Sunday, November 30, 2008

File Under: Shooting Oneself in Foot Thigh

I can hear it now, "And starting at wide reciever for your Oakland Raiders, Plaaaaaaaaaaxxxxxxicccccccooooooooooooo Burrrrrrrrreesssssssss"

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy T-Day

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Things did not go well for the home team tonight at Madison Square Garden. The Cavaliers win easily, 119-101. The Knicks were down by thirty way back in the first half and that is not an easy thing to do."
-Al Trautwig

Mobley Still Hearts Clippers

Knicks/Clippers Trade On Hold

The Zach-Hole Experience may not be opening up in Los Angeles just yet because Cutino Mobley is having some trouble passing his physical examination in New York. Every swap of professional athletes is followed by each team letting its doctors have at the fresh meat. These inspections are supposed to be a formality, but occasionally provide teams an escape hatch from deals that they already regret.

The second trade from Friday is in limbo as tip-off approaches tonight because of some heart condition that Mobley may (or may not) have. If the Knicks deem his heart one size too big or two sizes too small then the trade could be voided and all players do not pass go and the Knicks do not collect Lebron James.

I don't think that Donnie Walsh is really trying to undo the Z-Bo for Tim Thomas and Mobley pact by holding it up. He may, however, be trying to squeeze Mike Dunleavy and the Clippers for an extra draft pick or make them play short-handed for an extra night just to mess with them.

The 33-year-old Mobley has been averaging more than 33 minutes per game this season and has not missed time because of illness or heart problems. Of course, that doesn't mean that there isn't something actually wrong with him. It just means that it has never affected him on the court.

Tuesday's Starting Five

1. Drew Brees. The mole-faced boilermaker is on a tear this season and on pace to break Dan Marino's record for most passing yards in a single season. Quarterbacking the Saints to an astonishing 51 points against the allegedly good secondary of the Green Bay Packers did nothing to keep the Brees-for-MVP (or at least Offensive Player of the Year) bandwagon from picking up a few more water-logged hitchhikers down in the Big Easy. On Monday Night Football, Brees threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns. This gives him 3,574 yards and 22 touchdowns with five games left to play in the season. Marino's record is 5,084 yards passing and he set it in 1984.

2. The Over. Week 12 of the 2008 NFL season was the highest scoring week in league history, with 837 points scored during the weekend. And with an average of 52.31 points scored per game it was also the highest per-game scoring week since 1987. Not surprisingly the OVER bet won 11 out of 16 times this weekend. With the addition of the Wildcat offense and more empty-backfield spread sets we're seeing games with score lines more like college football than like the National Football League of our youths. Bet the OVER and bet it often until further notice.

3. Deuce McCallister. Every pro franchise has those certain players whose bond to the fans is stronger than anyone outside of the circle can really comprehend. It's usually not the guy who scores the most points or hits the most home runs. He's generally not the highest paid, either. It's usually the fiery lunch-pail carrier. It's Charles Oakley. And, it's the Deuce in New Orleans. Drafted by the Saints in 2001 after a record-setting career at Ole Miss, the bruising back took over ball carrying duties after the Ricky Williams debacle ended. He's been a mainstay in New Orleans ever since: Through the bad times, the less bad times and that one good time. Last night he scored his 54th career TD, a new Saints franchise record. And, in a ultimately self-defeating, ceiling-lowering way, Saints fans might be hoping that Reggie Bush never takes away that record.

4. Brandon Roy. After quietly stealing the show in last year's All-Star Game (where he tied as the West's leading scorer with 18 points), the third-year combo guard out of Washington who plays in Oregon is establishing himself as one of the game's best and the best youngster in Portland. That's right. Better than Oden. Roy netted a season-high 28 points last night, including 16 in the second half to lead the Blazers to a win over the Kings. Thus far, Roy is averaging more than 20 points per game and 5 assists.

