My New York Press column for the week is right here.
"Nobody is asking for or expects blind faith. But if the only alternative is bitterness and outright anger because the team fell short of winning the Super Bowl, then frankly I have no idea why people bother following sports... My position is that no reasonable, thinking human being can make a defensible argument that firing Reid or changing quarterbacks would improve the Eagles' chances next year. I do think Reid has lost some of the benefit of the doubt he'd earned and that his moves warrant more scrutiny, but calling him a failure is just plain immature."-Phil Sheridan, in the Inquirer, making a rare argument for sanity and perspective in the Philadelphia sports market.
Yes, they were operating a strip club inside a mobile home. Only in Tampa.
There's a long, fascinating piece about Roger Ebert in the current Chicago magazine that's highly illuminating about the critic and what makes him tick.
Did you know Ebert used to be an alcoholic before quitting 25 years ago? That he's survived cancer three different times? That he wrote several films for Russ Meyer, other than "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," that were never made? That the "Ebert & Roeper" hasn't made money in years? (I blame Roeper). All that and more- the piece is long, but worth your time.
Geoffrey Norman of the Weekly Standard writes that the loss of the Terrell Owens appeal means trouble for American unions (which, since it's the Standard, is in Norman's eyes a good thing).
Not sure I buy that- the millionaire vs. billionaire conflicts inherent in sports labor disputes tend to have little to no resemblance whatsoever to their real-life counterparts, and I don't remember any solidarity between, say the AFL-CIO and the MLB Players' Association. Besides, there's no way any other union, private-sector or public, could ever dream of the success these days that the MLBPA has enjoyed for decades. Interesting analysis, nonetheless.
TO was actually on my friend LilB's plane heading down to Atlanta over Thanksgiving, though he reports that Owens did not rush the cockpit mid-flight and demand a renegotiation of his ticket fare.
Bill Simmons will be doing a book signing at the Borders on Broad St. at 5:30 next Wednesday (December 5). Can't wait, especially because of Bill's especially contentious relationship with the Philly fans over the years.
Flair reportedly grabbed another man by the throat and later kicked his car, though there's no indication he placed the man in the figure-four. The mug shot is a beaut, although they didn't let him put his robe on for it.
And yes, I realize this is the first wrestling post I've done in the last year that didn't involve somebody dying.
Oh yes it does! Galley Slaves (of all blogs) also linked to this list of wrestling obituaries, and I was sorry to hear of the passing, just last month, of The Crusher, the legendary AWA/Minnesota competitor from the '60s who was unquestionably my dad's favorite wrestler of all time. The Crusher, real name Reggie Lisowski, was crushing beer cans against his head when Stone Cold Steve Austin was in preschool.
Star Tribune, tomorrow: "Down-and-up Vikings Make Streaking Fashionable"
And you thought "Burning Issues" was bad.
Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. We had a fun trip to Minnesota, filled with family, friends, and turkey. A few notes from while I was away:
Minnesota: After no snow yet in Philly, we got three inches my first day in "Minny." Good to be back home. But luckily, thanks to skyways and downtown parking garages, I didn't spend more than 20 minutes outside during the whole five days. And no, I got nowhere near Lake Minnetonka.
As I've said before, every time I come home there's always a big local crime story going on that has everyone talking (the Sara Jane Olsen/SLA case, the Audrey Seiler fake kidnapping, the Dru Sjodin murder, the Wisconsin hunting massacre, etc.) This time, it's the recent trial of Gordon Weaver, a White Bear Lake businessman who allegedly killed his wife in a domestic dispute, burned the couple's house down to cover his tracks, and then lammed it for five years before a tip from "America's Most Wanted" led to his capture in Oregon. Weaver was convicted of second-degree murder- and my aunt was on the jury.
A Turkey of a Choice: A big thumbs-down to Patrick Reusse's choice of this year's Turkey of the Year: Minnesota Wild owner Robert Naegele, chosen because he participated in the hockey lockout, and once it ended he neither spent to the salary cap nor lowered ticket prices. All well and good, sure, but hockey wasn't exactly at the forefront of the state's sports culture this year- and why was obvious winner Mike Tice not even nominated? Though I give credit to Reusse for using a version of my "Turkey Banquet held on Lake Minnetonka" joke, and setting the mythical feast not at Al and Alma's but rather across the lake at "Bert and Bertha's."
At the Movies: I thought the film version of "Rent" was absolutely amazing- a totally faithful, fully realized re-creation that went above and beyond the stage show. I still have all the songs in my head five days later. Best movie of the year so far, though that means very little before December.
Also saw "Shopgirl," which is also a likely top-tenner for the year. Very remiscient of "Lost in Translation"- indeed, it probably owes its existence to that film's success- but I loved the mood of it, and I don't even like Claire Danes.
Rough Weekend For Sports Guy: First Pat Morita dies, then Doug Christie is reported to be near retirement, and then the Patriots lose to Kansas City. If Manny Ramirez gets traded, we might have to put him on suicide watch.
Nick and Jessica Finally Split: Their announcing the separation on Thanksgiving morning is akin to Boris Yeltsin resigning on Millennium eve, though I sure hope Jessica doesn't end up running off with a Putin-type. Now can I stop reading about their relationship on five different magazine covers each week?
At the Dome: I was on hand Sunday for the Vikings victory over Cleveland, their fourth in a row, which put them at 6-5. The defense is jelling to the point of being scary-good, Marcus Robinson caught THREE touchdown passes (when's the last time Moss did that?), and Brad Johnson, while unspectacular, can at least be counted on to play mistake-free. The only explanation I can think of the Vikes' success is that that sideline hit on Mike Tice in the Giants game had a "Phenomenon"-like effect and suddenly turned the erstwhile Meathead into a coaching genius. Because they haven't lost since.
The strangest thing of all? The Minnesota/Cleveland game was a matchup (Brad Johnson vs. Trent Dilfer) of journeyman quarterbacks, on the wrong side of 35, who have both won Super Bowls in the last five years. Try to wrap your head around that one.
This was my first Vikings game since Zygi Wilf bought the team, and the atmosphere at the Dome is noticably different. For example: no more "we need a new stadium" propaganda on the seats, no more of that inexplicable signage for obscure singer Michael Paloma, and a clear emphasis on the good works the team has done in the community. I trust the Wilf ownership group, and truly believe that they're well on their way to changing the tone after the neglect of the McCombs years- Smootgate notwithstanding.
Perhaps a cynic would say the Vikings are merely inverting their penchant from recent years of winning early and losing late. But make no mistake about it: this team is a playoff contender. Especially considering their cupcake schedule, starting with Detroit next week. Speaking of which,
Lions Fire Mariucci: An excellent football coach, Steve Mariucci, has now been fired by two extremely dysfunctional NFL organizations that have had no idea what to do with his talents. The Detroit Lions, who for some reason fail to see that their team's utter failure over the last five years should rest at the feet of incompetent team president Matt Millen, gave Mooch his walking papers today. I'd expect Mariucci to surface as a candidate for the Packers job, as he was an assistant there under Mike Holmgren
I'm not sure there's a more unqualified team exec than Millen in any sport, though I'd sort of like the Lions to not fire him for two reasons- one, as long as he's around, the Lions will keep losing, which is good for the Vikes, and two, if that happened he'd probably go back to broadcasting, and to compared to his announcing skills, he's executive of the year.
Eagles Win Too: Good thing too, because if they hadn't beaten the Packers Sunday, Philly would have gone through November with more NFLPA grievance wins (1) than game wins (0).
Billy Wagner Signs With Mets: Look at it from his point of view: if you were him, would you take less money, by a factor of several million, to play in a city in which you're frequently booed despite being one of the best in the game at your position? No, I wouldn't either.
Michael Irvin Arrested on Drug Charges: I am shocked- shocked! Perhaps this will lead ESPN to fire Irvin, and we'll no longer be subjected to his unique mixture of narcissistic preening and athlete ass-kicking.
If New York Sports Express still existed and was still publishing its "This Week in SportsCrime" column, the Irvin arrest would've fallen under the category "Those Drugs Belonged To My Brother/Cousin/Some Guy." (Others included "Hummer/Cadillac Escalade"; "Incident Involving 'the Mother of His Child'"; "Cloying, Agent-Drafted Public Apology," and "Sebastian Janikowski.")
Run With the Wolves: I also caught a Wolves game while home, and going into Friday's home game against Milwaukee all I'd heard about them was: they're disappointing, Marko Jaric is an awful point guard, and Michael Olowokandi is playing the best ball of his career. So I went to the game and... the Wolves pulled off a convincing victory, Jaric scored 24 points (to go with Wally Szczerbiak's 30), and Olowokandi was not a factor at either end of the floor. And they beat a good Milwaukee team too- they've got quite a bit of talent, and T.J. Ford is for real.
