Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Star Jones, you let yourself go...

I mean, what is there to say? At least Barry is making an attempt at cleaning up his image.

Just watch out for Simon's peering eyes.


Jerry Colangelo knows basketball. So does Coach K. But it is mind-boggling that they both overlooked the one player with more heart--and perhaps more pride--than any other American player.

Somehow, they chose to not invite Allen Iverson to camp for a chance to be on the 2008 US Olympic team.

In the words of the immortal Jon Stewart: Whaaaaaaaaaattttt??

AI was the MVP of the World Championship team in 2003. He was one of the few stars in 2004 to take the mantle (attention: Kobe, KG, Tim Duncan) and play in the Olympics. No one else wanted to, and the US had a disappointing bronze-medal performance. With all eyes on the biggest star there, The Answer, he behaved as a role model and played even better.

We used to be among the biggest Sporlihaters from the outset of AI's career: thug, didn't care about the game, didn't pass, blah blah blah.

But he has changed his personality, his outlook, and his game. Watching him in all-star games, you see Iverson turn into the true point guard that the Sixers have so badly wanted. Off the court, he has turned himself into a class act. Even more, he met face-to-face with Colangelo in January to basically beg for a spot on the team, something he should not have had to do in light of his 2004 performance.

There are 25 invitees, and only 12 spots. An exclusive team, no doubt. If all the stars that shunned their country in 2004 get spots, why doesn't Iverson? The guy at least deserves a chance. After all, that's what he gave his '04 team.


Our first report after unofficial spring break features what we do best: hating.

Today's piping hot serving of Sporlihate is the one college team that has been consistently overrated, year after year. Gonazaga was a wonderful Cindarella in 1999. Cindarella they are no more. All these people piping about how the Zags deserve a #1 seed in the tourney should turn it down a notch. They've never gotten as far as that magical run in 1999 (close Elite 8 loss to eventual champ UConn), and have been consistently upset since. A quick look at their schedule this year reveals they should be a #3 seed, AT BEST:

They have played 5 ranked teams this year, and their record is 2-3.

They have played two top-10 teams, and lost to both.

They play in one of the weakest conferences in America (WCC = Wack Coast Conference), where only TWO other teams are above .500.

Last night they needed a last second shot to squeak out a home win against a sub-.500 opponent, for the 2nd time in a week.

Gonzaga is a solid team with one of the best players in the country. Adam "Ron Jeremy" Morrison, once he shaves that ridiculous mustache, could put his team on his shoulders and take them to the Final Four. But their performance this year does not earn them a preferred track to that goal.

GW has a better record but is ranked lower, and is projected as a #4 seed. They only lost at NC State, a tough place to play. They should be given at least as high a seed as the Zags.

But only if Morrison shaves his 'stache.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Weekly Awards for 2/13

And now, for the first post of the Weah's, Sporlitics' weekly awards named after a great athlete (George Weah) now making his way into the world of Politics in his home country of Liberia. Without further ado...

Weah to go (movin up this week)
Lindsey Kildow: Pardon the expression, but after taking a nasty fall, she showed some real balls in getting right back on the hill—twice.
Ukrainian Parliament: They threw down when some Commis put up a mean sign in Parliament. (Picture 9 in msnbc.com slideshow)
Any comic, cartoonist or wannabe: Thanks to the veep.

On the Weah down (took some shots this week)
Scott McClellan: Granted, he can be on this list most weeks. This week, though, he looked especially impotent to press inquiries on Cheney’s shooting.
Michelle Kwan: Missed out on a final chance at gold, one she put off four years of sponsorships to chase. Unfortunate, to be sure.
Bryant Gumbel: Since when is he the spokesman for African-Americans?

The "Take that, Darwin" award of the week:
Who else but the VPOTUS could garner this one (although Gumbel made a late push)? Of all the one-liners and bits of info that have inundated the last week, perhaps the best is that Cheney misfired an American-made gun. Embarassing.

Suck it, Gumbel

Bryant Gumbel on this week's HBO's Real Sports:
"Laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention ... so if only to hasten the arrival of the day they’re done and we can move on to March Madness, for God’s sake, let the Games begin."

