McGwire Lying Confession Worse Than His Hiding

SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY has a thorough rundown of reax from the media to Mark McGwire’s steroid admission yesterday. While most opinions of McGwire’s limited contrition skew negative, none I saw called it what it really was if you believe ESPN Investigative Reporter T.J. Quinn and Jose Canseco.

Staffers in ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH Newsroom Watch McGwire Steroids Admission

(St. Louis Post-Dispatch Newsroom Watching McGwire Last Night)

Quinn was the most compelling presence in the media yesterday with his eye-popping portrayal on ESPN-TV of McGwire as a serial hardcore user (horse steroids!) who enthusiastically shared his knowledge with many a major leaguer.In addition to steroids, Quinn said McGwire was perhaps the first MLB player to use HGH, and that he introduced the drug to many other MLB players, while giving them bogus information on the effects of the hormone. Damning, ugly stuff.

Quinn’s specific claims about McGwire were based on over 10 years of reporting on the subject and hundreds of interviews with MLB players, staffers, executives and medical experts in the field of PEDs. Video of his comments after the jump.

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Speed Read: Collapse Paralyzes Cowboy Staffer

Over the past week, the sports world has gone from a sadly predictable near-tragedy to a shockingly real one. While most NASCAR fans and drivers could have told you that a scene like Carl Edwards’ car almost flying into the packed stands at Talladega was almost inevitable, no one could have predicted what happened during a freak windstorm at the team’s practice facility on Saturday afternoon: the entire thing collapsed, trapping players, coaches, staff and media inside.

Cowboys Dome Collapse

When first reports came out about the accident on Saturday, it looked like any major injuries had been avoided. But Sunday brought additional news, and most of it not good: the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAPH says that scouting assistant Rich Behm has been paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the accident. Among the 11 other people who received medical attention, special teams coach Joe DeCamillis suffered a broken vertebra but somehow was not paralyzed, while assistant athletic trainer Greg Gaither has a broken right leg.

Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett

And as horrific as the situation was, it apparently could have even been worse, if eyewitness reports from players and media members who were there for a rookie minicamp (welcome to the league, rooks). Such as former kicker and fifth-round draft pick David Buehler, who wound up with a concussion and various cuts and scrapes.

“My initial thought was, how many people are dead in this?” Buehler said tonight. “I thought I was the lucky one.”

(It should be noted that Buehler became the kicker at USC after incumbent Mario Danelo was killed in a drunken fall from a cliff after the 2007 Rose Bowl, so he’s seen enough football-related tragedies for his lifetime.)

Somehow Buehler suffered the most severe injuries of the players (I guess that armor does help), and many of the players acted as rescuers immediately after the collapse. Two players might have helped save DALLAS MORNING NEWS reporter Todd Archer from further injury after he was pinned down by falling debris:

Then I saw two pairs of cleats near me and two blue jerseys, so I knew they were defensive players. Later, I was told it was cornerback DeAngelo Smith and linebacker Brandon Williams. Eatman said Williams pushed him out of the way so he could help get me out.

With whatever was on me raised a few inches, I was able to turn on my back and inch my way out. I remember seeing players hurdle over pieces of the wreckage to make sure their teammates – strangers to most of them just a week ago – were all right.

I ran into the team’s Valley Ranch complex. Blood trickled down my right elbow. My right shin had some road rash. My left knee was sore, and as the time went by, my left shoulder and right ribs became sore.

It all took about 25 seconds, but it seemed much longer. 

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones cut his trip to the Kentucky Derby short and returned Sunday morning to grimly look at the resulting carnage. As you could expect, OSHA is investigating; but while you might question the safety of having a 85,000 square-foot inflatable tent in an area hit by occasional huge thunderstorms, chances are this will be just an incredibly fluky situation that had tragic consequences.

Ducks vs Red Wings

Getting back to more positive news: I know it’s a cliche that there’s “nothing like playoff hockey,” and that’s a lie: mint chip ice cream is better than playoff hockey; finding “Caddyshack” on HBO at 3:30 a.m. when you can’t go sleep is right up there as well. But yesterday’s three-OT thriller between the Ducks and the Red Wings was a reminder: the Celtics vs. Bulls series had some great games, but no one does extra time like the NHL.

Why? Because of getting a set amount of time to complete a period, the end of an OT playoff game could come at any second, on a power play, shorthanded or completely against the run of play. It’s that “lightning in a bottle” moment that makes it so unique, and often times the game-winner comes from an unusual source.

On Sunday, that unlikely hero was Todd Marchant. The ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER says the third-oldest player on the team came through when it was needed, putting away a shot from the top of the face-off circle (after breaking up a Detroit rush) to give Anaheim a dramatic 4-3 three-OT road victory to level the series at 1-1.

