12:15 PM While trying to make a check on San Jose Sharks player Patrick Marleau, Toronto Maple Leafs player Dion Phaneuf missed and hit teammate James van Riemsdyk instead. Van Riemsdyk was taken to the locker room but later returned to the game.
As you might recall, there’s a labor stoppage looming on the NFL’s horizon; without a new deal, the salary cap disappears in 2010, then play stops for 2011 and all hell breaks loose. Bad times, especially for the players. To that end, apparently, the NFLPA is taking today to meet with players about the lockout and to discuss the union’s strategy for attacking the possibility of a lockout.
(What? No way. Seriously, no way, right.)
What the NFLPA perhaps should not have done is invite notorious Tweetmonster Chad Ochocinco, who couldn’t get “be quiet” right if it were Wheel of Fortune and you spotted him the B, E, Q, and T. So naturally, Ocho kept his phone off during the proceedings and of course we’re lying, he’s been giving his followers updates the entire time. Oh, and just to prove that he’s reliable, he also claimed to get cut from the Bengals in the middle of the thing, so… your guess is as good as ours, really.
I know you thought Thursday would never come, but it’s here. And yes, I told you that if you were good, I’d take you to the Cirque du Vick, that dramatic mix of circus arts and occasional football plays scheduled for tonight at Lincoln Financial Field. It’s Michael Vick’s return to the NFL, making this not just another exhibition game no one will watch, but must-see entertainment. Hey, I don’t make the rules. I just observe.
And there’s plenty of excitement in store, including a pro-Vick march and rally by the NAACP, possible disruption by PETA and other anti-Vick factions, and of course the always-reliable Philly fans themselves (hey, who threw that brick!?). Unfortunately, the ride depicted in the photo above left and in the video below will not be available. The guy in a Vick jersey riding a puppy is either a tragic coincidence, or an example of a man who majored in Irony and wants to put that degree to use for once.
The YouTube description says it was shot at an amusement park in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and that’s all I know about it. Except that what he’s doing is just wrong on so many levels. But it fits right in with the festivities here on Michael Vick Day, so climb aboard, kids! Just don’t let Steeler Poodle see you.
Eagles head coach Andy Reid has said that Vick will play with the first team at some point during the first three quarters tonight, but in what capacity and for how long is still shrouded in mystery. Andy, you sly minx. Presenting Vick tonight after only two weeks of practice serves no actual physical purpose, since he’ll be sitting out at least the first five games of the regular season. But by throwing him into the mix tonight you get the majority of the controversy out of the way early; like a first kiss. But beware, Mike; Philly fans like to slip in the tongue.
It’ll be Vick’s first appearance in an NFL game since Dec. 31, 2006; which was also at Lincoln Financial. And he’ll start today in federal bankruptcy court, which is always fun. Then it’s home to feed the dogs, and then on to the game. Yeah, it’s unknown if Vick has truly seen the light and is genuinely remorseful over his dog-killing past. But what we do know is that all the publicity surrounding his incarceration hasn’t helped dogs one bit. The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has reported 400 investigations of dogfighting operations so far this year; almost twice as many as in all of 2008.
A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that agents had no right to seize baseball’s anonymous drug-testing results from 2003. The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is a victory for the players’ union, which has argued for years to have the results of the 104 players who allegedly tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003 returned.
“This was an obvious case of deliberate overreaching by the government in an effort to seize data as to which it lacked probable cause,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in the 9-2 decision.
The records, seized by government agents in April 2004 as part of the BALCO investigation into Barry Bonds, has been the subject of legal wrangling ever since. If the case doesn’t end up in the Supreme Court, the list will be returned to the players’ union, where it will presumably be destroyed. The court ruled that federal agents trampled on players’ protections against unreasonable searches and seizures in taking the list, which included Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz, who were among those whose names were leaked.
The American Defenders of New Hampshire were supposed to play the New Jersey Jackals in a Can-Am pro baseball game on Tuesday, but there was one problem: They faced a lockout. But it isn’t the kind of lockout you’re used to hearing about; the City of Nashua locked the stadium because the team was behind in their rent. The Defenders — formerly known as the Nashua Pride — owe fire, police and rent bills totaling about $45,000 according to mayor Donnalee Lozeau. And to make sure the teams didn’t scale the fence and play the game anyway, Lozeau had city workers park a tractor over home plate. This is true. Fun fact: The Defenders team president is Dan Duquette, former general manager of the Boston Red Sox. They’re now on the road, but as of today, the stadium impasse has not been resolved.
