Speed Read: Hansbrough, UNC Handle Duke Again

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.

Tyler Hansbrough and Beaker

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.

Mike Krzyzewski reacts to UNC loss

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.

Brett Favre

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 Refaeli on 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.
  • Bar Refaeli SI swimsuit cover

  • GOAL.COM says Mexico soccer captain Rafael Marquez is really sorry that he drove his spikes into US goalkeeper Tim Howard’s thigh, earning him a red card in his team’s 2-0 loss in a World Cup qualifying match in Columbus last night.  He might want to apologize to Mexico coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, who is now in danger of losing his job after El Tri have only won one of their last seven games.
  • 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.
  • Despite claims in a lawsuit filed by his ex-girlfriend, Roberto Alomar tells ESPN that he’s perfectly healthy and does not have AIDS. And he’s willing to spit anywhere needed to prove it.
  • 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:
  • Bobby Labonte limo thing

  • 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.

Which rivalry are you most sick of hearing about?

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Speed Read: Dennis Rodman and the Four Dwarfs

Dennis Rodman and a bunch of dwarfs - it sounds like the recipe for the type of awful, Felliniesque nightmare that makes you wake up sweating and shaking at 3 a.m. and causes your double up your Xanax prescription and call your therapist in a panic. (I mean, theoretically, not me, but someone else…) But it’s actually the cast of a movie called “The Minis”- which really got made. On actual film. With a budget of $5 million.

Dennis Rodman and The Minis

The plot? Rodman teams up with four dwarfs - please, don’t call them midgets - to enter a prestigious basketball tournament in Venice Beach. Which, if you think about it, is the sort of headline that you wouldn’t bat an eye at if you read it on a blog. As you can see in the trailer, the movie is filled with “comedy,” “inspiration” and “acting”:

Stirring, huh? And since we are your source for all news relating to Dennis Rodman and dwarfs (as you would expect), we were able to speak last night with one of the stars of the film, Caroline Macey, who plays Natalia, the gold digging girlfriend of one of the dwarfs who also is obsessed with cows. (That, folks, is what we call in the industry “character development.”) To summarize some of the high points:

  • When she auditioned, the casting director was on her knees to simulate the feeling of acting with a little person. (I understand this happens when they cast Tom Cruise movies as well.)
  • The movie was written with Dennis Rodman specifically in mind. As was “Gran Torino,” from what I hear, but he had to back out due to a scheduling conflict, forcing Clint Eastwood to step in at the last minute.
  • Apparently, Rodman was “very sweet” and “pleasant on the set.” Except when he thought one of his co-stars was in the way of one of the shots, and he drop-kicked him through the hoop. (That’s a lie: anyone who saw Rodman play in the NBA knows there’s no way he could make a basket outside of two feet.)
  • It’s Italian! Of course it is: see my Fellini comment earlier. And really, I’d recommend watching it dubbed in Italian with English subtitles to get the authetic flavor of the project.

I know what you’re thinking: “This sounds great! But if only there was a way to bring the humor and excitement of ‘The Minis’ home with meas some sort of video game.” Well, it turns out that you are in luck: there is one. I can’t vouch if it’s as good of a movie-to-video game crossover as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” or not, but you can check out the trailer to find out more yourself:

Meanwhile, in actual basketball news: the way the Boston Celtics are playing, Dennis Rodman and a team of dwarfs might stand a fighting chance. OK, that’s probably an exaggeration,  but it’s pretty clear that their early season magic is long gone. Last night they suffered their sixth loss in eight games, this time an 89-85 defeat at home against the Houston Rockets.

Cavaliers rookie JJ Hickson

They now find themselves 1 1/2 games back of the Cavaliers for the best record in the NBA, and judging by Cleveland’s 111-81 rout of the Hornets, I would venture to say that the Cavaliers are ready for their big showdown with the Celtics on Friday. Boston can’t see out of it’s eye - you gotta cut them and make them bleed, Mickey!

In other news that happened while…screw it. I mean, Dennis Rodman and basketball playing dwarfs. Come on!

  • Unlike the Celtics, the Lakers were able to bounce back from a shocking defeat, although the LOS ANGELES TIMES notes that it came down to the final minute against the hapless Golden State Warriors. Meanwhile, Pau Gasol is looking more and more like a homeless person every day:
  • Pau Gasol of the Lakers

