8:30 PM The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle notes that the Rochester Red Wings were the last American baseball team to play in Cuba before the U.S. embargo began in 1960. The July 25 game against the Havana Sugar Kings ended in a 3-3 tie after fans began firing weapons to celebrate Fidel Castro's revolution.
Ice dancing: combining all of the worst elements of figure skating with “Dancing with the Stars,” it’s the one event during the Winter Olympics that you pray your wife or girlfriend doesn’t make you watch. Because if you are stuck on the couch watching it, it’s the sports equivalent of going to the ballet: long, boring and completely ridiculous. The only advantage is that you at least can watch in your sweats instead of having to wear a suit and tie.
Any red-blooded American man has the feel the same way, and no one is more of an “American man” than Bob Knight (just ask the Puerto Rican police). The how in the world can you explain this?: Aaccording to THE DAGGER, Knight spent the majority of his segment on “Mike and Mike in the Morning” singing the praises of Russian ice dancers. Who are you, and what have you done with our prime representative of the ugly American?
Yes, we realize that the above headline makes absolutely no sense. Or at least it shouldn’t make any sense. The sad part is that it’s absolutely the truth: Billy Packer did, in fact, hire a psychic to find the murder weapons O.J. Simpson used to kill Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, audio which then made its way to AWFUL ANNOUNCING and HUGGING HAROLD REYNOLDS. Luckily, we now have it too, with typically clever illustration put together by HUGGING HAROLD after the jump.
(We always thought he looked a little like a fat, drunk owl.)
According to Packer (who, incidentally, still doesn’t own a computer), he hired a psychic the family had previously worked with to find the murder weapons in the O.J. case because the psychic — a man named John Monte — called Packer and said he knew where the weapons were.
CBS college basketball analyst Seth Davis has a new book out about the 1979 NCAA basketball title game between Magic Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans and Larry Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores called “When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball.” I noticed one detail in a story on it in the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL-SENTINEL that had me scratching my head. In the book, Davis claims that before Indiana State’s nationally televised home finale against Wichita State, “many people thought Bird was black.”
(I’m pretty sure he’s white.)
You can imagine that I was pretty skeptical of Davis’ claim. Then I read a quote:
“All the next week I got lots of calls from my friends back in Denver who saw the game,” said Bob Heaton, Bird’s roommate and teammate. “They couldn’t believe Larry Bird was a white guy.”
You have to hand it to the Cameron Crazies. Not so much for dressing a student as Beaker from “The Muppet Show” to point out the resemblance with North Carolina star Tyler Hansbrough. Frankly, this is old news. But having said Duke student/Muppet wear a T-shirt that says “D League,” as the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER noted. That’s classic - even North Carolina players were laughing over that one.
But then again, it was the Tar Heels and Hansbrough who had the last laugh again, as North Carolina pulled away in the second half to take down the Blue Devils 101-87 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Which made Hansbrough and senior teammate Danny Green the only two players to play in four straight victories at Duke since Mike Krzyzewski took over as the Blue Devils’ coach.
The spark for North Carolina was Ty Lawson, who scored 21 points in the second half to help the Tar Heels rally from an eight-point halftime deficit. (Good thing there is nothing the Duke fans could have given him grief about.) But as usual, the story was Hansbrough, whether he was hitting key three-pointers, getting compared to a Muppet, or getting cracked in the jaw by a Kyle Singler elbow:
You have to love the crackerjack ESPN crew of Mike Patrick and Dick Vitale totally missing the elbow. But at least Vitale - once he noticed what was happening - actually admitted that a Duke player did a bad, bad thing. Unlike Billy Packer, who probably would have chided Hansbrough for ramming into Singler’s elbow with his face.
And what’s the best way to celebrate a big win if you’re a North Carolina student? Why, burning a Christmas tree, of course. Take that, Christmas! (Why they still had a tree in February is another question.):
Speaking of Christmas…it’s time to give you the gift that keeps on giving: Brett Favre is finally gone. After the Jets’ meltdown to end the season, it was obvious what was going to happen, but it’s official: he’s filed his retirement paperwork with the league and is apparently done. No teary press conferences, no 24/7 ESPN media watch, just an old man making sure, as the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS reports, he gets his severance pay like an auto worker reaching retirement age.
