my personal opinion. That’s something that’s gotta be addressed quickly and taken care of and snuffed out real fast. Anytime you bring clubhouse stuff out in the open, I don’t care what it is, it’s that person’s personal business and also the clubhouse’s personal business.

Apparently, the only thing that was “snuffed out real fast” in the Guillen household was contrition.  Any recognition of the giant ethical breach and lousy baseball management inherent in weaponizing private information on players flew out the window today when Ozzie explicitly threatened Bobby Jenks with more Oney-nism.

In a stomach-turning rant that looked past Jenks to his family – you know, the only family in this tawdry episode that isn’t milking it for web clicks and Twitter followers – Guillen proclaimed his respect for Jenks’ wife and kids by announcing that he would let his own kid drag them through the mud if Jenks didn’t shut up.

“He showed up once a week to pitch,” Guillen said. “We were loyal to him, played him. I was a very bad manager because I kept him as my closer when he couldn’t (close). He’s got to look himself in the mirror. Too bad. I still love his kids and wife.

Guillen joked that he was keeping a low profile and wanted spring training to run smoothly.

“Thank God he wasn’t talking about the club. If Bobby was taking about the club, I would have been everywhere on ESPN because I will rip his guts. But he was talking about me. I can take that. Just be careful of what you say about Oney because Oney will say stuff he’s not supposed to be saying. That’s just a warning for him just in case somebody don’t call him. Just stay away and don’t name Oney for this because it will be pretty ugly.”

Marlins Publicity Flack Assailed For Being The Anti-Jay Horowitz

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 3:27 pm by

Last seen in this space publicly outing his internet abusers, Sports Illustrated’s Jeff Pealman has since turned his attentions to the war crimes against journalism (well, journalists) committed by Florida Marlins public relations representative Matt Roebuck. “He might be a pleasant fellow,” allowed Pearlman, “but he’s botching this thing, big time.”

If I’m the Marlins—a second-rate ballclub that nobody pays to see play—I’m begging for media attention. Begging for it. I’m opening my doors to reporters, pitching stories about this guy, that guy, this milestone, that milestone. I want to be covered, because I need people to care.

The Marlins, however, behave as if they’re the Yankess (and, in this regard, even the Yankees don’t behave as if they’re the Yankees). The team allows v-e-r-y limited access to the clubhouse, and Matt may well be the least helpful PR guy in the game. This comes from the repeated horror stories of others, as well as past personal experiences—of needing to speak to players for various SI or SI.com features and getting, literally, zero assistance. When one deals with, say, the Mets or Cardinals or Dodgers, he’ll at least have someone give a player a heads-up. Oftentimes, you’ll get an introduction, and even some pre-arranged sit-down time. With Florida, that doesn’t happen. The staffers seem first and foremost concerned about being pals with the players—which is laughably amateurish, but, for the poor team beat writers, laughably real.

In the hours since the above post to jeffpearlman.com, Pearlman deleted the entry, apparently after being accosted by Mr. Roebuck.

Whether I’m right or wrong in my take on the Marlins, I was definitely wrong not to approach Matt and give him a chance to speak his side. He also made an extremely valuable point, which I overlooked: Sometimes what doesn’t work for the national media works for the local media covering the team on a daily basis.

That’s a reasonable apology — who amongst us hasn’t heard of Marlins players practically begging to be traded to smaller markets, such is the insane amount of local media scrutiny afforded their every move? It’s a miracle there’s any space left in the public’s consciousness for Dolphins, Heat or Hurricanes news given the frenzy surrounded the local baseball side’s machinations.


Facebook Officially Heading For Friendster-esque Obsolescence

Posted in Sports Radio, The Internet at 11:29 pm by

What upheaval occurred in the social media landscape that would cause me to pen the above headline?  As the Boston Globe’s Chad Finn explains, former WEEI fixture Pete “Meat” Sheppard (above, left) is using Facebook as his PERSONAL BULLY PULPIT.

