Review: Chronicle of ESPN Secrets a Page Turner

Ever thought of trafficking in the notoriety of an exclusive group of ESPN employees whose reputations precede them?

ESPN Montage

Me neither.

Though I’m pleased to report that all the dirty little, page-turning secrets about that uncommon club of sports commentators has been unbound for you and me to discover. Read more…

NBC Confirms Olbermann Off NBC Football Games

Neil Best of NEWSDAY and Richard Deitsch of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED have confirmed that Keith Olbermann will not appear on NBC’s “Football Night In America” broadcasts this season. Best reported:

Keith Olbermann confirmed out at NBC Football Night In America

NBC has confirmed that Keith Olbermann will not be on its “Football Night in America” show this season.

The move was initiated not by NBC Sports but by NBC News, which wanted Olbermann to focus exclusively on his job as host of his own show on MSNBC.

Read more…

NBC Takes Olbermann Off Sunday NFL Broadcasts

Multiple media and network television sources confirmed to me Thursday that Keith Olbermann will not appear on NBC’s Football Night In America Sunday evening NFL broadcasts this season.

Keith Olbermann

(Follow Brooks on Twitter for realtime updates)

Some members of the FNIA cast and crew were made aware of the news Monday at a preseason production meeting in New York City. Afterwards, the cast and crew adjourned to Yankee Stadium to watch the Yankees-Blue Jays game. Read more…

Report: MLB Considering ‘Remedy’ For Joyce Call

Tony Paul of the DETROIT NEWS reports Thursday that the Detroit Tigers “were believed to be preparing to contact the Major League Baseball offices, if they hadn’t done so already, after umpire Jim Joyce’s blown call with two outs in the ninth cost Armando Galarraga the 21st perfect game in major league history Wednesday, and the first by a Tiger.

Jim Joyce Missed Call Costs Armando Galaragga a Perfect Game

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski: “I wouldn’t get into telling you what I would do. That’s a private matter. He shouldn’t have missed it. It’s a shame for the kid.

Meanwhile, Keith Olbermann reports on his MLB.com blog today: Read more…

Site Created To Question MLB Link To Olbermann

A new site called RespectTheGreatGame.com was recently launched to protest an MLB.com-affiliated blog that is kept up by MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann.

Website Protests Olbermann's MLB Blog

The premise of the site is centered on a petition which visitors are asked to sign:

We the undersigned question why the official web site of America’s pastime is working with Hate Speech merchant Keith Olbermann.

As a highly visible “news” anchor on MSNBC he regularly delivers outlandish accusations about elected officials and common citizens to advance his baseless theories that focus on hatred, violence and racial fear.

In the past year he has delivered racist, sexist and violent commentary without apology. As an exercise of our First Amendment privileges we simply ask Major League Baseball to think about its business relationships and the image that it wishes to portray to fans of the great American game of baseball.

The site creator isn’t the only person concerned with Olbermann’s official association with MLB.

S.E. Cupp of the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS recently objected to Olbermann’s role on the MLB website while noting that another high profile political commentator, Rush Limbaugh, was recently banned by the NFL from joining a group attempting to buy the St. Louis Rams.

The irony of Cupp’s point is that Olbermann was one of the very few in the media to actually stand up for Limbaugh’s right to obtain ownership of an NFL franchise. Read more…

NFL Got It Wrong But Rush Got What He Deserved

Citing past “divisive“comments by Rush Limbaugh, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell effectively squashed the conservative talkshow host’s bid to buy the St. Louis Rams today.

Rush Limbaugh Keith Olbermann

(NFL: majority of you think Limbaugh is racist, Olbermann isn’t) 

Anyone outside of Limbaugh’s most devoted followers will allow that Goodell’s “divisive” was really a euphemism for “racist,” with the former employed in an attempt to avoid alienating Limbaugh’s millions of NFL-product-consuming worshippers.

Is NFL right, majority of pro football fans think Limbaugh is a racist?

