Jeff Carter & Mike Richards Couldn’t Stay on Flyers’ “Dry Island”?

Posted in Beer, Hockey, Sports Journalism at 7:34 pm by

Philly gossip columnist Dan Gross lifts the lid on hockey’s love of booze, with the kind of story that’s supposed to never get out of the locker room… as Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren notes, while not really denying the most juicy stuff:

The hard-partying ways of Flyers captain Mike Richards and center Jeff Carter played a major role in the organization’s decision to trade both players in June, say two Flyers who played with the pair last season….

Shortly after his arrival in December 2009, coach Peter Laviolette instituted what players came to call the “Dry Island.” Laviolette asked team members to commit to not drinking for a month, and each player was asked to write his number on a locker room board as a pledge. No. 17 (Carter) and No. 18 (Richards) were absent from the board on the first Dry Island, as well as the estimated five more times the policy was instituted….

Holmgren was “really upset that this is out there. That’s our locker room. Our inner sanctum. Our board. Someone’s crossing a line here,” in discussing the Dry Island.

Holmgren did deny such things led to the trades (Carter now plays for Columbus, and Richards for L.A.). And Carter’s agent said it was “bull—-” that “they are out partying and not focused on hockey,” though that’s certainly not new gossip to anybody who reads Flyers message boards (or Sports by Brooks).


Note to Phillies: Don’t Fire Joe Blanton

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 5:41 pm by


Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. recently said he won’t or doesn’t want to move former Oakland A’s Opening Day starter Joe Blanton (above), whose $8.5 million salary is reasonable for a #3, but high for a #5. As we all know, the fact that Amaro said this probably means a trade is coming. The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Bob Brookover says it should be:

Amaro said the Phillies don’t have to trade Blanton to reduce a payroll that is already over $160 million, and that’s probably true. Come July, however, the $8.5 million that Blanton will be paid this season could be better used on something other than a fifth starter.

As great as the Phillies’ first four starters should be this season, the team is not without some question marks. Brad Lidge finished strong last season, compiling a 0.73 ERA over the last two months before pitching four scoreless innings in the postseason. But he still wasn’t the guy who dominated the league in 2008.

And there’s no guarantee that the projected platoon of Ben Francisco and Domonic Brown in right field is going to provide the kind of production that will enable the Phillies to overcome the free-agent loss of Jayson Werth.

It would be a real shame and perhaps even a real disaster if Blanton’s $8.5 million salary prevented them from going after quality reinforcements.

A school of thought says that it might be impossible to deal Blanton because of his contract, but this is a guy whom the Phillies paid big dollars because they thought he would be a solid third starter in their rotation. Amaro needs to persuade only one other GM to believe the same thing. And when guys go down with injuries in spring training, the trade landscape can rapidly change.

But there’s a lot wrong with this logic. Trade Blanton now so you can deal/pay for other guys in July? Why not just trade Blanton in July, if the team has shown that it can win 100 games without him at that point? He’ll be worth more to a deadline contender wanting a post-season proven starter than he is for any old team with a #3 hole now. At that point teams will also be more willing to take all of his salary (which includes two more years of contract). Blanton is not overpaid, there just aren’t that many teams who can actually pay him (and need him) as a #3 or #4. If any team was willing to do that while providing the Phillies with anything but a laughable return, he would already be gone.

Sure, that means spending extra cash for 2-3 months, but that would also give the Phillies time to find out if they have the answers to the question that this column highlights (bullpen, RF). I suppose it’s possible that the $4 million they spend on Blanton for three months is $4 million they can’t spend on acquisitions in July, but those acquisitions would be half-price too. Plus, when you are dealing at the deadline, budgets get a little looser all around. Come July, you can trade Blanton himself for what you need, or for prospects if you’re moving some to fill those other needs.

And yes, players get injured in spring training. They also get injured during the season. Every current member of the Phillies rotation has spent time on the DL over the past three years, and each of the last three Phillies teams has needed not five, not six, but seven to eight starters. If JA Happ, Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton – 60% of last year’s spring training rotation – can all go down for several months, so (unthinkable as it may be) can any of the current studs (three of whom are over 30). It would look pretty stupid to trade Joe Blanton and then have Kyle Kendrick instead of Roy Oswalt (and Brian Bass – ok, Vance Worley – in Kendrick’s spot) for even just a month if you don’t have to.


Great Moments in Porny Football Quotes

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron, Sports Journalism at 4:26 pm by

Because, y’know, we’re living in an era of ill-chosen metaphors. And it’s the sports blogosphere. And I’m 7. From last week’s ink-on-paper Sports Illustrated:

“When we’re getting double-teamed, we gotta anchor that down,” said Frogs nosetackle Cory Grant two days before the game. “If we get pushed back, there’ll be seams opening up all over the place.”


Greg Dulli: America’s Third Most Famous Clippers Fan?

Posted in Basketball, Racism Corner, Rock Und Roll at 11:43 pm by

(I’ve got a dick for a brain, and my brain want to sell an inferior NBA product and discriminatory housing to you?)

