PIGSKINPALOOZA

April 30, 2010

DJ Gallo had this offseason missive on ESPN.com:

“The NFL draft is over. Congratulations to Mr. Irrelevant and also to all 253 Mr. Relevants.
But with that off the calendar, I think the next thing every football fan in America is eagerly anticipating is … this week’s edition of the Pigskinpalooza! YAY!
So let’s begin.

MONEY

University of Washington president Mark A. Emmert has been named the new president of the NCAA. Reportedly there were nearly 100 candidates at first,
then the list was whittled to 32 and then to just a handful. Huh. It almost sounds like a … tournament or something. And the NCAA … that has football, right?
Huh. Might be an idea there for you, Mr. Emmert.

The Raiders will reportedly cut JaMarcus Russell at any moment. And …. okay, I’m now getting breaking news … yes. The Raiders are cutting JaMarcus
Russell right now. Let’s go to a live picture at the scene.

The Redskins have signed Joey Galloway to a one-year deal. Galloway is 38-years-old. In 2008 he had 13 catches for 138 yards. Last year he had 7 catches for 67 yards. It’s a curious signing. But not if you’re the Redskins. If you’re the Redskins, it fits perfectly with Dan Snyder’s “Hey! I’ve heard of that guy!”

player acquisition mandate.
Giants punter Jeff Feagles is set to announce his retirement after 22 years in the NFL. The team was expecting him to retire, so they drafted East Carolina
punter Matt Dodge in the seventh round. Dodge will compete for the job with former Australian Rules football player Jy Bond. Really. I’m not making that up.
I realize that if someone was going to make up a name of a stereotypical Autralian Rules football player, they would go with “Jy Bond.” But that’s his real name.

QUOTES

“I can’t get one phone call … I’ve said in the past that I hope our management and the owners can look past the fact that I am president of the PA. But right
now it’s not looking that way. I’m looking for a job.” — Kevin Mawae. The 39-year-old, Pro Bowl guard thinks he isn’t getting any job offers because he’s
president of the NFL Players Association. And I think he may be on to something. I’ve been president of the Halle Berry Fan Club for 10 years, and not once has she called me. It’s so rude.

“Is your mom a prostitute?” (paraphrased) — Jeff Ireland, Dolphins GM, to Dez Bryant in a pre-draft interview. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith
said on Wednesday that NFL teams can’t cross the line when interviewing prospective draft picks. So asking “Is your mom a prostitute?” would obviously be well over the line. Whereas closer to that gray area would be something like: “So the NFLPA — that’s a completely powerless organization, huh?” ((ed: I have refrained from any comment about this mess because I feel “Jeff Ireland” has become a buzz-word that allows “pundits” to go off and fan the flames of a created <forthe most part> controversy. Remember the William Randolph Hearst quote about the skirmish between the US and Mexico that started up Teddy Roosevelt’s reputation as wellas the Spanish-American war–“You give me the pictures. I’ll  give you the war.”)

“I think it stinks. [College football] is becoming perilously close to losing the purity and amateurism that separates it from it’s pro counterpart.” —
Aaron Taylor, former Nebraska player and current CBS college football analyst, on the fact that teams with losing records could make bowl games now that there are 35 bowls, up from 33. There, there, Aaron. Nothing to worry about. College football is keeping the system in which a computer determines the national champion. It remains incredibly amateur.

“The important thing is we’re paying attention, we’re going to be strategic, we’re going to be thoughtful, but we’re not going to relinquish our role as one of the premier conferences.” — Mike Slive, SEC commissioner, on coming Big Ten expansion and the possibility of the SEC expanding. Slive didn’t comment on how he will soon be attacked by an angry mob of SEC fans because he used the modifier “one of.”

COACHES

Major League Baseball told Rays manager Joe Maddon that he couldn’t wear a hoodie (and then reversed the ruling). This week Maddon got a personalized
Patriots hoodie in the mail from Bill Belichick. Oh, no. Belichick knows he is associated with hoodies. He has become self-aware. I think this is the point in the movie when the evil robot destroys us all. RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz gets aroused by Jahvid Best highlights. It’s true. That’s what he told Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports: “Some people watch adult videos on their computer. I go to YouTube and watch Jahvid Best highlight clips. That’s what gets ME going.” So here you go, everyone — an ESPN.com first. I’m linking to an “adult” video. Ooh, what are you wearing? A helmet and pads? Me likey.

LAWS

Two Arkansas players were arrested this week for drug possession charges A campus police officer noticed the pair sitting in a parked car, smoke drifted out of the door when it was opened and a “plastic baggie of green leafy substance” was in plain view. Ridiculous. It’s like people can’t even burn their A-plus, end-of-semester Botany 101 project in celebration anymore.

Delone Carter, Syracuse’s leading rusher, has worked out a deal with the school that will allow him to return in the fall. He is still banned from campus during the spring and summer over an incident in which he allegedly punched another student. Wait a minute … don’t they play football in the fall? Huh. What a stroke of good luck for Carter and the Syracuse football team!
And that’s all for this category.

Apparently the Steelers and Oregon Ducks spent the last week planning stuff.

MISCELLANEOUS

Bad news, Broncos fans: tackle Ryan Clady tore his left patellar tendon playing basketball and is out for three months. Wait — only three months? Everything I’ve read says that torn patellar tendons take much longer to heal. It’s almost as if the Broncos organization recently acquired someone with healing powers.
By the way, Tim Tebow’s jersey is the fastest-selling rookie jersey in NFL history. And in second place, I am just guessing, is a Broncos #15 jersey with the customized name “BALL AND JUICE” on the back.

So all the draft experts and analysts have weighed in with their grades on how every team did. But no one has reported yet how the teams themselves feel they did. So let me give you that information now.
Cardinals: A
Eagles: A
Broncos: A
Raiders: A
Seahawks: A
Cowboys: A
Ravens: A
Well, they’re all A’s. Great job, teams!”

Advertisements

Scott Ostler listed some little known unwritten baseball rules in the SF Chronicle.

“Alex Rodriguez had an excuse for oafishly trotting across the mound against the A’s on Thursday as he was returning from third base to first base after a foul ball. A-Rod stumbled off-course when he was blinded by stadium lights reflecting off the 119 diamonds in his newest World Series ring.
A’s pitcher Dallas Braden remonstrated A-Rod for breaking one of baseball’s unwritten rules. “What are some other unwritten rules?” you ask. Well if I write them, they won’t be unwritten, will they?

Nonetheless, here are some of baseball’s more obscure unwritten rules:

It is bad form for an infielder to sneak up behind an opposing baserunner and give him a wedgie.

During a home run trot, a player should not wave a lit sparkler, not even on the Fourth of July.

Also uncool: Taking your home run trot on a pogo stick.

During chats between the first baseman and an opposing baserunner, don’t discuss politics.

When an opposing infielder is chasing a foul ball near your dugout, it is bad etiquette to spill a bucket of baseballs into his path.

Slipping a whoopie cushion under first base? Oh, that’s really mature.

A pitcher is looking for trouble if he “accidentally” pitches the resin bag.

When a baserunner scores by bowling over the catcher, it is considered showboating for the runner to strike the Heisman pose.

Unless he is looking for trouble, the on-deck hitter should not try to distract the pitcher by playing “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” on a banjo.

“Rally caps” in the dugout are OK. Not acceptable: backward and inside-out “rally pants.”

