How should a major commercial broadcaster handle the following scenario : one of soccer’s top managers — a telegenic, quote-factory and a subject of major fascination throughout the continent, but particularly in England —- gifts you with the scoop that he won’t be returning to Real Madrid in the summer?
If you’re ITV, the answer’s pretty simple. PULL THE PLUG and get out of dodge.
ESPN hoops reporter Chris Broussard (above) wasn’t quite ready to declare free agent C Jason Collins an American hero for the latter’s coming out yesterday afternoon, with Broussard adding that adulterers, fornicators and those engaging in pre-marital sex are Collins’ teammates “in opposition to God”. But enough about Steve Phillips, while most reasonable persons not named Bubba Watson found Broussard’s religious fervor a tad out of place in the middle of an “Outside The Lines” broadcast, serial doomsday predictor Pat Robertson has his back. From The Raw Story’s David Edwards :
“Somehow we’ve said if it’s heterosexual fornication, it’s bad; if it’s homosexual fornication — that used to be called an abomination in the Bible — now it’s a protected civil right,” Robertson said. “And so somebody that says that that kind of conduct is sinful is now being pilloried in the press. He’s telling the truth! This is what the Bible says!”
The TV preacher pointed out that “these media types” who were criticizing Broussard had chosen “a lifestyle that takes them outside the protection of God.”
“You can’t tell them if they want to go to hell or heaven, that’s their business,” he declared. “But don’t tell somebody that he can’t speak specifically about what the Christian faith says about certain conduct. There isn’t anything bigoted about that.”
“So, our hat’s off to somebody who’s brave enough to say it. But, whew, let’s hope the people at ESPN will man up and defend their guy for speaking what is truth.”
In which the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley proves he’s fully capable of inserting himself squarely into the story in more than one professional sport. It would be simplistic to say Cowley lit a fire under The Fighting Yormarks Of Atlantic Avenue…but I’ve been waiting WEEKS to call the Nets the Fighting Yormarks Of Atlantic Ave., so this will have to do.
ESPN poker anaylst / Washington Post columnist Norman Chad notes that Michael Jordan was married for the 2nd time this past weekend, shortly after Kobe & Vanessa Bryant announced their reconciliation and LeBron James confirmed his engagement to girlfriend Savannah Brinson. Speaking from his own personal experience, Chad writes, “it is so depressing, and devastating, to watch our best and our brightest athletes throw away their future time and again by conforming and capitulating to a broken-down American institution?” (“If you back down a defender, then put up a fadeaway, turnaround jumper that keeps bouncing off the side of the backboard, you stop taking that shot, right? So why do these great, savvy athletes keep walking down the doomed aisle to matrimony?”). We’ll have to presume Norman was not invited to the Jordan/Prieto wedding, but who amongst us wouldn’t want to see Charles Oakley’s reaction if Chad had voiced any of these sentiments out loud?
This remains one of the few areas in life in which Couch Slouch has PhD-like credentials. I am the Stan Musial of husbands — conjugally speaking, I am considered a two-time loser, but in baseball, my .333 batting average would put me in the Hall of Fame.
Be like Mike? Are you kidding me? No. Guys, guys, guys — be like Hugh Hefner. And, hey, I guarantee you the most interesting man in the world — that deliciously debonair Dos Equis fella — has never been married.
MJ was married for 17 years to his wife Juanita. Their divorce settlement reportedly cost him $168 million. Frankly, I believe this was karmic payback: MJ got away with a massive push-off against the Jazz’s Bryon Russell before hitting the winning shot in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals; nine years later, his ex-wife got away with her own beneficial “legal” contact.
Keith Moreland remembers getting beer thrown at him as he walked off the field that day. Elia was right behind him.
“I got angry, started to lunge, and he said ‘Go on,’ and all the way down the line he was just ranting and raving. I thought he was mad at me,’’ the Cubs radio analyst said.
But Elia was angry at the fans. His rant moments later was triggered by a question from an out-of-town reporter asking if he thought the fans were still backing the team.
“There’s no question that if it happened today, he would have been fired that night,’’ said Bob Ibach, then the Cubs’ director of media relations.
