Wednesday, October 31, 2007

NBA Gives Celtics Regular Season, Playoff Bye

Rivers: Next goal is a bye thru The Finals

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.

"I'm confident."

Monday, October 29, 2007

British Government Feels "Betrayed" After NFL Sends Miami To London

Claims Breach of Contract

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

Bar Fight Escalates Over MLB Logo

Lefty or righty batter? Debate rages in Pennsylvania

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

Welcome To Spoiled Sports -- Where Your Sports Come Warmed Over

Anyone can give you real sports news: ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sportsline, etc. Really -- aren't those sites a dime a dozen? But where do you go to get fake sports? Yeah, yeah -- you can check out The Onion, but why should they have all the fun?

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.

Versus To NHL: Add Ice Fishing, Or Be Dropped

League reportedly weighing ultimatum

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.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More Players Come Forward With Stories Of Being Held At Third By Joel Skinner

Support group formed as victims of third base coach's cautiousness grows in number

Cleveland, OH. (Oct. 23) - Two more players have come forward with stories of allegedly being held at third base needlessly by Indians coach Joel Skinner, putting the number of such cases near 30.

"I feel I need to tell my story," minor league shortstop Freddie Hewitt said in a statement. Hewitt plays for the Indians' Buffalo affiliate, and he weaved a tale similar to the dozens of other players, both at the major and minor league level, who say third base coach Skinner prevented them from scoring on "countless" plays when a throw home would probably never have beaten them.

Skinner's alleged past victims have been coming forward ever since Skinner held Kenny Lofton at third base in the seventh inning of Game 7 of the ALCS after a Franklyn Gutierrez single to left field. Replays indicated Lofton would almost surely have scored. Had he scored, the game would have been tied 3-3. The Indians lost, 11-2.

But the final score didn't ease the pressure on Skinner.

Skinner, unable to hold this Indian at third -- because he's just hit a home run

"Joel Skinner has done this to me. He's done it to my friends. And he's done it to my friend's friends," Hewitt's statement read. "He's even done it to my friend's friends' enemies' friends.

"He must be stopped."

Nearly 30 players have come forward, mostly under the cloak of anonymity.

"I could have beaten the Orioles in 2004," one anonymous big leaguer told a Cleveland radio station, but only if his voice was altered to sound like Elmer Fudd. "I was on first base. It was the bottom of the 11th, two outs. The batter hit a double to the gap. I was moving on the crack of the bat. I could have scored easily. Skinner held me up," the player said, his Fudd voice cracking.

"Skinner is sadistic," another minor leaguer said. "When he was coaching in AA ball, he would purposely send guys who he'd knew would get thrown out, to break their spirit. He said he was 'testing' them. Then if the same guy was sure to score, he'd hold him up. He's finally been exposed," the player said of the ALCS blunder.

Some have suggested Skinner isn't incompetent -- just twisted.

Hewitt said he will start a support group for players victimized by Skinner's third base coaching decisions.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Thrashers Replace Bob Hartley With Howard Borden

Atlanta, GA (Oct. 22) - In a move that Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell said was "completely coincidental," the team has hired Howard Borden as its new coach.

Borden replaces Bob Hartley, who was fired last week after an 0-6 start. Waddell had been coaching the team on an interim basis.

Hartley, the former Colorado Avalanche coach (and Stanley Cup winner in 2001), shares the same moniker as the fictitious psychologist played by Bob Newhart on the successful TV show of the 1970s. And now the Thrashers bring in Borden, who shares the same name as Newhart's co-star, Bill Daily's offbeat patient on the series.

"Completely coincidental," Waddell said as he announced the hiring of Borden, who had been a minor league coach "somewhere." Borden's resume wasn't made immediately public, leading to speculation that his hiring was more of a nod to the lovable TV character and less because of his actual hockey coaching experience.

This, apparently, is NOT the Thrashers' new coach, but questions remain

Why the team would repeat the practice of hiring a TV character name was unclear, because the Thrashers hadn't won much of anything under Hartley. The team had a nice regular season in 2006-07, but were swept by the New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs -- a series in which they never led in any game, never came close to leading in any game, and in fact were even down, 1-0 before Game 3 even started (a first in the NHL).

Borden wasn't with Waddell when the GM announced his hiring. The team said Borden would be made available "soon", leading to more head-scratching.

Attempts to reach TV star Daily were met with a spokesman for the actor, who said Daily was "out of town indefinitely." This led to more chatter that the Thrashers had in fact hired Daily and not someone really named Howard Borden.