Bob Molinaro clued us in on an alarming possible change in college football on HamptonRoads.com:
“College football for fat cats.
Or should I say, for even fatter cats.
That’s what is being proposed with the anticipation of four superconferences.
Like the cat that swallowed the canary, the 16 teams in each superleague are going to be fat and happy, while the rest of college football – the non-BCS
schools – will be asked to sip sour milk from a small saucer stuck over in the corner.
This is the future that many see for college football. And amazingly, many people are not alarmed.
If the conference realignment being discussed today by conference commissioners and athletics directors becomes reality – and with greed as a motivating factor, chances are it will – the nature of the sport will change again.
For the worse.
You might not think so. And you’ll certainly be told otherwise – maybe already have been – because the privileged conferences are favored by the media. But believe it: T his is not good for college football.
Hard as it is to comprehend sometimes, college football is about more than the BCS conferences and their bowls and huge TV contracts. Non-elite programs and lesser bowls also enhance the sport’s appeal.
Supporters of the four-major-conference cartel point out that the new alignment will maximize revenue while creating a playoff system with built-in quarterfinal, semifinal and final football games.
A playoff? That’s catnip to the fans. Who can argue against any arrangement that leads to playoffs?
The non-elites – on the outside looking in – can. Fans of the greater health of the sport should.
Contrary to the propaganda, the superleagues will not create an environment that works for nearly everyone.
It will work for about 64 teams. And what about the rest of the Football Bowl Subdivision, the schools that don’t get an opportunity to play for the national
title no matter how good they might be? What will it do for them?
For the fat cats, one of the benefits of six BCS conferences cannibalizing one another to produce four superconferences is that it will help rid them of nuisance programs like Boise State, TCU and BYU trying to dip their whiskers into the rich cream they want all for themselves.
It doesn’t need to be said that this is all about money. Or that the superconferences will shove the non-elites even deeper into the recesses of irrelevance.
Does that sound like a healthy environment? Really?
The idea for conference realignment was spawned by fear. It’s all about BCS conferences such as the ACC, Big East and Big 12 trying to keep pace
economically with the SEC and eager-to-expand Big Ten.
A recent New York Times story even suggests that, over time, the four superconferences would leave the NCAA sandbox for an association of their own.
One that, some day, would create a basketball tournament to compete against the NCAA’s.
So what do you think of the fat cats’ plan now?
In addition to the elitism at the root of realignment, there is something else to consider. Nobody can convince me that the creation of superconferences won’t play to the schools’ worst instincts. And that this can’t help but lead to universities lowering, in some cases, already laughable standards, and making an even bigger mockery of the concept of the student-athlete.
Given the cynicism inherent in today’s emphasis on winning, maybe this isn’t possible. Maybe football programs have gone as low as they can go. I don’t
know.
But if not, the creation of four superconferences will only deepen and widen the cesspool.
Haven’t we learned – hasn’t our financial crisis taught us – that bigger isn’t always better?
For college football, now and in the future, bigger is only bigger.”

Frank Deford of SI.com expressed his view an athlete’s role in society. AND he’s pretty much on the mark.

“At a certain point, don’t you just stop caring whether our athletes — who, for some reason or other are always called “role models” — behave? Don’t you just want to say: Let the thugs play. OK, if they violate the statute law, fine. Put them in the hoosegow. But really, otherwise, why are we expending so much angst worrying about the character of our well-muscled celebrities?
I mean, it is hopelessly apparent that Ben Roethlisberger is a perfectly dreadful person, prone to reprehensible behavior whenever he is let loose from the sanctioned violence of the gridiron. As Knute Rockne said many years ago: “The only qualifications for a lineman are to be big and dumb. To be a back, you only have to be dumb.”
What earthly benefit is it to suspend Roethlisberger? Does it teach little, impressionable children a lesson? Is it going to make other football players pause late at night and think about being a role model when they are on the cusp of committing mayhem? I mean, let’s give Roethlisberger credit. At least he wasn’t packing a firearm like so many of his athletic brethren do when they are out taking the evening air.
No doubt his enforced vacation will hurt the Pittsburgh Steelers, but then, somebody has to lose, so it will help some other team. However, the National
Football League itself is not affected a whit, except in the sanctimonious sense that it can pat itself on the back for standing foursquare in support of goodness.
What always confounds me is the premise that Commissioner Roger Goodell cited — as do the other so-called czars of sport — that their players “have to be held to a higher standard.” But why? Why, of all people, are athletes, pretty much alone in our society, expected to be sweeter than the average angel? It is politicians and clergy and those maestros of finance on Wall Street who should be held to a higher standard. Why aren’t they ever called “role models?” Why can’t some tearful little impressionable tyke sob, “Say it ain’t so, Goldman Sachs, say it ain’t so,” and thus change the pecking order in our cultural mythology?
And speaking of role models, it’s nice to know that Tiger Woods has issued another sincere apology for all the little nasties he’d assured us he was going to take care of in prior sincere apologies. Perhaps Roethlisberger can join Tiger in his mystery rehabilitation.
So let me close this jeremiad by telling how we can get around this emotional dilemma: we simply acknowledge that not all role models have to be positive.
After all, by definition, the term just means modeling a role, exemplifying a position. Attila the Hun, for example — was there ever a better role model for
pillage and raping? No. So, once we understand that and accept it, we can stop fretting and get back to the games.”

 
.

Randy Youngman of the Orange County (CA) Register gave us this rant:

“Today’s sports quiz: Which professional sport has the most referees?
Hint: There are usually more than 100 at one event — and potentially millions.
Time’s up.
It’s golf, of course.
In a PGA Tour event with 156 players in the field, each is a referee with the responsibility to call a penalty on himself if so warranted. There also are rules officials who are on hand to offer advice when players are in doubt or impose penalties if necessary — or if a player such as Michelle Wie disagrees with a particular ruling.
And then there are the millions of TV viewers, who, unfortunately, are allowed to bring a potential rules violation to the attention of tournament officials if they think they see one. (“Hey, this is Eddie from Escondido. Was Craig Stadler allowed to kneel on that towel?”) They are all armchair referees, too.
Can you imagine if all sports enforced their rules this way?
What if an outfielder made a diving catch, jumped up and ran to the umpire to say he had trapped the ball on a short hop?
Or if an NFL offensive lineman told the referee he had moved before the snap, nullifying that touchdown pass?
Or if an NBA player said he had fouled an opponent on that three-pointer that hit the front of the rim in the closing seconds at Staples Center?
That’s taking it too far, isn’t it?
And golf takes it too far as well, as we all learned again two weeks ago when Brian Davis called a two-stroke penalty on himself during the first hole of a sudden-death playoff with Jim Furyk at the Verizon Heritage in Hilton Head, S.C.
Playing his third shot from a hazard below the green on the 18th hole at Harbour Town, Davis thought there was a chance he had nudged a reed during his backswing before pitching the ball over the rocks onto the green. It was admirable that he immediately relayed his uncertainty to a rules official, who then watched a replay of the shot and determined that, yes, the reed had been illegally touched because it was a loose impediment and not rooted in the ground.
Replays showed that the reed oscillated but wasn’t displaced by the contact. But a rule is a rule, so a two-stroke penalty was assessed even though no competitive advantage was gained, essentially handing the tournament to Furyk. It was very doubtful Davis would have won even without the penalty, because Furyk needed only to 2-putt to clinch it, but that’s not the issue here.
I think it would be much better if there had been a rules official watching Davis take the shot and determine if there had been a violation, instead of placing the onus on him while he was concentrating on his shot and trying to win his first tour event.
Yes, I know golf is trumpeted as a sport of integrity and, thus, players are supposed to police themselves. If that is so, why do players exchange scorecards and keep track of the number of strokes the other takes on each hole. Wouldn’t a player of integrity count all of his own strokes?
Golf is a great sport, but there are too many referees. And too many dumb rules.”

T.J. Simers writes for the LA Times but hasn’t lost any of his NY area way of looking at a story:

“Tim Leiweke slugged me.

It’s probably been a long time coming, but when it happened, it was so unexpected.

I’m just sitting there like a dedicated Kings fan Sunday evening, two rows from the ice while wearing my official team sweater, name on the back along with No. 2, no lie, and Leiweke jumps out of his seat sounding almost delirious as he yells, “Kopie, Kopie.”

I don’t even get the chance to say, “Who’s Kopie?”

Whoever he is, he apparently disappoints Leiweke, and since I’m sitting beside him, I get smacked.

Now I understand why his wife, Bernadette, has offered me her seat. “Thanks for taking one for the team,” she says.

I don’t recall how far back it goes, but Leiweke invited me to join him for a hockey game. Not knowing he’s a mad man once the puck is dropped, I said I might go. This whole business about Philip Anschutz being a recluse is nonsense — he’s just hiding from Leiweke.

I told Leiweke I’d join him if he arranged it so David Beckham was sitting beside me.

But as you know, waiting for Beckham to do anything in this town is a huge waste of time, so I joined Leiweke for the Kings’ final game of the season.

Eh, where else would you rather be besides your own couch at home, a movie, out to dinner, listening to the Grocery Store Bagger talk about his day at work or undergoing a colostomy.

Leiweke is dressed all in black like a gangster or a hockey governor who appears clueless for so many years in putting a team together. But he’s got his team now, he says, and so does L.A.

Some of those on his staff are growing beards, some kind of disgusting hockey tradition, but Leiweke is clean shaven.

“You deal with bankers and walk in looking like Grizzly Adams and it’s not going to work,” Leiweke says, while pointing to a chair and calling it his “lucky seat.”

I take it he didn’t sit there the previous eight years.

When it’s time to start, it’s bedlam. Every fan has been given a white towel and they are waving them. I never understood why a franchise on the verge of surrender would have their fans waving white towels.

“Isn’t this great,” Leiweke says, loving the fans’ support, while also screaming, “Hey ref, you ever going to call anything? What about that cross-check? Ref, ref, ref.”

A few minutes later a fan compliments Leiweke for getting on the ref, the official calling a penalty on Vancouver, Leiweke saying, “don’t print that or [NHL Commissioner Gary] Bettman will get ticked.”

