Apparently You Need Pot To Endure A WBC Game

So this is refreshing: A Major League player was busted for drugs, and it didn’t have anything to do with performance enhancers. The International Baseball Federation announced Thursday that Chicago Cubs’ catcher Geovany Soto tested positive for marijuana while playing for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic in March. Bad catcher!

Geovany Soto

“While I full acknowledge my inappropriate behavior, I want to assure my fans and my family that this was an isolated incident,” said Soto in a statement today. Unknown is why the IBF is releasing this information now, or how Soto expects us to believe that he only tried pot one time. Other than that, what does this mean? Read more…

Anna Rawson Going Go Daddy; Japan Wins WBC

• Gorgeous Aussie golfer Anna Rawson is your newest Go Daddy Girl.

Anna Rawson

• Japan wins its second World Baseball Classic. Konnichiwa, bitches!

• If it’s not coaches molesting their younger players, it’s the coaches’ wives doing the dirty deed.

• Buy some vodka, get a free ticket to a Phoenix Coyotes game.

• Can the Raptors’ Chris Bosh beat the rap of being a deadbeat dad?

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Taiwan Government To Bail Out Bungling Baseball

A lot of people were pretty steamed when taxpayer money went towards bailing out big banks, only to hear those same banks throwing lavish parties & holding expensive retreats at posh resorts. Well, imagine how angry you would be if you learned that the government was spending your dough subsidizing the Kansas City Royals or Washington Nationals.

Chinese Taipei Taiwan baseball

Then it’s a good thing you don’t live in Taiwan, as the Asian country is about to spend government moolah on beefing up their baseball teams.

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Speed Read: Japan Wins The WBC, Anyone Care?

Two days, two monumentally impressive Japanese victories. Less than 24 hours after eliminating the inventors of the game, the Japanese baseball team knocked off their Asian rivals, South Korea, 5-3, in extra innings, saved by Ichiro Suzuki, the Jesus of their baseball chapel himself.

ichiro wbc

If you actually watched the game, you know it was an October-worthy classic in March. Hitashi Iwakuma, the Japanese Greg Maddux, pitched into the eighth inning. Korean bats went into hibernation right up until the bottom of the ninth, when Bum Ho Lee (yes, that’s his actual name, how he missed out on the NAME OF THE YEAR brackets, we’ll never know), knocked in the tying run off starting pitcher-turned closer-turned scapegoat-toward title game winner Yu Darvish.

Naturally, Ichiro would find his way at the plate in the top of the 10th with two men in scoring position with two outs, and he’d knock them both in, never mind the fact that first base was open. If Joe Torre took that chance for the Dodgers, he would have been skewered for weeks. We’ll see if Korean manager In-Sik Kim faces similar criticism.

But, despite all the heroics and histrionics, there’s a bigger question worth asking here: Does anyone care? If a manufactured tournament that’s been met mostly with apathy in the U.S. breeds an incredibly compelling game, does it really matter? It’s hard to tell. Clearly, it mattered more than most military actions in the nations that played in it, with Korea’s Jamsil baseball stadium in downtown Seoul packed with fans. That’s on top of the rabid fans of both national squads that packed Dodger Stadium far past the reaches it filled with for the U.S.-Japan semifinal on Sunday.

japan wbc

At the end of the day, it’ll probably matter a lot more two decades from now, when the event is a more established part of the annual baseball calendar. For now, we’ll have to settle for Japan’s second straight WBC title as much more culturally relevant in far-flung locales than where the action actually went down.

Speaking of baseball where nobody cares what’s actually happening, the Marlins finally had their new stadium project approved last night, with the Miami-Dade County commissioners approving the club’s proposed site and specifications for a new retractable roof arena at the site of the old, demolished Orange Bowl.

new marlins stadium

That’s right folks, that’s what the Orange Bowl has become: a parcel of land on which the city of Miami can keep a sports franchise that absolutely no one cares about. (And just think! That retractable roof will come in handy for a team that hasn’t had a rainout in four years!) That’s because the upside isn’t really for the Marlins, or for the city of Miami. It’s for Major League Baseball.

If you read between the lines of the story, it’s the nonstop lobbying of major league officials that really broke through the latest stalemate in negotiations. And how, pray tell did MLB convince the city of Miami that they need baseball? By proving that South Florida is the league’s “Gateway to the Caribbean”.

