The NHL is not having the best of offseasons. Patrick Kane’s developed a bit of a cabbie-punching problem, their already-unwatched games are about to get a lot more unwatchable for millions of DirecTV subscribers, and the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes are still languishing on the open market like a foreclosed-upon Inland Empire stucco tri-level. To recap - bad hockey and bad ownership led to bankruptcy for the Coyotes. Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie wants to buy the team and move it to Ontario (a place where people actually like hockey), but the NHL wants to save face and keep the team in Arizona. Impasse!
The strange thing about this is that the city of Glendale, the home of the Yotes, seems completely uninterested in hanging onto their team, and Balsillie is the only legitimate buyer (or at least, the only one not an obvious front for NHL interests). A couple weeks ago, Adam Jacobiwrote in these very pages that the NHL should just give into Balsillie for the good of the league. Now, the NHL is begrudgingly admitting that Adam just might’ve been right all along. That, friends, is the SbB way.
The Brewers had hit Manny Ramirez earlier in the game, presumably for being Manny and admiring a slump-busting home run he hit as part of the Dodgers’ biggest home scoring outburst since 1979. So, with Ramon Troncoso warming in the bullpen with a 13-run lead and two outs in the ninth, Mota beaned Prince Fielder. Mota was tossed immediately and a befuddled Fielder had words for him as he left the field. Troncoso came in for the last out, but the situation was far from over.
This is the sort of thing that happens all the time in baseball, but two aspects were troublesome: One, obviously, is Fielder’s attempt to actually go in the opposing clubhouse and get in a confrontation. Baseball has always had their “codes” and all that, but it’s supposed to stay on the field. Fielder’s choice to escalate the situation showed pretty poor judgment. But I don’t think Joe Torre is off the hook here. Hittting Fielder wasn’t the problem. But the Dodgers should’ve at least preserved the conceit that the whole thing wasn’t pre-planned. It’s hard to say “it just got away from him” when you have a pitcher warming up in the bullpen with one out remaining in a complete blowout. Clearly this was not only permitted by Torre, but presumably was encouraged, which may earn him a suspension.
(I don’t think Mota wants to run into Piazza at a Dodger reunion any time soon)
Meanwhile, things may have finally hit rock bottom for the Mets this year. Francisco Rodriguez blew a two-run lead in the ninth, then Albert Pujols hit a granny in the 10th to lead the Cards to a 12-7 win at CitiField. It was Pujols’ fifth grand slam this season, and he has hit six homers in his last 11 at-bats with the bases loaded. Even more frustrating for Mets fans, pitcher Sean Green hit the previous batter, Mark DeRosa, with the bases loaded to allow Pujols to come to the plate. This with two out in a tie game. To add injury to injury, as the Mets have been doing all season, Luis Castillosprained his ankle on the dugout steps.
(”Hey Albert, up here. Up top, bro. Do you see me here? No, dude, not the guy in the white shirt.”)
Horrifying news coming out of the Pittsburgh area last night, as a man opened fire at an LA Fitness gym in the southwest suburb of Collier, killing at least three people and wounding at least 10 others. At this time, it’s assumed that the gunman then killed himself. The PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW has the scary details:
Allegheny County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said the gunman may have fired 50 shots at the 20-22 women inside the room at the time before turning one of his guns on himself and taking his own life. There were perhaps another 50 people in various other parts of the facility at the time.
Moffatt said the gunman left a note inside his gym bag that indicated he expected to die in the carnage.
From all accounts, this seems like the sort of attack that is nearly impossible to stop. The 49-year-old gunman, who has not been identified as I write this, was a member of the club who was able to gain access simply by swiping in. It could, however, not be as entirely random as it looks now, as he specifically went into a room where an aerobics class called “Latin Impact” was taking place. He only shot women who were in that room, then apparently killed himself.
Despite the chaotic scene, a number of people lent whatever help they could:
Richard Walker went to the gym to play basketball with a group of friends. Two of them left carrying shooting victims, both women, over their shoulders, Walker said.
They got 50 yards from the gym’s side entrance, and took cover between cars as soon as they reached the edge of the parking lot, he said two hours after the shooting, his Oklahoma All-State T-shirt covered in dried blood down its right side.
“They were like losing blood and almost freaking out,” said Walker, 23, of Carnegie, who recently moved from Tulsa. “I just knew you put pressure on the wound.”
Thoughts go out to all the victims. Let’s hope all of the wounded are just that, and don’t take any turn for the worse.
• Drew Carey is excited about tonight’s FC Barcelona-Seattle Sounders match at Qwest Field. But the real gem is at the end of the story: Seattle midfielder Freddie Ljungberg says he missed a penalty kick in the MLS All-Star Game because of a migraine triggered by eating food with red wine in it. Oh, soccer players.
(When you need a guy to miss a penalty kick, accept no substitute)
A little more than a year after pulling the plug on his then-head coach Scott Skiles on Christmas Eve, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf is up to his old tricks. With his team floundering well under .500, he’s not only said that he’s been tempted to stand up and boo this season, but he’s ripped the organization and the coaching staff, specifically new head coach Vinny Del Negro’s relationship with his assistant coaches.
Last Friday on the “Monsters in the Morning” cable TV show, Reinsdorf said that the season was a “disaster” and that he viewed it as an “organizational failure” - but not the fault of GM John Paxson. Most people took that as a thinly-veiled swipe at Del Negro. But now the CHICAGO DAILY HERALD is reporting that Reinsdorf is singing a different tune:
No sooner than the ink has dried on his freshly-signed multi-million dollar contract, new Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni is already putting his stamp on the franchise. First order of business - send Stephon Marbury packing.
Mitch Lawrence of the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS reports that D’Antoni wants to ship Starbury out to his old stomping grounds with the Suns, and try to get back two of his favorite Phoenix players in return - Boris Diaw & Leandro Barbosa.
Marbury might feel a little jilted about being banished from the Big Apple. (Plus, his last trip to Phoenix wasn’t so fun, either.) But if you think Stephon feels bad, imagine how the Chicago Bulls feel right now. Read more…
Ed Price of the NEW JERSEY STAR-LEDGER spotted an odd sign at U.S. Celluar Field (née New Comiskey) in Chicago this week: “NO BOTTLED WATER ON THE BENCH“. Using un-blogger-like investigative skills, he tracked down the reason for the ban on the dangerous liquid: it would make Gatorade very angry.
Gatorade paid a lot for their product to be shown prominently cupping the mouths of Major League ballplayers. If they don’t get their money shot, they will have to seriously consider taking their business elsewhere. And what will dehydrating baseball players do without their electrolyte delivery vehicles? (Besides laying off the caffeine, we mean.)
Dr. Don Kalant Sr., a dentist in the western suburbs of Chicago, became entranced by the charismatic Mr. Bull as Benny whipped the crowd in the very expensive seats into a frenzy. Thus lulled, Benny lured Kalant into putting his arm up for a high-five.
Reinsdorf, who gassed the man who had taken up the mantle of best combover in Illinois since Lou Henson, said, “Something didn’t mesh right this year. Scott came to us eventually and said, ‘I think the team needs a new voice.’ … Scott realized that he wasn’t getting through to them. It was time to do something else.”