It would be the height of understatement to say Charlie Sheen (above, right) enjoys baseball as much as he’s passionate about 8-balls and fucking porn stars cinema. However, the “8 Men Out (Of Their Minds On Cocaine)” star, having already gone to the extent of once purchasing an entire section of seats in Anaheim with the hopes of retrieving a Cecil Fielder home run ball, demonstrated that’s not too big a star to share some life lessons, paying a visit to UCLA’s spring training, at the invitation of longtime pal, coach John Savage. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal :
The 45-year-old Sheen, who starred as Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn in the movie “Major League” and was a standout pitcher and shortstop at Santa Monica (Calif.) High School, showed up with his own bat and took swings with several major league players, including Coco Crisp and Milton Bradley.
After practice, Savage asked Sheen to speak to the team about the importance of staying away from drugs.
The actor apparently said a few words and got a “standing ovation” from the players.
As for what he said to the team, NBC Sports Off the Bench blog published a tweet from sophomore catcher Richard Brehault.
” ‘Don’t do crack, drink chocolate milk, and enjoy every moment..thats all I got.’-Charlie Sheen. That’s what he told our baseball team today,” Brehault posted on his Twitter account.
I think I speak on behalf of an entire sportsblogosphere in expressing deep frustration we’ve not been graced with a photograph of Charlie Sheen hanging around the batting cage with Milton Bradley.
In several interviews, including one at his home and one at the studio, Dukes talked about how the police are out to get him, the difficulties of being a black athlete in Tampa and how he was “thrown under the bus” by Major League Baseball.
He says he was blackballed by baseball after he came forward last year with allegations that fellow ball players were smuggling drugs onto chartered aircraft, using drugs in hotel rooms after flights and how he would sometimes smoke marijuana before home games when he played for the Washington Nationals.
A cursory glance at Dukes’ subpar stats over the course of 3 partial big league seasons reveals… a player younger than Wily Mo Pena or Jeff Francoeur. And there you have it, the nicest thing anyone will write about Elijah Dukes. Until his album comes out, anyway.
Much to the derision of Knicks beat writers who’d sooner call him out via Twitter than in the newspaper, head coach Mike D’Antoni reacted to Wednesday’s dispiriting loss to the Clippers by suggesting paying customers should refrain from chanting for Carmelo Anthony, lest his current players become too depressed. Conversely, the NY Post’s Mike Vaccaro, while not directly addressing the ‘Mel0 chants, takes in the overall unrest at the World’s Most Dysfunctional Arena and argues that as much as New York’s “48 minute cry for help” versus Los Angeles’ less franchise, “earned their coach’s rather”, said effort also was well worthy of “the fans’ fury”.
For two years, Knicks fans waded through game after meaningless game and were sold a promise that the wait would be worth it. For three months, they were mostly rewarded for that. But the truth is, if the Lakers do what they’re expected to do tonight and humble the Knicks, the Knicks will be precisely where they ought to be, if you think about it: 26 wins, 26 losses.
That’s about right. The Knicks weren’t as bad as they looked in starting the season 3-8. They weren’t as good as they looked when they promptly won 13 of their next 14. What they are, right now, is something in the middle: capable of winning a game against the Spurs and the Heat now and again, capable of losing to the Clippers and the Suns and the Kings, at home.
Maybe .500 would’ve been acceptable and agreeable in November. But the Knicks have taunted and teased. They’ve elevated the bar.
(this probably isn’t how the gentleman above saw himself returning to prominence)
The world is changing, and it is changing quickly. Youth revolutions have unseated long-tenured autocrats in Cairo and Salt Lake City in the last 24 hours alone. It’s natural to feel alien in this new place, this familiar and unfamiliar environment — the streets are the same, but the air is different, the people are different. Glenn Beck’s teary, dunderheaded fantasy of a caliphate that stretches from Moscow to Dayton is no less floridly retarded for the events of the last few days, but it is, perhaps, easier to feel a sort of distant empathy for it — we do not know this world anymore, and as exciting as that can be, a very human and very reasonable terror cuts the exhilaration. We are running in the dark.
