Frisco Sidewalk Sign: ‘Josh Hamilton Drinks Free’

Kevin Kaduk of Yahoo Sports spots this sign outside a San Francisco bar before Game 1 of the World Series between San Francisco and the Texas Rangers.

Josh Hamilton Drinks Free Sign

(Next up: ‘Josh Hamilton is a quitter’?)

If you somehow don’t know by now, Josh Hamilton of the Rangers is a long-documented alcohol and substance abuser.

Having lived in Los Angeles now 11 years, I’m no Dodger fan - but being here has opened my eyes to the level of malevolence Giants fans are capable. When it comes to San Fran fans, especially in the context of the Dodgers, this is more typical than most people know.

The Real Reason ESPN Spiked LeBron-Vegas Story

The real reason ESPN spiked the LeBron James-Vegas story by ESPN reporter Arash Markazi had nothing to do with anything Markazi wrote about James last weekend.

ESPN reported on unathenticated Jerry Jones video

(ESPN didn’t directly authenticate Jones video before airing it)

Last April, in a span of less than a week, ESPN repeatedly reported on two stories infinitely more embarrassing to high profile sports figures. But there’s one key difference between those two ESPN-aired stories and the LeBron-Vegas piece that was pulled.  A difference which explains why ESPN was so quick to axe Markazi’s work.

One of those embarrassing stories ESPN was willing to cover involved a drunk Jerry Jones being secretly videotaped at a bar by a person who, to this day, was never identified. The other story involved private photos of Josh Hamilton taken at a bar that were never intended for media dissemination. Read more…

Hero Kid Catches Two Fouls, Robs Red Sox Fans

So often the news is bad when it comes to baseball spectators and balls hit into the stands (Cub fans, you know who you are). America longs for a feel-good story about snagging baseballs, and here it is. Below you see CJ (last name unknown), who caught not one but two foul balls off the bat of the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton on Sunday — during the same at-bat.

CJ

But the best part for many people is that this kid caught both fouls directly in front of a pair of Red Sox fans. Robbed! Face! Red Sox Nation cannot be happy about this.

(Video after the jump.) Read more…

Did Josh Hamilton’s Coach Lie About Bar Photos?

David Ortiz has got to be thrilled with the way today unfolded. But for the sudden presence of the immediately-infamous Josh Hamilton photos, his press conference today would’ve been the most talked-about story in sports. As is, he’s basically off the hook for now as the sports world digests the surprising photos and even more surprising admission from Hamilton, given the way most sports figures handle unflattering news these days (DENY DENY DENY).

Johnny Narron Josh Hamilton

Unfortunately, one thing that may get lost in all this Hamilton scorn/praise is the extremely curious reaction to the photos by Hamilton’s personal advisor/coach/chaperone, Johnny Narron, who, as Hamilton’s religious mentor deserves scrutiny in the face of DEADSPIN’s questioning.

Read more…

Josh Hamilton Did Some Very Ill-Advised Partying

By now, the saga of Josh Hamilton is well-known: #1 draft pick, flamed out spectacularly like a squirrel in a bonfire, then a triumphant, clean return to the game that climaxed in an awe-inspiring performance at the 2008 Home Run Derby.

Josh Hamilton Body Shots
(Josh, that doesn’t look like sobriety at all.)

But then DEADSPIN released a dozen photos of Hamilton, often shirtless and surrounded by gleefully revelrous young ladies. That’s one above, and the other 11 are similary raucous - and damning, considering Hamilton’s supposed to have been off the sauce for years.

Time for lame denials and no-comments? Actually, no. Read more…

Speed Read: NBC, NHL Screw Local Hockey Fans

One of the most jarring aspects of the Stanley Cup finals, other than the ease with which the Red Wings dispatched the Penguins on Sunday night to push the series to 3-2, has been NBC’s hardball with fans in Detroit and Pittsburgh. For the duration of the playoffs, both teams have been able to hold massive viewing parties in and outside their arenas. It was such a wonderful, organic expression of the communal nature of fandom that it was basically destined to be ruined by business in short order.

JoeVision Detroit Red Wings
(Thousands of fans watching the game with each other? Nope, can’t have this!)

