Speed Read: NCAA Tries To Erase History Again

I have always thought it’s weird when people bring up the idea of removing steroid-era numbers from baseball’s official record book, as if history can be fixed simply by ignoring it. Say what you want about Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire, but every single home run they hit counted in a real-life Major League Baseball game.

Derrick Rose John Calipari

(This never happened.)

Of course, the NCAA has been pulling these sort of shenanigans for years, “vacating” wins for schools that violate the rules. The latest to apparently earn this wrath is the University of Memphis basketball program, whose run to the 2008 title game is reportedly going to be vanishing from the NCAA’s memory today. As far as they’re concerned, the 38 wins accumulated that year never happened because Derrick Rose had someone else take the SAT for him in order to get into the school.

For those of you scoring at home, that’s twice now that John Calipari-helmed teams have seen Final Four runs erased from the books, although in 1996 UMass was only forced to give up its 4-1 NCAA tournament record, and not its entire season, due to Marcus Camby’s indiscretions with an agent. In this case, Memphis’ whole season is being invalidated and Calipari is about to find his coaching resume to be 38 wins lighter.

John Calipari UMass

(This didn’t happen either.)

I suppose it makes sense on some level. If Rose shouldn’t have been eligible to play, then how could any of the team’s wins be valid? But ultimately, this is just a big fat case of “who cares?” Michigan vacated its two runs to the title game with the Fab Five, but what did that accomplish (other than banning the team from the postseason in 2003 for things that happened a decade earlier)? It’s not like they’re giving up anything tangible. The memory of what happened will always be there. Chris Webber isn’t suddenly off the hook for that timeout thing.

In a FOX SPORTS article, Antonio Anderson says it simply doesn’t matter:

“Honestly, I don’t care,” former Memphis guard Antonio Anderson said. “We know what we did. We didn’t do anything wrong, but it is what it is.”

And he’s got a point. The rest of the team didn’t do anything wrong. Even Calipari, it seems, didn’t do anything wrong here. Derrick Rose did allegedly do something wrong, but it’s unlikely that anything is going to happen to him. He, like Camby and Webber, will go on to make tons of money in the NBA while their former teammates are told that their dream college seasons didn’t even happen.

Of course, thus far, only teams that didn’t win the title have had such sanctions levied against them. It will be interesting to see if the NCAA is willing to strip a team of a title and hand it to the runner-up if something like this happens in the future.

Chris Webber timeout

(This…yeah, this happened.)

Should Memphis be forced to give up its 38 victories in 2007-08 if Derrick Rose cheated on his SAT?

View Results

So, remember how (insert contending team here) was crazy not to give up half their team to get Roy Halladay a couple of weeks ago? Well, there are at least two teams that are feeling pretty good about their decision not to mortgage the farm for a short-sighted chance at success.

Roy Halladay

Last night in Toronto, Clay Buchholz — one of the players rumored to be headed to the Jays in a proposed Halladay deal — outpitched the man himself in a 6-1 beatdown at Skydome Rogers Centre. The win, coupled with a Texas loss, put the Sox back into the Wild Card lead by a full game.

Meanwhile, the Phillies’ “Plan B” when attempts to get Halladay failed, Cliff Lee, ran his record to 4-0 with a two-hit, 11 strikeout, complete game win over the Diamondbacks. Lee has pitched 33 of a possible 36 innings in his four starts with Philly and has a 0.82 ERA. Looks like he might be the 2009 version of CC Sabathia in Milwaukee, only for a much, much better team.

Cliff Lee

• Hey, everything I’m reading says that there’s still a lot of competition for the Vikings’ starting quarterback job. I am, of course, talking about D.H. Conley High School in Greenville, North Carolina. What, is there another team called the Vikings with some quarterback issues?

• Warner Robins, Georgia, won the Little League Softball World Series last night, crushing W’s favorite team from Crawford, Texas. Warner Robins is the first Little League to produce both a softball and baseball world champion (the boys won in 2007).

