Friday, August 29, 2008

Roger Ebert, among others, isn't pleased with Jay Mariotti

Hat tip to blog pal Bob Glauber of Newsday for this one. Movie critic and Chicago Sun-Times writer Roger Ebert weighed in yesterday on Jay Mariotti's resignation and apparently isn't too happy with the guy.

From RogerEbert.com:
An open letter to sports columnist Jay Mariotti, who resigned from the Sun-Times and lashed out during a TV interview announcing that newspapers were dead:

Dear Jay,

What an ugly way to leave the Sun-Times. It does not speak well for you. Your timing was exquisite. You signed a new contract, waited until days after the newspaper had paid for your trip to Beijing at great cost, and then resigned with only an email. You saved your explanation for a local television station.
As someone who was working here for 24 years before you arrived, I think you owed us more than that. You owed us decency. The fact that you saved your attack for TV only completes our portrait of you as a rat.
Newspapers are not dead, Jay, although you predicted the death of the Sun-Times and the Tribune. Neither paper will die any time soon. Job-hunting tip: It is imprudent to go on TV and predict the collapse of a newspaper you might hope would hire you. Times are hard in the newspaper business, and for the economy as a whole. Did you only sign on for the luxury cruise? There's an old saying that you might have come across once or twice on the sports beat: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."
Newspapers are not dead, Jay, because there are still readers who want the whole story, not a sound bite. If you only work on television, viewers may get a little weary of you shouting at them. You were a great shouter in print, that's for sure, stomping your feet when owners, coaches, players and fans didn't agree with you. It was an entertaining show. Good luck getting one of your 1,000-word rants on the air.
The rest of us are still at work, still putting out the best paper we can. We believe in our profession, and in the future. And we believe in our Internet site, which you also whacked as you slithered out the door. I don't know how your column was doing, but we have the most popular sports section in Chicago. The reports and blog entries by our Washington editor Lynn Sweet have become a must-stop for millions of Americans in this election year.
After a recent blog entry I wrote about the Beijing Olympics, I woke up at 5 a.m. one morning, when North America was asleep, and found that 40 percent of my 100 most recent visitors had been from China. I don't have any complaints about our Web site. So far this month my Web page page has been visited from virtually every country on earth, including one visit from the Vatican City. The Pope, no doubt. Hope you were doing as well.
You have left us, Jay, at a time when the newspaper is once again in the hands of people who love newspapers and love producing them. You managed to stay here through the dark days of the thieves Conrad Black and David Radler. The paper lost millions. Incredibly, we are still paying Black's legal fees.
I started here when Marshall Field and Jim Hoge were running the paper. I stayed through the Rupert Murdoch regime. I was asked, "How can you work for a Murdoch paper?" My reply was: "It's not his paper. It's my paper. He only owns it." That's the way I've always felt about the Sun-Times, and I still do. On your way out, don't let the door bang you on the ass.
Your former colleague,
Roger Ebert
It is well-known that Mariotti had a lot of enemies and didn't get along that well with anyone, and former colleagues and newspaper writers are coming out in droves to beat the guy down. Either way, it's a pretty funny piece by Ebert.

The artist formerly known as Chad Johnson

It has been a rumor for a few weeks, and apparently now it's official.

Miami's 790 The Ticket is reporting that Johnson has legally changed his name to Chad Ocho Cinco, which will allow him to wear the nickname on the back of his jersey.

I would try to come up with some witty tidbit to add here, but do I really need to? This is strange enough on its own.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Michael Phelps to host SNL September 13th

Michael Phelps is riding high right now. 8 Gold Medals at the Beijing Games, and now the swimming superstar will host "Saturday Night Live."

From The Peacock:
NEW YORK – August 27, 2008 – "Saturday Night Live" makes its 34th season premiere on Saturday, September 13 featuring two of the biggest names of the summer – Michael Phelps and hip-hop superstar Lil Wayne.

US Olympic swimming phenomenon Michael Phelps will make his acting debut hosting the season premiere hot off his record-shattering performance in Beijing.
It should be fun to see Phelps acting. He's a little awkward sometimes, but maybe he'll shock us. The release also says there will be four live SNL's in a row to kick off the season, which is good news for everyone...if you still watch the show.

NY Post says Mets might claim Pavano off waivers

Please, please, please let this be true.

The Yankees placed Carl Pavano on waivers and it would make sense for the Metropolitans to grab the guy. They need pitching help and, unlike the Yankees, are in a hot race for the playoffs.

Shawne Merriman is a very silly man

Chargers LB Shawne Merriman is prepared to forgo surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his knee so that he can play this year with the Bolts. It seems like he's trying to be a warrior about the whole thing and help his team and all of that "rah rah" stuff, but this just seems crazy to me.

I spoke to TONY BLOGS Medical Expert, Dr. Ezekiel Coleslaw, about this earlier and he said that he saw a report that said that Merriman could potentially blow out his entire knee. There is no brace that can support the knee enough, and a serious injury could happen. Doc 'Slaw agrees, adding that though the knee injury right now is not career threatening, it could end his career if he tries to play through it.

I think Merriman should have surgery, sit out this season, and come back strong next year to help the Chargers. Instead he will play, presumably at less than 100%, and potentially injure himself worse, so that he can not help the Bolts down the line, and also might have severe, permanent knee damage.

Who has two thumbs and thinks live SportsCenter is a hit? This guy.

While on a day off and watching the 9am live SportsCenter for the first time, the show seems like it's working. It's not a huge difference from the old looped SC's, but they do change things up a bit from hour to hour and have other things that the replays couldn't have, like guests and more correspondents. It also provides a fresh take on everything right now, as opposed to seeing a replay of what John Kruk thought about the Yankees at 5pm yesterday.

Josh Elliot, who just returned today after the birth of his child, and Hannah Storm seem to have chemistry. Storm is widely thought of as one of the top broadcasters in the industry and Josh Elliot is climbing the ranks of ESPN's hierarchy. (IMHO, Elliot is top five at the "worldwide leader.")

