Monday, April 30, 2007

Cheap Shots #16.

Let's start the week off right:

1) Meet the non-Jarvis Moss picks of the Denver Broncos. [Big Money, No Whammies]
2) Tony LaRussa isn't happy with his city's local paper, and there's audio, too. [Larry Brown Sports, audio here]
3) If you missed it on Friday, the charges of assault against PSU players are in. [Run Up The Score!]
4) What would happen if college football coaches allowed famous alums to make videos like Will Ferrell does for USC? [Rumors and Rants]
5) An opinion on the Ted Ginn pick that isn't a pan. [Shot to Nothing]
6) The third part of an extensive Jemele Hill interview. [The Starting Five]
7) Best names in the draft. [Awful Announcing]
8) Measuring Joe Mauer's intangibles. [Extrapolater]
9) A warning for Pats fans considering purchasing a Randy Moss jersey. [Just Call Me Juice]
10) There's something funny about Steve Spurrier in that Under Armour ad. [Gheorghe: The Blog]

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Paying My Respects To Hockey.

Rangers 2, Sabres 1 (2OT) - I love hockey OT in the playoffs. Love it. Rarely anything better, and this double OT battle didn't disappoint, with solid play all around, and Michal Rozsival scores the game-winner late in the second overtime period. Frankly, the Rangers should have had two goals earlier in the game, as what was called a kick really wasn't. However, I believe Buffalo or one of the Canadian teams needs to win the Cup badly.

Ducks 3, Canucks 2 - dependent upon some seriously good goal play by J.S. Giguere in the end, as the Canucks threw everything they had into that 6-on-5 at the end. Corey Perry slapped in the winning goal for the Ducks with less than 10 minutes in the period.

Both series are 2-1, Ducks and Sabres ahead.

NBA Playoff Impressions: The Badass Power Of Baron's Beard.

Warriors 103, Mavericks 99 - Golden State is one win away from a massive playoff upset, and got a 3-1 lead in fantastic style. It looked bad early, as Dallas got up and Baron Davis got two quick fouls, but the Black Baron and his Magnificent Beard would not be denied, and when he hit that 40-foot 3-point shot to end the first half, you knew it was ON. The Warriors kept mounting comebacks, and when it came time in the fourth quarter, took the game over by hitting threes and making Dallas miss 10 of 11 shots late in the game. There were over 20,000 fans packing the Oracle Arena, and the best part of that telecast was when those 20K yelled "BULLSHIT!" repeatedly after Jason Richardson got whistled for a blocking foul in the third quarter. Baron finished with 33 points, Richardson threw in 22. I want to see more playoff beards in basketball.

Oh, and SUCK IT, SIR CHARLES. (Dumbass had the balls to say the only place worth living in CA was Los Angeles during the halftime report.)

Nets 102, Raptors 81 - Man, you think this team has no shot, and then Jason Kidd and Vince Carter just open two 40s of pure whoop-ass as soon as the starting whistle blows, including some damn near telepathic alley-oops and a stretch in the first half where Carter was incapable of missing a shot. Carter had 27, Richard Jefferson had 23, and Kidd was two rebounds away from another triple-double. If you are LeBron James and the Cavs, this team should scare you, despite its lack of any inside game.

(Photo: AP)

Two Seahawks Leave The Nest.

This post was mostly an excuse to use a great mugshot yet again, but it seems Jon Gruden will take any castoff you can think of to assemble his bunch of privateers in Tampa Bay this season, and that now includes former Seahawk tight end and bad example Jerramy Stevens, someone who is enough of a mark-ass mark to be hated on by his own team's fans even before he got busted for DUI a couple of months back. Why Gruden wants or needs him -- especially with the other Alex Smith already as the starting TE -- is the bigger question. Now, the Bucs have a logjam at both TE and QB.

Seahawks GM Tim Russkell may be suffering from some form of brain lock, though, or may be hitting the bottle too -- why trade the best of your stockload of wide receivers in Darrell Jackson to a division rival for a defensive end, instead of dropping the dead weight of Nate Burleson, for example? Because apparently Jackson was less than thrilled with the organization for not paying up and re-negotiating his contract. No one will miss Stevens, but the latter move may hurt the Hawks enough to where the Rams and the Niners could knock them off their perch as the champs of the NFC West.

Stealing Signals: 17 Innings Of Vin Scully Is Fine By Me.

Dodgers 5, Padres 4 (17 innings) - Knock-down, drag-out wars of bullpen and bench attrition are fun, until you realize that it could fuck up starters for the next few days. Brady Clark doubled home the winning run in the top of the 17th, scoring Wilson Valdez, who reached on an error by backup catcher/emergency 1B Pete Laforest. The problem for the Dodgers in this win: they left something like 15 men on base during the game.

Mets 1, Nats 0 - Pitching duel between John Maine and Jason Bergmann, and Carlos Beltran gives Maine a 4-0 record with a solo home run.

Phillies 6, Marlins 1 - Grumpy old man Jamie Moyer throws six innings of no-hit ball, and threw seven and a third of one-hit ball in total for his third win of the season. A Miggy Cabrera double snaps the no-no. Most of the Phillies' runs came on a late double in the eighth.

Rockies 9, Braves 7 (11 innings)
- Matt Holliday hits a two-run walk-off homer for the Rox to avoid being swept, but the play everyone's talking about is SS Troy Tulawitzki's unassisted triple play: runners on first and second, catches a line drive, taps second base with his foot, tags the other runner.

Tigers 4, Twins 3 - If Brandon Inge wants to get out of a season-starting slump that's got him hitting .122, hitting a walk-off homer is one heck of a way to get started. Johan Santana and Mike Maroth had similar lines, giving up three runs apiece in about the same number of innings worked. Magglio Ordonez got a two-run jack off Santana.

Rays 5, A's 3 - There's a lot of power in that Tampa lineup: all the runs were provided via long-ball today. B.J. Upton brought in two others when he hit his, and Rocco Baldelli and Elijah Dukes went back-to-back off Dallas Braden, who's subbing for Rich Harden. Pluses for the Athletics: Mark Ellis and Eric Chavez went back to back as well.

Angels 5, White Sox 2 - More back-to-back jack action, this time courtesy of Maicer Izturis (what?) and Vlad the Impaler for the Halos. Kelvim Escobar only gave up a two-run homer to former Angel Darin Erstad in a strong start.

Red Sox 7 , Yankees 4 - Sox take two out of three from the Yanks, and hold them to 11 runs total over those three games (not a lot for that high-powered lineup). Red Sox got homers from Manram, Big Papi, and Alex Cora. Jonathan Papelbon hasn't blown a save yet. If the majority of your offense comes from Doug Mientkiewicz, you've got problems.

NBA Playoff Impressions: Bulls In A China Shop.

Bulls 92, Heat 79 - So I guess you really can't just turn it on for the playoffs, despite the pre-conceived notions surrounding the Miami Heat. What should have been the most competitive first-round matchup on paper turned ugly quick and was over today, with Luol Deng and Ben Gordon picking up their 20+ apiece to get the Bulls past the first round of the playoffs since Jordan retired again in '98. Funny enough, coach Scott Skiles has been here before -- he coached the Suns when they knocked off a defending champion Spurs team in 2000. Chicago plays the Pistons in the next round.

Suns 113, Lakers 100 - Now, this was the close, fast exciting game to watch -- well, at least for the first half. Come 3rd quarter, Phoenix said, "Enough of this shit," and started just smoking a Lakers team that doesn't have the talent, outside Kobe, to compete with the top tier of the Western Conference. Nash shot poorly, but his 17 points weren't the number to focus on -- those 23 assists would do it. Amare Stoudamire grabbed 27 points and a Rodman-esque 21 off the boards, Shawn Marion had 22 and 11 boards, and Leandro Barbosa popped in 16. This Laker team is maddeningly frustrating -- flashes of brilliance, in the triangle and out, offset by more prolonged periods of poor ball-care and turnovers.