Think about it: this game went three overtimes - and we’re not talking fake NBA five-minute OTs either, but honest-to-God 20-minute periods. Basically, the Ducks and the Red Wings played 2/3s of an extra game, but most casual fans are too jaded (and expect this every NHL playoff time) to appreciate it. Meanwhile, the Bulls and Celtics go three five-minute overtimes and everyone freaks out.

Tony Jackson

(Now-former Dodgers beat writer Tony Jackson, enjoying a power nap.)

Finally, in baseball news: for a fundamentally flawed team, the Dodgers sure do look pretty good. They beat San Diego 7-3 on Sunday, which the LOS ANGELES TIMES says is their franchise-record 10th straight home win to start the season. Not bad for a team that supposedly lacks the pitching depth to be a contender. Now if there was only more than one beat writer covering the team.

  • Take a deep breath, Red Sox fans: the BOSTON GLOBE say popular commentator and former second baseman Jerry Remy has Twittered (does everyone Twitter?) that he missed the four-game series with the Rays as a precaution, and should be back in the booth soon.
  • Jerry Remy

  • New York Islanders owner Charles Wang tells NEWSDAY that he “regrets” buying the team nine years later. I guess looking at putting $23 million a year into the team with no hope of a new arena in sight will do that to you. What’s the return policy on a broken NHL franchise, anyway?
  • Another week, another Tiger Woods final round falling flat. The NEW YORK TIMES says he shot a 72 on Sunday, finishing two shots back of winner Sean O’Hair at the Quail Hollow Championships in Charlotte, NC. Can we just revoke this bum’s Tour Card now?
  • The SOUTHTOWN STAR says that 19 players from the St. Rita baseball team in suburban Chicago were suspended from their game on Wednesday against De La Salle. Their crime? Stopping to get breakfast after a TV taping for WGN. It’s not their fault Waffle House is so deliciously tempting!
  • For anyone looking to get into the endless grind that is sports talk radio, JOURNALISM JOBS says the Jim Rome Show is looking for a writer. You’re telling me that his riffs aren’t all off the cuff? Rack him!!! Also valuable skills for the job: having a take, not sucking.
  • Former Arsenal and Barcelona soccer star Marc Overmars came out of retirement four years ago to help Go Ahead Eagles -  the club he started his career with and is currently director of - try to make the Dutch first division. After snapping his leg in a game this weekend, OFF THE POST says he probably wishes he had stayed in the boardroom:

  • Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf tells the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS that he has “no comment” on rumors about Brett Favre coming to the team, but that “we’re always improving“. Translation: get ready for FavreWatch 2009 any day now.
  • No matter your personal political beliefs, we can all agree that anyone from Alaska is just too goofy to be near the Presidency. Case in point: the AP says that two people have won an annual betting contest and will split a jackpot of almost $284,000. What were they guessing? When the ice on the Tanana River would crack. Nope, no excess pork spending getting into the economy here.
  • While the Ducks and Red Wings were having a mini-marathon game yesterday afternoon, MLB.COM says the Mariners and A’s were doing the same thing, with Seattle gutting out an 8-7 win in 15 innings after having to rally from three runs down in the 13th to tie the score. These guys can’t possibly be for real, right?
  • The NEW YORK TIMES says that owners of Kentucky Derby-winner Mine That Bird will now “listen to the horse” to decide if it runs in the Preakness Stakes. Guys, I’m pretty sure the horse is going to answer no, or at least “neigh!” I’ll be here all week, folks!

Which “historic” sporting event is the most overhyped and overrated?

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Speed Read: Yawn, Another Bulls/Celtics Classic

A few days ago, I thought that nothing could in the Celtics vs. Bulls series could top Boston’s wild OT victory over Chicago in Game 5, featuring Paul Pierce playing out of his mind to carry Boston to the win, Kirk Hinrich getting tripped by Rajon Rondo and smashing his face on the floor, or Brad Miller almost getting his faced ripped off (again by Rondo) before missing potential game-tying free throws with two seconds left to seal the victory for the Celtics.

Joakim Noah

But after last night’s Game 6 in Chicago,  I was clearly very, very wrong, as the Bulls’ 128-127 win in triple OT has not only pushed the series back to Boston on Friday for a deciding seventh game, but pushed the series from “epic” to “best ever” territory. And we can forget the qualifiers like “best ever first round series” or “best ever non-Finals series” - based on the series so far and what we can expect on Friday, this might be as good as an NBA series can possibly get.

Kirk Hinrich and Rajon Rondo square off

Just to recap some of the highlights, the fun started when Rondo and Hinrich got into it again early in the first quarter, with Rondo basically slinging Heinrich into the scorer’s table, with Heinrich immediately popping up looking for blood. Cooler heads prevailed and no one was ejected, but it sure served warning about what was to come.

