06.30.13

Fennelly : Leyland’s A Goofball

Posted in Baseball at 11:19 pm by

A day after Tampa’s Fernando Rodney attempted to use the head of Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera for target practice, Rays skipper Joe Maddon called Rick Porcello’s plunking of Ben Zobrist, “absolutely uncalled for”.  And summarily tackled the precise reason why the purpose pitch aimed at Zobrist was, y’know, called for, labeling Cabrera a crybaby.  There’s no mystery which side the Tampa Tribune’s Martin Fennelly is on, suggesting Tigers manager Jim Leyland has gone a little overboard in protecting his superstar.

There is another term for what Rodney did to Cabrera. It is called “pitching.” Push the man off the plate, then give him one outside. Cabrera leads the majors with a .373 average and 81 RBIs. What does he want, anyway, the ball placed on a tee?

Leyland looks like a goofball. He’s old school, so he knew Rodney wasn’t trying to hit Cabrera in a tie game in the 10th with Prince Fielder up next. Sunday morning, Leyland said Saturday night was “history.” Guess it wasn’t.

It was an easy call for Leyland, given the choice between hitting Zobrist or explaining to his sensitive main man why he didn’t.

I guess all of this would be more palatable if two pitchers, Alex Cobb and J.A. Happ, hadn’t recently been hit in their skulls by line drives at the Trop.

Raissman : There’s No One At ESPN More Qualified To Analyze The Hernandez Case Than Ray Lewis

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Journalism, The Law at 6:34 pm by

While his New York Daily News’ colleague Mike Lupica calmly suggests former Patriots TE / accused murder Aaron Hernandez, “could be a kind of evil the NFL has never seen before”, even invoking Walter White in the process (“maybe Hernandez wasn’t worried about threats because he was the threat”), the Daily News’ sports media columnist Bob Raissman concerns himself with ESPN’s coverage of the case. Namely, newly hired analyst Ray Lewis and how his unique personal history might give him greater insight into Hernandez’ situation than say, Chris Berman.  “If ESPN wants its current coverage of the Hernandez case to have more depth, it should call on Lewis to offer commentary,” argues Raissman, quickly adding the network promises they’ll do no such thing.

When Lewis does get in front of the camera, the Hernandez case will still be in the news. Lewis must speak candidly about it while reflecting on his own past. Tom Jackson, a man of conscience, must engage him in discussion or debate. Lewis cannot give the topic cursory treatment and direct his analysis strictly to on the field matters.

It’s a tricky proposition. Even if Lewis is willing to talk openly about Hernandez, and the NFL’s problems with guns and lawlessness, ESPN did not hire him to be its NFL “crime” reporter. He should not be stereotyped as such. Yet, realistically, when you look at the roster of ESPN’s NFL studio mouths, Lewis is the one with the most experience in those particular trenches.

It will be up to the producers to strike a balance. This problem is compounded by the fact that Lewis is a TV novice. The mechanics of the job won’t be second nature to him. Having the added pressure of commenting spontaneously on such a controversial topic will make his rookie season even tougher. He will have a great opportunity to quickly establish his credibility. Yet if he stonewalls in a venue where he’s paid to be candid, Ray Lewis will have a very short TV career.

Oh yeah, It’s a very tricky proposition.  Much the way no one in Bristol is in a hurry to ingratiate themselves with Ray Lewis by suggesting, “hey, you know a thing or two about being killing, covering shit up, etc., right?” odds are equally slim Raissman or any of his print colleagues will approach Lewis with a similar question, even worded diplomatically, any time in the near future.

06.29.13

Farewell To Matt Borne

Posted in Professional Wrestling at 7:15 pm by

Matt Osbourne, best known as the O.G. Doink The Clown, but beloved for his stints in Texas and the Pacific Northwest as Maniac Matt Borne, passed away yesterday at the age of 56 in Plano, TX.  Though the Doink gimmick was either a calling card or an albatross depending on your point of view, Borne’s worked alongside some of wrestling’s biggest names in his travels, including but not limited to Paul Ellering, Ted DiBiase, Randy Savage, Hacksaw Duggan, Curt Henning and Bret Hart.  Troubles with the law and substance abuse derailed successful runs in Georgia and Stamford, CT respectively, but Osbourne continue to work the independent circuit, as the video above illustrates.  His final public appearance came at a Massachusetts autograph show last weekend, alongside Marty Jannety.

