30 November 2007

IRL, Castroneves Look To Take Dancing Success To The Track

For whatever reason, America’s got a “Dancing With The Stars” fever, and they can’t get rid of it. How do I know? My grandmother can’t stop watching it (and on a side note, she swore it was filmed on the second floor of the Maggiano’s at the Grove). The fifth installment just wrapped up, with IRL driver Helio Castroneves taking the crown. And to capitalize on his sudden fame, the IRL is looking to bring the dancing craze to the track. And at one race next year, they’ll be looking for a record setting Twist.

Before the start of next year's Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 24, fans will be invited onto the track surface to dance the Twist, an appropriate choice for the 12-turn road course. A Guinness World Records representative is expected to witness the event in person. The current record – 1,691 – was set by English high school students in 2004.
The IRL and Castroneves should have some sort of spillover success based on his Dancing victory. After all he was on the top-rated primetime show, bringing in 43 million combined viewers over the course of the two-night final. Surely some of them will want to see him race, or buy his merchandise, won’t they?

While Castroneves has won 2 Indy 500’s, it’s likely that he’ll be remembered for his Dancing win.
"Obviously, Indianapolis is my biggest win, but this is great," Castroneves told reporters. "(The mirrorball dancing trophy) will go right between my (Indy 500) trophies because this has mirrors and can reflect them."

29 November 2007

Ryan Hollweg Wants To Rip Out Your Stitches

I don't get in fights, well, ever. But Hockey players do, and apparently the mantra is win at all costs. Something like that must have been going through Rangers Forward Ryan Hollweg, who stands accused of trying to rip the stitches out of a fresh gash on the left side of Islanders Defenceman Radek Martinek's face during a fight Thursday night.

That wasn't just winning at all costs. It was winning dirty. Winning by trying to rip out 15 stitches. Winning in a way that makes me wince.

"Give Martinek credit, playing after an injury like that," Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. "In this game, you have to have some respect. When a guy like Hollweg tries to scratch an open cut on someone's face, that's not professional. It's not a classy thing to do."
Not surprisingly, Hollweg denied any of this. But he'd probably deny the fact that he was even in a fight.
As players from both teams entered the fray, Martinek said Hollweg threatened him and then reached for his face.

"He said he is going to take my stitches out. I think that was stupid," said Martinek, a five-foot-11, 200-pound defenceman.
No further damage was done to Martinek, but I suppose when you've got 15 stitches on your face there's enough damage to begin with.

Smush Parker Tussles With Female Valet Over $12

Living in Los Angeles, there are two lessons I’ve learned. First, you’ll never find a parking spot on the street, so always carry cash on hand for parking. Second, you can’t trust Smush Parker to do anything right. Wednesday’s events prove that you still can’t trust Smush Parker for anything, especially when it comes to having cash...or using his brain. The Heat guard has been banished from the team after partaking in an argument with a woman over a valet parking fee in which she was injured.

The parking fee? $12. The valet woman wanted it, and Parker claimed he’d already paid it.

Police said Parker, denied his keys until the debt was settled, knocked over a podium out of frustration. When Parker returned with the money, McKenzie told him he would have to pay for damaging the podium, the police report said.

Parker, 24, then grabbed McKenzie's arm in an attempt to retrieve the keys, according to police. Guralnick said McKenzie wanted to press charges at the scene but was told she would have to wait 7 to 10 days for a copy of the police report.
I know $12 seems like a ton for valet parking, but still. Did he have to act like that? The woman involved went to the hospital for “severe scratches” on her arm and a “tingling sensation” in her fingertips. Lovely. Parker’s two year with the Lakers proved he often didn't use any part of his brain, and this is just another example of it. The Lakers couldn't wait to get rid of him, and here's guessing it won't be long before he's a former Heat player as well.

27 November 2007

"Don't Call Us Shirley," Says Kyle Turley

3.5 years.

According to the National Football League’s Players Association, this number represents the average life-span of an NFL career. But as numerous studies show, this ephemeral period of time can lead to lifetime disability and deterioration.

