Former England Goalkeeper Explains Why Billy Martin, Vin Baker Chose The Wrong Sport

Posted in Football at 9:24 pm by

Or perhaps the wrong place of birth.  If you’ve ever wondered why so many English football clubs’ Christmas parties seem to end with police activity or embarrassing headlines, 22 year veteran goalkeeper David James, currently ensconced as Bristol City’s #1, cites “an ingrained drinking culture” (“at one club I played for there would be a gathering of half a dozen or more players for a mad drinking session every week…week after week”).  I don’t know about you, but all this talk is making me thirsty!  From Friday’s Guardian ;

English managers, on the whole, tend to be great advocates of team bonding through alcohol consumption. I recall one of my managers actually yelling at the foreign players who didn’t go out and get drunk because, he said, they were being disloyal to the rest of the team. Another used to routinely go on a boozy night out – with the chairman and the coaching staff – the night before a game. I had a huge argument about it at the time because I felt strongly that a manager should also follow the abstinence rule – after all, how was he going to steer the dressing room if he was struggling with a hangover the next day? It seemed clear to me that it should be one rule for everyone involved in getting a result for the team.

The increase in foreign players in the English game has certainly made a difference to attitudes over here, but that’s not to say that foreign players don’t get drunk. There are a few who like the English mentality, but generally speaking I find that they are significantly less enthusiastic about alcohol and going out to clubs.

It does amuse me, though, that we seem to need these teetotal rules in English football, while in Europe having a glass of wine before a game is seen as civilised. I remember Steve McManaman describing how the whole Real Madrid team would sit down for a meal and enjoy a glass of wine together the night before a match. If English players did that there would be mayhem. In our culture, drinking to excess – drunkenness – always seems to be the end result.

You Can’t Handle The Truth (Fairies) : Flag On The Play’s Xmas Special

Posted in Basketball, Free Expression, Merry Fucking Christmas at 5:23 pm by

FOTP’s Week 17 edition is either missing in action or emerging rather late in the day.  But given that only a few hundred of you tuned in for their Christmas Spectacular, check it out and try to pretend you have no idea what happened last Sunday.


Poole : While Selig Turns A Blind Eye, A’s Are Tanking 2012

Posted in Baseball at 10:03 pm by

“There is no there, there,” said Gertrude Stein of Oakland, CA, though had she lived long enough, she might well have said, “there are no marquee players that Billy Beane won’t trade in their prime”.  And in the wake of Andrew Bailey, Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill being dealt for prospects in successive weeks, the Oakland Tribune’s Monte Poole has seen enough, declaring of ownership, “they have effectively demolished any pretense of trying to win and simultaneously sending the message that until they get the trade they really want — trading Oakland for San Jose — they’ll just keep making a mockery of the game.” (link swiped from Baseball Think Factory)

There never has been any confusion about Lewis Wolff’s desires or intentions. Wolff (above) and John Fisher even bought off team president Michael Crowley and general manager Billy Beane, giving each a fraction of ownership. All four are rowing one way, beautifully in sync.

The iceberg in the water, however, is the Giants, who own territorial rights to San Jose. This alone makes movement a daunting endeavor, for Bug Selig is big on ownership consensus. And that simply doesn’t exist between the Wolff-Fisher A’s and platoon of Giants owners represented by CEO Larry Baer.

Consider these moves an A’s shortcut, their intent to drive their plan over the few curly hairs remaining atop Baer’s head. Few men in baseball can force an issue as vehemently as Beane, and Selig and Baer and all of us can see he’s on a mission.

So Bailey had to go, just as Cahill and Gonzalez did. Billy the Part-Owner is better served by moving them, even if we all know Billy the G.M. likes their talent.

The A’s will say they are fiscally barren and competitively invalid, that they were forced into these actions.

But they’ll offer no apology about abandoning their loyal but dwindling clientele. They don’t want you visiting their shabby little yard, no matter how long you’ve cared, so they’re informing everyone their shop is closed — even though the doors are wide open.

Vecsey To D’Antoni : It’s The Lack Of A Facilitator, Stupid

Posted in Basketball at 5:01 pm by

OK, that’s not exactly what the New York Post’s Peter Vecsey had to say to Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni.  But it’s close enough after a pair of miserable losses on the West Coast have left the former asking of the latter, “how is it, I marvel, after hearing D’Antoni’s stump stock speech to reasonable questions, can someone earning $6 million per season get away with no worthwhile insights?”