• English soccer team Burnley, playing its first Premier League home game ever (and first in the top division in 33 years), did the unthinkable last night, shocking Manchester United 1-0 on an awesome volley by veteran Robbie Blake:

• CNBC’s Darren Rovell says that ESPN THE MAGAZINE is allowing its subscribers to renew for a year AND get an ESPN.COM “Insider” subscription for a grand total of $1. The Mag’s GM claims that it’s a ploy to get more people to read Insider content, and not an admission that the mag is in trouble.

• ELEVEN WARRIORS says at least one witness says that Ohio State linebacker Tyler Moeller threatened a Florida man named Gray Decker, and that is why Decker flattened Moeller with a right hook at a bar and ended his season.

Here’s more details on the odd case of Caster Semenya, who won the women’s 800 meter run by a ridiculous 2 1/2 seconds at the World Championships. She is undergoing what is reportedly an “extremely complex, difficult” set of tests to determine whether or not she is actually a she. A gynecologist is involved, so I imagine that “extremely complex” is an understatement.

Caster Semenaya

• ONLINE SPORTS GUYS says an Albuquerque high school baseball coach has been fired for hiring strippers to “entertain” his team while they were on a road trip in Denver last year. Says one parent:

“We thank all our friends in the Albuquerque baseball community for their support and well wishes during this unfortunate circumstance where no one comes out a winner.”

Whoa, hold on there. I can think of at least nine people who probably think they came out a winner.

• How’s this for ridiculous? The entire Angels starting lineup on Tuesday night in Cleveland has a .300 batting average or better, and all have at least 225 plate appearances. An all-.300 lineup hasn’t been on a Major League field since 1930.

Angels all .300 lineup

 • After missing more than a year, Billy Wagner is set to come back from injury … and the Mets are trying desperately to trade him. Ladies and gentlemen, the inaugural season at Citi Field!

• Before the Mets’ game with the Phillies on Saturday, members of the ‘69 World Series champion Mets will help build the framework of a home for Habitat for Humanity. An hour later, the current Mets will help build the framework of another NL East title for the Phillies. Ladies and gentlemen, the inaugural season at Citi Field!

John Smoltz has sucked this year. So the Cardinals are going to see if he can magically turn into a good pitcher again.

• Now, it’s time for fun with Twitter. First, the BOSTON GLOBE’s Amalie Benjamin is a little, uh, overpowered by David Ortiz:

Amalie Benjamin David Ortiz Twitter

And, Nick Collison comes dangerously close to calling his wife an unfortunate name. Good thing you got that period there, Nick!

Nick Collison Twitter

 

Speed Read: Fielder Storms Dodgers Clubhouse

It seems like only yesterday when Dodger pitcher Guillermo Mota was plunking Mike Piazza, then scampering away into his own dugout like George Costanza fleeing a fire to escape the slugger’s wrath. That was 2003, but Mota — in his second stint with the Dodgers — was the sacrificial lamb once again in last night’s 17-4 win over the Brewers in L.A.

Guillermo Mota

The Brewers had hit Manny Ramirez earlier in the game, presumably for being Manny and admiring a slump-busting home run he hit as part of the Dodgers’ biggest home scoring outburst since 1979. So, with Ramon Troncoso warming in the bullpen with a 13-run lead and two outs in the ninth, Mota beaned Prince Fielder. Mota was tossed immediately and a befuddled Fielder had words for him as he left the field. Troncoso came in for the last out, but the situation was far from over.

After the game, Prince decided he wanted to go have a friendly chat with Mota and the rest of the Dodgers, so he tried to storm their clubhouse. Like, actually go in there and try and throw down, I guess. Fortunately, a combination of security guards and Brewer teammates were able to keep him out. Prince was soon safely in his regular spot in front of the postgame spread. Mota, once again displaying mighty courage, was nowhere to be found afterward and left Russell Martin to speak for him.

Prince Fielder

This is the sort of thing that happens all the time in baseball, but two aspects were troublesome: One, obviously, is Fielder’s attempt to actually go in the opposing clubhouse and get in a confrontation. Baseball has always had their “codes” and all that, but it’s supposed to stay on the field. Fielder’s choice to escalate the situation showed pretty poor judgment. But I don’t think Joe Torre is off the hook here. Hittting Fielder wasn’t the problem. But the Dodgers should’ve at least preserved the conceit that the whole thing wasn’t pre-planned. It’s hard to say “it just got away from him” when you have a pitcher warming up in the bullpen with one out remaining in a complete blowout. Clearly this was not only permitted by Torre, but presumably was encouraged, which may earn him a suspension.