For months, veterans of the League and the NFL Player’s Association have been engaged in a highly publicized and venomous confrontation over health benefits for former players. Separate articles in the pages of ESPN and The New York Times have painstakingly detailed the physical, psychological and emotional deterioration a number of NFL players have endured since retiring from the NFL. For example, Ted Johnson, a former linebacker for the New England Patriots,10-year NFL veteran and victim of multiple concussions was one of those profiled in the pages of The New York Times. In the course of the article, Johnson admitted that the “depression and cognitive problems he had developed since 2002 had worsened to the point that he took Adderall, a prescription amphetamine, at two to three times the dosage authorized by his doctors, who had been unaware of the abuse.” And the overall prognosis left nothing to be desired. According to Johnson’s neurosurgeon, Dr. Robert Cantu, the chief of neurosurgery and director of sports medicine at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Mass.,: “Ted already shows the mild cognitive impairment that is characteristic of early Alzheimer’s disease. The majority of those symptoms relentlessly progress over time. It could be that at the time he’s in his 50s, he could have severe Alzheimer’s symptoms.”

Johnson’s admission came on the heels of the suicide of Andre Waters, the former Philadelphia Eagles player who committed suicide last November and was later determined to have had significant brain damage caused by football-related concussions.

ESPN chronicled the downfall of Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steeler center, Mike Webster, who died homeless in 2002 after suffering from mental illness widely attributed to head injuries sustained as a player.

And yet no significant steps have been taken. In fact, reaction from those who are employed to defend and support today’s players have been incomprehensibly callous and myopic. Gene Upshaw, the executive director of the NFL Player’s Association and a former Oakland Raider offensive lineman, dismissed former players such as Mike Ditka and Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers as “a bunch of crybabies.” Additionally, the NFL Player’s Association published a Web site page titled “The NFLPA Truth Squad: Facts vs. Fiction”, created to “correct serious misstatements of fact” by former players.

I have never understood Upshaw’s laziness in facing this problem. Not just a suit, Upshaw was an NFL veteran of 16 years. Where is his empathy for those he stood with, side-by-side, in facing foes on the gridiron? Where is his sympathy for his worthy opponents?

Thankfully, life is full of irony. Of all the players in the NFL, Kansas City Chiefs lineman Kyle Turley is least likely to win an award for competency or sportsmanship. Best known for ripping the helmet off a player who grabbed his teammate's facemask and tossing it downfield while with New Orleans, Turley has decided to donate his entire December 23 paycheck to help needy NFL veterans. The $25,000 contribution is thoughtful, selfless and certainly needed.

Yet, the astronomical medical costs various former players face will not disappear with the cashing of one current player’s weekly pay-check. Help is needed.

According to some news reports, 325 former AFL and NFL players receive minimal retirement benefits. In 2006, when they attempted to have the league and the Association consider their plight, Upshaw responded: “I don't work for them. They are not union members and they have no vote.”

Current players ARE union members. In order to protect themselves and their predecessors from financial and physical degradation, they must make this an issue. Nothing would galvanize this cause more than terminating the contract of the man who has failed to represent them and their heroes: Gene Upshaw.

26 November 2007

Is Lance Armstrong Ready For Politics?

Ever since retiring from the cycling circuit Lance Armstrong has taken his drive and energy to the war against cancer with the same drive and tenacity he did the Tour de France. And to his credit he’s succeeded. Rather than ride off into the sunset of a quiet life, Armstrong has leveraged his celebrity and public goodwill towards the good cause that is cancer research. It seems that Armstrong’s success in his lobbying efforts have potentially opened some new doors for him. Doors to political office.

Several said the 36-year-old cyclist and cancer survivor has impressive political talent. And, they say, he took noticeable steps this year to make his public appearance more professional and to grow more steeped in public policy. Few find it hard to imagine an Armstrong candidacy.

"He's got the political DNA without a doubt," said Cathy Bonner, an aide to former Democratic Gov. Ann Richards.
Perhaps she’s right, Armstrong may have it all. He certainly has the name recognition – everyone knows his story to some extent. And while he’s been often accused, he’s never tested positive for steroids. Plus, Armstrong knows everyone. The networking and teamwork he’s used with his Livestrong campaign will be well-suited for politics. Put that with his speaking skills and the positive work he’s done on behalf of cancer? Dare I say many a politician has been elected with slimmer resumes.

So if Armstrong is thinking about running for office, I say go for it. All he has to do is stay away from those Olsen twins...

24 November 2007

Italian Soccer Commentators Don't Need No Stinkin' Objectivity!

