Szczepanik To EPL Owners : Emulate NFL-Style Parity At Your Own Risk

Posted in Football, Gridiron, We Aren't The World at 8:21 pm by

(above : the face of the American Communist movement)

With the NFL making their annual visit to London tomorrow —- Chicago vs. Tampa, 6pm local time — the Independent’s Chris Szczepanik likens the American football league to “an almost communist system that is designed to ensure competitive balance.” And that’s not a system he’s like to see imported to Premier League soccer, especially if the England F.A.’s top flight did away with relegation.

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last appeared at Wembley, in 2009, they were one of the worst teams in the NFL and were lucky to escape with a 35-7 drubbing by the New England Patriots. But despite finishing at the foot of the NFC South that season, they knew they could rebuild without having to descend into a lower league, with no guarantee of a return.

Today they are a vibrant side on the way up, led by the quarterback Josh Freeman, one of the most exciting young players in the game. Could, say, Wigan Athletic do something similar if the Premier League were a closed shop? The trouble with using the NFL as a template is the difficulty of comparing like with unlike.

Instead of having to sell Freeman to survive, by finishing last Tampa Bay guaranteed themselves an early pick in the annual draft of college graduates in 2010, enabling them to strengthen in weak positions. And their fixture list became easier, as they played more teams who finished in similarly low places in other divisions.

Nor did they have to worry about matching the wages offered by more successful teams. The television revenues that fund player wages are split evenly between the 32 franchises, and a salary cap ensured that the Buccaneers could not be outspent by teams from bigger markets.

The New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl in that 2009-10 season, a year after finishing bottom of Tampa Bay’s division. But whereas an NFL team can go from worst to first, in the free-market capitalism of the Premier League the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Wigan would be free from one worry in a Premier League with no relegation but, unlike the Buccaneers, they would not be helped to challenge Manchester United and the rest by the League’s structures. No wonder Dave Whelan, the Wigan owner, threatened to pull his club out of a Premier League that banned relegation. Take away the fight to stay up and half the teams in the top tier would have nothing left to play for.

Dez Bryant : Providing Bulletin Board Material…For The Entire World

Posted in Gridiron at 3:59 pm by

(above : a Dez we can all get behind)

“Once we learn from our mistakes, the sky’s the limit,” boasted Cowboys WR Dez Bryant in a chat with teammate Tashard Choice on a new episode of “Inside The Huddle”. The Dallas Morning News helpfully quotes Bryant’s further brilliant observations — could this be the first time Mercury Morris feels threatened by a 2-3 team?

“I like to keep my personal goals to myself. As far as the team, I like our chances. I feel like, it may sound crazy, I think we are unbeatable. I think the losses, we lost those games ourselves.”

When Choice questioned Bryant about the difference between pros and college, the former Oklahoma State receiver saw the NFL as the easier of the two.

“I really think the pros is much easier. The reason I say that is because in college I didn’t see too much man, too much 1-on-1. I always got double-teamed and a lot of zone coverages. When I see that 1-on-1 in the league, my eyes get big. I start visualizing what I’m going to do after the play.”

What Took ‘Em So Long? Mets Finally Address Citi Dimensions That Are Killing David Wright’s Trade Value

Posted in Baseball, Ugly New Stadiums at 2:42 pm by

“I think there is some sense that the park is a little more overwhelming to a team that spends half its time there,” is Mets GM Sandy Alderson’s very diplomatic way of seeing Fred & Jeff Wilpon’s half-full Monument To Avarice & Greed, aka Citi Field, has successfully fucked with the heads of his club’s power hitters. And as such, after a summer full of rumors, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin, citing an unnamed Mets source, reports Citi will be slightly configured before the start of the 2012 season. Left unanswered, however, is the following ; if Mo Vaughn was such a bust with the Mets, why’d they name an entire Zone after him?

The 16-foot wall in left field will remain because it is structural, but a new 8-foot wall will be erected in front of it, a team source said.

The new left-field wall will not be constructed exactly parallel to the old wall. That would make it too close down the left-field line. Instead, a more modest reduction in depth will occur at the left-field foul pole, with a wider gap between the new and old walls in left-center.

Additional seating is expected to be added between the new and old walls, although there cannot be the same number of rows added throughout that area because of the different space between the walls in the corner versus in left-center.

In right field, where the “Mo’s Zone” nook currently exists, the fencing will be moved closer to eradicate that crevice.

A dramatic change will occur in right-center, which had measured 415 feet from home plate. The new depth is expected to be 390 feet — a 25-foot reduction. That should particularly benefit third baseman David Wright, whose natural power is to right-center.


