Reading somehow managed to blow a 4-0 lead over Arsenal during the latter’s 7-5 League Cup triumph on Tuesday night, a humiliating result for the hosts, even taking into account that ” Theo Walcott’s regulation-time equaliser was scored in the 63rd of the four extra minutes added on by the referee”. Still, ” a four-goal recovery is a four-goal recovery is a four-goal recovery” writes The Guardian’s Scott Murray.
As for Reading, well, everyone has their off days, like Arsenal did when shipping eight at Old Trafford last season, or like Arsenal will when shipping eight at Old Trafford this coming Saturday, unless they get their act together sharpish. But nevertheless, having become the first-ever team to score five times in an English domestic cup game yet still lose, the crumbling Biscuitmen could take some time to get over this. “It’s embarrassing for us all,” stuttered Reading boss Brian McDermott, who has given his players two days off to recover, during which they have been advised to go home and sit in the shower while holding their knees and rocking quite a lot. “I might throw the DVD of this game in the bin,” McDermott added, eschewing professional analysis in favour of going home and sitting in the shower while holding his knees and rocking quite a lot.
Pittsburgh’s ill-advised decision to put their Florida instructional league prospects thru Navy SEALS drills has been ridiculed far and wide, but Pirates club president Frank Cooley (above) insists, “nothing could be further from the truth” when it comes to claims his players are poorly prepared. Indeed, the next time something like this happens, there’s no one you’d rather have on your side. From the Altoona Mirror’s Cory Gigers :
“When we struggled at the end of last year, there were a lot of things that were overblown, in my opinion, because people were rightly frustrated and disappointed in the major league team’s play over the last two months,” Coonelly said on my radio show Tuesday while attending the Curve Booster Club’s annual members-only dinner at the UVA Club.
Coonelly addressed what he thinks is the issue, and his words sounded at least in part like an explanation for Kyle Stark’s highly unusual implementation of a military-type training regimen for minor leaguers after the season.
“It’s mental conditioning,” Coonelly said, “the mental toughness that is more of an issue than the player hasn’t been drilled, hasn’t been trained on these things, doesn’t know how to do them.
“It’s performing the fundamentals of the game in the highest pressure situation, and so we continue to work with our players throughout our system … teaching them how to perform well under pressure situations, how to control their emotions, how to be mentally and physically tough so that when they face the adversity, whether it be in the minor leagues or when they come up to Pittsburgh, they’re prepared.”
While some of KG’s NBA brethren participate in anti-bullying PSA’s, look forward to our Kev shooting an altogether different type of video for the kids. ie., “How To Remain A Hard Ass Well Into Your Late 30′s”.
Golden State’s 2012-13 season starts tomorrow night in Phoenix, an occasion that led Sports Illustrated to poll an unidentified NBA scout for his unexpurgated thoughts concerning the Warriors roster. To say he’s taking Mark Jackson’s squad lightly would be an understatement ; Andrew Bogut is “nothing special”. Stephen Curry is compared to Grant Hill (ie. the Grant Hill that was frequently injured) and Richard Jefferson is “paid way too much money and he thinks he’s better than he is.” And thru all of that, it’s former Knicks F/C David Lee — “a great guy, but talk about overrated” — who receives the harshest criticism.
Lee is looking for his own numbers big-time. I’m guessing he leads the league in rebounds off missed free throws. He has turned himself into a 20-and-10 guy — an accomplishment, for sure. But he’s never been a guy who is constantly helping on defense. The story you hear from the Knicks is that his teammates used to call him FEMA, because he’s never there when you need him. Lee is always there when he can take a charge, but when you’re getting beat around the basket after contesting a shot because you’re trying to make a play, he’s not coming over to cover for you. He takes charges and pumps his fist, but when you really watch him you see the things he doesn’t do.