Objectivity? Italian soccer commentators have thrown that out the window - or something like that. As best I can surmise, it looks like the rivalry between Inter and Milan has spilled from the playing field into the commentating booth. This is funny and all, but what's funny is imagining John Madden doing a similar dance.

(HT: PeoplePosts)

23 November 2007

Croatian Soccer Players Only Wish Their Penises Were Mountains

Living in America, it's only once in a blue moon that a Canadian team makes their way to our arena or stadium, resulting in the playing of two anthems. But at least "O Canada" is sung in English, and the words are almost always sung without incident. But try singing another anthem in a completely different language? Yeah, that's bound to bring trouble every so often.

Enter British opera singer Tony Henry, who had the honor of singing the Croatian national anthem before the England/Croatia showdown on Wednesday. One little slip-up resulted in one big joke.

The ditty is "written in the old Croat style", the Telegraph explains, and instead of singing Mila kuda si planina - "You know my dear how we love your mountains" - Henry thundered Mila kura si planina, or "My dear, my penis is a mountain".
While some countries and their people might be insulted and mortified by such a thing, calling for apologies and resignations. But that's not what happened here. The good people of Croatia loved it! In fact, Henry has quickly become somewhat of a national hero.

Accordingly, Croatians are now calling for Henry to be awarded with a medal and appointed their team's official mascot for Euro 2008. Mate Prlic, of Croatian footie mag Torcida, suggested: "He obviously relaxed the players so why not invite him to Euro 2008 to keep the winning streak going?"

Henry's agent, Douglas Gillespie, said: "Tony had a great reception from the Croatian fans and already feels part of their campaign for Euro 2008."
Come on, Tony Henry! Get your agent on the line! You've now got possible tour dates in places you never thought imaginable. Live, from Dubrovnik, it's Tony Henry!

21 November 2007

Even Canada's Most Famous Team Prefers The NFL Over The CFL

While the NFL has long been in a different stratosphere than it's northern cousin the CFL, you'd think that at least some people would prefer it, wouldn't you?  And in the "some people" category you might expect to find one of Canada's flagship sports franchises, the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Well, think again.

The Maple Leafs will be in Dallas to celebrate the American Thanksgiving, and the opportunity to see the Cowboys play has shown some light on what the players really prefer.  
"It's going to be awesome. I'm pumped," Leafs goalie Andrew Raycroft said Wednesday before the team flew to Dallas. "I'm looking forward to getting out there.
Well, I'd be pumped too.  But what about their native CFL?  The Grey Cup is on Sunday!  Winnipeg and Saskatchewan will be playing for all the marbles!
"It's definitely an NFL room in here," Raycroft said after practice. "I think (Matt) Stajan is the only one who's got tickets for the Grey Cup. He's all fired up about that but he's really the only one."
What about Wade Belak - he's from Saskatoon.  Surely you'd think he would be pumped up...
"I'm NFL too," Belak said with a grin. "I mean, I want Saskatchewan to win," said Belak, who predicted a 20-17 Riders victory. "I don't even know who our starting quarterback is. I just know Kent Austin is the coach. And he's a good coach."
There you have it. The NHL may be king in Canada, but the CFL's got a long way to go. But perhaps we already knew this. Tomorrow look for a select few in Dallas to be saying "Go Cowboys, eh!"

19 November 2007

That Isn't Bug Spray You're Bidding On; It's Authentic Game-Used 2007 Playoff Bug Spray

The Friday after Thanksgiving is often referred to as “Black Friday,” or the day that women across America go nuts, spend absurd amounts of money on perceived good deals, and traditionally help bring the retailers into the black for the year. Looking to piggyback on this, MLB will unleash a slew of 2007 postseason memorabilia to its auction page on Friday.

The auction has all the things you’re used to seeing: autographed bases, balls and uniforms. But then there’s something quite peculiar as well. They’re auctioning one of the cans of bug spray used in the Yankees dugout during game 2 of the ALDS. So says the press release:

Remember Joba Chamberlain trying to deal with those pests on the mound? This figures to be a huge conversation piece, and probably not something you want to spray on that next camping trip.
Yeah, you probably wouldn't want to take it on your next camping trip, as whatever the Yankees used sure didn't work. You’ve got to wonder who will buy this? Certainly not Yankees fans. Indian supporters might be interested, but it wasn’t even used by their team. And their ALCS collapse might want to make them forget the post season after all. And let's say you did buy it. Just what would you do with it?

