Stephen A. Smith: LeBron, Chris Bosh To Miami?

Stephen A. Smith of Fox Sports reported this morning on the Dan Patrick Show that it’s “highly likely” that Chris Bosh and LeBron James will soon join Dwyane Wade in Miami.

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James

Smith to Dan Patrick on Monday:

I got a call last night from a source and I double-checked it with another and they told me essentially that LeBron James and Chris Bosh are going to tag team and go together and join Dwyane Wade in Miami. Read more…

Stephen A. Smith’s Inquirer Firing Deemed Unjust

Let’s be honest, it hasn’t been a good couple years for Stephen A. Smith. His talk show cratered. He’s off ESPN. And the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER basically pushed him out the door. We could call it a repudiation of the loud mouth as a media technique, but that’s not true; he’s just been replaced by other loud mouths.

Stephen A. Smith
(Hope you didn’t clean out his desk, Inquirer.)

But of all the career moves he’s undergone, the Inquirer’s was the weirdest. He’d been demoted, then unceremoniously dumped. Something seemed off about it, that there was more to the story. But as it turns out, there wasn’t more - and that’s a big problem for the newspaper.

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Speed Read: Mo Saves #500 As Mets Melt Again

Back in April of 1996, Minnesota Twins manager Tom Kelly said of Mariano Rivera: “That guy, he should be in a higher league. Ban him from baseball. He should be illegal.” At the time, Rivera had zero Major League saves and the Mets and Yankees had never played each other in a game that counted. Last night, Mo earned his 500th career save in a 4-2 win over the Mets, and it will be just as memorable for what he did at the plate than what he did on the mound.

Mariano Rivera

Rivera came in to pitch in the 8th inning last night with the Yankees clinging to a 3-2 lead and Met runner in scoring position. After striking out Omir Santos, the Yankee lineup ended up getting to Rivera’s spot in the order. And Mo did something he had never ever done in his Major League career — reach base. Not only that, he earned an RBI for his bases-loaded walk by Francisco Rodriguez.

Earlier in the inning, the Yankees had engaged in some shenangians, sending Francisco Cervelli to the on-deck circle for Rivera when Derek Jeter was up with runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. This led to maybe the only time in history in which Steve Phillips and Joe Morgan have made tons of sense. There’s no way Rivera’s coming out of the game, with the Yankees leading 3-2, yet Jerry Manuel initially chose to have K-Rod pitch to Jeter with a base open. Knowing, mind you, that there was a 0% chance that Joe Girardi would lift Rivera for a pinch-hitter. Morgan and Phillips stopped just short of calling Manuel a moron for throwing Jeter a strike on the first pitch. After two balls out of the zone, the Mets finally gave Jeter the free pass. Rivera, of course, strolled to the plate, and was promptly walked (after he fought off a tough 2-2 pitch).

Rivera is still #2 all-time in saves to Trevor Hoffman, but will go down in history as the best closer ever because of his ridiculous 0.77 ERA (in 117+ innings) and 34 saves in the postseason. Plus, he’s now the only closer in MLB history with 500 saves who has been walked by another pitcher (Hoffman has no walks in 35 plate appearances).

It’s only fitting that the Mets were instrumental in all of this, as they keep finding new and interesting ways to fail against their cross-town rivals.

Luis Castillo

Speaking of fail, a little league game broke out in Arizona yesterday when the D-Backs hosted the Angels. Not only did Gary Matthews pull of a straight steal of home (which the media apparently thinks isn’t as “scrappy” as Jacoby Ellsbury doing it), but Arizona’s defense in the top of the fifth inning would’ve shamed Morris Buttermaker.

Diamondbacks fan

Let us count the ways:

1) Shortstop Stephen Drew lobbed a perfect strike to first baseman Mark Reynolds on a routine grounder. And Reynolds dropped the ball. Just dropped it. It was so bad, it actively looked like he was either trying to drop the ball or had never played baseball in his life.

