In the six months as SLAM magazine’s EIC, Ben Osborne has stressed the logical importance of broadening the mag’s readership while keeping its initial Hip Hop empowering fanbase intact. Ben has a vested interest in SLAM’s success not only because of the many years gaining experience and wisdom shooting through its ranks, but also because he wants to make sure SLAM remains the go to magazine for everything relative to the sport of baskeball. He’s a fan who truly cares about how his readers view his staff’s depiction of the sport and is determined to make a difference both here and abroad by implementing innovative nuances and mature features that will keep the sport’s most popular magazine fresh and relevant. I personally hope to positively impact SLAM’s future with upcoming features that will remain close to Ben’s personal responsibilty to continue the success of SLAM.
Archive for June, 2007
Which NBA teams are the big winners from last night’s draft? The big losers?
1. Portland: Greg Oden, Ohio State. Raef LaFrentz, Jamaal Magloire, Luke Schenscher, and Joel Przybilla are officially on notice. I say Przybilla stays. Just more chips for the Blazers to play with.
2. Seattle: Kevin Durant, Texas. Will Rashard Lewis be on the move now? Nick Collison? Chips, baby, chips. Also: Ray Allen to Boston for #5 pick (Cees will take Jeff Green and send him to Seattle) Delonte West and Wally World to Seattle, too. DAMN! The Sonics are doin’ thangs!
3. Atlanta: Al Horford, Florida. Al’s cool, no, he’s potentially a monster, but the Hawks better know they can get Acie Law at #11. Now, who is moving from the Ha
Tuesday morning, it was Doug Gottlieb’s turn to sub in for Mike Golic on Mike and Mike in the Morning. Tuesday is “Just Shut Up” day on that show, and the just shut up contestants were those who believe Sammy Sosa is a first-ballot Hall of Famer versus those who believe he is not. Gottlieb was adamant in his opinion that Sosa did not belong in the Hall of Fame based on three main points:
1) he obviously used steroids since his body changed dramatically and he went from being a pretty good player in 1997 to a monster player for the next several seasons.
2) he lamed out at the 2005 Congressional hearings, pretending he didn’t speak English and dodging the questions, just like McGwire.
3) he got a huge benefit from playing in Wrigley Field where, Gottlieb noted several times, he hit 350 of his career homeruns.
In an Outside the Lines piece on Sports Talk Radio a few weeks, former Boston Globe columnist and current WEEI radio man Michael Holley said that Sports Radio wasn’t about facts, it was about stating opinions loudly and exaggerating as much as possible. By that standard, Gottlieb did his job very well Tuesday. What’s unusual is that someone actually called Gottlieb on it. In this case, it was Steve Phillips, who subbed for Golic on Monday, but the following day was back in the more familiar role of baseball commentator.
This weekend marked the 35th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark act passed in 1972 that stipulated the following:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Though Title IX applies to all sex-based discrimination in education and has had an enormous impact on women’s enrollment, for example, in undergraduate and graduate professional programs, the act is, of course, most commonly associated with inter-collegiate athletics. And, it has been a lightning rod in debates about college athletics for many years. And, in much of sports media, especially on sports radio, “Title IX” is a four-letter word, and not the good kind. To mark the anniversary of its passage, Outside the Lines devoted a several-minute segment to the issue this past Sunday morning. And, to OTL’s credit, one of the laudatory aspects its piece on Sunday was that, though it allowed room for multiple viewpoints in the debate, OTL took on directly the most common, damning claim made against Title IX: namely, that in order to make room for women’s participation in collegiate athletics, men’s teams are being cut.
There’s been mixed reaction to Sammy Sosa hitting his 600th homerun. I was watching the game Wednesday night when it happened, and the scene in the bullpen in right field where No. 600 landed was euphoric. The crowd was thrilled, and the announcers calling the game were certainly excited. Though in some quarters, the homerun has been met with a “shrug of the shoulders” as Mets’ announcer Gary Cohen put it, or ignored altogether (ESPN.com’s Rob Neyer has not mentioned it in his blog this week), ESPN networks have given the homerun significant attention. But, of course, a cloud hangs over Sammy’s milestone and the coverage of it. There have been no grand jury investigations into whether Sammy Sosa used PEDs, and though Jose Canseco’s book considers it a foregone conclusion that Sosa got bigger “overnight” due to steroids, no one has ever come forward to say that they injected him, or heard him talk about using, or anything of the sort.