Memorabilia can be a great thing to collect, and way to relive the memories. There’s lot of stuff I’d like, that’s for sure. But a used can of bug spray? That seems like an incredible stretch. In fact, it seems like a second cousin to dumpster diving. Any over/under suggestions on its final price?

Billionaire Shows Just How Much Russian Soccer Is Worth To Him

It’s one thing to root and keep hope alive for one’s team. But some people are more able and willing to do a little more than just that. And it’s easier to do such a thing when you’re a billionaire.

Russian billionaire, and Spartak Moscow owner Leonid Fedun is doing everything he can to help Russia make the Group E qualifier. See, Russia was once in the driver’s seat, controlling their own destiny. But having lost to mighty Israel on Saturday, they now need some help. Namely, they need Croatia to beat England on Wednesday. And therein lies Fedun’s incentives.

Fedun said he would donate four Mercedes to Croatia’s best players should they win at Wembley on Wednesday.

Fedun said he simply wanted to boost Croatia's morale by offering their goalkeeper and the top three field players each a Mercedes. Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa plays for Spartak.

"I'm doing this strictly as a fan," Fedun was quoted as saying by the Russian media.

"If we have even a small chance we must try to use it."
While the thought of this incentive system might have the stink of unethical behavior, it’s not expressly forbidden under UEFA rules. It’s actually thought to be quite common in many European leagues. It’s quite so in the Russian Premier League, where the practice is known as 'stimulyatsiya' or 'stimulation'.

Although the initial thoughts behind it might make you uncomfortable, in the end, it doesn’t seem so bad. After all, someone is offering an incentive to win, not lose. The incentives aren’t to throw a game, but instead do what you’re supposed to strive for anyhow, which is winning. That’s what athletes paid to do. And so if the incentive system isn’t banned because it’s unethical, perhaps it should be banned out of principle. The world’s greatest athletes are already paid to win. Competition should be in their blood. They should go all out every game. And they shouldn’t be out there to win in the name of a new car.

16 November 2007

Lifting Ban On UGA Caskets Would Allow Bulldog Fever To Last Forever

Now that you can’t drop off part of your loved one's remains on a Disneyland ride, after-death options are getting tougher and tougher. But if you’re a die-hard University of Georgia fan approaching death, fear not! You may soon be able to spend eternity in a UGA-themed casket.

On Tuesday the University System’s Board of Regents decided to revisit a longstanding policy banning university logos on items “that may cause embarrassment or ridicule to the Board of Regents or its institutions.”

A former mayor of Ellijay and other prominent Georgians have been laid to rest in caskets featuring the UGA arch, Walston said Tuesday. "I don't want anybody to think this is some redneck idea" he said. "This is wrapped around people's emotional connections to their schools."

The caskets feature schools' logos inside the lid, letting everyone at the wake or funeral know the deceased's eternal allegiance. Walston sells and ships all over the country with more than 40 school logos. Sooner fans at Oklahoma and Crimson Tide fans at Alabama are his best clients, he said.
The disputed ban includes not just caskets, but also sex toys and toilet seats. Are there any more personal things than those three? If a man wants to sit on his porcelain throne, why can’t it be a UGA one? And UGA sex toys...um, those too. Someone would certainly buy them.

Royalties from trademarked items are huge moneymakers for schools, as they should be. UGA for example rakes in more than $4.3 annually from its trademark licensing. So why not allow the caskets and toilet seats? There’s money to be made there, and it would also allow UGA fans to finally take their school pride to the grave. Bulldogs forever!

Greg Anderson: The Most Loyal Friend In Sports

Watching your 84rd Sportscenter Barry Bonds Special, you must feel like there's something else to it. Yeah, there's lots of speculation and conjecturing. Tons of opinion, and maybe even a few facts tossed around. But there's someone and something they're not really talking about - Greg Anderson. Say what you want, but Greg Anderson is the most loyal friend in sports.

Lost amongst all the hoopla surrounding the indictment is the fact that Bonds' trainer Greg Anderson was quietly released from prison today. You know him as Barry's best friend, and trainer. Vick's friends? They sold him down the river (perhaps rightly so), cutting deals for themselves. But not Anderson. Contempt of court? He didn't care. Anderson stuck by his friend, refusing to snitch. Three months in prison, three months house arrest for him. He stood by his friend through thick and thin. Would you do that for your best friend?