Then the next night, the Wolves went into Cleveland and beat LeBron and the Cavs. Hmm.
All Nude/Tastefully Done Again?: With the Knicks souring on Stephon Marbury and Steph himself recently admitting that he'd like to play with Kevin Garnett again, the hot rumor in the Twin Cities is that Starbury will be brought back to the team he forced a trade from seven years ago. No idea how the deal would happen or whether it's possible cap-wise, and I am mindful that, just like with A-Rod, teams always improve dramatically shortly after getting rid of Marbury. But it would truly to be great to see these two reunited to take another shot at building a championship team- and perhaps we'll see the return of their plea for ESPN the Magazine to put out an "a tastefully done, but all nude" swimsuit issue.
Pete Rose Off Hall of Fame Ballot in Last Year of Eligibility: Good. For all the hand-wringing that has gone on on this subject over the past two decades, Pete Rose is the one who chose to bet on baseball, and then to lie about it for 15 years. That he will never be a baseball Hall of Famer is no one's fault but his own, and I have no sympathy for him whatsoever.
Reform Against the War: And last but not least, the American reform Jewish movement, of which I am nominally a member, recently approved resolutions opposing the Iraq war, calling for a "clear exit strategy," and also opposing the nomination to the Supreme Court of Judge Sam Alito. Rabbi Eric Yoffie, head of the Union of Reform Judiasm, also compared the anti-gay bigotry exhibited by the religious right to that of Nazi Germany in a speech at the URJ's annual convention.
I applaud the URJ for including in the resolution a call for condemnation of the anti-Israel tilt of the anti-war movement. But this sort of thing makes me uneasy for several reasons. One, I believe their opposition to the war is short-sighted, especially while victory is still possible- a victory that would certainly be good for America, good for Israel, and good for the Jews. Two, I don't see how the reform movement can be critical of conservative Christians for attempting to base public policy on their religious beliefs, and then turn around and do the same things themselves. Three, I don't see why entire religious denominations need to take positions on individual judicial nominees, especially before their confirmation hearings have even begun. And four, to compare anyone in current politics to the Nazis is abominable. I yield to no one in my contempt for the gay-bashing of the religious right, but they're not killing people, they're not talking about killing people, and they're not going to do so in the foreseeable future. They're not Nazis. As Dean Barnett of SoxBlog pointed out last week, there are people in the world right now who are murdering homosexuals just for being homosexuals- and we're fighting those people in Iraq and Afghanistan right now.
Yoffie, additionally, is a Brandeis alum and as I discovered to my everlasting amusement during a visit to Brandeis, he is a dead ringer for Ken Starr.
I'm off to Minneapolis tonight; have a wonderful holiday everyone. I'll be there 'til Monday, and I'll be at the Wolves game Friday and the Vikings Sunday. I'm also working on that long piece about Donovan McNabb that will probably be posted Monday. In the meantime, here's my New York Press column for the week.
Have a good one...
ESPN reports that the Phillies have agreed to trade Jim Thome to the White Sox for centerfielder Aaron Rowand and two prospects. Sounds like the best they can do for now, although if you'd suggested this trade a year ago I'd have told you you were nuts.
With the White Sox expected to keep Paul Konerko, this likely means the end of Frank Thomas in Chicago.
So they can't win on the field. But the Philadelphia Eagles today pulled off their first victory in over a month today, winning their grievance against Terrell Owens. Arbitrator Richard Bloch ruled that the Eagles have the right to suspend Owens and de-activate him for the remainder of the season; if you have a problem with that, there's something wrong with you.
There's also something wrong with Newsday, which for some reason reported this morning that Owens' suspension was "expected to be reduced," paving the way for his release. Oops.
"After almost three years of combat, the standard of debate ought to have risen and to have become more serious and acute. Instead, it has slipped into a state of puerility. Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, squeals about cowardice and suggests that those who differ are stabbing our boys in the back—and then tries to revise her remarks in the Congressional Record. This is to sink to exactly the same level as those who jeer that sympathizers of the intervention should "send"—as if they could—their own children, if they should happen to have any handy. Or even to the level of those who claim that anti-war criticism demoralizes "our men and women in uniform." I can't be absolutely sure of this, but the "men and women in uniform" whom I have met, and who have patrolled edgy slums and nasty borders, are unlikely to burst into tears when they hear that someone even in their home state doesn't think they can stand it. Let's try not to be silly."-Christopher Hitchens, in Slate, talking some sense about Iraq. I'm sick to death of all those stupid arguments too.
The New York Times ran a generally well-done profile on Sunday of Bill Simmons. Should make it to #1 on the "Most E-mailed" list by the end of the weekend.
The Florida Marlins, already in the midst of their second post-championship fire sale in 7 years, are making noises about moving from Miami.
Go, I say. As anyone who has ever watched a game or highlights of a game at Pro Player Stadium, it's clear that no one down in Miami cares about the Marlins or has any interest in going to games, and they're going to continue to play to tens of thousands of empty seats no matter how many championships they win. Besides, more people in Florida root for the Yankees than the Marlins and Devil Rays combined.
Can you say "Las Vegas Marlins"?
UPDATE: I see this blog is #1 on Google for "Marlins Vegas."
It's shaping up to be quite an offseason for the New York Mets- Flush with the cash that comes from their new TV network, they traded for Carlos Delgado today, they're in the hunt for Manny Ramirez, and free agent closer Billy Wagner is visiting Shea this week and appears set to leave the Phillies for the Mets. They even had Wagner do a press conference with Mets logos behind him- very strange for someone who hasn't signed yet. (Or was it a "simulated" press conference?)
I can already hear the Philly talk radio spin- if Wagner stays, the Phillies suck 'cause they gave him too much money; if he goes, they suck because they couldn't keep him, and they're too cheap, and the owners suck, and Pat Gillick is their yes-man, and blah-blah-blah.
Meanwhile, Met fan Eric isn't sure he trusts Wagner- 'cause the closer's video game alter ego once let him down. That's as good a reason as any, I suppose.
Excellent news today that David Edelstein, the excellent film critic for Slate.com, is jumping to New York magazine in January. He's a great writer who richly deserves the larger audience he's about to get.
Even though I haven't watched the show probably in 6 or 7 years, I enjoyed tonight's final episode of "Nightline" with Ted Koppel. On it, Ted revisited the story of Morrie Schwartz, the former Brandeis sociology professor who inspired millions with his courage in facing slow death from Lou Gehrig's disease, after which his story was adapted into the bestseller "Tuesdays With Morrie" by his former student Mitch Albom.
I always liked the Morrie story, though I hated how my classmates at Brandeis used to try to piggyback him to campus political causes ("this isn't what Morrie would've wanted!"), and a friend once pointed out that Schwartz's philosophy was so simplistic that it was the same as Jerry Springer's: "take care of yourselves, and each other."
But regardless, good to see that footage again. And Koppel's farewell at the end was a home run, imploring viewers to continue watching the show with its new triumvirate of hosts, lest they put in a comedy show to replace it. Nice dig at Jimmy Kimmel, whose days really have to be numbered at this point.
News Item: Inventor of stuffing dies
"All you have to do is take a small step back, remove yourself from the doomed Eagles season and read a message that we are writing season-by-season: Superstars beware - it is no longer safe around here, for even the good guys. Suffer an injury at your peril. Tolerance for big-game mistakes: Zero. You can and will be replaced... It would also be nice next August, when the reconstructed Eagles report to Lehigh, if fans extend a mulligan to Donovan McNabb. If the 2005 season has been a nightmare for people who paint their faces green 10 days a year and die a few inches with each Eagles loss, imagine what it has been like for McNabb. Playing in pain. Playing with the mounting scorn of Terrell Owens in surround sound 24/7...Imagine and give the guy a do-over."-Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News, rightfully pointing out the insanity with which the Eagles fanbase has turned on Donovan McNabb seemingly overnight. I'll have more on this tomorrow.
Yes, they may be the worst 5-5 team in NFL history, but the Minnesota Vikings somehow pulled out their third straight victory tonight, beating the Green Bay Packers 20-17 at Lambeau Field. The Vikings, the laughingstock of the league a month ago, will have a chance to go above .500 next week when they face Cleveland at the Metrodome next Sunday, and I'll be there.
After the game I felt like turning on SportsCenter to see some game highlights and maybe a little on the Beckett trade- but nope, it was all Salisbury, all the time, for about 25 minutes. First Sean went out on a limb and said the Steelers can't win the Super Bowl with Tommy Maddox at quarterback (gee, really?) And then, when he was for some reason asked for his thoughts on college football, the USC homer volunteered that "I think Reggie Bush is as good as OJ Simpson, and even better with his hands." Wow, those hands should sure come handy if Reggie ever decides to murder his wife.
