Speed Read: Moral Victory Leaves Magic Down 2-0

If Game 1 of the NBA Finals seemly confirmed the suspicion that the Orlando Magic didn’t belong on the same floor with the Los Angeles Lakers, at least the Magic put an end to that on Sunday night in Game 2. They remembered how to shoot (at least two of them did), played some (at times) stingy defense, and generally were a total pest in pushing the Lakers to overtime.

Kobe Bryant

Unfortunately for the Magic, what they didn’t prove is that they could beat the Lakers in the NBA Finals, as the home team held on for a 101-96 victory to take a 2-0 lead as the series shifts to Orlando for the next three (probably?) games. But they came tantalizingly close at the end of regulation. Hedu Turkoglu found Courtney Lee cutting to the basket behind Kobe Bryant on an inbounds play with 0.6 seconds left and tossed him a lob that reached Lee but forced a midair adjustment, causing his lay-in to be just off the mark, bouncing off the front of the rim as time expired.

Courtney Lee

While the Magic might not admit it, they seemed drained by the missed opportunity in overtime, although their inability to stop Pau Gasol in the extra period was just as crippling. The Spaniard scored seven of his 24 points in overtime, including a three-point play with 1:14 left that gave the Lakers an insurmountable six point lead.

As for the Magic’s shooting: Rashard Lewis and Turkoglu were outstanding, with Lewis hitting 6-of-12 three-pointers en route to 34 points, while Turkoglu added 22 points including three three-pointers. The rest of the team? Not so much, as the Magic weren’t helped by Rafer Alston and J.J. Redick combining to go 2-for-17 for the game, including a woeful 1-10 from behind the arc. Also not helping: that J.J. Redick was anywhere near the floor for any length of time, much less 27 minutes. For all the great coaching Stan Van Gundy might have done in Game 2, that can’t be considered his finest hour.

Right now, it will take an amazing comeback for the Orlando Magic to win the NBA Title. (Before the 2006 Miami Heat did it, who was the last team to go down 2-0 and win the NBA Title? The 1977 Portland Trail Blazers.) But perhaps they need to take a clue from famous local resident and occasional Magic fan Tiger Woods, who had some Magic of his own on Sunday, no overtime needed. Woods came from four shots back to win the Memorial Tournament in front of host Jack Nicklaus with one of his most impressive final round performances, shooting a 65 while hitting every fairway in regulation.

Tiger Woods

The performance was awe-inspiring enough to prompt Nicklaus to cave in Woods’ surgically repaired knee with a nine-iron after the match in an attempt to prevent Woods from reaching his record of 18 major championships, before standing over a fallen Woods and shouting a Ric Flair style “Woooooooo!” Actually, that’s a lie; in fact, Nicklaus remarked that it would “greatly surprise” him if Woods didn’t win major No. 15 in two weeks at the U.S. Open.

Finally, it’s kind of hard to fault the San Diego Padres’ Josh Wilson for giving up the go-ahead three-run homer to the Diamondbacks’ Mark Reynolds in the 18th inning of Arizona’s 9-6 win on Sunday. Sure, Wilson might have had extra motivation for pitching against the team that released him earlier this season, but he really shouldn’t have been out there anyway. Wilson is an infielder, and was only pitching after Padres manager Bud Black ran out of pitchers in bullpen. So he sent Wilson out there, who got fastballs up to 88 mph and mixed in a few change-ups as well.

David Eckstein

Also, when you are relying on David Eckstein to homer to take the game into extra innings, you really should consider yourself lucky to be there in the first place, which is what the Padres needed in the ninth inning to erase a three-run deficit. Then again, the Padres really didn’t do much after that against the Diamondbacks’ bullpen, getting no-hit for all nine innings of extra baseball.

