It’s been a while since the Bears have had a good quarterback. And it’s a shame, considering they’ve had some pretty good teams that were ultimately sabotaged by guys like Jim Miller and Rex Grossman. So we all know what a huge relief it was for the people of Chicago that they finally would have a real, legitimate star under center.
As we speak, Plaxico Burress is preparing to testify before a grand jury in Manhattan about shooting himself in the leg last year. And those of you with some familiarity with the legal system might have this reaction to that news: uhhh, wha?
(”I saved the world from having to deal with 19-0. Doesn’t that count for something?”)
In a move that ESPN’s Lester Munson is calling “desperate” and “highly unusual,” Burress will subject himself to questioning in an effort to get the grand jury to consider lesser charges than the felony that is currently on the table. It’s rare for a lawyer to allow this to happen because it can backfire in so many ways. For one, Plax has to be very careful about what he says. If any statement he makes ends up not being true, he could find a perjury charge added to whatever else he’s facing. And, since the prosecutors can ask anything they want, if Burress is forthcoming with every detail, he could basically end up admitting his guilt. Although, as one ESPN commenter noted, Burress really only needs to be asked three questions:
1. Did you have a gun in your possession when you shot yourself?
2. Do you have a permit to have that gun?
3. Do you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon in New York?
If the answer is “yes” to #1 and “no” to the other two questions, that’s basically all they need to make their decision.
(Things aren’t going well if this guy’s talking about you)
So why do it? Munson and fellow analyst Roger Cossack seem to think that Burress’ lawer, Benjamin Brafman, might be using this as a means to encourage a plea bargain. But Munson says that they don’t have any leverage here, since they’re the ones facing all the downside related to Burress’ testimony. The term “bluff” is being thrown around, but what’s the bluff? Why would the D.A. be worried about Plax testifying?
The only reasonable theory being offered is that maybe Plax can charm the jurors into thinking he’s a good guy who didn’t know the law and just wanted to protect himself. But he’ll have to do all of this without his lawyer, who won’t be allowed into the courtroom.
On Monday, Manhattan D.A. Jack McCoyRobert Morgenthau spoke publicly about the case, saying that Plax was OK with doing a year in jail, but that the people won’t accept a deal that involves less than two years in the clink. Morgenthau even suggested that he’s looking at charging Antonio Pierce for his role in the incident, something Cossack claims was “out of bounds” for the D.A. to talk about publicly, and certainly meant to bait Burress into a deal.
None of this looks particularly good, and one wonders if that two-year deal from the D.A. is still on the table. And I think it’s safe to say it would be the worst two-year deal any NFL free agent would be signing this year.
(When the guy with the huge ears says you’re doing time, you’re doing time)
Despite the eventual unraveling, Buehrle set a major league record by sending down 45 consecutive batters. That’s 15 consecutive innings without allowing a baserunner. The previous record was 41, held by two players, including Buehrle’s teammate, Bobby Jenks (who did it in three-batter increments as a closer).
Elsewhere around baseball, Ichiro did something he’d never done before — end a game with a hit. That’s right, none of his previous 1,952 hits were of the walk-off variety, by far the longest such active streak in baseball. To give you an idea, Alex Cora now holds the active record for most hits without a walk-off at 742.
(”You know, maybe if you didn’t have Yuniesky Betancourt hitting in front of me for four years I would’ve done it once or twice.”)
It’s been a good year for the Dodgers, but things took a turn for the embarrassing when Mark Loretta had to come on to pitch with two outs in the eighth inning at L.A. trailing 10-0 to the Cardinals. Loretta was the first position player to pitch in a game for the Dodgers since 2004, and after drilling Matt Holliday with a fastball he got Ryan Ludwick to fly out to end the inning. In other words, he did way better than Chien-Ming Wang had done this year. The Yankees finally Old Yellered him and are sending him to have surgery that can’t possibly make him any worse. Wang’s future with the Yanks is in doubt, as the team must offer him at least $4 million to keep him next year or lose him to free agency.
• Because everyone’s been asking for it, here are those long-awaited highlights of the touch football game played by NFL legends before Super Bowl X in 1976. If you’ve ever wanted to see Paul Hornung make a gay joke, watch a bunch of guys try and cop a feel on Phyllis George, and hear why Johnny Unitas likes to drive Pontiacs, look no further:
As you can see, Bill Murray and Christopher Guest had nowhere to go but up.
If MLB and Fox executives are wondering why no one watches the All-Star Game anymore, here’s Exhibit A: the winning run for the AL in their 4-3 victory over the NL was driven in by an eighth-inning sacrifice fly from Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles, a name that resonates with a thud among all but the most die-hard baseball fans. And the person he scored was the Tigers’ Curtis Granderson, who can be politely called “slightly more well-known than Adam Jones.”
To put it mildly, if the All-Star Game was a weekly series, it would be on the verge of cancellation by now. Especially after TV critics would have inevitably slammed it for its lack of imagination and formulaic structure. Yes, we get it - the AL is always going to win. Can’t we just have a twist on that every once in a while? (And not the shoddy “Who’s Going to Pitch?” cliffhanger that Bud Selig and company cooked up a few years ago.)
