Tackle anyone?

Quick Note: I've been watching college football this afternoon and I'm not sure I've seen a ball carrier taken down by the first defender to hit him all day. You would think with all the time these coaches spend coaching players (much more than the NCAA supposedly allows) they might go over how to tackle now and then. Guess they're too busy with classwork. L-O-L.


The Knicks are really, really, really, really, really bad

New season, same pathetic play. The Knicks fell to 0-2 tonight with a road loss against the dynasty known as the Charlotte Bobcats.

The game got off to a rousing start, with Mike D'Antoni's crew playing an inspired first quarter which ended with the Knicks on the short end of a 32-13 score.


The Knicks did show some fight though, giving their fans hope by coming all the way back to push the game into double overtime, when of course, they lost.

The Sports Illustrated basketball preview quoted one NBA scout as saying the Knicks roster resembled an expansion team. Looks like it.

It's amazing to me that there are teams in New York run more poorly than the Mets. But not even the Mets could have crushed the morale of a devoted fan base in a city that loves basketball. No, Jim Dolan has a unique talent in that area.

D' Antoni and Donnie Walsh might be on the way to slowly bringing the team out of the hole it's occupied in recent years. But the Knicks have a lot of digging left to do.

Help is not on the way

So the Yankees weren’t quite Pedro Martinez’ daddy, but once again, he failed to beat them in the Bronx.

It’s been the same thing repeatedly for Petey when he faces the Yankees at the Stadium in the playoffs: He stays in the game for too long and gives up runs long after he should be washing that Jheri curl. Happened again yesterday.

Look, I don’t blame Pedro. He’s a competitor. A crazy competitor at that. So when the skipper asks him if he can get three more outs, he always says yes. He figures his worn down arm is still better than some journeyman middle reliever.

But why do fools like Grady Little and Chuck Manuel continue to send him out to the mound when everyone can tell his stuff isn’t nearly what it was in the early innings?

That’s their one important job: Noticing when a pitcher doesn’t have it anymore and giving him the hook.

Paging Chuck Manuel: Petey isn’t 25 anymore. He was on the beach in the Dominican getting his tan on for most of the season.

Be decisive. Don’t even ask him how he’s feeling. Get off your butt and bring in a fresh arm. And maybe you’d be up 2-0 instead of tied.

He called you a wuss

His name is Manny Pacquiao and he abused Oscar de la Hoya and Ricky Hatton in much more dominant fashion than you did.

And now Pacquiao is talking a bunch of noise saying you want no part of him.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen. I’m sure he doesn’t want to fight,” Pacquiao said yesterday.

Those sound like fighting words to me. Your move, Pretty Boy.

Money likes to say he never ducks anyone, but it sure seems like he’s ducking here. Why hasn’t this fight already been signed to assuming Pacquiao takes care of Miguel Cotto in their upcoming fight?

Talk about hype. This one would be the most anticipated fight since Ali-Frazier…the first one.

Floyd, you can’t keep calling yourself the best fighter in the world forever. You don’t get to hold that mythical title like you’re some Supreme Court Justice. Beating little guys like Juan Manuel Marquez doesn’t do anything for your cred.

So answer Pac-Man’s challenge and accept the 35 mil’ or whatever obscene number you will be guaranteed. You haven’t done anything impressive in two years.

Pacquiao thinks you’re scared of him. I’m waiting for your response. Don’t disappoint.

The Goat

I'm sorry, why is this Philly fan toting Ryan Howard along by leash through what appears to be a tailgating party?

Oops, my bad. That's not Howard, it only bears a strong resemblance to the Phillies' slugger, who has played like pure fecal matter so far this World Series. We're talking 1-for-8, seven-strikeouts bad. The Yankee pitchers have held Howard hitless since the first inning of Game 1. Ouch.

Howard has looked an awful lot like Pedro Cerrano the last two nights, slugging a fastball for a double but swinging roughly two feet over every curve. One at-bat in Game 2 A.J. Burnett threw Howard four straight curves. He K'd, en route to the ol' golden sombrero (right). 

As a Yankee hater, it pains me to watch one of the great sluggers of this era flop against them in this spot. Fans in the Bronx have no respect for players and team without "Red Sox" or "Angels" on their chests. In fact, most of these self-obsessed clowns actually believe Mark Teixeira is a better hitter than Howard, one of the baseball monsters of the last half century. I really hoped he'd put them in their place, stamping a few dents in the Komatsu sign in right field, miles past that Little League wall.

