On the bright side, all the T’pau rarities at this weekend’s Austin Record Convention were very reasonably priced.
On the bright side, all the T’pau rarities at this weekend’s Austin Record Convention were very reasonably priced.
Pending next Friday’s Football Association hearing to determine whether or not Queens Park Rangers’ fielding Alejandro Faurlin while the Argentine’s contract was held by a third party is deserving of a mild slap on the wrists or a 15 point deduction, QPR have clinched the 2010-2012 Npower Championship after this afternoon’s 2-0 win at Watford. As a former QPR season ticket holder whose tenure included relegation to what used to be called Division Three, the ‘R’s (possible) return to England’s top flight is as surreal as it is long-awaited, an opinion perhaps held by the Sydney Morning Herald’s Richard Hinds, who attempts to rationalize his far-flung obsession with the W12 club that’s long been in the shadow of Chelsea. “There is something trainspotterishly satisfying about supporting a relatively obscure foreign team,” gushes Hinds (“for the Portland Trail Blazers fan in Wagga Wagga or the Grasshopper Zurich supporter in Ipswich”), though he’s surely more satisfied when the team is actually winning something.
Brian Moore and the pounding theme to The Big Match. A George Best-ian character in the QPR hoops called Stan Bowles, complete with muttonchop sideburns, a multitude of antisocial habits and exquisite skills. A highly exotic (in rural Australian terms) ”QPR Is Magic” scarf brought home by a family friend. Pilgrimages to Loftus Road – OK, not exactly the Westminster Abbey of sport – during London days. The basis of a lifelong addiction. Now, the anguished attempts to follow the misfortunes of QPR have become compelling. At least more so than usual during the 17 long years since the ”Super Hoops” bestowed upon the Premier League their gifts of mid-table mediocrity, bloody managerial executions and a capacity for financial mismanagement that can make the Global Financial Crisis seem like a slight misunderstanding about the receipts at a primary school fete.
Of course, the long-distance sporting love is now much easier. I had been following QPR for eight years before I saw them play a full game live on TV – the 1982 FA Cup final against Tottenham. (Rangers scored a late equaliser and, naturally, Spurs won the replay.) Now pay TV is so hungry for content QPR’s recent blistering (no, really!) 2-2 draw with Cardiff City was shown live. So the once difficult, and inevitably satisfying, measures once required to follow the less renowned foreign clubs have been mostly removed.
This, of course, has not necessarily been good news for some local leagues, who struggle to compete with superior foreign content. (And even QPR). It is a problem Sports Minister Mark Arbib might ponder during the latest review of Australian soccer: Why do some of us still struggle, somewhat, to become fully engaged with the local product? Yet we are celebrating because (surely! please!) a west London minnow is going up.
(France’s victorious 1998 World Cup starting XI)
The Guardian’s Angelique Chrisafis reports that following last summer’s near-mutiny against Equipe de France coach Raymond Domenech, there are allegations FFF officials conspired to racially imbalance the makeup of future squads.
The French football federation has opened an internal investigation after website Mediapart reported that top management approved a quota system to limit young black players and those of north African origin emerging as candidates for the national team. The alleged plan involved limiting non-white youngsters as young as 12 or 13 from entering the selection process through training centres and academies.
“For the top brass in French football, the issue is settled: there are too many blacks, too many Arabs, and not enough white players in French football,” the website said.
According to Mediapart, one of the most senior football federation figures wanted to set a cap of 30% on players of certain origins, but insisted at a meeting the quota should be kept quiet. At another meeting, the French national team coach Laurent Blanc allegedly backed changing youth talent selection criteria to favour players with “our culture, our history”. Sources claimed Blanc cited current world champions Spain, saying: “The Spanish, they say: ‘We don’t have a problem. We have no blacks.’”
How soon they forget ; France’s 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 triumphs were accomplished with rosters that were a relative model of modern multiculturalism.
Following Orlando’s hasty first round exit at the hands of Atlanta, the Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi asks, “where do they (the Magic) go now that they have become lost on this highway to nothingness?” He’s well qualified to ask such questions given his own role in ousting the heavy favorites ; “It was me, after all, who provided the Hawks their fuel and fire heading into Game 6.” There seem to be a few guys in the Hawks locker room who concur, as the Journal-Constitution’s Michael Cunningham explains :
The Hawks had printouts of a column by the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi (above) in their lockers the day after they lost Game 5 101-76 at Orlando. Bianchi wrote that the Hawks are “Team Dummy” and that “they will always do stupid things and take stupid shots.”
Some passages in the copies of the story given to Hawks players were underlined, including:
“The Magic are going to win this series and the Birdbrains are going to fold up and collapse like a $5 lawn chair. You know it, I know it and, deep down in the lonely recesses of their fragile minds, the Birdbrains know it, too.”
