Archive for August, 2007

Release the Hounds

Posted in Lester Maddox, Media Matters for America, Neal Boortz, Newshounds, Race and Michael Vick on August 30, 2007 by jweiler

With a Hat Tip to The Big Lead, we get this extraordinary segment from Fox News, courtesy of Newshounds, whose mission statement reads: “we watch Fox news so you don’t have to.”


On Monday, Dan LeBatard wrote a column in the Miami Herald arguing that – hold your breath – race has played a role in reactions to the Michael Vick case (The shocking title: “Vick Reaction has Racial Aspect.”) So, on Hannity and Colmes Monday night, there was a panel discussion devoted to the issue of how race was influencing people’s reactions to the story, featuring LeBatard, Atlanta-based syndicated radio host Neal Boortz, and former NFLer and current Sirius radioman, Jim Miller.

There were two incredible aspects to the show that I’ll focus on: 1) the reaction of Alan Colmes to LeBatard’s comments and 2) the presence of radio talking head Neal Boortz on the panel.

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Who Was That Guy?

Posted in Bill Walton, FIBA, John Saunders, John Wooden, Puerto Rico on August 29, 2007 by jweiler

I am not, in general, a big fan of Big Red. Bill Walton often tends toward bombast, florid language and, of course, incessant references to John Wooden. One of the first posts I wrote for TSF was, in fact, a lengthy diatribe about Walton. Oh, and did I mention the incessant references to John Wooden.

Well, having watched more of the FIBA Americas qualifying tournament than I expected, and in the spirit of giving credit where credit’s due, I gotta say – damn.

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Other People’s Money

Posted in Gene Wojchiechowski, populism on August 28, 2007 by jweiler

In the midst of all the Vick coverage, I just had to comment on one little throw-away line in an column yesterday by Gene Wojchiechowski. The column itself was standard stuff: Vick as a cautionary tale, the frequent stupidity of professional athletes, etc. But, the comment below well illustrates the mindset of much of sports media, for whom billionaires’ riches are to be unquestioned, while millionaire athletes are undeserving pretenders to other people’s money.

Wojo wrote:

Vick used Atlanta Falcons money, or Nike money, or Coca-Cola money, or EA Sports money (hey, everybody loved Mike back then) to bankroll a gambling operation so repugnant that you need a barf bag to watch the footage of what happens when pit bulls are turned into canine gladiators.

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Eli vs. Tiki

Posted in Eli Mannng, New York media on August 24, 2007 by jweiler

I have mostly refrained from talking about New York sports, in spite of (or maybe because of) the fact that I am a New York sports fan. But, I couldn’t resist saying something about the recent dust-up between Eli Manning and Tiki Barber. It started when Tiki said, on NBC Sunday night, that Eli struggled to assert himelf as a leader:

“He hasn’t shown [ability to lead],” Barber said on the broadcast. “His personality hasn’t been so that he can step up, make a strong statement and have people believe that it’s coming from his heart.

“Last year about Week 12, I turned over the offensive motivational speech to Eli and he was gung-ho to do it, but he was uncomfortable doing it. I think a lot of it had to do with vets being around – myself, Jeremy Shockey, Plaxico Burress. He didn’t feel like his voice was going to be strong enough and it showed. Sometimes it was almost comical the way that he would say things.”

Manning responded a couple of days ago and, I confess, what I find amusing is not what Manning said, but how many media outlets portrayed Manning as “firing back,”(the phrase used both by Newsday and the New York Post), or, in the words of the Daily News “One day after Hurricane Eli smashed into the mouth of Tiki Barber,” as if Manning hit Tiki where it hurts. This was a common theme both in the New York media and on ESPN, which made much of Manning coming heavy in response to Tiki’s comments.

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Chris Broussard Interview Part II

Posted in Blogroll, Detroit Pistons, Doc Rivers, Mark Jackson, NABJ Conference, New York Knicks, NFL, Washington Wizards on August 23, 2007 by mizzo

In part II of Chris Broussard’s interview, he and I discuss the NBA at length. We range from the state of the league compared with the scrutiny other sports receive, preseason predictions to whom he would like to see coach next in the NBA. We also touch on Chris juggling his multi-faceted ESPN career with the fortunate responsibilities of being a husband and raising a family. Of course we also converse about some things political, but hey, you know how we do here.

I won’t take up your time with a lengthly lede.


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Crazy Talk

Posted in deer hunting, Stephon Marbury on August 23, 2007 by jweiler

Doug Gottlieb subbed for Colin Cowherd today. I guess the job requires a particularly high ratio of loud opinion to actual facts.

In a rant about Vick and other matters, Gottlieb attacked ill-informed athletes spouting ill-informed opinions about the Vick case. Among the people Gottlieb picked on was Stephon Marbury, whose comments about Vick earlier this week made him a favorite whipping boy on sports talk radio yesterday (as dwil noted would happen).

As Dwil wrote yesterday, Marbury compared dogfighting to deer hunting, suggesting that the former was a sport, just behind closed doors.