Although noted in passing by GC two posts ago, SPIN.com’s interview with Greg Dulli deserves full cut-and-paste attention.

I went to the Clippers vs. Timberwolves game the other night with Mark Lanegan. We sat next to Donald Sterling, the owner of the Clippers who is this maligned guy in L.A. He's known as the worst owner in sports — all sports [laughs]. We talked to him all night.

What about?
About what a rip off [point guard] Baron Davis is [laughs]. He's lazy! He signed this big contract but never came to play! We also talked about how special [21-year-old power forward] Blake Griffin and [22-year-old shooting guard] Eric Gordon are now, and are going to continue to be. The Clippers will probably get a good draft pick again this year and then they'll have an excellent, young core. We were brutally honest with him. I've been a frustrated Clippers fan for over a decade and I let him know all my problems. But I forgot to get his number and so he could get us floor seats!

Given Sterling’s other charming qualities, I’m gonna guess they didn’t bond over each other’s favorite King Records A-sides.


Former Blazers GM Patterson Shovels Dirt on Last Four Seasons

Posted in Basketball, Portland, Sports Journalism at 2:54 pm by

The Oregonian’s Jason Quick has an informative recap of “How the Jail Blazers became the Frail Blazers”, though with a non-disclosure keeping former GM Kevin Pritchard quiet and Paul Allen not talking, it’s left to former President and one-year GM Steve Patterson (above)  to look back on the Blazers’ drafting process and provide the now-obligatory Kevin Durant second-guess.

Like many NBA teams, the Blazers medical staff assigns a ranking to a potential draft pick or player they are interested in acquiring. Of the seven players on the Blazers’ current roster who were drafted in the first round by Portland from 2006-2010, five were rated as high risk from a medical standpoint, including one who was essentially given a red flag as dangerous to draft. Because of laws protecting the privacy of players, the team would not disclose those players’ names.

Steve Patterson, who served as Blazers president from June of 2003 through March of 2007 as well as handling general manager duties from 2006-2007, said the Blazers’ medical staff was consistently spot-on in their evaluations. He called Blazers doctors Don Roberts and Tom Reis “among the best doctors in the NBA.”

“They had an unique talent to look at a player “ particularly Dr. Roberts when it applied to knees “ and with great precision predict what would happen to that player in the future,” Patterson said.

Patterson said the recommendations of Roberts and Reis were not always followed.

“There were points in time when there were others within the organization who weighed in on decisions who didn’t have the same perspective as the doctors,” Patterson said. “And those decisions came back to haunt the organization.”

The Blazers tell Quick they saw no issues with Roy or Oden’s knees during the drafting process, though Roy’s health was discussed before they gave him a max contract (but they did).


Faux Irish, Real Racist? Inquirer Columnist Says Phillies Should Kick Out McFadden’s

Posted in Baseball, Racism Corner, Sports Journalism at 3:28 pm by

Sometimes an exaggerated comment-baiting argument can be a force for good–I’m not convinced the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s John Gonzalez really thinks the Phillies ought to (or contractually can) do as he suggests, especially since his argument requires a lawsuit to play out first, but highlighting a race discrimination suit against the bar McFadden’s in the context of their partnership with Citizen’s Bank Park brings more light to a nasty little story. And if you don’t think that’s fair game, your Grandpa probably booed Dick Allen.

Last week, a class-action civil-rights lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court. It claims that McFadden’s and its parent company, East Coast Saloons, are guilty of “racism and racial segregation” and that those practices are “not only tolerated, but mandated.”

The complaint goes further and alleges that the general manager of the Old City bar, Walt Wyrsta, texted a fellow manager on Oct. 28: “We don’t want black people we are a white bar!” (Wyrsta could not be reached for comment.)

Despite being an establishment that’s heavily patronized by college kids and other people in their 20s, the Old City location has a dress code. Among the prohibited items: excessively baggy clothes, work boots, hooded sweatshirts, and athletic jerseys. It also requires customers to tuck in their chains.

The suit was filed on behalf Michael L. Bolden. The 29-year-old is a part-time bartender at McFadden’s in Old City and has been employed by the company since 2007. According to the complaint, the bar has 75 employees but only five are black, including Bolden (who has an African American father and a Cuban American mother). The suit claims that Bolden, who is also a lawyer, had his prime shift changed about the same time McFadden’s allegedly attempted to dissuade black customers from frequenting the bar….

If these latest allegations about McFadden’s are true, it’s long past time for the local baseball team to boot the bar from Citizens Bank Park. A young man died there. That’s tragic and heinous. Now the company that owns the establishment is being accused of fostering racism. That’s not the family-friendly image the Phillies want to project.

Even if the lawsuit isn’t true, that dress code is a piece of work. But I’m actually less inclined to rip McFadden’s for the 2009 tragedy. I mean, they should be held accountable in court for overserving if they’re guilty of that, but the bar itself was not the reason that those people came there on that night, the Phillies are (and people drinking in the parking lots is probably still a bigger problem than people drinking in that bar).

