Is Sox Fans’ All-Star Voting Fraud A Sinister Plot?

Everyone had a good old time with the campaign to get Rory Fitzpatrick onto the NHL all-star team. So it seems like a bit of harmless fun for a group of Red Sox fans pushing to fill the all-star team with Lastings Milledge and the rest of the Washington Nationals (through technically Milledge is with the AAA Syracuse Chiefs).

Red Sox Fans

Yeah, it’s a stupid little diversion. But are they stupid like a fox? Remember, the all-star game actually counts™ for home field advantage. So wouldn’t a fanbase so cocky about their team’s chances of making the World Series want to ensure their league has home field advantage? And what better way to ensure that than with the league-worst 7-18 Nationals?

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Speed Read: Get Ready To Bowl For Relevance

All last-minute 11th-hour college football playoff protest lock-in petition candlelight vigils have failed, and the BCS has already declared who will play for the national championship. Sorry, Texas, Alabama, and Utah — two other states, Oklahoma and Florida, are going to the BCS Championship. Is it the right one? Meh, probably. But if we had playoffs, it might’ve been something weird like Texas Tech and Penn State. Yuck.

Bowl of cereal

Looking at the BCS games:

• We have two teams outside the top 10 that are in the BCS? Well, hell, put ‘em in the same game! Unlikely Big East champion Cincinnati and ACC winner Virginia Tech will see each other in the Orange Bowl.
• This might be hard to believe, but Ohio State is in the Fiesta Bowl. This is not a repeat from 2006, 2003, or 2002. Honestly, why even have bowl contingency plans for these guys? They’ll play Texas.
• The last time Utah played in a BCS game, they got set up with BCS fall boy Pittsburgh and massacred them. This time they’ll get a slightly better challenge, facing off against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
• And the Rose Bowl. Hey, sure.

Now to go through the rest of the bowl games, one by one, in painstaking detail. Okay, just a couple interesting ones:

Charlie Weis with lei

• Really? Does Charlie Weis wearing a lei this year represent anything that should happen in a fair and God-governed just world? The Irish went 6-6. Instead of schlepping off to some obscure game in Boise or Houston, Notre Dame gets the Hawai’i Bowl. No-foolin’ not-snowing beach-humpin’ Hawai’i. Since they play the local football squadron, odds are the Rainbowless Warriors will probably whump them, as is the local custom.
• Boise State, by going perfect, gets the high honor of playing not another strong power-conference team, but probably the next strongest mid-major, TCU, in the Poinsettia Bowl. Perhaps one of the most recently-created games will be the locale of the best non-BCS game. If nothing else, the bowl game will be a step up from 2006, when TCU smashed Northern Illinois by 30.
• “We beat the guys in the national championship game!” “Really? Because we beat the guys who beat the other guys in the national championship game!” It’s Ole Miss and Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl.
• The MAC got five games. Five games? Northern Illinois and Western Michigan, too? Eek. As for Ball State and Tulsa, who both were supposed to roll in as the MAC and C-USA champs, respectively, they will lock helmets in the GMAC Bowl in a battle of Elisha Cuthbert-style sloppy seconds.

If I missed your favorite team’s game, I’m sure I did it for a good reason and/or to protect you. But no, seriously. Your team has a great shot to win the game. Here’s the master list of every single one.

Cardinals - NFC West champions

Yes, the Giants and Titans also clinched the NFC East and AFC South divisions respectively, but the Arizona Cardinals also gave themselves a division championship by virtue of not being the Seahawks, 49ers, or Rams. They’re 8-5, a record which isn’t even guaranteed an AFC Wild Card spot. Six of their wins are against losing teams. Against winning teams, they give up over 32 points a game. The Arizona Cardinals win the NFC West, everyone. The lone argument in favor of implementing a bowl system in the NFL.