  • I know that in the era of free agency, we shouldn’t be shocked at anyone wearing any uniform at any time. But it’s going to be weird seeing John Smoltz in a Boston Red Sox uniform at Fenway, right? The ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION has all the details.
  • The FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM reports that Adam Jones gets cut by the Dallas Cowboys after ESPN airs footage of his involvement of a strip club shooting in Atlanta in 2007. Hopefully, he can go back to Pacman when he lands with the Toronto Argonauts.
  • The COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE notes that Home Depot has ended its program with the US Olympic Committee which gave jobs to aspiring athletes while they trained in their events. And get me some vinyl siding while you’re at it, Rulon!
  • CAN’T STOP THE BLEEDING checks in on Chris Russo’s Year in Movies wrap-up, and it doesn’t sound like Peter Travers of Rolling Stone should be quaking in his boots any time soon.
  • PRO FOOTBALL TALK says that media sources in Cleveland aren’t exactly thrilled about Eric Mangini coming to town - one person says that “he is atrocious with the media – the worst – and has so many rules that make it hard to do our jobs.
  • The MENLO PARK ALMANAC touches base with the story of two players from the title winning Menlo-Atherton High football team who were arrested and charged with mugging a skateboarder and taking his iPod Touch.
  • Darren Rovell of CNBC notes that despite the economy, college football assistant coaches are seeing their salaries reach unprecedented heights this season.
  • As you get ready for the glut of Super Bowl ads, UNCOACHED breaks down the Top 10 All-Time Classic Miller Lite commercials. Joe Piscopo? Never not funny.
  • Finally, the AP has an urgent APB: State College, PA police are on the lookout for Joe Paterno’s stolen, Coke-bottle glasses. Not actually his, but from the seven-foot statue outside of Beaver Stadium. Police believe the lead suspect is a giant, seven-foot tall Elvis Costello statue.

Who is the worst athlete-turned-actor of all time?

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Brog: Nats’ Radio Ratings Less Than Park Crowds

Paul Farhi of the WASHINGTON POST reports Washington Nationals’ radio broadcasts this season featuring Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler, “attracted a cumulative weekly audience of about 26,500 from May through July, the most recent period measured by Arbitron.

Washington Nationals Radio Broadcast

(We now join a Nationals Radio Broadcast, already in progress)

That means the Nats have the “unusual distinction of being a team that has far more people watching its games in person (average attendance has been 29,990 per game) than listening to them on radio.

The scary part? Farhi writes that the owner of the radio stations broadcasting the games says the ratings numbers are probably a little high:

Bonneville Int’l VP/News & Programming Jim Farley, whose company owns the stations, conceded that the “actual radio audience for the Nationals is ‘probably lower’ than the average reported by Arbitron.”

Farley added, “There’s no storyline for this season. Who’s the hero? Who’s the big star? Even the (famously terrible) ‘62 Mets had Marv Throneberry. The Nats don’t have a character like that.

Lastings Milledge Myspace Page Photos

The Nats don’t have a character? Apparently Mr. Farley is unaware of Lastings Milledge’s Myspace page.

From The Basement Nationals Radio Ratings

(Great hed from WaPo - had to cap it)

The worst part of all of this is that Slowes and Jageler are being associated with those stinkbomb numbers. I worked as a MLB and minor league radio announcer for nearly ten years, and I can tell you that the contract status of broadcasters is often (inexplicably) tied to the success of the team.

I know of two cases in which the jobs of baseball announcers were probably saved by their team winning the World Series. One was the 2002 Angels, which featured the duo of Rory Markas and Terry Smith. Both are good guys (I worked with Terry on AAA Columbus broadcasts have met Rory a couple times), but were hired by the Disney regime. Rory and Terry had barely been on the job when Arte Moreno bought the club and as we all know, it isn’t uncommon for new ownership to come in and clean house.

But when the Angels won the Series, Rory and Terry were forever tied to that championship. Both remain with the club to this day. I’m not saying they definitely would’ve been let go when Disney sold the club, but from what I heard at the time, it was a possibility.

Another example was the ‘96 Yankees. I was working in the organization at the time as one of the club’s announcers for the AAA Columbus Clippers. There were rumblings around that time that John Sterling’s job status was less than rock-solid. But just as Sterling’s slippage was starting to be whispered about in broadcast circles, the Yankees won the ‘96 Series - and then began their championship run. And now Sterling is a Yankee for life.

John Sterling ice cream

(John Sterling, still a Yankees employee. Just be sure to not get behind him in the dessert line.)

I’m not saying any of the aforementioned deserved the pipe. I’m merely pointing out how the radio and TV broadcast biz really works. Besides a precious few, there’s no untouchables.

Today I’m starting a regular feature. Spotlighting the hottest sports ticket of the day.

For that, I’ve turned to the ultimate inside source, the largest ticker broker on the west coast, My Boy Barry: “The Dodgers disembark in D.C. to face off against the Nationals. With Manny Ramirez coming to town, maybe Nats fans will finally show up at their spiffy new ballpark for once. Also tonight, the Red Sox & Yankees renew their rivalry in the Bronx, much to ESPN’s relief. And Toronto hopes that Roy Halladay can sway the Jays to victor-ay over the Rays. Oy vey!

When I heard about Jenna Jameson’s “shock” over being pregnant, this is all I could think about (real media file).

Scarface Michelle Pfeiffer

Scarface fans know where I’m going with this. Listen to the end of the clip if you can’t figure it out.

Read more…

Brog: China Knows Who Real Star Of Oly Games Is

With all those great performances by Michael Phelps & Co., the Olympics sure have been exciting here stateside. And, thanks to a report out today by the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, you’ll be pleased to find out that Chinese citizens are getting a very, very similar buzz off The Games!

