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Breaking news, the way I see it.
Harper ego demotion opens roster spot for star 19-year-old [LINK]
Pujols shaves goatee, draws Mario Mendoza comparisons [LINK]
Suggs takes football leave to launch ‘T-Sizzle’ Steakhouse chain [LINK]
Teammates Weaver, Pujols still tied in AL home run race [LINK]
New Miller ‘punch’ can offers more beer on douchey Lacoste shirt [LINK]
Samberg, Sandler make MOST JEWISH MOVIE EVER [LINK]
Rays fan God has Rivera’s back (but only his back) [LINK]
JR Smith, Vinsanity celebrate highlight dunks in losses, again [LINK]
RA Dickey, DA Points vie for respect among 19th century tycoons, bankers [LINK]
Amar’e punches ‘e in frustration; Amar doubtful for Game 4 [LINK]
LeBron (32 points, 12-13 FT) gears up for Finals choke [LINK]
McShay, Kiper vindicated as free agent Burfict finds team [LINK]
Signaling post-Snooki era, crazy woman goes ‘burnt orange’ [LINK]
US economy adds 115,000 jobs you didn’t get [LINK]
Mike Bibby on NBA roster (Related: Knicks lose 13th straight playoff game) [LINK]
Medical examiner corroborates early Twitter reports, common sense [LINK]
On AC/DC binge, Hilson tells new co-worker ‘If you’re into evil, you’re a friend of mine’ [LINK]
I saw the damnedest thing Wednesday.
I was at George M. Steinbrenner Field, the stuffy Tampa spring home of the New York Yankees; where thick Long Island accents sling tickets to an exhibition game for $75 and bitch at their customers about what a great deal it is. Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter were playing long toss. Curtis Granderson was stretching. Somewhere, Alex Rodriguez was yelling at a team massage therapist for not properly concluding his rubdown. First pitch was minutes away.
Yet with a PA announcer blabbering about 20-something titles and prestige and other precocious New York kinds of bullshit, attention was not on the men in pinstripes (or navy batting practice jerseys, in this case). All eyes were pointed right outside of the visitors dugout, where Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price stood towards the bottom of a steep aisle of stairs. What looked like it had begun as a quick autograph request had turned into a massive line of people wanting ink scribbles from the 6-foot-6, 220-pound left-hander in what had become a makeshift meet-and-greet.
He didn’t flinch or walk away or ask a security guard to ask them to clear out. Instead, with a sly grin on his face, Price saw an opportunity.
For upwards of 30 minutes Price shook every hand, knelt down to speak to every child, took every picture, signed every piece of whatever was handed to him. There were good-looking girls and families and college-age dudes; elderly Rays fans and sweaty, fat, tattooed Yankees fanatics who have more than likely hurled profanities at Price during the past two years; post-2008 Tampa Bay shirts and over-sized Mariano Rivera jerseys. He stood a few steps into the stands, difficult to make out at first if for no other reason than that section 114 is not generally where you look for a staff ace.
As fans looked over and saw what was going on, they followed. Price welcomed the newcomers. He had nothing better to do. James Shields was on the mound. It was a lazy day trip to a city in which the Rays are desperate to even compete for supporters.
Maybe the kid whose parents are Yankees fans would meet Price, see a nice guy and flip to his hometown team. Maybe the blond who has probably never been across the Howard Frankland for anything other than binge drinking at the Sirata pool would stop by to see what that Tropicana Field place is all about one day. Hell, maybe the overweight guy in the Yankees tank top would buy a regular season ticket out of boredom.
Price and the Rays have nothing to lose, so they attack everything with personality and try to keep their distance from the uber professionalism of the American League East.
When the Rays scored three runs in the second inning, the stadium erupted as much as a spring training park possibly can. Outnumbered Yankees fans joked the penny pinchers get more fans at Steinbrenner Field than they do at The Trop.
