Speed Read: No One Is Shocked By Mannygate

It’s been said that either Manny Ramirez is incredibly dumb, or incredibly good at playing dumb, and his response to his 50-game suspension for violating MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program gives proponents of either theory plenty of fuel for the fire. On one hand, claiming that a doctor gave him medicine for a “personal problem” seems like a flimsy attempt to use ignorance to cover up cheating, especially since the drug in question (hCG) is primarily used as a fertility treatment for women.

Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez

But what the “personal problem” really was personal - like he was trying to get pregnant? Maybe he saw that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie “Junior” on a plane flight and thought that sounded like a great idea. I mean, come on: Manny’s so crazy, he doesn’t even know that men can’t conceive. That’s just Manny being Manny.

Junior

(The only thing inconceivable is Manny Ramirez’s story.)

Are you buying it? Me either. As the news spread throughout the baseball world, the most shocking aspect is just how not shocked anyone who wasn’t a Dodger fan was about it. His former teammates with the Boston Red Sox seemed to be more upset that they have to talk about Manny Ramirez again than anything else, with closer Jonathan Papelbon summing up most player’s thoughts:

“I just walked in the clubhouse today and found out about it. I haven’t really thought about it all. We’ve got more things to worry about on our club. Obviously, it’s a news story, blah, blah, blah. There’s so many more things we have to go get ready for. He’s not in our clubhouse anymore, so this is something that we’re not even worried about.”

Meanwhile, the debate seemed to come not about Manny Ramirez’s guilt or innocence, but about everything surrounding his presumed guilt. Such as Brooks’ question that if everyone is doing PEDs, then do we have to let Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens into the Hall of Fame? Or if the Dodgers are going to symbolically tear down “Mannywood,” the section devoted to the team’s Cult of Personality.

Dodgers fans celebrate Mannywood

So how did the Dodgers react on the field without their leader? In a word: shaky. Oh, it started out good, jumping out a 6-0 first inning lead on the dreadful Washington Nationals. But then it all fell apart, although this had nothing to do with Ramirez’s absence.

Blame this on the Dodgers’ increasingly leaky bullpen, which allowed nine runs in the seventh and eigth innings en route to an 11-9 Dodgers loss - which stopped the team’s record home winning streak to start the season at 13. You also couldn’t blame Ramirez’s replacement in left field, Juan Pierre, who went 2-for-4 but did make the inning-ending out in the eighth with the bases loaded.

Meanwhile, back to Ramirez’s former team again … actually, let’s look at both of them, since his original team (the Cleveland Indians) just happened to be visiting his most recent team (the Red Sox) on Thursday night. And while it might be tacky after the events of yesterday to says that Boston’s offense was on steroids, it’s safe to say that they were at least jacked up on a six-pack of Jolt colas.

Scoreboard of Red Sox vs Indians

The Red Sox matched a major league record by scoring 12 runs in the sixth inning while drubbing the Indians 13-3. At least we can be sure that Jason Bay isn’t juicing, unless he tests positive for having too much maple syrup in his blood.

And speaking of blowouts, let’s take a moment to congratulate the Atlanta Hawks for making it to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs as they collect their parting gifts and head to the exits. Sure, they are only down 2-0 to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and they are returning home.

Cleveland Cavaliers bench

But anyone who saw just a few minutes of Cleveland’s 105-85 thrashing of the Hawks knows that this series has all the makings of a sweep. Cleveland lead by as many as 36 before calling off the dogs, and LeBron James was just toying with defenders. And oh yeah, Joe Johnson sprained his ankle and might be out for the series. Have fun at the golf course, Atlanta!