Of course, all the other food in CBP is done by Aramark, the Philadelphia concession company. One could just as easily come up with half a dozen reasons why the Phillies shouldn’t work with them.


President Pacman

Posted in Boxing, politics, Rock Und Roll at 2:36 pm by


This timely glimpse into the future of US-Philippine relations is a guest post from singer-songwriter and sweet-science aficionado Paul K.



Manny Takes Oath of Office, US Prepares for Title Fight in the Pacific


In this populous, primarily Catholic and Muslim island nation, hopes are high that a Pacquiao administration will revitalize US-Filipino relations and deal knockout punches to both terrorism and poverty. The new president (47-1 with 36 by KO) will govern from the center, he has said, remaining in the 146-lb. bracket and avoiding the corners.

In the US, Commerce, State and Defense department officials were cautiously optimistic, even as rumblings were heard not only in Washington but in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Of chief concern is the seeming slipperiness and speed of the new Filipino president and the fear that a bloated US military could have trouble pinning down the elusive, height-challenged (5’6”) champ. Also potentially troubling is the question of whether Pacquiao, whose fight nickname is “Pacman” after the 1980′s video-game gobbler, will be able to maintain his usual grace in juggling four careers: boxer, actor, pop singer and head of state.

Current events in the Philippines will surely test Pacquiao’s storied ability to bob and weave. With banana, coffee and oil prices at ten-year highs the Philippines remain impoverished, having been all but swindled out of the bulk of dividends from the so-called “Asian economic miracle.” Manny’s strategy will undoubtedly rely on massive infusions of capital as well as “punchstat”-style goal-achieving record-keeping and the use of the regulatory counter-jab, according to a well-placed source.

“Pacman won’t go out but on a stretcher,” the source, said to be an aide to Rep. Kelly Pavlik (D-OH), claims bluntly. “He won’t stop, won’t back off, wouldn’t even consider throwing in the towel.”

The new president’s former trainer, Freddie Roach, told reporters what else to expect of the administration. “Manny will come out swinging, working to both uppercut American imperialism and undercut China’s miserable productivity-to-earnings ratio,” Roach said. Speaking from the Los Angeles set of his television show “Roach Motel” through a voice-actuation synthesizer, he added, “The guy (Pacquiao) does his homework and I know he’ll have his export-based economy ramped up high within weeks of the opening bell.”

Such words do not come easily to the ailing Roach, whose reality show, which documents the goings-on at a “reality-show contestant’s ‘training camp,’” recently plummeted in the ratings and is in danger of cancellation. “We’ve been getting pounded in there lately,” he said, “but with Manny sworn in maybe we’ll get some better shots landed, ratings-wise.” Mr. Pacquiao appeared twice on the show during last year’s campaign.

The swearing-in took place at a soccer field in General Santos City, the teeming, now-famous slum outside Manila the new president still calls home. The champ bankrolled a turkey and rice feast immediately after the ceremony for residents of the neighborhood. Filipino attorney Jesus de la Corte, the former celebrity chef and one time aide-de-camp to Imelda Marcos, delivered the oath while holding a Roman Catholic bible.


You Won’t Get That Sort of Passion in the WAC

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 11:15 pm by

(CSTB is pleased to report that no Missoula business has proposed anything similar for this week’s game against the North Dakota Fighting Sioux.)

Having apparently picked up Denver, UT-San Antonio and Southwest Texas State, the Western Athletic Conference is now waiting on FCS power the University of Montana.

The Missoulian’s Chelsi Moy reports the Griz have received special dispensation to continue playing annual games against in-state Big Sky rival Montana State, though it seems to me said rivalry will merely become a stage on which the lower-level school enjoys reflected glory and an every-ten-years upset, while doing nothing for the Griz’s strength-of-schedule (like, imagine if Oregon had an annual game with Portland State).

It would be exciting for the program, but would also change the local college sports experience. Right now the Griz and Cats are everything around these parts; most Saturdays Montana’s ABC and CBS affiliates pre-empt the likes of Texas-UCLA and Florida-Tennessee to show the in-state games. Montana’s history and success is as a national power at its level; I’m not sure going 7-4 against Louisiana Tech and Texas State while playing big games on a Friday night will have the same cache.

It’s ironic, really, that a bunch of teams are gonna leave behind the very thing that most people in college football claim to want (playoffs) so they can play in the uDrove Humanitarian or Kraft Fight Hunger bowl. On the other hand, what alumnus wouldn’t like a trip to Hawaii every other season?

(Update: Score one for the little guy: Montana’s staying in the FCS).

Elite NHL Athlete To Finally Feel the Pain of Being Last Guy Picked

Posted in Hockey, Sports TV at 3:13 pm by

The National Hockey League has figured out a way to stir up interest in its 2011 All-Star Weekend; unfortunately, it won’t be for the game itself, but rather, team selection day on Friday.

Following a fan vote for the top six players in the league (three forwards, two defencemen and a goalie, regardless of which conference they play in) the NHL Hockey Operations Department will name 36 more players. That’s when things get weird:

¢ After the 42 NHL All-Stars have been selected, two captains will be chosen per team by the players.