*UPDATE* CBS 2 in L.A. has video of Prince’s attempted post-game visit.

Guillermo Mota Mike Piazza

(I don’t think Mota wants to run into Piazza at a Dodger reunion any time soon)

Meanwhile, things may have finally hit rock bottom for the Mets this year. Francisco Rodriguez blew a two-run lead in the ninth, then Albert Pujols hit a granny in the 10th to lead the Cards to a 12-7 win at CitiField. It was Pujols’ fifth grand slam this season, and he has hit six homers in his last 11 at-bats with the bases loaded. Even more frustrating for Mets fans, pitcher Sean Green hit the previous batter, Mark DeRosa, with the bases loaded to allow Pujols to come to the plate. This with two out in a tie game. To add injury to injury, as the Mets have been doing all season, Luis Castillo sprained his ankle on the dugout steps.

Albert pujols grand slam

(”Hey Albert, up here. Up top, bro. Do you see me here? No, dude, not the guy in the white shirt.”)

Horrifying news coming out of the Pittsburgh area last night, as a man opened fire at an LA Fitness gym in the southwest suburb of Collier, killing at least three people and wounding at least 10 others. At this time, it’s assumed that the gunman then killed himself. The PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW has the scary details:

Allegheny County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said the gunman may have fired 50 shots at the 20-22 women inside the room at the time before turning one of his guns on himself and taking his own life. There were perhaps another 50 people in various other parts of the facility at the time.

Moffatt said the gunman left a note inside his gym bag that indicated he expected to die in the carnage.

Pittsburgh gym shooting

From all accounts, this seems like the sort of attack that is nearly impossible to stop. The 49-year-old gunman, who has not been identified as I write this, was a member of the club who was able to gain access simply by swiping in. It could, however, not be as entirely random as it looks now, as he specifically went into a room where an aerobics class called “Latin Impact” was taking place. He only shot women who were in that room, then apparently killed himself.

Despite the chaotic scene, a number of people lent whatever help they could:

Richard Walker went to the gym to play basketball with a group of friends. Two of them left carrying shooting victims, both women, over their shoulders, Walker said.

They got 50 yards from the gym’s side entrance, and took cover between cars as soon as they reached the edge of the parking lot, he said two hours after the shooting, his Oklahoma All-State T-shirt covered in dried blood down its right side.

“They were like losing blood and almost freaking out,” said Walker, 23, of Carnegie, who recently moved from Tulsa. “I just knew you put pressure on the wound.”

Thoughts go out to all the victims. Let’s hope all of the wounded are just that, and don’t take any turn for the worse.

Pittsburgh gym shooting

On that note, the show goes on:

• NBA schedules are out, and the Celtics host the Cavs in the marquee matchup of opening night.

• Because nobody asked, Clinton Portis wants you to know that he’s not gay:

I don’t think there’s a woman in the United States of America that would say I’m gay. So, you know, I don’t hang around men.”

• Based on this video posted by NESW SPORTS, I don’t think LeBron James would even be a top 5 pick in my Monday night pickup game. At least he doesn’t have to worry about getting dunked on again:

Joe Posnanski is the newest senior writer at Sports Illustrated. He’ll still write for the K.C. STAR on occasion, but the exodus from traditional print outlets continues.

• The PHOENIX NEW TIMES has dug up records suggesting that the city of Glendale and the NHL have essentially been preparing to hand the Phoenix Coyotes over to Jerry Reinsdorf for months, well before the team began looking for a new owner. Such a deal is bad for the owners, who could make much more money selling the team to a group that would move the team to Canada.

• Once the most talked-about guy in baseball, Roy Halladay is now just another guy losing to the Yankees.

Drew Carey is excited about tonight’s FC Barcelona-Seattle Sounders match at Qwest Field. But the real gem is at the end of the story: Seattle midfielder Freddie Ljungberg says he missed a penalty kick in the MLS All-Star Game because of a migraine triggered by eating food with red wine in it. Oh, soccer players.

red wine

(When you need a guy to miss a penalty kick, accept no substitute)

 • Predictably, it looks like the NFL is going to be the first major league to draft a policy addressing the use of Twitter by its players, according to the WASHINGTON POST.

