Speed Read: Mike Singletary Is Still Pretty Insane

After hearing about Mike Singletary’s latest motivational move at San Francisco 49ers training camp, we can all be glad of this: he kept his pants on this time. In fact, he did what many 49ers fans wish someone would have done years ago: he sent former No. 1 draft pick and genial bust Alex Smith packing.

Mike Singletary

Unfortunately for those fans, Smith came back, as he wasn’t traded or cut. No, Singletary had Smith watch the last 30 minutes of training camp from the top of a hill overlooking the practice facility after Smith threw a deflected pass into coverage that was intercepted during a scrimmage. Personally, it sounds like a better punishment would have been to give Smith a couple of passes to nearby Great America and tell him to have fun and enjoy the roller coasters.

Alex Smith

Smith tried to force a pass to noted slacker-slash-slugger Vernon Davis, but it was tipped and eventually picked off. Unfortunately for Smith, this came right after Singletary announced to the team that “the next guy responsible for a turnover would have to sit on the hill for the rest of practice,” leading to Smith getting his perch high on a hill.

Again, some one tell me how this is punishment? Instead of working his butt off at training camp and sweating in the summer heat, Smith got to relax and watch the practice from a grassy vantage point - probably under a shady tree while eating a couple of apples as bluebirds sang to him. And I guess that we are supposed to be impressed that his starting offensive line came to sit with him in a “nice show of solidarity,” although I suspect they saw a chance to get out of the last half-hour of practice and made the most of it.

I know NFL teams are careful not to push players too hard, but don’t players run laps as punishment any more? Suicide sprints? Something other than sitting down and not training at training camp? Mike Singletary’s training camp is allegedly some combination of the Junction Boys, the Bataan Death March and the training montage from “Rocky IV” from how the media is portraying it, but if that’s as tough as it gets in the NFL, maybe we’re coddling players a bit too much.

I have no idea what a UFL training camp is going to be like; I’m guessing it will be more advanced than teaching the players what the Xs and Os on the playbook mean, even if just barely. But it does seem like the players are going to go through a lot of punishment - at least on the field, thanks to their names and uniforms. That is, if the ones announced on Monday by the Las Vegas franchise are any indication.

Las Vegas Locomotives

First off there’s the name: the Las Vegas Locomotives. Because when I think of Las Vegas, I don’t think of gambling or nightlife or danger - I think of trains. Yup, you really get the high rollers coming in on the train from Barstow to Las Vegas. It’s basically a half-step up from calling the team the Las Vegas Hobos, and unless your team’s offensive coordinator is John Hodgman, that’s not going to fly.

And then there are the uniforms. Now, I’m no sartorial demigod, but…I don’t want to say that it’s hideous, but the USFL called and they are planning on suing you for $1 for ripping off their designs. The whole thing looks horrendously 80s, from the shiny neon aquamarine pants to the blocky numbering. I think I saw MC Skat Kat wearing something suspiciously similar in a video with Paula Abdul back in the day.

Basically, the whole thing is a mess, and even Las Vegas head coach Jim Fassel is confused as to the connection between Las Vegas and trains. (But this isn’t the first time he’s been confused in his life.) Plus, the team’s name is sure to be shortened by people to “Locos,” which the owners seem to think is great cross-cultural marketing but just reminds me of how crazy you’d have to be to try and go up against the NFL.

Finally, I have to wonder what Jeff Gordon’s motivation is to keep racing. After all, he could be at home having sex with his Brazilian supermodel wife, playing with his kids or simply climbing up and down one of the giant mountains of cash he presumably has laying around his house from all of his winnings and endorsement deals.

And after yesterday’s race at the Watkins Glen road course in New York, he is probably wondering the same thing himself after being involved in a bad multi-car crash that sent him careening into a guard rail - not a SAFER barrier - at nearly top speed. Gordon walked away unscathed, although he was complaining of aggravating a sore back injured after he’s been involved in several big crashes in the last few years.

After watching that replay again, let me ask Gordon something: hot Brazilian supermodel wife, or smashing the bejeezus out of your car head-on into a guard rail? Your choice.

