The Guardian’s Hoffman On A Soccer Film Even Worse Than “Ladybugs”

Posted in Cinema, Football at 10:51 pm by

Given current investigations into corruption at the highest levels of FIFA, perhaps last week was not the greatest moment to open a $29 million feature length dramatic film about world soccer’s governing body (one the Los Angeles Times reports took in all of $600 at the U.S. box office last week).  Despite (?) an all-star cast of Gerard Dépardieu, Tim Roth, Sam Neill and Fisher Stevens (ok, there’s 3 stars already), The Guardian’s Jordan Hoffman suggests “United Passions” probably won’t find an audience on VOD or Blu-Ray, calling it “as cinema it is excrement” (“less a movie than preposterous self-hagiography, more appropriate for Scientology or the Rev Sun Myung Moon”).

João Havelange (Sam Neill) is presented as a master of realpolitik. There are implications of corruption under his regime, but he was wise and warm-hearted enough to recognise that Latin America, Asia and Africa were the future of soccer. “We’ve done more for black people than all the UN resolutions!” he bellows, without a hint of irony. He also makes a key hire: Switzerland’s Sepp Blatter (Tim Roth). Welcoming Blatter to his first boardroom meeting Havelange wryly notes “he is apparently good at finding money”.

The stretch of the film in which we’re to groove on “Blatter doin’ work” is, and I swear I’m not making this up, a series of meetings in which he lands big-ticket sponsorship deals. The camera dwells lovingly on a trunk full of Adidas products. The big “we did it” is a phone call Blatter makes to Havelange (in his private pool overlooking the ocean), announcing interest from Coca-Cola. None of this is done through a Mad Men-like lens. This is pure corporate pamphleteering. The final act concerns virtuous Blatter winning a re-election despite having “enemies” elsewhere on the board. Did I say corporate pamphleteering? More like Stalinist propaganda.


The Only “Entourage” Story Anyone Need Concern Themselves With

Posted in Food, The World Of Entertainment at 10:24 pm by

The following item does not come from Hard Times The Onion. Incredibly, it seems there’s an eating establishment in Cambridge, MA that’s managed not only to survive, but actually thrive despite the open display of a large poster featuring Jeremy Piven. As the Boston Globe’s Allison Pohle explains, a promotional poster for syndicated re-runs of HBO’s “Entourage” on local UHF outlet Channel. 38 (home of the amazing “Ask The Manager” decades ago) has prominently occupied a display case at India Castle for five years, and no one seems to know what to do about it.

Decorated with the kinds of intricate and colorful paintings you typically find in an Indian eatery, the restaurant has one piece of art that doesn’t seem to belong — an old Entourage poster. The ad, which shows Vince Chase and his crew “bro-ing” out over some drinks, is locked in a silver frame behind the host stand.

When questioned by a reporter about the poster’s origins, Singh, who was standing behind the bar, denied having a poster in the restaurant. He said he had no idea what Entourage was.

He then walked around to the front of the restaurant to take a look, and put his hands on his hips.

“Oh this?” he said. “This has been here forever.”

Singh said the poster has been locked in the frame, which is bolted to the wall, for years. He said a representative from a local TV station made him a deal — let us come change the poster in the box every two weeks, and we’ll pay you. Singh said he can’t remember how much he was supposed to be paid because the representative put the Entourage poster in and never came back.

“The box used to light up and it doesn’t anymore, but I can’t get it out,” he said. “I guess it’s stuck.”

Singh has never watched an episode of the show and doesn’t plan on seeing the movie, which came out Wednesday.


A Salute To The Bi-Dexterity Of Oakland’s Pat Venditte

Posted in Baseball at 8:38 pm by

As of this writing, reliever Pat Vendittehe of the ability to pitch right and left-handed —is making his major league debut for Oakland against Boston. Fenway organist Josh Kantor greeted Venditte with a rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” ; me, I’m less creative. Though I once saw Venditte pitch for the Yankees’ Staten Island affiliate, here’s even older footage of his groundbreaking methodology, circa 2007 :


Mets’ Gee : I’m A Victim Of Gun Control Peer Pressure

Posted in Basketball, Firearms at 8:49 pm by


Posted in Rock Und Roll at 6:01 pm by

A very popular modern rock band performed a cover of The Cramps’ “T.V. Set” on national television last night.

It’s sort of fun to imagine what would’ve happened had some control room saboteur flipped a switch or two and this footage had interrupted the broadcast instead :


McCoy To Media : “What Part Of ‘I’m Done Making Explosive Accusations Against Chip Kelly’ Don’t You Understand?”

Posted in Gridiron at 9:29 pm by

OK, that’s not exactly what Bills RB LeSean McCoy told reporters at Bills camp earlier today, but close enough. It seemed a reasonable expectation McCoy would be asked to elaborate on, y’know, calling Eagles head coach Chip Kelly a racist, but you know the old saying ; “do I come into your place of work and knock the dick out of your mouth ask you to defend inflammatory remarks you publicly volunteered?”


