I think it's safe to say that basketball has plunged to a distant third among my favorite sports, after baseball and football; I can't decide if it's my own personal preference, or the decline of the NBA in general. The season gets underway later this week, and I can say pretty confidently that the Miami Heat look like champs, probably beating the Denver Nuggets in the process.
I've no idea how the T-Wolves will do, after last year's championship contender collapsed, though I was amused by a quote in Jack McCallum's diary in SI last week of his tour of duty as a Suns assistant coach:
When the conversation turns to Stoudemire, whose five-year, $73 million contract extension will be announced on Media Day, the coaches sound more like fans. "Last season he dunked on [the Houston Rockets'] Yao Ming and didn't even look at him," says Weber. "Yao is 7'6". How is that possible?"I'm a Wolves fan- he's our pussy.
"Yao wasn't looking at him, either," says Iavaroni. "He had his eyes closed in fear."
"I'm not sure his best dunk wasn't against Adonal Foyle in the Golden State game," says Gentry.
"The one against [the Minnesota Timberwolves' Michael] Olowokandi was better," counters Weber. "Olowokandi's 7'1" and his wingspan must be 9'6"."
"That doesn't count," says Gentry. "Olowokandi's a pussy."
Some ESPN editor was asleep at the switch when they okayed this one:
Dick to replace Johnson vs. GamecocksYes, Dick was named by Nutt to face the 'Cocks. I haven't seen anything like that since "Rosie Weds Longtime Girlfriend, Slams Bush."
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Casey Dick, a freshman quarterback who's seen no action in Razorback games this year because he's been redshirted, will start for Arkansas against South Carolina on Saturday, coach Houston Nutt said
(Via Jeff S.)
And remember, as Larry David said: Just because it's Halloween, it doesn't give you the right to go to peoples' homes and bilk them out of candy.
At least we know Mike Tice has coached Daunte Culpepper for the last time...
The Vikings' nightmare season plunged to another nadir on Sunday, when franchise QB Culpepper injured his knee against the Carolina Panthers, and is almost certainly out for the season. An MRI scheduled for today may show that he tore his ACL, which may put him in jeopardy to even start the '06 season on time.
It should go without saying that the Vikes lost the game to fall to 2-5; Brad Johnson takes over at quarterback. Yes, he has a Super Bowl ring, but it's not looking too good that he'll win a second one this year.
Consider Daunte America's least happy man-on-crutches today, with the possible exception of Scooter Libby.
As for the Iggles, they played what may be the worst first quarter of offensive football I've ever seen, with Donovan McNabb going something like 0-for-12, before finding a groove later on. But just when the Eagles were marching down the field to tie, Donovan threw an interception in the end zone, and Philly ended up losing to Denver by four touchdowns.
In fact, that first quarter brought back the brilliant words of Jim Mora, Sr., which also doubles as an explanation of almost every Vikings game this year:
"We couldn't do diddly-poo offensively. We couldn't make a first down. We couldn't run the ball, we didn't try to run the ball. We couldn't complete a pass. We sucked. The second half we sucked. We couldn't stop the run. Every time they got the ball, they went down and got points. We got our ***** totally kicked in the second half. It was a horsesh** performance in the second half, horsesh**. I'm totally embarrassed and totally ashamed. The coaching [mumbles] .. The coaching did a horrible job, the players did a horrible job. We got our ***** kicked in the second half. It sucked."Mike Tice: All the incompetence, none of the postgame hilarity.
President Bush has allegedly named Philly's own Judge Sam Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. So get ready, partisan hacks of both sides- the fight you've been bracing for for a decade is finally here.
Karol, slamming MoDo:
Maureen Dowd has a loooooong piece, adapted from her upcoming book "Are Men Necessary: When Sexes Collide," (no, I'm not kidding) essentially wondering why she's unmarried. She guesses she's too powerful, she guesses she's too smart, she thinks she's too independent but she never seems to guess that it's because she's sort of crazy and erratic and people tend to run screaming from her uninformed snark.My thoughts on MoDo exactly. I haven't read the piece yet, and I'm going to try to get through it later today. That is, if I don't toss it aside halfway through 'cause the illogic and snark are so maddening, which is what I usually do with MoDo's work.
News comes that Spike TV is planning a new reality game show featuring retired professional athletes to square off against "regular guys." The name of the show? "Pros vs. Joes."
If it's a success, they'll do a spin off, featuring guys' friends squaring off against their girlfriends. They'll call it "Bros vs. Ho's."
I find myself wondering what Michelle Malkin's response was to the news. On the minus side, George Takei's gay. On the plus, at least they jailed him for a few years in an internment camp in World War II. You can't win them all, Michelle.I thought of the same thing, but just couldn't think of a way to word it.
Roger McDowell has been named pitching coach of the Atlanta Braves.
Yes, Scooter Libby was indicted today on five counts of perjury and obstruction. I'm reading the indictment right now, and it's nice to have an official record of this super-complicated case in which no one has really known the truth for the past two years. More on Monday.
Now that Brian Cashman has agreed to remain with the Yankees, the GM picture is starting to shake out. Red Sox assistant GM Josh Byrnes was named today as Arizona's new general manager, making the D-Backs baseball's 6th sabermetric team. Meanwhile, the Red Sox remain in discussions with Theo Epstein on an extension, and the Phillies have jumped into their search, interviewing Gerry Hunsicker yesterday; Hunsicker is also a candidate in Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, yes, Howard Eskin has launched a petition drive on WIP's website to get himself the job. But I've already spent too much time on this inane non-story, so I won't address it further.
I was for Byrnes, but Hunsicker is probably the best candidate at this point in Philly. And while I doubt the Red Sox would be stupid enough to let Epstein go -or that Theo would walk away from such a perfect situation, when he won't get over $1 million a year from any other team- if Theo departs from the Bosox, he should be named general manager of the Phillies the following day.
UPDATE: Make that just five saber teams- the Dodgers have fired Paul DePodesta. Think the Phillies could get him in for an interview?
Bill Simmons, with his best idea all year:
Watching football last Sunday with my friends, I brought up the topic, "What touchdown dance would cause the biggest possible fine?"Brilliant. It's too bad we probably won't see it anytime soon, because Moss has hardly scored any touchdowns this year.
I think this one would be [the worst]: "The Delivery." What if Moss scored a TD and immediately fell to the ground on his back, with his legs up in the air like a pregnant woman, and two receivers stood on either side "cheering him on," and Randy pretended he was pushing, and finally the QB leaned over him and "pulled" the football from Randy's loins, then held the football to his shoulder like a baby for a few seconds before Moss stood up, gingerly grabbed the "baby," cut an imaginary umbilical cord, then spiked the ball as hard as he possibly could? I think that would be like a three-game suspension and a $500,000 fine, right? Plus, Buck would be more distraught than Walter Cronkite after JFK's assassination.
From my friend, the Brandeis undergrad-turned law student-turned priesthood candidate Joe Koczera, we get the news (via the New York Times) that President Bush’s nominee to succeed Alan Greenspan at the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, had higher aspirations than attending his alma mater, Harvard. Where did he really want to go? That’s right, Brandeis.
He applied to Brandeis University, which was founded by Jews and named after Louis D. Brandeis, the first Jewish justice of the Supreme Court. Harvard, which he ended up attending, was an after-thought. His parents still keep kosher, and their son learned Hebrew partly from a grandfather who lived with the family - enough Hebrew to officiate at the bar and bat mitzvahs of his children, Joel and Alyssa, without the help of a rabbi.Now I have no idea what the admission standards were like at Brandeis then, vs. now. But this story tells us a lot about the difference between Jewish attitudes towards education, in the ‘60s vs. today.
The synagogue in Dillon was too small to support a full-time rabbi, so a student rabbi conducted services on the High Holy Days and stayed at the Bernanke home. One evening at dinner, the visitor suggested that Ben apply to Harvard.
"We were talking about Brandeis," Mrs. Bernanke recalled, "and the rabbi said, 'If he can get into Brandeis, he can get into Harvard.
I’d say right now that the assimilation of the Jewish community has reached a level at which it’s unlikely that any parent- much less a rabbi- would vociferously recommend that that child attend Brandeis when they have a chance to go to Harvard. Parents may wish for their children to experience the combination of the vibrant Jewish community and academic rigor at Brandeis, but I still think Harvard’s reputation would outweigh that, for the vast majority of Jewish students, parents, and rabbis alike.
I certainly don’t remember anyone from my class at ‘deis who had chosen Waltham over Cambridge, though I do remember literally dozens of Brandeis students who were bummed about not getting into Tufts. And yes, I could see Catholics choosing Notre Dame over Harvard (did you know anyone who did, Joe?). But then, ND is much more Catholic than Brandeis is Jewish, and even more importantly, Notre Dame has a football team, and we don’t.
And besides, much like "Goldman Sachs investment banker" and "’Saturday Night Live’ writer," "Federal Reserve Chairman" is one of those jobs where you pretty much have to have gone to Harvard. And I’d imagine that in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal, Bush would prefer to steer clear of Republican Brandeis alumni for the time being. (To say nothing of Republican SMU Law School alumni).
In just about every argument I had with a Bush supporter during the ’04 campaign, I included something along the lines of, "come on, Kerry’s not for a withdrawal- he’s committed to winning the war!" Now, well… at least Bush has made even more of an embarrassment of himself since the election than Kerry has.
Then again, I can always say I voted for Kerry before I voted against him.
I hope they don’t miss the true significance of Stern in American media. It’s not that he farted. It’s not that he was attacked by the so-called Parents Television Council, which hounded him off our airwaves with the aid of our own damned FCC (though that, too, is a story). It’s not even that he single-handedly blew up the radio industry: His departure didn’t just cause them to find replacements but to blow up the formats of every one of his stations (though that is a story). And it’s not that he could well turn satellite into an industry (which will be a story).I’ve never been a Stern devotee. But Jarvis is certainly right.
No, it’s that he was honest in a media world that has become packaged and sanitized for our protection: bloodless, soulless, faked to look real. And they couldn’t take it.
Yes, probably the best outcome for all involved. Now, all concerned (right, left, the media) are, whether overtly or covertly, essentially rooting for a strong, right-wing pick, to give us the pitched, partisan battle over a Supreme Court seat that’s been predicted for years but hasn’t yet materialized.
I reserve judgment until the hearings begin, whoever the nominee is. But I will say that if the court had nine of John Roberts, I’d be happy.
Here's a neat blog I discovered today, consisting almost entirely of funny sketches the author has done of people he has observed on his lunchbreak. The twist? His name is Stephen Silver. Welcome to the club of Silverbloggers!