Hawks forward Josh Smith was offended by the column.
“You’ve got reporters calling people idiots and dummies,” Smith said Thursday. “I don’t understand how people can challenge somebody’s intelligence when you are talking about basketball. Some people take it too far.”
Hawks coach Larry Drew said it wasn’t his idea to pass out the article to the team but added, “Certainly we can use bulletin-board material”.
(since most of us are rather tired of looking at Rick Sutcliffe, here’s a photo of Peter Sutcliffe, no relation, instead)
Despite protestations from ESPN NY columnist Ian O’Connor that his forthcoming tome, ‘The Captain : The Journey Of Derek Jeter’, is the byproduct of hundreds of interviews — and repeated attempts to get Jeter to respond to criticism — ESPN baseball analyst Rick Sutcliffe would have you believe that penning a biography of a famous athlete is a rather simple task. From the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory) :
Sutcliffe spoke Monday night as if he were delivering a message from Jeter. And it wasn’t two thumbs up. Before the game Sutcliffe said he had spent 15 minutes with Jeter. “He was as angry as I’ve seen him in a long, long time,” Sutcliffe said on the air.
What followed was an indictment of the book. “Derek says he (O’Connor) hasn’t talked to ‘anybody close to me.’ Supposedly there was like a coach that he played for when he was in the ninth grade. And there was some cousin that he was talking about that Derek didn’t even know,” Sutcliffe said Monday night. “He (Jeter) was upset about it. A lot of it, like Tim said Brian Cashman told him, is stuff that happened a long time ago.”
There’s more to the ties that bind Sutcliffe and Jeter. Oh yeah, that ESPN world is small. On ESPNNewYork.com there are “testimonials” to Jeter as he approaches his 3,000th hit. Sutcliffe offers one, praising Jeter for attending a fund-raiser for the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City and making the event a success. Sutcliffe was born and raised in Kansas City. A TV source was surprised Sutcliffe pursued such a hard line Monday night. The source said ESPN has a policy where its talent cannot criticize “colleagues” or “competitors.”
Said policy, you might recall, led to brief absences on the part of Tony Kornheiser and Bill Simmons. Though both are frequent objects of scorn around these parts, you could argue it would be somewhat difficult for ESPN to replace either. In the case of Sutcliffe, however, how tough could be to find a boozed-up man or woman of average baseball intellect that loved sucking up to Derek Jeter?
Tbough I’m mostly in agreement with Ted Berg that the NFL Draft is a far less interesting televised spectacle than say, actual baseball or basketball games that count for something, I did watch some of ESPN’s coverage from Radio City last night. Other than Roger Goodell failing to hush a mob chanting “we want football” (“so do we, fellas” countered a flustered Goodell) the other made-for-TV talking point involved Suzy Kolber’s not-so-cunning stunt when interrogating former Heisman winner / New Orleans’ first round pick, RB Mark Ingram. Though it might’ve been more appropriate to show Reggie Bush breaking down in tears, it was his projected replacement who wept on camera, a scene that struck Jeff Pearlman as “emotional manipulation”.
You greet Ingram with a letter from his incarcerated father. You read it for the millions watching—a personal moment turned public. He cries. And cries. And cries some more. In the ESPN production booth, everyone cheers. What raw emotion! What spur-of-the-moment grittiness! Great job, Kolber! Great job!
But it’s not a great job. You don’t spring this sort of letter upon a 21-year-old kid on national TV. It might make for great viewing, but it’s dishonest, dishonorable and wrong. This is the life he’s been handed—a father behind bars; trying to overcome that and somehow get past it.
He should be celebrated. Not exploited.
“We do not need a bar on Pacific Street,” argued Brooklyn resident Syble Henderson at last night’s Community Board 6 subcommittee meeting to consider plans to open Players Gastro Pub & Sports Bar adjacent to Bruce Ratner’s under-construction Barclays Arena. “Historically that block has been impacted with all kinds of anti-social activities,” claimed Henderson, who surely realizes that serving a postgame microbrew to Brook Lopez would mean a new low for the neighborhood. Atlantic Yards Report’s Norman Oder provides further details from last night’s discussion :
“Nightclubs have a lifespan and they typically go through cycles,” Scott Alling told the audience. “We thought that would just deteriorate it.” Given the large space available, the partners would only take the front, and aim to mostly food and beverage, operating as a gastropub. “Of course, in that that five to seven [pm] span” before the arena’s open, “we want to do a lot of business.”
“We want to run this as a sports bar when the stadium is having a sporting event,” he said at another point. “When it’s having a rock’n’roll night, we plan on running it as an indie rock venue, live music before, and after.”
