05.29.15

HUG(GULA)S NOT DRUG(GULA)S

Posted in Baseball at 8:38 pm by

After a slow start, the Washington Nationals have overtaken the New York Mets in the NL East and you might be excused if you’d thought the key to their ascent was the ridiculous offensive production of OF Bryce Harper. Actually, as the Washington Post’s James Wagner (sort of) explains, the crucial component in Washington’s rise has been IF Dan Uggla (above), he of the Mendoza Line batting average and zeal for touching & caressing his teammates :

“He’s just a big bicep teddy bear,” reliever Aaron Barrett said. After a grin and laugh, Barrett continued: “The hugs are fantastic. I love it. It’s very comforting.”

If you look closely in or near the dugout, there’s a common routine that unfolds after a Nationals home run: Uggla finds the player and gives a big hug. After Danny Espinosa smashed his sixth home run of the season Wednesday in Chicago, Uggla — the man whom Espinosa replaced in the eighth inning — gave Espinosa a big embrace in the cramped Wrigley Field dugout.

“Some guys grew up huggers; some grew up with handshakes,” Uggla said recently. “We hugged in my family. That’s who I am. It’s always funny to me when I hug someone, and I can tell right away that they didn’t grow up hugging in their family. Nothing wrong with it. It’s not an awkward hug. I get on them about it, too. Nothing weird going on. Just hugging another grown man.”

05.28.15

Ronay On Blatter Under Siege

Posted in Football at 9:31 pm by

FIFA’s 2015 Congress opened Thursday amidst Swiss and U.S. authorities making up for eons of lost time by maybe-finally-probably exposing soccer’s governing body for the corrupt, corpulent money-printing enterprise everyone knows it to be anyway. While Jack Warner blames a Zionist conspiracy, the Guardian’s Barney Ronay considers The State Of Sepp Blatter, with the latter left to weather “a rare storm in the 17-year history an extraordinarily bold, extraordinarily successful, cult of presidential personality” (“there is, unexpectedly, an actual election to be fought, possibly even an unexpected moment of crisis”).

It is hard, even after all these years, to get a handle on Blatter. There is a theory that, while he may be the dictatorial leader of a furiously corrupt sporting fiefdom, he is himself not that way inclined. Blatter isn’t in it for the money (of which he has vast amounts nonetheless). He’s in it for the kicks, the power, the oddly sensual cultish devotion. Hence his ability to stay clean by proxy, the lack of trail to his door. The FBI case will test this to the full. But here anyway, Blatter did manage to appear disappointed, humbled, saddened by the revelation – who knew! – of apparently vast corruption within the organisation he has moulded to his own image over the last 30 years.

“Dear friends … the events of yesterday … a long shadow over football,” Blatter went on, stressing several times that it was a “tiny minority” on the take. And this is certainly an interesting point of view. Not least when you consider the top table at last year’s Fifa congress, from which two of his own lieutenants were absent from the Hallenstadion, in police custody while Julio “Don Julio” Grondona, the most intimately connected with the dirty TV and marketing deals and a right-hand man in the Argentinian military junta of the late 1970s, has since died.

If this really is a minority, it’s hiding within plain sight of the president. What happens now will be fascinating. The suspicion that Blatter has this in hand, that a little purge now and then is no bad thing, has receded. This is a proper fight. Although quite what football might end up with remains to be seen.

05.27.15

From 1964 : ABC’s Scheme To Make Televised Baseball Oh-So-Precious

Posted in Baseball, History's Not Happening, Sports TV at 11:41 pm by

The above clipping is from the Rockford Register-Republic, circa April 1964, and was republished earlier today by SABR’s Chuck Hildenbrant (link culled from Baseball Think Factory), who adds this was not the only suggestion the American Broadcasting Company had up their sleeve :


Undaunted, ABC did not stop there with the out-of-the-box ideas. They believed other sports could benefit from dramatic changes, too, such as professional golfers competing with each other on a season-long points system administered by the PGA; the USOC holding regional Olympic competitions to better prepare the nation for the actual quadrennial event; and college football doing away with the bowl system and replacing it with a March Madness-style playoff instead. As you can see, not all their ideas were total clunkers.