That could be true, but hey, four times in five years. Not bad for the Tampa Bay Triple As.
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Miami, as you know, is primarily known for two things: hot women and
hotter women horrible sports fans. Sure, we have beautiful beaches, a vibrant Latin culture, the Orange Bowl and a stunning, neon-flecked skyline. But if you’re unfortunate enough to root for one of its four (sorry FIU, sorry Sunrise Panthers) semi-irrelevant to super relevant sports teams — and you take the further masochististic step of attending a game in person — odds are you’ll be sitting to the right of this guy.
Just before he named his newborn ‘LeBron’
In this sea of bandwagoners and frontrunners and tagalongs and boob jobs and Rick Ross, there is a small pocket of truly committed Miami sports fans who are most likely: a) middle-aged UM alums b) European transplants with soccer ties c) my friends PK and Ben or d) native Cubans and/or ex-teammates of El Duque. These people are not the subject of this post. I’m talking about the late arrivers and 790 call-ins — those self-loathing persons who can listen to four straight hours of Dan Le BeTerd.
Dan, in full Castro garb
Quite obviously, I have little faith in the segment of humanity who roots for the Dolphins, Hurricanes, or Marlings. But Heat fans, due to the boom-and-bust nature of their still-young franchise, are the worst offenders. A brief and half-assed summary of this franchise follows:
- The Miami Vice, As in “Our team is a vice against basketball,” Years (’87-’90): Expansion team features Rony Seiklay and 14 others you couldn’t pick out of a police lineup. Loses first 18 games. Gets worse from there.
- The We Suck, Nobody Cares Years (’91-’95): They suck. Nobody cares. Future Hornets star Glen Rice drops 56 on up-and-coming Magic in mid-’95. Avid Shaq devotee Robert Hilson, in attendance, is crushed.
- The Coach Slick Years (’95-’02): Fans hoping for Showtime Pt. 2 get slightly inferior version of early-’90s Knicks instead. Couldn’t get past the Bulls, and gawwwwwwd was the basketball ugly, but it was here that Riles, Zo, Hardaway and Co. built the foundation for future glories.
- The ‘We Shoulda Traded Up for Darko’ Years (’03-’04): They settle for Dwyane Wade.
- The Flash-Diesel Years (’04-’07): One of the ten greatest players of all-time roles in on an 18-wheeler that it is only slightly larger than his ego. Riles puts a hit out on coach Stan Van Gundy. Wade blossoms into one of the league’s most exciting stars. Antoine Walker is the best player on the team (in his own mind). Shaq wins his fourth ring… and starts eating.
- The SpongeBob Years (’07-’10): Shaq overstays his welcome. Smush Parker moves to South Beach. Suddenly, the team’s second best player is a weed-smoking 19-year-old with a lopsided afro and a love of Saturday morning cartoons. Wade threatens to leave, rightfully.
- The Chris Bosh Years (’11-present): Also, Riles lands a 6-foot-9, 270-pound Akron native. Hysteria/colossal expectations ensue.
In the highs (not the Beasley-type highs), droves of Miamiams turn out on Biscayne Boulevard. In the lows… people go to the beach. Eighteen months into LeBron, we are most definitely in the former curve — packing high-end sports bars in South Miami with No. 6 jerseys, Flash hats, and curvy South Americans rocking plastic tits and… Flash hats. It’s a funny, bewildering spectacle, really. This is not normally the environment one goes to see people erupting in gleeful cheer and fist-bump over a second quarter alley-oop against a bad Knicks team in late winter. For a second, you’d think they actually care about this team. But give it time. Ultra’s right around the corner.
335 s. biscayne blvd Brickell Ave Miami life Old Rasputin one miami
Friday night. The gf’s 300 miles away, slammed at work. I’m tired of lifting and drinking at the same time, and, you know, a man’s only got so many Pearl Jam records.
It’s just you and me old friend.