  • THE SPORTS HERNIA wonders if Pau Gasol might be missing Game 3 after some…explosive rectal issues?
  • Pau Gasol

  • Chicago Cubs broadcaster Bob Brenly has a message after watching the Cubs slog to a 4-3, 11-inning loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday: “If there are any Little Leaguers watching, turn the TV off.”
  • Former Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Sam Rayburn tells the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER that he was taking more than 100 painkillers a day before being caught forging prescriptions and getting clean. Or as Elizabeth Taylor would call that, lunch.
  • What could bring together Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and former head coach Jimmy Johnson? How about a concert headlined by George Strait and Reba McEntire to open the new Cowboys Stadium?
  • Just when things couldn’t get any worse for the Washington Nationals, DC SPORTS BOG checks in with this: they had a malfunction during their fireworks display, and the debris just happened to fall on the D.C. fire chief. Proving that the Nationals really have turned into a bad 1970s sitcom.
  • Mike Brown proved that his WEC featherweight title victory over Urijah Faber in November was no fluke in the rematch on Sunday, going into Faber’s hometown of Sacramento, CA and winning a unanimous decision that left Faber in the hospital after the match.
  • Among the “highlights” of the ongoing court battle over the fate of the Phoenix Coyotes: the Phoenix suburb of Glendale (where the Coyotes actually play) is suggesting that coach and minority owner Wayne Gretzky is “overpaid” and should have his salary cut by more than $6 million. Because going after The Great One is a winning legal strategy in Canadian courts.
  • David Wells says that Jose Canseco offered HGH to him when they were teammates on the Chicago White Sox, but he declined. Instead, he dropped 30 pounds by giving up beer in the offseason and actually working out. Also, is there anyone Jose Canseco hasn’t offered performance-enhancing drugs to in baseball at this point?
  • HOME RUN DERBY casts a discriminating eye at the reverse negative error baseball card, the bain of beleaguered Topps photo editors everywhere. (Well, specifically at the Topps offices, I guess.)
  • Long Island high school athlete Ryan Harrigan uses his abilities to chase down a would-be purse snatcher while working his after-school job as a grocery store employee. Would you like paper, plastic or handcuffs, Sir?

What was the most impressive performance yesterday?

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Speed Read: Magic Ready To Ruin Dream Finals

Somehow LeBron James ended another game against the Orlando Magic in their Eastern Conference Finals with the ball in his hand and a chance to win the game. But unlike Game 2, he couldn’t find the miracle the Cavaliers needed, as his desperation heave from 35 feet was off the mark, wrapping up the Magic’s 116-114 OT victory. Orlando now holds a commanding 3-1 series lead, as the Cavaliers are threatening to take a page from the Ohio State football team and choke at the worst possible moment.

LeBron James

And perhaps it was fitting, since the game only went to overtime on two James free throws on a questionable foul committed by Mickael Pietrus with six seconds left - with James needing a friendly roll to get the second. (And honestly, how can the best player on the planet be so average and unreliable from the free throw line? Do you ever remember feeling nervous when Michael Jordan stepped to the line at the end of a game?)

Dwight Howard

It’s hard to blame James for Game 4: after all, he did have 44 points and 12 rebounds. Even the eight turnovers in the box score are more a reflection of him trying to do everything because he had to than any faults. No, the big problem for Cleveland is that they’ve pretty much turned back into King James and His Inept Court of Jokers this series, with his supporting cast basically providing nothing (Delonte West and Mo Williams combined to go 12-for-30 in Game 4, including 0-for-6 from behind the arc.)

Meanwhile, the Magic were unconscious from three-point range, going 17-for-38, with Rafer Alston leading the way with six threes on the way to a 26 point night. And Dwight Howard played angry in overtime - perhaps over picking up his sixth technical foul of the season, or because he thought he was fouled at the end of regulation. No matter what the reason, he took it out on the Cavaliers, scored on three straight dunks en route to 10 points in the extra session. So a dominant big man plus great outside shooting is a good thing, I guess.