5. DJ Augustin. Being a point guard under Larry Brown is no easy thing. Nor, would I imagine is being any person under Larry. And being coached by Brown is most assuredly not a good spot for a rookie point guard. Just ask Nate Robinson. Yet, DJ Augustin, selected with the 9th pick in the 2008 draft out of Texas, has already taken the lead guard reins from incumbent Raymond Felton and seems to be flourishing. He scored 25 points and doled out 11 assists as the Bobcats beat the Sixers.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday's Starting Five

1. Donnie Walsh. One can only assume that the Don attended a baptism on Friday morning before wreaking so much havoc upon his roster. Word is coming out of Vegas that Walsh also had Moe Greene murdered traded to the Clippers. In one busy, busy workday Knicks President Donnie Walsh unmade the team that Isiah Thomas put together and made it possible (I'm not willing to concede likely) to sign Lebron James when his contract expires after next season. Good luck with that, Donnie.
2. The New York Jets. The "same old Jets" would have gotten throttled by the undefeated Tennessee Titans. They would have been gashed up the middle by Lendale White and made Justin Gage look like Randy Moss. They would have been deked by Kerry Collins on a fake at an embarrassing point in the game and surrendered the backbreaking special teams touchdown. And, of course, if these were the "same old Jets" then Brett Favre would have thrown another one of those pick-6s that he was handing out earlier in the season.
But, lo and behold football fans, these are not the same old Jets. These are the best football players in the AFC. Right now. Maybe not tomorrow, or even a few days ago, but right now the Jets are the best. The Colts are coming on strong and the Steelers' defense is as stalwart as they come but the New Jersey Jets were/are the cream of the American Football Conference as we turn the page on Week 12. Coming off a road win @ New England (which featured a dominant opening half followed by second half in which conservative playing-from-ahead lack of coaching nerve let NE back into the game and masked what a blowout it was early on), the Jets went up 20-3 on the Titans after three quarters. In Tennessee. The Jets manhandled the Titans on both sides of the ball. They stopped the run and they ran the ball against the heretofore unbeatable Albert Haynesworth. Thomas Jones scored a touchdown to cap the Jets' first drive and Gang Green never looked back. In the past 16 games during which Thomas Jones has scored a TD his teams have won. Favre "managed" the game (while Chad Pennington was actually in a gunslinging shootout with the Pats, which was odd) and refused to make the back-breaking mistake, using screens and short slants to perfection. These Jets are not record-setters like last year's Patriots but they are average/very good in every phase of the game. Right now they don't beat themselves. They just beat everyone else.

3. Lebron James. Everything that transpires in the NBA right now is for the sake of this young man. Peers with more experience than him are discarded in his name. Fan bases are alienated as owners try to move franchises to best meet his wishes. Professional athletes must grow accustomed to being the center of attention. Some even aspire to it. The most successful of them hear their games and their contracts dissected daily on television and talk radio. But I can't remember anything ever happening like what is happening with Lebron right now. The present-tense realities of multiple franchises are being shaped wholly based on hopes regarding his future. Lebron's current contract with Cleveland won't run out until after NEXT season and yet both NY-area teams are completely gutted already. It must feel nice to be wanted.

4. Quentin Richardson. The Chicago-native will not be a Knick when the 2010-2011 season gets underway. He'll be 30 years old going on washed up and probably coming off the bench for a Western Conference team looking for veteran shooter. Maybe Portland? Regardless of where he is then he won't be here. And, yet with the Knicks roster demolished (having lost its top two scorers) and demoralized (having lost two of the more popular guys on the squad), Q came out on Sunday night and carried his mostly younger teammates to a road win over Washington.

5. President-Elect Barack Obama. Has anyone else noticed that lamest-duck President Bush has pretty much ceded the highest office in the land to Obama already. This is totally fine with me but still seems a bit odd. I feel like if you walked into the Oval Office right now you would find W sitting at his desk with his winter coat buttoned up and an overnight bag at his feet. He's ready to go.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Brett Favre Is "The Notorious Butt-Slapper"

Much has been written about the fawning and seemingly amorous prose sportswriters have been spinning about Brett Favre. This a source of much amusement among the denizens of the Interwebs. I have no doubt that we all will be treated to even more effusive fellating of the aged QB now that the Jets knocked off the previously undefeated Titans of Tennessee. There will be premature celebrations throughout Strong Island and songs will be sung of Favre's glory.