In fact, general manager Dallas Green was ready to dismiss Elia after hearing the tape — and would have but for a chance circumstance that saw Elia in his office when Green called.
“There were no cellphones of course, and Lee told me later he had left because he was supposed to be a celebrity umpire for his daughter Tania’s softball game,’’ Ibach said. “But he left his keys in his office, came back and heard the phone.
“Had he left, Dallas would have fired him that night.’’
Instead, a mortified Elia listened to the tape and realized what his words sounded like.
“Lee told me years later ‘I was never good at math,’ ’’ Ibach said, Elia cursing “15 percent of fans’’ when he was thinking about those 15 to 20 he had just encountered.
Anyhow, good to know that Broussard’s gripes aren’t merely limited to those living the “homosexual lifestyle”, but also those who engage in “adultery, fornication ..premartial sex between heterosexuals”. That pretty much covers 100% of everyone the ESPN hoops analyst will be covering the rest of his career, not to mention his colleagues and employers. Unless AC Green has some plan we’ve not heard of to start his own 24-7 sports network, Chris Broussard might find acceptance far harder to come by than Jason Collins.
What might provoke a person in Collins’ line of work to come forward with this proclamation? “I have no idea,” grumbled Francesa, who seems to consider the intrusion of, y’know, real life, on his program, a huge annoyance. “I’d rather talk about the quarterback”, said the “Mike’d Up” host, presumably referring to Gino Smith. Or Tim Tebow. Or Mark Sanchez. Or Greg McElroy. Or David Garrard. One of those guys
If you turned off the TV or flipped to another thrilling sporting event after Tampa tacked on a pair of runs in the top of the 9th today in Chicago to take an 8-3 lead, you likely missed Rays starter David Price’s postgame comments about a contentious exchange with home plate umpire Tom Hallion.
Oh fuck, who am I kidding? Like I have any idea whatsoever if there’s a Rays postgame TV show, what channel it might be on and who plays the part of their scoldy Bobby Ojeda (presumably not Greg Vaughn, but like I said, I don’t know for sure). The Tampa Tribune’s Roger Mooney provides the helpful testimony :
Price, upset he didn’t get an earlier called third strike on White Sox center fielder Dewayne Wise, yelled into his glove as he was walking off the mound after inducing Wise into an inning-ending comebacker. That’s when Price said he heard Hallion say, “Why don’t you throw the ball over the (blank)-ing plate?”
A number of Rays said they heard the exchange, including Jeremy Hellickson, who was eventually ejected for yelling at Hallion.
Price said he spoke of the incident to reporters because he wanted it out there. “Something has to be done about that,” he said.
“I’ll come right out bluntly and say he’s a liar,” Hallion said. “I said, ‘Just throw the ball.’ That’s all I said to him,” Hallion said.
“I’m denying what he said I said, pretty strongly,” Hallion said.
Price responded with this tweet: “Someone give me the definition of a coward, please.”
The reason women have access to locker rooms, dressing rooms or clubhouses is simple: it allows them the same freedom that male reporters enjoy and, as a result, allows female reporters who wish to earn a living as sportswriters to do so. I mean, that’s it. Nothing more; nothing less. And as someone who, with all due respect to Don Cherry, spends much more time in locker rooms and the like than he does, I can put the old fool’s mind to rest: unless it’s one of the dumpier sports facilities out there – such as Fenway Park, for example – players usually shower and change in separate areas. Often, players are either in sweatsuits or street clothes when they are in areas where they do post-game interviews. If they have showered, they avail themselves of this new invention – it’s called a towel, Don – and the skilled ones among them have mastered the art of slipping on skivvies underneath the towel so prying eyes don’t get a sight of their unmentionables. It’s just not that difficult to maintain a sense of decorum.
It’s odd hearing a puck-head talk the way Cherry talks, because the truth is the NHL and NBA were the two sports that were at the front of the pack in ensuring equal access, which is the way it should be. There may be a time when all reporters – male and female – stop accessing to dressing rooms, likely because the nature of sports writing and sports journalism evolves to the point where it is no longer necessary. But as long as male reporters are allowed in, so should women have the right of equal access. Only Don Cherry could start a fire out of this much damp wood.