Greg Anderson for the most part may be a bad guy. He's plead guilty to distributing steroids and money laundering. But first among all other things, he's a loyal friend. Do you have friends like that?

14 November 2007

The Penal System's Greatest Management Tool: MNF

I wouldn’t ever want to be a jail warden, and odds are I never will be. But if I were (cue all of my friends laughing hysterically), I’d probably be like Clayton County Correctional Institution warden Frank Taylor. He’s asking the Clayton County Commission for a little extra dough to spend on a “management tool.” He wants to get satellite TV in order to keep his inmates occupied by watching Monday Night Football.

Warden Frank Taylor is asking the Clayton County Commission to let him sign up for direct-broadcast satellite service for less than $100 a month. It would be funded with money collected at the prison's commissary and pay phones, which last year amounted to $41,000.
See, that’s hardly anything! Things used to be simpler. Fewer people went to jail. Cable didn’t exist. And MNF was on free TV.
"The reason is 'Monday Night Football' is now on cable," he said. "Although it might seem funny, when you have 90 percent of inmates watching something, it is a management tool for the institution."
Now the friends of the correctional system might argue that its purpose is the rehabilitate, and provide the means for their prisoners to leave jail at some point as a functioning member of society. And I say, exactly! It’s MNF! Truthfully, the critics might have a point. But for the cost-efficiency of Taylor’s endeavor? Do it.

Women Hoopsters Win By More Than You Thought Possible

Based on the score, garbage time must have started with the tipoff. Or perhaps a minute in. Regardless, any slew of superlatives could describe the Lipscomb Women’s Basketball team’s crushing of Fisk. How bad? They won by 101 points, 123-22.

Amazing facet #1: they came just a point shy of the Division I women’s record for largest winning margin. That’s held by Grambling, who won 139-37 over Jarvis Christian in 1986. Notice how many more points they allowed though!

Amazing facet #2: Most of the damage was done by Lipscomb’s bench!

Lipscomb's bench scored 86 points, and with 1:49 to go, was six points from the record. They attempted just one shot.
Dare I say, amazing. The sentiment all around was that Lipscomb wasn’t trying to run up the score. I guess in the shot clock era you’ve got to actually shoot it each time down the court in a timely fashion. You've really got to feel for the poor women of Fife. This is not a good way to start the season. But I guess as long as they lose by fewer than 100 points, they've improved!

12 November 2007

Sex May Not Be An Olympic Sport, But It Will Be Legal At The Vancouver Olympics

Plan and plan as you may, organizing an event as large as the Olympics means that things will inevitably slip through the cracks. But credit the fine folks of Vancouver, as they’re seemingly on top of everything. They’re looking to open legal brothels in time for the winter games.

A group of Vancouver prostitutes wants to open a "co-op" brothel in time for the Winter Olympics, saying it would help sex-trade workers by providing a safer working environment when the world comes to visit in 2010.
Amazingly, the group has support from some politicians, including Vancouver’s mayor, Sam Sullivan. The argument for legal prostitution often goes along the lines of providing safer working conditions for the women of the night and their customers. But with all the tourists coming to Vancouver, and the money they’re bringing with them, it’s also another revenue stream for the fine people of British Columbia. It’s believed that the city already has many brothels up and running, with the difference being that they’re being operated illegally.

And about those “quickie rooms”...


11 November 2007

Canada's Latest Invention: Leaf Blower Hockey

Some people would call it extreme air hockey. Environmentalists and Al Gore would cringe at the thought. But here it is - the latest, greatest sport to come out of Canada. Leaf Blower Hockey.

Move over Hockey. LBH is coming after you. Imagine fans packing in to outdoor hockey stadiums, watching Canada's most elite athletes donning ear protectors. They once went all out for the puck. Now they battle for domination of the wiffle ball. Are you hooked yet?

