Friday, December 28, 2007
"It's just not working," O'Neal said to reporters gathered beneath him after yesterday's practice. "Normally, I'd demand a trade for myself -- but I like Miami. I'm a beach kind of guy.
"So the way I see it, y'all might as well trade the coach. You can't trade the players."
O'Neal, according to sources, has told Heat officials that the team has two weeks in which to broker a Riley-for-Jackson deal. If it doesn't happen in the prescribed time, then O'Neal says he'll step in and mediate negotiations.
"It's GOING to happen," a friend of O'Neal said. "Shaq will make sure of it."
"Look, I think y'all can see that we pretty much suck," Shaq said. "Coach Jackson can get us out of this funk. I have complete confidence in Phil. I look forward to working with him again."
With that, O'Neal walked up to Riley, who was also addressing reporters, and clapped him on the back.
"I'll text you later," O'Neal told Riley before leaving with his posse.
Riley nodded and said, "I think a deal is imminent. You can see the writing on the wall. Something's up," he added. "It looks like it's going to be me."
Jackson's representative, agent Mark Hampshire, said thru a spokesman, "Phil is coach of the Lakers until further notice. That won't ever change -- until 10 a.m. Monday, possibly. Maybe. We'll see."
The Lakers and Heat have scheduled a press conference for 10 o'clock Monday morning.
"Nothing to say until then," Lakers spokesman John Black said. When pressed, Black added, "Talk to Diesel," a reference to O'Neal.
It was clear yesterday that O'Neal is spearheading the trade talks, and friends say he is working "tirelessly around the clock" to get a deal done soon.
"Shaq hates losing. HATES it," a friend said. "He sees the Riley trade as the only hope to salvage this season. Stay tuned."
League sources say that O'Neal has gone so far as to let every team know that Riley is available.
"He's been shopping him (Riley), definitely," one GM said.
O'Neal added that he would be unavailable for comment over the weekend while he "hammers things out."
Meanwhile, Riley said, "Until Shaq tells me otherwise, I'm the coach -- AND president -- of the Miami Heat. What else can I say?"
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Local Fan Still Seeking Expressed, Written Consent From Major League Baseball To View Game He Taped Last August
Milwaukee, WI (Dec. 26) - After over four months of waiting, area Brewers fan Martin Van Huesen says he is still waiting for the expressed, written consent of Major League Baseball so that he can view a game he taped on August 14th.
"I just want to find out how the Brewers won," Van Huesen told reporters yesterday. "I mean, I already know they beat the Padres, but the Brewers were down 6-1 in the eighth inning.
"Wouldn't you be curious as to how they won it?," Van Heusen asked rhetorically.
Details of the Brewers' big comeback against the Padres have been coming to Van Heusen in bits and pieces, and he just wants to view the last two innings for himself.
"I had a tape in the machine and went out to Taco Bell," Van Heusen explained, recalling that fateful night. "The Brewers were down 6-1, but I thought, 'What the hell?' So I hit 'record' and left."
Van Heusen then decided to enjoy his Burrito Supreme and Baja Beef Chalupa inside the restaurant, instead of his more traditional drive-thru experience.
"There didn't appear to be a big rush to get back to the game," he said. "So I took my time and ate. Usually I wolf that fast food stuff down like someone's going to take it away from me."
It was that decision -- the decision to eat inside Taco Bell rather than take the food home and consume it -- that cost Van Heusen the chance to watch the Brewers score three times in the bottom of the 8th and three more times in the bottom of the 9th, live. But once he got home and saw on the ESPN News ticker that his beloved Brewers won, Van Heusen decided to rewind the tape. But his conscience got the best of him.
"I've heard that damn disclaimer a million times in my life," Van Heusen said of MLB's warning that any tape shown or rebroadcast of the game without the expressed, written consent of MLB
is strictly prohibited. "And I just couldn't get it out of my head."
Brewers fan Martin Van Heusen, who's still waiting to see for himself how the Brewers rallied to beat the Padres last August
So before hitting the 'play' button on his VCR, Van Heusen sought to go thru the proper channels in order to watch his videotape. But that decision, like the one he made to eat at Taco Bell, would also come back to haunt him.
"I sent an e-mail to MLB offices in New York," he said. "And ever since then I've been getting the runaround."
Van Heusen said that on several occasions he's been told that the forms he needs to fill out to seek the expressed, written consent of MLB would be sent to him. However, on every occasion, the papers have failed to arrive.
"Finally, after about the fourth time being told this, I called MLB and complained. Some sort of manager got on the line and told me I was being rude and that I would have to re-apply. That added a few more weeks to the process."
In late October -- more than two months after the game -- Van Heusen received a certified letter that said he would not only have to ask MLB for permission to view the tape, but also the Brewers themselves.
"Why couldn't they have just told me that from the get go?," Van Heusen wondered aloud to reporters.
It took another three weeks to gain the Brewers' consent.
"They were like, 'Sure, whatever.' I think they thought the whole idea of me asking was pretty lame," Van Heusen recalled.
But as of Christmas Day, MLB has still yet to grant Van Heusen permission to watch the last two innings on his VCR.
Has he thought of just watching the tape anyway?
"Well, sure, but then that's against the law," he said to the question. "Why would I put my being incarcerated at risk after I've come this far?"
Broadcasting law expert Edward Murphy says that Van Heusen is doing the right thing.
"Absolutely," Murphy said via telephone. "It's always best to play it safe. Martin, at this point, would be foolish to risk anything after he's waited this long. Expressed, written consent can get caught up in the sea of red tape. It's like applying for a passport."
Though frustrated, Van Heusen isn't giving up hope that someday he'll be able to watch the Brewers' rally to beat the Padres on August 14.
"I searched YouTube and they have it," Van Heusen said. "But I won't watch it. That's the Internet -- a whole new can of worms for me. No thanks."
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The Knicks will begin airing on Spike TV beginning on January 2 under their new name, "Knick Knacks", which will chronicle their struggles and strife in what Spike TV officials are calling an "in your face, no-holds barred" look at one of the NBA's worst teams.
"This will be Spike TV at its best," said the channel's spokesman, Barry Hunter. "We'll bring our viewers right into the eye of the Knicks' storm on a nightly basis."
"Knick Knacks" will air every night at 10pm, and will be barely-edited looks at the team that day.
"We'll be at practice, in the players' cars, in their locker room, everywhere," Hunter said. "Our microphones and cameras will never be at rest. So we're sure to capture every blowup, every backstabbing move, every blatant disregard for coach Isiah Thomas's direction. It'll all be on 'Knick Knacks,' every night.
"We're very excited," Hunter added.
According to sources, in exchange for the millions of dollars the Knicks will receive in becoming a reality show, the team must not try to improve its tenuous status.
"This show only works if the Knicks are in disarray," industry analyst Joseph Coleman said. "So Spike TV was smart in writing a clause that mandates that the team remain a mess -- at least until the end of the season."
Knicks spokesman Alan Myers doesn't think that will be an issue.
"It's unlikely things will improve, no matter how hard we try," Myers said. "So it was easy to agree to that clause."
Another source said that the contract with Spike TV ensures that Thomas will remain as coach, despite howls from fans to have him fired.
"Oh yes, that was non-negotiable for us," Hunter said. "If Thomas is gone, then let's face it -- we don't have much of a show."
Hunter spoke with glee about Thomas's latest blowup, this one with player Quentin Richardson in Friday night's loss to Charlotte.
"Awesome stuff," Hunter said. "I just saw the footage. Wait till you see how we feature it in episode number one."
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Dennis, MA (Dec. 20) - The sleepy Cape Cod town of Dennis, Mass. has been thrown into the spotlight in the wake of the soon-to-be-released, explosive, tell-all book that reveals why Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner allowed the ball to go between his legs, costing his team Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, and ultimately the series itself.
"Buckner hated the Red Sox fans," author Marty Habner said in an interview yesterday to promote his new book, Billy Buck Rhymes With F**K: The REAL Story Of The 1986 World Series.
According to Habner's exclusive interviews with Buckner, conducted only after falsely telling the former player that they wouldn't be published until after his death, Buckner launched into an expletive-laced tirade while discussing the fickle, sometimes mean-spirited nature of frustrated Red Sox fans.
"Buckner said that Boston 'didn't deserve' a championship," Habner said. "In fact, the more he talked about those fans, the more incensed he got. There were a few times I was actually afraid for my own safety," Habner added, saying that Buckner would get this "crazed, glassy look in his eyes," and sometimes spoke while fondling a recently-sharpened six-inch knife used for gutting deer.
But what really shocked Habner was Buckner's admission, which will almost certainly rock the baseball world and, Habner hopes, sell a sick amount of books.
"He said he did it on purpose," Habner said of the famous error in the bottom of the 10th in Game 6, when Buckner allowed Mookie Wilson's dribbler to elude him, scoring Ray Knight and completing an improbable, three-run rally with two outs to win the game, 6-5.
Habner said that Buckner stewed at first base in the bottom of the 10th, when the Red Sox got the first two men out and were one strike away from their first world championship in 68 years.
"He told me that it was all he could do in the top of the 10th not to go after Dave Henderson," Habner said, referring to Henderson's home run that put the Red Sox in front, 4-3. "To this day, Buckner says he doesn't speak to Henderson. 'He almost cost us costing us the World Series,' was how he put it," Habner said.