In other fuss-trating news around the lower 48:

  • “I’m very frustrated on the way, particularly today’s game unfolded,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy kinda said. That’s how the Packers’ official site transcribes it, but ‘R’ you sure about that ‘R’ in the word “frustrated?”
  • So here’s a fun one. Carolina Panther Jeremy Bridges was arrested — perhaps a first in NFL history — over a dispute involving champagne. THE ROCK HILL (SC) HERALD reports when it was uncorked, some other diners got sprayed. Although it doesn’t say in the story, I think you can assume what ensued. FOOD FIGHT!
  • Time for a good news story from the MIAMI HERALD. Miami Hurricanes football assistant Stephen Field pulled a driver out of a flipped over car and to safety. And whaddya know, he’s a safeties coach.
  • The announcement from the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee is today at noon. Ron Santo is long overdue and will find out today if he’ll be put in the Hall of Fame.
  • Say buh-bye to Varitek, Red Sox fans. His agent says he will decline arbitration with Boston, and will talk with other teams. Of less consequence, Paul Byrd won’t accept arbitration either. The Boras has spoken.
  • Oh, yes, the Lions are still 0-something. The DETROIT NEWS looks at the depth chart, finds a little-known playmaking receiver named Calvin Johnson and asserts they have to throw it to them more if they’re going to win a game. Interesting idea!
  • Professional tolerable columnist Norman Chad writes The Michael Vick diaries. Pay the man, Shirley.
  • A Niagara Falls-area beat writer doesn’t like going to Toronto for Bills games. Don’t worry — once they’re permanently in Toronto, you won’t be assigned them anymore.
  • MVN OUTSIDER notes that the Carolina Hurricanes are making really bad personnel decisions when it comes to their coach.
  • Like we could go an entire Speed Read without previewing the upcoming NAIA football championship game. Mighty Carroll College, from Helena, Montana, has won five of six championships. The Saints opponent is the plucky University of Sioux Falls Cougars. Both teams’ colors are purple and gold. Oh, how embarrassing to wear the same dress to the debutante ball!

Hey aren’t you excited for the bowl games? Aren’tcha, aren’tcha, aren’tcha?

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Speed Read: Tony Parker Drops A Double-Nickel

I knew that Manu Ginobili’s injury would lead to a few more scoring opportunities for Tony Parker this year. But I don’t think anyone thought he’d be putting up 55, even if it was on the T-Wolves. The Spurs needed all of those points too, as they struggled to get by Minnesota 129-125 in double OT.

Tony Parker Eva Longoria wedding

Parker’s big night overshadowed Amare Stoudemire’s 49-point performance in Phoenix’  113-103 win over Indiana. He became the first player in 34 years to have at least 49 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals in a single game. He was 17-of-21 from the field. LeBron James was the third member of the 40-point club on Wednesday, putting up 41 in a 107-93 win over Chicago after showing up to the arena in a Barack Obama t-shirt. This guy who was at the game also likes Obama, and links him to another national symbol of change (remember when Derek Anderson was popular?):

Obama/Quinn fan

Ball State got to showcase its football program on national TV for the first time this season last night, pounding Northern Illinois 45-14 to go to 9-0 on the season. The Cardinals are 17th in the BCS standings right now, with three fellow BCS-busters standing in their way (Boise State, Utah, and TCU). But should the others falter and the Cards find their way into the top 12, they could still potentially get into a BCS game. They got a big lift from injured receiver Dante Love (pictured below), who was with the team for the first time since his career-ending spinal inury and took part in the coin toss. Even if the Cards miss out on the BCS party, this has been a season of unprecedented success for the school in Muncie, Indiana.

Dante Love

Now, moving on to football teams that are having the exact opposite of unprecedented success, the Raiders have decided the key to turning things around is to cut a guy they just signed to a seven-year, $70 million contract after eight games. DeAngelo Hall won’t be getting anywhere near that much money from the team due to the nature of NFL contracts, but Al Davis did have to give up second and fifth-round draft picks to acquire him from the Falcons. The SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS’ Tim Kawakami has had a hate-hate relationship going on all year with the Raiders, and he runs with yet another opportunity to unload on Davis.

