Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pittsburgh Pirates Emotionally Eliminated From 2008 Pennant Race

Impending Mathematical Elimination "Too Tough" To Deal With, Sources Say

Bradenton, FL. (Feb. 28) - The Pittsburgh Pirates, earlier than ever before, have been emotionally eliminated from playoff contention, sources say.

"Morale is at an all-time low," a source -- who described himself as a "close, personal friend" of the team -- said yesterday. "I just don't know how the Pirates can go on."

The source -- a supportive gay man in his late-20s -- said the team "hardly touched" its postgame meal yesterday after an exhibition loss to the Cincinnati Reds, and that it's been walking around in "la-la land" ever since spring training opened two weeks ago.

"All the losses, all the rejection, all the fruitless off-seasons with no help coming from other teams -- it's taking its toll," the friend said. "And, I think they're starting to smoke again."

The friend said that the Pirates' upcoming mathematical elimination -- expected sometime in early-April -- has the team in a deep depression.

The Pirates' Jason Bay, shown being unable to bring himself to join in the drills

"They don't shower, they don't shave," the friend said. "Yesterday I saw (outfielder) Jason Bay lying on the clubhouse sofa, devouring a bag of Doritos. The coaches were trying to get him to take batting practice, but he just waved them off, saying, 'What's the use?' "

The Pirates have not had a winning season since 1992 -- not coming close since then.

"I suggested that the team go out, buy itself something nice -- like a relief pitcher. SOMETHING," the friend went on. "I can't even get it to go out for a cup of coffee with me anymore.

"It's so sad."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dwyane Wade Thinks This Entire Season Is A Long Episode Of Punk'd

Miami, FL. (Feb. 24) - Friends of Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade say that the NBA superstar is convinced that this season is simply a drawn-out practical joke for an upcoming "Punk'd" special to air this spring.

"He's just waiting for Ashton Kutcher or one of the members from Outkast to yell out, 'PUNK'D!' as soon as the buzzer goes off at the end of the last game of the season," one friend told reporters. "He keeps saying there's no other explanation for it."

"Punk'd", an MTV show, would place celebrities in practical joke situations, often in full view of the public. The final episode aired in May 2007, but Wade thinks MTV is reviving the show for a special hour-long version to air sometimes after the NBA Finals.

Wade's Miami Heat are 9-44 and have lost 26 out of their last 27 games. Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Phoenix Suns a couple weeks ago, a move that Wade says is simply part of MTV's storyline.

"Here's the deal: Dwyane thinks the season will end, he'll be Punk'd, then Shaq will return to the Heat next season," another friend disclosed. "He thinks coach Pat Riley, the fans, his teammates, the league, and every athlete in every sport and every recording artist of all genres are in on the prank."

Wade, the friends report, keeps saying things like, "Aww, man -- this is a GOOD one!," whenever the Heat lose another game, despite him pouring in dozens of points every night.

"Last week, after yet another loss, Dwyane kept going up to teammates and saying, 'Y'all got me good.' Of course, they had no idea what he was talking about -- which just fueled his belief that they were just putting on."

When the Shaq trade was announced, Wade told friends that it "was obvious that MTV will stop at nothing" to propagate the prank.

"They traded Shaq? Man, they're SERIOUS at 'Punk'd'. This is dope," Wade was quoted as saying.

Wade is eager to finish the season and hug Kutcher and the other co-conspirators, then take everyone out for "a real expensive dinner", at which Wade is expected to reveal that he became aware of the prank "months ago" -- hoping to get the last laugh.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

NHL Red-Faced As It Learns Versus Not REALLY A Network At All

New York, NY (Feb. 20) - The National Hockey League, for years trying to find a foothold in the medium of television, suffered another humiliating blow to its already-fragile credibility when it was revealed that Versus, the tiny network currently carrying NHL games, is not really a network at all.

"I'm most dreadfully embarrassed," said league Commissioner Gary Bettman at a news conference yesterday. "We were misled."

Versus, it turns out, is instead a public access cable station based out of Teaneck, NJ that was able to use an old microwave uplink from 17-year-old Danny Whalen's dad's former communications consulting company to transmit the "network's" signal to the over 10,000 homes that receive Versus.

