Speed Read: Favre Invents ‘Weed Whacker Block’

Guilty, your honor; with an explanation. How did Brett Favre justify his illegal crackback block on the Texans’ Eugene Wilson last night? Like this: “I will be 40 years old in October and (was) weed-eating 13 days ago,” Favre said. “I wasn’t thinking about throwing blocks.” And there you have it, folks: The Weed Whacker Defense.

Brett Favre, Eugene Wilson

It’s kind of a shame that Favre’s debut in a Vikings uniform will be most noted for this. But then I’m not the one who launched myself at the knees of a defensive back in a meaningless game, endangering not only his career, but possibly his ability to walk to the corner market under his own power when he’s 70. Check out the video yourself, below, and see what you think.

Brett Favre block on Eugene Wilson: Waddya think?

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The reaction so far is interesting: Many were up in arms, including the ESPN crew of Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden, as heard in the video. Meanwhile, Vikings fans seem most concerned that Favre threw the block with his throwing shoulder. Having Favre run two plays out of the Wildcat in a preseason game does seem a bit nuts. But bending an opponent’s knees like Gumby is the big story here, and pretty inexcusable. I’m beginning to think that Favre isn’t going to win that Nickelodeon Teen Choice Award he’s been after.

(Warning: Cheese is purple for a reason. Do not eat)

For those interested in the legal portions of the game, Minnesota won 17-10, with Favre playing three quarters and going 13-for-18 for 142 yards. He didn’t really move the offense much; the real standout was Adrian Peterson. The Texans looked rusty and sluggish; in other words, in mid-season form. But the thing is, in a preseason game when none of that matters, all anyone is going to talk about is controversial stuff like Favre’s block. From AP:

Vikings coach Brad Childress said he hadn’t seen the block, but had a lot to say about it.

“I have not spent a lot of time with him blocking in the last 10 days,” Childress said. “Nor do I think he has spent any time doing any blocking, but I will in the future if he is going to be at the point of attack. I don’t think he did any of this down in Mississippi either. So that one is on me, I will take that one.”

Wilson said he hadn’t spoken to Favre, but if he did he would ask him one thing.

“What was up with that?” Wilson said. “Seriously, what was up with that?”

Wilson was hurt on the play, but says he’s going to be OK.

Larry King & family

The Dodgers’ push for a World Series title got a big boost on Monday when they acquired first baseman Jim Thome and pitcher Jon Garland just ahead of the playoff roster deadline. And how was the big news announced to the team? In the traditional way: Larry King’s sons shouted it into their dugout during their game with the Diamondbacks. Chance, 10, and Cannon, 9, know a scoop when they hear one, and like their father, couldn’t wait to beat Fox and MSNBC. The old man probably fed them the tip to make up for the shame of his recent Michael Jackson coverage.

More oddness: Garland (8-11, 4.29 ERA) was sitting in the Arizona dugout when he heard the news, just before the Diamondbacks scored two in the 10th to beat Los Angeles 5-3. He was supposed to pitch against LA on Thursday, and will probably still take the hill, only now against his former team. Thome, 39, who has 564 career homers, wasn’t exactly brought in to play first base — he’s played in the field a grand total of 28 innings in the past four seasons, including zero innings last season. Joe Torre no doubt sees him as a little offensive insurance policy, in much the same way the Phillies used Matt Stairs last season.

Meanwhile, the Rockies missed out on Garland, who they really wanted, and settled for White Sox pitcher Jose Contreras (5-13, 5.42 ERA). Chicago gets promising pitching prospect Brandon Hynick in return. The White Sox also got infielder Justin Fuller from the Dodgers for Thome.

The Giants picked up pitcher Brad Penny, who had been cut by the Red Sox. He’ll probably be their No. 5 starter as SF and Colorado, who are tied for the wild card lead, head into the final 31 games of the regular season.

Rafael Furcal, however, has had more important things to worry about. If you’re wondering why the Dodgers started Juan Castro at shortstop on Monday, it’s because Furcal has had to evacuate his home as the Station Fire north of Dodger Stadium continues to burn. Furcal was in Denver on Thursday when his wife called and said that firefighters wanted them to evacuate their house, in the Flintridge neighborhood. “I tell my wife, ‘You know what, get clothes for the kids and take the car and get out of there,’” Furcal said. “Life is more important than anything.” The six-day-old wildfire, not yet close to being contained, has destroyed 53 buildings and burned 105,000 acres, resulting in the death of two firefighters.

