Matt Millen’s Rough Thursday : Let’s See The Poynter Review Project Rationalize This

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron, Leave No Child Unbeaten, Sports Journalism, Sports TV at 2:39 pm by

The notion of exhuming Joe Paterno and/or dragging his statue through the streets of State College, PA was ridiculed in this space yesterday, particularly as there are other Jerry Sandusky enablers still amongst the living (and as of yet, unconvicted). But if we’re really in need of someone to direct additional venom at, who better than ESPN analyst / PSU alum Matt Millen, roundly mocked by Deadspin’s Drew Margery within minutes of the former reacting to the Freeh Report. Of the embarrassing display yesterday morning, the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman writes, “Millen’s worst day as general manager of the Lions was better than his few minutes of airtime Thursday.”

Millen, straight-faced, contended Paterno was running a “pristine program.” Maybe from the outside looking in. Yet the Freeh report concludes Paterno first knew about Sandusky’s deviance in 1998, which would certainly strip Paterno’s program of the “pristine” status Millen anointed it with.

“My opinion is he (Paterno) made a mistake. “… I’m going to believe the (Freeh) report. He (Paterno) made a mistake and it was compounded and it was over a course of time,” Millen said. “ What means something to me is what he (Paterno) stood for. And what he was. And the character part and the character side of what he was. And what he stood for was significant.

“It (the report) shows he was fallible,” Millen continued. “He made a mistake for whatever his reasons are. Is it spoiled? It’s absolutely spoiled but there is still a lot of good there.”

Not for the kids Sandusky raped. Paterno enabled him to do it by doing nothing. Millen did not have much to say about the kids who were victimized. Guess they were not part of this show. Besides, any reference to them would’ve only taken away from Millen’s attempt to prop up Paterno’s stained legacy (“way ahead of the curve in academics” or how he taught players to “be a productive person”).
Thursday, this all was meaningless. It cannot even be considered spin, just words from a man whose emotional connection to Paterno is strong and, at this point, irrational.


The Pazmanian Devil Insists, “I’m No Chris Brown”

Posted in "Wife Beater" Is Not A Fashion Statement, Boxing, The Law at 4:23 pm by

Congrats to the Providence Journal for having the guts to tackle the most serious aspect of the recent charges against Vinny Paz.

In The Battle To See Who Is Most Outraged By The Freeh Report, EDSB Is Willing To Forfeit

Posted in Blogged Down, College Spurts, Gambling, Gridiron, Leave No Child Unbeaten, Sports Journalism, The Law at 3:47 pm by

To say the other shoe dropped on Penn State earlier today would be a slight understatement ;  for those who continue to lionize the late Joe Paterno (or provide safe haven for former school president Graham Spanier), Thursday’s publication of ex-FBI director Louis Freeh’s findings regarding PSU’s mishandling of Jerry Sandusky are more akin to an anvil.  While the likes of Matt Millen struggle with the enormity of the situation, the Jay Mariotti’s of the world call for Paterno’s statue to be “jackhammered to pieces”.  While the words “death penalty” are being used elsewhere in reference to the Nittany Lions’ football program, not everyone hungry for retribution is nearly as focused on actually helping children in peril. There’s one evening radio host — let’s just call him The Yonkers Cowboy — who advocated exhuming Paterno’s body. This is the same satellite fraud, by the way, who recently said of Matthew Shepard’s slaying, “people die all the time”.

Every Day Should Be Saturday’s Spencer Hall has observed much of the furor, and suggests that some stage, this sort of thing is like “a tomato thrown at a prisoner on the gallows…demagoguery on the cheap, the snorting a line of an execution notice to get a buzz.”

There are ways to write about the long trail of the Sandusky case, but somewhere in this, you cross the Nancy Gracepoint. In the face of atrocity, you look for some rationale, some protocol, a straight, unbroken line in an exploded space. Take a statue down, or put one up, or suggest the insanity of foresight. Throw everything down the memory hole. Demand the NCAA, an organization with no legal or moral purview whatsoever, do insane, unjustifiable things to a team that received no on-field benefit whatsoever from this.

If you mean it, you’re just anger-binging, and are well past the Gracepoint. Nothing will ever be enough, and you’re half-right: nothing ever makes this better, not jail, not torture, not anything, and certainly not fury-mobbing about the mediocre, spineless evil of something so obviously spineless and evil that was still allowed to flourish thanks to the community’s leaders. Good reporting literally helps put these people in jail. Horrendous editorializing does not.