• So, that Patriots cheerleader who was booted from the team for allegedly anti-Semitically marking a friend with a sharpie? She told TMZ last night that she’s not the one who drew on him, and that being a “passed-out drunk guy with a bunch of stuff written on him” was actually his Halloween costume. She also says she didn’t see any of the offensive things drawn on him. She’s still apparently out of a job, but I’m sure she’ll have a real tough time finding new employment if she walks around wearing this:

Caitlin Davis

• A 13-year-old Chelsea soccer fan was tragically killed in Rome on Monday when a tree fell on him during a thunderstorm on his way to a Champions League match, according to the DAILY MAIL. He was supposed to die in a violent clash with Milan fans when he was 34, not like this.

• The Sex Cannon may be returning to the bench as soon as this weekend. PRO FOOTBALL TALK reports that Kyle Orton thinks he might be able to play this weekend against the undefeated Titans.

• ESPN 1360 in Cincinnati quotes Carson Palmer as saying that he’s “slowly getting closer” to making a decision about whether or not he’ll play again this year. He thinks it should take him about eight more weeks. He’ll definitely know by then.

Jason Varitek had a horrible year at the plate and will be 37 in April. So, naturally, Scott Boras is asking for somewhere in the neighborhood of four years and $50 million for his services. FANHOUSE says the Sox are unlikely to offer anything close to that (wisely), and may have to part ways with their team captain.

• CBS4 in Denver says the Broncos took a day off from talking trash to reflect on the Obama election. Brandon Marshall manages to not call out Obama for his dancing style.

• Florida sophomore point guard Jai Lucas has decided to transfer, just as the season is about to get underway. Lucas, the son of ex-NBAer John Lucas, was the starter last season for the Gators and was expected to have the same role this year.

• Buried in this Ken Rosenthal piece about the baseball offseason is how the ludicrous four-year, $48 million deal Carlos Silva signed with the Mariners last year will haunt teams in negotiations this winter. Basically, any starting pitcher who can throw the ball over the plate without dying will want at least that much, since Silva’s basically the worst possible guy you can have on the mound to start a baseball game. Oliver Freaking Perez is going to end up getting $15 million a year because of this.

• This may be stretching it a bit, but baseball and softball officials believe that the election of Barack Obama might help get the two sports back into the Olympics in the future. Reps for both sports say that “anti-Americanism” was a factor in being voted out of the 2012 London games, according to ESPN.

• RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER is ecstatic that Nate McLouth won a Gold Glove. I mean, the words “Pirates” and “award” don’t usually appear in the same paragraph. But then comes the realization that by most fielding metrics, McLouth was one of the worst outfielders in all of baseball this year.

• And finally, it’s not that impressive that a jogger in Prescott, Arizona jogger ran a mile. It is impressive, however, that she ran a mile with the jaws of a rabid fox attached to her arm.

Which of these teams is going to crash the BCS party this year?

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Speed Read: Rays Top Red Sox, Ratings, All Logic

Hey, remember when about two weeks ago I was spouting off some amazing reasoning on why the World Series would be Los Angeles and Boston for the sole purpose of perpetuating a great storyline? Well, here’s a better one: two under-the-radar teams are the only squads remaining on the World Series Doppler. Philly’s series tickets already have dry, dry ink, but the American League had a conclusion to reach that lasted, for some inexplicable reason, far, far beyond Game 5.

Tampa Bay Rays win ALCS

(With David Price throwing heat, hell, who needs opposable thumbs?)

The big reason the Rays won 3-1 on Sunday night was Matt Garza lasting seven strong, allowing one run and two hits. That also gave him the ALCS MVP, and a blank check to swear on TBS. Said Garza on LIVE UNCENSORED television, when asked what he’d take, the MVP or the World Series: “Sh*t, I’ll take the World Series every time!”

Tampa Bay Rays celebrate ALCS win

Other MVPs of the game: Price, who got the final four outs of the game for his first major league save ever; Willy Aybar, who provided the team with a solo home run and scored another; Evan Longoria, who gave the world an RBI double; and Jason Varitek for striking out three times and finishing the series with an .050 average. Could the captain catcher be moving elsewhere next year?