UCLA coach Rick Nueheisel, meanwhile, says the Bruins still plan to play San Diego State in their football opener on Saturday at the Rose Bowl, which is less than 10 miles south of the fire. Since the Aztecs were 2-10 last season and are 0-21 lifetime against UCLA, perhaps he feels the smoke won’t make much of a difference.

    Brandon Deadrick

  • Alabama defensive end Brandon Deaderick was shot on Monday night in a robbery attempt in the parking lot of an apartment complex, but is listed in “good” condition at a Tuscaloosa hospital this morning. He was shot in the arm. The 6-foot-4, 306-pound senior had just been confirmed on Monday by Nick Saban as the starter for the season opener against Virginia Tech on Saturday in Atlanta.
  • “Kahhhhhhhnnnn!” Keep this on the down-low so that Michael Crabtree doesn’t get any ideas, but Ricky Rubio has agreed to a six-year contract with Regal FC Barcelona, and won’t be eligible to go to an NBA team until 2011. Timberwolves’ GM David Kahn logged a lot of flight time on trips to Spain to try and negotiate a deal with Rubio’s former team, DKV Joventut, but couldn’t pry away the No. 5 draft pick. Rubio apparently was holding out for the opportunity to play in a larger American market, with his prefernce being New York.

  • For some reason, STRAIGHT BANGIN’ put up this hilarious post on Sunday, instead of a weekday when more people would be likely to see it. Well, we’re here to help. It’s their version of the fine print in the MJ Mini Golf Contest over at HANES.COM. Excerpts below. Well played, sirs.

(4) Contest Winner is entitled to one (1) handshake with Mr. Jordan; one (1) exchange of pleasantries with Mr. Jordan not to exceed three (3) discrete sentences spoken to Mr. Jordan, and allowed to occur only between 8:00 AM and 8:15 AM on the initial morning of the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational; and one (1) farewell directed to Mr. Jordan, which shall take form solely as “Thank you for being such a great guy. It was nice to meet you.” All other interaction is strictly forbidden.

(6) Contest Winner shall not participate in, photograph, or record any gambling, adult entertainment, sexual intercourse, amorous circumstance short of intercourse, sexual assault, or simultaneous combination of the preceding activities.

(9) Contest Winner shall wear Hanes underwear, Hanes t-shirt, Jordan Brand top, Jordan Brand bottom, and Jordan XX3 at all times.

  • And now, an apology from THE DAILY EXPRESS of London: In our article “Tennis legend Martina and the Russian beauty” on 25 August, we reported that that Martina Navratilova and Julia Lemigova were believed to be engaged after being photographed on holiday in St Tropez, each wearing rings on their left hands. There is  no truth in this. The pair are not engaged and have not exchanged rings. We apologise to Ms Navratilova and Ms Lemigova for our error and embarrassment we may have caused.

  • At least with Thome and Garland safely in the fold, Dodgers fans can go to their great reward secure in the knowledge that an NL West title is in the bag. Are the Dodgers really God’s team? Those who purchase one of these fine items will find out soon enough. Wouldn’t it be a pisser if you showed up at the Pearly Gates with all of this equipment, and St. Peter turns out to be a Washington Nationals fan?
  • Big loss for USC on Monday, as cornerback Shareece Wright was declared academically ineligible, and will be forced to sit out the 2009 season. “Shareece didn’t get it done,” said head coach Pete Carroll following Monday’s practice. “He didn’t get the GPA he needed to get.” Wright had been projected as a starter, and will be replaced by Josh Pinkard, who moves over from starting safety.
  • If Versus and DirecTV can’t get along, what hope is there for the rest of the world? The impasse between the sports network and the big distributor doesn’t look like it’s going to be settled soon, as the Sept. 1 deadline came and went without a deal. You may think you don’t want Versus, but there’s the NHL, and Pac-10, Big 12, Mountain West and Ivy League football. DirecTV said that the dispute centers on carriage fees. Comcast, which owns Versus, has demanded a deal “that is not comparable to other providers and is pushing for a significant rate hike that does not reflect current market terms or the value of its programming,” DirecTV said in a statement.
  • We may have a reason that Giants’ defensive end Osi Umenyiora went AWOL from the team’s facility on Monday. According to the STAR-LEDGER, it was over a dispute with defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, who reportedly criticized Umenyiora for his play in the team’s preseason game with the Jets. “I made a mistake by leaving the facility today,” Umenyiora said in a statement released by the team on Monday. “I was wrong. … I have no problem with our defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan or any of our coaches. That’s the end of it, as far as I am concerned.”