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At the very least, it’s not unreasonable to observe Limbaugh as a polarizing figure in the world of politics. But if Goodell is going to eliminate Limbaugh from formally associating with the NFL, what about a current, NFL-affiliated person well-known in the world of bipolar political exploration - Keith Olbermann (Co-host, NBC’s Sunday Night Football In America studio show.)

Rush Limbaugh

(NFL rebuke: most genuinely embarrassing moment of Limbaugh’s public life)

Read more…

Ha — Gawker Thinks That This Is Keith Olbermann

Nothing of monumental import here, but amusing nonetheless. GAWKER, the gossip merchant and flagship site of the blog empire that includes DEADSPIN, GIZMODO, etc., was sent this photo by a tipster, from Saturday’s Yankees-Red Sox game. Supposedly it shows MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, with a FOX logo superimposed on his head. Ha ha. The irony! One problem, however.

Not Keith Olbermann

He’s not Olbermann. And despite GAWKER editor John Cook’s claims to the contrary, he looks nothing like Olbermann. Cook’s threadbare explanation, following the jump. Read more…

Speed Read: Merriman-Tequila Saga Gets Weirder

If all you know is that Chargers’ linebacker Shawne Merriman was arrested for choking buoyant reality diva Tila Tequila on Sunday, then you don’t know the elongated, PENTHOUSE FORUM version which just surfaced last night. This story gets quite a lot more naked, as it turns out.

Shawn Merriman, Tila Tequila

Because frankly all of this was boring me until I found out it included Merriman’s attempt to have a threesome; a drunk Tequila walking in on it; Tequila then threatening to have sex with one of Merriman’s friends; Tequila getting naked as she made this threat and attempting to run out of the house; Merriman choking her to keep her from leaving. Am I leaving anything out? Read more…

Speed Read: Clarett Stops Early Release Request

Since the NFL — indeed, the world — is not yet ready for Michael Vick and Maurice Clarett trying to catch on with a team at the same time, the latter is going to stay in prison. For now. Clarett, the former Ohio State running back who led the Buckeyes to a national championship in 2003, has withdrawn a request for early release from prison that would have allowed him, he said, to pursue an NFL career.

Maurice Clarett

For someone who hasn’t played a meaningful down of football since his freshman year in college, Clarett has spent an alarming amount of time in the public consciousness. He’s hung out with Los Angeles rap stars, been drafted in the NFL, been involved with drug running and the Israeli mob, and was even the subject of a case ultimately decided by U.S. Court of Appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor. Even though he’s only 25, he’s seemingly been everywhere and lived two lifetimes — sort of an evil Forrest Gump.

Although he’s now locked up, we have not forgotten about Maurice Clarett. One reason is that he’s blogging from lockup — or at least we’re led to believe that he is. Clarett isn’t allowed Internet access in prison, but he phones in his writings to a relative, who then posts them on a blog entitled The Mind of Maurice Clarett; a sort of orange jumpsuit poetry jam in which he dwells on his feelings more than the day-to-day details of life behind bars (which has led some to believe that he’s not even the one writing it). There’s no entry so far on his decision to withdraw his request for a pardon by Gov. Ted Strickland.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien opposed Clarett’s request for pardon, saying his conduct off the playing field did not warrant special consideration.

“My observation was then and is now he had no chance of obtaining clemency under the statute or by action of the governor so it’s probably wise” that he withdrew the request, O’Brien said.

Clarett hasn’t played football since 2005, when he was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the third round — a surprise move after an unimpressive NFL combine performance in which he was dubbed “Slo Mo” by the media.

Maurice Clarett game simulation

He’s serving 7 1/2 years at the Toledo Correctional Institution after being convicted in 2006 of aggravated robbery and carrying a concealed weapon, a chain of events that ended with his arrest while wearing a bulletproof vest with four weapons in his car, less than a mile from one of the robbery victims. He must serve at least 3½ years of that sentence, and although he pulled his request for early release, he still becomes eligible for judicial release in March of 2010.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Clarett was on top of the world, rushing for 1,237 yards (a school record for a freshman) and scoring 18 touchdowns in helping lead Ohio State to a 14-0 record in 2002-03. The season culminated with Clarett scoring the winning touchdown against Miami in the Fiesta Bowl. But he was released from Ohio State for a variety of NCAA rules violations, then migrated to Los Angeles, where he hung out with rap stars, and began spiraling more and more out of control. He eventually tested the NFL’s eligibility rules in an attempt to enter the 2004 draft — an initially successful challenge that was overturned by United States Court of Appeals judge Sotomayor.