So let’s catch up. I live at 335 S. Biscayne. I tell you this because there are 38 floors — if you’re my ex eHarmony stalker, good luck getting past the concierge. I have a job. I write about something called e-discovery. If you must know, it deals with the exchange of electronic information during pre-trial litigation, and is as exciting as it sounds.
I drink NorCal stouts. My dog is still alive and my sister has a YouTube channel. It’s not porn. I’m proud of her.
My girlfriend is the sweetest person in the world. She has a green blog. She’s turning me into a vegetarian, and I’m okay with that. I still take Kobe over LeBron six days of the week and twice on Sunday. Tim Tebow and Tom Brady are two of my favorite athletes. My head will explode on Saturday.
I heard a joke today. Jesus walks up to God and God says, “Son, sit at my right hand.” Tim Tebow walks up to God and says, “Scoot over.”
I have a pretty awesome family, a dwindling core of friends, and — sorry dad — a lot of hair. I picked OKC to win it all. I am, nominally, a Hurricane, though I admit to missing four games this season — none of which I would have traded a can of corn to see. I used to be a good writer.
I play my music loud some Friday’s because my neighbor’s a dick, though I spend most Friday’s in Gainesville. So this really isn’t an issue. Sorry for calling you a dick, neighbor.
I haven’t heard a new album in 8 months. I listened to “Bulls on Parade” eight times Thursday morning. Before sunrise. I hadn’t heard that song since I was 10 before I started working. I’m 25. I still have teen angst. And I still have the top search result for “Best Smashing Pumpkins Song.”
Kyle Rancourt is still king. Brian Holt is still alive. SC still has more hits than Rod Carew and the Beastie Boys. I have no problem dancing naked for the hotel patrons across the pool. They’re transient people. This is one night only.
It dawned on me this morning that the students rioting on State College campus Wednesday night, apparently in defense of a man who abetted the rape of a 10-year-old boy in his own locker room, are no different than their hero, Paterno, or the administrators above him. That is, the Penn State scandal is about misplaced priorities and the woefully overblown significance given to them. It is about King Football and the other Too Big to Fail institutions — hell, this applies to big government, big banks, and the Catholic church, among others. In this instance, it is clear that PSU officials, like those stupid kids in the street, value football more than doing good or, as it appears, protecting the innocent.
So a number of things bother me about this fiasco, besides, of course, the allegations themselves. For one, Mike McQueary, the assistant coach who witnessed Sandusky in action, should not still have his job. I suspect this, his firing, will come to pass by days end after the trustees huddle for round 2. His inaction is a federal offense (Title 18 USC Section 4) and deserves prison in other states (and, I believe, the last episode of Seinfeld). Said many times by others, McQueary is just as guilty as Paterno, who himself should have stepped down Wednesday morning instead of forcing the hand of the Trustees later that night.
To this point, Paterno should not get the slightest benefit of the doubt or sympathy pass from any — not for his age, or his good standing in the community, or his past deeds. He let his ego get the best of him till the very end. And for this — for sitting on these charges for 10 years — he deserves whatever shame comes to him.
Finally, I shake my head when newspeople say this scandal isn’t about football. OF COURSE IT’S ABOUT FOOTBALL. It’s not only about football. But it’s certainly the key player — the iron curtain behind which this horrible tragedy unfolded. And it would be nothing short of disgraceful to let the Nittany Lions’ season go on: a further sign that the people in charge still don’t get it. Please, show us you understand the gravity of this situation. Show us, whoever’s in control, that, deep down, you understand Doing Right trumps sports.
As for Jerry Sandusky, he should be sent back into that dark locker room. This time with Matt Millen, while PSU looks the other way.
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This one goes out to my favorite Hooters patron, Chipper Jones. Chipper “lost a ground ball in the lights” last night in Miami. With a one-run lead. And two outs. In the bottom of the ninth. With the best closer in the league on the mound.