Really, that’s why MLB is so invested in Miami. It knows that the Marlins are mere hours away from oceans of baseball talent, and that Major League Baseball has to be there to keep pressure on those countries to keep serving as the league’s talent cash cow.

At the end of nine and a half hours of negotiations, that argument finally won out, sweetened by one significant addendum: Miami will host the finals of the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Maybe by then people here will care.

Our very own Arizona correspondent, Tuffy, tripped across a true gem late yesterday, when he discovered that the Phoenix Coyotes are handing out free tickets to Smirnoff vodka drinkers on his most recent run to the beer and liquor barn adult beverage drive thru alcoholic beverages outpost.

smirnoff coyotes promo

That’s right, so few fans actually want to see the Coyotes that the team is willing to give tickets away. All you have to do is buy another product. How much of that vodka sale is actually going to the Coyotes? Probably a couple bucks, at best. Still, that’s a better pull than they’re getting from most of those empty seats. After all, when you lose over and over and over again, even the greatest face in the history of your sport can’t maintain relevancy forever.

anna rawson

Will you watch the WBC in 2013?

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NBA Cheerleaders Also Feeling An Economic Pinch

• The economic squeeze is being felt on the Denver Nuggets cheerleaders, as they’re now only being brought in to work weekend games.

Denver Nuggets Dancers

(Looking for a handout?)

Fortunately, the Nuggets Dancers (above) are still fully employed - for now.

• One more reason not to care about the WBC: The U.S.A. is D.O.A.

• It’s good when an NFL player wants to mop up a mess. It’s not good when said mop is used to attack the mother of said player’s children.

• Probable #1 MLB pick already repped by Scott Boras. This should go well.

• Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez once threw out the first pitch at a Mets game. Wonder what Fidel Castro would have blogged about that?

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Fidel Castro Not Dead Yet, Blogging About WBC

As if most bloggers weren’t already worthy of your scorn, Fidel Castro has apparently familiarized himself with Movable Type and is letting the world know just what he thinks about the World Baseball Classic. Well, at least we know one person in the world has been paying attention to the WBC.

Fidel Castro

Castro, who is apparently still alive, has been posting his daily thoughts on the tournament and the Cuban team in GRANMA, the hilariously named official paper of the Cuban Communist Party. And yes, it’s every bit as crazy as you’d expect. Join me and Comrade Fidel after the jump, for allegations of tournament-fixing, anti-capitalism rants, and casual racism.

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Speed Read: A Very Sane Start To March Madness

If the early games in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday were kind of a bust (except for the Memphis vs. Cal State Northridge game; sorry, no love for the “scrappy underdogs” - way to blow it, Matadors!), then the late games were … marginally more exciting. There was an actual upset, with No. 12 Western Kentucky taking down No. 5 Illinois, 76-72.

Western Kentucky celebrates win over Illinois

But then again, most experts were predicting that Western Kentucky would win this game ahead of time, due to the loss of the Illini’s starting point guard Chester Frazier with a broken hand, and the return of Hilltopper’s mascot from a broken right … orange blobby thing.

Western Kentucky mascot

No, the late games were more notable for the near misses than the upsets. Take No. 6 UCLA, which almost fell apart completely against Virginia Commonwealth, nearly blowing a 10-point halftime lead and having the ball in the hands of Rams star Eric Maynor with time expiring and a chance to win the game. (Not the person you want with the ball if you’re UCLA - just ask Duke) Fortunately for the Bruins, Darren Collison came to the rescue, forcing a hurried, off-balance miss from Maynor to hold on to a 65-64 win.

Darren Collison of UCLA and Eric Maynor of VCU

Speaking of blowing a lead … poor American. Just like their namesake economy, their 14-point second half lead against Villanova went into a deep recession, and there was no bailout package coming from the government. Playing in front of a partisan Philadelphia crowd (thanks, seeding committee!), the No. 3 Wildcats rallied later to survive a scare from the No. 14 Eagles, 80-67.

(Note to American University: nice try in attempting to gain our sympathy with your name: the American Eagles. Why don’t you just call yourself the American Heroes Who Died On 9/11 Who Will Weep In Heaven If You Root Against Us? It’s about as subtle.)