If You’re Creeped Out By This Video, Imagine How The New York Liberty Players Must Feel

Posted in Basketball, Sports TV at 11:20 pm by

In which NBA TV analyst turned New York Liberty team president Isiah Thomas all but invites the Larry O’Brien Trophy back to his crib to watch “Love & Basketball” on blu-ray.

05.26.15

Rick Morrissey Humbly Suggests The Bears Didn’t Do Their Homework On Ray McDonald

Posted in "Wife Beater" Is Not A Fashion Statement, Gridiron, The Law at 11:09 pm by

DE Ray McDonald’s most recent brush with the law resulted in the recently acquired free agent being cut loose by Chicago, the second time in 5 months McDonald’s off-field behavior has been deemed unacceptable by an employer. How the Bears in general and chairman George McCaskey in particular managed to bring McDonald into the fold is hard for the Sun-Times’ Rick Morrissey to comprehend, saying of McCaskey, “with judgement like this, (he) doesn’t need a death wish.”

Sunday’s arrest has exposed the chairman either as a disingenuous owner who talks about character and knowingly goes the other way, or as someone who is as naïve as a puppy.

Asked at the time of the signing if he had tried to get the accuser’s version of events in the sexual-assault case, McCaskey did not endear himself to women.

“An alleged victim, I think — much like anybody else who has a bias in this situation — there’s a certain amount of discounting in what they have to say,’’ he said. “But our personnel department had done its work looking into the background and the incidents. And we had the benefit of two coaches who had been with him with the 49ers.’’

One of those coaches was new Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. What do you expect from a football coach? The chairman of a billion-dollar business should know better

05.25.15

Will The Cavs Award The NYPD A Playoff Share?

Posted in Basketball, Sports Journalism, The Law at 10:57 pm by

Chances are pretty good the Atlanta Hawks are on their way to being swept in the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals, and considering a banged up LeBron James is getting it done sans the services of Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, that’s no small feat. I’ve yet to hear anyone suggest the Hawks would be making it more of a series if G Thabo Sefolosha wasn’t recovering from a broken leg, but The Nation’s Dave Zirin asks the reasonable question why the cause of Sefolosha’s injury isn’t a bigger talking point during these playoffs (“this represents a timidity that takes a story which could act as a lens toward educating people about a national crisis and consigns it to the dustbin”)

This near-silence has been across the sports media landscape, so it feels churlish to pick on one example, but it was both too high-profile and too evocative to ignore. On Thursday morning, Mike Greenberg, hosting ESPN’s national Mike and Mike radio show, talked about how the Hawks could possibly be able to guard LeBron without Carroll, and mentioned Thabo’s absence as well. In describing for his audience why Thabo isn’t playing, all Mike Greenberg said was, “We all know what happened there.” That was it. No mention of the NYPD, the conflicting stories, or the fact that NBA players have gone out of their way to speak about police mistreatment. Just “We all know what happened there.” Actually, we don’t all know what happened there, and that’s the point. Instead of retelling or even illuminating what we know, this line was dead on arrival. And yet “we all know what happened there” were six words more than most sports media offered this past week. Even the notably outspoken TNT team of Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, and Charles Barkley had nothing to say about it on Inside the NBA, broadcast immediately after the Hawks lost to Cleveland and in the aftermath of Carroll’s injury. Yes, given Shaq’s history as a volunteer police officer and Barkley’s own comments about the Black Lives Matter movement, it might not have exactly been a rousing call for social justice, but to not even mention it was bizarre. Even Marv Albert discussed Sefolosha briefly during the broadcast. But to the TNT studio team, he was the invisible man.

Asking Sponsors To Consider How FIFA’s Qatar 2022 Sausages Are Made

Posted in Football, The Marketplace at 9:43 pm by

To put this in terms some of you might understand, Andrew Jennings is Carl Monday and Sepp Blatter is the guy in the OSU sweatshirt caught beating off in the library.