¢ On Friday, January 28, 2011, a draft event will be held in Raleigh with all 54 NHL players (42 All-Stars and 12 rookies) during which the captains will draft the remaining members of their respective teams.

¢ First selection in the draft will be determined by coin flip and selections will continue on an alternating basis.

¢ Each team will be required to select three goalies, six defensemen and 12 forwards in any order they choose.

Seems to me that it would be a lot more entertaining if this happened right before the game, in true pick-up/shinny style. There’s nothing all that interesting about, say, Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan and Philadelphia’s Mike Richards being All-Star teammates. In fact, it’s more interesting (albeit only marginally so) to see hated conference and division rivals play together.

But to watch, say All-Star captain Sidney Crosby point at Richards, or pass up a Penguins teammate for a member of the Capitals? That should be good for at least 20 minutes of entertainment (which is 20 minutes more than any All-Star Game), and would be more so if it didn’t happen in a draft/press conference environment.

(Info via Puck Daddy.)

(Update: Eric McErlain, then of Fanhouse, foresaw it all.)


Today’s Five “Most Read” Stories at the Dallas Morning News

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Journalism at 11:53 pm by

One of these things is not like the other…. or is it?

Taylor: Cowboys are NFL’s most pathetic team; time to fire Wade

Man jumps off High Five interchange in North Dallas

Wade Phillips fired as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys

Taylor: Cowboys ‘seem to have little regard’ for Jason Garrett as next head coach

Cowlishaw: Cowboys fans need to stop showing up if they want Jerry Jones’ attention


Votto’s All-Star Shot: In Which This Phillies Phan/Cincinnati Magazine Writer Gave Charlie Too Much Credit

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 12:54 am by


The Reds arrive in Philadelphia tomorrow, by which point Joey Votto ought to be an all-star, thereby tripling the number of times announcers in both cities (and on Sportscenter) will say something about him sticking it to Phillies/NL skipper Charlie Manuel every time he gets a hit (perhaps they’ll also keep a Votto vs. Howard HR count, though the way things have been going for the Phillies this past month,Wilson “GIDP” Valdez is more likely to go yard).

Anyway, I’ve got an interview with Votto in the upcoming (August) issue of Cincinnati Magazine, which will include his thoughts on Albert Pujols (“I get a chance to watch one of the greatest offensive players of all time. Just because it will be just about impossible to ever get a starting spot in the All-Star Game…) and the fact that his DL stint may have kept him out of last year’s game (though given what just happened this year, who knows?).

And then there’s this little exchange, which won’t be in the magazine.

ME: I’ll say it, you don’t have to say it, but I can’t see Charlie Manuel picking his own guy, Ryan Howard, over you this year.

VOTTO: He had a really good game yesterday (June 18th). There’s another month or so. We’ve got plenty of time.


Nitpicking At My Former Texas Hockey Beat

Posted in Hockey, Sports Journalism at 1:56 am by

The Texas Stars got off to a remarkable start in the Calder Cup final, winning two games on the road against defending champion Hershey for a 2-0 series lead.

Unfortunately, they’ve now done something equally remarkable by dropping three straight home games (even at the highest level of the minors, teams cannot afford to play a 2-2-1-1-1 series).

The Austin American-Statesman‘s Avery Holton writes:

Hershey holds a 3-2 series lead and is a win away from becoming just the third team in league history to rebound from an 0-2 deficit in the title round….

And Texas knows a thing or two about coming up big on the road. They’ve closed out each of three postseason series away from home, including a 4-2 victory at Hamilton in Game 7 of the conference finals.

They now have to go a step further and win two on the road to claim the first professional hockey title of any kind in the history of the Austin area. The now-defunct Austin Ice Bats never reached the summit of the Western Professional Hockey League or the East Coast Hockey League, but the Central Texas Stampede did nab the WPHL crown for Belton in 2000.

Now, my first reaction when I read that, is it’s tenuous for Austin’s newspaper to even bring up the Stampede. I’m sure the Williamson County-based Stars do draw fans from the Belton/Killeen/Temple area (some of whom I’m certain I know personally), but hey, let the Temple Daily Telegram worry about that.

Then I realized that the sentence had a bigger problem: the Shreveport Mudbugs beat the Stampede for the 2000 WPHL crown. The Stampede merely won the Governor’s Cup for best regular season record – as did the Ice Bats in 2003.

And what’s up with the reference to the East Coast Hockey League? It’s certainly true the Ice Bats never reached the ECHL summit, since they were never a member of that circuit (presumably he meant the Central Hockey League, which still has five teams in Texas).

Now, I know mistakes get made on deadline all the time, especially with an OT game. I’ve made them myself (and not just writing about hockey). It’s just that they get printed that much more when it’s an oft-neglected beat. If I accidentally confused Kris Brown with Phil Dawson in an article about Texas football, there’d be half a dozen editors (maybe even Texas Exes) there to bail me out. But with hockey, the fact that no one knows can sometimes feel like no one cares.