2) Maicer Izturis lined a shot directly to right fielder Justin Upton. This ball also had the gall to hit Upton right in the glove, and he too made a complete mess out of it, as it bounded away from him and rolled to the wall.

3) The next batter, Bobby Abreu hit a ground ball directly at second baseman Felipe Lopez, who fielded the ball and threw him out. Unfortunately, the ball Lopez fielded was imaginary and the actual ball was somewhere in right-center.

This disaster came just one day after Arizona played a bunt by Erick Aybar into a t-ball home run (courtesy of two throwing errors on the same play). Is it any wonder the D-Backs are 30-46? Weren’t they one of the rising teams in baseball a couple of years ago?

Diamondbacks fan

By now, you’ve surely heard about the big soccer game yesterday, in which the Americans lost a heartbreaker to Brazil in the final of a goofy tournament that seemed to exist mostly to see if South Africa could host the World Cup next year without anyone dying. And, by all accounts, things went pretty well there other than the airhorns that the locals blew non-stop for the duration of every game (FIFA went as far as to try and temper the outcry by writing an article explaining how important making a horrible noise for two straight hours is to the South African people). Oh, and there was also the whole thing with the hookers and the Egyptians. But other than that, everything was great.

And everything was looking really great for the U.S., which came back from near-certain elimination in the group stage of the Confederations Cup to shock Spain in the semis and take a 2-0 halftime lead over Brazil in the final. And while the Americans deserved the early lead, the Brazilians were clearly the better team over the course of 90 minutes, outshooting the U.S. 31-9. It was only a matter of time before they found the back of the net, and they beat Tim Howard three times in the second half to take the title.

Brazil

The NEW YORK TIMES says that U.S. soccer narrowly missed a “moment” it needed to gain the sport traction in this country again. While the run to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals was gripping, the games were played in the middle of the night and the Americans came up short in the one game everyone finally tuned into (the quarterfinal loss to Germany). Likewise, most casual fans missed the huge win over Spain on Wednesday, but were glued to the screen as Brazil stormed back to crush our dreams once again on Sunday.

Still, the U.S. soccer program is in better shape now than it has ever been, but if the sport is really going to take the next step in this country (if that can actually ever happen), they can’t afford to have a weak showing on the return trip to South Africa next summer.

US soccer

• The single-A California League is known as the place where pitchers’ ERAs go to die. This is especially true in the wind-blown desert of Victorville, where the High Desert Mavericks scored 18 runs last night in a home game against the Lake Elsinore Storm. Oh, and they lost by 15 runs.

You read that right. The Storm scored 22 runs in the first five innings, then added 11 more in the last two, and beat High Desert 33-18. The game lasted 4 hours and 10 minutes and was played in 100-degree heat. There were 10 home runs hit, and Lake Elsinore’s starting pitcher gave up 11 runs and would’ve earned the win if his manager hadn’t lifted him with 2 outs in the fifth inning and his team leading by 11 runs. Lake Elsinore picked up 32 hits while the Mavericks had 26. Two of those hits were by outfielder James McOwen, a lightly-regarded prospect who extended his hitting streak to a league-record 36 games.

• The CHICAGO TRIBUNE’s Phil Rogers has a mean case of sports columnist hyperbole syndrome, suggesting that the the Cubs should waive Carlos Zambrano because they’ll never win anything with him on the team. That may be true, but of course they’ll be further away from winning anything without him, because, you know, he’s a good pitcher.

• A teenager is being congratulated for driving like three times the speed limit in New Hamsphire.

Free Shawn Estes!

• TNT’s play-by-play man for NASCAR was suspended from yesterday’s broadcast for a “loud and public confrontation” that took place at his hotel the other night. Nobody in the booth mentioned their missing colleague, Bill Weber.

Ricky Rubio is now faced with the harrowing dilemma of whether to live in Minnesota or Turkey.

• Hey, when did Dennis Rodman become a Laker fan? (photo courtesy of J.E. Skeets)

scary Laker girl

• Hey, things are looking up, Detroit — Marian Hossa probably isn’t coming back, so you can go back to winning Stanley Cups now.

