03.31.11

“Get Your Yang-nas Dogs” Has A Certain Ring To It

Posted in Baseball, History's Not Happening at 6:32 pm by

(this is not a photograph of Frank McCourt shortly after he read Tuesday’s LA Times.)

“Dodgers”, in the opinion of LA Times Op/Ed contrtibutor Leon Furgatch, is a nickname that survives as “a vestige of nostalgia for a time when Brooklyn fans of the team had to dodge heavy trolley car traffic to enter Ebbetts Field…it has no relationship to Los Angeles or meaning for local fans.”   And as such, Mr. Furgatch suggests (seriously) renaming the Los Angeles National League entry, “the Los Angeles Yang-nas.”

When owner Walter O’Malley brought his Brooklyn team to Chavez Ravine in 1958, he did not know the historical significance of the site. (Neither do most Angelenos, unless they attended Los Angeles public schools in the 1950s or earlier, when Yang-na history was still being taught.)

Historians tell us that Los Angeles was first founded on Sept. 4, 1781, by 44 settlers from Mexico on a spot not far from where the Olvera Street tourist attraction is located today. But that is not entirely true.

The pobladores from Mexico were the first foreigners to settle here, by the authority of the king of Spain, and the new community was blessed with the Los Angeles name. But Chavez Ravine — the area now occupied by Elysian Park, Dodger Stadium and the Los Angeles Police Academy — was first peopled by the Yang-na Indians.

FADE INTO BLACK : The Greatest Cinematic Achievement Of All Time Hits The Big Screen In Austin Tonight

Posted in Austin, Cinema at 4:36 pm by

If Gary Sherman’s 1982 epic “Vice Squad” isn’t the Citizen Kane Of Movies About Murderous Pimps Named Ramrod, at the very least, it includes the greatest theme song composed and performed for a film since…since…well, since Steve Garvey caught Marvin Hamlisch in bed with his wife. I know, that’s not a song or movie title, I just wanted to give you a visual image to think about rather than be haunted by the trailer above for the rest of your life. “Vice Squad” is being shown at the Alamo Ritz tonight, Wings Hauser is supposedly making a public appearance, and TICKETS ARE STILL AVAILABLE (link courtesy Max and VHS Summer).

Sweden’s Openly Gay Footballer : “Where Are All The Others?”

Posted in Football at 2:53 am by

We’re 21 years removed from former Norwich/Notts County F Justin Fashanu becoming the first —and only —- openly gay player in English professional soccer, yet not nearly so long past Ipswich supporters chanting, “he’s gay, he’s dead, he’s hanging in a shed”. The latter bit of cruelty is noted by the Guardian’s Patrick Barkham in Tuesday’s profile of Utsiktens BK midfielder Anton Hysén, 20, the first professional since Fashanu to reveal his homosexuality.

In an era when gay men and women play prominent roles in every other kind of entertainment, it looks increasingly bizarre that world football has no openly gay players – apart from Hysén (above). Although, as he points out, he currently plays in the fourth tier of Swedish football, working in the local Volvo factory to support himself, Hysén’s honesty about his sexuality is a big deal. His family is a footballing dynasty in Sweden; Hysén’s older brother, Tobias, is a Swedish international; their father, Glenn, was a tough defender who remains a celebrity in Sweden. In Britain, it would be rather like John Terry having a footballing son who came out. Perhaps most significantly of all, Hysén, like the English cricketer Steven Davies, who came out last month, made his declaration at the start of his career.

Hysén’s family and close friends have been completely supportive since he revealed his sexuality to them a few years ago; he figures he was born this way. “I always knew but I didn’t really think about it seriously when I was younger – you live at home and hang out with girls and you only really think about it when you start to want a serious relationship,” he says. Injuries stalled his development as a footballer with the Swedish premier-league club Häcken and now Hysén is rebuilding his career at Utsiktens, where his father became coach last year. Hysén did not court the flurry of global publicity that, invariably, came with his revelation. During a football magazine interview, Glenn casually mentioned his son’s sexuality; the journalist then politely approached Hysén to see if he wanted to come out. Hysén thought he might as well and, with typical frankness, told Offside magazine: “It is completely strange, isn’t it? It’s all fucked up. Where the hell are all the others? No one is coming out.”

03.30.11

Jimmy Leyland’s Stark Opposition to Internet Anonymity

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 5:13 pm by

ESPN The Magazine’s “Player X” column affords anonymous pro athletes the opportunity to take a shot at their colleagues and rivals, the recent attack on boozy Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera being the most recent example (“why isn’t Cabrera paying a guy $100 a night to drive him around?”).  In the considered view of Detroit skipper Jim Leyland, growling within earshot of the Free Press’ Anthony Fenech, such criticism is less than constructive (though you might think it pretty mild if you’ve ever had a friend member killed or maimed by an impaired motorist).