In a burst of bluster that reminded us why Pete Sheppard was a popular if cartoonish figure on “The Big Show’’ before his January 2010 dismissal, the former Glenn Ordway fill-in took to Facebook Monday to rant about The Sports Hub program director Mike Thomas’s apparent refusal to take his phone calls. (The all-caps type was a shrewd touch; it actually read the way Sheppard sounds.) Asked for comment, Thomas responded via e-mail, “We appreciate Pete’s interest in 98.5 The Sports Hub, but our lineup is set and we are very happy with the performance of the station.’’

Earlier, the Boston Herald’s Jessica Heslam reported that Sheppard claims Thomas, “has gone out of his way for some reason in keeping me off 98.5” even to the extent that a paid advertiser was prevented from using his voice in a commercial.

Sheppard told the Herald he’s “exploring the legalities” of banning his voice on station spots.

Since exiting WEEI, Sheppard has hosted a weekly Internet show on patriots.com and has been playing poker for a living but he wants to be back on the air.

“If they don’t want additional listeners so be it,” Sheppard said of the Sports Hub. “I know I have a following. I know I can help the station. I think it’s sad that I can’t get a return phone call. It’s unprofessional.”

Can Tracy McGrady Still Get A Coach Fired In 2011?

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down at 6:43 pm by

For the record, T-Mac denies the combined absence of himself, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Chris Wilcox from this morning’s shootaround in Philadelphia was an orchestrated attempt to make Pistons head coach John Kuester (above) look like a schmuck (““If it was some kind of protest, everybody would know about it, right?”). And while ESPN’s Marc Stein seems to think the scheme was worked according to plan (“it’s gotten so ugly that the Pistons can’t possibly save face no matter what happens next”), leave it to Detroit Bad Boys’ Mike Payne to provide all sorts of helpful suggestions for the organization going forward ;

Trade Tayshaun Prince to Dallas for Caron Butler and a 1st rounder: no matter how weak the draft, there are always gems to be found. Despite being as asshat with free agents and trades and, well, many of his recent drafts, Dumars has been good at finding value there on the cheap.

Trade Richard Hamilton to Cleveland for a Buy-out and Possibly Picks: Since Dallas has reportedly been wanting to do the Tayshaun trade for a while, it was smart of you to execute a few weeks ago. With the old guard thinned out, Hamilton will be more likely to accept a buy-out since the writing is on the wall. This way, the guard glut is mostly solved and the team has flexibility to move forward and go young.

Sell the Fucking Team: Hold back the urge to demand a sale price of $365 just because that extra $5 million will get you a stable of ponies, a pink BMW convertible and Fabio, Karen. And David, it’s hilarious to hear that you’re afraid of undervaluing NBA franchises with a low sale price when you’re tossing the word “contraction” around like a goddamn gynecologist.

Wilpon To Press : “What Part Of ‘I’m Broke’ Do You Not Understand?”

Posted in Baseball at 5:19 pm by

(until recently,  I would not have guessed “sell flowers by the side of the road”)

The Mets’ Grapefruit League schedule kicks off tomorrow against Atlanta, and fans in attendance at Digital Domain Park might be asked to return any foul balls they’ve caught. While the Amazins’ dire financial straits have made headlines of late, until today it wasn’t previously known that last Autumn, Major League Baseball lent the club $25 million in order to pay operating expenses.  From the New York Daily News’ Terri Thompson and Nathaniel Vinton :

The loan is expected to be repaid within months, according to sources familiar with the transaction.

When contacted by the Daily News Friday, the Mets declined to comment on the loan and issued a statement.

“We said in October that we expected to have a short-term liquidity issue. To address this, we did receive a loan from Major League Baseball in November,” the statement read. “Beyond that, we will not discuss the matter any further.”

The Mets are not the only team to have turned to MLB for help in recent months. The Texas Rangers received a loan of $21.5 million from baseball to help keep the club afloat during bankruptcy proceedings last year. The Rangers were later sold to a group headed by pitching legend Nolan Ryan.

As Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra notes, prior to bankruptcy, Tom Hicks had claimed he was seeking a minority investor for the Rangers.  If you think that sounds scary/familiar, consider the mindset of Jeff Wilpon, reduced to placing the following advertisement.

