Speed Read: Braves Get Their Man (& Ditch One)

Credit the Atlanta Braves for knowing how to manage a news cycle. They flipped three prospects to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Nate McLouth to answer the need for outfield help (which they failed to answer correctly the first time by not signing Adam Dunn in the offseason), and called up Tommy Hanson (pitching phenom) and sent down Jordan Schafer (outfielder phenom) and look at all the exciting news!

Nate McLouth

(Nate McLouth: interstate man of mystery no longer)

And, oh by the way, they cut local hero Tom Glavine so they wouldn’t have to pay him up to $3.5 million to throw weaker than Jamie Moyer in a headwind when they don’t really need a farewell tour but more of a starting pitcher. But look! Nate McLouth! All-Star!

Braves GM Frank Wren swears it’s not about the money - which always means it’s about the money. McLouth is actually fairly inexpensive through 2011 with a club option for 2012 if he’s worth $10 million, but the team is replacing three minor league salaries with a major league one (roughly speaking).

Glavine will look for another job and has a decent chance of finding one if the price is right for a desperate franchise. However, no franchise has shown enough desperation to hook up with Sammy Sosa since Baltimore began its bizarre fascination with Chicago Cubs outfielders in 2005 and Texas took Sammy out around the block in 2007.

Sammy Sosa getting hit in head

Therefore, he’s announcing his retirement officially this week… sometime. As always, Sammy has to get an extra swing or two in before finally connecting, so his actual retirement will be later this week. Possibly.

Some will celebrate their last chance to moralize about him before his Hall of Fame eligibility kicks in. Others will tell Sammy to put a cork in it because they’re sick of him. The best recommendation? Smash a boom box with a baseball bat. It’s like an aural piñata!

Finally, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team squirted the bed in a simply filthy manner last night in San José, Costa Rica. The U.S. squad gave up two goals in the first 15 minutes of a World Cup qualifier to Costa Rica at the notoriously difficult Saprissa Stadium (banned: alcohol, batteries, and coins) on their way to a 3-1 thumping that wasn’t remotely that close.

Costa Rican Superman

(A Costa Rican Superman? Well, that explains a lot)

The bastard out there at ESPN that thought it would help ratings if they jammed Jon & Kate Plus 8 in front of U.S. keeper Tim Howard instead delivered a showing that led the Galavision announcers to chastise the Costa Ricans for not stomping on the throats of the Americans even more and to compare one goal in particular to stealing candy from a baby.

Jon & Kate Plus 8 Plus Tim Howard

(Actual photo of attempted defensive wall)

Because of two silly yellow cards received by two U.S. players, the American team will be short two people when they play against Honduras at Soldier Field in Chicago Saturday, in what promises to feel like an away game with maybe 25% of the 60,000 fans cheering for Uncle Sam’s boys. If the U.S. doesn’t earn three points with a win, there’s a very real chance they could miss next year’s World Cup in South Africa.

If U.S. coach Bob Bradley is still looking for a left back that has never played there before in a crucial situation, why not call on Tom Glavine? He’s available; he’s a winner; he’s looking for a job. At worst, he can help heave batteries back into the crowd at a gentle 83 mph.

And now a hail of sapphire bullet points of pure love for the Queen of the Blues on her passing

  • One old baseball man who tabled his moment in the sun: Randy Johnson. His first attempt at 300 wins in D.C. last night got washed out by Mother Nature (whom Randy went to elementary school with) and will be played today at 4 pm ET with Mr. Unit on the mound.
  • Carlos Zambrano continues to show disrespect to inanimate objects by blowing off the team jet to Atlanta (and not for the first time). Needless to say, this story doesn’t have legs if the Cubs aren’t splashing around .500 still.
  • Also filed under “not living up to expectations and therefore open to criticism”, please note the Serena Williams entry created when she lost in the quarterfinals. She showed up to the French Open out of shape mentally and physically, choosing to wear outfits that accentuated the latter and threw snit fits that proved the former. The only person this “athlete/actress” is cheating is herself.

Serena Williams at the 2009 French Open

Jose Lima Wife

How did the Braves’ efforts yesterday affect the NL East race?

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Speed Read: Manny vs. Sox In WS? Don't Fight It

Okay, sure. There’s a Tampa Bay and Philadelphia in the way of this World Series matchup. But it’s a sports reporter’s dream, and the closer we come to living it, the more we have to grin and bear the cold reality that Manny Ramirez will probably return to Fenway Park, not in some dumpy Interleague series, but in the World freaking Series. The sooner you come to accept it, the less painful it will be to watch the myriad of sports columns be churned out surrounding Manny v. Boston, a Supreme Court case which will set dangerous precedent on how much one perplexing superstar can overshadow a baseball team. (Especially one with Nomar Garciaparra.)

Manny Ramirez (and Dodgers) vs. Red Sox?

The Los Angeles Dodgers got to sit on their laurels and watch the Boston Red Sox clinch their side of the ALDS with a dramatic 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, thanks to midseason call-up Jed Lowrie driving in midseason pick-up Jason Bay in the ninth inning on a seeing-eye ground ball. It could have been the play of the game. Or maybe Bay’s double two batters earlier was the play of the game. Or maybe…

Mike Scioscia arguing

…it was Jason Varitek tagging out Reggie Willits, then dropping the ball. Here’s what happened. Willits pinch ran for Kendry Morales, who smashed a leadoff double in the ninth. Willits then advanced to third as the potential go-ahead run. But Erick Aybar’s missed bunt resulted in Cpt. Varitek chasing down Willits, tagging him off the base, falling to his knees, falling to his side, and having the ball dislodged from that big glove of his. Poor Mike Scioscia. All the arguing in the world won’t solidify that guarantee.