And lo, in stepped NBC, stopping the broadcasts. As HOCKEYBUZZ.COM reported, initially, they blamed the NHL, despite the NHL’s assertion that that was quite not the case. Then came the truth, that it was a business decisions (all the crappy ones are), and their “business is ratings driven.” CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS has the, ahem, money quote:

A near-sellout of Joe Louis could shave a ratings point off the local television ratings measurement, and such ratings are used to establish advertising rates.

So to that, if the all-important ratings model can’t deal with 8-10 thousand people watching a show in one place on one screen, you know what? The ratings model is completely worthless.  Seriously. How can NBC or Nielsen not figure out what to do with a giant honking party of some of the most hardcore fans all watching one screen? Is that really a deal-breaker?

And if so, if they’re really curious as to what the ratings would look like if everyone stays home, away from the shared community aspect from which most of the value of a ticket to a game is derived, there’s a really easy answer to all of this. You ready? Dick Ebersol, you taking notes?

All NBC has to do is announce that in exchange for showing the game outside both arenas, attending fans have to fill out a simple, anonymous survey about where they would otherwise watch a game (their place or someone else’s), with how many people, and whatever other information the network needs to most closely approximate what ratings would look like. Use that and Nielsen data to extrapolate what the final ratings would be with that many eyes on a TV, and adjust. That’s it. Easy.

This is a rare, rare opportunity for the NHL and NBC. At no other point are they ever going to be able to get this kind of a free pool of television watchers from whom they can mine valuable demographic information. Forcing them back into their homes and away from a group of thousands of like-minded, passionate fans for the sake of moving a needle one or two points does the city, fanbase, and team a disservice. It’s so easy to work around. Figure it out.

Speaking of soccer [I thought we were talking about hockey. No, I’m dead certain of it.–ed.] [Shut up.–AJ] [You have problems.–ed.], UEFA just got a seismic news flash as Real Madrid, evidently furious at having seen FC Barca take the title, has bought the contract of Kaka from AC Milan. Too bad UEFA contract holder SETANTA SPORTS probably won’t survive to see him in the new kit.

Kaka Kiss
(This is where we mention Kaka’s wife and fine whatever you’re all perverts.)

Kaka, a sensational striker from the one-word-name factory that is Brazil, will reportedly command a 6-year, $94 million contract. That’s enough to make it the most expensive in soccer’s history, barely beating out Zinedine Zidane’s 6-year, $65 million deal with Juventus from eight years ago. Meanwhile, David Beckham is running around for a crappy MLS team in Los Angeles for 30 cents on the dollar and going home to a bag of antlers with oversized sunglasses and the “I’m married, but still vain” haircut straight from Jon & Kate + 8. Sic transit gloria mundi: Glory is fleeting.

We mentioned Andrew Thomas Gallo, the man accused of killing Angels rookie Nick Adenhart and two others in a drunk driving collision, yesterday. Gallo pled not guilty to murder, drunk driving, and fleeing the scene of an accident charges yesterday. Great.

Nick Adenhart Killed In Hit and Run Accident
(No, nothing criminal led to this. No way.)

But as we (rightfully) focus on the three people killed far before their time, we should point out that one passenger in Adenhart’s car, 24-year-old Jon Wilhite, has, in fact, survived the crash that left him in critical condition (via the RIVERSIDE PRESS-ENTERPRISE). Wait, that doesn’t appropriately convey the gravity of what happened. He survived internal decapitation.

As MANOLITH explains, internal decapitation, which is exactly as horrifying and life-threatening as it sounds, happens when the skull detaches from the spinal column. It’s usually fatal. Wilhite somehow survived without total paralysis, which is unbelievably rare, and he’s now in rehab with the help of several major leaguers. He’s got a long way to go, but he’s on the right track.

Since we need to get back on a higher note, here are some more links to consider while you’re riding in a cab with former Beach Boy Brian Wilson:

Nick Collison Red Afro
(Yes.)

What do the Raiders need the most on offense?