Bard’s problem is breathing, as Lee sees it. Maybe a run from the highest mountain in Maine, Mount Katahdin, to the ballpark would help, Lee said with a laugh.
“He wasn’t picking up home plate, he didn’t want to let go of the ball,” Lee said. “He was having an anal retentive moment, which goes back to Otto Rank and (Sigmund) Freud. When you start going back to your glove, you’re going home to mama. You want to break that habit. It’s a breathing problem.
“Correct his breathing, correct his pitching. Got to work from that principle first. And I told ‘em to take him to Mount Katahdin and run him all the way back to the ballpark. By the time he got back, he wouldn’t have a breathing problem.”
It was a bad day,” Lee said of Aceves’ final outing with the Sox before his demotion. “It was just a bad day. He didn’t want to pitch, Oakland was all in their hoodies and everything else and they came out to play and the Red Sox didn’t. And it was a bad day and he didn’t cover first base and then he blamed no runs. He just had a bad day. We all have bad days. But he’s still a very good pitcher, and a very good long man.
“He’s a very sensitive guy and we had a tragedy in this town. Ballplayers are like canaries in a mine shaft. Miners used to take them down, and if there was any whiff of gas, a canary would die and allow the miners to get out. He’s a sensitive guy, very emotional. But he can be tough and durable. We’re all like that.”
Mitchell Brown sent a tweet that threatened, “Patrick Beverly (sic), I’m coming to kill you.” He sent another using Beverley’s Twitter handle; “@pavbev21 I’m coming to kill you.”
Capt. Dexter Nelson, a spokesman for the Oklahoma City Police Department, said officers in conjunction with the Houston Police Department and the NBA are looking into what he described as “Internet threats.”
Nelson could not elaborate on the matter, state law prohibiting authorities from commenting on a juvenile case unless an arrest is made. In addition, he said the department does not comment on suspects.
Thunder spokesperson Matt Tumbleson said, “We do not condone his comments. He works game nights on a voluntary basis. We will handle this matter internally.” Shortly after Thunder officials were told of the tweets, Brown deleted them with an apology:
“Yesterday I posted something completely Inappropriate and I need to apologize. I was out of line and it will not happen again.”
He later removed that tweet and instead said his account was hacked.
LSU CB Tharold Simon (above, right) was projected to be a middle-round selection during the in-progress 2013 NFL Draft, however, showing an uncanny knack for the dramatic, the Eunice, LA native managed to drum up some publicity between Thursday and Friday’s draft sessions. KATC’s Ian Auzene details Simon’s exciting night out in his hometown :
According to police records, Tharold Simon’s car was blocking Beulah Street when an officer asked him to move it. According to the report, Simon told the officer, “I own Eunice,” and “I’m gonna buy these projects and you are gonna be mine,” (sic) before finally moving his vehicle. The officer noted in the report that Simon spun his wheels and “backed the vehicle in an aggressive manner” and turned his radio “all the way up” while moving his car. The report also says Simon told the officer that “the mayor was on [his] side” and that the officer would be fired if he wrote a ticket. Simon is charged with public intimidation, resisting an officer, and unnecessary noise violation. He was released on bond.
Simon, a graduate of Eunice High School, is expected to be selected in the middle rounds of this weekend’s NFL Draft. Eunice city officials are scheduled to proclaim today “Tharold Simon Day” during a ceremony this evening. Eunice Mayor Rusty Moody says the ceremony will go on as planned.
(Sonny Weems, linchpin of a 28-54, lottery-bound team, contemplating how much an American President could get for his autograph)
Earlier today, the White House released an extensive list of gifts received by President Barack Obama from foreign governments since 2011. It’s a diverse collection of items including but not limited to South Korean president Lee Myung-Bak’s autobiography, ‘The Uncharted Path’, and, from France’s former President Nicolas Sarkozy, a “tall Plexiglas sculpture, entitled Wrapping Flag Candy USA , depicting an upright Tootsie Roll with an American flag patterned wrapper.” Neither presentation, however, is nearly as questionable as the following, detailed by the Globe & Mail’s Tu Thanh Ha :
Since Mr. Obama is known as a Chicago Bulls fans, Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered him a basketball, signed by the 2010–2011 Toronto Raptors.
