Wednesday, February 28, 2007

damn, I miss college.

Spreading around a couple videos from Deadspin -- first, the beauty of Nerf basketball, as shown by Vanderbilt students:

My floor's dorm room videos would involve very stoned water-ballooning in the middle of the hall.

And next, Duke students invent a very useful device.

The Hole - video powered by Metacafe

The "F**k It, I'm Going Deep Fan Club" would like to offer its endorsement.

recruiting's getting dirtier than I thought.

Arizona men's hoops head coach Lute Olson, in the middle of a fairly sub-par season of basketball, had to deny rumors that he had Parkinson's at his weekly press conference. Apparently the rumors began on radio when people started seeing the coach's hands shake.

He was concerned about what the rumor would do in the heated competition for high school talent.

"This is the kind of thing you get from people you are recruiting against," Olson said. "If the rumor is going around here, it's certainly going to be passed around."

Well, good for Lute -- that team needs him badly, and Arizona basketball isn't Arizona basketball without him. However, recruiting is cutthroat enough -- I can only imagine how bad it could be if schools started using the health of coaches to try and lure recruits away from football and basketball programs. Examples:

1) FSU and Penn State lose kids in football because kids realize Bobby Bowden and Joe Pa are actually senile by this point.
2) Charlie Weis and Phil Fulmer's weight is used against them -- "You don't want to head to a school where the head coach may be due for a heart attack or has high blood pressure, do you?" (Some might argue that Ron Zook dealt some cash under the table to Illinois recruits -- he'd probably be first to try the underhanded illness technique and remind recruits of his biceps.)

Any other examples you can think of?

marriage, pro sports-style.

Given the recent news of Amani Toomer's impending nasty divorce following on the heels of teammate Michael Strahan getting taken to the cleaners and Nets guard Jason Kidd likely suffering the same fate, I feel a need to offer unqualified and out of my league advice to all athletes preparing for marriage, despite terminal single-hood and lack of a legal background.

1) Know what you're looking for.

Mr. Toomer is making his particular claim because he feels he was lied to; his wife allegedly aborted his children, wouldn't change her name, etc. Again, the couple were married in Vegas. I doubt there was that much consideration. As the Head Chick notes, you can get a wife or you can get a chickenhead. Know what you have.

2) Make sure you know the difference between devotion and worship.

Pro athletes, by nature, seem to have a need to feed the ego -- they've had most things given to them on a platter due to freakish athletic talent, and sex is one of them. Before you go through with this, if you want her to wait on you hand and foot, make that clear. No need to give up half because you didn't define the terms in advance? Unromantic? Yes. But we're here to protect YOU. We advise devotion -- less likely to ditch you after the first few years and cry for half. Something about that, isn't it?

Today's worshipful groupie is tomorrow's gold-digger.

3) Come to terms with various indiscretions.

You're gonna have groupies throwing themselves at you left and right. Either work into an agreement a number of indiscretions per year, or keep a side account that can be agreed on for a faux "Honey, I'm sorry" gift -- Kobe Bryant keeps a spare couple mil on hand just in case, and it worked for him. Mr. Kidd, however, apparently played cheapskate with the apology jewelry. The sincerity of your apology as a star athlete is measured by how much you spend.

Or, do it the Andrei Kirilenko way -- remember, his wife gives him one indiscretion per year, but we suspect it only lasts as long as he keeps playing well, and he's never used it yet (Would you? This isn't the best picture, but I wouldn't.)

4) Get the Massey Pre-Nup.

Or its real-world equivalent. You want something so iron-clad a whole semester could be taught on it at Harvard Law. Of course, unlike Mr. Strahan, you want to make sure that Massey is written in your favor.

If you really want to be thorough, spell out every possible expectation: sex, kids, housework -- anything you can think of. Weeds out the unqualified applicants. Again, unromantic, but best for your interests, and it keeps you from having to come back to see us in five years for less pleasant experiences.

(Side note: Intolerable Cruelty is really one of those movies that is gang-busters, laugh out loud funny for the first half-hour and then falls completely off the rails.)

that's another way to handle the contract year.

Now that I've got some time to follow up on yesterday's steroid madness, let's flesh out the original update -- implicated in the steroid investigation are, again, Angels CF (and big free agent signing) Gary Matthews, Jr, along with a physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers. (NFL Adam, rightfully so, is already saying "told you so.")

The newspaper said investigators found evidence that testosterone and other performance-enhancing drugs may have been fraudulently prescribed over the Internet to current and former Major League Baseball and NFL players, college athletes, high school coaches, a former Mr. Olympia champion and another top contender in the bodybuilding competition.

Sketchy, yes. Still problematic. Fuck yeah. Not just because it involves baseball, but possibly football and it runs across states and on the internet. Methods of obtaining supplements, steroids, and illegal narcotics are constantly updating to avoid the law that keeps chasing them, and it highlights the problems with every sport's drug policy if the accusations pan out. Determined cheaters will always find ways to beat the system. What do you do, in that case? Couldn't tell you -- we're probably going to have start admitting that sport isn't pure, and never has been. Those well-versed in history know the exclusion practiced back in the day; fans of college basketball and football are used to shaking off implications of NCAA violations.

Once fans finally cross the barrier, we may all be better off for it.

school spirit.

Gotta respect the Volunteer coaches. First, Bruce Pearl goes to a Lady Vols' game, and then Pat Summitt pulls the cheerleader outfit out for the men as they spank Florida.

Can't hate on that at all. But you can hate on Florida, who are playing some lackluster ball as of late.

(Hat tip for the video: Awful Announcing.)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

all hail Christiane!

EDSBS, although disagreeing with the example, used CNN's Christiane Amanpour as an example of a "shameshag," someone you would be ashamed to admit that you'd sleep with.

If someone said that in my company, we'd be throwin' blows immediately. Rarely do we in the media get reporters whom are not only willing to risk their lives, venture into dangerous situations on a regular basis, and produce good specials of their reports. Networks wont' fund 'em any more, and the fact that Ms. Amanpour is still able to have a niche and the support at her job to do what she does best (go behind enemy lines, where folks such as the giggle monster that is Katie Couric would never tread) is enough to celebrate.

I also bring this verdict based on a couple of other factors:

1) British accent
2) Sex in dangerous locales

Both hot. However, if you would prefer younger and blonder with similarly derived accents and a propensity for reporting from nasty, dangerous places, I offer up CBS' Lara Logan, who smacked down Laura Ingraham awhile back after Ingraham mouthed off about the media being anti-war and pleaded with people to get CBS to air her reports.

another reason hockey is the balls.

Because unlike the NBA, the trade deadline in the NHL means at least one blockbuster trade damn near every year (as well as a bunch of smaller ones) as GMs get ready to make their Cup runs. My personal and sentimental favorite has always been when the Avs snagged Patrick Roy from the Habs. This year's last-second biggie is Bill Guerin heading from the Blues to the Sharks, who clearly want to go all in for the run against Nashville (who dealt for Peter Forsberg a week ago) and Anaheim in the Western Conference (already loaded with the Brothers Niedermayer, Selanne, and Chris Pronger.)

