A Most Unfortunate Headline For Red Wings Fans

If you are a Detroit Red Wings fan, this is not funny. If you like any of the other 29 teams in the NHL, this is uproariously funny.

Detroit Red Wings Are Not Straight
(via PROBABLY BAD NEWS)

Yes, if we’re reading that headline from ESPN.COM correctly, Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg (above), um, “have an announcement to make.” Hell of a breakthrough story, if you ask us.

Of course, if Lidstrom and Zetterberg really are hairstylists for each other, that would be especially shocking news to Zetterberg’s girlfriend Emma Andersson, whom we are contractually obligated to post after the break.

Read more…

Speed Read: End Of The Road For Chris Chelios?

In case you hadn’t noticed, and after these many years it’s okay if you hadn’t, Chris Chelios has been around forever. For-eh-vur. The 47-year-old has literally spent a majority of his life as a player in the NHL, breaking into the league with Montreal during the 1983-84 season. Yeah, back when “Jump” was the hot new sound from Van Halen. That’s how long dude’s been around.

Chris Chelios Weightlifting
(Of course he stuck around this long because of hard work. What did you expect? Prayer?)

And while injuries and the unrelenting assault of time on an aging man’s body have kept Chelios from the legendary Gordie Howe’s all-time record in games played and other marks of longetivity, Chelios is still a colossal freak of nature. Look no further than at (it bears repeating) the age of 47, Chelios is finally being released by the Detroit Red Wings. As the DETROIT NEWS reports, though, he still might not be done:

General manager Ken Holland met with Chelios Monday afternoon and, as expected, gave him the news Chelios will not be re-signed.

“It was kind of understood last summer, after Cheli signed, that the 2008-09 season would be the last one for Cheli as a Red Wing,” said Holland, noting the need for the Wings to bring in younger players. “He wants to play another season and I believe he can still play.”

Perhaps Chelios has a year or two left in him as a swan song in Chicago, or maybe he wants to see if he can hit 50 in an NHL uniform, a stunning accomplishment that really has zero bearing on the world at large. Don’t get us wrong, most guys don’t make it to 30 in the league, much less tack two more entire decades on the odometer, but at no point is Chelios ever going to be a catalyst for great things anymore.

Which is fine, of course. Guys stick around in professional athletics for a few years too many on a regular basis, and few (if any) have earned the privilege as much as Chelios. It’s just that at this point, the list of teams who might pick him up are those who really don’t even need the help to begin with.

Speaking of Chris Chelios (WARNING: this segue makes no sense), let’s talk about women fighting each other. You might remember last week where Cris “Cyborg” Santos choked out a reporter who foolishly questioned her ability to finish a submission move against a fighter, y’know, like how real men do. Well, being that Santos is going to fight SbB favorite Gina Carano in Carano’s post-EliteXC return to the Octagon, one display of lady-on-gentleman brutality can’t go unreturned before the fight, right? Right:

Nighty nighty, talker man. The question isn’t where are you, as Santos’ victim asked when he came back to Earth, but what are you: that would be lucky as hell, lucky that someone strong enough to turn the lights out with such ease also possesses the capacity for mercy, which is pretty much the only thing that has saved your brain’s regular functions.

If ladychoking is the next salvo fired in the War on Equality, then so be it, because strong women are clearly capable of winning that fight against weak men. And sure, a man can still probably choke out a woman, but anyone willing to make that case, even hypothetically, probably isn’t someone worth your time in conversation. Avoid accordingly.

Last, speaking of choking, let’s talk about USC. In the wake of Tim Floyd’s shame-splattered resignation and allegations of selective rule enforcement in the case of Reggie Bush, former Heisman hero and current athletic director Mike Garrett demands to be judged by his record and his legacy. For example, he hired Pete Carroll. Also, he hired, um… uh…

Pete Carroll USC Song Girls
(The Song Girls aren’t really hired, per se, so that doesn’t count. The white-haired guy in the middle does, though.)

Turns out, as the LOS ANGELES TIMES points out, he doesn’t exactly have a track record of success to fall back on, despite his boasts. So while Carroll’s hire is to Garrett as the Emancipation Proclamation is to Abraham Lincoln (seriously, Abe, what else did you accomplish, other than monopolizing the top hat?*), the rest of the resume seems to be, ahem, lacking. The worst hire, in retrospect, seems to be Floyd, who may have crippled the Trojans’ basketball program for years to come in order to secure one year of service from O.J. Mayo. And let’s hope that mistake doesn’t happen again…

Who’s the next big star from O.J. Mayo’s family?

