Speed Read: Punch McLean Is Tougher Than You

Remember when M. Night Shyamalan made good movies? And I’m not talking about the one with the kid seeing dead people. I’m talking about “Unbreakable”. That’s right, I’m the guy who liked that movie. I’ve stuck to my guns over the years on this on the off chance that the film enjoys a resurgence and I can take credit for being a fan all along.

Unbreakable

(”One hundred and thirty one die. One survivor. He is unharmed.”)

That’s all beside the point. The reason I bring it up is that there are occasionally people who show up in the news who defy all logic and survive in the most dire of circumstances. For instance, there was that 12-year-old girl who survived a plane crash in the ocean a couple of months ago.

But a new candidate for our generation’s David Dunn has emerged, and his name is “Punch”. At least, that’s the nickname former hockey coach Ernie McLean has gone by for most of his adult life. McLean coached at the major junior level for 16 years, and led the New Westminster Bruins to four Memorial Cup titles (that’s the biggest prize at that level of hockey).

Ernie Punch McLean

(Punch once got lost in the pattern of this jacket for three days without food or shelter)

He’s also survived a number of incidents that would’ve killed most mere mortals. The latest came this week, when the 77-year-old endured five days and four nights lost in the wilderness in British Columbia when he fell into a crevice while prospecting for gold (they still do that?). With no food, and subsisting just on stream water, he spent entire days walking and eventually reached higher ground, where he was spotted by a helicopter search team.

Most 77-year-olds couldn’t last a full day without their heart pills and a “Diagnosis Murder” rerun. But this is no ordinary 77-year-old. Says CBC in a story about McLean’s latest heroics:

Reed credited McLean’s legendary toughness, and a bit of luck, for his survival, noting McLean previously survived a plane crash in Saskatchewan, and walked out of the woods alive a few days later despite losing an eye and breaking several bones.

He’s also survived car accidents, being run over by a bulldozer and being stranded on a frozen lake in freezing conditions for several days.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure if you’ve wandered around without an eye for a few days that being a little wet in the forest isn’t going to really phase you. Perhaps McLean should ditch the gold prospecting in the deep wilderness and do something a little more acceptable for an old guy, like going to the golf course with a big net and fishing out Titleists. See if you can turn that into a weeklong “Blair Witch” debacle, Punch. (h/t to the PUCK DOCTORS)

Dease Lake

(I guess being lost in nice scenery is better than being locked in a car trunk for a week)

Perhaps she should be more worried about her husband hanging out with teenagers, but it looks like Danica Patrick has made her decision about where she’ll be racing next year. And while jumping to NASCAR would provide unbelievable marketing opportunities and a much larger audience, both on TV and at the track, it appears that she’ll be hanging around with IndyCar for at least one more year. (I bet the new turbo button had something to do with it.)

Danica Patrick stretching

(Maybe if she stopped holding the steering wheel like this, she’d win a race or two)

MVN’s Christopher Estrada seems convinced from the tweets of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR’s Curt Cavin that Danica is about to sign a new deal with Andretti Green Racing. But all the L.A. TIMES would say on Sunday morning is that the chances of her staying were “more than 50%,” and an AP story from after Sunday’s race in Sonoma made it sound that while a deal was close, nothing was really finalized.

I suppose there’s not too much to be read into any of this. While Patrick visited several NASCAR teams during the year, it doesn’t sound like any real serious offers have been made for her services. Perhaps she’s using the news of her impending new deal with AGR as a last-ditch call for offers from the left-turn circuit. For now, her line of reasoning is, “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.” That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Danica leaving IndyCar would be a huge blow for the series, to the point where viability would have to become a concern. There’s nothing wrong with Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, and Ryan Briscoe, but could you pick them out of a police lineup? Ratings are hockey-esque as it is, so removing the one bankable star would be a big problem. Would ABC even want to show races other than the Indy 500?

For now, that’s a question that doesn’t need to be asked.

Danica Patrick bikini beach on all fours

Is IndyCar doomed if Danica Patrick leaves?

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• BASEBALL DIGEST wonders why the Mets acknowledged every other living member of the 1969 World Series championship team during a ceremony on Saturday night (even those that didn’t attend), but completely ignored second baseman Ken Boswell. Boswell played 102 games that year and spent eight years with the Mets, but reportedly didn’t even get an invitation to the celebration.

• A golf course groundskeeper found a 10-pound mammoth tooth on one of the greens at the course he works at in Michigan. Does that count as an immovable obstruction, or do you have to putt around the tooth?

• Well, Michelle Wie has finally won something. Of course, she needed 11 other people to help her do it. The Americans wore some nice matching outfits and took down the Europeans to win something called the Solheim Cup.

Solheim Cup

Jason Giambi’s pulling a Dave Kingman and going to Colorado’s AAA affiliate to play for a week or so before the team plans to call him up for September. Am I dating myself with a Dave Kingman reference?