More news that you might have missed last night as you were slowly backing away from Kiefer Sutherland and avoiding eye contact as not to enrage the beast:

  • The Players Championship teed off in Florida yesterday, and of course Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson share the lead. Actually, that’s a lie: the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION says that while Ben Crane leads after an opening-round 65, Woods dealt with a balky putter while shooting a 71 and Mickelson was all over the place while putting up a 73.
  • Tiger Woods

  • But if Tiger feels like he needs any help, he can call on Lee Trevino, as the DALLAS MORNING NEWS says that “Super Mex” has offered to teach him a power fade that will make sure that “he doesn’t lose any tournament.” At the least, he would like him to try an authentic salsa from Texas versus a competitor made in … NEW YORK CITY?!?
  • As usual, the Stanley Cup playoffs didn’t disappoint: the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES says that the Blackhawks relied on a late third-period goal to pull even and then scored early in OT to win 2-1 and level their series with Vancouver at 2-2.
  • Meanwhile, the DETROIT NEWS says the Red Wings also tied their series with Anaheim at 2-2 but were far less dramatic about it, playing some old time hockey on the way to a 6-2 blowout.
  • And as hockey attempts to shine on the ice, it continues to stumble elsewhere, as the TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL says that a group of investors trying to buy the failing Phoenix Coyotes and move them to Hamilton, Ontario are accusing the NHL and Commissioner Gary Bettman of “operating like an illegal cartel” in blocking the sale and move. Kind of like a more stupid version of the Mafia.
  • As the baseball world was reacting to Manny Ramirez’s suspension, the EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE says the Arizona Diamondbacks took the opportunity to relieve manager Bob Melvin of his duties while no one was looking. He’s being replaced by former major league catcher A.J. Hinch, because that’s apparently the only people who can manage the Diamondbacks.
  • YAHOO! SPORTS claims that Louisville coach Rick Pitino has made himself a candidate for the Sacramento Kings coaching job. It probably won’t have as much impact when he tells the local media that “Vlade Divac is not walking through that door.”
  • The WASHINGTON POST says there was plenty of hot disciplinary action in the NBA, as the Magic’s Rafer Alston received a one-game suspension for his head-slap on the Celtics’ Eddie House, while the Lakers’ Derek Fisher received the game punishment for his cross-check of the Rockets’ Luis Scola. There were no suspensions given to Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest or any pieces of furniture.
  • It wasn’t just Didier Drogba who was upset with Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo for several calls that didn’t go Chelsea’s way in the 1-1 tie with Barcelona that knocked them out of the Champions League semifinals. EUROSPORT says the ref had to be “smuggled” out of the country under police escort.
  • A football player at Chico High in Texas has been arrested for assaulting a 13-year-old girl in what WFAA-TV is referring to as a “sex game” gone horribly wrong, involving freshman girls “sexting” the popular football players to gain popularity.

What was your initial reaction when you heard about Manny Ramirez’s suspension?

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Former Hornets GM Defends Kobe-For-Divac Deal

When you think of the name Bob Bass, you probably think of his time leading the Spurs into NBA relevancy from the front office, parachuting in to serve as coach periodically, when needed. Well, the two-time NBA Executive of the Year fulfilled the same role in Charlotte for the Hornets, and now his legacy is slowly but surely being re-cast as a referendum on the one move Bass made that — at least in the long run — never worked out right: Trading away Kobe Bryant.

kobe bryant hornets draft

(A draft hat: The only thing that still connects Bryant with the Hornets.)

Now Bass is weighing in on the subject himself, and he gives Jimmy Smith of the NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE some pretty compelling reasons for why the move made a lot of sense, both for the short and long-term future of Charlotte’s franchise. Bass admits that the team put a pre-draft deal in place with the Lakers, saying that if Bryant was somehow still available at the No. 13 slot in the draft, Charlotte would take him and trade him to L.A. for Vlade Divac. When he was, Bass was all too happy to pick the Philadelphia wunderkind, because the Lakers deal represented both an ideal way to land the big man the Hornets desperately needed and equally importantly, set the stage to get Shaquille O’Neal out of the Eastern Conference by helping L.A. clear cap space.

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Speed Read: Kings Turn Back Clock, Beat Lakers

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.

