Alyssa Milano’s MLB Exes Finally Find Success?

• Has the Curse of Alyssa Milano finally been lifted from MLB pitchers?

Curse of Alyssa Milano

• What better way to kick off the college football season than by trading really bad rival-bashing songs back and forth?

• Green Bay Packers LB Nick Barnett shares his shopping habits - such as getting his wife a Thumper.

Tony Kornheiser talks about all the quivering he did during his “Monday Night Football” days.

• Chelsea FC will have to wait awhile before signing any new players.

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Has Curse Of Alyssa Milano Finally Been Broken?

By all appearances, Brad Penny is a new man. As Richard mentioned in this morning’s Speed Read, Penny’s San Francisco Giants’ debut was nothing short of awesome, as he tossed eight scoreless innings in a 4-0 win over the Phillies on Wednesday. This after throwing a grand total of one shutout inning for the Red Sox over the previous five months.

Curse of Alyssa Milano

Somewhere in a Beverly Hills mansion, surrounded by dishes of caviar and flying monkeys, Alyssa Milano violently curses the fates. Penny, who dated the fetching actress for a brief period in 2005, seems to be the latest of her former boyfriends to have beaten the terrible Curse of Alyssa Milano. Could it be that her bony grip on America’s Major League pitching has finally been broken for good? Consider the evidence:

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Speed Read: Oregon, Boise Trade Musical Barbs

For a lot of us, tonight is like Christmas, your birthday and finding your Dad’s stash of Swank Magazines when you were 12 all rolled into one: college football starts tonight. And unlike most opening week mismatches, tonight’s marquee match-up should be a doozy, with Pac-10 dark horse Oregon braving possible blindness from the Smurf Turf and the color-coordinated fans to America’s underdog, the Boise State Broncos (current listed as a 3.5-point favorite).

Jeremiah Masoli

But this isn’t just a compelling game between two Top 25 teams with big aspirations. No, these two teams (in my best Jim Ross drawl) Just Plain Don’t Like Each Other, especially after last season’s win by Boise State that featured two Broncos getting ejected and Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli getting KOed by a cheap shot while attempting his first pass of the game. Here’s some video if you want to judge for yourself:

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Miami Caliente Holds Hot Lingerie Football Tryouts

• Tryouts were held for the Lingerie Football League’s Miami Caliente, and some of the resulting scenes were, dare I say, en fuego:

Miami Caliente lingerie football

Mark Cuban uses his blog to apologize to Kenyon Martin’s mom. But if you think the Mavs-Nuggets rivalry has cooled off, just ask LaLa Vasquez.

• The Dodgers know what women want - their own online radio broadcast!

• The Blackhawks scalp the Canucks, while the Caps force a Game 7.

• A slimmer Jessica Simpson sings at Sea World, much to PETA’s chargin.

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Liddell, Penny, Cooley All Go On a Musical Journey

It’s no secret that, inside every pro athlete, there’s a wannabe musician waiting for his big break. Past musical endeavours of professional athletes include (in reverse order of quality) the “misguided musical stylings” of Bronson Arroyo, the Jesus freakery of Ben Utecht, and the actual honest-to-God punk rock of Scott Radinsky. While the music sometimes is less than, well, listenable, who among us wouldn’t take the opportunity to cut an album or jump on stage to jam with the band?

Chuck Liddell karaokoe

However, just because some people are presented with said opportunity doesn’t mean they should take it. Last night, oft-pummeled UFC pixie Chuck Liddell teamed up with Boston Red Sox pitcher Brad Penny and Washington Foreskin Redskins tight end Chris Cooley to belt out the worst rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” since, well, Journey’s 1981 album, Escape. Thankfully, TMZ was there, and we’ve got the video after the jump.

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Speed Read: Dwyane Wade Pecks at Your Entrails

The Atlanta Hawks’ animal mascot (as opposed to its mall & car dealership mascot) couldn’t get settled for Wednesday night’s Game 2 against the Miami Heat. Before each home game, Spirit the Hawk usually swoops across the arena and land with its handler.

Instead, the (Del?) Harris hawk became confused last night and wandered Philips Arena, landing in the stands, above center court, and on a stanchion.