Source rumor on Yahoo that has not officially been confirmed: Oilers' Ryan Smyth to the Islanders -- Smyth and Edmonton couldn't work out an extension and he's in a contract year; if true and confirmed, good for the Isles. They're one point out of a playoff spot behind Carolina at this point, and offensive help is a good idea.

Also worth noting: The Red Wings bring in Philly's Kyle Calder and the douchebag Todd Bertuzzi; the Avs are still having bad luck with goalies and have dealt for another one.

let's see if Gary Sheffield floats.

Tigers DH/OF Gary Sheffield says he won't cooperate with MLB's steroid investigation:

"The [players'] association told us this is just a witch hunt," Sheffield told USA Today. "They don't want us to talk to them. This is all about getting [Bonds].

"If this was legitimate and they did it the right way, it would be different. But this a witch hunt. They're just trying to collect a lot of stuff that doesn't make any sense and throw the [expletive] against the wall."

Earlier this month, the MLBPA challenged the positive samples with names that MLB got from a testing firm, claiming that was an overreach outside of the original margins of the investigation. So maybe this is what Sheffield was referring to -- but most likely, it has to do with the fact that baseball just turned a blind eye to it until it became very, very public. A witch hunt it isn't, though, Gary -- you want to see a witch hunt, wait until Congress decides to get involved again.

STEROID UPDATE: Via With Leather, we have an investigation into an Orlando pharmacy that may be part of a Internet drug ring, and the steroid targets here may run from MLB players to NFLers. Biggest name: new Angels CF Gary Matthews, Jr.

Syracuse gets another stamp for the ticket.

Since there wasn't a bunch to do at work (slow news day), I got to watch most of 'Cuse just whooping on G-Town this evening (it helps when your sports anchor/occasional drinking buddy is a 'Cuse alum and wants to watch the game on the myriad of TVs anyway.) It was just a thorough, nasty deconstruction of the Hoyas, making them play unlike themselves with 19 turnovers and shoot under 30%.

That said, I still like the Hoyas -- 11 wins in a row is no small feat, and even the best of teams lose at times, and lose badly. Syracuse just hasn't had their younger players put it together and show what they're capable of for most of the season. This was a win the Orange needed more than the Hoyas, though -- and they may have just gotten themselves in the NCAAs, although winning a game or two in the Big East tourney wouldn't hurt either.

Monday, February 26, 2007

the enemy of my enemy is still my enemy.

When a career water-carrier/scumbag like John Negroponte (one of many Iran-Contra folks who somehow were allowed to crawl back into the appointments at various levels of government) won't sign on to a CIA covert operations plan as director of national intelligence and may have even resigned the position to avoid doing so, maybe that's a sign that the idea is a little off the rails. Quoth Seymour Hersh in an excellent article on current covert operations in the Middle East:

The Bush Administration’s reliance on clandestine operations that have not been reported to Congress and its dealings with intermediaries with questionable agendas have recalled, for some in Washington, an earlier chapter in history. Two decades ago, the Reagan Administration attempted to fund the Nicaraguan contras illegally, with the help of secret arms sales to Iran. Saudi money was involved in what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal, and a few of the players back then—notably Prince Bandar and Elliott Abrams—are involved in today’s dealings.

Iran-Contra was the subject of an informal “lessons learned” discussion two years ago among veterans of the scandal. Abrams led the discussion. One conclusion was that even though the program was eventually exposed, it had been possible to execute it without telling Congress. As to what the experience taught them, in terms of future covert operations, the participants found: “One, you can’t trust our friends. Two, the C.I.A. has got to be totally out of it. Three, you can’t trust the uniformed military, and four, it’s got to be run out of the Vice-President’s office”—a reference to Cheney’s role, the former senior intelligence official said.

I was subsequently told by the two government consultants and the former senior intelligence official that the echoes of Iran-Contra were a factor in Negroponte’s decision to resign from the National Intelligence directorship and accept a sub-Cabinet position of Deputy Secretary of State. (Negroponte declined to comment.)

The former senior intelligence official also told me that Negroponte did not want a repeat of his experience in the Reagan Administration, when he served as Ambassador to Honduras. “Negroponte said, ‘No way. I’m not going down that road again, with the N.S.C. running operations off the books, with no finding.’ ” (In the case of covert C.I.A. operations, the President must issue a written finding and inform Congress.) Negroponte stayed on as Deputy Secretary of State, he added, because “he believes he can influence the government in a positive way.”

Figures Abrams would be involved. What sort of insanity allows people who were involved in very nasty political scandals to get government jobs again? The whole article reeks of stupidity in the name of ideology -- has no one remembered that the Saudis fund religious extremism to stay in power?

interesting grounds for a split.

Giants WR Amani Toomer looks like he's going to get laid out in divorce court, if the New York Post is any indication. He's suing to annul his marriage because, he claims, his wife backslid on the agreement to have his children and a big family. She, naturally, wants the Eddie Murphy special ("I WANT HALF, EDDIE!")

Toomer, 32, alleges his wife refused to have the "big family" they had discussed before getting hitched in a Las Vegas civil ceremony in October 2002.

"This false promise was never delivered," he charges in documents filed in court.

Instead, Dabrowski "had up to four" abortions "against Toomer's wishes [and] without his consent," the Giant claims.

Now, if true, there's usually a reason for up to four abortions; women don't even go for one all willy-nilly and stuff. And boy, do we get it:

In her filings for divorce, [wife Yola Dabrowski] alleges "extreme cruelty," accusing Toomer of being "relentlessly demanding . . . insecure and paranoid."

The grid great insisted Dabrowski "cater to his every whim and need," she claims.

And when she didn't want to have sex, Toomer acted "irrationally and outrageously" - once urinating on her clothes, and another time tossing her BlackBerry into the Hudson River.

Think of it this way -- you want to be knocked up and bearing the children of someone allegedly immature enough to pull an R. Kelly on your clothing, never mind getting irrationally pissed off about not taking his last name? If you have half a brain and this happens to you, you'll be running to the clinic, too.

I surmise neither party actually knew what they were getting into before the marriage -- they did get hitched in Vegas.

Heads up: The FanHouse.

running back wheeling and dealing.

For whatever unfathomable reason, the Buffalo Bills are apparently interested in shopping around franchise RB Willis McGahee (likely to the Giants), afraid that he will walk after his contract year and they won't get anything in return. Unless it gets desperate, why would you even attempt to do this? It betrays every instinct to protect J.P. Losman, who has this year to prove he's a half-decent starter instead of an inconsistent wreck from week to week. The Bills put up a good fight last year in a division with two playoff teams -- there is absolutely no reason to throw it away now. What incentive or message does that send to Losman and the rest of the team, when they will likely have to live or die by his arm, since any replacemetn will be sub-McGahee quality? Running backs are a dime a dozen in the NFL at times, but it makes no sense to toss a good one out there for trade offers at this point.

The Bears are ahead of the game when it comes to completely disassembling an NFC champion: letting D-coordinator Ron Rivera go, being chintzy about paying head coach Lovie Smith what he's worth, franchising LB Lance Briggs instead of paying up, and now, it looks like Thomas Jones wants out instead of splitting time with Cedric Benson. While Jones' desire to be the featured back for an organization is understandable, he's probably going to run into this situation again, as more and more teams go to the running back duo as the preferred trend in order to maximize looks and keep backs from getting too banged up too quickly. Why you would want out of a Super Bowl team (and one with a decent chance to go back so long as the NFC North is the mess that it is) is beyond me, but that hasn't stopped any pro athlete from thinking he'd be better off in another venue. Jones used to play for Arizona, and maybe he ought to ask Edgerrin James how that aiming for money and individual work turns out sometimes.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

toast your cranberry juice to Marty.