Steven Jackson stiff arms the Cowboys

Let’s go with the surprise motif — heck, it’s gotten us this far. The Romo-free Cowboys shouldn’t be a team that the St. Louis Rams — the freakin’ Rams — should boss around. But sure enough, the trap game for America’s team turned into a full-out massacre in a 34-14 win for the Fightin’ Hasletts. You can thank Steven Jackson for 160 yards and three touchdowns, although if I were to draw a pie chart breaking down the amount of people elated with this result:

Steven Jackson pie chart

Now then. What else, you ask, is going on, besides 83 season previews of every NBA team?

How will the 2008 World Series play out?

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Speed Read: Manny vs. Sox In WS? Don't Fight It

Okay, sure. There’s a Tampa Bay and Philadelphia in the way of this World Series matchup. But it’s a sports reporter’s dream, and the closer we come to living it, the more we have to grin and bear the cold reality that Manny Ramirez will probably return to Fenway Park, not in some dumpy Interleague series, but in the World freaking Series. The sooner you come to accept it, the less painful it will be to watch the myriad of sports columns be churned out surrounding Manny v. Boston, a Supreme Court case which will set dangerous precedent on how much one perplexing superstar can overshadow a baseball team. (Especially one with Nomar Garciaparra.)

Manny Ramirez (and Dodgers) vs. Red Sox?

The Los Angeles Dodgers got to sit on their laurels and watch the Boston Red Sox clinch their side of the ALDS with a dramatic 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, thanks to midseason call-up Jed Lowrie driving in midseason pick-up Jason Bay in the ninth inning on a seeing-eye ground ball. It could have been the play of the game. Or maybe Bay’s double two batters earlier was the play of the game. Or maybe…

Mike Scioscia arguing

…it was Jason Varitek tagging out Reggie Willits, then dropping the ball. Here’s what happened. Willits pinch ran for Kendry Morales, who smashed a leadoff double in the ninth. Willits then advanced to third as the potential go-ahead run. But Erick Aybar’s missed bunt resulted in Cpt. Varitek chasing down Willits, tagging him off the base, falling to his knees, falling to his side, and having the ball dislodged from that big glove of his. Poor Mike Scioscia. All the arguing in the world won’t solidify that guarantee.

Hmm. How can we smoothly transition from controversial calls in late games to this man?

Ed Hochuli

It is guaranteed, unfortunately, that a certain referee and accentuator of abs and cloits will be scrutinized week-to-week. NFL whistleblower Ed Hochuli was at it again on Monday Night Football’s Vikings-Saints showdown. THE CRITICAL FANATIC notes that Hocks didn’t flag down a face mask penalty inflicted on Reggie Bush — a mask grab that resulted in a fumble and change of possession.

It’s really gotten to the point at which Hochuli & Co. will have all their calls sifted through with a very thin and thorough comb, while high school football referees run wild and free. By contrast, the nation probably hasn’t met Bill Carollo the way they’ve met Hochuli, but Carollo was the center of a controversial call, the BALTIMORE SUN reports, on the Ravens’ Terrell Suggs that partly led to the Titans’ 13-10 win over the Ravens. Carollo’s not getting much heat, but namely because he didn’t whistle dead Jay Cutler non-fumble fumble. (Even though Carollo’s call, like Hochuli’s, did help an unlikely undefeated team stay undefeated.)

So here’s another sentiment you can throw onto the pile to ensure that Hochuli is fairly and critically graded exactly like the rest of his peers. Meaning: they should ALL get beer bottles thrown at them.*

Hopefully Hochuli doesn’t get downgraded all the way down to officiating games in the Lingerie Football League. Actually, is that necessarily a bad thing?

