Calling the widely read, oft-Googled Bleacher Report, “a content farm whose plowmen fly the fanboy flag, ‘All The News Fit to Steal.’”, the National Sports Journalism Center’s David Kindred applauds BR publishing an item so rotten, “this dreck makes me happy because, some wonderful day, readers will notice. They will notice what’s terrible and what’s terrific, yes, by damn, they will.”
The truly terrible, happy-making story was committed by TJ Corbs, who typed this thumbnail of himself: “Been watching sports in the Norheast (sic) Corridor and reading interweb newsgroups for many years. I just want to present my opinion without clogging up any newsgroups.” Corbs’s “story” grew from a teevee anchor idjit’s tweet of a Syracuse University basketball point-shaving rumor posted on a poker site’s message board. (I’ll wait while you re-read that last sentence.) Now that story has been taken off the site. Also, word is that TJ has been relieved of his farming implements. Even the poker-table gossipmonger has apologized for a post that he believed was, y’know, just trashtalk among reprobates.
A venture capitalist drops eight figures on BR while AOL sells FanHouse for chump change, $5 million. BR survives on the journalistic burglary of amateur typists while AOL ships out veteran editors and reporters. These developments could cause a romantic fool long in love with journalism to wonder if he ought to have lavished his affection on a more deserving subject, perhaps Mustang spinner hubs.
Give the New York Mets P.R. department a little bit of credit — the quality of their of email spam has improved dramatically in the past week.
NEW YORK METS NEWS — February 4, 2011
STATEMENT FROM FRED WILPON, CO-FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN, AND SAUL B. KATZ, CO-FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF STERLING EQUITIES, ON BEHALF OF THE STERLING EQUITIES PARTNERS AND THEIR FAMILIES
Dear Mets Fans:
Following days of leaks and press speculation, the Court – with the agreement of the Sterling partners – has released the complaint that was previously filed under seal.
The Trustee’s lawsuit is an outrageous “strong arm” effort to try to force a settlement by threatening to ruin our reputations and businesses which we have built for over 50 years. This is a flagrant abuse of the Trustee’s authority and we will not succumb to his pressure. The conclusions in the complaint are not supported by the facts. While they may make for good headlines, they are abusive, unfair and untrue. We categorically reject them. We should not be made victims twice over – the first time by Madoff, and again by the Trustee’s actions. Read the rest of this entry »
When Andy Pettitte announced his retirement on Thursday, it occasioned about the response you’d expect. Yankee fan types will effuse over his ineffable Yankees-ian class and mettle and whatever, national columnists praised his drive, Sabermetric types reminded everyone that he doesn’t really have a Hall of Fame case, and everyone else speculated about whether or not the 38-year-old 203-game winner and anti-masturbation activist was really (um) finished.
At his blog, Tim Marchman doesn’t exactly advocate for Pettitte as a Hall of Famer — “The only reason anyone thinks he is one is because of the blind moral squalor of the population of New York City,” Marchman writes. “Which has convinced itself that it lives in a finer place than any other, much as any number of Turkmen were doubtless convinced in 1985 that they lived in the grandest and most technologically advanced of all democratic empires.” Which I guess is pretty resounding. But Marchman does make something like the case-for-the-case-for-Andy-Pettitte, which is interesting:
The sound criticisms of Pettitte are that he was no better than Billy Pierce, who is remembered by nearly no one outside of Chicago; that as nice a career as he had there were only two or three seasons where he was ever much more than serviceable, and that even in those he was guilty of the hideous crime of lending his slightly wall eyed visage to the manufacturers of Power for Living, a creepy Christian pamphlet masquerading as a ‘self-help’ book that was advertised on every other inch of the New York subway system for a period of years. His unsettling and apparently drug fueled friendship with Roger Clemens also serves as something of an antitangible. Still I would hope that saberists don’t treat that part of the public that recognizes his 260 or so playoff innings were of great consequence and surprisingly close to being enough to make the difference between a fondly remembered dude and a barrel scraping Hall of Famer as some great unlettered mass and fit subject for derision.
Pettitte’s career will be survived by the creepy picture Marchman discusses, which will (and with good reason) almost certainly be used on every Pettitte-related post at CSTB until the sun goes out.
