Davidoff The Soothsayer

Posted in Baseball at 2:12 am by

Not willing to settle for anything as mundane as preseason predictions of Divisional Champs, MVP, Rookie Of The Year, etc., Newsday’s Ken Davidoff looks into the future and tries to determine when the following milestones, amongst others, will take place.

The first woman general manager: This will mark the ultimate intrusion of the “old boys’ club” that sports’ executive suites have nearly always been. Kim Ng (above, right), assistant general manager of the Dodgers since 2002 (she worked the same job with the Yankees from 1998 through 2001), is the favorite to get the chance, but if young men can shoot up the ladder as quickly as Theo Epstein and Queens native Jon Daniels did – both were hired at age 28 – then why can’t a young woman do the same? ETA: 2007

The first use of instant replay: Man, this sure is taking a long time, isn’t it? Selig opposes it – hence the delay – but one more brutal postseason of umpiring ought to put the issue high enough on the agenda. ETA: 2008

The first player with 500 or more home runs to not make the Hall of Fame: Mark McGwire’s day of reckoning comes soonest, as he’ll be on his first ballot this coming winter. He has virtually no shot of getting to Cooperstown next July, but he’ll probably be on at least 5 percent of the ballots, in perpetuity, and such a player stays on the ballot for 15 years.

I’m going to trust in the good work of our world’s journalistic community and count on new information coming out about McGwire’s sins. And I’m going to trust, once more, in the moral fiber of the Baseball Writers Association of America. McGwire will need 75 percent support to get in. I say he never makes it. ETA: 2021

The first Mets no-hitter. Kudos to Newsday colleague Mike Casey for this suggestion. They’ve employed Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, Frank Viola, Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine … and not once, in 44 seasons, can anyone throw nine innings without giving up a hit? ETA: 2462

Sandormir On Internal Debate At ESPN Over Bonds Series

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism, Sports TV at 12:56 am by

Along with an item in today’s New York Times by Murray Chass pointing out the possible conflicts of interests facing former Sen. George Mitchell in his investigation of the Sultan of Surly (ie. he’s on the Red Sox board of directors and is a major Walt Disney Co. sharehoder), Richard Sandomir sheds light on unease at ESPN over the network’s mooted Barry Bonds reality show.

The emotional, sometimes angry debate within ESPN centers in part on whether it has put itself in an untenable journalistic position by aggressively reporting on Bonds’s pursuit of Hank Aaron’s career home run record while simultaneously carrying, at least through midseason, a series that provides Bonds editorial control of its content.

Other serious concerns are whether ESPN is paying for access to Bonds, who is difficult to cover, and giving him hours of time to rehabilitate his image.

“This has conflicts that need to be resolved,” said Jeff Brantley, an ESPN analyst who played with Bonds on the Giants in 1993. “Take this one: Pedro Gomez is covering Bonds on a daily basis, and if he asks tough questions, will Barry be allowed to go back at Pedro on his show?”

Vince Doria, ESPN’s news director, who admitted to having early reservations about carrying the series, said yesterday that Bonds would be “ill-served” if he uses the series to “belittle some of our people.”

Gomez, who was among those who objected most pointedly during the meeting, declined to discuss what he said. Others who cover baseball for ESPN were also said to be among the harshest critics of the series.

Doria said the reactions among the ESPN reporters, analysts, anchors and production workers included those who “felt it was a deal that we shouldn’t have made, some felt it was fine, some felt in between.”

Brantley said he was satisfied with the responses of ESPN management, but is still concerned how the series will look and if it will make the network seem, as he put it, “stupid.” He wondered if the series would stay on the air if it was substandard.

An interesting question. How long has “Cold Pizza” been on, anyway?


Amaré Stoudemire’s Biggest Problem…

Posted in Basketball, The Law at 8:02 pm by

…might not be his left knee. (from New Times, link swiped from True Hoop).

(Carnie Wilson is in no way implicated nor connected to the story above, but it’s amazing whose photo pops up when you type “Carrie Wilson” into a search engine).

Anna & Kris Benson : Splitsville

Posted in Baseball, History's Great Hook-Ups at 7:45 pm by

It’s being reported, well, all over the place, that Orioles P Kris Benson and his (cough) outspoken model-slash-activist wife Anna have filed for divorce.

Though I first suspected Jon Solomon’s Kris Benson voodoo doll might have someting to do with this, one of CSTB’s inside sources in Charm City reports there’s someone else in the Baltimore organization who might’ve come between the couple. I’m sworn to secrecy on this and can only reveal that the gentleman in question brings a long history of pitching success to the Orioles and is sporting a rather new tattoo.

If you’re skeptical, hey, so was I. I really didn’t think Leo was Kris’ type.

Hell In The Cell : London Underground Vs. Terror Series

Posted in Free Expression, The World Of Entertainment at 4:06 pm by

From the Islamic Republic News Agency :

Posters negatively portraying a Muslim as a criminal have been banned from being displayed at Tube stations on London’s underground railway network.