In other sports news that happened while you thanked God you weren’t the local TV reporter who drew the short straw and had to cover the “Furries” convention:

  • Crocs announced late yesterday that it is pulling out of its title sponsorship of the AVP Tour at the end of this season. But how ever will beach volleyball survive without its association with ugly rubber clogs? Wait, they’ll survive thanks to hot chicks rolling around on the sand wearing next to nothing? I guess…
  • AVP ad

  • This is exactly what you want to hear from a tennis player playing his last season before his retirement: former world No. 1 Marat Safin admits that it’s “impossible” that he’ll win another title. I don’t think he’ll be getting the same teary send-off at the U.S. Open that Andre Agassi did.
  • Former New England cornerback Tebucky Jones is already suing Patriots team doctors for misdiagnosing his career-ending knee injury. Now he’s telling the BOSTON HERALD that NFL teams frequently cut injured players in order to avoid paying them for sitting on the injured reserve. It’s all so shocking, I know. Next he’ll tell me that they also pressure them into playing hurt, and look the other way about steroid and drug use. If only Oliver Stone could make a movie about this…
  • The Chicago White Sox were able to get two-time All-Star Alex Rios on waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays for no compensation (which with the exchange rate means the White Sox made money on the deal). So, do you think the Blue Jays were thrilled to be rid of the $64 million due to Rios through 2014?
  • If there’s ever been someone who should be happy to have a home run overturned by instant replay, it’s the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki. Sure, he missed out on a grand slam in the second inning and had to settle for a two-run single. But he needed that single en route to becoming the fifth Rockies player to hit for the cycle in Colorado’s 11-5 rout of the floundering Cubs.
  • The San Francisco Giants are honoring former pitcher Dave Dravecky on the 20th anniversary of his comeback from cancer. Which is great, except it reminds me of the sound his arm made when it snapped like a twig during his comeback, and then I need to throw up.
  • The USL Division II soccer match between the Real Maryland Monarch and Bermuda Hogges was your standard affair. If you consider a player scoring two goals in the first half and then getting arrested at halftime, a coach being ejected from the game and having to watch from the parking lot, and a goalkeeper being forced to play striker as “standard”.
  • There was great line in a SPORTING NEWS post about the terrible level of umpiring seen this season, with umps continually deciding to make themselves the center of attention. It mentions Phillies announcer Larry Anderson responding to umpire Joe West telling him that MLB umps were “the best in the business” by telling the audience that he wanted to respond that “if you guys are the best in the business, you’ve got a really bad business.”
  • I sure hope new Minnesota T-Wolves head coach Kurt Rambis wasn’t expecting Ricky Rubio to be playing for him any time soon, as team president David Kahn said the buyout of Rubio’s European contract is still “very problematic.
  • And there’s really only one way to celebrate Hulk Hogan’s 56th birthday: crank it up, Mr. Rick Derringer!

I need to watch a football movie to pump myself up for the season. What should it be?

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My Eyes! Oregon’s Funky New Uniforms Are Here

Welcome to the University of Oregon, where a Nike designer’s feverish, drug-induced night terrors become the school’s football uniforms every two-to-four years. Only in Eugene will a press conference to trot out new football unis be big news. Well, here they are — I hope you’re wearing the sunglasses we’ve provided for this post.

My favorite part of the school’s press release is right here: “[The uniforms have] improved ergonomics and ventilation characteristics, and feature laminate numbering that does not soak up any moisture and has an 85-percent weight differential compared to traditional tackle twill.”

So they’ve got that going for them.

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Speed Read: Pacino To Play Lasorda? Hoo-aaahh!

With the Dodgers enjoying their best season since 1988, Tommy Lasorda is enjoying a resurgence in attention. So much so, that VARIETY is reporting that a Lasorda biopic is on the “fast track for development” by Miramax. And who’s reportedly in line to play the pudgy Dodger legend? None other than the star of such critical favorites as 88 Minutes and Righteous Kill. Al Pacino has been phoning it in for the better part of a decade, so perhaps he’s looking forward to playing a part where he can just eat spaghetti all day for six months. As long as Josh Brolin plays Kirk Gibson, I’ll be happy.

Al Pacino and Tommy Lasorda

The Rays and Red Sox announced that James Shields and Daisuke Matsuzaka, respectively, will start in the first game of the ALCS on Friday night at the legendary Trop. It’s just not October without domed baseball in Florida. Speaking of the Trop — there’s finally a reason for fans to show up to games, and now they’ve gone and reduced the stadium’s capacity. Unlike other stadiums that block off sections of seats during the regular season, the Rays have elected not to take the tarp off the top third of the upper deck for the playoffs (like Florida and Oakland have done previously), and in fact now have fewer seats available because an area called the “party deck” is being used as an auxiliary media area. The park once sat more than 45,000 for baseball, but will hold only 35,041 during the ALCS.