Jon Crow, another mainstay of the garden and an Atlantic Yards opponent, pointed to the likelihood of disorderly arena attendees “urinating on our neighborhood. That’s why this is shocking and frightening–you realize the neighborhood doesn’t want the u-rena.”
“I understand you don’t want it,” responded Terry Flynn, Jr., the partners’ lawyer. “The reality of situation, people are going to open businesses, because of the opportunity to make money, and also can serve your community. What we intend on doing is both.”
“This is no different from Madison Square Garden, and people coming out of Madison Square Garden going to dinner before or after the arena,” he said. “Your concerns–we intend on making sure it’s operating properly.”
The difference, unmentioned, is that MSG does not encroach on a residential neighborhood.
Prior to Dallas’ demolition of Portland in Game 5 of their Western Conference first round series, Mavs owner Mark Cuban (above, left) had his afternoon cardio-care briefly interrupted by the Portland Tribune’s Kerry Eggers, who had the temerity to quiz Cuban regarding a widely reported incident from Game 3.
I started the interview by asking Cuban if he knew what hit him.
“I got hit by something,” he said, pleasantly enough. “All I know is the pretty lady next to me jumped, something hit me in my face and that was it.”
Any idea what the object was?
Suddenly, Cuban’s mood darkened to the color of the Dallas sky (tornado warnings) that afternoon.
“What the (expletive) does it matter?” he asked. “Does it make a damn bit of difference at this point?”
“Well, I …” I began.
“Does it make a damn bit of difference at this point?” Cuban repeated.
“You sound irritated by it,” I said.
“Yeah, because it’s a dumb-ass question,” he said. “What’s the point of bringing it up? Are you going to go find somebody? Are you going to hunt the person down? … Ask me a real question.”
Gee, Mark, I thought that was a real question.
“The question turns into something antagonistic to somebody,” he said. “Either you try to get me to accuse somebody of something …”
“I’m not trying to get you to accuse anybody of anything,” I broke in. “I’m just trying to get the story on what happened in your words.”
“You could have read other accounts, because about 50 people wrote about it,” he said.
“I intended to ask whether his dialogue with Portland fans may have led to the projectile incident,” adds Eggers, though it would appear Cuban’s rapport with the Portland media isn’t much better.
Alright, Oklahoma GM Sam Presti (above, background) hasn’t been inducted into Springfield, MA’s 2nd most historic spot (the first, of course, being the laboratory where Friendly’s invented The Fribble) but observing the rapid emergence of the Thunder (“their two best players are both 22 years old, and their likely next-best two players, James Harden and Serge Ibaka are both 21…this isn’t supposed to be happening” has The Painted Area’s M. Haub suggests in all seriousness that Presti’s handiwork qualifies as “the best team-building job ever done by a General Manager.”
Yes, Presti was fortunate to land Kevin Durant in the lottery, but beyond that, it’s been a series of impeccable, brilliant decisions and moves which has rebuilt and positioned his franchise for championship contention far, far faster than expected. Off the top of my head, I can only think of Red Auerbach’s work in acquiring both Bill Russell and Tommy Heinsohn way back in 1956 to jump-start the Celtics dynasty, and also how he managed to put/steal together the Big 3 in 1980.
It leads to this question I’ve been pondering: if you were starting a franchise, and you could have either any one player in the league, or Sam Presti, which would you take?
I would generally always take a player, and would probably still do so in this case, but I really have to think about it. It’s a testament to the fact that Presti is, in my opinion, easily the best general manager in the league currently, and is already getting close to establishing himself as an all-time great.
If there is, as Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho insists, some sort of UEFA conspiracy to fuck his side out of the Champions League final, let’s give the forces of corruption full credit. Perhaps they’re not Barcelona sympathizers nearly as much as they enjoy listening to The Special One work the microphone like no one else in professional sports. The Guardian’s Sid Lowe scribbled furiously as Mourinho raged against favoritism towards Barca (“I don’t know if it is the Unicef sponsorship or if it is because they are nice guys”) and insisted, “tonight we have seen that we do not have any chance” after his side came out on the short end of a 2-0 home loss in the first leg of their CL semi-final.
Mourinho accused Barcelona of wielding untouchable power in European football and said their coach, Pep Guardiola, should feel “ashamed” if he wins a competition that “yet again” is engulfed in “scandal”. Barcelona also had a man sent off, their substitute goalkeeper, José Pinto, for his role in a mass brawl as the teams left the field at half-time. The incident was one of numerous flashpoints.
“One day,” Mourinho said, pointedly using the Barcelona coach’s full name, “I would like Josep Guardiola to win this competition properly.” That was a reference to the controversial semi-final victory of Guardiola’s team over Chelsea en route to their triumph in 2009.