Anthony Defensive About Lack Of Defense Jibes, Strangely Prideful Over One Conference Finals Appearance

Posted in Basketball at 1:09 pm by

Given that Denver Nuggets coach George Karl is 2-0 since the trade sending Carmelo Anthony to New York for 4/5ths of the Knicks starting lineup, you’d think he’d be taking the high road following months of anxiety over the fate of franchise and superstar alike.  Instead, his not-so-subtle (and hardly inaccurate) burial of Anthony has resulted in a the sort of cross-conference pissing match not seen since…well, since Carmelo showed an MSG crowd just how quickly he could run backwards. From the New York Post’s Marc Berman :

“Defense is commitment. I’ve got young guys and if they don’t give me the commitment, I’ve got other guys who will give me the commitment,” Karl said on TNT Thursday. “The system sometimes ties you up from getting the commitment.

“You have to handle what ‘Melo gives you. I’m not knocking ‘Melo, he is a great offensive player. ‘Melo is the best offensive player I’ve ever coached, but his defensive focus, his demand of himself is what frustrated us more than anything.”

Anthony also fired back this morning at shootaround in Cleveland, where he will play his second game with the Knicks against the Cavaliers.

“That’s George Karl. I try not to pay too much attention to that,” said Anthony, who scored 27 points in his Knicks debut Wednesday. “I know what I’ve done in 7-1/2 years I was there going to Western Conference finals.

“I know we were top in defensive categories last year. Don’t know where it’s coming from,” Anthony said.


Recalling A Yankee Trade Somewhat Less Celebrated Than Danny Cater-For-Sparky Lyle

Posted in Baseball, History's Great Hook-Ups at 5:47 pm by

While the likes of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are amongst New York’s most celebrated bachelors, at one time, the sanctity of marriage was a hot topic in and around the Bronx. The New York Post reported earlier today that former Yankee P Mike Kekich is “desperate to block” production of “The Trade”, a Ben Affleck helmed motion picture concerning Kekich and fellow P Fritz Peterson swapping wives in 1973.  In a discussion about Peterson’s 2009 memoir, “Mickey Mantle Is Going To Heaven”, the New York Times’ Joe LaPointe called the exchange, “something out of a John Updike novel.”

Peterson moved in with Kekich’s wife; Kekich moved in with Peterson’s wife. Although Marilyn Peterson did not stay long with Kekich, Fritz married Susanne Kekich.

The Yankees and Peterson stayed together for one more year after the swap was disclosed; Fritz and Susanne have remained together for 35. But one of many strange things about Peterson’s quirky book is that he does not mention his spouse by name, only as “my new wife.” She opposed his book, he said.

“She’s pretty sensitive about that stuff,” Peterson said. “She read the first three chapters and then stopped.”

In the book, Peterson treated the exchange of wives in a peripheral way and complained about how the story was handled in the news media. He said he still communicates occasionally with Kekich by e-mail. “If I saw him at an Old-Timers’ game, we’d have some great laughs,” Peterson said.

Peterson said he rushed the book into publication before his wife could talk him out of it, and critical readers will notice misspellings and rambling repetitions.

And Yankees fans might be taken aback by some of Peterson’s judgments of others. He is an evangelical Christian who used to work with the Baseball Chapel, a man not without sin who is casting a few stones.

In some respects, the Peterson book echoes the “Ball Four” tell-all by Jim Bouton. Coincidentally, Peterson and Bouton roomed together, but Peterson said he had not read Bouton’s book and was offended that Bouton never told him he was keeping a diary.

Pirates Exec To Fans : We’re Cheap Because Of You

Posted in Baseball at 2:52 pm by

Of what purpose is an alleged Pirates Fanfest if the club’s team president is gonna pass the buck to the paying customers in the most cowardly of manners? Check out the following exchange between Pirate Prospects’ Kevin Creagh and the Bucs’ Frank Coonelly ;

Kevin: Would the Pirates be able to afford a $70M to $80M payroll, in present-day worth, if this current group of players were competitive enough to merit additional outside free agents?

Frank: Today, no but we will be able to support that payroll very soon if our fans believe that we now have a group of players in Pittsburgh and on its way here in the near future that is competitive.  We need to take a meaningful step forward in terms of attendance to reach that payroll number while continuing to invest heavily in our future but I am convinced that the attendance will move quickly once we convince our fans that we are on the right track.

