If there’s one thing that sports blogs have done very well over the past 5 years or so, it’s that they’ve shed some light on the deeds and misdeeds of athletes, coaches, and front office types. Beat writers and columnists have a harder time sweeping things under the rug to protect their chummy relationships and access, now that fans have a way to express their outrage and hold people accountable when they say or do dishonest things.
But perhaps not enough attention is given to the people who do keep their words and act in good faith. Being a man of your word doesn’t often make for compelling reading or righteous indignation. That’s why people freaked the heck out out when the White Sox traded lovable lout Jim Thome to the Dodgers. But they were wrong.
Guilty, your honor; with an explanation. How did Brett Favre justify his illegal crackback block on the Texans’ Eugene Wilson last night? Like this: “I will be 40 years old in October and (was) weed-eating 13 days ago,”Favre said.“I wasn’t thinking about throwing blocks.” And there you have it, folks: The Weed Whacker Defense.
It’s kind of a shame that Favre’s debut in a Vikings uniform will be most noted for this. But then I’m not the one who launched myself at the knees of a defensive back in a meaningless game, endangering not only his career, but possibly his ability to walk to the corner market under his own power when he’s 70. Check out the video yourself, below, and see what you think.
The reaction so far is interesting: Many were up in arms, including the ESPN crew ofMike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden, as heard in the video. Meanwhile, Vikings fans seem most concerned that Favre threw the block with his throwing shoulder. Having Favre run two plays out of the Wildcat in a preseason game does seem a bit nuts. But bending an opponent’s knees like Gumby is the big story here, and pretty inexcusable. I’m beginning to think that Favre isn’t going to win that Nickelodeon Teen Choice Award he’s been after.
(Warning: Cheese is purple for a reason. Do not eat)
For those interested in the legal portions of the game, Minnesota won 17-10, with Favre playing three quarters and going 13-for-18 for 142 yards. He didn’t really move the offense much; the real standout was Adrian Peterson. The Texans looked rusty and sluggish; in other words, in mid-season form. But the thing is, in a preseason game when none of that matters, all anyone is going to talk about is controversial stuff like Favre’s block. From AP:
Vikings coach Brad Childress said he hadn’t seen the block, but had a lot to say about it.
“I have not spent a lot of time with him blocking in the last 10 days,” Childress said. “Nor do I think he has spent any time doing any blocking, but I will in the future if he is going to be at the point of attack. I don’t think he did any of this down in Mississippi either. So that one is on me, I will take that one.”
Wilson said he hadn’t spoken to Favre, but if he did he would ask him one thing.
“What was up with that?” Wilson said. “Seriously, what was up with that?”
Wilson was hurt on the play, but says he’s going to be OK.
The Dodgers’ push for a World Series title got a big boost on Monday when they acquired first baseman Jim Thome and pitcher Jon Garland just ahead of the playoff roster deadline. And how was the big news announced to the team? In the traditional way: Larry King’s sons shouted it into their dugout during their game with the Diamondbacks. Chance, 10, and Cannon, 9, know a scoop when they hear one, and like their father, couldn’t wait to beat Fox and MSNBC. The old man probably fed them the tip to make up for the shame of his recent Michael Jackson coverage.
More oddness: Garland (8-11, 4.29 ERA) was sitting in the Arizona dugout when he heard the news, just before the Diamondbacks scored two in the 10th to beat Los Angeles 5-3. He was supposed to pitch against LA on Thursday, and will probably still take the hill, only now against his former team. Thome, 39, who has 564 career homers, wasn’t exactly brought in to play first base — he’s played in the field a grand total of 28 innings in the past four seasons, including zero innings last season. Joe Torre no doubt sees him as a little offensive insurance policy, in much the same way the Phillies used Matt Stairs last season.
Meanwhile, the Rockies missed out on Garland, who they really wanted, and settled for White Sox pitcher Jose Contreras (5-13, 5.42 ERA). Chicago gets promising pitching prospect Brandon Hynick in return. The White Sox also got infielder Justin Fuller from the Dodgers for Thome.
The Giants picked up pitcher Brad Penny, who had been cut by the Red Sox. He’ll probably be their No. 5 starter as SF and Colorado, who are tied for the wild card lead, head into the final 31 games of the regular season.
Rafael Furcal, however, has had more important things to worry about. If you’re wondering why the Dodgers started Juan Castro at shortstop on Monday, it’s because Furcal has had to evacuate his home as the Station Fire north of Dodger Stadium continues to burn. Furcal was in Denver on Thursday when his wife called and said that firefighters wanted them to evacuate their house, in the Flintridge neighborhood. “I tell my wife, ‘You know what, get clothes for the kids and take the car and get out of there,’” Furcal said. “Life is more important than anything.” The six-day-old wildfire, not yet close to being contained, has destroyed 53 buildings and burned 105,000 acres, resulting in the death of two firefighters.