“To me that’s a gutless (jerk) that doesn’t put his name to it,” Leyland said. “If somebody would have said, ‘Hey, this is Jim Leyland and this is what I say, he should do this or this, then that’s fine.

“But when you (another expletive) hide behind somebody else’s expense, that’s chicken (expletive) to me. But you guys know your business more than me. Maybe that’s ethical, I don’t really know. But I’d be (extremely irritated) if I was Cabrera.”

Back In Garageland (aka The Quicken Loans Arena) With My Bullshit Dectector

Posted in Basketball, twitter twatter at 1:06 pm by

In which a noted Comic Sans enthusiast / parking etiquette enforcer takes great pleasure in going 1-3 this season against Miami, shortly after predicting his Cavaliers team would win 51 games or more next season.

Evan Longoria : Zombie Hunter

Posted in Baseball, Firearms at 11:26 am by

Over the weekend, Tampa Rays roomies Evan Longoria, David Price and Reid Brignac were victimized by burglars who made off with what was initially cataloged as “electronics, jewelry and other items” from their Port Charlotte, FL home.  As it turns out, one of those “other items” was an AK-47 registered to 3B Longoria, who as the St. Petersberg Times’ Marc Topkin and Kim Wilmath explain, was reluctant “to elaborate on why he had the gun, which is commonly referred to as an assault rifle.”

“It’s a personal item,” Longoria said. “Obviously, they (authorities) are going to say things that are taken. I think everything within the house is personal, and we’ll just leave it at that.”

“The only time a person would need a rifle of that magnitude (outside a range) is if they’re fending off zombies,”
said Fritz Casper, an instructor at Shooting Sports, a N Dale Mabry Highway gun range and shop in Tampa.

The AK-47 is a common choice for gun enthusiasts, he said, mostly because it is cheap, available for as little as $300 to $400.

“It’s a ubiquitous gun,” Casper said. “It’s inexpensive. It’s simple to use. It’s simple to fix.”

Dennis Patriarca, owner of the VIP Security Training school in Tampa, said the AK-47 is “a good protection gun, but it’s mainly a recreational-type thing.”

For many gun owners, Casper said, it’s not about need but want.

“If a dude wants to be cool and goes and gets a Corvette, it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s going to go take that Corvette and go race at 165 mph,” Casper said. “It’s like that. Shooting guns is fun. An AK-47 is fun.”

03.29.11

The Giambino Rolls Over On The Man That Won’t Roll Over On Bonds

Posted in Baseball, Medical Science, The Law at 6:55 pm by

It wasn’t quite as sensational as allegations Barry Bonds threatened to cut out his girlfriend’s breast implants, but amongst the highlights of Wednesday’s testimony in the Barry Bonds perjury trial was former Bay Area fixture/American League Comeback Player Of The Year Jason Giambi (above) naming Bonds’ trainer, Greg Anderson as the supplier of the same PED’s he once refused to admit using. If the shifting levels of credibility aren’t making you dizzy, congratulations. From the Bay City News’ Julia Cheever ;

Giambi said Greg Anderson mailed him injectable testosterone and syringes, as well as two designer steroids known as “the clear” and “the cream” and calendars saying how often to take the drugs, beginning in November 2002.

He said he never talked to Anderson about whether the drugs were legal, but said, “I took it that it was very secretive to get your hands on it and to be quiet about it.”

He said Anderson said “the cream” and “the clear” had “steroid-like” qualities but were undetectable on tests.

At the time, Giambi was playing for the New York Yankees. He played for the A’s from 1995 to 2001 and is now with the Colorado Rockies.

He told the jury in the court of U.S. District Judge Susan Illston that he paid about $10,000 for the drugs and stopped taking them after injuring his knee in August 2003.

Giambi said Anderson also told him, “If I needed growth hormone he could send it to me.

“But I told him I had it already,” Giambi said.

Cageside Seats : Finlay’s Anthem Diss A Minor Offense In WWE’s History Of Cheap Heat

Posted in Professional Wrestling at 6:07 pm by

It was reported earlier today that David “Fit” Finlay, a longtime WCW and WWE veteran, and more recently, road agent/segment producer for the latter, was relieved of his duties by the publicly held Stamford, CT near-monopoly after supervising a angle in which The Miz interrupted the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner”.  On the overall scale of provocative gestures by the WWE, this seems like rather small potatoes, however, it served to raise the ire of “Raw” sponsors the U.S. National Guard.   While Finlay has been made the apparent fall guy, Cageside Seats’ David Bixenspan points out playing fast and loose with anti-patriotic themes is nothing new for the Vince McMahon empire.

In 1991, Sgt. Slaughter sided with Iraq during Operation Desert Storm, burned a Hulk Hogan shirt, teased burning an American flag, invoked Saddam Hussein often, fought Hogan in “Desert Storm Matches” etc.  In 1993, the Yokozuna vs Jim Duggan feud had to be toned down due protests from Japanese-American groups.  In this case, the protests were about the overly jingoistic commentary by the announcers during the angle where Yokozuna injured Duggan and a fake Japanese newscast that celebrated Yokozuna’s actions as if it was a great moment for the nation.