I was just complaining about baseball's uncommonly slow offseason when... news came tonight that the GM-less Boston Red Sox have swung a deal for Marlins pitcher Josh Beckett. In the deal, the Sox get Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell (who can buy a house in Lowell, Mass. if he wants); they give up top prospects Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez.
A good deal, especially since the Sox inject some much-needed youth into their aged rotation, with a pitcher who once won a World Series against the Yankees. Lowell could benefit from a change of scenery, so long as he doesn't push my man Kevin Youkilis out of the lineup.
Ah, the hot stove warms up...
I got the Brandeis alumni magazine in the mail this week and, strangely, there was nothing at all in there about Jack Abramoff. You'd think they'd be happy about an alum being in the news, but I guess not.
With Thanksgiving coming up later this week, it's time once again to consider The Turkey of the Year, the annual award for the biggest turkey in Minnesota sports, given out by Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse.
It's been a particularly sour year for Minnesota sports, with the Vikings suffering one of the most embarrassing seasons in history, the Twins and T-Wolves missing the playoffs, the Wild not even playing last season, and the Gopher football team giving up 52 points to Iowa on Satuday. But while in an ordinary year these events would yield many candidates, there's really only one logical winner for '05. He's a local head coach, and his name rhymes with "Ike Spice."
Vote for Mike. Because it may be his last chance.
My friend Karol has been described as "young and cute" by Glenn Reynolds. Then again, I remember Karol writing almost the same thing about me after the first time we met.
WASHINGTON -- Bruce Springsteen famously was "born in the USA," but he's getting scorned in the U.S. Senate.Can't all parties agree that Bruce is worthy of praise? I guess they can't.
An effort by New Jersey's two Democratic senators to honor the veteran rocker was shot down Friday by Republicans who are apparently still miffed a year after the Boss lent his voice to the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
The chamber's GOP leaders refused to bring up for consideration a resolution, introduced by Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Jon Corzine, that honored Springsteen's long career and the 1975 release of his iconic album, "Born to Run."
Meanwhile, that Jean Schmidt speech didn't exactly make me want to run and join the GOP either.
Star Tribune today: "Burning Issues Confront Vikings"
Yea, I bet they do.
Yesterday, the same day I finished David Halberstam's excellent biography of Bill Belichick, I was saddened to learn of the passing of Belichick's father, Steve. The elder Belichick, himself a former coach at the Naval Academy, was clearly (according to the book) a primary influence on his son's coaching career. He also acquitted himself quite well in some talk show appearances with his son following last year's Super Bowl win.
With the layoffs at the Philadelphia Inquirer going into effect over the weekend, Sunday marked the final column for legendary sports columnist Bill Lyon, who toiled at the paper for 33 years. A wonderful coda to Lyon's career and an especially nice elixir following the Eagles' latest collapse.
I'm happy to report that thanks in part to my new job I'm going to, from time to time, be seeing movies prior to their release dates in order to review them for the paper. I've gotta save the full-length reviews for the day job, but I can provide brief comment here.
Wednesday night I saw "Walk the Line," the Johnny Cash biopic starring Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash. Good story, great music, and better-than-expected performances from Phoenix (who's been awful in everything I've ever seen him in) and Witherspoon (the performance of her career). Problem is, the film gets bogged down in every biopic cliche imaginable, and it ends sort of abruptly. We get the whole protagonist-on-drugs second act, but then there's no payoff- the third act begins, and five minutes later the movie's over.
Funny experience, at the screening that was sponsored by a local country station- they actually had a Johnny Cash cover band perform in the theater before the movie started. I had seen a guy earlier buying popcorn who was dressed all in black and with dyed-jet-black hair, so I assumed he must be there for the screening. He turned out to be the Cash tribute band's frontman.
In a political season in which Mayor Michael Bloomberg was re-elected by a landslide margin, perhaps the biggest surprise in New York's municipal election was the strong showing by the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, a new political party that managed to finish third of all parties in the elections despite campaigning on only one issue. They even finished ahead of the Liberal Party, which as Ben recently pointed out is neither liberal nor a party.
But is that really their only agenda? Jen Chung of Gothamist uncovered some writings of RITDHP mayoral candidate James McMillan and found some troubling stuff. Namely, that McMillan believes there is some sort of Jewish real estate conspiracy to run gentiles out of the city. "If you're not Jewish, you'll be run out of New York," McMillan warns, which certainly sounds like quite a reversal of several millenia of Jewish history up to this point.
Now it's normally a proclivity of third parties in New York to argue for the abolition of rent control; a few years ago the Libertarian candidate for mayor was none other than Kenny "The Real" Kramer, who had that as the central platform of his campaign. The RITDHP seems to be arguing for the reverse, namely universal rent control. Except for Jews, that is.
The RITDHP is reminscent of the Grass Roots Party, a single-issue party in Minnesota that campaigned in favor of marijuana legalization and for a time in the early '90s was the state's third-largest political party. The GRP apparently no longer exists, as presumably its members all got "distracted" from politics and wandered off. After they qualified for state election funding in 1992, the Star Tribune once ran a great editorial cartoon suggesting that the party would spend 90% of the new funds on "munchies." And no, Minnesota's third-party governor a few years later, Jesse Ventura, was not a member of Grass Roots.
Sounds like he showed up for a USO gig, only 35 years too late and to the wrong country.
My latest New York Press football column is online here.
And also, in even more entertaining football news, Randy Moss says he doesn't want Terrell Owens to play for the Raiders. Because now even a delinquent like Moss can see that TO is no good.
Meanwhile, the Vikings currently have a better record than the Raiders. Yes, we're still glad to be rid of him.
This blog, 10/6/'05: "I'd say [the AOL purchase of Weblogs, Inc.] changes the dynamics of the Calacanis/Denton battle quite a bit, right? Could Yahoo!Gawker be far behind"?
Washington Post, 11/15/'05: "Yahoo To Add Five Gawker Media Blogs To Web Site"
The Los Angeles Dodgers yesterday named Ned Colletti, a former assistant GM with San Francisco, their new general manager, having already been rejected by Theo Epstein, John Hart, Pat Gillick and numerous other luminaries in their quest to replace the fired Paul DePodesta.
If Colletti's goal all along was to get quoted and/or mentioned in every Peter Gammons column for four years, and then parlay that into a GM job, he has thus succeeded.
Because he'll clearly be "cleaning up a mess" in Chavez Ravine, David Pinto compares Colletti to The Wolf, from Pulp Fiction. So I guess the message to Dodgers fans is "let's not start sucking each other's dicks quite yet."
News Item: Roger Ebert to Write Memoir
The Sacramento Kings were fined $30,000 by the NBA yesterday for showing derogatory images of Detroit on video screens prior to their home opener against the Pistons.But did they also show people wearing throwback jerseys, bling, and other items prohibited by the dress code?
When the Pistons were introduced Nov. 8, the Arco Arena scoreboard flashed pictures of abandoned buildings, burned-out cars, piles of rubble and other negative images of Detroit.
If you think Detroit-bashing is in fashion now, just wait until February, when every sports columnist in the country has to spend two weeks there before the Super Bowl.
Fascinating story over the weekend about Cole Ford, the former kicker for the Oakland Raiders who was released after missing a crucial kick against Tampa Bay, and later landed into a mental institution after he fired shots outside the Las Vegas home of Sigfried and Roy. Yes, you read that right.
A failed former NFL kicker goes crazy and tries to kidnap/kill a celebrity- isn't that the plot of "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective"? At least Ford didn't have a sex change operation and turn into Sean Young.
Well, tonight's game started well for the Eagles, with the team establishing the running game, with Donovan McNabb even running the ball himself, for a touchdown. In fact, Philly all but dominated in the first 56 minutes. But that, alas, is why they play the last four.
The problems started when Dat Nguyen audibly called out that he saw the Eagles' shufflepass coming and promptly stuffed it; John Madden was so proud of himself for noticing that he mentioned it seven more times in the next ten minutes. Then Dallas scored an offensive touchdown, and seconds later Roy Williams returned an interception for another touchdown- with McNabb getting injured on the play. A missed 60-yard field goal later, the game was over and the Eagles were 4-5.
It may seem impossible, but Philly saw an even bigger flop on Monday- the pre-game "funeral" for Terrell Owens, held outside the stadium during WIP's pregame show. A "casket" was filled and jerseys were burned, along with copies of Owens' memoir "Catch This!," but the din of drunken fans chanting "TO Sucks!" was so distracting that it was all but impossible to hear the hosts (not that that's a problem, in Howard Eskin's case). Also not such a great idea to have a massive mock funeral on the same day that Cowboys' coach Bill Parcells went to an actual funeral, for his own brother.
Don't worry Iggles fans- you can beat the Giants next week. If the Vikings could, anyone can.