More to come after the night games. If you aren't watching Mavs-Warriors, you're probably going to be missing out.

(Photo: Getty Images.)

Cardinals Pitcher Dies In Car Accident.

Reliever Josh Hancock died in an automobile accident early today. He was part of last year's championship team, and died at the age of 29. The Cardinals have already called off tonight's game with the Cubs.

Hancock apparently hit the back of a tow truck that was helping another vehicle on the road, and was killed instantly. This is the second Cardinals pitcher to die prematurely in the past five years, as Darryl Kile passed away of heart blockage at the age of 33 just under four years ago.

Note: what kind of hole does this leave for ESPN, as this was the Sunday night game? I'm not sure of their usual procedure. When the game of your signature sporting franchise gets postponed for very good reasons, is there a back-up they can shuttle Miller and Morgan to, or do they just fill with something else for the evening?

(Photo credit: Reuters)

On Its Surface, This Trade Seems Weird.

Apparently Randy Moss has received his ticket out of Oakland, and he's headed to....New England?!?

Yes, that's right. Apparently the Hobo Genius has decided to take on the outspoken/troubled/what-have-you receiver for a fourth round pick, but not without some obvious changes, both financial and otherwise. Moss will renegotiate his contract to fit with the Patriots' priorities, but there is this paragraph:

Far more important to coach Bill Belichick than any financial concessions by Moss, though, are the promises by the nine-year veteran receiver that he will fit into the Patriots' culture, an atmosphere in which players are expected to subjugate personal performance for team goals. Moss has long been one of Belichick's favorite players, in part because of his competitive nature and desire to step to the forefront at critical junctures of games, but the Pats' coach would not have made the deal without being comfortable that it is a good fit for everyone.

Apparently the rest of the front office (GM Scott Pioli) and locker room (Tom Brady, probably Tedy Bruschi and Richard Seymour) leaders have signed off on this, and that there will be enough leadership in the locker room to mitigate any sort of "threat" Moss poses to team chemistry, if his word isn't good.

My judgment is that most of Moss' on-the-field shortcomings have come because he's played for organizations that aren't as stringent, structured, and disciplined as the Patriots (also mediocre organizations) -- where there aren't really any organizational (rather than PR) consequences for admitting that you slack off, etc. However, he can't fuck around on the Hobo. It's a good trade for a fourth-round pick. Moss is not T.O., not by a long shot, and the Hobo has had players before that had reps as malcontents (see Dillon, Corey.)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

NBA Playoff Impressions: Control Freaks.

Spurs 96, Nuggets 91 - The reason San Antonio has won multiple championships with Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich in recent years is because they are control freaks. They want to control how the other team plays to an almost obscene degree, and the way you do that is by making it impossible for a team like the Nuggets to actually establish any form of offensive consistency from the second quarter on. Then, you capitalize on the turnovers and frustration plays that occur as a result, as evidenced by the third-quarter inbound that Robert Horry stole and took for a 3, sparking a 13-3 run that essentially said, "This game is out of reach for you, no matter what the final score will be."

(Edit: As D-Wil notes, you also work the refs a lot -- Manu is hated in Denver for being a flopper, and the Spurs flop like the Azzuri in the World Cup.)

Jazz 98, Rockets 85
- Jerry Sloan is as much of a control freak as Popovich, running the same old pick-and-roll based offense since the Stockton-Malone heyday. Again, it puts a premium on defense so Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, and Mehmet Okur can operate. Utah took the two games on their home court by absolutely shutting down Tracy McGrady early, and holding him to 18 points for the game before Jeff Van Gundy ceded defeat by yanking the starting lineup.

Cavs 98, Wizards 92
- The sad part of this stretch for the Wizards is that Antawn Jamison is playing absolutely out of his head; he had 38 points today, and it doesn't bode well that the Cleveland defense can't limit that. However, if there's no supporting cast to help with Butler and Arenas out, Jamison's 38 doesn't mean much. LeBron tossed in 30, nine assists, and six boards.

Pistons 97, Magic 93 - Orlando actually had a lead to cough up this time, and that's the only remarkable thing you can say about this series. Dwight, Hedo, Grant, Darko -- thanks for playing.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Stealing Signals: More Ish Comes Back To Haunt Me.

Yanks 3, BoSox 1 - After Rich Karstens gets absolutely blasted in the leg by a line drive, forcing Joe Torre to bring in the recently demoted Kei Igawa, I start cackling mercilessly at my television as Joe Buck reads over a montage of bad Yank pitching from this season so far. Igawa then throws six innings plus of shutout ball, bolstered by a homer from Jorge Posada off Tim Wakefield. Shows you what I know, but the rumors about Torre's job security and replacement by bench coach Don Mattingly are already swirling.

Angels 3, ChiSox 0 - In short, Sarge Jr.'s leadoff homer was all the Halos needed, as Jered Weaver gets off the snide for his first win. The White Sox offense is not helping their pitchers out at all, with seriously anemic offensive output.

Padres 3, Dodgers 2 - After giving up runs early, Greg Maddux and the Padre bullpen threw six innings of shutout ball to end it. The Padres got to Brett Tomko for a three run 4th inning, although Tomko did make an amazing line drive grab in the fifth inning that made Vin Scully sound as if he'd just jumped out of his seat watching that play when he called it.

D-Backs 5, Giants 4 - SF loses two straight after eight games of victory, but Barry knocks #742 out of the yard. Giant starter Matt Cain is betrayed by the pen yet again, as relievers cough up a 4-1 lead he'd left them with.

Cubs 8, Cards 1 - Seven innings and one run for Carlos Zambrano, and the Chicago lineup goes absolutely batshit on Adam Wainwright in the fifth, topped off by a bases-loaded triple by Cub whipping boy Jacque Jones. I was cursing myself for forgetting to put Wainwright and Tim Wakefield in my fantasy lineup today since they were starting. I think I'm better off now.

Orioles 7, Indians 4 - Bizarre little ump error: a sac fly by the O's in the third isn't called one (runner scored before the runner at first was doubled off), and crew chief Ed Montague adds it on in the sixth inning, when the call probably should have been made earlier. Indians played the game under protest after that, but they probably should have taken their anger out on the bullpen, as they got a lead off a Jhonny Peralta homer and then had the bullpen cough it up.

Mets 6, Nats 2 (12 innings) - Carlos Beltran and David Wright get two-RBI hits in the top of the 12th to get the win, as the Mets were running out of players at that point and manager Willie Randolph had already been tossed.

(Photo: Associated Press)

First Round Cheers and Jeers.


Cleveland Browns - Nabbing the best offensive line player available in Joe Thomas and then having the balls to go for Brady Quinn after his Aaron Rodgers-like slide. Good first round on paper. Hope it pays off. Not sure if trading up for Quinn was worth your first-rounder next year, though.

Jacksonville Jaguars - Trading down to Denver's #21, getting two extra picks in the third and sixth rounds, and still getting Reggie Nelson at #21. Well played, sirs.

University of Miami - even in an off year, they get three 'Canes in the first round.

San Francisco - getting both Patrick Willis and Joe Staley in the first round is good trading to shore up your LB corps and your O-line.


Miami Dolphins - You have miserable failures at quarterback and want to trade for an aging, injury-prone one. Brady Quinn isn't exactly as good as hyped, but he's still probably a better shot down the road than what you have and what you're planning (John Beck from BYU in the 2nd, really?) Then, you take Ted Ginn, Jr., who's kind of frail and not exactly in a class with Dwaynes Bowe and Jarrett as far as WRs go. Even Matt Millen thinks that's bad draft strategy.

(Update: After I published, ESPN showed Fins coach Cam Cameron explaining the pick at a presser -- he apparently has known the Ginn family for years, promises Ted Ginn, Jr. will be a sensation. Uh huh. DS commenter Upshaw's Leash nailed it -- this is out of the White House school of press conference spinning.)

