8:30 PM The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle notes that the Rochester Red Wings were the last American baseball team to play in Cuba before the U.S. embargo began in 1960. The July 25 game against the Havana Sugar Kings ended in a 3-3 tie after fans began firing weapons to celebrate Fidel Castro's revolution.
Thanks to a thrilling win over Villanova in the NCAA Tournament, St. Mary’s is the talk of college basketball today.
(More like the “Oh-No” Zone)
These sorts of moments is why March Madness is so popular. Yeah, gambling is ultimately what fuels the most interest in the tournament, but massive upsets is at least a distant second on that list. (Third: Bob Huggins eternally engineering wardrobe ensembles failing to entail tucking of shirt tail.)
So like many of you, the St. Mary’s win made my day. Unlike many of you, it wasn’t because I had the Gaels in the last of 37 brackets I filled out while ditching work in an El Pollo Loco parking lot last Tuesday.
From the San Diego State-St. Mary’s college basketball game last Monday on ESPN.
(Thought you could only get that watching The View)
Appears St. Mary’s college basketball fans aren’t afraid to share their sexual afflictions - on television that is. Thankfully, looks like the top part of the sign, which may have been implicating some poor unsuspecting soul, got cut off.
Blissfully unaware Terry Gannon and Stephen Bardo on the call.
Pittsburgh is a strange place. It’s in Pennsylvania, but it feels like the rust belt of Ohio. It’s considered part of the Northeast, but it feels more like Gary, Indiana, during it’s (albeit brief) boom period than it does like Philadelphia, which is right on the other side of the state.
(The man on the left could be Pittsburgh’s next mayor.)
Perhaps most importantly, the entire life of the city revolves around the fortunes of a single sports team: The Steelers. If the black-and-gold wins, then everyone’s happy. If the Steelers lose, well, then you might want to grab the next flight to Cincinnati. After all, no one gives a crap about football there.
Why are we bringing up the rather obvious massive popularity of Steelers football? Because the son of one of the franchise’s most famous players is about to run for mayor. Franco “Dok” Harrisofficially announced his candidacy on Monday. That’s not the Franco Harris you remember from Steelers Super Bowls, it’s the Franco Harris who the Super Bowl Franco Harris gave birth to.
According to a press release posted on the Pittsburgh sports blog MONDESI’S HOUSE, Harris the younger lists accomplishments like his graduation from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business, not a boatload of touchdowns. But that may not matter to Pittsburgh voters, half of whom probably won’t be able to tell the difference between the two Harrises.
All of this begs the question of just how far one man can get on a famous name, particularly if it isn’t his. Yes, Dok Harris has some professional accomplishments in the legal and business community, but the only reason he’s even notable is because he’s Franco Harris’s son. If that lands him the Pittsburgh mayoral office, that might be an all-time record for long-distance coattail riding.
Here’s Dok Harris’s best political speak, in an excerpt from his press release:
As your mayor, the Pittsburgh of tomorrow will be an economic powerhouse; a green city that is a friend to businesses both small and large. Our city will work for our workers by ensuring fair wages and fair treatment. The Pittsburgh of tomorrow will be the intersection of labor and technology, where both startups and large corporations will benefit from the hard working blue collar spirit of our community and the intellectual trust of our universities. As your mayor I commit to building Pittsburgh into that city upon a hill - or in this case, three rivers – as an example of the role that good government has in our common successful future. I ask you to join me on this journey. Together, we will Forge Ahead.
We’ll see how Harris does, but he definitely bears watching, if only for historical significance, both for his father and the future of celebrity in America.
We’re still getting into the full swing of March Madness, but one of Monday night’s games emphasized the second word in the phrase, thanks to some bizarre referring that gave one team a 1-0 lead before the opening tip off.
(Josh Heytvelt dunked, too, just not in warm-ups.)
The official pregame indiscretion was committed by St. Mary’s, which fell to Gonzaga in Monday night’s West Coast Conference championship. According to this report in the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, the Gaels were handed a technical foul because they dunked in warm-up drills. You can catch video of the incident below, too.
