02.11.09

The Poultry Defense: “Gourmet” Could Have Gotten A-Rod Off the Hook

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Medical Science at 3:50 am by

From “Politics of the Plate” columnist Barry Estabrook:

If you eat chicken, your urine, too, may have detectable levels of methenolone, one of the drugs for which the athletes tested positive.

In addition to being taken by sluggers hoping to improve their batting averages, methenolone (sold under the trade name Primobolan), is administered to livestock to promote growth.

Gourmet™s James Rodewald, who worked for Sports Illustrated before finding his true calling as a spirits editor (I™ll leave it to you to determine what that has to do with his knowledge of performance-altering substances), brought my attention to a study conducted by researchers at Kings College London. The British scientists analyzed urine from eight men who had eaten chicken injected with the drug and found that half the subjects tested positive for methenolone 24 hours after dining.

02.09.09

Bon Jovi Gives Bush League Football Marketing a Bad Name

Posted in consumer affairs, Rock Und Roll at 4:23 am by

While fans of the Philadelphia Soul can enjoy the fact that their team gets an extra year as the Arena League defending champions, it also means that they’re still waiting for that free Bon Jovi concert. The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s “Gonzo” is on the case.

The guy on the other end of the phone was ticked at me. It happens.

“You know, to bang Jon for this isn’t right,” Ken Sunshine said.

Sunshine is the spokesman for rocker and Philadelphia Soul owner Jon Bon Jovi. (Great name, right? Sunshine, I mean, not Bon Jovi.) When I called to inquire about the free concert Bon Jovi promised the city, Sunshine turned defensive. Mere seconds into the call, I was being accused – politely – of preparing to “bang” his client, which I think means “criticize” in PR speak. At least I hope that’s what it means….

For the unfamiliar, Bon Jovi went on WMMR-FM’s Preston & Steve show last February and promised to perform a free concert in Philadelphia if the Soul somehow managed to win the Arena Football League championship. Shortly after his club emerged victorious in ArenaBowl XXII, Bon Jovi renewed that promise, publicly saying the concert would be held “later this year.”

That was back in July. Last time I looked at the calendar, it’s now February 2009, which is most certainly not the same year as 2008.

So what gives? Was Philly duped by the Jersey hair band front man?

“As indicated, Jon will fulfill his commitment when the schedule for the return of the Soul is clarified,” Sunshine said. “Everything he’s pledged to the fans of Philly regarding the Soul he’s fulfilled. No one can doubt his integrity.”

No. Of course not. Wouldn’t dream of it.

Except, since when was the concert contingent on the AFL’s holding another season? (The league recently canceled the 2009 campaign.) Until now, Bon Jovi and his representatives had never mentioned that proviso. What happens if the schedule isn’t “clarified” and the Soul never return? What happens if the AFL folds for good?

“I don’t know,” Sunshine said.

Now, it always seemed quite clear to me that the free concert was to happen at a Soul game, or before a Soul game, or somehow in conjunction with a Soul game. In fact, you’d almost figure “free” was gonna end up meaning “free with purchase of a football ticket.” It was all about as altruistic as a t-shirt cannon. Still, the guy deserves the “banging.” And it’s nice of Sunshine to take time out to discuss this when he must be busy with John Thain.

(Note: Because this is about Arena Football, I can’t quite bring myself to use the category “Gridiron.)

02.08.09

A-Rod-A-Thon Continued: Slate’s Marchman Today, the New Yorker’s Angell in ’07

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Mob Behavior at 10:54 pm by

First of all, I kind of love the baldness of the Heyman story linked below – its assumption that the worst thing about the A-Rod affair is not that he may have done it, but that he got caught when the CBA said that he shouldn’t have. But while the morality/legality of PEDs will always be a loaded topic, I think that when it comes to history and sanctity, Roger Angell said it all:

Hallowed but hollow, perhaps, since home-run totals are determined not just by the batters but by different pitchers, in very different eras, and, most of all, by the outer dimensions of the major-league parks, which have always varied widely and have been deliberately reconfigured in the sixteen ballparks built since 1992, thus satisfying the owners™ financial interest in more and still more home runs. Bonds has been called a cheater, but the word should hardly come up in a sport whose proprietors, if they were in charge of the classic Olympic hundred-metre dash, would stage it variously at a hundred and six metres, ninety-four, a hundred and three, and so forth, and engrave the resulting times on a tablet.

He hit this note again in April of ’08:

We™ve always known that the lifetime home-run mark, œbaseball™s most hallowed record, has been rubberized in the cause of higher numbers. Alex Rodriguez, with five hundred and eighteen lifetime homers, plays half his games in Yankee Stadium, where it™s three hundred and ninety-nine feet to the left-center-field wall; Joe DiMaggio swung for the same fence when it was four hundred and seventy feet away. Pitchers™ mounds in DiMaggio™s day were fifteen inches high but in 1969 were lowered to ten inches, to make them more dinger-prone. Not much later, the strike zone shrank down to the size of a cellar window. Lore like this is amazing to kids, but it doesn™t count for much except when editorialists and sports columnists begin to go all trembly about the sanctity of old records.