Not having trouble advancing was No. 2 Oklahoma, who trounced No. 15 Morgan State 82-57 behind 28 points and 13 rebounds from star Blake Griffin. However, Griffin did have one moment of problems: specifically, when the Bears’ back-up center Ameer Ali decided to practice his armbar takedown on Griffin after they got tangled up together:

It should go without saying that Ali was ejected, and then immediately escorted to St. Louis for the NCAA Wrestling Championships. Ali says the whole incident was unintentional and “a misunderstanding,” which I would only believe if I was Billy Packer and he was a Duke player who just shattered Tyler Hansbrough’s face.

(Not only has Griffin had to deal with this and sustaining a concussion a few weeks ago, but remember the cheap shot he received from USC’s Leonard Washington at the start of the year as well. Either Griffin in such a pacifist than he makes Gahndi look like Genghis Khan or he’s going to snap and pummel someone to death with his sneaker by the end of the tournament. Maybe this explains why he feels the need to lash out at society by peeing in bushes.)

For those of you who are part of the 80 percent of American males who managed to come down with a 48-hour bug starting yesterday morning, your slate of games today look good enough to help you cope with your “debilitating illness”. There are several games that have “Upset Special” written all over them, which probably means that the games will go chalk all day.

In other sports news from last night you might have missed as you polished up your…ahem…resume for a Rhode Island strip club’s job fair:

  • Martin Brodeur might be the winningest goalkeeper in NHL history, but the CBC reports that he might be the losingest ex-husband in the history of hockey: an appeals court ordered him to pay $500,000 a year in alimony to his ex-wife Melanie DuBois until 2020.
  • Martin Brodeur

  • It might be a sport played by drunk men with pot bellies, mullets and porn mustaches, but damn it, you must respect the rules of etiquette in bowling! The SACRAMENTO BEE reports that a dispute about who had right of way to bowl turned into a brawl at a Rocklin, CA, bowling alley featuring one man knocking out another man’s tooth with a bowling ball. <RUN FUNCTION TO READER: INSERT “BIG LEBOWSKI” JOKE HERE>
  • BUGS & CRANKS is focusing their considerable hatred on Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo, and his decision to spend Spring Training living on a houseboat. Apparently, if there was ever a movie made about Arroyo’s life, it would star Matthew McConaughy. And it would probably suck, but your significant other would drag you to it because he’s so “dreamy” and “laid back.”
  • Your semifinals for the World Baseball Classic are set (yes, that’s still going on) after Japan’s 6-2 victory over Korea. The defending champion Japanese will take on the U.S. in one game on Saturday at Dodger Stadium, while Korea faces off against Venezuela.
  • Speaking of the WBC and your apparent apathy to it, LARRY BROWN SPORTS says that Red Sox slugger Kevin Youklis is very upset with American fans for not showing up to the team’s games at the World Baseball Classic. This means you, Joe Six-Pack: even if you’ve lost your job, your house is being repossessed and your kids are being forced to share the same pair of shoes, that’s no excuse for not coughing up $45 a person for cheap seats.
  • How about a hearty welcome to the MLS for the Seattle Sounders, as Drew Carey’s expansion team drubbed New York Red Bull 3-0 in the team’s inaugural game. But I don’t care how many games this “new” Sounders team wins: I doubt they’ve have a music video of their highlights as cool as this collection of highlights from the NASL team in 1975 set to “The Hustle”:

  • I know he’s only been on the job for a couple of months, but here’s a friendly bit of advice to President Barack Obama: it’s probably not a good idea to make jokes about the Special Olympics, as the CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR says you did on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” last night.
  • I guess they are teaching Hawaii Warrior football players to not quit on a play, but this is ridiculous: the HONOLULU ADVERTISER says that cornerback JoPierre Davis was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting the same female student twice within a four month period, and then knocking her unconscious at a nightclub. Big surprise: this isn’t his first run-in with the law.
  • While we wait to find out what athletes named come up as clients in the Houston prostitution ring, the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER has news of another brewing scandal: a secret, late-night warehouse that offered sex, drugs and high-stakes card games to its clients. When the club was raided, at least one former NFL player was there, and other athletes are said to be “frequent patrons.”
  • Yawn: another day, another LeBron James triple-double, going for 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. His feat led the Cavaliers to a 97-92 overtime victory over Portland as Cleveland tied an NBA record by committing only two turnovers - and one was at the end of overtime.

