In a lot of ways, the Michael Vick saga is coming to an end today. In a couple of hours, the Eagles will announce that they have signed Vick to a contract, and the dogfighting thing will be behind us, and he’ll just be another NFL player again.
Sure, there will be Rachel Nichols following his every move at practice for a while, then everyone will get all excited when he breaks off a 14-yard run from the Wildcat formation in a preseason game. But then he’ll fade away for a while as he serves his suspension, and by the time he is eligible to play in week six or so, he’s just going to a backup who comes on for a gimmick play every once in a while.
Philly was one of a long list of teams that reportedly had no interest in Vick as he was seeking a new job. In fact, many theorized that he’d have to resort to signing with the new UFL to have a chance to play. After all, what NFL team was going to be willing to absorb the PR hit, be willing to wait out his suspension, and be able to actually use him? The Eagles seemed unlikely on all fronts. They’ve already got two decent backup quarterbacks in Kevin Kolb and A.J. Feeley.
(You know things don’t look good for this league when they’re disappointed that they didn’t get the dog killer.)
So why add Vick to a team that doesn’t really need him? Andy Reid talks about wanting to give the guy a second chance, and even mentions the plight of his own children as a factor in the decision. The Eagles did use DeSean Jackson in the Wildcat on occasion last year, so maybe they want to expand that facet of their offense. Maybe they’ll try to turn him into a receiver, kick returner, or both. But can he learn to do those things at an NFL level in a matter of weeks?
None of that seems important right now, as most of the attention will be focused on the moral implications of signing a guy who just got out of prison two weeks ago for killing dogs. The PHILLY INQUIRER’s John Gonzalez sums up the struggle, and gives a very reasonable argument in favor of giving Vick another chance:
If you’ve already dug in and joined the anti-Vick camp, I won’t blame you or try to change your mind. People love dogs. I’m one of them. I’m a sucker for just about any animal, but the ones that roll over and play fetch and slobber all over me - even when I’m not at my best (which is most of the time) - are by far my favorite. What Vick did to those dogs was cruel and terrible and indefensible.
But I’m not going to kill the Eagles for signing him, and I’m not going to attack Vick or ascribe some pejorative label to the guy. I don’t know the man. I don’t know why he got involved with dogfighting. But I do know that he went to prison, and he lost his job, and he’s been beaten up quite a bit over the last two years. He’s been beaten up almost endlessly. And for good reason. Don’t get it twisted, he deserved his punishment - all of it. But after doing his time and losing almost everything he’d worked so hard to achieve, hasn’t he paid the price required of someone looking to purchase a second chance?
Ultimately, I think NFL fans will be OK with Vick. Everything he’s said and done recently indicates that he’s remorseful about what he did and that he’s committed to rebuilding his image. But for now, even the fans in Philly are split on this – a poll on PHILLY.COM shows that they are about 53-47 against signing Vick.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that he was pelted with vomit and urine while attempting to take a corner kick at Azteca Stadium on Wednesday, word comes now that U.S. soccer star Landon Donovan played the entire game with the swine flu.
Ironically, Landon didn’t pick up the illness in Mexico, where the latest epidemic of the ol’ H1N1 originated. Instead, he got it from two staff members of the L.A. Galaxy, Donovan’s MLS team. The L.A. TIMES reports that the staff members picked it up during the Galaxy’s match with the New England Revolution in Foxboro. That’s right, Pats fans. Swine flu is just stewing in your stadium. Good luck with that, Brady.
(”So, if there’s swine flu on Bernard Pollard’s helmet…”)
Donovan admits that he felt crappy during Wednesday’s game, but chalked it up to the elevation and poor air quality in Mexico City. He is unlikely to play in the Galaxy’s home game tomorrow against Seattle, and more unlikely to ever come within 25 feet of David Beckham the rest of this season (which isn’t much of a change — he just has a medical reason now).