Hmm. How can we smoothly transition from controversial calls in late games to this man?

Ed Hochuli

It is guaranteed, unfortunately, that a certain referee and accentuator of abs and cloits will be scrutinized week-to-week. NFL whistleblower Ed Hochuli was at it again on Monday Night Football’s Vikings-Saints showdown. THE CRITICAL FANATIC notes that Hocks didn’t flag down a face mask penalty inflicted on Reggie Bush — a mask grab that resulted in a fumble and change of possession.

It’s really gotten to the point at which Hochuli & Co. will have all their calls sifted through with a very thin and thorough comb, while high school football referees run wild and free. By contrast, the nation probably hasn’t met Bill Carollo the way they’ve met Hochuli, but Carollo was the center of a controversial call, the BALTIMORE SUN reports, on the Ravens’ Terrell Suggs that partly led to the Titans’ 13-10 win over the Ravens. Carollo’s not getting much heat, but namely because he didn’t whistle dead Jay Cutler non-fumble fumble. (Even though Carollo’s call, like Hochuli’s, did help an unlikely undefeated team stay undefeated.)

So here’s another sentiment you can throw onto the pile to ensure that Hochuli is fairly and critically graded exactly like the rest of his peers. Meaning: they should ALL get beer bottles thrown at them.*

Hopefully Hochuli doesn’t get downgraded all the way down to officiating games in the Lingerie Football League. Actually, is that necessarily a bad thing?

Lingerie Football League (LFL) tryouts

  • 1190 KEX reports on the LFL tryouts: things seem to be going … um … good?
  • And now for an excitable report on the Washington Redskins from YOUTUBE and owner Daniel Snyder: WE BEAT PHILLY! WE BEAT DALLAS!” They sure did, Mr. Snyder. They sure did.
  • BASKETBAWFUL isn’t just about the Web. Oh no. They also scour the print edition of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES and found WNBA agate placed near massage parlors and strip clubs.
  • Colombian soap opera star Elisa Sanchez was shot down by soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, because she thought he was gay. Know what this means? You have a better chance at her than he does.
  • Know what we haven’t had in a while? Lyrical poetry on Lawrence Phillips’s recent sentencing. Ah, there we go.
  • Connecticut football might be out of the Top 25, but UConn lineman Rob Lunn is still ranked among hilarious college football bloggers, notes USA TODAY’s GAME ON.
  • Mentioned in yesterday’s SBB SPEED READ, Regan Smith’s DQ in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race could be the straw that broke DEI’s back, reports SPORTSTICKER.
  • THE EXAMINER talks with Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson’s wife Joy about October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
  • THE SCORES REPORT makes a good connection. 32 teams in the NFL, 32 reasons to love the season so far. One for each team? Well, sorta. The Lions, Rams, and Raiders share one spot, because combined, they are one hell of an NFL team.
  • THE GREENVILLE NEWS leaves no fact out of the story. Two South Carolina high school football players were arrested after a Waffle House skirmish, but the lede is buried by sharing their season stats to date.

Tonight is the second US presidential debate, a town hall format. What would you ask of Sens. McCain and Obama?

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Shock and Sparks Give Us Our First WNBA Brawl

On Saturday, Milka Duno threw her towel at Danica Patrick for yelling at her after a time trial for the Honda Indy 200, and we all called the minor flare up between the two female athletes a “cat fight.” But what happened last night in Detroit - the bench-clearing WNBA brawl featuring Candace Parker and Plenette Pierson - can simply be described as a “fight”. Or “heaven”, for those of you who have GIRLFIGHTS.COM as your homepage.

WNBA Fight 1

In the closing seconds of the 4th quarter, Parker and Pierson got tangled up, causing the former Tennessee Lady Vol to fall to the floor. While Candace was trying to get up, Pierson intentionally ran into her. Then as the kids would say, “it was on.” A melee ensued, with benches clearing, arms flailing, legs kicking and surely lots of really bad name calling. Former NBA bad boys Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn even got involved. Three players and Mahorn, who threw Lisa Leslie halfway across the floor in an attempt to play peacemaker, were ejected.

You may recall that Mahorn was also involved in the Ron Artest incident in that very same building in 2004 as a broadcaster for the Pistons. If a fight breaks out in Detroit, Rick will be there.

Video courtesy of AWFUL ANNOUNCING after the jump.

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American Basketball Player Defects To Russia

Becky Hammon has played in the WNBA since 1999. Last season, she was second in that league’s MVP voting. But when the United States went to build their team, Hammon wasn’t even invited.

Becky Hammon

And that’s when Hammon issued her own code red. Read more…

Blog-O-Palooza: Blogs Are Taking Over The World

  • Ryan Parker is back with his latest song, an ode to sports blogs in the wake of the Will Leitch/Buzz Bissinger fiasco. We were happy to be mentioned.

Buzz Bissinger Will Leitch Costas Now

  • ODENIZED has his take on the Bruce Bowen - Chris Paul mini-melee from last night’s game (with video). Read more…

Video: High School Girl Can Dunk Ball With Ease

Michael David Smith of FANHOUSE has the find of the year, as far as we’re concerned:


The video is of Brittney Griner, who is now a 6-foot-7 junior in high school in the Houston area. She dunks routinely in games as well, and recently signed a letter of intent with Baylor. Read more…