But then… relax. This world is still this world, and there are some things that have not changed, even as the pillars shake and the structures fissure and strain. People are still writing erotic slash-fiction online about pretty much any pairing you can imagine — Lemmy Kilmister and Laura Ingraham; Master Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Adlai Stevenson; Leisure Suit Larry and Verne Lundquist. Everything and anything can change, but that will not. And as Emma Span reports at Baseball Prospectus, these brave literary guardians of the permanent are writing erotic fiction about guys last seen on your (non-sexual) fantasy league’s waiver wire four years ago:
I thought that over the years I’d seen most of the dark corners of sports fandom, but as it turns out, I still was not fully prepared for baseball fan fiction. If you’ve thought about it at all, you might expect to find quite a few tales of Jeter and A-Rod, and those are certainly there. But I was less braced for just how prominently players like, for example, Doug Mirabelli feature. You just do not ever expect to encounter the phrase, to quote one story, “Doug Mirabelli’s huge, unlubed…”
Well—Doug Mirabelli’s huge, unlubed anything, really. Let’s leave it at that.
Equally unexpected were the following slash fiction subjects, which I found on sites like “The Boys of Summer” and the “Baseball Fanfiction Archive”: Kyle Farnsworth and Pudge Rodriguez; Jason Varitek and Nomar Garciaparra; Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff; Bubba Crosby and Chuck Knoblauch (posted in November 2010, so someone was thinking about this one for a while); and Melky Cabrera cheating with, of all people, Jaret Wright:
Jaret licked the cheekbone closest to him. “Melky?”
Ignoring the unbeaten Big 12 record of Rick Barnes’ 2010-11 Texas Longhorns for a moment, the region’s development-hoops scene was dealt a slight blow last autumn when the Spurs’ feeder affiliate Toros fucked off to suburban Cedar Park. It’s the sort of thing that could have done serious harm to the game in Austin, TX, but months later, we can thank the roundball Gods for the new video from Goner Recording Artiste John Wesley Coleman. “Ohh, Basketball” from Wes’ acclaimed 2nd solo album, ‘Bad Lady Goes To Jail’ could be the best collision of James Naismith’s invention with rock’n'roll since Harvey Kubernick shoehorned John Wooden onto the New Alliance roster. Or failing that, Box O’ Laff’s “Havlicek”.
Former Salt Lake Tribune beat writer Ross Siler insists Wiilliams will demand a trade if he’s painted as the villain in this exchange ; conversely, the same paper’s Brian T. Smith characterizes Williams as a sure goner next summer if Sloan wasn’t replaced. Williams’ side of the story oughta be at least as eagerly awaited as Sloan’s, yet at present, only the latter is being afforded a 5pm press conference.
It was with great fanfare yesterday that Deadspin — fresh off the sensational revelations that Jets head coach Rex Ryan and wife Michelle have a background in independent filmmaking — went public with the claims of a 17 year old female who recently engaged in (ahem) SEXUAL CONGRESS with Gang Green QB Mark Sanchez, 24. Since there didn’t seem to be any allegations of boorish behavior on Sanchez’ part, and 17 is within the age of consent in the State of New York, this isn’t exactly as big a lid-blower as say, Sean Salisbury threatening to sue Gawker Media, but A.J. Daulerio’s story has an unlikely defender. Sort of. Law & order /morality maven Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk warns, “the fact that reasonable people could be reasonably interested in the story was all the more reason for Sanchez to steer clear of any 17-year-old girls.” If Sanchez was dating an 18 year old, does Florio believe Page 6 wouldn’t run a photograph?
The relationship began on New Year’s Eve, after an avalanche of negative press and other embarrassments for the franchise, including in the month of December alone the tripping incident involving former strength coach Sal Alosi and the bizarre photos and videos featuring the head coach’s wife. Sanchez, who seems like a level-headed guy, should have been able to recognize the problems that could arise from word getting out of a relationship with a 17-year-old girl. It hurts his image and marketability, and it could have created a postseason distraction for the team.