It's a good move by ESPN and when Hot Stove seasons come around, the show will be the place to go for breaking news on trades and transactions. It's not going to be able to compete with blogs like the show boasts, mostly because people can check the internet at work and can't watch TV, but it is still nice to know you can go to SC and see Chris Mortensen giving false reports about NFL moves.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rise and shine with ESPN

ESPN today launched ESPN Rise, the "worldwide leader's" new high school sports website. The folks at Bristol have been changing things up quite a bit lately in response to what the fans have asked for. Since they have a special way of suffocating every other level of competitive sports, why not put the choke hold on high school football too?

Here's a portion of the release from ESPN:
ESPNRISE.com, the news, information and community resource for high school athletes, launches today. The site represents the confluence of multiple acquisitions and initiatives by ESPN over the past 18 months. ESPNRISE.com will be a complete source for national high school sports and lifestyle coverage, as well as a community connecting 14- to 18-year-old athletes to each other, their sports passions and friends and families. The launch is the latest step in ESPN’s multiplatform commitment to highlighting and celebrating high school sports.
It definitely is nice to see a network that everyone turns to for sports information and highlights addressing the desires of the fan. This is just another way of doing that. And if you're a diehard high school football fan, this is a great day for you.

Slice v. Shamrock set for October 4

CBS will announce today that the main event for its October 4th EliteXC card will feature Kimbo Slice battling 44-year-old UFC legend Ken Shamrock. Slice is MMA's biggest draw, despite a lack of experience, and Shamrock is one of the sport's biggest names. Shamrock, though, hasn't won in his last five fights.

The matchup is sure to draw ratings for CBS and a victory for Slice over Shamrock, though a shell of what he once was, would be considered a big step for Kimbo.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Osi out for the year

Back from a short blog-break, blogging from the new blog-cliner. Here's some bad news for Giants fans, from a team press release:

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ
- Giants Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who left last night's game against the Jets in the second quarter when his left knee locked up, underwent an MRI and exam today at Hospital for Special Surgery.
The finding by team physician Dr. Russell Warren is that Umemyiora has a torn lateral meniscus.
Umenyiora, who will miss the 2008 season due to the injury, is scheduled to undergo surgery on Tuesday.
This is not the first time Umenyiora has required surgery to repair cartilage damage in his left knee. He underwent arthroscopic surgery for the same issue during his collegiate career at Troy State.
The defending Super Bowl Champs are already without Michael Strahan, who retired, and now are minus one of their best defensive players. I would assume Mathias Kiwanuka will slide down and play end, leaving a gap at linebacker.

The chances of a repeat are looking worse every day... 

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

ESPN 2008 college football announcers revealed

The "Worldwide Leader" today released the commentating assignments for the upcoming college football season. The most noteworthy item is the addition of Jesse Palmer to the broadcast booth. The former Florida Gator/New York Giant/ Bachelor will join Chris Fowler and Craig James. If memory serves me correctly, Doug Flutie was the third man on that team last year.

From the release:
ESPN’s 2008 college football coverage will feature the return of the deepest roster of experienced and knowledgeable commentators for ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN360.com, ESPN Classic, ESPN Radio and ESPN Mobile TV telecasts.  Highlights:
  • Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit and Lisa Salters will return for their third season on the Saturday Night Football Presented by Southwest Airlines series, broadcast television’s only weekly primetime game (8 p.m. ET on ABC).  Herbstreit will continue to work on ESPN’s Saturday morning College GameDay Built by The Home Depot program (10 a.m. on ESPN).
  • Analyst Jesse Palmer, who primarily worked in the studio last year, will call ESPN’s Thursday night games with returning commentator Chris Fowler, analyst Craig James and reporter Erin Andrews (primarily beginning at 7:30 p.m.).  Fowler will continue to host College GameDay Built by The Home Depot.  James will return to work in the studio with host John Saunders and analyst Doug Flutie on Saturday pre-game, halftime and post-game reports on ABC, including the half-hour College Football Countdown at 3 p.m.  In addition to Thursday night games, Palmer will serve as a studio analyst on College Football Live, ESPN’s daily college football show at 3:30 p.m., and Saturdays, primarily on ESPN2 with host Wendi Nix.
  • Former Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione will join ESPN Radio as an analyst on the weekly schedule of games.  Dave Barnett will call play-by-play with reporter Joe Schad.
  • Brad Nessler and analysts Bob Griese and Paul Maguire will call top Saturday broadcasts on ABC with reporter Stacey Dales, who worked the sidelines on ESPN2’s Saturday primetime games last year.
  • Mike Patrick, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe will call the ESPN College Football Primetime Presented by Hampton Saturday primetime series for the third consecutive year.
  • Ron Franklin, Ed Cunningham and Jack Arute will return to work Saturday afternoon games on ABC and select ESPN and ESPN2 telecasts.
  • Analyst Rod Gilmore, who worked ESPN Radio’s regular-season games last year, will join Joe Tessitore on Saturday and Friday ESPN and ESPN2 telecasts.
  • Former Miami Hurricanes head coach Larry Coker will return for his second year as an analyst on ESPNU Saturday afternoon games.
  • Rece Davis, Lou Holtz and Mark May, ESPN’s Saturday pre-game, halftime, post-game and College Football Final (Saturday’s at midnight) studio crew, will once again work select ESPN and ESPN2 weekday games.
  • Former University of Washington and NFL quarterback Brock Huard will join ESPN as an analyst on select games with commentator Bob Wischusen.
  • Analyst David Diaz-Infante, who worked primarily on ESPN Regional Television games last year, will call ESPNU’s Saturday primetime games with commentator Clay Matvick.
  • Former Tulane and NFL quarterback Shaun King, who has served as an NFL analyst for ESPN on First Take, NFL Live and ESPNEWS, will work as a college football analyst on select ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Classic games.

Other returning commentator pairings include Mark Jones and Bob Davie; Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman and Rob Stone; Dave Pasch, Andre Ware and Erin Andrews; Charlie Neal and Jay WalkerTodd McShay and Trevor Matich will return as analysts on College GameDay on ESPN Radio (Saturdays from noon to 7 p.m.).