And at this point in sports media, it’s basically a self-fulfilling prophecy. Playoff final sell-outs and the sudden appearance of Cedric Golden aside, there still aren’t enough Austin hockey fans reading the newspaper to justify a full-time beat writer (and yes, I certainly wish such a job existed so I could have said job), but now there never will be, ’cause they’ll stick to blogs and message boards and Twitter.


Which Might Well Be How I’d Feel About “Are We Winning?”

Posted in Hockey, Will Leitch Sucks at 11:02 pm by

I tweet too much and post too little to do what GC is doing, but, as promised: From the Twitter of one @williamfleitch.

Playoff hockey is unbearably intense. So much so that it’s almost not enjoyable. Almost.

Least disappointing Flyers playoff loss of my adult life, incidentally. Bad as Game 5 was, and weird as this one ended, not stealing Game 1 or Game 2 is when the series really got away from them.


ESPN Chicago on the Flyers: “We’re Not So Smart”

Posted in Blogged Down, Hockey at 5:05 am by

(Member of a Brooklyn rock band, or Finnish hockey player?)

I guess ESPN’s foray into local markets also means publishing old-fashioned homer trash-talk, not that I am anything other than amused. From ESPN Chicago’s Jon Greenberg.

Sure, mathematical probability was, and still is, against the Flyers, but does this team look like it is book smart? If you asked half the Flyers what comes after two, they’d probably say “cat.”

Oh, c’mon now – you can say that sort of thing about Daniel Carcillo if you must, but Chris Pronger is obviously bright. His press conference skills are almost Ari Fleischer-esque.

Anyway, having watched Game 1 in non-HD while parked in a recreational vehicle in Coeur D’Alene, ID, and then just a little more than half of Game 2 thanks to the largesse of a fellow sports fan (though not Flyers fan) and band manager at Sasquatch!, I couldn’t have enjoyed being at home to watch Game 3 any more, and am still smiling about it. Overtime! First Flyers win in a Cup final game since 1987! Scott Hartnell: best pass ever! Plus he bears a disturbing resemblance to Mick Hucknall! (lose the ponytail, Hartsy). Ville Leino, the new John Druce!

Of course, until they win Game 4, I don’t really expect the Flyers to win the Stanley Cup, but I haven’t expected them to win a round all spring, so hey, whatever works. Plus it’s a good time to pretend the Phillies don’t exist.


Pronger + Down Goes Brown + Schopenhauer= Hockey Comedy Gold

Posted in Blogged Down, Hockey at 6:03 pm by

I’m as amused as anyone about the “controversy” over Chris Pronger stealing game pucks. And I certainly appreciate a little dickish gamesmanship. But even as a Flyers fan it’s hard not to agree with Michael Wilbon (as tweeted by @BluntChick):

“You’re down 0-2! You want to do something with the puck? Put it in the net clown!”

Still, anyone who truly takes offense will find themselves redressed by Down Goes Brown, which documents the big defenseman’s “Other Jerk Moves” (what, you can’t say “dick”)?

Sadly, this sort of behaviour isn’t new for Pronger. In fact, throughout his career he’s become notorious for a series of incidents in which his actions were inappropriate, unprofessional, and just downright mean.

It’s a must-click, so I will offer just two highlights:

Caused a long delay during a 1998 game when he claimed to suffer a brief cardiac arrest after being hit with a slapshot directly above the heart, as if he has one.

During NBC telecasts of Flyers games, constantly leans over to Pierre McGuire and says “I don’t think they can hear you, maybe try speaking louder.”


There’s No Cheering in the Press Box Because It’s Empty: “Cincinnati” magazine on Hal McCoy

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 2:41 pm by

My old employer has published a lengthy profile of semi-furloughed Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy. Former New York Observer/Sports Illustrated scribe Sridhar Pappu touches heavily on issues like the death of newspapers, the decline of the Reds’ regional appeal (which has traditionally included parts of Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky), Pete Rose and the “obstinate babble” of sports blogs and Twitter.

So I guess if we’re tossing around blogosphere cliches, I’ll highlight the part where Joe Morgan is a dick (even when he’s holding one):

According to McCoy, he and Joe Morgan have not spoken since 1979, when he wrote that the Big Red Machine™s era was over and Morgan was no longer needed. Since then the two have been alone in elevators, stood next to each other at the urinal, and played doubles tennis against one another without ever speaking a word. When McCoy received the Spink Award during the induction ceremony at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002, he says Morgan said hello to his entire family but brushed by him when Hal stuck out his hand. (Morgan, who now works as an analyst for Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN, still refuses to speak about McCoy. But he insists, œI did congratulate him [at] the Hall of Fame.)


SI.com and Cincinnati’s Daugherty: Also 20 Years Behind Slats Grobnik

Posted in Baseball, Food at 7:52 pm by

Following up on Thursday’s post about the Cincinnati Reds: in a short item about ballpark food (including gluten-free, a story that our own GC was right on top of), The Big Money‘s Dan Mitchell revives the 1989 Mike Royko column about serving sushi at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, . which can be found at the Orlando Sentinel as well.