Though it’s a been a while since Bob’s Lonely On The Rail blog was active, the above clip — shot at the National Handicapping Championship — shows the Daily Racing Form correspondent in fine form. I hope Chris Cotter is taking notes somewhere — this is how you conduct a proper, dignified interview (video link courtesy Robby Morris, taken from David Berman’s Menthol Mountains)
The East Coat’s independent leagues are no stranger to reprobates, problem children and multi-time losers looking for one last chance at a career in professional baseball, but even for a circuit that’s employed John Rocker and Carl Everett, the following gesture seems notably ill-advised gracious. The Newark Star-Ledger’s Mark Carig reports the Newark Bears have hired former Yankee Jim Leyritz, a former player for the team in 2001, to serve on Tim Raines’ coaching staff. It’s the first such gig for Leyritz since his involvement in a fatal 2007 car wreck for which he narrowly avoided a lengthy prison sentence.
“It’s a league of second chances,” Bears CEO Tom Cetnar said. “Jimmy’s getting one, too.”
Leyritz, 47, was acquitted on a charge of DUI manslaughter in a car crash that resulted in the death Fredia Veitch. But he was convicted of a DUI and was sentenced to one-year probation, a $500 fine and 50 hours of community service.
In addition, Leyritz settled an unlawful death lawsuit with Veitch’s family for $350,000.
“The ownership group trusts GM Mike Torrez and manager Tim Raines to add Leyritz to the coaching staff,” Cetnar said. “We are looking forward to Jimmy doing positive things on the field and in the community.”
Yes, we know the site is taking forever to load. We understand you’re dying to read about the NBA snubbing the Celtics by not inviting Boston’s entire starting 5 to play for the Eastern Conference All-Stars. But fear not, we know this situation is critical, and a very qualified team of professionals (see above) are ON THE CASE at this very moment. Thank you.
In one of the more ridiculous tales to emerge from this week’s past National Signing Day, Ole Miss hastily removed Reserve, LA high schooler Floyd Raven from their list of committed players after it was revealed someone other than the highly touted linebacker had signed a letter of intent. Surely I’m not the only person who heard about this and thought of a new way for Vince Howard to end up at Oklahoma Tech? From the Clarion-Ledger’s Kyle Veazey :
What happened, according to spokesman Kyle Campbell, is this: The school received a signed letter of intent on its fax machine from Raven but it was hardly readable. So it called Raven back to ask him to re-send his letter of intent. And Raven never did.
Updated at 6:21 p.m.: Raven has confirmed that his mother signed his name on his letter of intent.
Here’s how he explained it in a series of text messages a few moments ago with The Clarion-Ledger: “Yeah she did I had no clue because I wasn’t home, but I figured she thought she was doing the right thing she didn’t kno she couldn’t sign dat stuff and how serious it was, n she say she signed one day and another day, but she didn’t know I wanted to go to Texas a&m but it’s cleared and I’m good and I will not go further about the whole situation unless I have to.”
I’d guess he’d be a very blunt tree, one that was weary of being jerked around/exploited by the National Football League. In what might be a first for a Super Bowl media day, Steelers LB Harrison actually had something interesting to say about the league, with the following comments reported by the AP and Fox Sports :
Harrison said before Wednesday’s practice leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl the NFL is more interested in maximizing revenue than the health of its players.
“It’s not about player safety,” Harrison said. “It’s about them making money.”
Among key issues the NFL and union are expected to discuss over the next several weeks include the league’s push to extend the regular season from 16 games to 18; a rookie wage scale; benefits for retired players; and the owners wanting players to cede an additional $1 billion of the gross revenues up front.
“I don’t think it’s a good thing if you’re so worried about player safety,” Harrison said of an 18-game season, calling it “crazy.”
“You don’t go and lock your players out and take away the health insurance from people that have wives and kids on the way,” he added. “You lock us out and health insurance is gone.”
Someone wondered if the league might be trying to eliminate the violent hits Harrison has become known for.
“If you want to get it totally out of the game, put flags on us,” he said. “We’ll tag off and pull flags off each other and we’ll see how popular the game is then and how many people come to watch it.”
Other than the fact I’m quoting Yahoo’s Adrain Wonarowski, let’s consider the above headline for a moment. That Isiah Thomas might be considered a backstabber should shock no one — that he’s enough of a survivor to still have James Dolan’s ear, to the extent the Knicks owner might trash Donnie Walsh to the team president’s less successful predecessor, is a pretty huge sign of disrespect. Of Dolan’s stringing the ailing/possibly lame-duck Walsh along, while allowing any hint Thomas might have a role in Knicks affairs, paid or not, the Cablevision heir is charged with having “a sad, petty obsession with playing the part of the dolt contrarian.”
Several executives and agents believe the Knicks’ hiring of former Denver Nuggets executive Mark Warkentien as a top consultant was made at a level above Walsh. Walsh likes Warkentien, respects his acumen, his talent, but he’s had chances to hire Warkentien in the past and never did. Why now? Well, Warkentien changed representation to CAA – home of dealmaker William Wesley, the famous Worldwide Wes – and clearly Knicks ownership wants to do business with Wes. His agency has Carmelo Anthony(notes) and Chris Paul(notes) as clients, and those are the Knicks’ top targets in the short and long term. How much Wesley can do to deliver those players is much in doubt, except to the fool owners who buy into the belief he can do so all by himself.