Yes, the Chicago White Sox are world champions, for the first time in 88 years, after completing a sweep of Houston last night. I've trashed them all year, but even I must say, the Sox impressed me. No way they can keep it up, but...
It was, however, extremely nauseating to see Bud Selig handing the World Series trophy to his longtime pal/crony Jerry Reinsdorf, just 11 years after the two of them conspired to cancel the 1994 season and all but destroyed the sport. Reinsdorf now gets a World Series trophy to go along with his six NBA titles- how many owners have won championships in more than one sport?
And after a whole series in which the previously Bambino-obsessed Fox all but ignored the White Sox's long, unenviable history, they finally included some highlights of Disco Demolition Night, the bermuda shorts game, and other stuff over the closing credits last night. I'm wondering why we didn't hear the name "Shoeless Joe" Jackson 500 times in the last week, but then I wonder a lot of things about Fox. I'm counting down the years (I think just one more) until Fox loses their baseball rights- because I don't like living in a country where Bob Costas doesn't announce the World Series.
And finally, on the Latino Legends Team: where's Chico Escuela?
"WITH THIS week's Entertainment Weekly - Charlize Theron on the cover, "PLUS What's Wrong with 'Desperate Housewives' " - the "DH" backlash has officially begun.-Ellen Gray, on the 'Housewives' backlash, in Philadelphia Daily News.
Right on time.
Yes, folks, it's the second season of a hit show, one that became such a cultural phenomenon in its first year that even other networks cash in on its cachet (as CBS did last week in "CSI: Miami" and "Close to Home," which both featured suburban women running amok).
If we're following the "Ally McBeal" playbook, this is the year... that one or more of ABC's "Desperate Housewives" can be expected to go from skinny to scary. [And] That critics will begin to complain that the show isn't nearly as good as it was a year ago.
Now it's bad enough that Nicolette Sheridan, truly one of the pantheon beautiful women of my youth, is now so botoxed to within an inch of her life that she's sadly limited to only one facial expression (either that, or she's just that bad an actress).
But what the hell happened to Teri Hatcher? Did she not eat between the cancellation of "Lois & Clark" and the start of 'Housewives'? Remember when she was known for having large breasts- to the point where an entire "Seinfeld" episode was constructed around the question of whether or not they were real? Well now they've disappeared, along with the rest of her. It's quite sad, really.
Either that, or he really likes money.
Brian Cashman has reportedly agreed to remain general manager of the Yankees, thanks to a four-year, $8 million deal that makes him the highest paid GM in baseball history. Apparently that’s the price to pay for the abuse, the tantrums, and the pain of not really being in charge. I don’t understand why Steinbrenner considers Cashman so indispensable while at the same time undermining him at every turn, but then I’ve never understood much about the Yankees and how they work.
Anyway, with Cashman now out of the mix for the job, the odds on who will be the next GM of the Phillies stand at:
Gerry Hunsicker: 3-to-1
Pat Gillick: 5-to-1
Jim Bowden: 7-to-1
Ruben Amaro, Jr.: 10-to-1
John Hart: 12-to-1
Mike Arbuckle: 15-to-1
Josh Byrnes: 20-to-1
Dan Duquette: 40-to-1
Howard Eskin: 7.8 million-to-1
White Sox reserve second baseman Geoff Blum, who hit a home run in the top of the 13th inning of last night’s World Series Game 3, leading Chicago to a victory in the longest World Series game of all time. But no, despite his name, he’s not a Jew.
Meanwhile, after the game, Phil Garner threw his own team under the bus- leading to an uncharacteristically nasty rebuke by Tom Verducci of SI. No, he was never that good a manager in Milwaukee or Detroit, either.
I’d been meaning to do a post on the Miers nomination for awhile- but then Marshall Wittman (as quoted by Ryan Lizza in TNR) said exactly what I was thinking:
The Moose, as he likes to be called, is giddy about the conservative crack-up, and he thinks he has identified the fault line: "This is intra-conservative warfare between the faith-based conservatives and the reality-based conservatives." And, by "faith," he means not faith in God, but faith in Bush. In other words, the real split over Miers is between conservatives who worship Bush and those who worship conservatism. One camp believes in the infallibility of the president. The other camp believes the evidence before them. Fred Barnes and James Dobson are faith-based conservatives. Bill Kristol and Gary Bauer are reality-based conservatives. Hugh Hewitt is faith-based. Ramesh Ponnuru is reality-based.I don’t consider myself a conservative. But I do have a lot of respect for many voices on the right, especially those who are intelligent, argue in good faith, advance interesting ideas, and don’t believe that absolute 100% fealty to presidential talking points is a requirement for citizenship. And it seems that just about all of the conservatives that I like (David Brooks, David Frum, Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Jonah Goldberg, Ross Douthat, and the Weekly Standard folks) are against the nomination, and all the ones I don’t (Limbaugh, Hannity, Bauer, Dobson, Newsmax, etc.) are for it.
(Here’s a litmus test: if you’re a conservative and you got the title of this post, I probably like you. If you didn’t, I probably don’t. Though it wasn't until after I wrote this post that I discovered I was hardly the first to make the joke.)
Make no mistake about it: leaving aside questions of ideology and of transparency: the nomination of Harriet Miers is completely, totally indefensible, simply because she is not in any way whatsoever qualified to be on the court. And the one and only argument that her defenders have in favor of the pick is no argument at all: “I trust Bush.” The silver lining, I suppose, is that now that the Republican base has as much contempt for intellectual conservatives as it does for their liberal counterparts, the whole stupid talking point about “liberal elitists” may now become forever obsolete.
Not that the liberal side comes out of this looking much better. If the Senate Democrats were smart and/or principled, they would simply vote, en masse, against the nomination. With at least a few GOP votes, that would easily bork the nomination, leading Bush to pick a replacement. And that’s the rub- the Dems would much prefer a mediocrity like Miers on the bench than whatever strict constructionist/Federalist Society type would follow her.
So that’s the choice, Dems: Mediocre judge of undetermined politics, or strong judge of ultraconservative politics. Principle, or politics. Which will you choose?
The age of using Friendster for its most entertaining purpose- looking up key information about old friends/flames/coworkers and/or future dates- may be coming to an end, because the site has introduced a feature called “Who’s Viewed Me,” which allows viewers to see the last 100 people who have viewed their profile page. True, users can opt out of the feature- but I’d imagine that most people who don’t read their constant Friendster e-mails won’t even know that, and they’ll continue spending hours out of their workdays looking up the current whereabouts of everyone from their 5th-grade class.
According to a column in the Philadelphia Daily News by Carol Towarnicky, the whole Mumia Abu-Jamal story is finally fading from public consciousness- and it’s about time.
Yes, the cold-blooded murder of Philadelphia policeman Daniel Faulkner by Abu-Jamal took place more than 24 years ago. But the “plight” of the death-row inmate has unquestionable receded over the years as a left-wing cause celebre, partially because the Bush Administration has given those people a lot more to be pissed off about. But moreso, Towarnicky writes, the case has simply reached a stalemate, and with Mumia less likely to be executed, it’s lost the attention of anti-death penalty activists.
It seemed the otherworldly proliferation of myths about the case would never end. Yet there were those who said the "Mumia as political prisoner" phenomenon was more about the U.S. devotion to the death penalty than the merits of the case.Actually, I think the cause really lost all its momentum when Rage Against the Machine broke up.
Now it's clear they were right.
Three years after walking out on “The West Wing,” Aaron Sorkin is jumping back into TV with an NBC series called “Studio 7,” which will follow the behind-the-scenes goings-on of an SNL-like sketch-comedy series. Not a good week for Tina Fey- first she had to rush back from maternity leave to save SNL’s floundering season, and now Sorkin has stolen her own idea for an NBC pilot.
Anyway, Sports Guy got ahold of the pilot script, and…
Everyone loved it, everyone said great things, and after reading it ... I couldn't agree more. It's already my new favorite show even though they haven't started casting it yet -- like "Larry Sanders," only if it was about "SNL." In a viciously clever way, Sorkin's pilot script pretty much obliterates SNL and everything that happened to the show over the past few years, as well as TV networks and the post-Janet Jackson/FCC Era in general. It's a masterpiece. It's perfect. I can't say enough about it. When this show debuts next year (or whenever), it will be impossible to take SNL seriously anymore. I'm telling you.I can’t wait for the thinly-veiled shots at Jimmy Fallon.
Peter Beinart has been on leave all year from The New Republic, supposedly writing a book-length version of his Democrats-gotta-be-tough piece, “A Fighting Faith.” Now it’s finally got a title and release date: “The Good Fight : Why Liberals---and Only Liberals---Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again,” will come out next June 1. Can’t wait.
A man distributing communist literature in front of the Usdan student center was ejected from campus last week, according to The Justice. An employee of the Cambridge-based Revolution Bookstore, the man was cited for solicitation and trespassing, and threatened with arrest should he ever return.
While even members of the Radical Student Alliance have disassociated themselves from the man, his supporters have of course made this into a free speech issue. Because if communist countries are known for anything, it’s the free and unimpeded exchange of ideas.
According to the AP the Pittsburgh man, Brian Jackson, tried to impress two different women by claiming to be Roethlisberger in one case and backup quarterback Brian St. Pierre in another. You'd think Big Ben would be Pittsburgh's most recognizable bachelor and that most women would see through things rather quickly, but I guess not.
I guess the imposter observed, accurately, that no woman would want to date someone who said they were Maddox; Jackson, who is white, made no attempt to impersonate Charlie Batch.
What t.a.T.u. did for lesbianism, they're doing for white power.
Yet oddly enough, there's another band also called Prussian Blue, an "English blues rock band," which presumably has no racist and/or neo-Nazi conotation whatsoever. You'd think they'd have some sort of disclaimer on their site, something along the lines of "Note: we're not to be confused with the 12-year-old twin Nazis. Please come back."
Roger Ebert, teeing off on "Doom":
A lot of readers thought I was crazy for liking "Ghosts of Mars" (2001) and "Red Planet" (2000) and "Total Recall" (1990), but blast it all, at least in those movies, you get to see Mars. I'm a science fiction fan from way back. I go to Mars, I expect to see it. Watching "Doom" is like visiting Vegas and never leaving your hotel room.The Rock starring in a movie version of "Doom": that sounds like it's right up the alley of anyone who was a collegiate stoner in 1998.
The movie has been "inspired by" the famous video game. No, I haven't played it, and I never will, but I know how it feels not to play it, because I've seen the movie. "Doom" is like some kid came over and is using your computer and won't let you play.
