Monday Shaquille O’Neal was in St. Louis for Albert Pujols‘ annual charity golf tournament. Afterwards, O’Neal and friends retired to the suburban Sahara Mediterranean Cuisine and Hookah Lounge for dinner.
Lounge owner Sam David told the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH that while the NBA player was in his establishment, he may have made a monumental commitment.
“I think he may have proposed to his girlfriend,” Sam David said today. “He brought a chair into the middle of the dance floor and he put a ring on her finger.”
David said he did not know the name of the woman who was with Shaq, nor of any of the others in the new Boston Celtics center’s entourage.
So if David’s story is true, who is the lucky lady?
This weekend anonymous sources from inside the Cardinals dugout told Joe Strauss of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH about a blowup between Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols
First baseman Albert Pujols and manager Tony La Russa on Saturday played down a heated exchange between the two after Pujols was left standing at the plate Friday on right fielder Ryan Ludwick’s unsuccessful steal attempt.
The three-time NL Most Valuable Player became visibly irritated when, with the Cardinals leading the Los Angeles Angels by four runs, Ludwick became the eighth inning’s final out. Pujols flipped his bat and helmet as he returned to the dugout then smacked two trays of gum from a bench against the Cardinals dugout wall.
La Russa reprimanded Pujols, saying, “That’s enough.”
Pujols responded and, according to eyewitnesses, the exchange escalated with La Russa telling Pujols at one point, “I (expletive) know how to manage.”
Friday’s display suggested impatience with a manager willing to open first base with him at the plate.
La Russa and Pujols predictably downplayed the incident to Strauss, which had La Russa steamed when meeting with the press on Friday night.
More interesting than the incident itself is who sold out La Russa from inside the Cardinals dugout. Strauss was able to glean from anon sources exactly what the manager said but provided no details on what Pujols “responded” with.
In a story dated Feb. 22 and today, the excellent baseball writer Tim Kurkjian did an ESPN video and print piece on Mark McGwire and Albert Pujols. Remarkably, Kurkjian did not ask McGwire or Pujols about steroids or PEDs in print or on video.
Today ESPN.com posted a video and print piece by Mike Fish for Outside the Lines about McGwire’s brother Jay. Jay McGwire, who will release a book on Monday about his brother’s steroid use, states in the print story that Mark misled the public. Jay claimed to ESPN that his brother used the juice to not only heal injuries, but to aid on-field performance.
“[Mark] knows that he [was] getting stronger and bigger, come on,” Jay McGwire said during a series of interviews with ESPN. “He is coming across that it is only for health reasons [that he used the drugs], but he put on 30 pounds of lean muscle mass. That is why a lot of people don’t understand why he is not really coming out clean like that. Why not just admit it all? It is OK, everyone knows how powerful these drugs are.”
Mark has previously claimed he only used steroids to treat injuries as it pertained to getting back on the field.
So in pieces two days apart, ESPN produced a serious allegation from Mark McGwire’s brother about the former Cardinals slugger and an extensive piece on the same former player that included zero inquiries about that allegation or anything involving steroids.
If the 1980s taught us anything, it’s that all is fair in love & war, and business = war. Shaquille O’Neal must have been paying attention when he was growing up. Did you watch the first episode of the new reality show “Shaq Vs.,” in which O’Neal is pitted against different sports celebrities in their own games? At least one person — Steve Nash — thought that show looked very familiar.
That’s because it was Nash’s idea, and Shaq stole it.
If you watched the credits following Tuesday’s debut episode (and I pity you if you’re that deathly bored), you may have noticed that Nash is listed as an executive producer. That’s what you get — plus a bundle of cash, I presume — when you mention your idea for a new reality show to a friend, and that friend “borrows” the idea and makes his own show. Come on, Shaq!
The Brewers had hit Manny Ramirez earlier in the game, presumably for being Manny and admiring a slump-busting home run he hit as part of the Dodgers’ biggest home scoring outburst since 1979. So, with Ramon Troncoso warming in the bullpen with a 13-run lead and two outs in the ninth, Mota beaned Prince Fielder. Mota was tossed immediately and a befuddled Fielder had words for him as he left the field. Troncoso came in for the last out, but the situation was far from over.
This is the sort of thing that happens all the time in baseball, but two aspects were troublesome: One, obviously, is Fielder’s attempt to actually go in the opposing clubhouse and get in a confrontation. Baseball has always had their “codes” and all that, but it’s supposed to stay on the field. Fielder’s choice to escalate the situation showed pretty poor judgment. But I don’t think Joe Torre is off the hook here. Hittting Fielder wasn’t the problem. But the Dodgers should’ve at least preserved the conceit that the whole thing wasn’t pre-planned. It’s hard to say “it just got away from him” when you have a pitcher warming up in the bullpen with one out remaining in a complete blowout. Clearly this was not only permitted by Torre, but presumably was encouraged, which may earn him a suspension.