Surely The City Of Cleveland’s Suffered Enough?

Posted in Radio, Rock Und Roll, The Marketplace at 2:33 pm by

Though I firmly believe any city that lost LeBron James and later acquired Nick Swisher is deserving of our compassion, this isn’t exactly what I had in mind.  In the tradition of WorldVision sending otherwise-unsellable San Antonio Spurs 2013 NBA Champions tees and hoodies to the children of Uganda, Bosnia and Rwanda, Cleveland’s WUJC has been shipped a rather large quantity of Bob Schneider’s latest album.  (photo courtesy Doug Niemczura)

06.28.13

Broussard : Christian Players Admire My Balls

Posted in Basketball, Sports Journalism, Sports Radio at 11:46 pm by

We’re two months past free agent Jason Collins’ public statement in Sports Illustrated, the abbreviated version being  “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.Newly hired ESPN ombudsman Robert Lipsyte considers the network’s coverage of Collins’ coming out, in particular, the “Outside The Lines” broadcast of April 29, in which hoops analyst Chris Broussard infamously railed against “adultery, fornication ..premartial sex between heterosexuals”, and described Collins (and ESPN colleague LZ Granderson) as persons “walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.”  Calling the OTL episode, “lumpy and unframed”, Lipsyte recalls a 2007 ESPN.com column in which Broussard made no secret of his beliefs (“please don’t compare being homosexual to being black. I consider that insulting to blacks for a number of reasons. The fact that some blacks make the comparison themselves only shows how crushed our racial esteem has become because of America’s oppression”), and in a more recent conversation, Broussard is nothing if not consistent.

“The media in general, not just ESPN, is lopsided in its coverage,” he said. “It’s a cheerleader for the lifestyle and same-sex marriage and puts those who disagree in an unfavorable light. You can see it in the eye rolling and body language of so-called objective journalists. Born-again people are made out to be bigots and intolerant even though there are Neanderthals present on both sides.”

Broussard said he went on the show as “an objective journalist,” but, because it was OTL, he was ready to let the host lead him. As it turned out, Granderson led.

“I was satisfied,” Broussard said. “I would do it again. It was what I believed. It was not out of hate, not in a judgmental way. It was conventional Christian doctrine.

“I got a lot of support from players afterward, especially from Christians, who loved it. Others told me I had the courage to speak out. They said ‘You got big balls, brother, you the man.’”

Broussard called Collins the next night and they talked for about 10 minutes. “I wanted him to know I wasn’t trying to use his announcement for my own views. He seemed OK with it.”

Houston Scribe : Steve Sparks Is So Bad, He’ll Make You Long For Milo Hamilton

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio at 4:12 pm by


(completely and utterly blameless)

Really, that bad?   Actually, if you’ve heard many Astros games on KBME this season, the team’s futility on the field is being matched stride for stride by the analysis of Steve Sparks. With Houston new ownership pair Sparks with play by play voice Robert Ford, Houston Press’ John Royal accuses the club of “punishing the listeners with a broadcast that, hard to believe, makes one long for the days of Milo Hamilton drooling over attractive women, talking about how much better it was in the days of Hank Aaron and discussing anything but the actual game on the field.” (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

Sparks sounds as if he’s a really nice guy, but he’s got that bland quality of the really nice guy with a voice made for television. At times it’s almost like you can hear Ford smacking himself in the head when he sets Sparks up for a perfect jewel of wisdom to only get a “yeah” in response. And his extended analysis is generally nothing more than empty cliches which are so worthless that it would have probably been better had he uttered just the “yeah,” though, to be fair once again, he can offer up some decent discussion when talking about pitching.

But then there are the fourth and seventh innings which tend to wipe out any of Sparks’s positives. This is when Ford generally steps back and lets Sparks handle the play-by-play while Ford throws out some thoughtful analysis. This is an often painful experience as Sparks stumbles through the play-by-play, attempting to describe the game action. It is unlistenable radio, and only the most dedicated of fans can power through it. It’s not all Sparks’s fault. He’s clearly trying, but there’s no improvement.

