Archive for January, 2009

Linx: Terrible Towel for Good, Hewitt too Pricey to Fire, Citigroup Naming Rights, Super Bowl, Puppy Bowl and More

January 30, 2009 1 comment

It’s Chinese Lunar New Year! Underwater dragon, anyone? Folks still have confidence in Obama, and that’s good, he was sworn in less than 2 weeks ago! Illinois Governor is now Former Governor Blagojevich, after his eventful last day in office; new Governor Pat (Hallelujah) Quinn promises to “fumigate state government.” Some curious comments on The American Institute for Economic Research’s Cost of Living Guide.

US Airways Flight 1549 (the one famously waylaid by geese) passengers will get a year of free “elite status” upgrades; Wall Street Journal commenters think they’re greedy because of one guy’s comment saying it doesn’t go far enough. I think, like those people are going to be flying any more than they need to in the next year? Hells no. Speaking of the flight, Addicting Games is staying classy with a flight simulator game – just prevent the plane from crashing into the Hudson! I’ve been giggling all week about this article on East Breast, Penistone, and other embarassing names of British towns from the NY Times… and Tumbledown Dick Road. It never stops making me laugh.

I am such a sucker that I am going to be watching the Puppy Bowl this Sunday as well as the Superbowl… enjoy the puppy starting lineup. My wife’s big on Mercy (pictured below, photo courtesy of Animal Planet).

Mercy from 2009 Puppy Bowl

+ Those damned socialists in Congress (Kucinich and Republican Ted Poe are quoted) want Citigroup to ditch the $400 million deal for naming rights at the new Mets Stadium/ CitiField.

+ David Wells, still punk-ass after all these years. Who gives him a microphone? Oh yeah, other loudmouths. He calls Torre, ah, J-Fraud.

+ John Maine avoids arbitration and will make 2.6 million next year.

+ In college basketball, an auto-bid watch from Storming the Floor.

+ USA Today finds the recent college firings “disturbing“, and name-check Gary Williams, St. John’s Norm Roberts, and Ernie Kent. Addendum: an article on Ernie Kent and the new Matthew Knight arena opening in 2011. And why would Jeff Capel leave Oklahoma for Georgia, anyway?

+ Paul Hewitt, safe at Georgia Tech… in part because they can’t afford to fire Hewitt:

If that weren’t enough, there’s this: Hewitt’s contract renders him almost fireproof.

His deal was reworked in April 2004 after he led Tech to the NCAA title game. Dave Braine, the AD who hired Hewitt in 2000 and had seen his vision realized, rewarded his coach with a six-year contract that rolls over automatically and that provides a buyout in full for each remaining season if he’s fired “without cause” (meaning, just for losing).

Hewitt is making $1.9 million this season — $1.3 million in salary, $250,000 for radio/TV shows, $200,000 in speaking fees and $150,000 in deferred compensation. Were Tech to dismiss Hewitt today, it would owe him $9.5 million.

By way of contrast, Tech was compelled to pay Chan Gailey $4 million when it fired him as football coach, and Georgia is on the hook for $1.5 million after canning Dennis Felton.

Georgia’s athletics department is flush with cash. Tech’s is not. Tech is paying Gailey through 2011 not to coach, and it just handed Paul Johnson a 50 percent raise — to $2.4 million per season. Bottom line: Nobody is rooting harder for Hewitt than Radakovich.

Football Links!

+ Something awesome that I never knew about the Terrible Towel (I love my Terrible Towel!) – the proceeds go to a special needs school:

But the great part comes from what each of those towels does for people like Danny Cope, Myron’s son and Elizabeth’s older brother.

Myron Cope left behind something far more personal than a legacy of terrycloth, a battle flag for a city and its team. In 1996, he handed over the trademark to the Terrible Towel to the Allegheny Valley School. It is a network of campuses and group homes across Pennsylvania for people with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities. It receives almost all the profits from sales of the towels.

Danny Cope is one of the roughly 900 people the school serves. He has been a resident since 1982, when he was a teenager. He was diagnosed with severe mental retardation when he was 2. He is now 41.

+ The NFL is either losing money (according to the NFL Commissioner)… or flush with cash (according to the Players’ Association). Yes, there’s a Collective Bargaining Agreement that needs to be negotiated by both sides in the next couple of years.

+ Kurt Warner is not a Hall-of-Famer. Jason Whitlock apparently disagrees.

+ The NFL loves younger coaches these days.