Outside of using Wesley to help him reach the mercurial Eddy Curry(notes), Walsh has never courted him. He doesn’t want to cut deals with him, hire his coaching clients or grease him for free agents. Walsh is old-school this way, maybe a traditionalist, but he actually believes you’re supposed to follow the NBA’s rules on tampering. If those rules say you can’t talk to a rep about LeBron James(notes) until he’s a free agent, well, you don’t do it.
As it turns out, Dolan and his corporate minions are a much easier target for CAA than Walsh. That’s why they’d prefer to go through assistant general manager Allan Houston(notes), a longtime family friend of Wesley’s. They go back to their Louisville days, where Houston’s father, Wade, was an assistant coach and star player Milt Wagner was Wes’ childhood pal. Houston had used a rival coaching agent of Wesley’s, but left the agent before Houston needed a new contract negotiated this summer. If Houston has signed with CAA, it’s still a mystery. It almost doesn’t matter. Wes has his fingerprints all over him.
Even the most casual follower of the NFL is familiar with Dan Snyder’s propensity for coaching changes, free agency busts and long history of butting heads with all manner of Beltway media outlets (save for those he owns) since he became owner of the Washington Redskins. That said, Dave McKenna’s “The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder” in the November 19, 2010 City Paper was a rather exhaustive recitation of the petulant boss’ many crimes against common deceny, including, but not limited to selling a defunct airline’s stale peanut supply to fans, bullying a grandmother and calling cancer patients, an emerging “market segment”.
Snyder, perhaps believing a shitload of money either means he’s above critique or somehow entitles him to play God with the lives of persons he’s not even paying, has threatened City Paper’s parent company with legal action unless they serve up McKenna’s head on a platter. On Tuesday, City Paper publisher Amy Austin responded ;
We have offered Snyder the opportunity to publish a guest column responding to the article, we proposed that he meet with our editor to discuss his concerns, and we invited him to provide information demonstrating that what we published was false. If we were to conclude we got something wrong, we would correct it. We also emphatically reject the suggestion that we stop reporting on Snyder or that we pull McKenna, who has written for City Paper since 1986, from reporting on Snyder and/or the Redskins.
It’s extremely unfortunate that Snyder believes that it is appropriate to threaten City Paper with litigation because he objects to our coverage. As a 30-year old newspaper and vibrant website committed to both in-depth news reporting and full-throated commentary, we do not believe that using the court system to stifle or chill free speech is ever appropriate. In this case, it’s especially shabby: As a well known public figure, Snyder has more than ample ability and resources to respond to coverage he does not like, including through his significant public relations apparatus. Lest there be any doubt, we have offered him a forum to do so in our pages, and that invitation stands. Should he elect to actually file a lawsuit, we have directed our counsel to defend the case vigorously.
(above : former baseball executive, former baseball player)
“How does Bernie (Madoff) do it?” wondered a Mets employee upon being wooed with promises of 18 percent returns on investments, only to be assured by Mets owner Fred Wilpon and colleague Saul Katz, “he’s smarter than everyone else.” Smarter than former GM Frank Cashen, anyway, who claims his deferred salary was placed in Madoff’s hands (“to me, they operated in unison”). In what might be one of the more damning published items on the Mets’ relationship with the convicted Ponzi schemer, the New York Times’ Serge F. Kovaleski and David Waldstein claim “the role Mr. Madoff played in the financial life of the ball club and the Wilpon and Katz families was pervasive.”
“I remember vividly Madoff’s name being brought up a lot when” the team “would negotiate contracts, particularly with deferments,” said the former executive, who would not be identified because he did not want to harm his career in baseball. “That money would be turned over to Madoff.
“And as part of friends and family of the Mets, they offered people the opportunity to invest in Bernie. There was talk about Bernie averaging like 15 percent for the Wilpons. It just seemed too good to be true, but then you think the owner has vetted it.”
The former employees of the Mets said substantial aspects of the club’s financial operations seemed to flow through, or wind up with, Mr. Madoff — annuities set up for players, cash generated by sponsorship deals, and more. The team regularly discussed investing deferred money from long-term player contracts in Madoff accounts. Bobby Bonilla was among the players who had their deferred money put with Mr. Madoff, one former employee said.
“Former executive who did not want to harm his career in baseball” sounds much better than “Not Steve Phillips”.