There are a number of accurate retorts, none of which we here at Sporlitics were the first to write. Pick your poison:
  • Gumbel, in his years on the Today show, more than likely covered the Winter Olympics on site for NBC. He has never before made such comments.
  • Most of the American winter olympians are from, how do we say, the less diverse of the USA's 50 states--Alaska or Wisconsin, for example. There just aren't many black hockey players, or snowboarders, or curlers. Besides, when March Madness rolls around, will Gumbel bemoan the lack of white athletes?
  • GOP Convention? Gumbel's political leaning has absolutely nothing to do with his sports show. Leave it on the sidelines, Bryant.
  • Real Sports is a great show, but they are conspicuously absent in the criticism of boxing. By far the most corrupt sport--and HBO Sports' biggest cash cow--somehow goes untouched by the Emmy-winning Real Sports.

But by far the best and most timely response to Gumbel's misguided rant was today's speed-skating King, Shani Davis. Davis won the 1,000-meter speed-skating title and became the first black athlete to win Winter Olympics gold. It was a great moment for anyone watching. A shame, however, that Gumbel said he was not.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

"He's full of shit."

That's what Ozzie Guillen said about A-Rod in an upcoming SI interview.

Sure, sometimes Ozzie lets his boca (mouth) ramble on a little long, but he can always be counted on for coloring up a dull sports February (in true Sporlitics fashion, the only question he got wrong on his recent American Citizenship quiz was "Who is the mayor of Chicago?" Ozzie responded, "Me.")

This time, however, he was dead on. Some excerpts, via the NY Daily News:

"Alex was kissing Latino people's asses...He knew he wasn't going to play for the Dominicans; he's not a Dominican!"

"I hate hypocrites: He's full of shit."

"The Dominican team doesn't need his ass."

Funny what a soapbox a World Series ring can get you. Go get em, Oz.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

So long, Sammy

Sammy Sosa, the 5th-leading home run hitter in MLB history, is retiring, according to his agent.

We will save the whole career recap and get to what the people want. Ladies and gentlemen, presenting our first Sporlitics argument (with ourselves):

Why Sammy Sosa is NOT a Hall of Famer

We'll compare Sammy to another great outfielder, one who is repeatedly denied entrance to the Hall despite much support. We figure if Sammy is better than Jim Rice, he deserves to get in. If not, he should not be granted admission to Cooperstown. We begin with the favorable comparisons:

Sammy has hit more home runs than anyone but Hank, Babe, Barry, and the Say Hey Kid. He has 124 more RBIs than Rice, stole more bases and led the league in runs (twice) once more than Rice did.
Plus, the intangibles: For most of his career he was considered one of the game's true good guys, garnering numerous humanitarian awards. And baseball will forever owe a great debt to Sammy and Mark McGwire for rescuing the sport in 1998. That impact can never be measured in numbers. But numbers are what Cooperstown is all about...

Now, the other side:

Jim Rice may have fewer RBIs, but he played in nearly 200 fewer games. In that many fewer games, Rice has 148 more hits, which obviously leads to a MUCH higher carrer batting average (.298 to .274). Rice struck out 771 fewer times (771!) and batted over .300 twice as many seasons (eight to four).
The Hall is also a measurement of consistency, and Rice outpaces Sammy there, too. If you take out the four seasons in the prime of Sammy's career (1998-2001), his BA drops to a paltry .259. You can't do that with Rice, who batted .300 all over his career and garnered MVP votes in eight different seasons.
Lastly, again the intangibles. Sammy may be the first casualty (along with Raffy Palmeiro) of the steroid era. That, combined with his corked bat and late-career swoon after steroid testing may punish him. Few players have experienced such a quick, precipitous drop in fanfare.

The final verdict:
Sammy was a great player who captivated the game like few have ever done. And as we noted, Bud Selig should be at Sammy's beckoned call for the rest of his natural life. Baseball would not have been rescued without him.
But, Sammy's greatness was too short-lived. A deeper look at his career stats, when compared to another great outfielder not in Cooperstown, reveal that Sammy should not have his likeness bronzed. His '98 bats should forever be in Cooperstown. His portrait should not.