The next Marlin up, ex-Braves All-Star Omar “Big Baby” Infante, hit a walk-off homer to cut Atlanta’s Wild Card lead over the Cardinals to 2.5. Atlanta had a 37-game lead last Tuesday. It is in freefall, Tom Petty style.
But enough back story. You’ve probably already seen this slow-motion train wreck play out ad nauseam on your SportsCenter. I want to speak instead directly to Chipper, who acted like a pissy two-year-old in the locker room after realizing he just might’ve (maybe, possibly, etc.) killed his team’s season in front of 500 diehard fish fans.
Larry, among other things, blamed the stadium (it’s built for football), the baseball gods (“they’re turning on us”), and Mark Wohlers (just kidding)… all of which, excuse-wise, are more disingenuous than Liz Hasselbeck’s paint-on ProForm abs. Chipper wasn’t making a play on that tomahawked grounder whether he “lost it in the lights” or not. He hasn’t been able to make that play for a decade.
So I don’t begrudge Chipper for his shitty infield. I blame him for his attitude. We don’t keep him on this team to hit .280 and play Betty White at the hot corner. We keep him on this team for leadership – to slap Kimbrel on the ass after the loss, to rally the troops, and, in general, to do everything in his power NOT to blow a 9-game September Wild Card lead. He’s the only guy left from the ’95 World Series. John Smoltz isn’t walking through that door, and if he did, he wouldn’t blame his team’s collapse on a stadium he’s played in EVERY YEAR FOR 18 YEARS.
Don’t blow this for me, Chipper. I’ve put up with a lot from you over the years. Your 39-years-old now. Act like a man. Go Braves.
Best video games of all-time Madden 2012 giveaway Madden Cover Boys Peyton Hillis Madden Cover Peyton Hillis video games what Peyton Hillis tells us about race in America
I hesitate to make any great leaps or assumptions of cause and effect when the fact that a white cult hero playing in the depressed, blue-collar heart of middle America made the cover of the most popular sports game in the country suggests tepid correlations at most. But it is interesting that, in the final throes of a nasty lockout pitting the haves and the have-mores, such a bewildering figure dons Madden 12 by way of fan vote and, in the process, becomes one of three Caucasian athletes ever to do so (Favre, Brees in case you’re wondering).
Madden, the multi-platform gaming lifestyle that consumed roughly three quarters of my entire middle school existence, exists a window into the NFL fan psyche. Like the league itself, the game is inseparable from the economic realities of those who participate. Madden 12 retails for about $60. You need a high-end gaming platform to use it, and more, you need plenty of discretionary time. Kids working 50-hour weeks at McDonald’s do not make up EA Sports’ core market. Sorry, but if you make $8 an hour, you’re not “in the game.”
Similarly, the NFL, as it’s grown in stature from One of Big Four to de facto weekend pastime, has become a more expensive entertainment endeavor, not just for those who attend, but as a multimedia experience. With blackouts on the rise, the pay-per-view nature of out of market games and the slow migration to exclusive cable networks (namely, NFL TV), just watching your favorite team on a weekly basis usually entails some kind of out-of-pocket expense. At the same time, very heated, very public labor talks between players and owners have threatened to temporarily sideline the whole shebang in lieu of bigger money, more profits.
So what does Peyton Hillis — Madden Cover Boy 2012 — have to do with any of this? Maybe nothing. But to give some incoherent pontificating a little direction, it does say something that Hillis, a 25-year-old white bruiser playing in Cleveland, beat out Michael Vick of all people in a fan voting tournament in the midst of grossly off-putting, grossly lucrative labor negotiations.
The voting element here is key, because if EA Sports decides to put Hillis on the cover, I draw an entirely different conclusion: company puts popular white guy on cover to appeal to middle-class fan base alienated by cutthroat money-mongering of multimillionaires. Simple. Now we have to contend with the notion that this same middle-class fan base made this choice for themselves.