Quick Pic: LeBron + D-Wade = Stretch Routine BFFs

Here's a Quick Pic of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James from Basketbawful. It looks like Wade is cracking Bron Bron's back. Or maybe LBJ tried to do a push up with D-Wade on his back. Or maybe Team USA doesn't have a "no public displays of affection" rule.

Joe Torre embraces blogging

Look who has just entered the blogosphere. None other than "Saint" Joe Torre, former New York Yankees manager and current Los Angeles Dodgers skipper, whose "Torre's Stories" blog is part of the MLBlogs network. He posted three entries on Monday and even joked on how behind he is, especially when it comes to the Web.

From Torre's first entry:
"First up, though, I'll be figuring out this blogging thing since I'm a little behind the times. For example, I saw one of those little candy Valentine's hearts printed with "LOL" and thought it was a typo right up until I started reading about blogs and Web acronyms. I mean, WTF(udge), right? Then there are "web smileys" like ;-) and :-( which frankly make me a bit >:-P (I just made that one up). But live and learn."
Some witty stuff on the first go-round. The next few posts detail his new life on the West Coast and how different LA is from NY. Sure, the blog and its logo (pictured above) seem like they are just an extension of the State Farm commercial he is in, but it's still pretty interesting. Buzz Bissinger, a writer, can't just accept that blogs are real and entertaining, but 68-year-old manager Joe Torre dives right in... go figure!

Wednesday's Olympic coverage schedule

Take a look at tonight's Olympic preview from NBC:
BEIJING – August 19, 2008 – NBC's primetime coverage of the Beijing Olympics Wednesday begins at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT and features live coverage of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh in the women's beach volleyball gold medal final. The USA's May-Treanor and Walsh will defend their Athens gold medal against China's Tian Jiang and Wang Jie in front of what should be a raucous home crowd. The Gymnastics Gala showcases the stars of women's and men's gymnastics of the Beijing Games as they perform their routines one last time, this time set to popular music. In track & field, the men's 200m gold medal final features USA's Shawn Crawford who looks to defend his 200m gold medal from Athens, but the "World's Fastest Man" Usain "Lightning" Bolt of Jamaica stands in his way. Also, USA's Wallace Spearmon and Walter Dix look to win gold in the event as well. In the women's 400m hurdles, Tiffany Ross-Williams and Sheena Tosta represent the USA in the finals. Also, live in primetime is the BMX gold medal finals, in it's Olympic debut.
I guess I haven't been paying attention because I had no clue BMX made it into the Olympics. The X Games were just a few weeks ago, so "action sports" fans must be pretty happy. You can also see volleyball, gymnastics and track & field.

Tiger Woods can walk on water

I've been away from the blogosphere for the past few days due to golfing commitments (terrible, I know) so let's get the ball rolling again with a funny video from Tiger Woods. A YouTuber uploaded a video from Tiger Woods 08, revealing a glitch in the game that allowed Tiger to hit a shot while standing on water. It was dubbed, "The Jesus Shot."

Woods wants everyone to know that it wasn't a glitch (Hat tip to AwfulAnnouncing for the vid):


Pretty funny stuff and a good way to promote the upcoming Tiger Woods 09 video game. And now we know what Tiger has been up to while recovering from his knee surgery.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Quick Pic: Brett Favre and his new, green gang

The old gun-slinging, always-a-smile-on-his-face quarterback made his Jets preseason debut Saturday night and threw a TD pass. Here he is seen with fellow QBs Brett Ratliff (5) and Kellen Clemens (11) and someone I presume to be Erik Ainge in the background. Thanks to Jeff Zelevansky of Getty Images for the photo.

Bob Costas interviews Michael Phelps (Video)

Why just read the interview when you can watch it? Thanks to AwfulAnnouncing for this one.

Bob Costas interviews Michael Phelps (Transcript)

Michael Phelps sat down with NBC's Bob Costas after capturing his 8th gold medal of these Olympic games. Thanks to NBC, here it is, word for word:
BOB COSTAS INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL PHELPS:
Costas: In case you're not aware, Mr. and Mrs. America, I'd like to introduce you to Michael Phelps. He's a pretty good swimmer. He's had a pretty good Olympic Games. You don't even appear winded. You did exactly and fully what you came here to do. We got the immediate reaction with Andrea Kremer afterwards. A few more minutes for it to sink in, any perspective at all?

Phelps: (Pause) No.

Costas: (Laughter) There it is.

Phelps: I'm still at a loss for words. This was everything that I wanted to do, and everything I dreamed of. And, it's an amazing feeling. I do want to say that it wouldn't have been possible without the help from my teammates. They were a huge help to my success.

Costas: Let's tick them off here. As in, not make them angry, we don't want to tick them off, we want to tick off their names here. In the 4x100 free, Garrett Weber-Gale, Cullen Jones and of course Jason Lezak with the epic last leg. In the 4x200 free, Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens and Peter Vanderkaay, and just now Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen and Lezak again, that's three of the eight.

Phelps: I guess starting off from the 400 free relay, you guys saw our reaction and how emotional and excited we were. And then the 800 free, we wanted to break seven minutes, and we went out and broke seven minutes. Tonight we wanted to end on a good note. Those relays are ours. The 400 medley relay is ours, and we wanted to keep it in our country, and we wanted to keep the world record. It was a good race. We went out there, and we put four swims and broke the world record and had one of the best times we've had all week.

Costas: You're aware, I guess, because Andrea mentioned it to you and we showed it for a moment earlier, that in your hometown of Baltimore where the Ravens played a preseason game tonight against the Vikings, the fans stayed around after the game ended. They showed it on the big screen and they went nuts.

Phelps: I was actually talking about that with my teammates this morning, with Peirsol and Brendan and Lezak this morning. I was like, this is going to be live at Ravens Stadium after the game. Almost 70,000 people screaming. It's cool. I'm excited to go home. I can't wait to see a football game. That's one of the biggest things I'm looking forward to when I get home.