I suppose it’s shouldn’t be surprising if we hear of athletes starting to come down with the virus. MLB pitcher Vicente Padilla came down with it a couple of weeks ago, and as many as 1 million people nationwide have probably been infected at some point. While there is little danger of any serious repercussions (Donovan is sick, but nothing beyond your average flu bug), it could be devastating to a team if multiple players were to suffer from the illness at the same time. NFL teams in particular need to be careful, or at least plan on catching it the week they play the Lions.
• Michael Phelps is going to be just fine after he was involved in a car accident last night. The sack of 10 from White Castle? Sadly, they didn’t make it.
• Rick Sutcliffe throws Jose Mesa under the bus for failing to hit somebody with a pitch 20 years ago. Sut just didn’t realize that the opposing batter needs to have “Vizquel” written on his back for Joe Table to plunk him.
• Jeff Francoeur thinks the reason he’s going to look “like a clown” next year is these new batting helmets, and not his inevitable .285 on-base percentage.
• Well, the Wrigley beer-tosser has been apprehended and he apologized publicly to Shane Victorino, the Cubs, and his own family. But not to the guy who took the fall for him and got tossed out. That’s like the main guy who needs an apology!
• Adrian Beltre might want to reconsider his decision to not wear a cup, as he’s now on the DL because of the quite horrifying “bleeding testicle.” Yeah, you heard that right. He somehow played five innings after the injury.
• Quentin Richardson has been traded — for the fourth time this offseason. The T-Wolves sent him to Miami yesterday for Mark Blount. That means he has now been swapped for Darko Milicic, Zach Randolph, Sebastian Telfair, Mark Madsen, and now Blount. That’s a lot of headcases and one terrible dancer.
• Royals great Willie Wilson has signed a one-day contract to start a game for the Kansas City T-Bones of the Independent League next week. Wilson apparently didn’t want to subject himself to something as embarrassing as appearing at an actual Royals game.
• The DAILY MAIL has a story today about Kirsty Gallacher, girlfriend of rugby player Paul Sampson, daughter of golfer Bernard Gallacher, and former Sky Sports personality. Just wanted to establish a sports-related reason to run this photo:
After a day that saw the lowest opening round ever at the
British Open Championship and a 59-year-old dude lapping Turnberry like it’s a pitch-and-putt, it appears that the golf gods are turning the screws on the field today. Let’s put it this way, Tiger Woods has moved up more than 20 spots on the leaderboard so far today by not playing golf.
(It’s been 32 years since we’ve seen this much arm hair and a Claret Jug in the same photo)
Tiger will tee off shortly, and he’ll do so on a damp, dreary, and (most importantly) windy day on the Scottish shoreline. Tom Watson (pictured above) is already out on the course, looking to build on his improbable 65. Yesterday’s clubhouse leader, Miguel Angel Jimenez, has already dropped four shots on the front nine as of press time. His ridiculous ponytail is threatening to blow into the ocean as we speak.
Ben Curtis was one of three players who started the day one behind, but he’s fallen off the map, firing a brutal 80 and falling all the way to a tie for 108th in the process. Others who have gone completely in the tank today are Mike Weir, Ian Poulter, Hunter Mahan, and US Open champ Lucas Glover. And John Daly looks just as ridiculous wearing this in Scotland as he does over here:
American Steve Marino is one of the only players who has negotiated the course well so far, following a first-round 67 with a 68 today. At 5-under, Marino might find himself playing in the final group on Saturday if the wind continues to howl during this afternoon’s play. Marino has never won on the PGA Tour and never even played in an Open. Japan’s Kenichi Kuboya has gone to 6-under as I write this, but he’s still early in his round and may have come back to earth by the time you read this.
(No, no, *Steve* Marino)
David Beckham made his long-awaited return to the MLS last night for the L.A. Galaxy. Well, it was at least a mildly-awaited return. Alright, let’s be honest, if Landon Donovan hadn’t called the guy out in that book would anyone even know he was back? The citizens of the New York metro area certainly didn’t seem to care that much, as only 23,000 or so showed up to see the Galaxy beat up on the hapless Red Bulls.