But, I don't know if there will be anything in Newsday or any of Peter King's columns that is as bizarrely (and chock full of homo-erotic undertones) focused as something that appeared over at the World Wide Leader this past Friday. Greg Garber penned an article purportedly about the way in which Favre's enthusiasm has lifted the spirits of his teamamtes but literally about the way in which the ol' gunslinger is known for playing grab-ass. Garber's story came in just under 900 words and just under 200 of those words were in some way a riff on butt-slapping. There were a few statistics mixed in and tip of the cap to Kris Jenkins and Alan Faneca but Garber kept coming right back to buttocks. He's obsessed. There are quotes from two people that were clearly the result of line of questioning focused on asses. To make sure readers understood the motif of his article, Garber even rammed home a regrettable "backside" pun.

But, let's stop talking about the story and just take a look at it. Below is the opening paragraph and then just the ass-grab sections for your reading pleasure:

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Factoring in the breeze whistling across the open fields, it was well below freezing when, grudgingly, the Jets took the practice field Wednesday. For Brett Favre, it was another day in wind-chilled paradise, just another summer day back at Lambeau Field.

Gerber comes charging out beneath the cold-grey October sky doing his best Grantland Rice impression. At this point this story could still be about football. It's more likely to be some counterintuitive soft-focus schlock about the similarities between North Jersey and Wisconsin in November, about the way in which the cold weather and the warm response by the fans are mixed in equal measure in both places. But it could still be about football.

While most players moved briskly to the next drill, Favre pantomimed a slow-motion jog that drew laughs. He lined up linebacker Eric Barton for an emphatic butt-slap and, later, caught backup quarterback Kellen Clemens with the same stinging, signature maneuver.

OK. So, we're choosing to stand on the sloped-shoulders of guys like Peter King, who have written the "Favre-is-just-a-big-kid having-fun" story into the ground. It's not an interesting story but it's a safe one and, I guess, if you actually are paid to cover the National Football League then at some point you are obligated to write your own version. I think it's in the Union bylaws. Still, things are starting to get a little weird. Right? I mean the alliterative "stinging, signature maneuver" is farandaway the most worried over phrase in the article thus far. Garber has thought long and hard and deep thoughts about the forceful sting of Brett's large calloused hands. He's no doubt witnessed many acts of childishness from Favre yet has tied his story to this one. Thank you. Um, it's a little strange but whatever, I'm sure he'll get right back to football.

"He is the notorious butt-slapper," Cotchery said. "You have to watch out for him because you may be stretching out or something, and he just comes out of nowhere."

And, we're through the looking ass. Err. Glass. Because, now, Garber is clearly asking questions about the butt-slapping. He's found his angle for the story and this is it.

Mangini himself was victimized last Thursday night on national television. Moments after the Jets had defeated the Patriots, Favre accepted a hug from Mangini, then as Mangini walked away -- whack!
"At that point, it was perfectly fine," Mangini said. "No problem. I didn't even feel it. Shoot, with what I'm working with, I wouldn't feel much."

When a reporter asks a coach or a player a question they are almost always leading them towards the answer that fits the story they've constructed before hand. More often than not, players cooperate. You can only assume that Garber's dream quote from Mangini would have been "Shoot, Brett always tells me that it's more cushion for the pushing."

Favre understands he's on the backside of his career.

Wait for it. Wait for it. And, there is it is. I wonder if Garber understood that by shoehorning "backside" in at this point, as he gets ready to close out his story and shoots for some measure of poignancy, that he has become totally obsessed with butts. Or, do you think that he was worried that readers not might not see where he was going? Maybe he thought that he better get this "backside" thing in there just to be safe. He has decided to tell the tale of one of the game's all-time great players through the prism of ass. Nice. You can say what you want about Favre's penchant for self-aggrandizement and the ridiculous way in which he is publicly fondled by most of mainstream media but you can't really deny what he's done on the field with the Jets lately and the very real way in which this team does seem to be rallying around him. You can't deny those things. At least, not this week. And, Mr. Garber set out to write exactly about those things, about the GREAT Brett Favre and this is how he thought best to chronicle it? By goosing Cotchery into calling him "the notorious butt-slapper." I'm sure Garber's instructors at whatever J-School he went to are totally impressed.

Despite the gee-whiz attitude, the grab-ass antics, Favre feels his age every day.

Behold the awful march of Time: not even "grab-ass antics" can keep Peter Pan young and forever in touch with the muscled buttocks of men half his age.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Conversation

Understanding the Knicks Trade Bonanza As Text Messages Between Three Brothers

WWOD? (1:47 p.m.): Knicks r trading crawford

The Salesman (1:49 p.m.): What

The Student (1:49 p.m.): Wat?