After 13 years of not seeing the National League win, it’s not surprising that people just aren’t that interested anymore. But there was an attempt to spice things up this year by bringing in a big-game star for a special guest appearance: President Barack Obama. After warming up with Albert Pujols in the batting cages before the game, Obama took the mound and delivered a pitch that was about as effective as his pitch for the bank bailout.
I’ll leave it to WIDE WHITE to give a breakdown of Obama’s pitch as it relates to his policies, but suffice it to say that it was neither great nor awful. He should just be thankful that Pujols was there to make a great pick to keep the ball from hitting the dirt. (And that was Pujols’ best play of the night, since he went 0-for-3 before the hometown crowd.)
The game MVP was Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford, not so much for what he did at the plate but for his actions in the field, most notably his catch that robbed Brad Hawpe of what would have been a go-ahead home run in the seventh. And the NL can’t blame the loss on the AL being fired up because of Ichiro Suzuki’s notoriously profanity-laden pregame pep talks - President Obama’s visit to the clubhouses took up so much time that he didn’t get to give one.
Speaking of Ichiro, he took some time out of his schedule on Monday to visit the grave of George Sisler, whose record for hits in a season he broke in 2004. It was a nice touch, except for the fact that instead of bringing flowers or a wreath, Ichiro just swore at Sisler’s grave for 15 minutes straight until being escorted away by cemetary workers. Oh well, I guess it’s the thought that counts.
While MLB was playing a game that no one really cares about, the NBA is knee-deep in something arguably more exciting and definitely more important: free-agency. The main story right now is what will happen to Lamar Odom, and the saga took another turn last night as the Lakers have pulled their three-year deal worth $9 million off the table. The reason? Owner Jerry Buss is upset that Odom’s people haven’t responded to the offer while continuing to negotiate with the Mavericks and Heat.
But there’s another free-agency drama going on that is a little more below the radar screen, but just as fascinating. The Portland Trailblazers have made a four-year, $32 million offer sheet to promising young Utah forward Paul Millsap, who is a restricted free agent. That means that the Jazz have until the end of the week to match the offer and keep Millsap on the team.
The problem is that Millsap’s offer from the Trailblazers includes an immediate cash payout of $10.3 million, which Utah would also have to do if they match the offer sheet. And apparently, the cash isn’t flowing through the streets of Salt Lake as readily as Mormon children, since the Jazz ownership would likely have to take out a short-term bank loan to get the deal approved. (Portland doesn’t have that problem, since $10.6 million is vending machine money to billionaire owner Paul Allen.)
Not only does this make me question the solvency of the Utah ownership group, but it also makes me wonder how the whole loan process would go down. Would they have to wait in line at the bank before getting seated at one of those tables out in the lobby. What would they have to put up as collateral - Jerry Sloan? It simply boggles the mind.
Other sports news:
It turns out that with 22 points, WNBA star Diana Taurasioutscored her blood alcohol level the night she was arrested for a DUI - barely, as the AP reports that she’s been charged with an “Extreme DUI” after her blood alcohol level was shown to be 0.17 percent - twice the legal limit in Arizona.
Speaking of the WNBA, they announced their All-Star Game starters yesterday. No word on if Michelle Obama will be there for the traditional “First Fundamentally Sound Screen” of the game, or if they’ll get “stuck” with Hillary Clinton.
One thing you might not have seen at the All-Star Game (other than the National League hitting the ball) was a lot of black players. The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER floats one reason why: the lack of strong black male role models in the inner cities makes it tough to find coaches for organized games.
With all the talk about Tiger Woods taking on Turnberry this week, there’s one thing that should be noted: Padraig Harrington is going after his third freakin’ straight British Open title. USA TODAY says it might be difficult since he’s completely changed his swing from last year.
The World Series of Poker Main Event is down to the final three tables, and poker celebrity/Norman Chad man crush Phil Ivey is still very much in the hunt, standing at fourth place with more than 11 million chips. Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari is also alive as they play down to the final table tomorrow.
Anthony Randolph notched his name in Las Vegas NBA Summer League history by tying the single-game scoring record by putting up 42 in the Warriors’ victory over the Bulls. Something tells me you won’t find any pictures of him posing with a basketball with “42″ written on it.
While sports talk radio is struggling elsewhere, it seems to be alive and well in Boston, where legendary rock station WBCN in being pulled off the air and replaced by the city’s third all-sports station.
But it’s a new season & time for a fresh start for the AL West club. However, they’re going to have to start off without their star player. For Ichiro, who has been accused of being an ulcer in the clubhouse, now has one of his own.
Jay Cutler has moved from snit fit to full-on martyrdom and Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has chosen to accommodate the young quarterback and search for a trade partner, thus saving Broncos fans from competency at the quarterback position.
(Sign language is still communication, right?)
Chris Simms will stand as the only vaguely quarterback-like substance on the roster, pending trade returns, after Cutler and his agent would not even return text messages for ten days (or so claimed by the Broncos organization).