It’s astonishing how, season after season, D’Antoni is permitted to brush off media inquiries with straight-faced cornpone that the crime-scene tape must first be reviewed. As if there’s any mystery why the Warriors were able to focus fully on Carmelo Anthony and A’mare Stoudemire. Until Baron Davis proves he’s half the headache he used to be, the Knicks lack a guard capable of disrupting the defense by getting inside it and creating easy shots for himself or his teammates.

Basically, the Knicks are waiting for Davis, who is never healthy, to get unhealthy enough to play.

Despite the Knicks’ pointless guards, or maybe on account of them, Stoudemire insists on dribbling the ball more than once (four turnovers) above the free throw line extended. You would think by now he would have gotten that out of his system, and additionally understand it’s not a particularly good idea to jack up long jumpers early in the shot clock while down a dozen with six minutes to play.

I wonder if D’Antoni noticed any of that before going to the videotape. More important, will he ever make Stoudemire stop? In theory, isn’t the head coach supposed to be making in-game adjustments and observations? Or, at the very least, listening to the six-pack of assistant squatters surrounding him?

Who Says San Jose’s Not A Hockey Town?

Posted in Hockey, Mob Behavior, The Law at 4:55 pm by

The San Jose Mercury News’ Mike Rosenberg reports a 16 year-old girl wearing a Vancouver jersey — previously visited by Canucks players when recovering from brain surgery some years ago — suffered a concussion after allegedly being attack by a Sharks fan Wednesday night.

As paramedics loaded her into an ambulance at HP Pavilion, Maggie Herger said, another Sharks fan noticed the girl’s Canucks jersey and yelled at her to “suck it up.”

One intoxicated woman wearing a Sharks jersey, who appeared to be in her 40s, kept bumping into the Herger and her sister, Maya,  and yelling curses at them, the two sisters said.

Then, as the fans jumped up to celebrate a second period Sharks goal, the sisters said, the woman behind them brought down both her hands and smacked Maggie in the back of her head “really hard,” forcing Maggie to fall forward and leaving her dazed.

Her sister then rushed to an usher. Maya said she heard the woman tell the usher “she’s a Canucks fan,” but that she “didn’t mean to” hurt her.

“I was just really surprised,” Maggie said. “I didn’t think people acted like that.”

She later found out from doctors that she had suffered a slight concussion, leaving her head “spinning” a day later and her neck and head still hurting. She was bedridden, nauseous and on pain medication.

The family was relieved, however, that her benign brain tumor — which is stable and much smaller but still present next to an artery — was not impacted by the hit, and there appeared to be no internal bleeding.


Starbury Confidante Provides Bulletin Board Material For An Entire Fan Base

Posted in Basketball, Sports Journalism at 9:55 pm by

Though it’s not nearly as spectacular a story as Russell Westbrook’s latest attempt at dividing the Oklahoma City locker room, the New York Post’s Marc Berman  preceded the Knicks’ underwhelming performance versus the Warriors last night by calling Oakland, “a lousy basketball town.”   Yahoo’s Kelly Dwyer is far too polite to mention that Berman is struggling for quality storylines now that Stephon Marbury’s Skype connection is on the fritz, instead pointing out that such a gratuitious diss, “is absolutely ridiculous”.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Rusty Simmons tried to draw a direct line between Berman’s post and the Warrior win, pointing out the frenzied sell-out crowd (which, to these ears, was a little louder than the home crowds that showed up for Golden State games against the Los Angeles Clippers and Chicago Bulls earlier this week) seemed louder than usual. He quoted David Lee as saying that the crowd “really willed” the Warriors down the stretch, all while referencing Berman’s post.

Of course, all of this could be ridiculous. Berman’s post didn’t actually make the Post, it was posted on the Post’s website. And Berman of the Post was likely none too proud of his one-off line once he not only thought back to 2007, but to all the other years that saw terrible Warrior teams greeted by massive crowds. As one Tweeter pointed out to Beck on Wednesday, the Warriors and Knicks attendance levels are quite comparable over the last few seasons.