• The sock-puppet Stephen A. Smith, who is sort of the Triumph the Insult Comic Dog of the NBA Draft, made his final appearance at the Draft on Thursday. I will have a cheez doodle in his honor.

• BLACK VOICES says Serena Williams is writing a TV pilot inspired by both “Sex and the City” and “Family Guy.”  Just to warn you, Serena, the Sarah Jessica Parker-looks-like-a-horse joke is kind of a tired bit now.

• Scottish star Andy Murray is drawing record crowds to see him play at Wimbledon this year, and he’s up against Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round today. And if you tune in, you might want to keep your eyes peeled for Murray’s girlfriend, Kim Sears:

Kim Sears

Kim Sears

Has America’s performance in the Confederations Cup made you more interested in watching the World Cup next summer?

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College Hoops Blogger Makes “Mockery” Of Draft

You’re probably familiar with Mark Titus, the Ohio State basketball walk-on whose CLUB TRILLION blog has made him something of a cult celebrity, mainly because it’s an honest and frequently painfully funny look at life on the end of the bench for a major college program. You might remember back in January when there was a big flap about NCAA violations regarding T-shirts he was selling on his blog, which turned out to be a non-issue.

Mark Titus

But now Titus has managed raise the ire of a group with even less of a sense of humor than the NCAA: THE DAGGER says after being asked by the NBA to stop blogging about the draft because they feared he “was making a mockery of the process,” the league has now informed him (through Ohio State’s Director of Basketball Operations) that he needs to remove his name from the NBA Draft entirely…”or else”. He’s not sure what the that means, but speculates he might be forced to star in an NBA Catalog video like Larry Bird in 1987:

Read more…

Rick Reilly Blurs Line Between Movies and Reality

In Rick Reilly’s last ESPN column (unofficially titled “Hangin’ with Mr. Bryant Just After Elmo“), Reilly dropped a tidbit about Kobe’s life to give us a taste of the man behind the marketing campaign: “He’s taken up golf. Played Pelican Hill the other day with Bobby Plump, the inspiration for the Jimmy Chitwood character in ‘Hoosiers.’ Forgot to ask why.”

Rick Reilly and Kobe Bryant

If you go to the article today, though, you’ll see a different bit of tid: “He’s taken up golf. Played Pelican Hill the other day with Maris Valainis, who played Jimmy Chitwood in Hoosiers.” It would appear that Kobe’s Ferrari made too much noise, so Reilly mixed up his Chitwoods.

Read more…

Speed Read: T-Mac Reportedly Out For Season

Last February, the Houston Rockets were crippled - literally - by the season-ending foot injury to center Yao Ming. In what must feel like Groundhog’s Day for the team, this February is also bringing bad news for the team: their other All-Star anchor, Tracy McGrady, told ESPN.COM’s Stephen A. Smith that he needs microfracture surgery on his injured left knee and is done for the season.

Tracy McGrady

Keep mind that this is coming from the mouth of Smith, so take it with a grain of salt (right, Chris Bosh?), and the Rockets aren’t confirming the report. But they sure aren’t denying it either, and with Rockets owner Leslie Alexander telling the HOUSTON CHRONICLE to expect official news on McGrady later this week, it looks highly likely that T-Mac is going on the shelf for a long time.

Tracy McGrady

Alexander also told the paper that McGrady is a “superstar” and that the team has no plans to trade him. Which is probably code for “we really wanted to trade him, but now that he’s damaged goods we’re stuck with him.” How much his absence will impact the Rockets is unclear - he’s either been ineffective or out of the line-up for most of the season to begin with, but losing him can’t help.

The only thing injured on Alex Rodriguez right now is his reputation, which is doing about as well as Jack from Jack in the Box. His press conference at Yankee spring training didn’t help much - I would recommend not using the phrase “I’m here to take my medicine” again any time soon - and might have got his unnamed cousin in trouble.

