Washington Nationals Officially Fire Rob Dibble

The Washington Nationals announced today that Rob Dibble was no longer part of the club’s announcing team. The Nationals offered no further comment and did not name a permanent replacement.

Rob Dibble and Bob Carpenter

(Dibble’s (l) Nationals career survived by former partner Bob Carpenter)

Dibble originally departed Nationals broadcasts on August 25 after questioning Nationals Pitcher Stephen Strasburg’s willingness to pitch through pain. The timing couldn’t be worse for Dibble, as Strasburg was ruled out for the season by team doctors with a pitching arm injury shortly after the analyst’s comments.

At the time of Dibble’s apparent leave of absence, club president Stan Kasten said, “Rob asked for some time off. Perhaps he’s not feeling well. But I’m not a doctor, nor have I seen his records. So I shouldn’t say anything more about it.

Kasten’s comment was reportedly a veiled shot at Dibble for his criticism of Strasburg.

Former MLB player Ray Knight has been filling in as analyst on Nationals TV broadcasts on MASN since Dibble’s initial departure but the club has not made clear if Knight’s position is permanent.

Dibble’s original criticism of Strasburg came on the former Reds pitcher’s radio show on August 23. During the show, Dibble questioned Strasburg for coming out of a game against Philadelphia two nights earlier: Read more…

Strasburg Baseball Card Going For Over $10,000

The baseball card world is currently fixated on an insane Ebay auction of a Stephen Strasburg baseball card.

Stephen Strasburg Rookie Card Bids Over $10,000

CardboardConnection.com sets the scene:

One of the greatest auctions for a modern baseball card in history is currently underway on eBay as we speak. What should make this auction especially fascinating is that it could literally sell for $9,000 or $29,000. Usually, the majority of bids made on a card come in the last 10-15 minutes!

It is becoming clear that 2010 Bowman (full set) might be the best pound for pound product in the history of American sports cards. There have already been 10 recorded $1,000+ card sales on eBay, with alteast an additional 200 sales of over $100. All this from a product that came out 10 days ago with a pack price of $4!

The bidding for the Strasburg card, which is one of a kind, now stands over $10,000 after 50+ bids. Initially, the asking price for the card was set at $20,000 or best offer. After 31 offers were turned down, the card was relisted as a reserve-auction.

If the bidding seems high for a guy who has never pitched in the bigs, it’s because it is. Read more…

Thanks For Landing Strasburg; Now Go Get Bent

Pity the work of an interim. They usually step into their jobs in moments of extreme duress - like when an executive leaves amid poor performance and/or misbehavior, try their best to right the organization’s ship, and are then usually unceremoniously pushed aside when the organization figures out who they really wanted to replace the disgraced exec.

Mike Rizzo
(Then again, perhaps he lost points for looking like the unholy lovechild of Jim Cramer and Billy Joel and Barney Frank.)

Every now and then, though, the interim performs so admirably in his job, accomplishing things above and beyond the usual triage, that it’s only right and fair to just hand him or her the job and skip the rigamarole of the search. A good example? How about Mike Rizzo, acting GM of the Washington Nationals after Jim Bowden left in shame this February. No, the Nats haven’t been good, but they fleeced the Pirates on a trade or two. More importantly, Rizzo stared down Scott Boras and brought Stephen Strasburg into the fold before the signing deadline, something that seemed so unlikely that the MASN announcers were wailing in dismay at the prospect of Strasburg sitting out.

Read more…

Speed Read: Cable Doesn’t KO Punch-Up Rumors

The Oakland Raiders: they put the “Holy crap, Coach just slugged an assistant!” in “dysfunction.” At least, we’ll have to assume that’s what happened, as Raiders head coach Tom Cable (who is not, by the way, in way over his head) didn’t do much to clarify reports that he broke the jaw of defensive assistant coach Randy Hanson with a sucker punch, with his only response being that “it’s an internal issue and we’re dealing with it, and that’s all I’m going to say.”

Tom Cable, Randy Hanson

That sure didn’t sound like a denial, and “dealing with it” sure seems like code for “I’m going to use a tire iron to cave in the head of the next pipsqueak who asks me about this.” The Raiders are becoming more like a sitcom every day. Sort of like “Coach“, but with less physical comedy and more physical assault.

Cast of Coach

 (Remember when Hayden Fox crushed Luther’s jaw with a punch? Me either.)

(Although I do love the episode where Coach smashed in Dauber’s face with a beer bottle after he lost the playbook right before the big game in a wacky mix-up.)

If Cable (who is totally qualified to be an NFL head coach and has the winning demeanor of a John Madden or Curly Lambeau) wasn’t admitting to anything on Monday, then at least his players were rolling over on him, starting a “Cable, Bumaye” chant during practice to mimic the cheers Muhammad Ali got from the African people before the “Rumble in the Jungle.”