History’s Mundane eBay Auctions, Pt. XI – Marcus Fizer’s Mercedes

Posted in Automobiles, Basketball, eBay at 2:22 pm by

There’s no bids to date on a 1999 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class CL500, allegedly owned at one time by former Bulls F Marcus Fizer.  Fizer, the no. 4 overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft and most recently seen with the Taiwan Mobile Clouded Leopards, performed capably, if unspectacularly during stints with the D-League Austin Toros.  “ONLY 73,900 Miles, That’s Only 5,200 Miles a yr” touts the eBay advertisement, which would make sense given that Fizer’s spent so much time in Europe over the past decade, it’s amazing he’s been able to rack up that up wear and tear on the vehicle.   With bids starting at $10K, I must admit I’m a little tempted, though I might require a certificate of authenticity, plus a photograph of Fizer in the passenger seat during my test drive.

(h/t Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie)

33 Years Ago In Chicago – A Dark Day In Genre Bias

Posted in Baseball, Mob Behavior at 1:04 pm by

Perhaps with memories of the Insane Coho Lips Anti-Disco Army still fresh, White Sox ownership have ignored all suggestions from this corner to organize a Victory Records Sucks Night.


Terry : I Cannot Be Goaded Into Racist Abuse (I Was Simply Repeating)

Posted in Football, Racism Corner at 7:25 pm by

Former Chelsea captain John Terry’s trial on charges of aiming racial abuse at QPR’s Anton Ferdinand last Autumn continued Wednesday, with Terry denying he’d been provoked by Ferdinand referencing the former’s affair with the girlfriend of former teammate Wayne Bridge.  In addition, Terry continues to insist that he while appeared to call his opponent, “a black cunt”, he was merely repeating the slur back to Ferdinand.  From The Guardian’s Caroline Davies :

Under cross-examination , Terry agreed words such as “cunt”, “prick” and fuck”, were part and parcel of the game, as was calling another player “fat” or “ugly”.

“There are no-go areas aren’t there?” asked prosecutor Duncan Penny. “Wives, girlfriends. ‘I shagged yours’, that sort of thing?”

“I wouldn’t call them no-go areas,” replied Terry.

“Your domestic circumstances, the position is any allegation, as far as you were concerned, was a no-go area?” asked Penny.

“Clearly not,” replied Terry, who said he was used to dealing with abuse over the alleged affair with Vanessa Perroncel, fielding comments on it “more or less every game” when he “just laughed it off”.

He told the court he often repeated insults back to other players. Penny asked him: “You said that your response was to repeat back ‘a black cunt’, or ‘calling me a black cunt’. How about ‘what’? Straightforward, ‘what?’”.

Terry replied: “At the time I was shocked and angry. I had never been accused of it on a football pitch and repeated it back.”

After the game, he asked Ferdinand to come to the Chelsea dressing room, because he wanted to sort it out. “I said: ‘I thought you were accusing me of calling you black cunt’. His reply to that was: ‘No, no, no,’” he said.

He claimed Ferdinand had then said: “We all said things we shouldn’t have said”, and the two agreed it was “just handbags” – or banter – and shook hands.

Asked if he had considered apologising to Ferdinand, he replied: “Why would I apologise to Anton when he is the one who accused me? What I said was in response to what Anton said to me.”

Fine W(h)ine Purveyor Seaver : Modern Baseball Is Far From Terrific

Posted in Baseball at 2:51 pm by

Delivering a pep talk of sorts Tuesday to the assembled Pacific Coast League and International League All-Stars (some of whom were almost old enough to know who they were listening to), Hall Of Famer Tom Seaver bemoaned today’s ballplayers’ lack of appreciation for the game’s history (“what about Walter Johnson? Ruth? Cobb? I knew all that stuff,”). Quoted by Buffalo Business First’s James Fink, Seaver claims he can’t watch contemporary baseball on the TV, and that’s lucky, because you never know what kind of drunken slobs they allow on television these days.

Seaver is not a fan of average in-season games stretching beyond three hours, something he feels hurts baseball in landing new fans.

“They slowed everything down, all this fixing of the gloves and stuff,” he said.

Nor is Seaver a fan of self-imposed pitching limits where many starters barely go beyond the fifth inning or the 100-pitch mark.

“It’s all financial,” Seaver said. “(Team owners) don’t want them hurt.”

Seaver said during his days, pitchers had pitch counts but it came from within. Their fellow pitchers helped them keep count.