Spirit the Hawk of the Atlanta Hawks

For reasons unclear, they started the game while Spirit stayed loose. However, the game came to a screeching halt a few minutes in when Spirit landed on the backboard camera and Josh Smith excused himself due to winged predators in the field of play. Eventually, Spirit returned to his handler and play continued.

The rest of the Hawks followed suit in avoiding airborne objects for the remainder of the game, allowing Dwyane Wade to divebomb them with 33 points (including six three-pointers) in a 108-93 win to pull even with the Hawks at a game apiece in the seven-game series.

After the game, Hawks management offered Spirit the scorekeeper job; at least he knows where to look for the ball.

In other NBA games last night, Philadelphia lost to Orlando 96-87, New Orleans lost to Denver 108-93, and the Detroit Pistons lost their ability to care.

A flyby of the NBA may be all that underclassmen college basketball players will get next season when they wish to dip their toe in the NBA Draft. The NCAA has taken steps to limit the time non-seniors can even bat an eyelash in the NBA’s direction by declaring for the draft to the length of an eye blink.

A pensive Stephen Curry

Instead of getting approximately six weeks to consult with NBA teams, speak to trusted advisors, and draw out the decision into key segments of the news cycle, players would get around a week’s time, usually during finals. The NCAA wants to protect their franchisees by encouraging the players to stick around longer to increase their marketing value.

Therefore, no one should show surprise when a young man chooses to skip the NCAA for Europe as Brandon Jennings did. Perhaps we should also not feign indignance when the best high school junior in the country, Jeremy Tyler, packs his extra-long jammies (for his 6′11″ frame) and heads to Europe before his senior year of high school.

Jeremy Tyler

Long-time watchers of tall young men will recognize the puppeteer behind this latest stress test on the basketball pipeline. Sonny Vaccaro has his hand in this year’s Atlantic leap, just as he did for Jennings last year. Tyler turns 18 in June and will be eligible for the 2011 NBA draft.

We have a suggestion for Tyler to consider when he selects an NBA agent:

David Falk

The Bird of Prey himself, of course.

And now the hail of bullet points that you successfully survive thanks to your bra

Who’s now the most likely to be upset in round one?

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Speed Read: Men In Blue Know Umping Ain’t Easy

You think that baseball umpires have it easy? Talk to Kerwin Danley. Actually, don’t talk to him today - he’s probably nursing one heck of a headache. Unlike me this morning, it was not as the result of a night of heavy drinking, but from a baseball bat to the back of the head. The DALLAS MORNING NEWS says that Danley was whacked by Hank Blaylock’s broken bat while working the Rangers vs. Blue Jays game, and had to go to the hospital with a possible concussion.

Please ignore the Zapruder film quality (get some video conversion software, people) and prepare to wince at footage of the incident:

Unfortunately for Danley, winding up in the hospital is getting to be a regular occurrence for him. You might remember last year when he took a 96 mph fastball to the jaw courtesy of Brad Penny.

If I were Danley, I’d avoid any home plate assignments for the rest of my career if possible. Or I’d only work from a perch about ten rows in back of home, or wearing more padding than The Michelin Man.

But also: THE KILLER BATS ARE BACK!  I thought we stopped the maple bats’ raping and pillaging of the baseball world last season? Actually, I don’t know if that was a maple bat or not, but why not start the overly-heated, panicked reaction now?

Meanwhile, you might have missed this Washington Nationals bit of news because, well, they are the Nationals, but sluggers Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman were forced to wear jerseys that said “Natinals” during a game last Friday. Which, as you can imagine, was a bit of an embarrassment … for Majestic Apparel, the company that makes all uniforms for MLB. (I can’t imagine the uniform gaffe caused Dunn or Zimmerman to lose their “Natinals Pride”.)

Washington Natinals jersey

So MLB.COM says that Majestic has apologized for the mistake. They didn’t give an explanation for the error, but we can assume it’s because it was a Nationals jersey and no one cared. Apparently the Nationals’ clubhouse attendants didn’t care, since they just checked to make sure the names were spelled right on the back of the jerseys and didn’t look at the front when they opened the boxes before Opening Day. Honestly, you don’t wash those once to make it less itchy?

