Speed Read: Married MLBer Asked Out An Intern?

This isn’t what you would call the most eventful week in sports. In fact, tonight is one of the only nights all year when none of the major sports are playing regular-season games (yeah, there’s the whole Home Run Derby thing, but we’ll get to that later). I mean, I’m almost forced to lead with news about Brett Favre exhibiting to the Vikings that he is, in fact, capable of throwing a football. But who cares about that, when we can discuss a blind item about a married baseball player hitting on an intern?

Jenn Sterger Alyssa Milano

(Do either of these two count as an “intern” of anything?)

According to the HOUSTON CHRONICLE, a married MLB player approached an intern who was working for an unnamed media outlet at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, gave her his phone number, then asked her to go out with him to a club after the game. The intern then proceeded to brag about it to everyone she knew by posting the player’s name in a Facebook status update. But CHRONICLE writer Jose de Jesus Ortiz has chosen to be all “ethical” and withhold the name and team, only mentioning that it was in a “recent” game and not a member of the Astros.

Of course, it should come as no surprise that there are some athletes out there running around on their wives. But, there’s nothing else going on so let’s try to figure this out. Our first clue is that the three most recent teams to make a trip to Houston were Washington, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. We should also assume that this player is somewhat famous, because why would somebody brag on Facebook about getting someone like Bobby Seay’s phone number? (That’s just as a hypothetical example.)

Our second clue, as mentioned in the blog post, is that the intern went to a “large, prominent university near his team’s hometown.” To me, the key here is “near.” That eliminates Pittsburgh in my mind (Pitt is, obviously, in Pittsburgh so the “near” part is out, and Penn State and West Virginia are too far away). Washington would make sense because the University of Maryland is close (and even UVA is somewhat nearby), but Detroit also fits the bill, with Ann Arbor just a short drive away. Since Ortiz had time to notify the mentors of the young lady in question about her behavior, and the Nats had just arrived in town on Thursday, I’m not sure this whole story would’ve had time to run its course with a Washington player. I’m leaning toward this being a member of the Tigers.

HOW-EVAHHHH (that’s a little Stephen A. for you), not accusing anyone of anything, but it’s interesting to note that Adam Dunn is a married father who happens to be from Houston and was there this weekend (and is the only member of the Nats anyone has ever heard of). Again, just stating facts.

Moving on, while the Cardinals were splitting a doubleheader with the Cubs in Chicago, St. Louis was hosting All-Star festivities that included the Futures Game and the Celebrity Softball Game. And it all almost didn’t happen. After the World took their turn at bat in the top of the first inning of the Futures Game, the game went into a rain delay…for four hours.

futures game rain delay

(If the rain delay went any longer, these two would’ve been old enough to play in the game.)

When things finally got back underway at about 6:30, it was decided that they’d only play seven innings. The World team rallied from a 5-3 deficit in the top of the final inning and went on to win 7-5. Then it was time for the main event.

The Celebrity Softball Game is one of those things that sounds good on paper, but never really makes for good viewing. Perhaps that’s because MTV set the bar so high with their Rock ‘N Jock games of the mid-’90s. Would it kill you to make Bill Bellamy and Dan Cortese honorary managers, MLB?

Rock N Jock

(I was a big Awayboys fan. Those Homeboys were just so infuriatingly smug.) 

Now, I’ve only seen the highlight package shown on MLB.COM (the game will be shown on ESPN after the Home Run Derby tonight), but it appears as if the game might be able to overcome the hokey commentating of Gary Thorne and a contrived “umpire argument” by NL first baseman Bobby Knight with the notion of getting to watch Jenna Fischer and Annie Wersching play softball for an hour.

Jenna Fischer

(We can only hope Jenna was wearing this during the game)

I’m not sure which team won, or who was on what team, but you know the game is a sham when Vince Coleman (The Juan Pierre of the ’80s) is homering off of Goose Gossage. I’d give Andy Richter and Nelly better odds of going yard than Coleman…oh wait, they both actually homered also. Ashanti apparently celebrated grounding into a fielder’s choice, and Shawn Johnson predictably did a floor routine to first base when Lee Smith walked her.

Vince Coleman

(Admit it, if you’re between the ages of 30 and 35, you had at least one of these in a card protector 20 years ago, and now it’s worth more as a heat source than as a collector’s item.)

While you count down the hours until you can see Billy Bob Thornton turn into an RBI machine, here are some links to get you through the day:

Manny Acta’s All-Star break has just become indefinite, as he’s been fired as manager of the Nationals. When Jason Marquis has won half as many games as your entire team has to this point, that’s probably grounds for getting dismissed.