Does anyone have a moving-jpeg of the Giants' player running into Mike Tice? If so, I'd love to just keep it at the top of the blog continuously, until he's fired in about seven weeks.
And you thought Jessica Cutler was shamelessly disgusting before...
The erstwhile Senate aide, who scandalized Washington last spring when she authored a short-lived blog where she described her liasons with numerous men- and then later got a book deal out of it- participated in a forum of female sex columnists and bloggers in this week's New York magazine, and... yikes.
The panel actually included several very talented and original writers, including blogger Stephanie Klein, New York columnist Amy Sohn, and Rachel Kramer Bussel, currently among the only reasons to keep reading the Village Voice. But for some reason, there's Cutler- considerably less talented, less accomplished, and less attractive than the others- taking part as well, and seemingly verging well into Courtney Love/Tara Reid territory.
In the brief roundtable, Cutler... flashes her breast for the magazine photographer; admits to currently dating seven men; says she "dates a lot of attorneys and bankers" (though there's no breakdown of how many of the seven are attorneys and how many are bankers); says "it’s common practice for guys to give you money, pay your rent, and buy you gifts"; volunteers that she can "have good sex with every fourth person"; and admits that "[antidepressants] and snorting coke" got her through the process of writing her book (and apparently through the interview, as well.)
It probably says a lot that all the other women at the table were horrified- and out of all professions, sex columnists don't horrify easily.
Lindsayism has additional thoughts, and also suggests "a condom, just for sex with Jessica Cutler."
Andrew Sullivan announced today the somewhat surprising news that he's moving his blog to the website of Time magazine, where he will retain editorial control and possibly lead a stable of several other blogs.
As one of the oldest independent blogs, it's sort of a surprise that Andrew is "selling out," though he's more than earned the right to do, and if the move brings a larger audience to his work, than all the better. I guess this means no more pledge weeks, and possibly even the end of the lovely white-on-blue color scheme.
Did it seem odd to anyone that Larry, Jeff, and Susie found the Republican character even more despicable than the convicted-sex-offender character? Or was their attitude, in fact, the joke of the episode?
Read this Norman Podhoretz piece, and discover that everything you knew about the "lies" that got us into Iraq is wrong.
The Minnesota Vikings, formerly mired in what was thought to be the most calamitous season in NFL history, are now 4-5, after today's victory over the New York Giants, thought to be the best team in the NFC. Not only is it Minnesota's first road victory of the year, but their first win over the Giants in six tries.
True, they only managed 137 total yards of offense, and lucked into touchdown returns of a kickoff, a punt, and an interception. But a win is a win. I just hope they don't win too many more, to the point where Mike Tice actually keeps his job. That moment in the first half where a Giants player accidentally tackled him may be my favorite play of the season so far.
WWE wrestler Eddie Guerrero has died at the age of 38. Like Brian Pillman in 1997, Guerrero was found in a Minneapolis-area hotel room, and his cause of death is yet to be determined.
A member of a multi-generation family of Mexican wrestlers, Guerrero has competed in WWE for the past decade or so, and had a brief run as champion around a year ago. And while Eddie had battled drug abuse in the past, he was reportedly sober for more than four years. Eddie Guerrero will be missed by the entire wrestling-fan community.
Surprising news from this week's Entertainment Weekly- we're about to see the return of Queer Duck, Openly Gator, Bi Polar Bear, and Oscar Wildcat:
Paramount Home Entertainment has greenlit the first feature-length production of "Queer Duck -- The Movie" from creator and writer Mike Reiss.If you haven't seen the cartoons, they're here. A landmark in animation brilliance that puts the last few years of "The Simpsons" to shame.
Project, based on the Internet shorts in which a gay duck comes out of the closet, features the voices of Jim J. Bullock, Kevin Michael Richardson, Maurice LaMarche and Billy West. Special guest voices include Conan O'Brien, Andy Dick, Bruce Vilanch, Tim Curry, Mark Hamill and David Duchovny as "Tiny Jesus."
Tonight I watched the new George Carlin HBO special from last weekend and... is it just me, or did it totally suck? I've loved Carlin's comedy over the years, and his 2001 bit, "Complaints and Grievances," was one of my favorite ever, and I eagerly awaited the new one- but I laughed maybe twice the entire time. Carlin has always been morbid and cynical- this time he was both, but forgot to be funny.
One problem is that George looks about 15 years older than he did in his last special four years ago. It may be because Carlin recently went through a stint in rehab- perhaps he's suffering the Aerosmith-like problem of leaving his talent behind when he got sober. Carlin's routine consisted almost entirely of long setups that went no where, non-stop America-bashing, done-to-death subjects, and not one unfunny 20-minute rant about a televised "Suicide Channel," but rather two of them. Just horrible stuff, and twice as unfortunate when we know Carlin's capable of so much better.
In case you were wondering if it was true that Ralph Nader really is on the wrong side of everything, he proved it earlier today when he announced that he is in favor of Terrell Owens' appeal against the NFL for his suspension.
Later this week, expect Nader to come out in support of: the end of democracy in Russia, the suicide bombings in Jordan, the New York fake-fireman rapist, and breast cancer.
And speaking of TO, how long until Drew Rosenhaus comes out and says that Ugueth Urbina's arrest is proof of Owens' value as a player and teammate, since there's no evidence that TO has ever killed a man with a machete?
Mary Mapes is back, and she's pissed off. The CBS news producer, who was fired earlier this year following last September's disastrous "60 Minutes II" report that showed to prove -with documents later shown to be forged- that President Bush had shirked his National Guard duty in the 1970s, has written a new book and done a round of media interviews.
Her position now? The network, the investigators, the media, and (especially) the bloggers screwed her, the story was "accurate," and... the documents were real.
Now I'm not the guy who normally goes after "mainstream elite media" types for their excesses; in fact, I'm usually the guy who defends them when others do. But come on. Mapes seems to be nothing less than delusional- pretending that some kind of "cabal" brought her down, when in fact it was her own actions that caused her own downfall. And of course the documents were forged. Mapes seems to be the last person alive clinging to their authenticity. It's the journalistic equivilant of saying OJ was innocent.
Here's my message to Mary: go away. Just shut up. You're embarrassing yourself, you're embarrassing CBS, and you're embarrassing the journalism profession. You fucked up. Admit it. For every one of us journalists who tries to be honorable, truthful, unbiased, and contrite when we make a mistake, you're making our job a lot more difficult.
Damn, this is almost as embarrassing to my profession as the New York fake-fireman rapist turning out to be a frustrated ex-journalist.
However, as proven by recent events with the Red Sox, all the negativity that's in that town still, indeed, sucks.
New York Daily News: Sex And The Tube: It's a Happy Marriage.
Possibly, but I suppose it depends on what's in the tube.
My New York Press piece for the week is up. Therein I discuss the Pats-Colts game, the TO situation, the Lions' inability to beat Mike Tice, and the Panthers' cheerleading scandal.
The TO saga hit another high note on Tuesday, with Owens breaking his silence and delivering what sounded like a sincere apology to the team, coaches, ownership, and Donovan McNabb in front of several reporters on the lawn of his New Jersey home. Then he asked, practically begged, to be reinstated to the team. Owens even managed to get through the whole press conference without stopping to do sit-ups or push-ups.
But any goodwill engendered by Owens was quickly undone by a bizarre rant from his infamous agent, Drew Rosenhaus, who screamed for several minutes about how the team and the media had treated Owens unfairly, and that other players suspended for drugs and for scrapes with the law have not been as criticized as severely as Owens has. As though that somehow absolves him of being the worst teammate in the league. And then, when the assembled reporters asked Rosenhaus a series of tough questions about how, you know, he can justify his actions over the last year, Drew answered "next question" to about 15 questions in a row.
We already knew Rosenhaus was a borderline-subhuman slimeball. But now we know something worse: he's a bad agent to boot. On top of all his other clients he failed to get contracts for this year (i.e., Javon Walker), let's review what Rosenhaus has done for Owens since taking over as his agent: he's failed to get him the new contract, he's turned the entire city of Philadelphia (and most of the rest of the country) against him, he's gotten him kicked off the team, and he's depressed TO's free agent value this off-season by a factor of several million. As long as he was at TO's house yesterday, did he want to slash his tires and kick his dog, too?
I didn't think it was possible for Rosenhaus to do a worse job than Owens' last agent- the guy who forgot to file his free-agency paperwork- but I guess I was wrong. The grievance TO filed today shouldn't have been against the team or league- it should've been against Rosenhaus.