The ball was presented in a plastic display case, inside a green leather-bound box with Mr. Harper’s seal on the top.
Earlier today, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan accused Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria of ordering rookie skipper Mike Redmond to flip the scheduled starts of Jose Fernandez and Ricky Nolasco in Tuesday’s doubleheader. If you’re wondering what difference it would make, Passan suggests Loria was attempting to curry favor by letting Fernandez start in warmer weather, while presumably, Loria has already given up on Nolasco, who recently requested a trade.
“I had nothing to do with the decision,” Loria said. “I was informed of the decision by the baseball department. I told them it was their call.
“I don’t make decisions on who to pitch and when, how to go about it — that’s not my role. Sometimes they call me and tell me what they’re doing. But I don’t call them up and say, ‘This is what is going to happen.’ That’s not true.”
Loria, an art dealer, said he was discussing his primary business at the time he received a call about the pitching changes from general manager Michael Hill.
“I was engaged in discussions in the world about pictures, as in paintings, not pitchers, guys who can or can’t paint the strike zone.”
….to shit all over Mitch Kupchak. You might recall last Autumn when the Lakers jettisoned Brown in favor of Mike D’Antoni, the former had not little negative to say about Kupchak, the Buss family, Kobe, Dwight Howard, Dyan Cannon, etc. , and was seen loading up on Chick-fil-A without hours of his dismissal. Fast forward this week to Brown’s rehiring in Cleveland, however, and the veteran head coach is suddenly free to dish the dirt on the Lake Show’s dysfunctional family business (“I mean, I take a team without a training camp into the second round of the playoffs and then I’m gone…could you imagine what they would have said if I was the coach with Kobe playing all of those minutes?”) From the LA Sentinel’s Kenneth Miller :
When told that I didn’t think the Lakers would hire a Black coach and was surprised to see that he accepted the job, Brown responded: “I kind of thought about that. I felt they were going to pull out all of the stops to doing everything to win a championship, but that was not the case.” During his first season, the strike-shortened season of 2010-2011, Brown didn’t have the benefit of training camp with a roster that included Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom. Then one day in December, he was called into general manager Mitch Kupchak’s office.
“So, I go up there and he tells me that we just traded Lamar Odom! My mouth just dropped. He explained to me that it was for salary cap reasons, but nothing that he did after that justified anything to do with the salary cap,” Brown said.
Brown said that he wasn’t even consulted or asked what he thought before the trade went down.
“I mean, how can I not be told in advance of losing one of my primary pieces, a guy who was ‘Sixth Man of the Year?’”
Rookies and sophomores are not supposed to pound their chest after hitting triples in the late innings of blowouts. They are not supposed to ask veterans for money for clothing by saying, “I’m a rookie, you have to buy me a suit.”
They are not supposed to show up on the team bus in an undershirt. Or declare themselves “the man” after their first big league homer. Or fail to run out popups all through the minor leagues. Or be suspended twice in one winter ball season for insubordination. Or miss the cutoff man often. All of these things, Valdespin has done.
From his perspective, he is just being himself, having fun, enjoying life, refusing to conform to the game’s conservative norms (many of which, he’s right, they’re stupid), while insisting that there is no real issue. “We’re a family,” he said. “We play hard every day. We have young guys in here. We have veteran guys in here. We have everybody on the same page.”
The veterans see it differently; they view it as their responsibility to teach young whippersnappers how to act like big leaguers. There are a lot of disconnects at play here — cultural, generational, personality — but both sides have shown incremental movement this year toward one another.
“It’s getting better,” one player said Wednesday. “Last year he would get mad when we tried to help. We’re like, ‘we’re trying to help. You’re a part of this team.’”
Barring new comebacks for Jose Offerman or Carl Everett, the following news might be the independent Atlantic League’s biggest contribution to baseball this year. Earlier today, the league “a season long experiment to explore ways to reduce the average time of a nine-inning Atlantic League baseball game and to improve the pace of professional games regardless of length”. In other news, Steve Traschel will not be pitching in the Atlantic League this season.