If Scorsese and The Departed hadn't won for best director and picture tonight, Marty would have had my permission to open fire on the first ten rows of the Kodak Theatre.

Pan's Labyrinth got dicked on best foreign language film; it really did. I say that not only because the special effects company that worked on it is from my area of California, but also because it was an absolutely beautiful movie. Guillermo del Toro doesn't get enough respect. The fact that Children of Men was not in the best picture or director noms was a slight.

Oh, and CBS, learn from ABC -- real networks don't tape delay big awards shows.

stay in school, young man.

I still believe that if OSU's Greg Oden does declare for the draft, he will be picked #1, but after the Buckeyes eked out a win over Wisconsin, I'm not sure it's the best idea for him to declare.

1) He looked tired for a lot of the game, moving into a jog up and down the court for most of it. I know centers do this a lot -- but it looks like he didn't have a lot of hustle in him and got tired late in the second half, despite his blocking skills on display.

2) He had five turnovers in that game, and got three traveling calls (one problematic, and got Thad Matta real hot off the bench). Wisconsin went for him from the get-go, and watching Oden, it doesn't look like he's used to having guys try to smack him around and get him out of his comfort zone. His moves only seem to go so far -- two dribbles and he has to do something else, and there were points where he was way too far out of the post.

3) He's obviously still not playing at full capacity. The wrist brace has been on all season, and it's hard to judge how well he will play when he has both hands available to him.

The game was a defensive slugfest, and there were times when Buckeye guards had no clue how to get the ball to Oden inside. I'm definitely with Marco now on selling OSU getting far in the tournament, but I don't think Wisconsin's going that far either, by the looks of their last two games.

Oden has a lot more to gain by staying with OSU for another year or two than Kevin Durant would by staying at Texas.

out the door already?

Pistons coach Flip Saunders has been connected with the University of Minnesota's head coaching vacancy ever since it became available, and the rumors will be even more amplified after Mike Tirico read the first paragraph of Minneapolis' living case of brain atrophy Sid Hartman's column where the ex-Gophers coach Dan Monson says Saunders is already set to succeed him.

Like the Pistons need this post-Larry Brown -- with contenders in the East falling by the wayside, all the Pistons need to do is play relatively well and they'll make the Finals. Saunders and Joe Dumars now need to get out in front of this -- figure out what is the truth and tell fans before this goes any further and ESPN is dogging Saunders about it during the post-season.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

another Bronco dies this off-season.

Third-stringer and practice squad RB Damien Nash died today suddenly after a charity basketball game.

I remember the run that MJD describes over at Deadspin -- he had an absolutely giant hole from the offensive line and hit it for 50+, and I'm not sure if I recall correctly, but I think he got to finish that drive off himself with a touchdown.

Another sad and sour note for the Broncos offseason, as the organization will now have to handle the deaths of two players long before their times, and the families they leave behind.

Condolences to Nash's family and friends.

the Hoyas are hungry.

Watched from the comfort of a very loud sports bar and many microbrews with a good friend/compulsive gambler (my ass hurts after eight hours in a chair):

G'Town 61, Pitt 53 - watch out for the Hoyas; they are now running on an 11-game winning streak, and after Pitt was an early favorite to win the Big East, they are the team to beat.

Texas 68, Oklahoma 58 - the bookie who gave my friend and co-worker a line of OU -6.5 had clearly gone insane. He cleaned house big time on this game.

Kansas 89, Iowa State 52
- Ass-beating. Buddy was kicking himself for not calling the bookie prior to this one.

UCLA 75, Stanford 61 - Even if Stanford makes the NCAAs, the Lopez brothers have been way too inconsistent for them to get anywhere.

Michigan State 66, Indiana 58 - He didn't go near this one with a 10-foot pole. Neitzel is willing this team to the tournament, and someone is going to have a fit facing them.

LSU 66, Florida 56 - This game was not as close as the score indicates. I know Florida has wrapped up its SEC division, but is this really the way to wind down a season?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Senators and Sabres throwdown.

This good old fashioned mess of a brawl happened because the Sens' Chris Neil nailed Buffalo's Chris Drury hard (knocking him out of the game), Andrew Peters then went after Dany Heatley, and it was ON. Know how on it was? Not even 30 seconds in and we get the treasured Goalie Fight.

(Off Wing Opinion has all the skinny.)

cheap shots #5.

Site note: somehow I've cracked the top 100,000 on the Technorati links. I'm golf clapping for myself.

Now, let's hit the links.

1) Pacifist Viking's series on the Next Ten best in the NBA has been nothing short of great, especially with the comparisons to great poets -- do you have suggestions for the last member of the group?

2) The Head Chick explains what really happened when Pacman brought that $81K in ones to a strip club.

3) Eric at Seal Clubbers writes off JaMarcus Russell's career before it even began due to who will draft him.

4) When your attempt at a Great Moment in Hook-Up History fails, you gotta have a backup, and Scrap has found a Booty Call Contract.

5) Speaking of booty calls, the Newspaper Hack takes a hack at the maudlin hang-wringing over women and the college hook-up culture.

6) Lozo at Why Don't We Get Drunk and Blog has had trouble with the A-Rod/Jeter sleepover comments, so much so he's started another blog.

7) The Big Picture has prepared a "Would you do..." tourney so you can get your picking skills sharp for March Madness. My first round upset pick: Sam Ryan over Rachel Nichols.

8) Mr. Irrelevant gives us some serious nightmare fuel with old school Charlie Hustle ads.

9) Awful Officiating looks at the NBA's given that long-time players will get foul calls to go their way and wonders why it's accepted.

10) And finally, With Leather has enlisted Sarah Spain as the underground's Jenn Sterger, and got her visit to Vegas for All-Star weekend.

the quiet bad-ass.

That's how I remember Celtics guard Dennis Johnson from a very young age, watching the rivalry games between them and my then beloved Showtime-era Lakers. He'd be the last player you looked at, when your dad was telling you about Bird, Parish, McHale, Walton, etc. But he was one of the guys who made that frontcourt possible and so vital and lethal, and the assessment in his obituary reflects that.

"He was one of the most underrated players in the history of the game, in my opinion, and one of the greatest Celtic acquisitions of all time," said former Boston teammate Danny Ainge, now the Celtics' executive director of basketball operations.

For being the linchpin on a great team I loved to hate with my friends when we were very young, I salute you, D.J.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

equal pay for better work.

The All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club has, after years of semi-controversy over the issue, decided to offer equal prize money to the women. So, when Serena Williams utterly destroys everyone this year, she'll get paid the same as Roger Federer after he decimates all comers.

I've believed for a while that women's tennis has been a much better deal for viewers than the men's division (Federer's super skills notwithstanding). Three-set matches are just flat out better to watch and more exciting to play, because those points mean more, and some of the minor events on the men's tour are three-set events. Hell, I believe women could do five-set matches, but would it really be in anyone's interest? As it stands right now, Wimbledon is finally offering equal pay for better work. The women's field in tennis has had better players and matches (despite occasional lack of starpower) for at least the past decade, despite the best efforts of Federer, Sampras, and Agassi.