With an official band for inspiration (Air Supply) and an unbreachable code of conduct ("No aggressive blowing"), the inaugural game began yesterday morning at an outdoor rink at Bathurst St. and Dundas Ave. when the Windbreakers faced off against the Fallen Leafs. ("No harm intended to the other Leafs.") The game surface was slick with rainwater, not ice, but players from each team strapped on diesel-powered leaf blowers over their red and white jerseys, left their Tim Hortons coffee cups on the bench, and stepped up to do battle.
With cold weather either on its way or already here, LBH is the perfect sport. You've got the leaf blower sitting in your garage, and now you finally have a real use for it. What was once the worst Christmas gift Aunt Mildred ever got you has now become cherished.

But before you head out to your local LBH rink, be prepared. There's real skill involved. And while you're less likely to lose any teeth playing LBH, don't think there aren't risks involved. For example, high proximity to lots of diesel fumes.

Chef Alex Johnston says that's one area where the game must evolve.

"We're looking for a bio-diesel sponsor for next year," he said.

08 November 2007

Contrary To The Busch Stadium Scoreboard, Name Redacted Does Not Have An STD

High school can be a tough enough time for kids. They don’t need libelous statements about them appearing on stadium scoreboards to boot. A Illinois woman is suing the St. Louis Cardinals for allowing a text message that falsely suggested her daughter has an sexually transmitted disease on the Busch Stadium scoreboard during a game.

According to the lawsuit, the teenager was with her classmates at Busch for a game against the Kansas City Royals on May 19, 2006, when a girl schoolmate called the ballpark's message board and, using the daughter's name, texted, "(A.B.) has an STD! Eww!"
According to the lawsuit, the 17-year old was so traumatized by the message that she was forced to stay out of school the rest of the semester, taking her finals in a school office to avoid the scorn of her classmates. The woman is seeking $25,000 in damages, claiming that the team “published the text consciously disregarding whether the text was true or not.” Oh yeah, and she didn't have an STD.

The timing of the lawsuit is curious, as the game wasn’t this past season, and it wasn’t even at the end of the previous season. The terrible text occurred a year and a half ago! Has she been this traumatized since then?

But by necessity it seems this kind of promotion is hard to regulate efficiently. They’re charging money for the texts, which have to get up there quickly. Things will slip through the cracks. The lawsuit claims that they disregarded whether the text is true or not. Held up to that standard, nothing could make it up there. Does Jimmy really love Michelle? Are your parents really happily wishing you a happy birthday? These wouldn’t hold up either. All we’d be left with are factual statements, and you can’t charge $2.99 for those.

Leinart’s Latest Mistake: Real Estate

Don’t think that the collapsing real estate market isn’t affecting our heroes. Add real estate as the latest of Matt Leinart’s little mistakes. Once America’s golden boy at USC, Leinart sure has had a quick descent off of the national radar. Since entering the NFL nothing seems to have gone right for the lefty. After four months on the market, the Cardinals QB has finally sold his Arizona home to Suns Forward AmarĂ© Stoudemire for a cool $1.9 million. The kicker? That price is about $500,000 less than what Leinart paid for it last year. Oops.

Stoudemire is the real baller here. Leinart’s old pad now becomes his fourth home in the Phoenix area. What’s the deal with that? Four homes in one city? What happens if he gets traded? And when you’re in the middle of a five-year, $73 million contract, you don’t do mortgages either. Stoudemire paid cash.

07 November 2007

Getting Wasted At The Preakness Just Got A Little More Expensive

Getting drunk at next year’s Preakness just got a lot more expensive. Putting an end to a long-standing tradition, fans are now banned from bringing in their own alcohol from the outside world into the grandstand and clubhouse areas. Want to get wasted? You’d better be prepared to drop some cash on $8 beers.

The change, confirmed yesterday by the Maryland Jockey Club, means that all alcoholic beverages consumed by grandstand and clubhouse patrons will have to be purchased at Pimlico. Spectators will still be allowed to bring beer in cans into the Preakness infield, and racing officials said they aren't considering any changes to that policy.
So don’t fret. Eschew the expensive seats and go to the infield. You and your 89,999 friends can bring in all the booze you want, and drink yourself into a drunken stupor. Do take photos of yourself and your friends at that point. And send them straight to letthelionroar@gmail.com (but only if they’re good!).

Oh, are people there for the horse races?