Elements of the 2013 Atlantic League Experiment Include: Strike Zone – The Strike Zone defined in the Major League Official Rules will be called by Atlantic League umpires in 2013. In practice, despite the rulebook definition, professional baseball pitches above the belt are generally called a “ball” these days. In the past, the Official Rules Strike Zone was called and the Atlantic League would like to attempt to measure the effect of calling the existing rule on pace of the games. The objective of enforcing the Rule Book Strike Zone is to see if this will reduce number of pitches in a game and to speed up play by encouraging hitters to put balls in play earlier in the count. Hitters – Existing Rule 6.02 prohibiting hitters intentionally leaving the batter’s box and delaying the game will be enforced. Managers and umpires shall strongly encourage hitters to be ready to bat, and hitters shall minimize time between pitches. Hitters are not to step out of the batter’s box after every pitch. Public Address announcers must stop player walk out music once the hitter enters dirt area around home plate. After a warning, umpires may call a ‘Strike’ for additional violations. Pitcher Warms Ups – Existing Rule 8.03 which states “Pitchers will be allowed eight (8) warm up pitches, but shall not consume more than one (1) minute” will now be enforced, as will Existing Rule 8.04 which states “when the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball.” After a warning, each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call ‘Ball’. Time between Half Innings – Existing Rule 9.05 regarding “keeping the game moving” will be enforced. Umpires and Official Scorers shall monitor time from the making of last out until first pitch of next half inning is thrown. Goal is 90 seconds or less instead of the existing 120 to 150 seconds. Frequent Visits to the Mound – During the first half of the 2013 season, the Atlantic League will also be evaluating whether modifications to the rules regarding mound visits by the manager, coaches, and position players should be added to the experimental program. While this evaluation is being made, managers have been requested to attempt to minimize mound visits and, where feasible, make pitching changes between innings rather than during an inning. Game Reports – Within 24 hours following the end of any nine inning game that exceed 2 hours 45 minutes, a written report describing what events caused the game to exceed the 2 hour 45 minutes must be sent to the League Office, by each Manager, Umpires, home club General Manager and Official Scorer. Enforcement – This experimental program is a cooperative effort involving all Atlantic League players, Managers, Coaches, Umpires and Front Office. The League expects voluntary compliance and does not anticipate needing enforcement actions that might disturb the flow or integrity of the Game. As data is collected and evaluated adjustments to this program may be made from time to time.
It was reported earlier today that a plaque on AT&T Park’s left field wall marking Barry Bonds’ 755 career home runs had gone missing. Not to get all Alex Jones on you, but something stinks to high heaven about this. Say, for instance if the Mets’ giant statue of Mrs. Jeff Wilpon (honoring her role in the Kaz Matsui acquisition) suddenly disappeared. Would you be naive enough to believe this was a simply oversight? The San Francisco Chronicle’s Scott Ostler is just as cynical as yours truly, wondering if Barry’s plaque going AWOL, “part of a bigger plot to erase the memory of the famed (or infamed) slugger?”
I contacted Staci Slaughter, the Giants’ genial and efficient “Senior Vice President, Communications and Senior Advisor to the CEO.”
Slaughter got back to me quickly and said she was on the case. Early Monday she e-mailed me that the shield had disappeared “sometime last week,” and, “We are in the process of making a new one to replace it.”
Now the mystery is what happened to the shield.
Did Bonds sneak into the park and make off with the shield? Did a notorious gang of local wharf rats mistake the shield for a giant cookie? Did the seagulls carry it off?
Hard to imagine a fan or fans making off with the shield. It’s about six feet high, and has to be pretty heavy. First they’d have to pry it off the wall, possibly using a ladder to reach it. Then they’d have to sneak it out of the ballpark. Good trick.