…when historians study the decline and fall of the once-great nation known as the United States, they will pinpoint April 1989 as being the beginning of the end….

And they will be able to look to Southern California to see where it began.

More precisely, to San Diego.

And even more specifically, to Jack Murphy Stadium, where the San Diego Padres play baseball.

They will find that in April 1989 the San Diego Padres became the first major league franchise in the long history of America’s great national pastime to sell – brace yourselves – sushi to the fans.

Yes, sushi in the ball park!

Strips of raw or marinated fish, wrapped around a ball of rice with maybe a dab of fish eggs on top – the preferred snack of the yuppiest of yuppies.

I should be surprised, but I’m not. I see now that it was inevitable.

Years ago, when the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, I complained to my good friend, Slats Grobnik.

”Slats,” I said, ”this is a bad thing for the country. Some day they will be selling sushi in ball parks.”

He said, ”What’s sushi?”

I said, ”I don’t know. But mark my words, Slats, it is sure to happen.”

Royko especially enjoyed attacking San Diego, having feuded with its fans during the ’84 NLCS.


Former Syracuse Basketball Player Now Works for Dan Snyder

Posted in Football at 7:36 pm by


Donovan McNabb to the Redskins for a second rounder and a pick next year.

And so it is that for the next ten years, whenever someone on a message board says “teams NEVER trade within their own division,” we’ll have this. And if the Redskins win the NFC and Kevin Kolb’s a bust, everyone will then respond, “and look how well that trade worked out.”


SI.com’s Daugherty: Sushi in Cincinnati? Goetta Outta Here!

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Food at 7:53 pm by

“When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always twenty years behind the times.”

Many people in my former residence of Cincinnati take exception to this most likely apocryphal Mark Twain quote. But not, apparently, Paul Daugherty, who is horrifed at the Great American Ballpark’s latest food concession – y’know, the one that’s been available in other cities now for years.

The Cincinnati Reds are selling sushi at Great American Ball Park this year, and all we can know about that is, nothing says hardball in Cincinnati quite like a smoked salmon roll. Pete Rose is rolling over in his seat at the racetrack.

American soldiers saved the world on a diet of canned Spam. The Big Red Machine ran on Wheaties, Red Man and greenies. There is nothing in either narrative that mentions sesame ginger crab rolls, with a side of edamame.

This is going to take some getting used to. It’s not that Cincinnati isn’t cosmopolitan enough to enjoy an occasional eel roll. It’s just that not that long ago, we were eating head cheese.

We still consume 99 percent of all goetta made. According to Wikipedia, goetta is “a peasant food of German origin,” made of pork shoulder and oatmeal. We enjoy it. It’s not the greatest of distinctions. But it’s something.

Sushi? I don’t know. I really don’t.

Daugherty goes on to make rote references to Chardonnay and San Francisco while lamenting the decline of the real baseball fan, which I suppose is fair enough, but what does it really matter if it’s sushi, Danny Meyer or the Build-a-Bear workshop? Personally, I’ve never understood why people want to wait in longer lines for lesser quality good food – better to just stick with peanuts and go get a proper cheesesteak (or California roll) after.

And goetta, incidentally, is awesome: here’s my recipe.

One other note – while it’s common to mispell the city’s name as “Cincinatti,” here’s how the photo caption for this story read as of 8:30pm EDT:

“True baseball fans in Cinncinnai aren’t interested in sushi; they like beer and hot dogs at games.”


Soon, “Fail Blazers” Will Be Back in Vogue

Posted in Basketball, Portland at 12:41 am by

If Paul Allen really didn’t care about his basketball team, he would have watched the Sounders take on Philadelphia, right?

The Blazers’ owner issued a largely worthless statement to the press before the Portland-Dallas game, and while some commenters on the Oregonian‘s web site seemed inexplicably content, columnist John Canzano witnessed several restless moments at the game:

I asked him at the end of the first half, as he headed into the room he uses as an office, if he’d mind going stronger with the comments on Pritchard.

The Blazers owner waved me off and shook his head. I asked him if there was anything more he wanted to say to Blazers fans. He hurried off, waving his hands and shaking his head. He finally nudged one of his private security guards and pointed at me before disappearing into a room with a small group that included Vulcan executive Bert Kolde (above), who was puffing his chest out at me.

After the door closed, a second security guard turned to me and said, “Keep writing what you write.”

Funny moment, that one. Because elsewhere in the arena during the game, a couple dozen fans were holding up “Fans (heart) KP” signs, pointing them toward the court. An usher came up and told them to point the signs toward the TV cameras to their right. And they did.

How long before Ari Fleischer is employed by Vulcan?


Dead GM Walking

Posted in Basketball, Portland at 4:07 am by

Ok, I’m not even that much of a Sixers fan, but I’m now officially daydreaming about Kevin Pritchard and his former Kansas coach Larry Brown in Philadelphia. One thing’s for sure, the apparently inevitable departure of KP seems about as smart as when the Sixers dumped Pat Croce. From Jason Quick of the Oregonian.