Sidney Crosby

Also a good thing: having your league’s best player and leading scorer on the same team. That’s exactly what the Pittsburgh Penguins have, and why they are heading back to the Stanley Cup after a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes to sweep the Eastern Conference Finals. And even though they didn’t score in the series-clincher, Penguins stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin had done more than enough, proving to be way too much for a game but overmatched Carolina side. So while the NBA is wincing at losing their dream match-up, the NHL has to be thrilled with a likely Penguins vs. Red Wings rematch.

Mike Tyson

Finally, to update a tragic story we told you about earlier today, KPHO-TV in Phoenix reports that Mike Tyson’s daughter Exodus, 4, has died from injuries she sustained in a freak accident at her family home in Arizona. No matter what you think about Mike Tyson as a person, monster or character in a classic Greek tragedy, your heart has to go out to him and his family. For anyone with a child, reading about this gets your stomach all tied up in knots.

  • So after what PRO FOOTBALL TALK had reported was a tug-of-war to sign John Lynch as an NFL analyst, NEWSDAY says that the winner is Fox, snatching the former Buccaneers and Broncos standout from ESPN. Lynch will likely be replacing Brian Baldinger, which means that he’ll need to have his finger run over with a steamroller to match the “analyst with the gross digit” quota at the network.
  • Brian Baldinger and his gross finger

  • Is this a sign that the Anquan Boldin contract mess is about to come to an end?: ESPN.COM says that the disgruntled Cardinals wide receiver has fired Drew Rosenhaus as his agent. Stepping in? This guy.
  • Ready for a career switch to the exciting and fast-paced world of sports business? Fat chance, says the NEW YORK TIMES, as tough economic times have made jobs in the industry tougher to get than ever. In fact, it’s so bad that people actually want to work for the Cincinnati Bengals.
  • A new blog is asking people to vote Manny Ramirez into the 2009 All-Star Game to prove a point about how ridiculous MLB’s stance is on steroids. I say let’s really send a message and vote Jose Guillen in.
  • A STERN WARNING digs up an old Japanese tire commercial featuring Dennis Rodman, and it’s every bit as weird and indecipherable as anything you would expect involving Japanese TV and The Worm. But at least there weren’t any midgets involved:

  • As the BOSTON HERALD says, this is how bad it’s gotten for David Ortiz: last night against the Twins, he was dropped to the No. 6 spot in the line-up for the first time in more than five years. Not that it mattered; thanks to another lousy start by Jon Lester, Boston fell to Minnesota 5-2.
  • Top Orioles prospect Matt Wieters is getting his call-up to the big leagues, and is expected to make his big-league debut as a catcher on Friday against the Tigers. CAN’T STOP THE BLEEDING wonders if the Baltimore sports media is making too big of a deal about this. (i.e. could Peter Schmuck please remove his tongue from Wieters’ mouth?)
  • The NEW YORK TIMES has the latest from Roland Garros (English translation: Ron Garrett) Stadium and the French Open: Serena Williams serves a “horrendous” performance, while James Blake is bounced yet again.
  • Just how dominant has Zack Greinke been this season for the Royals? As the KANSAS CITY STAR reports, he gave up one earned run in his fifth complete game of the season, a 6-1 win over the Tigers…and his ERA actually went up slightly, “ballooning” to 0.84.
  • Probably not what Marshall wanted to hear about their prized football recruit A.J. Graham: the TALLAHASSE DEMOCRAT says that Florida’s “Mr. Football” was arrested on robbery charges - just hours before his scheduled high school graduation.

Who is the best NBA player to never win a title?

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Sorry Morganna, Rafer Is The New Kissing Bandit

Amid the drama and excitement of Orlando forcing a Game 7 with Boston was a peculiar sight: Rafer Alston, apparently trying to atone for his Eddie House headslap by, um, kissing a referee’s bald head, as seen below.

Rafer Alston Ref Kiss
(Okay, then.)

