If you’re like me, you’re constantly wondering “What’s the largest number of Mexican immigrants Chipper Jones has had in his truck at one time?” The answer, of course, is 15, which the Atlanta Braves infielder revealed during an interview on 790 The Zone in Atlanta recently.
Jones owns a ranch in South Texas, about 15 miles from the Mexican border. And what made the chat really interesting was his story about climbing a ladder into one of his deer stands, opening the door and finding five Mexicans inside. So what did Jones do? He took them home for lunch, of course.
On Wednesday night, the Braves and Hohn butted heads again over his strike zone, resulting in yet another ejection for Cox — one that he was baited into when Hohn told Cox he had to eject someone and then pulled out his lineup card to “decide” who to toss. Cox volunteered himself, and then threw up his arms in disbelief when Hohn did it. Moments later, Brian McCann was tossed for asking Hohn to admit he missed a call during his last at bat.
Even so, as egregious as Hohn’s mistakes may have been, it’s easy to dismiss Atlanta’s protests as just your average sour grapes. But then something happened on Wednesday night. When Marlins catcher John Baker caught the final strike in Florida’s 6-3 win over the Braves, he turned around and extended his fist toward Hohn, to which Hohn obliged with a response. Yeah, you heard it right, an umpire actually fist-bumped a player. Here’s the evidence, in animated GIF form. A screenshot of the bumping moment:
Hohn likely didn’t realize how that would look, as Baker was probably just telling Hohn he did a good job (as players will sometimes do after games), but on a night when Hohn ejected the opposing manager for arguing about the strike zone, that was a pretty poor decision. One that probably should earn Hohn a game or two off.
Still fuming, the Braves shook it off last night and beat the Marlins 6-3 on a 10th inning homer by McCann.
Your 2009 trade deadline is just hours away, ladies and gentlemen. J.P. Ricciardi continues to hold firm on a steep price for Roy Halladay, and we’ll see this afternoon just how serious he is about making a deal. Many teams have been in the hunt, but all seem to be unwilling to give up the one key prospect the Jays covet. And since Ricciardi can hold on to Halladay and do this all over again next year, he doesn’t feel that dealing him is a necessity.
(If Nick Punto was your shortstop, this guy would seem like a great option)
The Red Sox are going to to everything they can, though, to shake things up and land either Victor Martinez or Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez would be a huge coup for the Sox, as he’s signed through 2010 at about $2.5 million, and his option for 2011 is a very reasonable $5.5 million. I’m not sure, in fact, why the Padres would want to trade him unless they were getting a ton in return (something like Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, and of Boston’s other top two or three prospects, and even that might not seem like enough). Not surprisingly, Jon Heyman has been told the Sox prefer Gonzalez over Martinez. Martinez has a team option for next year at $7 million, is four years older than Gonzalez, and doesn’t OPS anywhere near .929.
Either way, the Sox would have a huge jam with Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis competing for time at third base, while the new player would vie for time at first with Adam LaRoche.
• CNBC’s Darren Rovell says that one indication that our economy might be heading the right direction is that golf manufacturer Callaway’s stock price is on the rise on forecasts that club sales may be picking up.
• I’m sure you’ve wanted to punch someone in the face during a game of Monopoly, but somebody finally went through with it. The victim’s crime? An apparent unwillingness to sell Park Place and Boardwalk.
Heaven knows it’s a battle to fill the gaping maw of a newspaper sports section (or, heck, an Internet site). It’s eternally ravenous, utterly unforgiving, and preternaturally cruel. Lots of writers have to resort to the occasional trick (like comedy bullet points) to keep the beast at bay for another day.
(ARIZONA REPUBLIC writer, considering his next opus)
However, it takes a special effort to knock out 1200 words bemoaning the loss of the baseball superstar. It takes interviews with other old men as they pass through town to hopefully buttress your case. It takes calling up your friends and/or other similarly-minded sports fans in town. It takes quoting Simon and Garfunkel. And, of course, it takes bullet points. (These are also funny, but it’s less intentional this time.)