Real men shoot guns...and play softball

So the VPOTUS finally agrees to speak to the much-dreaded press (about whom is attitude is apparently "You ask stupid questions, and I won't answer them"). Whom does he pick for this hard-hitting, sprayed-with-tough-questions-like-birdshot interview?

None other than those at FOX News.

Shocker. The "interview" will air at 6 p.m. eastern tonight and reportedly involves Cheney saying "It wasn't Harry's fault." Funny; his office spent the weekend placing the blame on the 78-year-old lawyer who got shot in the face. Oh, and he's wearing a soft, sensitive, pink tie.

FOX isn't showing clips yet, but someone leaked a few of Brit Hume's questions:

"Mr. Vice President, if the Democrats in Congress had given you and the White House the power it needed to maneuver freely and protect the American people--specifically Mr. Whittington-- in this situation, could this accident have been avoided?"

"Knowing what you know now, about where Mr. Whittington was and whether or not he had a bird hiding behind him, would you make the same decision?"

"In this post-9/11 world, isn't it necessary to have the latitude to make a decision without having to go through a bureaucratic mess, such as looking to see if a person is there before you shoot?"

The Scout-breaker

Quick review of the 2003 NBA Draft's 1st 5 picks:
1) LeBron
2) That foreign kid (TFK)-->
3) Melo
4) Chris Bosh
5) D-Wade

TFK is in the news again, for basically the first time since that fateful draft night, because the Pistons have finally given up on his experiment. They are reportedly trading him to Orlando for two sacks of potatoes.

Why give up on him so fast? What happened to the once promising 17-year old that every NBA Scout swore would be better than Dirk (SporliNote: These are the same ones who promised this would be the "Age of Yao")?

3 things. 1) Larry Brown doesn't play rookies. 2) The Pistons are..well, the best team in the NBA. 3) He probably isn't very good. He has looked terrible in his few minutes on the floor.

TFK has single-handedly killed the European player's rep, one that was built up by the likes of Dirk and Peja. Not to mention the reps of numerous "pundits," like ESPN's Chad Ford who was at the head of the You NEED to take Darko mob.

Well, here's to a new start for TFK, and hoping he can restore the reps for all his followers. After all, he's only 21.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Saddam watches Chappelle?

In today's episode of Saddam Hussein's trial, he claimed, among other things, that he and his fellow defendents were on a hunger strike. Nevermind that they all appeared in good health, as the judge noted.

The real highlight came when Saddam damn near quoted Chappelle show regular Scarface, he of "Fuck you, fuck you, you're cool" fame in Half Baked. Saddam's comment to the judge:

"Hit your own head with that gavel."

Saddam, obviously a fan of the "you better wrap that gavel up, B" skit, could be heard leaving the courtroom yelling, "I'm still rich, BIATCH!"

McClellan v. Gregory, rd. 491

At yesterday's press gaggle (a press conference with no cameras, before the televised press conference), NBC News' David Gregory and White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan got into another one of their now common pissing contests. Per WashPost:

It featured NBC's David Gregory, one of McClellan's most persistent inquisitors over the last year, who raised his voice while asking a question about the incident.
"Hold on," McClellan interrupted, pointing out that "the cameras aren't on right now. You can do this later."
"Don't accuse me of trying to pose to the cameras," Gregory replied. "Don't be a jerk to me personally when I'm asking you a serious question."
"You don't have to yell," McClellan said.
"I will yell," said Gregory, jabbing his finger in McClellan's direction. "If you want to use that podium to try to take shots at me personally, which I don't appreciate, then I will raise my voice, because that's wrong."
"Calm down, Dave. Calm down," said McClellan evenly.
The two men spoke privately after the gaggle, Gregory said later. No apologies were exchanged.

Holy hotheads, Batman!

A quick background for the unitiated: Remember about a year ago, when the White House press corps decided they were going to act like an unchecked press, after being ripped for swallowing the bullshit for 4 years? Gregory took that mantle and has since decided that he will be the most visibly pissed at McClellan (the highlight of which was the press conference referring to Karl Rove's involvement in Joe Wilson's wife's outing: Gregory to McClellan, "You were wrong then, weren't you?").