• NESN is freaking out that Ken Rosenthal supposedly suggested that the Red Sox might acquire Billy Wagner to be their closer next year and then ship Jonathan Papelbon up to somewhere other than Boston. The theory being that they’re grooming Daniel Bard for the closer job and just need a guy like Wagner to bridge the gap. Perhaps this is why Paps isn’t too comfortable with the whole thing. And I’m NOT going to post the dance video again…oh, who am I kidding:

(”Nawt Paps! Who’ll do the rivahdance? Wagnah sucks!”)

• Ravens rookie linebacker Tony Fein was arrested last night after he allegedly shoved a police officer. A security guard at a restaurant that Fein was eating at thought that he saw Fein pass a gun to one of his friends. It was a cell phone. Police arrived and then things got testy. This is why I’ve always said that the Glock Blackberry was a bad idea.

• I thought John Smoltz refused a AAA assignment, so why was he pitching against the Padres yesterday?

• At least 27 Tulane football players have been struck by a rapidly spreading flu bug. It’s not yet known whether or not they have swine flu, but it’s not being ruled out at this point.

• BLEACHER REPORT wonders why the Oklahoma Sooners are playing the first football game that actually means something at the new Cowboys Stadium.

Cowboys Stadium

(I’m pretty sure I could punt a ball into that screen)

• The WIZ OF ODDS says Barrow, Alaska’s high school football team is off to an unfortunate 0-3 start after a 48-13 loss at home on the blue turf on Saturday afternoon. Barrow is the northernmost town in North America and is only accessible by plane. And yes, they start playing in mid-August to take advantage of “summer” temps that soar into the low 40s. For more on Barrow’s team, see this post we did last year.

• The man arrested for stabbing English soccer player Calum Davenport is the boyfriend of Davenport’s sister. Cara Davenport is pregnant, allegedly with the attempted-murderer dude’s child. And now her brother will likely never play soccer again, and her mother is also in the hospital for stab wounds. Yikes.

Speed Read: NCAA Tries To Erase History Again

I have always thought it’s weird when people bring up the idea of removing steroid-era numbers from baseball’s official record book, as if history can be fixed simply by ignoring it. Say what you want about Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire, but every single home run they hit counted in a real-life Major League Baseball game.

Derrick Rose John Calipari

(This never happened.)

Of course, the NCAA has been pulling these sort of shenanigans for years, “vacating” wins for schools that violate the rules. The latest to apparently earn this wrath is the University of Memphis basketball program, whose run to the 2008 title game is reportedly going to be vanishing from the NCAA’s memory today. As far as they’re concerned, the 38 wins accumulated that year never happened because Derrick Rose had someone else take the SAT for him in order to get into the school.

For those of you scoring at home, that’s twice now that John Calipari-helmed teams have seen Final Four runs erased from the books, although in 1996 UMass was only forced to give up its 4-1 NCAA tournament record, and not its entire season, due to Marcus Camby’s indiscretions with an agent. In this case, Memphis’ whole season is being invalidated and Calipari is about to find his coaching resume to be 38 wins lighter.

John Calipari UMass

(This didn’t happen either.)

I suppose it makes sense on some level. If Rose shouldn’t have been eligible to play, then how could any of the team’s wins be valid? But ultimately, this is just a big fat case of “who cares?” Michigan vacated its two runs to the title game with the Fab Five, but what did that accomplish (other than banning the team from the postseason in 2003 for things that happened a decade earlier)? It’s not like they’re giving up anything tangible. The memory of what happened will always be there. Chris Webber isn’t suddenly off the hook for that timeout thing.

In a FOX SPORTS article, Antonio Anderson says it simply doesn’t matter:

“Honestly, I don’t care,” former Memphis guard Antonio Anderson said. “We know what we did. We didn’t do anything wrong, but it is what it is.”

And he’s got a point. The rest of the team didn’t do anything wrong. Even Calipari, it seems, didn’t do anything wrong here. Derrick Rose did allegedly do something wrong, but it’s unlikely that anything is going to happen to him. He, like Camby and Webber, will go on to make tons of money in the NBA while their former teammates are told that their dream college seasons didn’t even happen.

Of course, thus far, only teams that didn’t win the title have had such sanctions levied against them. It will be interesting to see if the NCAA is willing to strip a team of a title and hand it to the runner-up if something like this happens in the future.

Chris Webber timeout

(This…yeah, this happened.)

Should Memphis be forced to give up its 38 victories in 2007-08 if Derrick Rose cheated on his SAT?

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So, remember how (insert contending team here) was crazy not to give up half their team to get Roy Halladay a couple of weeks ago? Well, there are at least two teams that are feeling pretty good about their decision not to mortgage the farm for a short-sighted chance at success.

Roy Halladay

Last night in Toronto, Clay Buchholz — one of the players rumored to be headed to the Jays in a proposed Halladay deal — outpitched the man himself in a 6-1 beatdown at Skydome Rogers Centre. The win, coupled with a Texas loss, put the Sox back into the Wild Card lead by a full game.