Helpful Pats Ease That Awkward Moment When You Can No Longer Wear An Aaron Hernandez Jersey To A Job Interview

Posted in Fashion, Gridiron at 3:17 pm by

(absolutely not available from the Patriots Pro Shop)

From NESN.com

On July 6 and 7, the Patriots are offering a free jersey exchange for any No. 81 Hernandez jersey purchased at the Patriots ProShop or online at PatriotsProShop.com. Fans can exchange their unwanted jersey for a new Patriots jersey of comparable value.

“We know that children love wearing their Patriots jerseys, but may not understand why parents don’t want them wearing their Hernandez jerseys anymore,” New England Patriots spokesperson Stacey James said. “We hope this opportunity to exchange those jerseys at the Patriots ProShop for another player’s jersey will be well received by parents.” The exchange is for jerseys available in the Patriots ProShop only and is limited to one per person. Click here for official rules and restrictions.

Doc Rivers Vs. The Sports Putz : Quitter Meets Idiot

Posted in Basketball, Sports TV at 8:50 am by

There is, of course, the possibility that Doc Rivers’ leap from the sinking ship that is the Boston Celtics was fully encouraged by Danny Ainge and ownership, mindful there’s one, possibly two seasons of tanking ahead of the C’s. Despite an 18 game losing streak on his resume, do you really need someone with Rivers’ qualifications (and colossal salary) supervising an attempt to go 10-72?

06.27.13

Sometimes, You’ve Got To Dig Deeper Than The Michael Ochs Archives Or The Experience Music Project

Posted in Baseball, Fashion, History's Not Happening, Rock Und Roll at 4:10 pm by

And with that in mind, congrats to Eye On Baseball’s Dayn Perry, for uncovering this ultra-rare photograph of Lawrence from Felt.

Albert Pujols & His Diminishing Skills Have Moved On

Posted in Baseball at 1:31 pm by

It’s entirely possible that the first thing Albert Pujols thinks of when he wakes up in the morning isn’t the circumstances surrounding his departure from St. Louis. For instance, he might be thinking about the circumstances surrounding Josh Hamilton’s departure from Texas. Either way, Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi would rather badger the Angels veteran first baseman about his ties to St. Louis than ask a truly provocative question (eg. “whose contract is more onerous, yours or Hamilton’s?”)

“There’s nothing bitter about it,” he said. “It’s tough that it didn’t work out. It happens. I wasn’t the first one it happens to do. It happened to Miguel Cabrera. It happened to Alex Rodriguez. It happened to Ken Griffey Jr. It happens to many players who play this game: At some time, they move along.

“I think the only thing I’m bitter about is the way the front office handled it a little bit. I think they should have handled it a little better. I’m bitter about that. They tried to make me look like I was a bad guy. But that’s OK. I’m a big boy. Besides that, I also understand there’s nothing I can do. Even if I could take it back, I’m happy where I am right now. My goal is to focus and concentrate on what I need to do to help this ballclub win.”

So what, exactly, did the Cardinals’ front office do?

“It’s something I don’t want to talk about,” he said. “They know what they did. I don’t need to talk about that.”

See? It’s complicated. One moment, Pujols says it is “tough” that he didn’t remain with the Cardinals. The next, his words recall the resentment his wife, Deidre, expressed when she told a St. Louis-area radio station that the team’s initial five-year offer (for more than $100 million) was an “insult.”

Pujols and the Cardinals must reconcile in time, because that is the only sensible path for either party. The Cardinals honor their heritage as well as any organization in baseball, with 90-year-old Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst a fixture in spring training to this day. A generation from now, the Cardinals will want Pujols to be at Busch Stadium for retellings of the ’06 and ’11 titles. And Pujols will realize soon — if he hasn’t already — that the ovations for him in Anaheim won’t be as heartfelt as they were in St. Louis.

Well, yeah.  He hasn’t won anything in Anaheim. And who can really say if the Cards will be fixated on reconciling with Pujols in 20 years?  Maybe they’ll be under different ownership and far too focused on building a statue to commemorate the achievements of Mike Trout (acquired as a free agent several years earlier).

06.26.13

America’s Funnyman Catalogs The Public’s Love Affair With Aaron Hernandez

Posted in Gridiron, twitter twatter at 7:29 pm by

It’ll take more than a mere murder charge to extinguish the embattled tight end’s SEX APPEAL.

