Week In Review: Danica to Drop ‘em for ESPN Mag

Danica Patrick could be removing her racing suit to pose for an all-nude (yet tastefully done) pictorial for ESPN The Magazine.

Danica Patrick topless

(Well, it’s a start)

• And the Rick Pitino sex-tortion scandal gets more & more pitiful.

• This FIBA Americas basketball tournament is getting quite rough. If it isn’t Mexico & Uruguay throwing punches & chairs, it’s security hassling Charlie Villanueva & his mother.

• College football players could lose their hotel privileges - for home games. But keeping the kids out of the local Motel 6 could actually be a bad idea.

• Are fantasy sports bad for your relationships? Well, in Texas, it can certainly be bad for your health.

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Mexico, Uruguay Play Hoops, Throw A Few Chairs

I don’t know why basketball fights tend to differ so dramatically from those in other sports; like baseball, where everyone just gets into a comfortable clinch; soccer, where the players simply run away, or football, where it seems no one really fights at all. Unless you play at Miami. In basketball, for some reason, they fight for real.

Mexico Uruguay basketbrawl

Uruguay is a tiny nation, but they’re feisty. And Mexico is Mexico, with a fine tradition of tempestuousness and midget wrestling. So when tensions flared at the 2009 FIBA Americas Tournament between the two, you knew it would be nasty. And it’s the third major brawl between international basketball teams in the past month. Video following the jump. Read more…

USA: “Can We Watch USA-Mexico?” NBC: “Que?”

With the USMNT’s highly improbable run in last month’s Confederations Cup in South Africa, interest has ramped up in America for the 2010 World Cup. Now all of a sudden, people know of more players on the team than just Landon Donovan - even if it’s just to yell “WHERE THE HELL WAS DEMPSEY?” at the television in order to give the (false) impression that you have a clue what’s going on.

Clint Dempsey Landon Donovan
(Success for the national team? Who the hell would want to watch that?)

So with a critical World Cup qualifier with rivals Mexico coming up next month, it stands to reason that rights-holders NBC would want to put the game on as many television sets in the US as possible. But, um, about that… hope you like Telemundo!

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Teen Boxer Vows To Win Title In Brother’s Memory

24-year-old boxer Benjamin Flores passed away on Tuesday after collapsing following a fight at a charity event in Dallas last week. Flores lost in his bid for the NABF’s super bantamweight title against Al Seeger. The referee stopped the fight at 2:10 of the eighth round, but Flores collapsed soon after and never regained consciousness. The Mexico native was 19-4 in his all-too-brief professional career.

Benjamin Flores

His death has devastated the boxing community in Texas and Mexico, as well as his family. Flores’ 16-year-old brother, Miguel, is an aspiring boxer in his own right who looked up to Benjamin and dreamed of one day fighting on the same card. After this, Miguel had every reason to give up on boxing. But not only is he continuing to box, he’s vowed to win a world championship in his brother’s honor.

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Speed Read: Washing Our Hands of the Swine Flu

The discerning reader prefers the news (and most foods) wrapped in bacon and liberally salted with panic. Therefore, we provide your Thursday morning sports-centric swine flu stories to better arm you at the water cooler to pass along the latest gossip mumbled through your faux designer mask:

Swine flu (or pigs fly)

Whew. That’s a lot of abject terror sensible precaution for one morning. Please add any additional sports-related swine flu stories to the comments below so the few remaining survivors have a record of these final days.

Thankfully, our few remaining moments left as a functional species can be well-represented by the following people tellin’ it like it is and keepin’ it real with the kids, assuming your kids take Don Rickles’ routine at face value:

Geno Auriemma

Fire truck at Comerica Park

(Emergency vehicle sized appropriately to emergency)

Finally, a false alarm (possibly a fire alarm) in the eighth inning could not shake the New York Yankees from barely holding onto a 8-6 lead at Comerica Park over the Detroit Tigers last night despite holding a 7-1 advantage late in the contest. As Joe Girardi put it, “In this day and age, that’s a little scary.”

Heck, Joe … in this day and age, what isn’t?

And now a hail of bullet points caused by two heroin-slingin’ senior citizen sisters (though you can’t fault them for looking for a new retirement plan these days) …

What’s your favorite pandemic?

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Speed Read: Newspaper Carnage Only Beginning

The meltdown of the American newspaper industry is in full effect. The past six weeks have seen the closures of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Rocky Mountain News, marking two of the largest newspaper closures in recent memory. And yesterday came news that might be a sign of disaster for one of the nation’s leading newspapers: the SAN FRANCISCO BUSINESS TIMES reports that roughly 120 employees of the San Francisco Chronicle have accepted voluntary buyouts as the paper struggles to avoid sale or shutdown.