In the end, there’s really not much of a story. The full Deadspin article grasps for a narrative that would send a message deeper and more profound than “Mark Sanchez had sex with a 17-year-old girl.” In the end, that’s the only reason why folks will click the link — especially since plenty of people will instantly assume that the man who has witnessed more than a few receivers visit Revis Island could be destined for a trip to Rikers Island.
If only there was an island Florio could be sent to on account of his final sentence. But let’s consider the gist of his argument — that even if Sanchez hasn’t broken the law, the Deadspin story is a blow to his reputation and earning power. So what other high profile persons have faced accusations of doing-something-or-other with younger women — in many cases with age differences far more dramatic than that of Sanchez and his teenage friend? At last glance, Bill Clinton continues to be in hot demand on the lecture circuit, R. Kelly still headlines arenas, Jerry Seinfeld earns more money than God via syndication and stand up, and Elvis Presley, despite the protestations of Chuck D. and Flavor Flav, is still recognized around the world as the King Of Pederasts Rock’n'Roll.
To date, Brett Favre hasn’t even been removed as a Lee jeans spokesperson, despite all appearances of having been a sext-pest and an aspiring marital cheat. Not only is it the height of hysteria for Florio to argue Sanchez’ Q-rating is going to take a serious hit from this story, but the J-E-R-K-S might be missing out on a huge marketing opportunity this spring. While the Giants’ Eli Manning is no longer an eligible bachelor, Sanchez could be a suitable prom date for high schoolers of either gender. It could be a fantastic contest, and if the Woody Johnson-owned franchise needs help sifting through the entries, I know someone who might be all too willing to help out.
Under normal circumstances, the Nets clinging to a narrow lead over visiting New Orleans would be some cause for celebration. However, with Ian Eagle having successfully goaded the gullible Mike Fratello into eating human brains (above), the situation is profoundly unfunny. Hang tight, Czar. Emergency Services will right over, just as soon as they’re done answering a call at Jim Leyritz’ new place.
“Even if you are not a dog lover, how can you sit there and make two dogs fight and one is going to die?” he said. “How could you do that if you are somewhat sane?
“He had a great year and a great comeback, but there were times where we watched the game and I know it’s bad to say, but there were times where we hope he gets hurt. Everything you’ve done to these dogs, something bad needs to happen to these guys.”
Though Buehrle is hardly alone in expressing ill will towards the Eagles QB , it should be stressed that he doesn’t consider all animal lives to be 100% precious, as this September, 2007 MLB.com item illustrates ;
Buehrle, Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye and A.J. Pierzynski took a bear-hunting trip following Saturday’s victory, an excursion set up by Twins broadcaster Dan Gladden on the property of a friend. Buehrle made the only kill of the day, using a bow, but it turned into a memorable moment with Thome right beside him.
The quartet went hunting at about 6 p.m. CT, giving them about one hour before the sun set. The kill was made from about 20 yards away, and the bear ran about another 30 yards before going down. Buehrle plans to have the head stuffed and have a necklace made out of a bear claw. He added with a smile that Jon Garland expressed interest in getting one, too.
The kill, which seemed to be a proud moment for the whole group, came in for a little ribbing from manager Ozzie Guillen, who said the bear was not even as big as pitching coach Don Cooper. Buehrle and his teammates also have a video shot by Thome as a keepsake of this evening’s events.
I know, you’re thinking “just what does the Mayor of Detroit have against ‘Spetters’?” Alas, it’s a slightly more contemporary work of Veerhoven’s that fails to get Dave Bing’s thumbs up, as the Detroit News reports ;
The city, which is well-known for its statues of Joe Louis’ fist and the Spirit of Detroit, has no plans to follow suit with a memorial to the futuristic, robotic crime-fighter, Mayor Dave Bing wrote via Twitter on Monday
Bing rebuffed a suggestion from a follower that Detroit take a cue from Philadelphia, which erected a statue in honor of “Rocky.
A Facebook page was created Monday to build a statue of the fictional character. By Tuesday afternoon, it had nearly 700 fans.