Keep in mind that this game - and the series - should have all rights been over midway through the fourth quarter as the Celtics used a 25-2 run - 25-2! - to turn a 12-point deficit into a 99-91 lead with just under four minutes to go. In most series - hell, in any other series - a 25-2 fourth quarter run by the defending champs is enough to put an end to things.

But there were the Bulls, seemingly unable to grasp just how screwed they were, using their own 10-2 run to take the game to overtime. And from there, it was on. Taking the role of one-man team for the Celtics last night was Ray Allen, who scored 51 points including a game-tying three at the end of the second OT.

Even Allen wouldn’t be enough to fend off a wave of Bulls, all looking to be part of the heroics. One minute, it was John Salmons suddenly becoming unstoppable while scoring 35 points. The next it was Joakim Noah screaming down court after a steal for a ferocious dunk that led to a three-point play and Pierce fouling out with 35 seconds left in the third OT. And finally, Derrick Rose turning in the defensive ply of the season by blocking Rondo’s potential game-winner with three seconds left.

The series has been exhilarating, frustrating, ridiculous and incredible. But as Jalen Rose wisely pointed out on ESPN after the game, the Bulls will have people over the next two days congratulating them on their win, while the Celtics will be stewing on the anger of dropping it, which could be all the motivation they need. Remember what happened last season when the Celtics were pushed to a first-round Game 7 by an upstart team? For the good of sports, I hope history doesn’t repeat itself - sports fans deserve a classic game to end a classic series.

Meanwhile, Bill Simmons’Ewing Theory” - where a team inexplicably plays better without their star player - seemed to be alive and well elsewhere in the NBA playoffs last night. Despite having Superman grounded with a suspension after his hard foul on Samuel Dalembert, the Dwight Howard-less Magic were able to drill the 76ers 114-89 to close out their series.

Howard spent his time Twittering during the game, and I can tell you that I understand absolutely nothing he wrote. (Except for something about the Polish Hammer, which makes me wonder why he’s writing about former WWF wrestler Ivan Putski.) Not Twittering was Howard’s teammate Courtney Lee, who was too busy recovering from surgery on his sinus cavity which could cause him to miss the first few games of the Magic’s second round series to “tweet”.

The other example of the Ewing Theory came from out West, where the Rockets’ 92-76 victory over the Trailblazers clinched their first playoff series win since 1997. This was all done, of course, with Houston star Tracy McGrady on the shelf for the season since late February recovering from microfracture surgery on his knee. Coupling the Rockets’ success with Denver’s closing out of New Orleans - giving Carmelo Anthony his first playoff series victory - and there’s now no question who is going to be known as the Best Player Never To Have Won A Playoff Series.

Meanwhile, I’m sure you’ve taken the time this week to butter up your friend with the illegal cable box, since there is a big-time boxing match coming up this weekend as giant killer Manny Pacquiao takes on Ricky Hatton. Since there’s only two days to go until the fight, the fighters have shut up as the hype machine ramps up to sell PPV buys and tickets, meaning that everyone has to get their two cents in about the fight.

That includes the trainers, who seem to be threatening to become the bigger story than their charges. Hatton’s new trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. has been defending claims that his combative presence has created problems in the Hatton camp - tough to do when you remember what a jerk Hatton’s father/trainer could be. Meanwhile, Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach is telling people that Mayweather was a “poor choice” to train Hatton and that he would have been better served making a different choice of trainer - like himself.

And with any big fight, the media has to track down some brain-damaged, washed-up former champion to give their bleary opinion on who is going to win the fight. God knows where they find these poor sods, but I hope they at least bought them breakfast. People like this sad case named Oscar De La Hoya, who drooled out an opinion for the DAILY TELEGRAPH:

“Hatton can confuse you, offset you, and especially with the Mayweather factor in the corner in this fight,” he told Telegraph Sport. “I know Mayweather, what he is capable of, what he plants – those little details he plants in your head.

“I’m crossing my fingers that Mayweather and Hatton can go undefeated for many years to come. There will be a chess match going on mentally and physically between both camps but, with all due respect to Freddie Roach’s training ability and his team, Mayweather is the better trainer.”

“I’m speaking from experience. He is more technically sound. He teaches you the craft, the art of boxing. He’s old school – an amazing trainer – yes, he’s one crazy son of a gun, but mentally he plants those little details in your head for you to become King Kong inside the ring.”

It sounds to me like De La Hoya’s fight against Pacquiao should have been stopped about eight rounds earlier than it was; clearly the 200 straight blows to the head he took during the fight have rattled his brain to the point of no return. And think about this: if De La Hoya thinks Mayweather Sr. is a better trainer than Roach, what would have happened to him if Mayweather Sr. had trained Pacquiao instead of Roach? Yikes!