Gottlieb went after Marbury’s comments as ‘crazy talk’ and asserted that Marbury said what he said out of complete ignorance concerning the case. Ignorance because, according to Gottlieb, the gambling aspects of the case are not the real issue, nor is the dog-fighting itself – its “sporting” aspects, what has Vick in so much trouble.

Instead, according to Gottlieb, it was the cruelty with which the dogs were disposed of if they underperformed, that was the key legal point in the case. Marbury’s comments, according to Gottlieb, show that he was completely ignorant of the gruesome way in which Vick and his accomplices are said to have killed the dogs.

A couple of comments here. In the ten minutes that I heard Gottlieb, he harped almost constantly on other people’s ignorance, particularly mocking the sports discourse for allowing ill-informed athletes to spout ill-informed opinions.

Which begs the question: Did Gottlieb see any irony in this?

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Interview with ESPN Senior Writer, Chris Broussard Part I

Posted in Uncategorized on August 22, 2007 by mizzo

broussard1.jpgWith all the craziness currently surrounding sports, I thought it was imperitive to post another in the long line of top notch journalism interviews we’ve done here at TSF. I got a chance to meet Chris Broussard at the NABJ conference right after another buddy of mine Brian Cook (nominated for an award for a feature he did on Buck O’Neil) and I were talking about the blog panel I moderated. He was part of a susequent panel discussing the Black athlete along with Jemele Hill, Neil Scarborough, Justice B. Hill and David Aldridge. I’ll have the transcript of that plenary later on this week. Chris is one of the few who openly discusses his religious beliefs and in this present climate you really can’t blame him.

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Notes from football’s underbelly – non-steroids, non dog fighting edition

Posted in NFL on August 22, 2007 by jweiler

A couple of items of interest:
The NFL has a new concussion policy – the league no longer thinks it’s a good idea for players who’ve been knocked unconscious to go back into the same game;

and, NFL officiating crews see things very differently from one another. Think gamblers know this?

More after the fold:

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Money Matters

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20, 2007 by jweiler

A couple of quick items on money matters. King Kaufman criticizes the NFL’s new deal with DirecTV:

The new deal is that up to 11 games a week will be streamed online. Great news for the legions of fans who can’t get the DirecTV satellite service or don’t want to switch their TV provider just to have their choice of NFL games to watch on 17 of the 52 Sundays in a year. Right?

Wrong. The deal is only good if you already subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket, which, in the second most fan-unfriendly deal in North American team sports, is available for $269 but only to DirecTV subscribers. And! You also have to subscribe to the $99 add-on bell-and-whistle package known as SuperFan. Also, it doesn’t work on a Mac.

The NFL has its reasons, millions upon millions of them, for having an exclusive deal with DirecTV. Limiting access drives up prices as long as there’s sufficient interest, which it’s safe to say there is in NFL football.

There’s a calculus involved, a weighing of the extra profits against the bad feelings engendered by the league’s giant “Screw you” to fans who don’t want a football league dictating what TV provider they do business with. The NFL evidently made that calculation a few years ago — and extended its exclusive deal with DirecTV.

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Dangerous Sport: What Texas Won’t Let Kenneth Foster Read

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20, 2007 by mizzo


Who knew sports history could strike fear in the most fearsome prison
system in the United States? But what other explanation could there be for the fact that the history of “America’s Pastime” is being denied to Texas Death Row prisoner Kenneth Foster Jr.?

Kenneth’s case has garnered international attention because both prosecution and defense agree that he was 80 feet away from the murder of Michael LaHood. Earlier in the evening, he had been driving the man who pulled the trigger, Maurecio Brown. In Texas, that’s enough to land him on Death Row.

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Heckuva Job, Goodie

Posted in Roger Goodell on August 17, 2007 by jweiler

This past Sunday, the typically outstanding Outside the Lines devoted its program to a discussion of concussions and their potential impact on dementia and suicide, specifically focusing on the NFL. This is not the first time OTL has reported on this story and, as I mentioned in criticizing a recent Michael Farber piece in SI, the issue has received more and more attention in the past year.

Before I address the OTL report in greater detail – I have to ask this question: why is “bad attitude” and irresponsible off field conduct by players constant fodder for “reporting” and moralizing by sports media, while the NFL’s ongoing refusal to deal with the growing body of evidence that playing football for a living can literally kill you is consigned to the tiny ghetto of serious sports journalism – like OTL and the New York Times’ Alan Schwarz? To quote Lt. Caffey in A Few Good Men – we’ll come back to that.

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Tidbits – August 14

Posted in Uncategorized on August 14, 2007 by jweiler

Breaking: Hall of Fame shortstop and announcing great Phil Rizzuto has passed away. The Scooter was a character – one of a kind. Who else would regale his audiences with tales of his wife’s (Cora) lasagna, or read birthday announcements during pivotal moments of games, or insult people by calling them “huckleberry?” Condolences to his family.
I was in Mexico City for a few days, so I am catching up on some stuff from late last week. Hence, more Bonds stuff – including an ill-informed rant from Christine Brennan and a worthwhile read from Baseball Prospectus.