• Some Cub fans aren’t really happy about Marvin Hudson’s strike zone in the 9th inning of last night’s game with the Cardinals:

Marvin Hudson wikipedia

Dustin Pedroia is going to skip the All-Star Game to spend time with his wife Kelli, who is having some troubles with her pregnancy. Luckily, there was a member of the Rays available for Joe Maddon to pick for the team. And while Carlos Pena is a nice pick and all (he leads the league in homers), the AL now has only one true second baseman on its roster (Aaron Hill’s going to play the whole game?).

• The CHICAGO TRIBUNE has a photo essay of Cubs who have had bizarre injuries, in honor of Ryan Dempster, who broke his toe hopping over the dugout railing the other day. Beware of clicking on #10. I had forgotten about that one, and wish I hadn’t been reminded.

• Let’s give it up for the hot mom who made a spectacular diving play on a ground ball in foul territory at the Giants game in San Francisco yesterday:

• The Mets hadn’t hit a home run at home since June 26th, so perhaps fans should be forgiven for booing when the home run apple didn’t come out of its top hat after Fernando Tatis went deep yesterday.

Phil Ivey and former champions Peter Eastgate and Joe Hachem are the biggest poker names left of the 185 players still alive for the World Series of Poker main event title. They are joined by former minor-league hockey enforcer Eric Cloutier and, of all people, Lou Diamond Phillips. Day 6 gets underway at noon Vegas time, and can be followed at POKERNEWS.COM.

• THE HARDBALL TIMES tackles the myth that participants in the Home Run Derby decline after participating.

• The Derby is really the only thing going in the world of sports tonight, and we should all remember that it might not exist if not for Mark Scott, the broadcaster who came up with the idea back in 1959, when he produced and hosted the syndicated show Home Run Derby — a weekly head-to-head contest featuring two MLB sluggers. The show (which was rerun on ESPN and now is on DVD) is cool, if for no other reason than it’s one of the only ways for people from my generation to actually see footage of guys like Hank Aaron and Willie Mays swinging the bat. It was only on for one year because Scott died from a heart attack in 1960. Here’s part of an episode featuring Aaron and Duke Snider:

Ana Ivanovic is appearing in the August issue of VOGUE, and one photo has been leaked (what’s up with the huge white border?):

Ana Ivanovic

Who ya got in the Home Run Derby?

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Speed Read: Braves Get Their Man (& Ditch One)

Credit the Atlanta Braves for knowing how to manage a news cycle. They flipped three prospects to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Nate McLouth to answer the need for outfield help (which they failed to answer correctly the first time by not signing Adam Dunn in the offseason), and called up Tommy Hanson (pitching phenom) and sent down Jordan Schafer (outfielder phenom) and look at all the exciting news!

Nate McLouth

(Nate McLouth: interstate man of mystery no longer)

And, oh by the way, they cut local hero Tom Glavine so they wouldn’t have to pay him up to $3.5 million to throw weaker than Jamie Moyer in a headwind when they don’t really need a farewell tour but more of a starting pitcher. But look! Nate McLouth! All-Star!

Braves GM Frank Wren swears it’s not about the money - which always means it’s about the money. McLouth is actually fairly inexpensive through 2011 with a club option for 2012 if he’s worth $10 million, but the team is replacing three minor league salaries with a major league one (roughly speaking).

Glavine will look for another job and has a decent chance of finding one if the price is right for a desperate franchise. However, no franchise has shown enough desperation to hook up with Sammy Sosa since Baltimore began its bizarre fascination with Chicago Cubs outfielders in 2005 and Texas took Sammy out around the block in 2007.

Sammy Sosa getting hit in head

Therefore, he’s announcing his retirement officially this week… sometime. As always, Sammy has to get an extra swing or two in before finally connecting, so his actual retirement will be later this week. Possibly.

Some will celebrate their last chance to moralize about him before his Hall of Fame eligibility kicks in. Others will tell Sammy to put a cork in it because they’re sick of him. The best recommendation? Smash a boom box with a baseball bat. It’s like an aural piñata!

Finally, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team squirted the bed in a simply filthy manner last night in San José, Costa Rica. The U.S. squad gave up two goals in the first 15 minutes of a World Cup qualifier to Costa Rica at the notoriously difficult Saprissa Stadium (banned: alcohol, batteries, and coins) on their way to a 3-1 thumping that wasn’t remotely that close.