Alex Rodriguez

Rodriguez claims that his cousin brought something called “boli” from the Dominican Republic, which the USA TODAY says usually refers to the steroids Dianabol or Deca-Durabolin. And now a DEA agent is ominously warning that “those who violate drug laws are always at risk of arrest and prosecution.” We don’t know who this cousin is yet - although BIG LEAGUE STEW has a list of candidates - but I’m guessing we’ll find out soon enough.

In related news, the AP reports that the MLBPA has sent a memo to its players informing them how to respond to questions about the 2003 drug testing. Their recommendation: don’t respond. The memo also goes into detail about little details like why the tests weren’t destroyed, and how the union did not give advance knowledge of tests of players.

Finally, fans who tuned into the Kentucky/Vanderbilt game last night expecting fireworks had to be greatly disappointed. Not in the game itself, but in the lack of a halftime interview between ESPN sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards and the man she spurned, Wildcats head coach Billy Gillispie.

ESPN reporter Jeannine Edwards

Alas, no luck last night. As the TENNESSEAN notes, with the game tied at halftime Edwards chose to interview Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings instead of Gillispie, telling the paper “I cut my losses.” This is, of course, the entirely wrong approach, and there should have been a producer in Edwards’ ear demanding she interview Gillispie. Not having her interview Gillispie would be like if Chuck Wepner replaced Muhammad Ali at the last minute for “The Rumble in the Jungle” - totally unacceptable.

What was the most painful/awesome interview in sports TV history?

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Blog-A-Roni: Tyson Can’t Punch Out Quick Promo

• YOU BEEN BLINDED has some good news for commercial announcers - Mike Tyson won’t be taking your job anytime soon.

Mike Tyson

• The TORONTO GLOBE & MAIL reports that the CFL’s Argonauts have become a halfway house for another NFL problem player. This time it’s David Boston.

• WE ARE THE POSTMEN hopes new Bucks coach Scott Skiles enjoys his time in Milwaukee - since many sports folks don’t seem to.

• 100% INJURY RATE finds Rasheed Wallace jokingly joining the Sixers’ team huddle - then missing the potential game-tying shot.

Read more…

ESPN Making Films; Erin Andrews as Snow White?

The NEW YORK TIMES projects news that ESPN is looking to broaden its broadcasting brilliance to the big screen.

Erin Andrews Lee Corso

The Worldwide Leader is focused on collaborating with Walt Disney Studios and Creative Artists Agency to produce & distribute sports-themed theatrical releases in the next few years. And the network is already making cinematic strides by hiring 30 filmmakers to produce one-hour mini-movies, set to start showing on the small screen in September 2009.

As the bigwigs try to brainstorm for feature film ideas, Mike Bianchi of the ORLANDO SENTINEL proposes remaking a Disney family favorite - featuring the ESPN Primetime Players. Read more…

Fassel Blames Bloggers For Ruining Redskins Job

DC SPORTS BOG finds who Jim Fassel really blames for losing out on the Redskins job. Dan Snyder? Jim Zorn? Vinny Cerrato?

Nope - ’twas those evil, evil bloggers.

Jim Fassel yelling

The ex-Giants coach said on John Thompson’s local radio show that his shot at coaching the ‘Skins was scuttled by online opinionators agitated at such a scenario. Read more…

Stephen A. Just Isn’t Himself Furniture Shopping

The PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS gossips about Stephen A. Smith, revealing behavior by the “Gone In 60 Minutes” radio host that we find very hard to believe: “ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith picked up some furniture at Raymour & Flanigan (2100 Route 38) in Cherry Hill earlier today and referred to himself in the third person while shopping, says a nearby customer.

Stephen A., Smith

“‘Stephen would like the sofa that Stephen was just sitting in’ our source quotes Smith, who’s been off from the Inqwaster since his column was stripped in August. Smith, accompanied by ‘an attractive young female’ was gracious to fans who approached, says our spy.

So Smith had an attractive female, of her own free will, on his arm? And he was approached by someone (anyone) in public who wasn’t hawking free tickets to a Craig Ferguson standup performance? The Daily News really needs to vet its sources.