Of All The Nerve(s) : Revis Leaves Francesa Hanging On The Telephone

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Radio at 5:23 pm by

With apologies to Jack Lee for the above headline, the hard-hitting interview tactics of New York’s #1 rated afternoon sports yackmeister, WFAN’s Mike Francesca, found considerable disfavor with J-E-R-K-S CB Darrelle Revis and a suddenly famous member of Gang Green’s media relations department. From the New York Daily News’ Kevin Armstrong :

Jared Winley, the director of public relations, told Revis to hang up on Francesa when the radio host repeatedly questioned Revis about the non-penalty after a play last Monday against Miami. On the play, Revis intercepted a pass by quarterback Matt Moore that was intended for wideout Brandon Marshall, and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown. Marshall stumbled during his route, and Revis seemed to grab him. No flag was thrown.

Francesa said the All-Pro cornerback was “the only one in the world who doesn’t” see the play as a penalty. Francesa also said he would donate to the charity of Revis’s choice if the cornerback was right.

“I can say whatever I want to say,” Revis said. “It’s not a penalty.”

Can Our Society Survive Albert Pujols’ Galling Lack Of Accountability?

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 12:48 pm by

Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols’ mishandling of a relay throw by John Jay in the 9th inning of last night’s World Series Game Two allowed Texas’ Elvis Andrus to take second base after his single moved Ian Kinsler to third. A pair of sacrifice flies later, Texas had taken a 2-1 lead and hung on in the home 9th for a series-tying victory, circumstances Pujols wasn’t available to discuss afterwards. That rush to the parking lot strikes Yahoo’s Jeff Passan as a tad gutless. “St. Louis manager Tony La Russa empowers Pujols to do what he pleases, right or wrong,” raged Passan, “even if it’s the equivalent of ordering the lobster-stuffed filet and sticking the minimum-wage worker with the bill. He will face no discipline. He never does.”

It’s all a little too much for The Score’s Dustin Parkes, who asks, “would any real human being lose a wink of sleep without a post game quote from Albert Pujols?” Other than Jeff Passan, presumably.

Are sports fans today not savvy enough to get by without the cliche riddled musings of a professional athlete following a game? What exactly was Passan going to discover by speaking with what likely would’ve been a distraught Pujols? That he was, I don’t know, upset about the loss?

I’m not suggesting that media access should be curbed. I’m just questioning the ridiculous dependence on athlete quotes for game summaries. In the age of media training for players, what insights are ever gathered from this dated process? I would hazard a guess that the only time the vast majority of readers take note of a quote is when the athlete reacts like a bear that’s been poked with a stick once too often. In these instances though, the media themselves are the catalyst for the response.

It’s as though a template was formed long ago, and reporters and editors continue to complete it to the point of dependence on the no-brainer items with which they fill that template. All the while, they’re completely ignoring how uninformative the quotes that they’re collecting actually are. At some point, quotes from baseball players stopped being about attempting to support an idea proposed by the writer, and became an easy way to fill column space.


For Heaven’s Sake, Don’t Let Captain Johnny Fucko Read This

Posted in Baseball at 7:51 pm by

How might former Mets reliever/captain Johnny B. Badd react to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford claiming, “there should be no captains in baseball” following Jason Varitek’s inability to strike fear in the hearts of his chicken-chomping, beer-swilling Red Sox teammates? I don’t know for sure, but I’d hate to see a writer as talented as Bradford end up in several pieces, spread around a Staten Island landfill.

This isn’t football, where practices are much more prevalent than games, and the captaincies are determined on a year-to-year, and even week-to-week, basis that respond to specific circumstances on a team in any given year. Once you give out the ‘C’ in baseball, there is no turning back. It doesn’t matter if the player’s role is altered, his responsibilities are tweaked, or if the clubhouse dynamic does an about-face. Like it or not, you have your captain.

In his book, “Watching Baseball: Discovering the Game Within the Game,” Jerry Remy — who was named captain of the California Angels at the age of 24 in ’77, puts it succinctly when writing, “There’s probably no need for a captain on a major league team. I think there are guys who lead by example. You could name the best player on your team as captain, but he may not be the guy other players will talk to or who will quietly go to other players and give them a prod.”

Paul Konerko has been captain of the White Sox for six seasons. And while he jokes about the reverence of the title, citing the inability to execute such tasks as argue penalties like his hockey-playing brethren, the first baseman seems to possess an authentic ownership of the role. But there is also a reason why if Konerko left via free agency prior to the ’11 season the White Sox were going to go without a captain — it simply is not a necessity.