Philadelphia Eagles - trade your first round pick to Dallas when you could have nabbed Paul Posluszny there. Did Andy Reid find his kid's drug stash?

Brady Quinn - just 'cause I drink that Golden Domer Haterade (they bottle and sell it at areas around USC.) Karma's a bitch, baby. That uniform really should say #2, since the Browns decided to take Thomas before you, but if they gave you a #2 brown jersey, the nameplate might as well read "Steamer."

Every team needing a WR passing on Dwayne Jarrett - stop looking at combine 40 times and watch some goddamn game tape, people.

Welcome To Denver, Mr. Moss.

Say hi to our first-round pick, DE/OLB Jarvis Moss out of the national champion University of Florida Gators. Shanny probably didn't need to trade one of our two third round picks plus a sixth-round pick to the Jags in order to make sure to get him, but I'm happy to have him, nonetheless. We needed a pass rusher, we got one with the possibility of being Jevon Kearse-like, and hopefully with less injury trouble down the road.

251's a little skinny for a 6'6" DE, but if that doesn't pan out there, he would probably make a decent LB, and that's a place where you can always use some back-up there too. I like the pick, as you can clearly tell.

Draft Day.

Late to the party -- yay, hangover. If you're watching, Deadspin and Rumors and Rants are doing live draft coverage of each pick. Here are some cobbled thoughts right now. More to come after the first round is done, including the look at the Broncos picks.

JaMarcus Russell is already gone (good move, Raiders); Matt Millen drafts another WR, but Calvin Johnson's better than any of the guys before him. Cleveland passes up on the Domer QB for the tackle who'd rather go fishing from Wisconsin. Tampa takes Gaines Adams as consolation (and are probably on the phone with Millen.) The Skins take a good safety, and Adrian Peterson goes to the Vikings...Quinn's probably going to the Dolphins.


AMAZING FEATS OF STUPIDITY UPDATE: The Miami Dolphins have now just gone completely stupid, as in "Man, fuck yo' team" stupid. I've ragged on Brady Quinn a lot, but man, passing on him was, in Jimmy Johnson parlance, DUH-UMB. Taking Ted Ginn at #9 is fifteen picks too high. Miami, you just made Matt Millen look like he knows how to draft.

BRONCOS UPDATE: Shanny trades up to #17 with the Jags and drafts Jarvis Moss!

Friday, April 27, 2007

A 17-Game Regular Season?

That possibility might come sooner than you think. Roger Goodell is just as committed to promoting the NFL in overseas markets as Paul Tagliabue was, and in order to increase the commitment to games played in those markets, there's some early exploration of possibly increasing the regular season to 17 games, the most likely option being getting rid of a pre-season game (not like any one of us out there will really miss them.)

"One negative [to playing overseas games] is you're taking a game away from fans here," Goodell said before an annual meeting of sports editors at league headquarters in New York. "We've discussed whether to cut one preseason game and add a 17th week. It would create more inventory, and that has some appeal. We're chewing on that. The issue is: How do you create more inventory?"

Aside from the corporate jargon perversion of the word "inventory," it's a fairly basic idea that will likely go nowhere -- these things always bog down in various NFL committees. I suspect most people out there would think that any extra NFL game that means something is a good thing, as opposed to another meaningless pre-season matchup, but I'm not sure extending the season another game for international games would really help grow the game overseas. We've seen the clear evidence of how the NBA makes inroads in foreign markets with players from Europe and Asia -- I have a hard time believing American football, much as I love it, can translate to those same audiences. We're not exactly hearing about NFL Europe blowing up the world.

NFL Considers 17th Regular Season Game [Washington Post]

(Photo credit: AP, via WashPost)

Stealing Signals: The Mummy Returns.

Twins 1, Royals o (11 innings) - Zach Greinke started the whole mess by plunking Torii Hunter right in the face (required stitches, giving Hunter the mummy look at left) and knocking Jason Bartlett later. Mike Redmond got the winning hit in the bottom of the 11th.

Red Sox 5, Orioles 2 - Wily Mo Pena, coming in hitting .120, jacks a grand slam to help Josh Beckett get his fifth win after eight innings of two-run ball. If anyone, after the way Beckett got kind of "meh" treatment last year, thought he'd have 5 wins right out of the gate, they're probably lying. Beckett joins some fairly rare company in BoSox history with his 5-0 start: Babe Ruth, Lefty Grove, Roger Clemens, and Pedro Martinez.

Giants 5, Dodgers 4
- L.A.'s lost four straight, and just got swept by the Giants, who have now won eight in a row. Ray Durham doubled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.

Blue Jays 6, Yankees 0 - As far as rookie debuts, you can probably get away with four runs over 4.1 innings like Phil Hughes did and be OK. But if you happen to be Phil Hughes and pitch for the Yankees, and your offensive line-up withers at the stuff of A.J. Burnett, you're fucked.

Angels 11, Rays 3 - Bartolo Colon strikes out 11 over seven innings of work, and the Angels get him enough run support (really?) to make everyone's favorite doughboy a winner. Vlad the Impaler homers, Sarge Jr. and Shea Hillenbrand chip in three hits each.

Indians 9, Texas 4
- Sosa's home run count hits 594 with two more tonight, but it doesn't mean a heck of a lot when the Indians' hitters go absolutely nuts off of Ranger starter Kameron Loe.

(Photo: Getty Images.)

NBA Playoff Impressions: Kobe Takes Over.

Lakers 95, Suns 89 - A very nice comeback over the second half, as Kobe puts in 15 of 45 in the last quarter to give the Lakers at least some semblance of respectability as a team in this series. Whether it will carry over to Game 4 is anyone's guess. The Suns should have locked down on that double-digit lead. No reason not to bring down the hammer there. What I can tell you: Kwame Brown is not getting 19 again like that. Someone else on the Lakers is going to have to step up to help Kobe out.

Jazz 81, Rockets 67 - Utah shot badly at the Delta Center, Houston just shot worse. Outside of McGrady and Yao, there were 17 points scored by the rest of the Rockets roster. Good defensive work by the Jazz.

Pistons 93, Magic 77 - Wait a minute, this series isn't over already? Too much talent in Detroit against too much youth and inexperience in Orlando.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Artists Were Clearly Influenced By Robert Mapplethorpe's Later Work.

This seems to be recycling day on my end, so let's get some frivolity in it. Thanks to the Wiz and EDSBS for tipping us to what happens when your college football stadium is left open to the public, like Cincy's Nippert Stadium is.

(If the title joke makes no sense to you, here's some Wikipedia to help.)

The Gary Thornebot 3000 Opens Its Mouth Again.

I thought the GT3K only had two settings: OFF or HIGH. These usually work for hockey coverage, and are doubtful for use in other sports (Mom's Robot Factory used it as a prototype for the Gus Johnson model GJ-1 and added multi-sport flexibility.) Now, I find out that our GT3K also has another useful setting: PUT FOOT IN MOUTH.

Thorne is the play-by-play-bot for the Orioles, and during last night's telecast of the Red Sox-O's game, Curt Schilling's bloody sock from the 2004 World Series came up:

"The great story we were talking about the other night was that famous red stocking that he wore when they finally won, the blood on his stocking," Thorne said to broadcast partner Jim Palmer, the Hall of Fame pitcher, in a conversation that had begun with a discussion of Schilling's blog.

"Nah," Thorne said. "It was painted. Doug Mirabelli confessed up to it after. It was all for PR. Two-ball, two-strike count."

Palmer: "Yeah, that was the 2004 World Series [sic]." Thorne: "Yeah."

During a break two innings later, Thorne confirmed that's what he said, and that Mirabelli had told him so in a conversation "a couple of years ago."

"Go ask him [Mirabelli]," Thorne said.

Mirabelli was shocked, then angry, when relayed Thorne's comments.

"What? Are you kidding me? He's [expletive] lying. A straight lie," Mirabelli said. "I never said that. I know it was blood. Everybody knows it was blood."