The last time we checked, every team dunked in warm up drills. The only difference is that other teams tend to deliver psuedo-lay up dunks, hybrid basket drop-ins that vary in force and how clearly they’re acknowledged. On Monday, St. Mary’s was dunking and getting noticed, and that was too much for game officials to accept.
A few hours later, St. Mary’s was left to sit and wait to learn whether it will be able to dunk again this year. In only the second game since the return of the team’s star point guard, Australian Patty Mills, the Gaels were thoroughly undone by a dominant Gonzaga team. The result was a title game walloping that could have hurt the at-large chances of St. Mary’s, not helped them as they’d hoped.
Of course, St. Mary’s didn’t help itself, either, so in a sense it has no one else to blame.
There’s a scary tendency to overlook the pros during March because all eyes are on the impending NCAA Tournament. That’s almost surely going to be the case this month, too, but Dwyane Wade made sure that his resurgence wouldn’t be overlooked, if only for a single day.
In what is easily the NBA shot of the month (yes, we realize we’re less than a third of the way through March), Wade sank the Bulls with a desperation three-pointer in double overtime. It was the latest proof both that Wade loves playing in Miami, and that he may single-handedly put the Heat back in serious contention in the Eastern Conference. No, they’re not competitive with the likes of Boston and Cleveland yet, but anyone who saw Wade dismantle Chicago in the clutch would have to think very seriously about picking the Heat over the likes of Orlando and Atlanta.
After all, Wade didn’t just hit a three to win the game in double-overtime, he also nailed one at the end of the first half and at the end of regulation. That’s incredible. He may not be the next Michael Jordan, but he’s not a bad for a third of a new triumvirate that also includes LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, is he?
That friends, is some clutch shooting. In fact, what’s “clutch” in Spanish? Those “El Heat” jerseys need an appropriate celebratory radio call if you ask us.
Speaking of baseball, fringe baseball industries are sure to be affected even more directly by the economic recession than the game itself. How are baseball cards going to react? Check out their future yourself, courtesy 3D glasses and this post on BIG LEAGUE STEW.
We know he’s pretty broke right now, but TASTY BOOZE makes a compelling case for Pacman Jones’s next custom car if he ever makes more cash. Why not an Ecto-1?
The upstart UFL is not about to go quietly into the night before it even gets off the ground. According to this report from PROFOOTBALLTALK, it’s now trying to land Michael Vick to be a face of the franchise in one of its premier cities.
I cringe when I hear the words “lynching” and “South Carolina” in the same sentence. But this is about as bizarre as it gets. THE STATE is reporting that Tanya Seymour, the wife of New England Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour, was arrested on Thursday and charged with second-degree lynching stemming from an incident at a New Year’s Eve party. (This is what happens when you change the channel from “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve” to MTV without asking.)
I’m sure your initial reaction is the same as mine: lynching? Turns out that no ropes were used: PRO FOOTBALL TALK breaks down the South Carolina Code of Laws, which defines second-degree lynching as “any act of violence inflicted by a mob upon the body of another person and from which death does not result.” So maybe not quite as horrific as you would first think, but still not good.
Police allege that Tanya Seymour was among a group of people who “jumped” two women at a New Year’s Eve party after they had got into an argument and were asked to leave. The arrest affidavit claims that Tanya Seymour was part of the mob, and punched the two women several times in the face and body. Oddly enough, the affidavit also claims that she had use of illegally obtained scouting videos to prepare for the beatdown.
The injuries were fairly minor, including bruises, a busted lip and a sprained wrist. One of the women also claimed that her scalp was sore from having it pulled during the fight. And in one of the most obvious statements I’ve ever seen in a news story:
“The victims left after the attack, the incident report says.”
Really? Because I heard some people were making a run for another keg.