Lee has a lot going for him, though. He has a reputation for being a gym rat and he does a lot of things well. But what you need from him first and foremost is to be a defender, and he’s just not that guy. You can’t put up those kinds of numbers without being a hell of an NBA player, but I don’t think you can win with him. Maybe if he were playing for somebody who had juice, like one of the Van Gundy brothers or Gregg Popovich or Tom Thibodeau, then you could get the best out of him. If he played for a coach who cared about the defensive end and would put him on the bench, then maybe Lee could have an unbelievable career. But Mike D’Antoni didn’t emphasize the defensive assignments, and Mark Jackson doesn’t care about them, either.
We’re two days away from the very first Brooklyn Nets regular season home game, and what better time could there be for the New York Post’s Steve Serby to interrogate Gerald WallaceAvery JohnsonTornike Shengelia owner Mikhail Prokhorov? In Serby’s not-quite-extensive Q&A we learn (amongst other things) that Prokhorov’s ideal mate is “beautiful, smart, sexy and makes a mean bowl of borscht.”
Q: Best piece of advice your mother or father gave you.
A: It’s a long story, but basically I had written an essay in school about wanting to grow up to be a Red Army commander, because I’d seen in a film how well they ate and, as I was in the middle of a growth spurt, I was hungry all the time. The school called in my parents and asked them why they weren’t feeding their child. They were aghast. At that point my parents told me: “It’s bad to lie, but you don’t have to tell everybody everything.” They made me re-write my essay to say I wanted to grow up to be a cosmonaut.
Just before the entire East Coast ends up underwater, the Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg recalls a Sandy (fire)storm of an entirely different sort, collecting various press accounts of the January, 1985 evening in which Redskins RB John Riggins attended the National Press Club Foundation’s annual banquet. Riggins, famously said to have dozed off during President George Bush’s speech, had the good fortune to be seated next to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, says of the incident, “we’re linked together for life, which is good for me, but not so good for her.” From the AP :
One of those at Riggins’ table, People’s Washington bureau chief Garry Clifford, confirmed that Riggins told Mrs. O’Connor, “Come on Sandy baby, loosen up. You’re too tight.”
Ms. Clifford said the justice laughed and appeared not to be insulted. “It was a very funny evening…No one was dying of embarrassment,” she said.
Associated Press photographer Ron Edmonds said he stepped over somebody sprawled on the floor at the end of the evening, not recognizing the person as Riggins.
“They took him out the VIP door,” said Edmonds. “They were dragging him, feet behind.” He said the person being dragged was mumbling incoherently.
Those who have the misfortune of following the Twitter feed of former Chicago Sun-Times / AOL Sports columnist Jay Mariotti are already well aware the longtime “Around The Horn” fixture can rarely resist the opportunity to remind his followers that a) crazy ladies like to set guys up for a fall, b) the LAPD treat honest fellas (who never hit women) like crap and c) LIFE’S FUCKING AWESOME LIVING NEAR THE BEACH. The Sherman Report’s Ed Sherman interviewed Mariotti recently, who seems rather fixated on the above themes, along with remaining wildly optimistic about his future employment prospects (“I’m mulling over three possibilities — all terrific jobs. If they happen, great. If not, Mumford & Sons are coming to the Hollywood Bowl next week.”)
How have/will your legal issues impact your ability to get hired? For lack of a better word, are you “tainted”?
Ever see “Fatal Attraction,” the movie? I often felt like Michael Douglas. But that doesn’t matter in post-O.J. Simpson L.A., where even a battered man doesn’t stand a chance when a couple is arguing on a street and a third-party witness calls 911. Prosecutors saw an opportunity for a quick series of headlines in the L.A. Times. They never wanted to hear my side of the story; they just funneled me through a preliminary hearing and left it up to me to take it to a trial, not caring about the invaluable witnesses we brought to the courtroom and my $250,000 in legal expenses, plenty of which made its way to a financially ailing city via outrageous court costs. I could have taken the case to trial, but what a circus that would have been. How do I know a jury wouldn’t profile me unfairly, as an opinionated ESPN commentator of Italian heritage, and assume guilt regardless of the truth? I chose to take a no-contest plea bargain for one low-level misdemeanor, which allowed this person to stalk me in attempts to entrap me and cause me more trouble.
