Freedom’s Just Another Word For Your Contract Is Up : Stephen A. Smith’s Exit Interview

Posted in Sports TV at 8:47 pm by

Tomorrow marks the final day of Stephen A. Smith’s tenue as at ESPN, a stint that saw the former Philly scribe given his own television chat program, the oft-mocked “Quite Franky“, as well as Smith becoming Cheez Doodles’ most well-recognized (unpaid) spokesperson.  On the eve of his departure from the WWL, Smith — disregarding one pundit’s claim he was already “”the most despised sports personality on the air today” at the time of “Quite Frankly”‘s debut — insists to USA Today’s Michael Hiestand the program’s lack of success was just a matter of poor scheduling.

Smith says the biggest problem was the show being shifted from its original 6:30 p.m. ET time slot to sometime around 11 p.m. ET ” sometime, that is, after the live games leading into his show ended. Says Smith, of that show, which lasted 17 months: “I believe to this day if my show had a definitive time slot, it would have been more successful.”

Plenty of TV sports types have gone on to broaden their on-air horizons. Smith now sees them as his role models. Like Robin Roberts ” “I adore her” ” and Bryant Gumbel ” “I idolize him.” He admires Keith Olbermann, another crossover case who has a largely political talk show on MSNBC while also working NBC’s NFL studio and writing columns for mlb.com. But he says his ESPN exit is nothing like Olbermann’s fiery 1997 departure and is instead a matter of wanting to branch out.

The New York Post this week opined Smith is “a self-promoting, race-based gasbag.” But Smith, asked if he now sees himself primarily as a sort of spokesman, is low-key: “I’m not this voice, or that voice. But if people want to hear a perspective from the African American community that otherwise wouldn’t be heard, I’d be honored to deliver that message.”

The Post column in question was penned by (who else?) Phil Mushnick, whose farewell to one of his favorite punching bags concluded with “despite all ESPN’s media platforms, it no longer had room for a wildly popular, in-demand fellow who’s one part Martin Luther King and one part Daniel Webster . Smith’s so delusional he’d insult those he considers his greatest admirers. He apparently feels that black Americans find him less full of it than everyone else.”  That’s a fair enough critique, and entirely more cutting, if not reasonable, than Mushnick’s repeated charge that Smith’s oratory skills were nothing more than “jive infused plattitudes”.  That Smith was an insufferable legend-in-his-own-mind is hard to dispute or defend.  But for much of his spell in the public eye, Mushnick would have his readers believe Stephen A.’s greatest sin wasn’t arrogance, but rather sounding too black.

Mariotti : Rondo’s Assault No Less Flagrant Than Howard’s

Posted in Basketball at 6:39 pm by

Though copping to the Celtics/Bulls playoff series as “The Best NBA First-Round Series Ever Played”, AOL Sports’ Jay Mariotti can’t quite fathom why Rajon Rondo’s Game 5 face rake of Brad Miller was considered less suspension-worthy than Dwight Howard’s attempted decapitation of Samuel Dalembert. “To all the prejudices and biases that complicate our tangled world,” pontificates the Mascara Fiend, ” today we add ‘oafism.'”

Translated, the league took care of the little guy and blew off the big dope. Oafism, we’ll call it. Or, positionism.  Why was Howard suspended and Rondo not even punished? Why the double standard? Shouldn’t the Bulls and Magic wonder why Rondo gets to play his Game 6 and Howard doesn’t? And if the roles were reversed — Miller as the perpetrator, Rondo as the victim — don’t you think Miller would have been flagrantly flagged?

In a compelling postseason with rising TV ratings, the league doesn’t need officiating inconsistencies to detract from the gripping action. We aren’t far removed from the Tim Donaghy point-shaving scandal that, while apparently an isolated case, red-flagged some suspicions about hanky-panky. As a difficult game to officiate, pro basketball always will have a gray area when it comes to calls. But it’s inconceivable that on the very same night in the playoffs, one hard shot to the head results in a suspension while another hard shot to the head warrants no action. Jackson is dead wrong about Rondo going after the ball. In the final seconds of overtime, with Miller on an unimpeded path to a game-tying basket, Rondo turned into one of Bill Belichick’s linebackers on a goal-line tackling mission and went straight for the face. In Memphis on a December evening, it’s a flagrant foul. In Sacramento on a March afternoon, it’s a flagrant foul.

