08.28.12

Never Before Seen In The Same Room, Roger Clemens & Roger Clamens Finally Convene

Posted in Baseball, When Mascots Attack at 10:17 am by

As seen in Sugarland, TX this past Saturday night, a freakish, oversized, distraction, best suited for bush league environs.

And in the middle, Zooperstars’ Roger Clamens.

08.27.12

Pay No Attention To The Grown Men Yelling In Davey Johnson’s Office

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 10:26 pm by

A Sunday shouting match between Nationals manager Davey Johnson and GM Mike Rizzo after Washington were swept by Philly over the weekend attracted no shortage of attention. And there’s nothing weird about that, not when Johnson allegedly asked Rizzo, “Why don’t you come down here and manage this team?” within earshot of Nationals beat writers.  But no worries, Washington fans, not when Nats Insider’s Mark Zuckerman is ready to assist with the coverup. “It all sounds like juicy and salacious stuff,” admits Zuckerman, before insisting, “blowing off a little steam at the right moment never hurt anyone.”  That should’ve been Rob Dibble’s excuse!

Don’t mistake the occasional raised voice a sign of animosity between the two. The level of respect Rizzo has for Johnson and vice versa is as strong as you’ll find between any manager and GM in baseball. They’ve each got opinions on a lot of matters, and they’re not afraid to make those opinions known, but they’re on the same page when it comes to the big picture.

Maybe it’s because the Nationals have cruised along all season without any hint of adversity, occupying first place in the NL East for all but 10 days over the last five months, but we tend to forget a baseball season is full of emotional highs and lows. The Nats have done a remarkable job staying even-keeled through it all, not getting excited over winning streaks, not getting demoralized over losing streaks.

But that doesn’t mean these guys don’t have emotions. That doesn’t mean they don’t get upset when something bad happens, whether it’s tossing over a bat rack after striking out or knocking over a clubhouse chair after giving up a run.

These aren’t robots.

Whitlock : Posnanski’s JoePa Bio Is A Fluffy Failure

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Journalism at 9:16 pm by

“Paterno”, the lengthy Joe Posnanski tome that’s under heavy scrutiny was just squashed by a heavy scrutinizer.   Fox Sports’ Jason Whitlock lowers the boom on Posnanski, declaring the book unwittingly serves as a cautionary tale about what happens when “a coach and a writer sacrifice their integrity one compromised decision at a time.” So it’s not as likely to command as much money on eBay as this book, then.

With the exception of Posnanski’s interaction with former Penn State fullback Don Abbey, the book reads like a series of cleverly written blog postings buttressed by brief telephone interviews. Posnanski, the storyteller without ego according to his passionate band of sycophants, is center stage throughout “Paterno,” most often without good reason. He delights in explaining how inconsequential figures in the book acquired nicknames. He showboats, sharing nerdy, pointless and colorful background stories on Herschel Walker and Bear Bryant. Posnanski dances and distracts because he has little that is new or enlightening to share about his subject, Joe Paterno.

Based on the content of the book, Posnanski barely had any more access to Paterno and Penn State football than the typical Penn State beat writer. All the dialogue with Paterno reads as though it transpired during a couple of rushed interviews after Penn State dismissed Paterno and the coach’s family realized it needed a biographer/stenographer to record Paterno’s rationalizations.

A self-righteous man doesn’t sacrifice integrity overnight. It happens methodically. It happens when his ambition concludes the calendar isn’t cooperating. A middle-aged sportswriter might still dream of being as famous as Mitch Albom. An aging coach might want to be as revered and beloved as John Wooden. Paterno, Sandusky and Mike McQueary were on a collision course for three decades. Paterno’s vanity and insecurity — the ingredients necessary to play deaf, dumb and blind to Sandusky’s heinous perversion — were on full display when he went after President Nixon, when Paterno first publicly exposed he cared too deeply what others thought of his team and its accomplishments.