Nevertheless, just as Sosa and Mark McGwire were once linked by the great homerun chase of 1998, they are now linked for a different reason: the likelihood that suspicions about their usage will keep them out of the Hall of Fame.
In this issue: 1) if we care so much about athletes as role models, why is a smoking golfer so funny? 2) baseball fights – no biggie. NBA fights – well, you know. 3) Whitlock on pensions.
1) Interesting reaction to US Open winner, Argentinian Angel Cabrera. Cabrera is portly and a cigarette-smoker, and puffed nervously in the clubhouse on Sunday while waiting for Tiger to finish his round. Monday, on Mike and Mike, Golic lauded Cabrera, noting that that was a guy that Golic could relate to. Today, ESPN’s David Schoenfeld offered a bemused history of athletes and smoking, while observing the contrast between today’s athletes and those of yore when it comes to health:
…most athletes these days are health nuts (well, except for NFL linemen, where there is no such thing as too many carbs). But that’s a change from the days of yore, when athletes smoked, ate bad food, drank too much, didn’t work out and worked as insurance salesmen in the offseason.
Bryan Burwell is another one of the many journalism legends that have been gracious enough to give TSF a few words about the state of sports as well as encouragement for what we are trying to accomplish here. He is grounded in his criticism of Barry Bonds and Michael Vick while enjoying the time he spends covering the amazing athletic exploits of one Albert Pujols. I may not agree with everything he says, but I most definitely respect his opinion because he does have the experience I’m trying to attain with every fiber of my soul. Crazy that Bryan and I aren’t that far off in age and I have to be honest that the brotha sounds exactly like my Pop. I had to look over my shoulder because of lasting images of orange Hot Wheel tracks and The Belt. Seriously though, Bryan is an inspiration to anyone looking to get into the field because of his thirty plus years experience. He’s seen it all and has vivid memories of Ralph Wiley that I know I would cherish. In an age of alcohol abuse in MLB club houses, I admire his stance on the social hypocrisy regarding alcohol…It’s something he difinitely should get more props for because most writers could give a damn. In that regard, he’s sui generis.
Happy Belated Father’s Day to all the Dads out there. I hope you had a good one. I know I did.
“I’m so outta here. They forget my contract is up soon too…This wasn’t bad for a while, I didn’t have to do much, I made twice the money I would’ve if I’d taken that front office gig and this might give me a legitamate excuse to retire before they try and expose me for not developing talent. Again. These kids don’t listen anyway, which is exactly why I wanted veterans. They’re hungry, they just need direction, not a damn babysitter. I tried to give Kwame ‘The Joy of Cooking’, something, anything to get the boy to use his damn hands and what
Remember when sports media actually did their jobs and covered games instead of the irrelevant soap opera? Remember when you would sneak a peak at the ‘ship but it was way past your bed time? Remember hearing your Dad fight Pop like hard in trying to convince your Mom to let you stay up ’til the wee hours of the night? “Let the boy watch the game! He’ll be alright in the morning. He might learn something. It’s the championship game baby, let the kid be a kid!”, you heard your Dad exclaim. Remember when you could tell if your team won or lost by your Dad’s reaction even though you were falling fast asleep but you smiled because he stuck up for you? Remember when you and your Dad or some other family member actually had a catch instead of hitting the sticks and playing your favorite video game alone?
Update: Stop Mike Lupica made the same comparison, using some different numbers, three weeks ago.
Earlier this week Mad Dog and his callers were discussing Barry Bonds’ legacy (I’m only mentioning Russo here because he’s the most recent person I’ve heard discussing this – but a variation of this conversation has been taking place everywhere). Russo is a Giants’ fan, but has been increasingly down on Bonds in recent years. At one point, a caller asserted that Bonds was the best player in baseball in the 1990s, before he was a steroids user. Thus, the caller argued, Bonds’ legacy as an all-time great should be secure regardless of subsequent allegations/revelations about performance enhancing drugs. Russo disagreed, arguing that Griffey was the better player in the 1990s, at least until Bonds starting using. I should back up here and note that, according to Game of Shadows, Bonds began using in 1999. No one else, to my knowledge, with any serious claim to know Bonds’ history, has asserted otherwise. There is a consensus, in other words, that Bonds was clean through 1998 (whether you think Bonds was clean after that point is a separate question, one I’m not discussing here). And, even if we discount Bonds’ 1999 season entirely, there’s no comparison between him and Griffey in the 1990s – Bonds is the vastly superior player (and, Bonds was hurt for much of 1999, missing sixty games).