Tim Marchman of Slate also writes in this vein, with a bone-dry nod to “the great Jay Marriotti…”:

That anyone could have connected those dots and yet maintained a belief in Rodriguez’s purity tells you everything you need to know about how much baseball’s drug scandals have taught the press and the public. Twenty-one years after Canseco freaked out the world by hitting 42 home runs and stealing 40 bases while carrying enough muscle to play linebacker, 11 years after the dubious exploits of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, eight years after Barry Bonds dropped 73 bombs, and four years after a 42-year-old Roger Clemens ran up a 1.87 ERA, smart people who pay close attention to the sport still haven’t caught on to the recurring pattern by which suspiciously superhuman achievement is invariably revealed, in the fullness of time, to have been chemically aided.

If the real lesson of the Rodriguez revelation is that anyone you ever thought might be on steroids likely was on steroids, it doesn’t necessarily follow that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, the SI report may offer baseball its last best chance to come clean and admit the truth: There isn’t much anyone can do to stop determined ballplayers from doing drugs, and there may not be much reason for anyone to want to stop them.

And, as CSTB’s proprietor just noted to me, “I also heard a rumor Cy Young won 511 games without having to retire any guys who weren’t white.”

Jayson Stark (linked second in this post, and in the Heyman post as well) thinks it’s a shame so many all-time greats now look to be excluded from the Hall of Fame. Personally, I’d vote for most of them without wringing my hands. But most of all, I’d say that Barry, McGwire, Sammy, A-Rod and the Rocket ought to be there because that is the Cooperstown the game of baseball (and its media accomplices) deserves.

Who Owns the Coyotes?

Posted in Hockey, The Marketplace at 5:34 pm by

While the NHL commish continues to say all is well, the Toronto Globe and Mail‘s David Shoalts is on the troubled Phoenix hockey team like it was based in Canada (as that entire country thinks it should be).


Gary Bettman (above) struck out at least three times in attempts to peddle the Phoenix Coyotes, according to multiple sources.

The sources say the NHL commissioner was turned down by Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, by Phoenix Suns majority owner Robert Sarver and by Ken Kendrick, the managing general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, on separate occasions. All three were said to have backed out after looking at the books of the Coyotes, who are expected to lose as much as $45-million (all currency U.S.) this season.

“It’s not happening,” a source close to Reinsdorf said yesterday. “They’re begging him to do it, but there’s no way. He has no interest. Who would?

This all comes on the heels of the resignation of Coyotoes CEO Jeff Shumway (above, discussing hockey’s popularity on Melmac), plus Shoalt’s earlier report:

Financial documents obtained by The Globe and Mail show the team has pledged the franchise and all its assets, including all forms of revenue (with the possible exception of arena-naming rights), as collateral for loans from New York company SOF Investments LP.

SOF Investments is a subsidiary of the MSD Capital hedge fund, which is controlled by computer tycoon Michael Dell….

One source familiar with the Coyotes’ loans said their collateral covers an obligation of about $80-million to SOF Investments.

Never mind the Texas Stars – maybe Michael Dell could relocate “his” NHL team to San Marcos. According to Forbes, the Austin region should be ready for the major leagues over the next two decades.

02.05.09

Tonight’s Sports Viewing Tip for Bill O’Reilly

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts at 1:16 pm by

Temple at #9 Xavier, 7pm. Apparently the Musketeers are part of that whole War on Christmas. From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

[Xavier's Sean] Miller has coached in the league for eight seasons, three as an assistant coach and the past five as a head coach. He said [Temple guard Dionte] Christmas (above) ranks among the best individual players he has seen come through the conference in that time, including XU’s David West and Saint Joseph’s Jameer Nelson, both of whom were national players of the year….

But there is a difference between West and Nelson, who led their teams to conference titles as seniors, and Christmas. The Owls (12-8, 4-2) won the conference tournament last season but have lost two of their first three league road games.

“The reality is, Jameer Nelson led his team in his senior year to many, many wins,” Dunphy said. “David West is an NBA performer who is doing great work and who had a fabulous career at Xavier. I think the legacy of Dionte Christmas is still yet to be told. We’ll see how it goes for him.”

Xavier, meanwhile, sits atop the Atlantic 10 and is protecting a 20-game home-court winning streak in the conference.

More NBA scouts than ever before – at least 22 – have requested credentials for the game because of Christmas.

02.04.09

What’s Good For the Mets is Good for the Country

Posted in Baseball, Greedy Motherfuckers, Ugly New Stadiums at 7:00 pm by

(photograph by Jesper Eklow)

Daniel Gross of Slate, the web’s official home for counterintuitive (rather than contrarian) analysis, weighs in on Citi Field:

For companies in highly competitive consumer markets, marketing and advertising are essential, entirely justifiable expenses. Companies”even companies getting bailed out by the feds”need to attract customers and to build their brand image. It’s difficult to measure the value of any specific campaign or ad. But there’s reason to think that for this company, at this stadium, in this location, a naming-rights deal might not be such a bad long-term move.

The cost is high”$400 million over 20 years. But the present-day cost isn’t quite as high as you think, especially if, as Darren Rovell of CNBC suggests, it is paid out in annual installments. In 2029, $20 million will be worth a lot less than $20 million is today. And any type of advertising that reaches a lot of people is expensive. In this economy, NBC was able to charge $3 million for a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl. Though the audience size for Mets games won’t approach that of the Super Bowl, the location of the stadium guarantees that the Citi logo will be visible to hundreds of millions of people each year. Citi Field is a giant billboard that will be visible not just to the 4 million-plus people who attend Mets games each year but to the tens of millions of people who drive past it on the Grand Central Parkway, the Van Wyck Expressway, and other roadways and the 25 million or so passengers who fly into and out of LaGuardia Airport each year.