While this seems superficially about placating the petulant, it would be disastrous to employ the Marcel Marceau of quarterbacks this fall if he continues his silent ways. There would be no playcalling, no leadership, and no franchise-polishing post-game quotes. For that, the Broncos could just look up Joey Harrington.
(The Sweet’n'Low is also coming with him to Lexington)
With Tyreke Evans already on his way to the NBA and everyone else on the team either graduating or looking for a new school, the University of Memphis basketball team may have to outfit the equipment manager, three physical education majors, and Marc Cohn himself.
And now join us for a hail of bullets on the day each year the entire Internet is racked with inaccuracies, tall tales, and outright lies (and actually admits it) as we remember how the pros handle this tomfoolery…
Hideki Irabu is back and has apparently finally given birth to that baby he carried around during his first stint with the New York Yankees.
Chicago might still be in the lead for 2016 Summer Olympics hosting duties, but Vancouver’s successful bid came in no small part through a strong visit from the IOC. The threatened Chicago police union picket of City Hall when the IOC arrives looks better all the time, no?
So, here’s what we know: Alex Rodriguez is hurt. Beyond that, we know nothing. From what I hear, he could be out for anywhere from an hour to seven years. What’s really going on is so elusive that A-Rod’s brother was being used as the definitive source on his injury for the first half of Thursday. One SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE writer is saying that the “mystery” surrounding the injury is reminiscent of Barry Bonds‘ knee troubles in 2005.
Now, instead of surgery that would keep him out for 10 weeks (which was the brother’s story), Brian Cashman is saying that the Yankees are planning on taking a “conservative approach” to the injury, which involves a bunch of rest and rehab with the hopes that surgery won’t be necessary. But how long do you go with that? Cashman admitted that the surgery would probably keep A-Rod out for four months. But if they try this rehab thing for another few weeks, then are stuck with the surgery, suddenly he’s looking at no earlier than mid-to-late August for a return. But, as we all know, if A-Rod’s going to miss four months, it’s much better for all involved that it’s the last four.
Dr. Louis Romeo, director of the Joint Replacement Center at Stony Brook University Medical Center, said the surgery to treat an ailment of A-Rod’s type - probably a procedure called a hip arthroscopy - is not the most predictable procedure.
“It’s controversial because the results are not as predictable as you’d like them to be,” said Romeo, who is not involved in the Yankees third baseman’s treatment. “A knee replacement or a hip replacement, you can give someone a 90 percent success rate. Hip arthroscopy, depending on the underlying pathology, may not have as high a success rate.”
(Yeah, I suppose you could go the Bernie Williams route, Alex)
(I’m taking advantage of any excuse to run these pictures of Bruce Pearl)
Sean Averymade his return to ice last night in the Rangers’ win over the Islanders. Fortunately, Mike Comrie was recently traded away from the Islanders so Avery didn’t have a chance to get it any Hilary Duff-related blasts. Avery was actually well-behaved, and it seems as if he may be content to fly under the radar for the rest of the year. Mostly, Avery’s just glad to be back in New York so he can go to the Project Runway finale.
• Some good news from COLONIAL HOOPS: It looks like one of the greatest names in the NBA, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, is going to sign with Toronto for the rest of the year. Pops just wrapped up a 10-day contract with the Spurs, after playing for their D-league team most of the year.
• The University of Alabama has admitted to a number of NCAA violations…regarding the distribution of textbooks. So, athletes get too many textbooks and that’s a problem? Shouldn’t we be thrilled they’re bothering to get any? CBS SPORTSLINE has the horrifying details. Certainly, ‘Bama deserves the death penalty for this.
Throughout the history of baseball there have been many great hitters who could double as pitchers, and many great pitchers who weren’t pushovers with the stick in their hands either. The greatest example of this type of player will always be Babe Ruth, who won 89 games as a member of the Boston Red Sox before being sold to the Yankees where he became the Sultan of Swat and started smacking homers in between shotgunning beers and hot dogs (sometimes doing all three at the same time).
It’s not surprising considering that most young pitchers also play the field and bat through college, and don’t become one or the other until they turn pro. Of course, even though Ichiro Suzuki didn’t grow up in the United States, that didn’t keep him from knowing how to pitch as well as hit, and there’s a possibility Ichiro may be used as an emergency pitcher on Japan’s WBC team. Which is why he’s been working on his fastball.
It’s been a rough sports year in the Pacific Northwest. (Actually, with Oregon State’s [latest] shocker against USC, let’s be more Puget Sound-specific.) The Sonics have skedaddled out of town for Oklahoma City. The Washington Huskies football squad is horrendous. (And for Wazzu alums in Seattle, the Cougars ain’t doing much better.) And the Mariners are about to wrap up another miserable season.
How bad has it been for the souls at Safeco Field? Not only had it driven manager John McLaren to a potty-mouthed post-game tirade (and to the unemployment line), but one Mariners player had openly spoke of plans on pummeling the M’s star attraction, Ichiro Suzuki.