Eddie Scullin

  • Finally there’s this: Two-year-old Eddie Scullin, who can recite the entire Phillies lineup by looking at pictures of the players. He also imitates his favorite players’ batting stances by using a large Wiffle bat. Video here. Ahh, just another bandwagon Phillies fan.

Speed Read: College Class Lets Rickey Be Rickey

Rickey Henderson’s upcoming speech after his Baseball Hall of Fame induction on Sunday has the potential to be almost as awesome as a dinosaur fighting a squid and a whale. After all, this is someone who used to scream “Rickey is the best!” while standing naked in front of a mirror in the clubhouse taking practice swings. Who used called Padres GM Kevin Towers searching for a job and left the following message: “Kevin, this is Rickey. Calling on behalf of Rickey. Rickey wants to play baseball.” And of course, who after breaking Lou Brock’s stolen base record, got on the mic and said “Lou Brock was the symbol of great base stealing. But today, I’m the greatest of all time.”

Rickey Henderson

So imagine him getting to give a whole speech dedicated to the matter of his greatness? It’s staggering to think what might come out of his mouth. It’s like taking Mel Gibson out for a night of drinking and then asking him about Jews. But the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS reports that Henderson is attempting to refine his speech, and some lucky college students at Laney College in the Bay Area are getting to help. For the past several weeks, he’s been practicing his speech in front of a public speaking class and receiving critiques from the students.

Rickey Henderson

The teacher is former major leaguer Earl Robinson, who offered Henderson his help because even Henderson can admit that he needs it:

“Speech and me don’t get along sometimes,” he said. “I’m not a doctor or professor, so for me to go and write a speech or read a speech, it’s kind of like putting a tie too tight around my neck.”

Usually, it’s hard to accuse Rickey Henderson of an understatement, but to say that he and speech “don’t get along sometimes” is like saying Madonna’s face is starting to look “kind of weird.” So where does this leave us for Sunday? Because let’s face facts: it would be tragic if his speech was too good.  But it appears that there’s no need to worry, as Robinson assures people that the speech is still all Rickey:

“He’s going to say what he feels,” he said. “How they interpret it, we’ll see. When he throws something out there, whatever else you hear in terms of him being critical of this or that, he overpowers you with the sincerity of his words.

“Like I finally said to him, just do the best you can. Let Rickey be Rickey.”

Manny Ramirez grand slam bobblehead

Yesterday we told you about how Manny Ramirez hit a game-winning grand slam on Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Night into the Mannywood section of seats. And for many people in Southern California, it’s probably a good thing that we did, because they sure didn’t get a chance to watch it on TV. That’s because, as the LOS ANGELES TIMES points out, Time Warner Cable customers missed the homer thanks to a roughly one minute service outage. Whoops!

One minute, viewers were watching the game. Then, they saw a frozen screen followed by back-to-back commercials, only to come back to Ramirez taking a curtain call because…something happened. Not that Time Warner cares about the dozens of angry e-mails and phone calls. I mean, it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Time Warner spokesman Darryl Ryan said that what occurred was “an inadvertent glitch.” He said it affected a “small number” of customers on L.A.’s Westside and the western San Fernando Valley. And, as if this will matter to that “small number” of customers, “it only took them away from the game for 54 seconds,” Ryan said.

Hey, it least you didn’t have the Super Bowl climax replaced by a porn scene. Or, perhaps it’s too bad that you didn’t, depending on if your wife is in the room.

Finally, are you ready for a sitcom called “Jock Itch”? If you said yes, then Dolphins CB Nathan Jones is your kind of man. (Also, if you said yes, please resume beating yourself over the head with a mallet.)  Jones is executive producing the show, which he describes as “really ‘Friday Night Lights meets ‘Friends’.” Which I assume means that there will be a ton of cute talking, but no one will watch. Still, it’s an open audition if you’re interested.