"That Whalen kid ... pretty damn slick," Bettman said, sighing and shaking his head as he could barely bring himself to make eye contact with reporters.

An embarrassed-beyond-belief NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman tries to explain how the league could have been duped by some teenagers into thinking it was broadcasting games on an actual network for almost two seasons

Whalen and his friend, 16-year-old Seth Husted, pirated game broadcasts and, using a MacIntosh computer program, placed the totally made up Versus "logos" and graphics over them.

"It started out as a joke one night," Whalen said on his way home from Teaneck High School yesterday. "Seth says, 'You think we can do this?' He's always up for some sort of reason to use this new Mac software he bought."

According to Whalen, the ruse began a year ago September, when his older cousin, Bernie, tabbed some actors from his community theater group to play the roles of Versus executives. A meeting was arranged with the TV-hungry NHL, and the league quickly agreed to go with Versus, failing to do even the slightest due diligence.

"When Bernie texted me that he was sitting in Bettman's office, I about s**t my pants," Whalen said, giggling. "I was like, 'We might actually pull this off.' "

Of course, getting Bettman's approval was only Step One. Next, the youngsters had to put into motion the technical part of the plan, which involved Husted's computer genius.

Before long, the boys were "broadcasting" games on the bogus network.

"Network" on-air talent such as Bill Clement, Keith Jones, and Brian Engblom assumed that their work was being seen by millions, when in fact it was just 8-10,000 per night -- depending on the reliability of Whalen's dad's outdated microwave transmitter.

"Some nights we can hit 10 K, but if it's bad out, it's more like 6 K," Whalen explained.

Bettman announced the firing of media buyer Leslie Thornblatt and her assistant in the wake of the revelation, which came after Whalen "couldn't keep fooling the league anymore" and sent an e-mail to NHL offices.

"To our thousands of fans, I apologize," Bettman said. "You expect more from us."

Not really, according to sports analyst Bill Berg.

"The league hasn't really disappointed here," Berg said. "In fact, this is pretty much par for the course."

Whalen said he and his friends would continue to broadcast games on "Versus" thru the end of the regular season, to help the NHL save face.

"I guess we owe that much to them," Whalen said as he tossed his backpack onto the kitchen counter.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Nets, Mavericks Try To Hammer Out New Kidd Deal, Then Say "Just Screw It"

East Rutherford, NJ (Feb. 18) - The New Jersey Nets and Dallas Mavericks, after trying for several days to consummate a trade involving Nets point guard Jason Kidd, have scrapped the whole thing.

"Screw it. Just screw it," a visibly agitated Nets GM Rod Thorn said as he rushed to his car yesterday, sighing heavily and rolling his eyes.

The trade for Kidd, originally announced last week, fell through when Devean George, one of the Mavericks players involved, exercised a clause in his contract that voided the deal. Ever since, the two sides have been trying to come up with another exchange.

"You know what? I tried to do the right thing, and ... whatever," Thorn said as he plowed through reporters on his way to his vehicle. "I'm done. If you want Jason Kidd traded, do it your own Goddamn self. Son of a bitch."

Thorn then slammed the car door and sped off.

Mavericks GM Donn Nelson said, "It just wasn't working out. We took George out of the mix, then tried to put in Adrian Dantley, but Adrian's status as being retired for over 10 years nixed that offer. Then the Nets said they'd take Dantley, as long as we took Micheal Ray Richardson, but that didn't seem like much of an improvement, so we said no. Then we offered to not sign Jerry Stackhouse after the Nets bought out his contract in 30 days, but I couldn't actually say that without grinning, which killed that. Then we started to ask ourselves, do we REALLY need Jason Kidd? I mean, is it worth all this hassle?"

Kidd says he still would welcome a trade to the Mavericks.

"DUH," he said after practice. "S**t, I'd welcome a trade to the freaking Washington Generals at this point," Kidd said in reference to the long-time straight men to the Harlem Globetrotters. "That little s**t Devean George. Why, I'd like to ...," Kidd added, balling his right hand into a fist and smacking it into his left palm several times.