Translation : if you were hoping the Pirates would invest some of their revenue sharing windfall in talent, FUCK YOU.  Or as iSports’ James Krug puts it, “ownership has put the proverbial cart before the horse; after 18 straight losing seasons, they should be simply appreciative that fans show up at all.”  (link taken from the Post-Gazzette’s Bob Smizik)

Sadly, Coonelly does not place the immediate onus on the Pirates themselves to build a better, more competitive team that fans would WANT to see. Rather- as has been a consistent message from Pirates’ ownership- they desire to see a significant increase in attendance PRIOR to the team actually getting good! It’s maddening. From a purely business perspective, it is a backwards approach. You could liken it to a car company telling its customers:

“We really want to build better cars for you. But before we do, we need you to start buying our lower-quality, underperforming cars in a much higher volume.”

While many aspects of running a multi-million dollar business are highly complex, appeasing a fan base is not. Offer them a consistently competitive team, and they will show up in droves. Bobbleheads and fireworks only mask an inferior on-the-field product for so long. The Pirates were provided a jewel of a stadium in PNC Park that was almost entirely publicly financed. They are handed tens of millions of dollars every year in MLB revenue sharing and the MLB TV contract- to the point that it could cover their ENTIRE payroll most years.

Mark Cuban Would Like To Remind All CSTB Readers That “Hornets Part-Owner With A Boner” Is An Acceptable Variation On His Nickname

Posted in Basketball at 2:13 pm by

The NBA-owned Hornets acquired Carl Landry from Sacramento yesterday in exchange for SG Marcus Thornton and cash, a deadline that received fierce criticism from Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (above, left). Perhaps recalling the reaction of MLB executives who watched Omar Minaya taken on Bartolo Colon’s salary in Montreal, Cuban wonders why he wasn’t consulted.  “”If New Orleans is taking back $2 million and the team is losing money and I own one 29th of it, I’m going to go against the grain and say that’s just wrong,” Cuban said in comments reported by Mavs Moneyball’s Bryan Gutierrez. “There’s no way, with their payroll, having to dump salary before they were sold to us (NBA Owners); now they can take on more salary while they’re losing money. That’s just wrong every which way.”

New Orleans’ payroll did go up about $2.24 million in the process, though that difference is prorated for the remainder of the season. That increase plus the cash paid to Sacramento is what led to the Mavs owner being upset as he is a regular when it comes to paying the luxury tax. “All I know is if most of the owners in this league can’t take back salary in a deal,” Cuban said, “the Hornets shouldn’t be allowed to either…There’s so few teams in the league that can afford to do that,” said Cuban. “Yet we’re allowing a team that’s owned by the league to do that?”

“I don’t have a problem if they go dollar-for-dollar, great, more power to them,” Cuban said. “You could see if it was like a marquee guy and he’s going to bring in lots of dollars. No disrespect to Carl Landry, but I don’t see that’s the way it works. It’s just wrong. I’m one of the owners. The league is supposed to just give them a budget and it never dawned on me that the budget would say you can spend more money to bring in players.”


Royals’ Soria Resists Temptation To Dub Himself “The Sexecutioner”

Posted in Baseball at 5:01 pm by

Up until some point — perhaps as recently as a few days ago — Kansas City reliever  Joakim Soria had no problem with being called “The Mexecutioner”.  However, in the wake of the violent crime epidemic plaguing his homeland, Soria no longer wants to glamorize murder, and that’s an admirable enough sentiment, though as

Derrick Favors Burned A Hole In Mikhail Prokhorov’s Pocket

Posted in Basketball at 1:18 pm by

Q : What happens when you’re widely suspected to have dissed a Hall Of Fame coach into retirement?  A:  If you’re Deron Williams (above), you find yourself traded to Basketball Siberia. Or more accurately, Newark, NJ.  While Raja Bell is said to have assured Williams that “New Jersey is a good place to live”.   While admitted the currently constituted Nets, “don’t really smack of playoff potential”, Ball Don’t Lie’s Kelly Dwyer makes a pretty good case for the D-Will acquisition being a more than sufficient consolation prize for Mikhail Prokhorov & Billy King after losing out on the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes.