"Swapping Terrell Owens in the locker room for Chad Lewis is like swapping a hemorrhoid for an ice cream cone. It has to be a positive."-Phil Sheridan, on TO, in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- Michael Bloomberg has been re-elected mayor of New York. I'm not a fan, and really believe that he's done a mediocre job in just about every way. The Olympic bid was a huge waste of time, the anti-smoking jihad sanctimonious and wrong, and the glacial pace of re-development at Ground Zero is especially an embarrassment.
But regardless, with the economy in good shape, crime still down, and the infrastructure not having fallen to pieces, voters were really given no over-arching reason to turn Mayor Mike out of office, so he's in for four more years. And the Democrats will go 16 years without holding the mayoralty of one of America's most liberal cities. That's what happens when you put a sub-mediocrity like Freddy Ferrer on the ballot.
Let the otherwise nondescript and boring 2005 New York mayoral race be a lesson: putting your opponent in animated gay porn never, ever works in American politics.
- Jon Corzine is the new governor of New Jersey, and will be allowed to appoint his own replacement in the Senate. So did his ex-wife call him last night to concede? In other governor's race news, Democrat Tim Kaine won in Virginia, and since Kaine's opponent ran an ad arguing that Kaine "wouldn't have supported the death penalty, even for Hitler," I suppose the election result is proof that Godwinn's Law has indeed migrated to real-life politics.
- Best of all- in Dover, PA, 8 of the 9 school-board members who favored teaching of the fraudulent pseudo-science known as "intelligent design" were turned out of office. Don't expect Rick Santorum to carry Dover next year.
- People are calling yesterday's election results a huge rebuke to President Bush, and while his candidates were defeated in New Jersey and Virginia, neither governorship changed party hands, and the status quo prevailed.
Indeed, today marks the beginning of 2006 mid-term election season, and I can imagine it'll be much more exciting than last night. Do the Democrats have a huge, huge opportunity to make major gains in '06? Absolutely. Do I trust Howard Dean and Co. not to fuck it up? Not exactly, no.
News came yesterday that Pete Rose, Jr., the former major leaguer and son of the all-time hit king, has pled guilty to the charge of distributing a steroid-like drug called GBL. Rose, who was a teammate of John Rocker last year with the Long Island Ducks, faces jail time, and the likely end of his baseball career. Oh well, at least he's not as much of a loser as Ted Williams' son.
I first learned of Rose II when I was about 8 years old and read Pete Rose's autobiography, so now my illusions about him have been just as shattered as just about everything else I read in that book.
One funny part of the story: according to the DEA's press release, the mastermind of the drug distribution scheme was one Bruce Michael Wayne, who was convicted in 2001 but failed to appear at his sentencing hearing and has been a fugitive from justice ever since. Yes, Bruce Wayne. If I were the DEA, I'd check the Batcave.
UPDATE: Indeed, the DEA nicknamed their investigation "Operation Batman's Brew." Clever.
In news sure to come as a disapointment to quite a few Packers fans and other rural Americans, the well-known, rarely-practiced pastime known as "cow-tipping" is impossible, a new study shows. Some of my friends from Wisconsin may beg to differ, however.
"With TNT's analytical, yet good-natured approach as an example... how could the Worldwide Leader have whiffed so badly? Does anyone find this crew insightful, entertaining or redeeming in any way? Who wants to tune into an NBA pregame show, expecting a verbal version of a lay-up line, only to see it devolve into a spirited game of "who's the bigger badass?"Kelly Dwyer, of SI.com, absolutely tearing apart ESPN's NBA studio coverage. He's right on the money, of course, and I can only imagine how badly ESPN will screw up "Monday Night Football" when they get it next year. I could barely sit through Sunday night's Eagles-Redskins game without screaming at the idiot announcers every five minutes.
Intelligent political discourse was chased off the airwaves long ago in favor of pointed, and often pointless, bluster. It pains one to watch ESPN try to emulate these black-or-white, either/or arguments. Levity and perspective is in short supply on the ESPN set, falling to the Blue State/Red State arguments that have moved from cable news networks into the televised toy department.
My favorite part of Dwyer's critique is when he defends himself against the likely charge of corporate cronyism- SI and TNT are both under Time Warner/Turner- by referencing the long-forgotten mini-scandal of Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner giving a five-star review to Mick Jagger's mediocre 2001 solo album. So what if I'm one of two or three people reading who actually remembers that?
Smoot's been working so hard- getting beat by every receiver, getting just one interception, paying for the sex cruise, etc.- that he's really earned the time off.
A Wall Street Journal story yesterday by John McWhorter, about the NBA dress code, was published with a headline meant as a pun on the name of NBA commissioner David Stern, and the fact that the new code is certainly very "stern." The headline? "Stern Rules."
The Phillies have announced that they will not be bringing back pitcher Ugueth Urbina, and for good reason- he's in a Venezuelan jail, charged with attempted murder, for allegedly participating in a machete attack. And oddly enough, it wasn't on the people who kidnapped Ugie's mother last year.
Philadelphia Will Do had the best line: "Attempted murder? Typical. He can't close out a game and he can't close out a murder."
Yes, the Colts have defeated the Patriots for the first time in eight tries, with a convincing 40-21 victory. Expect the result to so depress Sports Guy that it'll keep him from delivering four paragraphs of dynamite material on the Panthers cheerleader sex scandal in Tuesday's column. Really, stories like that are the reason we have SportsByBrooks.
I'll have more on the game in NYPress Wednesday, but one hilarious thing I noticed: you know how in every Pats home game, there are multiple shots of Bob Kraft sitting in the owners' box with numerous members of his family? Those shots continued last night, with Kraft, his wife and a couple of his sons, until... the cameras zoomed on Kraft's box with about six minutes left in the game, and Kraft was sitting there, alone! Yes, everyone in the stadium left early, even the owner's family!
Either they left under their own volition, or Vladimir Putin stole them away.
News Item: Tom Cruise Drops Sister As Movie Publicist
Has any publicist in history ever been of worse service to their client than Tom Cruise's in 2005? Even TO's handlers have better PR savvy. If it weren't his sister he'd have fired her six months ago.
"You know what never works, Mike Vick? It never works to say to the press: Don't criticize me anymore. Do you think all the talking heads in the network studios will convene meetings this week and tell the talent: "Pssst . No more Vick ripping! He doesn't like it and, boy, we don't want to make Mike mad.'-Peter King, supplying one of many astute NFL observations on SI.com.
The Steve Phillips "simulated press conference." Terrible. I don't know what's the worst part- that SportsCenter is devoting large blocks of time to fake news, that real reporters are taking part, that they're seemingly only doing it for the Yankees and Red Sox and a few other teams, or the asinine idea that Steve Phillips would ever again be hired as a GM.
What garbage. And here I didn't think anything would be worse than the nightly 20-minute blocks of Sean Salisbury.
Terrell Owens has been Keyshawned. The severely mentally disturbed receiver has been cut off from the best chance he'll ever have to win a Super Bowl, as the Eagles announced today that he will not return to the team. Good for them for taking a brave stand against an athlete run amok, even if it means they'll suffer on the field as a result. Few teams in sports would have had the guts to make such a move.
I'll have further thoughts on this in my New York Press piece on Wednesday, but most of all I'm just glad this tiresome clown is done monopolizing the sports news, in Philly and nationwide.
If you think that was vicious, imagine the negative ad that McGreevey's ex-wife could come up with.
Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson has announced that he is interested in purchasing the Minnesota Twins. Now since Reggie would presumably move the team to his adopted hometown of Las Vegas, I can't say that I recommend such a transaction. Then again, there's also that pesky matter of the team not actually being for sale. Reggie is also an employee of the Yankees, which doesn't bode particularly well for his prospects of owning another team.
Huge traffic week here at the blog, due mostly to Andrew Sullivan's linking to my analysis of the Ferrer/Bloomberg "gay porn" ad. A bunch of other blogs followed, including Eric Alterman (who made fun of Andrew for linking to such a thing), and Dan Savage, who linked from his blog on The Stranger's website, in the process referring to my post as "insightful observations." Coming from one of my absolute favorite writers, that's quite a compliment. In fact, I have books on my shelf by Sullivan, Savage, and Alterman.
Strange, though, the post that got something like 12,000 page views in four days ended up with only three comments. Guess it just left everyone speechless.
NFL fans have gotten used to the drill by now: Terrell Owens, usually on his weekly radio show but sometimes elsewhere, will say something controversial, and the topic will dominate all sports media in Philly, and eventually nationally, until the following Sunday.
It's an interesting racket, one that's gotten TO, this season alone, to: Complain about his contract numerous times; rip teammates and/or coaches; say that he wouldn't have come back to play in last year's Super Bowl if he'd known he wouldn't be getting a new contract afterwards; defend his indefensible decision to wear a Cowboys jersey home from a game against the Cowboys; and, after a consensus had emerged that the Eagles' troubles were due mostly to their inability to run the ball, complain that he, TO, needed to start getting thrown the ball more. And I'm sure there are 3 or 4 more that I forgot about.