(Andy Roddick is a choking lout.)

While we await Roland Garros following suit for the French Open, let's institute a sliding scale for the men to increase their incentive, especially since not too many of them are putting up fights against Federer:

1) If you don't break Roger, he gets a quarter of your money.
2) If you lose 6-1 or 6-0 in a set to Roger, he gets a third.
3) If you lose by 6-1 or 6-0 in straight sets to Roger, he gets half your money.

he was for All-Star weekend before he was against it.

The Head Chick, Paulsen and D-Wil all have better takes on Jason Whitlock's abrupt double-take in his columns for the KC Star and AOL, so after reading the columns and the other opinions, hear me out.

Ready? OK.

It's profoundly irresponsible, idiotic and stupid for Whitlock to play both sides of the table -- you cannot play to the stereotypes associated with black people in the newspaper column and then pull your infuriated Bill Cosby act on the internet a day later. Whitlock reversed himself 24 hours later and then still played to the same stupid, moronic stereotypes, which, if used by a white writer, would have gotten him drummed out of a newsroom within 24 hours.

Pick a side and stick to it. Either you are with the legion of black cultural commentators (Stanley Crouch, Debra Dickinson, Cosby, et al.) and most of the idiot commentariat (regardless of race) who find no virtue and every reason to slam black youth culture at every turn as if you are just as irrationally afraid of them as whites, or stand up and say that the violence at All-Star weekend is not representative, that it is a series of isolated incidents (Las Vegas media has reports of violence, but Whitlock provides mostly anecdotal information). If your online column is supposedly real, then what is this you are selling to the paper? Both columns reek of imagery better left to old stereotypes soon overcome -- the pro-All Star column is laden with idiocy about "a calling" to the game and other naturalistic, animalistic claptrap. Then, the AOL diatribe gives you regular use of the word "thug" and this nice bit:

David Stern seriously needs to consider moving the event out of the country for the next couple of years in hopes that young, hip-hop hoodlums would find another event to terrorize...All-Star Weekend Vegas screamed that the NBA is aligned too closely with thugs. Stern is going to have to take drastic measures to break that perception/reality. All-Star Weekend can no longer remain the Woodstock for parolees, wannabe rap artists and baby's mamas on tax-refund vacations.

So, 24 hours after you declared it okay, but a little "ghettofab," you did a complete 180 and decided to amplify your stereotypes. I grant Whitlock that ESPN should have been on the aspect more, but that's it. Before I read the columns in full, I thought Whitlock was OK; his main targets of "bojangling" were commentators or writers I didn't think were particularly good on any sort of journalistic merit. Problem is, he's just as guilty of bojangling as he thinks his targets are; he is the perfect enabler.

the Heat's worst nightmare.

This was so incredibly painful to watch when it happened, because I saw the replay while watching at work, and it was one of those moments when you felt the pain through the screen. The extent of Dwyane Wade's separated shoulder isn't known yet, but Miami felt his absence, losing to the Rockets by 10 in Pat Riley's first game back on the sideline. If it is serious, then the Heat may make the playoffs, but they will lose in the first round.

In other notable NBA games, Manu Ginobili was a bad man, ripping off 24 straight points (40 total) against the lowly Hawks in a Spurs win. This is the sick thing about Ginobili -- he can have ungodly games like this, then maybe not show up, then put in the double figures (anywhere from high teens to mid-twenties) that the team needs from him to win. He's just another weapon -- a nice one to have, but this is why San Antonio is there every year, even if they're one of the less exhilarating teams to watch.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

this year's coaches as South Park characters.

Found at the Georgia Sports Blog via the FanHouse (click to enlarge):

Dan Hawkins needs to be screaming after the "intramurals" rant a couple weeks ago and Mangino needs to be fatter. Next, the Big 10 (saw it on Deadspin a week ago, I think):

Bret Bielema looks like Buddha, and I'm OK with that. I didn't think Cheaty McSweatervest ever showed emotion. Tim Brewster looks so high he has no idea what's going on. Now, the SEC:

Les Miles looks ready to kill a motherfucker. Finally, the ACC:

Chan Gailey looks very old. Four years of Reggie Ball will do that to you. Butch Davis = stoner. No way Friedgen is fatter than Mangino.

Zach did the Pac-10 version last year, and I think that's the only big-time conference left for 2007. I eagerly await.

Rule #1 of strip clubs: don't be a cheapskate.

Rule #2: Don't threaten to kill a security guard after he sees you beating on a dancer for taking the bills you leave out.
Rule #3: Definitely don't have one of your posse shoot a few people.

Unverified, but since it's an investigation into a shooting in Las Vegas during the tail end of All-Star Weekend and Titans CB Adam "Pacman" Jones is involved, it's curious that, as the Big Lead notes (and a hat tip to them), ESPN has done fuck-all on this yet. Usually they're all over police blotter-worthy incidents, and boy, is this one a doozy.

The Monday morning shooting paralyzed one security guard, hit the other, and hit a female customer. How witnesses are saying it went is something like this: Jones throws tons of $1s in front of the dancers, gets pissy when one takes bills on the ground without his permission, beats on her, guard breaks it up, he threatens, gunman comes in. Now, witnesses and investigators say/think Jones knows the gunman.

These things always start because of money. If you're going to throw it around, don't get pissed about who comes up to take it.

UPDATE: Per With Leather, Sports by Brooks reports that there is surveillance video of this.

watching and waiting.

So, with the regular season back in swing, what are we to make of one of the most mercurial teams in the Association?

For me, it's like waiting for the promise of great things to develop between Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson to finally roll around; when the electricity sparks the teams to wins and a formidable presence -- not that team that's going to win a title; the West is too stacked for that to happen -- the one that none of the top teams wants to face.

That isn't happening. The Nuggets lost to the Spurs last night, and while you get good individual performances out of both Anthony and AI, you wonder if they'll put it together with the rest of the team, when the parts will come together as a whole. They'll make the playoffs, but eventually we'll get sick of one and outs. Someone's going to have to play defense on that team.

(I'll probably get around to an NBA general assessment of playoff teams as they stand soon.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tchaikovsky would be proud.

With Leather reminds us of this happy marriage of classical music mated with fucking shit up with a cannon, Beast-style. I pass it on because I either never saw or don't remember it.

not good for your free agent stock.

That is, unless you specifically are interested in signing with the Bengals or the Chargers.

Got that out of the way.

Colts RB Dominic Rhodes (who probably should have split the Super Bowl MVP with Joseph Addai) got busted this morning for DUI, clocking 81 on I-65 in Indy. This isn't the first time he's run afoul of the law, picking up lesser charges to avoid trial on a domestic violence incident in 2002.

Rhodes is hitting the open market this year, and looked to clock at least some decent cash from either Indy or the perpetually running-back starved masses of the NFL, many of whom are picking up on the "two-back" theme -- this'll probably cut into the payday slightly.

(Hat tip: The Big Lead -- also note that Falcons DT Jonathan Babineaux is in trouble for animal abuse. Bet Joey Porter's pit bulls would tear his dogs up.)

bucking the college hoops CW.