Hinrich vs. Rondo was pattycakes compared to some NBA playoff incidents. Which one is your favorite?

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Speed Read: ESPN Pulls Its Punches With WWE

If you’ve watched ESPN for more than five minutes this week, you know that last night was the season premiere of “E:60″, ESPN’s version of “60 Minutes,” and the featured story was a “rare, behind-the-scenes” look at the WWE and a profile of Vince McMahon. Jeremy Schaap was sent out to watch as the organization prepared for Wrestlemania.

Vince McMahon at Chris Benoit special on Raw

The choice of reporters makes sense - McMahon is notoriously volatile with cable TV reporters and diminutive hosts alike, while Schaap is best known for not being as good as his Dad (in the opinion of Bobby Knight). And because of the controversy which always surrounds the WWE, there were a litany of hard-hitting questions that Schaap could have asked - questions that other reporters either didn’t know to ask or wouldn’t.

So what was the end result? If you guessed “a 13 minute long sloppy wet kiss to Vince McMahon from your friends at ESPN,” you win an autographed 8 x 10 of Mean Gene Okerlund. Because what Schaap and the E:60 crew put together was - at best - shockingly lax reporting bordering on the type of fawning, hands-off “journalism” you would expect from “Access Hollywood.”

Don’t believe me? Watch it for yourself, and pay attention to all the times Schaap completely whiffs on asking a tough question, or when he does, how it’s set up as the perfect softball for McMahon to nail over the fence. I would suggest making a drinking game of it, but this is a morning post and I don’t want people to get too plastered to go to work today.

Apparently in ESPN’s world, Owen Hart’s death never happened, and the XFL was just a figment of my imagination. And even the “tough issues” they touched on were either brushed over or poorly handled.

For example, let’s look at the segment on Chris Benoit. First off, Schaap mentions McMahon’s federal steroids trial and his own admission of steroid use, but never actually asks him a question about it. And he doesn’t follow up on the WWE’s “Wellness Policy” - which has been highly criticized in the industry - other than to say “why do you need one at all?” and give McMahon a perfect opportunity to play the role of the caring boss who only wants the best for his employees.

Of course, getting sidetracked into steroid talk overlooks significant issues in the Benoit case, like how much Benoit’s history of multiple concussions might have rattled his brain to the point of no return, or how the WWE’s insane travel schedules with almost no time off can crack anyone. (They did briefly mention the WWE’s treatment of wrestlers as “contractors”, but again they didn’t ask McMahon directly about it, or any of his current roster.)

Which makes me wonder: just how much did ESPN have to give up in order to get the “exclusive” access to the WWE? It sure seemed like there was a whole list of questions that were off-limits, or at least not fully explored. I think the level of “exclusive” access ESPN received is best summed up by the fact that they were kicked out of the weekly WWE production meeting midway through because they were hitting on something Vince McMahon didn’t want to share.

But I’m sure that Schaap would argue the point tooth and nail with me…except that I read this interview with him about his profile of the WWE, and he basically admits that this was a softball piece:

I think our interview is very different and it revealed a different side of him. I didn’t go into it and put him on the defensive. We asked him the tough questions - you have to ask him the tough questions and he addressed them but he didn’t get defensive or angry as you’ve seen him in previous interviews because he understood we were approaching it from a perspective of giving him a chance and treated him with the respect that you would treat Paul Tagliabue or Roger Goodell now or Gary Bettman or George Steinbrenner. I’ve seen George Steinbrenner interviewed over the years many times - not recently of course because he has not been well - but George Steinbrenner is a guy who, with all due respect, is a felon. A guy who was kicked twice out of major league baseball, once for committing federal felonies, once for hiring a known extortionist and ex-con to dig up dirt on his best player Dave Winfield and yet, have you ever hear anybody interview George Steinbrenner on TV or in a press conference or any situation as rudely as sometimes Vince McMahon has been treated?

Good lord…sounds to me like Schaap is angling for a spot as a guest ring announcer at next year’s Wrestlemania. Have fun with that. Simply embarrassing - someone wake the ESPN Ombudsperson from her slumber and have her try to explain this to me.

Knee injuries in girls

Also needing to do a better job of explaining things: sports medicine expert Dr. Robin West, who was interviewed by the NBC Nightly News for a look at the rise of knee injuries among young athletes (surprise - they are being pushed too hard too soon by overbearing parents). In a Web exclusive, Dr. West talks about why female athletes are especially at risk for ACL injuries, and why menstruation might be a factor. Or not.

This is about as confusing as Newt Gingrich trying to explain why women can’t serve on the front lines in the military because they get “infections” once a month. So having a period makes athletes more susceptible to knee injuries? Got it. And goes a long way to explain so much about Tom Brady. ZING!