  • POLITICO says former Bengals and Buccaneers head coach Sam Wyche is mulling a run for Congress as a Republican in his native South Carolina. I’m sure he’ll be ahead in the polls until Joe Montana’s last-minute entry into the race throws everything crazy.
  • Sam Wyche

  • YES Network’s choice for a “Yankee Classic” to air this weekend? Not one of their 26 World Series-clinching victories, or even a great game by Rickey Henderson. Nope, it’s their 9-8 win over the Mets from June 12, aka the Luis Castillo dropped ball game. All I know is that Tony Bernazard is ready to cut someone at the YES Network.
  • The guy who accused Marvin Harrison of shooting him has managed to get shot again. This time Dwight Dixon is in critical condition in a Philadelphia hospital, with Harrison nowhere in sight.
  • Really, is anyone surprised that Rickey Williams is studying New Age medicine as his post-football career? At least I know who I can turn to in order to get a prescription for my “glaucoma.”
  • CURBED LA says that one of the few people who stands to benefit from the California budget deal is billionaire Ed Roski, since his NFL stadium plan for the City of Industry happens to be right next to a proposed “redevelopment area.”
  • What is former MLB Troy Neel’s punishment for being the “most egregious child-support evader in Texas history” after fleeing the country for ten years in order to avoid paying more than $750,000 in support? Two years of probation. What ever happened to “Texas-style justice”?
  • The roster for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Hollywood Stars celebrity game has been announced. With names such as Larry King, Tom Arnold, Tom Green and former Creed lead singer Scott Stapp, it’s a veritable Who’s Who of celebrities I’d like to see take a fastball to the temple, Ray Chapman-style.
  • Headline of the Day: Kobe Advises Taiwan’s Wang to be Patient”. And for God’s sake, don’t stay at any hotels in Colorado.
  • Is there anything more dangerous than a drunk Bison? North Dakota State’s football team is dealing with its fourth player to be arrested in the past six months on DUI charges. Not to be outdone, a University of North Dakota hockey player gets suspended for drunkenly throwing so much stuff from a garage onto a road - including a lawn mower, kitchen table and glassware - that the street had to be closed for clean-up.
  • The police car footage from Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido’s January DWI arrest has been made public, and offers many tips on what not to do if you’ve been pulled over after having “five glasses of wine.” Such as: tell the cop you are drunk, and volunteer that a DWI will ruin your career.

Seriously: who would you most want to see take a screaming line drive in the crotch?

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Speed Read: Former NFL LB Is A Calif. Murderer

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder in sports crime - O.J. Simpson still hasn’t found his wife’s killer but we can’t be assured that Dirk Nowitzki’s baby momma didn’t have something to do with it - former NFL linebacker Eric Naposki is arrested for being the gunman who killed Newport Beach (Calif.) millionaire William McLaughlin. If you’re looking for more information on him, don’t check his former teams. The Patriots have already spiked his former alumni player page.

eric naposki

According to the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, Naposki — who was the paramour of McLaughlin’s girlfriend, Nanette Johnston — shot McLaughlin six times in an infamous 1994 slaying that sent shockwaves through the Southern California socialite circles and the medical aristocracy, since McLaughlin was the man who invented the process to separate plasma from blood.

Naturally, the case is being buried underneath all the Vick attention, but it’s a truly stunning turn of events. This is a cold case 15 years old, and suddenly dual arrests, one of which goes to a guy who played for both the Patriots and Colts in the late 1980s? Didn’t see that coming.

Then again, who saw the Magic win coming, either? After watching Cleveland breeze through its first two playoff series, sitting at home while waiting for the Celtics and Magic to finish beating each other up. When they finally returned to action on Wednesday, they jumped out to a lead, though that didn’t do anything to give them a win. No, instead, the Cavs dropped their first game of the playoffs, raising serious questions over whether the cast around LeBron James can keep up with Dwight Howard and a Magic team that looks more and more playoff tested.

rashard lewis magic

Of course, the Game 1 win dampens some of the rampant speculation that the Eastern Conference Finals are rigged. It’s hard to say that the Cavs are set up for a cakewalk to the Finals when they win Game 1 on the road.

Now all those pregame concerns are being replaced with Orlando braggadocio, with at least one Orlando columnist claiming that the team turned Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena into “a mausoleum.” Ouch. It’ll be interesting to see how LeBron reacts to that.

lebron james

Speaking of basketball, the Lakers are still in the playoffs, but they’re hardly the biggest basketball story going on in their own city. Ok, maybe they are the biggest story in L.A., but the Clippers are stealing some of their thunder, for good and bad reasons. First, they win the NBA Draft Lottery for the right to pick Blake Griffin. Then, less excitingly for fans of the red and blue (are any left?), is this incredibly damning portrait of owner Donald Sterling, who looks like a bigger and bigger racist with each article that gets published.

donald sterling

The most recent accusations were lobbed by ESPN The Magazine, which we tripped across via DEADSPIN, and they go into scary detail about his slumlording and overt racism in granting the right to live in his shantytowns.  Here’s your gratuitous over-the-top pullquote, courtesy Mr. Sterling’s written records themselves (no one told him about this new invention called a “shredder”?)

