6:15 PM U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said on Monday that the organization "stands by our decision" to let goalie Hope Solo continue playing for the U.S. women's team as she faces domestic violence charges.
You! Yes, you, with the comically small amount of money! Would you like to attend an actual “sporting event” with “nationally recognized teams” and the possibility of seeing a “professional sports superstar”? Fret not! SbB@3 will put you in the cheapest seats imaginable, so you can have the privilege of squinting at millionaires who gave up on their season… often before it even began!
Our first special sporting event comes from sunny Los Angeles, the city where even the ugly people are beautiful. There resides sporting’s pre-eminent international man of intrigue, David Beckham. What would you pay to watch the superstar reinvent the sport of soccer for this great country? $500? $1,000? $55,000? Nay, nay, and nay!
One of the greatest misconceptions about sports in this country is that Americans don’t like soccer. Vocal contrarian sportswriters love to perpetuate that misconception from their columns, and xenophobic Americans follow suit, ever skeptical of things “not from around here.” Admittedly, it’s not always easy to follow the sport’s top leagues from halfway around the world, but if there’s one thing Americans have proved time and time again, it’s that they do in fact enjoy the beautiful game…when it’s being played well.
That’s why minor leagues in any sport always struggle to survive, and why many fans are lukewarm about the game in this country. Too often, Americans who want to watch soccer are forced to watch third-rate athletes compete in fourth-rate stadia. Last night, though, 93,137 fans packed the Rose Bowl and proved once again that they will flock to the game when it’s played at the highest levels as Barcelona FC beat the LA Galaxy 2-1.
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.
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.
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 Donovanis 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.
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.
When Michael Jackson died suddenly yesterday afternoon, media outlets the world over pored through their archives to find a unique angle on the pop icon’s death. Most of Jacko’s connections to real-world areas of interest like cars and sports were of the bizarre, whimsical variety (like his head-scratching speech to English soccer team Exeter FC). I mean, let’s face it, the guy was a human trainwreck, and we’re all gawking.
But there’s one ongoing Michael Jackson storyline that could make some very serious waves in the world of sports. Anschutz Entertainment Group, the world’s largest owner of sports teams and venues (including the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, the MLS’ Houston Dynamo and Los Angeles Galaxy, English soccer team Newscastle United, and stadia like the Staples Center), was also the company producing and bankrolling Jackson’s 50-concert “comeback tour.” Now, with no Jacko and no tour, AEG faces a whopping $500 million dollar insurance liability and over $85 million in ticket refunds. Sports fans -prepare to bend over and solve AEG’s problems for them.
As the rest of baseball (and the sports world) tries to make sense of the current economic situation, they would do well to look at the Boston Red Sox; or perhaps avoid looking at them if they don’t want to be ridiculously depressed. Because according to the BOSTON GLOBE, even the venerable Red Sox - one of the most successful and well-managed teams in sports - are taking a hit, and if the Red Sox aren’t recession-proof, what does that mean for mere mortal teams?
As the story details, the Red Sox lost several major sponsorship deals in the off-season, including big money agreements with Nikon and PC Connection, replacing them with smaller deals. (I don’t think the Bermuda Board of Tourism is going to bring in the same money.) In addition, luxury box sales are down, and ratings for games on the Red Sox-owned NESN were down 20 percent last season.
The U.S. doesn’t run, from anything. At least that’s the story they tell you at jingoistic patriot rallies and Boy Scout camps. Yet it turns out that’s not the case, because U.S. baseball manager Davey Johnson is making noise that he’ll withdraw the team from the ongoing World Baseball Classic’s second round — or semifinals, should it advance that far — if further injuries strike the squad.
How big a statement would the U.S. be making if the country that invented baseball pulled out of only the second World Baseball Classic? A big one, that’s for sure. Yet as more players criticize the practice methods and over-inflated early intensity of the WBC, the entire tournament is being thrown back into question, even as the Netherlands (recently and dearly departed), Japan, Korea, Venezuela and Puerto Rico author a pretty intriguing script.
It’s a strange emerging dichotomy that’s hard to bridge, both for the American public and, surely, the commissioner’s office as well.
More interesting is the bracket breakdown, with Duke landing the top seed in the Western (Berkeley) Region. Who’s the No. 2 there? Why, Stanford, which happens to play less than an hour away from the site of the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. If that seems a bit unfair to you, it does to us, too. Not that it’s unprecedented, of course, but it sure does minimize the advantage of being the No. 1 seed. After all, if you can’t beat a 15, then you don’t deserve to go anywhere in the tournament. And if you can’t beat a 7, then you probably should have been a 1 or 2 seed anyway.
Once you get past that point, the site and fan presence at the event are as important as anything else, and that’s where Stanford will have a huge advantage. That’s not to say Duke won’t pull it off, it’s just a matter of the smart money being on Stanford.
Why can’t teams just keep wearing the uniforms, warm ups and shoes they’ve sported all year when they make the tournament? We’re so sick of this March marketing already. With that in mind, here’s Louisville’s new duds and kicks.
THE BIG LEAD posted this yesterday, but it really is a must see if you’ve ever doubted the credibility of either Jay Bilas or Dicky-V. One of them is wrong in this scenario, no matter how you slice it.
The 58th All-Star game is in the books, and the West absolutely destroyed the East, 146-117. At one point, it was 20-8 in favor of the East All-Stars before Kobe Bryant led the West on a 19-0 run, and the Westies never looked back. It’s hard to imagine what was the better Shaquille O’Neal highlight: going between Dwight Howard’s legs for the give-and-go with Chris Paul, or the entrance with that “Jabbawockeez” dance group that’s inexplicably* all over the TV these days. Here’s that intro (thanks, BALL DON’T LIE).