Meanwhile, the Phillies’ “Plan B” when attempts to get Halladay failed, Cliff Lee, ran his record to 4-0 with a two-hit, 11 strikeout, complete game win over the Diamondbacks. Lee has pitched 33 of a possible 36 innings in his four starts with Philly and has a 0.82 ERA. Looks like he might be the 2009 version of CC Sabathia in Milwaukee, only for a much, much better team.

Cliff Lee

• Hey, everything I’m reading says that there’s still a lot of competition for the Vikings’ starting quarterback job. I am, of course, talking about D.H. Conley High School in Greenville, North Carolina. What, is there another team called the Vikings with some quarterback issues?

• Warner Robins, Georgia, won the Little League Softball World Series last night, crushing W’s favorite team from Crawford, Texas. Warner Robins is the first Little League to produce both a softball and baseball world champion (the boys won in 2007).

• English soccer team Burnley, playing its first Premier League home game ever (and first in the top division in 33 years), did the unthinkable last night, shocking Manchester United 1-0 on an awesome volley by veteran Robbie Blake:

• CNBC’s Darren Rovell says that ESPN THE MAGAZINE is allowing its subscribers to renew for a year AND get an ESPN.COM “Insider” subscription for a grand total of $1. The Mag’s GM claims that it’s a ploy to get more people to read Insider content, and not an admission that the mag is in trouble.

• ELEVEN WARRIORS says at least one witness says that Ohio State linebacker Tyler Moeller threatened a Florida man named Gray Decker, and that is why Decker flattened Moeller with a right hook at a bar and ended his season.

Here’s more details on the odd case of Caster Semenya, who won the women’s 800 meter run by a ridiculous 2 1/2 seconds at the World Championships. She is undergoing what is reportedly an “extremely complex, difficult” set of tests to determine whether or not she is actually a she. A gynecologist is involved, so I imagine that “extremely complex” is an understatement.

Caster Semenaya

• ONLINE SPORTS GUYS says an Albuquerque high school baseball coach has been fired for hiring strippers to “entertain” his team while they were on a road trip in Denver last year. Says one parent:

“We thank all our friends in the Albuquerque baseball community for their support and well wishes during this unfortunate circumstance where no one comes out a winner.”

Whoa, hold on there. I can think of at least nine people who probably think they came out a winner.

• How’s this for ridiculous? The entire Angels starting lineup on Tuesday night in Cleveland has a .300 batting average or better, and all have at least 225 plate appearances. An all-.300 lineup hasn’t been on a Major League field since 1930.

Angels all .300 lineup

 • After missing more than a year, Billy Wagner is set to come back from injury … and the Mets are trying desperately to trade him. Ladies and gentlemen, the inaugural season at Citi Field!

• Before the Mets’ game with the Phillies on Saturday, members of the ‘69 World Series champion Mets will help build the framework of a home for Habitat for Humanity. An hour later, the current Mets will help build the framework of another NL East title for the Phillies. Ladies and gentlemen, the inaugural season at Citi Field!

John Smoltz has sucked this year. So the Cardinals are going to see if he can magically turn into a good pitcher again.

• Now, it’s time for fun with Twitter. First, the BOSTON GLOBE’s Amalie Benjamin is a little, uh, overpowered by David Ortiz:

Amalie Benjamin David Ortiz Twitter

And, Nick Collison comes dangerously close to calling his wife an unfortunate name. Good thing you got that period there, Nick!

Nick Collison Twitter

 

And Then There Were None: Red Sox Axe Smoltz

There’s a tendency to want everything the way it was when we were, oh, 15. We want a propogation of the greatness we first discovered in our own maturation process, the people who were so good at what they did that we couldn’t help but be hooked by it all. We don’t want to acknowledge that our heroes are getting old at the same time that we are, that they have their own arcs and evolution. It’s why Seattle brought Ken Griffey Jr. back for a curtain call, even though he’s languishing below .240 and poking bad pitches for singles instead of sending them over the fence. It’s why we’re especially upset that MCA of the Beastie Boys got throat cancer, ignoring the fact that even if he were healthy, the Ill Communication era’s gone and never coming back. And don’t get us started on Metallica and their “evolution.”

John Smoltz
(He probably knew.)

So pardon us if we feel that much older on the news that the Red Sox have designated John Smoltz for assignment.With Greg Maddux’s retirement from a while ago and Tom Glavine’s release earlier this season, it seems that the most iconic pitching staff of our generation and one of the greatest iin history has, for all intents and purposes, ceased to be.

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Speed Read: The End Of The Road For Smoltz?

One of the sadder sights in sports is watching a legend come to a realization that, despite still having the desire and the will, they just don’t have it anymore. You could see it in John Smoltz‘ eyes when he was staring blankly out of the Red Sox dugout last night, stewing in the crushing reality of getting battered by the Yankees for eight runs and nine hits in just 3 1/3 innings of a 13-6 loss.

John Smoltz

It was the first time the Yankees have beaten the Sox this year, and maybe the last time we’ll see Smoltz on the mound. He’s now 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA. He’s given up at least five runs in six of his eight starts. He has zero quality starts and hasn’t gone more than six innings in any game. More importantly, he’s pitching for a team that’s struggling to stay ahead in the wild card race and can’t afford to give the guy charity starts, even if he is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. In some ways, it’s probably better to be Tom Glavine — a guy who wanted to go out on different terms but might be better off that he didn’t have to go out this way.

