Speed Read: U.S. Ready To Wave WBC White Flag

The U.S. doesn’t run, from anything. At least that’s the story they tell you at jingoistic patriot rallies and Boy Scout camps. Yet it turns out that’s not the case, because U.S. baseball manager Davey Johnson is making noise that he’ll withdraw the team from the ongoing World Baseball Classic’s second round — or semifinals, should it advance that far — if further injuries strike the squad.

usa baseball collision

According to the ASSOCIATED PRESS, Johnson says he will forfeit if he runs out of players at any positions. And before you scoff that off as hyperbole, you should consider how close he already is to that point: The U.S. had to call in Brian Roberts, the reserve infielder, when he was out at dinner. Now he’s the only second baseman left on the roster.

How big a statement would the U.S. be making if the country that invented baseball pulled out of only the second World Baseball Classic? A big one, that’s for sure. Yet as more players criticize the practice methods and over-inflated early intensity of the WBC, the entire tournament is being thrown back into question, even as the Netherlands (recently and dearly departed), Japan, Korea, Venezuela and Puerto Rico author a pretty intriguing script.

It’s a strange emerging dichotomy that’s hard to bridge, both for the American public and, surely, the commissioner’s office as well.

If Davey Johnson doesn’t want the job of leading the U.S., we think we know a guy who does: One particular British cop, if he can learn anything about baseball. After all, right now he’s heading over to L.A. to be an assistant coach with the Galaxy, and that’s hardly at the level of a national team gig.

andy bridgman la galaxy

Think about what’s he’s already getting though! In one fell swoop, Community Support Officer Andy Bridgman is going from organizing a “Shopwatch” to coaching David Beckham and Landon Donovan.

That’s the MLS for you: They’ll spend $30 million+ on two players on a roster, but they’d rather bring over a cop from England on a psuedo loan than hire a half-decent trained coach.

A coaching scout for Major League Soccer called him late last year to offer him the job and he is taking a 12-month career break to accept it.”How many people get this kind of opportunity?” he said.

“Not only to play football full-time but also to work alongside the top teams in America? It’s fantastic. At first I thought, it’s not real.”

Well, we hardly thought it was real at first, either, but it checks out. Unfortunately, the MLS doesn’t check out itself.

If you’re like us, you waited all day yesterday for the real NCAA show: The Women’s Tournament Selection Show! What’s that? You didn’t watch it? Ahhh, well, we didn’t either. But we did read enough to learn that the four No. 1 seeds are U-Conn., Maryland, Duke and Oklahoma.

espn graphic womens basketball tourney

More interesting is the bracket breakdown, with Duke landing the top seed in the Western (Berkeley) Region. Who’s the No. 2 there? Why, Stanford, which happens to play less than an hour away from the site of the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. If that seems a bit unfair to you, it does to us, too. Not that it’s unprecedented, of course, but it sure does minimize the advantage of being the No. 1 seed. After all, if you can’t beat a 15, then you don’t deserve to go anywhere in the tournament. And if you can’t beat a 7, then you probably should have been a 1 or 2 seed anyway.

Once you get past that point, the site and fan presence at the event are as important as anything else, and that’s where Stanford will have a huge advantage. That’s not to say Duke won’t pull it off, it’s just a matter of the smart money being on Stanford.

Billy Packer will be missed most because

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Speed Read: It’s March (And Then April) Madness

Why do we continue to give college basketball a pass on “March Madness” when the Final Four takes place during April? Sure, you’re sitting there and thinking, “So only 61 of the 64 games happen in the right month? So?” It’s the principle of it all, damn it! I can’t make a PG movie that turns R-rated in the last 5 minutes. It’d be like that one Mandy Moore movie A Walk to Remember, where (SPOILER ALERT!) she dies at the end, except in this version it’s by getting her head ripped off by naked zombies. Actually, get Hollywood on the phone; that idea sounds like a winner.

Bracket pic

But we digress. Even people in the deepest of comas know that today is just the first day of a week in which worker productivity plummets and everyone, for at least a couple days, is a college basketball fan. Today is reserved for staring at a bracket, cursing the fact that the talking heads on ESPN like the same upsets you do (making them both popular and wrong, which completely disqualifies them as keys to winning your pool). Lots of office printers being tied up today. UPSET PROTIP: Think about American in the Elite 8. You’ll be happy you did. High fives all around!

Who’s your Cinderella?

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Technically, yes, the rest of the sports world doesn’t stand still, and there’s plenty of things to talk about away from the parquet. We’re happy to report that your national pride has been granted an extension of legitimacy, as the USA defeated the Nether Region Netherlands, 9-3. Up next is either Venezuela or Puerto Rico, depending on who loses between the two teams tonight.

Dunn ROberts WBC

On the other side of the WBC bracket or however they set this thing up, Japan and Korea have jumped out to strong positions, while Mexico and Cuba fight to avoid elimination tonight. Quick question: why is the Mexico-Cuba game being played, essentially, in the middle of the night? And we get that this is a “world” classic and this time makes it possible for the rest of the world to watch, but 95-99% of the people who actually give a single crap about this game live in Mexico and Cuba (not a slight at those two countries, by the way; you could substitute any two teams in there, and the fact remains the same), and you’re essentially playing the game while they sleep. Wouldn’t almost anything be better than a start time that’s still late (8 pm) in San Diego, where the game is being held.