Obviously Leiweke is no Phil Jackson.

“I pay for these seats,” Leiweke finally concludes, “so yeah, I can say what I want. Hey ref ”

He has a suite for his own use, but he’s bought four seats to every game in this corner of the arena. He might be the team’s best season-ticket holder, as well as its most passionate fan.

Bruce McNall, a former Kings owner, walks by.

Leiweke believes in treating McNall as a guest in the name of franchise history and provides him free tickets. That must explain why Clippers VP Andy Roeser is here.

“It’s big we’re in the playoffs, but now we’ve gotten big out of the way,” Leiweke says, while up on the scoreboard they are showing Wayne Gretzky in attendance. Those were the days.

“There was a time when we heard the abuse thrown our way, and we deserved it,” says Leiweke, the Kings having six winning seasons in the 14 under AEG.
“We gave these fans no reason to support us, but they hung with us. These are the most loyal fans in town.”

The Kings score first, and it’s like Leiweke has just gotten the OK from the city to subsidize a new football stadium. He’s running around, tapping rolled fists with anyone who will do so.

“We’re going to be even better next year,” he gushes, while also keenly aware what success might mean for AEG’s credibility in the marketplace.

“The Kings are what brought us here, it’s important we show everyone we have the ability to make them successful.”

The Kings end the first period ahead, everyone adjourning to the Chairman’s Room for a sip of wine, and I mean everyone.

A good time is had by all, but Leiweke can’t stop worrying about Vancouver’s Sedin twins. “Good God, they are animals,” he says.

The score is tied in the third period, but then one of the Sedin animals scores, and the season is over. Yet there is still a feeling of promise in the air.

“This team is going to win the Stanley Cup in the next couple of years,” Leiweke says. “But it’s got to go through growing pains. And they hurt.”

I know. I have the bruises to prove it.”

Norman Chad had this to say in his syndicated column that appeared in the LA Times:
“So umpire Joe West recently complained about how long Red Sox-Yankees games take to play — “It’s pathetic and embarrassing,” he said — setting off a
minor firestorm about baseball’s slow pace. Now, I’ll let you be the judge about Red Sox-Yankees games — there’s undoubtedly one on TV at this very
moment — and let me be the judge about baseball’s slow pace.
The line at the post office is slow. Baseball is slower.
Granted, complaining that baseball is too slow is like complaining that Too Tall Jones is too tall. Part of the game’s appeal is its leisurely pace. But there’s a fine line between leisurely and languid, just like there’s a fine line between comatose and dead.
Defending his turf, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon said last month, “Have you ever gone to watch a movie and thought, ‘Man, this movie is so good, I wish it would have never ended.’ That’s like a Red Sox-Yankees game. Why would you want it to end? . . . If you don’t want to be there, don’t be there. Go home.
“Now, I’ll give Papelbon the benefit of the doubt here — after all, he’s a relief pitcher, not a customer relations specialist — but I wish he’d understand that a really long movie might run 2 1/2 hours while Red Sox-Yankees games routinely approach 2 1/2 days. I wish he’d understand there’s a difference between sitting in a movie theater and sitting in 42-degree weather.
Most of all, I wish he’d just wind up and deliver. Papelbon once had a ball called on him because he took too long to pitch. He wanders around the mound so much, I half-expect him to build a gazebo out there.
West said it succinctly and correctly: “They take too long to play.”
Frankly, I haven’t watched a baseball game on TV start to finish since the advent of the remote. I used to click away between innings, now I click away
between pitches. I once watched the entirety of Ken Burns’s Civil War documentary during a single Jason Bay at-bat.
(Speaking of which, this reminds me of an NHL TV problem that it will not address: two intermissions. You cannot give viewers two 15-minute opportunities to wander away. Heck, Elvis could rise from the grave and be in concert for the first time in 33 years, and if his show has two intermissions, half the crowd would be at IHOP by the time The King came out for his third set.)
Hey, I like watching pitch after pitch fouled off as much as the next guy, but I cannot stand to watch strikes called balls. The strike zone is like the Bermuda
Triangle: You hear a lot about it but nobody knows exactly where it is.
And how many precious seconds are lost to hitters messing around with their batting gloves? You know, I’ve never seen a surgeon ask for time, step away
from the operating table and adjust his surgical gloves.
Then there are the endless mound confabs. In Game 4 of last year’s World Series, Yankees catcher Jorge Posada and pitcher CC Sabathia met at the mound eight times in one inning; I thought one of them was trying to refinance his second mortgage. Frankly, all mound meetings should be banned — unless you’re Crash Davis and need a live rooster to take the curse off Jose’s glove.
Here are several other ways to speed up the game:
— Limit Tony La Russa to two double-switches per series.
— Credit teams with an extra half-run if a home run trot takes less than 15 seconds.
— In extra innings, the hitting team starts with a runner on second. If the game reaches the 12th inning, the defensive team has to take one player off the field.
— Just as football stole the format for replay challenge from Scrabble, baseball should steal something from poker — namely, you should be allowed to fold.
Example: Bottom of the eighth, two out and weak-hitting catcher Lou Marson is up for the Indians against Mariano Rivera. The Indians don’t have to waste
time or a pinch hitter; rather, they simply fold and concede the out. Score it as an unassisted putout for the catcher.
— Build a moat around the batter’s box.
— Stop playing album version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during seventh-inning stretch.
— No more Red Sox-Yankees games.

Ask The Slouch

Q: When youth baseball and softball games are over, players line up and shake hands with the other team. In Major League Baseball, the winning team’s players line up and congratulate only themselves. What happened? (Dale Jarvis; Medina, Ohio)
A: When you’re a kid, it’s a “Field of Dreams.” When you grow up, it becomes “Wall Street.”

Q: When your ex-wives departed via free agency, were you awarded compensatory picks? (Mike Herbert; Annandale)
A: I’ve never sought compensatory picks — I prefer to build the next divorce from scratch.
 
Q: Where did you have Jimmy Clausen in your mock draft? (Don Parks; Oakland, Calif.)
A: Since 2007, I only do a WNBA mock draft.

Q: Now that the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is set to expand to a 68-team field, how long do you think it will be before the National Heads-Up
Poker Championship follows suit? (Nick Herman; Mauldin, S.C.)
A: Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

Jerry Crowe wrote in the LA Times about the creation of the NBA’s iconic logo:

“Neither West nor the league will acknowledge it, but it’s common knowledge that the player depicted in that iconic image really is the Lakers great. And now it’s confirmed by the man who created it, Alan Siegel.

Jerry West claims he’s not so presumptuous as to assume his image is depicted on one of the most recognizable emblems in sports: the NBA logo.

The NBA too is coy.

Alan Siegel is not.

“It’s Jerry West,” he says.

Siegel, 71, designed the familiar logo in 1969, taking a Wen Roberts photograph of the Lakers star and turning it into an iconic image.

In red, white and blue, it shows a player in silhouette purposefully dribbling the ball upcourt with his left hand.

Siegel, a branding expert and lifelong basketball fan, believes he knows why the NBA is reluctant to acknowledge the obvious.

“They want to institutionalize it rather than individualize it,” he says during an interview over lunch near his office in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.
“It’s become such a ubiquitous, classic symbol and focal point of their identity and their licensing program that they don’t necessarily want to identify it with one player.”

NBA Commissioner David Stern, through a spokesman, declines to comment, saying he doesn’t know whether West is on the logo.

“There’s no record of it here,” spokesman Tim Frank says.

Siegel’s original artwork has been lost over the years through several office moves, but the designer recites the story of the logo in detail. In 1969, Siegel and his business partner, the late Robert Gale, opened their branding consultancy.

In a previous job, Siegel says, he oversaw development of Major League Baseball’s logo, which was developed in 1968 and introduced during baseball’s centennial in 1969. It too is red, white and blue and features a player — a batter — in silhouette.

It’s no accident, Siegel notes, that the logos are similar.

He says that J. Walter Kennedy, the NBA’s commissioner from 1963 to 1975, told him that “he basically wanted to have a family relationship with baseball
and to use red, white and blue to position basketball as an All-American game.”

Siegel says he came up with 40 or 50 designs, none of which featured any players other than West, but Kennedy gravitated toward the derivative of the
baseball logo.

“And in those days,” the designer says, “it was top down. He made the decision. There was no research. There was no discussion. He said, ‘We’re doing this.’
“Siegel, 6 feet 2, was a star basketball player at Long Beach High on Long Island. He says he turned down dozens of basketball scholarships to attend
Cornell, where he left the basketball team after one season to concentrate on academics.

A childhood friend, the late sportswriter and broadcaster Dick Schaap, also was a Cornell graduate. And later, when Siegel was searching for an image to use in the NBA logo, Schaap gave him access to the photo archives at Sport magazine.