Hat for bat? Rum for Jobu? Sacrifice a live chicken? Whatever it takes, Ry.


Making guys whiff with his mind

Despite the dinky Yankee Stadium HR he just surrendered to Hideki Matsui, Pedro Martinez is pitching a pretty damn good game in Game Two. Six innings, two solo homers allowed and eight strikeouts. Pedro has his changeup and curveball working wonderfully, yet Buck and McCarver keep insisting he's getting by on guts and intelligence. Apparently Einstein could have been a hell of a pitcher.

Pedro doesn't throw 96 anymore, but his off-speed stuff can still be devastating. You don't strike out eight guys in a potent Yankee lineup on guile. It's ridiculous and I wish people would stop saying it. It's not like Pedro is nibbling at corners and hoping for groundballs. Pedro throws 89 instead of 96, so now he's 'outsmarting' the Yankees? Idiotic.
W.F. Slinger chimes in again, letting Buck and McCarver know what a wonderful job they did last night.

Random Rips From Game 1:

I loved it every time Fox panned its cameras over to show Charlie Manuel during last night's game as if he had anything to do with what was happening on the field. I mean seriously, is there a more overpaid job in the world than managing a good baseball team?

Wow, Charlie, did you really decide to go with Cliff Lee as your starter in Game 1? How did you ever think of that? And good job leaning up against the rail while your ace pitched an absolute gem. I could tell your close paying attention to the situation was really what made Lee rack up all those strikeouts.

And that lineup. Like Joe Girardi, you must really struggle with decisions like whether or not to pencil in hitters like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Any semi-coherent fan, even one from Philadelphia, could do your "job" and enjoy front row seats while doing it.

Sorry to pick on you old-timer, but you're in the spotlight and you're the one who is going to receive a massive amount of undeserved credit on top of the already undeserved piles of cash you've already pocketed. Baseball managers -- what a joke...

Speaking of jokes, how about those clowns, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, in the booth? I've spent years bashing McCarver, but it's taken me longer to get to Buck, which probably stems from me having a soft spot in my heart for his "back to the track, to the wall, we are tied" call off Jim Leyritz's legendary home run in game four of the 1996 World Series.

Regardless, the gloves are off now. The guy is cornier than Jim Nantz, more predictable than Joe Morgan (okay, so that might be a bit of a stretch), dumber than Michael Kay and almost as obnoxious as Dick Vitale. Sadly enough, he's twice as good as Fox's No. 2 man, Thom Brennaman. At least we don't have to suffer through Chip Caray I guess.

Somehow Buck (I wonder why) has ascended to such prominence that HBO gave him his own show, Joe Buck Live. Talk about brutal, especially when he does what appears to be a bit of a stand-up routine.

I haven't seen such awkwardness since Mike Lupica attempted the same thing many years ago on his own show that lasted about two days. Even the deeply troubled Stephon Marbury looked more comfortable interviewing of all people, Vijay Singh, on his ill-fated 2007 talk-show/disaster, "Stars on Stars."

The best thing about Buck announcing baseball? It means I won't have to listen to him doing football this week.

Main Event

Pedro Martinez takes the hill at Yankee Stadium tonight, and my greatest disappointment is that Don Zimmer isn’t still in the Yankees dugout.

You remember their clash back in 2003, right? Zimmer, who was then 72-years-old, came barreling out of the dugout and charged at Pedro during a benches-clearing brawl.

Martinez, doing what anyone would do when Grandpa is acting a little nuts, threw him to the ground and Zim had a cut on his nose. Way to handle your business Petey. You knocked out Santa Claus.

I’m all for Pedro dusting guys off the plate and starting the occasional riot, but he should really take it easy against dudes collecting Social Security.

I mean, just imagine how he’d feel if ARod throws Charlie Manuel on the ground tonight.

Bigot receives undeserving honor

Is the Miami Heat so desperate to put something up in the rafters that they need to resort to retiring Tim Hardaway’s jersey? I honestly thought this was some sort of joke.

Start with the fact that his career didn’t come anywhere close to warranting such an honor, but after he retired, he revealed himself to be a bigot when he said he hated gay people.

Sometimes, you don’t get points for honesty.

And his apology was pathetic too, simply saying that he put himself in a difficult situation rather than acknowledging how hateful his remarks were.