Last week's SI featured Texas forward Kevin Durant on the cover, complete with a billing of "Year of the Freshmen" for the impact he, OSU center Greg Oden, and UNC's Brandan Wright are playing this year, notching it to the NBA's age limit. It's hard to find a college coach who opposes the limit (and many I've read say it's not long enough), but you can always count on Texas Tech head coach Bob Knight, whether out of contrarian nature or the old-school idealism behind his approach to college ball, to speak his mind on the issue, and, boy, does he ever, calling it the worst rule he's seen in the history of college hoops. Why?

"Because now you can have a kid come to school for a year and play basketball and he doesn't even have to go to class," Knight said Monday. "He certainly doesn't have to go to class the second semester. I'm not exactly positive about the first semester. But he would not have to attend a single class the second semester to play through the whole second semester of basketball. That, I think, has a tremendous effect on the integrity of college sports."

Say what you will about Knight -- I have to others, though not on this blog -- about his conduct with players, his temper, anything else about his conduct, but like Dean Smith, Coach K, John Wooden and many others, he is college basketball, for better and for worse. You have to have grudging respect, if not a like, for a coach who seems to honestly believe that his players' graduation rates and non-basketball careers are more important than their NBA chances.

My opinion on the NBA's rule is that it has done some good for college hoops and the athletes who get to experience at least a year of school, but it's a middling solution. Either make it two years or don't do it at all. One year was and is a sort of cop-out, but at least it forces the high school prodigy to evaluate himself against college players and see if he really is ready for the draft. Currently, I'm sure Oden is; I think Durant needs to put on a bit more muscle and he's there. But despite the cynicism that surrounds major college athletics regarding money and the concept of the student-athlete, Knight's mouth is a useful reminder that there are still some idealists on the bench.

Awful Officiating also opines on Knight's comments.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A-Rod: "I will NOT be ignored!"

It's not spring training if there isn't an item on A-Rod and his precarious state in the Bronx, and the AP does not fail us on this one.

Headline: "A-Rod says he's not as close to Jeter as he once was."

It's like they gave bloggers everywhere a rocket launcher to aim at the barrel of sea bass.

"The reality is there's been a change in the relationship over 14 years and, hopefully, we can just put it behind us," Rodriguez said. "You go from sleeping over at somebody's house five days a week, and now you don't sleep over. It's just not that big of a deal."

Early reports from the Jeter camp* are that Rodriguez wanted to cuddle, and Derek hates it -- plus, A-Rod was trying to re-decorate the bachelor pad in utterly unacceptable ways: throw pillows, fancy curtains, expensive china. All of this led to Jeter telling Alex to take his toothbrush and change of clothes home.

Odds on A-Rod going Glenn Close on Jeter: 8/1. "You think you can just go back to your Hollywood starlets and fun-loving nightlife with Jessica Biel, and leave me here to suffer at the hands of people who can't stand me, and not care about how I feel for one second? Well, no longer, mister!"

(*That is, completely fictional reports.)

Cheap Schwag got hired.

Chargers general manager A.J. Smith is now officially bat-shit crazy -- breaking news dictates that the Chargers will commit team suicide and hire Norv Turner as head coach. This is where Smith has finally had his "I'm Keith Hernandez!" moment as GM -- he firmly believes he has assembled all the talent and any coach could get them to the Lombardi Trophy.

You may officially remove the Chargers from Super Bowl consideration. Put Fantasy Jesus (Tomlinson) on the cover of Madden '08 already.

And all this mess was over a power trip because Marty wanted to hire his younger brother as defensive coordinator. Now you have a man whom is without question one of the worst head coaches of the past decade, in charge. Charger fans, grab the bong, enjoy your .500 season, and make sure to have water on hand for the dry aftertaste when you miss the playoffs.

shout at the devil.

I stumbled across this particular list of bands from Love God's Way (which also has a handy "God Hates Fags" reminder in the title) from a friend, for pure humor value.

All I can say is that it's clear that I'd really rather prefer to go to hell, if this list is any indication. Inclusions range from the obvious (Scissor Sisters, Rufus Wainwright, Elton John gets an "extra gay") to the odd (Ted Nugent gets a "loincloth" addition for his addition to the list, but I don't think it makes him gay, per se.)

The best parts? Marilyn Manson is described as "dark gay" and Morrissey has a "?(questionable)?"

Sunday, February 18, 2007

NFL play date.

Given the earlier news of the day on Tom Brady's impending fatherhood, this is what we may be seeing in the next NFL off-season:

(Tom Brady and child are at his Boston pad when the doorbell rings.)

Brady: Hold on, sweetie, daddy will be right back when he gets the door. (Heads to front; gets the door.) Hey, buddy, come on in! Glad you could make it. Need any help there?
Matt Leinart (stumbles in with his three kids and various Gucci diaper bags): Gah, Tom, buddy -- sure. Hold on to Cam here for a sec.
Brady: Gotcha. (Takes Leinart's son, walks over to crib.)
Matt: Thanks for doing this. It's hard enough to get them all out of the house.
Brady: (Puts kids on the mat.) Sure, sure, but what the hell are the girls wearing?
Matt: Totally their mother's idea. Paris dresses 'em just like her damn dogs, man. It's hard enough to get time with Cameron, but at least Brynn doesn't require $1,000 baby booties for him.
Brady: Man, I don't want to say I told you so...
Matt: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Are Ray and Chad coming up this month?
Brady: No, Chad couldn't get one of the mothers in South Beach to put them on a plane, and Ray said he'll bring 'em around next month. Oh crap, don't tell me one of the twins is flashing again.
Matt: Learns some great habits from Mom. C'mon, Dakota, put the diaper back on -- we don't have to do exactly what Mommy does all the time...

(Doorbell rings again.)

Brady: I'll get that. (Walks back to the front door, where Brian Urlacher is waiting with his three kids.) Hey there, Brian, what's up?
Brian Urlacher: Oof. Hey, Tom. Flight was hell. Getting these three together on the plane was awful, but we made it. Just the three of us this time?
Brady: Yeah. Chad and Ray both called, they said they'd come around next month.
Brian: Bummer. What's up, Matt?
Matt: Heya, Brian, want a beer?
Brian: Pass it over. (Looks at Leinart's daughters.) Don't tell me she's started her own designer line for infants?
Matt: Apparently people will spend $200 for this stuff. At least it keeps her busy. Why didn't I listen to you in the first place?
Brian: No one's fault, really. What could you do? At least you're not blowing a wad of cash to two women. Better the twins have a rich mother, right, Tom?
Brady: True, but it's nice to have said mother out of town. Bridget's on a film shoot, and Gisele's flashing her ass for the cameras again.
Matt and Brian: Amen to that.

(Brady turns on the basketball game; Celtics vs. Lakers in L.A.. They mock the Celtics for sucking yet again, this time with Kevin Durant on the team.)

Brady: Should have taken Oden.
Brian: Matt, is that....(sees Paris Hilton in Staples with random faceless paramour.)
Matt: Yeah, she's with oil boy again, the one with the same name.
Brady: He's got enough in his hair to power the cars of a third-world country. Ugh, diaper duty again. Be right back.