Lingerie Football League (LFL) tryouts

  • 1190 KEX reports on the LFL tryouts: things seem to be going … um … good?
  • And now for an excitable report on the Washington Redskins from YOUTUBE and owner Daniel Snyder: WE BEAT PHILLY! WE BEAT DALLAS!” They sure did, Mr. Snyder. They sure did.
  • BASKETBAWFUL isn’t just about the Web. Oh no. They also scour the print edition of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES and found WNBA agate placed near massage parlors and strip clubs.
  • Colombian soap opera star Elisa Sanchez was shot down by soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, because she thought he was gay. Know what this means? You have a better chance at her than he does.
  • Know what we haven’t had in a while? Lyrical poetry on Lawrence Phillips’s recent sentencing. Ah, there we go.
  • Connecticut football might be out of the Top 25, but UConn lineman Rob Lunn is still ranked among hilarious college football bloggers, notes USA TODAY’s GAME ON.
  • Mentioned in yesterday’s SBB SPEED READ, Regan Smith’s DQ in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race could be the straw that broke DEI’s back, reports SPORTSTICKER.
  • THE EXAMINER talks with Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson’s wife Joy about October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
  • THE SCORES REPORT makes a good connection. 32 teams in the NFL, 32 reasons to love the season so far. One for each team? Well, sorta. The Lions, Rams, and Raiders share one spot, because combined, they are one hell of an NFL team.
  • THE GREENVILLE NEWS leaves no fact out of the story. Two South Carolina high school football players were arrested after a Waffle House skirmish, but the lede is buried by sharing their season stats to date.

Tonight is the second US presidential debate, a town hall format. What would you ask of Sens. McCain and Obama?

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On Today’s Divorce Court: Shaq And Jason Varitek

Ladies, if your dream man is a tall, overweight dude whose hobbies include watching cable TV & shopping for clothes and has a slight problem with mumbling, I’m sorry to say that your dreamboat is off the market. Shaquille O’Neal and his estranged wife Shaunie have apparently reconciled their differences, and were planning on stopping their divorce proceedings. Or as she told the AP:

Shaq Shaunie O'Neal

“Neither one of us could probably answer why we were getting one in the first place.”

Allow me to refresh Shaunie’s memory:

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Kevin Millar’s Cool As Ice With New Blonde Hairdo

Kevin Millar made a little wager on the NBA Finals. (Don’t worry, the b-ball bet wasn’t anything approaching Pete Rose-levels.) And by the looks of it, he took the Lakers.

That would explain why the Orioles’ first baseman showed up to the plate last night in a new blonde hairdo, accompanied by the sweet melodies of “Ice, Ice Baby”.

Kevin Millar blonde

BROMOBLOG breaks it down that Millar lost his NBA bet to former Red Sox teammate Jason Varitek. As a result, Kevin came up against the Houston Astros with the new hair and a new at-bat song courtesy of Vanilla Ice. Video proof of his plate appearance is after the jump.

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Hopper Helps Indianapolis Score 2012 Super Bowl

Don’t forget to tune into tonight’s big event - the “Dancing With The Stars” finale! Oh, and there’s also some kind of lottery we’re feeling Bullish about.

• Indianapolis gets the 2012 Super Bowl. Thanks, Dennis Hopper!

Dennis Hopper Easy Rider

(”Which way to Lucas Oil Stadium?“)

• A Swedish sprinter isn’t satisfied with being shown in Scotland as a “floozie with big boobs.”

• Know who else thinks Brett Favre is coming back? Peyton Manning.

• Monday was a special night for both Jon Lester and Jason Varitek.

• Nude ice showers? Bed chains? Are we talking English soccer fans in Moscow, or Max Mosley’s last party?

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Lester’s No-No Helps Varitek Catch Some History

Jon Lester is king of the world for the moment. The Red Sox hurler tossed a no-hitter Monday night - almost a year after coming back from cancer.

Jon Lester Jason Varitek Red Sox No Hitter

(C’mere, ya big lug!)

Even though Lester lobbed up a complete game of goose eggs against the Royals, Jason Varitek is the one who had the historic night.

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Blog-A-Roni: Becks Likes His View At Lakers Game

• THE LONDON SUN catches David Beckham checking out the great view from his courtside Lakers seats.

David Beckham checking out cheerleader at Lakers game

• THE BLOWTORCH burns through the NBA rosters to find the worst player on each playoff team. Today’s lucky winner - Joey Graham of the Toronto Raptors.

• THE SPORTING BLOG jiggles their joystick, as Madden 09 will let gamers control their own touchdown celebrations.

• AZ SPORTS HUB comes across a couple of Suns fans expressing their support of Steve Nash by way of Eminem.

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