+ Brett Favre doesn’t return Aaron Rodgers’ calls. Hasn’t for a year.

+ A Super Bowl Ad preview. Do they strike a “delicate balance” between upbeat and sympathetic?

And Barack Obama on the Super Bowl… he’s for Pittsburgh.

Linx: Cubs Suck, Football Pluck, Concussion Muck, Stimulus Bucks

January 29, 2009 Comments off

Congress signed a bill to ease rules on lawsuits from workers about pay discrimination; Even better, the US House of Reps passed a stimulus bill with no Republican votes! EAT THAT BIPARTISAN BURGER, you oppositional turds! Oh wait… there’s the Senate as well. Americans still fear Obama – oh, they would fear any president by this measure; and an interactive map of layoffs by state.

Isla Fisher Ilsa FisherGood thing I already got my wife a snuggie… my dad didn’t drink Canadian Club50 most loathsome Americans of 2008 from Obama to Palin, with YOU coming in at #43… Amy Fisher is doing porn – aren’t her 15 minutes well up by now?… Elizabeth Hasselbeck is pregnant, which means she has more yapyapyap to talk about, she might talk too much according to the traffic light rule of thumb (h/t to Kottke). How I Met Your Mother’s Cobie Smulders along with being recently engaged, is also pregnant and I swear that if the show works a baby into the storyline, I’m going to frown while I am watching. Don’t test me, HIMYM!

And Jessica Simpson is looking a little more thick Texas these days, apparently. I was going to accompany that with a picture of Ms. Simpson, but I will go with Isla Fisher instead. I like her last name, and she’s starring in Confessions of a Shopaholic, one of those critically tiring, early-year movies that are made from trashy beach novels.

Sports Links

+ Arizona Cardinals owner Bill Bidwell, basking in the glow of business and stadium decisions (and perhaps a bit of luck along with skill). Also, does the meaner look of new logos portend success? Maybe the Lions should have a pride of them eating a gazelle as a logo. And the Jets can have screaming jet fighters.

+ A study on the aftermath of concussions in football:

Recent findings that point to serious, permanent brain damage from football-related concussions have failed to alarm Super Bowl players.

A Boston University study unveiled this week uncovered new evidence concerning chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease caused by head trauma. Six former NFL players, all dead by 50, were found to have the condition, which doctors say can cause victims to lose control of their emotions, suffer depression and eventually, dementia.

+ Oh Lord. More Brett Favre drama. He will meet with Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum about his future. Expect breathless reporting, hedging, hemming, and groans from the NY fans and players, who want a full commitment from Brett Favre if he’s coming back. Can I drive Brett back to Mississippi? Please?

+ A fan or fans in St. Louis stomped out CUBS SUCK next to the Cardinals’ stadium in downtown St. Louis, in a size visible to buildings all around (and perhaps planes). I love that the ‘Lou is nothing if not consistent! Awesome work. I think this should be a sculpture.

+ Speaking of Cub suckitude, who actually trades FOR Aaron Heilman?

+ Wake Forest Coach Dino Gaudio uses tempo-free stats (h/t Rivals college basketball). You, sir, are a smart man.

+ (Already suspended) Miami guard Eddie Rios arrested for burglary and grand theft. I am so tempted to match the knuckleheadedness on the court to this action, but obviously, his on-court lack of control has nothing to do with crime. If he doesn’t get jail time, he’ll still be out of school in a matter of weeks.

+ David Beckham might stay in Europe?

+ There might be evidence that Barry Bonds used steroids besides “the cream” and “the clear”, as they lean hard on one of his associates:

Bonds was indicted in November 2007, and the authorities have since targeted [former trainer Greg] Anderson’s mother-in-law, Madeline Gestas, and Anderson’s wife, Nicole Gestas, in an effort to put more pressure on Anderson to testify. The authorities have focused on the finances of Madeline Gestas, a California businesswoman who has been the subject of tax liens. Nicole Gestas is also under investigation in connection with her own finances.

And Mark McGwire’s brother Jay is shopping a book talking about Mark McGwire’s ‘roid use. But no NY Times articles about that, or IRS leaning on his associates…

And check out the college coaches on the hot seat post. Who do you think should be added to the list (two of whom have been relieved of duty)?

2009 Coaches On the Hot Seat: The Firing Squad Started, Gottfried + Felton

January 29, 2009 1 comment

Since I last posted on the college coaching carousel, and the coaches on the hot seat, Mark Gottfried and now Dennis Felton have both been asked to leave their respective programs, Alabama and Georgia. Alabama and Georgia are going to be staring at some of the same coaches; with Mike Anderson using “right now” to say “Mizzou better up my deal or I will look at these other jobs,” and one columnist thinks Anthony Grant has a jones for the Georgia Bulldog basketball job.