Habner's book will be released on Tuesday.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
"They think they've accomplished something?," said former Dolphins guard Bob Kuechenberg of the 2007 Patriots, who are the second team to start a season 14-0. "Well, the road to perfection goes through us," he added, just before having to stop the discussion due to a coughing fit.
Kuechenberg, QB Bob Griese, RB Larry Csonka, and other members of the '72 Dolphins, according to the challenge, will play the Patriots on January 6, 2008 -- which would normally be the Pats' bye week in the playoffs. The event will be beamed into homes across the country via PPV at $39.95 per buy.
"I'm sick of that Tom Brady," said former DE Vern den Herder of the Patriots QB. "I'd like to wipe that All-American smile off his gay ass face."
den Herder and other members of the defense, like MLB Nick Buoniconti and LB Bob Matheson, have been working out for weeks, in secret, in preparation for the January 6 tilt.
"The time for talk is over," Matheson said. "Now all that's left is to get it on on the football field."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick accepted the challenge.
"Yeah, what the hell?," Belichick told reporters yesterday in Foxboro, MA. "I have great respect for the 1972 Dolphins. To be honest, we've been studying film on them for a few weeks now. Some of the film broke in the projector because it's so old, but we think we have enough where we can devise a game plan."
Belichick said that the Dolphins' ground game concerns him, led by the 63-year-old Csonka on the inside and 62-year-old Mercury Morris bouncing outside.
63-year-old FB Csonka takes time out from training in Alaska for the January 6, 2008 "loser leave town" grudge match against the New England Patriots
"And don' forget about Jim Kiick," Belichick added, referring to the 60-year-old third back.
Griese, 60, said his doctors have given him the "all clear" to begin a rigorous training regimen, and that he hopes to "make everyone forget the rough season my son, Brian, is experiencing in Chicago."
Dolphins coach Don Shula, 72, will come out of retirement as well to lead his old charges.
"Can't talk. Studying film now," Shula said via phone when reached at home.
Patriots LB Tedy Bruschi is wary of the '72 Dolphins, despite their advanced ages.
"Man, they're wily," Bruschi said after practice yesterday. "They probably have forgotten more football than we even know. Of course, maybe they've forgotten a lot simply because they're old. Regardless, it won't be an easy game."
The game will be played at the Pro Football Hall of Fame field in Canton, Ohio at 2:00 p.m. on January 6.
According to the agreement, the loser of the game will have to "leave town" -- meaning the losing ballclub has about two hours after the end of the game to make arrangements to leave Canton.
Some cynical NFL observers, noting the lack of much to do in Canton, have noted that it probably won't take much urging to get the winner to leave town, either.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Bristol, CT (Dec. 16) -- A sudden and widespread strike by B-list former athletes is forcing executives at ESPN News to scramble in finding suitable replacements that no one has ever heard of.
The B-listers, who form the pool from which ESPN News plucks its in-studio analysts, walked off at 10:30 yesterday morning, seeking better benefits and wanting even more assurances that their anonymity will not be threatened by "consistent airing of our likeness on ESPN's broadcast air."
Spokesman and analyst Michael Honsbee, whose NFL career consisted of being the next-to-last cut by the Arizona Cardinals in 1998 and who now serves as ESPN News' NFL Insider during the 2am-4am shift, said the wildcat strike could "go on for days."
"We are very protective of our B-list, no-name status," Honsbee said, flanked at a press conference by fellow ESPN News analysts Pokey Mitchell (NBA, Minnesota Timberwolves, 10 games, 2002) and Marcel Gauthier (NHL, Toronto Maple Leafs, 4 games, 2001) -- neither of whom reporters gathered at the conference seemed to recognize, delighting Honsbee. "So we're prepared to take this regrettable action, in order to ensure it," Honsbee added of the far-from-household name status that the B-listers so fervently guard.
Television expert Matthew DeGroat, of the watchdog group People for Ethical Television Analysts (or PETA, The TV Version), says that the striking analysts better be careful.
ESPN News NASCAR analyst Jerry Thomas, who was a pit crew member for Jeff Gordon for three races in 1998
"Currently, there is no small supply of former professional athletes who viewers have never heard of," DeGroat warned. "So the B-listers better not be too smug or get too comfortable. Or else ESPN will have a field day replacing them with equally as unknown ex-athletes."
ESPN News, in a statement, called the strike "unfortunate and poorly-timed".
"In this day and age of information gathering, Americans want their previews of the New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers game from a trusty, unknown source such as (former Raptors center) Igor Haval," the statement said of Haval, a Cleveland Cavalier and Toronto Raptor for 24 games in 2000-01. "And we here at ESPN News are committed to providing that," the statement went on, adding in a not-so-subtle manner that if need be, ESPN News will not hesitate to "look elsewhere" for a new, fresh crop of fringe ex-athletes.
Former Mets catcher Rich Meese, who was called up by the team for 11 games in 2000, sees opportunity in the current wildcat strike.
"This might be it," Meese said of the chance that may be coming his way in light of the strike. "I hear Wednesday's baseball discussion might have an opening after the West Coast games air," Meese said, adding that he's already sent an audition tape to the network that was shot by his brother-in-law.
Meese is glad that he appears to have what ESPN News likes in a baseball in-studio analyst: a brief, nondescript career in MLB, an easy to pronounce name for the anchors, and an articulate way of talking about the game in a manner that makes viewers think he actually was accomplished as a big leaguer.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Mitchell's report is expected to publicly name 8 to 10 million baseball fans as "either previous or current abusers of performance-enhancing substances," a source says. The substances include, "but are not limited to": steroids, beer, caffeine, candy bars, hot dogs, soda pop (NOT diet), silicon, and Viagra.
Cubs fan Kelly Fortinato, expected to be named in Mitchell's report for silicon abuse
The outing of fans is expected to rock baseball, since many thought Mitchell's report would be targeting players. According to sources, "some" players will be identified, but Mitchell's investigation took an unexpected turn when his team discovered "rampant" use of the aforementioned substances in and around MLB ballparks over the last five or six years by the game's paying public.
"It saddens me to have to name this many names," Mitchell will say in a soon-to-be-released statement, according to the sources. "But Major League Baseball cannot and will not tolerate the ingestion of so many substances by its fans.
"Baseball players deserve ethical, clean fans who aren't engaging in doping practices," Mitchell continues.
One of the fans suspected of being named in Mitchell's report, 38-year-old factory worker Brett Hinson of Kansas City, MO, said thru a spokesman, "I will not comment on Senator Mitchell's report until I see it for myself. But I can tell you that a few hot dogs and sodas don't make me a bad person -- or a cheating fan."
The report is set to be released publicly today.
Another potential target, sales manager and Cubs fan Jerry Zubor of Arlington Heights, Illinois, told reporters gathered outside his home, "What can I say? It's a witch hunt. If he names me, then I got a whole lot of my friends that I can name, too. I ain't goin' down alone, bro."
Zubor, according to friends, is likely to be named for his propensity to take No-Doz while watching the Cubs on the West Coast.
Gary Sheffield of the Detroit Tigers, another likely Mitchell target, expressed surprise but not shock over the report's alleged findings.
"I always had a feeling some of the fans were on the juice," Sheffield said. "Especially when I played in New York," the former Yankee and current Detroit Tiger said. "All I can say is, you do the dope, you can't mope."
Donald Fehr, chief rep of the MLB Players Association, said, "If these millions of fans are on something, then let's get them out in the open and clear the way for clean fans. The least these fans can do when they spend $240 to take their families to the ballparks to watch guys making $15 million a year is do so with a clean urine sample," Fehr added.
Monday, December 10, 2007
"It's just not working out," said NBA spokesman James Tanner. "We've given it about a month and 20 games for each team, and, well, need I say more?"
Tanner said that the 5-15 Miami Heat, the 7-12 Charlotte Bobcats, and the 6-13 New York Knicks will be the first three teams to join the D-League -- tomorrow -- and that the 6-12 Chicago Bulls, the 7-13 Philadelphia 76ers, and the 9-12 New Jersey Nets will follow later in the week.
"They'll get some good fundamental work thru the fine clinics they put on down there," Tanner said of the D-League's much-heralded basketball teachers. Tanner added that all players attending the clinics will get free lunch and a t-shirt for participating.
The four decent teams in the Eastern Conference (Detroit, Boston, Orlando, and Toronto) will go down, too, but will function as clinic instructors.
"Maybe someone like (Bobcats point guard) Raymond Felton can learn a thing or two from (Pistons point guard) Chauncey Billups," Tanner explained. "Regardless, the goal is to make the Eastern Conference teams more competitive. Because, right now, they're pretty sucky."
Tanner added that once their stint in the D-League is over with, the league will re-evaluate the teams "in about another month" to see "where they're at." Then, the decision will be made whether to allow them to continue playing in the NBA for the rest of the season, or return to the D-League until next fall.
A member of Knicks guard Stephon Marbury's crew protests the NBA's decision to send the Knicks to the Developmental League
"You just gotta swallow your pride and do it," said Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal. "I just hope they have a t-shirt in my size."
"I told them that this could happen, but they didn't listen to me," said Heat coach Pat Riley. "I kept warning them, 'Do you want to go down to the Developmental League?' But they just wanted to do their own thing their way. Well, I don't feel sorry for them. Maybe now they'll listen to me when I give them some pick-and-roll advice."