Costas: Ian Thorpe was in the house. You're a bit like Michael Jordan in this respect. Jordan would extract motivation from any situation. He would even somehow identify a perceived slight from an intended complement. So, whether it's Thorpe or it's Cavic or whether it was Alain Bernard earlier, if it's there, if it's something real or imaginary that can get under your skin, you'll use it.

Phelps: Oh yeah. I said yesterday I welcome any comments. All they do is fire me up, and all they do for America is fire us up. Before the relay we were fired up, and that made just made us more fired up and fueled us even more to get ready to swim. I always welcome it, and I love when people say that somebody can't do something because you want to go out there and prove it that much more.

Costas: It was actually reasonable what Thorpe said, because if I've got it right, he wasn't so much saying it's impossible. He was saying it's highly unlikely because there are so many variables including the three that are relay events.

Phelps: I guess everything had to go perfect. We had to have a great last leg in the 4x100 free. I had to win by 0.01 in the 100 fly. It's a little bit of everything. Everything had to fall perfectly into place, and I was able to have probably the best week of my life.

Costas: Somebody told me about an hour ago that this week on facebook...

Phelps: Oh my gosh, it's crazy.

Costas: You've gone by Michael Jordan, Manchester United, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer. But it doesn't stop there. You've gone by the Jonas Brothers, you've gone by Miley Cirus you've gone by Justin Timberlake. You swept the board.

Phelps: I checked it one day and I checked it two days later, and I had like 2,800 in one day, and then I went back on two days later and had like 7,600 friend requests. I can't accept anymore, but I have those sitting in my box.

Costas: And of course, you consider them all close personal friends, and you'll respond to them all in due time.

Phelps: Of course, of course.

Costas: Also, you got Will Smith by the way. You moved past Will Smith, at least for the time being.

Phelps: It's cool. I'm having fun. That's all I've wanted to do.
Could have probably done without the Facebook reference but still a good watch/read. Costas is one of the top two or three voices in the business and I'm so happy he interviewed Phelps instead of Andrea Kremer.

Sunday's Olympic broadcast features women's hoops in day, gymnastics at night

You can stop watching the Olympics, now that Michael Phelps struck gold 8 times and Dara Torres managed silver three times. I say that in jest, but two of the biggest American storylines are history. There's still men's basketball to keep your eyes on. From the release, here's what is in store for tonight:
BEIJING – August 16, 2008 – NBC's primetime coverage of the Beijing Olympics Sunday begins at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT with men's gymnastics individual gold medal finals in floor and pommel horse and women's individual gold medal finals in floor and vault. For USA women's gymnastics it will be another Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin match-up as they compete for gold on floor, and could again take gold and silver for the USA. Alicia Sacramone has the opportunity to redeem herself at this Olympics as she competes in vault. On the men's side for the USA, Alexander Artimev will compete in the pommel horse and could take gold from heavy favorite Xiao Qin. In track & field, the women's 100m gold medal final will crown the "fastest woman in the world" and should feature the USA's Lauryn Williams who has earned a medal in the past three major championships (2004 Olympic Silver, 2005 World Championship gold, 2007 World Championship silver). Also in primetime, the women's springboard gold medal final and live look-ins of women's triathlon

Friday, August 15, 2008

Saturday's NBC Olympics rundown

I missed a day, but here is Saturday's Olympic coverage preview from NBC:
BEIJING – August 16, 2008 – NBC's primetime coverage of the Beijing Olympics Saturday begins at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT with the final night of swimming where Michael Phelps could break Mark Spitz's 36-year-old record of seven gold medals in a single Olympics and go eight for eight in '08 in the 4x100 Medley Relay. Forty-one-year-old mother Dara Torres, if she advances through the semifinal Friday night, could become the "Fastest Woman in the Water" and win gold in the 50m freestyle. Also, Torres and Natalie Coughlin lead the 4x100m Medley Relay and hope to take gold back from Australia, the defending Olympic Gold Medalists in the event. In track & field, the title of "World's Fastest Man" is on the line as USA's World Champion Tyson Gay takes on Jamaica's world record-holder Usain "Lightning" Bolt and Asafa Powell. Also, live in primetime is the women's marathon.
Now they're just throwing hypotheticals out there to lure you in. Theoretically, in any race someone could become the fastest something in history. Still, these are the big stories that the media and bloggers have been hammering on so why not exploit it?

Mad Dog gets teary in phone farewell address

Chris Russo called his former show today and got choked up (more like wept) one day after leaving the Mike and the Mad Dog program. Big time head nod to Awful Announcing for the video.



This really is an incredible day in media history. A team of two radio personalities, that lasted almost 19 years, have parted ways. And you get a tearful, emotional address from Russo to bring you inside the story a little bit more. Mad Dog got to say his goodbye, and I'm sure we'll be hearing him on the airwaves again very soon. He's a New York talk guy, but Russo is also a national figure that could perhaps get offers from ESPN Radio, FOX Sports Radio and Sirius.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Baron Davis sings for you

Last month I posted a pic from the Interwebs of Baron Davis and Steve Nash riding a tandem bicycle together. The bike ride was a shot from a video shoot for a contest on the web site iBeatYou, where fans would vote on the best fake movie trailer. Nash and Davis shot a parody of the flick "Step Brothers," which can be seen at this link.

Baron Davis is back, this time crooning to Maroon 5's "Won't Go Home Without You." Enjoy.

Phelps goes for 6th Gold, highlights Thursday's Olympic coverage

NBC's day 6 coverage begins tonight at 8pm with women's gymnastics and more Michael Phelps, who is a dolphin. From NBC's release:
BEIJING – August 13, 2008 – NBC's primetime coverage of the Beijing Olympics Thursday begins at 8 p.m. ET/PT featuring live women's gymastics individual all-around gold medal final and swimming gold medal finals. Tuesday in primetime, Team USA took silver in the women's team final, and both defending World All-Around Champion Shawn Johnson and nine-time World Champion medalist Nastia Liukin are favored to take home medals in the individual all-around. Live in swimming, Michael Phelps continues his undefeated quest for his sixth gold medal of the Games, with teammate Ryan Lochte as his fiercest competitor in the 200m individual medley. Lochte also competes in the 200m backstroke final against teammate Aaron Peirsol, who not only is the defending Olympic champion in the event, but has also won gold once already in Beijing in the 100m backstroke. In women's swimming, Natalie Coughlin should swim in the 100m freestyle live. Also in primetime, the USA competes in beach and indoor volleyball (USA vs. Bulgaria) and watch for the men's canoeing doubles whitewater gold medal final.