Hoops-Hating Smalltown Editor Proves To Be As Sophisticated As He Is Good-Looking

Posted in non-sporting journalism, Sports TV at 4:29 pm by

If you’ve ever aspired to become the night editor for the Tonawanda News — Google’s #3 search result for persons seeking “Tawana Brawley news” — but felt you lacked the necessary journalistic chops or interesting point of view, cheer up! John Hopkins (above) has that very position and yesterday sought to entertain his paper’s two dozen readers with a commentary pledging a year’s abstinence from ESPN.  Is this writer mentally insane?  Is his television set broken? Is he allergic to the charms of John Kruk Michelle Beadle Eric Mangini? Though the jury is still out on a couple of those questions, Hopkins — a devout fan of professional hockey — complains, “if there’s two things of which ESPN has an abundance, it’s basketball and college sports. Ugh.”   Hey, fuck off, Red Smith!

Basketball, simply, doesn’t excite me. The game is played by highly talented people who demonstrate tremendous hand-eye coordination. Still, I can’t identify with the excitement, except at March Madness time, and even then I probably wouldn’t watch as closely if I didn’t participate in the office pool.

As for college sports in general, I’m not interested. I like the pro game, and we’re never going to hear from probably 90 percent of the NCAA Division-1 athletes after they graduate, so I don’t want to invest the time.

Besides, Division 1 athletes — especially in football and basketball — are mostly paid athletes without the colleges and NCAA admitting it. They are the American version of the “amateur” athletes fielded by the Soviet Red Army in the Olympics for several decades. They worked for the army and were paid an army salary but their only “job” was to play sports. Yet they were “amateurs.”


Crüe Vocalist (Who Isn’t Vince Neil) : CSTB’s Father Of The Year

Posted in Free Expression, Rock Und Roll at 8:39 pm by

Mureau, a self-described, “heavy/melodic/groove/djent” band featuring Ian Corabi, son of former cup-of-coffee-with-Motley-Crüe vocalist John, have come in for their share of criticism by readers of highbrow metal site Blabbermouth.net (“this is just begging for the Beavis & Butthead treatment”, “simply put this band blows”, “Killswitch Engage wants their sound back”).  In an open letter to the Roadrunner Records-owned gossip/news site, the elder Corabi attempts to put Mureau’s bold new sound into some sort of historical context.

“To whom it may concern…

“I just wanted to write this letter as I’m EXTREMELY disappointed in some of the negative and just plain MEAN comments in regards to my son’s band, MUREAU.

“First of all, I’d like to say that I was raised to say ‘thank you’ when given something, open a car door for a woman, say ‘please’ if you wanted something. Basically… just be polite. I was also taught [that] if you don’t have anything NICE or POSITIVE to say about something, or someone, don’t say anything at all.

“Now I didn’t write my post on Facebook to have a bunch of people judge the band MUREAU, or give them a ‘review,’ if you will; I just wanted MY SON and his BANDMATES to know how PROUD I was of them for living THEIR dream… I also didn’t EXPECT everybody to like what they do.

“I can’t say that I understand or appreciate a lot of the newer music that’s out there, but I ALWAYS try to encourage people to follow their dreams and hearts and basically be happy…

“My son loves playing his drums, and the guys (MUREAU) love what they are doing… They are HAPPY!!!!… PERIOD!!!! They are getting ready to embark on their first tour of the States, and I wish them the best of luck… They are playing for the love of their craft, as they are playing for next to NOTHING every night.

“Now, as far as embracing the music they play, I’m not asking you to! But let me remind you of this fact. Back in the ’70s when LED ZEPPELIN and DEEP PURPLE and BLACK SABBATH ruled the airwaves, this new music called ‘punk’ began its modest rumblings. Did I understand it then???? NO!!!! But, out of that youth movement we were given bands the likes of the SEX PISTOLS, RAMONES, THE CLASH etc. ALL GENIUS bands!!!! How about JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN??? I remember a time when they were called ‘heavy metal’… Now look at them… CLASSICS!!! How about METALLICA’s first few records… Speed metal…. Now look … 100,000,000 records later… CLASSICS!!!! I mean, even Elvis [Presley] and THE BEATLES were misunderstood in their beginnings. THE BEATLES were denied by every record label in England, several times before they were given their chance. NOBODY saw the potential of that band.