D.C.'s Leaders Don't Want To Share The Nationals With Their Neighbors

If you listen to the Washington D.C. City Council, the Nationals belong to their district and only their district. District officials are “outraged” that the team plans to have major events in Maryland. The Nationals’ charitable arm is hosting its black-tie “Dream Gala” and its FanFest in Maryland. And if you listen to D.C.’s leaders, building the team a $611 million stadium complex should at least, you know, get them some events.

"I guess we're like Charlie Brown or Rodney Dangerfield. We can't get respect," council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) said yesterday. "This is just an outrage."
Council member Jim Graham? He voted against the baseball deal. He wasn’t thrilled either, calling it “offensive.”
"That's like taking a stick and poking your eye. What a level of ingratitude. The timing is worse than ever. We're opening the $611 million stadium and . . . to have the annual banquet in Prince George's County, that's staggering," he said. "I would hope that we could work this out."
District officials may be upset, but it’s misguided. The foundation event is being held at that hotel because it came free of charge, saving about $250,000 that can now go directly to the foundation (a charity, remember?). The team also tried to hold its FanFest in D.C. proper, but the hotels and convention center could not accommodate them on their preferred date.

These officials squawking away are missing the point. While they may be the Washington Nationals by name, they are by necessity a regional team. Do you think they could survive if only D.C. residents attended games? Nope. In fact, by going to the suburbs, the team is actually helping the district. Should the team attract fans from Maryland and Virginia, it would result in their coming to D.C. and spending money there. Parking, restaurants and concessions would all be poured into D.C. by non-residents that wouldn’t be occurring otherwise. Do they want that to stop?

I get that D.C.’s civic leaders want to be seen as defending their district, but their hysterics are really misplaced. They should encourage the team to host events everywhere, and invite their neighbors to come to games. They’ll come and leave their dollars behind. And before long, the city will have recouped their investment in the stadium.

06 November 2007

Stephon Marbury Doesn’t Want To Share The Cheap Sneaker Spotlight

In the land of $165 basketball shoes Stephon Marbury stands among a select few. Rather than go with one of the traditional sneaker powers, Stephon’s Starbury line is sold exclusively at Steve & Barry’s, costing just $14.98. The shoes have sold incredibly well, and Marbury has gotten tremendous mileage out of it. For every crazy act Marbury does, and there are plenty (see: defending Vick, his Mike’d Up appearance, and the Knicks trial), his Starbury line is used to counter.

But now Marbury’s role as king of cheap sneakers is being threatened. Tennis star Venus Williams is coming out with her own Steve & Barry’s show, called the EleVen, which will have a similar price point to the Starbury’s. And let’s just say Stephon is not happy.

"I'm doing sneakers, so she should have been under my line," he says. "But obviously, that didn't happen." The company, clearly surprised by Marbury's comments, decided not to respond.
So what’s Marbury’s deal? It could be financial. He’s got a financial stake in his Starbury line, and whatever shoes are sold under its name. Ben Wallace’s ‘Big Ben’ shoe is an example of that. But Williams’ EleVen line stands on her own. He won’t make a dime from it, even if he paved the way for her business model.

Maybe Marbury is just a little insecure, as he’s no longer the most accomplished cheap sneaker pusher. Venus Williams has won six Grand Slams, after all. Marbury? He’s been to the playoffs six times, never advancing past the first round.

Marbury has used his sneakers as his lone example of being a normal, decent guy. But maybe after all he’s showing his true colors.

On Second Thought, Maybe Not. Everton Fans Have UEFA Cup Tix Cancelled

Home field advantage is a priceless benefit – something that teams work long and hard to cultivate. Teams will do whatever it takes to get such an advantage. It even seems to include taking back tickets sold to opposing fans.

Around 1,500 Everton fans have had their tickets cancelled for Thursday's UEFA Cup game against Nuremberg in Germany because of fears over hooliganism, the Premier League club said on Tuesday.
UEFA declared the match to be “high-risk” after the ticket gaffe was uncovered. It turns out that the 1,500 Everton fans would have been smack dab in the midst of Nuremburg fans, not segregated as usual. After discussions with the police, the team decided to take back the tickets.

Since the fans in question had yet to be charged for their tickets, it’s not quite as much trouble as it could have been. I guess Nuremburg doesn’t want their money, or anything. Just leave them alone!

