• Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin puts Twitter to very good use - by putting up pretty pictures of herself.
• Don’t you worry, Michael Vick - Chris Rock has got your back!
• Cyclists & joggers, be on the lookout for the Delaware Blow-Dart Bandit.
• Roadrunner’s revenge: A NASCAR driver going 190 mph gruesomely gets a coyote embedded in his grill.
• Colorado Buffaloes cornerback Ben Burley is banned from blogging after writing about the woman he woke up to in his bed.
So Michael Vick is seeking salvation, but what will it take to wash away his sins? I’ve seen enough Lassie movies to know that the dog always triumphs in the end, while the mean puppy mill owner is hauled off to jail, then on to eternal obscurity. Or, in this case, to “60 Minutes,” where Vick will appear on Sunday in his latest attempt to rehabilitate his image. Hey, where’s the remote? Patches! Bad dog! …
Vick’s goodwill welcome-me-back-to-non-dog-electrocuting-society tour hit kind of a snag last week, when he told some kids that “other people” were responsible for him going to prison. He’s hoping to repair that damage on Sunday, when he chats with James Brown about his future in the NFL, his past, and whatever else comes up. In discussing the interview with “NFL Total Access,” Brown said that he asked Vick repeatedly if he had remorse, and that Vick “answered the question very sincerely,” and was “very steadfast in answering the question,” whatever that means.
It sounds like we’ll get no more information on Vick’s true feelings than we would at a typical Supreme Court Justice confirmation hearing, so I probably won’t tune in. Meanwhile, PRO FOOTBALL TALK is reporting that Vick is so sure of landing with an NFL team this season that he’s refusing to take a backup role. PFT surmises that there are at least 12 NFL teams which could benefit by installing Vick as their starter. The question is, would any of them accept his baggage? Tony Dungy says he should be signed within a week.
Then we have comedian Chris Rock, who thinks that the whole thing is being blown out of proportion. “Everybody Hates Michael?” Rock talked about Vick on Dan Patrick’s radio show on Wednesday.
“Dogfighting’s very prevalent in the South,” Rock said. Rock also pointed out that we hunt, and many people consider that wrong. “Why is a dog so much better than a deer?” Rock asked. “I see no difference between a dog and a deer.”
Rock said look at marijuana … it’s illegal now, but who knows. “In our lifetime, pot will be legal,” Rock said. “I don’t think marijuana is any different than selling beer,” Rock said. “We know there’s more deaths related to alcohol than marijuana.”
Rock said the NFL doesn’t care about animal rights. That’s not what this is about. “The ball is made of pigskin,” Rock said. “They don’t care about animals.”
I’m pretty sure that footballs are made from leather, and that none of the cows were forced to fight to the death before being slaughtered. But Rock’s point has been brought up by others, — I know that Whoopi Goldberg has also said it — that Vick should get a pass because dog fighting isn’t seen as bad in some neighborhoods; especially in the south. Hey, he grew up that way.
But we’re all conditioned by the environments we grew up in. We don’t become adults, and society doesn’t move forward, until we stand up and decide for ourselves what’s right and wrong. Otherwise we’re just half-naked children chasing the pig with spears in “Lord of the Flies,” or, you know, disrupting town hall health care meetings on marching orders from Glenn Beck.
Hmm, given that, one wonders what Rock thought of the first O.J. Simpson verdict — was he in the “O.J. was innocent” crowd? Apparently not — in the intro to the DVD of his “Chris Rock Show” on HBO, circa 1998, he proved himself ahead of his time. One of the bits featured an O.J. Simpson video entitled “I Didn’t Kill My Wife, But If I Did, Here’s How I Did It.” O.J. himself would try to market a similarly-titled book in 2006.
As the San Francisco 49ers approach their preseason opener, the Michael Crabtree standoff only gets uglier. He’s missed 22 practices so far, if you’re counting, and I was going to use a Branch Davidian comparison, but I’m told that’s in poor taste. So let’s say that the Texas Tech receiver’s refusal to accept the money the team is offering is like Al Pacino in “Dog Day Afternoon,” demanding pizzas and a jet to South America before he’ll release the hostages. You know it’s never going to happen, but Crabtree has taken it this far, and he has to play it out ’til the end.