“Did we have pitch counts?” Seaver said. “You bet your ass we did, but it didn’t come from some computer somewhere. It was Koozy (fellow Mets pitcher Jerry Koosman) telling me I was near 112 pitches or whatever. I knew not to spend eight pitches on some team’s number eight pitcher.”

(h/t Repoz, Baseball Think Factory)


A Sad, Though Not Unbelievable Postscript To WFAN’s 25th : The Anti-Semitism Of Don Imus

Posted in Hate Fuck Radio, Sports Journalism, Sports Radio at 11:43 pm by

NYC’s all-sports radio outlet WFAN celebrated a 25th anniversary earlier this month, and some aspects of the station’s history have been chronicled here and there, no one has tackled the subject with nearly as much depth and perspective as Grantland’s Alex French and Howie Kahn.  “The Sound and the Fury : The fall and rise of the first all-sports talk station, WFAN” is an oral history that’s only a few hundred pages short of rivaling Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller’s “Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live”.  OK,  perhaps that’s a bit of crazy hyperbole on my part.  Would you believe “Please Kill Me”?

Perhaps there’s not enough to the WFAN tale to flesh out an entire book, but I wouldn’t mind seeing French and Kahn give it a shot.  In the Grantland piece, there’s ample praise for CSTB fave Steve Somers, considerable ridicule over the sad Queens tenure of Dino Costa’s artistic influence, Pete Franklin, a suggestion that Jim Lampley was drunk on the job, and at least one gratuitous diss of Suzyn Waldman.  Right up my alley so far, but best of all is the way one-time WFAN cash cow Don Imus burnishes his hate-fuck reputation.

Len Berman (sports anchor): I agreed to do a show for the station with Mike Lupica, but I immediately had remorse and I called up the general manager and said, “I just don’t know if I can do this.” And, of course, news was — and still is — a leaky sieve coming out of WFAN, so Bob Raissman broke the story in the New York Daily News. Raissman started calling me Achy-Breaky Contract in the paper and Imus, on his morning show, had one of his characters in a German accent calling me Lenny the Jew. Afterward, when I was on with Lupica, I said on the air — on Imus’s radio station — that I thought it was anti-Semitic, and then it just blew up. It became the front and back page of the Daily News and Imus claimed he wanted to punch me, and, you know, Lupica hardly talks to me now to this day, and on and on it goes.

Joel Hollander: He called Len a “boner-nosed Jew.”

Jeff Smulyan: I’m obviously a pretty well-identified Jew and I never felt that Don was ever anti-Semitic or anti-anything. He just liked to poke fun at everybody.

McCarver Fails To Mention One Of His Most Determined Opponents

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 6:42 pm by

Tim McCarver enters the broadcast wing of baseball’s Hall Of Fame this summer, so what better time could there be for The Sherman Report’s Ed Sherman to quiz the Fox analyst about player responses to his occasionally scathing criticism?

Early on, you had a reputation for being extremely candid, perhaps more so than what was the norm back then. How did players react to you?

Remember, I had played with a lot of the guys. One night, I did a Phillies game and Mike Schmidt hit a ball off the top of the wall. He always hustled, but he watched the ball and got a double. I said, ‘Schmidt should be on third base.’ Then I said, ‘Often, hitters are like artists. They step back and admire their work. They don’t run as hard. It’s understandable why he’s on second, but he really should be on third.’

Mike and I are close friends. The next day, he was acting cool towards me. Common sense says you should deal with it right away. I said, ‘Schmidty, is everything OK?’ He said, ‘No, it’s not. Don’t ever on the air say I didn’t hustle.’ That’s what his father told him I said.

I said, ‘I didn’t say that.’ I explained to him what I said and we were fine.

In New York, I guess I got this reputation (for being overly candid). Listen, I played with a lot of guys who were very direct and honest. Bob Gibson, Bill White, Curt Flood. They said what they felt. I learned it from them. I always approached playing the game in a candid way. I guess it carried over into broadcasting.

Some players may be upset with me from time to time, but overall, nobody can question my fairness. I have no regrets in the way I approached things back then and the way I approach things today.

Pittsburgh Scribe Scolds @TheCUTCH22 : No One Cares About Your Delayed Flight

Posted in Baseball, twitter twatter at 5:07 pm by

What traveler amongst us hasn’t taken to Twitter at one time or another to complain about long airport security lines, crying babies on planes or a drunken JetBlue steward or pilot extended stay on the runwway? Apparently, Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen shouldn’t be allowed such personal indulgences, with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ron Cook criticizing the NL All-Star’s “sense of entitlement”.