Costa Rican Superman

(A Costa Rican Superman? Well, that explains a lot)

The bastard out there at ESPN that thought it would help ratings if they jammed Jon & Kate Plus 8 in front of U.S. keeper Tim Howard instead delivered a showing that led the Galavision announcers to chastise the Costa Ricans for not stomping on the throats of the Americans even more and to compare one goal in particular to stealing candy from a baby.

Jon & Kate Plus 8 Plus Tim Howard

(Actual photo of attempted defensive wall)

Because of two silly yellow cards received by two U.S. players, the American team will be short two people when they play against Honduras at Soldier Field in Chicago Saturday, in what promises to feel like an away game with maybe 25% of the 60,000 fans cheering for Uncle Sam’s boys. If the U.S. doesn’t earn three points with a win, there’s a very real chance they could miss next year’s World Cup in South Africa.

If U.S. coach Bob Bradley is still looking for a left back that has never played there before in a crucial situation, why not call on Tom Glavine? He’s available; he’s a winner; he’s looking for a job. At worst, he can help heave batteries back into the crowd at a gentle 83 mph.

And now a hail of sapphire bullet points of pure love for the Queen of the Blues on her passing

  • One old baseball man who tabled his moment in the sun: Randy Johnson. His first attempt at 300 wins in D.C. last night got washed out by Mother Nature (whom Randy went to elementary school with) and will be played today at 4 pm ET with Mr. Unit on the mound.
  • Carlos Zambrano continues to show disrespect to inanimate objects by blowing off the team jet to Atlanta (and not for the first time). Needless to say, this story doesn’t have legs if the Cubs aren’t splashing around .500 still.
  • Also filed under “not living up to expectations and therefore open to criticism”, please note the Serena Williams entry created when she lost in the quarterfinals. She showed up to the French Open out of shape mentally and physically, choosing to wear outfits that accentuated the latter and threw snit fits that proved the former. The only person this “athlete/actress” is cheating is herself.

Serena Williams at the 2009 French Open

Jose Lima Wife

How did the Braves’ efforts yesterday affect the NL East race?

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Speed Read: Men In Blue Know Umping Ain’t Easy

You think that baseball umpires have it easy? Talk to Kerwin Danley. Actually, don’t talk to him today - he’s probably nursing one heck of a headache. Unlike me this morning, it was not as the result of a night of heavy drinking, but from a baseball bat to the back of the head. The DALLAS MORNING NEWS says that Danley was whacked by Hank Blaylock’s broken bat while working the Rangers vs. Blue Jays game, and had to go to the hospital with a possible concussion.

Please ignore the Zapruder film quality (get some video conversion software, people) and prepare to wince at footage of the incident:

Unfortunately for Danley, winding up in the hospital is getting to be a regular occurrence for him. You might remember last year when he took a 96 mph fastball to the jaw courtesy of Brad Penny.

If I were Danley, I’d avoid any home plate assignments for the rest of my career if possible. Or I’d only work from a perch about ten rows in back of home, or wearing more padding than The Michelin Man.

But also: THE KILLER BATS ARE BACK!  I thought we stopped the maple bats’ raping and pillaging of the baseball world last season? Actually, I don’t know if that was a maple bat or not, but why not start the overly-heated, panicked reaction now?

Meanwhile, you might have missed this Washington Nationals bit of news because, well, they are the Nationals, but sluggers Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman were forced to wear jerseys that said “Natinals” during a game last Friday. Which, as you can imagine, was a bit of an embarrassment … for Majestic Apparel, the company that makes all uniforms for MLB. (I can’t imagine the uniform gaffe caused Dunn or Zimmerman to lose their “Natinals Pride”.)

Washington Natinals jersey

So MLB.COM says that Majestic has apologized for the mistake. They didn’t give an explanation for the error, but we can assume it’s because it was a Nationals jersey and no one cared. Apparently the Nationals’ clubhouse attendants didn’t care, since they just checked to make sure the names were spelled right on the back of the jerseys and didn’t look at the front when they opened the boxes before Opening Day. Honestly, you don’t wash those once to make it less itchy?

Finally, you have to wonder about La Salle University’s basketball recruiting process. After all, top recruit Karon Burton was supposed to be known for his speed, which led him to be named Delware County, PA’s Player of the Year this past season. But if that’s the case, how in the world did he, as the DELAWARE COUNTY DAILY TIMES says, get caught by a police officer when trying to flee on foot as cops were chasing him as part of a massive drug bust? Either someone’s scouting department sucks, or there’s a cop who should be receiving a recruiting visit.

