Speed Read: Manny Being Manny Being Ejected

The Manny Ramirez Traveling Salvation Show hit a snag last night in New York, thanks to an umpire with a hair trigger. Well, it’s hard to call anything about John Hirschbeck’s fifth-inning ejection of Ramirez “hair trigger,” since it took roughly 15 minutes seconds from when Hirschbeck rung Ramirez up on a called third strike to when he tossed Ramirez from the game for throwing his helmet, bat, elbow guard, cleats, socks and jock strap into the air in disgust.

Manny didn’t seem to think it was that big of a deal, since “I was playing only five innings, so I was leaving anyway.” Which came as news to Dodgers manager Joe Torre. Not that it mattered much - with Ramirez going 2 for 4 with three RBI and Clayton Kershaw throwing six shutout innings, the Dodgers cruised to an 8-0 win over the Mets. But it did give Los Angeles residents driven nutty by the Michael Jackson Circus a chance to remember the other, ridiculously overblown media circus in town.

If you are a college football fan who hates the current BCS system, you had reason to celebrate yesterday as Sen. Orrin Hatch ordered up a can of whoop-ass with a side of hash on the football elite during a congressional hearing about the college football playoff system, and the Senate cafeteria was all out of hash. Specifically, he said that “the Justice Department ought to be looking at this” because he believes the system violates antitrust laws.

(Play the BCS off, Keyboard Hatch.)

Which is great, until you realize that Hatch was the only member of the subcommittee on antitrust, competition policy and consumer rights to actually attend any significant portion of the hearing. But there were plenty of junior staffers there, fresh out of college and probably the only people outside of Hatch and Barack Obama who care about college football in Washington D.C.

Also, you have to understand that Hatch is from Utah, where the majority of the state is still steaming about the undefeated Utes being left out of the BCS Title Game last season, so there’s certainly an element of “playing it up for the home constituants” going on here. So you basically had Hatch grilling the President of Nebraska University, who was acting on behalf of the BCS Backers, which is kind of sad when you realize that Nebraska is roughly one zillion percent less likely to play in a BCS Title Game in our lifetimes than Utah.

Meanwhile, you might remember a small link we had yesterday about U.S. National Soccer Team midfielder Michael Bradley being suspended following a red card and subsequent confrontation with a referee at the end of the team’s shocking 2-0 win over Spain in the Confederations Cup. And it turns out that he will be suspended for three games, although it’s perhaps the weakest three-game suspension in sports history.

Michael Bradley

Ever get mad when a pitcher receives a five-game suspension for his part in a brawl, which only means that his next start gets pushed back one game? This one is even worse. FIFA has suspended Bradley for three games, all right - three games that he was never going to play in. The suspension will be served during the group play stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which is convenient for Bradley since he’s not on the roster for the tournament.

Which means that Bradley will be available for the U.S. next game that matters, a World Cup qualifying match at Mexico on August 12. Somewhere in Mexico City, a Mexican senator is preparing a special committee hearing.

Other sports news that happened while you were fighting for the rights of busty mannequins everywhere, especially if they turn into Kim Catrall:

  • DEUCE OF DAVENPORT knows that the only thing better than Erik Estrada drunkenly butchering “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during a Cubs game is him giving an interview in the booth during the game that somehow works in child porn and Ron Jeremy. A master class in awkwardness in two parts: First the singing…
  • …and then the interview:

  • Lance Armstrong has moved to within a second of the yellow jersey after his Astana team cleaned up during a team stage during the Tour de France. Which I’m sure no one in America cares about, but it has to be irritating the French more than a canceled Jerry Lewis movie marathon, and that’s always a good thing.
  • When playing for Russian side CSKA three years ago, Yuri Zhirkov didn’t take the advice of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to learn English. Which is a problem, since Abramovich signed Zhirkov to a a huge deal on Monday, and the winger will have to deal with struggling to communicate with his teammates.
  • When GM Joe Dumars fired Michael Curry as head coach of the Detroit Pistons, he claimed that the team needed a more experienced hand at the helm. Which makes it curious why he eventually decided to give Cavaliers assistant John Kuester his first crack at an NBA head coaching job. Couldn’t have anything to do with both Doug Collins and Avery Johnson bailing from the gig? But Kuester has been a head coach at Boston…University, which is close to the Celtics, right?
  • Another depressing sign of the economic times: the NBA salary cap will decrease next year for only the second time in 26 years. The cap number next year is $57.7 million, down almost one million dollars from last year. So when Dwayne Wade lashes out at the Miami Heat for failing to land a big free agent again, they have a ready-made excuse.
  • Reports are circulating that Mike Krzyzewski is going to be coming back to coach Team USA at the 2010 World Championships and the 2012 Summer Olympics. Because as he showed in Beijing, he clearly could handle coaching with limited talent.
  • If you had forgotten about it in the wake of the Michael Jackson Media Overload, just a gentle reminder about swine flu: IT’S GOING TO KILL US ALL! Swimmer Kate Ziegler had to pull out of the U.S. Nationals with swine flu, which is also sweeping through the World University Games in Belgrade. If Ron Weasley can’t use his Muggle magic to stave off the swine flu, no one is safe.
  • In case you were wondering if there was any bad blood between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir ahead of their heavyweight title unification rematch, CAGEWRITER answers with a resounding “yep” after watching the two trade barbs during the “Countdown to UFC 100″ on SPIKE. Also, Lesnar thinks the referee of the first match is an idiot, and really, really hates doors.