After-9/11, they held off for a little while (Kurt Angle was immediately given the WWF Title while positioned as an American hero, but it felt more like an attempt at cheering people up than being exploitative) before going way overboard.  Heels in the following years included The UnAmericans (Canadians and an Englishman who carried upside-down American flags and once came close to burning one), La Resistance (a French-Canadian and a Maritimer as Frenchmen at the height of anti-French sentiment during the “freedom fries” era), and Mohammad Hassan (actually Italian-American Mark Copani) with manager Khosrow Daivari (legitimately Iranian-American wrestler Dara “Shawn” Daivari).

Hassan and Daivari somehow evolved from American-born Muslims frustrated with discrimination (who were still heels for some reason) to leading around a gang of masked men dressed like the terrorists in various beheading videos.  The gimmick came to an end after an angle where they all choked out The Undertaker with piano wire, which was used in one of the beheadings.  On the day that the angle was about to air, the London train bombings happened.  WWE brass reportedly decided that American fans didn’t care about world issues and left it in the American broadcast on the now defunct UPN (who left it in, but added a “viewer discretion” crawler) while editing it out of the international version of the show.  The backlash was disastrous, with UPN banning Hassan from the network and the character being written out at the next PPV event.

Cats & Cocks That Are More Psychedelic Than The Black Angels

Posted in Cats, Cockfighting, Going To The Zoo, Rock Und Roll, The Internet at 12:59 pm by

MY CAT IS MORE “PSYCHEDELIC” THAN THE BLACK ANGELS

MY COCK IS MORE “PSYCHEDELIC” THAN THE BLACK ANGELS

If these two Facebook Groups don’t have at least 200 members by the end of the week, I can only assume you folks are either way too fucking cool for social networking, or you harbor some secret affection/sympathy for one of the lamest bands of the modern era.   Don’t be shy — all of America wants to see your cat (or cock).

Jortscenter Is Next: Josh Harrellson’s Wide World of Fashion

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts, Firearms at 10:55 am by

I’ve watched a lot of University of Kentucky basketball, due in part to my just watching a lot of every-team basketball in general and in larger part to having some friends who are Kentucky alums and serious fans. (Not to name drop but, yes haters, I build with Lukasz Obrzut) Which means that I’ve seen a lot of senior center Josh Harrellson over the years, usually in frustrating two- or three-minute stretches punctuated by the profanities of my dear friends. Recruited as an inside-outside big man by Billy Gillispie, Harrellson spent his first three seasons at Kentucky just not playing very well. He was never as bad as Eloy Vargas — the ultra-baffled Kentucky backup center who plays like he’s wearing roller skates, and whom people I respect describe as the worst player in Division I — but Harrellson was frustratingly vague, drifty, and contact-averse; not, in short, the sort of player that gets minutes on a good team, and clearly not a favorite of John Calipari. And then, this year, he suddenly became a very solid frontcourt contributor.

During the tournament, Harrellson (above) is scoring nearly 16 points per game and averaging just under 10 rebounds per, and he played very well against the very good Jared Sullinger in Kentucky’s upset of Ohio State. While he’s still limited in a lot of ways, Harrellson has belatedly emerged as a Jon Brockman-ian garbage man with a good attitude and more skills than anyone would expect. All of that, plus the fact that everyone else is writing about Brandon Knight’s dagger-tossing brilliance, probably explains why Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel wrote a nice story about the likable Harrellson’s late-onset competence. In a classic example of burying the lede, though, Wetzel waits a few hundred words to get to the thing that is truly shocking about Harrellson — his unabashed fondness for, and impressive collection of, one of America’s more controversial male clothing items.

Before this run, Harrellson claim to fame was earning the nickname “Jorts” in honor of his devotion to the rural fashion of jeans shorts. He said he owns 10 pairs.

“A lot of people think of jeans shorts like I cut my jeans off and made them shorts,” Harrellson explained. “I actually buy them. [I wear them every day] when it gets to jorts season.”

Jorts season?

“When it’s spring time,” he said. “It’s a fashion statement. They’re easy to put on. I can wear my basketball shorts underneath them. You can wear them out to the courts. They’re easy to take off, and then slip back on and wear home.”

He claims he has made jorts so popular in Lexington he even got teammate Darius Miller to start wearing them.

“That’s a lie,” Miller countered, shaking his head and playfully wondering what the heck is wrong with his teammate.

03.28.11

Murray Chass : Not Familiar With Google Analytics, Awfully Well Versed In Guilt By Association

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Medical Science, Sports Journalism at 8:24 pm by

“A couple of readers suggested that I wrote a deliberately controversial column about Stan Musial to raise my page views,” scoffed provocateur/blogger Murray Chass over the weekend. “I barely know what that means, but I know it has something to do with the number of people who come to this Web site.” After that somewhat disingenuous intro that Chass cannot help but add, “Mike Piazza fans become outraged whenever I use their hero’s name in the same sentence with steroids. Add his back acne into the mix, and they go crazy.” What, no LOL, Murray?