Thorn, according to sources, reportedly told Nelson to "bite me" when talks broke down Saturday night, before slamming the phone down.

"They can kiss my New Jersey ass," Thorn said of the Mavs, according to the sources.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Small Picket Fences Being Swiped At Alarming Rate; Sports Fans To Blame

Peoria, IL (Feb. 15) - Small picket fences are being stolen and sold on the black market at rates never seen before, a national institute reports.

The Harrison Group, a non-profit organization that tracks sports-related crimes, says that the fences are being plucked from homes and gardens across the country and ending up in sports crowds around the nation.

Lord knows where that piece of fence came from

"They're being used, in combination with handmade and stolen D's from area signs, to make the sign for 'defense' at sporting events," says Harrison Group spokesman Donna Beltaire. "It's becoming pandemic. Soon it may be epidemic. Or vice-versa. I forget which is worse."

Beltaire said the Group's study included the 12 months from February 2007 to January 2008.

"What we found was an increase of nearly 77% in reports of picket fence robberies," she said at a press conference yesterday. "Our intelligence shows the fences being cut into sections then sold in the black market, where they end up in fans' hands."

Beltaire said most fans who come upon the fence sections have no idea the sections are "hot."

"They're usually told that the person who's selling the sections owned the fence, making the transaction seem legitimate in the buyer's eyes. But 99% of the time, the seller bought the fence sections from an unscrupulous individual."

Yes, that means that there are those who are fencing fences.

"It's just another sad commentary," Beltaire said.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Yankees Ready To Defend Wild Card Championship

Tampa, FL. (Feb. 13) - New Yankees manager Joe Girardi "can't wait" for spring training to start, so his team can begin its defense of the 2007 Wild Card Championship.

"One of the reasons I was so excited to take this job was because of the rich tradition of always defending something every spring," Girardi, who's taking over for Joe Torre, said yesterday. "We go into camp with the big targets on our back for those who want to take the Wild Card away from us. Bring it on -- we're the G--damn Yankees."

In 2007, the Yankees arrived in Tampa in preparations to defend their second consecutive ALDS Appearance, which followed 2005's defense of 2004's ALCS Game 3 Championship.

"I hope our fans know how hard it was to gain the Wild Card last season," owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement thru his sons. "And it promises to be just as hard this year. But rest assured that the Yankees will spare no expense in making sure we make it to the playoffs and get eliminated before the World Series -- you have my word."

The Yankees have declared that the recent trend of not winning the World Series -- the team last won it in 2000 -- is now a "new tradition", explaining away shocking playoff losses of late to a simple fact: the team has won enough World Series titles.

"What makes us more newsworthy? Winning the World Series or failing to do so?," asked Girardi of the small press gathering surrounding him outside Legends Field. "Come on, be honest: what's more fun to write about?"

When several of the media members answered, "It's more fun to write about when you lose," Girardi smiled.

"Exactly," he said.

Girardi said he can barely contain his excitement as his pitchers and catchers prepare to report tomorrow. He pointed to a large banner that read, "Welcome Back To Tampa, Our Wild Card Yankees" that hung over the entrance to Legends Field.

"It's a new day," Girardi said. "Yankees Baseball isn't about winning the World Series so much as it is providing baseball fans everywhere with drama, emotion, and blogging fodder. And we think we still do that better than anyone in the big leagues."

Yankees fans seem to be on board.

New Jersey native Sol Hudson, who now lives in Tampa, said, "The Red Sox fans are all like, 'We won the World Series again!' Who gives a flying f***? They can have it. Hey, where were you from 1919 to 2003, when it was still cool to win the Series? The World Series is so not in. What team is everyone still talking about? The Yankees! The Joe Torre drama, the A-Rod contract, now the Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte steroid thing. We still rule the front pages.

"F*** your World Series," Hudson added.

Girardi said that the Yankees will always have something to defend -- even if they, somehow, fail to qualify for the playoffs this season.

"Maybe it'll be 2008's Most Dysfunctional Team. I don't know. But isn't that what's so fun about it? The unknown."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Source: Tape Exists Of Someone Watching The Pro Bowl

Sacramento, CA (Feb. 11) - Reports have surfaced that claim video evidence exists of someone watching yesterday's Pro Bowl, sources say.