And stadium naming deals generate a huge amount of free advertising. On the broadcasts of the team’s 81 home games (and, sponsors hope, post-season games), announcers will repeatedly refer to the company’s name in a nonadvertising context: “Welcome back to Citi Field.” Likewise, newspaper, Internet, and television coverage will produce hundreds of millions of impressions of the company’s name per year.

I don’t know if I’m wholly persuaded by the argument, but I do know that the anti-Citi sentiment, be it from Philadelphia bloggers (as if the Phillies have any moral superiority), Dennis Kucinich or the average fan, is primarily a case of misdirecting anger about one thing (the bank bailouts) towards another we already hated more (naming rights in general, public financing for stadiums). And Citi probably loves the fact that everyone is focused on their $50 million plane and $400 million Mets deal; that still leaves them $44.55 billion to mess around with minus sound-bite scrutiny.

02.02.09

Police Harassment of Cincinnati Sports Figures Continues

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts, The Law at 7:45 pm by

Following in the foosteps of his mentor Bobby Huggins, not-getting-any Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy proves to be an entertaining, if more sober, squad car cam performer. From the always-estimable Sharon Coolidge of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Former University of Cincinnati basketball coach Andy Kennedy pleaded for his release after his Dec. 18 arrest on charges he assaulted a cab driver, a Cincinnati police cruiser camera shows….

œI™m here for the Big East/SEC challenge, Kennedy says. œI™m playing Louisville ¦ tomorrow. I was the UC head coach. I am going to be on national television. If I™m not standing there at 9 p.m. tomorrow, this is an international altercation.

œIt™s not worth it, please trust me, Kennedy said.

The officer says he was aware the arrest could be newsworthy.

œYou think we™ve never arrested somebody that™s made national media? he said. œWe deal with the Bengals all the time.

02.01.09

“I Had a Friend Who Was a Big Football Player/Back in High School”

Posted in Blogged Down, Gridiron, music, Sports TV at 6:11 pm by

Sports by Brooks has leaked the alleged set list for today’s halftime Springsteen show.

And, following up on this blog’s previous post: the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Dan DeLuca says “Queen of the Supermarket” just might be the worst song Springsteen has ever released on a studio album. I feel more generously towards it to be honest – that its remedial level of cultural anthropology is coming from the song’s narrator, rather than the Boss himself.

Unlike SI.com’s Joe Posnanski, I don’t have issues with such a grass-roots, man-of-the-people rock star finally giving into something so mass-audience and gauche and corporate as the Super Bowl:

I have friends, close friends, who are having a hard time with this, really struggling with it. They don’t understand why Bruce Springsteen is playing halftime of the Super Bowl. One friend calls it “a soul-crushing betrayal.” Another calls it “the ultimate sellout.” It should be added that these friends are all football fans as well as Bruce Springsteen fans — well, aren’t all football fans Springsteen fans? They simply aren’t feeling it….

True, Springsteen made concessions with his music over the last 40 years. He always said he would never play big arenas, but then he sold lots of records, and people couldn’t squeeze into the union halls anymore, it had to be Madison Square Garden. He always insisted that he would never play the football stadiums, no, he could not connect with an audience that large. Then he became world famous.

The solution to this problem should be obvious: get better taste in music. Spend more time in clubs. Or just go see The Hold Steady or the Gaslight Anthem.

And if you want to rip him about the Super Bowl, it should probably be about the Bridgestone sponsorship, rather than football itself or generalised corporate commercialism.

Otherwise, at worst, today is a TV appearance, no more soulful or soulless than doing SNL or (ahem) Conan. At best, like any festival show (and sporting event) it won’t be about the music (or what happens on the field), but the emotional embrace of a huge audience.

Of course, it would have been a whole lot more interesting if Springsteen had deigned to do this during the Bush administration.

01.29.09

Saddle Up

Posted in castration nation, politics, Religion, The Internet at 2:19 am by

The Savage Love readers have spoken – just doing my part to move it up the Google charts.

Saddlebacking: sad¢dle¢back¢ing \ˈsa-dÉ™l-ˈba-kiÅ‹\ vb [fr. Saddleback Church] (2009): the phenomenon of Christian teens engaging in unprotected anal sex in order to preserve their virginities

After attending the Purity Ball, Heather and Bill saddlebacked all night because she™s saving herself for marriage.

01.27.09

NBC Keeps Oregon State From Capitalizing on First Brother-In-Law

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down, College Spurts, non-sporting journalism, politics at 8:30 pm by

(a man named Craig Robinson)

In Portland, last week’s presidential inauguration was completely overshadowed by the mayor, his (apparently) 18 year-old ex-boyfriend and far too many journalistic conflicts. In Corvallis, it was ruined by Brian Williams.

From the Oregonian‘s John Canzano:

The cameras caught Oregon State coach Craig Robinson early and Williams identified Robinson as Reggie Love, Obama’s personal assistant. Oops. It got worse. Because Williams waxed on and on about how Love become Obama’s personal assistant, and what a personal assistant does… according to one OSU fan who emailed me, “evidently one shaved head tall black guy looks about the same to Williams.”

Eek.

So later, the cameras are again on Robinson, who is wearing his Oregon State scarf, colors orange and black, and Brokaw says Robinson is wearing “Princeton” colors. Robinson attended Princeton, and the school colors are indeed orange and black, but it was a little shortsighted, no? to miss the the obvious angle. No mention from Brokaw that OSU’s colors are orange and black and that Robinson is the Beavers’ coach.