As for the Sox, it can’t be good knowing that you’ve won eight of nine from your biggest rivals and you’re still 3 1/2 games out of first. The Yankees are 10 1/2 games better than the Sox in games in which they haven’t played each other. And with A-Rod back in the lineup, it’s hard to see the Sox winning eight of the next nine the teams play. In fact, the Yankees haven’t seemed so in control of the AL East since 2006. And any time you have Muhammad Ali wearing your cap in the stands, that can’t hurt:

Muhammad Ali Yankee hat

And now, I bring you what may turn out to be the lamest sports feud ever. Seems that former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent has drawn the ire of John McEnroe’s father (who also happens to be named John McEnroe). To the point where the elder McEnroe felt compelled to write a letter to the PALM BEACH POST about a column Vincent wrote that was supposed to be a tribute to Walter Cronkite. Yes, the combined age of the people involved in this dispute is about 341 years (and one of them’s dead!).

Fay Vincent

(A fine baseball historian, but a total hack when it comes to tennis)

Vincent’s original column was a nod to a comment Cronkite supposedly made after the senior McEnroe was seen shouting at CBS president Tom Wyman because a network cameraman accidentally ran onto the court to capture the end of the 1985 US Open Final a point early:

Mr. Cronkite and I had sat silently through all this, but with Wyman’s explanation, the cultured and civil Cronkite whispered in my ear, “Fay, a real block off the old chip.” I laughed loudly and told him he had it just right.

For many years after, whenever I saw Cronkite at a gathering or in a restaurant I always made it a point to remind him of the event and to congratulate him for such a perfect and witty comment. Interestingly, he always admitted he remembered.

Somehow I recall Cronkite more fondly and respectfully than I do either of the two McEnroes. By the way, the father was a successful partner in a major New York law firm.

Old Mac isn’t having any of that noise.

John P. McEnroe

(”You cannot be serious, Fay!”)

Quoth Mac Sr.:

I write in response to Fay Vincent’s recent column, which centered on a comment from Walter Cronkite and involved my son and me. He recalls sitting next to Walter Cronkite and Tom Wyman, president of CBS, at an unidentified final match at the U.S. Tennis Open. I held Mr. Vincent’s tenure as the commissioner of Major League Baseball in high esteem, but must reconsider after reading his unflattering and virtually totally inaccurate account.

BOOM! Take that, Vincent. I bet you’ll think twice the next time you consider spinning a yarn about the 1985 US Open final like nobody’s gonna call you on your bullcrap. In McEnroe’s defense, it appears as if Vincent completely botched not only the most basic aspects of the match (for example, he contends that the younger McEnroe dispatched of Ivan Lendl easily when Lendl actually won in straight sets). But McEnroe’s real anger is directed at Vincent’s accusation that he directed a profane tirade at Wyman. He then goes on to essentially say that Vincent made up the “block off the old chip” quote and even gets in this weird comment about Cronkite:

Personally, I had two brief encounters with Walter Cronkite over the years. The first was in the men’s room at the Yale Bowl one year at halftime of the Yale-Harvard game where we briefly spoke (but did not shake hands). A similar incident happened in the men’s room at a Manhattan restaurant a few months later and I said something like “we have to stop meeting like this,” at which he chuckled and agreed.

It’s a shame Cronkite isn’t around anymore, if for no other reason than the inevitable “I’m pretty sure we shook hands” rebuttal that would’ve been in the paper on Monday.

grumpy old men

Andre Ethier hit his third walk-off homer of the season last night against the Braves. By comparison, Ichiro has one walk-off hit in nine years.

• The Patriots have acquired Raiders holdout Derrick Burgess, who led the NFL in sacks four years ago.

• Remember when Freddy Adu was a big deal? 19-year-old American soccer phenom Jozy Altidore has joined English Premier League team Hull City, and should be in their lineup for the opener against Chelsea next week.

Jozy Altidore

• YAHOO!’s Dan Wetzel has an interesting take on the Michael Crabtree situation (which we covered yesterday), specifically on the notion that Crabtree is trying to negotiate based on where he was going in mock drafts, and not the actual one.

• THE WIZ OF ODDS says sports betting is back on again in Delaware.

• Hockey season may seem far away now, but those Red Hot Flames will make the wait a little more palatable. I’m guessing that what happens at the 0:55 mark won’t be included in the montage at Brett Hull’s Hall of Fame induction:

Julio Castillo, the minor-league pitcher who was convicted of assault for throwing a ball into the stands last year, was sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years’ probation yesterday.

• As a huge Guided By Voices fan, I have to tip my cap to WALKOFF WALK for building a post around comparing Robert Pollard and Roger Clemens.

• Topps has signed an exclusive deal with MLB to become the sole licensed manufacturer of baseball cards starting next season. This comes as quite a shock to those of us who thought they stopped making baseball cards in 1991.