• Stolen golf carts. Guys peeing on trailers. No, it has nothing to do with Donald Trump. It’s just your average week at the (no longer) Buick Open.

• I think Jennifer Love Hewitt would probably be the #1 pick in my Monday night pickup hoops game if she showed up wearing this:

Jennifer Love Hewitt

If you could have one current MLB player up with the bases loaded, who would it be?

View Results

Speed Read: MLB Ump Fist Bumps Marlin Catcher

This mustache belongs to the most hated man in Atlanta, MLB umpire Bill Hohn:

Bill Hohn

(”No, you listen to me, I’m telling a ‘you might be a redneck if…’ joke and there’s nothing you can do about it.”)

Hohn has been a bit suspect (to say the least) with his calls in games involving the Braves this year. As BLEACHER REPORT details, Hohn seems to operate with an entirely different strike zone when Atlanta is pitching, which resulted in a huge scene earlier in the year in Boston, in which Bobby Cox, Chipper Jones, and pitcher Eric O’Flaherty were ejected from the game on the same play for arguing balls and strikes.

On Wednesday night, the Braves and Hohn butted heads again over his strike zone, resulting in yet another ejection for Cox — one that he was baited into when Hohn told Cox he had to eject someone and then pulled out his lineup card to “decide” who to toss. Cox volunteered himself, and then threw up his arms in disbelief when Hohn did it. Moments later, Brian McCann was tossed for asking Hohn to admit he missed a call during his last at bat.

Even so, as egregious as Hohn’s mistakes may have been, it’s easy to dismiss Atlanta’s protests as just your average sour grapes. But then something happened on Wednesday night. When Marlins catcher John Baker caught the final strike in Florida’s 6-3 win over the Braves, he turned around and extended his fist toward Hohn, to which Hohn obliged with a response. Yeah, you heard it right, an umpire actually fist-bumped a player. Here’s the evidence, in animated GIF form. A screenshot of the bumping moment:

Bill Hohn fist bump John Baker

No word on whether or not Hohn “blew it up.”

Hohn likely didn’t realize how that would look, as Baker was probably just telling Hohn he did a good job (as players will sometimes do after games), but on a night when Hohn ejected the opposing manager for arguing about the strike zone, that was a pretty poor decision. One that probably should earn Hohn a game or two off.

The Braves were steaming when word got to them about the bump. Chipper says he’s never seen such a thing in his entire career, and all but accused Hohn and fellow ump Jerry Meals of having it out for his team. This a day after LaTroy Hawkins raised eyebrows for claiming the umps wanted the Cubs to beat his Houston team.

Still fuming, the Braves shook it off last night and beat the Marlins 6-3 on a 10th inning homer by McCann.

Bill Hohn

Your 2009  trade deadline is just hours away, ladies and gentlemen. J.P. Ricciardi continues to hold firm on a steep price for Roy Halladay, and we’ll see this afternoon just how serious he is about making a deal. Many teams have been in the hunt, but all seem to be unwilling to give up the one key prospect the Jays covet. And since Ricciardi can hold on to Halladay and do this all over again next year, he doesn’t feel that dealing him is a necessity.

Late last night, FOX’s Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi wrote that the Rangers might be the last team that will take a crack at Halladay, but seem reluctant to part with pitcher Derek Holland, who dominated the Mariners last night.

If Halladay doesn’t go anywhere, we might be headed for a dud of a deadline headlined by such blockbusters as Orlando Cabrera going to the Twins and/or Nick Johnson going to the Marlins.

Orlando Cabrera

(If Nick Punto was your shortstop, this guy would seem like a great option)

The Red Sox are going to to everything they can, though, to shake things up and land either Victor Martinez or Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez would be a huge coup for the Sox, as he’s signed through 2010 at about $2.5 million, and his option for 2011 is a very reasonable $5.5 million. I’m not sure, in fact, why the Padres would want to trade him unless they were getting a ton in return (something like Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, and of Boston’s other top two or three prospects, and even that might not seem like enough). Not surprisingly, Jon Heyman has been told the Sox prefer Gonzalez over Martinez. Martinez has a team option for next year at $7 million, is four years older than Gonzalez, and doesn’t OPS anywhere near .929.