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So above all else, Garrett’s resume suggests that success is but a random decision away, a call to be made by livestock choosing to address one of several piles of food, each festooned with a different logo. Blew it on that up-and-coming coach from Southwestern State back in 2003? Hey, what can you do; Ernie the Carnivorous Pheasant clearly indicated he was due by way of which chum pile he devoured, and in any case, we saved the $12 million a barely-competent would have demanded over those same six years.

Some extra links to consider while you keep the horse off the launchpad…

  • J.R. Smith and Eddy Curry were apparently webcasting online as they were pulled over for the all-too-common D.W.B., as INSIDE HOOPS reports. No charges were filed and no video seems to exist, which is precisely why you’re reading about it here and not blaring at the top of a morning post. [UPDATE: Smith’s unequivocally calling bullfeathers on the story, though it seems so oddly specific we’re not sure why they would make any of that up.]
  • OPPOSITE DAY: The worst GM in at least the last 30 years, Steve Phillips, is allowed to make assertions about baseball that go routinely unchallenged. This is like giving Karl Rove his own political column… oh wait.
  • A word to Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido: there are many, many opportunities for somebody to make self-deprecating jokes to the press. A recent DUI arrest and your mugshot, for example would probably not be the best opportunity to do so. Just something to keep in mind going forw–well, I see we’re too late.
  • Joakim Noah will join Mickael Pietrus and Jean-Shaquille L’Oneal (we made up the last one, of course, but not the first two) on the French national team for upcoming international play. Vince Carter was seem chuckling, sizing up Noah’s dimensions, and dialing his time machine back to 2000. It’s been a while since he abused a giant Frenchman, you see, and these desires just never seem to go away after you indulge them once.

  • Tony Hawk got to visit the White House, then skateboard through it. And you know what? You can do the exact same thing if you spend 20 years getting famous for being better at one thing than anyone else in the world, and no, we’re not talking about what you do three times a day whenever the wife’s not around. In that case, practice makes pervert. Now pull up your pants and keep reading.
  • No, University of Illinois, Ron Santo was not trying to get into med school (not as anything but a discount-level test dummy; get some toes, then we can talk full price).
  • Bet you don’t know who just beat out Jason Jennings for the franchise lead for most victories. Did you guess Aaron Cook? Well, you probably cheated.
  • Some eight-grader does a flip and throws the basketball in a hoop from almost a full court. This is actually less related to competitive basketball than dunk contests, which we didn’t even think was possible.

(What’s next, trying to shoot it out of a cannon into a hoop? What does this have to do with actual basketball? God, we’re old.)

*We’re addressing him in the first person because we have it on good authority that Abe Lincoln and other dead Presidents read SbB with astonishing regularity in the afterworld. Heaven has great wi-fi. Which seems appropriate, if you think about it; how good could heaven really be if the wireless sucked?

Penguin Lust: Stanley The Gamer Is A True Hero

You thought the victory celebration in Los Angeles was rough? This stuffed penguin begs to differ. Stanley the Gamer, as he has been dubbed, was rescued no less than three times from rowdy Red Wings fans bent on destroying him prior to Game 7 on the NHL Playoffs on Friday. But he survived, and is credited as the good luck charm that made the difference in Pittsburgh’s 2-1 win for the Stanley Cup.

Stanley the Gamer

His reward? Stanley was repaired and taken to the Penguins’ victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh today, where he received a hero’s welcome along with the actual players. Opus approves. Read more…

Speed Read: Magic Reel In Obligatory Game 3 Win

Sure the Magic beat the Lakers on Tuesday night, 108-104, shooting an NBA Finals record 75 percent from the floor (!) in the first half. But does this really make it a competitive series? I hesitate in that regard until I hear from a definitive source, like Shaquille O’Neal’s Twitter feed. So let’s check … OK, Shaq says that we can pay attention now, and that’s good enough for me.