(Also, I question giving anything the title “Knees: The Achilles Heel of Girls’ Sports.” Wouldn’t the Achilles heel be the Achilles heel of girls sports? Unless women don’t have an Achilles heel - let me check my copy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and get back to you.)

Lastly, the computer the NFL uses to create its schedules - which I suspect has a computing power somewhere between the evil machine from “War Games” and Hal from “2001″ - finally spit something out last night for the rest of us to ponder. Among the teams cursing the results, according to THE SPORTING NEWS, are the Bucs, Panthers and Dolphins, while somehow the Steelers wound up with a relatively pothole-free schedule. Go ahead and start the conspiracy theories now.

Other stories that happened last night as you tried to come up with a worse way to die than being crushed by a palm tree:

  • It looks like TBS has found its baseball version of Charles Barkley, as they have announced the signing of David Wells as studio analyst for their MLB coverage. Much like Barkley, he’s fat, frequently in trouble and has a loud mouth. I’m sure he’ll mesh well with Cal Ripken.
  • david wells dodgers

  • You might remember a few weeks ago when members of the Oregon basketball team were accused of some Duck-on-duck crimes. The EUGENE REGISTER-GUARD reports that as punishment for shooting at ducks at a local park, head coach Ernie Kent has ordered the players to work at a local humane society.
  • The SPOKESMAN-REVIEW says that Washington State might be done with football players Romeo Pellum and Micheal Willis, after they were arrested early Saturday morning on separate driving charges (suspended license and DUI, respectively). At least they were able to save head coach Paul Wulff having to drive over to the jail twice to pick them up - how thoughtful.
  • According to the AP, Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam threatened to “cut off the head” of the leader of the Korean Football Association in a recent interview, which sort of irritated the Koreans. I can’t imagine why.
  • Speaking of soccer, Chelsea and Liverpool had one of the craziest games in recent memory yesterday during the second leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal, with the game ending in a 4-4 draw and Chelsea advancing on a 7-5 aggregate. The LOS ANGELES TIMES has the blow-by-blow.
  • Don’t really know much about Masters champion and now two-time major winner Angel Cabrera? This piece in the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE will change that, and give you a new appreciation of just where he’s come from - he’s no silver spoon, well-bred golfer.
  • New Jersey has just built a new state-of-the-art arena for the Devils and also upgrading the Meadowland’s Izod Center, the home of the Nets which is just eight miles away. As the NEWARK STAR-LEDGER notes, some people are wondering if this money could be put to slightly better use.
  • Apparently in Wisconsin, you can’t have junior hockey without booze, which is why the JANESVILLE GAZETTE says that Janesville City Council had to vote to allow the local ice rink to sell alcohol. The City Council did need to look up wine coolers online as part of their debate, making me wonder what self-respecting drunk hockey dad would be caught dead with a wine cooler?
  • The Mets opened Citi Field in ignomious fashion, with a 6-5 loss to the Padres. So it’s probably for the best that, as NEWSDAY reports, many fans weren’t able to see the game thanks to “obstructed view” seats.
  • Least surprising story of the baseball season so far: MLB.COM says Nomar Garciaparra left the Oakland A’s game against the Red Sox after one inning with soreness in his calf muscle.

What is the greatest prop in the history of wrestling?

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Speed Read: Come and Kneel Before Tiger! Kneel!

Rick Reilly stands this morning as the sports media’s Jack O’Halloran, the ever-prodding manchild from Superman II: every time he throws a bus at Tiger Woods, Tiger crawls out from underneath just a little angrier.

Tiger Woods and Superman

Sunday, Bay Hill stood in for Metropolis and Sean O’Hair pulled over the black bedazzled robes to take the Terence Stamp role to Tiger on Sunday, seemingly in control until he saw that red swoosh fill the camera.  At that point, O’Hair dropped from the Saturday leader to a Sunday round of 73 and Tiger dropped a 15-footer for the one-shot victory at 18.

Tiger Woods

In drama worthy of a Donner-esque cut of a better sequel, Tiger took his first title after last year’s knee surgery on a long putt at hole #72 just like he did last spring.  After the win, he met again with the namesake of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, who we think might be Perry White in this analogy.  Or Lois Lane.  This one may need some work still, unlike Tiger’s knee.

Want Tiger to show you how the heat vision works, Rick? No, you’re good?  Fair enough.

Roy Williams trims for the Final Four

Sunday held little heat for the Final Four as Michigan State and North Carolina committed to a weekend in Detroit in April, otherwise known as “the best weekend of weather ever”.  No, really… just listen to every sportswriter go on about it next weekend, assuming they don’t spend the whole time in Windsor.

Neither game was particularly close, leaving casual sports fans hunting for Tiger or smaller game (as mentioned below).  Sadly, even Clark Kellogg’s stale “versatile like baking soda” line couldn’t get any vinegar for a volcanic explosion.