The Thrashers were 1-1 under Waddell.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Red-Hot Rockies To Finish Off Red Sox, Start World Series Early

Impatient ballclub can't wait any longer

Boston, MA (Oct. 20) - Announcing that they're "tired of waiting around," the Colorado Rockies pledged to defeat the Boston Red Sox themselves on Saturday in the ALCS and start the World Series against the Cleveland Indians the next day.

"Enough already," Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd said at Fenway Park, where the Indians and Red Sox were holding informal workouts on Friday, in preparation for Game 6. The Indians lead the series, 3-2. "We're hot. We're ready. We don't want to wait any longer. Let's get it on."

O'Dowd said the Rockies would take the field Saturday instead of the Indians, finish off the Red Sox, and play Cleveland Sunday in Game 1 of the World Series at Jacobs Field.

"Clearly, the Indians are inferior to our supremacy," O'Dowd said in the new attitude that's now typical of the Rockies, who've won 21 of their past 22 games. "We've only lost once since the All-Star break," O'Dowd continued, his memory clouded by the organization's new-found arrogance. In fact, the Rockies have lost over 30 times since the break, but only once in the last month.

"We cannot be beaten. May as well start this thing (the World Series) and get it over with. The sooner we start, the sooner you all can crown us world champs," O'Dowd said, hands on hips, looking on in disdain as the two peon ballclubs work out on Fenway's diamond.

The Rockies finished their NLCS sweep of Arizona last Monday, and are eager to start their sweep of the Indians as soon as possible.

MLB officials agreed with O'Dowd's proposal, and so the Indians will watch in a luxury box as the Rockies pound the Red Sox into submission.

"The Rockies need only four more wins to be world champions," a statement issued by MLB said. "So a fifth won't be any problem, the way they've been going. MLB finds it agreeable to allow the Rockies to continue their great run Saturday, so the World Series will end well before November," the statement said, adding that it's "obvious" that the Rockies will sweep the Indians. "Plus, we don't want another Detroit," the statement said, a reference to last year, when the Tigers had to wait a week to start the Series and were manhandled by the St. Louis Cardinals. Tigers' pitchers committed a World Series-record 22 errors in the five games (all throwing miscues), certainly prompted by the extended wait.

"I'm grateful for the day off," Indians manager Eric Wedge said in a post-workout press conference. "We have no chance in the World Series, but just getting here is great."

Shortly after O'Dowd's announcement, the Indians players returned to their clubhouse at Fenway and began an impromptu champagne shower, wearing AL Champs t-shirts provided by the Rockies. But there was one small addition to the shirts.

The bottom read, "2007 AL Champs and Soon-to-be-Swept In the World Series."

"Who cares what the shirt says?," an elated Indians pitcher Paul Byrd said, the bubbly stinging his eyes. "We're in the World Series, baby! We won't win, but we're in!"

Byrd's words, "We won't in, but we're in!," was then adopted as the city of Cleveland's World Series slogan.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Longtime Bowling Fan Still In Search Of First Souvenir Ball

Springfield, IL (Oct. 18) - He's sat just about everywhere you can sit at a bowling tournament. He's tried directly behind the bowlers, off to the side, even two lanes over for a better angle. Yet despite over 25 years of faithful attendance at various bowling tournaments, matches, and company outings, Lester Miller hasn't snagged the White Whale of bowling fans: the wayward, souvenir ball.

"You don't know how many times I've taken my seat and looked around and thought, 'I'm in a good position for a ball,'" Miller, 66, said as he prepared to watch last Saturday's Michelin Open in Akron, Ohio. "But it just never seems to happen."

Miller has been close, though.

"Back in 1988, I was in Pensacola, Florida watching the Senior Open," Miller said as he kept one eye on the bowlers as he talked to his interviewer. "And Dick Webber brought his ball back in his backswing and -- whoop -- it flew plum out of his hand."

Miller, though, wasn't quick enough as the 16-pound ball landed about two rows to his right.

"Some lucky kid got it. He was attending his very first bowling tournament. Unbelievable," Miller said, shaking his head.

Miller admits wayward bowling balls aren't nearly as common as, say, foul balls at baseball games. But they occur just often enough to give him hope every time he takes in a match.

"Boy, if I could ever snag one," Miller said, his eyes lighting up. "I already have a place on my mantle reserved for that first ball. Although I had to expand it, so the ball will fit." He added that he had a specially-built holder -- "kind of a baseball holder on steroids," he calls it -- made that can accomodate up to a 20-pound ball.