UCLA coach Rick Nueheisel, meanwhile, says the Bruins still plan to play San Diego State in their football opener on Saturday at the Rose Bowl, which is less than 10 miles south of the fire. Since the Aztecs were 2-10 last season and are 0-21 lifetime against UCLA, perhaps he feels the smoke won’t make much of a difference.
Alabama defensive end Brandon Deaderickwas shot on Monday night in a robbery attempt in the parking lot of an apartment complex, but is listed in “good” condition at a Tuscaloosa hospital this morning. He was shot in the arm. The 6-foot-4, 306-pound senior had just been confirmed on Monday by Nick Saban as the starter for the season opener against Virginia Tech on Saturday in Atlanta.
“Kahhhhhhhnnnn!” Keep this on the down-low so that Michael Crabtree doesn’t get any ideas, but Ricky Rubio has agreed to a six-year contract with Regal FC Barcelona, and won’t be eligible to go to an NBA team until 2011. Timberwolves’ GM David Kahn logged a lot of flight time on trips to Spain to try and negotiate a deal with Rubio’s former team, DKV Joventut, but couldn’t pry away the No. 5 draft pick. Rubio apparently was holding out for the opportunity to play in a larger American market, with his prefernce being New York.
For some reason, STRAIGHT BANGIN’ put up this hilarious post on Sunday, instead of a weekday when more people would be likely to see it. Well, we’re here to help. It’s their version of the fine print in the MJ Mini Golf Contest over at HANES.COM. Excerpts below. Well played, sirs.
(4) Contest Winner is entitled to one (1) handshake with Mr. Jordan; one (1) exchange of pleasantries with Mr. Jordan not to exceed three (3) discrete sentences spoken to Mr. Jordan, and allowed to occur only between 8:00 AM and 8:15 AM on the initial morning of the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational; and one (1) farewell directed to Mr. Jordan, which shall take form solely as “Thank you for being such a great guy. It was nice to meet you.” All other interaction is strictly forbidden.
(6) Contest Winner shall not participate in, photograph, or record any gambling, adult entertainment, sexual intercourse, amorous circumstance short of intercourse, sexual assault, or simultaneous combination of the preceding activities.
(9) Contest Winner shall wear Hanes underwear, Hanes t-shirt, Jordan Brand top, Jordan Brand bottom, and Jordan XX3 at all times.
And now, an apology from THE DAILY EXPRESS of London: In our article “Tennis legend Martina and the Russian beauty” on 25 August, we reported that that Martina Navratilova and Julia Lemigova were believed to be engaged after being photographed on holiday in St Tropez, each wearing rings on their left hands. There is no truth in this. The pair are not engaged and have not exchanged rings. We apologise to Ms Navratilova and Ms Lemigova for our error and embarrassment we may have caused.
At least with Thome and Garland safely in the fold, Dodgers fans can go to their great reward secure in the knowledge that an NL West title is in the bag. Are the Dodgers really God’s team? Those who purchase one of these fine items will find out soon enough. Wouldn’t it be a pisser if you showed up at the Pearly Gates with all of this equipment, and St. Peter turns out to be a Washington Nationals fan?
Big loss for USC on Monday, as cornerback Shareece Wright was declared academically ineligible, and will be forced to sit out the 2009 season. “Shareece didn’t get it done,” said head coach Pete Carroll following Monday’s practice. “He didn’t get the GPA he needed to get.” Wright had been projected as a starter, and will be replaced by Josh Pinkard, who moves over from starting safety.
If Versus and DirecTV can’t get along, what hope is there for the rest of the world? The impasse between the sports network and the big distributor doesn’t look like it’s going to be settled soon, as the Sept. 1 deadline came and went without a deal. You may think you don’t want Versus, but there’s the NHL, and Pac-10, Big 12, Mountain West and Ivy League football. DirecTV said that the dispute centers on carriage fees. Comcast, which owns Versus, has demanded a deal “that is not comparable to other providers and is pushing for a significant rate hike that does not reflect current market terms or the value of its programming,” DirecTV said in a statement.
We may have a reason that Giants’ defensive end Osi Umenyiora went AWOL from the team’s facility on Monday. According to the STAR-LEDGER, it was over a dispute with defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, who reportedly criticized Umenyiora for his play in the team’s preseason game with the Jets. “I made a mistake by leaving the facility today,” Umenyiora said in a statement released by the team on Monday. “I was wrong. … I have no problem with our defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan or any of our coaches. That’s the end of it, as far as I am concerned.”
Finally there’s this: Two-year-old Eddie Scullin, who can recite the entire Phillies lineup by looking at pictures of the players. He also imitates his favorite players’ batting stances by using a large Wiffle bat. Video here. Ahh, just another bandwagon Phillies fan.