San Francisco Chronicle

According to a list from the SAN FRANCISCO PENINSULA PRESS CLUB, those leaving the paper include NFL writer Nancy Gay, college sports writer Jake Curtis, deputy sports editor Larry Yant and a host of other writers, editors and photographers. This should be taken as a giant red flag if these people are getting out now, especially someone as respected as Gay; trust me, people just don’t leave NFL reporting positions at major newspapers unless something is going terribly, horribly wrong.

Leaving the Chronicle

But even the voluntary exits might not be enough - parent company Hearst Corporation (which also owns the now-online only Post-Intelligencer) has said that it needed to cut “at least” 150 jobs to avoid a shutdown or sale, with the paper currently bleeding money at a rate of $1 million a week. And with the chances of a corporation wanting to buy a failing newspaper next to zero in this climate, it seems as though the only two options are to slash the staff to ribbons or close shop.

As bad as the first option sounds, the alternative is even more daunting. Especially when you consider that the San Jose Mercury News recently announced that it was essentially abandoning the San Francisco market by stopping all weekday deliveries to the city.  Which leaves a very real possibility that the nation’s 12th-largest metropolitan area could be without a major daily newspaper (the San Francisco Examiner, currently having been reduced to a free handout resembling The Pennysaver, doesn’t count).

It seems like Mark Cuban might be prescient when he blogged about the slow death of the newspaper sports section; let’s hope that his idea of teams and leagues banding together to provide beat reporters to cover the same teams and leagues doesn’t pan out, but if the San Francisco Chronicle can fold, is any idea that outlandish?

And don’t think that it will just stop with the Chronicle: the paper was only sixth in TIME’s recent list of “The 10 Most Endangered Newspapers in America”. Ahead of it on the list are papers such as the Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the Miami Herald. That’s a lot of major sports teams that are suddenly going to be underserviced by local media, if at all.

Tim Floyd

Also possibly endangered: the continued success of the USC men’s basketball program. After making the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season for the first time in school history, the Trojans might be going back to square one as ESPN has word that an Arizona radio station is reporting that Tim Floyd has agreed to become the Arizona Wildcats’ new head coach, with an announcement as early as today.

This is all speculation, and as the LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS notes, this radio station has recently also had Rick Pitino and Jeff Capel as taking over at Arizona, so take everything with a grain of salt. But the LOS ANGELES TIMES reports that there may be smoke to this fire: Floyd apparently flew out yesterday to Tucson and was given 24 hours to decide on accepting the position by Arizona AD Jim Livengood.

Which is all very interesting, since Floyd rejected an overture by LSU last year, saying that USC was “his last job.” Then there’s the matter of the “impassioned speech” he gave at the team banquet Wednesday night, imploring players such as Taj Gibson and DeMar DeRozan to not jump to the NBA and come back next season to help the Trojans make a run at a national title. And then he got on a plane the next morning to interview for the Arizona job. That’s venturing into Bobby Petrino level of sleaziness.

Diego Maradona

Finally, a busy night of World Cup soccer qualifying has also brought us two people to add to the endangered list. The first is Argentine legend Diego Maradona, whose own near-death experiences with drugs and weight made him frequently endangered in the past. But this time, it’s not his life that’s in danger but his managing career, after his Argentina squad was demolished 6-1 by lowly Bolivia.

How embarrassing is this? It’s the first time they’ve given up six goals in a game since the World Cup…in 1958. Bolivia is 50 places behind Argentina in the FIFA world rankings, and their hat trick hero was Joaquin Botero, who plays for a second-division team in Mexico. This is Chaminade beating Virginia type stuff, where you glance at the box score over and over to make sure you didn’t read it wrong, before convincing yourself it’s just a typo.

And speaking of Mexico…if I were embattled manager Sven-Goren Eriksson, I wouldn’t even bother making the team flight back from Honduras, where his team suffered a humiliating 3-1 defeat, unless he wants his severed head to be placed on a pike outside of Atzeca Stadium as a warning to future managers.

The win allowed Honduras to leapfrog Mexico into the third and final guaranteed CONCACAF berth in the 2010 World Cup. Although there’s a lot of games left in both North & Central American and South American qualifying, there’s a chance that Argentina and Mexico could wind up facing each other in a two-game playoff, with the winner getting a World Cup spot and the loser staying home.

Other sports stories you might have missed last night as you were going to the hospital ER in Texas again…and again…and again

  • This is not going to help Wisconsin out in recruiting at all: the DAILY CARDINAL reports that the Badgers have banned ESPN’s Erin Andrews from working as a sideline reporter during games in Madison because she’s too much of a “distraction.” Unless this is a particularly clever April Fool’s joke…which it is.
  • Erin Andrews