Tim Bradford’s Fitting Farewell To Sepp Blatter

Posted in Football at 11:56 pm by

Alright, to be perfectly fair, Bradford‘s animation was published by When Saturday Comes a full six days ago. But he nailed it, just the same.

Are You Ready For The Auction Of The Century?

Posted in Cinema, The Marketplace at 11:09 pm by

With all due respect to Derrick Coleman, John Franco, Curt Schilling and Michael Beasley, I’m pretty sure Dom DeLuise and Julian’s Auctions are preparing for the Mother Of All Garage Sales (link courtesy Don Smith) :

The collection includes memorabilia, costume jewelry, and a vast collection of fine art and furnishings from the famous actor, comedian, and author who was beloved by legions of fans worldwide. The auction will also feature items from his wife, Carol Arthur DeLuise, and his sons Peter, Michael, and David DeLuise.

Fine art highlights included in this epic collection include: Ara Dona portrait of Dom DeLuise, a seascape by Noel Coward, a Hirschfeld original pen and ink portrait of DeLuise, and a large painting by Scottish artist Alexander Goudie. Dom’s wife Carol and his son Michael DeLuise also have several fine pieces of art featured in the auction.

Other highlights in the auction include: a grand piano said to have been owned by Vincent Price, a set of cookware given to DeLuise by his good friend Anne Bancroft, wife of Mel Brooks, an extensive set of tableware pictured in DeLuise’s cookbooks, the set of original Derek Carter illustrations from one of DeLuise’s children’s books, a ladies’ Rolex watch, and many other pieces of jewelry and ephemera from such friends as Burt Reynolds, Frank and Barbara Sinatra, and Phyllis Diller.


Moses : Stand Up For Wilshere’s Right To Sing Poorly In Public

Posted in Football at 10:32 pm by

Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere marked Sunday’s FA Cup celebration parade by taunting North London rivals Tottenham (above), an episode that led to a public apology Monday and some measure of grumbling about poor sportsmanship. In the view of the Guardian’s Toby Moses, such protests are a little over the top (“having spent years hearing from all and sundry about the crying shame that all the characters have gone out of the sport, and how media training is taking the personality out of football, it seems a bit rich to be greeted with a sea of frothing disapproval at a few fruity words”).

The stupid thing about all of the fuss is that it’s unlikely Tottenham fans would take any great offence. They get at least 180 minutes a season to hurl whatever abuse (within the realms of the law) they choose at Wilshere on the pitch. He takes it. Nobody kicks up a fuss. I’m sure they can take a little back. And if not, well then perhaps football fans need to take a good long look at themselves and ask what it is they really want. Do they really appreciate the bland platitudes that are usually to be found spilling from footballers’ mouths, or would they actually prefer someone who may say something worth listening to?

And that’s not to say what Wilshere was coming out with contained any fascinating gems. But a culture which castigates a bit of harmless teasing – with some football-appropriate swearing thrown in for good measure – is surely one which makes it impossible for any player to risk saying anything worth taking an interest in. It’s a culture created by an oversensitive media, and perhaps public too, that is all too ready to make a mountain out of a molehill, leaving little if any space for anything to be said that might upset.

WNBA Appoints Committe To Decide If Dolan Hiring Thomas Is Merely Inappropriate Or The Dumbest Idea Of All Time

Posted in Basketball at 10:23 pm by

The New York Post’s Marc Berman reports Monday the WNBA has convened a sextet of league execs to determine if sex pest Isiah Thomas ought to be allowed to claim an ownership stake in James Dolan’s New York Liberty. Berman, like others before him, floats the notion Dolan might well pull the plug on the franchise if the league fails to enable his seemingly endless love affair with Thomas :

James Dolan is the last original owner in the WNBA and there’s reason to believe he could be done with the Liberty if the WNBA rejects Thomas’ ownership interest. Dolan is losing money on the team as attendance has sagged.

The members of the committee convened for the first time Monday and include: Chicago owner Michael Alter, Connecticut CEO Mitchell Etess, Seattle owner Ginny Gilder, Minnesota vice president Roger Griffith and Washington president Rick Pych.

Thomas has vehemently stated he never sexually harassed Sanders and claims the jury didn’t find him guilty of that charge.


If Falling For Onion Headlines Is A Crime, Jack Warner WIll Do The Time

Posted in Football at 3:21 pm by

In the future, perhaps former FIFA vice president / accused fraudster Jack Warner might want to run future videos past trusted family & friends before posting anything publicly.


FIFA World Cup 2022 : They’re Not Making Omlettes & Those Human Lives Aren’t Broken Eggs

Posted in Football, The Marketplace at 2:57 pm by

Image via The Football Ramble and Chris Bond.  Are you comfortable with this collateral damage?



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.”


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.


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.


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


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.


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?”


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.


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.


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


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.”