Sources say many players are worried about making it on the D-League's daily stipend of $22, and about the league's moratorium on posses, entourages, crews, and peeps.
Colby "C-Man" Festoff, a member of Knicks guard Stephon Marbury's "crew", voiced his concern for "my man Stephon."
"Y'all don't know what y'all doin'," Festoff told reporters, speaking to the NBA. "You take my man away from his crew for three weeks? Don't y'all be surprised if my man busts up a drive-thru or somethin'. Don't y'all come cryin' to me when my man is holed up in a Wendy's with a tire iron and a night manager," Festoff added.
Tanner said that the NBA will continue to function as a Western Conference-only league until the first week of January 2008.
"Those are the best teams anyway," Tanner said. "Besides, with the holidays and everything going on, we doubt very much that the Eastern squads will be missed all that much."
Friday, December 7, 2007
Ann Arbor, MI (Dec. 7) - Local resident and unemployed data entry clerk Jeremy Robbins is encouraged by the recent rejections by Les Miles and Greg Schiano of the University of Michigan coaching job, which he applied for on the Internet job search engine Monster.com.
"Hey, the less competition the better," Robbins said after hearing of the "NOs" given by LSU coach Miles and Rutgers coach Schiano this week. "I submitted my resume and cover letter on Monday. I then received confirmation that I applied, which I saved into a folder I created called 'Job Search', " Robbins told reporters.
Robbins, 26, who admits his candidacy is "light" on football coaching experience, nonetheless considers that his chances "just got a whole lot better" now that once-proud Michigan has been turned down by two big-name coaches.
"The way I figure it, they (U-M) might want to end the embarrassment and just settle for someone cheaper and who's likely to say yes," Robbins theorized.
Robbins, whose football experience includes a year on junior varsity at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School and "significant" flag football in intramurals, listed as his coaching experience "calling plays" for his Strat-o-Matic tabletop football league, of which he's the "coach" of the 1997 Indianapolis Colts.
U-M coaching candidate Jeremy Robbins
"But mainly I watch a lot of football and can tell you, pretty much, what's going to happen at any given time," Robbins says.
Friends and associates aren't quick to dismiss Robbins's candidacy. In fact, some think he might be a good fit for the legendary school.
"Really? He did?," friend Brian Conacher said when told of Robbins's mouse click, which sent his resume and cover letter to the e-mail "in" box of U-M Athletic Director Bill Martin, via Monster.com's server. "Well good for him. Jeremy's got a more wide-open offensive philosophy than (retiring coach) Lloyd Carr. I think Michigan needs more excitement. Jeremy provides that."
Fellow Strat-o-Matic leaguer Aaron Hawkins echoed Conacher's endorsement.
"If nothing else, Jeremy puts his all into everything," Hawkins said. "I can definitely see him working 70, 80 hours a week -- sleeping in the office, the whole nine yards."
Another friend, Skip Hinton, said Robbins would run a program that would be "clean as a whistle."
"Michigan would have no worries with Jeremy," Hinton said. "No recruitment violations. The worse thing he might do would be maybe play too much Madden on Playstation with a recruit, and lose track of time."
Robbins worked as a data entry clerk for an Ann Arbor publishing company for two years, before a slow-down in business led to his layoff in April.
"Man, you don't know how many resumes I've put out there," he said. "Time to think outside the box a bit."
College football observers were mildly surprised, but not shocked, that the Michigan job ended up on Monster.com.
"After their no. 1 candidate, Miles, turned them down, I suspect Michigan wanted to cover all bases," said analyst Lee Corso. "What better way to attract 'diamonds in the rough' than with an Internet posting?"
Sources close to the search say that as of Thursday, the university had received over 200 applications from the Monster.com posting. That doesn't discourage Robbins.
"My cousin, who's a writer, helped me with my cover letter," Robbins said. "And my sister helped me with the resume. She really made me look better than I am. But what the hell? Everyone does it."
Robbins said if Michigan doesn't call, he "has tons more applications out there." But, he added, "I'm local, I'll work cheap, and does Michigan really want to get rejected again?"
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Testaverde, speaking at the annual "Life Begins At 70" luncheon banquet in Greensboro, charmed the audience of over 300 with his personal accounts.
"It really took me back," sighed attendee Virgil Huggins, 88. "Vinny's stories of how he and Grange used to try to throw the pigskin through an old tire were wonderful. I'm so proud that the's the Panthers' quarterback."
Added fellow attendee Erskine Tubbs, 84: "I especially liked how Vinny would poke fun at himself when he was a wide-eyed youth hanging around with Halas when Halas was a Bears water boy. Classic stuff."
A then-48-year-old Testaverde celebrates a win with Jimmy Johnson in the QB's college days, circa 1966
Testaverde, signed earlier this season after injuries depleted the Panthers' QB ranks, led Carolina to its first home win last Sunday. And he used that win to draw an analogy.
"That win (on Sunday) reminded me of something Nagurski (Bears running back in the 1930s) told me before he was set to play the Canton Bulldogs in 1933: 'We're due', " Testaverde said to chuckles and polite applause.
Testaverde's speech was interrupted six times by applause, four times by violent coughing from luncheon attendees, and twice by paramedics.
"I think it's terrific that the NFL has a guy of Vinny's sense of history," said luncheon organizer Betty Phillips, 73. "When he told the crowd of how he first decided to become a football player after watching Grange play at Illinois, well, you could have heard a pin drop. That is, if Charley (Davis, an attendee) hadn't had his coughing fit."
Testaverde told of how his desire to be an NFL quarterback came from watching the league grow from its infancy.
"They needed fellas who could throw the ball," Testaverde said. "The forward pass was just coming to the forefront in the pro game. So I kind of jumped in one day at practice.
"The rest, as they, is history."
Testaverde further impressed the crowd by informing them that he would stay to sign their prescription pill bottles, and pose for photos -- though he showed his age in doing so.
"Who wants an autographed daguerrotype?," Testaverde said.
Monday, December 3, 2007
New York, NY (Dec. 3) - The Montreal Canadiens, that tradition-rich hockey franchise, returned from a 15-year exile and reclaimed the Stanley Cup in a bloodless, swift coup yesterday at league offices.
"Le Cup du Stanley est avec les Habitants!," shouted defenseman Mathieu Dandenault as he held aloft hockey's Holy Grail inside the office of commissioner Gary Bettman, which was seized by Dandenault and his teammates, who were dressed as the 1965 Canadiens for effect, yesterday around 1:45 P.M.
The Montreal Canadiens, disguised as the 1965 champions, pose with their newly seized Stanley Cup yesterday
The Canadiens, who last won the Cup in 1993, had been dormant for so long that many hockey observers figured they were either seceding their rights to the trophy and league supremacy, or were plotting a return to power. Obviously, yesterday's actions confirmed that it was the latter.
"We have the Stanley Cup. We hereby declare ourselves hockey's new power," forward Saku Koivu announced, speaking thru a megaphone to the bystanders below in Manhattan. "The most glorified trophy in all of sports is now where it deserves to be."
"The Montreal Canadiens stormed the league office at approximately 1:30 this afternoon," according to a statement released by the NHL. "They were heavily armed with hockey sticks and skate blades, but there was no violence. Mr. Bettman surrendered his office, and the Stanley Cup, about three minutes after their arrival."
"This confirms the chatter that I'd been hearing," said hockey analyst Bill Clement of the Versus Network. "We'd been getting intelligence that the Canadiens were plotting an overthrow and a return to their past glories."
The reigning Cup champs, the Anaheim Ducks, also weren't injured in the coup.
"I'm fine," said captain Chris Pronger. "So is everyone else. We were practicing when we heard about it. " He then added, "Well, it (being Cup champs) was fun while it lasted. I think everyone suspected the Canadiens would rise again. It's been too long."
Yesterday's seizing of the Cup now gives the Canadiens franchise 27 championship trophies in their illustrious history.
After spending some time filling the Cup with beer and champagne and drinking from it, Koivu and his new championship teammates planned to return to Montreal for a parade, which will be held Tuesday afternoon.
Bettman was briefly detained by Canadiens defenseman Patrice Brisebois, who held Bettman at arm's length by gripping the commissioner's forehead while Bettman flailed uselessly with his arms. Then he was hung on a coat hook by the back of his jacket before the players fled.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Torre Expresses Interest In Having A-Rod, Posada, Jeter, Clemens, Abreu, Rivera, Matsui, Cano, Pettitte Join Dodgers
"Just think of it," Torre said yesterday, "it'd be like getting the old gang back together!"
Torre, who became Dodgers manager after 12 seasons in New York with the Yankees, sat in his new office with his feet up, nursing a Scotch-and-water as he waxed nostalgic about his time in the Bronx.
"Yeah, it was good times," Torre said, swirling the ice cubes in his drink. "We did some good things there." Then he looked out the window, returned to his drink, and added, "I'm gonna miss those guys."
When asked if his feelings were because of the tight bond he formed with his players on a personal level, Torre shook his head.
"No, because they're pretty f***ing good players!" Torre said as he poured more Scotch into his glass, eschewing water this time.
"Damn! Why can't we get those guys? We'd be soo much better," Torre added, his voice becoming increasingly more whiny the more he spoke.