Anywho, whether he is doing it to continually score points for being the one to refuse the party line from McClellan (it is worth noting that other reporters, such as CBS Radio's Peter Maer, are less visible but just as resistant to McClellan's spin) or for genuine reporting, Gregory is doing a damn good job of pissing off the White House. At least now, four years later, the press is finally catching up to the responsibility attached to that pesky 1st Amendment.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Johnny be Nasty

We rarely think that there is racism amongst the mainstream sports media. Barry Bonds, for example, is not vilified because he black; rather it is because he seems to have little respect for the fans...and that whole steroids thing.

At the same time, we are not so naive as to think that the remnants are not there. And an Olympic athlete may prove that the media has not yet completely escaped their racist past.

U.S. figure skating champ Johnny Weir (pictured in a Russian jacket, one of his lovable photo ops), a favorite to medal in Turino, has garned recent headlines like:

So, what's missing? Weir is a writer's dream: always there to provide a controversial quote to spice up a slow news day. His topics have included comparing his outfits to "an icicle on coke" and "a Care Bear on acid"; referring to an opponent's short program as "a vodka-shot, lets-snort-coke kind of thing" (we are noticing a pattern in the rail-thin skater's choice of metaphor); wife-beating; and to top it off, on a TV piece aired over the weekend, compared the Olympic Village to living in "a concentration camp."

WHAT? Weir likes to compare himself to the outspoken athlete who cannot be quited by "propriety." And thus far, the media have loved it. I can't imagine what would have been reported had Allen Iverson called the '04 Village a concentration camp. Or if Ray Lewis said the sidelines reminded him of blow.

Where's the fairness? Just because Weir is a clean-cut white boy in a clean-cut sport (minus Tonya), does not give him a free pass on blatant ignorace. We are the first to stand up and say when sensitivity should not win out and society should relax a bit. But Weir is not one of those instances. Someone needs to call him on his vitriolic remarks that he spins as humor. There is no better opportunity than the next week.

Proof the Head Honchos STILL Don't Watch TV

...or read newspapers...or listen to the radio...or talk to basically anyone outside their bubble.

Remember five years ago, when the President asserted that he didn't read the morning paper? Or even as recently as the Katrina, when somehow the suits in DC "found out" about the Convention Center disaster a whole day after the rest of the world? Well, there's still some sort of news-proof forcefield outside the White House/Pentagon.

Yesterday, Dr. Rice (yes, gentlemen, still single and available; I know you're curious) told ABC's "This Week" that, and we could not make this up if we tried:

"If people continue to incite [the cartoon protests], it can spin out of control."

Right. Stat boy, can we get a tally? Here it is, as of this weekend:
-Danish embassies burned in Beirut (right) and Damascus.
-Danish, French, and Austrian embassies burned in Tehran.
-Death toll well into double digits.

And Dr. Rice thinks that if action isn't taken, it CAN spin out of control. What is that line about the river in Egypt?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Trigger-happy, in a different sense

We here at Sporlitics owe a sincere thank you to Dick Cheney. On our opening weekend, he took the lead, as the VPOTUS so often does, and gave the news cycle a startling example of the explosiveness that occurs when powerful politicians meet equally powerful sports. Thanks, Dick.

This administration may not have many military vets, but they sure know how to handle a gun.

On a hunting trip that can only be likened to one of those "Senior outdoors days" Sporlitics' local church organizes, Vice President Cheney (65 years old) shot his hunting partner, attorney Harry Whittington (78) on a private south Texas ranch.

The Houston Chronicle is reporting Cheney, upon hearing a noise, turned and fired without realizing that Whittington, 30 yards away, was the culprit. Whittington allegedly did not identify himself when re-joining the group. Shoot first, ask questions later? A breakdown in communication? SO unlike this administration...

Oh and they seem to still not understand that they cannot put a stranglehold on all media. The incident was not reported for more than 24 hours, and only after the local Corpus Christi paper got word.