I know what you’re asking: Is the Madden vote a microcosm of America’s sociopolitical undercurrents? Hold that thought.
Again, I admit that I could be turning an anthill into Everest. But Hillis as cover boy strikes the same chord — though nowhere near as resonantly — as John Lennon-as-working class hero or Sarah Palin-as-lowest common denominator of political angst. So I’m willing to go this far: Hillis is the “Tea Party” Madden candidate, and his main challenger, Vick, speaks to a similarly disgruntled faction of a different demographic (think of him, in political terminology, as a more divisive 2008 Barack Obama).
Hillis was a statement vote. Really. He was: a symbol of growing middle class frustration at becoming the new lower middle class. He is a product of tempered social upheaval in the vein of Springsteen and Rocky and Michele Bachmann and all the other white cult heroes of economically challenged yore. He is, in short, America in a helmet.
Or maybe he’s just a great running back.
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All-Star Break Notes best Braves team Freddie Freeman is white Hilson recants on 'eff you' to baseball Jair Jurrjens scouting report SC writes about sports The Atlanta Braves are awesome white guys with black guys names
Call me a fair weather fan or call me a harder worker than you. But just know that my Atlanta Braves, who have tried, and wildly succeeded, in dragging this jaded baseball vet back into the dog days of summer are probably kicking your team’s ass as we speak.
The Braves have the best record in baseball since the beginning of June. They’ve rattled off 14 of 17. And as far as I know, haven’t had any fans die diving off the mezzanine.
If you thought I hadn’t noticed or didn’t care, you’re only partially correct. I didn’t care until now, because let’s be real, the first half of a baseball season is like the first 63 holes of the Masters (according to Jim Nantz)… it doesn’t mattter.
But now we’ve hit the All-Star game, that 5th-grade touchstone of ‘oh sh*t, summer’s almost over,’ and, dammit, I’m primed for three – and God willing, four – months of unabated gloating.
Here are some random notes from the ATL:
A July 6 headline from Cbssportsline.com reads: “Uggla starting to pick up production.” I found this funny… since Uggla’s hitting .183. Hey, but when you can trade an All-Star middle infielder in the prime of his career for a 31-year-old boom or bust slugger with bricks for hands AND pick up $9 million in salary, gotta do it.
Tim Hudson, 8-6/3.57 ERA/113 IP, owns a .690 winning percentage post-All-Star break. Having not watched a game he’s pitched all year, I expect great things from him the rest of the way. Mainly because I love his facial hair.
Do yourself a favor and Google “Craig Kimbrel Scouting Report.” Actually, I did it for you. Just click on the link.
Freddie Freeman, the 21-year-old ‘next Jason Heyward’ before Jason Heyward started sucking, deserves props both for his impressive ROY-push (sorry, Freebird, it’s going to Kimbrel) and, more impressively, his unprecedented whiteness in the face of a black man’s name. Kudos, dawg.
Eight guys in the last 25 years have rolled into the All-Star break with 12 wins and a sub-2.00 ERA. Jair Jurrjens is one of them. I don’t know how he manages to dominate as a power pitcher without actually striking anybody out (65 K in 110 IP), but that he’s become one of the best pitchers in the league without an out-pitch speaks to this kid’s ceiling. By the way, we got him for Edgar Renteria. Suck it, Tigers.
And finally, I get a great kick out of ESPN turning Chipper Jones’ routine fielding plays into ‘highlights’. It’s as if he’s become so decrepit, Baseball Tonight treats his very existence at the hot corner as a triumph of the human spirit on par with scaling Everest or running the Boston Marathon tied to Heather Mills. You know how you spoon feed an infant, give it a little coochie-coo and proceed to baby-talk “Good job! Yay! Look who’s a big boy!” like that little mess of flesh just pinned Rulon Gardner in the 2000 Summer Games?
That baby is Chipper Jones. Go Braves. Happy weekend.