05.24.15

Royal Headache Just Had Their Negative FX At The Bradford Ballroom Moment

Posted in Mob Behavior, Rock Und Roll at 4:37 pm by

Upon learning that Royal Headache were scheduled to end two years of silence with an appearance at the Sydney Opera House (alongside Blank Realm, Exhaustion & Kris Wanders), surely I’m not the only person to ask out loud, “NO OPERA DOGS?”

05.22.15

Mushnick : Why Do The Yankees Hate Our Servicemen & Women?

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 10:47 pm by

OK, that’s not exactly what the New York Post’s resident Conscience Of Sports Media, Phil Mushnick had to say in Friday’s column, but he comes remarkably close :

So the Yankees had to choose the Sunday before Memorial Day, a holiday when tributes are traditionally, logically and respectfully devoted to our war dead, to honor Bernie Williams.

Next, the Yankees had to turn what could have been a more sensible Bernie Williams Day on another Sunday into Bernie Williams Night on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.

And it didn’t matter to any of the above parties that Williams didn’t serve in the U.S. military, let alone risk his life in combat. And Williams, too, might have known that this Sunday afternoon or night on Memorial Day weekend was not the time to honor him, thus, flattered as he is, the above parties, given that it’s only May, should choose another date.

Though I’m generally not in the habit of defending the Yankees from charges of callousness and/or greed, I must point out the following not-so-arcane factoid to Mr. Mushnick ; the Yankees are hosting a Monday matinee against the Royals. Unless my calendar is incorrect, Monday, May 25 is MEMORIAL DAY. I would be very surprised to learn, for instance, that our good friend Randy L. issued the following edict : “there will be no acknowledgement of the contributions and sacrifices made by our nation’s armed forces because we wasted the opportunity to do Sunday evening, instead paying homage to the draft dodging Bernie Williams.”

Yeah, I know there’s such thing as Memorial Day Weekend, but it’s a huge stretch to claim the Yankees are pissing on the graves of wartime dead by failing to honor them two days in a row.

05.21.15

The Football Associaton Adds “Shitty At Security” To Karl Oyston’s List Of Unpleasant Traits

Posted in Football at 4:07 pm by

Blackpool’s final match of the 2014-15 Championship campaign, a May 2 contest hosting Huddersfield Town, was abandoned when home supporters interrupted the match with the pitch invasion shown above. This protest against Karl Oyston’s comical mismanagement of the club has resulted in the England F.A. giving Blackpool a week to explain how the situation got out of hand, as the Blackpool Gzzette’s William Watt reported on Wednesday :

An investigation by English football’s governing body alleged Blackpool “failed to ensure that no spectators or unauthorised persons were permitted to encroach onto the pitch” after more than 200 fans forced the final game of the season to be abandoned after invading the pitch.

While the Football League impose possible future points deductions the FA could force Blackpool to play games behind closed doors next season should they feel safety procedures failed sufficiently to cause a danger to players.

It’s the second charge to be hanging over the Seasiders from the Football Association at present, chairman Oyston is awaiting news on five misconduct charges after an abusive text conversation with a supporter leaked at the end of last year.

05.20.15

The Toronto Argonauts Would Like To Thank David Shoalts For Staying On Topic

Posted in Gridiron, Hockey, Sports Journalism at 10:17 pm by

Sure, you might call this disrespectful to the CFL, but clearly, the Globe & Mail’s David “Don’t Call Me Dr. D” Shoalts is a big believer in getting the answers to (unrelated) tough questions by any means necessary. s

05.19.15

The 1985 NBA Lottery : An Event That Will Forever Live In Conspirarcy-Crazed Infamy…

Posted in Basketball, History's Not Happening at 7:35 pm by

…unless you’re a Knicks fan, in which case this is what passes for a mid-’80′s franchise highlight. Also, vintage footage of a pre-meltdown Pat O’Brien!

Ricketts Family Mistakes Definition Of “Permanent” For That Of “Temporary”

Posted in Baseball at 7:24 pm by

(image taken sans permission from Wrigleyville)

Commemorative bricks with fans’ names inscribed along Clark & Addison streets outside Wrigley (much like those depicted above) have reportedly turned up in a Pontiac, IL dump,  despite being sold to the public on the promise said bricks would be permanent fixtures.  From the Pontiac Daily Leader’s Paul Westermyer (link swiped from Baseball Think Factory) :

  The Chicago Cubs began selling the pavers near the holiday season in 2006, inviting fans to purchase brick pavers on which they could engrave personalized messages, up to a maximum of three lines and 15 characters per line. Prices varied, but were typically around $160.