It’ll Take More Than A Murder Charge To Stop The Patriots Sales Department

Posted in Gridiron, The Law, The Marketplace at 2:42 pm by

I do realize New England’s online advertising campaign was paid for prior to the killing of Odin Lloyd. And I’m sure when the Pats or their ad agency decided to run spots on web pages that prominently mentioned the name of the team, they never imagined this would be the context. Still, you wanna get a head start on that waiting list, right?

During A Brutal Week For Boston Sports Fans, Antoine Walker Is Ready To Save The Day

Posted in Basketball at 10:39 am by

Between the Bruins’ Game 6 collapse, the potential murder charges against Aaron Hernandez and Doc Rivers’ bailing on the Celtics, Boston sports fans deserve a light moment or two, and here’s one courtesy of the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn.

In the midst of the anticipation of the Doc Rivers deal being declared official by the NBA, a tweet circulated this morning from the account of former Celtic Antoine Walker.

“Boston fans its time for me to be the celtics coach !!!!” he sent out three times through his Twitter account.

Walker confirmed to the Globe that he is indeed interested in coaching the Celtics. While Walker has no coaching experience, it wouldn’t be an unprecedented move: Former All-Star point guard Jason Kidd has just transitioned from being a player to being head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

Walker, 36, is retired from professional basketball after playing in the NBA Developmental League last season and is seeking a job in the NBA. He has had well-chronicled financial problems but has reached settlements with his creditors.

Persons more likely to interviewed for the Celtics coaching vacancy than ‘Toine :  M.L. Carr, Marvin Barnes, Bob Gamere, Aaron Hernandez, Isiah Thomas, Larry Lifeless.

06.25.13

Davidoff : Upon Returning A-Rod’s Likely To Be A) Terrible, and B) An Upgrade

Posted in Baseball at 6:48 pm by

Under what possible circumstances could the eminent return of 3B / MLB-suspension candidate Alex Rodriguez to the Yankee lineup be considered good news?  When you consider the alternative, as the New York Post’s grandmaster of grim, Ken Davidoff explains.

Rodriguez’s posse has spread the word that he could start his minor-league rehabilitation clock as soon as next week. The Yankees aren’t signing off on such a definitive schedule, yet they, too, voice optimism about his steady progress. Suddenly, the “after the All-Star break” timeline the Yankees voiced immediately following A-Rod’s January surgery doesn’t seem like the setup for a joke.

Nevertheless, a gulf remains between feeling good at the Yankees’ minor league complex in Tampa and contributing as a major league player. You simply don’t see a soon-to-be 38-year-old with two surgically repaired hips execute great athletic feats, which is why skepticism has surrounded A-Rod’s comeback attempt since the news of his injury first broke.

You know the best thing A-Rod might have going for him right now? David Adams. The poor kid looks wholly overmatched as the Yankees’ everyday third baseman, putting up a ghastly slash line of .191/.226/.292. He has set the bar so low that Yankees fans, desperate for an upgrade, might hold their noses and open their minds to a return from A-Rod — who, let’s not forget, still has more job security than anyone else in the organization thanks to his contract that goes through 2017. If he’s even half the player he once was, A-Rod would provide far more value than Adams.

Bleed Cubbie Blue’s Yellon Reminds Persons Older Than Five That Carlos Marmol Was Once An Asset

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 5:35 pm by

The Cubs designated Carlos Marmol for assignment on Wednesday, along with dumping the disgrunted Ian Stewart.  Of the former’s recent struggles at Wrigley, agent Paul Kinzer commented, “It’s tough being booed every time you get on the mound”, though perhaps not as tough as watching Marmol throw a dozen consecutive pitches out of the strike zone.  Of course, long before public confidence ebbed and Marmol lost command, Bleed Cubbie Blue’s Al Yellon is quick to point out the reliever was, for a stretch, “very close to the best, if not the best, relief pitcher in the major leagues. ”

Only Charlie Root, in a different time and way of pitcher use, appeared in more games in a Cubs uniform than Carlos Marmol (605 to 483). Marmol ranks third on the all-time Cubs save list with 117, behind only Bruce Sutter and Lee Smith (for perspective, Marmol’s save total ranks 106th on the all-time list, tied with B.J. Ryan). Smith, Sutter, Randy Myers and Marmol are the only pitchers to have more than one 30-save season in a Cubs uniform. Marmol has struck out 11.67 batters per nine innings in his career; only two pitchers in major-league history with as many career innings as Marmol (542?) have had more — Brad Lidge and Billy Wagner. If only Marmol could have had as much success as those guys.