Disclaimer: I’m a Liberal Professor, so make of that what you will.
Earlier this week, Mike and the Mad Dog interviewed Mike Pressler, former Duke Lacrosse coach, and Don Yaeger, who is the author of the newly released book: It’s Not About the Truth. I have not had a chance to read the book yet and, therefore, I am not going to comment on it. I’ll just comment on some of the issues raised in the interview.
I should start by noting that there’s a debate about whether sports talk radio hosts are journalists, or entertainers. The debate matters if we want to know what sorts of factual standards hosts should be held to. If the goal is to be bombastic, provocative and opinionated, one could argue that a certain shoddiness with the facts is fine, because that’s what happens in ordinary conversations – people say things that aren’t necessarily precisely true, but that’s OK because they’re just giving their opinion. If the hosts, however, regard themselves as something more than just two guys talking – that they have an authority, or an expertise on the issues that entitles them to a certain credibility, then the question of journalistic standards becomes more relevant in judging them. I can’t say that I have ever heard Mike Francesa or Chris Russo describe themselves as journalists. But, there’s no doubt that facts matter to them and that they often chastise callers (and guests) for getting their facts wrong. Mike and the Dog do entertain but they also both clearly see themselves as possessing credible opinions because of what they know. (and, their audience, it would appear, generally agrees).
Which is why their interview of Pressler and Yaeger was so lame – an ideological screed dressed up as a serious discussion of the Duke Lacrosse case.
In light of the divisive nature of the alleged Michael Vick dog fighting scandal, what other incidents in sports past or present do you consider racist or not racist? Please be very specific.
Thank God it’s over. What?! One more?!
Can’t we just, um, fade to black?
This is no longer about the Cavaliers ‘learning experiences’. They got here on a fluke and Anderson Varejao’s next ill advised shots will only be to keep Cleveland from being swept. If they learned anything, it’d be that things work out better when the ball goes in the basket. This isn’t even about the premature crowning of LeBron James. The King’s reign is on hiatus after an anti-climactic performance in these Finals and an unpromised encore. If he learned anything, it’d be that things work out better when he puts the ball in the basket.
For now, this is about one thing: *
Yeah, that thing again.
I had been thinking about double standards in connection with Gary Sheffield’s recent controversial comments before I saw Sunday morning’s Outside the Lines. Alot has been written about Gary Sheffield’s recent comments about the declining number of African Americans in Major League baseball and the concomitant rise in the number of baseball players from Latin America. There has been a good deal of harsh reaction to Sheffield’s comments – Jeff Pearlman, for example, called him a “dangerous moron.” But many commentators – Dwil having been among the first – have focused on the economic realities driving baseball’s demographic transformation, including Dave Zirin, King Kaufman and William Rhoden (Times Select).
But, as is almost always the case when a public figure makes controversial comments, the question of double standards, has come up. And, in sports discourse, it frequently takes the form of: “if a white guy said what he said…”
Every Friday The Starting Five will pose a question for discussion. We encourage our readers to give their opinions for the sake of the debate TSF style. We hope you all enjoyed the week.
Is there a different public standard for NBA and MLB athletes regarding their reactions to in game officials?
In this installment, Mark Kriegel takes a cheapish shot at Kobe; are paparazzi a part of athletes’ futures; money is even more evil than you think; Arod; and Billy Donovan, after the fact, apparently doesn’t have what it takes to be a leader.
1) On Monday, Mark Kriegel took a shot at Kobe. In the pantheon of American sports herodom, it always helps for the hero to have a foil. If a direct one cannot be found, then a specter-foil will suffice. LeBron and Kobe have little to do with each other on the basketball court – their teams only play twice a year and, of course, they’ve never met in the postseason. But, for Kriegel, LeBron’s recent accomplishments are an opportunity to highlight Kobe’s selfishness:
Great players are supposed to endow the players around them with greatness. Kobe Bryant does not. While James is about winning, Kobe is about Kobe.