But in case they (Piazza fans) missed Thursday’s testimony in the Barry Bonds trial, I’ll be happy to fill them in

Chief science director of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, Larry Bowers, was on the witness stand in federal court in San Francisco, and under questioning by a prosecutor he told the jurors about steroids and human growth hormone.

According to The New York Times, Bowers testified that “both acne and bloating were common side effects of steroid use.” Later in the trial, the Times reported, Kimberley Bell, who was Bonds’ girlfriend for nine years, “is expected to testify that she saw acne on Bonds’ back.”

What a coincidence, Bonds and Piazza both having acne on their backs. Maybe it was just a baseball thing.

Just in case you’re confused by the context for the above attack on Piazza, Chass has long maintained Mike’s Bacne Heard ‘Round The World all but guarantees the catcher’s historic offensive output was a byproduct of chemical assistance.  However, at no time during Bonds’ trial have witnesses for the prosecution been asked “did Mike Piazza suffer from acne?” nor are other possible causes for such a condition been explored.  So yes, in lieu of an actual admission from Piazza or stronger evidence (other than, y’know, his career going into the tank right around the time steroids became Public Enemy Numero Uno), that’s pretty much the definition of “a coincidence”.

Ron House – A Much Tougher Opponent For Jim Tressel Than The University of Michigan

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron, Leave No Child Unbeaten, Lower Education, politics at 2:48 pm by

Former Great Plains / Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments vocalist Ron House (above) is no stranger to tackling the bigger issues of our times (eg. “Bombs Away On The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame”). Backed by Columbus’ terminally underrated Moviola, he shines a very bright light on the ethical lapses of Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel and Ohio’s anti-collective bargaining legislation.   Available for sale at Bandcamp.com, here’s Ron House & Moviola with “Fire Tressel, Not Teachers”.

With Leather Vs. The Casual Homophobia Of Michael Cole

Posted in Blogged Down, Professional Wrestling at 2:30 pm by

(is the below post just a cheap excuse to embed the greatest music video of all time? Well, yes.)

If you thought the end of Linda McMahon’s political career meant the WWE could once again resume their traditional assault on common sense without media scrutiny, not so fast, pencil necks. Proving that when you’re a near monopoly in a particular sport you can repeatedly get away with murder, the WWE followed their recent anti-bullying hookup with GLAAD (precipitated by what the latter called “John Cena’s scripted, homophobic bullying of other characters”) with trying-way-too-hard heel announcer Michael Cole dissing colleague Josh Matthews as “a faggot” via Twitter.

“”I apologize to any and all who were offended by my tweet toward young Josh Mathews. It was obviously not meant the way it was taken,” wrote Cole afterwards, adding, “now can I get back to being a character again please?” Along with running down a long list of prior examples of homophobia in the squared circle, WIth Leather’s Brandon Stroud — the brains behind The Dugout — argues that schtick or not, Cole shouldn’t escape censure (link courtesy David Roth).

The worst part of the entire story is how Cole can just delete the Tweet, say he’s sorry and face the most minimum penalty imaginable (personal shame?). Let me put it to you this way: If I work at the Olive Garden and I call my co-worker a faggot, I don’t get to work at Olive Garden anymore. A secondary “worst part of the entire story” goes to the comments section on any website ever made, where you get one of two comments on repeat: One, that the word isn’t offensive, usually followed by the commenter facetiously using the word because the Internet is anonymous and you can do whatever you want wherever you want because REAL PEOPLE ARE NOT READING, and two, that the only reason people are upset about this is because Cole dared to “not be PC.”

If you’re reading this, do me a favor. The next time you start to type something about the “PC police,” think about how stupid you sound typing “grammar nazis” and stop it. Being upset about a major employee of a publicly traded company PARTNERING WITH GLAAD calling somebody a faggot online is not “being PC,” it’s being a sane, good-hearted human being. He didn’t misuse nomenclature here. He also didn’t say something was “gay” and get away with it because “that’s not what gay means anymore.” He called someone a faggot to hurt them for being weak or effeminate, and guess what? He should be punished. For real. End of story.

Angel Pagan’s Superior Eyesight Wasted On Unwatchable Baseball

Posted in Baseball at 1:54 pm by

Mets CF Angel Pagan (above), whose emergence as a versatile everyday player was one of the few bright spots in a lousy 2010 season, possesses vision the New York Times’ David Waldstein pronounces, “remarkably good”. “Measured by the Mets’ physicians at 20/13, Pagan can see at 20 feet what a person with 20/20 vision can see at 13 feet,” writes Waldstein. “That is the same vision Jason Giambi, known for his uncanny eyesight, had when he played for the Yankees.” Indeed, and as we well know, Giambi was able to read the same readers’ letters to Cheri magazine from 5 feet away that you or I had to gaze at up close.