House to OHS: You Blew Katrina

In a report coming out tomorrow, House investigators will blast the government, and single out an important few, according to the Sunday WashPost. An excerpt:

The 600-plus-page report lays primary fault with the passive reaction and misjudgments of top Bush aides, singling out Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security Operations Center and the White House Homeland Security Council, according to a 60-page summary of the document obtained by The Washington Post. Regarding Bush, the report found that "earlier presidential involvement could have speeded the response" because he alone could have cut through all bureaucratic resistance.

We'll see if a major albatross for the Bush Administration comes back for a few extra kicks. Although Sporlitics sees the morning news cycle dominated by a different Bush Administration story, this one also involving obvliviousness and bad communication (see above).

The ramifications of this report may well stick, though, because Chertoff will be the one in the spotlight, with Bush and co. taking peripheral hits. The bureaucracy is the real problem here, and this report will (apparently) expose it. The President will catch even more blame, not only because he could have cut through the resistance, but because Homeland Security was his idea. And in its first real test since 9/11, it failed. Miserably.

[Insert derogatory comment here]

OK. We think we finally understand A-rod. After all the things he has done to tarnish whatever may be left of his postive image, Sporlitics came across this:

But we get it. He's trying the ol' double-negative. He thinks he will confuse everyone: empire-hater overload. Dook haters and Yankee haters (often one in the same) won't know what to do with themselves. He's brilliant.

By the way, who is his publicist? Courtney Love? Geez, you'd think this guy would get some good advice once in a blue moon.

Since bashing the world champ Red Sox about a year ago, A-Rod has made more bad decisions than Duke Cunningham (get it? Duke? Like the school? ZING!). OK, we're done.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Lady Coaches Can Be Stubborn Dicks, too

On the Geno v. Pat Undercard...

In one corner: the young coach of one of the country's top team, bitter about losing last year's national championship game, a game she should have won, against that night's opponent.

In the other corner: the much, er...more "seasoned" coach of a good, but not great, defending national championship team, just after getting smoked by above coach's team.


Before this week's game nationally-televised game, apparently LSU women's basketball coach Pokey Chatman said something not very nice to the reigning nat'l champ coach, Kim Mulkey-Robertson. After Chatman's Tigers exacted (muted) revenge, the post-game handshake turned into a small spectacle.

Mulkey-Robertson decided to comment to Chatman on her etiquette, Chatman snatched her hand back, and it was on.

"You don't say things like that. She hasn't earned the right to say something like that to me," siad Mulkey-Robertson because "she hasn't been coaching long enough."

Oooh! One point for the gold corner. Purple, your rebuttal?

"I promise you it's been blown out of context. Did I say something unprofessional? Not at all. Have you ever heard something like that come from me?...I was trying to get my hand away and congratulate her staff and get back to the locker room. The air is cleared. That's my story. There's nothing to clear."

Weak. Sporlitics is a big fan of rivalry spilling over to the suits calling the shots (see: John Chaney v. John Calipari), and from what we know, Chatman's response means she stepped outta line.

Still, it leaves us wondering, if this made the highlight reel (and the video is pretty unspectacular), how much would people pay to see Geno Auriemma and Pat Summit throw down? Sporlitics' staff would give up our average month's salary, at least.

Is anyone at FOX listening?

Quite a Kwan-dary

Michelle Kwan had a horendous first practice in Torino today and complained of being "a little stiff." Um, Michelle, it has nothing to do with this Olympics. You have that problem every four years.

Apparently now she is not quite sure if--after petitioning the USOC to be able to skip the American qualifier and costing another skater a shot at Torino--she will be able to skate. Here's a bit of advice:

We think you are one of the greatest American figure skaters ever, but you will always be the Dan Marino/Patrick Ewing of your sport. You know what though? It doesn't matter. Actually, let us re-phrase...It doesn't matter, as long as you don't quit. If you go out there and fall, or pull something, that's OK. At least you tried, and you'll be associating grit with a sport forever linked with liatards (no small feat). Just try. PLEASE try.

For cryin out loud, whether we like it or not, you are there representing all of us. So just get out on the ice. People embrace the losers; but no one likes a quitter.


