Happy Halloween America — Be Careful Out There

We’re fully stocked with fun-size Milky Way bars here at SbB headquarters, and if there isn’t a wide variety of people dressed in various versions of the above costume tonight, we’ll be sorely disappointed. Party hardy, everyone; but use caution. We value each and every one of you.

“Mee-mee-mee.”

Speed Read: NBC, NHL Screw Local Hockey Fans

One of the most jarring aspects of the Stanley Cup finals, other than the ease with which the Red Wings dispatched the Penguins on Sunday night to push the series to 3-2, has been NBC’s hardball with fans in Detroit and Pittsburgh. For the duration of the playoffs, both teams have been able to hold massive viewing parties in and outside their arenas. It was such a wonderful, organic expression of the communal nature of fandom that it was basically destined to be ruined by business in short order.

JoeVision Detroit Red Wings
(Thousands of fans watching the game with each other? Nope, can’t have this!)

And lo, in stepped NBC, stopping the broadcasts. As HOCKEYBUZZ.COM reported, initially, they blamed the NHL, despite the NHL’s assertion that that was quite not the case. Then came the truth, that it was a business decisions (all the crappy ones are), and their “business is ratings driven.” CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS has the, ahem, money quote:

A near-sellout of Joe Louis could shave a ratings point off the local television ratings measurement, and such ratings are used to establish advertising rates.

So to that, if the all-important ratings model can’t deal with 8-10 thousand people watching a show in one place on one screen, you know what? The ratings model is completely worthless.  Seriously. How can NBC or Nielsen not figure out what to do with a giant honking party of some of the most hardcore fans all watching one screen? Is that really a deal-breaker?

And if so, if they’re really curious as to what the ratings would look like if everyone stays home, away from the shared community aspect from which most of the value of a ticket to a game is derived, there’s a really easy answer to all of this. You ready? Dick Ebersol, you taking notes?

All NBC has to do is announce that in exchange for showing the game outside both arenas, attending fans have to fill out a simple, anonymous survey about where they would otherwise watch a game (their place or someone else’s), with how many people, and whatever other information the network needs to most closely approximate what ratings would look like. Use that and Nielsen data to extrapolate what the final ratings would be with that many eyes on a TV, and adjust. That’s it. Easy.

This is a rare, rare opportunity for the NHL and NBC. At no other point are they ever going to be able to get this kind of a free pool of television watchers from whom they can mine valuable demographic information. Forcing them back into their homes and away from a group of thousands of like-minded, passionate fans for the sake of moving a needle one or two points does the city, fanbase, and team a disservice. It’s so easy to work around. Figure it out.

Speaking of soccer [I thought we were talking about hockey. No, I’m dead certain of it.–ed.] [Shut up.–AJ] [You have problems.–ed.], UEFA just got a seismic news flash as Real Madrid, evidently furious at having seen FC Barca take the title, has bought the contract of Kaka from AC Milan. Too bad UEFA contract holder SETANTA SPORTS probably won’t survive to see him in the new kit.

Kaka Kiss
(This is where we mention Kaka’s wife and fine whatever you’re all perverts.)

Kaka, a sensational striker from the one-word-name factory that is Brazil, will reportedly command a 6-year, $94 million contract. That’s enough to make it the most expensive in soccer’s history, barely beating out Zinedine Zidane’s 6-year, $65 million deal with Juventus from eight years ago. Meanwhile, David Beckham is running around for a crappy MLS team in Los Angeles for 30 cents on the dollar and going home to a bag of antlers with oversized sunglasses and the “I’m married, but still vain” haircut straight from Jon & Kate + 8. Sic transit gloria mundi: Glory is fleeting.

We mentioned Andrew Thomas Gallo, the man accused of killing Angels rookie Nick Adenhart and two others in a drunk driving collision, yesterday. Gallo pled not guilty to murder, drunk driving, and fleeing the scene of an accident charges yesterday. Great.

Nick Adenhart Killed In Hit and Run Accident
(No, nothing criminal led to this. No way.)

But as we (rightfully) focus on the three people killed far before their time, we should point out that one passenger in Adenhart’s car, 24-year-old Jon Wilhite, has, in fact, survived the crash that left him in critical condition (via the RIVERSIDE PRESS-ENTERPRISE). Wait, that doesn’t appropriately convey the gravity of what happened. He survived internal decapitation.

As MANOLITH explains, internal decapitation, which is exactly as horrifying and life-threatening as it sounds, happens when the skull detaches from the spinal column. It’s usually fatal. Wilhite somehow survived without total paralysis, which is unbelievably rare, and he’s now in rehab with the help of several major leaguers. He’s got a long way to go, but he’s on the right track.

Since we need to get back on a higher note, here are some more links to consider while you’re riding in a cab with former Beach Boy Brian Wilson:

Nick Collison Red Afro
(Yes.)