At the ripe old age of twenty-two Sebastian Telfair seems to be on his way out of the league. Now, to be fair, he’s probably got a better chance of seeing serious NBA action again than Shaun Livingston, the other point guard taking in the ’04 Draft straight out of high school. Still, though, it’s hard to believe that just three years ago Telfair was gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated, chilling with the likes of Jay-Z, and on the verge of becoming a lottery pick; harder still to believe that scouts and other NBA observers firmly believed he had a bigger upside than that year’s Naismith Player of the Year winner, Jameer Nelson, or that Adidas found him a worthy enough prospect to sign him to a twelve million dollar deal. So, considering his current has been status, who is to blame?If I were Bassy an obvious finger would have to point to the man in the mirror. He certainly didn’t help his cause by being caught in possession of a firearm only to put the wrap on his girlfriend or by speeding (not to mention driving) on a suspended license with a gun under the seat a year later. Telfair was not the first would-be-prodigy to be caught with a gun (remember early A.I.), but he wasn’t averaging twenty-five points per game and the corner stone of a franchise (again, remember early A.I.) either. A second finger could easily point in the direction of the Portland Trailblazers organization for drafting a run-and-gun point guard to operate a slow-down offense anchored by underathletic power-forwards (Shareef Abdul-Raheem, Zach Randolph), aging, chronically injured guards (Damon Stoudamire, Nick Van Excel and Derek Anderson), and a hands-of-stone center (Theo Ratliff). What exactly the Trailblazers (coached by a decidedly steady, ball control point guard in Maurice Cheeks) expected a nineteen-year-old to do with that particular group besides finish 27-55 defies me. I could point a third finger in the direction of the media for building Telfair up in the first place, but after so many anti-media harangues you start to ask yourself, why bother?
David Aldridge has been a fixture on the athletic sideline for going on two decades. His journalism is as professional and factual as his reporting and David admirably has a heart felt sense of wanting the field of journalism to flourish with true diversity. He also understands the efficiency of stressing education to our children and the detrimental effect a lack of educational importance can have on our youth. Presently working with TNT, he consistently gives the correct analysis regarding the inside workings of the basketball business. The Philadelphia Inquire was very smart in keeping him around after a well publicized layoff that claimed over 60 jobs. It was truly a pleasure to interview someone who knows what it takes in this business and makes no bones about helping us all get to where we aspire in our collective journalistic endeavours.
MT: Describe growing up in DC.
DA: Grew up in Northeast DC. Dad was a mail man, Mom was a nurse. I just remember that on my block, people worked for a living. They went out to work early in the morning, worked all day, came home got some food and probably like my Dad had another job they went to. It was an environment where you saw people grinding every day. My next door neighbor’s Dad ran a McDonalds. It was a good neighborhood where you learned the value of hard work. You had people looking out for you. Mothers and fathers around the neighborhood that saw you doing something wrong made sure Mom and Dad heard about it. It was definitely a great place to grow up.
I have written about it before, but that bad attitude dude, Stephon Marbury is at it again. Appearing on WFAN this Friday with Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts, Marbury showed his true character. His latest exploit – buying books for an underfunded library on Staten Island, in an impoverished area where Marbury grew up. Marbury was out on Staten Island earlier in the week participating in a reading-to-kids program, and made the donation in conjunction with that program. This is nothing new for Steph. Though regularly vilified for his bad attitude and presumptively bad character, there are few professional athletes in all of major American sports that devote as much time and energy to good works as Marbury.
Marbury, of course, has also taken the basketball-sneaker world by storm, since his well-selling Starbury one line goes for anywhere from 9.98 to 14.98. As Benigno and Roberts pointed out, that’s way less than the sneaker line of the now officially anointed Le Bron James (which go for about $150 a pop). And, as Marbury told Outside the Lines last summer, the reason he was doing this was so that families like the one he grew up in didn’t have to choose between buying groceries and buying basketball shoes.
We’ll have made progress when guys like Marbury don’t get judged to be bad characters by whether they cooperate sufficiently with the media.