(I don’t think Mota wants to run into Piazza at a Dodger reunion any time soon)
Meanwhile, things may have finally hit rock bottom for the Mets this year. Francisco Rodriguez blew a two-run lead in the ninth, then Albert Pujols hit a granny in the 10th to lead the Cards to a 12-7 win at CitiField. It was Pujols’ fifth grand slam this season, and he has hit six homers in his last 11 at-bats with the bases loaded. Even more frustrating for Mets fans, pitcher Sean Green hit the previous batter, Mark DeRosa, with the bases loaded to allow Pujols to come to the plate. This with two out in a tie game. To add injury to injury, as the Mets have been doing all season, Luis Castillosprained his ankle on the dugout steps.
(”Hey Albert, up here. Up top, bro. Do you see me here? No, dude, not the guy in the white shirt.”)
Horrifying news coming out of the Pittsburgh area last night, as a man opened fire at an LA Fitness gym in the southwest suburb of Collier, killing at least three people and wounding at least 10 others. At this time, it’s assumed that the gunman then killed himself. The PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW has the scary details:
Allegheny County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said the gunman may have fired 50 shots at the 20-22 women inside the room at the time before turning one of his guns on himself and taking his own life. There were perhaps another 50 people in various other parts of the facility at the time.
Moffatt said the gunman left a note inside his gym bag that indicated he expected to die in the carnage.
From all accounts, this seems like the sort of attack that is nearly impossible to stop. The 49-year-old gunman, who has not been identified as I write this, was a member of the club who was able to gain access simply by swiping in. It could, however, not be as entirely random as it looks now, as he specifically went into a room where an aerobics class called “Latin Impact” was taking place. He only shot women who were in that room, then apparently killed himself.
Despite the chaotic scene, a number of people lent whatever help they could:
Richard Walker went to the gym to play basketball with a group of friends. Two of them left carrying shooting victims, both women, over their shoulders, Walker said.
They got 50 yards from the gym’s side entrance, and took cover between cars as soon as they reached the edge of the parking lot, he said two hours after the shooting, his Oklahoma All-State T-shirt covered in dried blood down its right side.
“They were like losing blood and almost freaking out,” said Walker, 23, of Carnegie, who recently moved from Tulsa. “I just knew you put pressure on the wound.”
Thoughts go out to all the victims. Let’s hope all of the wounded are just that, and don’t take any turn for the worse.
• Drew Carey is excited about tonight’s FC Barcelona-Seattle Sounders match at Qwest Field. But the real gem is at the end of the story: Seattle midfielder Freddie Ljungberg says he missed a penalty kick in the MLS All-Star Game because of a migraine triggered by eating food with red wine in it. Oh, soccer players.
(When you need a guy to miss a penalty kick, accept no substitute)
It’s a near certainty that Shaquille O’Neal’s ego needs no help maintaining a high sense of self. And sure, he’s earned it; his freakish athleticism and affable (if repetitious) self-promotion have helped him carve out a comfortable niche in the sports and entertainment world. And God, was he ever made for Twitter.
(”I want you, Bruce Lee!”)
His latest idea might be at once the worst and best. It’s the worst because it can’t possibly be entertaining television. It’s the best because now, finally, for the first time in what must be years, Shaq’s finally going to have to answer for his ludicrous boasts.
On paper, the RIVERFRONT TIMES’ idea to publish the home addresses of current and former St. Louis Cardinals’ players may have seemed like a good idea. I don’t know what the exact result of revealing that information was — Tony La Russa’s house besieged by stray dogs? — but the paper now seems to be having twangs of remorse. After a bit of screaming by the Cardinals’ front office, including the team pulling the Times’ credentials to the All-Star Game, editor Tom Finkel has written an apology today. Sort of.
It’s kind of a half-baked apology, if that. In it, Finkel points out that the players’ address information is freely available to anyone at the St. Louis County official web site, and that all they did was locate the real estate tax database and search it by owner’s name. “You type in Stan Musial or Al Hrabowsky and up pops an address. You don’t even have to log in,” Finkel wrote. So is the dispensation of such freely available information an invasion of privacy, or a first amendment issue? That would have been a good debate, and I wish Finkel would have addressed it. As it is, I’m not even sure the Times is taking a stance on the issue; I can’t decide if Finkel’s article is an actual apology, or another tweak at the Cardinals. You be the judge, following the jump.
If MLB and Fox executives are wondering why no one watches the All-Star Game anymore, here’s Exhibit A: the winning run for the AL in their 4-3 victory over the NL was driven in by an eighth-inning sacrifice fly from Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles, a name that resonates with a thud among all but the most die-hard baseball fans. And the person he scored was the Tigers’ Curtis Granderson, who can be politely called “slightly more well-known than Adam Jones.”
To put it mildly, if the All-Star Game was a weekly series, it would be on the verge of cancellation by now. Especially after TV critics would have inevitably slammed it for its lack of imagination and formulaic structure. Yes, we get it - the AL is always going to win. Can’t we just have a twist on that every once in a while? (And not the shoddy “Who’s Going to Pitch?” cliffhanger that Bud Selig and company cooked up a few years ago.)