In 2008, now setting up for Kerry Wood, he posted an WHIP of 0.927 — and gave up just 40 hits in 87? innings, although 10 of those hits were home runs, perhaps a foreboding.  In August 2009, after several Gregg blown saves, Marmol was installed as closer. He posted 11 saves without a blown save from August 23 through season’s end, and the closer’s job was his in 2010. The 2010 Cubs weren’t very good, but that wasn’t Marmol’s fault — he was dominant. Beyond breaking Sutter’s team record for most K’s by a relief pitcher (shattering it, really, with 138 in 77? innings), he allowed just 40 hits and had a 1.185 WHIP in those innings. Hitters just couldn’t get around on Marmol’s fastball or hit his slider — he faced 332 batters in 2010, and just 134 of them even managed to put the ball in play. He gave up just one home run that year and posted 38 saves, with just five blown saves (and only two of those after the All-Star break).

06.24.13

Piss Off Ann Landers, Elizabeth Winship and Dan Savage : Willie D Is In The House

Posted in Hip Hop, non-sporting journalism at 7:47 pm by

OK, not my house, but rather, the pages of the Riverfront Times, in which the author of such classics as “Do It Like A G.O.” and “Read The Nikes” has made his advice column debut :

Dear Willie D:

My daughter’s mother just recently reconnected with her old wild and loose girlfriend who moved to Houston. She used to hardly ever go out; now my girl and her friend are at the club, happy hour, a restaurant or somewhere other than home about four days a week. She used to be a churchgoing square, but since her friend came back into the picture she’s turned into the night-scene party queen.

A few weeks ago her friend went with us to a restaurant to celebrate her grandmother’s 80th birthday when a guy at the next table approached her and asked her, “Do I know you?” I was seated away from my girl at the extra-long table. He didn’t know we were together, so I didn’t feel disrespected. I don’t know if she remembered the guy or not, but she acted as though she had never seen him in her life.

Her friend, who already had drunk two glasses of margaritas, blurted out, “Girl, you know him,” then proceeded to remind her that he was the guy in the Spider-Man suit at a popular male strip club they attended. My girl had a look on her face like she was trapped in the Twilight Zone. I didn’t fare much better. Everybody at the table dropped their jaws, looked away or tried to create new conversations among each other. I was beyond embarrassed.

She told me she went out to the club, but she never mentioned that it was a strip club. I don’t like the idea of my girl hanging out at an exotic establishment with half-naked guys shaking their private parts in her face. She didn’t really lie about going to the strip club, but she wasn’t forthcoming either. There has been tension between us ever since the incident. Do you think it’s appropriate for a girl who is in a relationship to go out to a male strip club?

Beyond Embarrassed:

Before you address the strip-club issue, you need to talk to your girl about her choice of friends. What kind of a friend attends a birthday celebration for her friend’s grandmother and rats her friend out in front of her friend’s family and boyfriend by revealing that she and that friend met a male stripper while he was on the job?

Most women I know find male strip clubs repulsive, while others see no problem with them. Some guys don’t have a problem with their women visiting strip clubs. It’s all about what floats your boat. Personally, I wouldn’t want my girl hanging out at any strip club, let alone a male strip club. The idea of some UFC-fighter-looking dude in a G-string shaking his stanky booty and genitals in my girl’s face; well that’s just nasty.

BSM : Doc’s Only Half As Traitorous As Ray Allen

Posted in Basketball at 6:36 pm by

(Doc, reading a big pile of papers calling him the new Chuck Fairbanks)

With the Clippers and Celtics having finally reached an agreement for the former to acquire the services of Doc Rivers, the coach is receiving a measure of grief, with one columnist comparing him to Urban Meyer and Dwight Howard. Still, at least Doc’s hometown paper didn’t liken him to Ray Allen, an analogy Boston Sports Media’s Bruce Allen considers wholly inappropriate.