    The Ricketts family, led by Tom Ricketts, won their bid for the Cubs in January 2009 and purchased the franchise from the Tribune Company, and began a renovation project in September 2014.  

    However, one of the criticisms of the renovations concerned a lack of transparency regarding the fate of the pavers. Miles Zaremski, a blogger for the Huffington Post’s Chicago web edition, questioned the Cubs in June 2014 and their future plans for renovation and how that would impact the personalized pavers fans purchased.

    “This writer phoned the front office on two separate occasions and asked the question, what does the Ricketts family plan on doing with those brick pavers as part of the renovation plans?” Zaremski wrote. “The answer I received both times was the same: WE DON’T KNOW.

    “I then asked, what about those of us whose bricks were purchased at the very start and as a consequence have received a favorable spot … like at the front entrance? Again, the answer was, WE DON’T KNOW.”

05.18.15

Some Highlights Don’t Show Up In The Box Score

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 7:44 pm by

Not this box score, anyway.  Sadly, we’re not able to see LAA pitching coach Mike Butcher responding to Josh Donaldson by saying “OK, but can we wait until after the game?”

05.17.15

Ronsenthal On Florida’s Biggest Welfare Cheat, Jeffrey Loria

Posted in Baseball at 11:22 pm by

Shortly after the Marlins broke up Shelby Miller’s near no-no in Miami Sunday, Fish skipper Mike Redmond was relieved of his duties, this despite the club being a mere 5 and half games out of first with 4 months of baseball to play. And then there’s the matter of a contract extension thru 2017, signed by hard-to-please baseball expert Jeffrey Loria, who as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal points out, has been going thru managers (6 since 2010) at a clip that would’ve embarrassed the late George Steinbrenner. Of more general interest than the fate of the Marlins franchise, however is Loria’s participation in MLB revenue sharing, a scenario Rosenthal likens to the Red Sox, Dodgers and Yankees subsidizing Miami’s incompetence :

The opening of Marlins Park in 2012 was supposed to end the franchise’s long run as a revenue-sharing recipient and transform it into a contributor.

Instead, the Marlins remain one of the largest recipients and – ahem – one of baseball’s most profitable franchises.

Incredible, considering they ranked 28th in average home attendance entering Sunday’s play after ranking 27th and 29th the previous two seasons.

Incredible, considering that their below-market TV deal with FOX Sports runs through 2020, though the team wants to renegotiate and ideally begin a new contract in ’17.

Oh, and let’s not forget: On top of all the money the Marlins are paying former managers and executives, they also owed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia more than $14 million when they released him earlier this month.

05.16.15

CSTB’s Greatest (?) HIts : The Author Of “I Keek A Touchdown” Proves He’s No Tom Vu

Posted in Gridiron at 2:04 am by

(Editor’s Note : on the occasion of the passing of former Dolphins placekicker Garo Yepremian at the age of 70, I’m republishing the following item from January 29, 2013. Condolences to the friends, family and teammates of Mr. Yepremian – GC)

I awoke yesterday with what I thought to be a genuine case of SUPER BOWL fever, but alas, it was merely the H1N5 virus (whoops!). Shortly before the projectile vomiting began, however, I felt compelled to watch a clip of Dolphins K Garo Yepremian’s ill-advised attempt at throwing a forward pass in Super Bowl VII. Which led me down the inevitable YouToob rabbit hole of totally fucked up sports-related videos. And I have to say, nothing in my nearly 9 years of blogging fully prepared me for the oratory powers of GARO YEPREMIAN, MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER. Good news, DDP, you’re finally off the hook!

05.15.15

A.I. : Reports Of My Destitution Are Wildly Exaggerated

Posted in Basketball at 9:38 pm by

I realize Charlie Rose is equal parts pressed for time or perhaps not entirely conversant with every facet of Allen Iverson’s life story, but how do you not ask a followup question the repeated $40,000.00 visits to strip clubs? But full credit to CBS — live morning television is the last place I would expect to see The Answer.