I suppose it would have been OK for McCutchen to take to Twitter to complain if he really believed he was performing a public service and anyone actually, you know, cared about his travel problems or the fact he and teammate Joel Hanrahan didn’t arrive at their Kansas City hotel until 3 a.m. But going out of his way to take a cheap shot at his bosses? At a time when the Pirates are flying higher than at any point in nearly 20 years? That’s hard to explain. That’s impossible to justify.

McCutchen struck out in that tweet in a couple of ways. Major League Baseball — not the individual teams — pays for a player’s travel to the All-Star Game. Each player gets a first-class ticket — not coach — and one for a guest. The teams are responsible for booking the travel.

You might have heard players make big money these days. They have the right and certainly the means to pay for a private jet, although it’s hard to believe there isn’t at least one local flight company that would have been delighted to give McCutchen and Hanrahan a free ride to Kansas City in return for an endorsement and the publicity. Apparently, Giants pitcher Matt Cain — who will start in the game tonight for the National League — picked up the tab for a plane for he and three teammates.


The Frogs’ Dennis Flemion – I Wish He Was Here Right Now…

Posted in Rock Und Roll, The Frogs at 8:23 pm by

….explaining that reports of his death were really some kind of elaborate Eddie & The Cruisers bullshit.  But that’s not the case. I wrote more on this subject for another blog, but suffice to say the past two days have been sad, hazy and heartbreaking. Some of you know all too well my tendency to go on for hours about the lyrical and musical genius of Dennis and his brother Jimmy.  Knowing the former has played his last show, wiped a chunk of ill-fitting wig hair from his eyes for the last time, is weepy stuff for sure, but that’s no comparison to what this loss means for his family and friends.  So yeah, I’ll miss The Frogs.  The real people in Dennis’ life are gonna miss him so much more.

If The Williams Sisters Aren’t All-American Icons, Who Is?

Posted in Blogged Down, Racism Corner, Sports Journalism, Tennis at 4:36 pm by

We’re a couple of days removed from Serena Williams’ 5th singles triumph at Wimbledon (followed by Serena and Venus winning their 5th doubles title), and in addition to a less than Algonquin-quality discussion on Mad Dog Radio Saturday about the sisters’ sex appeal (or alleged lack thereof), there’s this.

D.K. Wilson — consistently one of the more thoughtful writers on matters pertaining to sports and race — has a number of bigger observations about the state of tennis fandom in the USA, but his musings on Serena and Venus are equal parts poignant and sobering.

We live in a country where sports management companies coach Black U.S. Olympic athletes to praise God in a way that overtly say, I am a Christian,” after winning events so as to mollify the largely White viewing audience that still believes our African-American President – really, he is half African – is some sort of secretly nationalist, militant, Kenyan Mau-Mau Marxist socialist, who just can’t wait to win a second term so he can demand that every White American empty their pockets to fund the, Repatriate Descendants of Slaves, Executive Order; to pacify a White viewing audience that would just love to awaken tomorrow to find that “Tebowing” while facing Bethlehem is a mandatory morning classroom salutation in public schools.

This is the country where a Black woman and her older sister can win 10 of the last 13 Wimbledon Finals, not be the most popular female athletes In America, have the sisters’ family be booed mercilessly, while the younger sister is called a “nigger” during the match’s changeover.

In this country, Serena and Venus Williams can lose their closest relative outside of their immediate family, Serena can have a brush with death due to an illness, Venus can have a debilitating disease that leaves her nearly too tired to walk, yet they are not noted by every American sports fan as two of the most endearing – for their perseverance in the face of adversity – athletes in all of sports.

RIP, Creator Of A Deeply Frustrating, Thoroughly Unsatisfying “Football” Simulation

Posted in Gridiron, Technical Difficulties, The Marketplace at 7:46 am by

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio notes that North Jersey.com’s Jay Levin reported the late June passing of Alpine, NJ inventor Norman Sas, whose 1948 creation of the game depicted above became a colossal boon to the toy industry upon receiving an NFL license almost two decades later.

“Actual football thrills for armchair strategists!” said a 1949 New York Times display ad touting the game, available for $5.95 at the A&S department store on Fulton Street in Brooklyn.