“Look at it this way; the city has wasted truckloads of money on various things that have resulted in NOTHING for the people. Embezzlement for one… if money is going to be wasted on frivolous things, why not something that would at least make this (currently) depressing place semi-fun?” wrote Aaron Aitken on the site.
Much as I like the idea of a Robocop statue, I would probably side with the uncredited News scribe who cites prior (failed) efforts to “immortalize better known Detroit icons”. But keep in mind, in the pre-Kickstarter era, a Timmy Vulgar statue was probably much tougher to finance.
Hey, it seems the President of Marshall University isn’t the only red-blooded American male who is queer for softball. Add Red Sox GM Theo Epstein to the list, as Duncan Johnstone of Stuff.nz announces Boston’s signing of New Zealand teen softball prodigy Te Wera Bishop.
The Porirua 17-year-old was spotted by Red Sox scout Jon Deeble while he was in New Zealand checking out the Oceania AA Baseball Championships in Auckland last month.
Bishop, a Black Sox catcher, had a younger brother, Te Kahui, playing in the baseball tournament but caught the eye of Deeble.
“I don’t know what to expect. I’m just over the moon,” Bishop said.
Bishop will officially sign his Red Sox contract in Auckland tomorrow and then faces a busy time getting up to speed with his new game.
“We have been impressed by his abilities behind the plate, he has excellent hands and a strong throwing arm, and with instruction from our Boston Red Sox coaches, we are confident he can make the appropriate changes from softball to baseball,” Deeble said.
“We believe he shows the aptitude and willingness to be a successful baseball player. He has also showed us the ability to hit the ball out of the park. There needs to be a few minor adjustments made from the softball swing to baseball with the ball coming from different angles.
“This will also take time, but watching him hit some baseballs, he showed us a great amount of bat speed.”
Recently relieved of their duties at Sky Sports for serial episodes of grunting & leering at persons with lady parts, soccer analysts Richard Keys and Andy Gray (above) have been thrown a lifeline by London sports-yack radio outlet TalkSPORT, a station whose crypto-fascist content ranks as one of my few unhappy memories of having spent much of the prior decade in England. Due to debut their new chat show on the afternoon of Monday the 14th, the hiring of these insufferable romantics was greeted with scorn by the Guardian’s Barney Ronay and Paul Doyle :
Tucking in mics is not Gray’s bag any more: now he’s all about turfing out Mikes. For Keys and Gray are to become the new hosts of Talksport mid-morning rantathon, which has hitherto involved Mike Parry and Mike Graham fulminating against everything from political correctness gone mad to political correctness gone mad.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am about joining the tAlkSpOrT team,” blathered Gray. “This is the start of something new and exciting for Andy and myself,” covered Keys two weeks after apologising to Sian Massey on behalf of his mucky mucker,
Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman lit up the rubber chicken circuit this weekend, speaking at Marshall University’s annual preseason baseball banquet. Brennaman had a number of pointed remarks to share on topics ranging from Tony La Russa (” I refer to him as ‘Mr. Baseball’ on the radio, because he acts like he invented the game”), the Chicago Cubs (“at the end of the day, they’ve got ‘Cubs’ across the front of their jerseys…that’s the reason why they won’t win”) and the Milwaukee Brewers (“what they’ve done is mortgage their future for one shot”), but saved his most memorable comment for the matter of the host school’s athletics programs. From the Charleston Daily Mail’s Rich Stevens :
On Saturday night during the banquet and fundraiser at the Cam Henderson Center, Brennaman – the keynote speaker – determined that Marshall’s president must be “queer” for softball since the university managed to open a $2.5 million softball facility in March 2008, but baseball is still traveling for home games.
Think that’ll go over well with the guy – Marshall President Stephen Kopp – who is partly responsible for bringing a Herd baseball facility to Huntington?
Former Indians/Red Sox/A’s pitcher Dennis Eckersley is responsible for the very name of this blog, and thus, you can expect I’ll be rather protective of the Hall of Famer’s legacy, if not his likeness. Such credentials mean little to Seattle’s Derek Erdman, however, who with the above “Denise Eckersley” reimagines the starter-turned-reliever as his era’s most important transgender superstar.