Rivers has not complained at all about his experience with Boston, and I don’t think he ever will. Allen griped about his role, his starting position, his relationship with Rajon Rondo, and said he didn’t feel wanted, even though Boston offered him more money than Miami. There is also the matter of Allen joining the team that had just eliminated the Celtics in an emotional, draining seven game Eastern Conference Finals series.|

Rivers, who has reportedly had his own clashes with Rondo, isn’t going to go public with those incidents, and allowed the Celtics to get something in return for his services. The contract signed by Rivers seems to have been done with that understanding, safeguarding the Celtics for five years, and allowing them to at least get an asset if he chose to leave. He is also going to the Los Angeles Clippers, a team that has no sort of rivalry with the Celtics. (and could implode at any time.) The blow is softened somewhat by those factors.

How Much Art(ie Moreno) Can You Take?

Posted in Baseball at 12:54 pm by

Angels owner Artie Moreno, “was one of the game’s most accessible owners when he purchased the club in 2003 and immediately lowered some beer prices,” gushes USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.  However, in the wake of lavish spending to acquire semi-bust Albert Pujols and all-out disaster Josh Hamilton, “he’s become almost a recluse with the local media.”  Of his critics, Moreno says, “some of these people are just flat-ass cynical.”   Yes, why can’t they be more optimistic about your being on the hook with Pujols for another 8 years?

“When we looked at (Hamilton),” Moreno says, “we’re thinking, left-handed power. Good defense. Can run. You put (Mike) Trout, Hamilton, Pujols and (Mark) Trumbo together, that looks great on paper.

“But I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve talked to Hamilton a few times, and told him, ‘You’re going to be here for awhile. You can’t do it all in one day, one night, one week.’

“It’s been rough. If he’s hitting .270, .280 with 15 homers, it might be a different game for us. I’m not going to judge it now. Five years from now, we can sit down, and then ask me about the investment in the man.”

As for Pujols – hitting .262 with 13 homers and 47 RBI – this likely will be the third consecutive year he’s left off the All-Star team, and he may never again match the MVP-caliber numbers he produced in St. Louis. Moreno has no buyer’s remorse.

“You look at Albert’s numbers,” Moreno says, “and for the chance to bring that quality of player to Southern California, for our fans to get to see one of the greatest players today, to play in our ballpark every day. You kidding me? That’s a treat.

“And he’s the gentleman of gentlemen.”

Moreno can’t understand how he can be ripped one year for not signing free-agent outfielder Carl Crawford, or for being outbid by $20 million on first baseman Mark Teixeira. Then, after he makes the two biggest expenditures for position players the past two winters, he’s getting blistered worse than if he’d never made an offer.

“I owe it to the fans to give them hope. I’m not trying to tell you we’re doing everything right all of the time, but it’s not because we’re not trying.”

06.23.13

Raissman : Earvin Johnson On “NBA Countdown” – Nearly As Bad As “The Magic Hour”

Posted in Basketball, Sports TV at 9:25 pm by

OK, that’s not exactly what NY Daily News sports media critic Bob Raissman had to say about the analytical chops of Magic Johnson. But with the end of the NBA Finals earlier this week, Raissman — along with taking shots at Jalen Rose (“more about high volume than heavy insights”) and the Sports Putz (“he often looks like he’s not even interested in participating in the conversation. If he wants to be somewhere else, why should the rest of us schlubs stick around to watch?”) — insists, “if ESPN does not want to totally blow up “Countdown”, the least it should do is dump Magic.”

There are times when a conversation starts to flow and Johnson, like he did on the pregame Thursday night, says: “This game is going to come down to which Big 3 plays better.”

How do you respond to that? It’s tough. Even tougher when the cast — generally — is deferential to Johnson because of his icon status. Like at halftime of Game 7. Johnson basically repeated his “Big 3” line saying the team whose “superstars” play better in the second half will win the game.

Hoping for some TV magic, we thought one of the guys (in Barkleyesque fashion) would say: “Magic, didn’t you say the same thing on the pregame show?” Busting Johnson’s chops would have produced one of “Countdown’s” rare spontaneous moments. It might have also forced Johnson to offer an original brand of analysis.

Theismann : I Honored Native Americans By Wearing A Redskins Helmet

Posted in Gridiron, Racism Corner at 4:46 pm by

Former Washington QB-turned-prostate drug pitchman Joe Theismann appeared at a youth football clinic in Sioux Falls, SD Friday, and under the intense scrutiny of the Argus Leader’s Matt Zimmer, fielded a question about the controversy surrounding his former club’s nickname.