What numbers are we talking about? The Raiders’ Darrius Heyward-Bey, the first receiver taken in the draft (No. 7 overall), got $38 million ($23.5 million guaranteed), and Crabtree wants at least that. His agent, Eugene Parker, said that his client will sit out the season if necessary. That’s an idle threat; even if the 49ers don’t give in, Crabtree will show up once he starts missing paychecks. But forget about seeing him in the preseason, and probably for the opener at Arizona. Parker is establishing his own tough-guy negotiating status, and there’s no way he’s going to cave now. The thing is, neither side is in any sort of a rush. Crabtree isn’t especially jacked about catching passes from Shaun Hill or Alex Smith, neither of whom will probably be around next season anyway. And the 49ers consider themselves flush with receivers even without Crabtree.
For their part, the 49ers coaching staff is willing to forgive and forget, if and when Crabtree shows up.
“Obviously, he’s missing an opportunity to join his teammates to bond and learn what we are doing,” offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye said. “It’s a detriment at this point, but we’ll embrace him when he comes. It’s not him. It’s the business that he’s involved in. When he gets that fixed, then we’ll fix him.”
Crabtree, however, didn’t forsee this: He could be playing in the 49ers’ new version of the Wildcat offense, which Raye has dubbed The Taser. I’m not sure who is going to end up crying “Don’t taze me, bro!” — the opposition, or the 49ers themselves. But it should make for some fun headlines.
Hopefully Crabtree took some time out last night to gaze at the sky and view the Perseids Meteor Shower, the heavens’ way of reminding us just how insignificant we really are. Your agent may tell you that you’re worth many millions more than that NFL team is willing to pay, but just remember that God is watching, and at any moment he might throw a big space rock right at your head to keep you humble. That’s what meteors are; purpose pitches from The Lord. And meteors are just the pesky brushback variety; there’s also killer asteroids out there. Just last month an asteroid hit Jupiter and created an earth-sized hole that is still spreading, and no one saw it coming. If that rock had been on a trajectory toward earth instead, by the time we saw it it would have been too late to do anything about it. Something like that would stop the Patriots’ next run at a 19-0 season right quick.
Of course it’s all a moot point anyway, because what leading astronomers fail to tell you is that Mark Mangino is on a collision course with Earth, and if their calculations are correct, will smash into our planet before the year is out. The Kansas football coach has become so large that his orbit is decaying, and there’s not much we can do to avoid total devastation. This leaves precious little time for Tim Tebow to lose his virginity, have a baby, and then send that child into space on a rocket ship to escape our doomed world. Of course that baby will eventually become a Superman on another planet.
Today’s links contain dangerous moving parts; please use extreme caution.
- Overshadowing Pedro Martinez’s winning effort in his return with the Phillies on Wednesday was this unfortunate incident, as Philadelphia outfielder Shane Victorino is doused with beer while trying to catch a fly ball at Wrigley Field. What really made the incident full of Fail was Cubs security’s inability to catch the perpetrator — they ejected the wrong fan from the game, even though TV replays showed the real beer thrower celebrating his deed with other fans. Lou Piniella apologized to the Phillies for the incident, and now the police are even involved. Stay classy, Cubs fans. Here’s the video:
- Billie Jean King was awarded the Medal of Freedom at the White House on Wednesday, and all went well except for the statistics. The economy may be on the rise, but President Obama was bearish on King’s career numbers. “They didn’t get any of my facts right,” King lightheartedly noted afterward. “Did you see all the … how many titles I won? I was cracking up. Not even in the ballpark.” Obama said that King had won 12 Grand Slam titles. In reality, she’s won 12 Grand Slam singles titles (that’s where the confusion lies), 16 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, and 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles — 39 in all. “I thought it was adorable,” she said. “That’s not what’s important. I go, ‘Oh that’s really sweet.’ Like, just move on, get off the tennis stuff. Tennis was a platform.”
- How can the NFL fine thee? Let Chris Cooley count the ways. The Redskins receiver took time out from blowing things up recently to let folks know via his blog what the league is docking players these days for rules infractions. Sample: It’ll cost you $5,000 if your pants don’t cover your knees; if you’re wearing the wrong nasal strip; or if your hand towel is longer than eight inches, or has tape on it. Playing with your chinstrap undone will cost you $7,500. And it’s a $10,000 fine for wearing non-Reebok brand apparel 90 minutes previous to and following a game, or for wearing a tinted visor without a doctor’s note. In the comments section, a helpful reader let him know that the fines are tax deductible.
- And now it’s psycho fan time here at Speed Read, with today’s psycho fan coming from Bolivia. The South American Cup match between Blooming of Bolivia and River Plate of Uruguay was abandoned, as they say, when a fan invaded the field and attacked River Plate’s Henry Gimenez with a knife during the 65th minute. Once the game was called, angry Blooming fans pelted the pitch with flares and other objects, injuring at least one person, suddenly making a knife-wielding maniac seem quaint and benign.