And even Derek Jeter has felt the hollowness of the title as the years have gone on. In a poll conducted by the Wall Street Journal in the middle of the ’11 season, Yankees players were asked which Yankee player would be most likely to be voted class president. The shortstop didn’t get a single vote.

Rex Vs. Norv : Let He Who Has Never Won A Super Bowl Cast The First Stone (And The Second, Too)

Posted in Gridiron at 2:52 pm by

At the risk of echoing the anti-intellectual blatherings of Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton, who insists real fans who aren’t total pussies have to “choose sides” in this debate, I’m not sure there’s any appropriate comeback for San Diego’s sad sack head coach Norv Turner (above) besides the time tested, “well, everyone’s got a right to their opinion.” Instead, the man who inherited a 14-2 team and more than a dozen Pro Bowlers thinks he’s got a snappy reply for his Jets rival, who earlier this week suggested the Chargers would have won a Super Bowl by now had they, y’know, hired Rex Ryan instead of Norv Turner. From NBC San Diego’s Michael Gehlken :

Turner, the man given the job, had his usual subtle smile while standing at the podium. He confirmed that Ryan called him earlier, reportedly to clarify that the comments were not meant as a slight to Turner.

“It really was between he and I,” Turner said of the conversation. “I think we’ve had enough coaching drama in the league the last few days. We don’t need anymore.”

Then — shoot, why not? — Turner stirred the pot with the boisterous Jets coach.

“I hadn’t seen the quote; I was a little surprised when he called,” Turner said. “And then, after I saw the quote, I didn’t have a chance to ask him this, but I was wondering if he had those rings with the ones he’s guaranteed the past couple of years.”

Maybe nose tackle Antonio Garay said it best.

He sat quietly on a stool in front of his locker, raising his right hand and slowly brushing it over the top of his face. He then exhaled with a low sigh.

“Write that down,” Garay said.


Chuck Knoblauch Resists The Urge To Market An “I MAIMED OLBERMANN’S MOM” T-Shirt

Posted in Baseball, Fashion, The Marketplace at 8:36 pm by

The Official Chuck Knoblauch Online Store is up and running ladies and gentlemen, and if the tee on the right isn’t classy enough for you, perhaps one as nonsensical and bound to confuse as the shirt on the left might appeal. It would be interest — just for purely anthropological purposes — to meet the only person on earth who found something funny or provocative about wearing a shirt that read “@ChuckKnoblauch follows me”. But I suspect that’s like hunting for the Loch Ness Monster or trying to cure someone of the yips. All the effort in the world won’t necessarily make it happen.

Plenderleith’s Bold Plan : A Tax On Emulating Soccer’s Leading Lights

Posted in Football at 8:16 pm by

(above : Wayne Rooney, moments after learning he cannot possibly collect royalties from the touring company of “Stomp”)

“These lads’ careers will probably be over by the time they’re 35,” writes When Saturday Comes’ Ian Plenderleith of the EPL’s work force. “It’s obvious that the game’s commercial potential is nowhere close to being exhausted…it’s time we parasites stopped milking their ideas without giving back the requisite compensation,”  or more to the point, “any time a commentator attributes the word ‘trademark’ to a particular player’s skill, or habit, then their agents should be on the lookout for money-spinning copycat behaviour.” Or as Ted DiBiase might’ve put it, “every man’s mimicry of another (famous football-playing) man has it’s price”.

 Pleased as you might be with the free-kick you bent around the wall and into the net on Hackney Marshes last Sunday morning, you’ll still have to contribute a sum of gratitude to the Roberto Carlos Retirement Fund (via a string of entirely legitimate bank accounts in Chechnya). Or maybe you spent the entire 90 minutes looking lost and ineffective, in which case you owe money to anyone who’s worn a Scotland shirt over the past decade. In an egalitarian world, rubbish should be trademarked too.

Fancy flinging yourself to the ground in the penalty area to fool the referee into awarding your team a spot-kick? Absolutely fine, but don’t be surprised to find Steven Gerrard’s lawyers on the touchline presenting you with a bill. What about mindlessly lashing out at an opponent after the ball has gone? Go ahead, fill your boots (or scythe your studs). Just be prepared to admit you got the idea off Wayne Rooney, and transfer the required sum to his agent for the privilege. Creative inspiration’s not free, you know.

Want to look like a mother hen, clucking randomly and staring into space while sitting on a nest of warm eggs? Cough up to Harry Redknapp. Get drunk, go to a night club, behave like a twat, get into a fight, then blame the football “establishment” – cheques payable to J Barton.