Miller says that bowling balls usually fly into the crowd during hot, muggy days when the bowlers' hands are more likely to be slippery with sweat.

He ended the interview as the players took the lanes to warm up. And there Miller sat, oversized baseball catcher's glove in hand, at the ready -- in case he finds his Moby Dick of bowling.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

ESPN Cancels Atlanta Falcons After Poor Monday Night Showing

Bristol, CT (Oct. 17) - Exhibiting the new, short-on-patience approach to network programming that now permeates television, ESPN executives announced that they have pulled the plug on the Atlanta Falcons after their abysmal performance on Monday Night Football against the New York Giants.

The Falcons, the network said, will no longer appear on MNF, or anywhere else on ESPN.

"Not only have they been removed from Monday Night Football. but we won't be showing any of their game highlights, either," VP of Programming Sidd Finch said in a teleconference. "Well, that's not quite true. We'll show the highlights from their games, but their players will be blurred out, like they do in those Internet sting shows on NBC's Dateline."

Finch said the decision came at halftime of the Giants-Falcons game, in which the Falcons seemed utterly defenseless against the Giants' pass rush, running defense, rushing attack, passing game, and special teams play. The Falcons lost, 31-10, in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the final score indicated.

"We discussed not showing the second half, but we had commitments to our advertisers," Finch said. "The Falcons, essentially, have been canceled."

Falcons officials were notified of the cancellation Tuesday, normally the players' off day in the NFL. But some Falcons players were in the locker room, getting treated for bruised egos, when the news came down.

"I would have liked another chance, but this is a results-driven business," running back Warrick Dunn said, talking about television, not football. "Apparently the overnights weren't very good," Dunn said of the TV ratings. Dunn added that he "would have turned us off, too."

Other players weren't so understanding.

"I think it's bull----," tight end Alge Crumpler said. "I mean, look how long they gave Yes, Dear before cancelling that piece of s---. Maybe they could try us in a different time slot or something."

"Sometimes you try things and they don't work out," Finch said of placing the 1-5 Falcons on prime time. "Obviously, we made an error and we've now corrected that error."

Perhaps over-compensating for the Falcons disaster, Finch then tried to cancel NBC's Sunday Night Football, but was told he didn't have the authority to do so.

"It was worth a shot," Finch said, sheepishly.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Trail Blazers' Oden To Miss Entire Career With "Severe" Head Cold

Another addition to team's big man curse?

Portland, OR (Oct. 16) - Prized rookie center Greg Oden, already slated to miss the upcoming NBA season with a bad knee injury, is now out for the rest of his career with a severe head cold.

"It's the worst news possible," Dr. Maurice Gray said at Portland's Nasal and Sinus Institute, where Oden was rushed after experiencing sniffles, phlegm, and a "raw throat."

"Mr. Oden, because of his significant height, is more susceptible to bad head colds, anyway," Dr. Gray said, citing colds' tendencies to enter the tallest human orifices they can find. "But this one has attached to him and just won't let go."

Dr. Gray said that Oden was put through a battery of tests, and the results indicated that the head cold would be around "certainly for the better part of the next decade."

"It's just a real bad one," the doctor said. "I would say his recovery time would put him out for his career, at least."

Oden, who was apologetic to Trail Blazers management and fans after the severity of his knee injury was disclosed, was "inconsolable" following the news of his virus, according to those close to the behemoth from Ohio State.

"He just wants to get on the court and contribute," a friend said. "The knee, we could deal with. But this damned cold..."

Oden's bad news is the latest in a string of foibles associated with Portland and its rookie big men.

In 1972, the team was rooked when it chose LaRue Martin no. 1 overall. Martin was a complete bust and a fraud, who had fooled scouts that he was a legtitimate center, when it turned out he was actually just a very tall, gangly, clumsy kid. In 1974, the team drafted Bill Walton, and while they won a championship with Walton in 1977, his career was ravaged with injuries in Portland. Then, in 1984, there was more foolishness as the Trail Blazers, again acting on bad information that said Michael Jordan was "ill-suited for the NBA," selected Sam Bowie instead of Jordan. Bowie became an insurance salesman halfway thru his rookie season.

The only encouraging news is that without Oden, the Trail Blazers are once again in the running for a lottery pick in 2008. But that news is dampened by the team's history of draft failure.

Oden promised to attend as many Trail Blazers games as he can, as soon as he "stops coughing and hacking."

"We don't want him to infect anyone else," Dr. Gray said.