“If I tell Uefa what I really think and feel, my career would end now,” Mourinho said. “Instead I will just ask a question to which I hope one day to get a response: Why? Why? Why Ovrebo? Why Busacca? Why De Bleeckere? Why Stark? Why? Because every semi-final the same things happen. We are talking about an absolutely fantastic football team, so why do they need that? Why? Why does a team as good as they are need something [extra] that is so obvious that everyone sees it?
“Why Ovrebo [two] years ago [when the Norwegian referee did not give Chelsea a series of penalties against Barcelona]? Why couldn’t Chelsea go to the final? Last year it was a miracle that Inter got there playing with 10 men for so long. A miracle. Why weren’t there four penalties against Chelsea [in 2009]? Why send off [Arsenal's Robin] Van Persie [in the last 16]? Where does their power come from?”
At one time, the Atlanta Braves celebrated their wonderful history (of postseason underachievement) by asking the question, “Where Were You When Sid Slid?” If your name is Barry Bonds, the answer was apparently, “playing way too deep”. From MLB.com’s Terence Moore :
Andy Van Slyke just said the most fascinating thing about the Sid Bream Game to MLB Network as part of its series on MLB’s 20 Greatest Games.
According to Van Slyke, he asked Bonds to move in a few steps for the light-hitting Cabrera.
Bonds reportedly refused.
Boy, did he. Said Van Slyke to the MLB Network, “He turned and looked at me and gave me the international peace sign. So I said, ‘Fine, you play where you want.’ ”
Van Slyke wasn’t just any center fielder, by the way. He was on the verge of capturing the last of his five consecutive Gold Gloves. Not only that, he was playing a position whose occupants are generally allowed to bark orders to the other outfielders.
And, generally, those other outfielders listen. But, generally, they aren’t as famously strong-minded and talented as the guy who was in the midst of snatching eight consecutive Gold Gloves.
So Bonds didn’t listen.
Soon afterward, Cabrera dropped a single to the left of Bonds that required the left-handed outfielder to race toward the ball and throw home across his body. The throw was off slightly in the direction of the first base, but Pirates catcher Mike LaValliere made the grab and then whirled with his glove toward the plate for the tag.
It’s just that Bream and his knees that required five surgeries through the years reached home about a millisecond earlier.
(Wednesday afternoon update : Braves pitching coach / former Mets reliever Roger McDowell, accused earlier today of asking a trio of SF Giants fans, “are you a Gay threesome?”)
Depending on your point of view, attorney Gloria Allred is either a dedicated supporter of the underdog or a hopeless publicity hound. Or perhaps a little of both. Earlier today, TMZ reported Allred has called a Wednesday afternoon press conference to detail one man’s allegations an as-yet unnamed MLB coach uttered anti-gay slurs within earshot of children. Presumably at a ballpark.
Allred tells TMZ … the coach used “homophobic words and sexually suggestive vulgar behavior,” simulating sex between gay men.
Allred says the comments and gestures were directed at 3 men whom the coach apparently thought were gay.
One of the fans, who brought his 9-year-old twin girls to the game, protested to the coach … and according to Allred, the coach responded by saying, “Kids don’t f**king belong at the baseball park.” She also claims the coach then approached the father “with threatening words and a baseball bat.”
Though I’m not sure exactly what legal action Allred has in mind, it cannot be stressed strongly enough that Larry Bowa is no longer a coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Despite a current 4 game winning streak against putrid competition, few expect the New York Mets to contend for much this season other than leading the big leagues in bounced checks. Playing to acres of empty seats at their 2-year-old ballpark, if the Amazins aren’t candidates for an immediate fire sale, the Village Voice’s Allen Barra considers an April 22 item from ESPN’s Adam Rubin sufficient cause to wonder how soon David Wright will be wearing someone else’s uniform (“if the Mets do dismantle and commit to rebuilding, Wright will be into his 30s by the time the team truly is a threat again..the Mets will have wasted much of the prime of his career”).
Last Thursday, in a rare moment of wry wit, Wright (above, left) noted that playing in the Rays stadium instead of Citi Field, “I might get a few more home runs.” The suggestion being that a trade of Wright for Evan Longoria might be in the works – which would save the Mets’ a wallet-full of cash as Longoria’s contract through 2013 calls for him to get $2 million, $4.5 million and $6 million while Wright’s contract calls for $15 million next season with the Mets holding an option for $16 million after that. (Though why the cheapskate Rays would deal for a player they’d have to pay so much for hasn’t been explained.)
Of course, there are a lot of places where Wright might get a few more home runs and where they could afford him, like Coors Field, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park or — the horror, the horror – Citizens’ Bank Park.