(Brian and Matt play with the kids, watch the game. Faint ring of "Super Bowl Shuffle" in background.)

Brian: Oh, that's me. (Picks up cell.) Hello? Hey, Rex. What's up? Partying again, huh? Oh, yeah, they're all here. Guys, it's Rex, and he's in Vegas again. Rex, lemme put you on speaker. (Matt puts the game on mute.)
Rex Grossman: Hey dudes, wish you were here (hic.)
Brady: Grossman, it's 2 in the afternoon and you're buzzed already?
Rex: Heck yeah, man. Another Playboy party! These things last forever, and so does the Sex Cannon.
Matt: I can't believe your wife lets you do this every year.
Rex: Hell, man, it doesn't matter to her so long as there's a roof and a bank account, Matty! Hope you guys are having fun with the kids and stuff. I got three Bunnies up here. Oh, I thought you were done, sweetie -- more for you? Shit, sorry guys, gotta go!

(Hangs up. Brady unmutes the game.)

Matt and Brady: Motherfucker.
Brian: You want me to hit him extra hard when mini-camp rolls around?

(All credit of the image of Rex Grossman as debauched bastard must go to Big Daddy Drew and Kissing Suzy Kolber, of course.)

the Dreamboat has landed.

He's gonna have to work on his cradling technique, as the Big Lead is passing on a New York Post report that Tom Brady's ex Bridget Moynahan is three months pregnant with his kid. Of course, Brady is now with supermodel Gisele Bundchen and has been running on a lucky streak so potent that you could only watch in awe. Now, he's not quite so clutch.

Time to give Leinart a call or a text, Tom; he's familiar with this situation. "Schadenfreude" wouldn't be the right term; I don't think anyone actually hates Brady much -- there's not a lot to hate on -- this is more along the lines of, "Oh, good. He's still mortal; he's prone to a fuck-up."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

leaning on the clicker.

I think I'll eventually develop carpal tunnel -- I caught at least portions of every game in this week's edition of the Battle for the Aggro-Crag at Just Call Me Juice.

UCLA 81, Arizona 66 -- Just a beating. Chase Buddinger and Mustafa Shakur are somewhat less than advertised on the defensive end if they're letting Darren Collison hustle his way to 15 assists.

G'Town 58, 'Nova 55 - Deadly close game for quite a good period of time.

Pitt 65, Washington 61 - Closer than I thought it would be; Washington is picking it up, but a lot later than most people probably thought. I can't be the only one who thinks Pitt might be due for an early exit.

Syracuse 73, UConn 63 - Two disappointing teams with young players who haven't developed yet. Fairly sloppy game.

SIU 68, Butler 64 - Tied for best game of the day; SIU shut down A.J. Graves completely -- he fouled out with 5 points, and I didn't know guys like Jamaal Tatum could penetrate to the lane that fast.

Nevada 79, UNI 64 - Another butt-beating. Not even close for Northern Iowa. Nick Fazekas will likely make an NBA team happy next year when he's stolen in the late first round.

Memphis 78, Gonzaga 77 (OT) - Tied with SIU/Butler for best game of the day. You may cross Gonzaga off your list of tourney teams, and you may also cross off Memphis on your list of potential Final Four contenders. They're not going to make it past the Sweet 16 if they continue to shoot free throws as poorly as they did. Calipari should make them shoot free throws for the whole next week of practice.

UNC 77, BC 72 - Again, the Tar Heels scare me when the office pool rolls around; they reek of UConn from last year -- super-talented, can turn it on at any time, but they can slack when they're not motivated. Dudley was in foul trouble too early to pound as much for BC, although he picked it up and got 22.

woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

"Verge" has fuck all to do with it, really, as Britney Spears has hit Defcon 5. God bless vapid local news in L.A., which has nothing better to cover (via Scrap):

The woman did not even make it a day in rehab in Antigua (boy, what a nice place to have to go exorcise your demons.) Even Lindsay Lohan made it through ONE DAY. Ms. Spears then returned to the U.S., hit a Tarzana hair salon, and demanded to have her head shaved. When the stylist wouldn't do it, she did it herself, then proceeding to get two tattoos at the parlor, as you can see above in the video.

I ran an item on the short rehab stay last night -- I wouldn't have believed the head-shaving and tattoo stuff until I saw the video and heard it from the maternal unit, who was working on the national desk last night. The Redneck Trainwreck has hit the wall, folks.

damn you, NBC Sports. damn you to hell.

I hear the NHL doesn't get a hell of a lot from you for airing games on Sundays, and I get that this isn't your priority as far as your sports line-up goes. I understand that. That said: I don't give a fuck about San Jose vs. Dallas on Sunday. I see those teams a lot. I'm not sure the Midwesterners and New Yorker hockey junkies care a lot about the Blackhawks playing the Rangers, although Chicago dwellers might actually be thrilled to see their hockey team on TV, despite another down year.

How do you not know a national game for a hockey audience when you see one?

I want the Capitals and Penguins on Sunday afternoon. I don't care that Washington's next-to-last* in the best division in the league. The Pens are making a hell of a run right now. But most importantly: I WANT TO WATCH CROSBY AND OVECHKIN (and Malkin too.)

Jesus. This is why I get frustrated so easily with the sport as it is currently televised -- there is no concept of what makes a good game to show nationally, across the board, to hockey fans.

(*The item originally cited Washington as being "cellar-dwellers;" standings have them one point above Florida.)

ghosts in the machine.

Everyone knows the Police are going to give synchronicity another chance with a post-Grammy reunion tour. The Extrapolater directed me to a Slate article that pretty much dissected Sting, and gave those of us Police die-hards who are lukewarm at best about Sting's solo career reasons behind our dislike, mostly that Sting is too blissfully earnest and has always been trying to enmesh himself in the label of "artiste."

Stephen Metcalfe makes the point of Stewart Copeland's founding of the band as a sort of punk cash-in and his domination of the band as its rhythmic pulse. What he omits is Copeland's ex-patriate status (his father was a CIA man); ego and what was seen as a unique sort of American careerism propelled the band's drive while Sting wrote songs the band re-arranged for their strengths. Despite the fact that Sting was the songwriter and voice of the band, the reason this band split up is because they were equals in what they brought musically and fought too much to make it work. Andy Summers is still considered a heavy influence in certain sectors of guitar playing (most of the conventions of New Wave guitar, such as extreme delay and chorus, are due in no small part to him), and Copeland is routinely name-checked when current rock drummers are asked for their favorites.

I'd like to go see the tour, but I've always hated stadium and arena shows -- the Pixies at the Greek Theatre in L.A. was as big a crowd as I like going to.

the concept.

Sam T. has come up with a smart concept for a blog: ask bloggers to contribute and have them write what they would do if they were in charge. The result is If I Ran..., and folks like Awful Announcing, Monday Morning Punter, Extrapolater, and Sooze have already contributed posts.

I threw my hat in the ring today with what I would do if I ran the NHL.

(Also, the site goes with Awful Officiating and Babes Love Baseball to the blogroll.)

Friday, February 16, 2007

cheap shots #4.

Gotta head to work -- let's reel these off quickly.

1) Sports Media Watch puts together a disgustingly plausible theory regarding ESPN's hawking of John Amaechi and Tim Hardaway's comments.