One reader, from Independence, wrote:

“To NBC: Go (bleep) yourselves. You are elitist pigs. If this is your idea of ALL THE facts, what am I to believe on your newscasts?”

Another wrote:

“I am still pissed about OSU stopping Pitt and holding them to zero points, and have it characterized as a boring game…. and all (Robinson as coach) gets them is their basketball coach first misidentified, and later, lauded for his Princeton education. Elitest (bleeps).”

(Sic)

Now, being a Penn State fan, I like a titanic defensive struggle as much as anyone, so let me suggest that some may have thought the Sun Bowl was a boring game not because of the 3-0 score but because it featured two mediocre teams, the better of which was coming off perhaps the most humiliating home loss of the college football season.

But I digress. Canzano concludes that “NBC’s coverage made the Northwest feel a little insignificant.” Said insignificance would also be why Sam Adams is still not nearly as well-known as Elliot Spitzer.

The ever-unflappable Williams later apologized.

“Whatever you have called me over the past few days can’t be any worse than my own anger over my mistake. I made an inexcusable error when I confused the great OSU coach Craig Robinson with a friend of mine, the personal assistant to President Obama, Reggie Love. I am sending personal apologies to both men, and this is my apology to all members of Beaver Nation. It was a mistake committed during 9 hours of live programming – I was distracted and watching many incoming video feeds, but that’s no excuse for the error, which was no one’s fault but mine. I have felt awful about it since I forced myself to read the coverage of it on OregonLive.com, and I hope that someday you can find it in your hearts to forgive my error.”

Heh. He said “Beaver Nation.”

Incidentally, Coach Robinson’s team is not so bad (0-18 in the Pac 10 last year, road wins over Cal and Stanford this year).

Meanwhile, Joe Paterno Still Sends Postcards

Posted in Blogged Down, College Spurts, Gridiron at 1:38 am by

USC head coach Pete Carroll joins Twitter. He would like you all to know it’s 75 degrees in Los Angeles today (i.e., way nicer than in Eugene, Columbus, Austin or State College).

(Via Andy Staples at SI.com.)

01.24.09

The Charlestown Chiefs’ Moe Wanchuk, R.I.P.

Posted in Cinema, Hockey at 5:13 pm by

Every once in a while I’d be watching television, most notably NYPD Blue and a few episodes of that show I heard about from William Donohue, and I’d be like, “hey… it’s one of the guys from Slap Shot!” (which is more than I could say of Michael Ontkean post-Twin Peaks).

Said actor was Brad Sullivan, who died of cancer on December 31 at the age of 77.

This note (via e-mail) from Ken “Toe” Blake of slapshotfan.com:

I’ve had the pleasure over the years of meeting with Brad on several occasions and talking about Slap Shot, my fundraising efforts, and his Christian ministry with the Asian community in NYC….


One day about 6 years ago we were sitting in a Starbucks close to his home in the city and Brad told me that he had recently seen Slap Shot for the first time since it’s release and he couldn’t believe how sacrilegious it was. He was genuinely saddened that he portrayed such a nasty character in the movie and he was sorry he had ever done it….

He didn’t like people who asked him about his role of Mo, but was a very kind man and he was happy to discuss his other quality roles and projects at any time with anybody. He did however. like the fact that anything he signed or gave me went to charity.

01.23.09

World’s Worst Jew Fathered the Silver Jews

Posted in Free Expression, Greedy Motherfuckers, music, Parental Responsibility at 3:25 pm by

If you recently heard about the web site “Berman Exposed,” and thought to yourself, “it’s about time there was a comprehensive Silver Jews fan site!,” well, you weren’t that far off the mark.

Along with the announcement he’s retiring from music (to say the band is splitting up seems semantically imprecise), David Berman (above) now resignedly reveals himself to be the spawn of Richard, the “Center For Consumer Freedom” corporate lobbyist who fights the good fight against such things as MADD, the Humane Society, ACORN and LOLCats. How has this guy not been hired by the BCS?

Now that the Joos are over I can tell you my gravest secret. Worse than suicide, worse than crack addiction:

My father.

You might be surprised to know he is famous, for terrible reasons.

My father is a despicable man. My father is a sort of human molestor.

An exploiter. A scoundrel. A world historical motherfucking son of a bitch. (sorry grandma)

You can read about him here.

www.bermanexposed.org

My life is so wierd. It’s allegorical to the nth. My father went to college at Transylvania University.

You see what I’m saying.

A couple of years ago I demanded he stop his work. Close down his company or I would sever our relationship.

He refused. He has just gotten worse. More evil. More powerful. We’ve been “estranged” for over three years.

Even as a child I disliked him. We were opposites. I wanted to read. He wanted to play games.

He is a union buster.

When I got out of college I joined the Teamsters (the guards were union organized at the Whitney).

I went off to hide in art and academia.

I fled through this art portal for twenty years. In the mean time my Dad started a very very bad

company called Berman and Company.

He props up fast food/soda/factory farming/childhood obesity and diabetes/drunk driving/secondhand smoke.

He attacks animal lovers, ecologists, civil action attorneys, scientists, dieticians, doctors, teachers.

His clients include everyone from the makers of Agent Orange to the Tanning Salon Owners of America.

He helped ensure the minimum wage did not move a penny from 1997-2007!

The worst part for me as a writer is what he does with the english language.

Though vicious he is a doltish thinker

and his spurious editorials rely on doublethink and always with the Lashon Hara.