And about Hanson: Raiders fans might remember, he’s the same coach that irritated Lane Kiffin so much that he “suspended him for one game, said he had medical issues and then tried to fire him” before Al Davis stepped in and backed Hanson, who apparently is one of his favorites. So Cable (who is not treading so much water that the band from “Titanic” is standing by) probably picked the worst person in the organization to slug except for Davis himself.

(Also, you have to wonder if one of those “medical conditions” that Kiffin tried to use to fire Hanson was a “permanent glass jaw”…)

Meanwhile, Beano Cook thinks that Syracuse should get a spot ready for another Heisman Trophy to go along with those representing Jim Brown and Ernie Davis. After all, if they found a way to get Ron Powlus back at QB, anything is possible. Of course, Beano Cook is a rambling old man, the kind who holds up the line at the supermarket so he can check every item on the receipt for errors.

greg paulus qb

So no, Syracuse didn’t get “Heisman” Powlus into their football program, but it’s close: they announced yesterday that former Duke point guard Greg Paulus will be the starting QB for their opening game against Minnesota. It’s either a testament to the athletic ability of Paulus - who hasn’t played football since high school but was once the Gatorade National Player of the Year - or the sorry state of Syracuse football that someone who has been out of the game for years is their best bet. I won’t say which one, but merely point out that Syracuse was 3-25 in the Big East the last four years.

Finally, let’s see…former WWE champion decides to become an MMA fighter. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. But this time we aren’t talking about a UFC heavyweight champion/Coors aficionado, but a new possible women’s MMA star. The DAYTON DAILY NEWS says that Lisa Marie Varon, who wrestled until recently in the WWE as Victoria, has been training for nearly a year and is ready to make her MMA debut soon.

Victoria

On the positive side, Varon is a former bodybuilding and fitness model who was one of the most physical women’s wrestlers, and she is working with former UFC champ Rich Franklin’s trainer. The downsides are that she is 38, and has almost no fighting experience.

Victoria

Still, she apparently is quite serious about this, and wants to become a part of the Strikeforce women’s division. While she might not talented enough to rival Christiane “Cyborg” Santos, I think we can agree that seeing Varon take on Gina Carano would be a much more attractive match-up.

In other sports news that you might have missed while celebrating the fact that The Kids In The Hall are getting back together for a TV project:

  • No matter what, Scott Boras always wins. This time it was getting a last-minute deal done between the Washington Nationals and his client, No. 1 draft pick Stephen Strasburg. The price tag? Just a cool four years and $15 million - almost double what the Cubs signed Mark Prior for in 2001 in what had been the previous largest contract for a draft pick.
  • The NEW YORK TIMES wonders if Y.E. Yang’s shocking victory over Tiger Woods in the PGA Championship will start a golfing boom in Asia that could help the PGA Tour. Because that’s worked so well for the LPGA…
  • Speaking of which, CNBC’s Darren Rovell says that other than Yang, the biggest winner on Sunday might have been Le Coq Sportif, the clothing line whose red rooster logo got almost $2 million of free air time during final round coverage.
  • The Lingerie Football League has released its preseason “All Fantasy Team“, but BUSTED COVERAGE wants to know if you should be more insulted to be a third-team offensive lineman or first-team offensive lineman.
  • Stephen Good might be the starting right guard for the Oklahoma Sooners, but EVERY DAY SHOULD BE SATURDAY says there’s one thing that terrifies him more than losing to Texas: Clowns, especially Pennywise from “It”. No word on if he wet the bed when Bozo the Clown came on as a kid.
  • Sad news from the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: former North Carolina State LB Edrick Smith was killed early Sunday morning when a hit-and-run drunk driver smashed into the Honda Accord he was in, splitting it in two.
  • NEWSOK.COM says that Oklahoma All-American TE Jermaine Gresham broke his vow of media silence last Friday … to give a “shout out” to Michael Vick for being signed by the Eagles. Also, he gave “mad props” to attempted Presidential assassin/Manson Family member Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme for being released from prison.
  • Great, another “Polish canoeist goes nuts on the way to World Championships and forces plane into emergency landing” story.
  • Two men from Honolulu were arrested in Las Vegas for having pot in their car after leading police on a short chase. Not much of a story, until you realize that the men were Honolulu cops in Nevada to play on a softball team in the Nevada Police & Fire Games. Needless to say, Dano has already booked them, and then beat them for being so stupid.
  • This might be a bit more than gamesmanship: a top British rugby team was having players use fake blood so they could substitute in better kickers during key stages of games.

What’s your favorite moment of coaching violence (real or threatened)?

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Lobos Football Only Hiring Good-Looking Ladies?

• An ex-University of New Mexico employee sues the football department, claiming that the Lobos are only looking to employ lovely young ladies.