Via Deadspin, I come to Baseball Musings, who reveals another instance of the GT3K's on-air bouts with stupid. Eventually, either ESPN or the MASN is going to have to do something about this sort of thing -- you can't have your announcers be consistently wrong about things like stats or even stuff like this. Harmless as the idea of Schilling painting the sock is in the scope of things, as far as sports go, to accuse someone of faking playing hurt for an ego boost is pretty damn ugly.

The New Adventures Of New Christine.

Unusual little story in the L.A. Times sports section today, and the big boys are already all over it, but it's still remarkable enough to expound upon: sportswriter Mike Penner is no more -- Christine Daniels will be taking his place. Usually, this would be considered part of a severance package, with the recent cuts the Tribune Co. has made to the paper (another 150 jobs axed this week), but not this time. Penner is a transsexual, and will become Christine fairly soon.

I can't really cut text from it this time, and won't, because the whole thing is worth reading, but of course, it raises the usual questions about sports, the macho context behind them, and whether Christine will be able to do the job that Mike did based on those assumptions. I surmise the rules are different for sportswriters -- it will be considered odd rather than an affront to those she will cover because Daniels is a journalist. The odds are that people and teams Penner has covered are already kind of used to it, because pre-op transsexuals are told to go around as the gender they will switch to for a year before the surgery.

Honestly, I wish Mike the best of luck in becoming Christine -- that is a painful process to have to deal with over decades and then to get ready for a new life.

Cheap Shots #15.

Yesterday's hit total has to be a freakin' record for this site, but what do I expect when I send out a link about cheerleaders and threatening letters? Anyway, hopefully some of you who came via various links will stick around (eventually, I will develop a feature or two).

Now, it's time to give that love back. Since these link fests seem to be a twice-weekly thing now (or whenever I get lazy), if you've got something interesting, send it to s2nblog of the Google mail variety (or just click on the "Contact the Management" link on the right.)

1) I'm shocked, SHOCKED, that Larry Brown is going to interview for the Grizzlies job. [Just Call Me Juice]
2) Pedro Martinez or Sandy Koufax. Who ya got? [Complete Sports]
3) Given the obvious double-entendre of going five-hole, a quiz about hockey and sex is only natural. [Hockey Rants]
4) Nick Saban hasn't signed a contract in Tuscaloosa? What could possibly go wrong? [The Feed]
5) Why I hate being a Bronco fan on draft weekend: Shanny's crap track record. [Orange Bucksnorts]
6) Rule #1 for publicists: keep the lies straight. Michael Vick's publicist fails at this. [WBRS Sports Blog]
7) An interview with Carl Pavano's hottie ex, and I'm pretty sure it actually happened. [Why Don't We Get Drunk and Blog?]
8) Sanchez is still trying to get you all to see the beauty in rugby. [Shot to Nothing]
9) The Fourth Stage of Las Cronicas de Boss Hawg -- lawyers get involved, accusing the school of not investigating emails with scurrilous charges against Houston Nutt. [EDSBS]
10) Inspired by Julio Franco's apparent discovery of the Fountain of Youth, a look at other diamond oldies. [One More Dying Quail]
11) Some of the better (read: nastier) head shots in sports caught on video. [Seal Clubbers]
12) A round table of sorts on the structure of the NCAA hoops tourney (yes, I was invited, so it's semi-self promoting.) [Sports Shows On Mute]
13) Sandy Belle shows us in song how she'd support the troops. [Run Up The Score!]

Stealing Signals: Rocking The Scoreboard

Rox 11, Mets 6 - Offensive shellacking by a team that hasn't had a lot of offensive this year. Todd Helton got four hits and three RBIs, and the slumping Willy Taveras had five hits. In all the Rockies got 20 hits in the game. Mets pitcher Mike Pelfrey was knocked out after three innings.

Mariners 2, A's 0 - Someone has to step up every once in a while with King Felix on the DL, and Jarrod Washburn did so, blanking the A's on a three-hitter and outdoing Joe Blanton in a good old-fashioned pitchers' duel. Blanton gave up solo homers to Jose Guillen and Kenji Johjima.

Angels 9, Rays 1 - Error-filled game by the Tampa Bay infield turns into six unearned runs for the Halos.

Red Sox 6, O's 1 - That $42 million spent on the Orioles' bullpen doesn't look like it's paying off. Daniel Cabrera left the game in the seventh with the score tied and two on, and then the bullpen let a trickle hit by David Ortiz through, opening the flood gates.

Giants 6, Dodgers 4 - Barry smacks #741 off of Randy Wolf, but the Giants cough up the lead in the middle innings. Pedro Feliz hits another homer to seal the deal. Quoth Dodger skipper Grady Little on Bonds' homer: "That ball got small real quick."

Pirates 4, Astros 3 (16 innings) - Adam LaRoche gets the game winning single in the 16th, saving himself from having to take the mound as an emergency pitcher. Houston's offensive woes continue; they stranded 18 runners in this game, and eight alone in extra innings.

Marlins 4, Braves 3 - Tim Hudson goes eight strong innings of shut-out ball, but he and closer Bob Wickman cough it up in the bottom of the 9th, with the game ending on a passed ball and Miguel Olivo running in to score.

NBA Playoff Impressions: Be Cool.

Mavs 112, Warriors 99 - One of the big rules of the playoffs: DO NOT LOSE YOUR COOL. Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson both violated this (and their arguing was not necessarily unjustified, but you still gotta keep it in) as Dallas played a better game in Game 2 to tie it up. Davis got tossed before the end of the third quarter and Jackson got his walking papers with under 5 minutes left. Nowitzki still hasn't quite put it together, shooting 7 for 15. Jason Terry led the way for the Mavs, with a 15-2 run in the third quarter being the crucial difference.

Cavs 109, Wizards 102 - Cleveland is still letting this series be way too close for comfort with a depleted Wizards team. Antawn Jamison had 33 for D.C., and if the Cavs are just going to let him go off every night, they're going to lose a game when they shouldn't.

Spurs 97, Nuggets 88
- If you can get a split in San Antonio, it's still a good thing, and the Nuggets should be okay with how they played as long as they don't cough up homecourt in the next couple games. Manu Ginobili poured on 15 of his 17 points in the second half, and Tim Duncan had his usual 20+ night. Now, Denver knows the real part of the team it has to deal with. I'm still hoping they can pull it off.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pure Advertising Goodness.

Mr. T., flopping soccer players, and a tank. It's really all you need.

Thanks, With Leather!

The Hard-Luck Coach.

Rick Carlisle's dismissal as the head coach of the Pacers only continues a string of years of coaching in the Association that can only be described as immensely frustrating, just from the arc of it. I can't imagine the difficulty of it personally.

Carlisle's firing as head coach of the Pistons must have been tough enough -- it wasn't that the team wasn't on the rise under his leadership, but Larry Brown was available, and he took the team to the promised land of a title, and he had to deal with that. You can say that without Joe Dumars dealing for Rasheed Wallace in that championship year, the Pistons don't win. I agree with that, but that's still a team that Carlisle had kind of brought back, but didn't get to finish the job with.

He heads to the Pacers, gets the top record in the Eastern Conference, but loses in the conference finals to those champion Pistons, rubbing salt in the wound -- and next season, you get Artest's explosion in the Palace at Auburn Hills, which effectively derailed the team and started a series of trades which robbed the Pacers of any talent that could be coached into a good team outside of Jermaine O'Neal. Since Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh can't fire the players, Carlisle has to go.

Other coaching moves: the Sonics can coach Bob Hill and re-assign GM Rick Sund for the last year of his contract. Not unusual, given that new ownership often likes to bring in their own guys after a bad year, but who will take a job for a team that's likely in its current location for one more season? Lenny Wilkens is running b-ball operations over there, and while it's unlikely that he would go back full-time to coaching, I wouldn't be surprised if it shakes out that way.

You Know, You Could Just Call The Complaint Line.