The latest flap, however, may be a new low. Asked by an ESPN reporter whether he agreed with Michael Irvin -really, the TO of his day- in his statement that the Eagles would be undefeated right now if Brett Favre were their quarterback, Owens replied:
"That's a good assessment, I would agree with that, just with what [Favre] brings to the table.Three major, major things wrong with what TO said: One, it's unconscionable to throw your own QB under the bus during the season. Especially since McNabb HAS played with injuries, all year long, and in other years too. Two, it's wrong on the facts: no, the Eagles would NOT be undefeated with Favre because, well, have you seen Favre this year? He's having the worst season of his career! And not only that, but even with Favre under center, Philly would still have their shaky running game, and it's unlikely Brett could've prevented Denver from scoring 49 points last week.
"A number of commentators will say he's a warrior, he's played with injuries. I feel like him being knowledgeable about the quarterback position, I feel like we'd probably be in a better situation."
And third, perhaps worst of all: Owens' comments -in implying that McNabb isn't a "warrior" or "knowledgable about the quarterback position," play into the stereotype, held by a fringe of Eagles fans that's considerably larger than any of us would like to admit, that McNabb isn't smart enough to quarterback the Eagles, that maybe they'd be better served by getting someone else in there, maybe someone who's... not as much of a scrambler, more of a "pure" quarterback... you know where I'm going here. It's the same attitude implicit in this insane theory among NFL pundits that Michael Vick can't win as a quarterback (even though it's all he's done in his entire career), as well as that blog comment I got last year suggesting Daunte Culpepper "doens't know what is best for the team," so they should try to go out and get Ken Dorsey to replace him. I'd have thought we were beyond this kind of thinking by now, but apparently not.
(Not to sound like Jason Whitlock or Scoop Jackson here- 'cause really, they're just as lazy and predictable as Frank Rich- instead of taking the #1 movie that week and relating it to why Bush is evil- like Rich does- Whitlock and Jackson merely take the biggest sports story of the week and boil it down to why it's really all about race. But I really do feel there's something to this attitude- and Owens spouting off in the way he did only serves to encourage it.)
Anyway, perhaps the strangest thing of all on this story is the reaction of normally mild-mannered Dave Spadaro, who edits the Eagles' website, is an employee of the team, and is generally known from his TV and radio appearances as one of the biggest Eagles homers in town. His reaction? A diatribe posted to the site that calls Owens out:
How dare Owens show such a lack of respect for his quarterback, the one whom he begged to play with last year, the one who helped Owens have one of his finest seasons, the one who looks for Owens 15 times a game and who never gets in Owens' face when he drops a pass, which, by the way, happens.Of course, if the Eagles can win at least two of their three upcoming games against divisional rivals Washington, Dallas, and New York, perhaps all this will fall away. But then, that's a very big if.
What can Owens possibly gain from such remarks? How does it benefit McNabb, who, yes, is not at the top of his game but who has played through a multitude of injuries this season -- hey, throughout his career.
Typical, I guess. Blame somebody else, even the hand that feeds you.
My Longtime Reader Who Shares My First And Last Name passes on a Jewish Telegraph Agency story about how, even though apparently no one knew it, indicted presidential adviser Scooter Libby is Jewish. Not that having him on our side is something we're proud of, or anything...
JTA, somewhat humorously, goes through the reasons why people wouldn't imagine Libby a Semite: he doesn't look Jewish; "Libby" isn't such a Jewish-sounding name and in fact it screams "WASP"; whoever heard of a Jew nicknamed "Scooter?"; Jews tend not to spell it "Lewis" (aside from Richard Lewis and his cousin, Louis Lewis); he's associated with very-not-Jewish Dick Cheney; and when anti-war kooks cycle through the names of the "neocon Zionist cabal," you always hear "Perle, Wolfowitz, and Feith," but never "Libby." One journalist even wrote an article about non-Jewish members of the neoconservative movement, and accidentally included Libby's name.
Yet, he indeed belongs to a synagogue in Falls Church, Virginia. Though pretty soon, I'd imagine his level of religious worship will hinge on whether there's a Jewish chaplain at whatever prison he's sent to.
His only eccentricity, if it can be called that, is his extensive private library of adult videos. His refreshing ability to laugh self-deprecatingly about his porno collection, reporters say, is one reason why fans and even nonfans have taken to him so much.The "no panties shabu shabu," alas, is not an establishment that has made the migration to the States along with Matsui. Which is unfortunate. Maybe in the old, pre-Giuliani New York, but not now.
He likes to watch his much vaunted porno collection, tapes that he often trades with Japanese reporters. As one Japanese journalist put it, describing Matsui's affinity for such unique Japanese cultural institutions like the no-panties shabu-shabu in Japan, "Matsui is a horny guy. All of us are horny, more or less. But Matsui doesn't attempt to hide the fact."
UPDATE: Here's some background on that, in a news story from 1998:
Official Denies Going To No-Panty Restaurant1998 really was The Year of Politicians Having to Lie About Sex, wasn't it?
TOKYO (Reuters) - The prestige of Japan's Ministry of Finance (MOF) took yet another hit on Monday when a senior official was forced to discuss in parliament whether he had visited a restaurant featuring panty-less waitresses.
Atushi Nagano, the head of MOF's Banking Bureau, was reported by a magazine to be a regular at the restaurant, which serves traditional "shabu-shabu" boiled beef by the not-so-traditionally clad waitresses.
"I would like to take this opportunity to clear myself of all the allegations aimed at hurting my dignity. I have never been to that restaurant," Nagano told a committee of the Upper House of parliament.
The restaurant, which has come to be known as "no-panties shabu-shabu" is located in a Tokyo entertainment district.
This blog's patron saint, Ron Silver, has been appointed by President Bush to the board of directors of the U.S. Institute of Peace. Let's hope this works out better than Bush's appointment of another guy who spoke at the GOP convention the same night Ron did, Bernard Kerik.
Did you see "The West Wing" last week? Specifically that scene between Ron and Janeane Garofolo where they "negotiated" debate terms? I'm sure the two actors had to be separated afterwards, so they wouldn't strangle one another.
I've tried to generally stay away from the New Jersey governor's race here, mostly because my brief experience working in NJ politics left a very sour taste in my mouth, and the machine/corruption/patronage garbage is something I feel like keeping my distance from. It also doesn't help that the two candidates have run an increasingly nasty campaign, with the ads, as always, spilling over into the Philadelphia media market.
There's no escaping; even to get into PoliticsNJ.com, you have to click through ads for both candidates. Worst of all the Forrester ad froom last week that used quotes from Corzine's own ex-wife against him. Had Walter Mondale tried to use Jane Wyman against Reagan, maybe history would have turned out differently.
Anyway, I like Corzine. He's a solid Democrat who's not too loony-left to support- especially since Democratic politics in NJ have a lot more to do with the machine than anything resembling ideology- and there's no reason to hold McGreevey's corruption against Corzine. And besides, that ex-wife ad was just below the belt. Not as below the belt as the Bloomberg/Bush handjob cartoon, but pretty low nonetheless.
Remember that huge anti-war/anti-Bush protest that was scheduled for November 2, called "World Can't Wait"? I first saw a flier for it when I went to a Dave Matthews concert in New York in July, then saw the same flier again in the City Lights bookstore, when I was out in San Francisco the following month.
The idea, according to their website, was to "take to the streets" across the country on November 2, the anniversary of Bush's re-election, and raise such a ruccus that the president would eventually be forced to resign. A coup, in other words. They also decided to use initials, WCW, that were previously most commonly associated with the failed pro wrestling league, World Championship Wrestling.
The website even managed to draw the "celebrity endorsements" of such luminaries as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Cindy Sheehan, Eve Ensler, Cornel West, Ron Kovic, Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna, former "Real World"er Kevin Powell, Howard Zinn, Gabriel Bryne (???) and, most surprisingly of all, Casey Kasem.
Anyway, yesterday was November 2, the big day, and....? Anything happen in your city? Did you "take to the streets" yourself? Anyone get the palpable sense that revolution was in the air? Did you even hear about this until after the fact?
No, me neither. I didn't even remember that Wednesday was the day until I heard a brief item on the radio this morning. In fact, it appears as though no major demonstrations took place in any U.S. city yesterday except for San Francisco- where protesting is like breathing- and only 8 people were arrested. That, and a few high school kids in New York who staged a walkout.
Not much doing in Philly, I'm afraid. People took to the streets, all right, but that was because of the transit strike, not anything related to politics. And no, in case you were wondering, President Bush has thus far today announced no plans to resign.