Two Game 6 classics in one night? An OT winner from the Caps that guarantees an Ovie-Crosby grudge match on Wednesday night? A 12-goal outburst in front of an insane crowd at the United Center that cemented the Blackhawks’ return to relevance once and for all? Sorry NBA, Monday night was owned by the NHL.
First, in Pittsburgh, Dave Steckel’s sweet tip-in of Brooks Laich’s wrister from the point 6:22 into OT saved the Capitals’ season and silenced an Igloo crowd that was ready to celebrate a return trip to the conference finals.
Sidney Crosby’s tying goal with just over four minutes left in regulation gave the Penguins the momentum back after blowing a lead earlier in the period. But in the end, Marc-Andre Fleury was just a little too shaky. He only stopped 19 of 24 shots on the night while his Washington counterpart Simeon Varlamov outplayed him yet again, turning aside 38 of 42. The NEW YORK TIMES sums it all up better than I can:
Five one-goal decisions in six games, three overtimes and 41 goals, with Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby striking for 13 and assisting on 10 others. The Capitals and the Penguins have played a marvelous Eastern Conference semifinal series, and after Washington’s 5-4 overtime victory Monday, it will continue, fittingly, to Game 7 at Verizon Center on Wednesday.
As recently as two seasons ago, the Hawks were a failing franchise that could barely fill half of the United Center. Now, there isn’t a tougher ticket in town and the team went over the million mark in attendance for the season last night. As if all this isn’t enough, they’re likely going to be facing the Detroit Red Wings in the next round (provided the Wings can win one of two against Anaheim). And, I’m just going to throw it out there now: if they do play the Wings, I’m saying there’s a 50% chance that at least one fan is going to die in an incident directly related to that series. I’ve been to regular season games between those teams at the UC that have seen near riots in the 300 level. I’ve heard Hawks fans start a rousing “De-troit sucks” chant during a game against the L.A. Kings. They’ve been waiting for this for years.
Oh yeah, the NBA playoffs were on the schedule last night, too. The LeBrons finally put the Atlanta Hawks out of their misery with a ho-hum 84-74 win to wrap up another sweep. It actually was a pretty close game, and guys like Delonte West and Mo Williams stepped up with big contributions down the stretch to hold off a scrappy Atlanta squad that just didn’t have enough healthy guys to compete. The Cavs are 8-0 in the playoffs, with all of the wins coming by double digits.
In Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki had 44 points (one for every alias used by his fianceé), including 19 in the fourth quarter, as the Mavs shook off a crapload of technical fouls and stayed alive with a 119-117 win over the Nuggets. Dallas trailed by 10 at halftime and for much of the second half as well, but finally took the lead on a Dirk jumper with less than three minutes left. Nowitzki’s heroics overshadowed Carmelo Anthony’s 41 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, and 5 steals. Denver’s still up 3-1 and doesn’t look all that beatable at home against the Mavs, so don’t look for this one to be coming back to Dallas.
• At this point, I think the possibility of getting taunted on YouTube would be more of a deterrent than a yellow card for taking a ridiculous dive in soccer. West Ham’s David di Michele boned a breakaway against Liverpool on Saturday so bad that he had to act like someone tripped him, and nobody was buying it (he needs to attend the Drogba School of Diving). THE SPOILER has the video.
• Randy Johnson gave up three homers in five innings but did enough to earn his 298th career win. If he can squeeze two more out of his arm before it falls off, he may just be the last pitcher to ever reach that mark. (Do you see CC Sabathia winning 15 games a year until 2022? Me neither)
• The silly scheme to keep Rachel Alexandra from running in the Preakness Stakes has been squashed, and the filly will run with the big boys on Saturday. Incidentally, Rachel Nichols‘ maiden name was Alexander, so expect Rachel Alexandra to start following around a horse named Brett Favra sometime next week.