As I studied Judaism over the years, the shame and the shanda,

grew almost too much. my heart was constantly on fire for justice. I could find no relief.

This winter I decided that the SJs were too small of a force to ever come close to

undoing a millionth of all the harm he has caused. To you and everyone you know.

Literally, if you eat food or have a job, he is reaching you.

I’ve always hid this terrible shame from you, the fan. The SJs have always stood autonomous and clear.

Hopefully it won’t contaminate your feelings about the work.

My life has been riddled with Ibsenism. In a way I am the son of a demon come to make good the damage.

Previously I thought, through songs and poems and drawings I could find and build a refuge away from his world.

But there is the matter of Justice.

And i’ll tell you it’s not just a metaphor. The desire for it actually burns.

It hurts.

There needs to be something more. I’ll see what that might be.

DCB

if you want to know what evil Herr Attackdog is currently up to look here

In all seriousness… David Berman needs a book deal. Ibsenesque, for sure, but also “No Logo” meets “Running With Scissors.”

01.21.09

Two Good Reasons to Cheer on the Steelers

Posted in Football, Mob Behavior, The Law, Total Fucking Terror at 12:51 am by

1. Rex Michael Perkins


2. Ryan Hanlon

They’re the two Phoenix-area residents accused of burning messages in Donovan McNabb’s lawn.

From the East Valley Tribune:

Chandler police arrested two Arizona Cardinals fans who they say burned messages in the front lawn of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb™s Chandler residence a day before the NFC Championship game.

Police were able to track down the pair after they discovered a sticker containing the home address of one of the men on a cardboard sign left in McNabb™s yard.

Rex Michael Perkins, 37, of Chandler, and Ryan Hanlon, 29, of Gilbert, were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage on Sunday after police questioned Perkins about the sign that said: œGo Cards on one side and œBeat Philly on the other, Chandler police said.

Perkins and Hanlon also allegedly poured diesel fuel in McNabb™s yard in the 4100 block of South Purple Sage Drive to read: œGo Kurt, and œGo Cards, causing an estimated $2,000 in damage, Chandler police Sgt. Joe Favazzo said.

Given they are huge fans of Kurt Warner, I suppose we should be grateful that they didn’t try a cross.

01.19.09

Fish and Chips, Welsh Rarebit Concessions Coming Soon To Phillies Games?

Posted in Baseball, consumer affairs, Greedy Motherfuckers at 8:07 pm by

With all the chatter about the naming rights for Citi Field in post-bailout American, don’t the British taxpayers deserve the same consideration? The Royal Bank of Scotland is continuing to crater, and as The Independent notes:

The bank will be about 70 per cent Government owned after the Treasury agreed to replace £5 billion of preference shares with new ordinary shares.

But the taxpayer is already sitting on paper losses of more than £12 billion on its existing 58 per cent stake in the group…

The group owns the Citizens commercial bank in the US…

Philadelphia is already wondering if the Corestates/First Union/Wachovia Center (still most aptly referenced as the “F.U. Center” regardless) will end up as the Wells Fargo Center. So how long before some grandstanding MP demands that Citizens Bank Jokeyard Park becomes, oh, let’s say… “Prince William and Harry Park”?

01.11.09

Greetings to the New Brunette

Posted in Basketball, music, record collector disease at 1:16 am by

Look out, Buccigross! Hoops journeyman and ESPN blogger Paul Shirley tells us all about his love for Lykke Li, the Kills, TV on the Radio and, especially, Kings of Leon.


I might turn gay for one or all of the members of Kings of Leon. Watch a video and tell me I’m wrong to say that. Unless you’re a girl. Then you should watch the video and tell me you haven’t reconfirmed your heterosexual status. Or switched, in the case of my robust lesbian audience.

Surely Shirley means to echo Gore Vidal, who famously said that “there is no such thing as a homosexual person. There are only homosexual acts.”

01.06.09

Nothing Good Has Ever Come From Patronizing Vitamin Shoppe and GNC

Posted in Baseball, consumer affairs, Fitness, Medical Science at 3:39 pm by

Or from visiting the Cherry Hill Mall, for that matter.To borrow from my Internet friend Stu’s optimistic take, the Philadelphia Phillies have just made a dramatic middle-of-the-season move, picking up overused lefty reliever J.C. Romero well before the trade deadline. That’s because he’s been suspended 50 games. ESPN’s Peter Gammons had the story, which everyone in baseball managed to keep under wraps (somewhat impressively, I’d say) during the playoffs.

Romero also spoke to the Inquirer‘s Phil Sheridan, who breaks down the whole sequence of events quite thoroughly. Two parts of his piece jumped out at me.

Considering it was the first time a banned substance was found in an FDA-regulated, over-the-counter supplement – one available to every major-leaguer and millions of youths – that should have sounded alarms.

Wait, the FDA – the President Bush-era FDA – regulates the supplement industry? Were they doing a good job?

And…

Here is where Patrick Arnold comes in. The man who first brought androstenedione to the U.S. marketplace and was the chemist behind development of THG – the designer steroid distributed by Balco – also runs a major supplement business called ErgoPharm. Arnold created and marketed the supplement Romero was using.

In an e-mail exchange, Arnold said there was nothing in his supplement that should have created a positive drug test.

The Daily News’ Rich Hoffman says the union let its players down (Yankees minor league pitcher Sergio Mitre is also out for 50 games), and quotes from the MLBPA’s letter:

Nothing on the labels of those supplements indicated that they contained a trace amount of a substance prohibited under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. 