Above is a photo of a very toasted Billy Gillispie, who was arrested by Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, police early this morning for DUI. Yep, that’s the former Kentucky Wildcats basketball coach, who was fired in a contract dispute this past March and has since sued the university for breach of contract. Gillispie and a passenger were driving a white 2009 Mercedes with Texas tags around 2:45 a.m. on US 127 when someone reported seeing the car driving erratically. Gillispie was arrested and charged with DUI, and reportedly refused to take a breathalizer or blood alcohol test. Gillispie had also been arrested for DUI in Oklahoma in 1999.
Allen Iverson may be a Grizzly before you know it. Memphis confirmed that they’ve made him an offer, but will AI go through with it? I can’t picture him in Memphis; it doesn’t seem like a good fit. Iverson touring Graceland is just too bizarre.
Not sure if this happened before or after David Ortiz’s walkoff home run gave the Red Sox a 3-2 win over the White Sox on Wednesday, but Boston released Brad Penny, who was 7-8. Penny, 1-6 over his past 11 starts, is working on the one-year, $5 million contract he signed during the offseason.
In naming Shaun Hill as the team’s No. 1 quarterback on Tuesday, 49ers coach Mike Singletary praised him in the way that only Mike Singletary can. In other words, it’s our baffling NFL quote of the Year so far: “There’s nothing pretty about Shaun. Everything’s ugly: His drop … his release … all these things. But what’s beautiful about him is his heart. I want to go down with a guy like that.” Season tickets still available!
Was watching Brad Cooper on “The Tonight Show” last night, and he almost revealed who will be taking up the Mr. T role in the new “A Team” movie that’s on the way to theaters (Cooper will play Faceman, with Liam Neeson as Hannibal). Cooper wouldn’t spill the other big role, but according to several sources, BA Baracus will be played by Rampage Jackson.
For both casual and devoted fans of any given sport, there’s no more frightening word to enter the discussion than “lockout.” Sports seasons are supposed to come and go like actual seasons, not go and then wait for extremely rich people to shake hands every couple of years.
(Also a problem - the NFLPA’s executive director apparently has a basketball in his office. Sir, do you know what sport you’re representing?)
But that’s what the NFL is headed toward, according to the executive director of the NFLPA, De Smith*. Smith was at Colts camp today and told reporters that’s what he’s expecting when the current collective bargaining agreement expires in 2011. Oh, good.
Suppose you’ve got a product that exists in a relatively finite market. Its value is directly related to the amount of money it can generate, whether by its own sale or by the sales it can generate while in your possession. Suppose that you, as an owner, enter into obligations based on that projected value or the projected sale. Then, this being America in 2009, the bottom completely drops out of that market, and you’re left in a financially untenable situation with an “asset” that suddenly isn’t worth nearly what you expected. So, are we talking about home owners, banks, and mortgages… or the professional sports landscape?
(Look behind Derrick Rose. You see a fellow Bull, three Charlotte Bobcats, and about six of their fans.)
Bill Simmons recently released an impressive column detailing the woeful state of affairs in the NBA from a balance sheet perspective (seriously, it’s a must-read). Obviously, nobody’s going to give him hard numbers; if even 20% of Simmons’ anecdotes and predictions are true, it would be an open call for investors and partners of franchises to flee in terror. But Simmons has enough to forecast a coming dark era for the league, and probably the rest of American sports as well. The, ahem, money quote* is after the jump. Read more…
As NBA insiders go, few are as well-versed in the league’s goings-on at every level from the top down than David Falk, hero to bald men nationwide and an agent in the league for more than 35 years. At his agency’s height in the mid-’90s, he was representing Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, and Dikembe Mutombo, among many others. So suffice it to say that if he’s got an opinion on the business side of the NBA, you should be paying very close attention.
(Why yes, he IS selling a book right now! What about the alarmist statements gave that away, aside from EVERYTHING?)
What Falk does have to say is not very good. At all. According to the NEW YORK TIMES, there’s a storm brewing when the collective bargaining agreement expires in 2011: the players already don’t like the deal, and the owners are going to want to trim way back as their franchises hemorrage money. The result: EXTREME KAYAKING STANDOFF! Read more…