05.14.15

Alouettes’ Mitchell : I’m Not A Holocaust Revisionist, I’m Just Asking Tough Questions

Posted in Genocidal Tendencies, Gridiron, twitter twatter at 10:48 pm by

Montreal Alouettes DL Khalif Mitchell was fined by the CFL Thursday for violating the league’s social media policy. I’m not totally familiar with said policy, but I a have to presume that posting links to YouTube videos promoting Holocaust revisionism is probably on the short list of things not to do. From The National Post’s Sean Fitz-Gerald :

Within the first minute of the so-called film, the narrator references the Holocaust as the “alleged murder” of six million Jews. What follows is a rambling 77 minutes filled with often incoherent passages claiming to disprove the scope of the Holocaust.

The Nuremberg trials, for instance, are dismissed as “the most disgraceful legal farce in history,” and the number of Jews murdered in camps is dismissed as implausibly high. It is not narrated by a human voice, but rather a computerized voice.

Mitchell said he did not endorse the video on his Twitter account, arguing that he merely passed it along to fellow users. B’nai Brith described his Twitter activity as “bizarre postings and outlandish conspiracy theories, comparisons of police officers to the Ku Klux Klan and hateful videos denying the Holocaust.”

Mitchell continued posting through the afternoon. At one point, he wrote, “I know the TRUTH Shall Free Me…Anti-Semitism doesn’t, hasn’t & NEVER Will LIVE Here.” A little while later, he posted a link to Forbes magazine’s website, to a story under the headline “Israel Forcibly Injected African Immigrants with Birth Control, Report Claims.”

05.12.15

NOLA Scribe : Pelicans Should’ve Dumped Demps

Posted in Basketball at 8:00 pm by

New Orleans fired head coach Monty Williams (above, left) Tuesday, just weeks after owner Tom Benson lauded Williams and his charges for a earning a playoff berth in the 2014-15 campaign. Noting that Williams was saddled with “a roster that at times seemed patched together like an old quilt,”, the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s Jimmy Smith argues the team, “fired the wrong man”, with his sights aimed directly at GM Dell Demps (above, right).

There has been an obvious disconnect between Williams and Demps from almost the moment Demps arrived here in July 2010, about a month after Williams was hired as head coach.

Holes that should have been addressed more decisively were not, resulting in ongoing challenges that Williams and the players on hand faced resolutely and conquered. Demps’ philosophy of trading draft picks for young, more established talent is decidedly imperfect.

The team hasn’t had a first-round draft pick since 2012 when it won the lottery and snagged Anthony Davis.

Then, with a second first-round pick that year, the team chose Austin Rivers and tried to convert him to a point guard.

Giving up two first-round draft picks for Jrue Holiday, who has played a half season in each of his first two years in New Orleans because of injury, was a calamitous overreach.

And it’s quite possible the Pelicans could lose center Omer Asik, who cost a 2015 No. 1 pick, if he walks in free agency — leaving the Pelicans with just a second-round choice in the June draft.

There are about a half-dozen free agents on the current roster, and there are precious few chips with which to gamble sitting in front of the man holding the Pelicans’ roster improvement cards.

If Only Someone Would Invent A Communications Device That Would Allow Mike Francesa To Vet A Caller’s Claims

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Radio at 1:08 pm by

I know it says 9:58, but there’s no way this conversation takes less than 3 hours.

05.11.15

The Restrained, Objective Gregg Doyel Neglects To Display His New “Colts 4Ever” Neck Tattoo

Posted in Gridiron at 8:06 pm by

After doing, well, almost exactly what Bill Simmons claimed he’d do, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took the public temperature and decided Monday to hit Patriots QB Tim Brady with a 4 game suspension and New England owner Bob Kraft with a $1 million fine for the former’s role in deflation of game balls and failure to cooperate with the league’s investigation. While some are bemused that Brady’s punishment is roughly half what he’d get for spousal abuse (granted, there’s little competitive advantage in that), the Indy Star’s Gregg Doyel figures the Pats got off easy.

