Speed Read: NL Weaker Than Obama’s First Pitch

If MLB and Fox executives are wondering why no one watches the All-Star Game anymore, here’s Exhibit A: the winning run for the AL in their 4-3 victory over the NL was driven in by an eighth-inning sacrifice fly from Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles, a name that resonates with a thud among all but the most die-hard baseball fans. And the person he scored was the Tigers’ Curtis Granderson, who can be politely called “slightly more well-known than Adam Jones.”

Adam Jones

To put it mildly, if the All-Star Game was a weekly series, it would be on the verge of cancellation by now. Especially after TV critics would have inevitably slammed it for its lack of imagination and formulaic structure. Yes, we get it - the AL is always going to win. Can’t we just have a twist on that every once in a while? (And not the shoddy “Who’s Going to Pitch?” cliffhanger that Bud Selig and company cooked up a few years ago.)

Barack Obama

After 13 years of not seeing the National League win, it’s not surprising that people just aren’t that interested anymore. But there was an attempt to spice things up this year by bringing in a big-game star for a special guest appearance: President Barack Obama. After warming up with Albert Pujols in the batting cages before the game, Obama took the mound and delivered a pitch that was about as effective as his pitch for the bank bailout.

I’ll leave it to WIDE WHITE to give a breakdown of Obama’s pitch as it relates to his policies, but suffice it to say that it was neither great nor awful. He should just be thankful that Pujols was there to make a great pick to keep the ball from hitting the dirt. (And that was Pujols’ best play of the night, since he went 0-for-3 before the hometown crowd.)

The game MVP was Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford, not so much for what he did at the plate but for his actions in the field, most notably his catch that robbed Brad Hawpe of what would have been a go-ahead home run in the seventh. And the NL can’t blame the loss on the AL being fired up because of Ichiro Suzuki’s notoriously profanity-laden pregame pep talks - President Obama’s visit to the clubhouses took up so much time that he didn’t get to give one.

Speaking of Ichiro, he took some time out of his schedule on Monday to visit the grave of George Sisler, whose record for hits in a season he broke in 2004. It was a nice touch, except for the fact that instead of bringing flowers or a wreath, Ichiro just swore at Sisler’s grave for 15 minutes straight until being escorted away by cemetary workers. Oh well, I guess it’s the thought that counts.

While MLB was playing a game that no one really cares about, the NBA is knee-deep in something arguably more exciting and definitely more important: free-agency. The main story right now is what will happen to Lamar Odom, and the saga took another turn last night as the Lakers have pulled their three-year deal worth $9 million off the table. The reason? Owner Jerry Buss is upset that Odom’s people haven’t responded to the offer while continuing to negotiate with the Mavericks and Heat.

Lamar Odom

But there’s another free-agency drama going on that is a little more below the radar screen, but just as fascinating. The Portland Trailblazers have made a four-year, $32 million offer sheet to promising young Utah forward Paul Millsap, who is a restricted free agent. That means that the Jazz have until the end of the week to match the offer and keep Millsap on the team.

The problem is that Millsap’s offer from the Trailblazers includes an immediate cash payout of $10.3 million, which Utah would also have to do if they match the offer sheet. And apparently, the cash isn’t flowing through the streets of Salt Lake as readily as Mormon children, since the Jazz ownership would likely have to take out a short-term bank loan to get the deal approved. (Portland doesn’t have that problem, since $10.6 million is vending machine money to billionaire owner Paul Allen.)

Not only does this make me question the solvency of the Utah ownership group, but it also makes me wonder how the whole loan process would go down. Would they have to wait in line at the bank before getting seated at one of those tables out in the lobby. What would they have to put up as collateral - Jerry Sloan? It simply boggles the mind.