Not surprisingly, Beckham looked slow and tired, as he hadn’t played in a match since the end of May. Donovan scored once and assisted on another goal, and Beckham attempted to bury the hatchet once and for all by bro-hugging him all the way down the field as they celebrated Landon’s goal.
But the tepid response to Beckham’s return was the real story. Just a year ago, Beckham drew more than 46,000 fans out to the Meadowlands, which was down from the 66,000+ who came in 2007. He clearly prefers playing in Europe and living in Europe, so what’s the point now? He has run his course here, and his continued presence is just going to become an embarrassment for all involved — AEG for overestimating the Beckham brand in America, MLS for not shedding American pro soccer’s reputation of only drawing international stars after they’re washed up, and Beckham himself, who is going to have to deal with playing in front of 12,000 people in Kansas City and pretending that he’s happy to be there.
So when is the plug pulled for good? The Galaxy have friendly matches coming up with AC Milan (his other team) and Champions League winners Barcelona, as well as 12 more league matches that stretch into late October. European leagues start at the end of August. Is he going to want to stick around here when he could be getting “better prepared” for next year’s World Cup elsewhere? And more importantly, does anyone really care if he stays or goes?
• OK, so how did U.S. Ski Team member Cody Marshall suffer a serious head injury?
A) Training hard for the upcoming Olympics.
Do I need to even answer this for you? Perhaps the biggest problem was that the escalator wasn’t even turned on.
• Nice timing for the big celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe this weekend. I mean, it’s not like there’s another important golf tournament going on or anything. I guess if Tiger tanks it today everyone can take solace in being able to watch Charles Barkley shoot 110.
• Adam Morrison has finally found a league he can dominate — the NBA summer league in Vegas. The LA TIMES caught up with him there. Seriously, though, the guy has taken a beating just about everywhere so it would be a great story if he could somehow turn himself into a useful NBA player.
• The Jazz are planning on matching the Blazers’ offer to restricted free agent Paul Millsap, which ESPN says might help facilitate a trade that would send Carlos Boozer to Chicago and Kirk Hinrich to Portland.
(No, no, *Paul* Millsap. It’s not even spelled the same.)
• Remember the good old days when Dominican baseball prospects just lied about their age? Now they don’t even use their real names. The Yankees are the latest team to have apparently been duped by a prospect from the D.R. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED says they signed who they thought was 16-year-old shortstop Damian Arredondo to an $850,000 bonus, but they have been informed by MLB’s Department of Investigations that not only is he not really 16, but he’s also not really Damian Arredondo. Whoever he is, the Yankees don’t have to pay him the bonus and the player is now banned from being offered a contract by another team for a year.
• More evidence that Rich Rodriguez might not be working out in Ann Arbor? An offensive lineman who has left the program to transfer to Ball State says this: “They were bringing in a lot of different kids that were not my kind of crowd. Coach Carr’s staff was a whole different ballgame. It was like a family. But when Rodriguez came in it was a whole different feeling. It was more of a business.”
• Ricky Williams would like to give you a body massage.
• That car that Stan Musial rode around in at the All-Star Game the other night was a Ford. And, since we all know that “this is oooouuurrrr coouuuntryyyy” and Chevy owns our souls during baseball telecasts, they had to actually put tape over the Ford logo. Maybe that’s why the guy driving was so surly the whole time (thanks UNI WATCH).
• The MIAMI HERALD was trumpeting the Marlins-Phillies series that began last night at (shudder) Land Shark Stadium, saying that crowds of “upwards of 30,000″ were expected for the series. Actual attendance last night: 15,171. But look at the bright side — that’s 15,000 fewer people to be embarrassed by watching their team get one-hit by a 46-year-old.
• Ryan Howard hit his 200th career homer last night in his 658th game, the fewest ever for someone to reach the milestone. The previous record holder was Ralph Kiner, who did it in 706 games.