"The video is real. It's not doctored," the source told the Sacramento Bee. The source contacted the Bee because the person who is shown in the video lives in the Sacramento area.

According to the source, the person -- tentatively described as a "white male in his 30s" -- was videotaped as he watched "between three and five minutes" of the game, a 42-30 win for the NFC over the AFC.

"It's clear; there's even audio," the source says. "This man was, without question, watching the Pro Bowl."

It wasn't revealed WHY the man was watching the game, nor why he was videotaped. The source would only say that the man was videotaped "without his knowledge."

The man's name isn't being released, pending contact of his family. It's already been speculated by football observers that even after his family is notified, the man may seek to keep his name confidential through legal means.

"Revelation of him watching this sorry-ass excuse for a pro sports All-Star game could destroy his career -- and his life," the source said. "I suspect he'll fight tooth and nail to have his name kept undisclosed."

In a related development, the 50,000+ fans who attended the game in Hawaii have filed a class action injunction to keep their names private, as well.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

U.S. Soccer Officials: You Don't Like This Game, Do You?

Encino, CA (Feb. 7) - Officials of the U.S. Soccer Federation announced at a press conference yesterday that they "get it", and will stop trying to promote soccer in this country.

"You all win," spokesman Gary Hughes said with a sigh outside USSF headquarters. "We'll back off with the promotion of this great game in this country. But you don't know what you're missing."

Hughes then changed his tone after that comment after getting a scolding look from his colleagues.

"Um, I mean, the people have spoken and we respect their decision," he added.

Hughes and his associates were responding to a growing discord amongst U.S. sports fans and enthusiasts from soccer, who have continually rejected soccer as a major sport ever since it was introduced.

"Hallelujah!" said Mark Anderson, 41, a software engineer and a "huge" NFL and NBA fan. "Thank God! Enough with the soccer already."

Sports and recreation analyst Bernard Himmington says he understands why soccer has never caught on in the United States.

"We're impatient in this country," Himmington says. "We want scoring and action. At least action. Soccer doesn't provide enough of either. Not nearly enough. Frankly, that game just blows, let's face it."

Anderson agrees.

"Look at the size of the goals," he said. "They're huge! It's like they're mocking you: You'll never score, no matter if we put a goal the size of Montana out there. Come on, if that game didn't suck, the scores would be 10-8, 12-10, with the size of those goals. Cripe."

The USSF's Hughes admitted that the marketing efforts here rang hollow.

"We were strong with the kids and youths," Hughes said. "But then once the parents realized that the best thing about soccer was getting their kids tired after running around chasing the ball, then we lost them.

"I will miss some of the soccer moms, though. They were pretty hot," Hughes added, drawing another scowl from his colleagues at the podium.

Hughes said the death knell was a recently commissioned poll by the independent Hayes Institute, which occasionally monitors sports and recreation trends in the U.S. When Americans were asked about several fringe activities, "Which of these sports are most compelling?" the choices and results were: Volleyball 42%; tennis 37%; jai alai 14&; rowing 5%; miniature golf 1.5%; darts 0.3%; and soccer, at 0.2%.

Reaction wasn't mixed across the country.

"They should have given up long ago," said Max LaHoya, a Mexican-American who grew up with soccer south of the border. "I knew Gringos would never go for soccer."

"Good riddance," said high school football coach Gus Miller of Boca Raton, Fla. "God, I hated those soccer freaks. Maybe if they would let you touch the ball with your hands. All that kicking!"

Hughes said soccer programs would continue to exist for those who choose to still play the game, but that the USSF would no longer help fund them.

"We're done. We get it," he said.

Soccer mom Bernice Palmatier of Bakersfield, Ca. said, "I feel like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders. My daughter's 12. Soccer was great when she was 7 or 8. She'd come home exhausted and go right to bed, and I could read and have time to myself. But soccer doesn't do that to her anymore. So now it's just a grind. She doesn't like playing, I don't like watching her. The game is awful. We've been living a charade for years.

"I'm glad it's over, to tell you the truth."