Scooter allegedly rats out Cheney

According to multiple reports (National Journal, Washington Post) indicted former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, testified to the grand jury that he was "instructed" by superiors (read: Dick Cheney) to leak the identity of a covert CIA agent in the summer of 2003. The leak was allegedly an attempt to smear the agent's husband, Joe Wilson, a former ambassador who wrote an op-ed in the New York Times debunking the Bush Administration's nuclear claims about Iraq.

This per Carol Leonnig at the Post:

Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff testified that his bosses instructed him to leak information to reporters from a high-level intelligence report that suggested Iraq was trying to obtain weapons of mass destruction, according to court records in the CIA leak case.
Cheney was one of the "superiors" I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby said had authorized him to make the disclosures, according to sources familiar with the investigation into Libby's discussions with reporters about CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Libby's lawyers vehemently denied the report.

The first rule of nobility is certainly "take one for the team." Lest we forget, however, that the overriding rule of lifetime politicos is:

"If I'm goin down, I'm takin every one of you sumbitches with me." It was really only a matter of time until someone pulled an Abramoff and promised to bring in the big fish in exchange for a better deal. Is anyone really surprised?

Be Careful at the Library

Our first politics-specific post...

Sens. Bow to White House and Agree to Patriot Act

Four Republican Senators who had previously vowed to vote down the four-year renewal of the Patriot Act--Chuck Hagel (NE), John Sununu (NH), Larry Craig (ID) and Lisa Murkowski (AK)--yesterday capitulated to the White House. They said that a compromise was reached, but have a look at the three "changes" they reported, per Sherly Gay Stolberg at the NYT: link

The deal focused on three particular areas. The new measure would give recipients of subpoenas the right to challenge an accompanying judicial order not to discuss the case publicly, though they would have to wait one year. In the meantime, they would have to comply with the subpoena. That would prevent the F.B.I. from demanding the names of lawyers consulted by people who receive secret government requests for information and prevent most libraries from being subject to those requests.

In the same article, Russ Feingold, resident OSWARS (only Senator with a real set), blew up the Republicans' collective spot. "A few insignificant changes just doesn't cut it."
We couldn't agree with Russ more. These changes were only cosmetic, and the Republican Sens (along with two D's: Feinstein (CA) and Durbin (IL)) were clearly only in this for the good press that comes along with "fighting" the White House. They clearly weren't serious about protecting civil liberties, because they could not even secure what they called one of their "chief concerns":

The compromise does not, however, address one of their chief complaints, that the revised bill would allow the government to obtain private records of Americans with just loose connections to a terrorism investigation. Mr. Sununu and the others had originally insisted that the government prove a direct connection.

Pathetic. When are these pols gonna actually follow through with their promises?

Rocket Landing?

A few years ago, fans in Bahhhhston were up in arms amidst reports that Roger Clemens would enter the Hall of Fame wearing the hated "NY" hat. Today, with the Rocket no closer to ending his career, there are reports that he may even return to close out his career where it began: Fenway. The biggest sign that he did, in fact, meet with the Sox brass? No one is saying a word. GMs, owners, agents. It takes quite a coincidence to keep those types quiet.

Our take: This is just the rocket feeling out his territory--and value--and the Sox looking at the possibility of patching up the city's broken relationship with the former face of the franchise. As ESPN's Buster Olney writes, extensive bidding for Clemens from the likes of the Rangers and (surprise!) the Yankees will push the Rocket's tag out of Boston's atmosphere.

For the record, we've got our money on Clemens pitching for his hometown Astros next year.

Athleticians. Poletes. Posted by Picasa

Friday, February 10, 2006

Our inaugural post!

For the first post in the history of sporlitics, we bring you a story not even Michael Crichton could make up: bigtime networks, world-reknowned stars, cutthroat trading, and...cartoons?

I'll give you Al, but only if you give me...the bunny
Whoever said you couldn't put a price on great broadcast talent? Yesterday, as part of their deal to free Al Michaels from his contract with ABC and allow him to reunite with John "Turducken" Madden, NBC traded away the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Oswald was Walt Disney's first creation, before even Mickey Mouse.
Throw-ins to complete the trade (presumably the equivalent of salary-trades in the NBA) were NBC's rights to the Ryder Cup.
Oswald was not immediately available for comment, but there were reports of 'rolling sounds' near Mr. Disney's gravesite.