John Salmons and Kobe Bryant

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.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Mo Williams

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:

    Wayne Rooney and accused killer Anthony Corsi

  • 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 DETROIT NEWS has word that big-mouth former Michigan QB and mediocre MLB player Rick Leach thinks that former Wolverines coach Lloyd Carr should “support” the guy who replaced him, Rich Rodriguez.
  • An Australian politician rues to the HERALD SUN that having soccer players overstay their visas and apply for asylum is one of the risks of hosting the Homeless World Cup.
  • 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.”
  • Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller is cross that a ref swore at him during Monday’s game against Pittsburgh, says the BUFFALO NEWS. Reg Dunlop does not approve.
  • 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 Rovell about 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.”
  • Stephen Curry: he’s streaky, but he’s also really good, as anyone who saw his second-half performance against West Virginia can attest to. The NEW YORK TIMES has all the details.
  • 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).

Which high-priced free-agent is some team going to most regret signing this off-season?

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Flailing Kings Retiring Jerseys Of Divac & Webber

The NBA has been hit hard in some cities by declining attendance, and perhaps no team has seen such a huge fall than the Sacramento Kings. Even in the ’80s and ’90s when the Kings rarely had a competitive team, the fans packed Arco Arena. But with the Kings returning to futility after several years of relevance, the fans have finally jumped off the bandwagon.

Sacramento Kings dance team drinking

(Drink up, Kings fans, it’s not getting better anytime soon)

So how are the Maloofs going to get butts back in the seats? Jersey retirements! That’s right, after the multiple NBA championships they brought to central California, Vlade Divac and Chris Webber’s numbers are going up to the rafters. I guess Lionel Simmons is busy or something.

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Adriana Lima Will Finally Score with Marko Jaric

This intrepid writer had an acquaintance in college that lusted after Rony Seikaly with the heat of a thousand Joe Kleines. She wanted her men extraordinarily tall and, to use her word, “swarthy”. Sure, Vlade Divac had his charms and Dražen Petrović was a cutie, but no one could match up with her Lebanese lover.

Adriana Lima

Of course, he was merely decent on the court, but the shorts weren’t as long back then and she didn’t notice much.

Which brings us to the impending engagement between Adriana Lima and Marko Jarić. Her appearance in GQ this month makes it clear why he wants to finally join with her in holy matrimony: no nookie before knot-tying. Frankly, it’s unclear why he didn’t bring a ring to the first date. Her motivations, however, are less clear.

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Ana Ivanovic May Host Eurovision Song Contest And Screw Vlade Divac

TO THINK VLADE DIVAC THOUGHT HE HAD IT LOCKED DOWN: The U.S. (tennis) Open starts today, and we’ve got a serious favorite in mind: Teen hottie Ana Ivanovic.

Ana Ivanovic Photos

Besides being a badass on the court (ask Maria Sharapova about the French Open), Ivanovic is our current soft-teenie-dream (we know, that sounds way creepy). And thanks to Darren Rovell of CNBC, it’s nice to know we’re not the only ones considering a move to bombed-out Belgrade (Ana’s hometown).

Ana Ivanovic

Much, much more important is the latest entertainment news from Serbia (oxymoron?). The Belgrade newspaper BLIC reports today that Ivanovic may host the biggest annual TV event in Europe: The Eurovision Song Contest.

Eurovision Song Contest

The mid-September TV production, which inspired America’s American Idol and was originated in 1956, is being held in Belgrade this year (and features upwards of 500 million viewers).BLIC: “Ana is very popular on the international scene and would indeed excell in portraying and showcasing a good image of Serbia. She would be a popular choice thanks to her fame, internationally acclaimed status, charm and mesmerising looks.

Eurovision Song Contest

All true. And let’s be real. It’s down to her, Vlade Divac and probably some gender-neutral guy who looks like a long-lost Depeche Mode band member. Who would you take?