Electric Football’s success was such that Tudor Metal Products changed its name to Tudor Games. Other manufacturers rolled out their own versions, but it was Mr. Sas’ Brooklyn-assembled game that received the National Football League’s imprimatur and elbowed its way into the Sears catalogue. A December 1971 Sports Illustrated story identified Tudor Electric Football — then retailing for $9.95 to $14.95 — as the “bestseller” among all NFL-licensed products.

“For the first 10 years, we generated more money for NFL Properties than anyone else,” Mr. Sas said in a 1998 Washington Post story about the Electric Football phenomenon. “Then the [video] games came out, and that was the beginning of the end.”

Marlins’ Diminutive Accu-Jack Enthusiast Argues Greg Dobbs Is A More Deserving All-Star Than Bryce Harper

Posted in Baseball at 3:08 am by

There’s 11 current members of the Marlins with prior All Star Game appearances, but Tuesday night’s AL vs. NL pathetic exhibition clash won’t feature a single Miami player.  Major League Baseball tapped Nationals rookie OF Bryce Harper to replace the Fish’s indisposed Giancarlo Stanton, an edict that met with the displeasure of Marlins team president David Samson.  Apparently, the league office isn’t nearly as easy to push around as Dade County. From the Palm Beach Post’s Joe Capozzi :

“There were a lot of different ways that Tony La Russa or MLB could have gone,” Samson said.  “I think it’s unfortunate. I think that every team should be presented on the line at the all star game.”

“I just think that all teams are supposed to be represented and if our guy had to have surgery, he had to have surgery. Obviously it has been a disappointing first half.

“That said, there are plenty of other teams that have had disappointing first halves and have plenty of all stars.

“If you look at the fact that this game counts and you need people to win games. Having (Greg) Dobbs as an All Star as a pinch hitter off the bench, having (reliever Steve) Cishek come in and get some righties out. Having Ruggiano coming who is completely clubbing the ball right now. I think he may have as much service time as the guy they named to replace Stanton this year, although I don’t know actually.

“For me it would have been natural to have Ruggiano in who has absolutely played as well as anyone since he was called up. Obviously MLB or Tony or whoever makes the decision has their own view of it and it’s certainly disappointing.”

Samson said he spoke with Tim Brosnan, an MLB vice president.

Asked about the explanation give to him, Samson said: “Can’t say that I had one.”


Nova To Fans : Keep Your Shirt On

Posted in Baseball at 7:30 pm by

(above : someone possibly more used to hearing requests like “can you sign my bosom?”.  Not recently, mind you)

A number of Yankees and Mets are quizzed by the New York Daily News’ Anthony McCarron in Sunday’s paper about the first time they were asked for their autographs. As you might expect, Derek Jeter’s had more practice than say, Josh Thole, but with the possible exception of Nick Swisher (“one of these days, ain’t nobody gonna want my autograph!” — hopefully someday soon, Nick), the most revealing reply comes courtesy of Yankee SP Iván Nova.

I was in high A (ball in) Tampa and I was pitching in Dunedin (against the Blue Jays’ Class-A team) and I pitched seven innings, scoreless, and after I came out, a lady came to me and said, ‘Can you sign my bosom?’ I said, ‘I’m not going to do that! You’ve got to be kidding!’ I was shocked. In front of everybody! And she almost took it out. I’m not going to do that. That’s the one that I think I’m never going to forget. I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ I got shy, because everybody was looking at me and laughing. After that, everybody was talking about it.


AJ Pierzynski : Reliable, Consistent At Things Besides Being Hated In 29 Baseball Cities

Posted in Baseball at 9:36 pm by

White Sox catcher AJ Pierzynski (above) has made a habit of rubbing opponents, fans and, well, trainers the wrong way for much of his big league career. But as SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee points out, not only is Pierzynski in the midst of a terrific 2012 season for the AL Central leaders, “he’s one of the most consistent catchers of his generation.”

There have been 23 catchers with more 100-game seasons over their careers, but a lot of those seasons were non-consecutive, and a lot of those seasons came after the catcher turned Pierzynski’s age (35). If you up the parameters to 120 games caught, Pierzynski is one of 15 catchers who has done it ten times. Two have done it in consecutive seasons: Johnny Bench and Brad Ausmus, Pierzynski obviously isn’t Johnny Bench at the plate, but he’s been much better than the typical catcher, played in this episode by Brad Ausmus.

Pierzynski has been in the second or third tier of offensive catchers — hovering around with the Terry Steinbachs and Jim Sundbergs, not especially close to Hall of Fame consideration.