As a player don’t get me wrong, Hardaway had some nice years with the Heat. His killer crossover was definitely sick, but he never even led the Heat to a championship or even a finals appearance. He played all of five full seasons with Miami.

When are the Warriors going to retire Latrell Spreewell’s jersey?


OMG She's ridiculous

There's legitimate breaking news, and then there's sports rippers breaking news. And this is an example of the latter. This needs an immediate rip.

Suzyn Waldman may have just asked the stupidest, most obvious question ever uttered in a press conference following Game 1 of the World Series, following Cliff Lee's masterpiece.

Here is word-for-word, her exact question:

"Joe, when you have a game like this, is it just too much Cliff Lee? Is he the story of the game?"

Adding to my amusement was that she asked that as the first question in the presser. She was just dying to get that question out there.

And don't forget, she provided us with this classic as well.

Not a bad start

Chase Utley just smashed (and I mean he really hammered this last one) his second homer of Game 1. I continue to be mystified as to why pitchers throw hittable pitches on 0-2 counts. Why would you ever throw a pitch near the strike zone in that situation? I'm always complaining about Mets pitchers doing it, so I have to get on CC Sabathia, even though he has pitched extremely well during these playoffs.

Although Utley is having a huge game, I have to ask, what is the deal with his hair? He's got that Pat Riley, Johnny Sack, slicked-straight-back thing going. Not a good look for you Chase. But I guess if you're going to keep drilling shots 15 rows deep, you can probably get away with it.

Another obstacle for Agassi

A report has surfaced that Andre Agassi will admit in his upcoming autobiography to using crystal meth in 1997 and to lying to the ATP to avoid suspension.

Though Agassi had many ups and downs on the court, his popularity was always supreme. Just imagine if this bombshell had been released 12 years ago, when he allegedly tested positive.

So why is he coming clean…I mean…telling the truth now? You can bet he’ll say it’s for cathartic reasons, that he wants to rid himself of this burden he’s been holding inside.

The cynics will say he’s looking for another mega-payday. But here’s the thing with Agassi, no athlete has been more generous with his money. This book will make millions and that means millions will go to underprivileged kids.

What made Agassi’s career so fascinating was that he literally grew up before America’s eyes. He burst onto the scene as an arrogant, disrespectful teenager and transformed into an iconic figure and family man who seemed remarkably in touch and at ease with his place in sports and culture.

His game was never as big as Sampras’ yet his fame blew Sampras’ away. Few athletes of such status are so universally respected. While Agassi will undoubtedly lose some fans with this admission, my guess is that most will still support him. He’s never claimed to be any moral authority.

And even more importantly, a huge part of what made Agassi so endearing was that, despite his enormous fame, he never seemed like he took it for granted and therefore was always able to rebound from controversy.

It took him forever to win a major, and then he finally broke through and won eight grand slams. His first marriage with Brooke Shields failed, and then he found Steffi Graf and became a doting father.

Perhaps most brilliantly, he managed to frequently play the underdog role even though he had more talent than his opponent. It was masterful.

This is just the latest challenge for him to conquer. And when it comes to handling the public, no one is better.

Time to let go

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently expressed interest in buying the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was told by the team's ownership group that the team was not for sale.

Poor Pittsburgh.

Cuban has certainly had his clownish moments over the years, but he would provide something for Pirates fans they haven't had in years - hope. Why would Pirates ownership want to continue torturing its fans? Any time the Pirates have a young player with any ability, they trade that player to avoid having to give him a substantial contract.

This is what's wrong with baseball. Pirates fans, if any remain, go into every season knowing the team will be putrid. Pittsburgh has finished within five games of .500 only once in the last 10 years, and there isn't any reason to believe it will get better. Sure, Cuban might do something dumb every once in awhile, but more importantly, he will make the Pirates a relevant franchise again.

Pirates ownership should do what's right and sell the team. It's good for the city, good for the franchise and good for baseball. But alas, it seems it won't happen. Pirates fans are doomed to watch bad baseball for years to come.

No wonder there are so many Steelers fans out there.


Bradford's huge mi$take

Sam Bradford made an enormous mistake returning to Oklahoma for his junior season instead of going to the NFL. Now he’s compounding that blunder by announcing that he’s not coming back to Oklahoma for his senior year.

It’s all about timing, and Bradford’s couldn’t be worse. He was the hot thing last year, coming off an incredible Heisman season. He would have been a top-five pick, possibly even No. 1.