Whether the candid camera commentary of the since terminated Andy Gray and Richard Keys was sinister, lecherous or simply institutionalized behavior is a matter for another day. What’s certain is that whoever succeeded the pair of Gray and Keys was bound to be roundly mocked by the Guardian’s Barney Ronay. With Tuesday’s telecast of Wigan Athletic at WBA, Ronay wondered, “Who would Sky plump for in these first gasping, delivery-fresh moments of their post-sexism rebirth? Gloria Steinem? Wonder Woman? Any one of the impossibly glamorous radical feminist media-grrrls currently staffing the Sky Sports News desk? A man called Dave?” David Jones, c’mon down!
Jones loomed into view in the executive swivel-chair after an intro-segment that featured a series of quotes from Confucius, Socrates and, weirdly, the obscure ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Was this a statement? Were we about to witness a new fiercely cerebral Sky Sports, infused with the wisdom of the ancients?
Perhaps not, but we did get the wisdom of Cyrille Regis and Arjan De Zeeuw, a pair of club-specific occasional pundits and politically neutral choices first up in the post Keys?Gray-era studio pundit role. As was Dave himself, who is clearly seen as a safe pair of hands: today Sky announced that he will also helm the forthcoming football-coronary of Chelsea v Liverpool this coming Super Sunday, the kind of A-list gig that would generally have Keys and Gray stomping all over it like a pair of prime alpha silverbacks vandalising a banana tree. He seems nice enough, perhaps a little serious, with the open, pale, tremulous face of the kind of schoolboy who lives in constant fear of losing his favourite Biro.
And so the guys chatted on in a neutral, rambling kind of way, perhaps attempting to defuse any lingering sexism-expectation by appearing almost completely chemistry-free and banter-neutral. “Roberto is a great man manager,” Cyrille opined at one point and this was about as gender?specific as things got, although there was a strangely wince-inducing echo when Alan Parry on commentary blurted something out about “smashing it into the net”.
A day after Rob Neyer announced his departure from ESPN.com, news almost as chilling is provided by AllAccess.com, who reveal from Bristol fixture Stephen A. Smith is returning to the network and will host evening radio shows for their New York and Los Angeles affiliates.
“Words cannot express how excited I am to return to ESPN,” said SMITH. “The five-plus years I spent here in my previous stint were unquestionably the best years of my professional career. To have the opportunity to return to a place where I have an abundance of friends — with individuals whose contributions to my life, both professionally and personally, deserves far more credit than I can describe — simply makes my return that much more special. I’m sincerely grateful. And very, very ready. As in right now. Let’s go!”
I suppose ESPN deserves credit for not merely pandering to public opinion and hiring a radio host who isn’t universally disliked. Smith’s been called “polarizing” but such a description implies there’s anyone left willing to stick up for him.
Lord knows what kind of dodgy real or virtual magazine rack David Williams was browsing when he discovered Professional Sports Wives Magazine, but he has unearthed something authentically strange — what appears to be a trade publication of sorts for the wives of, yes, professional athletes. Liberally padded with ads for law firms with imposing logos, financial planners and private aviation concerns, PSWM is kind of the old-media answer to the questions posed by VH1′s Basketball Wives. The latter is probably your best value when it comes to actually watching Michael Olowokandi’s girlfriend get in a Pinot Grigio-powered argument at a South Florida bistro, but PSWM has more credibility: they’ve been doing this thing for (an astonishing 27) years, and they’ve been doing it in print. Below, David W. and I examine the most recent issue of the original (and still best) source for wifing pro-tips from the (wives of) the pros:
David Williams: Can we talk about Professional Sports Wives Magazine? David Roth: Holy shit. Yeah, I guess so. Still kind of absorbing the cover. Denise Austin, still doing her thing. (Her thing is aerobics) DR: “Ask A Veteran Wife” is the name of my next novel. Man, I want to write features for these guys. DW: I want to DO INTERVIEWS. DR: Play your cards right and you can start a magazine called “Pro Sport Wife Husband.” DW: they just haven’t met the right, intelligent, nerdy guy yet DR: You’re competing with the Frank Franciscos and Brian Cardinals of the world for these ladies’ attention, man, so good luck. DR: This magazine started in 1984! Did NOT expect that at all. DW: so this is the house organ, so to speak, of the PSWAH association. The wives are virtually UNIONIZED themselves. The hell with the NFL Player’s Union, I’m thinking we’re in Lysistrata territory here. It’s pronounced “piss-wah,” I imagine. DW: I quote: “Complete quality resources and information are at your finger tips to assist with