Earlier this week, frequent CSTB contributor David Roth co-authored a Wall Street Journal report concerning the discovery of a videotape of Super Bowl I ; the 1967 clash between Green Bay and Kansas City that was considered of such minor import at the time, neither of the two broadcast networks that carried the game bothered to keep a copy. Given the rare nature of said tape, good fucking luck finding a recording of “The Playoff Bowl”, the unofficial name for a contest between the NFL’s two conference runner-ups that was played the week after the league championship. “It is strange to contemplate that from 1961 to 1970,” writes the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir, ” Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s rising pigskin-industrial complex celebrated something that screamed out, ‘We’re No. 3!’”
The runner-up games benefited the players’ pension fund, but they also got a few hundred to just over a thousand dollars for the junket to Florida.
“We barely had enough for expenses,” said Rams quarterback Roman Gabriel (above), who won the 1968 and ’70 Playoff Bowls in routs. In the days before those games, he said, the disciplinarian Rams Coach George Allen “let us run wild in Miami, but we played loose and won.”
This was the N.F.L. before it started the Super Bowl and initiated multiple rounds of playoffs. Wild cards were for poker, not the postseason.
“It was sort of a fluff game,” said Frank Ryan, the Cleveland Browns quarterback who led his team to the 1964 N.F.L. championship but lost two Runner-Up Bowls.
“That ridiculous game shows how ridiculous the league was in those days,” he said.
At gatherings with teammates, do they reminisce about it?
“It never comes up,” Ryan said.
The Green Bay Packers sandwiched two Playoff Bowls between N.F.L. titles in 1961 and ’62 and three more championships from ’65 to ’67. Coach Vince Lombardi hated being crowned the league’s best loser when the Packers beat the Browns in 1964 and hated it even more when his boys lost to the St. Louis Cardinals the next year, 24-17. In “Lombardi,” the Broadway play, he called the game “the Toilet Bowl,” a cleaned-up version of what he really said.
After losing to St. Louis, he raged about a “hinky-dink football game, held in a hinky-dink town, played by hinky-dink players.”
OK, guys, I’ve got some great ideas for your next show. Jeremy, why not have James describe some kosher food as looking like “sick with cheese on it”? No? Thought not. Even better, why not describe some Islamic fundamentalists as lazy and feckless?
The BBC’s initial mealy-mouthed apology was pitiful. It cited the more benign rivalry that exists between European nations (ah, those arrogant French, over-organised Germans), and in doing so neatly sidestepped one hugely important fact – ethnicity. All the examples it uses to legitimise this hateful rubbish are relatively prosperous countries full of white people. How about if the Lads had described Africans as lazy, feckless etc? Or Pakistanis?
The Beeb’s hand-wringing suggested tolerance of casual racism, arguably the most sinister kind. It’s easy to spot the ones with the burning crosses. Besides, there is not a shred of truth in Top Gear’s “comic” stereotype. I can tell you from my own experience, living in the US, Mexicans work themselves to the bone doing all the dirty thankless jobs that the white middle-class natives won’t do.
The Lads have this strange notion that if they are being offensive it bestows on them a kind of anti-establishment aura of coolness; in fact, like their leather jackets and jeans, it is uber-conservative (which isn’t cool).
Former Giants QB / current CBS broadcaster Phil Simms doesn’t taken kindly to criticism of his offspring — just ask Steve Young. But for a change it wasn’t Chris Simms that was being called a horrific waste of space, but rather, Tennessee signal-caller Matt, who doesn’t strike former Super Bowl MVP Desmond Howard as a likely candidate for the same award someday. From Sunday’s NY Post and Steve Serby ;
In chronological order, here are Howard’s tweets from Saturday
* At NFL-Xperience and Phil Simms just threatened 2 hit me b/c I said his son was 1 of the worse QBs in the SEC. I told him ‘LET’S GO!’
* I am DEAD serious about the Phil Simms thing. We all thought he was joking, but he kept going and said he wanted 2 take a swing at me!!