Over at Bleacher Report, Christopher Howland writes that “the possibilities of a mid-season fire sale are quickly becoming a reality … ” and that “the worst thing that could happen to the 2011 Mets is that they continue to play bottom of the barrel baseball, and when the July trade deadline comes around, GM Sandy Alderson plays no favorites and puts a majority of the team on the trading block.”
After you’ve gotten your head around the credible Barra citing a passage from the Bleacher Report, ask yourself this — what halfway -savvy Mets fan actually gives a shit about the won-loss record of the 2011 club compared to their long-term ability to compete? Granted, trading a homegrown superstar like Wright would be a bitter pill for many reasons, but if it were to yield a younger, cheaper star such as Longoria (like Barra, I can’t possibly figure out why Tampa would be interested, unless the Mets were ready to give up some less-tenured talent of their own), that wouldn’t be the worst outcome. But rather than harass sweet David Wright when he’s trying to prepare for a ballgame, why isn’t anyone bugging the likes of Fred and Jeff Wilpon about a long overdue reassessment of Citi Field’s dimensions? If the park is such an obvious obstacle to Wright’s offensive production that everyone from Gary Cohen to Marty Noble to Wright himself is willing to say as much, isn’t some adjustment in 2012 a viable alternative to cutting bait on a player the franchise has so much money and hope invested in?
Sure, you thought “30
(points) On 30 (shots)” was an ESPN property, but there was a late night edition on TNT Monday in which Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook experienced the sort of shooting futility against Denver that would’ve had John Starks saying, “maybe he oughta let someone else put it up” (had John Starks been sitting on my couch). Daily Thunder’s Royce Young witnessed Westbrook’s cringeworthy display, but argues, “the tone was set early on. This was a Russell Westbrook night.”
I think he sensed what I was seeing. The Thunder didn’t look comfortable in their own skin. They were throwing the ball away, taking dumb shots, forcing things and not moving off the ball. So he tried to take over a bit. And it’s difficult for Westbrook to turn it on in spurts. That’s the ideal Westbrook. The guy that can sense that moment where his team needs his offensive spark and give it for a few minutes and then turn the game back over to the natural rhythm and flow. But he’s not there yet. He’s just 22 and he’s still figuring all that out.
We’ve seen the Good Russ and Bad Russ a lot. And I’ve said it a hundred times: to get Good Russ, sometimes you live with Bad Russ. He’s not a perfect player. He’s still developing. This wasn’t his finest hour but he was trying to win the game. That’s what he had on his mind. Did KD need a few more touches? Absolutely. But to knee-jerk and start saying stupid things about Westbrook because of this game like “he’s not a point guard!” or “play Maynor!” is beyond ignorant.
With Westbrook, it’s all about accepting what he is. It’s like the scene in Band of Brothers when Speirs tells that one guy crying in the foxhole, “The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you’re already dead. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll be able to function.” Westbrook isn’t a “true” point guard. He never will be. The sooner you accept that fact, the sooner you’ll be able to appreciate what he is. A darn good basketball player that still has some room to grow.
Daniel Snyder’s decision to file a defamation of character lawsuit against Washington City Paper earlier this year met with predictable derision from this corner and many others, but the Redskins owner would like you to know that he’s “not thin-skinned about personal criticism…I am the first to admit that I’ve made mistakes.” However, “sometimes, especially in the age of the Internet, when an unretracted lie can live forever, you have to draw the line.” And that line comes when you accuse Snyder of fucking with your choice of home telephone carrier. The following are excerpts from Snyder’s editorial in Monday’s Washington Post :
Among many examples in the November 2010 article, the most egregious was when the article stated: This is “the same Dan Snyder who got caught forging names as a telemarketer for Snyder Communications.” That is a clear factual assertion that I am guilty of forgery, a serious crime that goes directly to the heart of my reputation — as a businessman, marketer and entrepreneur. It is false.
Remarkably, several weeks after I filed the lawsuit, the publisher wrote in Washington City Paper that she was “baffled” that anyone could read the article and believe that I had been accused of personally engaging in forgery. “In fact,” she wrote, “we have no reason to believe he personally did any such thing — and our story never says he did.”
Well, I am baffled, too, since personally engaging in forgery is precisely what the paper explicitly said I had been “caught” doing. If the publisher has “no reason to believe” that “Dan Snyder got caught forging names,” then why not retract the words that explicitly said I was a forger and simply apologize?
Synder has a point here. In this country, you’re innnocent until proven guilty, even if you’ve settled out of court.
Perhaps you thought oft traveled Dan Shaughnessy nemesis Carl Everett would return to to the headlines making his theatrical debut in “The Vagine Monologues”? The Tampa Bay Times’ Ilena Morales provides details of Jurassic Carl’s latest unfortunate episode.