John Hughes hadn’t directed a movie in 18 years, but his death is still a shock to any of us who grew up in the ’80s. He had his hand in a few clunkers over the years, but where would any of us be today without Ferris Bueller or The Breakfast Club? How would we know how to properly chatter?

Should the Red Sox give John Smoltz another start?

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Speed Read: “The T.O. Show” Predictably Lousy

For those of you who didn’t watch “The T.O. Show” on VH1 last night, consider yourselves the lucky few: like the residents of Johnstown who weren’t washed away by the giant flood, you somehow missed out on being carried away in a torrent of filth, muck and debris. For those of us contractually obligated to watch the show (this is why you should read contracts before agreeing to become a blogger), there’s no Red Cross volunteers coming to our rescue. We’re left shaking on the banks of the river as we try to comprehend what we just saw.

Terrell Owens

Maybe I’m being a bit over the top. But man, it wasn’t good.

To recap: Terrell Owens has a great body (honed by only the finest rubber bands your $19.95 can buy), and enjoys spending time showing it off. A lot of time showing it off. As in, going shirtless for about three-quarters of the show.  But, as you would hear any good pitchman say, that’s not all.

Terrell Owens and friends

No VH1 “Celeb Reality” show can just be about following a celebrity around, so there has to be some sort of convoluted plot, and here the one for “The T.O. Show”: his “best friends” and “publicists” Kita Williams and Monique Jackson have convinced him to move to Los Angeles during the off-season to “find himself.” Which - according to the first episode - means the following things:

  • Spending more than $100,000 on new diamond earrings.
  • Hooking up with the trashy real estate agent who rents him the mansion he’s staying in during the show.  (I know that the market is tough, but this seems like excessively aggressive sales tactics, although maybe now is the right time to buy.)
  • Going out to a club with said earrings, meeting a bunch of trashy women and inviting them home to “party” with him.
  • His half-assed attempt to get back together with his ex-fiancee, who seems like the only semi-intelligent person on the show by getting the hell out of Dodge.

Somehow T.O. has managed to create a show with less likable characters than “Rock of Love” and even fewer morally redeeming qualities as “I Love Money.” It’s an exercise in egotistical wish fulfillment - T.O. is famous and wants a show, so someone had to give it to him - and the early reviews have been particularly brutal:

Terrell Owens is one beautiful man and he knows it, oh, Lord, he knows it, and so do his publicists, Kita Williams and Monique Jackson, the forces behind “The T.O. Show,” which premieres tonight on VH1. Why else would the publicity art include a nude portrait of the football star, why else would Owens spend at least 60% of his time in front of the camera shirtless?

Good thing too, because the sculpted pecs, mighty shoulders and perfect abs are just about the only thing the show has going for it. No, wait, I take that back; he has a lovely smile as well.  - LOS ANGELES TIMES

Your mama never warned you to watch out for reality TV, but it can be poison. You sense its brain destructiveness when you get up in the morning, thinking, “I can’t wait to see if T.O. makes it with the real estate agent.”

The T.O. Show is so shallow mosquitoes couldn’t breed in it, though it appears some of the humans are trying to, as Terrell Owens joins up with two publicists, who are also supposed to be his best friends. -PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

What VH1 gets out of the deal, frankly, is less clear, other than a strange amalgam of soap-opera pathos and jock-like bravado, with Owens taking marching orders from his ubiquitous “publicists,” who, given their time commitment to the athlete, surely must have no other clients. - VARIETY

…and don’t even get me started on T.O.’s bodyguard Pablo. Just…no.

Meanwhile, while”The T.O. Show” was premiering, another type of muck was being dredged up in Pittsburgh. PRO FOOTBALL TALK reports that Ben Roethlisberger is the subject of a civil suit filed by a hotel employee in Washoe County, NV who says that in July 2008, the Super Bowl MVP called her into his room to fix her TV, and then “forced her to have sex with him.

Ben Roethlisberger

Using a little bit of local knowledge, based on the locations given and the date, I’m going to assume this allegedly happened when Roethlisberger was in South Lake Tahoe last year for the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship. And if this sounds a lot to you like the allegations made against Kobe Bryant in Colorado a couple of years ago…you’re not the only one. Of course, the big difference here is that these are civil allegations - no criminal charges have ever been filed by Roethlisberger’s accuser.

Finally, former North Carolina wide receiver and point guard Jason Holley was revealed as the winner of Michael Irvin’s “4th and Long” reality TV show on Spike, and with it has earned a shot with the Dallas Cowboys during their training camp. Is it possible to do a reality show about football and not have the Cowboys involved? So help me, if Alvin Harper gets a show, I’m never watching TV again.

Other sports stories from last night:

  • ESPN’s Jayson Stark has the details of Pedro Martinez’s contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, and as expected it’s heavily incentive-laden. He is only guaranteed $1 million for the rest of the season, but could make more than double that if he meets certain longevity and performance-based milestones.
  • Pedro Martinez, Nelson de la Rosa

    (Can Pedro keep his midget well-cared for on $1 million a year?)