Buck, McCarver : As Unbiased As They’re Unlistenable

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 5:15 pm by

Given the close St. Louis ties of Fox’s Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, the 2011 World Series will have “the bias conspirators will be out in full force,” writes The Allentown Morning-Call’s Keith Groller.   I’m presuming by “conspirators”, Groller means “critics”. Unless he’s actually referring to the broadcasting duo.

“I’m accused of being biased no matter who’s playing in the World Series,” Buck said. “Over the years I’ve been accused of rooting for Anaheim, Philadelphia, Boston, New York. And I’ve always been accused of rooting against Anaheim, Philadelphia, Boston and New York. That’s the way it goes.”

McCarver said he has also received criticism every year from one city or both.

“There’s nothing in the world you can about do it, so you can’t even think about it,” McCarver said. “Joe and I are teethered at the hip when it comes to this. We can’t win.”

Buck said he will call every Cardinals home run with a certain level of excitment and he’ll call “Nelson Cruz’s 11th home run of the World Series with the same excitement. That’s how I approach it.”

He said of St. Louis: “It just happens to be the place where I still hang my hat at the end of the day.”

Don’t Mention The Labor War : MLB Denies Dirk His BabaBooey Moment

Posted in Baseball, Basketball at 3:54 pm by

ESPN Dallas’ Mark Stein reports Major League Baseball has rejected a Rangers proposal to have Mavericks F Dirk Nowitzki  (above, left) throw out the ceremonial first pitch at one of their home games during the 2011 World Series.

Unlike regular-season games, all first-pitch assignments in the World Series have to be approved from a list of candidates by the league office.

Sources told ESPNDallas.com that — with the NBA in the midst of a lockout that has spanned 111 days — at least some hesitation stems from the idea that MLB executives want to stand behind their basketball counterparts and have notified the Rangers that they can’t bestow first-pitch honors on an NBA player.

Major League Baseball insists that the NBA’s labor unrest had no impact on Nowitzki not being selected to throw out the first pitch.


Voice’s Barra On Forgetting An Important Mets Anniversary

Posted in Baseball, New York, New York at 9:32 pm by

Hard to believe, but it’s really been a quarter century since the Amazingly Destitutes last won a World Series, and the Village Voice’s Alan Barra — prior to chronicling that squad’s legion of subsequent fuck ups —- wonders, “did I miss it, or has someone written tributes to the 1986 Mets that I didn’t see?…don’t people think silver anniversaries are important any more?”

Have the Mets’ miseries this past season — for the past few seasons, for that matter — drowned out memories of the one of the greatest teams and greatest seasons in baseball history?

I have a theory: The Mets’ fans get a pang when they remember the ’86 team because it was a dynasty that never happened.

They won 108 games, a total surpassed only by the 1975 Cincinnati Big Red Machine in the previous 77 years of baseball history. Where are the documentaries? Where are the specials? The Yankees have anniversaries about every eight months — where are the Mets’ fans when it comes to honoring their greatest team?

The 1986 New York Mets had more players than any other team who, at their peaks, were headed for the Hall of Fame and didn’t make it.

I can certainly understand why the present day ownership group would be hesitant to call attention to the stark contrast between 1986 and 2011′s Mets, but there’s other reasons for the lack of hoopla, some of them less than sinister. For starters, the summer of 2008 had no shortage of former Mets greats on hand to bid Shea Stadium goodbye ; fast forward 3 years later and bringing the likes of Gary Carter, Lenny Dykstra or Dwight Gooden to Flushing might have been a difficult, if not impossible thing to accomplish depending on Carter’s condition or Nails or Gooden’s legal situations.

Cincy Scribe Asks, “What Have The Pod People Done With Mike Brown?”

Posted in Gridiron at 2:52 pm by

If the Bengals have indeed, traded disgruntled QB Carson Palmer to the Raiders for a pair of number 1 draft picks, the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Paul Daugherty declares the swap, “an incredibly great move for the Bengals, who had moved on without Nine, especially since Red Dalton has been so good to this point,” while at the same time noting, “it’s entirely out of character for (owner) Mike Brown,”, who’d previously vowed Palmer could rot if unwilling meet his contractual obligations.

Whether it helps the team isn’t the point. Winning is. If Mike B. can’t win a Super Bowl (not saying he won’t, but he hasnt yet) he can win a negotiation. And I didnt think he would be leveraged into a corner by anyone, let alone someone he made fabulously rich.

Mike seems to have lost the battle. He has “rewarded” Palmer for not honoring his commitment. And yet it seems impossible to say that Brown has not won the war.

As for the notion that The Men might meet the Raiders in the playoffs, so what? That possibility is still way off the radar. If it did occur, the result wouldnt validate anything. The Bengals would still have at least one extra top pick, and the QB they really want, anyway.
is. If Mike B. can’t win a Super Bowl (not saying he won’t, but he hasnt yet) he can win a negotiation. And I didnt think he would be leveraged into a corner by anyone, let alone someone he made fabulously rich.