Magic's Dwight Howard

Orlando’s 63-percent field goal shooting performance for the game (also a Finals record) is impressive to be sure, and the Magic avoided going 0-7 lifetime in Finals competition, which of course would have been the dreaded Plutonium Sombrero. But there’s another, sobering way to look at things if you’re a Magic fan: Your team set two NBA Finals records for floor shooting, and you still only won by four, and the game came down to the final possession. That can’t bode well. Shaq, any thoughts on that in 140 characters or less?

Five guys in scoring double figures for Orlando, including 18 for Mikael Pietrus off the cushioned folding chairs. Our friend Dwight Howard, shown above, had 21 points and 14 rebounds. And how about Rafer Alston, who had been 3-for-17 from the floor combined over the first two games, but went 8-of-12 for 20 points with four assists on Tuesday? For his part, Kobe Bryant looked wan and thirsty, after the first quarter anyway. He made eight of his first 11 shots but finished 11-of-25 with 31 points, 5-of-10 from the free throw line. Plus, he got picked inside of the final minute with his team down 2, losing control near the top of the key with Pietrus finally ending up with the ball.

Pau Gasol had 23 points, in what I’m sure the Lakers are chalking up as the traditional gimee for the home team — a sacrifice unto David Stern so that the television ratings don’t take too much of a flogging. Of course Magic fans see things in a much different, audacity of hope kind of way. A pivotal Game 4 awaits to answer most of those questions. Anyway, the least this means is that the series won’t end on Friday.

And look: an Adam Morrison sighting!

By the way, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said that there should have been goaltending called on the final shot in Game 2 in Los Angeles, when Gasol’s hand hit the rim on Courtney Lee’s layup attempt with 0.6 seconds remaining. NBA officials disagreed with that assessment, however.

Stan Van Gundy, Ron Jeremy

Meanwhile, Charles Barkley is pointing out that Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and porn star Ron Jeremy have never been seen in the same place at the same time. Which would be funny, if Barkley hadn’t have said the same thing more than a year ago. With all of that time in the slammer, you’d think that Charles would have had the opportunity to write some new material.

And now, for your dining and dancing pleasure, we present the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings, who will be playing a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Flightless Sea Fowl extended the drama with a 2-1 win on Tuesday behind goals by Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy, who both play on the third line, which I’m told is significant by people who know things about hockey.

Shaq has been curiously silent about this on Twitter.

I suggest that the Penguins forget about the fact that no visiting team has won a Game 7 in the NHL Finals since Richard Nixon was President (first term, no less), and focus on the positive.

The Red Wings won the Cup by taking Game 6 in Pittsburgh 3-2 last year but were denied a second successive clincher there, and on the 25th anniversary of one of the biggest days in Penguins history: the drafting of Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux in 1984.

Fun fact: Detroit has outscored Pittsburgh 11-2 in the three games in Joe Louis Arena.

George Spady, Jr.

But let’s leave the breakneck-paced, highly cynical world of professional athletes for a moment and take a look at a more innocent side of sports. There we find news that a Little League coach in Arlington, Washington has been accused of using members of his team to burglarize a local business. George Spady Jr., 31 (pictured above), was charged with second-degree burglary.

Court documents say he took his son, a nephew and another player from the team when he broke into a vacant Arlington shop and took overhead lights and some bolts. … According to court documents, George’s son was the first to go in through a vent behind the building. He then unlocked the door and let the others in.

Wasn’t this the plot to “Oliver Twist“?

It should be noted that although the children were used to commit larceny, their actions were fundamentally sound (lookouts posted, no fingerprints or other evidence left at scene, etc.). Just as in baseball, teamwork and a fierce dedication to detail are important in any thievery endeavor. In short, kids, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

And now through the magic of Wizard Cat, some other links to astound and delight you.

Who should USC hire as its next men’s basketball coach?

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NBC Ices Stanley Cup Viewings @ Det, Pitt Arenas

• NBC puts a stop to Stanley Cup Finals viewings at the Joe Louis & Mellon Arenas - because it’s shaving nearly a point off of their local Nielsen ratings.

Red Wings Penguins

• Deadline? The Vikings never said anything about a Brett Favre deadline.

• Nice to see Ozzie Guillen back in ranting ‘n’ raving form.

• Don’t worry, Barry Bonds, at least your wife still supports you through these troubles times. Um, OK, maybe not.

• Oh boy! The MLB Draft is on TV tonight! It’s not like there’s anything else on worth watching.