Who at the NY Post thought this was a good idea?

I know I give the New York Post a lot of flack about its headline writing, but today's cover is a little overboard. On the right is the story of Bill Gwatney, the Democratic party chairman who was shot and killed yesterday. The Post decided to juxtapose that story with the graphic on the left, poking fun at the Yankees' dismal past few weeks, declaring them dead.

Yes, the Yankees playoff hopes probably are buried, but maybe they could have waited to use this witty gem of an image for a time when there wasn't a real assassination?

Maybe I'm making a big deal out of nothing, but this seems a little over the top.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Chad Johnson to become Ocho Cinco?

Chad Johnson, who cares more about getting his name in the papers than his play, has begun the process to legally change his last name to "Ocho Cinco," according to ProFootballTalk.com.

If this goes down, his government name would be Chad Ocho Cinco, allowing him to have the name on the back of his jersey. You may remember when he got fined for having an "Ocho Cinco" nameplate covering the last name on his jersey in 2006.

I could go on forever about Chad Johnson. In this offseason alone, he's asked to be traded, claimed that he wouldn't play for the Bengals, suddenly changed his mind and fell in love with Cincinnati again, and now this.

Oh, and I almost forgot how he's been saying he'll give everyone something that will have us talking during the Bengals first time. Hey, Chad, how about giving us a TD catch without an elaborate, pre-planned celebration? That would definitely have me talking.

NBC gives you gymnastics, swimming on Wednesday

Here's what the folks at NBC have up their collective sleeves for Wednesday's primetime Olympic coverage:
BEIJING – Aug. 12, 2008 – NBC's primetime coverage of the Beijing Olympics Wednesday begins at 8 p.m. ET/PT featuring live men's gymastics individual all-around gold medal final and swimming gold medal finals. Monday in primetime, Team USA beat the odds and took the bronze medal in the men's gymnastics team final and Wednesday night Jonathan Horton and Alexander Artimev represent the USA in the individual all-around. In swimming, the hero of the 4x100m freestyle relay gold medal win Sunday in primetime, Jason Lezak, competes in the 100m freestyle gold medal final with Katie Hoff and Natalie Coughlin, both already Olympic medalists in Beijing, lead Team USA in the 4x200m freestyle relay gold medal final live. Michael Phelps will swim in the 200m individual medley semifinal live. Also live, Misty-May Treanor and Kerri Walsh continue their beach volleyball dominance against Norway (Hakedal/Torlen). Men's diving springboard synchronized gold medal final and women's cycling individual time trial are also in primetime.

Wednesday's coverage continues with the following:

NBC DAYTIME:
Live in daytime, Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs take on Cuba (Esteve Ribalta/Crespo) in women's beach volleyball. Daytime continues with more swimming preliminaries, and USA women's water polo vs. Italy.

NBC LATENIGHT:
Seven-time Olympic medalist Amanda Beard competes in the 200m breaststroke semifinal in latenight. Also, in men's water polo Team USA takes on Serbia.
Don't worry, you'll be able to see Michael Phelps, just not competing for a gold medal. You might want to stay up late to see Amanda Beard, too.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Quick Pic: Big Mac and The Rocket in happier times

This is an interesting combination of guys, isn't it?

Another picture from the archives of Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens, two of the most famous (and infamous) baseball players of the steroid era. Around the time this picture was taken, McGwire was just discovering Andro and Mindy McCready was probably just turning 18.

ABC/ESPN have LLWS thoroughly covered

Little League World Series coverage will begin this Friday, with the ABC/ESPN family of networks showcasing the action. From the ESPN PR machine:
ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to present all 32 games of the Little League World Series Presented by Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes from Williamsport, Pa., Aug. 15-24.  ABC – entering the network’s 46th consecutive year of Little League World Series coverage – will broadcast the International Championship Saturday, Aug. 23, at 12:30 p.m. ET, the United States Championship Saturday, Aug. 23, at 3 p.m., and the Little League World Series Championship Sunday, Aug. 24, at 3:30 p.m.  Every Little League World Series game on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 will be available in high definition for the fourth consecutive year.  All ESPN and ESPN2 telecasts will be simulcast on ESPN360.com.
I personally don't care much to watch the LLWS. There are some exciting moments and it can be fun, but I'm just not that interested. Half the kids are bigger than me and they're supposed to be 11 and 12. It is kind of funny to see the kids hot-dogging it like Manny, and then those same kids are weeping like little babies after they lose. Ah, the joys of sport.

Here are the announcers you'll get (Again from the ESPN release):
ESPN game commentators:
Pool Play – Aug. 15-19
  • Gary Thorne and analyst Orel Hershiser for games held at Lamade Stadium;
  • Karl Ravech and analyst Orestes Destrade for games held at Volunteer Stadium;
  • Stacey Dales and Pedro Gomez will share reporting responsibilities.
Semifinals – Wednesday, Aug. 20 & Thursday, Aug. 21
  • Brent Musburger, Hershiser and Dales will provide commentary for both U.S. Semifinals (Wednesday, Aug. 20, and Thursday, Aug. 21, at 8 p.m. on ESPN);
  • Thorne, Destrade (who is fluent in three languages – English, Spanish and Japanese) and reporter Pedro Gomez will provide commentary for both International semifinals (Wednesday, Aug. 20, and Thursday, Aug. 21, at 4 p.m. on ESPN).
International and United States Championships – Saturday, Aug. 23
  • Musburger, analysts Hershiser and Destrade, and reporters Dales and Gomez will call the International Championship Saturday, Aug. 23, at 12:30 p.m. on ABC;
  • Musburger will call the United States Championship with Hershiser and Dales Saturday, Aug. 23, at 3 p.m. on ABC.
World Series Championship and Consolation Game – Sunday, Aug. 24
  • Ravech, Destrade and Gomez will call the consolation game Sunday, Aug. 24, at 12 p.m. on ESPN;
  • Musburger will provide play-by-play for the Little League World Series Championship with Hershiser, Dales and Gomez Sunday, Aug. 24, at 3:30 p.m. on ABC.