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Belichick Declares Patriots Mythical NFL Champions

Foxboro, MA (Feb. 5) - Despite losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl Sunday, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has declared his team mythical National Football League champions.

"It works in college football, why not in pro football?" asked Belichick as the Patriots' plane touched down in Massachusetts last night. He then made his case for why the Patriots, not the Giants, should be possessors of the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

"We've lost one game. They (the Giants) lost six. I mean, you do the math," Belichick said with his usual dour, humorless expression. "In college football, whoever heard of a team with six losses playing for the championship of anything? Jesus H C*****!"

Belichick also said that since the Patriots beat the Giants in the regular season, "this makes us 1-1 against each other. If Ohio State and LSU were 1-1, would you just declare one of them champs? Hell no. You'd hope for a tie-breaking game."

When asked if that meant that Belichick was lobbying for a third game against the Giants, the coach said, "Not necessary. We're the champions, plain and simple. So we lost a game. Big deal. What about the 18 in a row that we won? Nobody seems to want to talk about THAT."

Belichick also passed out some hastily-made flyers that said "18-1 beats 14-6 every time", in reference to the Patriots' and Giants' records.

Bill Belichick waves to supporters at Logan International Airport in Boston before being whisked away; moments earlier, he declared the Patriots champions

"If there were polls in the NFL, the Giants wouldn't even be in the top five," Belichick continued as he walked to a private car at the airport. "And now because they beat us, they're suddenly number one? It's a G**damn joke."

Belichick also declared QB Tom Brady the game's MVP, for his "unwavering effort in the face of a relentless pass rush and that late TD pass to Randy Moss, which should have sealed the deal." Belichick said the game-winning TD pass from Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress shouldn't be used to penalize Brady. "Just because our defense had a hiccup shouldn't mean that Tom Brady gets the MVP taken away from him," Belichick reasoned.

In addition to awarding his team their fourth championship in seven seasons and Brady MVP honors, Belichick second-guessed himself for going for it on 4th and 13 late in the third quarter at the Giants' 31 with his team leading 7-3, but came away unmoved. "Still the right call," he said. Belichick also spoke of how the 2008 season will be even tougher for his team.

"We've got the targets on our back," he said. "Because we're the defending champions. Really, we are. Hey, 18-1. Enough said."

Friday, February 1, 2008

AL Central Teams Chip In To Pay Santana's New Mets Contract

New York, NY (Feb. 1) - Eager to be rid of Minnesota Twins lefty Johan Santana, the other AL Central teams plan to "pass the hat" and take up a collection to help pay for the Cy Young winner's new contract with the New York Mets.

"We're happy to help," said Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski of the gesture, in which his team plus the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, and Kansas City Royals will each "pony up some dough" to better facilitate the Santana trade.

The Twins have agreed to ship Santana to the Mets for a bunch of prospects, but the deal has been hinging on the Mets' ability to meet Santana's salary demands. Reports have Santana asking for as much as $150 million over six years.

"We've already raided petty cash and secured a loan," a spokesman for the Indians said. "We can kick in maybe five, six million."

The Royals are set to hold a bunch of car wash fundraisers this weekend in their Florida spring training home, plus there are an "inordinate" number of empty cans and bottles that the team has been meaning to get to, that can add to the team's contribution.

The White Sox plan to sell a bunch of memorabilia on eBay to raise their portion.

The idea to help the Mets with Santana's salary came after an awkward moment Dombrowski recently shared with Mets GM Omar Minaya.

"We were in an elevator," Dombrowski said. "And we're both looking at the floor number change, like you normally do when there's nothing else to say. Then all of a sudden Oscar sighs and says, 'Whoo...this Santana deal...I'm not sure how I'm going to pay his contract.' "

After an uncomfortable silence, Dombrowski said Minaya glanced over at him and after the two made eye contact, "I had to say something. So I told him I could see what we could do," Dombrowski told his Mets counterpart.

Once the teams' money is pooled together, it will be presented to the Mets at a press conference with one of those big, pretend checks, with all the Central clubs' GMs sharing the podium with Minaya, Santana, and some guy who works for the company that makes those big, pretend checks.