Mike seems to have lost the battle. He has “rewarded” Palmer for not honoring his commitment. And yet it seems impossible to say that Brown has not won the war.

As for the notion that The Men might meet the Raiders in the playoffs, so what? That possibility is still way off the radar. If it did occur, the result wouldnt validate anything. The Bengals would still have at least one extra top pick, and the QB they really want, anyway.

If you’re curious, the Raiders no longer have a first, second, third, or fourth round pick in 2012.

Ozzie Guillen : Home From Vacation, Deleting Don Cooper From Facebook Friends

Posted in Baseball at 2:38 pm by

Earlier this month, the Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley proposed White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper was the architect of Ozzie Guillen’s departure / Robin Ventura’s elevation to manager, a charge GM Kenny Williams angrily disputed.  Just back from 16 days in Spain, newly appointed Marlins skipper Guillen seems to buy (most of) Cowley’s version of events, as quoted by the latter in today’s paper.

“Cooper needs to look in the mirror,’’ Guillen told the Sun-Times. “He didn’t back-stab me. I know who he is. He back-stabbed his fellow coaches, the guys he worked with for years. You got family? That’s fine. Everyone does. We all knew Coop was Kenny’s b—-.

“Look, Coop is not a good coach; he’s a great coach. But Coop is Coop. He doesn’t worry about anyone; he worries about himself. I stuck up for my coaches like a m———–.

“I told [the Sox] I want to keep my coaching staff, and I never lied to the media. I talked to Jerry Reinsdorf maybe five times [about extending the coaches’ contracts over the years]. The reason I was so comfortable with the Sox was the coaches. Let them sweat it out? Coop was Kenny’s guy, and my staff knew that. We all know what he really is.’’

Guillen also felt as if Cooper diminished the managerial seat he held for almost eight seasons when he was named the interim manager for the last two games of the season.

“That makes me sad and also made me aware as a person that someone you really like, really back up .?.?. you didn’t go through the process the right way,’’ Guillen said. “I saw Coop saying after I left [last month], ‘I can manage in the big leagues.’ That sounded like a statement like, ‘I’m better than Ozzie.’ I know I can never be a pitching coach, but when the games mean s— for two days, it’s easy.

“What I know is I never told Kenny, ‘Let them sweat.’ That’s not true.’’


Berger To David Stern : You’ve Won, Now Make The Deal Already

Posted in Basketball, The Marketplace at 6:10 pm by

Calling David Stern’s anti-charm offensive aimed at Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher last week,”like watching (Michael) Jordan in his prime”, CBS Sports’ Ken Berger warns, “(Stern’s) legacy legacy will be disfigured if he doesn’t lift his foot off the players’ throats and put style points aside to achieve a victory that, while not a blowout, will be far more meaningful.”

For all of Stern’s masterful manipulation Thursday, the reality is this: the players have offered to surrender more than $1 billion of their previous salaries, have offered shorter contracts, smaller raises, more restrictions on big-market spending, and have dug in only on the issues of a technical hard salary cap and guaranteed contracts. Stern’s negotiation position has made it seem like a victory that the players have managed to preserve even that much, while somehow thwarting the owners’ quest to re-open previously signed contracts and suck money out of them, too.

We get it, David. You’re winning. You have all the leverage, and barring a legal miracle or the unrealistic notion that decertifying the union will work for the NBPA any better than it did for the NFLPA, you’re going to win. It’s reality.

But don’t lose sight of the fine line between victory and defeat — because Hunter won’t concede in a blowout, and a blowout is a loss for everyone. At this point, the only way to get a deal that saves the season, saves your legacy and spares your product an insurmountable PR disaster, is to negotiate one with Hunter. Keep running up the score, keep piling on, and that deal won’t be reached. The result will be economic Armageddon.

Not Even An NBA Lockout Can Stop Contradictory Reports About Eddy Curry’s Fitness

Posted in Basketball, Fitness at 5:16 pm by

From The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson :

Assuming Mario Chalmers re-signs, the Heat sees five open roster spots to fill thusly: two on centers (ideally a starter and a cheaper backup, perhaps Eddy Curry (above) or re-signing Jamaal Magloire); a backup point guard; and two wing players (preferably re-signing James Jones and a rotation-worthy veteran, with Shane Battier among expected targets). There would be six open spots if the Heat uses the potential amnesty clause to dump Mike Miller, owed $24 million through 2014-15.