To help players with their ability to see little spheres hurtling toward them at 90 miles per hour from a relatively close distance, the Mets use a machine designed to increase a player’s ability to track a pitch. Operated by Mike Victorn, who came to the Mets with Carlos Beltran when he signed his contract before the 2005 season, the machine fires tennis balls at up to 130 m.p.h. while the batter tries to determine what he just saw.

At its highest velocity, the tennis ball is just a blur as it passes by. But the exercise includes slowing the machine to game speed, and then having the player identify the one-inch numbers drawn onto the tennis balls as they zip past. To get 3 out of 10 is a job well done. Last week, Pagan identified seven correctly.

“Man, that is so hard,” said Jose Reyes, who uses the machine occasionally. “You can’t believe how hard it is.”

Good eyesight, while certainly helpful, does not necessarily translate into a high batting average. But with a .285 career batting average (and .296 over the past two years), Pagan has done well. Manager Terry Collins has excellent eyesight; when he was a minor league player, he was told that he had better vision than jet pilots.

“I could see the ball really well,” Collins said, “I just couldn’t make the bat hit it.”

Jose and Ozzie Canseco Remake “The Parent Trap,” In Purgatory

Posted in Baseball, Boxing, consumer affairs at 1:18 pm by

It’s worth pointing out, just off the top, that nothing that could conceivably have occurred at the recent celebrity boxing event held in the Passion nightclub at the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida — from an outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease to a two-plus-hour performance by a heavily medicated Matchbox 20 to a long speech from retired Senator Fred Thompson about hard work — could possibly have been as depressing as the words “the recent celebrity boxing event held in the Passion nightclub at the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida.” That is the bottom — table seating and inert central Florida humidity; the faint ambient ching and whir of slot machines and obesity scooters audible in the background; the 65000 block of some endless four-lane boulevard of mega-retail and Astrodome-size Cheesecake Factories and Houston’ses; inside the Hard Rock, a bunch of crummy rock and roll paraphernalia (Eddie Money’s mustard-stained slacks from the “Two Tickets To Paradise” video, Joe Perry’s hairdryer from the Honkin’ On Bobo tour) stuck up on the walls behind smudgy glass. That is the worst, and the fact that someone is punching Danny Bonaduce or being punched by Danny Bonaduce in a ring in the middle of it all doesn’t really appreciably damage or improve the whole thing. It’s very bad. And so of course Jose Canseco would be there.

Or would be supposed to be there. In the Orlando Sentinel, Dave Hyde recounts Jose Canseco’s typically masterful attempt to execute a standard Sweet Valley High switcheroo in order to escape from (sorry) a recent celebrity boxing event held in the Passion nightclub at the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida, by sending Newark Bears co-legend and identical twin Ozzie Canseco to fight in his place. That Jose’s plan was somewhat less carefully wrought than his widely praised poetry is maybe not that surprising, given that, brainpower-wise, Canseco is essentially the human equivalent of the Fast and the Furious franchise. That any of the patrons at the celebrity boxing event held in the Passion nightclub at the Hollywood (FL) Hard Rock Casino were able to tear themselves away from suicidal ideation long enough to notice the switch, though, is maybe a bit more surprising. Anyway, here’s how it went down:

The tattoos, Jose! You forgot about your tattoos!

They were the first giveaway that made people alert Celebrity Boxing promoter Damon Feldman that Jose Canseco wasn’t really Jose Canseco just minutes before a scheduled event at a Hard Rock nightclub on Saturday night. Instead, it was his clean-armed, identical twin brother, Ozzie, the promoter said. “A bait-and-switch,” Feldman said. “I’m disgusted.”

… Jose missed his flight early Friday night from Los Angeles. But when “Jose” showed up for the Friday night weigh-in, Feldman said he figured all was good. The problems began Saturday night before the fight at Passion nightclub in the Hard Rock.

“The guy I thought was Jose kept asking me to pay him in cash before [the fight],” Feldman said. “I told him I had to pay him by check for business reasons. He said he needed cash. We went back and forth.”

Feldman said he also got a text message before the fight from Jose Canseco’s phone that read: “You have to pay him.”

“I was confused by why he wrote ‘him,’ ” Feldman said. “Who would’ve thought he would’ve sent someone else?”

Maybe Canseco isn’t so dumb. He was knocked out in a bout with former NFL player Vai Sikahema. He lost to a 60-year-old assistant athletic director from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. He fought to a draw with Danny Bonaduce, for Ali’s sake. Why not see if Ozzie could do better?

I am leaving stuff out, and you should read the whole (brief) piece, if you want to see how Michael Lohan and a nicely existentialist final line fit in. I think this might be both my favorite and least favorite story I’ve ever written about here at CSTB, so I guess I can pop some champagne/Wellbutrin to that.