“This is a new generation’s music. We don’t have to like it, but again.. I’m just glad they are doing something POSITIVE with their lives and not sitting around on a couch playing a fucking video game, smoking weed and eating TWINKIES!!!! I do appreciate the people that said… ‘Not really my cup of tea, BUT good luck, guys’… That’s class!!!!

“Let me also remind you that there are millions of bands worldwide that ‘go for the brass ring every year, only to fall miserably on their faces, the fact that these boys… er… YOUNG MEN, were actually ABLE to write their music, get a record deal, and do a video, and go on tour, is HUGE in my book…

“KUDOS to you, guys (MUREAU)!!!!

“Again, I want to thank BLABBERMOUTH for the support, and to everybody who had the decency to write something supportive (even if it’s not your cup of tea)… To the rest of you and your classless comments. GROW UP!!!

“Peace, John Corabi, a very proud FATHER!!!”

Tracy McGrady Just Wished Billy King A Very Shitty New Year

Posted in Basketball at 7:20 pm by

(rare photo of T-Mac standing upright during his Houston tenure)

Bad enough the Nets’ (temporary) home opener resulted in a thorough capitulation to Atlanta ; afterwards, the Hawks’ Tracy McGrady — no stranger to holding a franchise hostage — told Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski that Orlando’s Dwight Howard would be foolish to consider the Nets a more competitive option than staying put.

“I can’t see him coming here,” McGrady observed inside the visiting locker room at the Prudential Center. “If it’s just Dwight and D-Will, he’s better off just staying in Orlando. You want to go to a team that’s championship caliber, and just him and D-Will won’t get it done. There’s got to be other pieces around to make it look sweet.”

“D-Will is from Dallas,” McGrady said. “You’ve got Dirk Nowitzki there. They’re going to have [cap space] there. That looks sweet. Dirk. D-Will. And then you get Dwight Howard. That’s it, right there.”

As the original owner of a lifetime shoe deal with Adidas, a man with no championships, no glistening playoff legacy, McGrady rejects the idea that Howard ought to let his endorsement-earning power with the shoe company dictate anything about his desire to play for the Bulls. For Adidas, there’s far less of a return on Howard’s stardom to have him sharing the Chicago stage with the company’s biggest endorser, Derrick Rose.

“You’re going to have other endorsements because you’re playing in a big-ass city like Chicago, and because you’re [bleeping] Dwight Howard,” McGrady said.

And a Howard-Rose combination?

“Hell yes, championship,” McGrady said. “Championship. There’s no doubt about it.”


NYDN’s Price : Sandy Alderson Didn’t Sign Up For Running David Wright Out Of Town

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 8:25 pm by

Unless there’s a radical turnaround in David Wright’s production, I’m not sure retaining him beyond 2012 is the biggest worry for the New York Mets or their long-suffering fans.  In the considered view of the New York Daily News’ Bill Price, however, “I saw the story about the Mets’ growing debt and when the money is owed and saw the stuff about David Wright possibly getting traded and thought, maybe, just maybe one problem could take care of the other.”   Well, yes, if you can find someone who will exchange a bag of $200 million for Wright and his diminished skills, but until that day arrives, Price can instead speculate how Wright’s eventual exit will be received, along with suggesting that GM Sandy Alderson (above) is every bit the stopgap/caretaker as Terry Collins.

You wonder how this all plays in the MLB offices. Letting Jose Reyes walk – in a vacuum – was a good baseball decision. With his injury history, six years is risky. Still, the perception is that the Mets don’t have enough money to keep their homegrown stars, and that is not only bad for Met business, it’s bad for baseball business, especially in New York city.

If the Mets have to give up Wright, perhaps their last marquee attraction, it looks even worse. So, you wonder if something like that makes Bud Selig put aside his friendship to Fred Wilpon and pressure him to sell the team. It’s likely a pipe dream, but when it comes to the Mets, how much is too much? How low can the Mets go before Selig steps in?

It puts Alderson in a tricky spot, too. He works for the Mets, but was basically put there by Selig. While I think he would love to someday be known as the guy who rebuilt the Mets into a big-time team, he may not want to go down as the guy who let Wright and Reyes and who knows who else go.