So Clarett has lost his latest battle to return to the free world, but has never lost his struggle to remain in the public eye. And I suppose that it’s good that we hear from him from time to time. If for nothing else, his presence serves as a cautionary tale.

“I’m a man and I struggle. I’m not speaking of anything specific. I’m just talking in general,” he wrote in his latest blog entry, dated Aug. 3.

“Depression comes and depression goes. Inspiring thoughts come and they flee as fast as they come. Sometimes my spirit is in balance and at others it runs wild. I’m not afraid. I just get a little confused at times. I know which way is up and I know how to identify a weasel from a mile away. I know who I love and I know why I love them. I don’t claim to be omniscient but I do claim to be a survivor of the urban circumstances and experiences. … I’m Youngstown’s own.”

Tiger Woods

We now lighten the mood and bring you back to the 18th hole at the Buick Open, where MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann reopens the Tiger Woods Fartgate investigation. If you haven’t seen, and thus heard, the infamous video of Woods allegedly farting while sizing up a shot during the tournament, you’re in luck, because Olbermann has rescued the footage from the abyss.

You can see/hear it here.

More interesting than the alleged emission itself — which now that I hear it sounds more like a Whoopee Cushion — is the fact that the PGA pulled all YouTube evidence of the video off the web moments after it happened. Folks, that’s the really hilarious part. Don’t make me come back here and explain this again.

Olbermann:

“Tiger broke 70 yesterday, perhaps after breaking something else. We can’t say for sure that it was The Tiger that roared … he might have had one of those Leslie Nielsen machines, or maybe John Daly stepped on a duck.”

If there was a second farter on the grassy knoll, kudos to him. Because that was some excellent timing.

Maxim's David Ortiz email account

We mentioned this briefly on Tuesday, but I feel that MAXIM’S take on David Ortiz’s Gmail inbox needs further scrutiny. It appeared Monday on their site and immediately won the Internets, delighting us with sample emails such as:

Erin Adrews: I know an ace PR guy

Crate and Barrel: Fall is right around the corner! …

Alyssa Milano: Offer still stands — Bj, Hj, whatever you …

And the always hilarious:

C.C. Sabathia: FW: Red Lobster All-You-Can-Eat sampi!

And speaking of that fine magazine, let’s dive into this morning’s links, as we ponder why a 12-year-old boy would tell his mother that his subscription to ELECTRONIC GAMING had been somehow switched to MAXIM.

  • The Reading Phillies set an attendance record on Wednesday for Pedro Martinez’s rehab start, in which he pitched decently, earning the win in an 8-4 victory over Trenton. Martinez struck out 10 of the first 17 batters he faced, finishing with 11 strikeouts over six innings. He gave up four runs, three earned. Fun fact: It was his first win at the AA level since 1991.
  • So you’ve taken the summer off to visit every Major League Baseball park? That’s become somewhat of a cliche, don’t you think? The Taviano family of Columbus, Ohio has invented the new hotness: Visiting 52 zoos in 52 weeks. Marla Taviano, her husband and three daughters began their 22,000-mile quest last August, and ended it on Saturday at their hometown Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. That’s a lot of monkeys.