Prokorov appears to be competing against the Knicks, and little else, at this point. Knicks fans would (or, at least, “should”) probably prefer a core including Amar’e Stoudemire, Danilo Gallinari/Wilson Chandler, and Deron Williams to the current Amar’e/Carmelo/Chauncey Billups trio, but it’s unclear if the Knicks were ever going to be able to grab Williams with the assets they had to offer.

If Williams extends his contract with the Nets later this year, both he and Brook Lopez (assuming he re-signs) will be working under contracts developed under the next collective bargaining agreement. This means the deals that could be worth about 60 or 70 percent of what Stoudemire and Anthony will earn in New York. And while Lopez and Williams aren’t as good as Stoudemire and Anthony in total, they’re certainly better than 60 or 70 percent as good as New York’s flashy duo.


Bagchi : There’s Nothing Cool About Barca’s Mint Shirts

Posted in Fashion, Football at 7:45 pm by

Barcelona surrendered a late advantage and fell to a late Arsenal comeback last week in the clubs’ Champions League encounter at the Emirates Stadium, and it would be rather simplistic to blame the defeat on the visitors’ choice of clothing.  Right?  Doing his finest Paul Lukas impersonation, the Guardian’s Rob Bagchi successfully argues otherwise.

Barcelona were hogging possession and formulating their patterns in shirts the manufacturer describes as “cool mint”. Over the past 30 years Barça have almost been through the rainbow with their away kit, from the primrose of the Catalan flag, to orange, vibrant salmon pink, silver, gold, navy, acid-house-meets-lollipop-man fluorescent sulphur and several variations of the turquoisey teal to which they have reverted this season. Worn with matching thermal polo neck undershirts, the kit made Xavi and co look like pastel-clad versions of those aficionados of the turtle-neck, André Previn and Harold Pinter, on the Parkinson show circa 1975. Vertical, diagonal and now horizontal blaugrana sashes have been tried to keep the iconic first-choice colours uppermost in people’s minds in the absence of a clash, like at the Emirates, where the usual kit would have sufficed.

Abuses of the colour palette have been going on for ages and although some can claim inspiration from a particular club’s history – Tottenham in chocolate brown, Everton in pink, Manchester United in green and gold – others such as Aston Villa’s disgusting green, black and red stripes from 15 years ago or Arsenal’s green with blue sleeves from a decade earlier were put together at the designer’s whim.

With apologies to Plymouth and Yeovil fans, there is a common denominator here. Green simply does not work for club football kits unless a historical association buys it some leeway. The purely commercial, such as Liverpool’s Carlsberg can and Adidas homages that began under Graeme Souness and were amended if not improved over the next 20 years, never manage to look anything other than faddish.

Buzz Bissinger Wrote A Terrible Piece About The NBA, But It’s Only Kind Of His Fault

Posted in Basketball, Buzz Bissinger Is Out To Lunch, Sports Journalism at 3:31 pm by

I wrote multiple NFL-related columns during the football season, for a few different venues, and it was exhausting. Not just because I feel ambivalent-to-grossed-out about the NFL in general, although there was that, but because cranking up the dudgeon when I’d really have preferred to write about something else (or take a nap) was not as easy as it seemed before I actually had to do it. It’s much, much better than not having work, of course, and there are of course a near-infinite number of harder jobs in the world than pretending to care about the Jets. But I mention it because having experienced that enervating, gnawing combination of lack-of-interest and impending deadline is about as close as I can get to sympathy for Buzz Bissinger in his sportswriting dotage.

The guy obviously does not much care about sports anymore, which makes it kind of a shame that he has to keep writing about them. Everyone has to eat, I guess, and while Buzz would obviously rather be in a steakhouse, listening to Tony LaRussa bitch about illegal aliens and taxes, or just kicking back and screaming at young people in an A&P parking lot than writing columns about sports, no one’s paying him to do what he’d rather be doing. (Although they already paid him for the LaRussa bit, kind of) So he’s still out there, banging out his played-out curmudgeonhoods about the sports topic of the moment. It must suck, in a way.