London Underground (LU) said that the adverts for a new television series using the phrase “America’s latest hero is a Muslim straight out of jail’ could not be used because it was sensationalist and will offend people.

“Following consultation with Viacom, which manages advertising on the Tube, it was decided to ask for the words `is a Muslim’ to be removed,” an LU spokeswoman was quoted saying by London’s Evening Standard newspaper Thursday.

The spokeswoman said that the text was “clearly intended to be sensationalist and could give offense.” She added that the decision was taken “in line with our standard policies which seek to avoid gratuitously insulting large groups of Londoners.”

The posters were intended to promote the hit US drama series `Sleeper Cell’ about an undercover FBI agent, who infiltrates a terrorist network by posing as a spy.

The digital channel FX, which is showing the programs, said that the advert would still appear in newspaper. It said that the American drama was the first to feature a Muslim as the lead heroic character.

Without denying anyone’s right to be offended by an inoffensive poster, I would like to say the following about “Sleeper Cell” ;

1) Until the final episode, where they appear to use an American Legion field in place of Dodger Stadium, the series was entertaining and provocative in ways we usually associate with a pay-channel that has 3 initials. Yes, it was every bit as good as “Arli$$”.

2) Blake Shields deserves some sort of award for “credible performance in a production that couldn’t afford Philip Seymour Hoffman”.

3) UK readers who are curious about this drama might be interested to know that much-maligned DJ Tim Westwood is surprisingly sharp in the role of Farik. Unless that isn’t Tim Westwood (in which case, he still sucks).

McAdams : Nixon Wrong To Blame Unbalanced Sked For Imbalanced Tavares

Posted in Baseball at 3:24 pm by

In addition to mocking the departed Tony Graffanino, the Providence Journal’s Sean McAdam takes issue with Trot Nixon’s recent complaints concerning how frequently divisional rivals face each other.

The commisioner’s crime? He installed the dastardly unbalanced schedule in 2000.

“This,” said Nixon, “is a prime example of why Bud Selig needs to take a look at teams playing each other 19 times.”

Sorry, but Julian Tavarez is fully capable of behaving foolishly against a team he hardly knows. In fact, he did so Monday.

The last time Tavarez pitched in the American League, the Devil Rays didn’t even exist. So there was no long-held animosity, no past incidents that contributed to his eruption Monday. Tavarez simply lost his cool — as he’s done frequently in his career — and, unprovoked, slugged Joey Gathright in the jaw.

Nixon is smart enough to know that the unbalanced schedule — in which Red Sox fans are treated to three visits to Fenway by the Yankees, rather than two by the Detroit Tigers — has been a boon for baseball.

The more times the Yankees play the Red Sox, or the Cardinals play the Cubs, or the Dodgers play the Giants, the better it is for the game and for the fans.

If hot-headed relievers can’t maintain their composure — in a spring training game, no less — that won’t change by going back to a balanced schedule. It’s too bad that Nixon felt the need to rationalize Tavarez’s irrational behavior.

Galloway Nearly Stung By Sven’s Psuedo Sheik

Posted in non-sporting journalism at 3:05 pm by

On the heels of appearing alongside swim instructor Michael Barrymore and rebounding reprobate Dennis Rodman on Ch.4’s “Celebrity Big Brother”, Iraq war opponent and MP George Galloway found himself the focus of unwanted media attention. From the Guardian’s Duncan Campbell.

Galloway (above) had been invited out to a late night meal by two men apparently keen to help his party, Respect. The pair, introduced as Pervaiz Khan and Sam Fernando, described themselves as “Islamists” which, given that neither had a beard, also seemed peculiar.

Soon the conversation turned, according to Mr Galloway, to the issue of just how they could help – along the lines of “can we sponsor members of parliament? … fund political parties?” What could they mean? “I told them absolutely not, it’s completely illegal,” said Mr Galloway yesterday.

Then the men starting making remarks about Jewish people, said the MP, “and invited me to agree with them. For example, when I said the Daily Express was the worst pro-war, anti-Muslim paper in the land, they asked ‘because it’s owned by a Jew?’. ‘No,’ I said, ‘because it’s owned by a pro-war pornographer’.”

Then came talk about the Holocaust, with Mr Fernando saying, according to Mr Galloway,”you’re not allowed even to quibble about the numbers, not even to say it might have been five million”.

At midnight Mr Galloway made to leave but, before he departed, Mr Khan said that his driver wanted a picture taken with him as he had seen him on TV. “His driver was built like a bodyguard, had a mouthful of gold teeth and, when I asked where he was from he answered, enigmatically: ‘Up north’.”

At which stage, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Princess Michael of Kent, the Countess of Wessex and countless others might ruefully have been able to warn Mr Galloway that he was in the crosshairs of “the fake sheikh”, aka News of the World reporter, Mazher Mahmood, who frequently pretends to be a wealthy Arab and who keeps his identity hidden behind a silhouette picture byline when his scoops appear.