Ochocinco Twittering About Looming NFL Lockout

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.

Ochocinco Twitter Cap 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.

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Speed Read: Another Ivanovic Bust At U.S. Open

Back in January 2008, the Australian Open finals featured Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova in one of the most eagerly-anticipated women’s tennis matches ever. Sharapova won the match, but it seemed like the sport was set for one of the hottest - in every sense of the world - rivalries in recent memories.

Ana Ivanovic

Now flash forward to last night. While a Bedazzled Sharapova (more on that in a minute) started her comeback from shoulder surgery with an easy straight set win over Tsvetana Pironkova, Ivanovic continued her freefall into oblivion by getting bounced by unheralded Kateryna Bondarenko. That makes a tidy zero titles for Ivanovic this year and no appearances past the fourth round in any major - and another early round exit from the U.S. Open after last year’s shocking loss to Julie Coin in the second round.

Ana Ivanovic Topless Photo

(Ana Ivanovic in happier times…for everyone)

It’s not just that Ivanovic lost - at times, she looked absolutely lost, seemingly unable to do something as simple as throw the ball into the air correctly during her serves. Call it the tennis equivalent of Rick Ankiel’s pitching yips, although more attractive to watch if just as awkward. Ivanovic took to burying her head in a towel during changeovers, which is probably what a lot of fans wanted to do after watching her stumble to defeat.

Maria Sharapova

Meanwhile, Sharapova was confident and poised in her easy victory. Her tennis game looked great, while her outfit … let’s just say it looked like something you might have seen in a teen dance competition in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1987. And not to go Mr. Blackwell on your here, but honey, Cher called from 1975 and she wants her beaded headband back. Unless you are planning on belting out a rousing version of “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” after winning your next match - in that case, it’s all yours.

Sharapova said that her outfit was “inspired by the architecture of New York.” Which is a perfect transition to talk about one of the other great metropolises of the Americans: Saskatoon. Because FACEOFF.COM says that one of the bidders for the Phoenix Coyotes has already booked five dates at the Credit Union Centre (the Madison Square Garden of Saskatchewan) to hold games there if they get the team next season.

Downtown Saskatoon

(There really is nothing quite like Saskatoon in December…)

Which leads to the question: what other events would possibly be happening in Saskatoon so you would need to save the date? A quick look at the Credit Union Centre event schedule shows a lot of minor league hockey…and not much else. Somehow I think that the arena would be willing to postpone the Saskatoon Blades vs. Moose Jaw Warriors showdown for an NHL game.

A partner for Ice Edge Holdings said that the team would be playing most of its games in Phoenix and not moving to Saskatoon permanently, which is too bad: it would be great to see NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman get an involuntary eye twitch every time he tries to explain how having a team in Saskatoon is good for the league.

Finally, Adrian Beltre returned to the Seattle Mariners last night after learning a valuable lesson about wearing a cup while playing third base on August 14 - as in “for the love of all things good and holy, wear one!” You might remember that Beltre thought his testicle had “exploded” after taking a scorching drive to the crotch.

Adrian Beltre nutcracker

After sitting out a few weeks (and probably getting some counseling for his lingering trauma issues), Beltre was back, and the Mariners decided to have a little fun at his expense. Ken Griffey Jr. had said he had the “perfect” music for Beltre’s first at-bat, and the person in charge of the songs being played over the PA delivered. Our own Scott Sepich was at the game, so I’ll pass along what he relayed to me:

“I was at the Mariners-Angels game tonight, and in Adrian Beltre’s first at-bat since coming off the DL, the music they played for him when he came to the plate was the “Nutcracker Suite.” A few of us in the press box caught on, but I’m not sure that the crowd got it. I thought it was pretty brilliant.”

Brilliant, indeed. In case you need further proof, the SEATTLE TIMES game blog not only mentions the musical cue but has audio of it as well. While I find it ironic that Ken Griffey Jr. - a man who once suffered a season-ending groin injury while fielding a fly ball - thinks that Beltre’s situation is hilarious. But it was a good choice of music, certainly more subtle than what I would have selected.