- If you can attend only one Giants’ game this season … I hope it wasn’t on Friday, when the team gave out bobbleheads in the likeness of announcer Jon Miller. The only thing sadder than your child starting his bobblehead collection with a fat guy behind a desk, is the poor sap who got stuck with three of them, and is now trying to unload them on eBay. He says he’ll take cash or trade: Meaning that I can finally get rid of my McDonald’s Brain Urlacher bobblehead tainted with deadly lead paint.
- In case you’re wondering what Ken Griffey Jr. has been up to lately, he lined a single off the right-field wall in the 14th inning on Wednesday to end the longest non-scoring game in Mariners history, 1-0 over the White Sox.
- SF manager Bruce Bochy and bench coach Ron Wotus were both ejected — Bochy’s second ejection in three days — as the Giants beat the Dodgers 4-2 in 10 innings on Wednesday. The game also included a benches-clearing
brawlmixer after San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval objected to being grazed by a James McDonald pitch in the fifth (which the home plate umpire failed to notice hitting Sandoval at all).
- The International Olympic Committee selected golf and rugby today for proposed inclusion in the 2016 Summer Games, rejecting bids from baseball, softball and three other sports, among them squash. Rugby was last an Olympic sport in 1924. Tiger Woods says he’s ready to play (golf, not rugby).
- Attention girls: Tom Brady will start tonight against the Eagles. And he will be at the dance afterwards.
- Darren Sharper’s Twitter posts translated here. Larry Johnson, you got served. I think.
If you have to move to New Jersey (and just a reminder: you don’t), it’s a fine time to shop for a home. Single-family home sales dropped 18% in 2008 and the median sales price took a 7.5% nose-dive. As always, you’ll get the best mortgage rates when you don’t take one out at all.
(We know it’s hard to imagine $15 million, so we’ve provided a visual aid. Imagine this dollar bill… but 15 million of them. You’re welcome.)
Therefore, it couldn’t be a better time for new Yankee CC Sabathia to lay out $15 million in cash on a nifty little place in tony Alpine, NJ. He will live near Puffy, Britney, Mary J., (Not-So-Little) Stevie, and Chris Rock. This must be part of the Yankees’ plan to keep the puffy pitcher’s arm eternally young: Immerse it in the past.
• AWFUL ANNOUNCING intercepts Lou Holtz offering a prescription for those who loathe his weekly “Dr. Lou” segment on ESPN:
(Just call him “Witch Doctor Lou”, ’cause he’s puttin’ a spell on you!)
“If you enjoy Doctor Lou, I hope you will show your support by driving during the day with your lights on. And if you’re unhappy with Doctor Lou, please show your displeasure by driving with your lights off at night. Have a great week.”
• USA TODAY’s GAME ON horses around with a fun video featuring Big Brown’s homage to those NBA Playoffs split-screen ads.
Arthur Blank has been keeping in touch with Michael Vick. And the Falcons owner tells the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS that his former meal ticket has found a hobby while harbored in the hoosegow - playing football.
Vick’s currently serving a 23-month sentence after pleading guilty to dogfighting charges. But Blank says his prison pen pal has been passing time in the federal pen by passing the pigskin around:
The NEW YORK TIMES notes that not everyone wants Isiah Thomas kicked from the Knicks:
During New York’s latest loss to the Lakers, Spike Lee, Chris Rock, and Al Sharpton all spoke of their support for the scandalized coach.
Lee wants the team to Do The Right Thing and hold on to Thomas: “I don’t think Isiah should be fired. Not now.”
Meanwhile, Rock doesn’t want Knicks owner James Dolan to play Scrooge: “I’m not calling for anybody to lose their job, especially around Christmas.”
(Tell that to Scott Skiles.)
And Sharpton made this comparison: “Let me ask you this: The Secretary General of the U.N. was sitting near me. Do we fire him because we don’t have world peace? I mean, come on.”
Besides, if the Knicks do ice Isiah, we’re sure the good reverend will hold rallies and call for boycotts. He’s gotta stay in the public eye, you know.
Despite the on-and-off-court-woes, the Times points out that the Knicks are still the NBA’s most valuable franchise, worth over $600 million. Even though the team hasn’t had a winning season since 2000-01, the Knickerbockers still managed to take in almost $200 million in revenues last year.
While the Knicks’ struggles may be upsetting the fans, it’s not keeping them from Madison Square Garden.
One fan had railed, “When a team is not performing well in a market as big as New York, it’s unacceptable.” But when asked if he would stop going to the games, he quickly answered, “No, absolutely not.”
Seems like the Knicks have adopted the Cubs’ business model.