Michael Phelps leads NBC's Olympic coverage tonight

Big shocker there, I know. The guy is unbelievable and the American people can't get enough of him, but I'm already starting to feel like the media is "Brett Favre-ing" this story. Either way, every night is potentially history in the making and there really isn't a whole lot else on TV.

Here's the breakdown from NBC:
BEIJING – August 11, 2008 – NBC's primetime coverage of the Beijing Olympics begins Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT with live swimming gold medals finals: the men's 200m butterfly and 4x200m relay and women's 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley. Michael Phelps will swim in the two men's gold medal finals tonight, and if he wins both events he will become the greatest Olympian of all-time with 10 career gold medals. Also, 2008 Beijing Olympic medalist Katie Hoff, who won silver Sunday night in the 400m freestyle and 5-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin will both compete live. The highly anticipated women's team gymnastics gold medal final is live in primetime featuring reigning world all-around champion Shawn Johnson and nine-time world medalist Nastia Liukin as the lead Team USA to gold.
Not bad, especially when your other picks tonight are reruns and the "MXC" ripoff, "Wipeout."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Golf viewers like to watch Tiger Woods

Duh.

An article here from Dick Friedman of Golf.com giving factual evidence to support what many had already predicted: Golf ratings would not be as high without Tiger Woods, out for the season due to leg injuries.

Obviously you weren't really going out on a huge limb if you thought that, but not many thought it would be this bad. The overnight rating for this Sunday's PGA Championship final was a 3.0, which is 55% less than last year's final round of the tournament.

This weekend's Championship had its moments and watching Sergio Garcia blow it during the final round is always fun, but casual fans (and a lot of diehards) don't care as much if Tiger isn't in it. It's that David v. Goliath factor that every American loves. If you're a fan of Tiger, you root as hard as you can for him. If you hate the guy, you're hoping he hooks one into the gallery.

Quick Pic: Jason Giambi as a young pup

This photo is roughly 18 years old, putting Jason Giambi in his very early 20's when it was taken.

The picture is from his time with the Alaska Goldpanners of the Alaska Baseball League.

Live SportsCenter debuts today, goes smoothly

ESPN's live SportsCenter got underway today and went off with few problems.

For an open thread on the show, check out Brian Powell's work at Awful Announcing. I'd like to add more but I missed most of it, due to this silly job of mine getting in the way. (Powell, unlike me, has elevated himself high enough in the blogosphere that blogging is his job.)

Powell also conducted a live chat with anchor Josh Elliot, which can be found here.

Enjoy. And feel free to post your thoughts on the live SC, if you caught it, in the comments section.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Quick Pic: Favre on Jets in Madden 09

Here you go, Madden geeks! (I'm one, too.) The folks at Sports Beat at GameSpot.com put Brett Favre on the Jets in Madden 09 and played a few snaps with the Wrangler-wearing one at the helm.

Click the picture for a full-size look.

Columnist skeptical of Dara Torres' performance

Newsday boxing writer/blogger Robert Cassidy brings up an interesting point about the 41-year-old Olympic swimmer Dara Torres: At 41, how is she beating 20-year-olds and setting records?
"But forget about measuring yourself against other athletes. In Torres' case, the competition is the clock. And that doesn't change. 24.38 is 24.38 seconds now, 20 years ago and 100 years ago. 24.38 was the American record Torres set in qualifying for the 50 meter freestyle in Beijing." (Source)
Cassidy explains that the American fan has been fooled too many times by circumstances like this, like with Roger Clemens, who continued to thrive into his 40's and then played the lead in the production that was The Mitchell Report.

I love the Torres story but this article is a compelling read and makes you think. I'm not saying I think she's doping but it might be wise to consider it. Cassidy aids the point with this:
"But consider one more athlete: Mark Spitz. Even Michael Phelps might concede that Spitz is the greatest American swimmer in history. He won seven gold medals at the 1972 Olympics. Here is where it gets interesting. In 1992, at the age of 41, Spitz attempted to make a comeback for the Barcelona Olympics. He failed to make the U.S. Olympic team, missing the qualifying time by two seconds."
Judge for yourselves on this one.

Steelers choose Leftwich over Culpepper

Earlier in the day, I posted a report from the Sporting News that claimed Pittsburgh had signed both Byron Leftwich and Daunte Culpepper as backup quarterbacks.

That report was wrong and FOX Sports.com is now reporting that the Steelers have signed Leftwich after both QBs had worked out for the team this morning. Leftwich will replace Charlie Batch, who broke his collarbone Friday night and is expected to miss at least 6 weeks.

C'mon Sporting News, you're killin' me!

RIP Isaac Hayes

I'm writing these RIP posts way too often. Sadly the entertainment world has lost another great as Isaac Hayes passed away today at the age of 68. He was found near a treadmill and died at the hospital an hour later.

Hayes was known to the younger generation mostly for his role as the chef on "South Park." He was, however, one of the most influential musicians of his era, paving the way for disco and soul sensations like Barry White, and laying the groundwork for hip hop. Hayes also appeared in several movies, including CB4 and I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, and made his first TV appearance as Gandolph Fitch in "The Rockford Files."

More Michael Phelps on NBC Monday night

Here's what NBC has in store for tomorrow's coverage:
BEIJING – August 10, 2008 – NBC's primetime coverage of the Beijing Olympics begins Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT with live swimming gold medals finals: the men's 200m freestyle and 100m backstroke and women's 100m backstroke and breaststroke. Michael Phelps will swim for what could be his ninth career gold medal of the Games, tying the all-time record, which is currently held by four athletes including USA's Carl Lewis and Mark Spitz. Five-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin will compete on the women's side in her signature event, the 100m backstroke. In men's gymnastics, Team USA will compete live in the Men's Team Gold Medal Final after an impressive first place finish at the men's team final qualification yesterday. Also, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh take on Cuba (Grasset/Peraza) live following their opening round victory in Beijing, their 102nd consecutive match win.