The FBI is investigating a series of threatening letters to national networks and their affiliates, some with insecticide in them, and is offering $5K as a reward for anyone with information.

Now, these letters have not been sent in response to your standard news coverage; the letters, which started being sent in 2004, are apparently complaining about the number of cheerleader shots shown in college sport telecasts. Problem is, it reads like the two letters the FBI released are from two separate people, because these objections seem at complete odds with one another.

In a letter sent in September 2004, the author objects to the timing and angles of the shots captured by camera crews during sports events.

"We have asked nicely for them to respect us and all women, yet they refuse. They exploit innocent people, so we will too. When they start respecting us, we stop mailing these out," the letter reads.

The author of a letter sent in December 2006 complains that networks unfairly favor more modestly dressed cheerleading squads.

"For the last 6 years, Ohio State cheerleaders have received more TV time than any other Division 1A cheer squad on ESPN, because they wear long sleeved red/white outfits. If they wore sleeveless outfits, they would not get ANY TV time. So, we are fed up with this constant exploitation," the author wrote.

Really, TV can't win. Either it's exploitation to show them at all or exploitation to show the more modestly dressed ones. However, I sense a general approval with the second letter -- more TV time for the sleeveless outfits, although I'm not sure that makes too much of a noticeable difference.

(SI's headline editor had fun with this one: "Gimme an 'F'! Gimme a 'B'! Gimme an 'I'!" Well played.)

Paint A Vulgar Picture.

I've previously touched on the outrageous behavior that the Pentagon apparently engaged in when embellishing (to put it kindly) the story of how Pat Tillman died in Afghanistan, and they repeated such chicanery with Jessica Lynch's rescue in Iraq a few months later. Both Lynch and Tillman's brother Kevin testified in front of Congress today, and so did another one of Tillman's Army Ranger comrades. Ryan O'Neal stated that he was told not to tell the family that Tillman had died in a friendly fire incident.

Kevin Tillman was in a convoy behind his older brother, a former NFL star, on April 22, 2004, when Pat Tillman was mistakenly shot by other Army Rangers who had just emerged from a canyon where they'd been fired upon. Kevin Tillman didn't see what happened. O'Neal said he was ordered not to tell him by then-Lt. Col. Jeff Bailey, the battalion commander who oversaw Tillman's platoon.

"He basically just said, sir, that uh, 'Do not let Kevin know, he's probably in a bad place knowing that his brother's dead,"' O'Neal testified. "He made it known that I would get in trouble, sir, if I spoke with Kevin."

Both Kevin Tillman and Jessica Lynch testified to deliberate fabrications in both cases. ESPN's investigative reporter Mike Fish has put together a nice four-part series on Tillman for ESPN Mag, and I suppose this stuck out at me more than anything in the first part:

[Lt. Col Ralph] Kauzlarich, now a battalion commanding officer at Fort Riley in Kansas, further suggested the Tillman family's unhappiness with the findings of past investigations might be because of the absence of a Christian faith in their lives.

In an interview with, Kauzlarich said: "When you die, I mean, there is supposedly a better life, right? Well, if you are an atheist and you don't believe in anything, if you die, what is there to go to? Nothing. You are worm dirt. So for their son to die for nothing, and now he is no more — that is pretty hard to get your head around that. So I don't know how an atheist thinks. I can only imagine that that would be pretty tough."

Asked by whether the Tillmans' religious beliefs are a factor in the ongoing investigation, Kauzlarich said, "I think so. There is not a whole lot of trust in the system or faith in the system [by the Tillmans]. So that is my personal opinion, knowing what I know."

If you don't know how an atheist would think, it's probably better not to say anything, really.

Zen Bonds?

The amazing thing about Barry Bonds' trek to breaking Hank Aaron's home run record (aside from the stone throwing, Aaron's comments regarding the matter, and every manner of blowhard on the subject) is that Bonds himself is rather sanguine about the whole thing, and given how his chase has been portrayed, I'm not finding it too surprising.

The latest media line in the whole Bonds matter is that even if he breaks the record, the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez will run both the single-season home-run record and the all-time record down and take them from Bonds. Yahoo columnist Tim Brown gives us Barry's response to that possibility: good for A-Rod.

"A-Rod, I'm so happy for him," Bonds said. "It's great. It's phenomenal to watch. I hope he hits a hundred. I really do. … Go on A-Rod, do your thing. Keep that look in your eye."

There's got to be some sort of admiration society between players despised in certain circles for completely different reasons: if you have that media circus upon you at all times, it's a nice chip on the shoulder, and between the two, it's probably a shared experience.

Asked about Aaron, Bud Selig, and the countdown to the record, Bonds' response was this:

"I don't have any thoughts about it," he said. "I have a lot of respect for them and that's how I'll leave it...I don't even want to talk about that anymore," he said. "You guys can count it down on your own."

I find something admirable in that response. It's classier than a lot of people would give him credit for.

Stealing Signals: Mr. Steinbrenner Will Probably Have Something To Say Very Soon.

Rays 6, Yanks 4 - A-Rod's 23 game hitting streak is no more, and the Bronx Bombers are now in last place in the AL East, as the pitching woes continue and necessitate the calling up of pitching prospect Phil Hughes. Chien-Ming Wang gives up 4 runes and nine hits in just over six innings. If anything, it's nice to see that the non Yanks and Sawx teams are not exactly pushovers (well, maybe except for the Orioles.)

Pirates 3, Astros 0 - Paul Maholm throws his first shutout for Pitt, giving up only three singles. Quoth Astros manager Phil Garner: "It was a very bad game, we looked like we had no clue what we were doing."

Angels 9, Tigers 8 (10 innings) - Sloppy, sloppy game -- Carlos Guillen was responsible for two errors in one half-inning as the Angels jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first on Jeremy Bonderman, and the Angels managed to cough a seven-run lead up late, just managing to send it into extras and win on an infield hit in the 10th.

Indians 5, Twins 3
- Fausto Carmona breaks a long streak without a win while Johan Santana loses his second straight start at the Metrodome.

Braves 11, Marlins 6
- Atlanta tees off repeatedly, and mostly because they have to: Mark Redman keeps coughing up leads -- blowing ones of 4-0 and 6-4 in this game, while the bullpen bails him out by holding on to one after the Braves get a third one.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

NBA Playoff Impressions: If You Are A Laker Fan, This Is Not What You Wanted To See.

Suns 126, Lakers 98 - Ugly, ugly game from the get-go, and it was over by the end of the first half (it really looked worse on the telecast, if you only caught the highlights). Here are some gaudy numbers: Nash had 16 points and 14 dimes, Barbosa chipped in another 26, Stoudamire had 20, and Marion added 18 with 10 boards. Kobe Bryant rolled his ankle with a 15 point night, and to even be competitive, he's going to have to dominate instead of dish. This team leans on him too much for him to be altruistic.

Bulls 107, Heat 89 - Ben Gordon and Luol Deng threw in 20+ a piece (Gordon had some nasty numbers from behind the 3-point line), and both Shaq and D-Wade played like crap, with 17 and 21 points, respectively (the crap line is more for the seven turnovers each of them had.) Miami has come back from 0-2 deficits before (like last year's Finals), but they're on the line here and need to figure out how to keep tabs on Gordon and Deng and get the other Heat starters going.

Raptors 89, Nets 83 - This may be the quietly competitive series of the first round, as the Raptors salvage a split on their home court before the series goes to Jersey. Chris Bosh tossed in 25 and Anthony Parker got 26 the day coach Sam Mitchell got his Coach of the Year award. Vince Carter suffered from another poor shooting night.

Not Like Releasing Him Solves Anything.

Via TrueHoop
, a report from Boston Globe sportswriter Greg Lee says point guard Sebastian Telfair is all but out in Beantown.

"I wanted to let you know that we have removed Sebastian’s nameplate from his locker in Waltham. The facts and circumstances of his case have not been determined but he does not have a Celtics locker and we do not anticipate that he will," [team managing partner Wyc] Grousbeck wrote in the e-mail.