  • SPORTS HERNIA seems to think that David Wright’s new mega-helmet makes him look like Dark Helmet or The Great Gazoo. Personally, I think that he should be paying royalty money to Mark Kelso for infringing on his “dorky guy in a giant helmet” trademark.
  • David Wright

  • If there was one team in the NFL that had to be screwing the fans over by selling tickets directly to scalpers, it had to be the Washington Redskins, right? Too bad they can’t do the same thing with Six Flags tickets to prop up sales numbers.
  • Your nightly NFLPA train wreck update: the Department of Justice is confirming that they are investigating collusion claims by the union’s former HR director. She says that former player representative Troy Vincent had illegal meetings with Roger Goodell and Texas owner Robert McNair where he divulged classified information. Troy Vincent had a trouble keeping information private? That sounds strangely familiar.
  • Ladies, Rafael Nadal is playing at the U.S. Open in see-through shorts. Why can’t we get this technology in the women’s side of things (except for Serena Williams)?
  • Sometimes being a”football hero” takes on a different connotation: Kaleb Eulls, a star player at Yazoo High in Mississippi who has committed to Mississippi State, is being praised after disarming a 14-year-old girl who pulled out a loaded semi-automatic weapon on a full school bus.
  • Former Kentucky basketball star Edward Davender has been arrested as part of a ticket scalping scam involving Wildcats basketball tickets. If convicted, he could be sentenced to work for the Washington Redskins.
  • Adam “Pac-Man” Jones and Charles Rogers on the same CFL football team? Can someone please tell me how I can get Winnipeg Blue Bombers games on TV here in the lower 48?
  • Andy Roddick is less than thrilled with the U.S. Open trying to clamp down on players Twittering because they are concerned about players giving up “inside information.” Roddick’s retort (via Twitter): “you would seriously have to be a moron to send ‘inside info’ through a tweet.”
  • Anheuser-Busch plans to switch sports advertising tactics, targeting specific beer brands with demographics based on major sports. Bud Light to be linked to the NFL, while Budweiser will feature heavily in MLB advertising. No word on if Natural Ice will now be the Official Beer of Competitive Binge Drinking.
  • If they are going to start sending people to jail for 30 days for socking an opposing coach at a baseball game for 8-year-olds and then swinging a bat at people trying to break it up, then I just don’t know what baseball is anymore.

Best song for a player returning from a “bruised testicle”:

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Don’t Trust Your Personal Info To Troy Vincent

Identity theft: it’s one of the biggest bogeymen in 21st century America. And hey, why not? The last thing you want is your credit rating destroyed by some stranger in Detroit or some other third-world country. If you’re going to have a crappy credit rating, it had better be on your own terms, damn it.

Troy Vincent on Jeopardy
(Ooh, ooh, I know! What are “illegal data miners”?)

But it’s generally thought that the people who would stoop to identity theft are common thieves, people who have lousy credit of their own and little else to show for themselves. You know, strangers and deadbeat relatives. You certainly wouldn’t expect, say… the president of your own union.

But that’s exactly the case with the NFL, of all places. Read more…

NFLPA Head Predicts Lockout Is Looming For 2011

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.

DeMaurice Smith
(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.

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Speed Read: Braves Get Their Man (& Ditch One)

Credit the Atlanta Braves for knowing how to manage a news cycle. They flipped three prospects to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Nate McLouth to answer the need for outfield help (which they failed to answer correctly the first time by not signing Adam Dunn in the offseason), and called up Tommy Hanson (pitching phenom) and sent down Jordan Schafer (outfielder phenom) and look at all the exciting news!

Nate McLouth

(Nate McLouth: interstate man of mystery no longer)

And, oh by the way, they cut local hero Tom Glavine so they wouldn’t have to pay him up to $3.5 million to throw weaker than Jamie Moyer in a headwind when they don’t really need a farewell tour but more of a starting pitcher. But look! Nate McLouth! All-Star!

Braves GM Frank Wren swears it’s not about the money - which always means it’s about the money. McLouth is actually fairly inexpensive through 2011 with a club option for 2012 if he’s worth $10 million, but the team is replacing three minor league salaries with a major league one (roughly speaking).

Glavine will look for another job and has a decent chance of finding one if the price is right for a desperate franchise. However, no franchise has shown enough desperation to hook up with Sammy Sosa since Baltimore began its bizarre fascination with Chicago Cubs outfielders in 2005 and Texas took Sammy out around the block in 2007.

Sammy Sosa getting hit in head

Therefore, he’s announcing his retirement officially this week… sometime. As always, Sammy has to get an extra swing or two in before finally connecting, so his actual retirement will be later this week. Possibly.

Some will celebrate their last chance to moralize about him before his Hall of Fame eligibility kicks in. Others will tell Sammy to put a cork in it because they’re sick of him. The best recommendation? Smash a boom box with a baseball bat. It’s like an aural piñata!