05 November 2007

Mel Blount Takes the Ravens To The Shed

Suzy Kolber just seems to get the best out of her interview subjects, doesn't she? With the Steelers leading the Ravens 35-7 in the 3rd Quarter ESPN cut to Kolber, who was with Hall of Famer Mel Blount. And let's just say Blount opened a can of whoop-ass on the Ravens.

Well, I’ll tell you what, it’s kind of embarrassing that you’re in a professional league and you can’t perform any better than that. Granted, the Steelers are a tough defense but…. it’s pretty pathetic.
It's rare to see an answer that isn't canned and smelling of a polished, PR-driven response. But shouldn't Blount have been thrilled with the score? This was a night to celebrate!

School Pranks? Good Idea. Unauthorized Flyover At Football Game? Bad Idea.

School pranks are a timeless tradition. And usually a good one too. Kids get their fun, usually at little real expense to others. But sometimes things get taken a little too far. For example, building a brick wall in front of the student parking lot is a pretty good prank. Renting an airplane and buzzing the crowd at a football game? That might be great in theory, but in application? Yeah, not so good.

A 17-year-old Hopewell High student was apparently acting on a dare when he did a fly-over prank at a Hopewell High football game Friday, at one point dipping below the stadium lights.
The pilot and his two teenage passengers took laps over the field, once reportedly coming within feet of a flag pole. On their final lap they dropped a pair of shoes and a football into the end zone. At least they had good aim on that one.

Maybe good pranks come with maturity. Or maturity brings common sense which allows one to do a good prank. For example, if one was to conduct a dangerous, illegal fly-over at a football game, they would be smart enough to cover up the tail numbers on the plane. The teens at hand didn’t, and were flying so low that people were able to take down the numbers and alert authorities. As a result, sheriff’s deputies were waiting for them when they landed. No word on whether one of the suspects was shoeless.

Win Or Lose, A Goody Bag For Nets Opponents

Attendees of prestigious awards shows and festivals have long been the recipient of goody bags stuffed with expensive items. In fact, such swag is usually the norm, and expected. And now this trend has leaked over to its first NBA team, the Nets.

Izod Arena, formerly known as Continental Airlines Arena has started handing out Izod merchandise to visiting players.

"It's all about being a good host, making the visiting players feel comfortable," Sirkin told The Post last week. "It's all about being a good host, making the visiting players feel comfortable," Sirkin told The Post last week.
In addition to being handed an overtime loss last week, Ben Gordon and his Bulls teammates also left Jersey with an Izod polo shirt, sweater, hat, jacket, sports shirt and fleece top. The only thing not in the bag was Izod jewelry and company stock.

I understand Izod’s wanting to extend their sponsorship and brand to the max, and get all the exposure that they can. And with that it makes sense that they’re also giving out these goodies to musical performers as well. But shouldn’t their allegiance run with the Nets? Izod Arena at its best should provide a great game-time experience for the Nets and their fans, but also the most inhospitable for their opponents. So on second thought, maybe making them wear Izod clothing might be the best way to do that!

04 November 2007

It's A Record Day As Kansas Trounces Nebraska

Well now, Kansas is sure finding itself in uncharted waters, isn't it? After it's 76-39 drubbing of Nebraska on Saturday the Jayhawks improved to 9-0. The last time they started 9-0? 1908. And as bad of a day as it was for Nebraska (see ya, Callahan!), it was a record breaking day for Kansas. In fact, 7 team and individual records were tied or broken on Saturday.

It's at this time that Nebraska fans might want to navigate away from this blog (but do come back tomorrow!!). The Jayhawks scored 48 points in the first half and 76 overall. Both were records for points scored against Nebraska. The 115 combined points broke the record for a game involving Kansas, and their 34 first downs tied the school record from 1923.

Individual records? You bet. It was a good day to pad the season statistics.

Individual records
6 Touchdown passes, Todd Reesing.
Previous record: 5 by Ralph Miller in 1938.

203 Return yards, Marcus Herford.
Prev. record: 195 by Greg Heaggans, 2002.

4 Rushing touchdowns, Brandon McAnderson.
Previous record: 4 by Charlie Black in 1923.

10 Extra points, Scott Webb.
Previous record: 9 by Scott Webb in 2004.
Kansas has turned out be be a pretty good team this year, and well, Nebraska is increasingly bad. Jayhawks fans usually start getting pumped up this time of year, but it's because of basketball, not football. But this year things are different, and that's the case all around the college football landscape.