We ask because, at this point, we could almost start a blog updating solely with news about Twittering athletes, coaches and GMs. Yesterday, we wrote about the infamous tweets of the Buffalo Bills and Brian Burke. Sunday, we wrote about Mark Cuban. And you know what? There are two more breaking Twitter stories this morning.
According to the ASSOCIATED PRESS, the inevitable fine against Cuban came down on Monday, and it landed with the resounding thud of $25,000. Considering the fact that Cuban’s rant was exactly 140 characters, Cuban was paying approximately $178.57 per letter for his screed against J.R. Smith. Not surprisingly, Cuban was none too happy about being lighter in the wallet, and he responded by questioning whether outlets - like, say, SPORTSbyBROOKS - has the right to re-publish his tweet, getting attention for it and, thus, earning him fines.
The answer, as pointed out by FANHOUSE, is a resounding “yes”. Because Cuban’s profile is set to public, we all get to read and re-publish his thoughts. That’s pretty much the definition of fair use. Yet the most interesting line of Cuban’s entire discussion with the FANHOUSE folks is his closing sentence:
@NBAFanHouse not close. I like to create discussion. makes things interesting
Yes, yes he does. At a cost of approximately $25G a pop.
Meanwhile, Celtics star Paul Pierce pulled off his best Shaquille O’Neal impersonation, giving away free tickets to Boston fans who showed up at his car and proffered up the pre-listed password (which, cornily enough, was “truth”). The first five jokers who have been stalking Twitter in their Paul Pierce 34 jerseys and jumped at the chance to meet him got the free seats, and web site BOSTONCS was there to chronicle the whole experience.
All of this got us thinking: Has Twitter officially jumped the shark? What started as a slightly clever way to send instant inside jokes became instantly cool when a few athletes re-discovered their inner dork, and it’s now gone so mainstream that mediocre stars need to imitate the big shots just to stay culturally relevant.
Add to that the mind screw that is Cuban doing anything — the eternal debate of whether he’s doing it because he thinks it’s cool, whether he’s doing it to manipulate the media and fans, whether he’s doing it for both reasons or whether we should even care because he’s such a tool — and maybe we’ve reached the point that we should all blow Twitter off indefinitely … or at least until Anna Kournikova shows up and starts describing what it’s like to get dressed in the morning.
In fact, the whole “Cal to Kentucky” bit is getting so much attention that, as Tuffy first coined in an email last night, you have believe the video alluded to in the ESPN.com screenshot below would lead to a camera trained directly on Calipari’s personal bedroom.
We’re betting it’s going to happen, and that it will happen sooner rather than later. And you know what? In the end, it’s a good thing for college basketball. After all, how great will it be to have Calipari and Rick Pitino facing off against each other in an annual turf war? And just think! This time it won’t just be about who can cheat to land recruits more effectively!
And just when you thought former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s pantomime villain routine couldn’t get any more obvious, it turns out he named a secret agreement to sell Wrigley Field to the state of Illinois — all in return for numerous tax breaks for former Cubs owner Sam Zell — after a throwaway joke in the Blues Brothers.
Blagojevich referred to the Wrigley Field negotiations as “Operation Elwood”, named in honor of Elwood Blues (also known as Dan Aykroyd), whose listed address on his driver’s license was Wrigley Field.
Enough with real news, lets try to manufacture some that involves incredibly attractive people. Like Alyonka Larionov, who may or may not be dating either Alexander Ovechkin or Pavel Datsyuk. She’s also a budding viral video star, so maybe she’ll be dating someone else to keep her in the news soon, too.
Just because we haven’t covered enough Twitter addiction today: USC Coach Pete Carroll’s ridiculous campaign to get buddy Will Farrell on Twitter reached new heights, including this self-produced video.
Chipper Jones indeed made a very unkind statement about Toronto borne from his brief visit during the WBC: “I don’t know if you ever stayed in Toronto, but it’s not exactly Las Vegas. To say that we were plucking our eyebrows out one at a time would be an understatement.” We’ve established that Mr. Jones will not be joining the State Department post-baseball.