Either way, the Sox would have a huge jam with Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis competing for time at third base, while the new player would vie for time at first with Adam LaRoche.

Adrian Gonzalez

(Just like Big Papi, but a little less ‘roidy)

• A historic baseball stadium in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is under water right now due to massive flooding. The COLLEGE BASEBALL BLOG has pictures of the mess.

• CNBC’s Darren Rovell says that one indication that our economy might be heading the right direction is that golf manufacturer Callaway’s stock price is on the rise on forecasts that club sales may be picking up.

• Alright, I’m pretty sure this is the final nail in coffin for the “grill” phenomenon:

Ryan Lochte grill

 • Tiger Woods has never missed consecutive cuts in his PGA career, so his 96th-place standing after day 1 of the Buick Open doesn’t bode very well.

• Eight year olds, dude: Dustin Pedroia’s brother sentenced to only one year in prison (and eight on probation) for sexual contact with a minor.

DeWayne Wise’s big week continues, as he singled in the winning run in the ninth inning of a 3-2 victory over the Yankees last night.

• Screw that whole east coast bias, the Pac-10 thinks it’s huuuuuuge in China. Good thing, since that’s where all the Harris Poll voters seem to live.

• Oh, Sarge (h/t AWFUL ANNOUNCING)

• I’m sure you’ve wanted to punch someone in the face during a game of Monopoly, but somebody finally went through with it. The victim’s crime? An apparent unwillingness to sell Park Place and Boardwalk.

• The Cubs beat the Astros 12-3 yesteray afternoon, and by early evening both starting pitchers from the game were no longer with their teams. Kevin Hart was among those traded by the Cubs to the Pirates for John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny. Meanwhile, Houston put Russ Ortiz out of his misery.

• The guys at KISSING SUZY KOLBER think they’ve figured out who got in the way of the Reggie Bush-Kim Kardashian relationship. Shockingly, it’s a model, and her name is Carmen Ortega:

Carmen Ortega

Is today’s trade deadline going to deliver?

View Results

 

Ines Sainz Makes Watching Sports Much More Fun

Ines Sainz of TV Azteca: A sports reporter we can all get behind.

Ines Sainz

Phil Jackson makes Jonah Hill feel super bad during game: “Next time you move around during a play, I’ll kick you the f*** out of here!”

Ron Artest reenacts the Malice In The Palace for aspiring Chinese pop star Shin Shin. How nice nice of Ron Ron.

• British soccer club asks US firm to find a buyer for their team. Firm decides the best action is to sell the team by way of eBay.

Manny Ramirez & David Ortiz are among those named as testing positive for PEDs in 2003.

Read more…

Speed Read: One Day Left For Halladay Shopping

Please forgive the residents of Toronto if they’re not that relieved to learn that Roy Halladay will probably remain a Blue Jay through 2010. They’re in the midst of a rather nasty civic strike up there, and it’s hard to smell the roses when no one has picked up the trash for the past six weeks. And speaking of things that stink, Halladay gave up 11 hits over seven innings as the Jays lost to the Mariners in Seattle on Wednesday, 3-2. Ask not for whom the MLB Trade Deadline tolls. It tolls for thee.

Roy Halladay

For those keeping score at home (howdy, Steinbrenners!), Halladay has lost three of his past four decisions; kind of hard to fathom since, according to all of the trade rumors that have involved him lately, he’s supposedly The Chosen One. Those rumors have circled him like buzzards, and Halladay can’t wait for all of this to be over.

“It hasn’t been fun,” Halladay said. “There’s been a lot of attention, questions from all angles; not only the media, but friends and acquaintances.”

“I don’t know what the best way is to go about it. They’re doing their due diligence but how you go about that, what’s the best way, I’ve never had to do that.

“You never want that kind of circus. That part will be nice. It’s baseball, something you love to do and I look forward to doing it. But you look forward to a time when there are fewer outside things going on.”