“I found this picture of Jerry West dribbling down the court,” Siegel says, “and, of course, growing up in New York and my father having season tickets for college and pro games at Madison Square Garden, I’d seen West play a lot.”

West, in fact, was one of Siegel’s favorite players — along with John Havlicek and Oscar Robertson — but that’s not why he chose to feature the former
West Virginia star in his design.

The photo, Siegel says, just grabbed him.

“It had a nice flavor to it,” he says, “so I took that picture and we traced it. It was perfect. It was vertical and it had a sense of movement. It was just one of
those things that clicked.”

Kennedy thought so too.

“Nobody else said anything,” Siegel says. “And when we did the publicity, nobody ever asked whether it was Jerry West.

“If you did it today, they’d want 50 designs. They’d get focus groups and test it. They’d make a whole big deal about it and they’d probably end up with a
design that wasn’t as good.”

West, calling it “awkward” to comment on the logo when the NBA won’t confirm he’s on it, remembers thinking when he first saw Siegel’s design, “That looks like somebody familiar.”

Siegel, a Knicks season-ticket holder for more than 30 years, says he twice met West, once at a restaurant in Los Angeles and more recently at a Lakers
game at Staples Center.

At the restaurant, Siegel says, “I introduced myself and told him I’d designed the logo. And he said, ‘Who was the commissioner then?’ I said, ‘Kennedy,’ and he said, ‘OK,’ and went on with his lunch.”

At the game, “he was sort of friendly but noncommittal, so he’s never really said anything to me about it,” Siegel says.

In a new biography, “Jerry West: The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon,” it’s noted that West is not above jokingly introducing himself by saying, “I’m the
logo.”

Today, he demurs: “If that’s me, I’m extremely flattered.”

But of course it’s him.

In recent years, some have suggested that the logo be updated, that perhaps it should feature Michael Jordan.

“Fine with me,” West says.

Siegel says no.

“I’m a fairly sophisticated marketing guy,” he says, “and I think something that’s so well-known and symbolic of high-level basketball around the world,
it would be a mistake to change it.

“It has significance and appeal because it’s historical. It doesn’t look like a modern player. It’s a classic image.”

This appeared in the LA Times on the 24th but I held it back because I didn’t want it to get lost in all of the draft ink.

 “I have never quite gotten the Pat Tillman story out of my system. Only now am I understanding why.

It has been six years and two days since he died, his head blown off amid a pile of rocks on the side of a hill in Afghanistan, murdered by guys on his own
team, other U.S. soldiers. After lying about it, the military eventually called it friendly fire and treated it as a mistake. Horrible, yes, they said. But a mistake.

He was a football hero, a star safety for the Arizona Cardinals. Before that, he was a free spirit linebacker at Arizona State, whose hair flowed out of his
helmet and whose tackles left physical and mental imprints.

When he walked away from a fat pro contract to become a soldier, fighting in the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan, we all swooned. What a guy, what a
hero, what a story.

We are so used to pro athletes being incapable of gazing beyond their own navels, unable to fathom anything of importance beyond their next contract and ensuing trip to the jewelry store, that we couldn’t get enough of Tillman. Journalism celebrates the unusual, and this sure was.

Like other writers in the West, I had a head start. I had been face to face with Tillman, had met him, had a feel for him. Once, after an otherwise
unmemorable UCLA-Arizona State game, my postgame question, as we walked along, brought him to a stop. I had danced around something controversial and he did what no other athlete, before or since, has done. He called me on it.

“That’s not what you really want to know,” he said. “Ask it again.”

I did, this time straight to the point. He answered the same way. I was now a Pat Tillman fan. Veteran scribe learns from long-haired linebacker.

I laughed when he was taken near the end of the NFL draft and the babblers at ESPN assured all that he was too small to make it. They had likely never
talked to him, certainly never been hit by him.

I loved the stories about him riding his bike to training camp and, when he drove, parking his junky old car next to the Beemers and Mercedes in the team lot.

When he died, when the tragedy dripped from the front pages and wept from the TV screens, I fell right in line. It was a story of heroics, the red, white and
blue kind. It was more apple pie and Chevrolet than Don McLean, more American than John Wayne.

He wasn’t just a hero. He was our hero.

In June 2006, I flew to San Jose to see Alex Garwood, Tillman’s brother-in-law, who had been acting as a family spokesman in the absence of much
speaking of any kind by the rest of the family. Garwood was cooperative, friendly and clearly a person who knew lots more than he was saying. By then, the story of Tillman being killed by the enemy had changed to friendly fire. Still, I didn’t press Garwood much. I was looking for tears, when I should have been looking for facts.

My column ran on the Fourth of July. I blathered on about barbecues and water skiing with the family, about cherishing the freedoms we have because of heroes such as Tillman. All I missed were some rockets red glare. I was so pleased with myself. Heroes are a columnist’s best friend.

Thursday night, on the sixth year anniversary of Tillman’s death, I went to a screening of “The Tillman Story.” It is a documentary about the quest of Tillman’s mother, Mary (Dannie) Tillman, to get the real facts of what happened on that hillside. Halfway through, I was mortified. I realized why the Tillman story has stayed in my gut.

Dannie Tillman did what a nation full of high-paid, overblown journalists should have done. She went after the real story while the beautiful people on TV and the nerds with notepads broadcast and wrote morality plays. She got in the military’s face, in the government’s face. She didn’t let up. She was doing journalism while journalists were doing what we mostly do now — chase Web hits and take short cuts to higher profits.

A housewife got the real story, or as much of it as anybody probably will. Professionals trained to do so gathered moss and wrote slop.

The youngest of the three Tillman boys, Richard, said of his mother, “She hit the ball out of the park, but the government kept moving the fences back.”

The documentary won’t be out until August. It won’t be in many theaters, and it won’t be around for long. You need to watch for it. It will make you angry and ashamed. Like I am.”

T.J. Simers wrote about the Lakers and the NBA playoffs by defending Phil Jackson (WHAT? Hey that’s pretty unusual.).    
                                                                                           
“It was noisy, and that was 25 minutes before tipoff, everyone standing and cheering on the Thunder while it warmed up.

Could the kids beat the arrogant, tradition-rich champions, the story lines in abundance, as good a setting as anyone would want for a night of entertainment.

Meanwhile, down in the bowels of the Ford Center, NBA Commissioner David Stern assumed the role of punk, diverting attention from the playoffs and
back to himself.

If anyone should be fined for conduct detrimental to the league it’s Stern who actually suggested my good buddy Phil, who has spent a lifetime in basketball, doesn’t “respect” the game.

A simple Page 2 response with no concern about being fined: Balderdash.

“The game is too important and I don’t think that the people that are trashing it are respecting it,” Stern told the media.

More than anything, it’s a game that doesn’t always respect the job Phil has done — the coach with the most championship trophies being named coach of the year only once.

OK, so what Phil says doesn’t always make sense, is obviously done to get an edge or maybe tweak someone — he can’t help himself when given the chance
to tweak someone. I know.

But he’s hasn’t gone as far as Khloe Odom yet, who tweeted during Game 3: “We should change the Refs names to ‘Cheaters.’ That will be more accurate.”

If Stern thinks he’s so tough — our Mike Bresnahan likened him to Clint Eastwood — let’s see him go on the Kardashians’ TV show.

Now we haven’t had a good heavyweight fight in years, this one just made for Don King, blowing smoke about Stern, and Bob Arum sniping in favor of Phil.

Stern has been fighting for years, of course, trying to prove the referees in his league are blind to personal biases, are not swayed by this or that and no way
would they ever throw a game.

Then he took it on the chin when it became known Joey Crawford had it in for Tim Duncan and then one of his refs was caught betting on games, which
resulted in prison time.

Jackson, meanwhile, excels like no one else to ever coach this game in this league, and they tell me it’s the only reason they play these games.

I’d argue the games are played for entertainment, and Jackson excels there as well, chipping away at his own players, the media, opposing cities and yes, the referees.

I gave him a chance to weigh in on the commissioner after the Lakers’ loss, but he said he needed time to reflect.

But come on, gamesmanship has always been a part of Phil’s repertoire, as much as Red Auerbach’s lighting up a cigar on the bench, so why would the
commissioner of the league go out of his way to take him on moments before a playoff game?

What’s wrong with rebuilding the game’s image in the off-season?

“Our coaches should be quiet because this is a good business,” Stern says, and funny, because too often Phil is getting criticized for just sitting there.

Now here’s where it becomes more ultimate fighting than boxing — Stern saying if coaches don’t like what he has to say, “They should go get a job someplace else.”

