Speed Read: Should We Want A Freeway Series?

I guess with all the trade deadline rumors about deals that did or didn’t happen, it’s kind of easy to overlook the most important thing in baseball: the standings. Because the story no one seems to be talking about is the fact that the best records in each league belong to teams in Southern California, setting up a real possibility of the first-ever Freeway Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the…let’s just call them the Angels.

Matt Kemp

Both teams looked the part of World Series contenders on Sunday. In Atlanta, the Dodgers used a three-run homer by Matt Kemp to pound the Braves 9-1; meanwhile, the Angels hammered the Twins 13-4 to complete a three-game road sweep where they scored 35 runs. And while not everything is 100 percent for either team (Chad Billingsley left his start early with cramps during the Dodgers’ win, while Vladimir Guerrero suddenly turned 150 years old this season for the Angels), there’s at least a strong possibility of an all-LA (kinda, sorta) World Series.

Mike Napoli

And as a baseball fan living in Los Angeles, here’s my feeling on this: I hope to God this doesn’t happen. The first reason is selfish: I have to drive past Dodger Stadium every day for work - it’s almost impossible for a Tuesday night game against Florida, so I can’t imagine what a World Series game against the Angels would be like. A 30-minute commute turning into a two-hour nightmare? No thanks.

But more importantly, I’d have to hear weeks of coverage about the series as if it’s a real, heated rivalry. Which would make my head explode, because it just isn’t. This isn’t Red Sox vs. Yankees, with real, palpable hatred. Or even Yankees vs. Mets or Cubs vs. White Sox, both of which are city rivalries with loads of class, race and societal baggage (in that who you root for speaks volumes about who you are and where you came from).

Dodgers vs. Angels has none of this. People root for one or the other based on which ballpark was closer to them growing up. (Fortunately, the area that is equidistant from Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium is the mini-mall and warehouse-filled patch of nothingness called Norwalk.) If Dodger fans think about the Angels at all, it’s with a dismissive chuckle. Meanwhile, Angels fans will quickly point out who has the last World Series title while secretly grimacing at the whole “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” fiasco.

So in summary: just because Chan-Ho Park karate-kicked Tim Belcher 8,000 years ago, this isn’t a heated rivalry, and a Freeway Series won’t change that. Now a Lakers vs. Clippers Western Conference final…

Melky Cabrera

After having sex with a porn star, the closest most people get to a “cycle” is starting the next round of penicillin in hopes that their genitals go back to normal. But apparently Melky Cabrera defied the odds and got a decidedly more wholesome cycle, in this case becoming the first Yankee in 14 years to hit for the cycle in their 8-5 win over the Chicago White Sox. (Although I can’t comment one way or the other about his need for penicillin, but if he did sleep with former California gubernatorial candidate/drunk/professional sex object Mary Carey, it’s a small miracle if he didn’t catch something.)

Finally, an update on a couple of noted sports underachievers: Michael Phelps only managed to win five gold medals at the World Championships, adding his final one on Sunday by anchoring the Americans’ record-setting 400-meter medley relay team; and Tiger Woods won just his fourth tournament of the season by winning (probably last-ever playing of) the Buick Open by three shots. If only those two could maximize their potential, they might really make something of themselves.

  • Does anyone understand why the Chiefs’ mascot is a wolf? And one that has trouble clearing small fences, as photos tracked down by ARROWHEAD PRIDE from training camp seem to indicate.
  • FANTASY FORECAST breaks down eight different types of people found at every fantasy football league draft. Although I think they left off Guy Who Gets So Drunk He’s Picking “Poopy Fartpants” by Round 6.
  • If you’re a big NFL fan near Troy, NY tonight, you might want to check out some minor-league baseball as the Tri-Cities ValleyCats take on the Oneonta Tigers. Why? Because SI’s Peter King is going to be throwing out the first pitch and hanging out with fans to talk about the upcoming season, along with a host of NFL experts including NFL.COM’s Adam Schefter, Sporting News’ Albert Breer, NY Giants radio voice Bob Papa and Redskins lineman Ross Tucker.
  • The CHICAGO TRIBUNE breathlessly reports that Jay Cutler completed his first 12 passes during 7-on-7 drills at camp yesterday. Although to be fair, Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman probably couldn’t complete 12 passes back and forth to each other.
  • PRO FOOTBALL TALK says Bengals QB Carson Palmer has missed the last two days of practice with flu-like symptoms. Let’s hope he didn’t catch swine flu from eating any undercooked wieners
  • Formula One driver Jensen Button spent part of his break from racing competing in the London Triathlon, where he set a personal best. I would have spent the time watching his girlfriend Jessica Michibata giving her personal best while modeling bikinis on a beach in Japan.
  • Samantha Thavasa

