12.31.06

Mushnick Shoots First, Does The Research Later (If At All)

Posted in Sports Journalism at 11:04 am by

It’s nice that the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick is the last man in the sports media biz with a conscience. But it might be equally useful if he actually paid attention every now and then.

One of 2006’s most remarkable happenstances was that the sports media, for the most part, wasn’t particularly shocked by gun stories.

That a starting NFL lineman – the Bears’ Tank Johnson – was arrested for a second time with an assortment of assault rifles, and that his bodyguard and close friend, a man with felony convictions for drugs and guns, was shot dead by a reputed gang member – with Johnson nearby during an early morning nightclub hassle – should have made huge news outside of Chicago.

But it didn’t.

Could it be that the media have become numb to such news? Or is it that we lack the stomach for it?

Or could it be that the story in question did receive major coverage —- in print, online, on television and yack radio — and Phil would have us believe otherwise in order to promote his tired “the world is going to hell” spiel?

Likewise, Mushnick claims that Carmelo Anthony’s cameo in the infamous Baltimore “Stop Snitching” DVD (“a homemade rap video”, according to Phil) was “an under-played story.”

Simply googling “Tank Johnson guns” or “Carmelo Anthony Stop Snitching” will reveal that neither story has escaped the notice of the news media. Johnson’s case, in particular, was sports radio fodder for days.

Playing 20/20 Hindsight With Newsday’s Arthur Staple

Posted in Gridiron at 10:17 am by

No Strahan, no Petitgout and the complete meltdown last week have finally convinced me. The young guys are worn out, the older guys either don’t care or are also worn out, and the rest… Some are hurt, some are retiring. And some aren’t that good, I guess.

Redskins 27, Giants 17. Then the real fun begins. – Arthur Staple, Newsday, December 30

Though Staple was hardly alone in making such a gloomy prediction, he failed, like so many others, to remember just how much the Giants can accomplish when Tiki Barber puts the team on his back.

And with that, I have to full credit to Colonel Coughlin for making the bold move in demoting offensive coordinator Jim Huffnagel and putting Kevin Gillbridge in charge of play calling earlier in the week. Clearly, the only way to restore Eli Manning’s confidence was to make sure he handed the ball to Tiki 25 times.

Fans in Atlanta, St. Louis and Carolina no longer have any reason to watch football this Sunday, but should be thrilled to learn the following classic is on Lifetime at 1pm :

Murder On Pleasant Drive : Based on a true story. When Fran Smith mysteriously disappears, her daughter Deanna and her sister Sherrie will stop at nothing to find her. Suspicion begins to fall on Fran’s husband John, and the two women are convinced he murdered their loved one, yet, without a body, there is no evidence a crime has been committed. With Sherrie’s assistance, Deanna embarks upon a tireless, 11-year quest, relentlessly investigating John’s past. But when they uncover a 25 year-old missing person’s case involving John’s first wife who also disappeared under mysterious circumstances, the case against him takes an unexpected turn. Starring: Adam Arkin, Kelli Williams, Amy Madigan.

(who needs football when you can bask in the thespian chops of Adam Arkin?)

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette’s Ed Bouchette lists the various reasons why Bill Cowher might be coaching his last game for the Steelers later today.  I’m not sure which fact is more outrageous — that Cowher is paid half of what Mike Holmgren earns, or that The Chin’s salary next season is dwarfed by that of Aubrey Huff.

Nancy Spungen Pleads : No More Mid-Game Interviews With Tom O’Brien

Posted in Gridiron at 1:06 am by

Boston College 25, Navy 24 (Meinke Car Care Bowl)

(the filth, the fury, the walk-on foot of Sid Vicious)

While stuck in traffic during the commute to San Antonio, I had to settle for the radio call of Matt Ryan and Steve Aponavicius’ late heroics. However, I did managed to stay glued to the CSTB couch long enough to pry my jaw off the floor as ESPN saw fit to give former B.C. coach Tom O’Brien a chance to explain his decision to bolt for N.C. State.

Apparently, the sideways move to another ACC school represented “a huge opportunity” for O’Brien, who was “knocked out” by the facilities in Raleigh during B.C.’s visits.

Even Judith Regan thought this was a huge turn-off.

Much as I enjoyed the traffic jam and all the projectile vomiting I witnessed in downtown San Antonio today, Georgia’s come from behind win over Virginia Tech was a close second on the thrill-o-meter. I liked it better when it was called the Peach Bowl, mostly because I have a problem with Chick-fil-A being closed on Sundays. G-d can’t stop me from buying a Peach on Sunday, but apparently he can prevent me from chewing on a breaded chicken sandwich. It doesn’t seem right.

Anyhow, if Frank Beamer is feeling bad this morning, it could be worse. He could be Glen Mason.

12.30.06

Covered Up On The Line : Iowa’s 21-3 Lead That Wasn’t

Posted in Gridiron at 8:56 pm by

Alamo Bowl : Texas 26, Iowa 24

While I won’t make too much of Texas’ ability to hand Iowa their 6th loss in their last 7 games, it can safely be said that any worries about Colt McCoy’s physical condition were unfounded. And while this was largely a lost season for Drew Tate, he came awfully close to winning the Alamo Bowl for the Hawkeyes…and if you ask Kirk Ferentz, he was robbed.