“I can tell you that when I was at the children’s hospital this morning, there was a young Native American boy there with his parents. His grandmother wanted a picture with me, and his father took the picture. And as I shook his hand the father said to me ‘You’re a Redskin,’ and he said it in a very complimentary way, which was very humbling to me.

“I was very proud to play for the Washington Redskins, and I did it to honor Native people in that regard. I think sometimes people perceive words in their own particular way. What happens, what Mr. Snyder (Dan Snyder, Washington’s owner) decides to do is totally up to him. I can just tell you that when I put that uniform on, and I put that helmet on with the Redskin logo on it, I felt like I was representing more than the Washington Redskins, I was representing the great Native American nations that exist in this country.”

06.22.13

Acocella’s Gandolfini Obit : Fat, Drunk & Possessing Limited Acting Range Is No Way To Go Thru Life

Posted in Cinema, Fitness, non-sporting journalism, The World Of Entertainment at 9:57 pm by

In the aftermath of James Gandolfini’s death earlier this week, there’s been no shortage of eulogies from peers and press alike, the majority paying homage to the actor’s most acclaimed performance, that of course being the role of Eddie Poole in Joel Schumacher’s “8mm”.

OK, I’m kidding, of course, but for those us who’d seen Gandolfini lumber thru sundry similar parts early in his career, his star turn as Tony Soprano was a revelation. Still, some of his self-professed admirers can’t help but damn the late Rutgers product with faint praise. For instance, the New Yorker’s Joan Acocella, who echoes her NY’er colleague David Remnick’s sentiment that Gandolfini, “wasn’t an especially versatile actor”.

In a play, Yasmina Reza’s “God of Carnage,” that he landed in soon after “The Sopranos” ended, his character was a person altogether different, a respectable Brooklynite, and his performance was just okay. Someone else could have done the role just as well, or close. (It was a joy to see him again, though.) I think that he was like famous movie villains or famous glamour girls. In his chosen specialty, he could do everything—every subdivision, every sidelight. But he couldn’t stray far beyond his boundaries.

Acocella is obviously entitled to her opinion, and if it turns out she’s never seen Gandolfini’s work alongside Robert Redford and Mark Ruffalo in “The Last Castle” —- pretty much blowing both of them off the screen (OK, not the toughest task in the case of Ruffalo) —- I’ll at least give her the benefit of the doubt for having an uninformed opinion.  Gandolfini’s Colonel Winter — a vain, deeply insecure warden of a military prison — has none of Tony Soprano’s charisma, wit or depth.  As a leader of men, he’s a farce.  And Gandolfini did more to breathe life into that portrayal of a simpering basketcase than the slightly above average film deserved (though I would’ve liked to see him and director Lurie reu.  Unlike “The Sopranos”, Gandolfini didn’t have the benefit of world-class writing, direction or brilliant supporting casting.

Sadly, Acocella can’t stop with a merely modest assessment of Gandolfini’s talents, as there’s always, y’know, the matter of calling him a fat slob.

In the eight and a half years (1999-2007) that “The Sopranos” lasted, Gandolfini aged dramatically. If you look at the photos of him accepting his first Emmy Award in 2002—he later received five more nominations and got two more awards—you see him grinning, fit, and with a pretty complete head of hair. (On the show, he could run like a gazelle.) By the end of the series, he has a lot less hair and a lot more weight. I once took a bus tour of the locations in New Jersey (Satriale’s, the Bing, etc.) where “The Sopranos” was filmed. The tour ended at Holsten’s Ice Cream Parlor, in Bloomfield, where the frightening last scene takes place. Our tour guide told us that in Holsten’s, the tables in the booths are screwed to the floor. For the “Sopranos” scene they had to unscrew a table and move it over so that Gandolfini could sit there comfortably.

Clearly, Gandolfini wasn’t the picture of health.  And we’ve already got News Corp’s top North American tabloid detailing exactly how much he consumed the night prior to his death (along with an anonymous source claiming the deceased, “loved to blow lines”).  But if you’re gonna give a non-athlete (or a non-racehorse) who’s been dead less than 72 hours some very public grief for aging poorly, wouldn’t it be fair play to see a recent photograph of Acocella?  So we can at least compare it to one from 8 years ago?   But even without that, thanks very much, Culture Desk.  There’s no way I could’ve come to any great conclusions about James Gandolfini’s body of work without being reminded he was a big motherfucker (which clearly didn’t hinder his ability to play the only part you think he was exceptional in).