Everyone these days is coming out of the closet- as illiterate. First it was "American Idol" champ Fantasia Barrino, and now it's former NHL coach Jacques Demers, who admits in a new book that he has never known how to read or write- though it didn't stop him from coaching five different NHL teams, serving as general manager of another, and even winning a Stanley Cup. But unlike Fantasia, Demers did not actually write the book in which he admits he can't read.
The NHL is back from its year-long work stoppage and seems to be doing quite well. But it doesn't say a lot for those arguing for the primacy of hockey as a sport that Demers was able to thrive as a coach without actually being literate, much less that no one else in the game caught on in all that time. It sort of reminds me of that awful Woody Allen movie where he plays a director who suddenly goes blind, yet gets through the film, improbably, without anyone noticing.
I mean, it's hard to imagine a football coach handling the intricacies of an NFL playbook without being able to write or read, although Mike Tice has attempted to do so in Minnesota for the past four years.
New York Post: "7 Million Yanks In Jail System"
Great, great moment on WIP last night, showing once again that Howard Eskin should never be taken seriously as an authority on anything, by anyone.
Eskin, likely still smarting from the news that his bid to become GM of the Phillies has failed, was discussing Pat Gillick's introductory press conference with fellow host Glen Macnow, during the five-minute overlap between the end of Eskin's show and the start of Macnow's. They got to talking about what the Phils are going to do with Jim Thome, leading into this exchange (I'm paraphrasing, as I heard it in the car, but I'm sure it's close to exact):
Eskin: Maybe he should go to Minnesota. They don't have much media there, it's pretty small and there's only one newspaper.So there you have it. Eskin has covered pro sports for something like two decades, has likely traveled to the Twin Cities area at least a few times for games, yet he thinks the city of Minneapolis is called "Minnesota," he has no idea that Minneapolis and St. Paul are the Twin Cities, and he isn't aware that, like Philly, the Cities have two newspapers, a regional sports network, and a 24-hour sports radio station. But other than that, no, not much media.
Macnow (dumbfounded): Well, uh, actually they have the Star Tribune, which is a pretty big paper, and also the St. Paul paper, the Pioneer Press...
Eskin: Really? How close to Minnesota is St. Paul?
Macnow (probably banging his head on the table): Uh, Minneapolis and St. Paul are right next to each other, they're the Twin Cities.
Other than that, great segment. And yes, I was exactly right about the talk-show callers being unhappy with the Gillick hiring. I mean, who cares that he has two World Series rings and has won everywhere he's been? He's not a local guy!
I'm happy to report that, in addition to my new full-time newspaper gig that's been keeping me very busy, I'm going to be contributing a weekly NFL wrap-up to New York Press. The first one, where I discuss the Eagles' woes, the Culpepper injury, and other Week 8 stories, is online here.
And while you're there, be sure to check out the Press' other offerings. Harry Siegel, Tim Marchman, and Co. have been doing a helluva job getting the paper back in shape after the ruin of the Koyen/Taibbi years, and I'm quite happy to see the return to respectability of a paper that I've long held in high regard. Plus, it's the only place to read Armond White, America's most delightfully crazy film critic.
"Is this dark view of sexual politics a little extreme? If it is, it shouldn't be surprising. Dowd pushes every statement to its most exaggerated form; her column occupies a space somewhere in between the other columns on the New York Times op-ed page and the political cartoons that sometimes run there...-Katie Roiphe, in Slate, tearing down the Cult of MoDo. Excellent piece, even if about 500 bloggers have already made the same point, and even though she inaccurately describes Dowd as "a brilliant caricaturist of the political scene."
As Dowd would have it, men simply find her intelligence, her status, her wit too daunting. (A friend called her up to complain that her Pulitzer Prize would make it impossible for her to get a date.) But is it possible that there is something else at play?
The piece further describes the wide variety of men Dowd has been involved with, ranging from movie stars, to important editors, to creators of television dramas. And they have apparently all been attracted to her, even though she is not in a service profession, or a maid, or a virgin in a gingham dress. One imagines that her intelligence, her sharpness, her sarcasm may even have interested these men. Could there possibly be another reason that the attractive, successful Dowd has not settled down? Something that is not in the zeitgeist, or the political climate, but some ineffable quality of her own psychology?
Is the headline saying that gossip drove her to have to see a shrink, or that it drove her to, literally, shrink? Because both have apparently happened in the recent past.
Aaron Brown has left CNN, as a result of a lineup shakeup in which the Anderson Cooper Cult of Personality has taken over the 10 p.m. newscast. I rarely watch CNN, so the change effects me hardly at all.
The term "Skippy," incidentally, is what Brown was known as when he was a young reporter in Minneapolis, and my father's stepbrother was married to his sister.
The Phillies today named Pat Gillick as their new general manager, handing the keys of the team to a proven winner who has led his teams to two world championships and eight playoff appearances.
Yes, everyone in town is way too preoccupied with the Eagles' woes to even acknowledge the Phillies, and the report today that TO will probably miss two games will likely dominant all local conversation. But regardless, I can already hear the coming Phillie-hater spin: At 68, Gillick is "too old." He'll form an "old guy tandem" with manager Charlie Manuel, who he of course won't fire. And worst of all, he's just "keeping the seat warm" for holdover assistant GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. And since Gillick was once known as "Stand Pat," he'll be just as squeamish about making trades as Ed Wade was, and nothing will really change- depriving the team of the wholesale housecleaning it very much needs.
To which I say, to all of the above, bullshit, bullshit, and bullshit. Gillick has, unlike any other GM I can think of, walked into three separate situations and succeeded in all of them. The "Stand Pat" thing was a reference to his failure to make trades early in his tenure with the Blue Jays- but then he made the Roberto Alomar/Joe Carter and David Cone deals, and they won two rings as a result. Gillick vastly improved all three of the teams where he worked as GM- the Blue Jays, Orioles, and Mariners- and it can't be a coincidence that all three clubs fell into utter disarray shortly after he stepped down. As for Amaro eventually taking over, there's no indication that he's as incompetent as Wade- and if he's going to do an apprenticeship for 2 to 3 years, I can imagine worse mentors than Gillick.
And read my lips, as I'm going to say this very slowly: The Phillies don't NEED a wholesale housecleaning. They finished one game behind the pennant-winning Astros, and are no less than one or two pieces away from being a championship contender. I know this comes as a huge shock to those fans who are so delusional that they treat the Phils like a last-place team when they win 88 games, but don't the Phillies look better now than the White Sox did at this point a year ago?
The Phils didn't need a sweeper, they needed a tweaker. And Gillick can tweak with the best of them.
Gillick's first priorities: Get another starting pitcher, figure out what's going on at catcher, third base, and center field, solve the whole Ryan Howard/Jim Thome controversy, and try to wrap up extension negotiations with Billy Wagner and his agent, Bean Stringfellow. Yes, that really is his name.
Pitchers and catchers, just three months away...
Figuring that that plain old "campaigning" stuff wasn't working so well in his bid to unseat New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Democratic nominee Freddy Ferrer has apparently decided to try an alternate tack: gay porn. It's all in a new, last-minute Ferrer ad in which animated versions of Bloomberg and President Bush ride a horse together, with the mayor sitting on the president's lap and handing him money, until, well... Here's the New York Post's description:
Bloomberg's right hand, which holds a wad of cash, moves up and down in a rhythmic motion below Bush's belt, as a grin crosses the president's face, and his arms and legs quiver momentarily." Ah, yes, the money shot. Bloomberg's campaign alleges that the "commercial clearly shows the mayor performing a sex act on Bush.And at the end, Bush kisses him. Maybe Ferrer just figured his candidacy was toast, and decided to have some fun in the waning days of the campaign by producing the most offensive political commercial imaginable. It's actually a very similar comedic sensibility to that of Post cartoonist Sean Delonas, who produced the epic series of "Ferrer kisses Sharpton's ass" cartoons in the 2001 campaign.
Then again, doesn't Freddy remember the "Kill it, Kill it!" scandal, which all but won Bloomberg the election in '01?
Watch it here- it may be the first "Not Safe For Work" ad in the history of American politics.
UPDATE: Welcome, Andrew Sullivan readers. Please do have a look around while you're here.
Five of the following are real headlines currently up on the Village Voice's front page; one of them I just made up. See if you can spot the fake (answer below the jump):
"Our Immortal Thug: Rosa Parks's Great Refusal is an Exemplary Tactic For the Age of Online Consumption"
"Cindy Sheehan for President. Or Senate, as Challenger for Clinton"
"War Criminal [Scooter Libby] Nears Indictment"
"Bombs Away: Palestinian Art in Brooklyn"
"Gay Sex Cut From 'Capote'? "
"Were the Beatles Really That Important?"
The Palestinians/Brooklyn one is fake. But you had to look it up, didn't you?