Other sports news:

  • It turns out that with 22 points, WNBA star Diana Taurasi outscored her blood alcohol level the night she was arrested for a DUI - barely, as the AP reports that she’s been charged with an “Extreme DUI” after her blood alcohol level was shown to be 0.17 percent - twice the legal limit in Arizona.
  • Speaking of the WNBA, they announced their All-Star Game starters yesterday. No word on if Michelle Obama will be there for the traditional “First Fundamentally Sound Screen” of the game, or if they’ll get “stuck” with Hillary Clinton.
  • One thing you might not have seen at the All-Star Game (other than the National League hitting the ball) was a lot of black players. The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER floats one reason why: the lack of strong black male role models in the inner cities makes it tough to find coaches for organized games.
  • The WALL STREET JOURNAL gives us an “Unofficial Guide to Life as a Ref” while wondering why NFL refs make so much for working one game a week.
  • With all the talk about Tiger Woods taking on Turnberry this week, there’s one thing that should be noted: Padraig Harrington is going after his third freakin’ straight British Open title. USA TODAY says it might be difficult since he’s completely changed his swing from last year.
  • The World Series of Poker Main Event is down to the final three tables, and poker celebrity/Norman Chad man crush Phil Ivey is still very much in the hunt, standing at fourth place with more than 11 million chips. Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari is also alive as they play down to the final table tomorrow.
  • Bud Selig calls claims of collusion to drive down the price of free agentssome make-believe scenario that doesn’t exist.” Right, because MLB would never get involved in collusion.
  • ESPN goes a different route and hires former NBC President Don Ohlmeyer as their new ombudsman. His first call: hiring his good friend O.J. Simpson to replace Bill Simmons as “The Sports Guy.”
  • Anthony Randolph notched his name in Las Vegas NBA Summer League history by tying the single-game scoring record by putting up 42 in the Warriors’ victory over the Bulls. Something tells me you won’t find any pictures of him posing with a basketball with “42″ written on it.
  • While sports talk radio is struggling elsewhere, it seems to be alive and well in Boston, where legendary rock station WBCN in being pulled off the air and replaced by the city’s third all-sports station.

Which remaining free agent is worth the most money?

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Seahawks Owner Paul Allen About $7 Billion Short

It’s fair to say that the economy is still in the crapper. Why, they’ve already boarded up the Virgin Megastore in my community, the Circuit City is holding a ‘going out of business’ sale, and the Steve & Barry’s has already been long gone. (Just when I was about to get my own Starbury’s, too.)

Paul Allen Seahawks owner

And I refuse to check the status of my 401K & IRA statements, knowing full well that my accounts are dwindling down like the attendance at Memphis Grizzlies games. But I guess it could be worse. It’s not as if I’m Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen, and I just lost seven billion dollars.

Read more…

Cuban, Allen Vote Against Sonics Move To OK City

Despite the best efforts of the blogosphere, the NBA owners have voted overwhelmingly to approve the Sonics’ move from Seattle to Oklahoma City. But it wasn’t a unanimous decision.

Mark Cuban Mavericks Paul Allen Blazers

CBS SPORTS reports that Friday’s final tally was 28-2 in support of the move. The two owners casting the dissenting votes were Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks and Paul Allen of the Portland Trail Blazers. Why wouldn’t these guys go along with the crowd?

Read more…

Miami Heat Holder 3rd Richest Sports Owner in World

MIAMI HEAT OWNER WEALTHIEST IN U.S., 3RD IN WORLD: Who would you guess is America’s richest sports team owner? George Steinbrenner? Daniel Snyder? Paul Allen?

Would you believe Micky Arison?

Micky Arison

The MIAMI HERALD counts up news that the holder of the NBA’s Heat has been ranked the wealthiest owner in the U.S. and 3rd-wealthiest in the world, according to a new list released by Forbes.Arison also runs Carnival Cruise Lines, which helps put his total net wealth at $5.8 billion. The only ones with more in the bank are a couple of soccer team securers - Chelsea controller Roman Abramovich ($18.7 billion) and AC Milan maestro Silvio Berlusconi ($11.8 billion).

On the heels of Arison, the sporty rich list also includes:

William Davidson (Detroit Pistons, Tampa Bay Lightning - $4.5 billion)

Charles Dolan (New York Knicks, New York Rangers - $3.2 billion)

Carl Pohlad (Minnesota Twins - $3.1 billion)

Mark Cuban South Park

Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks - $2.6 billion)• Wayne Huizenga (Miami Dolphins - $2.5 billion)

Malcolm Glazer (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Manchester United - $2.5 billion)

Keep those figures in mind the next time you get ready to pony up $2,000 for a personal seat license.