  • Meanwhile, if you were curious, UFC fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is still insane. He’s not crashing an SUV with his name and picture on it after a wild car chase this time, but SPORTS RUBBISH says he is dry humping unsuspecting reporters during interviews.

  • Interesting news about “aspiring rapper” Keith Norfleet, the ex-boyfriend of Sahel Kazemi. Not only was he the person who picked her up after she was popped for a DUI in Steve McNair’s car, but he also emailed a local newspaper the following: “Pretty interesting news about our golden boy McNair…You would be pretty amazed at the fact of who he was actually with, which I really don’t think his wife would like it too much either.”

Which story do you want to go away and never hear about again?

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Dirk Nowitzki Rips Avery Johnson, Shawn Bradley

Much like Bill Murray’s character in “Lost in Translation,” many celebrities think that the embarrassing commercials they do in foreign countries won’t see the light of day, only to see it pop up on the Internet. The same theory seems to apply to foreign athletes, who have a tendency to give extremely candid interviews to the media in their home country without thinking that it will see the light of day in the U.S.

Dirk Nowitzki

Add Dirk Nowitzki to the list. He gave a very open and revealing interview to the German basketball magazine 5IVE MAGAZINE, where he criticizes former teammates, his former coach, and speculates on playing for another team - maybe even in Europe.  And the whole thing might have gone unnoticed here in the States if the intrepid Henry Abbott of TRUEHOOP hadn’t have found it.

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Speed Read: Yeah, That Really Just Happened

If the Boston Red Sox were a TV show, they would have been canceled long ago, because everyone would agree that the plot twists have just gotten to zany, too unrealistic, too unbelievable. Basically, they would be the second season of Lost or Heroes (or for you uber-nerds, the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Boston Red Sox

I mean, you expect me to believe that they came back from seven runs down with seven outs remaining in their season? Please. Next thing you’ll tell me the Smoke Monster is David Ortiz.

Tampa Bay Rays reliever Dan Wheeler

But, here it is Friday morning, and I’ll be damned if we aren’t going to have some baseball played this weekend. Rarely has a team taking a 3-2 lead back home for the final two games of a series looked so beaten.  But that’s what happens when you’re the Tampa Bay Rays and you blow a 7-0 lead and a chance to close out the series.

It’s like they had been under hypnosis since Game 2 and had told that they were the Murder’s Row Yankees. Then suddenly someone snapped their fingers in the seventh inning and woke them up, causing them to realize that they were, in fact, the Tampa Bay Rays, and what the hell are they doing seven outs from the World Series?

Now…if you had told Rays manager Joe Maddon before the start of the series that they be up 3-2, needing to win one of two games at home to go to the World Series, I’m sure he would have taken that offer. But watching Craig Sager conduct the interviews/postmortems  in the Rays’ locker room after the game, I have no reason to believe that Tampa Bay has any chance. They looked so shell shocked, it’s going to be a victory just getting on their uniforms on Saturday without putting their jerseys on backwards.

Here’s some other interesting stories from the sports world last night. You’ll excuse me while I try to talk the Fox network executives off of the ledge and convince them it’s safe to come back inside now:

Oregon Duck cheerleaders

How will the ALCS finish out?

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Blog Jam: Bears Driver Licensed To Irk Pack Fans

John Jagler of 620 WTMJ in Milwaukee puts out an APB for this Bears motorist in Wisconsin taking license with a playful poke at the Packers.

Bears Packers license plate

• Not to be outdone by literary giant Jose Canseco, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY prints out word that Larry Bird & Magic Johnson will be teaming up to write a book together about their long-time rivalry & friendship.

• So, what’s Avery Johnson been up to these days? Well, THE MERKIN SPORTS drives up video oft the ex-Mavs coach now selling cars.

Sam Smith of HOOPS HYPE guzzles down the opinion that it’s alcohol and not marijuana that should be the biggest cause of the NBA’s concern.

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Johnson Jettisoned From Mavericks Coaching Job

Guess there are some Boston baseball beauties that can knock your sox off.

Avery Johnson now has time to attend all those Josh Howard parties.

Avery Johnson

Will Mark D’Antoni also be available for appearances?

• Some grouchy media dinosaurs use Bob Costas’ HBO show to growl about the sports blogosphere.

• But they don’t understand the true power of the Internet, as in the case of a small-college football player using YouTube to get himself drafted by the Eagles.

Maria Sharapova finally meets Anna Kournikova - about 3-5 years too late for most of the media to care.

• Sisters are doing it for themselves - especially when it comes to softball sportsmanship.

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