But as sharp-minded sports fans like HG at YOU BEEN BLINDED recall, this isn’t a crazy, one-off situation; Rafer kisses dudes on the court all the time. Which is fine, we suppose - it’s the 21st century, this is totally fine among European straight men, and as long as crotches don’t get involved there’s nothing really objectionable. Still, let’s take a look back at Rafer’s exploits through the years. Read more…

Speed Read: No One Is Shocked By Mannygate

It’s been said that either Manny Ramirez is incredibly dumb, or incredibly good at playing dumb, and his response to his 50-game suspension for violating MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program gives proponents of either theory plenty of fuel for the fire. On one hand, claiming that a doctor gave him medicine for a “personal problem” seems like a flimsy attempt to use ignorance to cover up cheating, especially since the drug in question (hCG) is primarily used as a fertility treatment for women.

Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez

But what the “personal problem” really was personal - like he was trying to get pregnant? Maybe he saw that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie “Junior” on a plane flight and thought that sounded like a great idea. I mean, come on: Manny’s so crazy, he doesn’t even know that men can’t conceive. That’s just Manny being Manny.

Junior

(The only thing inconceivable is Manny Ramirez’s story.)

Are you buying it? Me either. As the news spread throughout the baseball world, the most shocking aspect is just how not shocked anyone who wasn’t a Dodger fan was about it. His former teammates with the Boston Red Sox seemed to be more upset that they have to talk about Manny Ramirez again than anything else, with closer Jonathan Papelbon summing up most player’s thoughts:

“I just walked in the clubhouse today and found out about it. I haven’t really thought about it all. We’ve got more things to worry about on our club. Obviously, it’s a news story, blah, blah, blah. There’s so many more things we have to go get ready for. He’s not in our clubhouse anymore, so this is something that we’re not even worried about.”

Meanwhile, the debate seemed to come not about Manny Ramirez’s guilt or innocence, but about everything surrounding his presumed guilt. Such as Brooks’ question that if everyone is doing PEDs, then do we have to let Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens into the Hall of Fame? Or if the Dodgers are going to symbolically tear down “Mannywood,” the section devoted to the team’s Cult of Personality.

Dodgers fans celebrate Mannywood

So how did the Dodgers react on the field without their leader? In a word: shaky. Oh, it started out good, jumping out a 6-0 first inning lead on the dreadful Washington Nationals. But then it all fell apart, although this had nothing to do with Ramirez’s absence.

Blame this on the Dodgers’ increasingly leaky bullpen, which allowed nine runs in the seventh and eigth innings en route to an 11-9 Dodgers loss - which stopped the team’s record home winning streak to start the season at 13. You also couldn’t blame Ramirez’s replacement in left field, Juan Pierre, who went 2-for-4 but did make the inning-ending out in the eighth with the bases loaded.

Meanwhile, back to Ramirez’s former team again … actually, let’s look at both of them, since his original team (the Cleveland Indians) just happened to be visiting his most recent team (the Red Sox) on Thursday night. And while it might be tacky after the events of yesterday to says that Boston’s offense was on steroids, it’s safe to say that they were at least jacked up on a six-pack of Jolt colas.

Scoreboard of Red Sox vs Indians

The Red Sox matched a major league record by scoring 12 runs in the sixth inning while drubbing the Indians 13-3. At least we can be sure that Jason Bay isn’t juicing, unless he tests positive for having too much maple syrup in his blood.

And speaking of blowouts, let’s take a moment to congratulate the Atlanta Hawks for making it to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs as they collect their parting gifts and head to the exits. Sure, they are only down 2-0 to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and they are returning home.

Cleveland Cavaliers bench

But anyone who saw just a few minutes of Cleveland’s 105-85 thrashing of the Hawks knows that this series has all the makings of a sweep. Cleveland lead by as many as 36 before calling off the dogs, and LeBron James was just toying with defenders. And oh yeah, Joe Johnson sprained his ankle and might be out for the series. Have fun at the golf course, Atlanta!