Dodgers manager Ned Colletti, when told of Torre's comments, took them in stride.
"Joe's having buyer's remorse perhaps," Colletti said with a shrug. "I'll talk to him, after he sobers up a bit."
Torre insisted the addition of Rodriguez, Posada, Jeter, Clemens, Abreu, Rivera, Matsui, Cano, and Pettitte would "make my job ten f**ing times easier," and that the Dodgers should "put their money where their mouth is" and do "whatever it takes" to secure those players for him.
"I didn't come here to lose," Torre said, his eyes getting glassy. "I know those players. I know what they're capable of. Get them and I promise you we're a playoff team."
When told that the Dodgers' budget almost certainly couldn't sustain such a talented group all at once, Torre scowled and went "Psssshhhh," waving his hand dismissively.
"Oh, I can't afford it!," Torre said in a mocking voice, as if speaking from the team's perspective. "Well, boo-f***ing-hoo!"
Torre ended the impromptu press gathering by finishing his bottle of Scotch and slumping, the thud of his head hitting the desk signaling the end of the discussion.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
"You have GOT to be kidding me," Skiles said after his 3-10 team's practice. "Well, color me red-faced. This is terribly embarrassing ... please excuse me," Skiles added before quickly gathering his players at center court to tell them of their misunderstanding of the schedule.
Skiles admitted that he was "a little surprised" that the pre-season, which actually ended in late October, was still going on. Turns out he was terribly misinformed.
"Our info had the regular season starting in early December," Skiles said after breaking the news to his stunned players. "I simply don't know what to say. Our bad."
The Bulls, who won on Tuesday in what they believed to be the exhibition season finale, lost 10 of their first 13 games by playing uninspired, careless basketball -- both hallmarks of pre-season play.
"I swear to you on a stack of bibles that I thought the regular season started next week," guard Kirk Hinrich said after Skiles dropped the bombshell. "Sh*t, if I had known that, I would have gotten my jump shot around a long time ago!"
Kirk Hinrich drives against the Pistons earlier this month in what he believed to be a meaningless exhibition game
Bulls GM John Paxson took complete responsibility for the gaffe, calling it a "stain" on the Bulls franchise.
"The buck stops with me," Paxson said. "I must have grabbed November with October when I flipped my calendar," he added, trying to explain away the mixup. Paxson said that, from now on, he would use one of those big desktop calendars where you have to rip the month off, saying it would be less likely for him to skip a month with such a calendar.
The Bulls have been booed at home by their fans this season, all of whom assumed their basketball team knew the regular season was well underway.
"They were dull, listless, and pretty much pathetic," said fan Darrell Pittman of Elgin, Illinois. "But they've been like that a lot in seasons past. I guess I just took it for granted that they knew the season started.
"Geez, that's pretty f***ing stupid, don't you think?"
Skiles, after learning of his team's tardiness in beginning regular season play, tried to make up for lost time by asking Ben Wallace twice to leave practice if he didn't want to be there, suspending Ben Gordon for a game two weeks ago, and jousting with a Chicago reporter about a loss on November 12.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
"It just seems too close to call," a weary and damp Miami coach Cam Cameron said after the game, which was played in horrendous weather conditions. "It was raining so hard and the field was in such bad shape, how can the officials be that confident that they got the final score right?"
The Steelers, according to the official result, won on a 24-yard field goal with seventeen seconds remaining. But Cameron wasn't buying it.
"I could barely see the ball," Cameron said of the apparent game-winning kick. "Besides, even if it WAS good, who's to say that we didn't pick up a few points along the way? In fact, my assistants upstairs swore that we scored a touchdown late in the third quarter.
"I still think there are some more points out there for us, if the officials would just count them again."
The Dolphins, 0-11, are trying to avoid being the league's first winless team since the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"I can't believe they're just going to let the Steelers walk away with that razor-thin win," complained Miami-area sportswriter Dan LeBatard. "Neither team could get much going, thanks to the field conditions. You mean to tell me that the officials are 100% certain that the Dolphins didn't score at least three points themselves?"
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said that recounts are against league policy.
"Never happened, and not gonna happen," Aiello said.
Sports psychologist Dr. Frederick Warren said that the Dolphins' pleas for a recount are a normal reaction to such a result.
"It's completely in line for them to feel that way," Dr. Warren said. He added that he watched the game and has some empathy for the Dolphins.
"I must admit, I thought I saw the Dolphins tackle Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a safety just before halftime," Dr. Warren said. "So that would make the score even closer, 3-2. I think a recount would be appropriate under those circumstances."
Cameron said that if the NFL refuses his request, he would have no other choice than to protest by "setting myself down on the floor and holding my breath while kicking and balling my fists."
When told of Cameron's threat, Aiello said, "Fine. Still no recount."
Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said, diplomatically, "Let's just say that I have complete confidence in the scoring process that this league was founded upon."
Sunday, November 25, 2007
"It's clear that this keeping everyone on the edge of their seat every year is paying dividends," Favre said, two days after another brilliant performance on Thanksgiving Day. "So I'm going to build it into my weekly routine."
Favre said that every Monday, he'll speak pessimistically about coming back for the Packers' next game, citing his age (he's 38) and family concerns. Tuesday is the players' day off. On Wednesdays, according to the plan, coach Mike McCarthy will tell the media that he REALLY hopes Favre suits up for "one more week." On Thursdays, Favre will hear pleas from upper management and his teammates not to retire. On Fridays, fans will be encouraged to e-mail the team and call sports talk radio, talking in almost suicidal tones about what life without Favre would be like. Finally, every Saturday, Favre says he'll announce that he's coming back for "another shot at a championship."
"Why fix what's not broken?" McCarthy said of Favre's plan. "The uncertainty over Brett's return has worked wonders for us in 2007," McCarthy said, referring to his team's unlikely 10-1 start. "So I can't wait to have that tension in the air every week, from now until, hopefully, Super Bowl XLII."
Favre's teammates were wide open to the new plan.
"I think it's great," said receiver Greg Jennings. "I can't wait for that pall to be cast over the team Monday morning, when Brett starts talking retirement. I miss that feeling."
"I know he's a big family man," said receiver Donald Driver, warming up for the weekly casting of doubts. "So I know that will play a big part as to whether he plays against the Cowboys," Driver added about the Packers' next game. "We need him, big time. But he needs to do what's right for Brett Favre."
Favre will continue to use the threat of retirement thru the remainder of the season and into the playoffs, to keep his team sharp
Favre kicked his new plan off by hinting to reporters as soon as the team plane landed from Detroit that he's played his last NFL game.
"That was the way I'd like to go out," he said of his four-TD pass performance on Thanksgiving, which included 20 straight completions at one point. "I mean, if I WERE going out, which, to be honest, I haven't decided yet."
When pressed, Favre added, "I'll let y'all know Monday. I'll have more to say then. Right now I just want to spend the rest of the weekend with my family, who I love, and who I'd love to spend more time with -- including on fall Sundays. But we'll see."
NFL analyst John Clayton of ESPN praised Favre for his comments.
"Perfectly executed," Clayton said of Favre's cryptic words. "It's classic Brett Favre. He displays his love for the game, but also tells us how much his family means to him. He really nailed it again -- as always."
When asked what he thought Favre's words meant, Clayton said, "I have to think that Brett may have played his last game. But then again, I'm not sure. Hard to tell. I guess we'll find out soon enough. That's what's so great about Brett Favre -- you never know if he's going to retire or not. Brilliant."McCarthy says he will plan for the Cowboys as if Favre will stay unretired.
"There's really no other way to do it," the coach said. "Until Brett tells me, for sure, that that's it, then he's my quarterback."
Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said, "If Brett Favre lines up behind center against us, then football fans the world over will not have seen the last of an icon. But is he's not there, then he's had a Hall of Fame career. I can say with all sincerity that it's been a joy to compete against him -- not to use the past tense. Damn! Why doesn't he just make up his dad-gummed mind?"
Friday, November 23, 2007
MLB Launches Recruitment Campaign To Replenish "Dangerously Low" Supply Of Hard-Nosed, Backup Catchers
"If you're a catcher low on actual baseball talent but with a never-say-die attitude, we want to take a look at you," Commissioner Bud Selig said in announcing the aggressive new campaign.
MLB screened for reporters a new 30-second commercial that it hopes will lure catchers who have no chance of ever being a consistent starter into the life of a hard-nosed backup. Entitled "Every Team Needs A Second Catcher," the campaign's TV spot features today's current crop of hard-nosed backups waxing eloquent about the joys of their job.
"I thought my career was over when I realized I couldn't hit better than .220," says Todd Pratt, a career backup. "But then I decided my lack of baseball skills wouldn't stop me from realizing my dream," Pratt continues in the spot, which includes fellow backups talking about the benefits of their lot in life.
Some of the things cited in the campaign that MLB hopes will successfully solicit new members to the hard-nosed backup catcher brotherhood are: playing only once every nine days (keeps body fresher longer); anything you contribute offensively is a bonus; fans appreciate the way you hung in there gamely in that last collision at the plate; and hot chicks will still find you attractive, because they can be duped into thinking that you're the starter and an All-Star-caliber player.
"We know this country is positively crawling with marginally-talented, hard-nosed catchers who hit for sh*t but aren't afraid to get their uniforms dirty," Selig said. "And now we make this public plea: we need you in Major League Baseball, and soon."