Read more…

Speed Read: NBC, NHL Screw Local Hockey Fans

One of the most jarring aspects of the Stanley Cup finals, other than the ease with which the Red Wings dispatched the Penguins on Sunday night to push the series to 3-2, has been NBC’s hardball with fans in Detroit and Pittsburgh. For the duration of the playoffs, both teams have been able to hold massive viewing parties in and outside their arenas. It was such a wonderful, organic expression of the communal nature of fandom that it was basically destined to be ruined by business in short order.

JoeVision Detroit Red Wings
(Thousands of fans watching the game with each other? Nope, can’t have this!)

And lo, in stepped NBC, stopping the broadcasts. As HOCKEYBUZZ.COM reported, initially, they blamed the NHL, despite the NHL’s assertion that that was quite not the case. Then came the truth, that it was a business decisions (all the crappy ones are), and their “business is ratings driven.” CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS has the, ahem, money quote:

A near-sellout of Joe Louis could shave a ratings point off the local television ratings measurement, and such ratings are used to establish advertising rates.

So to that, if the all-important ratings model can’t deal with 8-10 thousand people watching a show in one place on one screen, you know what? The ratings model is completely worthless.  Seriously. How can NBC or Nielsen not figure out what to do with a giant honking party of some of the most hardcore fans all watching one screen? Is that really a deal-breaker?

And if so, if they’re really curious as to what the ratings would look like if everyone stays home, away from the shared community aspect from which most of the value of a ticket to a game is derived, there’s a really easy answer to all of this. You ready? Dick Ebersol, you taking notes?

All NBC has to do is announce that in exchange for showing the game outside both arenas, attending fans have to fill out a simple, anonymous survey about where they would otherwise watch a game (their place or someone else’s), with how many people, and whatever other information the network needs to most closely approximate what ratings would look like. Use that and Nielsen data to extrapolate what the final ratings would be with that many eyes on a TV, and adjust. That’s it. Easy.

This is a rare, rare opportunity for the NHL and NBC. At no other point are they ever going to be able to get this kind of a free pool of television watchers from whom they can mine valuable demographic information. Forcing them back into their homes and away from a group of thousands of like-minded, passionate fans for the sake of moving a needle one or two points does the city, fanbase, and team a disservice. It’s so easy to work around. Figure it out.

Speaking of soccer [I thought we were talking about hockey. No, I’m dead certain of it.–ed.] [Shut up.–AJ] [You have problems.–ed.], UEFA just got a seismic news flash as Real Madrid, evidently furious at having seen FC Barca take the title, has bought the contract of Kaka from AC Milan. Too bad UEFA contract holder SETANTA SPORTS probably won’t survive to see him in the new kit.

Kaka Kiss
(This is where we mention Kaka’s wife and fine whatever you’re all perverts.)

Kaka, a sensational striker from the one-word-name factory that is Brazil, will reportedly command a 6-year, $94 million contract. That’s enough to make it the most expensive in soccer’s history, barely beating out Zinedine Zidane’s 6-year, $65 million deal with Juventus from eight years ago. Meanwhile, David Beckham is running around for a crappy MLS team in Los Angeles for 30 cents on the dollar and going home to a bag of antlers with oversized sunglasses and the “I’m married, but still vain” haircut straight from Jon & Kate + 8. Sic transit gloria mundi: Glory is fleeting.

We mentioned Andrew Thomas Gallo, the man accused of killing Angels rookie Nick Adenhart and two others in a drunk driving collision, yesterday. Gallo pled not guilty to murder, drunk driving, and fleeing the scene of an accident charges yesterday. Great.

Nick Adenhart Killed In Hit and Run Accident
(No, nothing criminal led to this. No way.)

But as we (rightfully) focus on the three people killed far before their time, we should point out that one passenger in Adenhart’s car, 24-year-old Jon Wilhite, has, in fact, survived the crash that left him in critical condition (via the RIVERSIDE PRESS-ENTERPRISE). Wait, that doesn’t appropriately convey the gravity of what happened. He survived internal decapitation.

As MANOLITH explains, internal decapitation, which is exactly as horrifying and life-threatening as it sounds, happens when the skull detaches from the spinal column. It’s usually fatal. Wilhite somehow survived without total paralysis, which is unbelievably rare, and he’s now in rehab with the help of several major leaguers. He’s got a long way to go, but he’s on the right track.