More news that you might have missed last night as you were slowly backing away from Kiefer Sutherland and avoiding eye contact as not to enrage the beast:

  • The Players Championship teed off in Florida yesterday, and of course Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson share the lead. Actually, that’s a lie: the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION says that while Ben Crane leads after an opening-round 65, Woods dealt with a balky putter while shooting a 71 and Mickelson was all over the place while putting up a 73.
  • Tiger Woods

  • But if Tiger feels like he needs any help, he can call on Lee Trevino, as the DALLAS MORNING NEWS says that “Super Mex” has offered to teach him a power fade that will make sure that “he doesn’t lose any tournament.” At the least, he would like him to try an authentic salsa from Texas versus a competitor made in … NEW YORK CITY?!?
  • As usual, the Stanley Cup playoffs didn’t disappoint: the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES says that the Blackhawks relied on a late third-period goal to pull even and then scored early in OT to win 2-1 and level their series with Vancouver at 2-2.
  • Meanwhile, the DETROIT NEWS says the Red Wings also tied their series with Anaheim at 2-2 but were far less dramatic about it, playing some old time hockey on the way to a 6-2 blowout.
  • And as hockey attempts to shine on the ice, it continues to stumble elsewhere, as the TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL says that a group of investors trying to buy the failing Phoenix Coyotes and move them to Hamilton, Ontario are accusing the NHL and Commissioner Gary Bettman of “operating like an illegal cartel” in blocking the sale and move. Kind of like a more stupid version of the Mafia.
  • As the baseball world was reacting to Manny Ramirez’s suspension, the EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE says the Arizona Diamondbacks took the opportunity to relieve manager Bob Melvin of his duties while no one was looking. He’s being replaced by former major league catcher A.J. Hinch, because that’s apparently the only people who can manage the Diamondbacks.
  • YAHOO! SPORTS claims that Louisville coach Rick Pitino has made himself a candidate for the Sacramento Kings coaching job. It probably won’t have as much impact when he tells the local media that “Vlade Divac is not walking through that door.”
  • The WASHINGTON POST says there was plenty of hot disciplinary action in the NBA, as the Magic’s Rafer Alston received a one-game suspension for his head-slap on the Celtics’ Eddie House, while the Lakers’ Derek Fisher received the game punishment for his cross-check of the Rockets’ Luis Scola. There were no suspensions given to Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest or any pieces of furniture.
  • It wasn’t just Didier Drogba who was upset with Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo for several calls that didn’t go Chelsea’s way in the 1-1 tie with Barcelona that knocked them out of the Champions League semifinals. EUROSPORT says the ref had to be “smuggled” out of the country under police escort.
  • A football player at Chico High in Texas has been arrested for assaulting a 13-year-old girl in what WFAA-TV is referring to as a “sex game” gone horribly wrong, involving freshman girls “sexting” the popular football players to gain popularity.

What was your initial reaction when you heard about Manny Ramirez’s suspension?

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Speed Read: Artest Once Saw a Chair Kill a Dude

Reality used to be a friend of Ron Artest’s. However, it was long before the public met the kid from St. John’s a decade ago. For example, no one would be surprised to find out the new Gatorade/Tiger Woods cartoons seem like mini-documentaries to the Tru Warier because he has secretly considered himself the NBA’s Dr. Doolittle for years.

Ron Artest, Tru Warier

Therefore, we shouldn’t be shocked to find out reality’s been stiffing his calls again. After a questionable ejection in last night’s 111-98 Rockets loss to the Lakers to tie the series at one game apiece, Artest entertained the media with alternating moments of clarity speaking about the ejection and tales about that one time he was in Space Jam II as directed by Quentin Tarantino.

Apparently, this is the first time in Artest’s storied violent past that he remembered a pick-up game where tempers flared and one player snapped the leg off a nearby table and threw it with enough force to pierce the heart of another. By the way, Violet Palmer would only call a flagrant one on that.