Curry, who interests the Heat, is in “excellent shape” and “no question” ready to join an NBA team post-lockout, well-regarded Chicago-based trainer Tim Grover told us last week. Grover declined to give Curry’s weight, which was 300 in August, down from 350 in March.

Grover said he advised Curry not to play in the FIU charity game last weekend because “these are not games for big men.”

So which is it?  Is former Knicks/Bulls C Curry in tip top condition, or is he (once again) an insurance company’s biggest nightmare? Or more accurately, did he stay away from the Isiah Thomas-hosted FIU event because the mere sight of the Eddy Curry Suppression Ring anywhere near a basketball court would be enough to send Zeke running for the nearest medicine cabinet?

Barton To UK Media : Lynch The England Rugby Team For A Change

Posted in Football, Rugby at 12:58 pm by

QPR captain Joey Barton — no stranger to the CSTB police blotter before he was snapped up by my favorite club in his youth, spoke at the Professional Players Federation conference earlier today, and for those familiar with with the shy, retiring Barton’s brand of free expression, the speech didn’t disappoint.  On the subject of the England squad making headlines for all the wrong reasons at the recent RUFC World Cup, Barton opined, “”If that was an England football team at a World Cup, there would probably have been public executions when they got home.”  From the Guardian and The Press Association :

“‘Football’s a gentleman’s game played by thugs’, I hear quite a lot, and, ‘rugby’s a thug’s game played by gentlemen.’ The minute a footballer steps out of line, I think the media in this country – because of the sums of money they earn and also because of the stigma attached – are really quick to jump on it.”

Barton also took issue with footballers’ status as role models. “There is a lot of envy about what footballers earn, the astronomical figures,” he said. “That’s not our fault. I went from being on £300 a week playing in a big league to £6,500 a week.

“No one taught me how to handle that, no one taught me how to be a man, I didn’t instantly get that wage increase and become a role model. I was still the same kid from a working-class council estate.”

Lester : Beckett Didn’t Get Me Hooked On KFC

Posted in Baseball at 11:36 am by

(above: Lester, Lackey & Beckettt, shown during spring training, sprinting….after an ice cream truck)

“I’m who I am because of my wife and my mom and dad. Not Josh (Beckett)”, Red Sox starter Jon Lester insists to Peter Abraham in Monday’s Boston Globe.  Responding to last week’s reports that portrayed the trio of Lester, Beckett and the underachieving John Lackey as a trio of beer-guzzling, fried chicken chomping brats, more interested in playing video games in the clubhouse than paying first-hand witness to their club’s epic September collapse, Lester tells Abraham, “you can’t have a team that gets paid like we get paid and loses and not expect people to want answers.”

“There’s a perception out there that we were up there getting hammered and that wasn’t the case,” Lester told The Globe via telephone from his home in Georgia. “Was it a bad habit? Yes. I should have been on the bench more than I was. But we just played bad baseball as a team in September. We stunk. To be honest, we were doing the same things all season when we had the best record in baseball.”

Lester said the drinking was confined to starting pitchers who weren’t in the game that day. “It was a ninth-inning rally beer,” he said. “We probably ordered chicken from Popeye’s like once a month. That happened. But that’s not the reason we lost.

Lester also denied that poor physical conditioning was a reason for the team’s 7-20 September collapse. He said that pitchers typically gain weight during the season.

“It’s probably because of how we eat,” he said. “We have some crazy hours with the travel and you get in at 4 a.m. and you get room service or something quick. But unless your body fat is going up 10 percent or something like that, you don’t have a problem.

Lester said the perception that he followed Beckett down the wrong path was untrue.

“I’m not a follower. I’m a grown-ass man. I made my decisions. He wasn’t twisting my arm like I was in high school,” Lester said.


Shea To A’s : Rebuild, Don’t Relocate

Posted in Baseball, Gridiron, The Marketplace, Ugly New Stadiums at 5:53 pm by

In the days following the passing of Raiders owner Al Davis, there’s increased speculation Oakland and the 49′ers might collaborate on a shared new stadium in Santa Clara.  If such an event comes to pass, the SF Chronicle’s John Shea reminds us that while the A’s would have the Coliseum to themselves (“which would be every bit as stinky without the Raiders”), they’d no longer need the football club’s approval for new works on the premises, including, perhaps, massive renovations and/or tearing the fucker down and starting fresh (“the latter being the preference”).

The infrastructure is in place, and BART trains are running. It’s not downtown or bayside, but it’s easier to enter and exit than other proposed Oakland sites. Tearing down and rebuilding a baseball park in the same location is nothing new. It was done by the Cardinals, Phillies, Reds, Braves, White Sox, Yankees and Mets.