But that’s about as far as I can go, honestly. Buzz, who now writes for The Daily Beast’s sports section, delivered himself of a pretty embarrassing column on the NBA over the weekend. Bissinger’s thesis was that the NBA’s problem connecting with fans owed to the fact that the league was “too black” — aesthetically and in terms of, you know, how many black people it employs — and that some people, though not Buzz, were turned off by that. The column itself is pretty much indefensible, but not necessarily because Bissinger managed to be more or less totally wrong in an utterly out-of-touch way. Here’s how it starts:

My editor thinks I should write something about professional basketball. The timing is certainly right—the National Basketball Association’s All-Star extravaganza starts today in Los Angeles, culminating in the All-Star game on Sunday night. The problem is, I don’t really know what to say about the NBA other than I almost never watch it anymore. I am not a basketball junkie and I have no desire to be one. There are maybe three players I would pay to watch.

And we could stop right there, some five sentences after Buzz should’ve stopped. Not just because leading with an admission of ignorance and some mushy contrarianism sure is one Bleacher Report-y ass way to start a column (except for the part about editors, which is obviously not a Bleacher Report thing), but because Bissinger is copping, up top, to an inability to 1) want to or 2) be able to write the column that he then (of course) proceeds to write. Everything that Bissinger goes on to be wrong about — why the NBA “is in trouble, and I don’t think there’s much dispute about that,” that attendance is down, that the game is suffocatingly one-on-one, as well as some really dicey stuff about how black players’ body language scans to white fans, though not to Buzz, who is not a racist but a truth-teller — is explained by a lede in which he allows that there is absolutely no reason why he should be writing this column. Which is effectively the same thing as admitting that there’s no reason why anyone should be reading it.

That Bissinger is wrong about a great deal in his column might not be surprising, given all that, but it’s still worth pointing out. At The Score’s Basketball Jones blog, Scott Carefoot does a good job of that:

I contacted the NBA league office and they confirmed David Stern’s recent claim that attendance is actually up “just shy of 1 percent” this season. That’s not a massive increase, but it’s certainly not a decline. Where you will see a significant increase in the NBA’s popularity if you bother to do the research — which Bissinger didn’t, and I did — is in the TV ratings for this season. Multiple sources have confirmed that ratings have been way up throughout the season, but here are the latest numbers provided by the NBA as of this past weekend:

* Viewership for the NBA’s network partners is up double-digits across the board.
* TNT viewership of NBA games is up 30 percent, ESPN viewership is up 20 percent, and ABC viewership is up 34 percent compared to this point last season.
* NBA games have reached over 86.5 million unique viewers this season, nearly 20 percent ahead of last year’s regular season pace to date.

Carefoot proceeds to dissect the maybe-sorta racial problems in Bissinger’s “too black” thesis, and while he does so well enough, it’s also not really worth the time. “I have no hard-core evidence,” Bissinger allows early in the piece (again) on that thesis, and he later admits that his proof that the NBA “has a problem… beyond dispute” comes from conversations he has had with friends who no longer watch the league. Buzz’s friends, of course, being a demographic that, given Bissinger’s age (56) and wealth (above-average) and friends (Tony LaRussa, other people who curse at young people in A&P parking lots) is not really representative of much — and certainly not representative of the demo that appeals most to the companies buying ads during NBA games. Instead, the admission is representative only of the thing that Bissinger is semaphoring wildly from the article’s opening words — that he is not qualified to write this piece, and shouldn’t have written it, and that it shouldn’t have run, period.

And so all this really collapses on the editor, for me — the one who told Bissinger to write a piece he shouldn’t have written, and who then read that piece and waved it into print despite the fact that it came out every bit as badly as one could have (easily) predicted it would. Bissinger has a job to do, and as long as he’s getting paid (well) to do it, he should of course try to do it better. (Another option would be getting out of the game altogether and stick to writing about things he actually cares about, like what a nice guy Don Imus is) This sort of hacky, half-assed pundi-trolling isn’t new for Bissinger, and in its way does considerably more damage to his bruised rep than did his unhinged HBO assault on Will Leitch or its slightly less crazed aftermath.