But haven’t we already learned a hundred times that labels can’t be trusted (even from such a nonpareil source as Patrick Arnold)?

As usual, neither side looks good – the whole culture is still just as messed up as when McGwire was on andro. Legal or not legal, banned or not banned,  performance enhancing vs. workout recovery, amphetamines vs. “five hour energy,” – players are always going to take whatever they can and MLB will always lag behind in its definitions/enforcement/testing ability.

So if you believe that there’s not a huge philosophical gulf between taking HGH or having Lasik surgery, it’s all kind of pointless. Whereas if you believe in the PED bogeyman, then Romero is just as guilty as an Olympian on Sudafed (in fact, two Olympic-sport athletes have already been suspended for this stuff). Which would also mean it’s something of a joke that the appeals process enabled him to play in the World Series. I’m glad he did, of course, since I fall more into the former camp.

Update: Will Carroll at Baseball Prospectus points out that the product already came with a warning label! He also links to Anthony Roberts, who has more on Arnold and chemistry.

01.04.09

Flint Rent-a-Cop Puts on the Foil

Posted in Hockey at 3:18 pm by

Let me rephrase something that I said last post: overall, until it™s April 10, I still prefer the minors for the money, especiallly given that I can watch the Flyers on TV.

And I should certainly include major junior in that preference, which offers much of the same grit (and sloppiness) as bush league, but with big-league talent sprinkled on each roster.

The main difference, I think, is one of emotional temperature. Since the advent of the luxury box/club level/waitress era, lower level NHL fans at a regular season game just aren’t as engaged as people in the cheap seats. Last night’s Staples crowd was fairly feisty, probably because the team is selling all its January tickets, including 100 level spots, for $11.50.

Meanwhile, lower level minor league hockey fans are probably too engaged – from the glass-bangers who pay 20 bucks to the “professional” security guards. From the Flint Journal’s Brendan Savage:

As Flint goaltender Chad Alban was making his way down the ice to exit the ice, he stopped near the scrum of players, took off his mask and had words with Port Huron goalie Larry Sterling.

Alban and Sterling never got a chance to fight and the linesmen quickly got in between them before escorting Alban toward the exit to the dressing rooms.

That’s when the fun started.

According to Alban and several Generals, when Alban got close to the exit behind the Port Huron net, a security guard reached through the door and grabbed Alban, pulling him off the ice.

Bad move.

Alban said he turned and pushed the security guard away, at which point he and several Generals said the security guard punched Alban in the face. Alban did indeed appear to have a welt near his left eye in the dressing room afterward….

No arrests were made but officers told Alban he could press charges against the guard if he wished. Reynolds said Alban declined as long as the guard will be disciplined.

(h/t to Greg Rajan)

I Went to See the Flyers-Kings…

Posted in Hockey at 5:26 am by

And all you get are these lousy tweets:


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I must admit that overall, until it’s April 10, I still prefer the minors, where the smaller coaching staffs and more mistake-prone players=scoring and entertainment.

Not to mention: fighting. Just when it appeared that they should start one, the Kings changed the momentum of this game with two big hits. The wildly shorthanded Flyers (no Gagne, Briere, Lupul or Giroux) still played well, and certainly had their chances. And made it to first place.

Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes that “Just as they had in Anaheim the previous night, hundreds of Flyers fans attended last night’s game. Perhaps they had been at the Rose Bowl to watch Penn State and decided to remain in the Los Angeles area.”

Guilty as charged, but I’m assuming most of them were expats. Happens all over the West and Southwest, but especially in hockey.

Now can someone tell me why Mike Knuble took a Polaroid of himself in the penalty box?

01.02.09

Jon Heyman Steps Into the Light Regarding Pat Burrell

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 4:20 pm by

August 15: He’s come back nicely from a brutal year of a few years ago to reestablish himself as a pretty good offensive player. He’s had a lot of big hits this year. Of course, many of them have come in Citizen’s Bank Jokeyard.

November 2: Streaky and sullen, he still can still hit 30 home runs (at least in Citizens Bank Joke Yard).

January 2: Pretty well limited to the AL by a declining ability to play the field. His bad second half seems to be hurting him, too, but let’s not forget that he hit on the road, too, not just at Citizen’s Bank Jokeyard.

Is It Safe To Turn On Sportscenter Now?

Posted in College Spurts, Football at 1:55 am by

I mean, I’d like to see some highlights from the hockey game at Wrigley.

If you didn’t watch the Rose Bowl, rest assured that USC could not have beat up Penn State more if it had been a 65-7 score. Mark Sanchez and the Trojans wideouts ripped the Nittany Lions secondary, so much so that Penn State’s penalties and USC’s quietly efficient defense hardly seemed to matter. With a 31-7 halftime lead, it was almost like the Trojans let the Lions move the ball because they could… and then immediately tacked on one last score to make it 38-14.

Of course Pete Carroll’s team might not get all of the credit it deserves, since they had to play a mere Big 10 team. But y’know, they have the longest win streak of the one-loss teams, and the Pac 10′s undefeated bowl performance surely helps. If nothing else, there ought to be a race for #2 (and some first place votes) in the AP poll, between the Trojans and UT (assuming that the Longhorns win).

And if you don’t want to talk about this game in the context of “we need a playoff” (or a plus-one game), it’s at least a shame the Rose tradition (and all of the BCS’s non-championship conference tie-ins) meant we couldn’t have a Texas-USC game, which might have made a separate AP #1 quite possible. I’m afraid Penn State could have contented itself with Cincinnati or Virginia Tech (though Penn State-Alabama could have been a ton of fun).