Commissioner Bud Selig’s three-man committee examining the A’s stadium situation, in its 31st month of dithering, could wait out the Raiders thing. These guys are good at waiting and apparently can’t find anything worth a darn to report anyway. Why not step back further and wait for a Raiders-49ers joint production to play out?

The minute the football teams put their signatures to a stadium kumbaya, the Selig committee could recommend the Coliseum site for the A’s. A cozy baseball-only park on the premises would re-energize the franchise, boost attendance and help make the A’s more competitive.

I passed this by Lew Wolff (above), the A’s managing general partner. Not surprisingly, he wasn’t keen on the idea, saying he has looked into Oakland sites and wouldn’t be able to privately finance a park as he could in San Jose. His focus remains San Jose or bust, even if Selig hasn’t budged on dismissing the Giants’ territorial rights to the area.

Charles Oakley, (Self-Appointed) Executive V.P. Of Bumming Out James Dolan

Posted in Basketball at 11:52 am by

19-year NBA vet and current Bobcats assistant Charles Oakley (above) remains a revered figure in New York City, though Oak’s in no mood to pretend he’s got warm feelings for the Knicks, telling the New York Post’s Tim Bontemps, “they’ve got hype. But hype don’t win nothing.”  In addition to criticizing Amare’ Stoudemire (“he’s a West Coast player trying to translate to the East Coast…and the longer he plays in the East, the more his body’s gonna get damaged,”), Mike D’antoni (“this is his fourth year. He’s had a lot of time…finesse, it’s not gonna work”), but saves his most pointed words for the unmentioned paymaster, James Dolan, calling the Knicks, “the craziest organization in the world”.

“[The Knicks] don’t want nothing to do with me,” said Oakley, who played for the Knicks from 1988-98. “I don’t know why. I tried to deal with them on several occasions. I’m not gonna keep trying.

“They don’t like Patrick (Ewing), either. They won’t give Patrick a job, so I know they won’t give me a job. Patrick should have a job before anyone. He’s probably the best guy since [Walt] Frazier, [Earl] Monroe … he’s the main guy on the list.”

“Y’all should have tried to call me and talk to me, and maybe we could have gotten LeBron to New York. You went to Isiah [Thomas], and some of these other guys that don’t know the guy.”

Speaking of Thomas, Oakley did little to hide his feelings about the former team president.

“I don’t understand how he even got a job with management,” said Oakley, 47. “He had nothing to do with the Knicks, then he talked bad about the Knicks … If I see him, he’d better turn around and go the other way.”


Chicago Weekly Suggests Adam Dunn Isn’t Very Bright, Few Opine Otherwise

Posted in Baseball, non-sporting journalism, politics, The Marketplace at 7:42 pm by

Asked if he was in favor of forgiving student loans, “Adam Dunn” replied to the Chicago Reader’s Steve Bogria, “”Sure, I’d forgive ‘em. I didn’t even know they’d done nothin’ wrong.”  That none of the paper’s readers seem to think there’s anything wrong with this picture either suggests the Onion has deeply desensitized the public…or no one is willing to claim the White Sox’s human windmill is anything but a simpleton.  I know, I know, for parody to be effective it has to contain a kernel of believability, but this is ridiculous.

“It’s tougher than people think, being a one percenter,” Adam Dunn told us this morning. “For starters, you gotta figure out what to do with all that dough, which is stressful.”

The White Sox designated hitter is a bona fide one percenter, and we’re not talking about his batting average. Dunn made $14 million this season, and his contract guarantees him three more years at that rate. “But that’s not net, it’s whachacallit,” he said. “By the time you pay your taxes and your agent, you’re lucky if you walk home with eight mil.”

The Occupy Chicago and Occupy Wall Street protests have condemned the wealthiest one percent of Americans, and have called for reforms that would more equitably distribute the nation’s wealth. Dunn said he’d seen some TV coverage of the protests, but hadn’t followed them closely. A native of Texas, he said he opposed repeal of the Bush tax cuts out of loyalty to fellow Texan Bush. He wanted to consult with his agent before venturing an opinion on eliminating corporate personhood. As for the proposed Buffet rule, Dunn said he wasn’t familiar with the proposal but generally favored buffets.

The LA Times Would Like To Nominate James Harden For The Role Of Kenny Anderson

Posted in Basketball, The Marketplace at 4:25 pm by

Over the course of 13 years, Kenny Anderson still hasn’t quite lived down his “the more you make, the more you spend,” comment made during the midst of the 1998 NBA work stoppage. With the 2011 lockout becoming increasingly contentious, the Los Angeles Times’ Deborah Vankin and Matt Donnelly helpfully cite the Thunder’s James Harden as an unfortunate example of what nightclubs call “whales”, ie. “an elite class of partiers that pays from $20,000 to $100,000 a night to satisfy their every whim.”

