Toronto Trades Williams

Posted in Basketball at 8:05 pm by

From the Globe & Mail :

Wayne Embry didn’t take long to start making moves.

Less than one week after taking over as the Toronto Raptors interim GM, Embry traded centre Aaron Williams to the New Orleans Hornets for two second-round draft picks.

“We are a team in transition and need to play our young guys,” Embry said in a release Tuesday. “Out of respect to Aaron, I thought it best for him to be with a team where he has a chance to play and that is in a playoff hunt.”

The Raptors will get a second-round pick in 2006 that originally belonged to Miami and New Orleans’ second-round choice in 2009.

Not sure if tonight’s “SportsCenter” will show it, but New Jersey’s Vince Carter missed a dunk tonight against the Pistons for the ages — taking off from the foul line, VC muffed the attempt at posterizing Tayshaun Prince and nearly ended up in the 5th row. “He wanted to make Prince his Frederic Weis,” intoned Marv Albert, who did admit a minute later having been fed that line by a producer.

Though the Lakers are roughing up the Knicks at MSG this evening, there is a silver lining for New York. At halftime, Larry Brown’s team is on pace to hold Kobe to under 60 points.

Senators Scold Man In The Iron (Mike) Mask

Posted in Hockey at 6:41 pm by

From TSN :

Ray Emery’s Mike Tyson goalie mask had a shelf life of one NHL game.

The Senators backup goalie wore the mask in a 5-0 home loss to Boston on Monday night, then decided to drop it Tuesday.

“We didn’t ask him not to wear the mask,” Senators GM John Muckler said Tuesday. “We just had a discussion about what was right and what was wrong. He said he would take it off.”

A huge boxing fan, Emery has also had masks that featured former middleweight champ Marvin Hagler, and Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion.

“He told me the reason he put Tyson on his mask is because he was an idol of his, as a boxer,” said Muckler. “He knows now that (Tyson) he’s lost that right because of his conviction as a rapist and also as a female abuser. And he told me he would take the mask off.”

Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, presumably not wearing a mask bearing the likeness of a convicted rapist, had 44 saves, the most for any Boston netminder since Bill Ranford a billion years ago. Thomas was having a fine stretch with Boston’s AHL Providence affiliate and is now 6-1-2 in his first 9 starts for the parent club.

“Intimate” Is Just Another Word For Squished-In

Posted in Baseball at 5:56 pm by

Oakland’s plans to reduce capacity at McAfee Coliseum next season have already been noted, though the SF Chronicle John Shea took the time to pester A’s fans about the scheme.

Green tarps are covering five upper-deck sections at the Coliseum. By the April 1 exhibition against the Giants, all 53 sections will be tarped and off limits to fans.

And a small sampling of fans found nobody with a positive reaction to the change.

The A’s are trying to establish a more intimate atmosphere as well as a higher demand for tickets, which could be tougher to acquire in some cases because the capacity will be 34,077 (not including standing-room tickets), down from 44,073.

“We’re trying to create an environment that’s fun, easily accessible and brings you closer to the field, an environment that could create a real home-field advantage for us,” said A’s president Mike Crowley, who came up with the idea.

Owner Lewis Wolff’s plans for a new ballpark — the site of which is undecided — also include a cozier capacity in the 35,000 range, and the A’s look at this season as a possible dress rehearsal for such a venue.

But in a survey of fans in line buying game tickets at Saturday’s FanFest, it was difficult to find anyone who appreciated the concept of closing the third level.

“I think it’s silly,” said Oakland native Charles Edwards, 50. “Losing those seats for teams like the Yankees and Angels, they’ll lose revenue. They’re going to choke themselves. I think Lew Wolff is a good owner, but I don’t think closing the upper deck is going to do it for them.”

Steven Moya is a 13-year-old from Antioch who enjoyed sitting in the upper deck.

“That’s kind of dumb,” he said of eliminating the seats. “I think they’ll lose money because of that. Plus, it’s a better view from up there.”

When told the A’s wanted to create a cozier atmosphere, Moya said, “That’s not cozy. You’re all squished in.”

Crowley said the A’s don’t intend to lose revenue because of the lesser capacity. In fact, he subscribes to the less-is-more philosophy, suggesting the limited capacity would create a higher demand for tickets and prompt fans to buy them earlier rather than walk up shortly before the first pitch.

Asked why the A’s wouldn’t remove the tarps for select games involving the Yankees, Red Sox and Giants — along with the mid-June weekend Dodger series — Crowley said, “That’s counter to what we’re trying to do. It’s going to be intimate whether the Yankees are in or the Royals are in.”

“I understand what they’re trying to do, but as a fan, it was very affordable to sit up there,” said Oakland’s Rebecca Ramirez, 44.

Nancy Duty, 46, of Pleasanton, said, “I don’t understand it at all. It’s very frustrating. I’m a single mother and can’t afford a lot of lower-level seats. The culture of people who follow the team, it’s not the culture where you pack the house. A lot of people who live here don’t have a lot of money. They pack it in San Francisco, but they’ve got (Barry) Bonds and a new stadium. Oakland isn’t the same. I don’t know if you can manipulate that by closing the top.”

Don Nelson’s Acting Debut

Posted in Basketball, The World Of Entertainment at 1:33 pm by

Though what may well be a hoops version of “First And Ten” has already been noted in this space, the Fort-Worth Star Telegram’s Randy Galloway has further gory details. Though not, however, an explanation for why Ken Howard doesn’t get jobs like this.

Don Nelson spent three days in Tinseltown last week, shooting the pilot for a new TV show.