The ranks of hard-nosed backup catchers began declining in the late-1990s, according to a report released by Selig.
"Unfortunately, gone seem to be the days of the likes of Bill Plummer, Duffy Dyer, and Marc Hill," catching analyst Mitch Hunter said in the wake of Selig's announced recruitment campaign. "The 1970s were the 'Golden Era' for hard-nosed backups. For some reason, MLB has been unable to keep this awful yet necessary category of player adequately stocked. This campaign may seem desperate, but it is what it is."
Baseball, according to its latest research, is running dangerously low on mostly untalented, yet hard-nosed backup catchers like the Tigers' Vance Wilson, shown tagging out someone who's a far better player than he is
Hunter pointed to Detroit Tiger Vance Wilson's season-long elbow injury in 2007 as a huge blow to the hard-nosed backups' relevance to baseball. "Wilson is a throwback," Hunter said of the Tigers backstop, who Hunter praised for his "questionable hitting talent but seemingly excellent defensive skills and his ability to give the impression that he works well with pitchers." Hunter said that baseball can "ill afford" to lose someone of Wilson's mediocre stature next season.
The campaign will focus itself on the low minor leagues and junior colleges, and might even expand to the high school level, depending upon how serious the dearth of hard-nosed backup catchers is deemed.
Also named as "concerns" but not urgent -- at this time -- are MLB's supply of scrappy, good field/no hit middle infielders, spot pitching starters, and thinking man's players. Also being monitored are players' managers and "guys who just want to win."
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
"I don't know what to make of it," Ferency said as he left his neighborhood Media Play, having just bought some John Coltrane and Count Basie CDs. "A friend asked me a couple weeks ago if I wanted to go see the Utah Jazz play, and I was intrigued," Ferency, a self-described non-sports fan, said. "So we go the the concert -- or what I thought was a concert -- and there's all this basketball going on."
Ferency said after nearly an hour of the offending sport, he asked his friend "when the music is going to start."
Stuart Ferency returns home after a perplexing hour of watching the Utah Jazz play basketball; he had thought he was attending a concert
After some initial laughter from the friend that turned into an uncomfortable, nervous chuckle once he realized Ferency was serious, Ferency shook his head and left the arena.
"I'm thinking of suing for false advertising," he said as he skidaddled to his Ford Focus.
Ferency's friend and basketball game accomplice, Sean Gilbert, said he tried to explain to Ferency the Jazz's history.
"I was like, 'Dude, this is our BASKETBALL team'," Gilbert said when reached by phone yesterday evening. "I could tell he was confused. So I told him of how the Jazz came to Utah."
But after only 30 seconds of his explanation, Gilbert stopped.
The Utah Jazz logo, which has confounded many
"Even I couldn't believe it, to be honest with you," he said.
The Jazz were known, more appropriately, as the New Orleans Jazz from 1974-1979, before the franchise moved to Salt Lake City. Yet the team kept the name Jazz, even though Salt Lake City isn't known for music at all, let alone jazz.
Then there was the matter of the logo, according to Gilbert.
"I tried like five times to start a sentence describing the logo," Gilbert said, "but it was pretty much useless trying to validate that sorry ass piece of sh*t design," he added of the logo, which splays the word "jazz" across snow-covered mountains.
"When was the last time you made a connection between jazz and freaking mountains?," Gilbert said. "No wonder the dude was trippin'," he said, referring to Ferency.
Gilbert's troubles don't end with Ferency.
"I have a little cousin who lives in Minnesota," Gilbert said. "And he's been asking me why they call the hockey team 'the Wild.'
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Atlanta, GA (Nov. 20) - A press conference discussing the latest MLB pitcher to have Tommy John surgery was stopped in its tracks when the question arose as to what the surgery was called before Tommy John came along.
"Gosh, you know what? I don't know!," noted arm surgeon Dr. James Andrews said, rubbing his chin. "Huh!"
"Wow," added Dr. William Henderson, who shared the podium with Dr. Andrews. "That's an EXCELLENT question.
"I'll...I guess...wow...let me get back to you on that," Dr. Henderson said.
The doctors were discussing surgery on the Cardinals' Cris Carpenter, which involves taking a ligament from one's leg and attaching it to the arm. It's been known as Tommy John surgery ever since John had it in 1974.
But when a reporter asked, innocently, "What did they call the surgery BEFORE it was done on Tommy John?," the press conference careened out of control.
Loud murmurs were heard as Drs. Andrews and Henderson fumbled their way thru clearly made up answers that they didn't even bother to complete.
"I think we just saw medical science set back about 33 years," said journalist Phil Morris, who was covering the press conference for the New England Patriots Journal of Medicine.
"What a turn of events!," said reporter Sylvia Hertel of the Baseball Science Digest. "The doctors were completely bamboozled. This is just a mind-boggling development in the area of arm surgery."
The reporter who asked the question, tentatively identified as Stephen Boullabaise of Surgery Today Magazine, was wrestled to the ground by security before being tasered, pepper sprayed, choked, cuffed with plastic ties, and garrotted. He was later tortured and killed, which saddened the man for whom the surgery was named.
"A shame," Tommy John said of Boullabaise's death. "From now on, I guess reporters who are killed will be known as having Stephen Boullabaise discipline."
Monday, November 19, 2007
"We just want to get this 16-0 season over with," quarterback Tom Brady said moments after throwing five TD passes against the Bills. Brady spoke as he changed from his football uniform directly into his street clothes, telling reporters that "I showered before the game, so I'm cool."
The Patriots are 10-0, are averaging 41.1 points per game, and consistently beat the crap out of every team they play. The only exception was their much-ballyhooed game against the Indianapolis Colts -- when the Pats had to appear interested in the fourth quarter for the first time all season.
Citing the Colts game as a "wake up call", Patriots coach Bill Belichick implored his team to have no mercy on the Bills, opening up a 42-7 lead before the National Anthem.
"That was key," wide receiver Randy Moss said of the pre-game offensive explosion. "That enabled us to get caught up on some personal matters during the game. You know, the typical stuff you have to deal with during the week of Thanksgiving."
Brady threw three of his TD passes while text messaging his family members about last-minute holiday grocery shopping and answering e-mails from his blog. Moss, who smartly used the time between plays to choose a stuffing recipe, also multi-tasked when he scored his four touchdowns -- telling his mother that the number of TDs he scores would equal the amount of pies she should make.
But the Patriots were restless after the game, leading to Belichick's declaration that the remaining six games on his team's schedule would be completed in three weeks, instead of the customary six.
"All this anticipation, I'm sick of it," the coach said, in reference to matching the 1972 Dolphins as the NFL's other unbeaten, untied team in the modern era. "Let's just do it, already. Cripe!"
"It'll be nice to have most of December off," added Brady. The Patriots will complete their perfect season with a doubleheader sweep over Miami and the New York Giants on Dec. 9. "It'll provide more time for shopping and putting up decorations."
Bills coach Dick Jauron, who was admitted to a local psychiatric ward for trauma after the game, said thru a spokesman that "all those who chose to oppose the shield must yield," referring to Brady, who Jauron likened to Captain America.
The Patriots, under their new paradigm, will defeat both the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens next Sunday.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
"He is confident that he's a first-ballot prisoner," a source close to Bonds told a California radio station. "Barry doesn't think his indictment should have an asterisk next to it."
Bonds was indicted Thursday on multiple counts of perjury and other charges too creepy to think about, relating to his taking performance-enhancing drugs. He could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
"He (Bonds) thinks the charges, and the grand jury's opinion of them, speak for themselves," said Bonds' childhood friend Max Platkin. "At this point, he'd be very disappointed if he was forced to wait for a second ballot before his prison induction."
Bonds has wondered privately about his prison acceptance speech, and what he'll say, friends report.
"Obviously, he'll make some bullsh*t reference to Willie Mays," says one friend, referring to Bonds's Godfather. "Then I suppose he'll thank the fans of San Francisco, and then of course, he'll trash the media."
Bonds has already said that he'll go into prison as a Giant. He played his first seven seasons in Pittsburgh, but has spent the last 15 in San Francisco.
According to friends, Bonds wants to be inducted into prison as a steroid-filled hulk (as a Giant) rather than a drug-free beanpole (as a Pirate)
"He can't wait to see that plaque hanging in the cell block," another friend said. "And it will depict him in a Giants cap, no question."
Bonds, sources say, bristled at suggestions that his indictment is tainted in some way by the fact that he's an African-American.
"His exact words were, 'This indictment is NOT tainted. Not at all. Period', " the source said.
Bonds, a free agent, intends to play baseball in 2008, despite his imminent prison induction.
"The Bay Area would be great, meaning Oakland," Platkin said. "That would be conveniently located to Alcatraz, which would be terrific for Barry and his family."
Platkin added that Bonds "would only be vindicated" if he's not elected into prison on the first ballot.
"That would just make his point -- that the media and writers have persecuted him. To go into the federal penitentiary on the first ballot would be Barry's way of saying, 'Gotcha' ," Platkin said.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Geneva, Switzerland (Nov. 15) - Calling it the most significant news in the history of golf since the invention of the ball washer, scientists who specialize in the sport have discovered a 19th hole, a development which is sure to change the sport's landscape forever.