* During the season we talked about the Tenn v LSU game and I said “u will see 3 of the worse QBs in the SEC” That’s what Phil did not like.
* It ended w/police stepping in between so I could continue my appearance w/fans.
Simms, in a statement released through CBS, said there was no chance of their argument turning physical.
“Desmond and I were having a private conversation that became heated,” said Simms, who will be a spectator today when Fox broadcasts the game. “But at no time was there ever a chance of any physical confrontation or that I felt the police officer assigned to me by the event planners for my appearance needed to separate the two of us.”
In the unlikely event you’re at a Super Bowl party tomorrow and someone asks for a contemporary definition of the term, “ill-advised”, you might want to bookmark this. But I can’t think of any other reason why you’d want to do so.
NY F Sean Avery (above) has generated no small share of antagonism on and off the ice during his professional career, but that’s probably small potatoes compared to the likely reception afforded to the NHL’s first openly homosexual player. At least, as Avery suspects, where fan reaction is concerned. From the Toronto Sun’s Chris Stevenson (link courtesy Bob’s Blitz) :
“If there’s a kid in Canada or wherever, who is playing and really loves the game and wants to keep playing but he’s worried about coming out, I’d tell him to pick up the phone and call (NHLPA executive director) Donald Fehr and tell him to book me a (plane) ticket.
“I’ll stand beside him in the dressing room while he tells his teammates he is gay. Maybe if Sean Avery is there, they would have less of a problem with it.”
Avery said there are “probably a few gay players in the NHL, but I don’t know if somebody has the courage (to come out).”
He said there probably would be more issues outside the dressing room than inside.
“The reaction from fans in visiting arenas would be tough,” Avery said, “but I don’t think it would be that big a deal. I get booed no matter where I go.”
(monster truck rallies! flea markets! mass weddings! Good Rats reunion gigs! Promise Keepers’ sack-races!)
Madoff recovery trustee Irving Picard’s voluminous lawsuit against Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz was released yesterday, and while some (including the Mets P.R. department) have described much of the contents as an elaborate smear job, other observers are predicting Wilpon’s plan to sell a minority stake in the team won’t be nearly enough to satisfy a potential judgement or settlement. The New York Times’ Richard Sandomir recaps what might be the worst thing to happen to the Wilpon family since Omar Minaya said, “I’ve just signed Oliver Perez to a 3-year extension.”
“It looks like a very messy situation for Fred,” said Fay Vincent, the former MLB commissioner who is friendly with Wilpon and Picard. “I know Picard and he’s a serious and solid lawyer, and what he’s doing has to be taken seriously.”
Vincent said he did not want it to appear as if he were advising Wilpon on what to do, but added, “It’s important for anyone in a situation this treacherous to consider whether he can run his main business and defend himself simultaneously.”
Michael Ozanian, the executive editor of Forbes, which valued the Mets at $858 million last year, said, “I think the Mets have been a franchise that for many years relied on borrowed money.” He said Wilpon would have to sell the team and the SNY television network “to get out of this mess.”
Robert Boland, who teaches sports law at New York University’s Tisch Center, said that Wilpon, his partners and their families looked more vulnerable than ever and were unlikely to find relief from any substantial improvement in the financial performances of the team or Citi Field.
The team, the stadium and the SNY network have considerable debt — about $1.5 billion in all by some estimates — and two analysts said there might not be enough money available to Wilpon to settle with Picard and make bond payments, including $52 million a year for the stadium.
Sandomir describes Madoff as “the team’s personal banker….making sure that the Mets could withdraw cash, when needed, to cover the team’s day-to-day operations.” The damning implications are that without a steady stream of Bernie Bucks, the Mets’ baseball operations, in and of themselves, were not a particularly profitable enterprise. It would not be a huge surprise if the 2011 campaign in Flushing was marked by a number of belt-tightening innovations (Gary Cohen working TV and radio simultaneously, R.A. Dickey being asked to serve as the #1 and #3 starter, Adam Schein making his exotic dancing debut as part of a ‘dudes-only’ reboot for Citi’s McFadden’s outpost).