A team spokesman added, with a sigh, "I guess we should have picked Kevin Durant, after all. Figures that we'd blow it. We always do."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Torre's Fate To Be Decided On Special "Dancing With the Stars"

"Give the people a voice," ABC says in announcing arrangement

Honolulu, HI (Oct. 15) - Eager to end the posturing and speculation over the job fate of New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, ABC-TV executives gathered for an emergency weekend retreat in Hawaii and emerged with a solution.

"Joe Torre, we're happy to announce, has agreed to participate in a special three-week run of 'Dancing With the Stars,'" ABC spokesman Ted Halverson said in an impromptu news conference in a Honolulu Tiki bar.

The hastily-called media gathering, attended by several cocktail waitresses, a bartender, two bus boys and three reporters, was also put on the network's web site and on YouTube.

Halverson said that Torre, 67, was contacted shortly after the Yankees' Game 4, series-deciding loss in the American League Divisional Series.

"It took a little convincing, but he came around," Halverson said of the Yankees manager, whose job seems to be in jeopardy following yet another early playoff exit.

The harder part, according to Halverson, was to get team owner George Steinbrenner to play ball, so to speak.

"Ultimately, we had to assure 'The Boss' that the decision on the show will be final, and that nothing can change it -- not even him," Halverson said. To do that, Halverson said that ABC promised Steinbrenner "a whole lot of dough," and free advertisement for Yankees season tickets during the show's broadcasts that include Torre.

The way it will work, ABC says, is that Torre will be paired with a "really good dancer" and will have two weeks to train. Then, it's off to Hollywood for three weeks worth of shows -- nine altogether -- at which time the American people will get a chance to decide whether Torre should keep his job, through dance. Self-proclaimed voice of baseball's conscience, broadcaster Bob Costas, will serve as one of the judges.

"Basically, if after the nine shows, the scores are high enough and America likes what it sees, Joe Torre will continue to manage the Yankees, at least in 2008," Torre's representative, Harvey Kaplan, said in a neighboring Tiki bar from the ABC press conference. Toasting his boss with a Singapore Sling, Kaplan said, "Here's to Joe Torre's feet and agility."

Torre couldn't be reached for comment, but Kaplan said the manager would have "something to say" about the dancing challenge "at a later time." When pressed for when that might be, Kaplan simply smiled and pretended not to hear, taking his drink and joining a young lady at a nearby table.

"Dancing With the Stars" has become a sensation for ABC, pulling in great ratings and becoming a sort of "American Idol" without the rancor of Simon Cowell. Halverson said the show's popularity made it a natural barometer for Torre's chances.

"More people watch 'Stars' than watch the Yankees anymore," Halverson said. "Plus, this is a great way to keep the Yankees in the public's consciousness, which is mandated by God, you know. And He's pretty high up there."

Steinbrenner had issued a statement during the Yankees' season-ending series loss to Cleveland that said the team would have to beat the Indians for Torre to keep his job. According to reports, Steinbrenner was ready to carry out his threat before ABC stepped in and offered an option that would include no "backsies-outies," insiders said.

"The vote of the American people on this special 'Dancing With the Stars' will stand. Period," Halverson said, signaling the end of the presser by asking where he'd placed his Chocolate Choo-Choo cocktail.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Patriots' Brady Gets Crash Course On Sweat

All-American QB Wonders What Secreted Fluid Flowing From Teammates Is

Foxboro, Mass. (Oct. 13) - For years, he wondered what it was, but was too shy to ask. Yesterday, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady finally spoke up: what IS that stuff pouring from the foreheads and arms of my teammates?

"He had never known what sweat was," explained head coach Bill Belichick after practice to a group of reporters called into his office for a special media gathering. "Mainly because he has never experienced the phenomenon."

Brady celebrating another Super Bowl win, in which he clearly did not sweat, as this photo illustrates

Brady, according to teammates who requested anonymity, called a special team meeting in which he was the sole speaker.

"Basically, he was pretty choked up," one player said. "Because he seemed ashamed that he didn't know what it was that we were going through.

"But we said, 'Aww man -- it's just sweat!' Then he asked us what that was. We were stunned, but then we understood. The dude never sweats!"

Brady's mates, according to the sources, surrounded him and hugged him, explaining that the secreted fluid oozing out of their skin was "certainly nothing to be worried about."

"I think he thought we were like, all possessed or something," another player said.

Then, in a moment described by those that were there as "emotional," "gut-wrenching," and "surreal," Brady asked if he could be taught how to sweat.