That’s how a punk talks, falling back on the lead in his gloves because he is commissioner, overreacting again as he did a week ago when he hit Jackson with a $35,000 fine for suggesting Kevin Durant gets favorable calls.

The best player on every team gets favorable calls, and what’s so outrageous for saying so?

The problem, of course, is that Stern feels the burning need to defend his referees, who too often are horrible — 18,000 witnesses on many occasions.

Ron Artest has mugged Durant in this series, wrapping him up like a safety, stopping short of actually tackling him.

In most cases, no call has been made, and if the credit goes to Jackson for limiting the number of times the whistle has been blown, it seems he’s finally earning his money. Sorry, I remember a time when I went after Jackson with regularity and now I’m defending him.

I’d hate to think when this season is over it’s the commissioner of basketball who runs off Jackson as coach of the Lakers.

That’s the Thunder’s job.

TNT’S Craig Sager did a bit on TV about the Skirvin Hilton, the haunted hotel where the Lakers are staying.

As the story goes the hotel owner got a maid pregnant, locked her and the baby in a room atop the hotel to avoid scandal, and she jumped with the baby in her arms.

Ever since guests have reported seeing the woman, one male guest, according to hauntedhouse.com, reporting he woke with this amorous female entity in his bed.

I’m told this guest was not Tiger Woods.”

Tom Robinson wrote on HamptonRoads.com about the “arrogance and brilliance” of the NFL in televising its draft.

“Here’s an idea for next year. George Clooney, Denzel Washington and Mo’Nique introduce the draft picks. Kelly Clarkson serenades them to the Radio City Music Hall stage. Matt Damon and Ben Stiller do commentary at the long table with the sports-net draft wonks.
Why not? The NFL draft dived facemask-first into the lucrative land of prime-time glamour Thursday night, the huge red carpet outside Radio City Music Hall marking its way.
There’s no turning back now for a sports leviathan that broke the silly bonds of “just sports” a long, long time ago.
The modern NFL has never underestimated its grip on the American public and pocketbook, and so it has never been shy about laying the excess upon the indulgence upon the overkill.
So came the next, natural step on that enchanted ladder – moving the draft’s first round to the week’s most popular TV night and over-orchestrating its alleged magnitude even more than a typical NFL game.
That’s sheer NFL arrogance. And total NFL brilliance.
By doing so, the NFL turned what is essentially a deathly boring exercise – selecting 255 mostly anonymous college players you wouldn’t know if you saw them in jerseys with their names on the back – into a breathless two-night, one-day wallow.
Can seven rounds over seven days be far off? Don’t laugh. Put nothing beyond the NFL’s prodigious imagination and seduction, or the NFL fan’s bottomless
capacity to lap at the trough.
The double genius of the Thursday night one-rounder is the artificial teaser now built in to the whole process, as any respectable TV drama would do. Talk about being on the clock.
By placing approximately a 19-hour pause between the end of round one and the beginning of rounds two and three at 6 tonight, the NFL has cold-stone
guaranteed that it will dominate sports TV, radio, Internet and any other venue for sports chatter for two nights.
Baseball and the NBA playoffs won’t squeeze back onto the radar till Saturday, because the NFL has created for itself what can essentially be seen as two
first rounds, with commensurate attention.
“You liked round one, Jets fan? Well, stay tuned for round two!”
Then, too, the league has also given its teams’ owners and general managers, who character-check their prospects back to grade school as a matter of
course, 19 extra and dangerous hours to second-guess and over-analyze what’s already been analyzed more than a rocket launch.
The constant walk-up question to draft movers and shakers has been, “What effect will all that down time have on how the draft unfolds? More trading of
players? Of picks?”
As New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said recently, that’s to be determined because before “you kind of rolled into (the second round). Now, to actually stop and have the whole night to sit there and think about it… It’s a different dynamic.”
That’s just what cot-sleeping NFL coaches need – another night to hyper-stress. And apparently, the numbers prove it’s what the league’s fans demand 
another night to hyper ventilate.”

THROWING PERFECTLY?

April 24, 2010

 
David Fleming wrote about things that he learned with regard to throwing mechanics and the NFL draft.

“Twelve Things I Learned About QB Mechanics and The NFL Draft … while writing the Jimmy Clausen cover for ESPN The Magazine’s draft preview.
• I learned … that one of the things that profoundly effected Jimmy Clausen and motivates him to this day was watching his older brother Casey sit through the entire 2004 draft without getting selected. Casey performed well at Tennessee but his phone never rang. When the draft finally ended, Casey walked right up to Jimmy and said, “That’s never gonna happen to you.” Anyone who’s a younger brother (like me) understands the impact that had on Jimmy. “That was a tough moment for him and for the rest of our family, but it drove me to another level,” Jimmy says. “Every time I work out or play, I have that in the back of my mind, that I don’t want that to happen to me and I have to do everything I can not to let that happen.”
• I learned … that back in 2001, then-Seahawks QB coach Jim Zorn tinkered ever so slightly with Matt Hasselbeck’s mechanics. Zorn wanted him to make
his motion a bit more compact and explosive. The rest of the story tells you everything you need to know about how complicated and counterintuitive it is to throw a football the right way. At one point in the process, a frustrated Hasselbeck finally turned to Zorn and complained that he felt awkward, confined and uncomfortable. That’s when Zorn jumped up and shouted “THAT’S IT! YOU GOT IT!”
• I learned … that after examining his horrific throwing motion, Uncle Rico is delusional about ever having a chance to take state.
• I learned … that some readers were just as skeptical as I was (before starting my research) that throwing a football was actually all that complicated or
difficult. Bill Franklin from Denver wrote: “[You wrote:] “The most complex motor skill in all of sports — the forward pass. Wow. There is no way you can be serious. Stunning”
Most exercise scientists and kinesiologists agree, however, that throwing a football at an elite level is, in fact, the most complex motor skill in all of sports.
For the excruciating details of throwing mechanics — stuff like pronating the palm and keeping the elbow at 90 degrees — you should check out the story in The Mag. But here’s the short version: Throwing the football well is not about doing one or two big things great. Instead, it’s about perfecting a thousand different parts of an intricate, complicated kinetic chain that starts in the toes and ends at the finger tips. And it’s not just about mechanics, angles and alignment, it’s about timing, about getting each part of the throwing motion to fire at the correct moment. “Throwing the football is not static like a push-up; it’s a complex chain of events where timing, technique, alignment and even aerodynamics are all critical, ” says Dr. Larry McDaniel, a former college coach and now a professor at Dakota State University who has written about throwing motions. “That’s what makes the overhead throwing motion the toughest motor skill to learn.”
Like Bill from Denver, I was still skeptical. Doc McDaniel said sure, throwing a baseball is complicated, as is hitting a golf ball. Now, imagine a pitcher or a
golfer trying to hit his target while it moves 18 mph and 120 feet downfield just as some crazed linebacker like James Harrison is about to drive his helmet into your sternum — and now you understand why there are only 10 or so elite QBs walking the planet at any given moment. Because throwing a football involves hitting a moving target under such pressure, it is the most complex motor skill in sports.
The second-most complex motor skill in sports?
Packing that much uninformed condescension into such a short e-mail.
• I learned … that for Dr. McDaniel, it can be hard to know so much about throwing mechanics while being a fan of Brett Favre, who sometimes uses a
throwing motion that would make Garo Yepremian blush. “Before he made that final throw against the Saints in the playoffs, I jumped up before anybody and I think it was a four-letter word that came out of my mouth,” says McDaniel, a die-hard Vikes fan. “Just by looking at the position Favre’s body was in when he made that throw — absolutely terrible position — it was very evident that the result was probably not going to be a good one.”
• I learned … that Clausen’s dream game as a passer was in the 2008 Hawaii Bowl. That day he completed 22 of 26 passes for 401 yards, five TDs and zero
picks. “Ever seen a golfer hit a great drive and then start walking down the fairway before the ball even lands — because they just know it was a great hit
before anyone else does?” says Clausen. “As a QB, that’s what it feels like in a game like that: Everything was just clicking, I was making the right checks,
reading the defense, and I was already walking up the field after letting the ball go because you just knew it was gonna get through that tight window and be a completion.”
• I learned … the two most telling stats when it comes to timing and accuracy in throwing the football: (1) That a delay of even one-tenth of a second in a
throwing motion (Tim Tebow) is enough time for a defensive back or pass-rusher to move 3 feet, which is more than enough to destroy the entire play; and (2) a football traveling 30 yards, spinning or wobbling more than 4 degrees off its axis, will wind up 5 feet off its target.
• I learned … that I probably single-handedly jinxed my beloved Miami (Ohio) University in the Frozen Four by booking a trip to Detroit for just the NCAA championship game. After being ranked No. 1 pretty much all season and surviving a double-OT thriller against Michigan in the regional finals, my
Li’l RedHawks got blown off the ice in the national semis by eventual champion BC. Don’t get me wrong, national titles are important, and I’m certain coach Enrico Blasi will eventually bring a handful back to campus in Oxford, Ohio — but in the end, this year’s team will forever be remembered for the class, dignity and strength the players showed in honoring student manager Brendan Burke, both before and after the tragic car accident that took his life.
• I learned … that Jimmy Clausen isn’t going to apologize for being confident, nor should he. “I’m sure you’ve heard lots of people say I’m a cocky
quarterback,” the QB told me. “But that’s just the confidence I have in myself and my team and how much I love the game of football. I have fun when I play.
It’s the greatest game ever. Just to be out there, playing this game that I love, it’s an awesome feeling and so much fun. Part of my job is to exude confidence in order to rally people around you. To drive down the field to win the game late in the fourth quarter, you can’t do that and be all laid back and quiet and,
‘OK guys, um, come on, let’s try this.’ I get fired up. People say that’s cockiness. I say that’s my passion for the game.”
• I learned … from QB guru Steve Clarkson that if you want to teach your kid to throw the ball the right way, find some old film of John Elway and copy him.
Drew Brees also has annoyingly perfect throwing mechanics. Other coaches singled out Dan Marino and Sammy Baugh for their explosive, but fluid,
fundamentals. Makes perfect sense. But how about this: “Terry Bradshaw had one of the greatest throwing motions of all time,” Clarkson told me. “His arm
and hand looked like a hammer.” Who knew?
• I learned … that Urban Meyer is quite fond of Tim Tebow. The Florida coach regularly weeps at the mere mention of Tebow’s name and is not afraid of
jumping down the throat of a reporter who runs less-than-flattering quotes about the QB — no matter the source. But when you break down Tebow’s
broken-down throwing mechanics, Meyer’s overly emotional reactions to all things Tebow don’t make a lot of sense. In some of the throws I analyzed,
Tebow’s old form is so poor it’s hard to imagine him even managing to stay upright, let alone completing a pass. Which begs the question: If Meyer cares so deeply about Tebow and knew of his dream to one day star in the NFL, why in the world would the coach let his QB continue to throw like this for four years?
• I learned … that former Ravens coach Brian Billick was probably right when he admitted a few years ago that after all the research, time, money, study,
debate and analysis that goes into pre-draft evaluations, when it comes to picking a franchise QB, the odds are still no better than a coin flip.
And, in the end, that’s kinda why we all love the draft so much, isn’t it?
This Column Written While Listening To: Trip-Semisonic-Shakespeare — er, I mean Carolina Liar.”
David Fleming is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and the author of the memoir “Noah’s Rainbow” and “Breaker Boys: The NFL’s Greatest Team and
the Stolen 1925 Championship.” And his work will be featured in “The Best American Sports Writing 2009” anthology.