Karon Burton

But I’m guessing that Burton won’t be getting that scholarship anyway. He was one of 11 people arrested on Monday as part of a two-hour undercover drug sting. Police say Burton ran from a car that had tried to purchase heroin from a cop posing as a dealer, and he tried to ditch bags of pot before being chased down by the cops. But that’s better than the woman who was also arrested in the sting trying to buy heroin and cocaine - with her young daughter in the car seat in back.

  • Another day, another case of a South American soccer match turning into a giant brawl. SKY NEWS says this one in Argentina started after the captain of Guarani Antonio Franco (who I think was dictator of Argentina at one time) bumped into the ref. Here’s the wackiness that ensued:

  • What’s worse than breaking someone’s ankle with a vicious soccer tackle? The BBC has an answer: how about stamping on the player’s shattered leg as he lays writhing on the ground?
  • The CHARLESTON DAILY MAIL says Marshall football player Courtney Edmonson made a basic mistake that many youngsters make when they drink: don’t carry a big bottle of Bacardi Razz Rum around campus.
  • Ole Miss DT Jerrell Powe told police that “he couldn’t read when they came over to his place about a noise complaint. The CLARION LEDGER says that Rebels head coach Houston Nutt is not pleased, especially since he’s had a history of eligibility issues with the NCAA.
  • Manny Pacquiao threw out the first pitch in San Francisco at the Giants’ home game against San Diego. The final verdict: more of a light jab than a knockout punch. Check it out for yourself (but don’t tell me you don’t want one of those T-shirts):

  • Even NASCAR is getting into the “helping the environment” business, with USA TODAY saying that for the first time, they will be using a hybrid as a pace car during the Coca-Cola 600 over Memorial Day weekend. This is what happens when the pinko leftists take over, people.
  • Congratulations, Blue Jackets fans: you got to see the first home playoff game in team history last night, as Columbus hosted Detroit. The bad news: THE HOCKEY NEWS reports that the Red Wings scored about one minute in and never looked back, coasting to a 4-1 win and a 3-0 series lead. But hey, you can show up tomorrow and be there to see the Blue Jackets get swept for the first time in franchise playoff history.
  • The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER has the latest college basketball star to declare for the NBA Draft: Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds, who I believe has been at the school for 27 years.
  • The LOS ANGELES TIMES says that there’s an apparent winner in the USC Trojans’ QB derby, as Pete Carroll has named sophmore Aaron Corp the starter for the spring game and through fall camp. I wonder where Mitch Mustain will transfer to next?
  • Finally, let’s give one last finger wag for Dikeme Mutombo, who the HOUSTON CHRONICLE says suffered a knee injury in the Rockets’ 107-103 loss to the Trail Blazers that Mutombo says is career-ending. And whom was he battling with when his knee exploded? Of course it was Greg Oden - he’s now made knee injuries viral. But let’s honor the defensive beast and great humanitarian by sexing someone tonight.

Which fans are the most obnoxious and overzealous about defending their semi-popular sport?

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Speed Read: Bears Somehow Still In Playoff Hunt

If there was ever a time to start considering some minimum standards for teams to make the playoffs, it’s right now. With the potential for both the Chargers and the Cardinals to make the playoffs - and have a home game! - with 8-8 records should be enough to make any football fan cringe. Has the NFL suddenly turned into the NBA’s Eastern Conference? Shouldn’t there be some sort of rule that you have to be above .500 to make the playoffs.

Kyle Orton

And there there’s the Chicago Bears, who are somehow still in the thick of the playoff chase after pulling out a 20-17 overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers thanks ato a blocked field goal with time expiring to keep the game tied. Yes, those Chicago Bears. The one with the offensive playbook that is less sophisticated than that from the old Tecmo Bowl Nintendo game. The one with no pass defense to speak of. The one with Kyle Freakin’ Orton at quarterback.

But here they sit at 9-6, with a chance to either win the NFC North or get a wild card, despite having needed basically every result on Sunday to go exactly as they did for that to happen. If the Bears pull this off, it will be a Christmas miracle the likes of which haven’t been seen in Chicago since Macaulay Culkin single-handedly fought off Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.

Home Alone

The NFL in 2008: you don’t have to be good to make the playoffs, just conveniently geographically positioned.