When Sterling first bought the Ardmore, he remarked on its odor to Davenport. “That’s because of all the blacks in the building, they smell, they’r enot clean,” he said, accoding to Davenport’s testimony. “And it’s because of all the Mexicans taht just sit around and smoke and drink all day. He added: “So we have to get them out of here.” Shortly after, construction work caused a serious leak at the complex. When Davenport surveyed the damage, she found an elderly woman, Kandynce Jones, wading through several inches of water in Apartment 121. Jones was paralyzed on the right side and legally blind. She took medication for high blood pressure and to thin a clot in her leg. Still, she was remarkably cheerful, showing Davenport pictures of her children, even as some of her belongings floated around her.

Can’t David Stern steal back the top pick? I mean, top media market aside, is it really worth putting a talent like Blake Griffin in L.A. if it means helping Sterling make money? We’re certainly not sure it is.

Meanwhile, it was only a matter of time until the floodgates about Milton Bradley conspiracy theorists came out of the woodwork. Well, consider them here to stay, after two radio hosts on Chicago station THE SCORE debated whether Bradley was a good contributor for the Cubs. Not surprisingly, the takes of the two hosts were vastly different, though the boiled down to once major concern: Is Bradley a clubhouse cancer? Or is he just infairly maligned by the media?

milton bradley cubs

The issue at heart is a legitimate one, since the media continues to trot out a ditribe about how Bradley brings only negatives to a team. According to analysis from MOUTHPIECE SPORTS, which we’ve always heard and read as well, Bradley is actually known as a terrific teammate, by Jake Peavy, Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Theriot and, most recently, Bobby Scales.

That sure makes it seem like Bradley is the victim of unfair media criticism, though who really knows with a guy so volatile he rips an ACL while arguing a call at first base. Not third or home, first. Yet that in itself seems to prove that he’s got a lot more passion that he’s getting credit for, so we’re not sure what Matt Abbacatola was talking about. Do you?

  • You thought you were tough? You got nothing on this 104-year-old golfer. Yes, 104. And he insisted on having a round. That, friends, is amazing.
  • Evidently Larry King’s “Shattered Glass”-esque story about horse racing was only the latest episode in his career of lying about famous sporting events and moments. Paging you, Mr. Sandy Koufax.
  • Is it possible that Tony Kornheiser is just a jerk? We all know that Joe Theismann hated him. Did Mike Tirico burn out on him, too?
  • Speaking of Theismann, we’re sorry, but we can’t get enough of this whole Keyboard Cat fad, and if we don’t use this now, we’ll never get a chance to. Sure it’s macabre, but then there’s a cat! Playing a keyboard!

  • SI decides hockey is just relevant enough to compile a list of the sports most rugged players. Thanks SI. Of course, it is a pretty solid list, considering the fact that Owen Nolan is near the top. That’s all we needed to know.

Which sports injury would you most like to have turned into a “Keyboard Cat” moment?

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Shock: Beverly Hills’ Little League Is Star-Studded

Being a kid growing up in Beverly Hills apparently has some advantages. I know that’s hardly a revelation, but according to the LOS ANGELES TIMES, the privileges extend all the way to Little League. The kids in Beverly Hills have two former major league All-Stars coaching the game. Meanwhile, the opposing coaches for my opening day of Little League was my friend’s dad who sold hand soap door-to-door, and a guy who drove a windowless van and took kids out for “ice cream.” Advantage: Beverly Hills.

Dave Winfield

The Beverly Hills Little League went out of their way for the league’s exhibition game against a team from nearby Culver City. Dave Winfield and Fred Lynn were the two team’s coaches, while Luke Perry threw out the first pitch. Yes, that Luke Perry, from “Beverly Hills, 90210.” Apparently, he has a kid who is playing in the league, and really, it’s not like he has anything better to do.

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Blog-A-Roni: Larry King Tossed From Son’s Game

• The NEW YORK OBSERVER pitches up news that CNN host & Little League coach Larry King was tossed from his son’s game.

Larry King big hair

• THE BEST WHO serves up Maria Sharapova ogling Orlando Bloom.

• THE BASEBALL WRITER learns (via Erin Andrews) that Morgan Ensburg doesn’t impress the Harlem cops with his Yankee card.

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