New Mexico is sexy bikini

(“Hey, that bikini is in our school colors! You’re hired!”)

• South Africa can’t seem to give World Cup tickets away, but they’re going to try anyway.

• Washington Nationals broadcasters take some on-air time lambasting Scott Boras and his high-priced client, Stephen Strasburg.

• Speaking of D.C., Redskins backup QB Colt Brennan denies hooking up with Jessica Simpson. Hope you enjoyed your 15 minutes, Colt.

Brendan Haywood doesn’t think much of Stephon Marbury’s latest online entertainment, but does think he might be gay.

Read more…

Nats’ Announcers Get Apopleptic Over Strasburg

As we mentioned over the weekend, the Washington Nationals’ brass were all in California, ostensibly to convince Stephen Strasburg to sign before the deadline of midnight tonight. But the weekend came and went without a deal, and the odds are awfully low that Strasburg’s a member of the Nats by the time the clock strikes 12.

Rob Dibble and Bob Carpenter
(”And that’s why I think we’re dealing with the baseball equivalent of Satan here.” “Well said, my friend.”)

That fact wasn’t lost on the Nationals’ in-house announcers last night as they called the Washington-Cincinnati game, a 5-4 rally win for the Nats. While watching their team fight with another bottom-feeder in a game of absolutely no relevance, the broadcast team lit into Strasburg and agent Scott Boras with a jarring fury.

Read more…

The Stephen Strasburg Signing Ballet Plods Along

Recall, if you will, the Nationals’ decision to draft superprospect Stephen Strasburg with their first pick, knowing full well the inherent difficulty they’d encounter trying to sign him. Strasburg’s reportedly good enough to be a top-level starter now, and his agent (notorious inflationist Scott Boras) is willing to do anything to keep him out of the small-market cellar that is Washington.


(Strasburg, seen here not pitching for Washington.)

Thus, Boras reportedly attached a $50 million price tag to Strasburg, nearly $40 million more than the previous record for rookie contracts, and thus began the awkward dance between the Nationals and Strasburg. We up to speed? Good. The Nats have kept all negotiations out of the press, which is only wise when it ends up in Strasburg signing a contract. And now, with the deadline looming just a few short days away, it seems that owner Ted Lerner may - may - be getting closer to sealing the deal. Maybe.

Read more…

Speed Read: Time To Expand MLB Instant Replay?

In the wake of the awful call at home plate on Monday night that ended the A’s 14-13 win over the Twins (go here if you’re not familiar with the play), the sports media world was spinning yesterday with varying opinions on the idea of expanding instant replay. I guess it was only a matter of time until a call was blown so egregiously at home plate that some people have decided that umpires basically can’t be trusted to get anything right anymore.

Twins lose on bad call

(Yeah, that’s not really even close)

Neil Velleman of TMR ZOO makes a pretty good case for expanding replay to cover close calls on the bases, as long as there’s a challenge system that is used in sports like football and tennis. Heck, every play at the wickets in important cricket matches is reviewed instantaneously using video technology to determine whether a runner is safe or not (this is analagous to using replay on the bases in baseball). I guess it is inherently silly that the whole world knew Michael Cuddyer was safe when he slid into home plate, and umpire Mike Muchlinski was the only one who didn’t see it. I’m all for letting officials use their best judgment in situations that require interpretation, but these kinds of plays aren’t really “judgment calls.” A player is either out or he isn’t, and if there’s a better way to determine that, why wouldn’t it be considered?

cricket

(Even these guys have replay)

The SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE’s Gwen Knapp says that baseball shouldn’t act hastily to enact replay based on one bad call, even though last year’s hastily-enacted system seems to work pretty well.  The SACRAMENTO BEE says that even David Stern has given referees latitude to use replay, and that in matters of clear right and wrong there’s no reason not to use the information you have available.

On the flip side, I can see the argument that we’re heading down the slippery slope of not using on-field umpires at all. There are automated systems in place now that can call every pitch a ball or a strike. If similar systems can be developed to determine outs on the bases and call balls fair or foul, why would we need umpires at all? You could also argue that if the bad calls are evenly distributed, everyone will benefit from them at some point. Sure, the Twins were victimized at the worst possible time, but they also shouldn’t have blown a 12-2 lead in the first place.

I just don’t want replay to ever extend into youth baseball, for the sake of future umpire baiters everywhere. I’m still proud of that time I really sold a tag at home plate with my glove when the ball was sitting like three feet behind me and I got the call. And, actually, the more that I think about it, I’m not sure I’m into this whole replay thing. What, is Ozzie Guillen going to argue with a machine? (well, he’s a bad example I guess)

Ozzie Guillen

Right after the All-Star break, the Phillies went to Miami for what was billed as a crucial four-game series that might swing the momentum in the NL East toward the Marlins and make the race wide open again. But after sweeping the Fish and taking the first two from the Cubs, the Phils have won 10 games in a row for the first time since 1991, and now look like they might be re-asserting themselves as the team to beat in baseball.

