How We Got Here From There : CSTB’s Sports Books Of The Year

Posted in Baseball, Basketball, Sports Journalism at 6:38 pm by


The sport, unfortunately, had been belching the residue of its shortsighted money-grabbing for the better part of a decade. People I have known for many years who were at The Palace of Auburb Hills that night spoke of the anger in the air, palpable and ugly, a gladitorial ambience that over the years had become pervasive in too many NBA arenas. Obviously, this was partly attributable to to the intensity between two physical rivals, but it was more a by-product of a regrettable marketing scheme to create an in-your-face product that was edgy enough to resonate with the young and rebellious, those who would buy the jerseys, play the video games, create the buzz.

However, the fans paying a king’s ransom for the expensive seats were much less forgiving, more easily antagonized upon the sounding of those deep-rooted racial alarms. Drunk or not, too many basketball fans had reached the point where they objectified the players, could not related to them as human beings, or see beyond societal stereotypes and flimsily disguised racial codes. If the imagery of large black men beating on defenseless white fans was alarming, the too-widely accepted pastime of affluent whites feeling empowered to verbally abuse half-dressed, sweaty black men should have enoked even more discomfort and disturbing American historical chapters.

The irony was that, the more the fans shelled out for their seats, the closer they got to the action —- but the closer they got, the wider the gulf between them and players seemed to grow. The arguments over which side of the basketball divide was more to blame could be carried on ad infinitum, but, when all was said and done, the sad spectacle revealed more about how American big business operated, more about profiteering than it did about punches, more about how gluttonous corporations had steered the sport off course and over time created a poweder keg ready to blow on a short racial fuse.

– From Harvey Araton’s ‘Crashing The Borders : How Basketball Won The World and Lost Its Soul At Home’ (Free Press).

1) Howard Bryant’s ‘Juicing The Game : Drugs, Power And The Fight For The Soul Of Major League Baseball’ (Viking).

Horsing Around In The Pacific Northwest

Posted in Going To The Zoo at 6:19 pm by

Following up on one of 2005’s top scoops, Tim Cook writes,

It certainly wasn’t any natural disaster or accomplishments of the local 5, 9 or 11 (Sonics, Mariners or Seahawks), but was, in fact, according to the Times’ Danny Westneat, but was the heartbreaking story of the King County equestrians.

Happy new year!

Creamy Krueger Returns To The Airwaves

Posted in Sports Radio at 12:00 pm by

From the San Francisco Chronicle’s Tom Fitzgerald.

Larry Krueger has a regular radio gig again, nearly five months after being fired as a sports talk host at KNBR for criticizing the Giants’ “brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly.”

Krueger (above) has been hired by KGO, one of KNBR’s main competitors, as a sports reporter on the weekday, 4-to-7 p.m. program anchored by Greg Jarrett and Rosie Allen.

On the surface, the new job would seem to be new territory from Krueger’s previous show, which allowed him free rein to issue his outspoken views.

At KGO, he’ll basically have a two-minute slot twice an hour in which he’ll give scores, issue news reports and give his opinions.

“People (at KGO) told me they want to get away from (strictly scores and news) and to use my creative abilities to concentrate on things and take a new approach,” Krueger said Thursday, shortly after the station announced his hiring.

“I’ll be trying to concentrate on issues and things that would be appealing to our vast audience.”

Because of the furor over Krueger’s remarks about the Giants — he likened manager Felipe Alou’s mind to “Cream of Wheat” — KGO news director Greg Tantum said he “wanted to take the time to get to know him. We found out he’s a quality human being. I felt that whatever had happened, that was not going to be problem (at KGO). Not because of the negative publicity, he felt very bad as a human being about the whole situation.”

Krueger said his biggest regret about the incident that prompted his firing was “that Felipe didn’t do his due diligence on finding out who I really am, and that he wouldn’t accept word one of an apology from me.”

As for his controversial blast at the team, he said, “I’d go back to what I originally said, that there was never any malicious intent on my part. I’m sorry that Felipe and others were offended, but there was no intent on my part to put anybody down.”

Graziano : Mets Still In Manny Mix

Posted in Baseball at 11:54 am by

From the Newark Star-Ledger’s Dan Graziano.

According to two baseball officials familiar with the talks, the Mets have been involved in several complicated trade discussions with the hope of landing Manny Ramirez. Both officials said the large, complex deals still required a lot of work, but that the Mets were keeping their toe in the water in case they still had a chance to add Ramirez to their 2006 lineup.

One of the possibilities would involve a multi-team deal in which Mets pitcher Kris Benson would end up in Baltimore, Tejada in Boston and Ramirez with the Mets (with a variety of other players and cash bouncing around in the deal as well). The Orioles like Benson and, earlier this off-season, offered reliever Jorge Julio for him. The Mets have been looking to trade him and certainly would do so if it meant bringing in Ramirez for right field.

The “variety of other players” portion of this seems to be the most complicated part of the equation. There’s no way the Orioles can sell their fans on the notion that Kris Benson for Tejada represents fair value, to say nothing of the message it would send to Jeromy Burnitz.

Marbury Declares Love For Dolan, Fails To Speak With Brown

Posted in Basketball at 11:39 am by

Newsday’s Greg Logan on the Knicks’ Stephon Marbury, who says (some of) the right things after being buried by Larry Brown in the coach’s postgame press conference Wednesday night.

“Hey, man, I love New York, and I want to be here more than anything,” Marbury volunteered in an interview after practice. “Whatever it’s going to take for me to win, I’m going to do it because I feel like New York deserves it … If it’s sacrificing my game, I’m willing to do that.”