Former TV Sports Anchor Turned National Morning Radio Host About To Lose First Affiliate

JUST AS WE SAID, HE’LL END UP ON SPORTING NEWS RADIO: Sightless item for ya on a Friday: What former TV sports guy, who inadvisably ditched the idiot box for a national morning sports radio show, is about to lose his first and most important affiliate - Lipstick City.

We hear local station management is not pleased with the direction of the show (sound familiar?) and that it may not emanate out of the 818 in 2008. Remember, the show only launched last month!

And after signing on with a laughably paltry affiliate list, we’re still sticking to our original prediction that he will eventually land with the second tier Sporting News Radio.

We’re guessing he eschewed SNR to start because without former Paul Allen-parent Vulcan, there’s no more monopoly money left for nonsensical Tony Bruno-esque deals. But if the sports-centered one doesn’t want his radio career en fuego, he may have no choice.

Invite Only Social Networking Website Claims Tiger Woods Paul Allen As Members

NOW SOMEONE CAN GIVE TIGER THE POKE HE DESERVES: BUSINESSWEEK’s Aili McConnon examines the invite-only social networking website asmallworld.com, which claims to have Tiger Woods, Paul Allen, Naomi Campbell and Ivanka Trump as members.


Apparently the site boasts 250,000 members, and was founded by somone named Erik Wachtmeister. Wachtmeister calls the site a “high-end Zagat’s and Monster Jobs rolled into one.” Now, that’s a hook - no wonder all those high profile celebrities *signed* up.

Tiger Woods Boat

Woods reportedly has only one “friend” on the site since supposedly signing up in 2004. Anyone who has been social-networked himself knows the reason for that - Tiger is merely, innocently encouraging fellow members to “click on this link to see more pictures of me now!”

Lastings Milledge Myspace Page Photos

We like to keep it simple around here and stick to Myspace - which features the genuine accounts of dear (online, pending) friends, Lastings Milledge and Willy Mo Pena.

Portland Blazers Critic To Join Teams Flagship Radio Station

SQUEAKY WHEEL GETS PALMS GREASED BY TEAM STATION: A vocal and sometimes rabid critic of the Portland Trail Blazers will be joining the team’s flagship radio station:

Canzano Walton Blazers

John Canzano, columnist for the PORTLAND OREGONIAN, will be moving his “Bald-Faced Truth” radio show from KFXX to KXL-AM, a station owned by Blazers top man Paul Allen that also broadcasts all the team’s games.

Canzano’s biggest-known feat was during the glory days of the “Jail Blazers” reign, when he had Damon Stoudamire take an unannounced drug test during the 2003-2004 season. Canzano showed up in the locker room one day with a specimen bottle, Stoudamire did his duty, and an independent lab eventually found him clean.

Damon Stoudamire Specimen Bottle Bag

Canzano promises that the switch to his new employer won’t change his style, stating in a release, “I’m sure there will be days the people we’re talking about on the show wished KXL had never done this.”

Blazers COO Mike Golub sounds excited about adding someone who’s spoken not so favorably about his team in the past, saying that the new partnership “will add an unprecedented level of transparency.”

Portland Blazers Fans

Canzano premieres on KXL in September, so it will be interesting to check back in October if Canzano’s still speaking his mind, or speaking the Blazers’ hand-fed line, or speaking on at all.

Reporters Becoming Billboards Ron Mexico Name Generator

• DEADSPIN has this word from our sponsor: the Fourth Estate is being re-zoned for commercial use:

This Space For Rent shirt

• The MINNEAPOLIS STAR-TRIBUNE knows which Detroit Tiger shops at Wal-Mart, thanks to the burgeoning bloom of athlete-penned blogs.

• D’OH! Gregory Hardy of CBS SPORTSLINE runs down the roster of his All-Simpsons football team.