Finally, you have to wonder about La Salle University’s basketball recruiting process. After all, top recruit Karon Burton was supposed to be known for his speed, which led him to be named Delware County, PA’s Player of the Year this past season. But if that’s the case, how in the world did he, as the DELAWARE COUNTY DAILY TIMES says, get caught by a police officer when trying to flee on foot as cops were chasing him as part of a massive drug bust? Either someone’s scouting department sucks, or there’s a cop who should be receiving a recruiting visit.

Karon Burton

But I’m guessing that Burton won’t be getting that scholarship anyway. He was one of 11 people arrested on Monday as part of a two-hour undercover drug sting. Police say Burton ran from a car that had tried to purchase heroin from a cop posing as a dealer, and he tried to ditch bags of pot before being chased down by the cops. But that’s better than the woman who was also arrested in the sting trying to buy heroin and cocaine - with her young daughter in the car seat in back.

  • Another day, another case of a South American soccer match turning into a giant brawl. SKY NEWS says this one in Argentina started after the captain of Guarani Antonio Franco (who I think was dictator of Argentina at one time) bumped into the ref. Here’s the wackiness that ensued:

  • What’s worse than breaking someone’s ankle with a vicious soccer tackle? The BBC has an answer: how about stamping on the player’s shattered leg as he lays writhing on the ground?
  • The CHARLESTON DAILY MAIL says Marshall football player Courtney Edmonson made a basic mistake that many youngsters make when they drink: don’t carry a big bottle of Bacardi Razz Rum around campus.
  • Ole Miss DT Jerrell Powe told police that “he couldn’t read when they came over to his place about a noise complaint. The CLARION LEDGER says that Rebels head coach Houston Nutt is not pleased, especially since he’s had a history of eligibility issues with the NCAA.
  • Manny Pacquiao threw out the first pitch in San Francisco at the Giants’ home game against San Diego. The final verdict: more of a light jab than a knockout punch. Check it out for yourself (but don’t tell me you don’t want one of those T-shirts):

  • Even NASCAR is getting into the “helping the environment” business, with USA TODAY saying that for the first time, they will be using a hybrid as a pace car during the Coca-Cola 600 over Memorial Day weekend. This is what happens when the pinko leftists take over, people.
  • Congratulations, Blue Jackets fans: you got to see the first home playoff game in team history last night, as Columbus hosted Detroit. The bad news: THE HOCKEY NEWS reports that the Red Wings scored about one minute in and never looked back, coasting to a 4-1 win and a 3-0 series lead. But hey, you can show up tomorrow and be there to see the Blue Jackets get swept for the first time in franchise playoff history.
  • The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER has the latest college basketball star to declare for the NBA Draft: Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds, who I believe has been at the school for 27 years.
  • The LOS ANGELES TIMES says that there’s an apparent winner in the USC Trojans’ QB derby, as Pete Carroll has named sophmore Aaron Corp the starter for the spring game and through fall camp. I wonder where Mitch Mustain will transfer to next?
  • Finally, let’s give one last finger wag for Dikeme Mutombo, who the HOUSTON CHRONICLE says suffered a knee injury in the Rockets’ 107-103 loss to the Trail Blazers that Mutombo says is career-ending. And whom was he battling with when his knee exploded? Of course it was Greg Oden - he’s now made knee injuries viral. But let’s honor the defensive beast and great humanitarian by sexing someone tonight.

Which fans are the most obnoxious and overzealous about defending their semi-popular sport?

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Alyssa Milano Dishes On Bad Sex With Pitchers

Well, now Giants fans know who to blame for Barry Zito’s career implosion. According to THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER, Alyssa Milano’s new tell all, “Safe-at-Home”, drops all the details from her past flings with star pitchers Carl Pavano, Zito and Brad Penny, even dropping the fact that Penny made her wear his jersey to bed.

alyssa milano

(Two thirds of the Milano bad luck club, as compiled by SI.com)

It’s the latest step in a trave-sham-ockery of a career for Milano, who’s gone from classic crap TV (Who’s the Boss?) to modern crap TV (Charmed) to baseball clothing. It’s only too appropriate that the outlet to break the story has such high standards of integrity that it thinks Barry Zito’s first name is Brad. At each step of the way, she’s gone to lengths to have very public relationships with high profile pitchers, each of which has immediately gone into the tank after they broke up with Milano.