Of course, the highlight of the whole game might have been during the coin toss. It wasn’t a total debacle like the Jerome Bettis coin toss against the Lions a few years ago, but it was pretty humorous. If you didn’t see it during the game, keep your eye on Brian Urlacher during the toss:

I think the referee needs to practice the coin toss a bit more. And way to not even have your eyes on the coin, Brian. Head on a swivel!

Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers aren’t making the playoffs, but they are playing a lot better under “interim” head coach Mike Singletary (and really, is there any way he won’t be the head coach next season?). And they have a plan for Sunday’s season finale at home against the Redskins.

Ray Wersching

According to the SANTA ROSA PRESS DEMOCRAT, along with the throwback uniforms, many members of the team will also be sporting “throwback” mustaches. Posted on the wall for motivation are pictures of great mustaches from 49ers past, including John Ayers, Ray Wersching, Jimmy Johnson and Roger Craig. Let’s just hope they don’t decide to imitate Wersching’s financial strategies as well.

  • DEADSPIN wonders if Fox NFL analyst Brian Baldinger’s gross right pinky finger is getting - well, even more gross. Honestly, there’s no way to fix that thing? Maybe a pair of pliers?
  • Brian Baldinger and his gross finger

  • Along with baseball, another event on tap for the first month of operations at the New Yankee Stadium is an “inspirational night of encouragement by TV minister Joel Osteen. Unfortunately for him, a worker cursed the event by burying an old sequined dress from Tammy Faye Baker beneath the stadium during construction.
  • Derek Jeter is hardly opening his arms to potentially welcome Manny Ramirez into the Yankees’ fold, telling the NEWARK STAR-LEDGER that the Yankees “don’t need” the mercurial free agent because their line-up has “scored plenty of runs.” Keep in mind, this is a team that let Melky Cabrera and his .249 batting average get more than 400 ABs last season. I think you could use the help in the line-up, Captain.
  • What it is about Texas high school cheerleading that always seems to wind up getting some combination of school administrators, lawyers or the police involved? This time the DALLAS MORNING NEWS says it’s a disgruntled parent who says her daughter didn’t make the team because of harassment from other cheerleaders.
  • The BASEBALL THINK FACTORY warns that you not to call Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman and talk about Adam Dunn’s high number of walks. I suggest that we all call his show and demand to talk about that just to see if Brennaman’s head will explode.
  • An undersized guard named Curry helping a mid-major team make some noise with a deadly jumper? RIVALS.COM wants the world to get ready for Stephen Curry’s younger brother Seth, who has been leading Liberty back from the basketball wasteland.
  • Animal Planet has a new TV show premiering in February called “Jockeys,” about the trials and tribulations of the riders at the Oak Tree Meet at Santa Anita. It’s the most compelling story about little people since “Under the Rainbow” - and 100 percent Chevy Chase free!
  • Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint missed the Dragons’ game against Memphis and his mentor John Calipari after being suspended one game for being ejected from his team’s loss to Bucknell last Thursday. The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS says it’s good he missed the game: the Tigers crushed Drexel, 87-49. Hey, at least Drexel still got their $90,000.
  • Finally…did you love the Super Bowl Shuffle but wish that involved less football and more rapping about maple syrup and Grey Poupon? Then in honor of the Bears’ win last night, the Super Broker Shuffle is for you:

Who is your pick for the NFL Coach of the Year?

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Jays GM Rips Into Reds’ Dunn; Adam Rips Back

It would appear that Adam Dunn won’t be joining the Blue Jays anytime soon - especially after some harsh words from Toronto’s general manager, and an equally-angry response from the Reds’ player.

Adam Dunn J.P. Ricciardi

The NATIONAL POST pitches up the latest on the growing feud between Dunn and Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi. It began Wednesday night when Ricciardi appeared on The Fan 590 to jabber about the Jays. One caller suggested that he should look into acquiring Dunn, who’s been rumored to be on the Reds’ trading block.

But J.P. shot that idea down with a little character assassination:

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Blog Expo-Fest-O-Rama: We Compete to the Pain!

Come See the Violence Inherent in the System!

Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa tangle their motorcycles in Grand Prix practice. FANHOUSE shows us that Pedrosa found out what happens when you try to probe The Doctor from behind: you turn your own bike and cough.

• UNPROFESSIONAL FOUL points out there’s only one thing worse than having a curiously organized mob looking to hurt you for calling penalties against a popular and well-connected Italian soccer team: looking like the referee that called penalties against a popular and well-connected Italian soccer team when the mob walks by.

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