Rafael Nadal Can Indeed Be Beaten; Here’s How

Apparently we’ve found the one hole in Rafa Nadal’s game: Dude’s swat shot is lacking.

Rafael Nadal Double Faults After Being Distracted By A Fly

(Brush with fly led to double fault by Nadal)

If I’m Robin Soderling, I’m overnighting David Cronenberg’s telepod out of storage right about now.

Jeff Goldblum In David Cronenberg Movie The Fly Telepod

Too late? Maybe he can retrofit a local tanning bed.
Read more…

Nadal To Wear $525,000 Watch At French Open

Last Thursday Rafael Nadal called a press conference to announce his new Swiss watch sponsor.

Rafael Nadal wearing $525,000 watch Richard Mille Photos

He was an hour late.

Rafael Nadal wearing $525,000 watch Richard Mille Photos

Almost as amusing as Nadal’s faulty timing is the price of the Swiss watch he’s now endorsing: $525,000.

Read more…

Source: Shakira-Nadal Hookup “Totally Not True”

The NEW YORK POST reported of Shakira and Rafael Nadal today:

Shakira shared a cozy meal with tennis star Rafael Nadal in Spain, sparking more rumors of a love match between the pair. They were spotted dining at the W Hotel in Barcelona after shooting a video together there late last week.

Shakira

(View not quiet as good last night)

It was the latest in a series of meetings between the singer and the tennis star which has sparked intense online speculation.

In addition to a denial from Nadal’s manager to the Post, I talked to a source today with intimate knowledge of Shakira’s personal affairs.

Read more…

Speed Read: Steelers Salvage Opening Night Win

If anyone wanted to know the difference between college football and the NFL, you just needed to watch the two games last night. (At least the two that anyone cared about - sorry, Florda A&M at Winston-Salem State on ESPNU.) If you like offense, crazy plays and wild comebacks, then the Clemson at Georgia Tech game was for you. But if you prefer low-scoring, hard-hitting football that’s kind of not very exciting until the final five minutes, then the NFL kickoff game between Pittsburgh and Tennessee was for you. (Sorry, is my bias showing?)

Steelers vs Titans

First let’s talk about the Steelers’ 13-10 overtime victory. Plainly put, Pittsburgh had no reason to win this game. They could not run the ball, gaining a whopping 33 yards. (Note to the guy in my fantasy league bragging about “stealing” Rashard Mendenhall: eat it.) And between Jeff Reed almost shanking the game-tying 32-yard field goal into the offensive line’s backsides and Hines Ward fumbling after a reception took him inside the Titans’ five with a minute to go, they were teetering on disaster. Read more…

Speed Read: McNulty Makes “Offer” To Big Ben

Andrea McNulty, the woman who has sued Ben Roethlisberger for allegedly raping her last year, has had her credibility and motivations called into question many times since her lawsuit was filed in July. But now, in an attempt to make her seem both less crazy and less of a gold digger, she has offered to withdraw the lawsuit.

Ben Roethlisberger Andrea McNulty

Oh, if it were only that simple. As you’ll see, McNulty’s “offer” may seem like a noble pursuit, but it stipulates that Big Ben do the one thing he’ll never, ever do. So, without further ado, here are the three conditions for having the lawsuit dropped:

Read more…

Speed Read: Oregon, Boise Trade Musical Barbs

For a lot of us, tonight is like Christmas, your birthday and finding your Dad’s stash of Swank Magazines when you were 12 all rolled into one: college football starts tonight. And unlike most opening week mismatches, tonight’s marquee match-up should be a doozy, with Pac-10 dark horse Oregon braving possible blindness from the Smurf Turf and the color-coordinated fans to America’s underdog, the Boise State Broncos (current listed as a 3.5-point favorite).

Jeremiah Masoli

But this isn’t just a compelling game between two Top 25 teams with big aspirations. No, these two teams (in my best Jim Ross drawl) Just Plain Don’t Like Each Other, especially after last season’s win by Boise State that featured two Broncos getting ejected and Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli getting KOed by a cheap shot while attempting his first pass of the game. Here’s some video if you want to judge for yourself:

Read more…

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”:

View Results

Questions Surround Death Of French Tennis Star

So what are we to make of the sudden death of Mathieu Montcourt, the 24-year-old French tennis star who was found dead in the hallway outside of his Paris apartment on Tuesday? The tennis world is still in shock over the sudden demise of the world’s 119th-ranked player, who came up through the junior ranks with world No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal, and who had just begun a suspension by the Association of Tennis Professionals for gambling on matches.

Mathieu Montcourt

Montcourt had been banned for eight weeks in August of last year for betting on matches — although none of them his own — by the ATP; a sentence that was reduced by two weeks on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in May. Montcourt was also fined $12,000 after it was found that he gambled sums totaling $192 on 36 games, in 2005. Read more…

Capris Bad For Knees? Nadal To Miss Wimbledon

It has not been a good few months for Rafael Nadal. After his win over Roger Federer at Wimbledon a year ago that seemed to cement his status as the best tennis player in the world, everything has gone south. The Spaniard lost on clay to Federer in Madrid, then bowed out in the quarterfinals of the French Open, a tournament he’d never lost a match in. Ever. Something seemed wrong.