(Yes, Chipper; Toronto is “up”. This seems like overkill, though.)
Why do we continue to give college basketball a pass on “March Madness” when the Final Four takes place during April? Sure, you’re sitting there and thinking, “So only 61 of the 64 games happen in the right month? So?” It’s the principle of it all, damn it! I can’t make a PG movie that turns R-rated in the last 5 minutes. It’d be like that one Mandy Moore movie A Walk to Remember, where (SPOILER ALERT!) she dies at the end, except in this version it’s by getting her head ripped off by naked zombies. Actually, get Hollywood on the phone; that idea sounds like a winner.
But we digress. Even people in the deepest of comas know that today is just the first day of a week in which worker productivity plummets and everyone, for at least a couple days, is a college basketball fan. Today is reserved for staring at a bracket, cursing the fact that the talking heads on ESPN like the same upsets you do (making them both popular and wrong, which completely disqualifies them as keys to winning your pool). Lots of office printers being tied up today. UPSET PROTIP: Think about American in the Elite 8. You’ll be happy you did. High fives all around!
Technically, yes, the rest of the sports world doesn’t stand still, and there’s plenty of things to talk about away from the parquet. We’re happy to report that your national pride has been granted an extension of legitimacy, as the USA defeated the Nether Region Netherlands, 9-3. Up next is either Venezuela or Puerto Rico, depending on who loses between the two teams tonight.
On the other side of the WBC bracket or however they set this thing up, Japan and Korea have jumped out to strong positions, while Mexico and Cuba fight to avoid elimination tonight. Quick question: why is the Mexico-Cuba game being played, essentially, in the middle of the night? And we get that this is a “world” classic and this time makes it possible for the rest of the world to watch, but 95-99% of the people who actually give a single crap about this game live in Mexico and Cuba (not a slight at those two countries, by the way; you could substitute any two teams in there, and the fact remains the same), and you’re essentially playing the game while they sleep. Wouldn’t almost anything be better than a start time that’s still late (8 pm) in San Diego, where the game is being held.
And speaking of situations in need of repair, can we talk about Jay Cutler and Denver? Talks have gone swimmingly after that trade kerfuffle from earlier, and Cutler is eager to get started on the 2009 season and develop a positive relationship with his new coach. LOL JUST KIDDING I AM LYING BADLY. Cutler has now left the city of Denver and demanded a trade, according to the DENVER POST.
Josh McDaniels: I’m the coach at Denver now! Isn’t this great, Bill?
Belicheck: Call me Mr. Belichick, you little sh*t. How are you doing at quarterback? You want Cassel?
JM: Not particularly. We have Cutler.
BB: Cassel’s better. We can get a 3-way trade done. You want Cassel.
JM: Um, that’d be kinda cool, but we have Cutler.
BB: Oh. Huh. Weird.
NFL: Cassel has been traded to Kansas City for basically nothing.
BOSTON GLOBE: Denver was talking about trading Cutler for Cassel.
Jay Cutler: What the hell. Screw you. I’m leaving.
JM: Say, Mr. Belichick? Now I have neither Cassel nor Cutler.
BB: NYEAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I always liked Pioli better!
JM: I hate you, Mr. Belichick. Some more links to peruse while you’re still thinking, “American? They face Villanova in Philly in Round 1! That’s stupid!” Stupid like a fox!
If you heard that your favorite NBA team scored 130 points in a blowout, odds are pretty good that you’d be thrilled. Except, of course, if you live in the Bay Area; that optimism would be replaced by fear and dread. Yes, today’s hilarious lack of NBA defense comes from… the same team it always comes from, the Golden State Warriors. Yes, they dropped 130, but they gave up 154 points to Phoenix, and that’s with most of the Suns’ starters on the bench for the vast majority of the 4th quarter. Jason Richardson dropped 31 points on only 15 shots.