Now? He may not even be a first-round pick following two serious shoulder injuries. Jake Locker and Jimmy Claussen have blown by him. How many teams are going to invest a first-round pick in a quarterback?

I’m sure Bradford is sick about his injuries and now his attitude is surely that he just wants to get to the NFL as quickly as possible before he blows any more guaranteed money. It’s understandable, but it’s a mistake.

Assuming he’s a late first round or early second pick, which is where he’s projected now, he’ll get about $30 million less than he would if he’s a top five pick. It is realistic to think he could once again be a top pick for the 2011 Draft. It’s a risk worth taking.

What Bradford should do is take his time rehabbing his shoulder and then have a dominant senior year. The money will explode once again if he can do that, but he has to be patient.


Not So Dandy

Can a coach possibly embarrass himself during a 27-17 win over a division rival on the road? It appears so.

Clear the doorway, folks: Enter Andy Reid. 

The Eagles coach clings to his laminated play sheet like it's a three-foot long meatball sub. Apparently, the shiny goodness had him mesmerized. Only then could I possibly fathom how Reid — up 27-10 with about four minutes to play — possibly called a pass on second-and-13 from his own 6. The game was over, yet somehow Andy decided to go for it. Go for what, guy? Extra marinara?

If you saw the game, you, too, probably shared this thought: When Donovan McNabb's pass fell incomplete, the clock stopped and Washington saved a time out, Reid would immediately relaize the errors of his ways. Nope. He passed again. This time the play turned into an utter disaster. Philly was called for a hold right at the goal line that nearly resulted in a safety! What??? A safety that would've allowed a Redskins team thinking about dinner plans to get within two scores without possessing the ball. Just incalculably dumb. You wonder if Reid's play sheet is actually a Garfield comic.

Of course, the 'Skins stink. Reid never paid for his blunder. Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski gave it a passing mention, nothing more, perhaps too distracted by the Redskins suckitude.

Reid wasn't. The big man was too busy jonesing for Jon's lasagna.

Larry Loser

Monday marked the second day in a row Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson used a gay slur. Today's show of ignorance was directed at reporters in the Chiefs' locker room, the day after Johnson used the slur on Twitter while lashing out at Kansas City coach Todd Haley.

There is an ugly culture of homophobia in sports, whether people want to talk about it or not. Every once in awhile somebody makes a hateful remark - Tim Hardaway's comments in '07 come to mind - and reminds us how ignorant people can be.

Johnson's inflammatory remarks naturally drew responses. Johnson's last post, responding to critical comments readers left on his page, read, "Make me regret it. Lmao. U don't stop my checks. Lmao. So 'tweet' away."

Very mature LJ.

Let me be very clear; Larry Johnson should be suspended. Not reprimanded, not fined - suspended. We don't tolerate racial or religious slurs, and we can't tolerate homophobia either. If the NFL doesn't act swiftly with severe consequences, as far as I'm concerned, Roger Goodell can light his personal conduct policy on fire.

It's criminal

Another crime has been committed by the media. Call the police, ARod has been robbed.

No, it's not any of his piles of cash, expensive jewelry or even his extensive collection of Madonna Cds that has been taken, but rather the shiny ALCS MVP trophy.

Don't get me wrong, as a Yankees fan, I love C.C. Sabathia and what he has done in these playoffs, specifically in ousting the Angels. But there are great performances and then there are otherworldly accomplishments.

ARod clearly falls under the latter category with his absolutely ridiculous 1.519 OPS during the six games against the Halos. And while Sabathia certainly deserves a lot of credit for his impressive two wins and 1.12 ERA, something tells me that what ARod did during that same stretch was just a little rarer.

The comparison of pitching to hitting is always tricky. In this case, though, Sabathia should have been lucky to earn co-MVP honors. That's how good Alex The Great has been.

ARod led the Yankees to a win over the team they supposedly couldn't beat with a .429 average, .567 on base, and .952 slugging percentage. He hit three home runs, including one off Brian Fuentes that tied the game in the bottom of the 11th inning in Game 2, had what turned out to be the winning RBI in the clinching Game 6 and even tossed in a stolen base to please all you baseball dinosaurs out there.

Maybe everyone overlooked ARod's gaudy statistics after posting a 1.500 OPS during the three game sweep of the Twins as well. The guy who people assumed couldn't hit under pressure (by the way, his career numbers are now better in the playoffs than in the regular season) apparently has now raised the bar of expectations to Ruthian proportions. I guess ARod will have to start hurling gems on the mound on top of carrying his team offensively if he wants to lug around any personal postseason hardware this year.