Someone Forgot To Tell The Paramount Theatre Caliendo’s Career Is Supposed To Be Over

Posted in The World Of Entertainment, Total Fucking Terror at 4:44 pm by

Between George W. Bush’s failure to claim a 3rd Presidential term and the retirement of NBC’s John Madden, there’s been considerable speculation that terrorist impressionist Frank Caliendo would at long last, leave the public eye.

Apparently, the booking department at Austin’s venerable Paramount Theatre haven’t received the memo. No, not the one about Caliendo sucking (he was originally booked to appear Sept. 11 2008 — never forget!), rather the note acknowledging the comedian’s already tenuous grasp on cultural relevancy will soon rival that of Rich Little.

That’s $51.25 to see Caliendo do Barkley, folks.   No wait, I’m sorry, the Paramount’s press release says Frank can mimic Jim Rome, too.

All White Fury : Aussie Rules Football Club Has Some Fuckkked Ideas For A Dinner Party

Posted in Australian Rules Football, Racism Corner at 3:08 pm by

At the very least, I am assuming the Torquay Tigers are looking for a new webmaster. It seems the football/netball club chose to announce an forthcoming social gathering with the images shown below :

From the Herald Sun’s Peter Familiari :

“It caught me by surprise, because I haven’t been on the website for a while. I didn’t know anything about it,” said Michael Coleman, Torquay Tigers club secretary.

“But I’m thinking ‘All White Night’ and hoping no one would find any racism in that. But the picture is likely to be the work of an individual person and it’s certainly not the club’s thoughts.”

The picture was withdrawn soon after it attracted widespread media attention, being replaced by Disney character Snow White.

The Herald-Sun helpfully adds, “the Ku Klux Klan, also known as the KKK, is a white supremacist organisation which has a record of violence towards African-Americans, Jews and other minorities”, perhaps proving that “Mississippi Burning” didn’t do so well in Australia.

If The Heat Recover, They Can Thank Josh Smith For The Wake Up Call

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down at 2:46 pm by

Of the humiliated Heat — losers in Game 5 to Atlanta,106-91, the Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman writes, “to do something stupid Friday and compromise its chances in a potential Sunday game would be beyond foolish. It would mirror so many of the team’s previous misplaced macho moments.”  Even so, it’s unlikely Miami will soon forget a particular incident from late in Thursday’s contest.

If you’re nostalgic for the Association Of Yore, Game 5 recalled much of the aggressive play typified by Pat Riley’s early tenure in Miami, though as Slam’s Marcel Mutoni put it, “the only difference between then and now is having someone crazy enough to attempt a between the legs windmill dunk late in the fourth quarter with the outcome no longer in question ” and missing it to boot.”

It Was Omir Santos’ Birthday, But The Florida Marlins Received The Gifts

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 10:56 am by

Of the Mets’ disheartening 4–3  loss Wednesday afternoon to Florida, Faith & Fear In Flushing’s Greg Prince wrote, “What can you do with a game in which Santana is plenty good (if not otherworldly), we get twice our daily allotment of triples, a disputed home run call goes our way and we are presented with a surprise (shocking, really) appearance by the backup catcher at the very last minute?”  Though Greg forgot to mention thrice our montly allotment of sacrifice bunts (though sadly, not one from the struggling David Wright with two on and none out against Matt Lindstrom in the 9th), it’s that Omir Santos cameo that lingers in the memory long after the booing of Wright or the Aaron Heilman-esque effort of J.J. Putz.

The monumental diss to Castro aside, Jerry Manuel opting to bring in a career minor leaguer — albeit one removed from the first grand slam in Citi Field’s short history  — to face Lindstrom with the bases loaded, two out and the Mets trailing by one in their final frame left many in attendance scratching their skulls. Had only we remembered it was Omir Santos’ birthday!  From Amazin’ Avenue’s James K :

Jerry Manuel wanted to give Santos a birthday present.  Happy 28th Omir.  That sprint underneath the stadium from the bullpen while wearing cleats sounds treacherous.