George Clooney, he ain’t. But George Clooney, he now knows. Clooney is the show’s producer.

Nellie gets to play himself.

“I’ve been acting like a coach forever. I guess Hollywood must have noticed,” he joked.

So as the Mavericks tear though the NBA, Hollywood asked Nelson to serve as the coach of a mythical NBA expansion team called the San Diego Stingrays.

“I guess you’d call it a reality comedy show,” said Nelson. “We’ve got no lines to memorize, they just give us basketball situations that come up, and tell us to say what comes natural.”

Nellie claimed he showed up on the set for the first time “scared to death.”

But after three days of shooting film, he added, “I never had so much fun in my life. I loved it. They called me ‘One-Take Nelson.’ I even got a standing ‘O’ from the crew after the last shoot.”

Speaking of NBA characters, Vlade Divac plays the aging “superstar” signed by the expansion team; Norm Nixon is Nelson’s general manager; and his assistant coach is Marques Johnson, a former player for Nelson.

“There are no professional actors,” said Nelson. “Everybody, including the players, has some experience in the NBA.”

Del Harris, Nelson’s longtime assistant coach with the Mavs, and also the No. 1 assistant for Avery, got a big laugh out of Nellie gone Hollywood.

“When he retired, all the media wondered how long it would take for Nellie to return to coaching,” he said. “At least by Hollywood standards, it was less than a year.”

Alex Rodriguez, Jerky Boy

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 1:10 pm by

The Journal News’ Peter Abraham on Princess A-Rod’s latest assignment. (link taken from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

That Alex Rodriguez is something. Not only is A-Rod the reigning Most Valuable Player of the American League, he’s also willing to give you a wake-up call.

Nike.com has lined up Rodriguez and seven other prominent athletes to make calls to sleepy consumers. All you have to do is send in your phone number and what time you want a call. Given that I sleep late whenever possible, this seemed ideal.

My first thought was to have Maria Sharapova make the call. What could be better than a little pillow talk with a leggy tennis star?

But given my duties as Yankees beat writer, it had to be Rodriguez. Perhaps he would tell me whether he had changed his mind again and would play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Maybe he would apologize for his poor playoff performance. At least there might be some poker tips or a subtle jab at Derek Jeter.

Alas, it was a recorded message.

“Pete! This is Alex Rodriguez,” he shouted. “Mornings are the most valuable time of the day, and I should know. You snooze, you lose. So get up, get out and do something with your morning.”

While Nike are entitled to employ whatever tactics they wish in pursuit of 100% of the globe’s athletic footwear market, you’d think they’d stop to consider for just one second, how this will hurt Tom Candiotti.

Because Nothing’s Hipper Than A Red Beret

Posted in Mob Behavior, The Law at 12:48 pm by

(Curtis, far right, dozes off while listening to Bob Klapisch, center, ramble on about how much he paid for Chain Gang’s “Son Of Sam” b/w “Gary Gilmore And The Island Of Dr Moreau” 7″)

With NYC’s 5 boroughs far safer than during the heyday of the Guardian Angels, Curtis Sliwa’s vigilante-with-goofy-uniforms have a new approach in the modern age, writes Newsday’s Justin Rocket Silverman.

In a city of strikingly low crime rates, where rough streets such as 103rd in Corona are increasingly rare, the Angels have been forced to redefine the nature of their work as the citizen protectors of the helpless.

“The patrols we have now are more focused and targeted on certain problem areas,” said Curtis Sliwa, who at 25 started the Guardian Angels while working as a night manager at a McDonald’s in the Bronx. “We are also given more things to do as role models and mentors instead of physical interventions in the streets.”

Now also working as mentors, the Angels run after-school centers that combine academic tutoring with martial-arts training. Some Angels teach college courses on violence prevention for public-school teachers.

“We can add a lot of street energy to what is normally very clinical classwork,” Sliwa said. “We make it hip, we make it happening and we make it cool to use the Guardian Angels philosophy in dealing with these problems.”

Red Sox Sign New SS, No. 9 Hitter

Posted in Baseball at 11:44 am by

Boston and free agent SS Alex Gonzalez came to terms yesterday on a one year, $3 million deal that should, at the very least, ensure the Red Sox are able to put 9 guys on the field. From the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman and Tony Massaroti.

Gonzalez (above) will replace the disappointing Edgar Renteria, whom the Sox dealt, along with $11 million, to the Braves in early December for third base prospect Andy Marte. Since the Renteria trade, the Red Sox have maintained steady contact with Gonzalez while also keeping options for a shortstop open, both internally ” Alex Cora, Dustin Pedroia ” and via trade ” Julio Lugo.

Gonzalez, who turns 29 on Feb. 15, is a very slick and smooth-handed defensive shortstop without much to show at the plate. A .245 career hitter with a career on-base percentage of just .291, Gonzalez had a relatively strong year last season with the Marlins. He managed 31 walks, two off his career high, shaved his strikeout total from a career-high of 126 in 2004 to 81 and upped his on-base percentage to .319 with a .264 batting average.

The Gonzalez signing certainly fits into the pattern of deals the Red Sox have made in this abnormally busy offseason. Defensively, with Mark Loretta at second base and Crisp in center field and now Gonzalez, the Sox have improved markedly up the middle. Also, with Gold Glovers Mike Lowell manning third base and J.T. Snow at first, the infield defense leapfrogged to one of the best in the league.

The one-year deal is also telling, since the Red Sox have tried hard not to get locked up in multiyear deals with players whenever possible. The team is hopeful that with more seasoning in Triple-A and/or the majors this season, Pedroia (above), their No. 1 pick two years ago, will grow into the shortstop position.