One expert on keeping it real is Skip to My Lou himself, Rafer Alston. Eddie House’s yipping dog act (which is only the third-most irritating version on this Celtics squad) wormed its way under the skin of the boy from Queens, causing this rather understandable reaction:

 

The head slap will probably take the Orlando Magic’s only nominal point guard out of an upcoming game, a rather unappealing proposition after the 112-94 posterior-kicking administed by the Celtics last night. Ron Artest would like to know what reality would eject him for chattering with Kobe Bryant about his flailing elbows while a head smack only earns double techs.

He might start by asking the woman found in Dirk Nowitzki’s home Wednesday. Surely, one of the eight aliases she’s used in previous forgery convictions can speak to the matter. Also, maybe one of them is a lawyer that can explain why she was arrested in Nowitzki’s house for theft of service and probation violations.

Dirk Nowitzki

(”No, man… I was just asking if you saw ‘House’ last night.  Why so sensitive?”)

And maybe one of those aliases once killed a man with a table leg from 20 feet. Hey, it’s no stranger than knowing Ron Artest took the Houston Rockets to a plane of existence Tracy McGrady never could: the second round.

Your hail of bullet points today may seem a bit odd, but there’s a reason for that:

Sasha Cohen

Holly McPeak

Philadelphia Union logo

Who will be ejected next in the NBA Playoffs?

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Speed Read: Nash Brawls While Artest Spectates

The NBA. Where Matt Barnes flattening Rafer Alston with a forearm happens. We soon entered some sort of bizarro world in which Steve Nash is the third man in in a brawl while Ron Artest just observes from the bench. Then, for some reason, Yao decides to fight Tracy McGrady. It was just about the only entertainment in Houston’s suprisingly easy 94-82 win over the Suns.

Here’s video of the incident. It’s the Rockets’ TV broadcast, so of course everyone wearing a white jersey deserves to be shot, according to these guys:

The Celtics got a buzzer-beater from Paul Pierce to hand the Hawks their first loss of the season, 103-102. A tough loss, but it’s clear that Atlanta is going to be a major factor in the Eastern Conference this year. For the second straight night, the champs had to come back from a double-digit deficit at home to eke out a win. One wonders how long the hangover will last for the C’s.

The Lakers remained the league’s only unbeaten team, but had to hold off a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Hornets. L.A. led by 21 at the half and still led by the same margin early in the fourth, but New Orleans went on a run that saw them get within 83-80 with 90 seconds left, but Kobe Bryant hit a dagger of a three-pointer as the shot clock expired to give the Lakers a six-point lead and ice the game.

Greg Oden finally got back on the court last night, and managed to make it through an entire game without suffering an injury. He was far from spectacular in 16 minutes of play, but he did score the first points of his career and showed off some of his strength and defensive prowess. The Blazers beat the Heat 104-96 thanks to 25 points from their less-hyped, but more-talented rookie Rudy Fernandez.

Greg Oden's first points

(he made the shot, and didn’t break any bones in the process)

I didn’t really get to see any of last night’s MAC battle between Central Michigan and Northern Illinois. Oh, I had it on, it’s just that the fog was so thick I couldn’t actually see what was going on. The fog was actually a blessing for NIU, as we couldn’t see that there were only 43 people in the stands. The Chippewas (that’s CMU) blew a 30-6 lead in the third quarter and ended up needing overtime to beat the Huskies 33-30. CMU moved to 6-0 in the MAC and hosts unbeaten #14 Ball State next Wednesday for the chance to put a fork in the BCS chances of the Cardinals.

• Are you unemployed? If so, I’ve got a deal for you. All you gotta do is send in your resume and you’ll get some free NBA tickets! They’re Nets tickets, though. Oh, you aren’t interested? Rather stay jobless than figure out how to take the bus to the Meadowlands? I hear you.

Nets crowd

(Oh, you want to sit here? Get a freaking job, loser!)

In all seriousness, this is actually a pretty good idea. Just send your resume to the Nets, and the team will forward it to 120 sponsors as well a bunch of other companies that have season tickets. And for that, you get four tickets to a crappy basketball game in a crappy half-empty arena that you couldn’t otherwise even afford to attend. How’s that for wake-up call?