Bart Simpson Football Halftime

• Need an alias to get out of a dogfighting indictment? GIRLS GONE SPORTS comes to the rescue with the Ron Mexico Name Generator.

• The HARTFORD COURANT has hair-raising news that George Steinbrenner is perturbed by his perms in the ESPN series “The Bronx is Burning”:


• Arash Markazi of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED fondly remembers his welcome into the Boise State family.

• GOOD NEWS IN SPORTS reports Ohio State coach Jim Tressel is donating $1 million to Youngstown State University.

Jim Tressel Youngstown State

You don’t think he’s trying to buy off the Penguins before their colossal Sept. 1 matchup with his Buckeyes, do you?

• BLACK ATHLETE SPORTS NETWORK nominates Mark Jackson as David Stern’s replacement for NBA Commish.

• The COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD reports the town of Cheney, WA, is 12th Man out, as the Seahawks move their training closer to Seattle. Unforunately, owner Paul Allen can’t hear their cries from inside his yellow submarine:

Seahawks Yellow Submarine

• The NEW YORK SUN gets on the bus with news that Jerome Bettis believes Bill Cowher will be coaching the Giants in 2008.

Greg Oden Wears Toe Rings Loves Dane Cook

ODEN SADLY ENJOYS COMEDIC STYLINGS OF DANE COOK: We were really starting to like Oden until EXTRA MUSTARD uncovered this unfortunate information from a NEW YORK POST Q&A with Rihanna (looking more post-op than ever): “In a fun Q&A with the New York Post, Oden says he’d like to be stranded on a desert island with Rihanna (thumbs up), but then says Dane Cook would be an ideal dinner guest (big thumbs down). He also says he wears toe rings (don’t even know what to say about that).

Greg Oden Dane Cook Guy

Meanwhile, Portland resident Nike has this clever ad for the arrival of Greg Oden - published in the PORTLAND OREGONIAN today:

Nike Ad Greg Oden

We just hope this doesn’t mean Boeing 777-owning Paul Allen booked the big fella coach on Alaska Airlines’s excruciating Newark-to-Portland hop, or he may have a serious holdout on his hands.

A strong SbB throng witnessed a landmark nigh…

A strong SbB throng witnessed a landmark night in history on Thursday evening in the lap of Lipstick City.

With stalwart SbB Girls Melissa and Christine presiding, SbB Hall of Famer Abe Froman claimed his first-ever SbB Title - after nearly two years of trying.

In securing the coveted crown, the sausage king of Chicago narrowly aced out his arch rival and SbB Hall of Famer LoDucafan - thanks to a final-round flourish.

Along with the historic histrionics, we also gave away NCAA Football 2005 from EA Sports via a general drawing - not to mention multiple O.J. Simpson shot glasses!

Special thanks to the SbB Girls - including newcomers Rachel, Michelle and Johanna - and promotional consideration to EA Sports, Best Buy, Stella Artois, Pepsi and Apple Computer’s iPod.

Also thanks to SbB’rs Bratt and etyer and Craig and Leean at The Bitter Redhead sports bar in Santa Monica, CA.

SHINN TO SPLIT FOR KC? The NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE reports that Hornets Owner George Shinn said that he "has been working with the [NBA] for several weeks" on having the Hornets play their home opener this season at New Orleans Arena.

"Working for several weeks" on what? Finding a locksmith because he was locked out of the building? The team held a home game there last year, how hard can it be to stage the home opener there?’

Shinn also now must be eyeing Kansas City as a possible replacement for Oklahoma City, since it is now apparent that the Oklahoma City-based owners of the Seattle Supersonics will soon be moving the team there - despite their disingenuous denials.

Anyone who thinks that new Sonics front man Clay Bennett has any plans to keep the team in the Pacific Northwest is smoking the same strawberry cush that Paul Allen was when hired his team of accountants.

As a native Kansas Citian, here’s hoping the normally small-time sports minds in KC will forget about the now-minor league NHL and embrace bringing big league sports, that being the NBA, back to cowtown (where it never should’ve left in the first place).