Four games for Tom Brady, who at 38 in August could use a break. A million bucks for a franchise Forbes says is worth $1.4 billion. A first-rounder. A fourth. Those are flesh wounds. They’ll draw blood, like so many flesh wounds do, but they won’t devastate the Patriots.

And the Patriots should have been devastated. Same for Brady. Not only did they cheat, but they didn’t cooperate fully with the investigation. Both locker-room attendants “were not fully candid,” according to Vincent’s letter to the team, and one of them – I think it was Dumb, though it could’ve been Dumber – refused a final interview request.

Brady cheated the Colts, probably cheated a lot more teams than that, then refused to help the NFL get to the truth … and all he got for it was a lousy four-game suspension.

And a T-shirt that says “2015 Super Bowl Champions.”

05.10.15

Presumably, Jeffrey Dahmer Bobblehead Day Was Out Of The Question

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 4:22 pm by

If the Bud figurine wasn’t scary enough, consider that the event is being sponsored by Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

05.08.15

ESPN To Sports Putz : We Can Continue To Print Money Without You, Thanks

Posted in Sports Journalism, Sports TV at 9:52 pm by

As you’ve undoubtedly heard elsewhere, ESPN announced this morning they’d not be renewing the contract of longtime columnist,  Grantland & “30 On 30″ creator Bill Simmons, a decision the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir claims came as a surprise both to Simmons and most of his co-workers.

Simmons’ differences with the network and resulting punishments have been well documented, though it’s being widely claimed that a Thursday appearance on former “SportsCenter” anchor Dan Patrick’s radio show in which Simmons sneered that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, “lacked the testicular fortitude” to take action against Tom Brady without first gauging public reaction, was well, the straw that broke the camel’s back, if not the Worldwide Leader’s patience with arguably their most popular personality.

Simmons’ next move will probably be something more lucrative / prominent than say, former on-air personality Jay Mariotti’s current gig with a San Francisco coupon shopper. On Friday, Mariotti gloated that perhaps Simmons wasn’t much of a talent to begin with, adding, “ESPN created a superfan, now ESPN has uncreated him. Superfans are not real and don’t have staying power.” So congrats on achieving the impossible, Jay. You’ve now got me rooting for Bill Simmons.

Despite blocking me on Twitter (?), I wish Simmons no ill-will whatsoever. As implied or stated on countless occasions around here, I’m clearly not a fan, but yeah, compared to Mariotti he’s a fountain of wit and insight. Faint praise, sure, but when the guy loses a $6 million a year gig by running to the aid of the persecuted Tom Brady, you can’t say he’s strayed from his roots.

The Jets Love The National Guard (Especially When They’re Being Paid To Say So)

Posted in Gridiron, The Woah at 5:58 pm by

In-game salutes to individual members of the New Jersey Army National Guard during Jets games at Metlife Stadium aren’t purely an expression of appreciation on the franchise’s part, write NJ.com’s Christopher Baxter and Jonathan D. Salant.  It turns out the team has been compensated handsomely for these ceremonies :

The Department of Defense and the Jersey Guard paid the Jets a total of $377,000 from 2011 to 2014 for the salutes and other advertising, according to federal contracts. Overall, the Defense Department has paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million during that time, of which $5.3 million was paid by the National Guard to 11 teams under similar contracts.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who routinely posts examples of what he calls wasteful spending, called out the Jets’ agreement as wasteful and disingenuous.

“Those of us go to sporting events and see them honoring the heroes,” Flake said in an interview. “You get a good feeling in your heart. Then to find out they’re doing it because they’re compensated for it, it leaves you underwhelmed. It seems a little unseemly.”

The agreement includes the Hometown Hero segment, in which the Jets feature a soldier or two on the big screen, announce their names and ask the crowd to thank them for their service. The soldiers and three friends also get seats in the Coaches Club for the game.

05.07.15

Hideous Musical Monstoristy For Sale

Posted in Austin, The Marketplace at 10:12 pm by

Also, I believe the monstrosity is selling the guitar shown above.