"November 14, 2007 will be known as the date that ushered in a new era of golf," an elated Dr. Manheim Steemrohler said at a press conference in front of the Golf Institute for Technology (GIT).
Dr. Steemrohler said that the discovery occurred by accident.
"We were working on a study as to whether golf balls hit out of the sand experience significant blunt-force, aerodynamic trauma, when Dr. (Heinrich) Bubler made the discovery, thanks to a high-powered telescope and extremely sensitive, time-stop photography," Dr. Steemrohler said, speaking for a team of 11 golf scientists.
The 19th hole, the doctor said, exists in a "parallel area between time and space," and every golf course in the world has one.
When pressed for explanation in layperson's terms, Dr. Steemrohler said, "You wouldn't understand."
Dr. Manheim Steemrohler demonstrates some of the equipment used to find golf's new 19th hole
Later, Dr. Bubler spoke to reporters gathered in front of the doctor's country club as he headed out to play a "quick 19", in his words.
"Basically, this new discovery means a few things. Number one, par for most courses will now be 75 or 76. Second, it will take approximately nine minutes longer to play a full round of golf. And last, but not least, I'll make lots of money."
Noting that there's still considerable confusion over the exact location of golf's new hole, Dr. Steemrohler assured reporters that information about that part of the discovery will be released within the next several days. But a source close to the golf scientists said the 19th hole would be typically found "within 55 yards of the 18th green, off to the right," and will only be able to be detected with special, very expensive, fancy-shmancy scientific equipment for "at least five years."
The hope is, within the industry, that when the 19th hole becomes more accessible to public courses and "real people", greens fees and cart fees can be increased.
"Typical," said golfer Dwayne Benson of the industry's goal as he finished the soon-to-be-atypical 18 holes at a Harrisburg, Pa. public course yesterday on a balmy fall day. "This news is less than 24 hours old and already the greed and money-grubbing has begun."
A spokesman for golf's Lord, Tiger Woods, said, "Lord Woods is encouraged about anything that's for the good of the sport that he owns and operates. He's confident that this 19th hole will mean that he can win tournaments by even wider margins than he is currently."
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
"We feel we owe it to our fans so they can get on with their lives," team spokesman Larry Charlie said at a press conference. "It's part of our 'fans first' philosophy. Now they know that they're free to look elsewhere for fun after September 4th, 2008."
Charlie said the Cubs will be mathematically eliminated with a walk-off home run in Pittsburgh.
"With 'fans first', we feel it's not only good enough to announce the date of elimination, but the manner in which it will happen. So now everyone is prepared."
The Cubs made the playoffs in 2007, but were swept in the NLDS by Arizona.
"We regret what happened in '07," Charlie said. "We realize making the playoffs was a major inconvenience to our fans, who are used to having Octobers free. Being swept just prolonged the inevitable. We've learned from our mistake."
Charlie said the fan-friendliness wouldn't end with the playoff elimination date.
"We will be sending our season ticket holders the dates of our most gut-wrenching losses in '08," he said. "On of the highlights will be a blown eight-run lead in the ninth when the Padres visit Wrigley Field May 22nd."
Other special dates, Charlie said, include an error-filled loss to Philadelphia on April 24th, a rain-shortened loss to Los Angeles on June 4th, and a come-from-behind win over Arizona in late August that will give fans false hope.
"We hope this makes up for the debacle last season," Charlie said.
Charlie added that the 2009 team will be awash with painful rebuilding.
"Anything for our fans' convenience."
Monday, November 12, 2007
"I'm pleased to report that the situation is now under control," deputy police chief Andrew Horton said in front of the arena's main entrance, which just minutes before was stormed by dozens of police officers and SWAT personnel.
Bryant (top) and Jackson's ego (above) clashed at Lakers practice today
Trouble arose, Horton said, when Bryant -- the mercurial star who has requested a trade, or maybe not -- challenged Jackson's ego after Bryant was ordered to "do a few laps" following lackadaisical play in practice.
Bryant, according to witnesses, flew into a rage and asked Jackson's ego to "take it outside," accusing the coach's psyche that serves as the organized conscious mediator between Jackson and reality of "dissing" Bryant.
"Jackson's ego, which is as large as the day is long, took exception," a Lakers beat reporter said. "I thought Kobe and Jackson's metaphysical and psychological inner soul were going to come to blows. It was nasty."
Bryant and Jackson's ego quickly barricaded themselves behind opposite ends of the bleachers surrounding the court.
"We tried to get them together, but both sides were dug in," Lakers spokesman John Black said.
Horton said police responded when team psychiatrists, always on duty during practice and games, failed to bridge the gap, despite several attempts and emergency therapy sessions with both parties.
That's when Dr. Thomas Frye, longtime Lakers "shrink", called out, "Call 911! Call 911!"
"Upon arrival, we found Mr. Bryant pacing nervously behind a basketball rack," Horton said. "Coach Jackson's ego was, at that time, not more than ten feet away."
Horton called the situation "very tense."
The scene was defused when Horton's men did two things: calmed Jackson's ego by promising that everyone still thinks he's a great coach, no matter what; and by gently rocking Bryant until the tired star fell into a peaceful slumber.
Still, team officials plan on keeping a close eye on this situation.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
"It just doesn't seem possible," forward Jerry Phelps said from his Georgetown home, "that one team could lose that many in a row to the same team."
Phelps cited certain concerns such as the Globetrotters' ball control "antics", intimidation of referees, and distractions like "fake buckets of water and such" that the team uses with crowd members.
"I don't want to sound like a sore loser, but they seem to not play all that fair," Phelps said as he popped in a videocassette for his visitor. On it was a clip of the Generals' latest loss to the Trotters, a 102-88 beating last week.
"See? That's what I'm talking about," Phelps said as he pointed to Trotters guard Slapsy Davis dribbling between Phelps's legs and then returning to bounce the ball off Phelps's head, deflecting it to Trotters teammate Rooster Pickens for an easy layup.
Phelps then zoomed thru the tape, stopping to show other examples of his concern, such as Davis's half court hook shots and a 45-second game of keepaway, in which no Generals player came close to even tipping the ball while the Trotter players yelled, chanted, and whooped as they gaily threw the ball amongst themselves while the song "Sweet Georgia Brown" played over the PA system.
"And what's with that song?," Phelps wondered aloud. "Every time they play that damn thing, I cringe."
Jerry Phelps, as a Westminster Warrior in 1999
Phelps was particularly shaken as the tape showed a play where Davis pulled Phelps's shorts down while a Trotter teammate stole the ball and led a fastbreak, which was finished by Trotter Gordie Honeysuckle's slam dunk -- made possible for the 5-foot-2 guard thanks to a conveniently located mini-trampoline placed just past the free throw line.
"I'm pretty sure that's against the rules," Phelps said about the trampoline, adding that the Generals never seem to be the beneficiaries of such amenities.
Phelps has played for the Generals since 2000, when he graduated from tiny Westminster College in the Baltimore area.
"They (the Generals) promised me a lot of playing time," Phelps said. "I thought it was strange that every game was against Harlem, but I was starting and playing a lot.
"But we haven't won -- and that's starting to be suspicious to me."
Phelps added that the crowds seem to always be against his Generals.
"The Globetrotters have fans all over, I'm finding out," he said. "Everywhere we play, it's like 90-10 in favor of them. That's getting old, too."
But it's the losses that eat at Phelps, and the manner in which they occur.
"A few months ago, we managed to stay in the game," he related about the Generals' 99-98 loss at the Kentucky State Fairgrounds. "But with a few seconds left, Slapsy heaved the ball from 3/4 court, and I swear a second ball appeared from nowhere and dropped thru the hoop."
Phelps lamented that he, unfortunately, has no tape of that controversial ending.
Despite his concerns, Phelps plans on being in uniform next Wednesday when the Generals face the Globetrotters in Amarillo, Texas.
"Every game I think, 'Maybe this will be the night we get a win'," Phelps says as he tries to twirl a basketball on his finger with no success whatsoever.
"But damn, they get all the breaks."
Friday, November 9, 2007
Bronx, NY (Nov. 9) - Former Yankees coach Don Mattingly, presumably distraught over not getting the team's managerial job, is the prime suspect in a string of recent convenience store robberies, police say.
"There's no one else, really," police Lt. Dan Gibbons said outside the Stop-and-Go store on Staten Island, which was robbed of about $300 Wednesday night.
Mattingly had interviewed for the Yankees' skipper job after the resignation of Joe Torre. He portrayed himself as the front-runner, but the team hired broadcaster and former Florida manager Joe Girardi -- himself a former Yankees coach -- instead. Mattingly, thru his agent, didn't try to hide his anger and disappointment.
"I'm more of a G--damned Yankee than he is," Mattingly said thru his agent, a family member, and someone over for dinner at the family member's house, shortly after the team introduced Girardi. "I mean, come on -- Joe Freaking Girardi? He was a mediocre catcher, for God's sake. Compare our numbers. Christ!"
In the days after losing out to Girardi -- the 2006 NL Manager of the Year -- Mattingly grew more and more distraught, sources close to him said.
His mental and emotional state have apparently led him to robbing convenience stores. Five robberies have been reported since October 30.
"The suspect's modus operandi is consistent," Gibbons said. "He walks in, wearing a Yankees cap pulled low over his head, and a Yankees warm-up jacket. He pretends to purchase chewing tobacco, then pulls out a small pistol and announces a holdup."