He was supposed to be a Phillie by now, but the world champions got tired of waiting and asked Cliff Lee to the prom instead. (And, sorry Philadelphia, but your pitching still isn’t as good as the Giants’). So now the Jays are saying they’ll probably just keep him, even though there may be some interest from the Rangers, the Angels and the Red Sox. Also, the Yankees have been quiet on the subject … too quiet. That trading deadline of Friday at 4 p.m. (ET) cannot come soon enough.

Oh, and add the Dodgers to the list of teams interested in Halladay. Or if they weren’t before they are now, since Lee landed with the Phillies. LA has lost four straight, Albert Pujols doing the honors on Wednesday with a run-scoring single in the 15th to give the Cardinals a 3-2 win. The Giants, 7 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West and first in the Wild Card race, went out and armed themselves with 2006 NL MVP batting champ Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates, after having snagged Ryan Garko from the Indians earlier in the week. The Giants gave up a lot for Sanchez in minor league pitcher Tim Alderson, whom I think is going to be great. But at least there’s some wheeling and dealing occurring to keep me amused. The Pirates, by the way, also traded Jack Wilson to the Mariners, meaning that they traded away their starting double play combination on the same day.

Elsewhere in trade deadline rumblings, you’ve got your Padres shopping first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, closer Heath Bell and right-hander Kevin Correia, with the Brewers seeming to be the team most interested in the latter. Of course the Padres offering up the cream of their roster in late July has become a tradition as old as baseball itself. The Marlins are “in serious talks” for Bell, accordingto SI.com. … if the Rangers can’t get Halladay, they’re hoping for Seattle’s Jarrod Washburn … Orioles left-hander George Sherrill to the White Sox? Baltimore needs a third baseman, and Chicago GM Kenny Williams may be willing to include Josh Fields in a deal. But Sherrill doesn’t want to go.

Meanwhile, THE SPORTING NEWS has commissioned one of those pointless, confounding polls that sucker people like me into writing about them, thus oiling the wheels of conversation. This time it’s the 50 Greatest Coaches of All Time, with the winner being — no surprise here — John Wooden. The Wizard of Westwood is the safe choice, as his 10 NCAA men’s titles will likely not be challenged before one school corners the market on human cloning, or the invention of Flubber. The list was voted on by a panel of coaches, the identities of which are uncertain (except for this complete list, that is. I see that Jerry Glanville is on there, which is probably why Bill Walsh is only at No. 26).

John Wooden, Bill Walton

I’m not even certain what the criteria is here. Are we just counting Xs and Os, or overall character and influence? Is basketball a harder sport to coach than football or hockey? Why leave out boxing and swimming? What, no Dennis Erickson?

Here’s the top 10:

1. John Wooden, college basketball
2. Vince Lombardi, NFL
3. Bear Bryant, college football
4. Phil Jackson, NBA
5. Don Shula, NFL
6. Red Auerbach, NBA
7. Scotty Bowman, NHL
8. Dean Smith, college basketball
9. Casey Stengel, MLB
10. Knute Rockne, college football

Although I don’t think that Wooden belongs at the top, I think it’s cool that he’s still around to be told he won this. Let’s salute him by lifting our glasses and saying: “What, you think you’re better than me? It’s go time! Mendlebaum! Mendelbaum!”

Manny Ramirez

If you’re looking for something to do tonight, why not travel to Lowell, Mass., and help the Lowell Spinners celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Manny Ramirez trade. It’s Quitters Night at LeLacheur Park as the Red Sox Single-A affiliate reminds everyone that Manny (they say) quit on the season during his last year with the Sox. Activities will include a fan vote of the top five list of quitters, liars and cheaters of all time; the top five Manny moments; and a cardboard cutout of Manny which will be signed by fans and shipped to him.

Also, the Spinners will have a hypnotist to provide assistance for fans that need a little extra help to quit smoking or other addictive habits.

And now, links to ponder while recovering from wounds inflicted by your porn star girlfriend

  • The Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki likes Britney Spears, and he doesn’t care who knows it. Also, if he could have one legendary player as a teammate, his first choice would be Derek Jeter; “except then I wouldn’t have a position. So I guess it would be Babe Ruth. He seems like someone it would be fun to hang out with.”
  • This is a pretty poor excuse for a fight at an Angels’ game, but one guy’s t-shirt does get ripped, and someone gets a beer dousing. The funny part is that the guy in the middle with the “Eight Men Out”-era straw hat, who appears to be playing peacemaker, is the one who gets the brunt of the abuse. “For the love of Christy Mathewson, knock it off you guys!”