  • We told you last week about Andy Reid’s hellish training camps and love of full-contact drills. Turns out there’s a down side to that: two Eagles players left last night’s practice with injuries.
  • Letdown City: the rally car racing final at the X Games gets stopped halfway through when Travis Pastrana wrecks his car, handing the win to former Indy 500 winner Kenny Brack. To celebrate, Brack knocked back a tall glass of ice cold Red Bull and milk.
  • I guess you could say that the Red Sox’s trade for Victor Martinez has paid some early dividends: he went 5-for-6 in Boston’s 18-10 win over Baltimore. Too bad Clay Buchholz is still not very good at pitching to big league hitters.
  • Finally, BALL DON’T LIE has video of the cheap shot that Italy’s Stefano Mancinelli delivered to the back of Aaron Doornekamp’s head during a “friendly” international basketball game against Canada:

Which baseball intra-area rivalry is the real deal?

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Martini Billboard Proves Too Distracting To Racers

You would think Formula One racers would be used to images of beautiful women. I mean, a bunch of drivers are already dating some very delectable dames, such as Lewis Hamilton & Nicole Scherzinger and Jenson Button & Jessica Michibata.

Jessiqa Pace

But I guess it’s one thing to witness such beauty in person, and another thing to spot it on a billboard when you’re trying to concentrate on the track. A collection of trackside ads for Martini featuring the lovely lady pictured above had become too much for F1 racers preparing for the Grand Prix in Monaco. So the distracted drivers asked for the bothersome billboards to be taken down.

What kind of an advertisement could be so aggravating to the auto racers? See for yourself (along with more pics of the marvelous mischief-making Martini model) after the jump.

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Kitesurfing Much More Fun with Naked Passengers

Richard Branson - sorry, Sir Richard Branson - knows how to travel in style. You might think we’re referring to the Virgin billionaire’s fashionable airline service, but we’re talking about more sportier ways to get around. Kitesurfing, for instance - it’s the thrill of air & sea travel all rolled into one.

Richard Branson nude kitesurfing

And when soaring in such a sport, Sir Richard believes you should only pack the bare essentials - like a bare model riding on your back.

(More pics after the jump.)

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Week In Review: Bynum Lifting Playboy Bunnies

• Need to speed up the rehab on your sore knee? Why not try the Andrew Bynum method of Playboy Playmate lifting?

Or if that doesn’t work, try Andrew’s patented Playboy hula hoop workout.

• If you had Jessica Michibata as your girlfriend, you’d race right to her after an Australian Grand Prix win, too.

• The Dallas cop who kept Ryan Moats at bay while his mother-in-law passed away really likes his work. Too bad he no longer has any.

• If you’re going to pose for pictures while partying at a Croatian club, don’t forget you have a game tomorrow.

• Posing with three hotties, Blake Griffin knows he’s number 1!

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Media Waits While Racer “Celebrates” w/Girlfriend

Meet Jessica Michibata. She’s the current girlfriend of Formula One racer Jenson Button. And as Cameron mentioned in this morning’s Speed Read, she was also the reason Button was running behind in meeting the media after he won the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday. Apparently Jessica & Jenson held their own little private post-race celebration behind closed doors. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more!

Jessica Michibata

But just who is Button’s new babe? Jessica is a model born of an Argentine father and Japanese mother - a curiously cute collection of Asian & South American beauty. She’s known mostly for her lingerie layouts featured in the Land of the Rising Sun.

So, would you put the press corps on hold while you messed around with Ms. Michibata? Don’t decide until you check out more pics after then jump.

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Speed Read: Has Twittering Gotten Out Of Hand?

We ask because, at this point, we could almost start a blog updating solely with news about Twittering athletes, coaches and GMs. Yesterday, we wrote about the infamous tweets of the Buffalo Bills and Brian Burke. Sunday, we wrote about Mark Cuban. And you know what? There are two more breaking Twitter stories this morning.