What do the Raiders need the most on offense?

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NutriSystem Spokesman Golic Calls Food “Awful”

If you watch any sports television at all (and if you don’t, how did you end up on this site?) then you’ve seen the NutriSystem commercials featuring a bunch of aging fat sports figures like Dan Marino and Chris Berman (and Larry the Cable Guy?) talking about how it’s OK — and in fact delicious — for dudes to go on a diet.

Mike Golic

One of the most prominent spokesmen for NutriSystem on commercials airing on ESPN is their very own Mike Golic, who claims to have lost 51 pounds. Well, TMZ recently caught up with Golic and his morning co-host Mike Greenberg outside of David Letterman’s studio.

As he was signing a few autographs (yes, people actually gathered on 53rd Street to get their autographs), Golic had a few words about NutriSystem that the company may not be all that pleased with…

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Speed Read: Seymour’s Wife Arrested In Lynching

I cringe when I hear the words “lynching” and “South Carolina” in the same sentence. But this is about as bizarre as it gets. THE STATE is reporting that Tanya Seymour, the wife of New England Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour, was arrested on Thursday and charged with second-degree lynching stemming from an incident at a New Year’s Eve party. (This is what happens when you change the channel from “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve” to MTV without asking.)

Tanya Seymour mug shot

I’m sure your initial reaction is the same as mine: lynching? Turns out that no ropes were used: PRO FOOTBALL TALK breaks down the South Carolina Code of Laws, which defines second-degree lynching as “any act of violence inflicted by a mob upon the body of another person and from which death does not result.” So maybe not quite as horrific as you would first think, but still not good.

Richard Seymour

Police allege that Tanya Seymour was among a group of people who “jumped” two women at a New Year’s Eve party after they had got into an argument and were asked to leave. The arrest affidavit claims that Tanya Seymour was part of the mob, and punched the two women several times in the face and body. Oddly enough, the affidavit also claims that she had use of illegally obtained scouting videos to prepare for the beatdown.

The injuries were fairly minor, including bruises, a busted lip and a sprained wrist. One of the women also claimed that her scalp was sore from having it pulled during the fight. And in one of the most obvious statements I’ve ever seen in a news story:

“The victims left after the attack, the incident report says.”

Really? Because I heard some people were making a run for another keg.

If convicted, Tanya Seymour faces up to 20 years in prison. The incident adds to the list of problems her husband has had to deal with in recent years, including his father killing his former girlfriend before killing himself. And if San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick thought Seymour was a dirty player, he really wouldn’t want to face his wife.

And speaking of beatdowns: Joe Torre might want to be leery if David Wells invites him to watch the Super Bowl with some of his buddies at his place this weekend.  The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS says that Wells has vowed to “knock him out” if he ever sees Torre on the street after his former skipper ripped him in his new book. Specifically, Torre compared Wells to Kevin Brown, except that “both make your life miserable, but David Wells meant to.

Joe Torre and David Wells

And of course Wells has a great response to those allegations: sure, he was a total pain, but not on purpose. Like when he would yell at Torre in the locker room because the manager had the temerity to turn down his boombox when he was blasting it before the games. Or get in drunken fistfights at diners at all hours of the night.  Based on Wells’ health issues and Type 2 Diabetes, Torre might want to carry around some concealed Pixy Stix in case he needs a weapon to defend himself against an attack.

  • …and No. 1 on David Letterman’s Top Ten Reasons He Likely Won’t Field an IndyCar Team This Year: no money. Not very funny, but then again, his partner Bobby Rahal isn’t laughing as he tells the INDIANAPOLIS STAR that while Rahal Letterman Racing will likely field a car at the Indianapolis 500, a lack of sponsorship will probably keep the team from the full IndyCar season.
  • Bobby Rahal and David Letterman