Since we need to get back on a higher note, here are some more links to consider while you’re riding in a cab with former Beach Boy Brian Wilson:

Nick Collison Red Afro
(Yes.)

What do the Raiders need the most on offense?

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Speed Read: Lakers Crush Magic, TV Execs Hearts

That sound you heard in New York last night were league officials and ABC executives quietly weeping into their gin and tonics while watching Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Because what they were watching was the one thing they didn’t need: a Los Angeles Lakers blowout. For the casual fan, the 100-75 drubbing of the Orlando Magic just confirmed what they already knew, that this series is a letdown after the hype of Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James, and the Lakers are going to crush the upstart Magic.

Kobe Bryant

Sure, it was close…for a little over a quarter. The Magic did have a five-point lead early in the second quarter, and then the roof collapsed. This is what happens when a team that relies on three-point shooting has a sub-par shooting game (going 8-for-23 from beyond the arc). Without having to fear the Magic from the outside, the Lakers could double and triple-team Dwight Howard, a form of kryptonite that even Superman couldn’t overcome, going 1-for-6 and scoring just 12 points.

Dwight Howard

So while Howard struggled, Kobe was superb, scoring 40 points while coming close to a triple-double. He had 12 points in the second quarter as the Lakers established their dominance, and was able to create opportunities for Pau Gasol and the rest of his supporting cast. And with Phil Jackson being 43-0 in series where his team wins the opening game, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has to be sweating through his Men’s Wearhouse coat.

But if the Magic need any inspiration, they only need to look to the Stanley Cup (assuming they get Versus in central Florida). Facing a 2-0 deficit against the defending champion Detroit Red Wings, the Pittsburgh Penguins have rallied to tie the series after a 4-2 win in Game 4. Which is especially impressive since they managed to turn an early lead into a 2-1 hole in the second period, which could have easily crippled a lesser team.

Pittsburgh Penguins

And in what can only be seen as a good sign for the Penguins, Sidney Crosby had his first goal of the series, while Evgeni Malkin added a goal and an assist. So now we basically have a best-of-three series starting tomorrow night in Detroit. While the Red Wings are still probably going to win the series, at least the Penguins have made it interesting.

Randy Johnson

Finally, let’s tip our hat to Randy Johnson, who became the first pitcher since Tom Seaver in 1985 to get his 300th victory in his first attempt thanks to the Giants’ 5-1 victory over the Nationals. Thank you for sparing us of the daily update on the ESPN crawl and live game updates ruining our PBA Tour broadcasts on Wednesday nights on ESPN2. The Giants are planning a pregame celebration before their next home game to congratulate Johnson on his 300 career wins - all four of them with San Francisco.

  • The French Open women’s singles final is set, with Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova taking each other on in an all-Russian final. In terms of eye candy, this isn’t exactly the Maria Sharapova vs. Ana Ivanovic Australian Open final from last year.
  • Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova

  • Calvin Borel isn’t just confident that he’s going to win the Belmont Stakes on Mine That Bird to win the jockey Triple Crown, he’s guaranteeing it. (At least that’s what we think he said with molasses-thick drawl.) If he does pull this off, does this mean he gets put out to stud?
  • LeBron, here’s your slap on the wrist: the NBA fines King James $25,000 for bailing on the post-game press conference after the Cavs’ Game 6 loss to the Magic in the Eastern Conference finals. Plus, you made David Stern cry. How does that feel, LeBron.
  • You want Dontrelle Willis to succeed in his comeback with the Tigers, but then something like this happens: in 2-1/3 innings against the Red Sox yesterday, Willis gave up five runs without allowing a hit, walking five and hitting a batter.
  • Just when you thought that it couldn’t get worse for the New York Mets than getting swept by the Pirates, it also turns out that Jose Reyes has a torn hamstring.
  • John Raines, a substitute teacher and athletic trainer at Sussex Central High in Delaware, has been arrested and charged with “inappropriately touching a student-athlete while treating her injury and threatening to prevent her from playing her sport when she tried to stop his advances.” Which is bad enough, but even worse when considering he’s the second faculty member arrested on sex crimes in the past two days and the third within a year.
  • Spencer Cruise, an all-state high school football player in Iowa, allegedly bodyslammed a cop who was busting up a party and then Tasered him with his own weapon.
  • Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson has selected ESPN’s Chris Berman to introduce him before his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and PRO FOOTBALL TALK wonders if that’s such a great idea. (Seriously, was Jim Kelly busy?)
  • Former Tulsa football player Neal Sweeney apparently got into a business dispute with the wrong person, as it ended up with him being shot dead at his fuel sales company. Police have arrested the person they believe is the triggerman, and hope this leads to further breaks in the case.
  • Maurice Neal, a linebacker for the Utah Utes, has been arrested in connection with a bar fight where he took out two men. Shouldn’t Utah be the last place that a bar fight should be happening?