In Marbury’s view, that’s exactly what he was doing in Orlando when he took only three shots in the first three quarters and finished with five points, 0-for-7 shooting and three assists.

Marbury said he passed up open shots to get better ones for teammates, which is what Brown wants from his point guard.

Brown was in no mood to add fuel to the fire yesterday, declaring the incident over. But he did not back off his critical postgame comments. Performance fluctuates from game to game, but Brown said, “In my mind, he had a lot of good looks [in Orlando] that he didn’t look to take. I think you can hurt your team by doing that.

The point guard from Coney Island (above), who has been traded three times, acknowledged the possibility of a fourth trade, but he’s not asking out.

“I can’t do nothing about that, but like I said, I love New York more than anything, and I’ll do anything to be in New York,” Marbury said. “This is the place I grew up at, loving to play basketball and being a fan of New York.”

Marbury said the thought of leaving “never crossed my mind.” He hasn’t talked to Thomas about his desire to remain with the Knicks, but then again, Marbury said that’s not necessary.

“My heart and my soul say that,” Marbury said. “My heart and my soul bleed New York colors. I know that, and I believe everybody else knows that.”

It’s plain to see Marbury doesn’t enjoy Brown’s emphasis on defense and a structured offense that takes the ball out of his hands to stress ball movement and an inside-out attack. But Marbury insisted, “I made the adjustment. So I’m willing, and I’m ready.”

Curiously, Brown and Marbury discussed their views openly with reporters but never spoke to each other about what happened in Orlando. The one question Marbury refused to answer was about his relationship with Brown, and when asked if he needs to talk to Brown about his role as point guard, Marbury snapped, “I don’t need to talk to him. He needs to come tell me what he wants me to do if that’s what he feels is the case.”

So things aren’t exactly hunky-dory in paradise, but Marbury even went so far as to say, “I love [Cablevision CEO James] Dolan for bringing me here. Like I said, once we all get to the point where we’ve had enough [of losing], then that’s when it’s going to be enough.”

The New York Post’s Peter Vescey, unsurprisingly, finds much to mock in the Marbury/Brown stalemate.

Only genius can get away with the infantile concept of starting players in their college or home town, or in David Lee’s case, home state. One day you’re thrown into Brown’s moth ball drawer, the next day you’re being introduced with four other irregulars. And here all this time I believed sports was about winning, not playing to the crowd.

The catch is, Lee hails from St. Louis, Mo., and played at the University of Florida at Gainesville, not anywhere near Orlando. Worse yet, Brown assigned the 6-9 power ranger to cover Grant Hill, who, despite four ankle operations, is still infinitely more mobile than Lee.

It’s as if Brown picked his starting lineup out of hat in anticipation of getting sawed in half at the Magic Kingdom. I’d like to see the alpha waves that comprise Brown’s thought process when he Etch-A-Sketches his nightly starters. Is there some essay contest on the team plane? Does he go up and down the aisles asking, “I’m thinking of a number between . . . ?” Is there speed-dial with the Psychic Friends Network?

Adding insult to our already insulted intelligence, four members of Wednesday night’s queasy quintet didn’t see as much as 17 minutes of daylight. Stephon Marbury (0-7, three assists in 40 malicious minutes) was the only one who did, and he didn’t deserve 17 seconds of unsupervised activity.

Transit workers, who recognize a strike when they see one, claim they gave New York City more production than that during their nearly three-day work stoppage. Question is, why would Brown leave Marbury in there for so long if he felt he was laying down on the job? Seems like both men went out of their way to embarrass each other and each was very effective.

Great Moments In Beauty Pageant History

Posted in Sports Radio at 10:50 am by

From today’s edition of Scott’s Shots :

The blurry, amateur pictures from the Miss WEEI contest found at the woeful WEEI website showed once again, what a œhigh class organization the radio station truly is. Over/Under on the total number of Revere and Worcester hair bimbos was four and a half. The pictures probably don™t justice to the, ahem, lovelies, but it was a motley crew to be sure. And it begs the question: What kind of woman would want to be Miss ˜EEI? And what are the benefits?

Old Coot Demands Ballplayers Spruce Up

Posted in Baseball, Fashion at 10:41 am by

From the land that time forgot (ie. Palm Beach), here’s the TC Post’s Bill Vaylo, advocating an MLB dress code (thanks to Repoz for the link).

There is only one conclusion that can be reached after George Steinbrenner, the owner of the New York Yankees, made Johnny Damon get rid of his beard and long hair before he becomes part of the again new New York Yankees lineup ” make him head up the dress code committee for Major League Baseball.

Steinbrenner has not been one of my favorite baseball owners. He interferes much too much with the manager. What he does do right, however, is make sure that his team looks good on and off the field.

Baseball players have become sloppy over the years. With all the money the make (yes, I will add this much used phrase), you would think that they could afford a haircut and a shave.

Most teams in the majors are poor examples for the cities they represent. City officials should put in a clause in the contracts they sign with owners when money for a new stadium are bantered about. It should read “we will give you the money, provided that your ballplayers get haircuts and beards removed” and that they set a fine example on and off the field.

Social fashion trends have molded the attitudes of ballplayers throughout the years. It seems that long hair, moustaches, beards, sideburns and goatees are common in lineups today.

In the late 60s and 70s, baseball dress on the field was conservative. Facial hair was out during this period. I remember when Dick Allen, the powerful first baseman, came to Philadelphial sporting a moustache and beard in the 70s. My loyalty to the team took a dip during his tenure with the Phillies.