During an argument with his wife of 18 years Monday night, Everett pointed a silver handgun at her head, according to a police report. She feared for her life and tried to call 911 on her iPhone, but he broke it; she tried to call from another cellphone, but he broke that one, too, the report states.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrested Everett, 39, at his home in Lutz, records show. He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and tampering with a witness.
Not to make light of domestic violence, but I fully expect the Everett defense team to argue Carl cannot be held accountable for AT&T’s shitty reception.
(no more questions from the man in the Nets jersey, please)
In the aftermath of being swept by the defending Eastern Conference champs, some are focusing on whether or not Chauncey Billups, Mike D’Antoni or Donnie Walsh are returning to the Knicks next season, or perhaps on Boston’s Rajon Rondo shaking off late season slump at a very opportune time. Others, however, would prefer to consider the single most important storyline to emerge from the Knicks’ underwhelming showing ; the acquisition of Deron Williams aside, it’s the highlight of the year for Nets fans in general, Nets Are Scorching’s Mark Ginocchio in particular. “It’s situations like these where the word schadenfreude is most appropriate,” sneers Ginocchio, conveniently forgetting that for all James D’ohlan’s many ill-advised public acts, he never promised a championship within the next half decade.
Let it be said after acquiring two super-duper-stars and one nice player (only in the year 2003 is Chauncy Billups part of any team’s “Big Three”) the Knicks have collected exactly as many playoff victories as the New Jersey Nets and precisely one less than the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers, who didn’t spend the latter stages of the regular season telling anyone who would listen that they were going to be a “tough matchup” for their heavily favored and more experienced first-round competition.
Let it be said that despite his MVP-caliber season, when he was needed the most, Amare, who already has knees that are ticking time bombs, pulled up with a stiff back. The aging Billups, pulled up lame again. I’ve already hear the Meccah-naires saying that injuries happen, but this is part of the reason so many of us non-Knicks fans rolled our eyes at some of the roster moves your team made. Please keep in mind that every missed opportunity for the Knicks going forward inches the organization ever-so-closely to seeing their $20 million investment of Stoudemire spending more time in a suit on the sideline than in a jersey on the court. I will be stunned to see his NBA career survive the life of his contract, and the fact that he was already a physical liability in his first postseason in New York makes a prediction like that sound even more prophetic. As for Billups, let’s see if this guy even makes it half a season next year.
That brings us to Carmelo Anthony, whose prima-donna “I want to be wooed by the Russian but I ain’t gonna sign in Jersey” act has surely earned him the scorn of Nets fans going forward. There’s no reason for Nets fans to have to praise this guy, but in a show of kindness, I’ll say ‘Melo proved in this post-season that for every exhilarating game 2 performance, there’s an exasperating game 1 showing. ‘Melo has exited stage left in the first round for the seventh time in his eight playoff seasons. And yet I’m supposed to continue to treat this guy like he’s an elite NBA player who can single-handedly carry a team to victory.
As it stands, they’re well placed just the same.
Given the firestorm of criticism that greeted Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and Carlos Beltran last September when they failed to participate in the Mets’ visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C., you’d think club officials would issue very thorough instructions prior to tomorrow’s return to the hospital, if only to avoid the public relations fallout. However, as the New York Post’s Dan Martin reports, there’s just enough grey area where any player who oversleeps and/or parties too much this evening can be served up as a sacrificial lamb, without the team ever running afoul of the union.
“I felt very strongly it should be voluntary,” GM Sandy Alderson, an ex-Marine, said. “I think it’s important for us, and in keeping with the fact that those at Walter Reed have volunteered, we want people to go visit who want to be there.”
Carlos Beltran said he will attend. A year ago, he was involved in meetings for the school he is setting up in Puerto Rico.
“I would have been there last year,” Beltran said. “I’ve visited veterans … and I’m looking forward to going.”
Manager Terry Collins said he expects the turnout to be “maxed.”
OK, everybody up to speed here? Attendance isn’t mandatory — you can’t have that sort of thing in a free country. However, the servicemen and women at Walter Reed have lost limbs trying to protect those very same freedoms, so any Met who dares blow off tomorrow’s photo opportunity is AN ENEMY OF FREEDOM and deserves no more benefit of the doubt from talk radio or the local papers than your average al-Qaeda foot solider.
If you’re confused by this, don’t worry, that just means you’re an enemy of freedom, too.
With both Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay predicting reigning Heisman winner Cam Newton will be selected the number 1 overall pick by Carolina, what better time than the present for the aesthetically-challenged folks at CamNewtonLieDectectorTest.com to issue the following ultimatum?
Attention Cam, pass a professionally administered lie detector test by answering “No” to these 4 questions..and $1,000,000 is yours
Prior to signing with Auburn, were you aware your father was “shopping” you to Mississippi State or any other school?