Two things I forgot to mention in yesterday's post about the Eagles game:
A guy behind us shouted out, a couple of times after McNabb incompletions, "we need a white quarterback! This is why we need a white quarterback!" A Limbaugh fan, perhaps? Actually, the guy was black himself, and was apparently looking to goad surrounding fans into agreeing with him, so he could start a fight. Unheard of in Philly, I know...
And later in the game, some people in our section were asking who was the best quarterback in Chargers history. The most popular answer was Dan Fouts, though Drew Brees got some votes, as did Stan Humphries (who, in fact, took them to a Super Bowl). But then, of course, I thought of the obvious answer: Eli Manning.
Civil rights legend Rosa Parks has died at the age of 92. She was a true hero whose brave stand in Montgomery, Alabama, spawned the bus boycott, paving the way for the other successful civil rights advances of the 1960s. She will be missed.
When I went to camp as a kid, one of my fellow campers, a Cubs fan from Chicago, repeatedly did a Harry Caray impression that consisted entirely of, over and over again, repeating the phrase "and Vizcaino spelled backwards, is Oniacziv." Harry had supposedly said this once, in reference to the then-young, then-Cubs shortstop.
This was about 15 years ago, so nice to see that Jose is still active, and even managed to get a game-tying hit in the top of the ninth of Game 2. But it wasn't enough, as Scott Podsednik's home run won the game for Chicago and brought them to within two wins of their first World Series in 88 years. And if you think I'm trying to jinx them, you're right.
One more series note: I'm loving the Astros' hockey-style "playoff beards," with the weird sidebar that Lance Berkman's beard makes him so resemble my old roommate, Ryan Kennedy, that I thought for a moment that Ryan had abandoned his nascent law career (and his Phillies fandom) to join the Astros. See for yourself: Here's Ryan, and here's Lance.
That's the "I got drunk and spent $240,000 on lap dances, champagne, and other 'incidentals' at Scores, and now I have to explain it to my wife" face. But at least it won't cause an international incident, like the time the U.N. delegate from Bangladesh did the same thing.
Reader Jeff S points out this travesty, which offends me both as a sports media consumer, as a Braves-hater, and as a Twins fan. In a photo gallery, under a photo of Mark Lemke, appears these words:
1991: Brave new worldOh yea? I was there, and that's not quite what happened. Idiots.
Mark Lemke was no joke as Atlanta outlasted Minnesota to win everything and begin its run of NL dominance.
Yesterday I had the fortune to attend one of the strangest NFL games of recent years, as the Eagles outlasted the Chargers 20-17.
I don't know if the strangest part was the on-the-field action (the heretofore mediocre Philly run defense thoroughly shutting down LaDainian Tomlinson, the NFL's best running back; Donovan McNabb throwing a team-record 34 completions), or what happened off (in the fourth quarter, a fire alarm went off , and a voice advised the 50,000-plus crowd to evacuate the stadium in an orderly fashion. But no more than a couple dozen people got up, and there was no pause in the game. Also, a brawl in the upper deck was calmed down, but only with the aid of about 25 uniformed security personnel).
The game's ending, however, was the most bizarre of all. The Eagles, as with the entire season, were unable to establish the run, leading to McNabb throwing the ball more than 50 times- including on a fourth-and-inches play that failed, causing the lustful booing of the entire crowd. But just when it looked hopeless for the Iggles, they blocked a Nate Kaeding field goal and returned it for a touchdown. The Chargers then marched the ball back, until a fumble (and a booth review that upheld it) ended the game.
All that, and the Vikings managed to pull out a victory as well. I don't even want to know what they did to celebrate. Indeed, those goofballs at the Star Tribune, after Paul Edinger won with a team-record 56-year-old field goal, gave their game story the comical headline "The Love Boot."
Jerry Seinfeld once said that the best feeling in the world is "after you get a job, and before you have to do it." So I've been trying to enjoy the last week as much as possible.
Last Friday I accepted a position as a reporter/editor with The Trend Leader, a newspaper based in King of Prussia, PA, part of Broad Street Community Newspapers. It's owned by Knight Ridder (not to be confused with "Knight Rider"), and is part of the consortium known as Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc., which also owns the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. Yes, that's right- Stephen A. Smith is now my co-worker.
I'll be covering local news and sports in a suburb-to-be-named, and writing 5-10 stories per week. I'm quite excited, as this is my first full-time job on a newspaper, and something I probably couldn't have done had I stayed in New York. This blog will continue, though expect fewer posts during daytime hours.
A Philadelphia city councilman, who had just received word that he was a target of a federal corruption probe and was about to be indicted, made his way to the observation deck at the top of City Hall last night, and allegedly threatened to jump. Rick Mariano, however, was talked down from the roof by Mayor John Street, Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson, and others.
The Mariano incident is reminscient of that of Budd Dwyer, the former Pennsylvania state treasurer who, shortly after agreeing to plead guilty to corruption charges, committed suicide during a televised press conference in 1987. (See the Wikipedia page, for a conspicuously long list of "pop-culture references" to the Dwyer suicide.)
Somehow, this hasn't become a national story. Because the news networks wouldn't want to shift away from 24-hour coverage of that legal analyst whose wife was killed. Because a loss like that for a commentator on the Laci Peterson case is a loss for each and every one of us. Yes, I broke the dam.
From the Sports Illustrated cover story about Ron Artest and Larry Bird, there was this little nugget that had me laughing out loud, about how Artest spent his suspension and the offseason working out at the Indianapolis Jewish Community Center, where his daughter, Diamond, attends daycare:
Swimming in the pool with senior citizens or rainbowing jumpers over orthodontic teens on the basketball court or noshing at the snack bar with soccer moms, the 6'7", 255-pound Artest cuts an incongruous figure. But like almost everyone else who enters his unique orbit, the JCC regulars were soon charmed -- especially Diamond's classmates, whom he drops to his knees to hug. ("Whassup, Rivkah?")Ron Artest, gettin' down with the pre-Bat Mitzvah set. My girlfriend's Hebrew name is Rivkah- I'm going to start greeting her every day with "Whassup, Rivkah!"
Definitely the best "what's up" moment involving an Indiana basketball figure since "What's up, Knight?"
Simmons, on Boston sports media people inexplicably referring to the Tedy Bruschi comeback at "selfish":
On FSN's local TV show in Boston, I watched one of these contrarians smugly making the selfish argument with the incredulous hosts for a few minutes, followed by the guy shrugging his shoulders and saying, "Hey, you pay for me my opinion." I have this on TiVo -- even saved it. And you wonder why the sports fans in New England are crazy -- if Boston fans are like passengers on an airplane who are afraid to fly, some of these media members are like stewardesses who just walk up and down the cabin screaming, "We're all gonna die! We're all gonna die!" Then they return to their little flight attendant area, high-five each other and wait for the checks to clear. What a travesty.Stephen King once called this the "oh-my-god-my-ass-is-on-fire Boston sports media," yet at least they've won some championships lately; Philly's media, somehow, is 10 times worse.
"In interviews, Theron and her director, Niki Caro, have said that the original screenplay (by Michael Seitzman) was a little too black-and-white, and that they tried to introduce "shades of gray." I can only infer that said shades are moments when some of the men—after hissing the c-word and pushing over a Port-A-Potty with one of Josey's co-workers (Michelle Monaghan) in it, who emerges screaming and sobbing and covered in liquid shit—are shown, for a second or two, with a look of shame. But those looks are fleeting. There is, after all, harassment to be done.-Slate's David Edelstein, on "North Country," a movie that sounds so laughably over-the-top that you couldn't pay me to see it. Even if it is set in Minnesota.
North Country is powerful and then some. I came out shaking, dabbing at my eyes, and vowing never again to write the c-word in shit on the walls of a women's room."
I had the honor and privilege tonight of getting to meet James Fallows, the ace writer for The Atlantic Monthly and former editor of US News & World Report. Fallows wrote a book in the mid-'90s called "Breaking the News," which I later read in Intro to Journalism, and it was one of the first glimpses I ever had into what actually goes on in later became known as "MSM."
The occasion was Fallows' speech at Ursinus College in the far-flung Philadelphia suburbs, and he had sort of a neat reason for being there: Fallows' father had attended Ursinus in the 1940s before leaving earlier to attend medical school and later serve as a medic in World War II. Fallows visited Ursinus in order to accept a diploma on behalf of his father, and also to make a speech on Iraq, the economy, politics, and the media.
Fallows had interesting things to say about all of the above. On Iraq, he pointed out that the US has an essential choice to make between two extremes: either to commit to staying in the country for 5-10 years, or leave now. He then elaborated on a piece he recently wrote for the Atlantic in which he looked back on U.S. economic history from 2016, which was much, much better than Richard Clarke's similar written-from-the-future piece in that same magazine.
On politics, Fallows slammed both parties, in pointing out that according to all historical indicators, both Bush and Kerry should have lost the 2004 election. As for the media, he immediately jumped into the bias debate, giving the answer that I've generally heard from most "MSM" figures, namely (I paraphrase):
"Everyone who consumes the media sees biases in different places, which correspond inversely to their own political beliefs. But the real problem isn't institutional bias, but rather that the media companies are treating journalism more as a business than anything else, and doing what sells."He used the example, of course, of the "Aruba girl," a story with no political dimension which is of course beaten into the ground constantly because it's what people want to see.
In the Q&A session, I got to tell Fallows how much I enjoyed his book back in the day, and also asked him how he feels about the blog phenomenon. Putting the lie to all that "MSM Hates Blogs" nonsense, Fallows said that on balance, the blog phenomenon is a good thing, while he was careful to point out that "85% of all blogs are peoples' journals, or pictures of their cats."
All in all a fascinating evening, and here I was afraid I'd never get to attend this sort of cultural event anymore now that I'm out of Manhattan. I once even wrote a paper about Fallows, analyzing whether or not he had followed the example of his book after taking over US News shortly after it was published (I wish I still had the paper, so I could have given him a copy.)
News Item: Syria Involved in Killing Lebanon's Ex-Premier, U.N. Report Says. I never, ever could've seen that one coming. But I sense Michael Totten probably did.
Congrats to the Houston Astros, who after more than four decades of futility have finally won their first National League pennant, setting up a World Series with the Chicago White Sox. It should be a fascinating Series- pitching vs. pitching, between one team that has never won the World Series and another who hasn't in 88 years.