2) Just Call Me Juice continues his series of interviews with those who know NCAA hoops better than he does, as he put it.

3) Pacifist Viking weighs the pros and cons of the Vikes possibly making a run for David Carr.

4) GTB previews the hapless Nationals on the eve of spring training.

5) The Head Chick noticed that ESPN knocked off ATH and PTI for NASCAR inundation.

6) Awful Announcing says the Pipemaker may already be out the door. Note to ESPN: NOW he's a ticking time bomb?

7) OMDQ is trying another experiment to add to his growing list of side features. This one involves playing a college football playoff via XBox.

8) The essential question at the Big Picture today: Would you do Stacey Dales?

9) And finally, EDSBS issues the latest in its series, "Las Cronicas de Boss Hawg" (read: Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt, for the uninformed.)

the ascendancy of Keith Olbermann.

Whomever thought Keith Olbermann wouldn't survive or thrive when Countdown debuted on MSNBC has been proven wrong; my usual reading turned up this tidbit posted on the Daily Kos: Olbermann has not only been renewed for a four-year contract, he is going to submit pieces for NBC Nightly News and do two specials on the NBC broadcast arm a year.

I referred to a post with Stephen A. Smith on CNN to what I call the Olbermann Rule: sportswriters with an interest in news take a different approach to the medium than those who make their marks in political journalism, communications, or the spin wizards that emerge from political campaigns and are somehow deemed worthy of op-ed columns or television news-magazine programs. There is less bullshit tolerated, because the world of sports has measurables: who won, who lost, and the statistics for measuring why teams win and lose as well as why players do well or underperform are lined up.

While those stats, much like the arcana of politics, used to be the exclusive parlance of those in the know, you and I have access to them now. The same goes with the development of the Internet for political junkies -- we can cross-check, reference, and Google our way to a coherent argument. Those in journalism who do not catch up to it are bound to fall flat in their research.

Olbermann has carved out a niche in this reality, by having a crack staff on hand for the sort of analysis that we rarely see in politics but is honed most of the time by the better beat writers, columnists, and bloggers in the sports world. It's no surprise that he's become something of an Internet sensation in that regard, and it's a credit to MSNBC and their head Dan Abrams* that they recognize it.

(*Note: I've met both Abrams and Olbermann, both due to my mother working in the broadcast news biz as a producer. I met Abrams when he was an MSNBC legal analyst working the Oklahoma City bombing trial in Denver. I was a gofer for a few days in downtown as a summer job, getting coffee, lunch, and observing the obscene set-up needed to produce these things. Abrams was a very nice fellow, and it's nice to see his name attached to this. As for Olbermann, he was the sports anchor at KCBS in L.A. while my mom was a producer there.)

Mr. Hard Luck himself.

Kerry Wood can't catch a break. Well, yeah, he can.

The injury prone Cub will delay his throwing off the mound due to slipping and falling on his chest and stomach after getting out of the hot tub, possibly the most bizarre way to hurt yourself since Rockies SS Clint Barmes broke his collar bone lugging some deer meat.

Kerry, if you're gonna slip and fall, at least blame it on something that seems either dangerous or at least less silly. Jeff Kent took the wrong tack by trying to claim his wrist injury a few years back was from washing his truck instead of from motorcycle riding (mostly to avoid a contract clause about it, I believe.) Do the opposite. Establish that it was something fun, important -- maybe you were hitting the ATV, hunting, out shooting, whatever -- but falling out of a hot tub? All Cubs fans will sigh, "Here we go again" anyway; why not at least give a good excuse?

I look forward to the first report of this injury in any sport: "Groin pull -- too much sexing."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

everything but the kitchen sink.

Therein lies the problem with most of my sports information clearinghouses -- the home pages of ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and the recently redesigned Yahoo! Sports page.

These clearinghouses are sensory overload -- for someone like me, who's looking mostly to catch the best of the wires, scores, and some semi-informed commentary, the concept is admirable in concept, but poor in form. As a newspaper reader, I think the one thing the online extensions of the big name major papers have gotten right is the layout (esp. the New York Times.) The three outlets noted above all have an easy navigation bar by sport across the top, which is a standard feature.

(Note: You may ask why Fox Sports has been left out of this, and mostly it's because their front page doesn't approach the clutter level of the other three.)

ESPN, being first, is probably the worst offender, and the latest redesign hasn't made it less clunky -- there's a lot of redundancy, with features being used once in the "Spotlight" area on the front page, and can then re-appear again in the column list, or in Page 2's case, in the little section under the three "national voices" of Wojciechowski, Forde, and Scoop (HA!). Wire stuff -- what we thrive on -- and breakers usually have a little bitty bit up there before they're confirmed and expanded upon. Then again, this layout has been so cluttered for so long that it's hard to slag on it. You just expect it.

(Update: In comments, Zach notes the highly annoying automatically loading video full of ads on the right side of the WWL's screen. If you're going to include that, please don't make it play automatically. I'm trying to listen to my music on iTunes. Also: too much fucking "Insider" content -- ask the NYT how putting good stuff behind a paywall works in terms of influence; it may make money, but you're keeping potentially smart and relevant commentary from your audience. Use the Salon model of one-ad viewing and day pass.)

SI - recently redesigned, and now as tough on the eyes as ESPN with all the shades of blue (today's pimping of the swimsuit issue doesn't help the strain with the banners all over the place.) I've always hated the button on this site that advances to the next page, without offering a previous page option unless you use your "back" function, especially when those columns are seven pages long. Single pages when possible, please. Love the easy access to some great photography. The game photos shouldn't be a secondary thought, and it's nice that they feature it.

Yahoo - this one's the disappointment, especially because most Yahoo pages (see their news page and the sports news page) have a very clean, simple look; the Sports page stands out like a sore thumb with all the black and the photos. Fortunately, they've cleaned it up after the initial re-design and it's not quite such a drag on my lame DSL. Since most of my fantasy games are played in Yahoo leagues, the roster feature is nice.

So, what do you like and hate about the Big Three and their layouts? Air your grievances. All I'm saying is that I'm using the AOL sports page more and more.

own your words.

Despite the fact that I'm late to the party, I clearly need to opine on Tim Hardaway's nice little radio interview reaction to John Amaechi's coming out, since he decided to lay it all on the line with his homophobia. I don't usually get in a huff about these things; I know there are ignorant assholes in the world, and I expect it. Hell, I cover them every single day.

But what gets me is that, when confronted with his Cro-Magnon line of thinking, he decided that it would work if he apologized.

Hardaway, later saying he regretted the remarks, apologized for the remarks during a telephone interview with Fox affiliate WSVN in Miami.

"Yes, I regret it. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said I hate gay people or anything like that," he said. "That was my mistake."

Note how he said he shouldn't have said it; it doesn't occur to him that it was a questionable line of thought. It was an amazing display of stupidity, ignorance, and top-shelf bigotry; it is the epitome of the word "gaffe." That said, own your words. You had no intention of apologizing for your remarks; otherwise, you wouldn't have said it in the first place. Tim Hardaway doesn't regret saying he hated gay people; he regrets that anyone was paying attention and called him on it. That's all his attempts at apology mean. I have more respect for the person who gets caught saying something idiotic, admits it, and owns up to it than a weasel like Hardaway, who, when confronted with his stupidity, regrets not the thought pattern, but that someone heard it.