The Student (2:41 p.m.): I dn like it

WWOD? (5:09 p.m.): And randolph

The Salesman (5:11 p.m.): F0r wh0

WWOD? (5:21 p.m.): In theory… Lebron after next season

Friday, November 21, 2008

Zach Randolph Is No Longer A Knickerbocker

Both the LA Times and the News are reporting that the Knicks have traded Zach Randolph to the Los Angeles Clippers for Cutino Mobley and Tim Thomas. For the past dozens of minutes this story wasn't popping up elsewhere but Alan Hahn at Newsday just confirmed the trade, which also sends Mardy Collins to LA.

Open In Case of Emergency

If the Knicks manage to trade Zach Randolph to the Mavericks or Clippers this afternoon then does exiled point guard Stephon Marbury have to be in uniform tonight? Generally, 1-3 players are inactive for each game with Jamal Crawford (already traded to Golden State) and Z-Bo out the door then the Knicks might not be able to keep anyone in street clothes. If you let Marbury wear a uniform then do you play him? Or do you just run the Quentin Richardson and Nate Robinson ragged at shooting guard?

Z-Bo Might Also Be Traded Today...

Donnie Walsh woke up this morning with two things on his to-do list.

1. Unmake Isiah Thomas's Knicks
2. Buy kitty litter.

While, I'm unsure how's he done on that second item, it seems like he might be pretty close to accomplishing the first. Jamal Crawford is forever a former Knick and Zach Randolph may be about to join him in that category.

After being left behind all morning long, Frank Isola at the News reports that Randolph might be traded today to either the Mavs or the Clippers.

Jamal Crawford is No Longer A Knickerbocker

He has been traded to the Golden State Warriors for Al Harrington.There are many off-the-court and on-the-court ramifications to this deal and we'll get into all of them as the day and the weekend move along. At first sight, I'm both emotionally bummed out and intellectually energized.

Crawford is the one guy on this roster that Knicks fans have had the chance to see grow up as a player (although we're starting to see it with Nate). When he came aboard for the 2004-2005 season he was a conscienceless gunner. He shot first and took questions later. But during his seasons treading the boards at MSG we had the opportunity to watch him mature into...a.....uh....much more effective and efficient gunner.

When the stench of brimstone and bickering filled your nostrils during any trip to the Garden you could always count on Crawford to provide a breath of fresh air. He may have been just as overpaid and underachieving as his teammates and he may have taken contested shots while 454 feet from the hoop that were absolutely maddening but he was never a guy that you disliked. Not really. By the end of the 2006-2007 season you even rooted for him. Not only did his effort on the court and off of it seem genuine but his game was improving. He was trying to get better and do the right thing. He didn't always do it but you saw enough improvement to know that he was working at it. And Crawford is now capable of running the point for extended stretches and he was always the most adept at feeding Eddy Curry the ball in the post. His outside shot is still deadly but he seems to have harnessed it. So far this season he's made more 3-point shots than anyone else in the Association while shooting at a better percentage (.455) than anyone else in the top five in makes. He has a sense for the BIG moment and has zero fear of missing the BIG shot. And, that cross-over dribble is as good as it gets. So, I'll miss him and I may even, six months down the line, purchase a severley discounted No. 11 jersey when they start turning up at Marshall's and TJ Maxx.

All of that being said.....this is a HUGE proactive step in getting us under the salary cap. It's enervating to see the work being done on that front. And, on that score, it's a coup for Walsh that he was able to move Crawford instead of Malik Rose's Expiring Contract as was originally reported.

Like I said, I'll keep writing about this through the weekend. Stay Tuned.

Knicks Making Power (forward) Moves

Donnie Walsh "Reportedly" Dealing for Al Harrington

The wheels are turning. And the gears are grinding. Knicks players are holding their cell phones in their hands somewhere in the city of Milwaukee. A trade is in the works as I type. The newspapers, the Internets and I would guess, the crawl across the bottom of every channel in the ESPN Family of Networks is abuzz with word of a Knicks/Warriors trade. The Knicks are looking to bring disgruntled forward Al Harrington into the fold. And, they are looking to do it in such a way in which long-term financial obligations are sent west.