And I somehow didn't notice this until last night, but the Astros' hitting coach is... Gary Gaetti! None other than the starting third baseman for the World Series-winning '87 Twins. Seeing him amid the celebration, I must say, really brought back pleasant memories.
And finally, numerous mis-steps by Fox: the announcers named Roy Oswalt Player of the Game before the bottom of the ninth even started; a graphic appeared advertising the Astros-White Sox Game 1 before the last out had been recorded, and the announcers failed to acknowledge, after the game, that we'd just witnessed the final game at Busch Stadium. And I don't even want to discuss Steve Lyons' hair. But that said, I'd prefer this announcing crew to Buck/McCarver roughly 1000 times out of 1000.
The Philadelphia City Paper lets us know about a trend that I've seen coming for a long time: the renewed popularity of chess. It centers around a new book called "Chess Bitch," about a beautiful woman who is, that's right, into chess.
That's right, chess is the new poker. I could see chess championships being broadcast on ESPN, with "Chess Bitch" author Jennifer Shahade standing in for Annie Duke, and on-screen graphics illustrating possible moves. I'm telling you, this is only months away.
Now that guard Allan Houston has retired, the Knicks are discussing the possibility of retiring his number- although one snarky anonymous source tells the New York Post that they should merely raise a $100 million check to the rafters instead.
Yea, either that, or a knee X-ray.
The idea is so ridiculous and absurd that I probably shouldn't even mention it, but I thought I'd poke fun at the fact that local sports radio loudmouth Howard Eskin has thrown his hat in the ring for the vacant Phillies general manager job.
Now leave aside that Eskin has never worked in baseball, and has never been employed in any sports capacity whatsoever that hasn't involved bloviating and/or yelling at callers. Here are a few more reasons why Eskin-as-GM isn't such a great idea:
- It's probably unwise to hire a GM who despises and openly roots against the team.
- Eskin knows nothing whatsoever about talent evaluation, player development, scouting, payroll management, or any of the other aspects of the job.
- Considering that he isn't even able to get along with his own colleagues- let alone his callers- I'd imagine Eskin's tactics might tend to alienate the other GMs. He can't just respond to every trade offer or contract negotiation by screaming "you're an idiot" and hanging up the phone, like he does in his current job.
- After all the horrible things he's said about them over the years, Howard would have to contend, on his first day on the job, with all 25 players on the active roster simultaneously demanding a trade. Even the 15 of them who have no-trade clauses.
- Howard's first name being the same as Ryan Howard's last name would cause way too much confusion; there's a reason Ed Wade never tried to sign Wade Boggs.
But on the bright side, the move would drastically improve WIP in two ways: not only would Eskin no longer host a show, but every five minutes we'd get to hear some first-time/long-time screaming "Fire Howard Eskin!" Because considering how much most Philly fans hate the team now, after they won 88 games and missed the playoffs by one game, imagine how they'll feel after Howard takes over, and they finish 30 games under .500.
In considering this story, I can't help but remember this:
GEORGE: I like sports. I could do something in sports.Oddly enough, George Costanza did indeed later end up with a job in baseball. Even he was more qualified than Howard Eskin.
JERRY: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. In what capacity?
GEORGE: You know, like the general manager of a baseball team or something.
JERRY: Yeah. Well, that - that could be tough to get.
GEORGE: Well, it doesn't even have to be the general manager. Maybe I could be like, an announcer. Like a color man. You know how I always make those interesting comments during the game.
JERRY: Yeah. Yeah. You make good comments.
GEORGE: What about that?
JERRY: Well, they tend to give those jobs to ex-ballplayers and people that are, you know, in broadcasting.
Jews are both smart and funny, the two New York weeklies tell us this week.
A cover story in New York magazine, featuring Larry David, tells us of a new study arguing that partially due to the diseases passed down through the Ashkenazic community over the years, Jews may in fact be genetically smarter than others. Accurate? Good for the Jews? Not sure, but it's certainly a fascinating read.
In the New Yorker, meanwhile, there's a great profile of Sarah Silverman, that finally gets to the bottom of that whole Joe Franklin scandal from "The Aristocrats."
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said something today that, in a rarity for him, didn't cause horrible embarrassment:
I'm ready to go to the NFL and to [commissioner Paul] Tagliabue and say, 'Give us the Cleveland plan,'" Nagin added, referring to the league awarding Cleveland an expansion team almost immediately after the Browns moved to Baltimore after the 1995 season. "Whatever the Saints want to do, you let them leave, but they can't take our logo, they can't take our name, and you give us a promise to give us a franchise when this city's back."This strikes me as the sensible plan. With the city decimated, the Superdome uninhabitable and no alternatives readily available, and next to no money in the local economy to be spent on tickets or luxury boxes there is, sadly, really no way the Saints can continue to function in New Orleans beyond this year.
But don't put them in San Antonio. It's at once a pure basketball town and solid Cowboys territory, and it's way too small a market for the NFL. And besides, the thought of Red McCombs once again buying into the league is way, way, too horrific to even contemplate. Read this if you don't believe me.
So move the current Saints to LA, keeping them in the NFC West. And in five years, re-constitute the Saints in New Orleans. And since we'd need an even number of teams, put a second expansion team in Vegas. See? Everybody's happy.
Seattle Weekly: "Never Has The Journalism Profession Been So Handsome."
I really think "The Mother of All Meltdowns" (in the ad for "Trading Spouses") is this year's "Her Father Is the District Attorney!" Though Ron Silver is much more appealing as a performer.
Saw an amazing documentary the other night: "Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story." The film told the story of Griffith, a former middleweight champion who killed a man in the ring in 1962, and has spent the rest of his life since then haunted, both by the fight, and by his own latent homosexuality. It all leads up to the first meeting, in 2003, between Griffith and the son of Benny "The Kid" Paret, the man who died at Griffith's hand nearly four decades earlier.
Poignant as the film was, I couldn't help but thinking that a very clever satirist could come with a skillfully constructed hybrid of "Ring of Fire," and "Rocky IV." Say Ivan Drago, years later, has lost the heavyweight crown to Rocky, and he's simultaneously haunted by his guilt over having killed Apollo, his latent homosexuality, and the fall of communism worldwide. Really- it could be the role of Dolph Lundgren's life.
Sorry for the tangent- I just have this on my mind 'cause I went and saw a friend's band the other night, and someone signed up to be on his mailing list with the name "Ivan Drago," the hometown "Moscow," and the e-mail address "IWillBreakYou@IfICanChange.com."
News Item: Braves Pitching Coach Mazzone Nixes Yanks.
Leo Mazzone, who over the years has turned numerous mediocre pitchers into semi-aces with the Braves, will not be moving to the Yankees, meaning you can forget about Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, and Aaron Small winning 20 games each next year. So sorry Yankee fans- enjoy Joe Kerrigan!
For Mazzone, it really came down to the question of whether he'd prefer to lose in the first round of the playoffs in the AL, or the NL.
UPDATE: Mazzone has apparently agreed to join the Balitmore Orioles. So I guess playoffs aren't his thing...
"When you watch TV these days, it's hard not to feel as if femininity is at some kind of impasse, and the prognosis looks, well, less than good. More than ever before, the parade of TV faces suggests that women on the idiot box have been split into two completely polarized camps: On one hand, there's the Paris Hilton model (simple, hot, "wild," objectified); and then there are the Daughters of Oprah (completely desexualized, still relishing the culture of victimhood, seemingly excitable only by free cars and other missing women)...-Joey Sweeney, in a piece on "New Harpies" Rita Cosby and Nancy Grace, in Philadelphia City Paper.
Although, to be fair, their comeuppance is often swift: When N'Awlins broke, [Rita] Cosby was actually in Aruba, and every time they cut to her for comment, just the fact of where she was and what she was doing made everything that came out of her mouth sound like a very loud, very painful fart."
The Twins' stadium plans, for the 8th year in a row, appear dead, and like clockwork, Sid Hartman has written his obligatory, sky-is-falling column on the Twins' imminent depature. This time he even got Gov. Tim Pawlenty to play along.
Please. As City Pages meticulously pointed out last year, Sid has already written this column 15 other times, and been just as wrong on each and every try.
The Twins aren't leaving. For one thing, they have no where to go. There is no viable market with a stable stadium situation anywhere in North America that could receive them for 81 home dates. For another, if you think Major League Baseball has their shit together enough to actually force the relocation of the Twins, you're living in a fantasy world. It took them three years to move the Expos to DC- and MLB OWNS that team.
I want as much as anyone the Twins to finally move outdoors, and stay in Minnesota in perpetuity. But that doesn't mean we have to pretend the world's going to end just because of the latest legislative session. Will a stadium someday be built? Probably. Will Sid Hartman or Carl Pohlad be alive to see it? I'm guessing not.
Yes, I was wrong about the White Sox. I said they'd lose 100 games, that they'd finish in last place, that they'd burn out by the end of the season. I guarenteed that they'd lose in the first round. For these sins, and any others, may I be forgiven, because the White Sox are going to the World Series, marking the first Fall Classic in the Windy City since 1959.
While my pre-season (Twins-Mets) and pre-postseason (Angels-Cardinals) picks are more or less in tatters, I'm quite intrigued by the idea of a White Sox-Astros Series. Not only are both clubs pitching-dominated, which would likely lead to lots of 3-2, 12-inning-type games, but there's the historical factor as well- the Astros have never even been in a World Series, let alone won one, while the last time the White Sox won the championship, it was just a few weeks before the Bolshevik Revolution. So history would be made either way.
So the question is, why isn't the White Sox's 88-year championship drought getting the same obsessive attention as the 86-year version that was snapped last year by Boston? Is it simple East Coast Bias? Or is it the idea that while Boston came close and blew it numerous times over the years, the White Sox have barely even been on the baseball radar screen for most of that time? Or, better yet, is it that the Red Sox were always "lovable losers," as were the Cubs, while the Chisox were always too mediocre and too prickly to earn that designation? I'd say it's a little of both.
But regardless, in the interest of equal time, I suggest that Fox begin each and every World Series game with a montage of: Disco Demolition Night; Black Sox scandal/"Eight Men Out" archival footage; the William Ligue, Jr./Tom Gamboa attack; the "bermuda shorts" game; Michael Jordan's baseball career; and Jerry Reinsdorf announcing the cancellation of the 1994 World Series and/or the signing of Albert Belle.
As for Houston, just run a photo of Nolan Ryan, from the year the Astros wore the rainbow uniforms with the number on the thigh. That's just as bad.