The case Grousbeck refers to is Telfair's recent gun-related arrest.

The Celtics' problems go deeper than Telfair, so this doesn't really mean jack. Until Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge are both gone, Boston will be dealing with basketball mediocrity. There's still a glut of young players that are basically 2's and 3's on that team, and that 3 ought to belong to Paul Pierce until he says he's had enough. Hope of landing the #1 pick in the lottery and being chummy with Kevin Durant's family isn't going to help incompetent management, and Ainge has joined Kevin McHale of the Wolves, the Sixers' Billy King, and the Knicks' Isiah Thomas in the high class of NBA Front Office Fuck-Ups.

Telfair will likely find a team with a system that fits him. The League has too many teams for him not to fall in somewhere, but it's interesting to watch someone who was such a lauded prospect in high school (enough to warrant an ESPN movie). The only problem with watching Telfair's career arc is almost reality-show like: you have to fight the impulses to want to see him fail; it's a natural response to early overexposure.

Rest In Peace, Mr. Halberstam.

Journalist and author David Halberstam was killed in a car crash near the Menlo Park area of California yesterday, and it kind of speaks to his ethic that he was on the job while doing so: a Cal student was giving him a lift to an interview with Y.A. Tittle when the car they were in was broadsided. He wrote over 20 books in his career, many dealing with sport, but I've never read any of his sports books.

The only book I've read of Halberstam's happens to be the one he'll probably be remembered most for, and rightfully so -- I took a Vietnam War 300-level history course during my senior year of college, and Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest was one of the required texts for the class, an incisive look at how the men running foreign policy had assumptions and beliefs that dragged America into a questionable war that the country still has not gotten over (please see the debates over Iraq if you don't buy that last sentence.)

The irony of the Newsweek appreciation I've linked to, in my politically left-leaning eyes, is this:

Halberstam, who died yesterday in a car crash in California in between lecturing journalism students and reporting for a new book, had a way of cutting to the truth—and letting you know about it...He would not have hesitated to tell the new ambassador that the Diem regime was corrupt and the American effort in Vietnam was weak and had stalled. He routinely accused generals of lying. He was such a thorn in the side of the Kennedy administration that President Kennedy tried to get the newspaper to transfer Halberstam from Saigon. (The Times refused, and Halberstam won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage in 1964.)

And yet another of the journalists who would do his or her job leaves the mortal coil...

Other appreciations: Deadspin, With Leather, One More Dying Quail.

Must Be Something In The Northern Colorado Water.

After ten years of living in Denver, I can only tell you that the state of Colorado is fucking nuts most of the time. You've got every evangelical congregating in Colorado Springs (and don't forget the stage parents at the Olympic compound there too), the kinda-wacky frontier folk on the Western Slope, Boulder's ever-growing species of eternal hippie, and the cow-dung scented air that hangs over Greeley and Fort Collins.

You likely remember last year's incident at the U. of Northern Colorado in Greeley, where the backup punter stabbed the starter in order to get his spot on the first team. Now, the fine student-athletes at Colorado State in Ft. Collins are getting kinda crazy, as basketball player Xavier Kilby is accused of firing a weapon at a teammate's head:

Police received a report about 2:54 a.m. Sunday of a weapon being discharged at Kilby's apartment, [police spokeswoman Rita] Davis said.

Davis said Kilby pulled out a small revolver after he and Aguilar argued in the living room, pointed the gun at Aguilar's head and then pointed the gun at a couch and discharged the weapon. Davis said teammate Stephan Gilling was in the living room, and two other people were in the apartment at the time, Davis said.

The coach has said Kilby won't be "participating in team activities."

The stench of ag has clearly infiltrated the area's drinking water, and is solely affecting the local athletes. The state of Colorado's college athletics is such that the only notice it gets is when stuff like this actually happens -- it's not like CU, CSU, or anyone else gets notice for actually winning games (well, Air Force does, kind of, sometimes -- but since Jeff Bzdelik went to CU, they can feel free to become irrelevant again as far as the NCAA goes.)

NBA Playoff Impressions: Holding Serve.

Rockets 98, Jazz 90 - Tracy McGrady wants to make damn sure he gets to the second round of the playoffs this year, I think. 31 points in game 2 will give you that thought. Carlos Boozer had an absolutely monstrous game in a losing effort with 41 points, which I was not aware that he was even capable of getting near in a game. Houston shot like crap from the floor, but the interesting tidbit is that their free throw shooting saved them -- Gargamel apparently does not let a player leave practice until they hit ten free throws in a row. I like this practice, and believe it should spread around both the pros and college. The Jazz are now up against the wall, though -- they can get a game back in Salt Lake City, but if they can't win when the Rockets shoot badly, it won't help them.

Pistons 98, Magic 90 - The Pistons are methodical, efficient and nasty. When you have all five starters in double figures, and Antonio McDyess throwing in his usual few off the bench, it means your stars have to perform at their top to beat them, and Dwight Howard was not on top of his. Hedo Turkoglu and Grant Hill were the only Magic players in double figures until Darko Milicic joined them with 10 in the fourth quarter. It looks like they're giving up already, or forgot to show up.

Also worth noting: The Suns' Leandro Barbosa got his Sixth Man award after ripping the Lakers hard yesterday.

Bonus photo below, just because it was funny and/or kinda sexy. If you feel like it, caption contest away.

Stealing Signals: Swisher Sweets.

A's 6, O's 5 - Nick Swisher had one on in the fourth inning against Erik Bedard, and he had one off, adding a solo shot later to his two-run homer, and that solo shot turned out to be absolutely necessary. Closer Huston Street still has the occasional Lidge every once in a while, and he almost coughed up that lead in the 9th.

Rays 10, Yanks 8 - A-Rod tried his damnedest, really he did, but you can only do so much in the face of shitty starting pitching. Jacks #13 and #14 came tonight, tying the record set by Mt. Pujols last year for HRs in April. But it wasn't nearly enough, as Kei Igawa had another craptacular start, and B.J. Upton knocked in four runs (one a solo homer) to push TB for the win.

Phillies 11, Astros 4 - Philadelphia's bats are picking up. Jimmy Rollins was a double short of the cycle, Chase Utley hit a Ryan Howard-style homer, and Shane Victorino, Wes Helms, and Pat Burrell (!) each had three hits. All players on both teams wore #42, as the prior attempt at a Jack Robinson tribute had been delayed.

Mets 6, Rockies 1 - Really, really not fair to a bottom-dweller in the NL West to go to Shea for its first road trip outside the division. Carlos Delgado hits a jack, Moises Alou goes 3 for 3, and Jose Valentin chips in a three-run homer and 4 RBIs overall. John Maine continues to shine brightly, throwing 7 and 2/3 and giving up seven hits. Matt Holliday's three hit game was the only Rox positive.

Marlins 8, Braves 7 - Special delivery for Mr. Willis, Mr. Dontrelle Willis! With his pregnant wife in the hospital, Dontrelle becomes the first NL pitcher to win four games (while giving up 5 runs). He did help his own cause with a couple of hits while throwing 6 2/3. Miguel Olivo and Dan Uggla go deep to give the D-Train run support.

Brewers 5, Cubs 4 (12 innings) - Prince Fielder goes out twice, including one in the 12th to top the extra-inning comeback against Chicago. The Cubs are 3-8 at home right now.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Stealing Signals: Four Of A Kind.

(Meta note: I took most of the weekend off to get out and enjoy the mini-vacation. Regular posting will be back to normal come Tuesday, or so.)

Red Sox 7, Yankees 6 - Four jacks, that is, in the bottom of the third at Fenway, hit by Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell (who hit another jack later) and Jason Varitek. A shaky start by Daisuke Matsuzaka was saved by Lowell's second homer, and Jonathan Papelbon shuts it down to close it out.