Now you can add Simeon Rice to the list of players lining up to rip Gruden, and the former Bucs Pro Bowler isn’t pulling any punches. In an interview with Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan on Sirius NFL Radio, Rice went off on Gruden, running down a laundry list of players who hate him, and shredding his character like a rat going through an old stack of magazines in your garage:
“How I feel personally? I could tell you that, too. I think he’s a scumbag,” Rice said. “I think he’s a scumbag personally. That’s when he’s telling you one thing and… You know what he told me? ‘Simeon you’ll be here in the next five years.’ I got injured [and] this man’s never said one word to me. I won a Super Bowl for you. I got 13 sacks, 12, 15 every year for you. I balled. I got injured [and] you let me go like it was nothing.”
Now, to be fair, Rice had a grand total of one sack in 2007 after being cut by the Buccaneers and didn’t play last year, so it’s not like Rice showed Gruden what a horrible mistake he made by letting him go. But judging by the stories that keep coming out, releasing an injured player who helped you win a Super Bowl without saying a word to him seems to be right up his alley.
Hmm, let’s see: a “offensive genius” head coach whose teams always have lousy defenses; who is about as likable as genital warts and has the personal skills of Jeff Conaway; and who inspires hatred and disloyalty from former and current players. I’m starting to think that Notre Dame could have stuffed Gruden into a sumo suit and swapped him for Charlie Weis, and no one would have known the difference.
But Jon, if it makes you feel any better, it wasn’t just the fact that your players hate you that got you fired. Apparently the fans all hate you as well. So that’s nice.
Oops, they did it again: the Lakers managed to overlook the Charlotte Bobcats and fall 117-110 in double OT. All this with the Bobcats’ best player - Gerald Wallace - missing the overtimes with an injury. The LOS ANGELES TIMES has the gory details of the Lakers’ fifth loss to the Bobcats in their last six meetings. (Really, and these are the title favorites?)
FOOD COURT LUNCH examines “The Hansbrough Effect,” where college basketball analysts laud the hard work and gritty determination of big, white stiffs who will be sure to flop in the NBA. Which gives me another chance to type Kevin Pittsnogle.
Who loves chicken? New Orleans Hornets fans love chicken, especially when they get it for free if the Hornets score 100 points. NOLA.COM has the exciting blow-by-blow as the team sits on 99 with just seconds to go.
TRAVELIN’ LIGHT says that a resort in Aruba is offering vacation packages for fantasy baseball and football drafts. Sure, the resort might have beautiful beaches, world-class food and exciting casinos, but does it have a Bubble Hockey machine and old NES system with RBI Baseball like my garage? I didn’t think so.
If you think you’ve had a rough life, think about Arizona Cardinals lineman Darnell Dockett, who found his mother murdered, execution style, when he was 13. And then his father died of cancer four months later. The GANNETT NEWS SERVICE has a moving piece on his relationship with his uncle, who helped him get his life back on track.
The Braves need a power hitter to provide protection for Chipper Jones and Brian McCann. Enter Jeff Francoeur and .239 batting average. MLB.COM says that Jones, for one, is thrilled to have “Frenchy” back. Hey, if your other option is Andruw Jones, anything looks good.
Ever nearly kill yourself trying to get that stuck bag of chips dislodged from a vending machine? Me too! Now there’s a video game for you: Adult Swim’s Ultimate Vending Machine Challenge.
BUSTED COVERAGE has photographic evidence that there are plenty of OSU fans who are quietly returning to Columbus today.
INGAMENOW rates the “Best Beards in Sports.” Shockingly, Brady Quinn’s girlfriend was not including.
FANHOUSE informs us that Fox’s experiment with “Team Oriented Analysts” looks to have been scrapped before it started. “Brian Billick has been doing a lot more Redskins stuff than he should under the rules.”
ESPN wouldn’t assign Purdue alum Bob Griese to a Purdue game, would they? Okay, but he wouldn’t wave the flag or anything like that? Right. (Video via BRAHSOME after the jump.)