Did you tell Dan or Meghan Mullen that you signed with Auburn because of the money because you truly believed Auburn had paid for your commitment?
Did anyone on the Auburn coaching staff/athletic department instruct you how to answer questions from the NCAA by lying or avoiding the truth?
Did you or your family ever receive any impermissible benefits from Auburn?
Though the site’s creators urge Newton to “have your attorney contact our attorney to work out the mutually agreed upon details”, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jeff Schultz reports no one is answering their (alleged) telephone number. If the odds of Newton participating in this stunt are super slim, consider the likelihood his tormentors might struggle to scrape together a hundred bucks, let alone a million.
It was just a few days ago that Mets announcer Gary Cohen observed that oblique strains, an injury “no one had heard of until a few years ago” seemed to be claiming members of the Amazins’ roster (and those of other clubs) with alarming frequency. And with that in mind, the New York Daily News duo of Michael O’Keefe and Christian Red claim there may be a relationship between said ailment and the widespread use of the dietary supplement Creatine, currently legal in Major League Baseball (and the NFL, NBA and NHL to boot)
More than a dozen players have been sidelined with oblique injuries this season. Yankee star Alex Rodriguez sat out two games last week with a minor oblique injury. His teammate, Curtis Granderson, injured his oblique during spring training. Jason Bay finally returned to the Mets on Thursday after spending the first three weeks of the season on the disabled list with a strained left rib cage. That same day Angel Pagan left the Mets’ game against Houston in the fifth inning after tweaking his oblique while facing Astros pitcher J.A. Happ – who has also missed part of this season with an oblique problem.
“My theory is that drug testing in Major League Baseball is working and people are getting away from using illegal steroids,” Lewis Maharam, the former president of the New York chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine says. “They are moving to legal products such as creatine, but they don’t know how to use it in conjunction with their workouts.”
Creatine is an amino acid that boosts lean muscle mass and strength. Studies show it’s effective for sports like baseball, tennis and golf, activities that require intense but brief bursts of energy, and not so effective for sports that require endurance, such as running and soccer.
Creatine, according to Maharam, adds water molecules to muscle fibers, which causes the fibers to separate.
“This makes for easier muscle tears and slows the repair process, leaving them on injured reserve longer,” Maharam says. “It is because of these side effects that professionals for a long time went away from creatine when they could use anabolics and HGH. Now that testing is stronger, I have seen a trend back toward the safer creatine.”
O’Keefe and Red quote kinesiologist Mackie Shllstone as claiming “trainers are pushing athletes to overdevelop the front of their body while they ignore the posterior of the body.” So if nothing else, we might have to reassess the overall conditioning of Bartolo Colon.
A month ago, ESPN The Magazine’s “Player X” segment — in which an anonymous professional athlete is allowed to take shots at his peers — featured some of the latest abuse directed towards Alex Rodriguez. For the May issue, Player X is an alleged hoops snitch who tackles the always-entertaining subject of trash talk. “If you ask me, they’re trying to take the ‘black’ out of the game,” argues Player X. “Besides Bird, all the great trash-talkers have been black. We were born talking trash. They want to silence us, but that’s like telling a bunny to stop jumping.” I’m not sure how to handle this assessment. Will Perdue wasn’t a great trash talker?
Trash-talk can go too far fast, though, so there is a code. Off-limit topics: moms, wives, girlfriends, kids. And health. Honestly, I never thought anyone would cross the line to crack on an opponent about a medical condition. But according to Charlie Villanueva, that’s what Kevin Garnett supposedly did earlier this season when he called the Pistons forward a “cancer patient.” Garnett later claimed otherwise, saying he had called Villanueva — who’s hairless because of a skin condition — a “cancerous” player.
I don’t know who’s telling the truth, but I don’t care. Garnett is a punk and a coward. I know, I know. Easy for me to say behind this column. Don’t worry, I’ll tell him to his face, too. And I’m not the only one who thinks that: If you’re not on his team, chances are you hate the guy. You can learn a lot about him by watching his eyes. If he’s talking to you — and he’s always talking — he avoids eye contact. My advice to other guys in the league: Stare him down, and he’ll retreat. From what I’ve seen, he’ll never mix it up with a player who’s bigger than he is. Personally, I think he’s scared to fight — like a playground bully who barks but doesn’t bite.
Royal Mail successfully intercepted a letter bomb intended for Celtic manager Neil Lennon earlier this week, an incident that provoked predictable disgust over the Celtic/Rangers rivalry. Not everyone opted for a lengthy editorial, however, as the 140 character limit imposed by Twitter proved more than enough room for one alleged prankster , as the Scotsman’s Alan McEwen explains :
Jim Hardie, 46, said his life had been an “absolute nightmare” for the last four days after a sick joke by one of his son’s friends.