Tigers 6, White Sox 5 - Marcus Thames saves the Tigers by tying it up with a two-run homer late, then Placido Polanco wins it with a single to left in the 12th inning.

Cardinals 12, Cubs 9 - The Cubs cannot catch a break, and the problem is that they ran up against Mt. Pujols, who continues to show signs of life as the season goes forward, bashing a three-run homer for the Cards in the 10th inning that STILL hasn't landed yet. The homer bailed out closer Jason Isringhausen, who couldn't hold a two run lead in the bottom of the 9th.

Phillies 9, Reds 3 - Notable only because Ryan Howard appears to be breaking out of the slump he's been in (of course, on a day I leave him on the bench!!!), but the Phillies took the time to beat up on Reds pitching while holding the Reds to six runs for the whole series (although the Reds did take the first game 2-1).

Giants 2, D-Backs 1 - Bonds hits #740, and at this rate, the quandary for Selig and Hank Aaron will be arriving in early June. Lost in the Bonds shuffle would be Matt Cain, who mowed down Arizona hitters for a complete game three-hitter.

Angels 6, Mariners 1 - Ervin Santana had an "on" day this time, giving up one run over seven innings as the Halos sweep the M's. Jeff Weaver is now 0-3, and actually lowered his ERA from the 15 range down to high 13 with this outing. Wonder how much he misses the National League right now...

Braves 9, Mets 6 - The Mets starting pitching may not be as much of a problem as we think. Reliever Aaron Heilman is the one who coughed up the second home run to Kelly Johnson in the eighth inning, and the three-run jobs are the ones that kill. Ask Scott Schoenweiss, who also gave up a three-run jack to Edgar Renteria an inning earlier to allow the Braves back in. At this rate, the Mets are living OK without Pedro. It's getting to Billy Wagner that they should be concerned about.

NBA Playoff Impressions.

Warriors over Mavericks - Golden State is still perfect against the Mavs this season, and while Dallas was in no way coasting during the game, there's still something lacking from the "A" game on their end. Mark Cuban getting hysterical near the end of the game was priceless.

Cavs up 1-0 on the Wizards - Cleveland should have had that locked up by halftime. No excuse for that.

Nuggets take one down by the Alamo
- We've been here before, and I'm witholding judgment not only due to 2005, where the Nugs took one game and then lost four straight, but especially because the possibility of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili all having off games again is not likely.

Suns steal one from the Lakers - 10 points in the 4th quarter by L.A. is an absolute joke. Even more of one was what the Lakers' defense looked like after Leandro Barbosa was through with it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Image Speaks For Itself.

(Thanks, Dan Shanoff. AA, the Fanhouse, and the Ladies have done some nice redesigns for the day. Any newer content for Friday will be below this.)

One And Done.

No, not Greg Oden, but we'll get to him later. The hatchet came down for one coach that missed the NBA playoffs, and it was faster than the guillotine slicing through Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Eric Musselman is no longer employed by the Sacramento Kings, only one season in after the Maloofs chased Rick Adelman (the long-suffering Adelman, I'll note; despite the fact I don't like the Kings much, Adelman is a good coach) out of town, and after Musselman was arrested for DUI, the team went down the tubes, leaning mostly on Mike Bibby, and even more so after Ron-Ron was distracted by matters pertaining to his erm...home life.

There are bright spots like Kevin Martin on that team, but they'll have to ditch probbly both Bibby and Artest in order to start from the beginning. Whether the Maloofs have the capability not to ignore their basketball guy Geoff Petrie is something to look into, though.

What To Make Of Todd Sauerbrun?

Yeah, yeah. Punter signs with old team after current team botches matching rights paperwork, blah, blah, boring. Bear with me for a minute, though. It's really not so much about Todd Sauerbrun so much as the way he flies under the radar in terms of scrutiny over his prior suspension for use of ephedra, banned by the NFL after Korey Stringer's death.

As far as the errata in the contract, it's kind of surprising to see the Patriots botch one by something so simple as not putting the match offer clause on a separate page. However, the extent to which it was actually necessary to shell out to keep him wouldn't be that much. Punters and kickers don't grow on trees, but they have long shelf lives -- finding a replacement isn't as hard as you'd think as far as punting goes. Field goal kicking -- well, that's another matter. Bill Parcells' career is littered with examples of bad FG kicking -- both in favor of and against the team he's coaching.

If you'll remember, Sauerbrun was part of the investigation of several Carolina Panther players accused of juicing -- while he never was caught or charged on that one, he was suspended for four games last season over that ephedra incident, and it wound up costing him his job in Denver, as he was cut and replaced by Paul Ernster for kickoffs and punts.

Sauerbrun was able to fly under the radar on the fallout, what little actually turned out to be there, because of his position and the perceived nature of it (kickers unathletic, can show up pudgy, etc. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan is even guilty of this, claiming the punter is the one player on the team who can show up fat and he won't care.) Now, the attitude towards roids in football isn't as fucked up as the one baseball has with itself and the recent era, and that's because football these days is not a sport that rides its history very hard, and when you are top dog in the U.S. sporting landscape, you don't have to lean on your past.

If Sauerbrun had been a skill player on the offense or defense, someone would have two shits about his ephedra use. Ask around now and everyone will likely say "Todd who?" We believe most of the offensive and defensive lines are loading up -- they don't make men that big in nature, or so we think; skill positions are the main ones that concern us, the exception being Shawne Merriman, whose sheer dominance made him a star. Kicking deeper downfield and higher in the air for field position isn't high on the concern of abilities that can be improved, neither are attempts ot emergency weight loss.

Sauerbrun's pressures are no different, though, expressing concern about his weight all the time, and saying he had been fined by the Panthers for eating. No matter how good you are at your job, that may lead you to take some measures you would usually be more careful about. He's lucky no one really gives a crap about the punter unless it's fourth down and they're trying to back the opponents into the corner.

Ricky And The Rams?

It sounds like Rams coach Scott Linehan is highly interested in Ricky Williams if the running back is reinstated by the NFL after his suspension for violating the NFL's drug policy (although he probably shouldn't have said so publicly.)

But by all rights, he ought to be. Williams is a capable backup, and that's what St. Louis needs in a league largely going to two-back systems to cut down on wear and tear. While having Stephen Steven Jackson as your starter cuts off any need for alternating series, carries, etc., it's always good to have an insurance policy. We don't really know where and or if Ricky fits in with Cam Cameron's new regime down in South Florida. Linehan knows Williams, having served as the Dolphins' O-coordinator under Nick Saban prior to leaving for St. Louis.

It completely depends on what Miami management would want in exchange for him, however, because he's still under contract with the Dolphins. To more practical matters, let's note that Ricky is 30 -- not completely gone, but this is the age where running backs usually lose a bit more in the tank. Still, perfect capability for a backup RB, and the Rams could probably land him for a late first-day draft choice. Anything higher than third round pick wouldn't be worth the trouble, though.

Also, expect a nice letter from Big Rog about the whole spiel, Coach Linehan -- that would be called "tampering."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Stealing Signals: Dayum, Dude.

Yankees 8, Indians 6 - You just can't shrug it off with a yawn any more and let it be, not when Alex Rodriguez keeps hitting every ball he sees out of the damn park. But we'll see if this keeps up, because the whole world will buzz (or at least the East Coast) with the first Yanks-Red Sox series of the season getting underway Friday night.

Dodgers 8, Rockies 1 - Mark Hendrickson fills in ably for the disabled Jason Schmidt, handling the Rockies' lineup in 5+ before turning it over to the pen.

Cubs 3, Braves 0 - Every North Side baseball fan is in love with Rich Hill right now after he shuts down the Braves to go 3-0 with an 0.41 ERA.

Mets 11, Marlins 3 - El Duque strikes out 10, Carlos Beltran goes 4-6 with a homer, David Wright extends that hit streak to 26 games, and even Ramon Castro gets in on the action while filling in for Paul Lo Duca with a homer and three RBIs.