Which team has the most fans at Dodger Stadium for the World Baseball Classic this weekend?

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Florida Panthers Fan Puts Her Puppies On Display

• A flirty Florida Panthers fan pulls up her jersey & shows off her goodies.

Florida Panthers fan exposing breasts

Too bad Mary Carey wasn’t also at rinkside.

• In case you hadn’t noticed, March Madness kicked off today!

• North Carolina stud Tyler Hansbrough lives off your hatred of him.

• Rebel yell: Brett Myers’ young’un is a redneck, and proud of it!

Chipper Jones tears into Toronto. What’s that all aboot, eh?

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Chipper Jones Taking a Beating for Toronto Hate

Chipper Jones indeed made a very unkind statement about Toronto borne from his brief visit during the WBC: “I don’t know if you ever stayed in Toronto, but it’s not exactly Las Vegas. To say that we were plucking our eyebrows out one at a time would be an understatement.”  We’ve established that Mr. Jones will not be joining the State Department post-baseball.

Chipper Jones

(Yes, Chipper; Toronto is “up”. This seems like overkill, though.)

However, Toronto has lost its collective mind over Chipper’s comments. DEADSPIN noted the local blog outrage, but we all pay attention to this guy on a regular basis. The Toronto papers have leaped into the fray as well, mocking his Southern manner in questionable “humor” pieces and penning lazy editorials demanding Chipper never come back to Toronto. (Apparently, they get Wikipedia in Canada.)

Even Chris Bosh had to defend Toronto and he probably won’t be there in a year. Toronto media, you wouldn’t get your undies in an uproar if you knew who you were dealing with.

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Speed Read: Is Brodeur The Greatest Goalie Ever?

It’s hard at this moment to put into perspective what Martin Brodeur accomplished last night by becoming the NHL’s all-time leader in wins as a goaltender. For one, there’s no such thing as a tie anymore and Marty has had his share of shootout wins over the past few seasons. But it’s clear that this is a big deal, especially since Brodeur — a Montreal native — passed his childhood idol Patrick Roy to get the record.

Martin Brodeur

(Would you know this was one of the 10 best hockey players of all time if you saw him walking down the street?)

But just think how huge the celebration of this record would have been if Brodeur had played his entire career just 5 1/2 miles east of at Madison Square Garden instead of at the afterthought that is the Meadowlands (and if he had led the Blueshirts to three Stanley Cups instead of the Devils. And yes, I know the Devils play in Newark now, but that’s only been a little over a year). As someone who’s lived in New York, I know firsthand that those 5 1/2 miles might as well be 500 miles, considering how little attention is paid to the Devils and Nets in the city.

That’s not a knock on the Devils’ franchise, which has quite clearly been superior to the Rangers for 15 years now, mostly because of Brodeur.  It’s just that he’s never really been a superstar — that guy who’s a must-see along the lines of Gretzky, Lemieux, Roy, Ovechkin, Crosby, and any number of other guys who draws huge crowds wherever they go. And that’s largely because he’s been fairly anonymous despite playing in the largest market in the NHL. He’s never even filled his own building on a regular basis. Heck, you can count the number of Devils sellout crowds on one hand most years. They can’t even pack their barn for playoff games. I bought tickets to a 2003 Stanley Cup Finals game the day before from Ticketmaster.

When Brodeur retires with what will likely be many more wins (100 more? 200?) than Roy, he will have set a bar that may never be topped. But will he be remembered as fondly as the NHL’s other greats? Personally, as a hockey fan, I kind of a agree with this guy:

Roy fan taunts Brodeur

I think Brodeur is a great technical goaltender who’s been fortunate to be able to play at high level for many years. But he always has had a great defensive team in front of him — something many other great goaltenders like Dominik Hasek and Ed Belfour were not blessed with on a regular basis. But for my money, but Roy is still the best I’ve ever seen.