Mr Hardie told today how he had decided to leave his home in Penicuik, and travel to the north of Scotland for a few days after saying the “hellish” ordeal had left him feeling “sick”.
His son James’ iPhone was taken by a friend who posted a message on the teenager’s Twitter account reading “to the absolute legend for trying to kill Neil Lennon <3″. The symbol represents a heart.
But the Twitter feed was somehow posted up on Mr Hardie’s business site, which contains his home and mobile phone numbers, as well as his family’s address.
Mr Hardie said he had received around a dozen e-mails stating, “We know where you live”, and “Don’t go to sleep”, along with nearly 30 phone calls and texts.
He said: “It’s just been hellish. I’ve been looking over my shoulder and wondering what is going to happen next. It’s left me afraid to answer the phone.”
At the risk of making light of a serious subject, at least we know Kurt Angle isn’t the only person who mysteriously has Twitter messages appear under his own name.
Pay no heed to those who’d hail Ike Davis, Mike Pelfrey or Chris Capuano for the past 48 hours of New York Mets competency; according to the New York Times’ David Waldstein, the Amazins’ 2-12 slide was interrupted Thursday by an edict from Chief Operating Genetic Lottery Winner Officer Jeff Wilpon, who ordered the immediate demolition of Stanley, “the rolling toolbox that had become a bullpen mascot”.
After watching the Mets lose 12 of 14 games and fall to the worst record in baseball, and with everyone on the team searching for real or symbolic methods to change the fortunes, Wilpon (above) issued a simple decree: “Get rid of Stanley.”
That is the name by which the Mets had affectionately referred to their black and yellow rolling toolbox. But from now on, the Mets will not roll like that anymore. Instead, they will use a pink backpack to transport the essential items they need in the bullpen, like candy, medical supplies, fingernail clippers, Krazy Glue and the odd toy.
Wilpon gave his order to Dan Warthen, the pitching coach. So, on Thursday afternoon, Warthen asked every player and coach to donate an article of clothing or piece of equipment to place inside Stanley as a sacrifice. Most obliged, and then, as in a scene out of a movie, Stanley was taken into a back room before the game and ceremonially obliterated with bats.
Left unmentioned is that it took the better part of Thursday afternoon, evening and well into Friday morning before Stanley was finally reduced to rubble. That’s what you get for asking Willie Harris to complete a simple task.
Following an aberrant 9-run outburst against the Astros Thursday night, as of this writing the Mets have reverted to anemic form, being held scoreless after four innings at home against Arizona’s Joe Saunders. Though it seems a bit churlish to suggest Saunders is anything less than a Cy Young candidate and perhaps it will take the Amazins’ another year or two to get a real handle on Citi Field’s vast dimensions, MLB.com’s Marty Noble argues, “right field at Citi need not be Yankee Stadium-esque, but it needs to be smaller and more inviting to men who swing the bat.” For once, the disclaimer, “this story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs” actually carries some weight.
(l-r : Fred and Jeff Wilpon, shown earlier this afternoon, upon being told the latter had been found guilty of “contrived quirks”)
Right field is the rub. The club isn’t about to turn away from the advertising revenue the Mo Zone generates in right. Its less-than-stuffed pockets need all available pennies. But the Mets ought to eliminate, adjust or move the Zone and make life easier for their best player and most recognizable face. Eliminate Mo, add some seats — they may be necessary again one day — and give David Wright a fighting chance to hit 30 home runs.
The Zone does little to enhance the place, and never was any sort of architectural necessity caused by the cramped quarters of neighborhood blocks and buildings (see Wrigley and Fenway and some decommissioned arenas). It merely is a contrived quirk, a barrier in more ways than one. It’s not poppycock to suggest Wright’s career, if it is to be spent in Flushing, will be significantly squeezed by an advertising alcove. And the benefit of that would be what?
Ike Davis wouldn’t be undermined by a more reachable set of right-field stands, nor would any of the other home run aspirants. But Wright is the one most affected by what has become a No Zone for him. He can hit the ball out in any direction. His rocket home run to left-center in the fourth inning Thursday reaffirmed that. Joe DiMaggio, playing in the old place in the Bronx, wouldn’t have had the time — even if he had the space — to catch up to that one.
But how often can Wright hit a pitch to the left side of second base when he sees so many pitches on the outer third of the plate or off the plate altogether? He can’t reach some of them, hence his 23 strikeouts in 73 at-bats. And when he can reach them, he can rarely can reach the area beyond the Zone. He has big league power to right-center and right, but opposing pitchers need not concern themselves with it because of an alcove, an ad and picnic seating.