• Everybody’s talking about the dress Erin Andrews wore to the ESPY Awards, but Natalie Gulbis was looking pretty nice herself:
We mentioned this weekend that former champion boxer Arturo Gatti’s wife Amanda Rodrigues was being held in connection with his death while the couple were on a second honeymoon. While it’s up to Brazilian prosecutors to file the actual murder charges, the police seem pretty sure that Rodrigues is guilty - sure enough to declare that it “technically impossible” for someone else to have been in the room when Gatti was killed, and as YOU BEEN BLINDED has visual evidence of, showcase the bloody strap and knife they say Rodrigues used to kill her husband.
We’re also learning more about Rodrigues, like the fact that she’s a 23-year-old former stripper - in fact, they met at an “exotic” club in Brazil. (And I don’t want to know how “exotic” things can get in a Brazilian strip club - I just hope that jaguars aren’t involved.) And she had received a restraining order against him earlier this year that required him to stay 200 meters away from her and quit drinking.
Needless to say, while this is a tragedy, perhaps it’s not a shock. After all, Gatti’s sister is claiming that Rodrigues had planned to murder him and was only in it for the money. Meanwhile, Rodrigues’ lawyers are apparently going to claim that she is “too skinny” to have strangled Gatti to death. Which would make sense if they claim he was conscious when this happened, not passed out after a night of drinking (and possibly getting stabbed in the back of the head).
In less messy and horrific news, you may think the Home Run Derby is at best a pointless exhibition that tarnishes baseball by reducing it to its basest level (MASH BALL HARD) while ignoring the subtleties the make the game so enjoyable. You many even possibly consider it a major factor in the rise of the Steroid Era. Or, you might just enjoy seeing some of the game’s biggest names blast the living bejeezus out of the ball while drinking enough to ignore the infernal booth combo that is Chris Berman and Steve Phillips.
While last night’s edition at Busch Stadium didn’t have the transcendent moments of, say, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa hitting rubber baseballs with Flubber cores out of Fenway Park, or Josh Hamilton hitting 500 home runs in one round, it was entertaining enough. And while the hometown crowd might have been disappointed with their hero Albert Pujols bowing out in the semifinals, they seemed to enjoy the show that Prince Fielder put on in winning the event.
Maybe the newly vegetarian Fielder was following Pujols’ lead from when the Cardinals slugger blew out the “i” in the “Big Mac Land” sign in the Busch Stadium outfield deck earlier this season - with his goal to bring the whole sign down to punish McDonald’s for their carnivore ways. No matter what the reason, Fielder had enough in the tank to hold off Nelson Cruz (again, I said “some” of the game’s biggest names) in the finals after bombing an event-best 503-foot blast in the semis.
And then there was poor Brandon Inge, who had been so excited to be a part of the Home Run Derby that he said it was bigger than actually making his first All-Star team. I’m guessing he didn’t feel the same way after becoming the first batter since Jason Bay in 2005 to take a donut in the first round - or as my friends used to call it, “Posting a Piazza” (named after Mike Piazza, who went 0-for-his career with blanks in 1993 and 1994).
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers might be ready to make a move that could either turn them into playoff contenders or…OK, let’s be honest, it’s not possible to ruin the Clippers, so what harm could come from Allen Iverson joining the team? Marcus Camby played with A.I. in Denver, and he’s on board with the idea, with PRO BASKETBALL NEWS saying that he’s willing to help recruit Iverson to the team. Even Eric Gordon is OK with it, even if that means losing playing time in a backcourt with Iverson and Baron Davis.
The one person not too hip on Allen Iverson right now in Los Angeles seems to be Ron Artest, whose opinion doesn’t matter too much since he’s now playing for the Lakers. Plus, he’s totally nuts. But his Tweet that Iverson is “missing more shots than Muhammad Ali with a sniper rifle” is pretty damned good.