I don’t hit women – never have, never will. As the father of two daughters, I abhor domestic abuse. In truth, I was the one abused in the relationship; one night, she punched me 22 times in the chest, right against the stent inserted during my 2007 heart attack. I’ve discussed all of this on two Fox Sports podcasts and in a Sirius/XM interview. I’ve written a book about it. Now it’s time for everyone to move on and realize that men, too, can be victims of domestic abuse.
While much of Murray Chass’ latest blog entry concerns the Miguel Cabrera vs. Mike Trout MVP competition (no surprise that Murray considers Wins Above Replacement an insufficient determining factor), the former New York Times baseball columnist (above) notes that MLB.com considered a Bud Selig V.A. hospital visit, a Taco Bell promotion and a similar plug for the “Ducks On The Pond” trivia game all newsworthy enough to warrant front page coverage. Conversely, the recent DUI arrests of Mark Grace and Carlton Fisk received no mention from Major League Baseball’s house organ. Noting the Selig piece along with the Taco Bell and “Ducks On The Pond” stories were all penned by Mark Newman, Chass sneers, “he is designated as enterprise editor. House man would be more appropriate.”
The articles about Fisk and Grace can be found on many Web sites andin many newspapers (though strangely not The New York Times), but baseball’s Web site, the one that says its articles and columns are “ not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs,” opted not to post either the Grace or Fisk developments.
Baseball apparently doesn’t recognize negative news about its people. It’s like a child thinking if he or she closes his or her eyes, bad things or bad news will go away.
No story, on the other hand, can be too bad to post on the site if it highlights a positive aspect of Major League Baseball or a baseball promotion.
If the above headline has you hoping the Mets might attempt to reacquire pending free agent OF Angel Pagen, think again. As the New York Post’s Joel Sherman points us, Pagan’s exceptional 2012 and subsequent postseason exploits, “might have priced him out of San Francisco”, meaning the Amazingly Destitutes are more likely to consider a more economical option. Say, disgraced Giants OF Melky Cabrera, who one of Sherman’s unnamed sources characterizes thusly ; “a pretty good player with the Yankees, fat and terrible for Atlanta, very good last year [for Kansas City] and unbelievable this year. Who is the real guy?…Real Melky was a fourth outfielder, fake Melky was the All-Star MVP. Maybe we are going to have to find if there is more nuance to that.”
The Mets were one club that came up regularly as a potential landing spot for Cabrera, as were the outfield-needy Phillies. The Mets need outfielders and don’t have a ton of money to address their severe needs there. So if they could bag Cabrera as corner outfield insurance against Jason Bay and Lucas Duda, it could make sense, especially if they are unable to retain Scott Hairston. Probably at his worst, Cabrera would be a motivated fourth outfielder who always could hit righties well, with the possibility he is more than that if any of the improvements of the past two years are real.
As you’re probably well aware, Oklahoma City has already made long term commitments to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. They’re on the hook for $52 million in future payments to Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. As such, signing reigning NBA Sixth Man Of The Year James Harden to a $60 million extension would’ve put the Thunder in luxury tax distress, a situation they’ll now avoid with tonight’s announcement Harden has been sent to the Rockets, along with C Cole Aldrich, guards Daquean Cook and Lazar Hayward to the Houston Rockets. Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb will join the Thunder, with Oklahoma City receiving two first round picks (Toronto and Dallas’ protected 2013 picks, respectively) and a 2013 second round pick originally belonging to Charlotte. The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry provides further details :
The deal comes on the heels of negligible progress being made on a contract extension for Harden following nearly four months of negotiating. As a result, the Thunder parted ways with the fan favorite after stagnant talks made it clear Harden would be too much of a financial burden to keep.
If no deal was reached on an extension by Wednesday’s midnight Eastern deadline, Harden would have become a restricted free agent next summer. Houston is believed to now be ready to ink Harden to the maximum-allowable contract that Harden has long been believed to covet.
A report by Yahoo! Sports on Saturday said Harden recently turned down a four-year extension worth roughly $52 million. The report also was the latest to say Harden is pushing for a max deal, expected to be roughly $60 million over four years.