  • Not sure what level of Little League the above video is from, but you can bet that Scott Boras has it playing on an endless loop in his office as you read this. As you can see, Jason Moody hits five home runs, including hitting for the home run cycle (watch the catcher, who is not amused). And in yet another example of this, a West Virginia Little Leaguer also hit for the home run cycle. Eli Canterbury, 12, of Barboursville, went 4-for-4 with four homers — solo, two-run and  three-run homers, and a grand slam in his final at-bat — as Canterbury’s Barboursville District I All-Stars beat East Huntington 19-1. No Major League player has ever hit for the homer cycle; the only time it’s happened in pro ball was by Tyrone Horne of the Double-A Arkansas Travelers in a 13-4 win over the San Antonio Missions on July 27, 1998.
  • The Denver Broncos are one of the several NFL teams who prohibit players or personnel from using Twitter, but you’d never know it by listening to head coach Josh McDaniels. “I don’t really have a Twitter policy,” McDaniels said. “I don’t know what it means; I don’t know what it is. I don’t know MyFace, Spacebook, Facebook stuff. I don’t know what that is either.”
  • Now let’s check in on your Chicago Cubs, who are locked in a death struggle with the Cardinals atop the NL Central. So surely when the Reds trotted out 32-year-old right-hander Justin Lehr on Wednesday — who was making only his second big league start — the Cubs would take advantage. D’oh! Lehr pitched a shutout, 4-0, as the Reds broke an eight-game losing streak.
  • Koren Robinson has had a troubled career; run off the tracks due to dropped passes, drinking and a run-in with the cops. The former Seahawk, Viking and Packer may be playing for the Orlando Tuskers of the UFL this season. Robinson was the ninth pick overall in the 2001 draft, the year that the Falcons chose a young man named Michael Vick with the No. 1 pick.
  • Brandon Roy’s five-year contract extension will likely keep him in Portland for the rest of his career, and since he was born in Seattle, that’s OK. Roy has agreed in principle to the deal, with the fifth year, ending in 2015, as an option. Pending salary cap issues, it could be worth more than $80 million, the second-richest in Portland’s history.
  • Who would have thought four years ago that Eli Manning would be making more money than Peyton Manning? Or Cooper Manning, for that matter? With his new $97.5 million contract, Eli will be making about $15.3 million annually, to Peyton’s $14.17 million.

Should Eli Manning be the highest-paid player in the NFL?

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Speed Read: Artest Shuns Cavs, Chooses Lakers

The Lakers are already the defending champs, and while the Cavs are adding an over-the-hill Shaq and Boston is making overtures to the shell that once housed Rasheed Wallace, the champs may have made the biggest splash of all — adding the insane, yet extremely talented, Ron Artest.

Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant

(Odds Ron’s going to forget he’s Kobe’s teammate and gets a flagrant 2 on him? About 2-to-1.)

The news came somewhat out of nowhere last night, as ESPN was still reporting during the early evening hours on the east coast that LeBron James had been reaching out to Artest in an effort to get him to Cleveland. ESPN expert Chris Broussard went on Sportscenter downplaying that situation, and within a couple of hours Artest was in ESPN’s L.A. studio announcing his intention to sign with the Lakers for the mid-level exception.

This is all fine and dandy, but does nobody remember about this?

Although, to be honest, Artest is just about the only guy in the league who could do this and then ask Kobe to go out to Applebee’s afterward. This guy doesn’t exactly go about things the normal way. I mean, we are talking about a guy who once tried to work at Circuit City in the offseason to get the employee discount.

Here’s what Ron-Ron had to say about coming to L.A., according to CBS SPORTSLINE:

“L.A. is what it is,” Artest said. “I’ve been here for the whole summer, and it’s pretty good. It’s good for me. I know Lamar Odom, so that’s pretty cool.”

Awesome, they can totally ride bikes together and eat toooooons of gummy bears.

All the clamoring for the Lakers to pony up the cash to keep Trevor Ariza sure went away quickly, considering that Artest is accepting the mid-level (which will be under $6 million next year) while Ariza was looking for something in the $7 million+ range. And now word is out that Ariza will be taking Artest’s place in Houston, and will in fact accept the mid-level (though over the full term of five years).

Trevor Ariza

(”Here’s how many titles I’m going to win in Houston.”)