So our national nightmare is over. Unless Favre goes online and reads stories like those from Dan Pompei of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE, who immediately wrote a column that suggested Favre could still “lead certain teams to the Super Bowl.“ Certain teams meaning “Minnesota Vikings.” For God’s sake, Pompei, let’s not give him any ideas - this is like Edward R. Murrow going on the radio and suggesting that Joseph McCarthy should try exposing gay in the military instead of Communists.
Other sports stories that happened last night as you regretted eating peanut butter and peanut sandwiches for dinner (with peanut brittle for dessert):
CNBC says that jewelry maker Robindira Unsworth received a surprise when one of her creations wound up dangling from the neck of Bar Refaelion the cover of the SI Swimsuit Issue. Which makes me wonder: has anyone even noticed her necklace while looking at the cover? Perhaps boyfriend Leonard DiCaprio bought it for her, a nice gift - as the LA TIMES says some people think the SI cover was.
Remember the testing program Lance Armstrong was going to undertake during his comeback to prove that he was free of performing-enhancing drugs? What a shock - it’s been scrapped, as KCRA-TV reports that he now claims that it’s too expensive and complex to pull off this year. I guess getting rid of Favre is all we could ask for.
Just what the already-volatile Dallas Cowboys’ locker room needs: Ray Lewis. The DALLAS MORNING NEWS reports that Terrell Owens has been making phone calls trying to recruit the Ravens’ linebacker/non-murder to play for Dallas this season.
Former Congressman Tom Davis tells NBCSPORTS.COM that it’s time to “cut your losses,” and that you can expect charges against Roger Clemens for lying under oath soon.
A woman in Fresno put up her old baseball card on eBay for $10, but decided to pull the item after receiving way too many e-mails asking if it was real. It turns out that the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings card was real, and worth a lot more than she thought: the AP says she sold it yesterday for almost $65,000.
Speaking of eBay, IDIOTS ON SPORTS found this beauty up for sale on the auction site, although I doubt it’s worth $65,000:
The WACO TRIBUNE reports that Baylor football recruit Willie Jefferson was arrested 10 days before signing his letter of intent and charged with marijuana possession after cops found a “small bag of marijuana, a marijuana cigarette and several cigars in a cavity on the floorboard of the vehicle” Jefferson was driving. This is why you don’t by a used car from Tommy Chong.
See, Sirius XM isn’t going bankrupt. If it was, why would they be flying Chris Russo out first-class to spring training- twice! - as he told Howard Stern yesterday. Just like there’s no way the banks could be going under if they can still afford to fly their executives out to expensive resorts for annual meetings.
We know what you’re saying: “Wait, who scored how many on which team now?” The answer to that is not as significant as the subset in which the points came: A college basketball game in the SEC.
That’s right, Jodie Meeks, a junior guard for Kentucky, had the night of a lifetime, dropping a whopping 54 points on the No. 24 Tennessee Volunteers in a shockingly one-sided 90-72 win. Meeks hit 10 of his 15 three-point attempts, helping the Wildcats take control of a game that was still up in the air in the second half. In the process, he set the Kentucky record for most points in a single game. Really. It’s also the most points scored by one player in regulation in a decade, and six teams scored fewer total points on Tuesday night than Meeks did himself.
Not surprisingly, his coach and teammates had some choice quotes about the junior sharp-shooter.
“It was the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever seen,” said his coach, Billy Gillispie.
“I wouldn’t be talking at all,” Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson said about Tennessee players who he said continued to talk trash. “My mouth would be shut. Especially when a guy’s got 54 in your own gym. They can talk all they want. Jodie’s shots speak for themselves.”
If you’re like us, you saw the name of the NCAA nightly stud and thought, “Who is this Meeks guy?” Well, here’s some things we should all get to know about the most legitimate single-game college output since Kevin Durant was still wearing orange.
Meeks is averaging more than 24 points-per-game this season, which means we probably should have known about him already.
He was on the 2007 All-SEC Freshman Team and All-America Freshman Team (so we really should have known about him)
He’s from Norcross Georgia (how did he possibly not end up at Georgia Tech?)