At least the ticket sales should improve with a state team available to attend.  Villanova and Connecticut will fill out the other two slots as we all spend all week polishing our convoluted plans to justify picking against a UConn-UNC final Monday night. (Oh, and is Roy Williams finally accepted at UNC? Just checking.)

Vancouver murder

A foreign country bordering the United States has such a horrific crime problem due to a drug war that it could affect their ability to host international tourists.  Of course, we’re talking about Canada.  Specifically, Vancouver’s inability to get decent amounts of cocaine has caused a gang war to break out, raising the murder rate dramatically.

The area has grown so desperate for warm bodies with badges that two officers that “smelled of alcohol and uttered racial slurs” while allegedly beating and robbing a newspaper delivery man in Vancouver won’t have to stand trial for a year because the police can’t spare a single person to be a witness at the trial during the 2010 Winter Olympics. (h/t RAINCOASTER)

After having to spend most of last summer listening to the incessant whining about the safety of the 2008 Beijing Games, we can’t help but notice the silence surrounding the 2010 Vancouver Games. We can’t quite put our finger on what could be different about the two countries.  Maybe journalists feel safe after watching a “Da Vinci’s Inquest” marathon?

In case you suspect we’re overstating the case, listen to a local activist: “I’m really apprehensive about going out in the evening.  We’ve turned into an American city.” Does that mean you’re not interested in two free Final Four tickets?

Speaking of a hail of bullets, duck even though you don’t feel threatened in your job by Todd Jones

  • We’re with Ray Ratto: we’re not sure Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff has a plan anymore for a new stadium.  He’s the Underpants Gnome of owners.  He knows “back up garbage trucks of taxpayer cash to my home” is Step 3, but he’s damned if he knows what Step 2 is anymore.
  • Congratuations to Bemidji State for advancing to the Frozen Four in NCAA hockey.  We don’t have anything more to add; for that, please check out THE HOOVER STREET RAG.  We just always wanted to link to the BEMIDJI PIONEER.
  • Finally, we know a referee that will be working the NBA Finals next in about 2024 after nearly injuring the future of the league by getting tangled underfoot of LeBron James:

 

Your 2009 NCAA men’s basketball champions are…

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Speed Read: Buzzer Beaters Punch NCAA Tickets

If you are only going to hit one basket in a game, hitting the shot that sends your team to the NCAA Tournament is good time to do it. And that’s just what Robert Morris University guard Dallas Green did (not the former big league manager), picking up a loose ball and draining a baseline jumper with 2.5 seconds left to give the Colonials a dramatic 48-46 victory over Mount St. Mary’s to win the Northeast Conference Championship.

Dallas Green

But as exciting as the final three seconds or so were, the first 39 minutes and 57 seconds were just as ugly. As in, “hey, look, ‘Sports Soup’ is on!” bad. The second half was pretty rough to watch, and that was a huge upgrade over the first half: the halftime score was 19-19, and the leading scorer for the game was RMU’s Jeremy Chappell (seen below celebrating) with 15 points.

Jeremy Chapell

But in the end, it was Green who provided the heroics. Which rubbed his opponents the wrong way:

Mount St. Mary’s guard Jeremy Goode was particularly stung that Green — a player who even Robert Morris coach Mike Rice admitted was the fifth option on the play — was the player who hit the decisive shot.

“It hurts more,” Goode said. “You’d rather see a guy who makes shots the whole time he has been here make the game-winner. Not [Green] though.”

I’m sure that Green is going to be very upset about those comments…as he and his teammates prepare for the NCAA Tournament, while the Mount St. Mary’s team prepares for a long off-season. But based on the game last night, I doubt that Green or that rest of the Robert Morris team should be game planning for more than one game.

(And in case you were curious, Robert Morris guard Mezie Nwigwe played despite being arrested on assault charges after a fight this past weekend, scoring a whopping three points in 18 minutes.)

Portland State clinches Big Sky

There was another ticket punched to the Big Dance last night which also ended in dramatic fashion. Portland State squeaked past huge underdog Montana State team (who finished the season 14-17) to win the Big Sky Championship. The Vikings also used a last-second shot to clinch their spot, as Julius Thomas dunked with 3.5 seconds left for the winning points in their 79-77 victory. Hopefully they can avoid being a No. 16 seed again, like they were last year before getting thumped by Kansas.

Quinton Rampage Jackson pickup truck

Meanwhile, coming on the heels of the death of TapouT clothing co-founder Charles “Mask” Lewis being killed in a gruesome car crash, there was more bad news from the MMA world. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson broke his jaw in his UFC 98 victory over Keith Jardine on Saturday, which will force him out of his light heavyweight title match against Rashad Evans. Unbeaten Lyoto Machida is taking his place. Let’s hope that Rampage finds a healthier way to deal with his disappointment than before.