  • Meanwhile, the economic mess is also hitting north of the border, as THE CANADIAN PRESS reports that Toronto Blue Jays assistant general manager Bart Given was let go as a cost-cutting move. Or as part of a power play between the team’s interim CEO Paul Beeston and GM J.P. Ricciardi. Either way, Given gets to enjoy the Canadian unemployment system, which I believe includes 100 percent benefits and a free, stress-relieving massage.
  • MMA JUNKIE has the life story of Helio Gracie, the Gracie family patriarch and pioneer in the creation and growth of mixed martial arts, who tapped out to the chokehold in the sky on Thursday morning in Rio de Janiero at 95. Naturally, he’ll be laid to rest in a wooden octagon.
  • Congratulations to Tom Cable, as the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE reports that the Oakland Raiders will be removing the “interim” label from his title and making him their permanent head coach. On the other hand, condolences to Tom Cable for becoming the Oakland Raiders’ permanent head coach.
  • More economic cutbacks in NASCAR, as the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER notes that new rules to cut back on costs have been instituted in the Truck Series for 2009. The most shocking? All trucks will be replaced by 1974 El Caminos.
  • Usually a 61-52 loss would be cause for concern, but it’s pretty understandable when the team on the losing end is North Carolina State and it’s their first game since the death of their legendary coach Kay Yow. The WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL has details of their painful first game back.
  • Really, Bobby Estalella is the smoking gun in the Feds’ case against Barry Bonds? ESPN.COM has the latest information, although I’m shocked that Jeff Kent hasn’t volunteered to bury Barry yet.
  • How often is the marquee men’s college basketball game of the night in the West Coast Conference? Gonzaga stops St. Mary’s 15-game winning streak by handing the Gaels a 69-62 defeat.
  • More legal woes for Lenny Dykstra: TMZ reports that he’s being sued by four pilots who say Nails stiffed them for flying his private plane.
  • SOCCER AMERICA says that the San Jose Earthquakes are set to make millions from their latest sponsorship deal: they’ll be wearing the Amway logo on their jerseys. The downside is that their players will be going door-to-door selling household products.

What will be NASCAR’s next cost-saving move?

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LeBron & Carmelo Are Big Fans Of Barry Manilow

LeBron James & Carmelo Anthony just can’t get enough Barry Manilow.

Carmelo Barry Manilow LeBron

And honestly, who really can?

• Beware, UCLA -  LenDale White is coming for your women.

• Tell ‘em all ‘Hookah!’ - Todd Marinvoich’s brother opens a smoke shop.

• The Jets finally outfox the Pats in Foxboro (or is it Foxborough?)

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Letterman Proudly Squawks About 10-0 Ball State

Don’t look now, but here come the Ball State Cardinals. The 10-0 monsters from the MAC are making a serious (OK, semi-serious) run at the BCS elite. It’s a long shot & many cards (excuse the pun) would have to fall into place, but the way this super silly system has worked in the past, BSU could conceivably make it to a BCS bowl.

And no one is more excited than the Muncie, IN, school’s most famous alum - David Letterman! (Cue the music, Paul.)

Ball State mascot David Letterman

Dave is so thrilled about his Birds, that he took a little time on his busy late night gabfest Wednesday night to talk a little turkey about the Cardinals.

(Video after the jump)

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Is Ball State Ready For Letterman’s Top 25 List?

Given its context, the Ball State’ s 31-0 pasting of the Toledo Rockets hardly seemed that important - how big of a deal could beating a 1-4 team be. But after looking at today’s AP poll, you can see why the Cardinals’ win was so important: as the MUNCIE STAR PRESS notes, by staying undefeated, they were able to crack the Top 25 for the first time ever with a No. 25 ranking.

Ball State and David Letterman

That news should make Ball State’s famous alumni happy, including David Letterman and…um, David Letterman. Actually, that’s not true: there are several other notable Cardinal alums, including Janet from Three’s Company and Jim Davis, creator of Garfield. News of the Cardinals’ cracking the Top 25 probably made him so giddy, that maybe we’ll see Jon Arbuckle talking to himself while wearing a Ball State sweater this week.

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Blog-A-Roni: Mike Tyson Really Is A Heavyweight

• The LONDON DAILY MAIL has the skinny on Mike Tyson ballooning into a true heavyweight.

Mike Tyson is fat

• FAN IQ’s CRITICAL FANATIC guzzles down these NFL Draft drinking games.

• BALL DON’T LIE bounces along video of Barack Obama showing off his mad basketball skillz.

• PRO FOOTBALL TALK feels smart, as ex-Michigan WR Mario Manningham scored a 6 out of 50 on his Wonderlic test.

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Blog-A-Roni: Favre To Be Featured On Madden XX

• AWFUL ANNOUNCING hikes along word that the cover boy for Madden’s 20th anniversary edition will be …

Madden XX Brett Favre

Brett Favre?

• Speaking of the QB, PRO FOOTBALL TALK sends a friendly reminder that he’ll be on David Letterman tonight (well, not *on* him, but on his show). We still hope they use this Top Ten list.

• It’s the most wonderful time of the year, as FAN IQ’s 100% INJURY RATE takes a peek at the Houston Texans cheerleader tryouts.

• DEADSPIN learns that Terrell Owens‘ legal beagles are going after TheDirty.com over his appearance in a porn-related photo.

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Dolphin GM Suffers Slip; Robert Smith Suffers Rip

Well, who *hasn’t* lied about their age every once in a while?

Kyle Turley politely disagrees with Robert Smith over the NFL’s handling of players’ disability.

Kyle Turley helmet toss

• Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland may have absentmindedly muttered out Miami’s choice for 1st pick.

Nick Saban continues to demonstrate the charming rapport he has with the media.

Jim Boylan has been officially bumped off the Bulls’ payroll. Bet he feels like Aaron Gray did.

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