Madden 09 roster update breakdown released

As you may have read, EA Sports will offer a release day roster update on XBox Live for Madden 09. The update will correct now-inaccurate rosters (like Favre to the Jets, Shockey to the Saints) and update attributes of players based on their preseason performance, such as the 83-to-85 increase Ricky Williams has received. Also, some players numbers have been corrected to reflect the jerseys they actually wear.

Here is the complete list of updates (minus the jersey number changes) from PastaPadre.com.

Culpepper, Leftwich both end up in Steeltown (Oops!)

(This article featured an inaccurate report from Sporting News that claimed both QBs had signed. I addressed it all in this post.)

Have you been wondering where Daunte Culpepper and Byron Leftwich would end up this season? Here's the answer: Both with the Steelers.

According to the Sporting News, Pittsburgh has signed both QBs to back up Ben Roethlisberger, after Charlie Batch broke his collarbone in a preseason game Friday night. The Steelers also have rookie QB Dennis Dixon on the staff, although he may be moved to another position. Mike Potts rounds out the QB group for Pittsburgh.

The stock of Leftwich and Culpepper has fallen considerably over the past few seasons, mostly due to injuries. Culpepper was an Oakland Raider last season, while Leftwich was on the awful Atlanta Falcons.

"Phelps is Tiger in a Speedo"

That's what NBC's Dan Hicks had to say after Michel Phelps' gold medal in the 400m individual medley. Hicks also doubles as a golf broadcaster for the Peacock Networka and called this year's US Open, where Tiger Woods won despite injuries.

The quote was part of a collection of highlights that NBC distributed as a press release this morning, and then I posted it here. That shows you that either A) Tiger Woods' omnipresence is inescapable, B) NBC is going nuts on the press releases, C) It could potentially be a slow blogging day and I'm looking for page views.

I'll take all of the above.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Quick Pic: Bonds back in the bay

Today's Quick Pic is a shot of Barry Bonds tipping his hat to the crowd, standing next to Willie Mays, at the Giants 50th Anniversary celebration. It was debated whether or not Bonds would show but he did, and got love from the fans just like he did during the heat of steroid accusations.

NBC's Olympic coverage continues tomorrow with hoops, more swimming

NBC's Day 1 coverage of the 2008 Olympics is underway and I have to admit, I've been checking it out. NBC and USA today had daytime coverage and Time Warner has added two Olympic channels in HD. Here's what is in store for tomorrow.

From NBC:
BEIJING – Aug. 9, 2008 – NBC's primetime coverage of the Beijing Olympics begins Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/PT with the men's 100m breaststroke and 4x100m freestyle relay and women's 100m butterfly and 400m freestyle live gold medal finals. Michael Phelps makes two appearances tonight, first in the 200m freestyle semifinal and for the second night in a row he will go for gold in the men's 4x100m freestyle relay. Katie Hoff leads the women in the 400m gold medal final and five-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin swims in the semifinal of her best event, the 100m backstroke. Women's gymnastics kicks off with team competition led by 2007 World All-Around Champion Shawn Johnson and nine-time world medalist Nastia Liukin. Also in primetime is the women's springboard synchronized gold medal final.

Sunday's coverage continues with the following:

NBC DAYTIME:
The highly anticipated "Redeem Team" led by Kobe Bryant and LeBron James debuts in daytime as Team USA basketball takes on Yao Ming and Team China. Both U.S. President Bush and China President Hu Jintao will reportedly be in attendance. The USA vs. China rivalry continues with Men's Water Polo later in the day.

NBC LATENIGHT:
For the second night in a row, live volleyball hits latenight with women's Team USA taking on Cuba. 
Some interesting live stuff there with the obvious Michael Phelps storyline. I'm looking forward to the live broadcast of the US v. China basketball matchup. It will be the first time most of us see Yao in a while and the US team has a "gold or bust" mentality. Should be good.

RIP Bernie Mac

Sad news in the world of entertainment, as Bernie Mac has passed away at the age of 50 from complications due to pneumonia. Mac starred in "The Bernie Mac Show," the Ocean's 11 franchise, Pride, Guess Who, and the Original Kings of Comedy.

Sports fans will also remember him as Stan Ross in Mr. 3000 and also from his role in Above the Rim.

Most recently, Mac caught criticism from Barack Obama and others after his crude 10-minute standup routine at a July fundraiser for the Democratic presidential candidate. He has, though, received critical acclaim throughout his career and was twice nominated for Golden Globe awards for his role on his self-titled sitcom. He had finished two films recently, including Old Dogs with Robin Williams and John Travolta, and Soul Men alongside Samuel L. Jackson.

Ian Kennedy is a bit arrogant

Ian Kennedy showed some cockiness in May when he was optioned to the minor leagues, saying that he wanted to make the Yankees "look stupid" for demoting him. He then said that people give major league hitters too much credit, adding that guys in Triple A "aren't that much different."

Friday night he showed us that apparently the big league guys are much different. Despite his recent minor league successes, Mr. Kennedy got rocked by the Angels in his first start back. He doesn't seem to get it, still.

From the NY Times' Tyler Kepner:
“What was it, a bunch of singles and three doubles or so?” Kennedy said. “I’m just not real upset about it. I’m going to move on. I already have done that.”
Hmmm. Yes, Ian, it was a bunch of singles, six of them in fact. He allowed nine hits in total and five earned runs in just two innings. He even said he was a bit surprised that Joe Girardi took him out when he did. The fake-Mike Mussina was supposed to be a breath of fresh air to the Yanks - and yes, it's only one start - but it looks like Mr. Kennedy has reverted back to the guy we saw early in the season.

That prompts the question, is this guy really a major league pitcher?

Jim Brown suing EA Sports

The news on this broke about a week ago but it's a noteworthy story nonetheless. The legendary running back and not-quite-as-legendary actor Jim Brown has filed suit against EA Sports and Sony, saying they profited from his likeness without his permission... by using RB #32 on the Cleveland Browns historical roster.