(And about the crash that killed “Mask” Lewis: the police are now looking into street racing as a cause of the accident, and it turns out that Lewis had at least eight traffic violations since 2001, including a DUI.)

Other sports stories floating around as you pondered who will make Bristol Palin an honest woman:

Which of these four bubble teams has the best case for an NCAA bid?

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Speed Read: McAllister’s Car Dealership A Lemon

You have to feel bad for Deuce McAllister. The two-time Pro Bowler who might be the greatest running back in New Orleans Saints history (sorry, Dalton Hilliard) was cut by the team a few weeks ago, a victim of the salary cap and the Saints’ continued belief that Reggie Bush is an every down back.

Deuce McAllister

And it appears that McAllister is a victim of harsh economic realities in more ways than one. It seems that Deuce has several business interests, including Deuce McAllister Nissan in Jackson, Mississippi. As you might have heard, the US auto market is in freefall mode, and McAllister’s dealership is no exception: The JACKSON CLARION-LEDGER is reporting the dealership is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as Nissan is looking to recover almost $7 million owed to them.

Deuce McAllister Nissan

How badly have sales slumped? Deuce McAllister Nissan sold 107 cars in February 2008. Last month they sold 28. And these are Nissans, cars that people actually want, not Fords or Chevys. McAllister was also a victim of bad timing, as he expanded the dealership just as the market tanked.

Not only does Nissan say McAllister’s dealership owes him $6.9 million, but they also claim that it exceeded its credit limit by more than $1.6 million. Which makes me wonder - shouldn’t someone at Nissan have done something when the dealership exceeded it’s credit line by, oh, say, $1 million? If I am one day late with a credit card payment, I’m getting hounded by phone calls.

Matt Vasgersian

Meanwhile, Matt Vasgersian’s potty mouth has gotten him into trouble again. Back in 2007 while working as the play-by-play voice for the Padres, he was caught making a (what he thought was off-air) expletive-laden tirade against St. Louis Cardinals fans and the city. Matt’s now the main studio host for the MLB Network, and as SHARAPOVA’S THIGH says, last night he had a slightly unprofessional (and NSFW) reaction to confusing Fernando Valenzuela and Fernando Vina:

If this is going to be what the MLB Network is all about, I might be more inclined to tune in. More swearing, less replays of Game 3 of the 2008 World Series, please.

Finally, the BBC says that a man has been arrested and charged with breaking into Manchester United player Darren Fletcher’s home and threatening his fiancee at knifepoint. Here’s the frightening part: this is believed to be the 14th soccer player from Manchester and the Merseyside area who has been attacked in the past three years. No wonder Cristiano Ronaldo was so eager to leave.

More sports stories to read while you wait for cops to arrive to handle the emergency of your missing McNuggets:

How much do you care about the World Baseball Classic?

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Speed Read: Man, The NFC West Is Really Awful

The last time we say the Cardinals take on the 49ers on Monday Night Football was Opening Night of last season, and the result was a 20-17 loss that set the tone for a disappointing 2007 season for Arizona. Flash forward one year and change, and the Cardinals were able to take out the 49ers 29-24 on the strength of a last second goal line stand.

Arizona Cardinals OL Deuce Lutui

Quite a difference one season can make, right? Instead of Matt Leinart looking confused under center, you had Kurt Warner, looking for all the world like an MVP. And at the end of the day, Arizona is 6-3, and a full four games ahead of their nearest NFC West rivals.

Allen Rossum

But really, if you are a Cardinals fan, do you feel any better about the team after last night’s game than you did before? To quote an ex-coach, the 49ers were who we thought they were: a mediocre team with nothing to lose. Great teams put teams like that away early. Good teams let them hang around until the 4th quarter before pulling away. The Cardinals rely on a stop as time expires at the goal line after a questionable “down by contact” ruling.

Perhaps this says less about the Cardinals than it does about the overall awful nature of the NFC West?

In other sports news that happened while you were looking to unload your extra Inauguration tickets:

TJ Downing

What will the end result be of the Arizona Cardinals’ season?

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Speed Read: Phillie Phanatic’s Weiners Blown Up

Another night, another Mets collapse: this time they blew a four-run lead before falling 9-6 to the Cubs in 10 innings. Combine that with CC Sabathia pitching a gem on short rest to lift the Brewers to a 4-2 win over the Pirates and you’ve got a tie for the NL Wild Card. Instead of buying seats as souvenirs when the season is over, Mets fans might just be ripping them apart in disgust after another late-season collapse.