Nice pants Nadal
(Something other than his clothes, for once.)

After two exhibitions, both losing efforts, Nadal said “enoffo!” or whatever they say in Spain when they’ve had enough of something and withdrew from Wimbledon, making him just the second racketman to not defend his title in the last 35 years.  Read more…

Speed Read: NBC, NHL Screw Local Hockey Fans

One of the most jarring aspects of the Stanley Cup finals, other than the ease with which the Red Wings dispatched the Penguins on Sunday night to push the series to 3-2, has been NBC’s hardball with fans in Detroit and Pittsburgh. For the duration of the playoffs, both teams have been able to hold massive viewing parties in and outside their arenas. It was such a wonderful, organic expression of the communal nature of fandom that it was basically destined to be ruined by business in short order.

JoeVision Detroit Red Wings
(Thousands of fans watching the game with each other? Nope, can’t have this!)

And lo, in stepped NBC, stopping the broadcasts. As HOCKEYBUZZ.COM reported, initially, they blamed the NHL, despite the NHL’s assertion that that was quite not the case. Then came the truth, that it was a business decisions (all the crappy ones are), and their “business is ratings driven.” CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS has the, ahem, money quote:

A near-sellout of Joe Louis could shave a ratings point off the local television ratings measurement, and such ratings are used to establish advertising rates.

So to that, if the all-important ratings model can’t deal with 8-10 thousand people watching a show in one place on one screen, you know what? The ratings model is completely worthless.  Seriously. How can NBC or Nielsen not figure out what to do with a giant honking party of some of the most hardcore fans all watching one screen? Is that really a deal-breaker?

And if so, if they’re really curious as to what the ratings would look like if everyone stays home, away from the shared community aspect from which most of the value of a ticket to a game is derived, there’s a really easy answer to all of this. You ready? Dick Ebersol, you taking notes?

All NBC has to do is announce that in exchange for showing the game outside both arenas, attending fans have to fill out a simple, anonymous survey about where they would otherwise watch a game (their place or someone else’s), with how many people, and whatever other information the network needs to most closely approximate what ratings would look like. Use that and Nielsen data to extrapolate what the final ratings would be with that many eyes on a TV, and adjust. That’s it. Easy.

This is a rare, rare opportunity for the NHL and NBC. At no other point are they ever going to be able to get this kind of a free pool of television watchers from whom they can mine valuable demographic information. Forcing them back into their homes and away from a group of thousands of like-minded, passionate fans for the sake of moving a needle one or two points does the city, fanbase, and team a disservice. It’s so easy to work around. Figure it out.

Speaking of soccer [I thought we were talking about hockey. No, I’m dead certain of it.–ed.] [Shut up.–AJ] [You have problems.–ed.], UEFA just got a seismic news flash as Real Madrid, evidently furious at having seen FC Barca take the title, has bought the contract of Kaka from AC Milan. Too bad UEFA contract holder SETANTA SPORTS probably won’t survive to see him in the new kit.

Kaka Kiss
(This is where we mention Kaka’s wife and fine whatever you’re all perverts.)

Kaka, a sensational striker from the one-word-name factory that is Brazil, will reportedly command a 6-year, $94 million contract. That’s enough to make it the most expensive in soccer’s history, barely beating out Zinedine Zidane’s 6-year, $65 million deal with Juventus from eight years ago. Meanwhile, David Beckham is running around for a crappy MLS team in Los Angeles for 30 cents on the dollar and going home to a bag of antlers with oversized sunglasses and the “I’m married, but still vain” haircut straight from Jon & Kate + 8. Sic transit gloria mundi: Glory is fleeting.

We mentioned Andrew Thomas Gallo, the man accused of killing Angels rookie Nick Adenhart and two others in a drunk driving collision, yesterday. Gallo pled not guilty to murder, drunk driving, and fleeing the scene of an accident charges yesterday. Great.

Nick Adenhart Killed In Hit and Run Accident
(No, nothing criminal led to this. No way.)

But as we (rightfully) focus on the three people killed far before their time, we should point out that one passenger in Adenhart’s car, 24-year-old Jon Wilhite, has, in fact, survived the crash that left him in critical condition (via the RIVERSIDE PRESS-ENTERPRISE). Wait, that doesn’t appropriately convey the gravity of what happened. He survived internal decapitation.

As MANOLITH explains, internal decapitation, which is exactly as horrifying and life-threatening as it sounds, happens when the skull detaches from the spinal column. It’s usually fatal. Wilhite somehow survived without total paralysis, which is unbelievably rare, and he’s now in rehab with the help of several major leaguers. He’s got a long way to go, but he’s on the right track.

Since we need to get back on a higher note, here are some more links to consider while you’re riding in a cab with former Beach Boy Brian Wilson:

Nick Collison Red Afro
(Yes.)

What do the Raiders need the most on offense?

View Results