"But we were like, 'It's up to you,'" another anonymous player said. "If you weren't so damned efficient and near perfect every week, then maybe you'd sweat, too!"

Players and coaches then put Brady through a grueling pass-and-catch workout, complete with full pass rush, but 15 minutes of work in the 65-degree sun failed to produce even a droplet of sweat.

Practice was then called due to fears over the conditioning of the defensive linemen, who were gasping for air and cramping up.

"Man," one lineman said as he received treatment for dehydration in the locker room, "that dude (Brady) is unbelievable."

Brady then announced that, his curiosity about sweat satisfied, he would be able to play even better than his current league-leading QB rating of 128.7 -- with that off his chest.

When told of that declaration, one rival NFL head coach said, "Oh good God."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Beleaguered D-Rays Manager Maddon Admits Team “Will Never Be Any Good”

Compares Ballclub to Frozen Pizza In Post-Season Press Conference

Tampa, FL (Oct. 12) - Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon, speaking candidly during the team’s annual post-season evaluation with the media, finally admitted what has been on the minds of baseball fans everywhere.

“Look, I gotta be honest with you guys – and gals,” Maddon said in his office beneath Tropicana Field, addressing the guys – and gals – of the media crowded in there with him yesterday. “The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have been in the majors since 1998, and, well …,” Maddon said, shrugging his shoulders and giving reporters a “You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?” look.

When no reporter would finish the sentence for him, Maddon sighed and said, “Do I have to spell it out for you guys – and gals? When I took this job a couple years ago, I guess I was like every other manager who’s come through here. I thought I could make a difference.

“But the Devil Rays are like frozen pizza: we’ll never be any good.”

Johnny Gomes, one of the promising Rays stars, loses a fly ball in his bubble gum

Maddon spoke in the wake of his second season at the helm in Tampa, seasons in which his clubs finished last (“Naturally,” Maddon said) with records of 61-101 in 2006 and 66-96 in 2007. Since entering MLB in ’98, Tampa has never had a winning record, nor ever come close. The D-Rays’ average record in ten years of existence is 64-98.

Citing those numbers, Maddon seemed almost sheepish and apologetic with reporters.

“I mean, come on – let’s call it for what it is. We stink. We always have stunk, and we always WILL stink. I just can’t keep putting on this charade with you, or our thousands of fans who nearly pack section 117 every other night.”

Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon concludes his post-season press conference, in which he admitted the team will once again be bad in 2008

Maddon’s remarks were somewhat surprising. Because even though the D-Rays had another miserable season, it’s generally accepted that the team has a lot of young, promising talent. But even Maddon’s players seemed all-too-willing to accept their skipper’s assessment.

“He said that? Well, I think he’s pretty much right on the mark,” said outfielder B.J. Upton, one of the promising young players. A reporter pointed out that he was one of the bright spots on the team, but Upton dismissed it.

“Bright spot, shmight spot,” Upton fired back. “Y'all know the drill. Some of us so-called ‘promising players’ will go sideways and fall off the map. Then our veterans will get washed up, and whoever’s left will have their spirit broken by all the losing. What team have you been watching all these years, anyway?”

Devil Rays fans – most of whom gathered in a popular coffee shop across from Tropicana Field – seemed to respect Maddon’s candor.

“Finally, someone of authority with the Rays said it!,” said Lenny Rollins, 28, who’s been a D-Ray fan ever since the team’s inception. “They’ve only been kidding themselves. Everyone knows they’ll never be any good. Kudos to Joe Maddon. They should keep him around for a long time!”

Melissa Benning of St. Petersburg only started watching the Rays this summer (“On a dare,” she said), but it didn’t take long for her to form an opinion.

“Oh, it was like, SO obvious. I watched, like, two innings, and I’m like, ‘I am SO sure!’ They are like, REALLY bad,” the 22-year-old cocktail waitress said at the coffee house, whose southwest corner table was packed with Rays fans. “And now I hear their coach/manager guy says they’re bad? And he’s been here TWO YEARS? Where has he BEEN?”

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig released a statement in light of Maddon’s remarks, a portion of which read, “While we are somewhat surprised to learn of Joe Maddon’s assessment of his team and its future, we nonetheless are thankful that he has been forthcoming with the Devil Rays fans and said what this office has been unable – though not unwilling – to say about that organization, which clearly is one of the worst in baseball.”

Maddon, who despite his scathing comments will return for his third season at the helm in 2008, offered a final jab at his team before packing up his things for the winter.

“See all you guys – and gals – in spring training,” he said. “As if it’s going to matter!”