Mark Bradley has a short post on how Dennis Felton was the right man for the job, but had the wrong results. I’d add, though, that any coach that has to repeatedly kick players off the team (see: Mike Mercer, et al) has a bit of a problem. If that comes with some decent coaching, that’s fine, but roster turnover and good teams don’t seem to happily coexist.  I also wonder if the timing of the move was not to get up in VCU coach Anthony Grant’s business, to start subtly sweet talking the man so he can come to the fertile recruiting ground of Georgia.

My list is shrinking by the day, and Jerry Wainwright got a few words of support… or was that the dreaded vote of confidence (the phrase was “intention to retain” Wainwright, after all)? An 0-16 Big East year should be cause for firing, especially with no big recruits in the works.

A coaches on the move post is coming.

Brandon Jennings in Today’s NY Times

January 24, 2009 1 comment

As you might know, top guard prospect Brandon Jennings decided to make the bold move, skipping college and going to play a year in Europe. For those interested in the works of college basketball recruiting, and for those concerned about the restricted options for those boys who want to play basketball professionally straight out of high school, this is a landmark case.

The Brown vs. Board of Ed of recruiting? If the trip is successful, that bit hyperbole may not be so outlandish.

The New York Times has been keeping close tabs on Brandon Jennings. Some excerpts from today’s article:

“I’ve gotten paid on time once this year,” Jennings said in an e-mail message. “They treat me like I’m a little kid. They don’t see me as a man. If you get on a good team, you might not play a lot. Some nights you’ll play a lot; some nights you won’t play at all. That’s just how it is.”

“I don’t see too many kids doing it,” his e-mail message said. “It’s tough man, I’ll tell you that. It can break you.”…

Jennings does not resemble the pioneer some envisioned when he left for Europe as a dynamic player who could create his own shots and score 20 points or more a game. In Italy, he said, he has been stifled offensively. He is averaging 8 points a game.

“My role is to play D and take open shots — that’s it,” he said. “And I’ve accepted that role.”

He acknowledged that the journey had helped him mature, and he said the rigors of playing in Europe may benefit others.

An N.B.A. assistant coach who has been to Europe and has watched Jennings play said his potential draft standing had not been harmed. The coach requested anonymity because he was discussing a player currently ineligible for the draft.

“I think it is good for him,” he said. “He was getting a defensive component that he needed. If I was a scout and I needed a point guard, I would be extremely impressed with what he has done over there.”

I comment on this because I saw the first quotes from Jennings – about not being paid on time and about him being treated like a kid – on ESPN’s bottom line during the Wisconsin Illinois game I’m watching. And those are portrayed as the terrible things. Certainly, it is nice to be paid on time, but it’s a well-known issue that European teams are scattered with the timely payroll.

Jennings is, essentially, a little kid! He is not the man, and perhaps more players need to fit the team concept and realize how very much they have to learn. Jennings admits that the journey has helped him mature. And for a fanbase that chides NBA players for being immature, for coaches who often have a hard time handling the immaturity of NBA players, this could be a fantastic, though unintended, outcome for Brandon.

Playing defense – especially if he has improved with his existing athleticism – is a great, underrated skill. Rajon Rondo and his unoffensive game has really made a name for himself simply with good defense.

It may not be what Brandon Jennings envisioned. But he’s making money and hasn’t hurt his draft stock. Perhaps more players should consider going to Europe and getting schooled a little, building some mental toughness, and gaining experience and worldliness.

Kobe Bryant Ankle Insurance Shoe Commercial

January 15, 2009 Comments off
Categories: funny, pro basketball, video

Mizzou’s Miguel Paul Has Some ‘Splainin to Do

January 14, 2009 Comments off

Missouri freshman Miguel Paul claimed to be Chris Paul’s (aka CP3) cousin, and even claimed asking him for advice… that may not be true, since Chris Paul never heard of him. Miguel might be a more distant cousin… it takes a little attention from Leo Lyons’ minor traffic dispute, though!

ESPN Podcast: Jeff Teague, Jack McClinton, Brian Gregory

January 13, 2009 Comments off

ESPN College Basketball Podcast, with insights from Wake Forest’s star guard Jeff Teague (who sounds like Torii Hunter), Miami’s deadeye shooter Jack McClinton, and Dayton coach Brian Gregory (who sounds like a New York guy_.