Anyone catch that interview with Bill Romanowski on "60 Minutes" Sunday night? Didn't he remind you of, oh I don't know... a serial killer? The man is clearly a violent sociopath who spent virtually his entire career cheating the system and inflicting purposeful injury onto opponents and teammates alike. That he is now, and likely always will, suffer from concussions is not only his own fault, but also doubles as proof that karma isn't dead after all.
Much as I love sports, one thing that I really despise about our American sports culture is that rotten-to-the-core scumbugs like Romo, Jose Canseco, Pete Rose, and Bobby Knight can not only thrive, but be treated as folk heroes, with their fans even willing to defend and make excuses for the most appalling, disgusting behavior imaginable.
So no, to answer your question, I won't be buying Romo's book.
Former Village Voice writer/editor Richard Goldstein, who has been mocked by this blog numerous times over the years both for his long-running feud with Andrew Sullivan and his even longer-running obsession with the penises of various male political figures, has sued his former paper for sexual harassment, alleging that editor-in-chief David Forst and other staffers constantly made "lewd comments" about Goldstein's sexual orientation.
Now it should go without saying that the Voice, now that it's missing such wonderfully crazy people as Goldstein, Peter Noel, and Alissa Solomon, is now pretty much unreadable, especially now that smart people are running New York Press and it's no longer old crazy lefties vs. young crazy lefties. To me the biggest mystery of the Goldstein case is the Sullivan hasn't addressed it yet. I just hope he gets called as a character witness.
Perhaps I was wrong to lose my faith in the sports-watching public. From Deadspin comes news that, quite frankly, no one is watching Stephen A. Smith's new ESPN2 show. The show was likely the most hyped launch in the history of the Worldwide Leader, yet is averaging a ratings share of .02%, which is even lower than what was running in that time slot before. Deadspin says it best:
The sad part about this is that Smith’s show continues to get good guests; this week’s stars included Jim Brown, Rudi Johnson and Ozzie Smith. And it’s still doing worse than billiards. It’s almost as if, we dunno, viewers might have a problem, with, say, the host. Just a guess.In fact, I sort of like the idea that Stephen A. has his own show- this way, rather than popping up on every single show on the network, Stephen is instead confined to an hour per day, which is easy to avoid.
That whole "flypaper" theory of the Iraq war, which states that we're better off fighting the terrorists over there rather than here and elsewhere all over the world, is based on strikingly similar reasoning.
But that doesn't mean Smith hasn't wrecked havoc on the sportswriting profession in other ways: The New York Times points out the disturbing trend that "ESPN Sports Speak" is now being used, largely unconsciously, by sportswriters across the country.
NBA teams have been known to often scrimmage with European teams during the preseason, and despite the influx of European players to North America in recent years, it's extremely rare for a North American team to actually lose to one of their international counterparts. But they didn't count on the Toronto Raptors...
On Sunday, the Raptors took on the Israeli club team Maccabi Tel Aviv, perennial Israeli champ and winner of three of the last five European League championships- and Maccabi came away with the victory. And adding insult to insult, the game was played in Toronto. Looks to me like it'll be a long year in Ontario- good thing for them that hockey's back.
True, most of the players for Maccabi aren't actually Israeli- their leading scorer in the game, for instance, was ex-Sixer Anthony Parker, only the second-best basketball player in the world with that name. But Maccabi's starting center in the game indeed goes by the distinctly Israeli name of Yaniv Green.
"The fascination with celebrity perhaps represents, on another level, a response to the remoteness and inadequacies of politics. Let some pretty face with an action-movie resonance intervene in a global crisis where politics has yet to make a difference! Some social scientist would probably be able to draw a definite connection between Bush's fraudulence and incompetence and an intensification in the national obsession with celebrities. And for those of us who regard, in the current case, four years in the White House as the equivalent of a geological epoch, the quick inflation and deflation of instant fame is a satisfying symbolic deconstruction."More unintelligible gibberish from Lee Siegel, one of the worst writers alive, in TNR. This beaut is, somehow, meant to commentate on the excellent TV series "Extras," which is about a group of British actors. But to Siegel, like everything else, it's Really About Bush.
(No, not Roger Clemens.)
News came on Monday that Charles Rocket, the former "Saturday Night Live" cast member who was infamously fired from the show in 1981 after he cursed on the air, has committed suicide by cutting his own throat. Oddly enough, the day before Rocket's death was announced, there aired an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," also dealing with suicide, on which another former "Weekend Update" anchor, Kevin Nealon, guest-starred. This is up there with the Elliot Smith song being used as the soundtrack for Luke Wilson's suicide attempt in "The Royal Tenenbaums," and then Smith himself later committing suicide.
"Curb" this year- it's been quite good, despite the views of some critics. Four solid episodes, and the "Christ Nail" installment was truly brilliant, no less than the second-best "Passion of the Christ" parody of the last two years ("South Park"'s was slightly better).
Well, look on the bright side- after a week of being mocked for their off-the-field shenanigans, the Minnesota Vikings can once again look forward to becoming the object of derision for their on-the-field play. That's what happens when you lose 28-3 to the lowly Chicago Bears, in the process committing 14 penalties, 2 turnovers, and 4 sacks, including one on fourth down on their own 1-yard line, leading to a Bears touchdown on the next play. Ugh.
- Mike Tice must be fired, now. In every way imaginable, the Vikings have suffered through the most embarrassing season in franchise history- even worse than the 3-13 campaign under Les Steckel in 1984. Tice, who makes Steckel look like Vince Lombardi, has clearly run out of chances, and ultimately, the buck must stop with him. His firing should be announced tomorrow, and he should be replaced for the rest of the season by either defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, or consultant Foge Fazio.
- Normally I skip the pregame shows, but I just had to tune into ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown," to see what Michael Irvin would say about the sex cruise scandal, considering that he's football's foremost expert on such matters. To his credit, Irvin began by saying "obviously, I can't pass judgement on what happened, considering my own history." He went on to say that this "must have been a tough week for the players involved," [yea, my heart bleeds for them], and that the hardest part was probably facing their wives afterwards. Aw, nice to know Mike has his heart in the right place. If anyone should've worn an Irvin jersey after the game this week, it's Fred Smoot.
- And if you thought the Vikings' loss today was embarrassing... did you see the Gophers' last-minute self-destruction against Wisconsin on Saturday? Former Gopher coach Lou Holtz jinxed his old team on ESPN, breaking into the game with three minutes left to proclaim "the Gophers won Paul Bunyan's Axe!" Then the Badgers scored a touchdown, followed by a botched onside kick that trapped Minnesota deep in their own territory, leading to a Gophers' punt from their own 10. And after a botched snap, Gophers punter Justin Kucek tried to... punt it again, leading to a block and the inevitable winning touchdown that kept the Axe in Madison for one more year. And you thought Notre Dame and Penn State had heartbreaking losses...
- All in all, what a horrible year for Minnesota sports. After every team went into their seasons as championship contenders, the T-Wolves missed the playoffs for the first time in years, as did the Twins, and now the Vikings have out-embarrassed both of them. And making things even worse, word came this week that there will be no special legislative session to consider new Twins, Vikings, and Gophers stadiums this year. So now they'll continue to suck in a substandard facility.
Simmons, on Smoot-gate:
Please tell me someone's writing a book about this Vikings season: They trade Randy Moss to improve their team chemistry, then their head coach gets into a ticket-scalping scandal, their backup RB tries to smuggle the Whizzinator through a metal detector, and then half the team is accused of improper conduct during a boat orgy that sounds like it was either the greatest or most horrifying bachelor party of all time (maybe both). My favorite excerpt from the news coverage in Thursday's Minnesota Star-Tribune:Forget Vegas- I think I'll have my bachelor party on Lake Minnetonka
"After the boats returned to dock and guests departed, the crew had to clean the boat, [charter company lawyer Stephen Doyle] said, finding 'used condoms, K-Y Jelly, Handi Wipes, wrappers for sex toys -- it was just incredible how it was left. Never in the history of this group of people have they ever had anything like this.'"
Wait, so you're telling me this was the most over-the-top bachelor party in the history of chartered Minnesota cruises? I find this hard to believe -- you're telling me that 20 ice fisherman with Swedish names didn't cross the line at some point? More importantly, what does Mike Tice have to do to get fired? Come out for the second half of Sunday's game with no pants on? Drink Wild Turkey on the sidelines? In fact, I'm no longer accepting odds on the "Which Mike will get fired first?" ongoing wager ... Tice isn't making it through Tuesday. I'm pulling him off the board...
Only one thing could make Minnesota's week worse: Randy Moss springing for 195 yards and three TDs in this game, then simulating sex toys and yacht captain movements for his touchdown dances
- I sort of thought the idea of getting rid of Randy Moss was that team misbehavior would decrease, not the other way around... 'cause so far this year we've had the the Whizzinator incident, the Kevin Williams domestic violence arrest, the gas station scuffle, and now the floating sex party- and that's not even mentioning the team's on-field meltdown. Do something, Zygi!
- Indeed, I already broached the idea that Zygi should use Yom Kippur to "atone" for his decision to keep Mike Tice as coach for the remainder of the season. Patrick Reusse used the same general idea for Wednesday's column. I still say the immediate firing of Mike Tice would work wonders towards the rehabilitation of the franchise, but apparently Wilf's not listening.
- Speaking of the Strib, they sure picked a helluva week to debut their re-design- every sports fan alive will be Googling their way there for news on the most salacious sports story of the year.
- Possible ramifications of the scandal- fines/suspensions/arrests for numerous players, a catastrophic breakdown in good will with the fan base, and they can probably forget about that new stadium too. Other than that, no problem.
- Sid Hartman, therefore, circles the wagons:
While all the bad news was breaking about the boat ride, Vikings players Mike Rosenthal and Adam Goldberg were at Torah Academy in St. Louis Park, thanking the students for contributing to the Vikings food drive. They did a great job visiting with these young students, answering their questions and giving them a lot of good tips on how important it is to do well in school.In other words: at least the Jews on the team are doing good!
- Now I should share- I have been on Lake Minnetonka, the sight of the foul, numerous times. It's where my summer camp was when I was a kid, and we used to go on boat rides all the time. But we had our own boats, and never felt the need to patronize Al and Alma's.
- My other question, being a Minnesotan- they were on a lake, in Minnesota, in October- wasn't it damn cold? Especially considering that everyone was allegedly naked?
- And finally, with news coming this week that Packers running back Najeh Davenport is out for the season after breaking his right ankle; Davenport, you may remember, was arrested in 2002 for defecating in the dormroom closet of a Barry University coed. So take that, Packers fans- our players may hold Lake-bound orgies, but at least we won't shit in your closet!