President Nixon knows more about college football than he does Watergate,” Paterno famously quipped.

President Nixon might retort that Joe Paterno knows more about Barry Switzer and Jackie Sherrill —coaches Paterno smugly accused of breaking NCAA rules —than Jerry Sandusky, a 30-year assistant.

SBN’s Goldman : Cherrington Won’t Have Epstein’s Albatross Collection To Kick Around Anymore

Posted in Baseball at 3:26 pm by

Wild, unabashed salary dumps usually get lousy press (hello, Jeffrey Loria!), but Boston’s successful attempt at saddling the Dodgers’ with Carl Craword and Josh Beckett’s salaries (and the latter’s personality) with Adrian Gonzalez’ less insane mega-pact as the carrot is being hailed far and wide as a defining move  for Boston GM Ben Cherrington. It’s also evidence the Dodgers have completed a dramatic 360 degree turn from the days of Frank McCourt (and wouldn’t they just love to pick up Jason Bay?  HINT HINT), but let’s keep the spotlight on the frontrunner for 2013 Executive Of The Year.  Of Cherrington, SBN’s Steve Goldman warns, “it is far easier to tear down a team than to build one, and now the onus is on Cherington to take his new, relatively blank slate and construct another contender. ”

Even with Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster coming over from Los Angeles, the team is not deep in potential top starters. This lack of pitching depth is what doomed the Red Sox to their historic fall-off last fall and, having gone uncorrected this winter, doomed them again this year. Whatever the turmoil in Boston’s front office this winter, and there was a lot, if they could have bolstered their pitching depth, they would have; it’s not so easy. No team would have pinned its hope on Daniel Bard moving to the rotation if not desperate to begin with.

Cherington did an amazing thing last week in freeing the Red Sox from onerous obligations left behind by his predecessor. He took advantage of a historic moment of willing credulity on the part of the Dodgers’ new owners, who seem willing to do anything to win back their fans. But starting over is merely a beginning. The pieces are all back at “Go.” We’ve seen what Cherington can subtract. Now, with the Epstein alibi as gone as Dizzy Akers, he must show Red Sox fans what he can add.

Bissinger To Non-Heroic USADA Suit : How Many Tour de Frauds Have You Won?

Posted in cycling, Medical Science, Sports Journalism at 1:28 pm by

Buzz Bissinger’s emotional support of Lance Armstrong on Twitter Friday served two functions.  For starters, who knew Newsweek was still in business?  More importantly, Buzz generated anticipation for today’s cover story (“I Still Believe In Lance Armstrong”), in which the Pulitzer winner insists the Micheob pitchman face of Livestrong, “is one of the few heroes we have left in a country virtually bereft of them” (“if Armstrong used banned substances, he was leveling the playing field…he was still the one who overcame all odds”).

What point is being served here besides the USADA’s own desperation to prove to the public that it is cleaning up sports? It’s a slam job, and Armstrong is the victim of that slam. It has been that way for 13 years, an almost pathological desire by a select group of haters to bring him down—either out of jealousy or a determination to make a name for themselves. If he was the only one in cycling suspected of doping, then by all means tar and feather him. But he is not. Not even close. He is a target, the biggest target there is, the perfect symbol for the USADA to prove its existence.

“It’s a sad day for all of us who love sport and our athletic heroes,” said Travis Tygart, chief executive of the USADA, “it’s yet another heartbreaking example of how the win-at-all-costs culture, if left unchecked, will overtake fair, safe, and honest competition.”

Save me the absurd self-righteousness.

Perhaps Travis Tygart, before trying to destroy Lance Armstrong for his own job security, should get his ass out of the chair in his office and try it himself.

That competitive cycling has been awash with PED use is hard to argue with, but when Bissinger declares, “so what?” if Armstrong was amongst the more prodigious users (and amongst the most skilled at covering it up), he implies it’s no big deal and the ends justify the means. Perhaps the latter would have a shred more credibility if he simply echoed Buzz’ sentiments. Something along the lines of, “I’m the cancer-survivor Superman.  I’ve helped people. What the fuck have you done?”