03.27.11

What’s German For “Shut Up & Play?” Spoken Würd Agony With Manowar

Posted in Free Expression, Rock Und Roll at 6:25 pm by

Manoway’s Joey DeMaio began the above monologue sometime late Friday night in Basel, Switzerland. Hopefully he’ll wrap it up sometime before Christmas (video link culled from Blabbermouth.net)

Vecsey : Who’s The Lamer Duck, D’Antoni Or Billups?

Posted in Basketball at 5:32 pm by

With Saturday’s loss to Charlotte — their 6th consecutive — dropping the Knicks to 35-38 (and a gruesome 7-12 since the arrival of Carmelo Anthony), the New York Post’s Peter Vecsey would seem to be doing his own Isiah Thomas/Steve Mills impersonation. To wit, the Hoops Du Jour columnist seems to be advising James Dolan it would be a grave mistake to retain head coach Mike D’Antoni (“I would accuse D’Antoni of checking out, but I’m not all sure he ever checked in…taking command of the Knicks’ situation is more than just pacing in front of the bench and clapping hands and shouting encouragement,”) and an equally dopey move to offer a contract extension to ancient veteran PG Chauncey Billups.

After intermission against the Bucks, D’Antoni realized Billups can’t stop Brandon Jennings — his opponent five days earlier, or any fleet-footed caretaker, for that matter — from tap-dancing past him into the paint and creating instantaneous defensive emergencies for the Knicks’ inferior interior.

Considering it was Billups’ eighth game back following six on the shelf due to a thigh bruise (the team was 4-2 with Toney Douglas starting), and 11th overall since his arrival from Denver, it’s fair to figure D’Antoni should’ve picked up sooner on Chauncey’s limitation.

The bigger picture is that D’Antoni never before has had to cook up answers. When Suns GM Steve Kerr insisted he hire a defensive coach to clear up Phoenix’s disaster area, he copped an attitude and a break-up resulted. Resolving offensive dilemmas was easy, of course, because D’Antoni had a coach on the floor in Steve Nash, who could stop a losing streak (more than one possession) on his own.

With the Knicks, submits column contributor John Busacca, “Mike D’s lone expectation as coach was to ‘be better than Isiah Thomas.’ That’s like telling a newly married man to be a ‘better husband than Tiger Woods.’”

03.26.11

Serbia’s Home Field Disadvantage

Posted in Football at 7:27 pm by

Last night, Northern Ireland’s 2-1 loss to Serbia was played at Belgrade’s Stadion FK Crvena Zvezda in front of fewer than 300 fans..  While the Florida Marlins’ marketing department consults the Serbian F.A. for advice on how to sell that many tickets, When Saturday Comes’ Richard Mills reminds us that due to sanctions imposed by UEFA, playing to a near-vacant venue is nothing new for the hosts.

This latest stadium closure is being imposed by following an evening of debauchery in Genoa, instigated by Serbian hooligans, which led to the abandonment of Serbia’s qualifier against Italy. Talking about tonight’s game, Birmingham’s Nikola Žigi? commented: “It will be difficult in front of empty terraces. I have twice had the opportunity to play in an empty Marakana.” (Once for Red Star and once for the national team.)

However, unlike previous occasions the stadium will not be completely deserted. Gary McAllister, press officer for the Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs (AONISC), says that 265 away supporters have been granted permission to attend the match. McAllister notes that the security operation surrounding the attendance of these Irish fans is highly secretive and has involved the two respective football associations, the AONISC, the Northern Ireland police, the British Embassy in Belgrade and UEFA.

This is unsurprising considering that in February UEFA’s Michel Platini held a personal meeting with Serbian president Boris Tadi?, during which he warned that “there is a serious risk of suspension for the national and club teams” from all UEFA competitions unless there are clear signs that concrete measures are being taken to tackle football hooliganism in the country.

If last week’s Belgrade derby is anything to go by this zero-tolerance approach is being taken seriously. For that match over 3,000 policemen patrolled the stadium and its immediate surroundings, and even though Serbian supporters will be absent for this evening’s game, there is no reason to expect that security measures will be any more relaxed outside the ground.

Don’t Get Your Hopes Up, America, Steve Spurrier Isn’t Really In Police Custody

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron, The Law at 3:47 pm by

With a flair for the comedic not seen in college football since the last Charlie Weis press conference, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier attempted to demonstrate just how easily the men & women of the Columbia, SC police force might arrest the wrong man.  If only former Celtic Dee Brown had this kind of support.