  • Anyone who questions whether or not Jeremy Mayfield is hooked on crystal meth - as NASCAR and his stepmother claims - should check out this video from a few years ago of him giddily blowing up watermelons and full gas cans. Nope, that doesn’t sound like something a meth head would do at all.

  • Maybe John Smoltz should have retired last season so he could go into the Hall of Fame with former Braves teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine instead of trying a comeback with the Red Sox, if last night is any indication: he gave up three home runs as the Rangers (and another former Braves pitcher in Kevin Millwood) beat Boston, 6-3.
  • A few weeks ago, Quinten Richardson was traded by the Memphis Grizzlies to the Los Angeles Clippers, which pretty much defines “sideways movement.” Last night the Clippers turned around and shipped him to the Minnesota Timberwolves, somehow going from bad to worse. On the plus side, Mark Madsen’s back in Lipstick City. Watch out on the dance floor.
  • I guess it’s a job: former big league manager Terry Collins lands a new gig - leading the Duluth Huskies of the Northwoods League. Is this a step up or a step down from managing Team China?
  • What to do if you’re eight months pregnant but want to hang out at the sports bar watching your favorite team play. Get a Maternity Jersey, of course. Or as they are otherwise known, “Rich Garces Style.”
  • To commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Moon Landing, the Houston Astros wore special patches and caps. In addition, they also went out and got loaded on Tang and vodka.
  • Mississippi State might have a first-year coach in Dan Mullen, but they’re already in midseason form in terms of arrests. Leading running back Anthony Dixon has been arrested on a DUI charge, the fifth Bulldog to be nabbed by police this off-season.
  • Police have arrested a man who shot and paralyzed former NFL player Michael Woods 27 years ago and charged him with aggravated murder after Woods died from a related kidney infection six weeks ago,
  • Tom Watson might have lost out on his bid to win the British Open at age 59, but his equipment sponsor Adams Golf might be a big winner, as their stock price has risen 18 percent since Watson took the tournament lead on Friday.

Who was the least likable person on “The T.O. Show”

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Speed Read: Clippers’ Balls Have Dropped Again

The Los Angeles Clippers won the most favored martyr award last night in the NBA Draft Lottery and, with it, the top pick in the 2009 NBA Draft next month (likely to be Blake Griffin). The Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder now follow, leaving the Grizzlies to pretend Mike Conley, Jr. is the answer to anything but “Name one theoretically famous Junior” and draft Hasheem Thabeet.

Michael Olowokandi

Oklahoma City, your Ricky Rubio awaits. (Ricky will love the fried bologna sammich at Toby Keith’s I Love This Restaurant a block away from the arena.) A staff containing Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green, Rubio, and your dear departed grandmother should be capable of 50 wins in two years. If you find it less ghoulish, we’ll refer to your passed loved one as Nenad Krstic. Same mobility, anyway.

(By the way, please send your love to Sacramento tonight as they had the league’s worst record and washed out with the fourth pick.  And you thought living in Sacramento was punishment enough.)

Sacramento Kings Flip Off The Camera

Your intrepid correspondent pulled into a local sports bar in the Phoenix area just thirty minutes before the NBA Draft Lottery truly started (which was, of course, thirty minutes after it officially kicked off).  That will be the best way to take the pulse of the community regarding the first lottery draft pick for the Phoenix Suns likely to play for the team since Amare Stoudemire, your correspondent said to himself rather self-consciously.

It can be officially reported that the patient is dead; there was no pulse in the greater Phoenix community regarding the draft lottery.  The normally-popular bar was half-empty and the televisions kept being turned from the NBA lottery to practically any other sport.  In fact, the only person to keep half an eye on the proceedings was Dan Majerle’s brother.

Surely, much of the passivity came from having such a slim chance at a top-three pick, but the collected crowd seemed much more interested in the Western Conference Finals for the NBA and NHL.  They chose wisely as the Denver Nuggets couldn’t hold their late lead  against the Los Angeles Lakers and therefore provided another thrilling finish, a 105-103 Lakers victory to kick off the NBA edition of the Western Conference Finals.

George Karl of the Denver Nuggets

Also, game 2 of the NHL edition ended in the first overtime with a 3-2 Detroit Red Wings victory over the Chicago Blackhawks to extend the series lead to 2-0. The ‘Hawks could not stop giving up the puck in the most exposed fashion possible, leading to two breakaway goals, including the three-on-one clincher.  You’d think a battle between a dinosaur and a human would turn out differently.

Chicago Blackhawks Detroit Red Wings

(The bar didn’t care for that result; Arizonans are either transplanted Colorado residents or former Illinoisans.  No love lost for Detroit from either quarter.)

On the other hand, the true locals were left to stew yesterday over news that a federal bankruptcy judge couldn’t bring the NHL or the former and future owners of the Phoenix Coyotes together on a deal regarding the sale of the team and a possible move back to Canada. Instead, he sent both sides into mediation and told them to hash it out themselves.