The only good thing about attending the game (besides being reminded that new episodes of television begin next week, above) was it was not especially frustrating. PSU committed penalties and made mistakes and got outplayed if not outworked – but USC’s superiority was so convincing there was really nothing to complain about. The safeties and linebackers, especially, just never had a chance in coverage. And Pete Carroll just might be the bowl game heir to Joe Paterno – give him four weeks off and there is almost no way he will get outcoached or outprepared. Tonight USC looked like they had the 1986 Penn State coaching staff with the 1986 Miami talent.

01.01.09

Mark Sanchez 2, TMZ 0

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 3:58 am by

Above, the only reason it was worth wasting 90 minutes – 60 of them driving back and forth in easy traffic – at the Penn State pep rally. Also, imagine – the field at Beverly Hills High School is turf!

Meanwhile, All Things Trojan reports on TMZ’s “Beef Bowl” encounter with various USC players, wherein a few of them cannot identify Joe Biden or Blagovecic.

Trojan Coach Pete Carroll wasn’t too pleased and told his players that he felt he had let them down by not preparing them for this sort of thing, but nobody I talked to was bothered by the incident. “Maybe some of these guys learned a lesson that they need to be more educated and understand what’s going on outside of their football world,” said offensive lineman Jeff Byers.

The actual video is not even up to “Jaywalking” standards, but Sanchez does handle the nonsense easy.

Just remember, if the Lions get their ass kicked, they already won the BCS graduation bowl. 18 players on the current squad now have degrees, including starting QB Darryl Clark, who got his in 3 1/2 years. That means he’ll likely start work on a Master’s through his final year of NCAA eligibility.

For the record, I feel about the Rose the same way that I did about the Alamo. I wouldn’t bet much money on Penn State (and have a rule against taking the points where they’re concerned), but it should be a good game. Penn State will probably need a defensive score to win. The USC game that I think about the most is not Oregon State or Ohio State (the two common opponents where Penn State measures up quite nicely) but Oregon, the only truly strong offensive team the Trojans bottled. On the other hand, the Ducks weren’t necessarily so strong back then. And lord knows shutting out Wazzu and Washington is no great feat. Hey, if Stanford could score 23….

12.31.08

Best Ten Bucks (Each!) We Ever Spent

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 3:46 pm by

“Of all the teenage, made-for-cable, serially sponsored college football games for teams that either belly flopped in November (longtime number one Penn State in 1999, defending national champ Texas in 2006) or got jilted by a bowl older than Miley Cyrus (11-1 Kansas State in 1998), San Antonio™s indoor contest is my absolute favorite,” I wrote in Texas Monthly last month, and I guess I wasn’t kidding – Monday was my third trip to the Alamo Bowl.

Neither team fit into those categories this year, even if Mizzou was once a BCS contender. Certainly if you’d told me in September that Northwestern would hold its own against the pre-season #5, or even get a chance to play them, I would have been delighted. In the end, both schools were right where they belonged. Northwestern may have even been a little overrated, having ducked Penn State and Wisconsin this year (not that the Badgers would have necessarily beat them); at the same time, if they’d played a better game against Michigan State, they might have made it where the Spartans did, the Citrus.

Meanwhile, the Outback’s preference for Iowa, a team the Wildcats beat, was vindicated by the Alamo’s attendance, which couldn’t have been more than 45-50,000 actual (announced was 55,000+). The economy aside, it’s nothing more than math: a private school with 8100 undergraduates will only ever bring one-third to one-half the fan base as a state school.

This was, as the headline of this post suggests, good news for the two-man CSTB contingent. In fact, had I been a bit more eBay-conscientious, we could have had four tickets for no more than a total of three bucks. Neither of us wore purple, though we admired folks who broke out TCU and Vikings gear (Prince t-shirts would have been another option).

Unlike Vegas or the pundits, I expected a good game (or I sure as hell wouldn’t have attended, having been there in 2000 for the 66-17 Nebraska beating). Missouri was an even bigger favorite against Kansas, and they lost (and gave up 40 points). Texas was an even bigger favorite in the 2006 Alamo Bowl, and almost lost. Rivalries and bowls are both extremely unpredictable.

But, alas, Missouri’s superior talent allowed them to overcome more mistakes. They also played the run much better in the second half. Pat Fitzgerald may not care about a moral victory, but it was pretty crazy that NU could outright dominate much of a game in which they spotted that offense 15-20 yards of field position every kickoff. Then of course, they let a punt get played by Jeremy Maclin, and the game began anew.

Great night for C.J. Bacher (above), who outplayed Daniel. Crazy to think that Missouri’s kicker, who couldn’t seal the deal in regulation, is the most accurate in NCAA history. Awful that the Cats lost Corey Wooton towards the end, not because he might have made the difference (though he might have further delayed the inevitable) but because it was the turf that got him, and the prognosis isn’t good. And oh yeah – the Wildcats missed an extra point.

As I said in Texas Monthly, a bowl like this is just an extra inter-conference game – the kind that schools don’t schedule for September nearly as often as they should. Everybody left the building entertained, the Wildcats fans included – sorry Pat, but I do think that there’s still an element of “just happy to be here” for the moment. Give us a few more nine-win seasons (and that long-awaited bowl triumph), and not only will our expectations rise, we’ll even start to second-guess you.