Amaechi took the high road:

"Finally, someone who is honest. It is ridiculous, absurb, petty, bigoted and shows a lack of empathy that is gargantuan and unfathomable. But it is honest. And it illustrates the problem better than any of the fuzzy language other people have used so far."

Stop faking for your image, Tim; you are the one who covered the bridge in gasoline and lit the match, and you get to live with the consequences. Just when I thought Amaechi's coming out meant less than what ESPN was hyping, too. I think I was proven wrong.

Other takes: Leave the Man Alone, One More Dying Quail, The Hater Nation, and Just Call Me Juice.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

blaming the drill sergeant.

One day after putting the ink on a contract that will have him on NBC's Football Night in America and the Today Show, Tiki Barber is sniping back at his old coach Sgt. Hartman (maybe not sniping, but adding fuel to the Tom Coughlin hate that swarms in NFL quarters) by saying Coughlin's demands forced him into retirement, breaking him down.

"We were in full pads for 17 weeks, and with the amount of injuries that we had, it just takes a toll on you. You just physically don't want to be out there when your body feels the way you do in full pads," Barber told reporters. "And while it probably doesn't have a really detrimental effect on how you practice or how you play, it does on your mind. And if you lose your mind in this game, you lose a lot. And that's something that [Coughlin] has to realize. And I think he does [now]."

Again, this is why Coughlin loses locker rooms -- it happened to him in Jacksonville, and he's lucky he still has a job in New York for next season. This point has been made over and over by myself and others -- the authoritarian coach method is going out the window, and while these guys are conditioned to withstand physical brutality, there's a limit that even the most devoted and built athlete is able to take. Tiki's also noted a very veiled threat to Coughlin's job security -- either he has realized it or he'll lose again.

This was the best part of the piece, though:

NBC News President Steve Capus also said Barber came with a backup. "On those days when you're not feeling well, we'll just call Tampa Bay and get your brother," Capus said.

You have no idea how much in favor of this I am:

a portrait of the sideline reporter as a young dazzler.

The Big Lead is disseminating the video of Erin Andrews in her U of Florida Dazzler days that the ESPN crew snuck in on her during the Florida-UK game:

I should note that I'm still getting hits from the ombudsman letter and passing along Erin's greatest hits montage.

hey, big spender!

Pitchers and catchers report this weekend, and one of the biggest psychodramas and stories heading in will be if and how the Chicago Cubs are going to take the nearly $300 million they spent over the off-season and turn it into a winning team.

You may recall that a good chunk of that cash went to Ted Lilly, who will likely have better numbers in the NL and may be a good #2 behind the man to your right, Carlos Zambrano. The most sizeable contract went to Alfonso Soriano, who got $136 million for eight years (the man will likely be retired after his contract is up, so presume some down years on that back end), and Aramis Ramirez got a piece for an extension. As the ESPN piece above notes, Kerry Wood got some extra cash, and they also inked Mark DeRosa for infield and outfield duties. Now, Zambrano saw all that cash floating around, and he wants his due or he wants out after the season*.

Problem is, while the Wrigley faithful won't be as dependent upon the injury-prone (understatment, really) Wood and Mark Prior, they'll need them if they're going to top the division. If you get Zambrano, Lilly, and a full season out of Prior (big if), you have a serious shot in a weak division. But, again, big if, and where are all those outfielders going to play? Soriano's only played one full season in left, and now they want to make him a CF.

This team may win. They'll be fun to watch, but they'll make the Cub faithful tear hairs out waiting to see what kind of team $300 million can buy.

(*Something about this off-season is getting to current players who have a year left -- Yankees closer Mariano Rivera wants the team to extend him or he's gonna bolt, too.)

more NORV???

The Chargers have taken another step towards committing organizational seppuku -- yes, they've asked for and been granted permission to speak to everyone's favorite Cheap Schwag, Norv Turner.

Fine, Dean. OK, A.J. You got what you wanted, and Marty is out. Don't do it. Everyone else on your list -- Niners D-coach Mike Singletary, Bears D-coordinator Ron Rivera, Balmurr D-coordinator Rex Ryan -- all automatically better choices than Norv; even though they've never been head coaches before. If I didn't think San Diego was a good team (and if they were the hated Chiefs or Raiders), I would say, "Fine. Be that stupid. I would love to see nothing but Norv Face all this season." But I can't. He will wreck fantasy teams by managing to sabotage Fantasy Jesus. I know it.

Whatever owners smoke/ingest/shoot that makes them think "Oh, Norv is worth an interview," I want some. It's gotta be killer stuff.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

know your rights.

The MLBPA has petitioned the 9th Circut Court of Appeals to review its 2-1 decision that allowed baseball investigators to use the names and piss test results of over 100 players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Investigators are using this to get further into the steroid investigation, and some of those involved, if an appeals court does not overturn the 9th Circuit, could be called before a grand jury to testify.

The standing issue was when investigators grabbed those over-100 results from an investigation into 10 players, which, at face value, would look like an overreach.

"If the majority's decision is allowed to stand, it will create circuit law giving the government carte blanche to use a warrant for some piece of data on a computer as the pretext for seizing the entire computer and perusing its contents," attorneys for the union and lab wrote.

The sticking point is that the union and MLB negotiated that the names would remain private, and circumnavigating the agreement constitutes a breach in the union's eyes. The MLBPA faces a PR problem, though -- with every fight (correct or not legally) they put up against the testing, the more it will be blamed for impeding progress. It's a conundrum, but it seems Don Fehr and crew have decided to fight it out. Any legally-minded (or employed) readers who can assess this better?

one month too late.

I really think the Chargers have screwed the pooch -- not because they fired Marty Schottenheimer, but because they waited an extra month to do it when all the candidates were being snapped up left and right. The only new candidate whom we KNOW is looking for a head coaching gig is the Bears' Ron Rivera, and if I remember correctly, the Chargers run a 3-4 defense (while Rivera prefers the 4-3 to run the Tampa two.)

Ultimately, it appears the final straw between Schottenheimer and general manager A.J. Smith was over hiring replacements for departed coordinators Cam Cameron and Wade Phillips, and owner Dean* Spanos decided it was just too "dysfunctional" to allow to continue. Marty got the ax not only because of his playoff record, but it might not be a bad guess to speculate that his refusal to sign an extension for 2008 may have been a sticking point. Coaches don't like being lame ducks, but I doubt GMs like to have a willingly lame duck coach hanging around. He feels like he got a raw deal though, and I'm not sure I can say he's wrong. D-Wil lays out a very good case that GM Smith was the dysfunctional end of this relationship. However, Marty will land another job in 2008 -- he is the NFL's version of Larry Brown, the master re-builder, although Brown got his teams further into the playoffs.

NFL Adam has a decent list of possible replacements over at the Hater Nation, but I don't think you can coax Johnson out of retirement of Carroll out of USC (Carroll clearly wants GM-style control a la Shanahan), and you want nothing to do with Norv Turner or Mike Martz as head coaches. Fassel and Mariucci are good options -- this is not a gig where you want a first-year head coach; this team is too close to doing very well in the playoffs.

(*originally Alex Spanos, Alex does own the team, but his son Dean made this decision.)