Shaq and Kobe shared the MVP award, which seemed fitting. Kobe tossed in the most points on the night (27), which is usually an automatic win, but Shaq was both far more efficient (17 points on 8-9 shooting in only 11 minutes) and entertaining; this might be the Big Aristotle’s last All-Star game, so he made it count last night.
At some point, with all the ACC losses piling up, you’d think it would no longer be fun or newsworthy to point out another Duke loss. You’d think that, but you’d be very wrong. After having their asses handed to them by UNC last week, the Blue Devils went to the Silvio O. Conte Forum to face a Boston College team that hadn’t beaten Duke in 24 years. Bounce back for the Blue Devils against an unrated BC team?
Err, not exactly. Duke led 37-32 at the break, but the Golden Eagles came alive in the second half, ringing up 48 points in those 20 minutes against the vaunted Blue Devil defense. Senior leader Tyrese Rice drops 21, 6, and 6, Joe Trapani chips in 20 more, 80-74 is your final, and Duke is now 7-4 in the ACC. Dick Vitale must be inconsolable.
Let’s say you find yourself in the middle of Scotland with a dildo in my mouth. I mean your mouth. Anyway, let’s move on. Stuart Slann, a married 39-year-old Manchester United fan from Sheffield (this is all in England, in case you couldn’t tell), met “Emma,” a sexy babe who was also a ManU fan on Facebook, and the two hit it off. One problem: Emma, as you’ve already guessed, did not and does not actually exist, but Stuart didn’t find that out until driving 400 miles north and receiving a rather unfortunate phone call. Oh, and as we mentioned before, Emma really wanted to see a dildo in Slann’s mouth, so now… whoops.
(This image is in no way modified to remove the sex toy. He was just eating corn. That’s all.)
UNPROFESSIONAL FOUL has the uncensored video, which is just basically some text, 2 minutes of the uncensored version of the picture above, and - as far as we can tell - rampant profanity (they’re Scottish, so who can tell). As you can guess, Slann’s wife wasn’t very pleased, and the two have now split. Oof. This never happens to Pompey fans. Just sayin’.
Marshawn Lynch faces felony gun charges after police found a loaded handgun in his car. Honestly, as long as he’s not shooting a bouncer at a strip club or shooting himself in the leg, I think the NFL’s making progress here. They might even be gun-free by 204never.
According to the CEDAR RAPIDS GAZETTE, former Iowa State head coach and current national champion Florida assistant coach Dan McCarney’s daughter was arrested for assaulting a police officer in Iowa City. The details, which include the ever-popular “MY LAST NAME IS MCCARNEY,” are golden.
You know why the dunk contest sucked this year? No Guy Dupuy, who’s probably the most vicious dunking Frenchman in history (can we get him to posterize Frederic Weis? Wouldn’t that be fitting?). Make that happen in 2010, NBA. Even T.O. knows it’s over.
You have to give Mike D’Antoni credit for trying something innovative, even if it didn’t work out. For the second straight game, the New York Knicks rolled out their “Box and Zero” defense, which essentially challenges the other team’s best player to beat them by refusing to cover him under any circumstances. But just like against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on Monday night, somehow it didn’t work out against the Cavaliers either.
Actually, I’m not sure what defense D’Antoni had his team running the last two games, but “none” comes to mind: a game after giving up 61 points to Bryant, the Knicks did the impossible: made another superstar have an even more incredible performance, as LeBron Jamesscored 52 points in the Cavaliers’ 107-102 victory and became the first NBA player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975 to score 50+ points as part of a triple-double.
James also joined Michael Jordan as the only players to have multiple 50 points games in the new Madison Square Garden. Any time you’re mentioned in the same breath as Kareem and Jordan, you are doing something right. And did I mention that this was the tail end of a back-to-back? And that the Cavaliers were without three of their players due to injury and illness?
And in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t get any easier for the Knicks. Their next opponent to come into the Garden? The Boston Celtics on Friday night. I can’t imagine what Kevin Garnett could possibly do to upstage Kobe and LeBron - perhaps pick Nate Robinson up and slam him through the basket while clutching the ball?
Raiders running back Justin Fargas wasn’t breaking any records last night, unless it was “Stupidest Appearance in a Hip-Hop Video.” Because if you are an NFL player, and you know the league is on the warpath about its image and substance abuse, I would think that appearing in a video with someone called “Yukman” as he smokes a blunt that would make Cheech & Chong quiver in their tie-dyes isn’t such a great idea.
But PRO FOOTBALL TALK says that’s exactly what Fargas did. And honestly, are we shocked by this? Not that an NFL player would be so brazen about assoicating with potheads, but that it would be Fargas. I mean, his dad was Huggy Bear, for crying out loud. Just look at his dad:
Being shocked that his son is involved with marijuana is like being shocked that one of Bob Marley’s kids has a taste for the ganja. The video is up at WORLD STAR HIP HOP: go grab some Fritos and see it yourself.
While you pick the seeds out of your buds, here’s some more sports wackness from last night:
It’s bad for a college football program when when of your four-star linebacker recruits gets busted for a DUI. But when that school is BYU? Yikes. COUGAR BLUE has the story of Kyle Van Noy, who won’t be playing for the Cougars next year.
The WICHITA EAGLE wants you to look at the swinging watch and read the story of the high school basketball coach who turned to hypnotism to break his team’s slump and the school board that didn’t like it. Also, please send them a check for $500 dollars. And cluck like a chicken whenever you hear the word “beans.”
That sound you heard was Dick Vitale openly weeping for the Duke basketball team, as the Blue Devils dropped a close 74-47 game to Clemson. The WINSTON SALEM-JOURNAL picks up the pieces from the wreckage.