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Speed Read: T-Mac Reportedly Out For Season

Last February, the Houston Rockets were crippled - literally - by the season-ending foot injury to center Yao Ming. In what must feel like Groundhog’s Day for the team, this February is also bringing bad news for the team: their other All-Star anchor, Tracy McGrady, told ESPN.COM’s Stephen A. Smith that he needs microfracture surgery on his injured left knee and is done for the season.

Tracy McGrady

Keep mind that this is coming from the mouth of Smith, so take it with a grain of salt (right, Chris Bosh?), and the Rockets aren’t confirming the report. But they sure aren’t denying it either, and with Rockets owner Leslie Alexander telling the HOUSTON CHRONICLE to expect official news on McGrady later this week, it looks highly likely that T-Mac is going on the shelf for a long time.

Tracy McGrady

Alexander also told the paper that McGrady is a “superstar” and that the team has no plans to trade him. Which is probably code for “we really wanted to trade him, but now that he’s damaged goods we’re stuck with him.” How much his absence will impact the Rockets is unclear - he’s either been ineffective or out of the line-up for most of the season to begin with, but losing him can’t help.

The only thing injured on Alex Rodriguez right now is his reputation, which is doing about as well as Jack from Jack in the Box. His press conference at Yankee spring training didn’t help much - I would recommend not using the phrase “I’m here to take my medicine” again any time soon - and might have got his unnamed cousin in trouble.

Alex Rodriguez

Rodriguez claims that his cousin brought something called “boli” from the Dominican Republic, which the USA TODAY says usually refers to the steroids Dianabol or Deca-Durabolin. And now a DEA agent is ominously warning that “those who violate drug laws are always at risk of arrest and prosecution.” We don’t know who this cousin is yet - although BIG LEAGUE STEW has a list of candidates - but I’m guessing we’ll find out soon enough.

In related news, the AP reports that the MLBPA has sent a memo to its players informing them how to respond to questions about the 2003 drug testing. Their recommendation: don’t respond. The memo also goes into detail about little details like why the tests weren’t destroyed, and how the union did not give advance knowledge of tests of players.

Finally, fans who tuned into the Kentucky/Vanderbilt game last night expecting fireworks had to be greatly disappointed. Not in the game itself, but in the lack of a halftime interview between ESPN sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards and the man she spurned, Wildcats head coach Billy Gillispie.

ESPN reporter Jeannine Edwards

Alas, no luck last night. As the TENNESSEAN notes, with the game tied at halftime Edwards chose to interview Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings instead of Gillispie, telling the paper “I cut my losses.” This is, of course, the entirely wrong approach, and there should have been a producer in Edwards’ ear demanding she interview Gillispie. Not having her interview Gillispie would be like if Chuck Wepner replaced Muhammad Ali at the last minute for “The Rumble in the Jungle” - totally unacceptable.

What was the most painful/awesome interview in sports TV history?

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Speed Read: NFL Follows The Playoff Brick Road

It’s not every year that the final regular season of the NFL game means something. NBC flexed their way to the Chargers eliminating the Broncos in a semi-playoff game to capture the AFC West berth into the playoffs. The Dolphins, Vikings, Eagles, and Ravens were the other teams to punch their tickets in the 11th hour, and you know how airlines hate it when you check in late. This leaves our 12 teams arranged for your graphic pleasure as such:

NFL Playoff matchup

The four divisional games will skip hand in hand toward the Emerald Cigar City in hopes of overcoming the evil flying monkeys known as “losing in the playoffs.” Those swell games begin Saturday. That’s six days. I hope you’ve already found a couch in which to park your butt.