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Speed Read: Turkoglu Is Magic Man For Orlando

Even with the Orlando Magic leading the Boston Celtics by 17 midway through the fourth quarter in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal, you may have had an uneasy feeling in your stomach that it was a big set-up to a massive, heartbreaking, Stan Van Gundy-firing collapse. Of course Boston was going to make a run - especially with Dwight Howard sitting with five fouls. The only question was how badly would the Magic collapse.

Dwight Howard

After all, they had blown a 14-point lead in Game 5 of the series, and almost let a 28-point cushion slip away in Game 1, so why not save the “best” for last? And sure enough, after Ray Allen hit a three-pointer with 4:12 to play, the Celtics had cut the lead to 12 and were poised to make something happen. So, of course, there was only one man the Magic could turn to in their hour of need.

Hedo Turkoglu eating pizza

That’s right, Mr. Pizza Man himself, Hedo Turkoglu. Maybe the grease on his fingers from his pregame meal of pizza put extra spin on the ball, but he was out of his mind in Game 7, especially when the Magic needed him most. He responded to Allen’s three-pointer with one of his own, and then hit a fallaway jumper on the next possession to get the lead back to 17. Maybe he’s a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and pizza is his spinach?

After that, it was time for the Celtics to pull Allen and Paul Pierce for a final round of applause, and bring in the scrubs. (Otherwise known as “Gabe Pruitt Time!”) As for the Magic, they haven’t been this far since the Shaq and Penny days, so you can excuse the people of Orlando if they don’t exactly act like they’ve been there before.

So the NBA didn’t get the Cavaliers vs. Celtics match-up they were craving, but their consolation prize is nice: the most dominant big man in the game (Dwight Howard) vs. the most dominant anything in the game (LeBron James). As for Bron-Bron and the Cavaliers, you can see that they were clearly concerned about who they would play:

Let’s see Van Gundy draw up a defense for that.

As the NBA’s reigning champs were dethroned, the current NFL champs get ready to enjoy one of their spoils on Thursday: the traditional meeting with the President in front of the White House. But NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison won’t be joining them. No, he doesn’t have a pressing personal emergency, and it’s not a political protest. His reason is a little more complex than that:

“This is how I feel — if you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don’t win the Super Bowl. As far as I’m concerned, he [Obama] would’ve invited Arizona if they had won,” said Harrison.

So let me get this straight: Harrison is upset because he thinks that Barack Obama is playing favorites and only inviting the Steelers because they won the Super Bowl and not because he’s their biggest fan? Apparently he didn’t see the bitchin’ helmet tattoo that the President got before the playoffs, or the new paint modifications he made to Air Force One once he took office:

Modifications to Air Force One

Finally, the Stanley Cup playoffs started their conference finals on Sunday, and the Detroit Red Wings gave the upstart Chicago Blackhawks a welcome to big time hockey with a 5-2 thumping in Game 1 of their series. But the big story was almost something far darker, as the Blackhawks’ Adam Burish narrowly escaped a Richard Zednik/Clint Malarchuk moment when his neck was clipped by the skate of teammate Ben Eager.

Unlike the other two players, Burish only received a minor nick that didn’t require stitches. Still, he knows how lucky he was:

“I don’t know how my head was still connected there,” Burish said. “I saw his skate. It was like he did a figure skating move. He lifted his skate up and I just watched it go over my neck.”

If only they made some sort of device that could protect hockey players in case a blade happens to catch them in the neck. A “neck protector,” if you will. But I guess that’s just crazy talk.

  • THE STATE says South Carolina baseball player Casey Rihn allegedly learned the hard way why you don’t keep hitting the back of a police car with your hands when you are walking around drunk at 2 a.m.: you can wind up arrested after the cop in your car turns your face into Hamburger Helper on the ground.
  • Casey Rihn before and after