common challenges in marriage, family, childcare, personal development, and consumer science. Who better knows ‘your world’ and understand your challenges, than your peers.” [sic sic sic + lack of ? = sic] DR: So, a lot of the content is sadly not online. DW: The lack of Brooklyn Decker coverage, advice, or even a little how-to is striking. A procedural, if you will. Brooklyn Decker’s Aquarium Cleaning Tips DW: YOU NEED WATER. Lots of it. They are missing a HUGE crossover audience. DR: If I were the editor, I would commission a cyberstalking column from Jackie Christie. DW: Certainly. It would be timely and relevant to their interests. DR: Like pro tips on it. DW: How about that comedian who is the new host? of a web show? His countenance is… DR: Yeah, his faces in that banner ad make me nervous. It’s like Kenan Thompson playing Martin Lawrence doing a Ludacris imitation. Love that skeptical comedian look on his face. Total “Are you really trying to tell me women don’t be shopping?” face. DW: More or less nervous-making than the official accountant? He looks like he’d do the Wilpon’s books. DR: So, before we shit on Akintunde The Comedian, we should recognize game — dude was 2006 Comedian of the Year, per the Urban Gospel Alliance. DR: Don’t know who one beats out, there. DW: You have to understand, the Urban Gospel Alliance has never been the same since the schism that resulted in the Rural Gospel Alliance. DR: I remember reading about the Jefferson City, Missouri Statement. Prop comic against prop comic. Many were lost to gentle observational jokes about “kids today.” DW: Why can’t we all just get along? DR: So, checking the mag preview now. Makes a page-turning sound when you click the right-arrow. DW: THE FUTURE. This is the future that Our President promised that we’d win. DR: The future of grammar. The future of syntax. DW: It here is. The future is at your finger. Tips. DW: How much do you think these full page placements are costing the vulture-like financial professionals? I turn the first page and: criminal attorneys. Criminal and personal injury. They have represented many high-profile clients, including athletes. DR: Okay, let’s play Headline or Niche Pornography: “Trina Harris: Versatile In Many Holes From A To Z.” DW: I’m going with niche porn. That I might glance at. DW: OH NO THERE IS MUSIC (in the Flash Player version of the magazine). DR: It’s okay, it goes away. Page forward. Also, the Trina Harris piece is an unbylined feature and not at all about pornography. She’s married to NFL cornerback Walt Harris, who should probably beat someone up for the “versatile in many holes” headline. DW: The masthead sports as contributing writers two PhD’s and a Dr. I didn’t know diploma mills conferred higher degrees. I was expecting something about art collecting from perhaps Hilton Kramer or Clement Greenburg. Granted, they are both dead but still. DW: “Agent vs Lawyer: who do you really need?” IT IS FOR THE WIVES DR: Oh neat, a piece from Paul Byrd’s wife about his retirement. Her name is spelled Kym Byrd, naturally. DW: How has she dealt with reduced social status after Paul’s retirement? Do you become a pariah at that point? A sin-eater for the tribe of wives of still-active players? DR: “One of my favorite quotes is from Horatio on the show CSI: Miami, ‘Trust and then verify.’” — Kym Byrd DW: Uh, Kim, that’s actually about the START I treaty. DR: It is, and another stiff, possibly neurologically impaired actor said it first. DR: Oh hey, the poor Haitian dude that got eliminated from Top Chef really fast a few years ago is in here with some braising tips. DW: We may have found the fulcrum upon which Western Culture rests. Apres them, le deluge. DR: Or it’s just VH1′s Basketball Wives in print form. DR: Could be both.
Charging that Bernie Madoff recovery specialist Irving Picard is sullying the good name of Mets owner Fred Wilpon, lawyers for the latter filed a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court yesterday to keep details of Picard’s anti-Met machinations under wraps. From the New York Daily News’ Terri Thompson and Nathaniel Vinton :
“The public’s interest in the contents of the suit are closer to “mere curiosity” than “legitimate public concern,” the attorneys wrote.
“The Sterling Defendants need time to assess their position as they consider the value of the continued sealing of the Sterling Complaint in the wake of significant leaks and a blatant violation of this Court’s order, which have left the Sterling Defendants unable to respond publicly to the Trustee’s baseless allegations,” wrote Karen Wagner and Dana Seshens of the law firm Davis Polk and Wardwell.
The motion goes on to say that Picard is attempting “to paint the Sterling Defendants as persons who should have known that Madoff did no trading,” and that public news stories about the case “reflect no valid basis for the Trustee’s attempted character assassination.”
Indeed, I can’t think of a single reason why the fate of the New York Mets — or Wilpon’s possible involvement in one of the more infamous swindles in modern history — would be a matter of public interest.