And speaking of situations in need of repair, can we talk about Jay Cutler and Denver? Talks have gone swimmingly after that trade kerfuffle from earlier, and Cutler is eager to get started on the 2009 season and develop a positive relationship with his new coach. LOL JUST KIDDING I AM LYING BADLY. Cutler has now left the city of Denver and demanded a trade, according to the DENVER POST.

Jay Cutler Broncos
(In this case, “thumbs up” means “I hate you.”)

And perhaps it’s just us, but like the Denver Post’s Mike Klis, we get the notion that Bill Belichick is probably a bigger factor in this mess than it would initially appear.  Here’s how Klis’ version of the situation basically went down.

Josh McDaniels: I’m the coach at Denver now! Isn’t this great, Bill?
Belicheck: Call me Mr. Belichick, you little sh*t. How are you doing at quarterback? You want Cassel?
JM: Not particularly. We have Cutler.
BB: Cassel’s better. We can get a 3-way trade done. You want Cassel.
JM: Um, that’d be kinda cool, but we have Cutler.
BB: Oh. Huh. Weird.
NFL: Cassel has been traded to Kansas City for basically nothing.
BOSTON GLOBE: Denver was talking about trading Cutler for Cassel.
Jay Cutler: What the hell. Screw you. I’m leaving.
JM: Say, Mr. Belichick? Now I have neither Cassel nor Cutler.
BB: NYEAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I always liked Pioli better!
JM: I hate you, Mr. Belichick.
Some more links to peruse while you’re still thinking, “American? They face Villanova in Philly in Round 1! That’s stupid!” Stupid like a fox!

  • Phil Mickelson shook off heat exhaustion and dehydration to win at Doral. Mickelson’s game improved after he milked himself to stay refreshed.
  • Manny Ramirez is already on the shelf with a bum hamstring. Good thing those injuries don’t linger.
  • And speaking of WBC injuries, Chipper Jones, Dustin Pedroia, and Ryan Braun are all out. Why do we get the feeling George Steinbrenner would never stand for this?
  • BLACK SPORTS ONLINE has the trailer for the Mike Tyson documentary. It … okay, we were going to make a “eat your children” joke, but it looks really good.

  • UCLA’s freshman safety E.J. Woods just got hit with six counts of battery and sexual battery. The Fulmer Cup asplode.
  • If you heard that your favorite NBA team scored 130 points in a blowout, odds are pretty good that you’d be thrilled. Except, of course, if you live in the Bay Area; that optimism would be replaced by fear and dread. Yes, today’s hilarious lack of NBA defense comes from… the same team it always comes from, the Golden State Warriors. Yes, they dropped 130, but they gave up 154 points to Phoenix, and that’s with most of the Suns’ starters on the bench for the vast majority of the 4th quarter. Jason Richardson dropped 31 points on only 15 shots.
  • VOICE OF YANKEES UNIVERSE has some pictures of the new Yankees stadium. It looks big and unfinished.

New York construction

A New Low: Soccer Stud Picks Serbia, Not U.S.

There’s been a lot of debate across the globe about soccer stars defecting from the nation of birth to play for other teams, a plague that’s been particularly prominent among Brazilian players, many of whom now suit up for European powers (Marcos Sena with Spain or Deco and Nani with Portugal). But while the trend had spread far and wide across Europe, it had yet to really have an impact in North America. Well, consider those days officially over, after Chicago teenage stud and Borrusia Dortmund (Germany) defender Neven Subotic officially pledged his international allegiance to Serbia, not the U.S.

neven subotic
(At least the U.S. won’t miss the cornrows. Those are hideous.)

The fact that Subotic chose to play for another nation instead of the U.S. is his own prerogative, and it isn’t even unprecedented. Giuseppe Rossi was born in New Jersey but opted to play for the country of his parents’ birth — defending World Cup champion Italy — rather the the nation he was raised in.

Still, there’s a big difference between Rossi and Subotic. Rossi chose to spurn the U.S. to play with the defending world champions. It’s hard to turn down that opportunity, particularly when you’ve been playing in the Italian professional league and you’re going to be given a real shot at eventually playing on the senior national team. Subotic dumped the U.S. for Serbia.

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The NY Post Apparently Enjoys SbB’s Gift For Gifs

Where the MSM’s disdain doesn’t bother us as much as it bothers Shaq:

• Imitation must be the sincerest form of flattery, as The NEW YORK POST appreciates a good animated gif when they see one:

Old New York Post paper machine

• One of Dan Patrick’s favorite daily web stops has been offline for over a year.

• Some Pro Bowlers are con about taking the trip to Hawaii.

• Bills owner Ralph Wilson says his team’s not shuffling off from Buffalo - yet.

• Now ladies can replace their mother’s milk with a nice merlot, with the booze bra know as the Wine Rack:

Wine Rack before & after

Curt Schilling might not be able to shoulder a whole ‘nother season with the Red Sox.

• New York DC Steve Spagnuolo uses the other D.C. to get a Giant raise.

• Wednesday’s US-Mexico soccer match was such a “friendly” game that two people were shot afterwards.

Two People Shot After USA-Mexico Soccer Match

So much for being an international “friendly”. The HOUSTON CHRONICLE reports that two people were shot after Wednesday night’s US-Mexico soccer match.

US Mexico soccer

Over 70,000 fans showed up at Reliant Stadium to watch the Americans & Mexicans battle to a 2-2 tie. Witnesses said they saw police & emergency medical personnel gathered outside the west entrance of the stadium.

Although police are still investigating what happened, it’s not totally surprising that tempers would flare in what’s become a heated rivalry.

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