Tomlinson and Manumaleuna go for ball

A telltale sign your team is on a roll: two people are open for the same pass. When LaDainian Tomlinson wasn’t going long for the pass, he was passing San Diego native Marcus Allen for career touchdowns, finishing the regular season with 126 for second most all time.

The 52-21 rout of the Broncos creates an 8-8 playoff team for the eighth time in NFL history, and the first time in the AFC since the 1991 New York Jets. While the Chargers are rollin’ like James Brolin, only twice have 8-8 teams won a playoff game, and they both happened in 2004 (Minnesota over Green Bay, St. Louis over Seattle). They will host the 12-4 Colts. Hmm. I wonder if these two teams have played each other in the playoffs before.

Lonnie Cooper

This man is Lonnie Cooper. You’ve never heard of him, unless he was your Secret Santa, or if you are one of nine NBA coaches that called him “my agent” at the start of the season. The NBA called six of those coaches “fired” in a span of 24 days:

The firings began Nov. 22, when P. J. Carlesimo was dismissed by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Two days later, Eddie Jordan was fired by the Washington Wizards. Sam Mitchell (Toronto) was the next to go, then Randy Wittman (Minnesota) and Maurice Cheeks (Philadelphia). The purge continued Dec. 15, with the Sacramento Kings firing Reggie Theus.

His active clientele still includes Doc Rivers, Jim O’Brien, and Nate McMillan, and Kings interim coach Kenny Natt is his client, too. But to have three of nine coaches make it. Three of nine. Three of nine. Hmm. Maybe Shaq should inquire about his services.

As we gust our way to the finish line:

  • If you watch closely, you can actually see the string Bill Belichick pulls that gets Matt Cassel’s punt down to the 1-yard line. It’s so nice to see cheating coaches get back to the fundamentals of impish tomfoolery. Funner fact: the last time a Patriots quarterback punted it away: Tom Brady in 2003. And where did his land? Why, the 1-yard line, of course (last item).
  • LOSER WITH SOCKS notices that Charter Cable subscribers in Montgomery, Alabama will tentatively be without FOX on January 2, but all they’ll miss is the Sugar Bowl. But it’s Friday night. Go and get some friends or throw a Boggle party. Expand your mind, ya’ ingrates.
  • DEADSPIN has video of Eagles owner Jeff Lurie. He is so jazzed to have his team in the playoffs, he’s willing to slap his wife in the face in the form of a high-five.
  • STEROID NATION has news of a notable baseball player taking steroids. Just kidding, I said “baseball player” to get your attention because there’s no other way to get people to care about non-baseball players taking steroids. BALCO bigwig Victor Conte details “Sugar” Shane Mosley’s purchases of EPO and anabolic steroids. Would it help your interest if I photoshopped a baseball on top of Mosley’s pectoral muscles?
  • Oh, it looks like Brad Penny is eversoclose to a one-year deal with the Red Sox, so sayeth FOX SPORTS’ Ken Rosenthal, who can quietly add another point into the non-white player to Boston category.
  • Sportswriters who cover the Cotton Bowl get their own swag, HUNTSVILLE TIMES’ Paul Gattis notes. When ‘Bama was in the Cotton Bowl in 2005, this valiant sportswriter received, among other things, get free tickets to Frank Caliendo. Ooh, I wonder if he did his John Madden impression? Have you seen it before? OF COURSE YOU HAVE. YOU OWN A TV.
  • Thanks, OREGON LIVE, for writing the headlines that need no explanation:

    Hotel sausage

    Hey, it’s better than motel bologna.

  • Staying with the OREGONIAN motif, rich nerd Paul Allen doesn’t let his Blazers sleep in his executive bedroom, except for Greg Oden because he’s taller and therefore better than everyone else. Fun fact: Sam Bowie was the only one allowed to play with Larry Weinberg’s Rubik’s cube.
  • It’s best to just let THE DUGOUT spin out as much as they can on Kyle Farnsworth, for we are all better off for it, even if not everyone knows this.
  • And finally, a bowl game happened last night. In the Independence Bowl, Northern Illinois fell 17-10 as Louisiana Tech wins their eighth game of thzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Which NFL team with playoff dreams going into Week 17 blew it the worst?

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