The second-string guard for Oklahoma City (abovee) was partying at Roxbury, celebrating his 22nd birthday with several hundred of his closest friends.

Jammed into a circular corner booth with roughly 40 others, Harden took swigs from a bottle of Patron as hip-hop music blasted and leggy ladies in short dresses filled the dance floor. The $13,000 moment came when a parade of runway-ready “bottle servers” sashayed toward his table carrying his order of 22 bottles of Moët & Chandon.

The economy may be troubled, but decadence is still in style.

Big spenders like Harden spring for bottle service — the VIP way to party. A cryptic and lucrative micro-economy within the L.A. club scene, bottle service has propped up L.A.’s night spots during the hard times. Club goers routinely pay $500, $3,000, up to $10,000 to avoid waiting in line and to get a private server, a choice of liquor and a premier table.

Of course, it’s all too easy to ridicule how Harden chooses to spend his money. Such garish displays of wealth are no more or less wasteful than James Dolan paying his long-suffering band to help him open for the Eagles at Giants Stadium.


JaVale McGee, Labor Relations Correspondent

Posted in Basketball at 7:26 pm by

On the bright side, at least the Wizards’ Javale McGee didn’t claim he’d been victimized by Kurt Angle or Anthony Weiner’s hacker.  Nope, instead he simply denied something a media outlet actually recorded him sayingCBS Sports’ Ben Golliver recaps McGee’s shitty Friday ;

SI.com reports that Washington center JaVale McGee (above)  left the media early to attend another engagement, noting: “There’s definitely some guys in there saying that they’re ready to fold, but the majority are willing to stand strong.”

On Thursday, Fisher wrote on Twitter that the meeting was “important” and noted that “all players including rookies [were] welcome.”

Despite that plea, SlamOnline.com reported that McGee estimated that the number of attendees was “about 25 to 30,” fewer than the number who attended the NBPA’s most recent regional meeting, held in Las Vegas back in September.  

“Everybody knows we’ve got to get more people to come to the meetings,” McGee said, according to SI.com.

Shortly after multiple sources independently reported McGee’s comments, he posted the following message on Twitter: “I never said anyone is ready to fold! Media always wanna turn it!”

Within an hour, the Los Angeles Times posted audio of McGee’s comments, confirming that he did make the statement.

For Sale : Customized Greetings From All-Around Awesome Guy Rick Pitino

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts, consumer affairs at 4:01 pm by

For only $3.99
, Rick Pitino will excuse himself from his demanding duties fucking housewives at shitty spaghetti & meatballs emporiums coaching the University Of Louisville Men’s basketball squad to wish you a Happy Halloween.  Or a Merry Christmas.  Or A Happy Passoever.  You name, Rick will say it, as will Hillary Duff, Ice-T, or Manny Ramirez.

Never Again Will This Blog Compare Phil Mushnick To Mary Whitehouse…

Posted in Sports Journalism, Sports TV at 3:39 pm by

(rare photo of Phil sans beard)

…mostly because it’s been done to death. And I don’t necessarily believe the New York Post’s sports media conscience columnist is a prude ; after an extended conversation last month, I think he’s sincere in believing children and those of a delicate nature are unfairly assaulted with unseemly images and words while trying to enjoy afternoon television. Some might argue that in the modern world, traditional notions of family-friendly prime time viewing hours are an anachronism ; for Junior or Granny, “Faces Of Death” or Xtube are a just a broadband connection away, no matter matter the time of day. Regardless, Phil continues to fight the principled fight against doing it doggy style unnecessary crudity on the idiot box.

Three Sunday afternoons ago, viewers of the Jets-Raiders were ambushed by a CBS promo for the sitcom “Mike & Molly.” With Molly on her hands and knees and facing the camera, a gym instructor stood directly behind her. In case anyone missed the visual message, she then said, “Easy does it. The last guy I let back there had to buy me a ring.”

This past Monday, at 6 p.m., during Game 2 of the ALCS, an ambush promo for the FOX show “Bones” included a similar on-hands-and-knees scene — only the man at the woman’s posterior was gyrating his pelvis. That, too, was followed by a wisecrack to ensure that no one missed the point.

Of course, such inappropriate promos are selected for just that reason — they’re inappropriate. But if anyone at CBS or FOX wishes to put their name, title and approval to these ads appearing at such times, I’ll be happy to credit them, right here. Hey, if you’re going to be so bold, don’t hide. Stand up, be recognized!