Look, I hate being the guy that has to keep standing up for ARod. But if the so-called experts in the baseball media aren't, then I simply must.

Evil Empire Advances

The Yankees are back in the World Series for the first time since 2003 and all the mindless analysis has begun trying to explain why their “drought” is over.

The theories include these gems:

- There’s a different vibe in the clubhouse because A.J. Burnett pies guys in the face, Nick Swisher has elaborate handshakes and Joe Girardi has loosened up and isn’t quite as snippy with the media after losses.

- Hank Steinbrenner, the loose cannon, has stepped aside for younger brother Hal, the button down businessman, and the players responded with renewed focus.

- Kate Hudson is the MVP because she has introduced ARod to Buddhism and now he can get a big hit.

The drought is over because Alex Rodriguez has been incredible in the playoffs, CC Sabathia has been dominant, and Mariano Rivera has been, well, Mariano Rivera. Good for them. They should be. ARod is the highest-paid position player, CC is tops among starting pitchers, and Rivera’s salary dwarfs all other relievers.

As for the rest of the team, which is still loaded with talent that is significantly superior to just about every other team, if enough players simply match their typical regular season prowess, they are going to win.

Don’t make things more complicated than they are.

"You're slumping, I have something for you"

The last time I saw Mark McGwire, he was making a fool of himself in front of Congress refusing to admit what everyone already knew. He was a juicer. He was a fraud. And he wouldn’t own up to it despite getting repeated chances.

Now comes a report that McGwire is returning to baseball as the Cardinals hitting coach.

McGwire is a decent guy who made a mistake. Well, even that is questionable since he made millions of dollars by cheating. So maybe he was smart. He shouldn’t be in jail and he didn’t ruin the game. Steroids were all over, and he was just one of the hundreds of cheats.

But someone with zero credibility who made a mockery of the essence of playing by the rules shouldn’t be given an official job working for major league team.

What are McGwire’s qualifications? The guy was a one-dimensional slugger whose career was spiraling out of control before he started going nuts with Andro. Exactly what advice is he going to give a struggling ballplayer? You need to up your dosage?

He still hasn’t come clean about his use, has never paid any coaching dues in the minor leagues, and was never known to be an especially smart hitter.

If he really wants to get back into the game, he better come prepared with some better answers than “I’m not here to talk about the past” or this will be a recurring disaster.

Alex Smith...might not suck

Wait, was that Alex Smith actually doing something productive in the 49ers’ 24-21 loss to the Texans?

Alex, welcome back to the league! Maybe there is some real hope you won’t be the biggest quarterback bust since Ryan Leaf. Count me in as someone excited to see the NFL’s newest QB-WR connection of Smith to Michael Crabtree.

It was only one solid game by Smith, but it was enough to make me wonder if he really has been given enough of a shot by the 49ers considering all that they had invested in him.

Since becoming the head coach in San Francisco, Samurai Mike Singletary has been obsessed to prove that he is in charge and that contracts and hype will have no bearing on playing time. As a result, he barely gave Smith a chance to win the QB job in training camp. Instead, he banished him to run hills for a few fumbles. What a waste.

For all that Singletary talks about “the team, the team, the team” he has a strange way of bringing an inordinate amount of attention upon himself. Whether he’s taking his pants off in the locker room, or giving press conferences from the Jim Mora School of being out of control, it’s always about him.


Wake me up on Sunday

Mr. Rhett has been down on college football for a long time for a number of reasons. I'll let him handle those reasons at a later date, but I'm starting to agree with him for one reason of my own - it's boring.

If you went to a big-time football school and have fond memories of your years there, I can understand rooting hard for your team. Other than that, for me, college football has totally lost its appeal.

Knowing the NFL is tantalizing close makes it hard to get too excited about the college games. College football has its moments, but most weekends there are a million games being played, half of them on TV, and only a handful really matter.

College football Saturdays are to NFL Sundays as a hamburger is to filet mignon. Sure, the hamburger is tasty, but the filet mignon is exquisite. Every NFL Sunday is a national event that offers excitement no other major sport comes close to matching in the regular season. The players are so good, every game is so big - it's impossible not to love.

As for college games ......................................................................................................sorry, dozed off for a second..