Jobing.com Arena Phoenix Coyotes

Of course, the NHL couldn’t resist putting gun to skate during yesterday’s proceedings.  For starters, the lawyer for the city of Glendale, AZ, had to admit that he’s never been to a Coyotes game.  Then the judge said late in the day, “The NHL is like a dog chasing a car. The question is, ‘What do you do if you catch it?’”  Bury it in Arizona, perhaps?

The relocation hearing in late June won’t answer the question, either; multiple rounds of appeals will surely follow if all sides can’t talk it out.  It all adds up to at least a month of indecision, misdirection, and public proclamations.  It’s not unlike the buildup to the NBA Draft, really.

When Arizonans aren’t paying attention to hockey mirages or 14th picks or UFOs in 2009, they might be taking in this hail of bullet points:

Where should the Phoenix Coyotes end up?

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Speed Read: Dennis Rodman and the Four Dwarfs

Dennis Rodman and a bunch of dwarfs - it sounds like the recipe for the type of awful, Felliniesque nightmare that makes you wake up sweating and shaking at 3 a.m. and causes your double up your Xanax prescription and call your therapist in a panic. (I mean, theoretically, not me, but someone else…) But it’s actually the cast of a movie called “The Minis”- which really got made. On actual film. With a budget of $5 million.

Dennis Rodman and The Minis

The plot? Rodman teams up with four dwarfs - please, don’t call them midgets - to enter a prestigious basketball tournament in Venice Beach. Which, if you think about it, is the sort of headline that you wouldn’t bat an eye at if you read it on a blog. As you can see in the trailer, the movie is filled with “comedy,” “inspiration” and “acting”:

Stirring, huh? And since we are your source for all news relating to Dennis Rodman and dwarfs (as you would expect), we were able to speak last night with one of the stars of the film, Caroline Macey, who plays Natalia, the gold digging girlfriend of one of the dwarfs who also is obsessed with cows. (That, folks, is what we call in the industry “character development.”) To summarize some of the high points:

  • When she auditioned, the casting director was on her knees to simulate the feeling of acting with a little person. (I understand this happens when they cast Tom Cruise movies as well.)
  • The movie was written with Dennis Rodman specifically in mind. As was “Gran Torino,” from what I hear, but he had to back out due to a scheduling conflict, forcing Clint Eastwood to step in at the last minute.
  • Apparently, Rodman was “very sweet” and “pleasant on the set.” Except when he thought one of his co-stars was in the way of one of the shots, and he drop-kicked him through the hoop. (That’s a lie: anyone who saw Rodman play in the NBA knows there’s no way he could make a basket outside of two feet.)
  • It’s Italian! Of course it is: see my Fellini comment earlier. And really, I’d recommend watching it dubbed in Italian with English subtitles to get the authetic flavor of the project.

I know what you’re thinking: “This sounds great! But if only there was a way to bring the humor and excitement of ‘The Minis’ home with meas some sort of video game.” Well, it turns out that you are in luck: there is one. I can’t vouch if it’s as good of a movie-to-video game crossover as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” or not, but you can check out the trailer to find out more yourself:

Meanwhile, in actual basketball news: the way the Boston Celtics are playing, Dennis Rodman and a team of dwarfs might stand a fighting chance. OK, that’s probably an exaggeration,  but it’s pretty clear that their early season magic is long gone. Last night they suffered their sixth loss in eight games, this time an 89-85 defeat at home against the Houston Rockets.

Cavaliers rookie JJ Hickson

They now find themselves 1 1/2 games back of the Cavaliers for the best record in the NBA, and judging by Cleveland’s 111-81 rout of the Hornets, I would venture to say that the Cavaliers are ready for their big showdown with the Celtics on Friday. Boston can’t see out of it’s eye - you gotta cut them and make them bleed, Mickey!

In other news that happened while…screw it. I mean, Dennis Rodman and basketball playing dwarfs. Come on!

  • Unlike the Celtics, the Lakers were able to bounce back from a shocking defeat, although the LOS ANGELES TIMES notes that it came down to the final minute against the hapless Golden State Warriors. Meanwhile, Pau Gasol is looking more and more like a homeless person every day:
  • Pau Gasol of the Lakers