  • I’ve always been able to make a comfortable disconnect between FOX NEWS and FOX SPORTS, but that peace was tested on Wednesday when the latter trotted out their “10 people we’d like to go away” slideshow. Among the usual suspects (Erin Andrews, etc.) we have at No. 8, President Obama? Seriously? Are Rupert Murdoch’s bony fingers pushing the buttons at the sports division now? Sorry, not even going to link to it.
  • Tampa Bay pitcher Matt Garza admitted that he hit the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira on purpose Wednesday night, the inning after Yankees starter Joba Chamberlain threw near the head of Evan Longoria. “It’s about time someone made a statement,” Garza said. … “I hate to be that guy, but someone had to take a stand and say, ‘You know, we’re tired of it.’” Time for Bob Watson to get out the whuppin’ stick. But will he?
  • Ann Killion is leaving after 21 years as a sports reporter and columnist at the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, not a surprising development as Dean Singleton continues to cut costs and gut sports sections in his teetering MediaNews Group stable of Bay Area newspapers. We wish her well.
  • The Astros’ LaTroy Hawkins accused umpire Mike Everitt of wanting the Cubs to win in Chicago’s 5-1 victory over Houston on Wednesday. “Maybe he was having a bad day,” Hawkins said. “I thought he had determined who he wanted to win the game anyway.” … Asked by Houston reporters whether he regretted the remark, Hawkins replied: “Why would I?”
  • Bugs Bunny turned 69 this week. I mention this because of one of the greatest cartoons ever produced — 1946’s “Baseball Bugs,” which I’m sure everyone has seen at least once. This classic also indirectly produced one of the greatest blog posts of all time, “Bugs Bunny, the greatest banned player ever,” by U.S.S. MARINER. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Baseball Bugs

  • Police in Shelton, Conn., broke up a canary fighting ring recently, seizing 150 birds and confiscating $8,000 that had been bet on the fights. As you know, there’s nothing lower than canary fighting. But did these sick bastards actually think that they could elude the long arm of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture? Not likely.

Is John Wooden the best coach of all time?

View Results

Speed Read: Lance Follows Watson Into Sunset

Sigh. Just 24 hours ago, the idea of Tom Watson winning the British Open and Lance Armstrong winning the Tour de France didn’t seem all that far-fetched. In fact, we were all starting to believe that it all had to happen. Why would they come this far just to fail in the end?

Tom Watson

Much has been written about Watson’s inability to hang on to a one-shot lead on the 18th at Turnberry, but lost in that shuffle was the news that Armstrong has basically conceded the Tour to his teammate Alberto Contador after falling behind in yesterday’s climb in the Alps. While Lance is still second overall, he finished ninth in yesterday’s stage and looks like he’s not going to be able to keep up as the Tour continues through the mountains over the next week.

Armstrong is trying to take the high road in pledging that he will do whatever he can to help Contador keep the yellow jersey until the end, but Contador couldn’t resist smacking Lance with a rather large verbal backhand:

“Lance Armstrong was my idol, but dropping him today wasn’t important — he was just like any other rider … It’s an honor for me to have him working for me,” Contador said.

In other words, this is my sport now.  Armstrong, who is rumored to be starting his own team for next year, acknowledged that Contador was the best rider and that his goal now is to do what’s best for his team.

Alberto Contador

Wins by Watson and/or Armstrong would have probably ended up being the biggest sports stories of the year, if not among the best of the decade. These examples of the triumph of the spirit over the limitations of the body as we age are a shot in the arm of a lot of us could use. For the most part, we are faced every day with some reminder that we aren’t all we could be, and we accept it because we’re getting older. It’s the most convenient excuse, and perhaps the fact that they came up just short is enough evidence for us to keep using it. Golf and cycling are about as far apart in terms of their physical demands as you can get in the sports world. But the fact that a 59-year-old and a 37-year-old cancer survivor could come so close to reaching the pinnacle of their respective sports one last time has to be some sort of wake up call for the rest of us, right?