Meek’s 24 ppg (before Tuesday’s avalanche) were a stunning improvement from his prior seasons, when he averaged 8 ppg … despite playing fewer than 10 minutes less per game.
While the 54 points were beyond what anyone could have expected, these big busts aren’t unanticipated; he dropped 46 on Louisville at Freedom Hall back on December 20. Guess he really likes playing on the road.
Here are the highlights from Meeks’ absurd performance. Grab your popcorn, you don’t want to miss any of it.
The best part about Meeks? His demeanor actually matches his name. There was no jersey-popping after his big night, just honest answers. When asked why his performance was so special, he just dropped this gem: “We just never won here before.” Priceless.
If Kevin Garnett thinks Paul Pierce is Superman, what does that make LeBron James? We ask because LeBron’s triple-doubles have become almost matter-of-fact, with last night’s triple-double — it was just another workmanlike 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists — in Cleveland’s 102-87 win in Memphis almost seemed like an afterthought. With the Grizzlies on the schedule, you actually expected LeBron to drop a triple-double with at least 30 points.
The most amazing thing is that the points and rebounds weren’t even the most impressive part about LeBron’s night. No, that would be his defense, which included an early block that clearly set the tone for Cleveland’s defensive pressure.
Then there are plays like this, which really just aren’t fair.
It’s almost impossible to think about just how significant a cultural factor LeBron will be if the Cavaliers somehow win the title. He’s on the cover of this month’s edition of GQ. He makes his own commercials for Nike. Heck, he’s making the city of Cleveland relevant. That’s astounding in itself.
In fact, LeBron is already such a household name, and his cultural morays thereby tacitly acceptable, that he may subtly do for tattoos what Michael Jordan did for baggy shorts. Think about it. BronBron sports nearly full-sleeve tattoos on both arms, with images swirling into one another. He’s added to his tat collection each season, and it almost seems like a matter of time before the shirts with all of his tattoos start flying off the shelves (remember the Iverson edition back in the day?). By 2020, don’t be surprised if 75 percent of the people you know are sporting tats of some kind, and a lot of that may be due to LeBron, whether we want to admit it or not.
That seems like a good idea. After all, a sports book is definitely the place to catch all the first and second round action. And all of this would be well and good except, as FANHOUSE delicately points out, for the fact that the NCAA absolutely, positively does not condone gambling on its games.
That’s right folks, FOX SPORTS is openly thumbing its nose at the NCAA, taking a preeminent coach and a recently deposed preeminent broadcaster and having them talk about the tournament from the very site that the NCAA wants to believe won’t touch the games themselves. It’s a little like holding a dieting workshop at the entryway to a Twinkies factory. Sure, Packer and Knight may not talk about the gambling lines, but they’ll be surrounded by them. You might even be able to see them scrawl across the backdrop behind their set.
Just one more incident that proves the NCAA has much less power than it thinks it does. That and that alone should at least give the rest of us hope that eventually we’ll get that football playoff, by hook or crook (smart money’s on crook, sad as it may be).
Will the last person not named Bill Belichick on the New England coach staff or front office please turn off the lights? We know that Billy-B sleeps on a cot already.
If there was any question that Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo is headed to Real Madrid this summer, doubters should consider this: His agent is already copyrighting “CR9“, meaning his next number is probably “9″.
If you’re like me, your basketball fantasy was not have to hear blowhard commentator Billy Packer calling the Final Four. Whether it was engaging in blatant homerism or ripping on St. Joe’s for no good reason other than to defend the purity of the major conferences, Packer was the one annoyance in an otherwise blissful few weeks of basketball.
So I greeted the news that Packer was being replaced by the bland but decent Clark Kellogg for the Final Four this year with nothing but bliss. But obviously Packer’s name and history means something, and he was certain to land a gig somewhere. And USA TODAY says that he has: a company called Fantasy Sports Ventures has hired him to be a lynchpin of their new fantasy basketball site.
Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD reports that the aggravating analyst will not be returning to the network next season, ending 27 years as a b-ball blowhard for the Columbia Broadcasting System. Read more…