Right now, A.J. Pierzynski is known for a few things, mostly having to do with a Pete Campbell-like punchable face and personality. Maybe that’s overblown, and maybe it isn’t. But in a decade or two, when young, new baseball fans cycle through this weird little world, they’ll look at Pierzynski’s career and notice that he was as consistent and healthy as catchers get. That’ll eventually be his legacy when the rest of us die off. And that’s a pretty good legacy.

Joba’s Coming Back To Active Duty — And CSTB’s Got His Social Calendar Sorted

Posted in Baseball, Gymnastics, Parental Responsibility at 2:41 pm by

Though the Yankee bullpen hasn’t suffered much since losing Joba Chamberlian to a ghastly trampoline injury earlier this year, the gutsy reliever is said to be nearing a rehab stint with the Yankees’ Gulf Coast League affiliate in Tampa some time next week.  And since there’s not much to do in Tampa other than jump up and down mindlessly on a trampoline (or encourage your children to do the same), I’m certain the management at Tampa’s Airheads will welcome Joba back to their establishment with open arms.  And just to prove there’s no hard feelings over Yelp deleting the account of my close personal friend, Randy Levine, I’m prepared to shell out $29.95 for a one-week Airheads pass for Joba (provided he signs the establishment’s waiver, of course). After all he’s done to boost CSTB traffic, it’s the least I can do .

Villanueva On Calipari : Cryptic, Duplicitious And Implying I’m Fat Is No Way To Go Thru Life, Coach

Posted in Basketball, olympics at 1:35 pm by

The University Of Kentucky’s John Calipari (above) either doesn’t earn enough money from his job coaching the Wildcats or he’s simply a huge fan of international hoops competition.  Either way, in his summer gig coaching the Dominican Republic national team, Calipari declared Detroit F Charlie Villanueva — out of action most of last season with an ankle injury — surplus to requirements for the London Olympics, suggesting that Villanueva was, y’know, not in prime physical condition.  Trouble is, Villanueva claims Calipari said nothing of the sort, and an allegedly damning workout never occurred.  From NBA.com’s Keith Langlois :

“I’m at home relaxing and people are hitting me up like, ‘You got cut from the Dominican Republic team?’ I didn’t know anything about it. The crazy thing is I spoke to coach Cal like two weeks before I supposedly got cut. Everything was fine. Everything was cool, then this article came out that I got cut. I had never worked out for them. Besides one conversation I had with coach Cal, they never saw me.

“I still don’t know what was the reason. I read I was overweight? I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ That’s not the case at all. I’m feeling great. I don’t know, but whatever. It is what it is.”

Trainer Arnie Kander said Villanueva weighed less and had a lower body-fat percentage as last season wound down than he’d had since becoming an NBA player and Villanueva said his weight has been maintained since the season ended.


Mark Cuban Prepares For Mediocrity With Sage Advice For Mikhail Prokhorov

Posted in Basketball at 7:30 pm by

(two members of the one percent, congratulate each other over not being the ones to overpay Raymond Felton)

A pair of finals appearances a decade ago aside, this might’ve been the most important week in Nets history, what with the club acquiring Joe Johnson, retaining Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace, and still clinging to hopes of picking up Dwight Howard, if not now, then in the near future.  While the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy hails Brooklyn owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s willingness to absorb a luxury tax bill as high as $107 million if Howard joins the team, our old friend, The Owner With A Boner (having his own memorable week….of sorts) has some words of warning.

The new collective bargaining agreement was supposed to deter teams from gaining an advantage by outspending others. Even high-end owners like the Lakers’ Jerry Buss have been queasy about crossing the threshold once the more punitive tax starts in 2013-14. But Prokhorov is worth $13 billion, or thereabouts. And while he spends most of his time in Moscow — and has prioritized his political career over the Nets — his money is omnipresent.

Even if the Nets don’t get Howard, they will most certainly be paying the luxury tax until 2016 with about $230 million owed to Williams, Wallace and Joe Johnson. They are also prepared to re-sign Brook Lopez to a long-term deal if they can’t land Howard, and give either Kris Humphries or Ersan Ilyasova a new contract to start at power forward.

Mark Cuban, who has taken the opposite approach by dumping salaries since the new CBA was signed, warned that owners like Prokhorov could face future setbacks with their free-spending.