Most of all, I enjoyed watching the NU sideline. Fitzgerald coaches like he just might sub in for the middle linebacker at any time (he could easily be penalized for going too far on the field). He also outworks Willie the Wildcat pumping up the crowd. And the players couldn’t have been any more intense and overjoyed if they had been in Pasadena.

So I’ve now attended as many Northwestern Alamo Bowls as I have Northwestern games when I was a Northwestern student. What can I say – it wasn’t just that they were awful, it was that the team I grew up watching still came first. In fact, I am now off to a Penn State pep rally at Beverly Hills High. Just might fire up the Twitter feed for that (and maybe at the Rose Bowl too).

12.27.08

Les Miles’ Secret Recruiting Weapon: Maid Service

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron, Lower Education at 7:06 pm by

Lots of good stuff in Thayer Evans’ long-haul New York Times piece on the recruitment of Lufkin, TX lineman Jamarkus McFarland. There’s talk of nudity, interest-free loans, excessive alcohol consumption, too-flirty recruiting hostesses and Hummer limos – hardly shocking. And since the story is about a player who committed to, and was seemingly recruited with more care by, the University of Oklahoma, you might say that it has a slant. But what stands out most is how the University of Texas comes off as both arrogant and socially inept about a player who was seemingly the Horns’ to lose.

Before the visit, [McFarland's mother, Kashemeyia] Adams called Texas and asked to speak with Brown. The associate head coach, Mac McWhorter, told her that she could talk only to him.

That bothered her because she had wanted to talk to Brown and commend him for the Longhorns™ dismissal of a player who had posted a racial slur on his Facebook page about President-elect Barack Obama.

During the trip, Adams said, she asked Brown about the Obama slur, and was told that the player had to be dismissed because the F.B.I. had become involved.

After Texas beat Baylor that weekend, McFarland and his mother ate dinner at Brown™s home. Flat-screen televisions were in every room, and there were two outside.

œWhose house do you like better, Bob Stoops™s, Les Miles™s or mine? Adams recalled Brown saying…

Now, I’m guessing Mack Brown meant to be more humorous than pompous in that instance. But why not tell her what she wanted to hear regarding Buck Burnette?


Bob Stoops, by contrast, later came to Lufkin and watched Beauty Shop with mom and Grandma.

Texas made another visit to McFarland™s school, but again, they did not see Adams.

After the visit, Adams received an e-mail message from Brown. œIt is obvious that the recruiting has put a strain on your relationship, the message said. œJaMac wants Texas, and Mom wants OU. We want you to still come to Texas, but we are going to slow our process down because you two need some time to get on the same page. We do not want players at Texas if everyone isn™t on the same page.

In the same message, Brown wrote that Texas would not visit again unless requested.

McFarland™s mother and grandmother were offended.

œThat™s tacky to me, Adams said. œYou™re basically telling my kid to just go against his parents.

Actually it sounds like UT may have actively decided that the parents were no longer worth the trouble (or four years of trouble), though they continued to recruit McFarland. And they could well do so up until the 4th of February, but I’d say the very existence of this article makes that rather unlikely.

Coincidentally, this is the second year in a row Evans’ chosen subject jilts UT.

12.20.08

Blunderstruck

Posted in Hockey at 5:00 am by

You knew it probably wasn’t gonna be a good year for the Wichita Thunder when a basketball team moved into their biggest rival’s building and then called themselves the “Thunder.” But at 7-15-2 (that’s a .333 winning percentage) the Central Hockey League cellar-dwellers are three times better than their NBA relation – and more than two times better than the Kansas City Chiefs, which the hockey club is honoring tonight in classic bush-league fashion:

The Wichita Thunder has announced they will host “Carl Peterson – Blame the GM Night” for this Saturday’s home game versus the Rapid City Rush….

Any Thunder fan with the first name “Carl” or the last name “Peterson” will receive free admission to Saturday’s game. Any fan wearing Chiefs gear will receive buy one get one free tickets to the game. Anyone in attendance named “Clark Hunt” will receive Thunder season tickets for the rest of 2008-09.

The Thunder continues their current homestand this Friday and will host “Rod Blagojevich Bribe Night”, where the Thunder will attempt to bribe fans into coming to the game versus the Mississippi Riverkings. Anyone who mentions the promotion at the Thunder office will receive tickets of equal or lesser value to the game on January 28th when the Thunder again hosts Rapid City.


“We realize that much like Blagojevich’s last two weeks and the Chiefs last few years, Thunder fans are likewise disappointed by the last couple seasons of Thunder hockey”, said Thunder general manager Joel T. Lomurno (above). “I’ll gladly take some blame for it, so what better way to thank the fans for their tremendous support and bribing them in to coming to see us play this weekend. In fact if the Thunder don’t score at least six goals this weekend and pick up a couple wins, tickets to Wichita’s home game on Tuesday, January 6th versus Arizona will also be buy one get one free, while additional tickets for season ticketholders will be no charge whatsoever (limit four).”

In other words, first prize, two Thunder tickets. Second prize, four Thunder tickets. Considering the team was unable to score a goal (including all five shootout rounds) during its Teddy Bear Toss last week, those freebie tix were pretty much a given and indeed, though the Thunder lost to beat Mississippi 2-1 Friday.

Update: Correction now appended. Hey, I was just thrilled to have two readers care (even if they do share an IP address). Tonight, the Thunder really did lose 2-1. That’s three goals for the weekend (and five, total, in their last seven games). Freebies all around!