You might wonder why you see the occasional baseball fight during July or even August, but almost never in September. For a good reason why, ask Bill Lee. (Actually don’t, because you’ll probably get a two-hour lecture on pot. Or the evil of the DH. Or both.) Even though it happened in May of 1976, him separating his shoulder during a huge brawl between the Yankees and the Red Sox caused him to miss the majority of the season (and possibly ruined his career).
So the same reason last night’s fight between the Yankees and the Blue Jays was both so compelling and ridiculously stupid. Because they were throwing real punches - not just the usual preschool pushing of most big league fights - and big-name pitchers like Joba Chamberlain and C.C. Sabathia were right in the middle, just waiting for a Blue Jay with a grudge to rip up their multimillion dollar arms. A good rule of thumb: don’t get into fights with teams who are 13 games under .500 - they don’t really have much to lose. Read more…
The free agent signing frenzy is one of the most exciting periods in offseason sports fandom. Will such-and-such big-name free agent finally be the missing piece your team needs to compete for a championship, or will it end up destroying the team (and its salary cap) for years to come? It’s an exciting time, sure, but it’s funny to watch fans, players, and team executives alike get carried away in the moment. One of the silliest parts of this frenzy is the introductory press conference. They’re completely meaningless; it’s just a bunch of executives, coaches, and athletes grinning into the camera and spouting trite sports cliches.
Cristiano Ronaldo can now buy all the pink hats & pearls he wants, as the soccer star is moving from Manchester United to Real Madrid in a $130 million deal. By scoring such a financial windfall (and relocating from soggy England to sunnier Spain), Cristiano decided to celebrate by hitting the Hollywood nightclubs last night.
And which starlet did CR end up shacking up with by the end of the night? Would you believe Paris Hilton? Of course you would - it would be harder to believe that Paris wouldn’t get together with the now-richer Ronaldo.
We’re only on Day 3 of the “Alex Rodriguez may have been exposed to-tested positive for-admitting taking steroids” epic, and clearly this scandal is already getting such an overwhelming media tap out that everyone is completely burned out on it already. It’s just the bottom line truth, end of story.
Yes, the Peter Gammons interview was riveting the first time. Unfortunately for all of us, it lasts for 35 minutes. That’s approximately 15 minutes too long for any mentally balanced human being. Hey, it’s so long we had to break it up into three different video segments just to show it here.
By our calculations, SportsCenter devoted all but approximately 8 minutes of its 6 p.m. broadcast to the A-Rod steroids scandal (and that’s a liberal assessment). Things were a little better for the 11:30 slot with Stuart Scott and Scott Van Pelt, though the duo still had to sit in the A-Rod sidecar for some 34 minutes.
Of course, that isn’t going to stop anyone from weighing in as heavily as they know how to, and all of the Sports pages in New York — and around the country — are delivering their $0.02 with exactly the broad range of reactions you’d expect from a city that hosts the country’s most respected reporting (THE NEW YORK TIMES) and it’s most hackneyed headlines (THE NEW YORK POST).
Yet for all the New York papers, none can ever compare to the NEW YORK POST. As with all the other New York papers save THE TIMES, the POST gives President Obama the boot for A-Rod, but dampens down it’s screaming “A-Roid” based print backpage for an “I WAS STUPID” front. Somehow we thought it would be worse.
And leave it to Darren Rovell to nail the most interesting angle on the whole thing. The biggest loser in the A-Rod scandal is … wait for it … the city budget of Cooperstown New York. Bet you didn’t see that coming, did you.
The blogosphere has been no different, unfortunately. Deadspin gets first prize for best ironic take, focusing on A-Rod’s bizarre skin color rather than his drug habit. Daulerio claims that it could be the Bahamas effect, though we’ve been skeptical of this DAILY NEWS report since it came out. Why? Because other reports had him at the bedside of his ailing daughter in a Miami hospital. Agent Scott Boras’s weekend response that he was out of the country gives creedence to the Bahamas rumor, but his ex-wife Cynthia sure seems to give credibility to the idea he was in Miami. So, rather that “What color is A-Rod?”, maybe we should all be asking “Where the hell was A-Rod?”