After 13 years of not seeing the National League win, it’s not surprising that people just aren’t that interested anymore. But there was an attempt to spice things up this year by bringing in a big-game star for a special guest appearance: President Barack Obama. After warming up with Albert Pujols in the batting cages before the game, Obama took the mound and delivered a pitch that was about as effective as his pitch for the bank bailout.
I’ll leave it to WIDE WHITE to give a breakdown of Obama’s pitch as it relates to his policies, but suffice it to say that it was neither great nor awful. He should just be thankful that Pujols was there to make a great pick to keep the ball from hitting the dirt. (And that was Pujols’ best play of the night, since he went 0-for-3 before the hometown crowd.)
The game MVP was Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford, not so much for what he did at the plate but for his actions in the field, most notably his catch that robbed Brad Hawpe of what would have been a go-ahead home run in the seventh. And the NL can’t blame the loss on the AL being fired up because of Ichiro Suzuki’s notoriously profanity-laden pregame pep talks - President Obama’s visit to the clubhouses took up so much time that he didn’t get to give one.
Speaking of Ichiro, he took some time out of his schedule on Monday to visit the grave of George Sisler, whose record for hits in a season he broke in 2004. It was a nice touch, except for the fact that instead of bringing flowers or a wreath, Ichiro just swore at Sisler’s grave for 15 minutes straight until being escorted away by cemetary workers. Oh well, I guess it’s the thought that counts.
While MLB was playing a game that no one really cares about, the NBA is knee-deep in something arguably more exciting and definitely more important: free-agency. The main story right now is what will happen to Lamar Odom, and the saga took another turn last night as the Lakers have pulled their three-year deal worth $9 million off the table. The reason? Owner Jerry Buss is upset that Odom’s people haven’t responded to the offer while continuing to negotiate with the Mavericks and Heat.
But there’s another free-agency drama going on that is a little more below the radar screen, but just as fascinating. The Portland Trailblazers have made a four-year, $32 million offer sheet to promising young Utah forward Paul Millsap, who is a restricted free agent. That means that the Jazz have until the end of the week to match the offer and keep Millsap on the team.
The problem is that Millsap’s offer from the Trailblazers includes an immediate cash payout of $10.3 million, which Utah would also have to do if they match the offer sheet. And apparently, the cash isn’t flowing through the streets of Salt Lake as readily as Mormon children, since the Jazz ownership would likely have to take out a short-term bank loan to get the deal approved. (Portland doesn’t have that problem, since $10.6 million is vending machine money to billionaire owner Paul Allen.)
Not only does this make me question the solvency of the Utah ownership group, but it also makes me wonder how the whole loan process would go down. Would they have to wait in line at the bank before getting seated at one of those tables out in the lobby. What would they have to put up as collateral - Jerry Sloan? It simply boggles the mind.
Other sports news:
It turns out that with 22 points, WNBA star Diana Taurasioutscored her blood alcohol level the night she was arrested for a DUI - barely, as the AP reports that she’s been charged with an “Extreme DUI” after her blood alcohol level was shown to be 0.17 percent - twice the legal limit in Arizona.
Speaking of the WNBA, they announced their All-Star Game starters yesterday. No word on if Michelle Obama will be there for the traditional “First Fundamentally Sound Screen” of the game, or if they’ll get “stuck” with Hillary Clinton.
One thing you might not have seen at the All-Star Game (other than the National League hitting the ball) was a lot of black players. The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER floats one reason why: the lack of strong black male role models in the inner cities makes it tough to find coaches for organized games.
With all the talk about Tiger Woods taking on Turnberry this week, there’s one thing that should be noted: Padraig Harrington is going after his third freakin’ straight British Open title. USA TODAY says it might be difficult since he’s completely changed his swing from last year.
The World Series of Poker Main Event is down to the final three tables, and poker celebrity/Norman Chad man crush Phil Ivey is still very much in the hunt, standing at fourth place with more than 11 million chips. Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari is also alive as they play down to the final table tomorrow.
Anthony Randolph notched his name in Las Vegas NBA Summer League history by tying the single-game scoring record by putting up 42 in the Warriors’ victory over the Bulls. Something tells me you won’t find any pictures of him posing with a basketball with “42″ written on it.
While sports talk radio is struggling elsewhere, it seems to be alive and well in Boston, where legendary rock station WBCN in being pulled off the air and replaced by the city’s third all-sports station.
To recap, Albert Pujols does not take steroids — and to prove it, won’t you please accept this tube of scented bath gel and join him in the tub? Our Cardinals hero used the day before the All-Star game to reiterate his contention that his numbers are not chemically enhanced, and in fact he’s getting downright militant about it. Want to check and see? Seriously — Pujols will pee in a cup in front you right now.
Ever since December 2007, when it was reported by several outlets that his name was included in the Mitchell report - since proven to be false - Pujols has waged a one-man campaign to clear his name. And now, with his astronomical numbers at baseball’s halfway point, Pujols is on the offensive again. You may not be taking the juice, Albert, but your quotes are injected with hilarious goodness. Let’s proceed.