Gary Peterson, of the Contra Costa (CA) Times said:

“Nick Swisher began his career with the Athletics. Then he spent a season with the Chicago White Sox. As a kid he likely heard stories about life in the bigs from his father, Steve, who was a catcher with the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres.
Young Swisher is currently in his second season with the New York Yankees, the first having resulted in a World Series championship. So he seems like a
good candidate for a quick game of Compare and Contrast:
What makes the Yankees different from other major league teams? I mean, besides the obvious?
“The Yankees?” Swisher said Tuesday afternoon as he pulled on his socks before his current team’s game against his first team. “The obvious is the answer.”
It’s difficult to dispute that kind of logic. Especially when you’re standing in the middle of the team’s clubhouse and Andy Pettitte walks past, ram-rod straight and looking taller than his program height of 6-foot-5. And then Derek Jeter saunters past CC Sabathia’s locker and pats the big pitcher on the back.
And over there, the guy in the fedora coming through the door. Isn’t that Reggie Jackson?
Of course it is.
It’s an ostentatious display of top drawer talent and A-list personalities, even for the hard-bitten souls who spend their work days around professional athletes.
There’s Alex Rodriguez, checking out a teammate’s bat. Nick Johnson happens by — had the Giants been able to sign him last winter, he’d be one of the team’s offensive alpha males. He bats second on the Yankees.
This doesn’t exactly put the “new” in New York. The Yankees have been compiling jaw-dropping collections of talent since Prohibition. Reggie was once part of a team so volatile, both athletically and emotionally, it was known as the Bronx Zoo.
They’ve always had the most money and the biggest appetite. That’s how you play in 40 World Series before any other team reaches 23, and win 27 before
any other team can get past 10.
But this room is a stunning piece of work even by their standards. That starting lineup, for example. The nine offensive players who started against Oakland’s Gio Gonzalez on Tuesday had played in a combined 31 All-Star Games and logged 16 top 10 finishes in the MVP voting. Average salary: $13 million. And that includes Brett Gardner’s paltry $452,000.
Combined, the Yankees’ five starting pitchers and closer Mariano Rivera have appeared in 16 All-Star Games. Four have received Cy Young votes.
Average salary: $13.2 million. And that includes Phil Hughes’ barely livable $447,000.
Fair? Of course it isn’t fair. There is no way the A’s can run with that kind of stupendous largesse. Not that they try. The ownership group that touted itself as the third-wealthiest in baseball when it assumed ownership of the team five years ago operates on such a penurious budget you’d think it was trying to sabotage the product. But that’s another discussion for another day
More to the point, no team can compete with the Yankees. Baseball’s luxury tax, instituted in lieu of a salary cap to provide a mechanism for wealthy teams to share revenue, might as well be called the Steinbrenner tariff. Last season the threshold was $162 million — the Yankees exceeded it by more than $30 million; no other team came close.
So is it a good thing that baseball allows a team like the Yankees to amass such a wealth of superachievers? You bet your Babe Ruth bobblehead.
Standard-bearers are good for every business. They push accepted limits and redefine possibility. The NFL is a better league when a team such as the 49ers, Cowboys or Patriots [team stats] is nurturing a dynasty. Interest in golf has exploded since Tiger Woods turned pro.
Besides, while unspeakable prosperity gives you an undeniable advantage over the competition, it doesn’t guarantee success. George Steinbrenner bankrolled the Yankees to five postseason appearances in six years from 1976-81. The 13 seasons after that — nothing, even though Steinbrenner continued to spend with blue-blooded abandon.
The past 15 years, of course, have been kind to the Yankees and affirming to their business model, with 14 playoff appearances and five World Series
victories. You could say the empire has never been in better health. It boasts a quarter-billion-dollar payroll, a billion-dollar stadium, loyal fans the world over.
Tuesday’s crowd at the Coliseum, by an unscientific survey, was split about 50-50 — one group rooting for the best team it can reasonably expect given the circumstances, the other basking in the glow of a gold-plated ideal.”

Then Bruce Jenkins of the SF Chronicle talked about the cool Yankees.
“You hate to break this news to the ill-tempered, but the New York Yankees are cool. Not always, to be sure. Not over too many years of arrogance,
internal conflict and reckless spending. Just know that they have arrived in Oakland as a model of comportment. One would be foolish to view it any other way.
There isn’t a hint of Bronx-style controversy on this club, only the glow still burning from a world championship. Roles are established, positions are set, future Hall of Famers are in place, and the once-paranoid manager, Joe Girardi, has his feet up on the desk.
Maybe you can’t imagine the Yankees sharing this tranquility, this sense of supreme satisfaction. They’ve always been the ones to hoard the gold and laugh derisively at the downtrodden. Let’s not mistake them for small-market scrappers, but these Yankees know how to act. Chad Gaudin and Edwar Ramirez, a couple of obscure faces from their recent past, can attest to that.
You might have seen video clips from the Yankees’ Opening Day, when the players lined up to receive their championship rings. The Angels were in town, and the crowd was told that one last ring was to be presented. Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera led a group of joyous Yankees swarming around Hideki Matsui, the MVP of the World Series and now wearing a Los Angeles uniform. I can’t recall anything comparable in the realm of player fraternization, and in a sport that often frowns on such things, the scene was truly heartwarming.
The rings are gorgeous and properly ostentatious, and the Yanks have spared no expense. Everybody gets one. That includes Jose Veras, an ineffective
reliever sold to Cleveland in June, and Freddy Guzman, little more than a pinch-runner in a 10-game stint. So it was that Gaudin and Ramirez, a couple of A’s who briefly were with the Yankees last year, were handed rings by Girardi in front of the visitors’ dugout before Tuesday night’s series opener, complete with a crowd of Yankee players offering smiles and handshakes.
“Blew me away,” said Gaudin, who appeared in 11 games after being purchased from San Diego in August and pitched a scoreless inning in the ALCS
against the Angels. “It was so great how all the players came over. I wouldn’t expect anything different. They’re first-class all the way, from the time I stepped on board to the time I left.
“Gorgeous,” marveled Gaudin as he gazed upon the ring. “I don’t know if I’m even going to wear it.”
It’s one thing to so richly honor Matsui, one of the great Yankees of recent vintage and a man of exceptional dignity. These Yankees are truly spreading the wealth, and it’s a well-conceived notion. By making such a big show of it, for both kings and paupers, they get to bask in that glow a little longer.