With Iowa up, 14-3, A 2nd quarter TD pass from Tate to Scott Chandler was nullified when the latter was ruled an ineligble receiver. It shouldn’t be necessary for me to describe how bad my eyesight is (too many art films when I was young) but even I could read Ferentz’ lips from section 336. On the ensuing play, Tate was picked off in the end zone by Texas’ Aaron Ross (above).

Trailing 26-24 with about 3 minutes to play and taking possesion at midfield, the Hawkeyes merely needed to move the ball another 15-20 yards to set up a game winning field goal. Instead, what was probably meant to be a pass downfield by Dominque Douglas turned into a 9 yard loss when the Iowa WR was pulled down by Marcus Griffin.

Not to add too much insult to injury, but if this was Ferentz’ audition for the New York Giants gig, I think he flunked.

And on that note, with the Giants leading the Redskins, 20-7 at intermission, it certainly looks as though the New York media will have Tiki Barber (2 TD’s, 143 yards on 14 carries) to kick around some more, at least for another week.

Reusse : Zito Deal Is Bad News For The Twins

Posted in Baseball at 1:06 pm by

Just the other day, a wise man pondered, “if (Barry) Zito can command a contract of such size and length, what™s Johan Santana going to be worth on the open market?”

OK, that’s not exactly what I asked. But either way, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Patrick Reusse can read the writing on the wall.

Johan Santana became a full-time starter halfway through the 2003 season and has been baseball’s best since then. He will turn 28 in March. If he continues that excellence through 2008 and then becomes a free agent, he will be the first $200 million pitcher.

Goodbye, Twins. Hello, New York City.

There will be two options for General Manager Terry Ryan: A) Trade Torii Hunter this summer, no matter where the Twins are in the standings; or B) keep him for a potential pennant race, then allow Torii to leave as a free agent.

If Ryan goes with B, that would create an anguished scene for Twins followers during the next offseason. Hunter would be signing elsewhere at the same time Ryan was taking offers for Santana.

You can let Hunter leave as a free agent and get away with it. You can’t possibly do the same with Santana, perhaps the most valuable individual commodity in the game at the moment.

Johan will be dealt before the Twins report to spring training in 2008. That became a given when the Giants presented $18 million per year to Zito.

Darren Dreifort just muttered something about today’s starters being wildly overpaid.

Higsons’ Revenge : Stupor Hoops In Free Fall

Posted in Football at 12:37 pm by

(since there were no Rangers highlights worth showing, you’ll have to settle for this classic moment in recent Norwich history, instead)

Norwich 1, QPR 0

If QPR’s visit to Norwich could be characterized as the Higsons vs. Pigbag, it’s fair to say the porridge eaters (with apologies to R. Hitchcock) came out on the better end.  The Canaries captured the 3 points courtesy of Dion Dublin’s clinical finishing in the 69th minute, and with that, the R’s have now lost 7 of their last 8 and seem to be looking forward to trips to picturesque locales like Carlise and Yeovil Town next season.

Weirdly, Dublin’s goal came from a cross by Robbie Earnshaw, whose disappearing act while playing for Cardiff City against QPR  in the 2003 playoff final led to an appearance by that match’s eventual hero, Andy Campbell.

A pair of goals by Cristano Ronaldo in Manchester United’s 3-2 defeat of Reading, coupled with a late equalizer by Fulham’s Carlos Bocanegra in the West London Derby combined to extended Manchester United’s Premiership lead over Chelsea to 6 points.

At the other end of the spectrum, a terrific header by Bryan Hughes in extra time gave Charlton Athletic a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa, Allen Pardew’s first win since taking the reigns at the Valley.

In Saturday’s late game, a 41st minute strike by Christian Nade, his first in the English top flight, has provided Sheffield United with a 1-0 advantage over Arsenal.  I can’t say my enjoyment of FSC’s telecast has been helped one bit by the halftime advertisements for the Midwest Center For Stress & Anxiety Inc. I truly feel as though Lucinda Bassett is looking right through me.

Giants, Colonel Coughlin On The Brink Of History

Posted in Gridiron at 9:52 am by

The New York Futile Giants could become the first team to finish the season 2-6 (or 1-7) and make the playoffs, a situation the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz describes as “either shameful or fortuitous or perhaps a little bit of both.” With tonight’s visit to DC marking Tiki Barber’s regular season finale and Big Blue’s last shot at redemption, save for backing in, the New York Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano thinks Tom Coughlin’s a goner.

“You think the fans don’t like him?” one player said this week. “The players don’t like him, either. We’re tired of listening to him.”

After tonight, they may not have to listen to him much longer.

According to multiple sources in the organization, the Giants’ management team – headed by co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch – has grown increasingly frustrated with both the play of Coughlin’s team and the seemingly constant chaos that swirls around it. Mara and Tisch haven’t returned calls.

One source suggested the only thing that could save Coughlin is a very unlikely run to the NFC Championship Game. Another indicated it was possible that just one postseason win might do the job.

Vacchiano was on ESPN Radio late last night, picking the Redskins to prevail, sagely noting it’s 5-10 Washington who’ve played with the urgency of a club fighting for a playoff spot more recently than the Giants.

Rebuilding Year’s Josh Rosen may or may not be relieved to know that Coughlin is very much alive.

Easily Rattled Eli — already trying to make do without Armani Toomer, will have to get it done tonight sans the services of TE Jeremy Shockey. Whether or not an injured ankle will be enough to prevent Shockey from announcing Joe Gibbs outcoached Colonel Coughlin after the game, remains to be seen.