The Aaron Hernandez Case : Giving The Boston Media A Chance To Pry The Halo From Bob Kraft’s Head

Posted in Gridiron, non-sporting journalism at 6:05 pm by

While North Attleboro, MA police continue to investigate New England TE Aaron Hernandez’ possible role in the death of a 27 year old friend, the incident has afforded the local press an opportunity to turn up the heat on Patriots owner Robert Kraft (above).  Just a day after longtime Pats-baiter Ron Borges made a sneering allusion to Hernandez making a donation to one of Kraft’s pet charity, a similar reference pops up in an editorial that ran in Saturday’s Boston Herald (“whatever the future of Hernandez, it’s those who hired him, who brought him into this community, who have a lot of explaining to do”) :

It’s all very nice to talk about second chances and redemption, but Hernandez’s reputation before and during his University of Florida career was pretty well known. He was a hard-partying kid (and kid really was the operative word), who failed some drug tests and hung out with the wrong crowd. An NFL scouting report quoted in the Boston Globe said, “Self-esteem is quite low; not well-adjusted emotionally, not happy, moods unpredictable, not stable …”

In short, a boatload of red flags. Then after a couple of good seasons he gets thrown a $37 million contract at the ripe old age of 22, donates $50,000 to the Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund and pays the appropriate lip service to Patriot family values.

It seems like a million years ago that another draft choice, Christian Peter, was jettisoned because the Krafts were people who wanted no part of a player who might bring shame to the family. That reality soon became myth and now even the myth is shattered.

06.21.13

Grantland : Dancing On The Gray Lady’s Grave (While She’s Still Breathing)

Posted in Sports Journalism at 6:55 pm by

While I’m not one of those who is particularly outraged over the Paper Of Record giving the death of James Gandolfini less prominent coverage than the passing of Amy Winehouse, Grantland’s Bryan Curtis pens an obit of sorts  for the New York Times’ sports section of sorts, complaining the paper’s “Sports of The Times” column only appears a couple of times a week these days.  “One measure of a column’s alive-ness is how it engages with the news.  The Times didn’t publish a “Sports of the Times” column about the Manti Te’o scandal, the result of the BCS title game, the result of the Super Bowl, Oscar Pistorius, the Boston Marathon bombing, Lance Armstrong’s confession, Jason Collins’s coming-out, or Anthony Bosch’s clinic in Miami. In fact, the paper’s columns about Armstrong and Collins ran on the op-ed page.”  Yeah, and they didn’t even touch the David Wright/Cougar Life story!

Did you miss having a column on Manti Te’o? I asked sports editor Jason Stallman.

“No is the short answer,” Stallman said. “I feel with a story like Manti Te’o you have everybody and their brother writing columns based on very little information. That’s a good example of the story I don’t know a ‘Sports of the Times’ writer would be a great fit for. If you look back at some of the coverage, a lot of it is somewhat regrettable.

“Maybe through the Lance Armstrong saga, we’d like to have had a columnist laying in properly. But I look at it that we have Juliet Macur completely setting the agenda on the story, so I’d much rather have that than a columnist.”

Fair enough on Armstrong. But I don’t think writing about the Te’o, um, affair was any more daunting than David Brooks writing about Benghazi. This is what columnists do: They make sense of what makes little sense. And if they fall on their faces, they try again next week.

The Censors At Yelp.com Are No Match For The Internet Archive

Posted in Free Expression, The Marketplace at 6:19 pm by

Toss some of my finest works into the trash? GO RIGHT AHEAD YELP, did you really think the President of the planet’s premier professional sports enterprise wouldn’t have some sort of pull with the NSA?

It’s The Greatest Thing To Happen To The Intersection Of Broadway & Houston…

Posted in New York, New York, Rock Und Roll at 2:29 pm by

…since the time I bought a color TV, a case of Milky Way bars, 20 blank audiocassettes and a half dozen tube socks for under $50 at National Wholesale Liquidators.