The BBC’s Ceefax video text service was put to death earlier this week after 38 years of making Prodigy look space age. The Guardian’s Barney Ronay calls Ceefax’s termination, “a source of minor sadness for anybody who came to rely on that discreet but authoritative presence during those analogue years when, pre-rolling news, TV text had an absolute monopoly on these things.”
Ceefax had no byline picture. It had no angle to work, no cloud of nuanced personal ambition. Even in death there will be no Ceefax sex scandal. Ceefax did not have a caravan. Ceefax didn’t want to feel you up. Ceefax wouldn’t come jangling and panting and scrabbling at your door after lights out. In fact Ceefax had no interest in you at all. And this was the real nub, perhaps even its greatest distinction: it was courteously and brusquely non-interactive, unscarred by the current urge to embellish all – Have your shout! Speak your spume! Tell Us what YOU think even if it is essentially INANE and imitative MEWLING! – with the legitimising babble of transient public opinion.
Perhaps we could still learn a little from Ceefax’s orderly restraint at a time when all broadcasting seems intent on thrusting its great meaty fists out through the screen and presenting not so much a sense of authority, as a babble of shared misdirection, and when Sky Sports is even now broadcasting a kind of man-Ceefax on Saturday afternoons, a Ceefax of the flesh with real actual men dressed in wedding suits and ranged in front of invisible screens, frowning, shrugging, squawking, and essentially being human Ceefax on a grand, mob-handed scale.
Though the Flushing futures of David Wright and R.A. Dickey are yet to be determined, the New York Mets — possibly ignoring MLB edicts not release blockbuster news during the World Series —- announced Friday that Wally Backman would remain skipper of the club’s Triple A affiliate. Backman, afforded the position of breathing down Terry Collins’ neck for the last two seasons, will oversee the Las Vegas 51′s of the Pacific Coast League. Quoted by Newsday’s Marc Carig, Mets GM Sandy Alderson showed he has few equals in the profession when it comes to damning his employees with very faint praise.
“If he were to get a major- league job elsewhere, I’m sure he’d consider it,” Alderson said. “But in the meantime, we’re looking forward to having him here. He’s part of Mets history. He does a nice job for us on the field and we expect he’ll do that again here.”
As the 2012-13 NBA regular season approaches, who better to quiz about the New York Knicks’ propsects than the team’s former broadcaster, and one pushed out by James Dolan for not parroting the company line? TNT’s Marv Albert spoke with the New York Post’s Justin Terranova, and forecast an NBA title in Carmelo Anthony’s future, albeit in another team’s uniform.
“The biggest question for the Knicks is whether Amar’e (Stoudemire) and Carmelo (Anthony) can play effectively,” Albert said. “It hasn’t happened to this point. I don’t know it if can. Are they better with Amar’e coming off the bench? Will he accept that?
“With Carmelo, who is a great talent, but you wonder — you can get into the playoffs with him — but how far can you go with Carmelo? We saw that in Denver. With the isolation and him being the main scorer, you look back at NBA history teams with guys like him don’t usually win championships.”
“I look at Carmelo as someone who will have his greatest success on his next team as someone who comes off the bench as an instant offense guy. And is not on the floor for 38-40 minutes, similar to what Bob McAdoo did with his days after the Knicks (was sixth man for Lakers title teams in 1982, 1985).”
Chants of “Barry, Barry” rang out all over AT&T Park upon Barry Zito’s exit in the top of the 6th last night, and while the former A’s starter’s career resurrection remains a major storyline of this postseason, The Nation’s Dave Zirin prefers to focus on what he considers a deliberate diss to another Bay Area baseball icon. “They used to chant ‘Barry’ for someone else around here,” mused Fox Sports’ Joe Buck, to which analyst Tim McCarver responded, “…at Barry Manilow concerts.” In Zirin’s view, there’s much more to McCarver’s gag than terrible musical taste.