But the announcement's manner is what is leading police to Mattingly, along with eyewitness descriptions of the robber.
"The suspect says, 'Now robbing you -- number 23!' Then he produces the gun."
Mattingly wore #23 as a Yankee player from 1982-95.
Friends of the spurned Mattingly say his feeble attempts to conceal his identity and his announcements mean he wants to get caught.
"Clearly, it's a cry for help," said former teammate Dave Righetti. "Don wants to get caught. Police need to arrest him so he can get the help he so desperately needs."
"This is what happens when you give a Yankee job to a non-Yankee," said Mattingly supporter Bruno Magli, a longtime Yankees fan from Yonkers. "I'm all behind Mattingly. I hope he never gets caught. He's like a bandit now. It's cool."
Gibbons said police hope to flesh out Mattingly by luring him into town with a phony opportunity to manage the crosstown Mets.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
"Awesome! It's about f***ing time!" is how the 15-year-old Milkins described his disputed, 14-13 victory over friend Richie Harris at Milkins's house after school yesterday.
But Milkins's victory was only sealed after Harris's 25-yard field goal attempt at the final buzzer failed when his "triple threat" kicker's leg didn't move far enough to touch the foam football. Harris asked for a re-try but Milkins, who doubles as the referee during home games, wouldn't allow it, invoking the "too bad, so sad" discretionary viewpoint.
"I win! I win!" Milkins said, as he leaped out of his chair, inadvertently knocking the card table and the football game to the floor, scattering the tiny ceramic, molded football players all over the carpet.
It was Milkins's first-ever Electric Football win -- a game he's been playing since age eight.
Surrounded by his little brother and a kid from down the street who was unidentified, Milkins pumped his fist repeatedly and yelled "See ya! Wouldn't want to be ya!" to Harris, 14, as Harris hurried out of the house without talking to reporters.
Harold Milkins smiles after snapping his 124-game Electric Football losing streak
Commenting about the game's final play, Milkins shrugged and said, "I don't care. Not my fault that his kicker didn't work. Maybe he didn't snap the leg back far enough. Not my problem."
The game was close all the way. Milkins, using the Dallas Cowboys in their white jerseys, and Harris, countering with the Pittsburgh Steelers in their black and golds, played a nip-and-tuck contest. Neither team could mount much of a rushing game, with both running backs consistently running out of bounds, joining their blockers and opposing defenders on the sidelines.
There was another dispute in the third quarter, when Milkins turned the game's speed control up during his punt return, hoping to get his ball carrier to the end zone before running out of bounds. But Harris yelled "What the f***?" and pulled the plug out of the wall. The two combatants then compromised and gave Milkins a first down at Harris's 15-yard line. Two plays later, Milkins hit one of those guys who looks like a wide receiver with a nine-yard pass from the "triple threat" QB.
Action in the trenches during Harold Milkins's 14-13 win over Richie Harris in yesterday's controversial Electric Football match
Harris scored on a 25-yard sweep for a 6-0 lead in the first quarter, when his ball carrier -- the guy who looks like a running back -- fortuitously ran around right end when it looked like he, too, was headed out of bounds. The PAT failed when Harris's kick bounced off the plastic upright.
Milkins looked like he was headed for his 125th straight loss when Harris fired a 30-yard strike to one of those guys with his arms outstretched in the second quarter. This time the kick was good, and Milkins trailed, 13-0.
Milkins, trailing 13-7, got the winning score early in the fourth quarter when a 93-yard, 25-play drive ended with a "running back" punching it in from three yards out. The kick was good and Milkins had a 14-13 lead. That's how it stood until Harris and his "triple threat" QB engineered a clock-chewing, 66-yard drive that stalled, setting up the controversial FG try.
Milkins said he would celebrate his first-ever Electric Football victory with a spirited session of Madden '08 and a bag of Double Nacho Cheese Doritos. After being interviewed, Milkins's brother dumped a small bottle of Gatorade over his head. Then the two brothers collapsed onto the floor in hugs and giggles, accidentally breaking several of the players.
"S***!" Milkins said.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
"We have a group of 65 young men whose dream it is to play football for Notre Dame University," Weis said after running the collection of dreamers thru a non-grueling, 15-minute practice. "Well, I'm proud to give them their chance, this Saturday."
"Rudy" was the story of Rudy Ruettiger, a walk-on who eventually lived his fantasy and appeared in a game for Notre Dame.
Weis said the regular players would "sit this one out," and watch from the stands. In order to satisfy NCAA rules, Weis suspended every player for "conduct detrimental to the team."
To make it official, Weis listed the detrimental conduct as "being 1-8."
"This will be the feel-good story of the year," predicted longtime ND booster Sean O'Hallaran, at a local pub that shares his last name. "When those 65 ragamuffins take the field ...," O'Hallaran continued, before becoming overcome with emotion.
Weis said the roster would be divided this way: 23 pre-med students, 17 theatre majors, 11 alumni with college eligibility left (including one 42-year-old plumber), 7 resident advisors, 5 ROTC members, and 2 undeclared majors whose names are Rudy.
"Just to be safe -- and authentic," Weis explained about the two Rudys.
Weis acknowledged that he would have to cut the playbook down dramatically in order to provide a "comfort level" for starting quarterback Elliott Nusbaum, a 37-year-old ND alumnus and South Bend dentist. Despite his medical degree and dental license, Nusbaum has two weeks of eligibility remaining, due to a technicality.
"I like Elliott's arm," Weis said of the dentist, "but he's not very mobile. In fact, he's damn near a statue in the pocket. But by God, I like that man's attitude."
Weis heaped praise on his group of eager but mostly untalented players.
"Rudy's story was one of perseverance and the triumph of desire over ability," the coach said, his voice raising. "He couldn't play a lick, but oh how he tried. I've got 65 men who probably couldn't win an intramural game of flag football, but they'll give me everything they've got."
Weis said he plans on adding about 25 more walk-ons later in the week, in anticipation of losing scores of players due to horrific, gruesome injuries.
"There's no limit as to how many we can dress for home games," Weis explained. "So I think we'll dress 90 on Saturday, just to be safe."
Weis said Air Force might be confused by the scalawag ND roster, which would play into his team's hands.
"They (Air Force) won't have any film on these men, don't forget," Weis said.
That's not totally accurate. There does exist some home movies of Nusbaum as a 16-year-old high school junior, in some mop-up quarterback duty. Weis felt compelled to turn the movies over to the Air Force coaches, "Just to keep my conscience clear," he said.
According to Notre Dame officials, the walk-ons will be presented with their "authentic" uniforms at a special pep rally on campus Friday night. Ruettiger will be in attendance and will address the crowd.
"I get to live a dream," Nusbaum said via phone as he worked on an impacted molar.
But the new Fighting Irish QB is taking his unexpected opportunity seriously.
"Coach let me take home some film (of Air Force)," Nusbaum said. "I think they might bite on a pump fake."
Monday, November 5, 2007
"It's why they never look like the person they're supposed to depict," said Andrew Malone, 28, who purportedly sold his likeness to several of the major bobblehead manufacturers, beginning in 1999, when he was just 20.
According to Malone, he was approached by an industry agent who saw him walking his dog in an East Orange park in the summer of '99.
"He told me I had the perfect bobblehead face -- round, plump, and generic in expression," Malone explained in an exclusive interview. "And he said I could make a lot of money in royalties if I would agree to sell my face, essentially."
Malone did just that, and his head was cast into a mold -- a mold that, he says, has been used to produce "millions" of bobblehead dolls, supposedly of various sports and entertainment stars.
Malone (above) claims to be the model for all bobbleheads, like the ones on top
"All they do is change the hair and skin and eye color, and of course, the uniform. Sometimes they have to stretch the head or make it more round. But it's my face," Malone said.
He appears to not be afraid of the repercussions of his admission.
"I've made my money," Malone says. "I just can't stand seeing all these fans being duped any longer. Especially the kids."
Not surprisingly, Malone's comments were met with sharp and swift rebuttal by at least one bobblehead manufacturer.
"Total nonsense," says Artie Hankins, owner of Bobble Cast, based in Connecticut. "This Malone kid is just looking for his 15 minutes of bobblehead fame."
However, Hankins did acknowledge that bobblehead dolls struggle with their likenesses.
"It's an art in development," he says. "We're still trying to get it right."
Not so, according to Malone.
"It's my face. Period. Anything they try to feed you is baloney."
Friday, November 2, 2007
"I...need a few moments," a clearly shaken Mark Syphers, co-host of Philadelphia's "Syphers and Jenkins" afternoon drive time show on WGFR-AM, said to his listeners after 28-year-old Eagles fan Jeremy Moore's phone call.
Moore called and said he enjoyed listening to the show. Syphers then waited for the expected complaint, beef, or unsolicited suggestion to help fix the Eagles.
But instead, Moore simply announced his fondness for the show and said, "So I just wanted to say Hi and I'll keep listening."
Syphers thought the call was a put-on.
"I told the guy, 'Dude, it's OK. You can tell me what you really want to say.' But he kept insisting all he wanted to do was tell us how much he liked our show.
"His demeanor was pleasant, upbeat, and completely free of ill will," Syphers continued, still plainly stunned, even some three hours later. On the air in the moments after Moore's stunning call, Syphers announced, in a halting voice, that there would be an extended commercial break while he gathered himself.