That televised shrieking suggests why an editor — someone almost certainly younger, certainly less well-paid, and presumably not any more keen to get screeched at by Crazy Eyes Buzz than those skateboarders in the A&P parking lot — might not want to put a spike through a Bissinger column. But everything in Bissinger’s embarrassing piece suggests that he might not have been all that unhappy with an editor canning this particular column, a column that scans as one long argument against itself/plea for the wastebasket. Nightmarish post-literate dystopia though it may be, the Bleacher Report guys at least seem to be having fun with their sports-underboob slideshows and malaprop-laden MMA sermonizing. Buzz just wants to be left alone, it seems, and his editor would’ve done both Buzz and the Daily Beast a service by doing just that in this case.

Prokhorov : Successful At Tweaking Dolan, Not Much Else

Posted in Basketball at 7:49 am by

While the New York Post’s Peter Vecsey wasted little time in portraying Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni as reluctant a participant in the Carmelo Anthony blockbuster as his lame duck team president, Donnie Walsh (“‘Mike is well aware Stoudemire and Anthony are not a good fit,’ said a D’Antoni confidant. ‘At either end.””), the Bergen Record’s Tara Sullivan considers the role of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov (above, left)  in the protracted saga.  “Prokhorov did accomplish one of his stated goals, driving up the price for his cross-river rivals,” observes Sullivan, “but there’s little moral victory in hurting the opposition if you don’t at least help yourself in the process.”

“I think we made a very good tactical decision to force [the] Knicks to pay as much as they can,” Prokhorov told CNBC. “So it’s very good, it’s very interesting, it’s very competitive.”

No matter how Prokhorov spins this as something positive, we’re not buying. He blew into New Jersey and promised nothing short of world basketball domination. He talked of building a global brand, a team that will take its New Jersey fan base, move it to Brooklyn, and build a team to rival the much-more-popular Knicks.

He declared his intention to sign big-time free agent stars, to ultimately overshadow his big-time neighbors across the Hudson. He planted his egotistical “blueprint for greatness” billboard in the Knicks’ backyard, and then answered their taunts that he’ll never be like them with a dismissive retort that he’d rather be like the Lakers anyway.

He ends up being neither.


Welcoming Taz Back To MSG

Posted in Basketball at 9:28 pm by

Sadly, I’m not referring to the Red Hook product who once performed under the supervision of Bill Alphonso, but instead, the 20th overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft.  The above video comes courtesy of Steve Cuttler, who wonders if Renaldo Balkman — reunited with the Knicks this evening in a minor transaction that might escape your notice — still owns the above automobile.

‘Lil Stein : Yanks Celebrated ’09 Title Too Much, For Too Long

Posted in Baseball at 6:20 pm by

Who better than Hank Steinbrenner — a man who has toiled long and hard for everything he has in this world — to scold his underachieving New York Yankees for failing to capture a 28th World Championship? With the following comments, relayed by the New York Daily News’ Mark Feisand, is it fair to ask exactly when the Yankees will stop letting the world know they wish they’d successfully pissed off Derek Jeter so much this past winter that someone else in the AL East would be overpaying him this season?

“Sometimes I think maybe they celebrated a little too much last year,” Steinbrenner (above, right) said of his team. “Some of the players are too busy building mansions and doing other things, not concentrating on winning. I have no problem saying that.”

Asked if any other player besides Jeter was building a mansion, Steinbrenner said he wasn’t referring to anybody in particular.

“I’m just saying they were too busy; I’m not singling anybody out,” Steinbrenner said. “I’m saying maybe they were riding the wave of ’09 a little too much. It happens. Psychologically, it happens sometimes.”

Despite his assertion that he wasn’t singling out Jeter, it’s hard to take Steinbrenner’s comment any other way. Jeter had the most disappointing season of any regular last year, hitting a career-low .270, and he’s building a 30,000-square-foot palace in the Tampa area, dubbed “St. Jetersburg” by the locals.

Construction on Jeter’s house began in 2008, so it should be noted that he was “building mansions” during the World Series season of 2009, too.