It was left to Gio Gonzalez, the A’s youthful and emotionally vulnerable left-hander, to keep the Yankees at bay before a gravely disappointing
crowd (19,849). Right off the bat, Gonzalez got squeezed out of several key strikes by Ed Rapuano, who worked home plate in an especially stingy mood.
Gonzalez got a bad break when first baseman Daric Barton, after getting his chest in front of Jorge Posada’s two-out, bad-hop grounder, couldn’t pick up the ball as a run scored.
Gonzalez walked off the field trailing 3-0 after the first inning, knowing he deserved better and, to his credit, ready to settle down over the next three innings.
The A’s wound up making a couple of loud statements against Javier Vazquez in this 7-3 loss, but it came down to a baffling episode in the top of the fifth.
With two runners on, one out and Gonzalez on the ropes, manager Bob Geren defied the percentages and summoned a left-handed reliever,
Craig Breslow (no Tyson Ross?), to face the foreboding Rodriguez. Disaster seemed almost preordained, and A-Rod made it official with a titanic three-run blast into the left-center-field bleachers.
So the Yankees came bearing gifts, and they got one, too. Privileges of the cool.”

Dan Shaughnessy remembered Red Auerbach in the Boston Globe by writing: “High above courtside, very high, Red Auerbach had steam coming out of his ears last night. From hoop heaven, he saw the Celtics getting beaten at the game he invented: the “mind’’ game.
Kevin Garnett, Boston’s most important player, could not play in the second game of the Celtics-Heat first-round playoff series. When Kendrick Perkins and Jermaine O’Neal jumped center just after 8 p.m., Garnett was reported to be watching from an office inside the New Garden. The combustible KG was
serving a one-game suspension for throwing an elbow in a stupid incident that unfolded near the Miami bench in the final minute of Game 1.
Red never would have allowed this to happen. In Red’s world, you instigate, then let the other team get penalized for hitting back. Or maybe you send Jim
Loscutoff into a game to mix it up with Wilt Chamberlain, hoping they both get ejected. You’ll gladly swap Loscy for Wilt. It’s a good deal for the Celtics.
Losing Garnett while the Heat lose no one? That’s a horrible deal. It’s an example of the Celtics getting whupped at the game Red invented.
It would not be incorrect to say that Red wrote the book on basketball gamesmanship. Because . . . Red literally wrote the book on basketball gamesmanship.
It was a paperback, published by Pocket Books in the early 1950s, before the Celtics were champions. The tiny tome was entitled “Basketball, For the
Player, the Fan and the Coach,’’ and it sold thousands of copies. It cost 25 cents, contained a foreword by Marty Glickman, and inspired a generation of
basketball coaches. In 1952, young Bobby Knight bought the book on a newsstand in Orrville, Ohio.
Red wrote a lot of books, but he was most proud of his effort as a paperback writer. The 203-page book has more than 50 illustrations and was translated
into several languages. It was the first bible for basketball coaches. There are entire chapters devoted to “How to Get Possession of the Ball,’’ “Freezing the
Ball,’’ and “How to Play the Pivot.’’
My favorite chapters are toward the end of the book. Red is at his best when he writes about “Individual and Team Strategy’’ and “Coaching Suggestions.’’
This is where we see the Red we came to know and love. This is where we can be sure Red would have hurled his dinner if he saw the Celtics lose Garnett
for a game while Quentin Richardson is a free man.
Some examples of Red on roundball:
“Faking injuries is used for many reasons such as stalling for time and giving the impression that a player will not be at his best.’’
That means you, Paul Pierce.
“Some players may agitate their opponents by incessant chatter, refusing to talk to them at all, or even ridicule.’’
Like calling them “actresses.’’
“If the opposing team has a high scorer, keep reminding the other players of their uselessness because the scorer takes all the shots.’’
So Pierce should remind Richardson he is useless in the shadow of Dwyane Wade.
“Grabbing or pulling the pants or shirt of this opponent can be very aggravating.’’
Got that, Baby?
“Very often, slight movements of the body are used to distract the opposing foul shooter.’’
Like when Cedric Maxwell subtly gave James Worthy the choke sign when Worthy was at the line in the ’84 Finals.
“Jockeying from the bench can be very annoying.’’
The 2009-10 Celtics seem to have the hang of this one.
“When your opponent makes a good play, don’t congratulate him, merely mention that he was lucky.’’
That means you, D-Wade.
Reminding us that he does not advocate cheating, Red qualified these points, writing, “How many of these you consider ethical or unethical depends entirely on your organization. I am merely listing them as things that can happen.’’
He also recommended that coaches “help organize the cheerleaders if necessary. It will help you, especially at home.’’
Great imagery there. Close your eyes and picture Red, cigar in hand, choreographing the Celtics Dancers.
We all know that Red had no use for cheerleaders or dancers at the pro level. He’d say the heck with “game presentation’’; Red was all about basketball and
competition. That meant outplaying and outsmarting your opponent. And that meant you never get thrown out of a game while allowing all their guys to keep playing.”

Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle saw the Trotters more than 50 years ago, fell in love with them, and still feels the same today.
“It would be crazy to claim there is actual magic in what the Harlem Globetrotters do.
But as Globetrotter legend Curly Neal is eating lunch in a San Francisco restaurant, talking about how satisfying it is to be a career smile-maker, a man on crutches approaches the table.
The man has one pants-leg pinned above knee-level. He wants to say hello to Neal.
“I lost my leg to cancer when I was 15,” Anthony Stephens tells the table. “Mr. Neal visited me in the hospital. That was 30 years ago. I haven’t seen him
since that day. I just wanted to thank him.”
Stephens was in a hospital in North Carolina, sick from chemotherapy, which also had rendered him as bald as Neal.
“All those problems seemed to go away when he visited,” says Stephens, who works for the U.S. Department of Education.
Neal seems to genuinely enjoy the moment.
“That’s how I get my satisfaction,” he says.
That’s also how Globetrotters are different from other professional athletes. Not that other athletes don’t visit hospitals and do nice things to brighten people’s lives. They just don’t do it 24/7.
You won’t see any Giants or Warriors or Yankees or Packers walking around a town in their unies. But when Neal and current Globie Wun (The Shot) Versher arrive for lunch, they’re wearing bright red-and-blue Globetrotters warm-ups.
“You guys really know how to blend in,” someone comments.
On their way into the restaurant, they stop several times to sign autographs and pose for photos. A chore? They seem delighted.
Inside the restaurant, more photo ops and autographs. The chef visits the table, beaming, and gets the standard photo, posing between Neal and Versher, who spins a red-white-blue ball on his finger.
Neal played for the Globetrotters 22 seasons, 1963 to ’85. Out of college, he had tryout invitations from four NBA teams, but he would have had to pay his own bus fare and lodging. The Globetrotters paid his way to Chicago and got him a room. He was one of 125 handpicked candidates fighting for five open
spots on the two touring teams.
Tryouts were 100 percent straight basketball scrimmaging. Not a single trick. Team owner Abe Saperstein wanted real players. The tricks would be learned
later.
Neal was asked to become a trick-dribbling specialist. He spent hundreds of hours practicing the old Globetrotter tricks and developing new ones. The team’s player-coach was Meadowlark Lemon, who was a bit of a diva.
“He lit into us one night, put us on curfew, told us, ‘You stunk up the show,’ ” Neal recalls with a chuckle. “And he was the one who had stunk up the show!”
Wilt Chamberlain, a full-time Globie in 1958-59 when he sat out his senior year of college, rejoined the Globetrotters for their European tour in ’73.
“Wilt was a great guy, so easy to play with,” Neal says. “And first one into the shower, first one out. He’d say, ‘Let’s go get ’em!’ ”
Because that was postgame, apparently Wilt wasn’t referring to the Washington Generals.
When Neal broke in with the Globetrotters, they did several things you rarely would see in the NBA, such as dunking and fancy passing and dribbling – behind the back and through the legs.
In ’63, dunks were rare in the NBA, where pregame intros featured players somberly exchanging insurance-man handshakes. A hot-dog pass would get you benched. Maybe that’s why the NBA needed the Globetrotters to lure fans, with the Globies playing the front ends of doubleheaders before the two NBA teams went at it.
The integration of the NBA was at least slightly delayed because of the fear that it would kill the Globetrotters, who were such a vital NBA drawing card.
That didn’t happen, of course, but it’s amazing that the Globetrotters have survived, with the NBA stealing all their tricks, and most of their potential players.
The only thing the NBA didn’t rip off is the Magic Circle, the Globetrotters’ pregame ball-handling display.
Versher says it took him five years of practicing tricks, while breaking many hotel lamps, before his teammates invited him to join the Magic Circle.
“I was determined to get in that circle,” Versher says. “That’s the best part of the show, for me.”
I went to a Globetrotters game in 1958, the first basketball game I’d ever seen, of any kind. They had me at “Sweet Georgia Brown.” I was a basketball fan for life. A few dunks from Chamberlain sealed the deal. This is basketball? Sign me up.
I ask Neal and Versher what happens when the crowd isn’t responding, not really getting into the fun. They look at one another and shake their heads.
“That never happens,” Neal says.
When you can light up a kids’ cancer ward, a basketball arena is no problem.”