I’m not sure that Pedro Martinez is going to make all that much of a difference, but the idea that they could land Roy Halladay can’t make other NL teams very happy. And one of the biggest reasons for the team’s recent resurgence is Jimmy Rollins, who has decided to wake up after napping through the first three months of the season. Rollins is hitting .375 with a 1.039 OPS in July, which has still only managed to bring his average up to .238 for the year. But with all of the home runs the middle of the order is hitting, it sure can’t hurt to have their lead-off guy on base once in a while. Rollins homered last night, and Jayson Werth’s three-run shot in the bottom of the 13th won the game and kept the Phillies 6 1/2 games in front of second-place Atlanta.

Jayson Werth walk-off

The Dodgers blasted the Reds last night to win their fourth in a row and stay safely ahead of Philly in the race for the best record in the NL, but may have to go without Manny Ramirez for a couple of days after he was hit on the hand with a pitch. X-rays were negative, but he’s listed as day-to-day. Unfortunately, it might mean that he’ll miss his own bobblehead night, which is tonight at Dodger Stadium. Kaiser Permanente, the health-care provider that was originally the sponsor of the giveaway, has decided to withdraw its support because of his positive drug test.

Manny Ramirez

The Red Sox continued their offensive woes last night, losing to the Rangers 4-2 and dropping a full game behind the Yankees, who beat the Orioles 6-4. Even worse for the Sox, Tim Wakefield has been put on the DL because his back is in too much pain to toss a 65-mph floater.

Now, here’s some links to help you pass the time while you wait for that solar eclipse:

• It’s a good thing TMZ got that Michael Jackson death report right, because they were way off on UFC fighter Kimo Leopoldo, who isn’t actually dead. Kimo confirmed his non-death to YAHOO!: “I knew I wasn’t dead.” Well, as long as he knows, that’s good enough for me.

• UNI WATCH says Ivan Rodriguez just decided to change his uniform number to 77 out of the blue the other night. He had to abandon his #7 when he was traded to the Yankees (that Mickey Mantle guy wore it) and now can’t wear it in Houston because of Craig Biggio. So I guess he decided two 7s were better than one. It worked for Ray Bourque (once, anyway).

Ivan Rodriguez #77

• And you thought we’d seen the last of Ed O’Bannon. Yeah, well think again, mojambo.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin owes the state of California more than $22,000, according to the BIG LEAD.

• MLB TRADE RUMORS says the Nationals aren’t even close to signing Stephen Strasburg, but also maintain that they won’t be conducting any negotiations through the media.

Tyler Perry is sending all of those kids who were kicked out of that swim club in Pennsylvania to Disney World.

Mark Cuban is firing back at Ross Perot Jr.’s lawsuit, saying that he “must be desperate from the losses he has suffered from Victory and his hedge funds.”

• Why will the UFL go the way of every other wannabe competitor to the NFL? They’re banking on people actually wanting to see J.P. Losman play.

J.P. Losman

(The next Tommy Maddox?)

• More proof that soccer’s struggles in America has everything to do with the level of competition in our pro league: a friendly match between Chelsea and Inter Milan drew 81,000 fans to the Rose Bowl last night.

• Model/actress Katie Price, who goes by the name “Jordan,” is apparently a really big star in the U.K. And now that she’s split with husband Peter Andre (someone else who people over there are familiar with), she says she wants to go the WAG route and “do” Frank Lampard and Cristiano Ronaldo. Think she’s got a chance?

Katie Price Jordan

Should MLB expand instant replay to include plays on the bases?

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Porn People Want To Place Ads on Texans Jerseys

• In lieu of a new NFL rule, an adult film company makes an offer to place its ads on the Houston Texans’ practice jerseys.

Andre Johnson Crude Oil porno

• Despite some secretly-planted grass, the Red Sox still continue to spank the Yanks at Fenway.

Alonzo Mourning thinks Kobe is a better coach than Phil Jackson.

• Phillies slugger Raul Ibanez gets irate at a blogger for making steroid accusations, offers to show his hair, blood, urine, stool… you get the idea.

• Ex-NFL bust Ryan Leaf is on the run from the law over his drug charges.

Read more…

Scott Boras Possibly Not As Evil As Hitler Or Satan

So at about this time every year, right after the MLB Draft, Scott Boras emerges from his burrow, and if he sees his own shadow that’s another six months of negotiating with the No. 1 overall pick. In this case of course that would be San Diego State pitching prodigy Stephen Strasburg.

Scott Boras

Sure, Boras usually uses his powers for evil instead of good, and probably has various pizza delivery guys and meter readers hanging upside down in his basement, where he feeds on their blood. But in this case, for once, could we cut him some slack? Read more…