I’ve seen baseball games delayed for a wide variety of reasons (I was at Shea Stadium once when the sprinklers came on unannounced, or there’s that one time a plane crashed beyond the left-field wall), but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game get derailed by bees. In the ninth inning of yesterday’s Padres-Astros game at Petco Park, a swarm overtook a jacket that was draped over a chair down the left-field line (the coat belonged to a ball girl).

bumblebee man

Apparently, the swarm’s queen bee took up residence inside the coat, which led to thousands of workers, or drones, or whatever they are, descending on the area around the jacket. It was nearly an hour before a beekeeper arrived on the scene to take care of the bees. He dove right into the jacket, sprayed the bees (which were in a mass about the size of a soccer ball) with some sort of agent, then shoveled the presumably dead bees into the jacket (PETA is already preparing to complain about this I’m sure), which was put into a plastic bag and carried away. Eyewitnesses report that the beekeeper received the biggest ovation of the day, as the Astros cruised to a 7-2 win.

bee warning

Bee swarm

Now, while you watch two guys named Andy battle it out on Center Court, here’s some links to get you through your Friday:

• The Phoenix Lifelock Mercury’s Diana Taurasi got a DUI early on Thursday morning. It’s about time WNBA players start acting like real athletes.

• A suspected rapist who was attempting to assault a woman yesterday in San Diego was fought off successfully by the woman, then he tried to run away from her. Which might have worked…if the woman wasn’t a marathon runner. Let’s just say the future’s not looking too bright for this guy right now.

I’m a big 1964 Topps baseball card guy, partly because of the multiple laughable errors made throughout the set by Topps’ editorial staff, which seemed to exist of a five-year-old with a learning disability. And Keith Olbermann delivers us the most ridiculous error in the set (if you’re not getting it, just read Dave Bennett’s bio again):

19-year-old Dave Bennett is 18 years old

• The World Series of Poker’s main event starts today at the Rio in Las Vegas, and among the thousands registered to play over the next few days is none other than Barack Obama. No, the Prez didn’t buy in himself — a poker pro named Richard Sklar (who also happens to be an ex-con) put up the $10,000 to enter him into the event. Sklar then made a number of bets with other pros that Obama would show up to play at least one hand. Chris “Jesus” Ferguson and Phil Gordon are among the pros who said they’d pony up big cash for charity if he does show. GAMBLING ONLINE has details, as does this thread at poker site TWO PLUS TWO.

•  The CFL has indeed fined Toronto WR Arland Bruce, who posed as Michael Jackson’s corpse in the end zone after scoring a touchdown on Wednesday.

•  In 1990, Family Feud had an entire episode pitting five Major League players against five umpires. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Rick Sutcliffe rocking the Cubs jersey tucked into jeans and the late, great Eric Gregg saying “what’s your name, baby?” Here’s Part 1 of 3 (thank you UNI WATCH for the tip):

• GAME ON says the rumors that the Texas Rangers had to borrow $15 million to meet payroll are not true, though there is a framework in place if they do need to borrow money. That’s comforting.

• New Grouch Chairman of the BCS Overlord Oversight Committee Harvey Perlman on the idea of a college football playoff (courtesy of the WIZ OF ODDS):

“If you look at college football now, it’s the greatest sporting event spread over September, October, November, December and a little bit of January that the country has. A playoff would seriously diminish the regular season, as it has in college basketball… This isn’t basketball. This isn’t March Madness. Football’s a different game, different environment. We have different traditions. It’s hard to see why a playoff is a good idea.”

I’m with you, Harvey. I don’t even know why any of these silly sports with their useless playoffs even have a regular season. An arbitrary, invitation-based system guided by a perplexing computer formula is obviously the way to go for any sport that wants to be taken seriously.

• Mariners prospect James McOwen (who honestly wasn’t much of a prospect prior to this year) extended his California League-record hitting streak to 39 games with a 3-for-4 night in the High Desert Mavericks’ 6-2 win over the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes at the most awesomely-named park in all of baseball — The Epicenter.

Danica Patrick might want to stick to the GoDaddy stuff, and steer clear of the Elton John glasses:

Danica Patrick glasses

Who’s been the the most important acquisition by an NBA contender so far this offseason?

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