Still, Iverson could provide the veteran leadership and role model that Blake Griffin could use as he establishes himself in the NBA - and he might be a force, based on his NBA Summer League debut of 27 points and 12 rebounds versus the Lakers yesterday. Except for that whole “practice” thing.
More sports news as you ponder if the Tour of Germany will get more interest now that a German brothel is offering discounts for bicyclists:
- Have you seen Terrell Owens’ ad for his reality show where he’s “artfully” posing nude? EXAMINER.COM has, and it’s “tastefully” making me want to be sick.
- Hey kids, want to spend money to get football lessons from Andre Rison? After all, he told the ALTOONA MIRROR that he’ll spend the second day showing you his highlights so he can “really let them know, in my eyes, I was the best to ever play the game.” And parents, if you think Andre Rison is a good role model, I’m coming to your house with Child Protective Services.
- As usual, more chaos coming from the Oakland Raiders: PRO FOOTBALL TALK reports that they’ve cut sixth-round draft pick Stryker Sulak before even signing him to a contract, which a league source says he’s “never seen happen before.” Meanwhile, Raiders blog JUST BLOG BABY thinks that PFT is making a big deal out of nothing.
- I didn’t mention the Celebrity Softball game that was part of the MLB All-Star festivities. I’ll just show you the final out, where Ashanti managed to make the type of play to end the game that makes coed softball a nightmare for most guys. She should consider herself lucky that Bob Knight didn’t piledrive her at first:
- David Beckham swears that his spat with Landon Donovan is a thing of the past as Golden Balls returns to practice with the Los Angeles Galaxy. In related news, Landon Donovan was found dead in his Home Depot Center dressing room, with a six-inch stilleto heel in his eyeball as Victoria Beckham was seen leaving.
- The Chicago Blackhawks want to thank GM Dale Tallon for putting together a team that got to the Western Conference finals this season - by giving him a severance check and making sure the door doesn’t hit his butt on the way out the door. Reports says that assistant GM Stan Bowman will replace him.
- USA TODAY says that the NFL could lead the fight to stop Delaware from legalizing sports gambling. Looks like Dover’s shot at getting an expansion team just went out the window.
- Former Tennessee Titans player and HS football coach Reed Diehl has pleaded guilty to defrauding nine people of more than $5 million in a fradulent loan program scam.
- If anyone is interested in an 34-year-old quarterback who was never really that great in his prime, please call Brian Griese - he’s available after being cut by the Bucs.
- Former MLBer Billy Koch has been arrested after a 2 a.m. altercation with his next-door neighbor. The ironic part? The neighbor had grabbed a baseball bat in an unsuccessful attempt to defend himself.
• A 71-year-old former boxing champ beats & bruises a 23-year-old knife-wielding would-be burglar. The kid should’ve stayed off his lawn.
• Landon Donovan releasing new book that bashes David Beckham.
• A Cubs fan vows to go on a semi-hunger strike until the Baby Bears win 5 in a row. It was nice knowing ya, pal.
• It’s like the old saying goes: Mexican midget wrestlers & hookers just don’t mix.
Landon Donovan is the face of U.S. Soccer: talented but underachieving, too good for MLS but not good enough to the top European leagues. David Beckham is the face of what US Soccer would like to become. The two have always been at odds in that sense, but never more overtly or more publicly than now.
Donovan rips his L.A. Galaxy teammate in a new book, calling him lazy, selfish and disloyal. And oh, by the way, that book is scheduled to come out two days before Beckham’s long-awaited return to MLS in front of a passionate and knowledgeable New York crowd. You wanted a spectacle, MLS? You got one.
After squeaking past Guatemala, the US soccer team is back on the road for their second match in their World Cup Qualifying semifinal group on Saturday. And as the AP reports, while the fact that they are playing the 92nd-ranked team in the world should ensure the usual lack of interest from the average sports fan, just who they are traveling to play might be of some interest: Cuba.
Although Cuba pours huge resources into world sports like baseball, track & field, and boxing (and frequently are able to compete with and beat the US), soccer is a different story.