03.25.11

“The Best Show On WFMU”‘s Tom Scharpling Issues An Open Invite To Racist Sports Fans : The College World Series Is Your Kinda Tournament

Posted in Basketball, Radio, Sports Journalism, The World Of Entertainment at 5:25 pm by

In additional to a sprawling resume that includes his wildly popular WFMU radio program, best-selling comedy CD’s with Jon Wurster, varied forays into writing for television, and editorial stewardship of the late, lamented Eighteen Wheeler, Tom Scharpling paid more than a few dues contributing to Slam Magazine and prior to that, gifting the New York Post’s Peter Vescey with a few good jokes (eg. “Yinka Dare is now teaching the Nets to complain in two languages”).  Hanging with Tom in Mikhail Prokhorov’s private box choice seats at the Prudential Center, Negative Dunkaletics’ David Hill brings up the topic of college hoops.  As you might expect, Tom needed little prodding to share his insights.

“Look, I’ll stop short of saying there is a racist element to the NCAA,” Scharpling begins, “but its tricky. Any sport that is structured so that shitty players (who are considered to be ‘all heart’) can shut down better players (who are just ‘all talent’), there’s a racial element.

“There is a certain amount of wish fulfillment when people call the NCAA ‘pure basketball.’ I think its as impure as it gets. You want a shitty white dude to hold his own? The more talented athelete is paying the price, smothered by the system.

“The standards in the NCAA and the NBA are different. In college the coach is the constant. The fan is bigger than the player in a weird way!

“In the NBA, the best is the best; heart isn’t enough. Starks had heart but he could play, too. He knew the game. Iverson was heart, but he also was a wizard with the basketball. The NBA will expose you. NCAA fans want to believe they are better than the players, that’s why they prefer college ball. ‘They are playing for the right reasons, for the love of the game.’ That’s horseshit. Where are these people when college baseball starts up? They don’t have any problem with the MLB. They probably think the MLB is plenty ‘pure.’ But that’s just because there are plenty of white players.

NYC’s No. 1 Cardinals Fans Reassures The Mets, “You’re Better Off Broke”

Posted in Baseball at 3:13 pm by

Offering effusive praise for the fiscally-handcuffed New York Mets’ hirings of Sandy Alderson, Paul De Podesta and J.P. Riccardi, New York Magazine’s Will Leitch contends that while the 2011 season is already a write off for the Amazins, entertainment and/or respectability isn’t far down the road.  “Alderson is here to do the same job, essentially, that Donnie Walsh was brought in to do when he took over for Isiah Thomas three years ago,” suggests Leitch, and while that’s a somewhat soothing analogy, keep in mind, at no point has it been suggested in the last 3 years that Cablevision HAS NO MONEY.

This won’t be a team that wins the National League East—though with all their injuries, the Phillies look more wobbly than anyone might have thought—but it won’t be a team that trots out Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, and Fernando Tatis either. (That’s addition by subtraction right there.) Fans will get a good look at promising young players like 2B Brad Emaus (above) and C Josh Thole and the entertaining knuckleballer R.?A. Dickey. Let’s not forget that David Wright, Jose Reyes, Jason Bay, and Johan Santana are still on this team. Each of them has had issues, but if they were to play even close to their expected levels, a long-shot wild-card run might not be out of the question. Even if this year is a write-off, the team will be more enjoyable to watch than it has been the last four years, if only because the franchise is finally moving forward. It’s going to get better, soon. I promise, this isn’t a scam. You are forgiven for fearing otherwise. This is, after all, the Mets.

This is one of the rare instances where I don’t believe Leitch is thoroughly full of shit.  For all the talk that you cannot rebuild in New York, the majority of the Mets fans I know have some understanding that under Omar Minaya and Tony Bernazard, player development was a mess and in desperate need of repair. That said, there’s world of difference between the measured expectations of a rebuilding era and being unable to keep the lights on. Or for much of the past two seasons, being unable to field a major league product.  If Wright, Reyes, Bay and Santana rebound nicely, can the Mets play what Fred Wilpon likes to call “meaningful baseball” in September?  Sure, but the “issues” Leitch describes extend to Bay’s recovery from a concussion, Santana’s shoulder rehabilitation (expected to keep him off the big league roster until July at the earliest), and Jose Reyes — auditioning for a 2012 contract — being the franchise scapegoat if injured, the subject of frequent trade rumors if healthy.  In short, I was right there with Leitch until he offered false hope for the near future.

Jerry Glanville : Bringing A Little Glamour To The United Football League

Posted in Gridiron at 11:29 am by

(believe it or not, Jerry was not able to retire off royalties from the above video game)

Who says the United Football League isn’t ready to capitalize on the possible absence of NFL action this autumn?  The UFL announced earlier this week that Marty Schottenheimer and Jerry Glanville had accepted coach positions with the fledgling league, and the following item from the Huffington Post stokes the fires for the latter’s upcoming tenure with the Hartford Colonials.  Supplied by “Dusty Sloan, chief web site writer, UFL”, the Q&A is remarkable in that Glanville is described (presumably without irony) as “colorful and energetic”, while the Colonials are said to possess “fans” (yes, the use of the plural was intentional).   Link courtesy David Williams.