“As I see my function, something comes up: some complex issue—something bigger than Bill Simmons tweeting or Roethlisberger doing a girl in a bar bathroom—something really comes up to the core of ESPN.” Putting aside for a brief moment that Big Ben was accused of something far more criminal (and far less consensual) than “doing a girl in a bathroom”, newly tapped ESPN ombudsman Robert Lipsyte (above) tells the New Republic’s Marc Tracy that he’s got bigger fish to fry, and with no one having come close to filling the shoes of LeAnne Schreiber, Tracy’s inclined to believe him (“ESPN may have hired Lipsyte as a nice hood ornament—the kind of thing that gets a positive post even out of Deadspin, and makes ESPN look journalistically accountable—but that doesn’t mean he’s not a great pick for the job”)
“The main differences he sees between his job, which lasts for 18 months, and that of media reporters at outside organizations like Deadspin, is, first, that he will be more sensitive to readers and viewers’ complaints—“the mailbag,” as he put it. “I’m not going into this as an enterprise investigator,” he explained. “Something will come up. I’ll get a flood of emails: ‘What the fuck?’ I will try to explain what happened. If it turns out to have been some minor mistake, fine. If it turns out to be a major ESPN fuck-up, then that’s the story, too.” And the second difference is—so he hopes, with a fair degree of confidence (probably more than I would have)—that he will get answers from ESPN that outside reporters might not. “I’d like to think that they have to talk to me,” he said, adding, “I think that they would answer my phone calls, simply because, y’know, how could you not answer your ombudsman’s phone calls? That’s like a guilty plea.”
As a model, he cited the New York Times’ current public editor (the Times being too High German to call its ombudsman an ombudsman) Margaret Sullivan. “I think she’s doing a really good job,” he told me. “I really like her structure, which is to respond to something people are concerned about, do the reporting, lay it out to give you a chance to make a decision, and then at the end: ‘This is my take.’”
…will undoubtedly provoke responses asking when the league will have it’s first openly gay football player. As a society, we’re moving (albeit slowly) towards a moment in history when discrimination on the basis of sexuality is no longer acceptable in any workplace, let alone NFL locker rooms. Discrimination against kickers, however, might continue, if the following excerpts by Outsports’ Cyd Ziegler’s “Coming Out Kicking : Openly Gay Former College Kicker Tries For The NFL” are anything to go by.
In many ways, a place-kicker could be the perfect next step for gay visibility in the NFL. It’s the position on a team furthest removed from other players, not part of the offense or defense, but rather the “special” teams unit. A place-kicker only steps on the field for a handful of plays. Some former football players, like former 12-year offensive lineman and current ESPN personality Mark Schlereth, have long taken potshots at kickers, saying they’re not even football players.
“They’re considered screwballs by the pro football establishment,” the legendary Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman wrote of place-kickers in his “Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football. “On TV you might hear CBS’ Pat Summerall say, in his low-key way, ‘Well, they are different.’”
Like a lesbian basketball player, a gay kicker plays to a stereotype. In a sport defined by hard hits and toughness, only on rare occasions — if there’s a broken play — does the kicker hit or get hit. Bill Gramática famously ended his 2001 season with a torn ACL after simply jumping to celebrate a field goal for the Arizona Cardinals.
“We’re a quirky bunch,” Michael Husted, the former NFL kicker, admitted.
He wanted to tell me I have no balls. At first I think he said “small balls.” But by the time he had finished, and knew Penguins GM Ray Shero was listening, he had decided I had none. Oh, and I believe he also mumbled something about me having no penis before disappearing into the players-only room, which I found interesting.
I will not take this opportunity to, ahem, brag about my manhood.
Cooke accused me of hiding behind the cameras, which is funny. In scrums that large, none of us scribes can get past the guys shooting video. Besides, what exactly would I be hiding from? Cooke wanted to know why I didn’t ask any questions. It’s because I only had one, and somebody beat me to the punch. When Cooke held to his story that the Karlsson injury was a “complete freak accident,” I’d heard enough.
Again, I don’t think he was aiming for Karlsson’s Achilles, but I’ve watched the replay many times and I’m convinced he was either trying to hurt the Senators best player or he was being careless enough with his boot blade to warrant a suspension.
For the record, I kind of like Cooke, even if he isn’t as effective as he used to be. He’s controversial, which is a good thing. And yeah, he’s dirty, but that just means he’ll do anything to win. I only wish he’d answer for his actions the way real men who play his game do.
Maybe he should grow a set of his own before worrying about mine