• Today’s gratuitous photo comes courtesy of BLAZE OF LOVE, which is enamored with the Portland Blazer Dancers’ new uniforms, now featuring boy shorts. These were clearly Greg Oden’s idea.

Trail Blazer Dancers

Brian Burke stepped down as the GM of the Anaheim Ducks yesterday, and was replaced by Bob Murray, who becomes like the 38th Murray running a hockey team in some capacity. DUCKS BLOG has the report.

• “He’s our head coach and I look forward to him being the head coach for a long time,” is the quote from Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick when asked about Charlie Weis‘ job security on Wednesday (courtesy of the FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM). That’s code for “his ass is toast if we lose to Navy.”

Bobby Knight isn’t just going to be a studio analyst this year for ESPN — he’s going to be a game analyst as well. Don’t call him a member of the media, though.

• The Orioles wish they had a second word in their team nickname they could get rid of, like Tampa Bay, but they’ll have to settle for new jerseys. Not a radical change, but they’ve gone back to wearing “Baltimore” across their chests on the road, something they got rid of in the ’70s when they weren’t trying to alienate the D.C. market. Now, the O’s say the District can suck it. The BALTIMORE SUN was on hand for the unveiling.

new Orioles jerseys

• It’s so cute when Americans try to act like real soccer fans. Apparently the MLS Eastern Conference Final between Columbus and Chicago is so contentious that all Chicago fans are getting a police escort to their seats in Columbus and the two teams’ posses aren’t allowed anywhere near each other. MLS RUMORS lists all of the security policies that will be enacted. They have attack dogs on hand in case of a “pitch invasion.” Good Lord, it’s MLS.

• FANTASY BASEBALL DUGOUT says that Carlos Gonzalez is now a fantasy sleeper for next season as he stands to be an everyday starter in Coors Field. Matt Holliday? Not so much, now that he’s stuck playing in the Mausoleum.  Although, there’s about a 105% chance that Billy Beane is flipping Holliday to the Mets in July for their entire farm system.

Bernard Hopkins is all over Donovan McNabb yet again. From PHILLY.COM: “Some people are athletes, still good, but don’t have that extra ‘I’m willing to sacrifice my life. I’m willing to sacrifice what I have to sacrifice to win.’”

• MLB.COM confirms that the Angels are done trying to sign Francisco Rodriguez, and are going to turn their attention toward Manny Ramirez. Artie Moreno says he thought they had K-Rod locked up last year, but then Mariano Rivera got his huge contract and screwed up the market for closers.

Antonio McDyess has been waived by the Nuggets after they acquired him from Detroit in the Allen Iverson deal. And now any team (wink, wink) can sign McDyess. All 30 teams will certainly have an equal chance (cough, cough) of getting him.  No way he’d have any sort of pre-arranged deal to return to the Pistons. At least that’s what the Cavs suddenly seem to believe, according to the CLEVELAND PLAIN-DEALER.

• ESPN’s Chris Low says Lane Kiffin interviewed for the Clemson job recently, making them the 19th team interested in hiring him. Getting fired by Al Davis is the best thing that ever happened to this guy.

Who you got in a battle royal?

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Video Of Rockets’ Alston DWI Arrest Hits the Net

Yesterday jurors saw video of Rafer Alston’s DWI arrest. The raw footage, from the dashboard of the police cruiser, shows the Rockets point guard being alternately belligerent and accommodating, at one point leaning over the hood of his car while telling officers to “take me in.”

Rafer Alston Arrest

Alston was pulled over early in the morning of August 7th for driving erratically, and having his headlights off. He admitted to having “3 or 4″ drinks at Pandora, a popular lounge in Houston (though he changes that story to “two vodka cranberries” once he’s in the backseat of the cop car). Alston refused a breathalyzer or field sobriety tests. And I have to give him credit: he holds out until the 1:18 mark of this video before pulling out the “I play ball, man. I play for the Houston Rockets, man” card. (See the arrest, after the jump.)

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