Norman Chad gave an answer to my complaint that “I only have the Knicks” in the LA Times.

“I live in California, where this year we are witnessing the most expensive gubernatorial campaign in U.S. history (Meg Whitman might spend $200 million) and the costliest sports divorce in U.S. history (Dodgers owners Frank and Jamie McCourt are approaching $20 million in legal fees). Of course, the state is close to being bankrupt, both financially and morally. 
So, as the NBA playoffs begin, I feel somewhat guilty that I actually root for the glitzy, glamorous Los Angeles Lakers.
What else am I going to do, sit in my underwater-to-the-moon condo and cower while Charlie Sheen waves to me from his silver-spoon-and-a-half mansion?
The Lakers are all I got.
(I’ll get back to the defending NBA champions in a moment, but first let me vent a little more about California. This is a state that has elected two film actors as governor. This is a state that sent Sonny Bono to Congress. This is a state that, in 2008, said no to same-sex marriage and yes to protecting farm
animals – indeed, in one fell electoral swoop, we decreased human rights and increased animal rights. Of course, I assume gay pigs cannot wed.)
Since I moved to Los Angeles late in the 20th century, I have survived riots, mudslides, wildfires and earthquakes.
Most of all, though, I am proudest of surviving the culture. I mean, you’re not going to change L.A. but L.A. may change you. Yet I have remained the same
prematurely curmudgeonly Slouch, largely unaffected by L.A. standards: No tattooes. No earrings. No nose rings. No body piercings of any kind. No alfalfa sprouts. No personal trainer. No fanny packs. No yoga. No roller blades. No Botox. No Kardashians.
The only area in which I have capitulated to the L.A. culture is the Lakers. It allows me to bond with my fellow Angelenos, if I ever saw any of them.
(Frankly, Los Angeles lacks a communal thread, a sense of purpose, a heart and a soul. There are two big communities in L.A.: the entertainment industry and gangs. And they have only two things in common – making money and the Lakers.)
Sure, Kobe Bryant is a cold, calculating megalomaniac. Lamar Odom is an underachieving sack of great expectations. Andrew Bynum is a baby-faced enigma wrapped in an injury-riddled body. Ron Artest is a ticking time bomb. Sasha Vujacic is a front-running, don’t-I-look-great-when-I-hit-two-jumpers-in-a-row-once-every-three-months poseur. And Phil Jackson is a preening tower of arrogance.
But boy are they fun to watch.
Plus the owner, Jerry Buss, is one of the more low-key, skirt-loving 77-year-old millionaires in the business. You can take faux-man-of-the-people Mark
Cuban and his sideline theatrics; I’ll take Buss sitting at an Omaha table in the Commerce poker room during a Lakers road playoff game.
Now, like most slackers here, I hardly ever attend a Lakers game. I get to Staples Center once or twice a season. First of all, nobody goes to the new
downtown here – it’s pretty much a theme park adjacent to Skid Row – and, second of all, even if you wanted to go downtown, it’s not as if you could walk
or bus there.
(L.A. has been a little slow developing something we like to call back East “mass transit.” Who could’ve ever projected so many people coming to a
warm-weather metropolis on the Pacific Ocean? In L.A., the term “car pool” is reserved for those people who wash their cars in their backyard pool)
Ah, but I digress.
The Lakers, despite their exasperating inconsistencies and the rumblings of their spoiled fans, likely are headed for the NBA Finals for a third straight year.
Even from home, I join the Staples Center crowd in its late-game “We Want Tacos!” chant – when the Lakers win and hold their opponent under 100 points, everyone in the arena gets two free tacos from Jack in the Box – knowing full well that, while it might not compare to the vaunted “DEE-FENSE!” chant at Madison Square Garden, it’s the Hollywood ending I prefer. I’m even thinking of carving the Lakers’ logo into my hair.
Ask The Slouch

Q. What type of NFL Draft Day party do you throw? Do you run a PBR drinking game linked to Chris Berman and “the New York football Giants”? (Al
Gregory; Indianapolis)
A. Actually, I have shifted my shindig to the Release-of-the-NFL-Schedule Day – smaller group, but nobody yells and nobody spills.
Q. Larry King has filed for divorce, for the eighth time. Is his marital record unapproachable? (Patrick O’Leary; Pasadena, Texas.)
A. Despite my best efforts, I can’t imagine I’ll get halfway there.
Q. Do you wish you knew as much as Mel Kiper Jr.? (Bob Ollerman; Ripon, Wis.)
A. No. I remember seeing “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” and when you know too much, your family’s welfare is in danger.
Q. Given the complexities and nuances of the NFL’s quarterback rating system, do you think Ben Roethlisberger’s rating has dropped recently? (Duane
Mathias; Medina, Ohio)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail asktheslo…@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!”

Anthony Rieber wrote in Newsday that the Mets should re-institute a BIG fan favorite activity- Banner Day.

“If the first week of games in Year 2 of Citi Field has taught us anything, it’s that the Mets got it 100 percent right in the fan-friendly changes they made to the ballpark.
Gone is the feeling you were walking into a 21st-century version of what Ebbets Field and the Polo Grounds would have looked like if they had been built today and merged into one stadium.
Instead, Mets history is being celebrated in the team’s new Hall of Fame, in the banners of retired players hung around the park, in the kitchy, lovable old Home Run Apple, which now sits in front of the entrance to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, and in other thoughtful touches.
From the chatter we’ve picked up, Mets fans are happy with the changes. So kudos to the Mets. They swung and missed at the first pitch but got an
extra-base hit the second time around.
Appropriately for spacious Citi Field, the Mets didn’t hit that second pitch out of the park. They are standing on third with a triple. There’s one more thing they should think about doing to turn this project into a home run:
Bring back Banner Day.
Remember Banner Day? Mets fans of a certain age do. Fans were allowed to write messages on bed sheets and parade around the field between games of a
doubleheader at Shea Stadium. It was a uniquely Met thing to do and was a ton of fun.
The tradition died out in the early ’90s, though. It was a victim of the lack of scheduled doubleheaders, the lack of class from some fans who took the
opportunity to be crude instead of clever, and the idea that the tradition had just run its course.
Who knows? Maybe the high price of bed sheets had something to do with it. Mom probably wasn’t too happy to find out Junior’s best sheets had been
sacrificed to proclaim undying affection for Lee Mazzilli.
We know it’s a different world today than it was when Banner Day was at its peak. The Mets probably don’t want to be in the position to censor fans, some
of whom would try to honor foul-mouthed icons like Howard Stern rather than 1986 icons like Howard Johnson.
But we say it’s worth a shot to try Banner Day 2.0 before a Sunday game this summer. If it works, it could be an excellent sign(s) of the times: that the Mets not only listen to their fans but want to see what they have to say.
Heck, the Mets let young fans run the bases after some games. They let fans bring Fido and Spot for canine appreciation days. They give away magnetic
schedules, scarves and bobblehead dolls. All nice, but nothing that is uniquely Met.
We know Banner Day 2.0 has to have some ground rules. Here’s the big one:
Only kids affiliated with community organizations get to parade with appropriately themed banners.
The Mets do an excellent job with their community outreach; there’s no reason they couldn’t invite kids groups to make a project out of creating the banners, circling the field with them and then enjoying a ballgame.
Throw in a quick meet-and-greet with a player or two at home plate, and you’ve just created a whole new generation of fans.
What do the Mets have to say about this idea? We reached out to executive vice president of business operations Dave Howard on Friday, and he wasn’t
available. The team did issue a statement:
“We have made numerous enhancements to Citi Field that embrace our history and heritage. We will continue to listen to feedback from our fans as we consider additional changes in the future.”
That’s not a yes, but it’s not a no, either. So how about it, Mets fans? Is it time to bring back Banner Day?”