Bomb Squad t-shirt

The Phillies lost, too, but even more troubling, as the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS reports, was this: the Philadelphia Police Department bomb squad blew up the hot dogs the Phillie Phanatic shoots into crowds between innings, after someone called in about a suspicious package. They were hardly a danger to the public, unless you count the nitrates, fat and sodium. But this is Philadelphia, the home of the cheese steak - when it comes to food leading to heart attacks, hot dogs are the least of their concerns.

Peter Lalich Virginia Cavaliers QB

Former Virginia starting QB Peter Lalich strikes me as a fan of cheese steaks. And hot dogs. And whatever else he can find when he’s hammered. Even though he was just kicked out of school for underage drinking, COLLEGE FOOTBALL TALK notes that it didn’t take long for him to land on his wobbly feet: he’s already enrolled at Oregon State, and will be eligible to play next season.

Why did Lalich choose the Beavers? Perhaps he thought that Dennis Erickson was still the head coach and he needed a new drinking buddy. Or maybe OSU wanted some advance scouting for their game against USC tonight, since he started against them the opening weekend. Although I’m guessing any notes he gave to Coach Mike Riley weren’t very useful:

“Dear Coach: Their defense hits really hard. It hurts to play them, especially when you’re nursing a wicked hangover from Dollar PBR night at Snooker’s.”

Matt Millen

Also landing on his feet quickly: fired Lions GM Matt Millen. Actually, it’s more like “gently floating to Earth on a golden parachute” as MLIVE.COM reports that Detroit could be on the hook for the his entire $50 million contract after letting him go. Judging by this photo found by DEADSPIN, you would hope that he could afford a riding lawnmower with that giant wad of cash.

The Wall stadium

  • WITH LEATHER has designs on the world’s first underground stadium, currently being built in Qatar. No truth that the rumor that the Raiders’ home field of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is underground: it’s just the coach who is being buried six feet under.
  • CBS 4 DENVER has Broncos’ lineman Kenny Peterson trying to get a side mount on reporter Kathy Lee. Don’t get any ideas, creeps - they were learning Jiu-Jitsu for a story. Needless to say, he fared better against her than the black belt trainer.
  • T.J. Simers of the LOS ANGELES TIMES highlights some good deeds by Manny Ramirez - and pimps this very site!
  • WASHINGTONIAN.COM interviews Trader Joe’s cheese buyer turned DC SPORTS BOG writer Dan Steinberg, who gives his opinions on everything from Gilbert Arenas to Jim Zorn’s magic dust to beer.
  • Is Andy Pettitte done as a Yankee? The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS wonders that after the team announces he’s done for the season with a bum left shoulder. If only there was some way he could take something to help him get stronger and recover faster between starts…
  • The DALLAS MORNING NEWS reports about an ex-women’s basketball player at SMU who is suing the school and head coach Rhonda Rompola for pulling her scholarship after she complained about inappropriate comments and questions the coach allegedly made about her lesbian sex life.
  • MMA EXPERTS BLOG is ready to take Gina Carano to the mat for calling a press conference to complain about all the attention she’s receiving. Because posing for men’s magazines while wearing practically nothing and starring in American Gladiators while … well … wearing practically nothing is a great way to avoid being noticed.
  • MOUTHPIECE SPORTS notes that even though none of the players from the original RBI Baseball Nintendo game are still playing, seven of the teams are still playing in the same stadiums. Of course, every stadium in RBI Baseball looked like a more generic Three Rivers Stadium, so take that at face value.
  • HOME RUN DERBY wonders if the Cubbies aren’t tempting fate by already having World Series tickets printed up.
  • The Oakland A’s haven’t decided to unveil new uniforms to court the alternative lifestyle crowd in the Bay Area: SF GATE reports that the rookies were forced to dress in drag for the team’s final road trip to Seattle. Almost but not quite as nightmare-inducing as the Padres as Hooters girls, but close.

Hot dogs plus the bomb squad might be a mess, but is the pinnacle of exploding goodness?

What disgusting item would you want to see the bomb squad blow up?

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Mr. Jack Cust, Your New Strikeout King of the AL!

There’s not a whole lot to cheer about up in McAfee Coliseum this year. In fact, one of the only things to excite the fans is the knowledge that in a few years they’ll be watching baseball being played in an actual baseball stadium. So there’s not a whole lot of reasons for the fans to show up during this final excruciating week of baseball. At least, there wasn’t until Jack Cust provided it.

Jack Cust, strikeout king

With a pair of strikeouts in last night’s win over the Mariners, Cust claimed the title of the most strikeout-happiest hitter in the American League. His 187 Ks this season - he’s playing another game right now but has not yet struck out - leaves him alone at numero uno for the DH League.

And to give the fans a reason to come out to the ballpark until the final game of the year, Cust left just enough strikeouts (12) before he can claim the all-time record as his own. Read more…