McCarver was actually making a poorly executed joke about the invisibility of Barry Bonds and at the expense of Barry Bonds. There is a delight that the baseball cognoscenti takes in making Barry Bonds their “invisible man.” It’s a way to marginalize him without confronting what he represents. He’s a home-run king in exile. He’s the end product of an era where owners made billions selling a steroid-enhanced product. He’s the person who can no longer tell the press to go to hell, because they won’t acknowledge his voice. The press corps once asked Bonds if he thought steroids was cheating. Bonds responded, “Is steroids cheating? You want to define cheating in America? When they make a shirt in Korea for a $1.50 and sell it here for 500 bucks. And you ask me what cheating means?” Now they don’t have to care what he thinks. Now they can humiliate him forever by denying his existence.
It’s so fitting that it was the fans of San Francisco who forced his name onto the airwaves. It’s the city where generations of people traveled to escape the sting of invisibility. It’s the city where shame is treated as the greatest sin of all. It’s the city where Barry Bonds can thumb his nose at the exile of Major League Baseball, and truly be home.
Considering how many suggestions were made that Detroit’s relative layoff after sweeping New York in the ALCS left them rusty for last night’s start of the World Series against San Francisco, it’s kind of funny that Tigers P Doug Fister insisted the opposite while being quizzed during a game his club was trailing. But at least Fister had the good graces not to bury his pitching coach, something ESPN.com’s Buster Olney seems to relish in all but blaming Jeff Jones for Justin Verlander’s monumental struggles against the Giants. “It’d be a safe guess that over the last two years, Jones hasn’t made many trips to the mound in the middle of an inning to speak with Verlander,” observed Olney, which is a pretty roundabout way of denying sufficient credit to Pablo Sandoval.
As Jones trudged slowly to the mound in the middle of Verlander’s 38-pitch third inning in Game 1 of the World Series — the right-hander’s longest inning of the entire season — the pitcher stared at him intensely, and maybe even with a little anger. He wasn’t mad at Jones, per se; he was just mad about what had happened.
“Why are you out here?” Verlander asked Jones, with a slight smile and some gallows humor, before mentioning that all the visit had accomplished was to fire up the crowd.
And when played resumed — with Verlander’s rhythm completely destroyed — he threw another fastball to Sandoval, who blasted a home run to left field, the second of his three on the night. “Wow,” Verlander said, stunned that Sandoval’s long drive had carried over the fence.
Verlander said after the game that he never felt in sync during the game, or even before, and he wasn’t able to command his fastball the way he wanted even while warming up. It should be noted that in his previous start in the postseason, against the Yankees, he had struggled with his command in his last six innings of work, and during Game 1 Wednesday night, his physical gestures on the mound suggested he was working to correct his delivery.
OK, that’s not exactly what the defending Western Conference champs said to Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist / sometimes hoops blogger, Flea. But as Ball Don’t Lie’s Kelly Dwyer reports, the Thunder rejected a request by history’s most annoying bass player the Rock & Roll Hall Of Famer to tour the team’s locker room during his band’s visit to the Chesapeake Energy Arena Monday night.
As Dwyer points out , this might not be the most reasonable expectations on the part of RHCP (“if the Chili Peppers owned their own studio or practice facility and rented out the space to other bands while they were away, the last thing Flea would want is some visiting musician to pull a bass off the wall hanger for a slap and tickle”), but I prefer to look at this way : many of us have thought and long and hard if there was anything that could make us look favorably upon Clay Bennett. Disrespecting Flea does nothing to mitigate Bennett’s crimes against Seattle….but it’s a great start!
(Chuck Nevitt thanks you in advance for not comparing him to any contemporary centers)
Earlier today it was announced that starting this season, fans voting for the respective NBA All-Star teams will no longer select a center, instead being asked to select a top 3 frontcourt players and a pair of guards. Speaking with the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen, Rockets head coach Kevin McHale bemoaned the current paucity of top flight big men.
“They had all kinds of forwards out there,” McHale said. “I think it’s a sad state when you can’t (find) enough centers in our league anymore to fill up the roster. I don’t know if it’s a position-less game. If Moses Malone was playing right now and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Robert Parish, you’d have centers. I don’t know where they went. They went the way of the dinosaur, I think.
“If you put LeBron James on Moses Malone, everyone would go, ‘What an interesting matchup.’ You do it for a while and LeBron would come over and say, ‘You got to take me off this guy.’ It’s just different. There’s just not a lot of them right now.”