After more than 10 years of covering this team for this newspaper, this development would go down as one of the strangest and dumbest I’ve encountered.

All of this reeks heavily of a certain Western Conference general manager who is widely known to envy this job. He happens to have experience with the workings of the Vulcans. He has been on a constant smear campaign since Pritchard took over, harboring feelings that Pritchard “gloats” about his success, “rubbing it in the nose” of colleagues.

If some want to tout that source as credible, and not recognize the motives, that’s on them. And if Vulcan wants to play that way, then maybe this isn’t the place for Pritchard after all.

What Quick won’t say, CBS Sports’ Ken Berger has:

Two people familiar with the situation said one strong possibility to replace Pritchard is Denver GM Mark Warkentien, the reigning NBA Executive of the Year with ties to [Blazers president Larry] Miller through their Nike connections. Warkentien has a home in Portland, and is on the last year of his contract with rumblings of a serious front-office shakeup afoot in Denver. He also had a hand in the creation of the Jail Blazers, something that will be difficult -“ if not impossible -“ to sell to a community that will never forget that damnable era.

Meanwhile, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski continues to be the main voice for the case against KP. Is he carrying the water of Vulcan and rival GMs, as some in PDX believe, or is he an objective voice of sanity compared to all the crazy Pritchard love expressed by Portland fans and media, this writer included?

What’s also gone mostly unmentioned, for reasons that are understandable, is owner Paul Allen’s recurrence of cancer. But it seemed like Pritchard had a direct line to Allen in the past, by text message if nothing else. I was also at the press conference announcing the hiring of Miller, and my impression then is that he was supposed to be the business CEO, separate from the basketball decisions, and that both he and Pritchard would report to Allen and/or Vulcan director Tod Leiweke (who mostly runs the Seahawks), rather than Pritchard reporting to Miller. Things have obviously changed since then.

Dave at Blazers Edge’s post is both thoughtful and sad.

A week ago the questions surrounding the team were simple: Will they make the playoffs? Will they succeed there? Those were beautiful, vibrant questions speaking of goodness among us no matter how they were answered, even to the negative. Now the lingering question is, “Will this organization ever learn?”


Why “Mid-Major” Is More Accurate Than Ever

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts at 6:27 pm by

xavier coaches

(non-mid-major coach Chris Mack and his four Xavier predecessors, from Cincinnati magazine)

If you’re hoping, as Sports Illustrated‘s Stewart Mandel is, for the term “mid-major” to go out of circulation, perhaps writing a whole column on the subject isn’t the best way to assure that:

No one can identify for sure when exactly the term “mid-major” became a fixture in college basketball, but the 2006 NCAA tournament — the year George Mason reached the Final Four — was clearly its boiling point.

Years from now, here’s hoping we’ll similarly look back at the 2010 Dance as the event that rendered said phrase outdated, unnecessary and (this one’s a long shot) extinct.

We’ve been conditioned to believe in some mystical distinction between schools that belong to the six power football leagues and those that don’t, even when discussing a completely different sport. But if that’s the case, how is it that 11 different conferences will be represented when this year’s Sweet 16 commences Thursday night?

But, um… that’s exactly why these teams are called “mid-majors!” Not just to distinguish them from “major” (i.e. BCS) conferences, but also to distinguish them from the 15 or so conferences – half the automatic field – that enter every March just hoping they don’t have to play on Tuesday, and NEVER make the second round. The key word should be “major,” not “mid.”

And so long as Mandel can also write:

Butler is not going to win the national championship — but it’s fully capable of preventing someone else from doing so.

There’s still a hierarchy.

Does the fact that Cornell can play with anybody mean the entire Ivy League is suddenly as good as the Big 10 (or even the Missouri Valley), especially over 30 games instead of two? Of course not. Now that the world has realized (a season too late, given Patty Mills’ health last year) there are two good West Coast Conference teams, does that mean third-place Portland should have made the field instead of Big East team #8? Maybe so.

I kind of figure if you’re really bothered by the term “mid-major,” that also means you are one. Thing is, I would argue that we need to use the term more, and define it more precisely, based on student body size, attendance and/or athletic budgets, especially with the likely tournament expansion.

Why? Because of how they pick the NCAA selection committee, which is currently made up of “ten members, including six FBS representatives, and four Division I or FCS representatives.”

That means you’ve got 6 people (from UCLA, Ohio State, Kent State, Wake Forest, UConn and the Big 12 conference) representing 120 teams, and 4 people (from Xavier, UC-Riverside, UT-San Antonio and the Big Sky conference) representing 227 teams.

So not only is the process skewed towards power programs, but there is no middle ground – as the athletic director of what is by far (given Gonzaga’s recent early flops and Memphis after Calipari) the most successful non-BCS hoops program, Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski has a lot more in common with his ACC counterpart – Xavier and Wake Forest just began a 10-year home-and-home, in fact – than someone from the Southland. Only Kent State is really part of the same world as the Horizon or Missouri Valley or the CAA, even if they’re in the other column due to football.