After a BYS-free Rosh Hashanah, plenty on Yom Kippur: the synagogue president, in the fundraising shpiel, attempted to raise the final $1 million of the shul's still-uncompleted $9 million re-construction project, arguing that such a project not only strengthens our community, but also Jewish communities in "New York, London, Hong Kong, and Moscow" [Huh???? How does it affect the lives of Jews halfway across the world if we have a nicer building?]
First runner-up is the guy in front of us at services this afternoon, who was wearing the full kippah and prayer shawl, but spent the entire Yom Kippur service visibly chewing gum, while the rest of us fasted in silence. Easy fast, my ass.
And finally, the following paragraph appears in the reform (yes, reform) prayer book, and was read at shul today:
We pray for all who hold positions of leadership and responsibility in our national life. Let Your blessing rest upon them, and make them responsive to Your will, so that our nation may be to the world an example of justice and compassion.Huh? It's the reform movement's position that our leaders should be responsive to God's will? What about separation of church and state? Isn't that the sort of thing that these guys would appear to be into?
But on the bright side, the rabbi (in an entertaining sermon) did delve into the issue that Jews just love to complain. He did it lovingly and jokingly, but regardless- that is one of those elephants in the room that rabbis never seem to acknowledge, but this rabbi did.
I heard this one over dinner prior to Yom Kippur, though supposedly it originated from Comcast Sports Net's John Marzano: The Phillies would ship first baseman Jim Thome and third baseman David Bell to Seattle for third baseman Adrian Beltre.
The trade would solve the Phils' logjam at first, jettison the unpopular Bell, and exchange the huge contract of Thome for the slightly longer huge contract of Beltre, who is nearly 10 years younger.
Beltre had a horrible year last year for Seattle after signing a monster free agent contract, but perhaps he can rebound with a return to the NL. For Seattle, the deal works because they'll be out from under Beltre's long contract (exchanged for Thome's shorter one); Thome can DH, and Bell is a former Mariner who could benefit from a change of scenery. Whowever the new GM is in Philly would be wise to consider this one.
Jeff Halpern of the Washington Capitols had a choice to make about whether or not to play on Yom Kippur, and he ended up making the same one Sandy Koufax did, 40 years ago in Minneapolis.
Here's Sullivan, earlier tonight:
"BABY KILLER WALKS": That was just the teaser on O'Reilly for an upcoming segment. Could a parodist do any better?Yes, O'Reilly's creepy obsession with kidnappings, rapes, and murders of children has so overwhelmed his program that it should really be renamed "The Pedophile Show, With Bill O'Reilly."
Report: Bill Romanowski Admits Steroid Use.
Because if a violent, anger-prone, drug-obsessed rage-aholic, who was once sued for ending a teammate's career in a fight, was on roids, anyone else could be too.
As though the Vikings' season couldn't get more embarrassing: the Star Tribune reported today that investigators are looking into whether Minnesota Vikings players were involved in criminal sexual misconduct aboard a chartered boat on Lake Minnetonka.
A woman who apparently was working as a hostess on one of the boats called Mound police about 7:30 p.m. to report possible prostitution, drugs and sex acts, according to police reports. The information was coming from her brother’s girlfriend, who was working as a hostess on the boat, the report said. The girlfriend said the boat was chartered by the Minnesota Vikings.Wow, I had no idea Michael Irvin was now employed by the Vikings.
No players were named in the Star Tribune story, although it reported that "more than 40 people" were on the boat. The story is eerily similar to the 2003 scandal in which a Vikings-sponsored "snowmobile rally" deteriorated into a festival of drunkenness and debauchery, leading to an alleged sexual assault and the arrest on DWI charges of a team vice president.
Ironically, the player accused (and later cleared) in the alleged "snowmobile" sexual assault, backup quarterback Todd Bouman, is now with the New Orleans Saints, and played in a game Sunday for the first time in years. The alleged assault had taken place in a hot tub; the year before Bouman had appeared in a hot tub in a local TV commercial.
And last but not least, according to the Strib, Mound police received a call later that night that "six or seven men pulled up in a shuttle bus limo and urinated on [the caller's] front lawn. Although that, I'm sure, was just a coincidence.
From a New Republic piece on Bush's army of Michael Brown-like patronage hacks:
The Bush era has taken government out of the hands of the hyper-qualified and given it back to the common man. This new breed may not have what the credentialists sneeringly call "relevant experience." Their alma maters may not always be "accredited." But they have something the intellectual snobs of yore never had: loyalty. If not loyalty to country, then at least loyalty to party and to the guy who got them the job. And their loyalty has been rewarded: Even if they fail, they know they can move up the chain until they find a job they can succeed in or until a major American city is destroyed, whichever comes first.
Yes, the word "sucks" has appeared on the cover of SI for the first time ever. And while I don't believe in the cover jinx, do I have any doubt that Indy will lose to the Patriots on Monday Night, November 7? Of course not.
It's called "Unhinged," and it calls liberals to task for "slashing your tires. Burning your lawns. Heaving pies at Republican pundits. Hurling racist epithets at minority conservatives. Nursing nutty conspiracy theories. And pining publicly for the murder of President Bush." Because elected Democrats do those things, oh, all the time. And yes, the author of "In Defense of Internment" is calling someone else "Unhinged." But luckily, as far as we know, in this book Malkin does not call for any whole races to be thrown into camps.
And also on the weak-sounding right-wing book front, we've got Dick Morris' latest Hillary tome, which is called "Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race." Morris went ahead with the idea even though Rice has made it clear on numerous occasions that she has no interest whatsoever in running for president in 2008, though considering that he wrote about 50 columns arguing that Hillary would run for either president or VP in '04, the intrusion of reality has never stopped Dick before.
Last week's Sullivan/Affleck/Rushdie episode of "Real Time With Bill Maher" didn't disapoint, as the show has been running on all cylinders lately. Affleck didn't even embarrass himself, which is more than I can say for his last five years of films.
But one especially funny moment happened early in the show, when Maher interviewed Ann Coulter. Now, it's well-known that Maher's studio audience is always die-hard left-wing, cheering for liberal opinions and booing conservative ones with the consistency of a pro football crowd. Coulter, in discussing the Harriet Miers nomination, went into the usual right-wing critique of Miers, saying this:
"This is the U.S. Supreme Court. It's the third branch of government. Yeah, we do want somebody qualified, surprisingly enough. And I'm second to no one in wanting Roe v. Wade overturned. But, you know, once that's done, there are other cases. And she is simply unqualified for the job. It's stunning that he would nominate her."And after that, a funny thing happened: the audience applauded wildly. Yes, they're so conditioned to cheer Bush-bashing that they cheered on Ann Coulter, whose reasons for disapproving of Bush dovetail with theirs about 0%.
Red Sox fans despondent over Boston's first-round playoff elimination last week are breathing a little bit easier this morning, as the Yankees have now joined them on the sidelines. For the second time in four years, New York lost a first-round playoff series to the Angels, giving the Yankees their fifth consecutive title-less year.
Fox, of course, tried to do whatever they could to put their boys (the Yankees) in the ALCS, even attempting to jinx the Angels by naming Ervin Santana Chevrelot Player of the Game when there was still one out remaining in the 9th (this was followed by two Yankee hits before Francisco Rodriguez got the final out).
Tyler Kepner in the Times said it best:
The glory years are long gone, fading deeper into memory each fall. The Yankees spoiled themselves, their fans and their principal owner by winning four championships in five seasons through 2000. Now, they have gone five years without oneBetter luck next year!
UPDATE: Jordan wishes his late, Yankee-hating mother had lived to see it. Though she was still alive for the Yankee postseason collapses in '01, '02, and '03.
"The Rape of the Masters" deals with how "academic art history is increasingly held hostage to radical cultural politics--feminism, cultural studies, postcolonial studies, the whole armory of academic antihumanism." It is not, however, about the Martha Burk/Hootie Johnson Augusta controversy. It would be a good title for such a book, though.
This afternoon, the Philadelphia Phillies finally made their legions of fans happy after 8 years, announcing the firing of general manager Ed Wade. A few thoughts:
- A guy on WIP this afternoon actually said, "this is one of the best days of my life." He probably hasn't had much of a life.
- It's a move the organization probably had to make, especially after 8 years of no playoff appearances, and the team's fan base practically beating ownership's door down to make a change. But the fact was, Wade didn't do nearly as bad a job as most say, and got better as his tenure went along- he built the team's current young core, turned down numerous opportunities to trade Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, and stole Billy Wagner from the Astros.
- The new GM will be given the authority to hire a new manager and coaching staff if necessary. Now, I maintain that in judging Wade's 8 years as GM, his firing is justifiable. But Charlie Manuel? He managed one year and won 88 games, and kept the team in the race until 5 PM on the last day of the season. Double-switch ability or not, he's earned the right to manage a second season. He can always be fired after a slow start, of course, and considering his age and history of poor health, he's not likely to manage them long-term anyway.
-As for potential replacements, Brian Cashman (should he quit the Yankees) certainly merits consideration, as does former Astros boss Gerry Hunsicker. Jim Duquette, considering he's responsible for Scott Kazmir-for-Victor Zambrano, probably wouldn't work. Lots of assistant GMs could work- Ned Colletti of the Giants, Wayne Krivsky of the Twins, David Forst of the A's, the Phils' own Mike Arbuckle- but I like the idea of Josh Byrnes, assistant GM for the Red Sox. As a Boston guy Byrnes likely knows what it's like to work in a sports-mad town, and since the Phils are a high-OBP team anyway, they seem a particularly good candidate for a sabermetric GM.
- I look at Wade's firing much like Dan Duquette's dismissal from the Red Sox prior to the 2003 season. Duquette had made some outstanding moves- including the acquisitions of Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez- but quite a few screw-ups as well, and he was horrible at handling the media- leading to his becoming extremely hated among the fan base, even though the team was far from horrible at the time of his sacking. Will the Phils manage a similar outcome? Perhaps we'll find out this time next year.
Remember last week when I trashed the premiere of "Commander-in-Chief," and mostly blamed its lack of quality on creator Rod Lurie? Well, apparently someone else agrees, because Lurie has been fired from the show, replaced by Steven Bochco.
The move, which supposedly came because Lurie was taking too long producing each episode, is a surprise, considering it came only after two episodes had aired, both of which fared quite well in the ratings. But regardless, it makes me considerably more likely to watch the show.
Ed Wade was fired today as GM of the Phillies. Guess Citizen's Bank Park won't be a "ghost town" in '06 after all, huh?