Do you have WBC fever yet? Do you know it’s even happening? As if we needed further evidence that America’s attention is squarely on college basketball this month, America’s scintillating 9th-inning comeback victory over Puerto Rico last night — which avenged P.R.’s 11-1 mercy-rule win over the U.S. a few days ago and sent the Americans into the semifinals — was seen by an announced crowd of just over 13,000 at Dolphins Stadium in Miami. To put it into perspective, the Korea-Japan game in San Diego drew more than 15,000. To recap: it’s our national pastime, in our country, playing against an American territory with a large population in the Miami area, and we couldn’t outdraw the Korea-Japan game. The U.S. team is now apparently taking this all very seriously, after nearly deciding to drop out of the tournament because too many people were getting hurt. I’m going to put the probability at about 98% that this is the last World Baseball Classic.

As it happened, though, it was a great game. Shane Victorino drew the ire of the Puerto Ricans in the 7th inning when he “accidentally” deflected a ball thrown in from the outfield while he was running the bases, allowing him to take an extra base. If the game wasn’t close, he likely would’ve taken one off his ear flap the next time up. Puerto Rico had a 5-3 lead going into the bottom of the 9th, but the U.S. rallied, culminating in David Wright’s 2-run single that won it, setting off a genuinely boisterous celebration.

WBC celebration

The NIT started last night with eight matchups, and “snubbed” teams like San Diego State and Saint Mary’s came through with victories. Stephen Curry did his usual thing, scoring 32 as Davidson won at South Carolina. Meanwhile, only 2,039 people bothered to show up in South Bend to see Notre Dame beat UAB. Kentucky played its first game at Lexington’s Memorial Coliseum since 1976 because Rupp Arena had a scheduling conflict, and the Wildcats downed UNLV in front of a sell-out crowd.

Stephen Curry

(Steph’s team wouldn’t make an NCAA run this year, so isn’t it better that we might see him take the NIT crown?)

• Should the Astros follow up their signing of Pudge Rodriguez with Pedro Martinez? Some commenters on BASEBALL PROSPECTUS think it’s all crazy enough to work, but BP’s Will Carroll is just shaking his head at Ed Wade (who says the team has had no conversations with Pedro, for what it’s worth).

Oh, God. Yes, that’s A-Rod making out with himself:

Alex Rodriguez making out with himself

Morehead State beat Alabama State in the game the NCAA refuses to call the “play-in” game.  Their reward? A beatdown by Louisville on Friday. In fact, the Cards beat Morehead 79-41 earlier this season, so expect the line to be set somewhere around 38 on this one. The tragedy in all of this? No more chances to see Grlenntys Chief Kickingstallionsims, Jr. play.

• According to MLIVE, players for the Lions are no longer permitted to talk to the media unless it’s been cleared with the team’s media relations department first. Because if there’s any organization that has a pristine reputation to uphold, it’s the Detroit Lions.

• Florida State president T.K. Wetherell kinda lost it in a press conference yesterday, so says the ORLANDO SENTINEL. First, he referred to Bobby Bowden’s first school (Samford) as a “dipsh*t school,” then he outlined a hypothetical way that the ‘Noles could beat Florida, which includes a frighteningly well-thought-out fraud scheme involving Tim Tebow and fake schoolwork submitted in his name.

• PASSION AND PRIDE cautions against Phillies fans panicking about Cole Hamels‘ injury. It looks like he has no structural damage to his elbow, but still. 260 innings last year.

• ROYALS REVIEW warns against a cheeseburger shortage in KC, with Billy Butler and Sidney Ponson now both in town (and isn’t Ponson just the perfect Royals guy?)

Sidney Ponson cheeseburgers

Steve Nash is really excited that Vancouver’s going to get an MLS team, as his Twitter feed indicates. With the rate the MLS is expanding, Nash will probably be playing for them after his deal with the Suns expires.  So now the MLS has two Canadian teams. It’s all part of a master plan to start gradually putting MLS teams in other countries. The league clearly believes it’s about time that the rest of the world gets some exposure to soccer.

• Speaking of soccer, it’s time to bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups! The frontrunner? Gotta be Qatar.

• The AP reports that two sled dogs died in the Iditarod yesterday. Their hometown? Wasilla. The cause of death is unknown, but it probably has to do with running in the snow in ridiculously freezing weather.

If you needed to win one hockey game, who would be your goalie?

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