Bill Simmons does it again- in what had to have only been a couple of hours, he has written a 3,000-word treatise in which he describes his thoughts on the Epstein resignation, touching on Theo’s history of moves with the team, the years of Lucchino/Epstein friction, the Sox/Globe media monopoly and at one point relating himself to Theo. After all, Epstein and Simmons are both Boston natives, about the same age, who have essentially lived out their lifelong dreams very early in life, and have found themselves asking "is that all there is?" I know I call everything Simmons writes a must-read but this, truly is a must-must-must-read.
Almost as good is the Boston Phoenix's Sox Blog, with a great anti-Shaughnessy rant. The best part:
As another man once said, "all this negativity that's inGordon Edes, who knows of which he speaks, says Kevin Towers is the most logical candidate, since he's worked for Larry Lucchino, and no one else would want to. And I do see a possibility, however remote, for emotions to cool and Epstein to agree to return within a few days. I’m not saying I predict it, but I am saying it’s possible.
this town sucks."
As any Boston sports fan knows, Shaughnessy's column was just the latest in an interminable string of ad hominem attacks, veiled and unveiled. He did it to Pedro, he did it to Nomar, he's done it to Manny. Now it's Theo's turn. Why?
He's got to know damn well that he's the most hated sportswriter in this city. But he doesn't seem to care. Simply put, it's all too apparent that Dan Shaughnessy doesn't really like the Red Sox. He prefers gossip, innuendo, and axe-grinding. Maybe he should get a new job.
And even more bizarrely, Philly sports talk station WIP, in a news update first broadcast at about 1 this afternoon and repeated throughout the day, said that Peter Gammons was reporting on ESPN.com that Gerry Hunsicker had been named GM of the Red Sox. But... there's no news of the kind up on ESPN's website or on TV, and no other news outlet has reported such a thing either. Was it up on ESPN briefly before being pulled, or did some jokester WIP staffer insert it into the update as a prank?
Closer to home, reports are that Pat Gillick is all set to be introduced as Phillies GM. He’s a good choice, someone who’s won two rings, and he’ll do a good job- even if he gives the Phils a manager/GM combo with a combined age of 130. And of course, everybody in Philly is in such panic mode about the Eagles, the transit strike, and everything else, so practically no one has even noticed.
Regardless, take a deep breath, Bosox fans. The hysteria today sounds eerily similar to that of the days after the Nomar trade- and we all know what happened just three months after that.
Hee-larious sports media story out of Sacramento, that led to a newspaper having to apologize for doing what dozens of sportswriters have done over the years: calling the Portland Trail Blazers a bunch of criminals.
It began last week when the Sacramento Bee published a profile, by reporter Joe Davidson, of Bonzi Wells, the former Portland guard who was traded by Memphis to the Sacramento Kings this offseason. In the story, the Bee erroneously reported that Wells, while with Portland, had been arrested for both "marijuana possession" and "domestic abuse," while also being responsible for "locker room tussles." The incorrect language, according to the Bee's ombudsman, was inserted by a copy editor, and not by Davidson himself.
The error, of course, was that the Bee had confused Wells with numerous other Blazers players, many of whom had been arrested for drugs and/or spousal abuse over the years, as well as getting into the occassional locker room scuffle.Wells, however, had never been arrested for either crime, and any locker room discord that took place during his tenure in Portland was apparently not his fault.
So the Bee ran a correction, which rather than clarify that specific Blazers players other than Wells had suffered the arrests and caused the fights, was worded in such a way as to suggest that the entire Portland team, as opposed to individual players, had scuffled, beaten their wives, and taken drugs. Which, contrary to popular belief, is not true either.
So this led to a correction of the correction, clarifying that no, it wasn't the whole team, and yes, they were very, very sorry. So sorry, in fact, that the paper's sports editor, Bill Bradley, drove to the Kings' practice facility to personally deliver a letter of apology to Wells. Wells kept Bradley waiting for nearly 20 minutes, but then refused to meet with him; the team later released a statement that "Wells was too 'furious' to talk and wanted to avoid saying something he might later regret."
So this whole episode may have been difficult for the Kings' PR staff, but shed no tears for them- they also don't have to cover for Mr. and Mrs. Christie anymore.
Franz Lidz of Sports Illustrated nominates Jason Giambi for Sportsman of the Year. Yes, you read that right. Because there's nothing more sportsmanlike than basing your entire career on steroids, and then having an above-average year and staying clean. To paraphrase Chris Rock, "you're SUPPOSED to have an above-average year and stay clean!"
The only way I'd support Giambi for Sportsman is if the only other athletes in the world were Rafeal Palmeiro and Bill Romanowski.
My alma mater Brandeis announced a major coup today, the news that 1975 graduate Thomas L. Friedman will teach a politics/economics course next year. The class will presumably follow the model of previous "celebrity" courses taught by Ann Richards, Ed Koch, and others, in that Friedman will fly back from Baghdad, New Dehli, or wherever he is in the world once a week to address the students, while another professor shares the load and lectures the other half of classes.
The news is especially encouraging, since it's always appeared that TLF enjoys a much better relationship with the other alma mater that we share (St. Louis Park High School) than with 'deis.
True, the failed nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court will likely go down as an historical footnote. But why did it have to be both greeted and waved goodbye to with really disgusting, accidentally delivered sexual metaphors?
You may remember, days after the Miers pick was announced, Howard Dean going on Chris Matthews and referring to the Bush Administration's refusal to release certain documents as "hide the salami." But in a press gaggle yesterday, CBS reporter John Roberts (not to be confused with the chief justice) asked press secretary Scott McLellan whether Bush's choice of Sam Alito to replace Miers is "sloppy seconds." Ugh. Roberts, thankfully, later apologized.
I can only imagine what'll come out of someone's mouth when the next SCOTUS nomination comes around. A reference to the new nominee "going to the Senate and strapping it on"?
Less than 24 hours after it was reported he had agreed to a three-year extension, Theo Epstein shocked the baseball world today by resigning as general manager of the Boston Red Sox. As always, it's Shaughnessy's fault:
Epstein had come close to agreeing to a deal Saturday evening but had not officially conveyed acceptance of it. On Sunday, he began having serious misgivings about staying on. A leading contributing factor, according to sources close to the situation, was a column in Sunday’s Boston Globe in which too much inside information about the relationship between Epstein and his mentor, team president and CEO Larry Lucchino, was revealed -- in a manner slanted too much in Lucchino’s favor. Epstein, according to these sources, had several reasons to believe Lucchino was a primary source behind the column and came to the realization that if this information were leaked hours before Epstein was going to agree to a new long-term deal, it signaled excessive bad faith between him and Lucchino.So not only did the Globe report incorrectly that Epstein had agreed to the extension, but their star columnist is at fault for the resignation in the first place. Throw in the ethical nightmare that has the Globe owning a piece of the Sox, and things look even worse for the paper and its parent, the already embattled New York Times.
Theo will likely be mentioned for every GM position this year, and next year as well. But the Dodgers just fired a stathead-inclined Ivy Leaguer and probably don't want another; the Phillies are supposedly about to hire Pat Gillick, and Epstein wouldn't want to jump into the mire that is the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Good thing he's got that Yale education and law degree to fall back on.
As for the Sox job, I could see Kevin Towers (another Lucchino protege) as the frontrunner, along with whoever doesn't get the Philly job (probably Gerry Hunsicker). I also wouldn't count out Phils assistant GM Mike Arbuckle, a candidate last time as well. They'll have their work cut out for them, attempting to save a team that figures to be barely recognizable from the 2004 title-winning version.
Theo Epstein's legacy? If he never works in baseball again, he'll always be the guy who ended the curse, and delivered Boston its first title in 86 years.
Can't wait to hear Simmons' take, but he's off 'til Wednesday, with five stories of major interest to him (the Epstein resignation, the Bruschi return, the Pats-Colts game, the NBA preview, and "I Love the 80s: 3D") just waiting to be analyzed. Which will he tackle first?
Yes, Culpepper is out for the season, after an MRI showed that he has torn three different ligaments in his knee. I mean, I didn't even know there was such a thing as a PCL. And even worse, an injury of that severity to a quarterback's knee has to be considered career-threatening.
I feel horrible for Daunte, and even worse for the team. Scandals, injuries, turmoil, on-field disasters... how could it possibly get worse? Sean Salisbury, tonight on "SportsCenter," was breaking down the Vikings QB situation. Look on the bright side- Salisbury could still be playing.
News Item: Putin Will Not Seek Re-Election in 2008.
Though really, this Libby indictment sort of puts the lie to that whole idea about America now living under "creeping fascism." I mean, could you imagine Vladimir Putin allowing an independent prosecutor to indict one of his top advisers? Unless Fitzgerald finds himself "liquidated," I'm not inclined to consider Bush a fascist.