lance armstrong tour de france

Speaking of wake up calls (and I hate to keep bringing this up), but it looks as if the nails are just about to be driven in the coffin of David Beckham’s MLS career. In his first home game since his return to the Galaxy, he was roundly booed and got into an angry confrontation with a fan during L.A.’s friendly with AC Milan (Beckham’s other team).

beckham signs

Though he claimed afteward that he expected some negativity, it was clear through his behavior that he didn’t expect it to be quite as overwhelming as it was. The main culprits were the Riot Squad, the Galaxy’s version of a wannabe European fan section. As you can see, they aren’t too happy that Becks backed out on the first half of the MLS season to play in Italy:

beckham signs

After hearing boos and coordinated chants and jeers throughout the first half, Beckham finally had enough and confronted the section of fans as he headed off the field for halftime. He says he went to ask them to calm down, but soon security was getting involved and escorting away a fan who appeared as if he wanted to engage Becks in some sort of physical altercation. The L.A. TIMES has all the particulars of a strange evening at the Home Depot Center.

Lost in all of the tension was the fact that Beckham actually played well, and was instrumental in both of L.A.’s goals in a 2-2 draw with Milan. After he delivered a perfect corner kick in the second half that Bryan Jordan headed into the net, he turned to the Riot Squad and stared them down as he raised his arms in celebration. I imagine that this battle isn’t quite over yet, even though Beckham tried to downplay it in his remarks afterward:

By the way, Los Angeles, way to treat your sports stars. You welcome Manny Ramirez, a proven cheater, back from his suspension as if he was returning from chemotherapy or something, but you get all over this guy. Nice.

Roy Halladay dominated the Red Sox yesterday, throwing a complete-game in a 3-1 victory in what could be his last start in Toronto. So where’s he going? Philly? Milwaukee? The South Side? The North Side? Anaheim? Mannywood? St. Louis? Minnesota? Texas? Seattle is apparently bucking the trend by admitting they aren’t interested.

• From the world of minor league baseball promotions, here’s footage of Chewbacca riding around in the Mystery Machine at a single-A game in Lowell, Massachusetts:

• More from the world of minor league baseball promotions: The Brooklyn Cyclones dedicated last night’s game to preganancy, complete with a pregame Lamaze class, and the promise of free tickets for life to anyone who names their kid “Brooklyn” or “Cy.”

The Mets have lost yet another player to injury, and are dangerously close to having to go out and sign Jose Lima again, and nobody wants to see that. Unless his wife shows up for his starts:

Jose Lima Wife

• 5,000 people showed up to see the groundbreaking for the new Marlins stadium, and their view was blocked by the families of the dignitaries involved in the ceremony. Now, if they could only get 5,000 people to show up for an actual Marlins game…

• Hey, so how about that really thrilling PGA tournament that ended in a playoff yesterday? That was some pretty great stuff. Wait, who’s Bo Van Pelt? Milwaukee? What’s going on here?

• With Tom Watson coming so close to winning the British Open, even a guy who survived four surgeries on a brain tumor thinks he’s good enough to come back and play next year.

Henry Surtees, the 18-year-old son of former Formula 1 champion John Surtees, died yesterday from injuries suffered in a freak accident during a Formula 2 race in England. A tire from another racer’s car flew off and hit Surtees in the head, causing him to lose consciousness and drive his car straight into a barrier.

• First, Tony Romo lost Jessica Simpson. Now, he lost a celebrity golf tournament to Rick Rhoden, who won the tournament in Lake Tahoe for the eighth time. Charles Barkley finished last, falling behind Chuck Liddell and Kevin Nealon on the last day.

Charles Barkley golfing

Mike Mussina took the mound for the first time at the new Yankee Stadium yesterday. Of course, it was old-timers’ day, so I guess that means he’s retired. He is, by the way, the last Yankee pitcher to win a game against the Red Sox.

• Maybe the reason that the Pirates gave a bit of an insulting extension offer to Jack Wilson is because they realize that, despite his defensive brilliance, he’s an absolutely atrocious offensive player. Like, along the lines of Yuniesky Betancourt. But I’m not sure I give Neal Huntington that much credit.

Whose win would have been more stunning?

View Results