Who is going to be the next 300 game winner in baseball?

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Danica Signing Breasts In New TV Ad - But Wait…

Danica Patrick helps sell cell phones by autographing some boobs - but not the kind of racks you really want to see.

Danica Patrick topless

Tony La Russa sues Twitter over pseudo-St. Louis manager account.

Vince Young wants a trade? No, it’s all just a wacky misunderstanding!

• The Penguins give a little extra effort in beating the Red Wings - thanks to no penalties for extra men on the ice.

• Red Sox caps - now available with the fresh scent of watermelon!

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Speed Read: Pens’ Power Play Keys Game 3 Win

The Pittsburgh Penguins finally figured out what they hadn’t been doing very well the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals — cheating! Give the Pens credit for taking it to the Red Wings in the the third period (outshooting them 10-3), but there’s no doubt that the home team benefited from a few calls that led to a 4-2 win and a manageable 2-1 series deficit. Max Talbot scored twice, including an empty-netter to put it away in the final minute.

Penguins win game 3

The most egregious no-call of the night came when the Penguins played for 21 seconds with six skaters on the ice — which four on-ice officials somehow failed to notice. Or did they? According to this MLIVE blog entry, Wings analyst Mickey Redmond said that the officials actually saw the Pens with too many men, and then told them to get a guy off the ice instead of calling a penalty. That’s a pretty serious accusation by Redmond, and an inexcusable show of judgment by the officiating crew if true. I know that linesmen will sometimes say something to guy who’s slow to get off the ice during a line change instead of whistling a penalty, but if there are six guys hanging out in the attacking zone (as there were last night), that’s supposed to be called 100% of the time. Soon after, the Wings were whistled for a penalty and Kris Letang scored on the power play to tie the game at 2-2.

lots of Penguins

(an approximation of the scene in front of Chris Osgood on Tuesday)

More pivotal to the outcome, however, was the questionable call against Jonathan Ericsson in the third period that led to Sergei Gonchar’s game-winning goal, while Pittsburgh’s Hal Gill has been doing basically the same thing over and over again all series long without getting called for it (This Finnish guy will tell you all about it).

Hal Gill decking Darren Helm

Conspiracy theories abound that the league has had enough of the Wings winning and want to get Sidney Crosby in the winner’s circle to further secure his status as the league’s golden boy. It was Gary Bettman’s birthday yesterday, and there’s no doubt he’d like for this series (the highest-rated thus far since 2002) to go the distance. The DETROIT FREE PRESS even noted that Tony Kornheiser suggested on PTI that this is what Bettman would like as a gift:

“And now as a birthday present to himself, Bettman will instruct the referees to make sure Pittsburgh wins the next two games at home and Sidney Crosby gets a hat trick in each.”

If the Penguins can get another win on Thursday, they’ll at least ensure that this guy can “perform” to “Crazy Train” one more time this year:

Referee disputes aside, the Penguins were up to the challenge last night and the Wings have to be kicking themselves for not being able to convert on a 14-4 shot advantage in the second period. That was Detroit’s chance to seize control of the game and get the crowd out of it. And I’m sure Osgood wants the Gonchar goal back, as even though he was screened, he made a lackluster attempt to catch the puck when he did finally get a look at it.

Now, let’s move on to more important things. Like which professional sports team is going to be the first to be decimated by the swine flu.

Carlos Beltran and John Maine have missed some time over the last week with a mysterious stomach virus, leading some to wonder half-jokingly if they’ve been infected with the dreaded H1N1. Well, the half that wasn’t joking should start paying attention. FANHOUSE says a producer for Mets broadcaster SNY, who travels with the team, has been quarantined at a New York hospital with possible swine flu symptoms. The NY DAILY NEWS notes that the Mets assistant GM John Ricco is insisting that the symptoms being felt by Beltran and Maine are different, and that there’s nothing at all to be alarmed about. Ricco then added that he picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

Mr. Met

(do I need Tamiflu?)