There's a fascinating piece this week in New York magazine about J.T. LeRoy, the reclusive, gender-bending, "gay lit It Boy." Purportedly a former teenage male prostitute who later turned his/her suffering into a literary career, LeRoy has for the last few years staged literary readings in which major celebrities read LeRoy's work- although the author has rarely shown up, except for in the guise of a costumed character called "Wigs and Sunglasses."
The New York piece argues, rather, that LeRoy is a hoax, the brainchild of the woman LeRoy claims is a friend/bandmate. It's a fascinating theory that sounds accurate- but didn't LeRoy use to be a staff writer for New York Press? And didn't John Strausbaugh, in his book "Rock 'Til You Drop," discuss at length the musical tastes of several of his in-house staffers, including LeRoy?
Another year, another joyful first-round playoff exit for the Atlanta Braves, as the Astros had to win the equivilent of two games in today's 18-inning, 7-6 victory. The Braves stranded 18 runners- one for each inning.
But really- if any team's fans deserves to see losses in four straight first-round playoff series, all to inferior teams, it's those of the Braves, who once again didn't come close to selling out Turner Field in either home game. Thankfully, two teams with loyal, enthusiastic fans- the Cardinals and Astros- will once again meet in the NLCS.
And while eliminations of the Braves and Yankees in the same day would've made my year, the Yanks unfortunately got past Los Angeles Of Anaheim tonight, forcing a Monday Game 5.
From today's column by Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons:
Ed Wade does not deserve to get fired.I'm not saying Ed deserves to stay or go. But I trust the opinion of Gammons on baseball matters over that of Howard Eskin and/or Jimmy From South Philly on the Carphone, oh, ten times out of ten.
He acquired Kenny Lofton, signed the winningest free-agent pitcher (Jon Lieber), held on to Brett Myers, made the Ugueth Urbina deal to clear room for Chase Utley to become a star, and kept Jimmy Rollins out of the free-agent market. He couldn't get Bobby Abreu to take over in September, but that may never happen. The Wade regime has spent a lot of money and has made some mistakes, but Ed had his best year.
Regardless, the Philly sports culture will be too consumed this week by the Eagles' Tice-caliber performance at Dallas today to care about whether Wade stays or goes.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers today upset Michigan 23-20, in Ann Arbor, for their first victory over the Wolverines in 16 tries, going back to 1986. As a result, the Gophers have recaptured the Little Brown Jug, the trophy that the two teams have vied for since 1903.
For the 86th time in the last 87 years, the Boston Red Sox season has ended in disapointment, as the Bosox fell to Chicago at Fenway last night, putting a repeat of last year's historic championship out of reach. It may be the last game in a Boston uniform for both Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon, so Theo Epstein will once again have his work cut out for him this winter.
It's a good year for the large contingent of baseball fans who are sick to death of all-Yankees-Sox-all-the-time, and will be even better if the Angels can close out the Bombers in the Bronx this afternoon.
Samuel L. Jackson is starring in a movie next year called... "Snakes On a Plane"! The premise is so over-the-top insipid, that the movie is already a laughingstock a year before its release- leading the studio to possibly change the name. Defamer has an idea for a tagline: "Anacondas on land are for pussies. SNAKES ON A PLANE!"
News Item: Darryl Strawberry, Wife to Divorce.
There's a reason that Good Night, and Good Luck, as nimble and craftsmanly as it is, feels thin. The movie's passion, and in a sense its true subject, remains off screen: It's there in Clooney's presumption that the audience will see Murrow taking on McCarthy and make an analogy to the present day, asking itself why no one in our corporatized media culture has dared to take a comparable fearless stand against the Bush administration. But the analogy is facile at best. George Bush, whatever you may think of his policies, isn't Joe McCarthy, and it's not as if his most fervent detractors in the press have been silenced. To suggest that the spirit of Edward R. Murrow has been crushed out of journalism is to turn nostalgia for the age of stern father-figure newsmen into the stuff of conspiracy theory.Good, I'm glad someone said it. I plan to see the film, but this is one of those I'm really really glad I don't have to see on the Upper West Side.
Someone has begun a FireMikeTice blog! And better yet, it's written from Bud Grant's point of view. That blog's goal should be the same as that of the 1960s civil rights movement: to become so successful as to make itself irrelevent.
It's Andrew Sullivan, Salman Rushdie, and Ben Affleck. Only in America. And oddly enough, I've met two of the three (not Salman).
Howard Dean, on Chris Matthews the other night, said this, about Bush not releasing records relating to Harriet Miers:
MATTHEWS: Do you believe that the president can claim executive privilege?Either Dean is trying to subtly float the unlikely story that Miers is the president’s mistress, or he doesn’t know exactly what “hide the salami” means. And I'm not quite sure which proposition is more frightening.
DEAN: Well, certainly the president can claim executive privilege. But in the this case, I think with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, you can't play, you know, hide the salami, or whatever it's called.
I was saddened to learn today that John “TwinsGeek” Bonnes, probably the first major Twins-fan presence in the Blogosphere, has decided to give up blogging. Not only did John start the Twins-blogging trend, and make it safe for us fans of Minnesota teams to partner with women who favor teams from Philly, but I met him once and thought he was a great guy. His blogging will be greatly missed, but we're glad to still have him as part of the Twins Nation.
"Shaking off the really, really awful Red Sox defeat last night, I turned first to booze and then to Slate, where I found a characteristically excellent Bryan Curtis mini-profile of Bill Simmons, Sox fan extraordinaire and America's greatest living sports and pop culture writer. If you're a) a sports fan or b) under the age of forty and in possession of a cable subscription, and you aren't reading Simmons, like, all the time, you're out of your mind. Literally. You're probably in a padded cell right now, in fact, devouring insects and waiting for Dracula to show up and bust you out . . . but I digress...-Ross Douthat, praising Sports Guy on The American Scene, a blog that I feel deserves to be read, like, all the time as well.
The genius of Bill Simmons is that whether he's talking about Jerry Maguire or the most recent NFL weekend, you read what he writes and then you think to yourself, yes, that's exactly what I was about to say. When he's on, which is almost all the time, you don't feel like you're reading a sportwriter - you feel like you're sitting around drunkenly shooting the shit with a really great friend at 3 in the morning. Which is a rare talent indeed."
Experts Unlock Clues to Spread of 1918 Flu Virus. Good thing the Sox won last year, or else Yankee fans would be brandishing that news story.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a team known throughout its existence for its bad play, bad stadium, bad uniforms, and bad fans, has finally moved to undo some of its decade of negativity, firing general manager Chuck LaMar on Thursday. During Chuck's tenure- which started three years before the Rays began play in 1998- the Devil Rays were more than 250 games under .500, and LaMar's run included such memorable moments as Wade Boggs vowing to wear a D-Rays cap into the Hall of Fame, the signing of high school gym teacher Jim Morris to a major-league contract and, uh, that's about it.
As an executive and evaluator of talent, LaMar makes Ed Wade look like Branch Rickey. But even that firing wasn't as long-awaited -and cathartic- as the Twins' recent release of Luis Rivas, which was probably one of the top five moments in Aaron Gleeman's life.
The Braves, unsurprisingly, got crushed at home in Game 1 by Houston, in front of numerous empty seats- showing once again that the Braves at once have baseball's least loyal and least hygienic fans. The entire game had a banner behind home plate that read "8 teams, one winner" (referring to the number of teams in the playoffs), though at first I thought it was a reference to the Braves between 1991 and 1998.
The Angels fought back to tie the Yankees, while Boston fell into a 2-0 hole against Chicago, putting my White-Sox-WILL-lose-in-the-first-round prediction in serious jeopardy (though I also said more than once that they'd lose 100 games, so what do I know?) Though don't forget- the Sox fought back from 2-0 ALDS deficits in both '99 and '03, and we all know what happened in the second round last year. Even though they remain in their Grace Period, don't count the Bosox out quite yet.
And also, since Fox decided to debut most of their new shows in September this year, there hasn't been any particular forever-repeating promo so far, so we've been robbed of an '05 version of "His Father Is The District Attorney!"/"You're Risking a Patient's Life!" Ron Silver, however, is returning soon to "The West Wing." And only one game has been on Fox so far, so a catchphrase may yet emerge.
And also- hockey is back! Read this man, for all the NHL info you'll need.
Conservative opponents of the Harriet Miers nomination have been arguing about whether Miers' having attended Southern Methodist University (SMU)- generally regarded as "the second-best law school in Texas- is indicative of her intellectual firepower (or lack thereof).
SMU, of course, is best known to college football fans as the only university in history to be given the "death penalty" by the NCAA, in which the football team was banned from competitiion for an entire season for violations that included receipt of payments from boosters by numerous players.
Perhaps when Miers said she opposed the "death penalty," she was talking not of capital punishment but of the football sanctions at her alma mater, and she's therefore not quite so liberal after all...
Was there a failed terrorist attack by a suicide bomber in Norman, Oklahoma, on Saturday? It's wrong, of course, to jump to conclusions, but there does some to be some evidence that should give us pause. And don't blame "liberal bias" for the MSM's lack of coverage so far- Fox News hasn't touched it either.
Amid news that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and his entire coaching staff have been retained comes fightin' words from Manuel's fiancee, Melissa Martin (yes, Charlie- who is 61 but could pass for 10 years older- has a fiancee.)
In a Philadelphia Daily News piece by the gloriously palindromic Mark Kram, Manuel makes clear that he enjoys Philadelphia, likes managing the Phillies, and neither reads the papers nor listens to talk radio. His galpal, however, isn't quite as charitable, and sinks into her own little Brenda Warner moment in bashing Charlie-haters in the press and fanbase:
And yet Martin says they have found Philadelphia to be unlike any other in that there is such "a culture of negativity."Having his galpal defend him to the press, I suspect, isn't going to win Charlie any points with his detractors. But regardless, a more apt analogy of how Philly's sports culture works, I am yet to hear.
The word she uses to describe it is "relentless."
She says, pointedly: "If you were married to a woman that was a complete shrew and just bitched at you constantly - you know, 'Pick up your dirty socks,' 'You slurp your soup' - constantly haranguing you, that gets old. And it does get old to him."
Philly fans hate it when players complain about being booed, when it's only a natural reaction to the relentless negativity- and besides, none of the complaining by Phils players comes close on the loathsomeness scale to the sort of stuff pulled off on a regular basis by Mr. TO.