“If they spend wisely, possibly (there’s an advantage),” Cuban wrote in an email to the Daily News. “If they spend it on what turns out to be bad contracts, particularly contracts signed under the old CBA, then it doesn’t matter how much money you spend. You are locked into only being able to improve your team using the taxpayer’s exception.

“That puts you at a distinct disadvantage.”

Hoffarth Humbly Suggests That Erin Andrews Is Not Jim Murray

Posted in Sports Journalism, Sports TV at 1:52 pm by

(above : not a photograph of Erin Andrews)

In the wake of Fox’s recent hiring of Erin Andrews after an 8-year tenure at ESPN, InsideSoCal.com’s Tom Hoffarth bemoans what he calls, “The Erin Andrews Effect” (“more female communications majors are taking as many shortcuts as possible to grab a coveted sideline reporting job or studio host instead of risking the time and challenge necessary to try play-by-play, game analyst, or even what’s still referred to as journalism”).  I don’t disgree with much of Hoffarth’s general point, but where was he a couple of years ago when someone needed to take a stand against The Tony Siragusa Effect?

No matter how much you’d think she was adding to a college football broadcast – and ESPN has been top-notch in that department for years — it’ll be the shots of her on the ESPY’s red-carpet, a ethically-challenged decision to promote a sports shoe without her company’s approval, or another photo spread in GQ or Vanity Fair that’s seared into our minds, which somewhat explain the interviews she’s done over the years with wide-eyed, adrenalin-challenged 12-year-olds at the Little League World Series.

“I . . . uh . . . here’s the thing with me – I very much feel that I’m a massive dork,” she tried to sound self depricating when making an appearance earlier this week on the Dan Patrick syndicated radio show, a place where former ESPN employees now go for their exit interviews and debriefing by the former famous “SportsCenter” anchor.

“I just kind of laugh at all of it. There are times when you wake up in the morning and your friends are texting you that your pictures are on TMZ or you’re walking through the airport and, you’re like, ‘Why? I don’t get it.’

That seems to get to the core of the issue.

It’s one thing to have a healthy naivety. But no one at IMG, which represents her and is supposed to be watching out for her best interests, could explain how the unreal media world of today works? At some point, it’s not all that cute any more to play dumb.


Joe Po (sorry) : The All Star Game Is No Longer A Big Deal

Posted in Baseball at 8:04 pm by

Jim Grey calling out Pete Rose. Mike Piazza playing tambourine for Alter Bridge. Mike Williams making the NL All-Star team with an ERA of 6.29. Those are just 3 moments in Midsummer Classic History that Joe Posnanski chooses to ignore when proclaiming Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game a fine venue for experimentation (robot umpires, wool uniforms, managers pick sides, etc.) but not so great for actual intrigue between the lines.  “The most fun part about the All-Star Game,” writes Posnanski, “is arguing about it before it even gets played.” Well, that and playing tambourine for Alter Bridge.

Baseball’s All-Star Game is the one that has tried the hardest to stay relevant — in large part, I suspect, because it plays such a big role in baseball’s history. There is nothing in any other All-Star Game to compare with Carl Hubbell’s successive strikeouts, Pete Rose running over Ray Fosse, Ted Williams hitting the eephus pitch out, Dave Parker’s throw, Fred Lynn’s grand slam or Bo Jackson’s massive center field homer. I just came up with six All-Star moments off the top of my head — it would be difficult to come up with one in any other sport.*

*I do know Jeff Blake completed the longest touchdown pass in Pro Bowl history; not sure if that record still stands.

So, baseball has tried numerous gimmicks and rule changes to make the game “matter” more. It’s taken the fan vote online, it’s added a player vote, it’s created this runoff vote, it’s tried to keep the game provocative. Well, it has made the voting process more interesting, but it has done little for the game itself. I don’t think anyone is to blame here: The very purpose of the All-Star Game — the extravaganza of seeing the best players in one place — has simply lost most of its appeal. We are left with an exhibition game where players are run in and out like it’s a game of pickup basketball. Do I want to watch Justin Verlander pitch one meaningless inning or wait three days and watch him start a game that matters? Do I want to see Ryan Braun get an at-bat against some hard throwing middle-reliever with nothing on the line, or do I want to wait until the weekend when it counts? There is nothing baseball can do about this issue. The All-Star Game — like pretty much all of these one-offs — is a casualty of the time.