  • I guess that Usain Bolt’s OK after the foot surgery following his car crash: The AP says that in his first meet back in Manchester, England, he set the world record in the 150 meters at 14.35. Yeah, he even has the world record for a race no one runs now.
  • Walls? After you’ve been through the kind of hell Josh Hamilton has, walls are nothing. Actually, the DALLAS MORNING NEWS says that the wall was a pretty decent adversary for the Rangers’ outfielder, as he suffered a mild groin strain while making a game-saving catch against the Angels.
  • Dear Bruno Junqueira: Thanks for qualifying our car for the Indianapolis 500 - we really appreciate it. But we hope you don’t mind that we’re pulling you from the ride and replacing you with Alex Tagliani. It’s nothing personal - it’s just that he’s our main driver and all, and he failed to qualify. Best, Conquest Racing. P.S. Please return your driving suit to us by 5 p.m. or you lose the deposit.
  • Manchester United wrapped up the English Premier League crown this weekend, but the biggest story might be the plight of former soccer heavyweights Newcastle United. As the TELEGRAPH reports, their 1-0 loss to Fulham puts them on the edge of relegation to soccer’s minor leagues, as they need a win in their final game to stay in the EPL.
  • NFL fans who don’t get the NFL Network might finally be in luck: SI’s Peter King says that the league is closing in on a deal with Comcast to make the network available on the regular digital cable package. Finally, I won’t have to pay a premium for my daily dose of Rich Eisen.
  • TROY NUNES IS AN ABSOLUTE MAGICIAN sat down with new Syracuse football coach Doug Marrone for an interview, but not during breakfast if their arteries know what’s good for them. After all, Marrone claims that he once ate “42 pancakes with two sticks of butter…or a stick and half of butter…no, two sticks of butter and a thing and a half of maple syrup. I take pride in what I can eat.”
  • As if the Colorado Rockies didn’t have enough problems with the Pittsburgh Pirates taking two of three against them over the weekend, BUGS & CRANKS says that they even had to dodge bats kicked at them by the umps.
  • It was apparently “Dress Like A Banana Day” in San Francisco for the Giants’ game against the Mets, but THE SPORTS HERNIA says that Jon Miller was the only person in the ESPN broadcast booth to get the memo:
  • Jon Miller

  • What’s more American than baseball? The CHARLOTTE OBSERVER has an answer: beer and baseball. Since a local ordinance was changed allowing them to sell beer on Sundays, the minor league Charlotte Knights have seen attendance for Sunday home games go up by 30 percent.

NBA Finals: Who ya got?

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Prospect Turns Down $5M, Now Works At Costco

Now that Matthew Stafford has received the most guaranteed money of any NFL player in history — slightly more than Albert Haynesworth’s $40 million, sacks of cash more than anyone else, ever — it might be worth looking at one time the whole signing bonus culture didn’t work out for the prospect.

Matt Harrington

Matt Harrington was a can’t miss first round pick for the Rockies in 2000. But the nearly $5 million they offered him wasn’t enough. So he went back into the draft. Four more times. Each year for five years, Harrington was taken later and later, and offered less and less. And now?

He’s working in the auto department at Costco.

Read more…

Won’t Dustin Pedroia Be the Cutest Li’l MVP Ever?

2008 has been a crazy year in Major League Baseball. The Rays are in first place in September, Manny Ramirez is wearing Dodger Blue, and the Yankees are basically out of the playoff chase. But perhaps nothing sums up just how weird this season has been more than this: DENVER POST baseball writer Troy Renck wrote in a column today that he is going to be voting for Dustin Pedroia for AL MVP. The weirdest part: he might be right.

Dustin Pedroia

Renck laid out some compelling reasons to select Pedroia: He’s leading the league in hitting, having gone 21 for his last 34. He had two less extra-base hits than main rivals Josh Hamilton and Carlos Quintin despite being a second baseman.

And he’s so darned cute. (Note: I made that last one up, but come on…don’t you just want to pinch his cheeks and put him in your pocket?)

Read more…

Beware Of Medal Winning Olympians With Tattoos

With the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics set to take place tomorrow in Beijing, it’s only a matter of time before we start hearing word of medal winners who are busted for taking performance enhancing drugs. For you see, cheating is a tradition almost as old as the games itself.

Tattoo needles newest way to inject PEDs

Of course, as time moves on, life evolves and things get better. Whether it’s the athletes themselves or the manner in which those athletes cheat, there is always a race to stay ahead of the curve. With the strict testing policies of the IOC, Olympic athletes have to find cutting edge ways to stay ahead of the testers if they want to hold on to their medals. Which is why if you see any Olympians accepting their gold medal while covered in tattoos, you should probably be a bit suspicious.

Read more…