News of Moore's call spread like wildfire through the sports talk radio industry.
"I hope this is just a fluke," said Elliott Bernstein, programming manager at KTRS radio in Seattle, an all-sports station. "The thing we're most afraid of in the business is a rash of 'copy cat' callers. There are a lot of nuts out there."
Moore, reached at his home later, offered little explanation for his brazen act, which has only added to the frustration and lack of closure by those in sports talk radio.
"Yes, the Eagles are struggling," Moore said, "but I just decided to call on a whim. Honestly."
Moore then denied accusations that his nice, bitch-free phone call was rehearsed and planned.
Syphers warned others that calls similar to Moore's will not be tolerated on his program, and he urged other hosts to issue the same edicts.
"He could have at least suggested a Phillies trade or poked some fun at the 76ers. But no -- this guy was calculating. He had absolutely no intention of being negative in any way, shape, or form. He sure fooled our screeners, I'll say that much."
But Moore said all he told the screener was, "I just want to tell Mark 'Good show.' Apparently the screener thought that was a euphemism for something sarcastic."
Industry analysts predicted screeners and producers will clamp down on any phone call that even hints at being not negative, as a result of the breach that allowed Moore to get on the air without anything bad to say.
Syphers said that he lost his own ability to second-guess and mock for "several hours" while he struggled to process Moore's 22-second call.
"I'll tell you what," Syphers said, head shaking. "If I EVER take another phone call like that it will be too soon."
Moore apologized for all the "hub-bub", but that gesture only served as insult to the industry's injury.
"Great. It's not bad enough that he called and was nice on the air," an e-mail to Syphers's station read. "Then he apologizes! This guy's sadistic!"
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
New York, NY (Oct. 31) - The NBA, eager to embrace the Boston Celtics once again as championship contenders, have given the team a bye thru the 82-game regular season and the first three rounds of the playoffs.
"Their appearance in the league finals is a given," NBA spokesman Eric Green said yesterday in announcing the unprecendented move. "They added Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to Paul Pierce. They're a shoo-in. This just makes official what everyone believes to be true, anyway."
Under the arrangement, every one of the other 29 teams in the league will play each other, but will concede every Celtics game on their schedule as a loss. The Western Conference playoffs will continue as normal, with the conference champ set to take on the Celtics in June for the NBA Title.
"We're very pleased that the league has recognized the Boston Celtics, once again, as a bona fide championship team," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "Once we acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, it was pretty obvious, at least to us, that we would win the East. This move just validates that opinion."
The Celtics have been the darlings of the pundits since bringing Allen and Garnett on board. Momentum for their eventual coronation has been building up momentum even since before training camps opened.
New Celtic Kevin Garnett will appear in his first NBA Finals in June
Even other Eastern Conference teams seemed resigned to the league's decision.
"Actually, it's a weight off our shoulders," Detroit Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "I wasn't getting any sleep anyway, worrying about how we were going to stop the new-look Celtics. Now we can play our schedule without any pressure to win."
"Good for them," New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said of his team's rival. "When I was with the Pistons, the Celtics were always the team to beat. It's cool to have that feeling again."
When it was pointed out to Thomas that the arrangement meant there was no way his Knicks could beat the Celtics out for Eastern supremacy, Thomas let loose with an expletive-filled tirade and groped a couple of female reporters -- though he was careful not to call them "bitches."
The arrangement also means Rivers will have a more-than-ample seven months to prepare for the Celtics' opponents in the NBA Finals.
"I'll practice them light at first, then after the holidays we'll step it up," Rivers said of his planned itinerary. "Sometime around March we'll have two-a-days. I suspect that the time off will give us plenty of time to get guys healthy."
The break until June, Rivers added, means that the Celtics will have time to acquire one more high-profile player to put his team "well over the top."
"We're in the Finals," Rivers said. "Our next goal is to win them. Adding another big-name player will almost assure us a bye thru the Finals, as well.
Monday, October 29, 2007
London (Oct. 29) - The British government issued a terse warning to the United States, thru the National Football League, that the league's sending the Miami Dolphins to London constitutes a breach of contract, and that relations between the two countries "are bloody well" strained right now.
"We were promised two NFL teams to play a match in Wembley Stadium," the statement said, "but the league, with the United States' blessing, sent one team, plus the Miami Dolphins. This is an unacceptable breach of contract."
The 0-8 Dolphins lost to the New York Giants, 13-10, Sunday in the first-ever regular season NFL game outside the United States. At least, on the surface that's what happened.
"It wasn't truly an NFL game," British Parliament member Nigel Thorne said. "The chaps from New York were splendid, but the blokes from Miami ... why, they're bloody awful!"
The NFL, thru a spokesman, told the Brits that, technically, the Dolphins-Giants game constituted a real league game. It's a view that is clearly not shared on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
"I feel violated," one British fan, who attended the game, commented outside Wembley. "For months all we've heard about is the NFL coming to London. Then they go and send one real team. I mean, blimey!"
Angry British fans flooded the switchboard of Britain's Channel 4 -- who aired the game -- with complaints that the product was only "half true to its billing."
A hastily-made sign adorned Wembley's ticket office this morning.
"NFL stands for Not For London!," it said.
The league said that, while it stands behind the Dolphins as a legitimate NFL team, it could also sympathize with the British fans' anger.
"The Dolphins were the best we could do on such short notice," the spokesman said. "Nobody else wanted to come. I understand the British people's concern. But the Dolphins are, technically, an NFL team."
The spokesman was then asked if the Dolphins were an NFL team without relying on technicalities.
"Shut up," he replied.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Cranston, PA (Oct. 27) - Two men are hospitalized after an argument at a bar over whether the batter on the MLB logo is left-handed or right-handed escalated into a full-scale brawl.
Jerry Francis, 33, and Linc Pettit, 27, began arguing over the logo, which was shown on the screen briefly during Game 2 of the World Series Thursday night.
Witnesses told police that Francis began getting "loud and abrasive" when Pettit suggested the logo depicted a right-handed hitting batter.
"What, are you f***ing drunk?!," Francis shouted. "Anyone can see that that's a lefty swinger!"
Francis, about 6-foot-2 and weighing approximately 250 pounds, then advanced upon the 5-foot-3, 115-pound Pettit and threw him into the jukebox at The Dugout, a popular sports bar in Cranston. Pettit, a brown-belt in karate, rained several rapid-fire kicks and punches on Francis before Francis pulled a "foreign object", according to witnesses, and began gouging Pettit's eyes with it. The fight ended when bystanders jumped in as Pettit responded to the gouging by managing to get Francis into a "sleeper hold."
"We've seen this before," Cranston police lieutenant Art James said. "That logo gets a lot of discussion here."
Is this a lefty or righty batter? Debate rages
Cranston, according to legend, is the birthplace of Sig "Siggy" Siglander, who supposedly designed the logo on a napkin, in the very same location where The Dugout is now currently in business.
An MLB spokesman, reached Friday in New York, called the Cranston incident "unfortunate." When pressed as to whether the logo is in fact a left-handed or right-handed batter, the spokesman, talking only under the condition of anonymity, said, "I'm not sure. That's part of its mystique. It's not worth fighting over -- unless you're drunk. Then all bets are off."
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Here you'll find, just about every day, sports "news" -- if only it were true.
Spoiled Sports is now on the Net, ready to ruin your appetite for real sports news.
New York, NY (Oct. 25) - Versus, the tiny cable network that's beamed into thousands of homes across the country, has issued an ultimatum to the struggling NHL: add ice fishing to your product or we will dump you.
"After looking at our programming lineup, we feel the NHL just isn't fitting well into our theme," Versus VP of Programming Butch Philpot said yesterday at a press conference called at a rabbit-hunting excursion. "But we have given the league an option in order that they remain on our airwaves."
That "option" is to incorporate ice fishing into every NHL game that appears on Versus.
"Easy fix," Philpot said.
When told that NHL arenas are indoors, Philpot wasn't moved.
"Where there's a will, there's a way," Philpot said before hushing reporters after hearing some rabbit movement in a nearby clearing.
The Versus ultimatum is yet another blow to the NHL, which was in effect kicked off ESPN because of ratings that were "not only in the toilet, but in the sewage system," Philpot said smugly.
The league is already being chastised for airing its games on Versus, which is primarily an outdoor/extreme sports network, available in nearly 10,000 homes in the U.S.
Versus studio anchor Bill Clement said of the ultimatum, "Personally, I think a between-periods ice fishing competition between, say, Alexander Ovechkin and Dany Heatley isn't a bad idea. But then again, that's just me -- and I don't want to lose my job."
The league is reportedly weighing the ultimatum at their Manhattan headquarters. Sources close to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman say the league is drawing up a counteroffer that would enable the ice fishermen to cross check each other, or engage in otherwise physically aggressive activity while fishing.
Ratings for NHL games on Versus haven't been recorded by traditional, electronic and technological means. Rather, the homes receiving the Versus signal have been visited, door-to-door, each night the NHL airs. Ratings for last week indicated 5% of Versus homes watching hockey, with 95% "unaware" that they could view Versus at all.
Philpot said a new door-to-door poll will be conducted next week, asking customers if they would be more likely to watch the NHL if it incorporated ice fishing.