They didn't even use his name. It's clear to most fans who they are trying to portray that running back as, though, so there may be some merit to it.

Brown claims that since there was no players union when he played to sign away his likeness to, he is different from the players now, whose likenesses appear in the Madden franchise. Brown is hoping to stop EA from selling the game and the "disgorgement" of all profits from the game.

That seems unlikely, but it's an interesting case and might have an impact on players likenesses being used in future titles.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Hawks quick to prove me wrong

Within minutes of me finishing my last post, ESPN reported that the Hawks have matched the Grizzlies offer sheet to Josh Smith, keeping him in Atlanta for the next five years.
"We are happy to announce that we will match [the Grizzlies'] offer sheet," said Hawks general manager Rick Sund. "Ownership, management and the team are happy to have Josh return as a member of the Hawks." (Source)
Smart move by the Hawks. With Smith, Mike Bibby, Al Horford and Joe Johnson, the team still has a shot at making the playoffs in the weaker-by-comparison East.

The quick move - matching the offer sheet within hours - also sends a message to the folks in Hot-lanta that the team is serious about winning. Had they waffled like Brett Favre on the decision, it would have looked bad.

Josh Smith might be headed to Memphis

The big NBA news today is Josh Smith signing Memphis' 5-year, $58 million offer sheet. The Hawks have a week to match the deal.

The Hawks have already lost Josh Childress to Europe and losing Smith would be a major blow to their playoff chances. It would also be more bad publicity for an organization that has received its fair share in the recent past. Atlanta didn't want to pay Smith that much money, but they almost have no choice but to match the offer.

At the same time, Memphis is overpaying for a guy who, although exciting, doesn't seem to be worth $11 mil-plus per year. But they have plenty of cap room in Memphis and adding Smith to a team that already features Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo would make them at least more appealing to the fans. If they were in the East, they might have a fighting chance. This is a move with an eye towards the future, though, as those three players would presumably be Grizzlies together for a long time.

Pennington & Parcells: Reunited and it feels so good

Bill Parcells added another one of his guys to the Miami roster tonight, inking Jets castoff/Favre-casualty Chad Pennington to a two-year deal.

This is one of those notable moves that really doesn't matter. Pennington is a big name based on his time in New York and the big contract he signed a few years back, but is he really that much better than John Beck or Chad Henne? He does bring in a veteran presence, but the Dolphins are still probably the favorite for the AFC East cellar.

Quick Pic: Jackie Chan at the Olympics

Look who was on hand for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Games. Chris Tucker was nowhere to be found.

For more photos from the ceremony, check out the FOX Sports gallery.

Beach volleyball, swimming lead NBC's Olympic coverage

More press release posting.

From NBC:
BEIJING – August 8, 2008 – NBC's primetime coverage of the Beijing Olympics begins Saturday at 8 p.m. ET/PT with men's 400m freestyle and 400m individual medley gold medal finals, as well as women's 400m individual medley and 4x100m freestyle relay. Michael Phelps begins his quest to make history in the 400m individual medley, and 41-year-old mom Dara Torres leads Team USA in the women's 4x100m freestyle relay. Also live in primetime, defending Olympic beach volleyball gold medalists Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh take on Japan (Saiki/Kusuhara). Men's gymnastics competition will also heat up the night.
I can't wait for gymnastics to "heat up the night!" All kidding aside, US fans have a few things here to keep them interested, like Phelps and Torres. I might even check it out, in between innings of MLB action, of course.

Ian Kennedy/Alfred E. Neuman pitches tonight v. the Angels

Ian Kennedy returns to the mound for the Yankees tonight in Anaheim, after an injury and then a long stop at Scranton-Wilkes Barre.

I figure this gives me an excuse to re-post one of my favorite lookalikes of all, Ian and the fictional Alfred E. Neuman of MAD Magazine.

If Kennedy can pitch in the majors like he has been in the minors, he will be a big addition to the Yanks starting staff. New York got good news regarding Joba Chamberlain today, who expects to return later this month, but need all the help they can get in the rotation.

It's 8.8.08, which is also when the Olympics start

The Olympics begin today with coverage on NBC and all of their networks. Personally I'm less interested in these Olympics than I have been for any other sporting event, not counting car racing. But if you're into it, here's some useful links to help you out.

- A confusing schedule of events from the official Beijing website, with a little less confusing one from NBC
- NBC's Summer Olympics site
- NBC's TV & Online programming schedule
- 2008 Medal standings
- The official website of the 2008 Beijing Games

Favre will be in Jets uni on Madden cover... if you print it yourself

Many video game nerds (like myself) have been wondering what EA Sports would do when Brett Favre got traded. As you can see in the photo, he's featured on the cover of the game in a Packers jersey and is now a New York Jet.

Never fear, Maddenites! EA Sports will offer a free downloadable cover for the game that you can print out and stuff in the game's box yourself. It costs you nothing but the entire ink cartridge that it will take to print the thing.

ESPN wants you to watch E:60 this Tuesday

Here I go, dishing out ESPN propaganda again. This time it's regarding the return of E:60, ESPN's newsmagazine that hits the airwaves again this Tuesday.

From ESPN:
ESPN's primetime newsmagazine E:60 will return for 14 weekly episodes beginning Tuesday, Aug. 12, at 7 p.m. ET.  The multi-subject program, on a scheduled break since May 13, will be aired each Tuesday at that time through November 11 – the most episodes in one stretch since E:60’s debut October 15, 2007.
E:60’s first two shows (August 12 and 19) will include:
  • Dara Torres talks to E:60 on the eve of her record fifth Olympics as a swimmer at 41; 
  • a behind-the-scenes look at New England Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss and his foray into NASCAR team ownership;
  • Eventing: the most dangerous Olympic competition and also considered the world’s deadliest sport;
  • the story of English mixed martial arts fighter implicated in the biggest cash heist in history;
  • a profile of an engineer considered the most powerful woman in NASCAR; and more. 
I'm not sure I'm very excited about any of the topics but it's something decent to help get through the dog days of August.