Question: What did you see in Colonials Owner Bill Mayer that made you want to work for him?
Jerry Glanville: “Bill Mayer, he’s got a sparkle in his eye. He wants to make this work. He believes in it. I worked for (Buffalo Bills Owner) Ralph Wilson and (then-Houston Oilers Owner) Bud Adams. They started a league (the American Football League of the 1960s), and said, ‘We’re going to make this work.’ I could see the sparkle of Bud Adams in his eye.”

Q: What has brought you back into coaching once again?
JG: “I really came back to coaching when I went to Iraq. I was with (NFL Alumni, visiting) the First Cavalry. They averaged 19 years old. They said, ‘You need to come back and coach.’ We all make mistakes, and I sold myself for a big paycheck. I’m not for sale anymore.”

Q: How has social media changed the game of football?
JG: “You have to be savvy enough to realize the social media is how people will stay connected and be connected. All these changes are for the better. ‘Used to’ is dead. ‘Used to’ is gone.

NYT’s Schmidt & Sandomir : The Mets Are Leading The League (In Hemorrhaging Cash)

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 3:00 am by

Hours after Mets GM Sandy Alderson assured an audience of bloggers, “if we’re in the hunt the money will be there to add a player,” said claim to a slight hit from a New York Times report in which Michael D. Schmidt and Richard Sandomir cite losses of $50 million in 2010, with more misery to come.

The team’s losses — projected to hit another $50 million or more this season based on factors including advance ticket sales — come with a range of implications for its owners, who are trying to sell a portion of the club, and for major league teams that rely on the Mets to share revenue with them.

Two years ago, the Mets contributed more than $40 million to baseball’s revenue-sharing pool — a system meant to create a more level playing field for small- and large-market teams. But in 2010, the Mets put in around 40 percent less.

The losses — the club’s falloff in revenue was the largest year-to-year decline for any major league team in recent years — are certainly jarring for a franchise operating in the nation’s most lucrative market. In 2009, the Mets, boasting one of the sport’s most expensive payrolls, opened the season in a new park, Citi Field, and the club took in revenue of more than $350 million. Still, it lost close to $10 million, according to the two people briefed on the matter.

03.24.11

Former Beneficiary Of A-Rod Contract Sings The Praises Of Being The Little Guy

Posted in Baseball at 6:27 pm by

I’ve let my subscription to Men’s Journal lapses again, but fortunately for the rest of us, the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham keeps fully abreast of all dude fitness issues and also manages to snare the following quote from a profile of Orioles skipper Buck Showalter :

“I’d like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay payroll. You got Carl Crawford ’cause you paid more than anyone else, and that’s what makes you smarter? That’s why I like whipping their butt. It’s great, knowing those guys with the $205 million payroll are saying, ‘How the hell are they beating us?’ ”

As Abraham points out, Showalter (above) once managed the not-so-poverty stricken Yankees along with the 2000 Arizona Diamondbacks, who sported a healthy $77 million payroll. Showalter also extended his streak of not winning World Championships with the the Texas Rangers, who at that time did their share to reinforce fiscal insanity by paying Alex Rodriguez more money than God. Perhaps this sort of tough dude rhetoric will sell a handful of O’s season tickets, but you know Peter Angelos will just give the money back to the fans, right? Because it’s so much more fun trying to win games without the proper resources — all the better for Showalter to demonstrate his vast knowledge. If you’re wondering why Baltimore routinely overpaid for veterans on the downside of their careers, the answer is very simple — they didn’t have a genius like Buck ready to outsmart Richie Rich Theo Epstein!

Charles Barkley : Causing Rick Pitino Almost As Much Embarrassment As Karen Sypher

Posted in Basketball, Sports TV at 3:45 pm by

With last weekend’s SXSW lunacy, I’m sorry to say my opportunities to sink up an adequate amount of NCAA tournament coverage were limited.  And as such, I totally missed out on the following TNT exchange between analyst Charles Barkley and Louisville head coach Rick Pitino (above), as recounted by the Birmingham News’ Charles Hollis, who gushes that Chuck, “held his own Big East roast, and made Pitino look stupid in the process.”

“I think the Big East is the most overrated conference in the world,” Barkley said. “People were complaining about VCU, Georgia and (other) teams getting in, (but) the Big East should have never gotten 11 teams in.”

Pitino, whose Big East Cardinals were upset by Morehead State in the first round, took exception, of course. This only made the show even better.

Pitino pointed to the Cinderella story of Marquette, which beat Syracuse to reach the Sweet 16.

“That tells you Syracuse wasn’t that good,” Barkley said. “That’s my point … and after Notre Dame loses (Sunday night), it’s just going to be another feather in my cap.”

Pitino begged to differ. “Well, I’m gonna tell you, Notre Dame will not lose tonight.”

Notre Dame lost to 10th-seeded Florida State by 14 points, leaving the Big East with only UConn and Marquette still alive.