You know what? Forget it. We just can’t take any more A-Rod analysis. Yes, it’s probably important. Yes, just about everyone has to weigh in on it, because now we finally know what it would have been like if Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire had admitted being users. But at the end of the day, while it’s been fascinating for a day, it’s a killer for three. Consider us dead.
If you saw Lil’ Wayne’s appearance on ESPN First Take’s “1st and 10″ earlier this year, you’ll be pretty excited about this next item: He’s going to be on AROUND THE HORN. Really. Can you imagine what Woody Paige is going to look like trying to come up with a response to a Lil Wayne retort? Priceless.
In case you don’t already know NASCAR driver Joey Logano, well, get to know him. He’s like Tony Stewart except younger and more talented.
In case you missed it amidst all the A-Roid hype, one of England’s biggest soccer teams, Chelsea, fired it’s manager, former Brazil World Cup Winner Luis Felipe Scolari, Sunday night. Well, they have a new caretaker manager named Ray Wilkins, who may or may not have played a pivotal role in teabagging an assistant coach. Yes, that kind of teabag.
Speaking of soccer, Spanish giants Real Madrid spent $30 million bringing in a Dutch striker just a few weeks ago during the January transfer window. Guess what? Klauss Jan Huntelaar already wants out. Good management there folks.
OK, we tried to avoid it, but we’ve got to get back into soccer for one last story. This one is just too bizarre: A Brazilian goalkeeper who suffers a complete emotional breakdown on the pitch after letting in a sloppy goal. It’s as embarrassing as it sounds:
Suddenly it was 2002 all over again for the Lakers vs. Kings rivalry last night in Sacramento. The Arco Arena crowd was hooting and hollering and the Maloofs were acting like giant cheeseballs, high-fiving, bear-hugging and giving lap dances to anyone within reach. Sacramento temporarily forgot how lousy they are in delivering a 113-101 beatdown of Los Angeles that really wasn’t that close. Wake up the echoes of Vlade and C-Webb, indeed.
What the game came down to was defense, specifically the Lakers’ total lack of it. They were unable to stop the high pick and roll, leaving the Kings with huge lanes to the basket to score or dish for threes. This is not a good sign for the Lakers going into tonight’s game against Steve Nash and the Suns, even if Shaq isn’t playing.
That’s three bad performances in their last four road games against average to awful teams (Indiana, Washington, Sacramento), which should be enough to silence any talk about 70 wins. But before Lakers fans go calling their therapist for a new prescription of Zoloft, they should remember that the team is still 17-3.
Meanwhile in Cleveland, a legendary Cavaliers superstar reached a huge career milestone. Congratulations to Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who had set the franchise record for career rebounds in the team’s 114-94 rout of the Toronto Raptors. And oh yeah, some guy named LeBron James tried to horn in on the Big Z’s big night by setting the team’s career mark for steals and chipping in with 31 points.
Other sports news to read while you consider calling in gay to work today:
Apparently, about the worst thing you can do in England is tell someone they look like Manchester United star Wayne Rooney. THE SUN reports that drunken slur in a taxi line led to one man’s death while the Rooney lookalike is currently facing manslaughter charges.
The WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL notes that Ted Turner and TBS have been found guilty of a breach of contract in the sale of the Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers and ordered to pay $316 million in damages. Turner immediately protests that this “was nothing like an episode of Law & Order.”
A good hint for coaches: don’t tell the press that it’s impossible for your team to win a game against your No. 1 rival, and Real Madrid’s Bernd Schuster said ahead of his team’s game against Barcelona. Not surprisingly, the NEW YORK TIMES reports Schuster’s been sacked. Also, don’t believe any rumors that Stephon Marbury is heading there to be the next coach.
20 years later, Billy Ripken talks to CNBC’s Darren Rovellabout his infamous baseball card. He still gets recognized “a couple of times a week” because of it - three guesses what people call him. Hint: it rhymes with “duck race.”
The latest name to enter the CC Sabathia Sweepstakes? The San Francisco Giants, who apparently weren’t burnt badly enough by Barry Zito to swear off big money pitchers. But Giants’ GM Brian Sabean tells the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS his team is just a “fallback” option if Sabathia doesn’t sign with the Yankees.
Remember when Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell said there was a “great chance” that Mike Leach wouldn’t be back coaching the Red Raiders next season. Turns out he’s changed his mind, says the AP (via the SEATTLE TIMES).