Manuel may not be baseball's smartest manager, but I'm convinced his unpopularity in Philly has a great deal more to do with the way he looks and talks than anything to do with his talent as a manager. And since he managed to lead the Phils to 88 wins- their best season in 12 years- and kept them in the race until 5:00 PM on the last day of the season while presiding over a harmonious clubhouse, there's really no way to justify firing him after one year. Ed Wade, on the other hand...
I think we know which side Hugh Hewitt is on. Bush could nominate Courtney Love as Drug Czar, and Hugh would praise it as a "principled, noble choice."
Even Sid Hartman, perhaps the most notorious, Pollyana-ish homer among all sportswriters in the country, has dramatically leapt from the Vikings bandwagon:
"Let's face the facts. This is not a great football team. Their personnel is not as good as any of the top 10 teams in the league. And not only is their quarterback playing on one leg, but you have more injured players on the sidelines than this team has had in years."Then again, the team's own coach bailed on them days before Sid did.
Maureen Dowd is reportedly boycotting TimesSelect -wow, so am I!- and refusing to participate in any of the "special features" expected of the paper's now-read-by-almost-no-one columnists. Because it's not enough to read 700 words (by Dowd) about how John Roberts is a metrosexual, or 1500 words (by Frank Rich) about how the box office performance of "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" is emblematic of Bush's failure in office. We need video diaries too, dammit!
New York Post: "Bombers Feel Better After Colon-oscopy." I can only imagine what they'll come up with tomorrow, after Wang pitches.
Yesterday marked ten years since what Jeremy called “the defining moment of our generation”: the acquittal of O.J. Simpson. Then as now, the event fell on Erev Rosh Hashanah, and as a junior in high school, I worked on that year’s holiday food drive. And when we all had our picture taken with all the food we’d collected, I insisted on holding up that day’s newspaper, with a picture of O.J. and Johnny, and the 45-point headline “HE’S FREE.”
Star Tribune: Wilf: Tice's Job Safe This Season No Matter What. Zygi! What more do you need to see? Twelve more weeks of ugly losses to inferior teams? Hopefully, Wilf will take the opportunity on Yom Kippur to repent for that statement, and change his mind.
Happy Rosh Hashanah to all my Jewish readers. I'll be going to services tomorrow at my new synagogue, and I'll be on the lookout for Burn Your Siddur moments. Last Yom Kippur, you may remember, the president of the shul I went to somehow managed to quote the Communist Manifesto in his fundraising schpiel.
UPDATE: No siddur-burning this year, I’m happy to report. A beautiful service, a moving sermon by the rabbi that defended Israel, bashed terrorism, and drew a line from excuse-making for the 1972 Munich massacre to 9/11- and on top of that, no fundraising schpiel. Best Synagogue Experience Ever, and I didn’t even need to pay a scalper.
Baseball's second season gets underway Tuesday, and I'm already steeling myself to stay up watching until midnight every night for the next month. Also, if you're a fan of Joe Buck and/or Tim McCarver, you might want to avoid this blog- and every baseball blog, for that matter- for the next few weeks.
On to predictions: I said a few months ago that under no circumstances would the White Sox survive the first round, and I stick by that- the Chisox will fall to Boston in the Division Series round, while the Angels will drive a dagger through the heart of every Fox executive by beating the Yanks in the other series. And much as I'd like to see the Red Sox repeat, they just don't have the pitching. Angels in six.
Over in the NL, I see the Cards sweeping San Diego in the biggest playoff mismatch since the Yankees used to dismantle Texas every year. Atlanta will have more trouble with Houston, eventually prevailing, as I wonder if there's any way to root for no one in the battle of the Braves vs. Roger Clemens. Meanwhile, the Cards will close out Busch Stadium with a pennant- and a championship, too. They can't possibly play that badly in the World Series two years in a row.
My own personal nightmare? The miracle of '04 reversed with a Yankee victory over Boston, followed by yet another Yanks-Braves World Series. But there's no way the Baseball Gods could possibly hate me that much.
Rick Brookhiser of National Review: "It's not as bad as Caligula putting his horse in the Senate."
Funny, just yesterday I was comparing Mike Tice to Caligula...
I had never heard of Miers until today, though the fact that she's never been a judge, has no constitutional law background, and has underwhelmed both the right and the left probably doesn't bode so well for her nomination.
David Scott at Boston Sports Media has a lengthy but worthwhile interview with Bill Simmons, in which The Guy reflects on his life and career. Highlights? He hints that he's willing to someday leave ESPN (in a "Howard-Stern-to-Sirius sort of scenario), he reveals that he's written one movie script and planning on several others, and... one of only three sports blogs that he reads is SportsByBrooks.com! If any of my updates there have led directly or indirectly to Simmons columns, it's one of my prouder moments as a blogger.
News Item: 2005 "American Idol" Fantasia Admits -In Her New Book- That She's Illiterate. She can't read, and they gave her a book deal? I used to hear jokes that Jose Canseco shouldn't write a book since he probably hasn't read one, but at least he knows how.
Who was the last celebrity to "come out" as illiterate? Was it Dexter Manley?
The subject of this post comes from a conversation I heard on WIP a few weeks ago, when a frat-boy caller to Howard Eskin's show, after a Phillies loss dropped them to 2 games back with 40 to play, or something, snapped "Phillies are DONE," before changing the subject to TO's latest stupid statement. I've since used it every day to annoy my girlfriend after every Phillies victory as she, along with every other fan of the team, has written them off since opening day, and just about every day since.
And now, after today's victory by Houston clinched them the wild card and avoided a one-game playoff, that dumb frat boy is finally right. Despite a strong finish that included a road sweep of Washington and a 36-game hitting streak that Jimmy Rollins will take into next season, the Phils have fallen short of postseason play for 12th straight year.
Yes, Charlie Manuel's a below-average manager and as a GM, Ed Wade makes Charlie look like a genius. But hostile Philly fans are so blinded by their loathing of those two men that they fail to see how exciting their ball club is. On top of their amazing, two-year-old stadium, the Phils are young, they've got an ownership willing to spend on new players, and they're likely to build on this, their best season in years. And can't the naysayers see that this team didn't fold at season's end, like most previous Phils teams? "Winning games we used to lose" was something the Red Sox had to learn to end their drought, it's worth remembering.
When the majority of the Philly fan base wakes up from its Eagles haze in early February, they may just see a baseball team in spring training that's ready to contend. And this time, they might not be disappointed.
In the AL, Red Sox Nation will be able to take pride in equaling the Yankees' record, though more likely they're going to bitch about the asinine tiebreaker system that gave the Yankees the division despite the deadlocked records, when a one-game playoff would have been both a ratings bonanza and a potential classic, a la '78. But more likely, we're probably headed to a third consecutive New York/Boston ALCS.
And they're getting ready- Joe Buck even a spent a couple of minutes praising Joe Torre today- while announcing the Eagles-Chiefs game. No, can't resist the urge to kiss the Yankees' asses, even during football coverage.
Missing from the playoffs this year for the first time since '01 are my Twins, who scored so few runs this year that they made the Vikings look like an offensive juggernaut by comparison. The pitching is strong- in fact, they can probably go through the entire offseason without touching the staff- but the lineup is in need of a major upgrade. Jim Thome, perhaps? Quick, get Ed Wade on the line before he's canned!
"We're just not very good right now. That's everybody. That means I'm not a very good coach. It means we're not coaching well enough all around. And it means that we're not playing good enough. That starts with the head coach. So we all have to do a better job, including me."-Mike Tice, following Sunday's embarrassing 30-10 loss to Atlanta that dropped the Vikes to 1-3. After hinting in Week 3 that maybe they're about to turn a corner, the Vikes once again utterly failed on both offense and defense, with Daunte Culpepper forgetting how to play, in addition to being sacked NINE TIMES.
Tice admitting "I'm not a very good coach" is like Caligula saying "I'm not a very good emperor." It's the sort of thing coaches tend to say when they're days away from being fired- and since next week is the bye, now's as good a time as any.
Meanwhile, the Packers and Panthers square off in the Monday night game. Look for the announcers to spend three hours comparing Brett Favre to God, while he throws 5 interceptions in a 35-10 loss.
While in New York I picked up this year's New York Press Best of Manhattan issue, and I'm happy to report that the Press is back in a big way. The writing's better, the design's better, and they've purged all those idiots who made "shrill, childish, leftist cant" the order of the day for the past couple of years. In fact, it's probably the best BofM issue since the first one I read, in 2000.
I had a great time last night at the New York blog party, which also doubled as my first return visit to NYC since I moved two months ago. Wonderful to see lots of old friends and meet many new ones, and to hear the phrase "I used to intern for this blog" for the first time ever. See you all next time.
UPDATE: Forgot to mention my other favorite moment of the night- when I was introduced to Candace, seeing her for the first time in over a year, and her reply was "yes, I remember you- you're liberal!"
With two days left in the baseball season- we've got three pennant races: AL Wild Card, NL Wild Card, and the AL East. Does it get any better than Yankees-Red Sox, tied, after 160 games? I for one am rooting for another one-game playoff, giving Boston the chance to exorcise the ghost of Bucky Dent once and for all.
As for the Phillies, after being left for dead earlier in the week (for about the 50th time this season), they're now one game behind Houston with two to play, and may actually, somehow, either force a playoff or qualify outright. This despite a fan base that has seemingly rooted against the interests of their own team for virtually the entire season.
The loathsome Howard Eskin, for instance, gleefully predicted on Friday that the Phils would be eliminated after losing that night's WIP-broadcast game, throwing both his own team and his own employer under the bus simultaneously. If the Phils manage to overtake Houston, he'll probably have a heart attack on the air on Monday. Then he'll blame it on Ed Wade.
UPDATE: Here's something interesting: remember last week's Eagles/Phillies split SI cover? The Phillies story by Tom Verducci, "Look Who's Playing Tough," told the story of how this year's Phillies team is tougher, less lazy, and less susceptible to folding than previous Phils teams. The piece was a welcome ancedote to the tiresome naysaying and sky-is-falling doom and gloom more commonly heard in local Phillies coverage.
But an interview with Verducci posted on the blog PhillyBurbs yesterday tells quite a different story. In the interview, Verducci bashes the team, especially Bobby Abreu, for laziness, and calls for management to "blow up this team and go in a different direction." In summation, he calls them "not an especially tough team."
Now maybe something happened in the intervening two weeks to make Verducci do a complete 180. But what's SI's top baseball writer doing making statements that are the diametric opposite of what he wrote in the magazine? Did his editor order up a "Phillies are tough" piece, and for some reason disallow Verducci's conclusion that "the Phillies aren't tough"?