Also, that paragon of journalistic virtue and great baseball insight, Mike Barnicle, becomes a favorite of Mike Francesa. Unethical behavior, or the appearance of such, is cause for endless hand-wringing and moralizing by the media when it comes to everybody…but the media.
Finally, a paean to Jorge Posada.

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Friday Fire: The legacy of Barry Bonds. Best of all time?

Posted in Uncategorized on August 10, 2007 by mizzo

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Sports Journalism and Perspective

Posted in Uncategorized on August 9, 2007 by jweiler

 Dwil’s already addressed Bob Costas’ appearance on Mike and Mike Tuesday morning, but there was an additional piece of that appearance that I wanted to address. Costas attempted to bring, as Dwil referred to in his post, historical perspective and gravitas to the conversation. But, in attempting to do so he made a staggeringly misguided historical analogy. And, in doing so, he unwittingly put on display so much of what is wrong in sports commentary – a combination of self-righteous moralizing and an embarrassingly myopic and, frankly, insulting view of history.

Here’s the set-up:

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Neyer/Stark/Caple Exchange

Posted in Uncategorized on August 8, 2007 by jweiler posted a lengthy three-way conversation over the weekend between Rob Neyer, Jim Caple and Jayson Stark about the meaning of homerun records, comparing eras, Bonds, Ruth, Aaron and all that.

Overall it’s a very substantive and worthwhile conversation, and all three have enough of a sense of baseball history and the meaning of context to avoid, for the most part, simplistic formulations.

But, sensitivity to context disappears during one significant part of the exchange – the coverage of Bonds and the matter of race. About that, more below.

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Golic Goes to Town

Posted in Uncategorized on August 6, 2007 by jweiler

I couldn’t pass up passing this along: this morning on Mike and Mike, Mike Golic went on an absolute rampage against Commissioner Selig for his non-reaction to Bonds record-tying homerun Saturday night, and just steamrolled Mike Greenberg when Greenie tried to defend the commissioner. I have said this before, but one of the interesting dynamics in the whole debate about performance enhancing drugs is the divide between athletes and former athletes on one side, and non athlete talking heads on the other. The athletes, as a group, appear to be much more forgiving on the topic as a whole, perhaps because they a) know how prevalent it’s always been and b) know how hard it is to be good (or great) regardless of what one puts in one’s body. In this light, Golic has been adamant in the past that the negative reaction to Bonds is just too much, and he really let loose today.

Here are some snippets from their exchange, beginning with a hypothetical Golic poses to Greenie:

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Reading SI (and Bonds hits No. 755): A couple of updates

Posted in Roger Goodell on August 5, 2007 by jweiler

Updates this morning.

Ray, in comments, pasted in a link from Gregg Doyel of CBS Sportsline . Doyel absolutey rips Selig, noting that there was no reason for Selig to be in San Diego last night given how obvious it is that Selig did not want to be there. (On OTL this morning, Ley said Selig looked like he was “sitting in a dentist’s chair” last night). Doyel was especially derisive of Selig’s statement, which reads:

“Congratulations to Barry Bonds as he ties Major League’s Baseball’s home run record. No matter what anyone thinks of the controversy surrounding this event, Mr. Bonds’ achievement is noteworthy and remarkable.

“As I said previously, out of respect for the tradition of the game, the magnitude of the record and the fact that all citizens in this country are innocent until proven guilty, either I or a representative of my office will attend the next few games and make every attempt to observe the breaking of the all-time home run record.”

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Tidbits – August 3, 2007

Posted in Uncategorized on August 3, 2007 by jweiler

A few random items to get to: Sheffield’s comments about Commissioner Selig; an interesting article in Newsweek on recent sports scandals; and, should PEDs be legal? The science journal, Nature, weighs in.

1) Last Friday, GarySheffield called out Commissioner Bud Selig, saying that he was “sick of the way (Selig) and MLB have been grandstanding” and asked: “Why doesn’t Bud Selig tell the truth? Why does he keep lying, saying he doesn’t know nothing (about steroids use in baseball though the ’90s)? He knew everything we knew.” That comment prompted yet another nomination for a just shut-up award on Tuesday’s Mike and Mike program and speculation from unnamed sources that Sheffield would be suspended for his comments (no word yet on whether that’s going to happen. It seems unlikely now).

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Friday Fire: Blogs to Broadband: How New Media is Changing Sports Journalism

Posted in Uncategorized on August 3, 2007 by mizzo

I’m moderating a panel which is part of the NABJ conference August 11th, in Vegas entitled Blogs to Broadband: How New Media
is Changing Sports Journalism.
 The goal of the panel is to discuss sports journalism in the interactive space, new and upcoming trends and how blogs and online reports are shaping the industry. Members of the panel are as follows: Duane Cross, managing editor, Neal Scarborough GM/editor AOL Sports and J.A. Adande, who has landed at ESPN. I would love to get some informed opinions on this topic TSF style that I will definitely use (by name)  for the panel. Thanks, Michael Tillery