  • I know that in the era of free agency, we shouldn’t be shocked at anyone wearing any uniform at any time. But it’s going to be weird seeing John Smoltz in a Boston Red Sox uniform at Fenway, right? The ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION has all the details.
  • The FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM reports that Adam Jones gets cut by the Dallas Cowboys after ESPN airs footage of his involvement of a strip club shooting in Atlanta in 2007. Hopefully, he can go back to Pacman when he lands with the Toronto Argonauts.
  • The COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE notes that Home Depot has ended its program with the US Olympic Committee which gave jobs to aspiring athletes while they trained in their events. And get me some vinyl siding while you’re at it, Rulon!
  • CAN’T STOP THE BLEEDING checks in on Chris Russo’s Year in Movies wrap-up, and it doesn’t sound like Peter Travers of Rolling Stone should be quaking in his boots any time soon.
  • PRO FOOTBALL TALK says that media sources in Cleveland aren’t exactly thrilled about Eric Mangini coming to town - one person says that “he is atrocious with the media – the worst – and has so many rules that make it hard to do our jobs.
  • The MENLO PARK ALMANAC touches base with the story of two players from the title winning Menlo-Atherton High football team who were arrested and charged with mugging a skateboarder and taking his iPod Touch.
  • Darren Rovell of CNBC notes that despite the economy, college football assistant coaches are seeing their salaries reach unprecedented heights this season.
  • As you get ready for the glut of Super Bowl ads, UNCOACHED breaks down the Top 10 All-Time Classic Miller Lite commercials. Joe Piscopo? Never not funny.
  • Finally, the AP has an urgent APB: State College, PA police are on the lookout for Joe Paterno’s stolen, Coke-bottle glasses. Not actually his, but from the seven-foot statue outside of Beaver Stadium. Police believe the lead suspect is a giant, seven-foot tall Elvis Costello statue.

Who is the worst athlete-turned-actor of all time?

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Blog Jam: Hot Female Tennis Players All in 1 Place

• Finally, a blog solely dedicated to the comely cuties of the court - may we present HOT FEMALE TENNIS PLAYERS.

Maria Sharapova red shorts

• Speaking of, The UK GUARDIAN never knew Maria Sharapova could be so animated.

• The TENNESSEAN is pained to find Titans LB Keith Bulluck suggesting another name change for the artist formerly known as Chad Johnson - “Oucho Cinco“.

• YOU BEEN BLINDED learns that although Packers fans may never forget Brett Favre, they already forgot how to spell his name.

Read more…

Brog: China Knows Who Real Star Of Oly Games Is

With all those great performances by Michael Phelps & Co., the Olympics sure have been exciting here stateside. And, thanks to a report out today by the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, you’ll be pleased to find out that Chinese citizens are getting a very, very similar buzz off The Games!

Michael Phelps Beijing Olympics

Jennifer Brett of the AJC notes that Coca-Cola executives at the Beijing Games “have been mobbed like rock stars at Coke’s pavilion on the Olympic Green. And after a recent promotional event at the “Olympic Green” sponsor pavilion, Beijing residents “surged forward for photos and autographs” with Coca-Cola China’s Beijing Olympic Project Group GM David Brooks.

Boy, it’s great to finally gain some keen insight into what has the Chinese so genuinely excited about their Olympiad. (And of course, that reportage by Ms. Brett has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Coca-Cola is based in Atlanta.)

Big news in sports radio today, as Sirius XM announced that Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, who recently departed WFAN-AM’s long-running “Mike and The Mad Dog” show, is heading to the Sat Radio network.

Chris Mad Dog Russo picking his nose

Russo and Sirius XM President Scott Greenstein appeared on CNBC today to trumpet Russo getting his own channel on the net, called “Mad Dog Radio.” (Russo will take a $3M annual salary to do a daily show, while also hiring talent for the channel.)

RBC Capital Markets’ David Bank said Russo’s $3M annual salary “sounds like a big number, but in the grand scheme of things, … this is actually not that expensive.” CNBC’s Bill Griffeth told Russo, “You sold cheap.

Russo sold cheap? Then he’ll be right at home with Sirius XM stockholders.

While I guess having Russo on Sat Radio is good news for Sirius XM, the bad news is that at least one major U.S. automaker is already manufacturing internet-enabled cars.

Car Laptop

(My next cross-country drive to include mustard BBQ, “Mad Dog Radio”?)

From those cars you will be able to listen to thousands of radio shows for the cost of your internet service. I’m actually already doing it in my car, with my wifi-enabled laptop plugged into the cigarette lighter. I drove cross-country two months and didn’t miss any of my favorite radio shows.

That’s the real future of four-wheeled sports *radio* receivers. (Hope Mad Dog is getting paid in advance!)

The CHICAGO TRIBUNE’s Rick Morrissey writes today that female athletes who pose for nudie mags aren’t advancing the cause of women’s sports. Instead, they’re once proving that, “women’s bodies are commodities.

Amanda Beard PETA ad Chicago Tribune

That has the Olympic Village giving whole new meaning to “commodities exchange.

The WASHINGTON POST’s Dan Steinberg, in a recent online chat, wrote, “To me, it’s (the Olympics have) been dramatically less fun than Turin was.

Well that’s really an unfair comparison, as Turin is best known as the Atlantic City of Italy’s rust belt. Read more…

Erin Andrews Talks To Bloggers; Smoltz Silenced

This chesty Celtics fan once tried to make Jack Nicholson look like a boob.

Erin Andrews does the unthinkable - talks with some sports bloggers.

Erin Andrews Jamie Mottram Dan Steinberg

(Jamie Mottram & Dan Steinberg check out the view)

• Scheduled shoulder surgery smushes John Smoltz’s season.

• What lady could resist the charms of a pseudo Sonics employee?

Santana Moss misses Monday practice after a 3-day birthday bacchanalia.

• Green Bay is being gorged of its local sportscasters.

Read more…