Steinbrenner said the entire team seemed to lack the hunger last year that helped carry them to the title the year before, but he’s seen that appetite return so far this spring.

NYT : Wilpon, Mets Ran Interference For Madoff

Posted in Baseball, The Law, The Marketplace at 4:11 pm by

Despite continued protestations they were as betrayed by Bernard Madoff (above)  as anyone else, the New York Times’ Serge Kovaleski and David Waldstein have previously reported that Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz routinely encouraged members of the New York Mets extended family — including former GM Frank Cashen and Flushing pariah Bobby Bonilla — to entrust their fortunes to the since-convicted Ponzi schemer.  On Monday, Kovaleski went a step further, alleging the Mets didn’t merely pimp for Madoff, but also helped him evade scrutiny ; “to be amongst those referred by the Mets’ owners, one had to agree to odd and puzzling terms that restricted direct contact with or questioning of Mr. Madoff.”

Those invited into this rarefied club — including relatives of Sterling management, an investment banker who is also a supper club entertainer, a technology entrepreneur and a theater industry executive — would not send money to Mr. Madoff. Instead, it would be filtered through the Sterling partner and the Mets board member Arthur Friedman, a certified public accountant with a law degree who served as the liaison to Mr. Madoff’s operation.

By the time Mr. Madoff was arrested in December 2008, his Ponzi scheme exposed, Mr. Friedman had managed 178 Madoff accounts opened for friends and close business acquaintances of the Sterling partners, and for some Sterling employees. He also administered 305 other Madoff accounts set up by Sterling partners for themselves, their families, trusts and Sterling-related entities.

The rules, at Mr. Madoff’s request, were clearly stated in advance by the Sterling partners to investors invited into the club. Account holders were never to speak directly with Mr. Madoff or anyone at his business, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. All communications regarding any of the accounts had to go through Sterling. Clients would receive monthly paper statements from Mr. Madoff, though the year-end tax statements were sent from Sterling.

One woman who, along with her husband, held several accounts with Mr. Madoff said she thought it was peculiar that they were told never to communicate with Mr. Madoff, but it did not stop them from wanting in.

“We never questioned the fact we weren’t allowed to contact Madoff because of our confidence in Sterling,” said the woman, who did not want to be identified as an investor with Mr. Madoff. “We invested because we trusted these two people absolutely; because they were big business and we assumed they knew what they were talking about.”

If James Dolan Has His Way, Wilson Chandler & Danilo Gallinari Will Be Playing In NYC For A Long Time

Posted in Basketball at 2:31 pm by

Not in Knicks uniforms, however.   “The Knicks were reconstructed by patience and guile and, for once, having grownups back in charge..it took Donnie Walsh two years to clean up a decade of mess. Dolan might have undone it all in a weekend,” observed NY Mag’s Will Leitch, whose gory summation of Knicks ownership’s willingness to overpay for Carmelo Anthony was published before ESPN’s Chris Broussard dropped the following bombshell ;

If the New York Knicks send Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler (above, left)  and Timofey Mozgov to Denver for Anthony, the Nets are in discussions to then acquire either Gallinari, Felton or Chandler plus Mozgov for two first-round draft picks.

That deal is obviously contingent upon the Knicks trading all those players to Denver for a package headlined by Anthony and Chauncey Billups.

Although league rules generally preclude packaging players for two months after they are acquired via trade, Denver can package players acquired from New York in a subsequent trade with New Jersey if the players involved are sent to the Nets in separate but simultaneous smaller deals before Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.

One example: New Jersey could trade Troy Murphy to the Nuggets as a trade exception that Denver would generate by the trade of Billups to New York. The Nets, then, would accept multiple players from Denver whose aggregated salaries are less than Murphy’s. There are other combinations possible for the Nuggets and Nets to make two separate trades to satisfy league rules and convey the former Knicks to New Jersey.


Barkley’s Ring-free Career Commemorated In The Form Of A Terrifying, Giant Cake

Posted in Basketball, Food, Sports TV at 6:27 pm by

With all due respect to Chris Morris (the satirist, not the former New Jersey Net), if Cake isn’t in fact, illegal, it ought to be now.