Mark Cuban

According to the ASSOCIATED PRESS, the inevitable fine against Cuban came down on Monday, and it landed with the resounding thud of $25,000. Considering the fact that Cuban’s rant was exactly 140 characters, Cuban was paying approximately $178.57 per letter for his screed against J.R. Smith. Not surprisingly, Cuban was none too happy about being lighter in the wallet, and he responded by questioning whether outlets - like, say, SPORTSbyBROOKS - has the right to re-publish his tweet, getting attention for it and, thus, earning him fines.

The answer, as pointed out by FANHOUSE, is a resounding “yes”. Because Cuban’s profile is set to public, we all get to read and re-publish his thoughts. That’s pretty much the definition of fair use. Yet the most interesting line of Cuban’s entire discussion with the FANHOUSE folks is his closing sentence:

@NBAFanHouse not close. I like to create discussion. makes things interesting

Yes, yes he does. At a cost of approximately $25G a pop.

Meanwhile, Celtics star Paul Pierce pulled off his best Shaquille O’Neal impersonation, giving away free tickets to Boston fans who showed up at his car and proffered up the pre-listed password (which, cornily enough, was “truth”). The first five jokers who have been stalking Twitter in their Paul Pierce 34 jerseys and jumped at the chance to meet him got the free seats, and web site BOSTONCS was there to chronicle the whole experience.

paul pierce twitter tickets

All of this got us thinking: Has Twitter officially jumped the shark? What started as a slightly clever way to send instant inside jokes became instantly cool when a few athletes re-discovered their inner dork, and it’s now gone so mainstream that mediocre stars need to imitate the big shots just to stay culturally relevant.

Add to that the mind screw that is Cuban doing anything — the eternal debate of whether he’s doing it because he thinks it’s cool, whether he’s doing it to manipulate the media and fans, whether he’s doing it for both reasons or whether we should even care because he’s such a tool — and maybe we’ve reached the point that we should all blow Twitter off indefinitely … or at least until Anna Kournikova shows up and starts describing what it’s like to get dressed in the morning.

Some news last night wasn’t quite fit to Tweet, because it hasn’t been completely wrapped up. As Jason first wrote last night, it sure looks like John Calipari is heading toward a long-distance commute from Memphis to Lexington, Ky.  Of course, we don’t know that’s true … yet, but there are plenty of reasons to believe the substantial rumors, one of which is this camera, which — as DEADSPIN first reported yesterday — is permanently trained on the door of Memphis’s Athletic Department.

John Calipari

In fact, the whole “Cal to Kentucky” bit is getting so much attention that, as Tuffy first coined in an email last night, you have believe the video alluded to in the ESPN.com screenshot below would lead to a camera trained directly on Calipari’s personal bedroom.

calipari espn.com screenshot

We’re betting it’s going to happen, and that it will happen sooner rather than later. And you know what? In the end, it’s a good thing for college basketball. After all, how great will it be to have Calipari and Rick Pitino facing off against each other in an annual turf war? And just think! This time it won’t just be about who can cheat to land recruits more effectively!

And just when you thought former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s pantomime villain routine couldn’t get any more obvious, it turns out he named a secret agreement to sell Wrigley Field to the state of Illinois — all in return for numerous tax breaks for former Cubs owner Sam Zellafter a throwaway joke in the Blues Brothers.

elwood blues license

Blagojevich referred to the Wrigley Field negotiations as “Operation Elwood”, named in honor of Elwood Blues (also known as Dan Aykroyd), whose listed address on his driver’s license was Wrigley Field.

It’s yet another ridiculous chapter from a brazenly agressive civil tyrant, but then again, what do you expect from a guy who, just months after being impeached from office, is already guest hosting talk radio shows and hand picking the callers.

  • Enough with real news, lets try to manufacture some that involves incredibly attractive people. Like Alyonka Larionov, who may or may not be dating either Alexander Ovechkin or Pavel Datsyuk. She’s also a budding viral video star, so maybe she’ll be dating someone else to keep her in the news soon, too.

alyonka larionov

mma keith jardine

  • Just because we haven’t covered enough Twitter addiction today: USC Coach Pete Carroll’s ridiculous campaign to get buddy Will Farrell on Twitter reached new heights, including this self-produced video.

jensen button girlfriend

If you were a pro athlete, would you Twitter?

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