And speaking of beatdowns: Joe Torre might want to be leery if David Wells invites him to watch the Super Bowl with some of his buddies at his place this weekend. The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS says that Wells has vowed to “knock him out” if he ever sees Torre on the street after his former skipper ripped him in his new book. Specifically, Torre compared Wells to Kevin Brown, except that “both make your life miserable, but David Wells meant to.”
And of course Wells has a great response to those allegations: sure, he was a total pain, but not on purpose. Like when he would yell at Torre in the locker room because the manager had the temerity to turn down his boombox when he was blasting it before the games. Or get in drunken fistfights at diners at all hours of the night. Based on Wells’ health issues and Type 2 Diabetes, Torre might want to carry around some concealed Pixy Stix in case he needs a weapon to defend himself against an attack.
…and No. 1 on David Letterman’s Top Ten Reasons He Likely Won’t Field an IndyCar Team This Year: no money. Not very funny, but then again, his partner Bobby Rahal isn’t laughing as he tells the INDIANAPOLIS STAR that while Rahal Letterman Racing will likely field a car at the Indianapolis 500, a lack of sponsorship will probably keep the team from the full IndyCar season.
Meanwhile, the economic mess is also hitting north of the border, as THE CANADIAN PRESS reports that Toronto Blue Jays assistant general manager Bart Given was let go as a cost-cutting move. Or as part of a power play between the team’s interim CEO Paul Beeston and GM J.P. Ricciardi. Either way, Given gets to enjoy the Canadian unemployment system, which I believe includes 100 percent benefits and a free, stress-relieving massage.
More economic cutbacks in NASCAR, as the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER notes that new rules to cut back on costs have been instituted in the Truck Series for 2009. The most shocking? All trucks will be replaced by 1974 El Caminos.
Usually a 61-52 loss would be cause for concern, but it’s pretty understandable when the team on the losing end is North Carolina State and it’s their first game since the death of their legendary coach Kay Yow. The WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL has details of their painful first game back.
Really, Bobby Estalella is the smoking gun in the Feds’ case against Barry Bonds? ESPN.COM has the latest information, although I’m shocked that Jeff Kent hasn’t volunteered to bury Barry yet.
How often is the marquee men’s college basketball game of the night in the West Coast Conference? Gonzaga stops St. Mary’s 15-game winning streak by handing the Gaels a 69-62 defeat.
SOCCER AMERICA says that the San Jose Earthquakes are set to make millions from their latest sponsorship deal: they’ll be wearing the Amway logo on their jerseys. The downside is that their players will be going door-to-door selling household products.
ST. MARY’S JOINS WCC PAL GONZAGA IN LATEST AP TOP 25: Gonzaga now has some West Coast Conference company in the latest AP Top 25 basketball poll.
Undefeated St. Mary’s have slid into the #24 spot for this week’s rankings. The Gaels are 7-0 and have already claimed wins over Oregon and Seton Hall this season.The appearance marks the first time St. Mary’s was ranked since 1988-89, and the first time two WCC teams were in simultaneously since 1973-74.
Another good team in the Bulldogs’ conference? Gonzaga alum John Stockton must be shaking in his short shorts.
12TH-RANKED DUCKS PLUCKED BY ST. MARY’S IN BB UPSET: The past couple of days have not been kind to Oregon. Last Thursday, the Ducks lost both their Heisman-hopeful QB & BCS Championship chances in a 34-24 loss at Arizona.
Then on Tuesday night, the 12th-ranked basketball team was felled by Gael forces in a 99-87 loss at St. Mary’s.Gael freshman & Australia native Patrick Mills roasted the Ducks with 37 points in helping St. Mary’s stay undefeated. The small Bay Area school was Ernie Kent’s first head coaching stop before he flew to Eugene.
But all is not lost for the Green & Gold (& black & white & lavender & whatever color Nike decides to employ onto Oregon’s uniforms). Injured QB Dennis Dixon can hopefully use his classroom skills to pocket the Ducks an NCAA Billiards title.