  • Remember when Pete Carroll acted petulant at Mark Sanchez’s press conference announcing he was turning pro? Scouts at USC’s Pro Day tell the LOS ANGELES TIMES that Carroll is now claiming he acted that way to “test” Sanchez’s resolve to turn pro. Because acting like a spoiled child is going to convince him to come back.
  • It’s not just American athletes who get into trouble at strip bars late at night: THE MIRROR has word that Sunderland and French international striker Djibril Cissé has been arrested after allegedly grabbing a woman by the throat at a late-night strip club. You might remember him for having the distinction of suffering horrific, Theisman-like leg breaks not once but twice in his career, which you can watch here and here. (Warning: not for the faint of heart.)
  • Give Sen. John McCain credit for doing something right: the DALLAS MORNING-NEWS says that the former Presidential candidate is lobbying for a posthumous pardon of old-timey boxing champ Jack Johnson for trumped up, racially-biased charges. It still won’t make me forget that McCain voted against Martin Luther King Day, but it’s a start.
  • A word of warning: don’t take a quick paycheck to record canned introductions to videos for a company you know nothing about. Greg Gumbel failed to heed this advice, and he wound up as the spokesperson for a time-share, which ONLINE SPORTS GUYS says has lead to a lawsuit. Here’s one video in question:

  • SI.COM says that the Hockey Hall of Fame has changed its rules, opening the door for the first female player to be voted in. Someone in Canada, Don Cherry is burning his plaid Depends adult diapers in protest.
  • Hey look, another lacrosse team has been forced to suspend their season because of alleged misconduct. But the story of the Curry College team is far different than Duke, according to the BOSTON HERALD. Team members allegedly hazed new players at a party, although even the freshmen “victims” seem to think it was no big deal. Remind me to bring a lawyer if I ever go to a college lacrosse party.
  • WSLS-TV says that Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer prepared for the upcoming season by doing some NASCAR racing. He didn’t do so hot, but his goiter was signed to a developmental deal with Joe Gibbs Racing.
  • Somehow former Cleveland Browns QB Bernie Kosar is being dragged into the Rod Blagojevich mess. RUMORS AND RANTS reports that Kosar was on some sort of fundraising “hit list” put together by the then-Illinois Governor with the Steve Garvey haircut just before he was arrested.
  • The Boston Celtics barely avoided another humiliating defeat to the Charlotte Bobcats, as the BOSTON GLOBE reports that Ray Allen’s three-pointer at the end of OT gave them a 114-106 victory.

What is your primary source of sports news and opinion?

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Did Kornheiser Say Something Racist On “MNF”?

Late in last night’s thrilling MNF game between the Cowboys and Eagles, Tony Kornheiser took some time to apologize for something he said earlier in the broadcast, without referencing it directly. He said he was sorry for his “mistake” and says it wasn’t the first and won’t be the last one he’ll make.

Tony Kornheiser

But what the heck did he say? I was watching all night and hadn’t really noticed anything. Later I came to find that the offending comments were an off-the-cuff attempt at humor that Tony made after the audio had been switched briefly to the ESPN Deportes booth (while showing a replay of the kick-return TD by Felix Jones). But was it really racist? It wasn’t funny, but I’m kind of confused otherwise.

(Video of potential political incorrectness after the jump.)

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Mexico Needs to Increase Imports (of Baseballers)

Arte Moreno has worked very hard to expand his fan base in southern California. (The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Los Angeles” of professional baseball.) He sends Angels TV commercials and billboards deep into L.A. County and has no plans to cede ground to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Moreno also has no compunctions about targeting skilled Latin players. Vladimir Guerrero, Kelvim Escobar, and Bartolo Colón are just a few of the Spanish-speaking stars to join the franchise since Moreno’s arrival. If he wants to extend the marketing reach of the Angels well past the border, though, he might consider signing the best Mexicans to ever play the game.

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The NY Post Apparently Enjoys SbB’s Gift For Gifs

Where the MSM’s disdain doesn’t bother us as much as it bothers Shaq:

• Imitation must be the sincerest form of flattery, as The NEW YORK POST appreciates a good animated gif when they see one:

Old New York Post paper machine

• One of Dan Patrick’s favorite daily web stops has been offline for over a year.

• Some Pro Bowlers are con about taking the trip to Hawaii.

• Bills owner Ralph Wilson says his team’s not shuffling off from Buffalo - yet.

• Now ladies can replace their mother’s milk with a nice merlot, with the booze bra know as the Wine Rack:

Wine Rack before & after

Curt Schilling might not be able to shoulder a whole ‘nother season with the Red Sox.

• New York DC Steve Spagnuolo uses the other D.C. to get a Giant raise.

• Wednesday’s US-Mexico soccer match was such a “friendly” game that two people were shot afterwards.

Two People Shot After USA-Mexico Soccer Match

So much for being an international “friendly”. The HOUSTON CHRONICLE reports that two people were shot after Wednesday night’s US-Mexico soccer match.

US Mexico soccer

Over 70,000 fans showed up at Reliant Stadium to watch the Americans & Mexicans battle to a 2-2 tie. Witnesses said they saw police & emergency medical personnel gathered outside the west entrance of the stadium.

Although police are still investigating what happened, it’s not totally surprising that tempers would flare in what’s become a heated rivalry.

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