Cheap Shots #14.

Because today was a travel day, and 3.5 hours in a car make me too tired to think. On a mini-vacation in L.A. prior to next week, when sweeps period begins, and no one gets to take a day off during sweeps. There will be posting, but because I'm kind of disoriented using a Mac, it'll take some getting used to again.

1) Taking on the anti-intellectualism behind the critique of Keith Olbermann's hiring for Sunday Night Football. [Pacifist Viking]
2) Lionel Messi is a bad ass, and now, we have online video evidence. [With Leather]
3) I would have gone with Steely Dan for a lyrical come-on to a 19-year old myself, but romancing Sidney Crosby with Winger works. [Girls Gone Sports]
4) Reminding us of the NFL draft's hit and miss nature, defensive edition. [Stiles Points]
5) As much of a dick as Joey Crawford was a few days ago, Doug Eddings takes the cake. [The Hater Nation]
6) Speaking of Crawford, here's some more context to place his Duncan ejection in. [The Starting Five]
7) Teams that call Madison Square Garden home have trouble staying away from sexual harassment claims, apparently. [WBRS Sports Blog]
8) The Bulls just screwed themselves by losing last night, because their first round opponent gets every foul call known to man. [Foul Balls]
9) Wait a minute. How the hell are you coach and owner of an NHL franchise and someone makes a trade you say no to? Shenanigans on you, Great One! [Chip Shots]
10) (Clicking "yes" to accept friend requests from "SirCharles", "KennyTheJet" and "MillerTime31.") [Sports Media Watch]
11) Someone in semi-professional media finally takes a whack at Whitlock. [AOL Sports]
12) You stay classy, Bob Costas. Seriously. [Awful Announcing]
13) Kevin Garnett, a man among (Timber)wolves. [And Here Come The Pretzels!]

The NFL Will Tell You What To Wear And When To Wear It.

We all know the NFL's a stickler about sponsorships, what logos you can see on your person in uniform, how your uniform ought to be worn, etc. Bengals WR Chad Johnson gets the most attention and the most fines for rocking the orange chin strap, the odd shoe colors, and the custom nameplates, etc. Coaches Jack Del Rio and Mike Nolan had to accept Reebok as their tailor and designer before the NFL would permit them to go all Tom Landry on the sidelines.

Now, Bears LB Brian Urlacher has hit the fine board for a cool $100 Gs, and it's apparently all over a goddamned drink and a cap:

Urlacher was fined for drinking vitaminwater and wearing a vitaminwater hat during the media session in Miami leading to the title game. Gatorade is the NFL's official drink.

That's pretty damn harsh, and it's a first-of-its-kind fine in terms of it happening in the Super Bowl. Former Bear QB Jim McMahon got slapped with something similar back in the day. Reggie Bush got nailed for $10,000 when the league was able to see that he was rockin' his Adidas (Reebok logos only, people!)

The cap I kind of understand. But Urlacher couldn't even drink whatever he wanted to drink, he had to clear it with the league first? (Plus, the fact that it cost 100K because it was during Super Bowl week is mind-boggling.) Next thing you know someone will get fined for eating a Quarter Pounder at a press conference. (The last result I came up with for official fast food sponsor revealed that Burger King was the official fast food restaurant.)

Problem is, guys get fined a lot less than $100K for more problematic stuff. T.O. spitting on DeAngelo Hall got him $35K, and Tyler Brayton and Jerramy Stevens got $25K and $15K a piece for in-game scuffling (Brayton's extra 10 gr. was for a knee in the crotch; most people will tell you Stevens deserved it, especially Seahawks fans.)

Clearly, Roger Goodell is just as interested as protecting the millions in sponsorship rights that funnel in as he is the league's image, if not more.

(Update: Flubby at KSK has obtained a copy of Goodell's letter regarding the fine to Urlacher, with some examples of acceptable headgear.)

Stealing Signals: Serves Me Right For Talking Ish.

White Sox 6, Rangers 0 - Figures. I slag on Mark Buehrle in yesterday's edition and he goes out and throws a no-no, giving up only a walk to Sammy Sosa in the fifth, and then picked him off.

Mets 9, Marlins 2 - John Maine was trying to join Buerhle, but Miguel Cabrera broke up that no hit bid in the seventh, and Joe Burchard hit a two-run homer. Mets fans are still waiting for the franchise's first no-no, but with the pitching issues going into the season, we'll take seven innings of two-run and two-hit ball from Maine.

A's 3, Angels 0
- No Vlad + no Kendrick = no bats for the Angels. Seven scoreless for Dan Haren.

Giants 6, Cardinals 5
(12 innings) - Barry adds #738 to the total, and Rich Aurilia knocks in the game-winning hit after three innings of quality relief from Giants rookie Jonathan Sanchez, which means there is at least one highlight for the SF bullpen.

Yankees 9, Indians 2
- A-Rod homers again. Yawn. 12 games out of 13 with an extra base hit, nine home runs leading the majors, .365 batting average. None of it came against the Red Sox, though. So there.

Nationals 5, Phillies 4 - After Charlie Manuel challenged a sportswriter to a fight last night, it's clear the Phillies couldn't buy a break if they were sold down at the corner store for a buck. Losing to the hapless Nats on a sacrifice fly in the 13th inning marks the beginning of the Manuel Hot Seat watch. I'm betting on "fired by July."

Twins 5, Mariners 3 - Notable solely for the held breath of every Mariner fan as ace Felix Hernandez leaves early, hurt after only retiring one batter and giving up two runs.

"Oh Warriors, Come Out And Play-yay..."

That they did, as Nellie and crew knock off the Trail Blazers and clinch a playoff spot for the first time in 13 seasons, kicking the Clippers out and finalizing the playoff picture. My track record regarding predictions is still crap, but that still won't stop me. Let's do this:

Western Conference:

Warriors (8) vs. Mavericks (1) -- the funny thing about this series is that the Warriors have just, well, owned the Mavs this year, going 3-0 on the season matchups. Playoffs are different though, and Dallas' bench is too deep. I'll call a six-game series, though.

Lakers (7) vs. Suns (2) - The Lakers had the Suns on the run last year in the Western Conference semis, but this Laker team is a little more disjointed than the last one, and while I think this one will be fun, and Kobe will have a 50 point game in the series (he's still my MVP choice, more on that later), this one belongs to Phoenix in six.

Nuggets (6) vs. Spurs (3) - The worst possible matchup for AI, Melo, and Co. The Spurs play any style and play ferocious defense. The Nuggets are best when running, and they don't play a lot of defense. It hurts to write this, but Spurs in five. I'll be happy to eat my words if the Nuggets knock them off.

Jazz (4) vs. Rockets (5) - Due to a quirk in the new playoff scheduling, the Rockets are a five seed with home court advantage (Jazz won their division; Rockets have the better record). Utah has the season series, but few of those games were with both Yao and McGrady both playing. Give me the Rockets in 7.

Eastern Conference:

Magic (8) vs. Pistons (1) - Thanks for showing up, Dwight. Hope you guys can make it a five game series.

Wizards (7) vs. Cavaliers (2) - Cavs make the most of winning on the last day to get the two seed, thus avoiding a first round matchup with Miami and getting a Wizards team that will be lucky to be competitive. Cavs fans, get your brooms out.

Nets (6) vs. Raptors (3) - Vince Carter goes back to where he whined his way out a few years ago. Nets knock the Bulls into the 5 spot and both Kidd and Carter are ON right now. They don't have anyone inside to defend, though, and Toronto will be able to line up Bosh and Bargnani. However, if Kidd and Carter are that on, it'll be tough for a team that hasn't had this nucleus in the playoffs before. Nets in seven.

Heat (4) vs. Bulls (5) - both 4-5 matchups have that home-court quirk, I guess. Unless Ben Wallace is the Ben Wallace of last year, I'm not sure how the Bulls get past Shaq in the middle, unless Wade is completely not in form. Heat in six.