Webster's Agrees To Use 2007 Mets Team Photo Under Entry For "Choke"

Unprecedented Move Might Be Trend Setter, Industry Analysts Say

New York, NY (Oct. 12) - In a move that has been, for years, only threatened and joked about in a similar fashion, Merriam-Webster's Dictionary has announced that, beginning with its 2008 editions, all copies of their dictionaries will include a team photo of the 2007 New York Mets next to the entry for "choke."

"The time is right," Webster's spokesman Phillip Manfrenchentensen said of adding an image to help illustrate one of the definitions of choke. "Usually, people just joke about it -- like during speeches or the like -- placing a person or persons photo next to a word to accentuate its meaning. This time we figured, why not the Mets?"

The 2007 Mets blew a seven-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies with 17 games to play, and didn't make the playoffs.

Manfrenchentensen said others were considered for the "choke" designation, such as the 1964 Phillies, the 1978 Red Sox, and the 1967 Arabs, who blew a big lead and size advantage against the Israelis in losing their war. But in the end, the Mets were chosen for one reason, mainly.

"Money," Manfrenchentensen said. He then explained that a baseball watchdog group called Strike Three had raised over $50,000 in the several days following the season in order to petition Webster's to publicly humiliate the Mets even more.

Beginning in 2008, all Webster's dictionaries will have a photo like this next to the following definition: To fail to perform effectively because of nervous agitation or tension, especially in an athletic contest

Manfrenchentensen said a team photo lifted from the team's own web site will be placed near the choke entry.

Mets fan Louie Feresh hopes the Webster's move goes one step further.

"I'd like to see the word 'Mets' replace choke, to be honest with you," Feresh said. "You know, as in, 'they pulled a Mets job'. Kind of like the Buffalo Bills on Monday night, against Dallas."

While confirming the Mets' addition to the 2008 -- and beyond -- editions, Manfrenchentensen denied a report that Mets GM Omar Minaya's photo would be used to help illustrate the word "sucker", in light of Minaya announcing that manager Willie Randolph would return in '08 despite the choke, er, Mets job.

Red Wings' Chelios Figures He Has Only Ten More Good Years Left

Detroit, MI. (Oct. 12) - Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios, 45, said after the team's game Wednesday night that he fears he has but one more decade left in his body.

"It's getting closer," Chelios said of retirement. "I figure I've got about ten more good years left, and that's it."

When told that playing ten more years would make him 56 upon retirement, and give him well over 30 years of NHL seniority, the irascible defenseman sneered at the reporter who said it.

"And your point is?," Chelios said.

Chelios moved into eight place in all-time games played this week when he surpassed Alex Delvecchio with his 1,550th game played. But he has higher aspirations.

"Where am I at, 1,550? Cripes sake. When I'm done I wanna be damn near 2,200," Chelios said of his goal for games played in the NHL.

Chelios would like to repeat this scene from 2002 a few more times before hanging up his skates in 2018

In fact, Chelios said he'd like to move to forward and be on the Red Wings' no. 1 line.

"You've seen what I've been doing offensively," Chelios said, referring to his goal-scoring prowess in the pre-season, and his goal against Edmonton Monday. "Put me with Hank and Pavs, and you'll REALLY see what I can do," he said of star forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.

When a reporter said that Chelios had exactly zero goals last season, the 23-year veteran responded by crunching him against the locker room wall with a brutal body check.

"Any other stat geeks want to ask a question?," Chelios then remarked.

After practice yesterday, Chelios raved about his physical conditioning.

"Really, I feel good. I feel like I have the body of a 36-year-old, which means I'll have the body of a 46-year-old when I retire in ten years, which is basically how old I am now, so I don't know what the big deal is, because I'm playing right now at 46 -- so why can't I play at 46 in ten years?," Chelios said to glassy-eyed reporters in the team's locker room.

Still, Chelios expressed a sense of urgency about his career.

"I'm in the twilight now," he said. "Well, maybe I'm approaching dusk. More like around 8:45 or so on a summer night. Is that twilight or dusk? I'm not good with science, but I do know this: I have maybe ten years, tops -- and then I'll have to seriously consider retirement."

When Chelios broke into the league, Ronald Reagan was president.

"Yeah, well he's dead now," Chelios said of Reagan, chuckling. "So what does that say about me?"

The oldest NHL player ever is Gordie Howe, who played for the Hartford Whalers at age 52, in 1980.

Chelios added that after he's done playing hockey, he'd like to try something else.

"I hear you can be a productive bocce ball player well into your 60s," he said.