Categories: audio, Sports

Giant Fan Wrecks a Car

January 13, 2009 Comments off
Categories: Giants, Sports

Game #15: St. John’s at Pittsburgh Panthers – Pregame Media

January 11, 2009 Comments off

The big question for St. John’s: will point guard Malik Boothe play?

From the NY Post:

Roberts is hoping to get some minutes out of point guard Malik Boothe who underwent surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left thumb on Dec. 21. Roberts said Boothe would not start but he’s hoping to get him some spot duty.


From the NY Daily News:

However, the Johnnies won’t get help from starting point guard Malik Boothe, who is coming off hand surgery. Roberts said he is not yet ready to play in games, but should in the next week.

Which writer is right? At his best, Malik Boothe can make the difference between a close contest and a turnover-filled smashing at the hands of the Pitt Panthers.

The Panthers, are focused for today’s game:

Since the Associated Press Top 25 was released Monday, the Pitt players have displayed a healthy mixture of pride, humility and focus.

“We know it’s out there,” senior forward Tyrell Biggs said. “But we’ve got a lot more work to do. Our goals aren’t finished yet. It’s early.”

Amazingly, Pitt is only the second program to sit atop the AP regular-season Top 25 men’s basketball poll as a Big East school in the past 19 years. The other is Connecticut, which was No. 1 for 21 different regular-season polls in 1998-99, 2003-04 and 2005-06.

St. John’s is focused as well. NY Post:

Following his team’s 71-65 upset of Notre Dame at the Garden last weekend, Roberts’ task was to make sure his players didn’t come down with a collective case of “Big Head Syndrome.”

Boston College took care of that problem. After pulling a shocking upset of North Carolina, the Eagles got flipped by Harvard.

“We saw that,” forward D.J. Kennedy said. “Coach tells us all the time that anyone can beat anyone, but when you see it happen to another team, it’s right there. You know it’s true.”

NY Daily News:

“Now they are No. 1 and trying to hang on to it,” Kennedy said. “There’s a lot of pressure that comes with being No. 1. And we come in feeling good and with nothing to lose. No one is giving us a chance in this, but no one gave us a chance last weekend.”

St. John’s (10-4) got a taste of what it’s like to send a shiver through the college basketball world when it defeated then-No. 7 Notre Dame, 71-65, last Saturday at the Garden. The Johnnies got that win by doing two things that they hadn’t: play with intensity for the entire game and not collapse in the face of adversity. When the Irish led big early, the Red Storm mounted a comeback. When its lead was threatened, St. John’s beat them back.

“We showed them how to win,” Johnnies coach Norm Roberts said. “I can’t tell you if the light went on for them. We’re preaching to them to stay focused and intense. We want them to stay confident.”

I suppose I could say something about it taking them this long to “learn how to win,” and stay focused… more on that from the New York Times:

The Red Storm underwent a bit of an attitude adjustment after a 21-point loss to Providence in its Big East opener on Dec. 31. The players said a heightened dedication in practices and the subsequent, and, admittedly, uncharacteristic effort against Notre Dame proved rewarding….

“We learned a lot about playing 40 minutes,” the sophomore forward Sean Evans said. “We have to bring this mind-set to every game.”

Evans spoke about how much more focused he and his teammates were in practice. The sophomore forward Justin Burrell said that the team was working harder in practice than he could remember, and that there was none of the bickering or distracting side conversations that had been too prevalent in the past. And the sophomore swingman D. J. Kennedy confirmed that that had been the way the team had operated since the Providence loss. Even Roberts was willing to acknowledge a rise in intensity, though he attributed it to preparing for a hard-nosed team like Pittsburgh (14-0, 2-0).

“We’ve emphasized being much more physical in practice,” Roberts said.

He showed his team on film things it did against Notre Dame that it needed to continue doing. Those things have roots in effort and determination like rebounding with both hands and playing tough on-ball defense; the Red Storm held Notre Dame to four 3-pointers compared with its average of 9.3 a game. It also includes executing the offense with patience to get the ball inside and attacking the basket in transition rather than settling for jump shots.

Again, why it takes so long to get a team to play the right way… but if they can keep it up, it will be water under the bridge.


DJ Kennedy’s coming home to play in front of friends and family.

Huge Pitt stop for St. John’s, from the NBE Basketball report.

The Vegas point spread is 19.5 points in favor of Pittsburgh..