Marc Berman at The Post is writing (though pawning off the credit/blame for the story to Peter Vescey) that the Knicks are sending Malik Rose's Expiring Contract to Oakland in exchange for Harrington. One can only presume that Malik Rose the Reserve Basketball Player is accompanying the paperwork. The News has nothing on this trade so far. Great job, guys. The San Francisco Chronicle also makes no mention of the brewing trade on its website. But they get leeway that the News doesn't since it's still early in the AM out on the Left Coast. Alan Hahn at Newsday, meanwhile, wrote early this morning that the Warriors would receive Jamal Crawford in exchange for Harrington. The good people over at The Record agreed. Of course, Hahn wrote later in the morning that it was a three-way deal also involving the Clippers in which the Knicks surrendered Randolph, Crawford and Mardy Collins in exchange for Harrington, Cutino Mobley and the only man who makes Lamar Odom look like the exemplar of living up to one's potential. That last player, of course, would be Tim Thomas.

All we know for sure is that Donnie Walsh is trying to land Al Harrington. His first gambit involved Eddy Curry. Which didn't pan out. But Walsh has apparently been diligent in making this deal. Walsh drafted Harrington out of high school while he was running the Pacers. Harrington, from nearby Elizabeth, NJ, is a long, hard-to-guard swingman who seems to fit D'Antoni's scheme exceedingly well: He can shoot the 3 and cause some trouble in the paint. Most importantly, his contract runs out at the end of next season, which means he's off the books for the Summer of Lebron.

Now, the differences between trading Malik Rose's Expiring Contract or Jamal Crawford or Zach Randolph or all of the above are legion and the prospect of bringing Tim Thomas back to the Garden reminds of the sort of theological questions long ignored at WWOD?, namely how can a just and omnipotent Almighty allow for the existence of evil in this world.

It sure seems like this is happening one way (straightup for Z-Bo, Crawford or the Expiring Contract attached to Malik Rose) or another (menage a trois with the Clippers playing the role of the surprised but totally into it stranger we approached at the discotheque). But let's hold off on the analysis until we know how the deed was done.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Our World In Pictures

The now defunct but once glorious and omnipresent LIFE magazine has opened up their photo archives. You can search them through Google. And you should. But you probably won't so I rounded up some of the choicest images from New York sports teams.

Gehrig and DiMaggio watching batting practice in 1939

Casey Stengel during the 1958 World Series

Roger Maris during the 1960 All-Star Game

Roger Maris smoking a cigarette in the clubhouse during the 1960 All-Star Game

Mickey Mantle stretches during Spring Training in 1967

Mickey Mantle takes batting practice during Spring Training in 1967

Giants pitcher Carl Hubbell throwing a curve ball in 1940

Meeting on mound at Polo Grounds in 1952

Willie Mays (left) with teammates on bus in 1954

Mays ducking inside pitch against the Dodgers in 1954

Mays shaving before game of 1954 World Series in Cleveland

Giants pitchers in bullpen at Polo Grounds during September 1956 game against Dodgers

Dolph Camilli, Manager Leo Durocher and Lyn Larry sitting in Ebbets Field dugout during game in 1939

Dodgers manager's wife Nellie Durocher smoking a cigarette in stands at Ebbets Field

Dodgers Manager Charlie Dressen talking with Iraq's King Feisal II and Jackie Robinson

Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey in 1949

Gil Hodges in 1951

Dodgers property manager John Griffin in 1955

Jackie Robinson rounding third during Game 3 of 1955 World Series

Jackie Robinson stealing second base against Giants in September 1956

Marion Mets (Minor League) roadtrip n 1967

2B Ken Boswell makes a play against the Atlanta Braves in 1969

Tom Seaver pitches to Willie Stargell in 1969

Tom Seaver in 1969

Bud Harrelson in dugout during game against Cardinals


Joe Namath on sideline in 1968

"Broadway Joe's" opened in Miami in 1969

Namath and Farrah Fawcett wearing towels in 1981


Giants versus Steelers in November 1960

Lincoln Crow catching ball versus Giants

Giants versus Cardinals in November 1960

NY Giants Jim Patton, Y.A. Tittle, Del Shofner and Roosevelt Brown in 1962

Knicks @ Cincinnati Royals in 1959

Bill Bradley in 1968

William Baldwin with Knicks City Dancers in 1993