And now, here’s some links that are more worth your time than reading what US Weekly’s terrible commenters think about Conan O’Brien:

• I bet you’ll be shocked to learn that there were some shenanigans going on in a regional soccer tournament in Brazil. Due to a combination of red cards and injuries, one team was down to six men (the other only had eight left) which isn’t legal. So the ref called the game off and both teams celebrated as if they had won, while their fans brawled in the stands. Apparently the whole thing was set off by noted Brazilian regional soccer bad-boy Ronaldo Artest.

• The possible secret weapon in negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea? How about Michael Jordan. The NEW YORK TIMES says that the reported successor to Kim Jong-il is his youngest son Kim Jong-un (as opposed to one of the many other Kim Jong-suffixes running around out there), who is a big fan of His Airness. That’s mostly because they’ve just finally received VHS footage of the 1994-95 NBA season in North Korea.

Michael Jordan

(Kim Jong-un just heard about this new band called Silverchair too)

• Want to know more about the man who motivated Jordan to become the best ever? Check out Leroy Smith’s official website (thanks to the SMOKING SECTION for the tip):

Yeah, I thought it was Eddie Murphy at first too. But it’s way too funny for him to be involved with, which is why it makes much more sense that this is Charlie Murphy, Eddie’s brother and “Chapelle’s Show” stalwart. Murphy’s playing the alter ego to the hilt, even doing an interview in character with Scoop Jackson.

• After a brief respite in 2007 and 2008, the Cubs are Cubbin’ it up again. Last night in Atlanta they yakked up a 5-0 lead in the 8th inning (including a 5-3 lead with 2 outs in the 9th) and lost 6-5 in 12 to the Braves. Cubs starter Randy Wells had a no-hitter through 6 2/3 innings, and all he gets is a lousy no-decision. Said closer Kevin Gregg: “The five combined runs we gave up in the eighth and ninth innings was uncalled for.”

• If Randy Johnson can beat the Nationals tonight, he’ll become possibly the last (and perhaps the surliest) MLB pitcher to win 300 games. And he’ll do it by beating the franchise for which he made his debut 21 years ago. They play in a different city now, but still draw 8,000 fans a game…in a brand new stadium. Well done D.C.

• Speaking of the Nats, FEDERAL BASEBALL says they’ve axed pitching coach Randy St. Claire, a holdover from the Montreal days. The Nats are 14-36, and manager Manny Acta is rumored to be next to go. You know it’s getting bad when local TV analyst Rob Dibble can’t resist calling the Nats a “beer league softball team.”

• Washington took down the Women’s College World Series with a 3-2 win over Florida last night. The Huskies played on the road for the entire postseason, and barely escaped elimination more than once during their run. Then they swept two games from a Gator team that lost only three of their other 66 games this year. Just five years ago the Huskies were wrapped up in a drug scandal that resulted in their coach being fired.

Washington softball WCWS champs

• Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Phillies pitching sensation Antonio Bastardo. Enjoy the first time you have a bad start at the Bank, dude.

President Obama’s new Supreme Court nominees include a Buddhist, a Spanish guy, and a candy addict.

• I’m glad I’m not the only person who thinks that Jameer Nelson playing in the Finals is an awful idea, even if he is healthy enough. I love Jameer, but he hasn’t played in a game since February, while Rafer Alston has been doing a great job running the Magic in the playoffs. Why mess with that?

Vicente Padilla isn’t Mark Teixeira’s favorite guy right now.  And why did Carlos Zambrano not bother to show up for the Cubs’ flight to Atlanta?

Which league’s officiating is the most “rigged”?

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HS Cheerleaders Can Pull Off Some Crappy Stunts

• A group of cheerleaders at a Texas high school sock it to a teammate by smearing human feces inside her locker.

Bring It On brown socks

• Does the Denver Broncos’ Brandon Marshall like to beat women?

• Every time a Laker visits Colorado, sex accusations are soon to follow.

Jeff Van Gundy is trying to stay objective in the broadcast booth, but he really wants his brother Stan to beat L.A.

• I know playing in the SEC is tough, but getting death threats from your own fans?

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