Banks : #TakeJake Was A Big (Possibly Jingoistic) Mistake

Posted in Baseball, twitter twatter at 4:11 pm by

Earlier today, Major League Baseball announced Rangers starter Yu Darvish earned the remaining American League All-Star Game roster spot determined via the Final Vote promotion, finishing ahead of White Sox P Jake Peavy, Orioles P Jason Hammel, Royals reliever Jonathan Broxton and Angels reliever Ernest Fieri.  Chicago Sports Media Watch’s Paul M. Banks, perhaps having misplaced his supply of calm-the-fuck-down-pills, takes a dim view of the White Sox’s attempts to promote Peavy’s candidacy, in particular a tweet from teammate Addison Reed (“No matter what youre doing right now..get to a computer and lets get peavy in the all star game..NO EXCUSES!! #TakeJake”).

Yes, NO EXCUSES, forget work, having to pay your bills, or even donating money to the relief efforts in Japan, the country ravaged by an earthquake. Just like in 1942, the land of the rising sun will be vilified by Americans, at least when it comes to MLB All-Star voting, because the belief is that the entire nation will be rigging the online ballot box to get their favorite sons in. Reed is just reflecting the Twitter and Facebook sentiment of all Sox fans right now.

Many of them are going batshit right now trying to get Peavy in, whipped into a frenzy from the propaganda that starts at the very top with the White Sox own official Twitter and Facebook accounts. I’ve never really been one for mindless jingoism, whether it relates to your team or your country.

The Sox have already accomplished this, at least three times before with “grant me a Paulstar” (kind of creative, great season by a great player) Scott Podsednik (one of the worst All-Stars in Major League history) and “Punch A.J.” (very creative slogan, and it’s something pretty much every Major Leaguer wants to do).

Chris Broussard’s Pulitzer Campaign For Investigative Hoops Journalism Is In Serious Jeopardy

Posted in Basketball, Sports Journalism, twitter twatter at 11:59 am by

What would the reaction have been if, for instance, I tweeted that “sources confirm Yankees have signed free agent OF Darnell McDonald”, hours after McDonald himself had already tweeted the very same thing?   I’m guessing no one would give a shit. Mostly because, y’know, it’s Darnell McDonald, but also because hardly anyone no one is looking to me to break stories of any consequence (or even those regarding Darnell McDonald).  The same, however, cannot be said of ESPN’s Chris Broussard, who upon being brutally scooped by virtually every one of his peers on Deron Williams spurning Dallas in favor of the Nets, took to Twitter to claim, “source: Deron Williams tells Nets he’s staying in Brooklyn”. And that’s pretty mild compared to how he characterized Eric Gordon signing a maximum offer sheet with the Suns.

What sort of reporter with an ounce of integrity passes off an athlete’s prepared statement as a personal conversation?   What journalist with an spine can’t even acknowledge a story was broken elsewhere?  And given his reliance on new media for a steady flow of information, how tremendously naive must Chris Broussard be to not realize the transparency of his actions?  This is less about one (gigantic) company’s social media policy and more to do with a staggering lack of common sense.


Consolation Prize For Not Signing Nash : Knicks Nab The 2013 Slam Dunk Contest Winner

Posted in Basketball at 8:13 pm by

As you’ve probably heard elsewhere, the Knicks’ pursuit of Steve Nash came up just a bit short earlier today, with the two-time NBA MVP agreeing to a sign-and-trade to the Lakers.  While the move keeps Nash in close proximity to both his family and the Funny Or Die offices, New York fans —-undoubtedly uneasy over Brooklyn’s Marlins-esque ascent to relevancy — might take solace in Tuesday’s signing of free agent swingman James White.

Last seen with with Serie A’s Scavolini Pesaro, White, a prodigious scorer in European competition, has a pretty impressive global rep stemming from dunk competitions, prominent and otherwise.  Comparisons to Charles Smith or Nate Robinson would be inappropriate for a variety of reasons, particular as White is likely to make greater contributions than either.  That’s mostly because Smith is retired, but during a week in which the metropolitan area’s other team is ruling the back pages, I’ve got to take the good news where I can find it. And if some bright young person in the MSG AV Department can make a highlight reel of White’s dunks with “Contort Yourself” as the soundtrack, perhaps this terrible run of luck for the Knickerbockers will have been worth it.

Wishing The Happiest Of Birthdays To John Sterling

Posted in Baseball, New York, New York, Sports Radio at 3:12 pm by

I realize the above clip is several months old, but I must’ve been TOO HIGH, FAR, GONE when it was in circulation.