Of course, that’s not what Armstrong has ever said.  He’s never embraced Buzz’ level of cynicism (“professional cycling is a rotten sport like all professional sports are rotten (anybody who believes otherwise is a Pollyanna fool…it’s “not about the bike,” as the title of Armstrong’s bestselling biography states. It’s about winning by any means possible,”) because doing so would be professional, if not philanthropic suicide.  It’s curious the way Armstrong’s shortcuts and dishonesty can be excused because of his survivor status and fundraising prowess.  Had Barry Bonds overcome a terminal illness —- as opposed to say, simply being a jerk — would a respected national publication (or failing that, Newsweek) have commissioned a similar defense?

08.26.12

Cowboys’ New Scheme For Dez : A Trio Of Babysitters, No More Fun Of Any Kind

Posted in Gridiron at 10:49 am by

(you really thought I was gonna post a DC3 video this time?)

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones describes embattled WR Dez Bryant as “open-minded and cooperative”. There’s been no reports this offseason of Bryant turning up late to practices, team meetings or even losing his trousers at the mall. Still, in light of an alleged August 14 incident between Bryant and his mother, ESPNDallas’ Calvin Watkins reports the Cowboys have imposed the following conditions on America’s 2nd Most Favorite Dez (see above).

• A midnight curfew. If he’s going to miss curfew, team officials must know in advance;

• No drinking alcohol.

• He can’t attend any strip clubs and can only attend nightclubs if they are approved by the team and he has a security team with him.

• He must attend counseling sessions twice a week.

• A rotating three-man security team will leave one man with Bryant at all times.

• Members of the security team will drive Bryant to practices, games and team functions.

I suppose that’s all good news if that’s what it takes to keep Bryant on the straight and narrow. The bad news, however is this guy has already applied for one of the security jobs.

Farewell To One Of NYC’s Legendary Jobs Creators : Matty The Horse, Dead At 92

Posted in New York, New York, The Law at 10:22 am by

Genovese family boss Matthew Ianniello, aka “Matt The Horse”, shuffled off this mortal coil some eleven days ago at the age of 92. It took the New York Times’ Paul Vitello an entire week to note the passing of one of the more crucial figures in U.S. porn history. Conversely, I’m only 4 days later in cutting and pasting portions of Vitello’s obit.

Mr. Ianniello — whose mob name derived from his powerful physique and his early career as an enforcer — served only two significant prison terms during his life: a nine-year term for racketeering and tax evasion involving Midtown topless bars that he owned, which he served from 1986 to 1995; and an 18-month sentence for his role in illegally controlling garbage-hauling companies in Connecticut, which he completed in 2009, at 89.

Yet federal prosecutors considered him the mastermind of one of organized crime’s most lucrative profit centers in New York — the topless bar scene and pornography shops of Manhattan.


Some establishments were owned outright by Mr. Ianniello’s organization. In most cases, though, the profit came in the form of payments for “protection,” which establishment owners paid as supposed insurance against police raids, union demands for higher wages or, explicitly or not, visits from goons with tire irons.

Similar protection incentives made Mr. Ianniello, in effect, one of the biggest operators of Manhattan’s discos and gay bars during the ’70s. Among them were several that were considered landmarks of gay night life, like the Gilded Grape and the Hay Market.

Mr. Ianniello was involved in more than 80 restaurants and bars at the peak of his operation, which prosecutors described as a “smut cartel,” with a network of holding companies offering an array of services for his bar and disco clients: money lending, interior decorating, garbage collection and vending-machine leasing; one was the talent agency providing topless dancers for the bars. By laundering protection payments through the various service providers, Mr. Ianniello protected himself for many years from the notice of law enforcement.