Meanwhile, Philly is preparing to host its first LCS game since 1993. Cole Hamels will face Derek Lowe in Game 1. But people are still talking about a play from the 1977 NLCS, when the Dodgers’ Davy Lopes was called safe at first on a ground ball to the Phillies’ Larry Bowa. Bowa, who is now the third-base coach for the Dodgers, still claims Lopes was out. Lopes is now the first-base coach for the Phillies and says Bowa should get over it.

1977 NLCS

The Chris Duhon era got off to a rousing start last night for the Knicks, as he went 1-for-7 with seven turnovers in a New York loss to the Raptors.  His backup scored 10 points off the bench, though. They should totally give that guy a chance to play more.

The NHL season gets underway domestically this evening when the defending champion Red Wings take on the defending perennial disappointment Maple Leafs in Detroit. The pregame banner ceremony will be a little weird for the Wings’ Marian Hossa, who lost the in Cup finals as a member of the Penguins last year.

The Cubs began putting together next year’s soul-crushing club by picking up Rich Harden’s $7 million option. The option was exercised after a medical examination determined that Harden didn’t have any tears in his shoulder. Because, being that he’s both Rich Harden and a Cub, the exam was supposed to reveal that his shoulder is comprised solely of masking tape and dental floss.

rotator cuff

• There’s nothing like getting all fired up for your team’s big rugby match and then seeing them run out of the tunnel wearing these:

Ugly rugby uniform

And you thought the Oregon Ducks had hideous uniforms.

• PHILLY.COM says that Flyers owner Ed Snider is such a booster of the McCain campaign that he’s having Sarah Palin drop the puck at the team’s home opener on Saturday.

• What do you mean there’s no Flozell Adams living in Winemucca? According to the DALLAS MORNING NEWS, somebody attempted to fraudulently register the entire Cowboys starting lineup to vote in Nevada.

• Kansas is still trying to squash the “rip his f***ing head off” chant that students shout on every kickoff, with ESPN2 rolling into town this weekend. The WIZ OF ODDS says they might go as far as having Mark Mangino address the student body.

• Washington State is punting with underinflated balls and now has an architecture student on board as a backup quarterback, according to this notebook on OREGONLIVE.COM. Peter Roberts won the job in open tryouts, and coach Paul Wulff has already forgotten the kid’s name. Cougar fever is at an all-time high.

• It’s a good thing all those Olympians gave gallon-size urine samples, since WADA is now going to go back and test every sample for new-fangled drug (AP).

• WITH LEATHER alerts us to collector’s items everyone nobody is talking about: Penn State faculty trading cards!

• This article from Japan’s DAILY YOMIURI is written in English, and yet is completely unintelligible. Something about sumo cushions, and how we shouldn’t throw them. Great headline, though.

• To recap: Fort Wayne’s sports mascots are now the Mastadons, the Mad Ants, and the Tin Caps. The FORT WAYNE JOURNAL-GAZETTE informs us that the new nickname for the city’s baseball team has something to do with Johnny Appleseed. Naturally, the team’s logo is an angry apple wearing a tin can on its head.

• A guy who was skinny dipping at a University of Massachusetts football game kneed a police officer in the groin, so says the AP (via the SEATTLE P-I). Officer gets morphine, may miss two weeks. Yes, you read all that right.

What has been the biggest factor in the Rays’ success this season?

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Most Hideous Thing On The Pitch Since Rooney

America - the country that brought you jorts, Zubaz, and anything to grace Pauly Shore’s body - will not cede its title of Worst Dressed Nation without a fight. That extends to the fields of play as well. The Tampa Bay Creamsicles, San Diego Predators, and Atlanta Curvy Lines will take on all comers in the Most Hideous Team Garment Ever competition.

Jorge Campos enjoys shiny objects

(Jorge and the Technicolor Dreamkit)

The rest of the world hates to be upstaged by the United States in any category, though. Therefore, the soccer-playing nations of the world have spent the last twenty-five years gathering the best of the nepotistic, egotistic, and legally blind uniform designers they had to create the Ten Worst Football Kits ever. Peer into the pastel abyss if you dare!

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