With 96 teams and no NIT, the big battle is going to be between those second or third “mid-major” schools and bigger-conference powers on the bubble. If the selection committee was actually divided into BCS, mid-majors (which would include the Mountain West and Conference USA) and non-majors, we might get a process that is more balanced for every school, no matter what you want to call ‘em.


Is That Casual Encounters, or Adult Services?

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts, twitter twatter at 4:54 pm by

Sports Illustrated‘s Stewart Mandel tweets this fascinating link: a scheduling board for college basketball.

It’s the Craigslist of college hoops scheduling!,he writes. Note St Bonaventure’s pitch: “We lose 2 of our top 3 scorers”

Among the other highlights: Kansas needs to buy someone (a “guarantee game”) for 11/21 or 11/22, St. Bonaventure is hoping that the prospect of a game at Buffalo’s HSBC Arena might attract a “high major” opponent home-and-home, and Cameron Dollar at Seattle University is offering “competitive and creative guarantees” (is vacant Key Arena pitching in, perhaps?).

And: with a good enough opponent, Penn State dangles the prospect of ESPN or ESPN2, while Youngstown State, which needs a pair of home-and-homes, plays up its sacrificial status even more than St. Bonaventure: “We loose (sic) 5 seniors, 4 starters, 3 out of 4 top scorers. We have a lot of open dates.”

None of this is shocking of course, just interesting to see the nuts and bolts, as well as the volume of schools looking for games at any given time. I guess I’m used to college football (fewer games, and all non-conference action finalized much further in advance).


A&M Commerce: Where the Football Players Aren’t Too Bright. Just Ask the Athletic Director

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron, Lower Education at 6:14 am by

Print is dead? Not, apparently, to Guy Morris, who at least you can’t accuse of failing upwards. The former Kentucky and Baylor coach is now at Texas A&M University-Commerce, which I guess is where the kids who aren’t good enough to play at Texas A&M-Kingsville go. From The Battalion, via Romenesko:

Texas A&M University-Commerce football Head Coach Guy Morris admitted to police that his team was responsible for the removal of student newspapers distributed on campus Wednesday.

The East Texan published a story on Wednesday titled œFootball Player Arrested in Drug Bust.

Lt. Jason Bone, crime information officer, later interviewed Morris, who admitted to his team members™ involvement in the theft and said he supported their actions.

œI am proud of my players for doing that, Morris said. œThis was the best team building exercise we have ever done.…

According to Bone™s police report, Athletic Director Carlton Cooper said the football team could not have stolen the papers without the aid of outside help.

œI don™t think they are smart enough to do this on their own, he said.

Nor smart enough to realize there’s an Internet.


What’s Shaughnessy’s Idea of “Football Weather?”

Posted in Hockey, Sports Journalism, Weather at 2:55 am by

(Ty Conklin, sadly absent from an outdoor NHL game for the first time ever)

Dan Shaughnessy’s SI.com love letter to the Winter Classic – it’s so upbeat, he says the NHL is “Number Four!” – is a nice thing for the game of hockey, but he stumbles just a bit along the way:

Hockey owns New Year’s Day the way baseball owns the Fourth of July and football owns Thanksgiving. Sure, there’s still plenty of college grid action on the first day of the year, but many big bowls have been pushed back in the name of ratings and rankings. The NHL has stepped in with the Winter Classic which will be held this year at Fenway Park, featuring the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers…

Seizing the (New Year’s) Day, league czars took the game to Wrigley Field last year and the 2009 Classic produced the NHL’s highest regular season television rating in 13 years. Now the torch has been passed to Fenway Park and the Bruins of Original Six lore. Boston is positively agog at the sight of a Zamboni parked in front of the Green Monster. I kid you not.

The average high temperature in Boston on January 1 is 38 degrees, but nobody seems to be worried about the cold.

Surely Boston sports fans don’t consider such a temperature to be “cold.” In fact, as Fanhouse’s Chris Botta reports, it may even be hot enough to get the game postponed.

Like most of the East, Massachusetts had unseasonably warm weather the last two days. On Monday, the rains came. NHL ice man Dan Craig said his weather forecasters initially told him to expect a 50 percent chance of snow on New Year’s Day. Now their projections have changed to rain….

The decision to play the 1 PM ET game on Friday between Boston and Philadelphia comes down to two factors, according to Craig. “Our focus is on player safety and fan safety.”

I’d like to say I’m looking forward to the game, but with both my alma mater and my lifelong favorite team in bowls until 4:30, I probably won’t be making time for the pathetic Flyers in what’s really just another conference game. As an event, the Winter Classic’s surely cooler than an NFL contest in London, but it doesn’t count for extra in the standings.

Which is not to say the morning football action is of major consequence, but hey, it isn’t every decade that Northwestern plays on New Year’s Day (or every century that they win a bowl). And Penn State’s still looking for its first win over a BCS Top 15 opponent (which at least gives them something in common with the University of Texas).