Finally, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team squirted the bed in a simply filthy manner last night in San José, Costa Rica. The U.S. squad gave up two goals in the first 15 minutes of a World Cup qualifier to Costa Rica at the notoriously difficult Saprissa Stadium (banned: alcohol, batteries, and coins) on their way to a 3-1 thumping that wasn’t remotely that close.

Costa Rican Superman

(A Costa Rican Superman? Well, that explains a lot)

The bastard out there at ESPN that thought it would help ratings if they jammed Jon & Kate Plus 8 in front of U.S. keeper Tim Howard instead delivered a showing that led the Galavision announcers to chastise the Costa Ricans for not stomping on the throats of the Americans even more and to compare one goal in particular to stealing candy from a baby.

Jon & Kate Plus 8 Plus Tim Howard

(Actual photo of attempted defensive wall)

Because of two silly yellow cards received by two U.S. players, the American team will be short two people when they play against Honduras at Soldier Field in Chicago Saturday, in what promises to feel like an away game with maybe 25% of the 60,000 fans cheering for Uncle Sam’s boys. If the U.S. doesn’t earn three points with a win, there’s a very real chance they could miss next year’s World Cup in South Africa.

If U.S. coach Bob Bradley is still looking for a left back that has never played there before in a crucial situation, why not call on Tom Glavine? He’s available; he’s a winner; he’s looking for a job. At worst, he can help heave batteries back into the crowd at a gentle 83 mph.

And now a hail of sapphire bullet points of pure love for the Queen of the Blues on her passing

  • One old baseball man who tabled his moment in the sun: Randy Johnson. His first attempt at 300 wins in D.C. last night got washed out by Mother Nature (whom Randy went to elementary school with) and will be played today at 4 pm ET with Mr. Unit on the mound.
  • Carlos Zambrano continues to show disrespect to inanimate objects by blowing off the team jet to Atlanta (and not for the first time). Needless to say, this story doesn’t have legs if the Cubs aren’t splashing around .500 still.
  • Also filed under “not living up to expectations and therefore open to criticism”, please note the Serena Williams entry created when she lost in the quarterfinals. She showed up to the French Open out of shape mentally and physically, choosing to wear outfits that accentuated the latter and threw snit fits that proved the former. The only person this “athlete/actress” is cheating is herself.

Serena Williams at the 2009 French Open

Jose Lima Wife

How did the Braves’ efforts yesterday affect the NL East race?

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I Think The Price Of Madden 2010 Just Increased

As somebody who grew up playing Madden just like the rest of you, one of the things I always found annoying about the game was how the classic teams never had the player’s actual names.  Now I would play with the 85 Bears more often than any other team, and although I knew that RB #34 was Walter Payton, it still would have been nice to see his actual name on there.

It would seem that I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Apparently the players who were on those teams would have enjoyed seeing their names on the screen as well while watching their grandsons play.   After all, there’s a nice chunk of change to be made from those licensing rights, and it shouldn’t just be divided amongst the current players in the NFL.   And now, thanks to a U.S. Federal jury, it won’t be.

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Retired NFL Players Want Mad(den) Money Now

The NFL and the NFLPA (the union) have done little to promote players until recently, creating a Q Rating gap between current players and retired ones.  The NFL wanted to promote teams over players to keep loyalties (and cash flow) strong.

On the other hand, the NFLPA, under the guidance of the recently-passed Gene Upshaw, didn’t give a damn about anyone that wasn’t currently filling the union’s coffers.

Brett Favre with Madden 09

(Brett Favre, trying to have it both ways)

Showing that some things haven’t changed, a class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of some 2,000 former NFL players to claim royalties from likenesses and near-likenesses on all kinds of licensing deals (like with EA Sports for Madden) when the NFLPA allegedly cut them out of the deals to protect their active players/dues-payers.

It’s quite the ingenious scheme, really: don’t promote the retired players at all because the gains would supposedly be marginal and then claim that you don’t owe those men a damned thing because they aren’t marketable now.  If only the NFLPA could have wrapped them up in bonds, double-insured them, and sold them to Lehman Brothers, too…

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Gene Upshaw, Hall of Famer, NFLPA Director, Dies

Gene Upshaw, who made his name as an offensive lineman for the Raiders before becoming the executive director of the NFL Players Association, has died. The Hall of Famer, 63, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just four days ago, and according to the NFL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION web site, he passed away with his family by his side.

Gene Upshaw

As NFL.COM notes, Upshaw had been involved with labor issues for more than 30 years, first as a player, and then as the head of the NFLPA. His tenure was not without controversy, however.

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