The New York Islanders announced plans earlier today to bail on a 35 year tenure in Nassau Country, moving the NHL franchise to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in 2015. Quick to absolve Islanders owner Charles Wang (above, right) of blame (“his expansive vision for the 77-acre tract in Uniondale, a mixed-used development called ‘The Lighthouse Project,’ was kyboshed by Nimbyism and local political turf wars”) Newsday’s Lane Filler is looking on the bright side ; at least Long Island can build something more useful than a new hockey arena.
While the Islanders — and creating a new facility for them — have always been an anchor for any serious Hub plan, they have also been limitations. An arena takes up a huge footprint, and the parking spaces for an arena either eat tremendous acreage it they’re asphalt, or a gigantic sum of money if the parking is structured. Now, without being forced to include an arena or those types of parking in their plans (although they still might choose to) developers have a much broader opportunity. They can come up with a vision that provides them with profit, the county with tax revenue, and residents/employers/funseekers with a great place to live, work or recreate.
Or perhaps all three. Or something else entirely. That the Islanders are decamping is a shame, and the attempts to keep them have been a disaster. What happens next doesn’t have to be.
Polanco’s ankle was sprained in mid-August, and it cost him most of his final month of play. But the Pirates still saw fit to have him participate in that first day with the SEALS last month, and as you might guess, the ankle was reinjured. Worse than before.
It happened during a drill in which Polanco sprinted across the outfield, through an above-ground pool of ice water, then leaped into a sand pit.
I know this because I asked Polanco himself. Through an interpreter, he described it in vivid detail. I know this because a pitcher in his drill group independently described it the same way.
When I initially asked the team two weeks ago about Polanco, this was the emailed reply from baseball operations — no name assigned — through a team spokesman: “Polanco was NOT injured during that workout. He actually injured his ankle during the season. He opted out of those workouts, as he has continued to battle swelling but no pain.”
If you believe the players — and I do — the statement was a bald-faced lie.
However fun it might be, there’s little to be gained at this late date from kicking Lance Armstrong while he’s down, so why not turn a little attention to those amongst his enablers and apologists? The Seattle Weekly entrusts said task to former Sonics beat writer Mike Seely, who considers the case of ‘Every Second Counts’ and ‘Not About The Bike’ co-author Sally Jenkins, she of a Pulitzer nomination and years penning for The Washington Post. Seely is not totally without sympathy, noting he once witnessed Gary Payton in the late night company of Salt AND Pepa and chosen not to write about it. Still, Seely muses, “I’ve never been comfortable with the tidal wave of autobiographies penned by journalists who might have to cover the subject of their collaborations in the future.” Yeah, but enough about Joe Posnanski.
Jenkins’ books with Armstrong were published in the midst of his biggest successes and, as it turns out, near the height of his alleged illicit activities. Armstrong won two Tour de France titles after the second book was published and the clouds of rumored doping were flourishing in earnest, at least in Europe. Jenkins could have recused herself from Armstrong-related columns, but people recognized her as such an expert on the famed cyclist, many wanted her take. Jenkins provided one on Aug. 24, after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency leveled its initial doping accusations against Armstrong. She could have limited herself to commenting on the man to whom she was exposed, even mentioned his maintained innocence and her lack of knowledge about its veracity. Instead, she attacked the USADA and the system, providing a quasi-defense of her co-author. That column breached an ethical demarcation.
The rest of what the Jenkins-Armstrong partnership raises is not so clear cut. If Jenkins’ relationship with Armstrong was close enough, Armstrong hypothetically could have been comfortable enough to inject himself in her presence. If that had happened, would Jenkins, as a journalist, have been obligated to report the incident? Even if she had felt compelled to do so, I doubt she could have, by journalistic or even societal standards. Writing about an activity that one “witnesses” merely is making a claim, not providing definitive proof. Otherwise people could make claims all the time about other people they didn’t like. How nice to be able to say you saw the boss, who was about to fire you, push a stranger off a balcony. Corroborating facts or testimony by a named source are necessary to meet journalistic or criminal standards.