Castro: you messed up by being born on March 1.  And also for having a .723 career major league OPS (nevermind Santos’s career .652 minor league OPS).

The Star Ledger’s Steve Politi has dubbed Wright “the face of panic”, and as WFAN’s Benigno & Roberts were quick to point out today, the Mets’ third baseman is striking out at a pace reminiscent of Ryan Howard, sans the home runs. Wright is catching crazy heat for that oh-so-capital WFAN offense of Not Coming Thru In A Big Spot (copyright 1993, Chris Russo Enterprises) and assuming the Mets aren’t going to be any better than a 4th place club the rest of the year, can we just consider this phase a prelude to this former fan favorite turning heel? There’s a rich NYC history Wright can draw upon (spraying bleach at reporters with a supersoaker, under -tipping at Hooter’s, etc.) and even if he never gets another clutch RBI, I look forward to whatever happens next.

The Cubs Go Dempster Diving; Dbacks Win 10-0

Posted in Baseball at 2:06 am by


[Dempster, left, is officially named the Cubs’ 2009 Bob Howry, right.]

The Cubs drop 2 of 3 in the desert, getting beat thrashed 10-0 in today’s matinee.  Two things bother you about today’s outing, mainly the streaky nature of the Cub bats (like last year) and fearing that Ryan Dempster’s 2008 was a fluke career best. Of the $52 million the Cubs pay him thru 2012, they look to get about $10 mill back, tops.  Gordon Wittenmyer talked to Dempster about his 5.40 ERA and single-win April here, with Dempster telling it this way:

”Crooked numbers,” he said. ”Bad inning management.

”I’ll just keep plugging away and keep trying to execute pitches. It seems like other than that one crooked number I’m putting up right now, I’m actually throwing the ball all right and giving us a chance. But if I can just stop doing that, it’ll give us a better chance to win the game.”

Yeah, stop doing that.  Surely, Paul Sullivan will find a way to blame Milton Bradley for all this.  Check out Sully’s recounting of Bradley’s woes here, when 2 hits and a walk in Tuesday’s win were cause for him to rehash (yet again) MB’s debut as a Cub.

Understandably, Piniella is getting grilled about his .500 April.  And while Piniella can talk all he wants about injuries and slumping millionaires, he himself appears less decisive than last year.  Whose closing?  Marmol or Gregg?  Soriano finally bats lower in the order after last week’s series of injuries, then bounces back up to lead-off.  I’m not criticizing Piniella, he’s had a lot to adapt to, not to mention rejiggering a 40% new team.  His crew has the talent “ Zambrano homered and was a triple short of hitting for the cycle Tuesday.  But the Cubs right now look like guys hoping for Inspiration instead of grinders who show up to work.  The Herald’s Bruce Miles delivers this dirty laundry list of today’s rout:

It was an all-around failure for the Cubs:

¢ Cubs batters managed just 2 hits off Davis, who pitched 7 innings and stymied the Cubs with his deliberate approach on the mound.

¢ Ryan Dempster, the Cubs’ starting pitcher, gave up 6 hits and 5 runs.

¢ Dempster walked three batters, and it got only worse from there. Carlos Marmol, returning from a knee injury, set alarm bells ringing by walking four in one-third of an inning. Closer Kevin Gregg, in the game to get some work, walked three and couldn’t finish a mop-up inning.

When it was all over, the Cubs limped home with a 2-4 road trip, and their overall record stands at 10-10.

There have been rumblings that the Cubs were overconfident coming out of spring training after having won the National League Central two straight years.

With April almost over manager Lou Piniella may have seen Wednesday as a time to launch a strike – perhaps too late to be pre-emptive – against complacency.

“We’re not going to be able to just go out there and play without intensity and go through the motions and think we can win baseball games, I can tell you that,” Piniella told reporters. “And the quicker that sinks in, I think, the better.”