Michael Phelps Beijing Olympics

Jennifer Brett of the AJC notes that Coca-Cola executives at the Beijing Games “have been mobbed like rock stars at Coke’s pavilion on the Olympic Green. And after a recent promotional event at the “Olympic Green” sponsor pavilion, Beijing residents “surged forward for photos and autographs” with Coca-Cola China’s Beijing Olympic Project Group GM David Brooks.

Boy, it’s great to finally gain some keen insight into what has the Chinese so genuinely excited about their Olympiad. (And of course, that reportage by Ms. Brett has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Coca-Cola is based in Atlanta.)

Big news in sports radio today, as Sirius XM announced that Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, who recently departed WFAN-AM’s long-running “Mike and The Mad Dog” show, is heading to the Sat Radio network.

Chris Mad Dog Russo picking his nose

Russo and Sirius XM President Scott Greenstein appeared on CNBC today to trumpet Russo getting his own channel on the net, called “Mad Dog Radio.” (Russo will take a $3M annual salary to do a daily show, while also hiring talent for the channel.)

RBC Capital Markets’ David Bank said Russo’s $3M annual salary “sounds like a big number, but in the grand scheme of things, … this is actually not that expensive.” CNBC’s Bill Griffeth told Russo, “You sold cheap.

Russo sold cheap? Then he’ll be right at home with Sirius XM stockholders.

While I guess having Russo on Sat Radio is good news for Sirius XM, the bad news is that at least one major U.S. automaker is already manufacturing internet-enabled cars.

Car Laptop

(My next cross-country drive to include mustard BBQ, “Mad Dog Radio”?)

From those cars you will be able to listen to thousands of radio shows for the cost of your internet service. I’m actually already doing it in my car, with my wifi-enabled laptop plugged into the cigarette lighter. I drove cross-country two months and didn’t miss any of my favorite radio shows.

That’s the real future of four-wheeled sports *radio* receivers. (Hope Mad Dog is getting paid in advance!)

The CHICAGO TRIBUNE’s Rick Morrissey writes today that female athletes who pose for nudie mags aren’t advancing the cause of women’s sports. Instead, they’re once proving that, “women’s bodies are commodities.

Amanda Beard PETA ad Chicago Tribune

That has the Olympic Village giving whole new meaning to “commodities exchange.

The WASHINGTON POST’s Dan Steinberg, in a recent online chat, wrote, “To me, it’s (the Olympics have) been dramatically less fun than Turin was.

Well that’s really an unfair comparison, as Turin is best known as the Atlantic City of Italy’s rust belt. Read more…

Mad Dog Cancels “Mike and the Mad Dog” Show

Fans of sports radio were dealt a harsh blow this morning when they learned that the “little hiatus” that Mike and the Mad Dog were on had turned into a full-blown permanent breakup. Chris “Mad Dog” Russo has left the WFAN building.

Mike and the Mad Dog

(The pair, during happier times)

The pair, only weeks from their 19th anniversary on the air together, have broken up for good.

Read more…

Brog: Erin Andrews’ How-To On ‘Caress Me Down’

Interesting photo (with my goofy inset) of Erin Andrews I hadn’t seen before:

Erin Andrews Kung Fu Grip

(‘Should’ve never told Tebow the interview was uncut and uncensored. Nuts!’)

Nice to see The Grip™ is back! And of course, The Grip™ takes on a whole different meaning depending on the context.

BTW, leave your own caption in the comment thread if you please.

From the I’m-Not-Making-This-Up-Dept.: SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY reports that Stats LLC today unveiled “a joint venture with Naveen Aranha, CEO of India-based Sportz Interactive, to create Stats Middle East.

The operation will be headquartered in Dubai, and the move continues a marked global expansion for the sports data provider that last year opened a European operation and also has made significant inroads into India, China and Japan.

STATS Middle East? That no doubt means President Bush is soon to be confirmed as the only man on the planet with a lower save percentage than Joe Borowski.

As you know, we’ve quite the homeless problem here on the westside of Los Angeles.

Kim Kardashian Blocks Out The Sun

And then there’s the bums.

Oh man, DEADSPIN’s A.J. Daulerio today has a deconstructive dissertation that unloads on Rick Reilly - much like Rick Majerus after unscrambling Cinemax at the local La Quinta. Read more…

Report: Carroll meets with, turns down, Redskins

We posted a week ago about WFAN-AM’s Chris Russo (we know, he’s a goof, but he does have access) saying on-air that Pete Carroll was a serious candidate for the Redskins’ coaching job. At that time, everyone was speculating on who Dan Snyder’s “wildcard” coaching candidate was.

Adam Schefter NFL Network Reports On Pete Carroll To The Redskins

Jim Fassel turned out to be the guy (or was he)? Snyder since hasn’t hired Fassel (but soon?) and according to Adam Schefter of NFL Network, has been pursuing Carroll recently.

Schefter reports Snyder recently met with Carroll, who was on a recruiting trip, in St. Louis: “They tried to persuade him to come to Washington to take that coaching job. As it turned out, Pete Carroll was not interested.