Saturday, July 28, 2007

Mets Present Top Ten List on Letterman

Ten Mets presented the Top Ten list on the Late Show with David Letterman Friday night. Here are the "Things You Never Knew About the New York Mets."

10. Paul LoDuca: “Team forfeited Sunday’s game because we were all reading ‘Harry Potter.’”
9. Shawn Green: “Mets is short for metrosexuals.”
8. Carlos Delgado: “We all carry Blackberries so we can blog on the field.”
7. Jose Reyes: “During month of May, all we did was bunt.”
6. John Maine: “Proud to be in the same city as our favorite talk show host, Conan O’Brien.”
5. Aaron Heilman: “We always give 110%, except on Tuesdays, when we give 111%.”
4. Lastings Milledge: “For one season in the ‘80s, every player on the team was named Mookie.”
3. Marlon Anderson: “Our stadium nacho cheese is made with pine tar.”
2. Tom Glavine: “Blew entire budget signing David Beckham.”
1. David Wright: “We’ve really bonded since watching Oprah as a team.”

Nike, Reebok, Donruss Sack Vick

Yesterday was a bad financial day for Michael Vick, and it had nothing to do with the falling stock market. Nike, Reebok, and Donruss all took action against Vick, bowing under the pressure from animal rights organizations to stop doing business with Vick after his indictment last week for dogfighting charges.

Nike has suspended Vick's endorsement contract without pay, and Donruss has removed Vick from all future 2007 packs. In the biggest surprise, Reebok, the maker of the official NFL jerseys, will pull Vick’s jersey from shelves. A Reebok spokeswoman told the A.P. that the company had never taken this action before.

from Judy Battista of the New York Times

The groundswell against Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is about to reach his wallet.

Yesterday, Nike announced that it had suspended Vick’s endorsement contract without pay and would not sell any more Vick-branded products.

Vick, who has been indicted in federal court on charges of running a dogfighting ring, has had an endorsement deal with Nike since entering the National Football League as the first overall draft pick in 2001. While Vick’s name will all but disappear from the shoe racks, his contract has not been terminated because, a statement released by Nike said, Vick “should be afforded the same due process as any citizen in the United States.”


Friday, July 27, 2007

Clement Out as NBC Revamps NHL Studio Show

Bill Clement is out as host of NBC's revamped NHL studio show. It was previously announced that Brett Hull had also left the show to take a front office position with the Dallas Stars. This season, NBC will abandon its set at Rockefeller Center and take its studio show on the road. The show will feature Pierre McGuire and the outspoken Mike Milbury, who is essentially replacing Hull. McGuire is expected to also continue his "Behind the Glass" segments of the telecasts.

When Milbury, who previously worked at ESPN, was asked why he is returning to television, he said, "You only have to work 25 days out of the year. It's kind of like stealing money."

Are Other Sports Leagues Safe from Gambling by Officials?

In wake of the NBA referee gambling scandal, questioned other sports leagues to ask what they do to protect against gambling in their sport. In NCAA basketball, for example, all officials eligible to be selected to work the championship are subject to random, thorough background checks. Furthermore, the NCAA does not bring the referees who work the national title game into the city until the day of the game. MLB, which previously experienced both the Pete Rose and Black Sox scandals, monitors baseball gambling trends to look for irregularities.

At his televised news conference on Tuesday, NBA commissioner David Stern presented a lengthy list of safeguards the league had in place to prevent the sort of disgrace brought on in the last week by a federal investigation of suspected gambling by a referee.

The safeguards, clearly, weren't fail-safe.

"I can't believe it's happening to us," Stern said about the alleged gambling by referee Tim Donaghy on games he officiated.

Among other firewalls the NBA thought would protect it from gambling scandals are the presence in the league office of security representatives with experience in the
FBI, the Secret Service, the U.S. Army, the New York Police Department and New York State Police Investigation. The league, Stern said, maintains constant communication with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. It subjects its referees to extensive security checks, and it retains a security rep in Las Vegas to monitor unusual movements or trends on betting on NBA games in that city's legal sports books.

It wasn't enough.


AFL Nielsen TV Ratings on ESPN

from Neil Best of Newsday.

It's been five months since ESPN detonated its new Arena Football League deal with hype that included an ESPN Zone bash in Times Square attended by everyone from Jon Bon Jovi to John Elway.

With the Arena Bowl scheduled for Sunday on ABC, how has it worked out so far? The ratings suggest not so great.

The season-opening regional coverage on ABC drew 1.0 percent of all U.S. households, but 16 regular-season games on ESPN2 attracted an NHL-like 0.2 percent of the 94 million homes that have ESPN. (The playoffs have performed somewhat better.)

That is far behind the 0.8 percent of all U.S. homes the AFL averaged on NBC in its last season in '06, which itself was that network's lowest figure to date.

Leah LaPlaca, a VP for programming, said the ratings "are about what we expected them to be for this first season" and added ESPN - which owns 10 percent of the AFL - sees vast growth potential.

ESPN had better hope so.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wild Canucks Arrested after Bachelor Party

Carolina Hurricanes star Eric Staal and his younger brother Jordan, along with a number of their cousins, were arrested Saturday morning in Minnesota. They were charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process. Jordan Staal, the 18 year old rookie with the Penguins, was also charged with consumption of alcohol while under 21 years of age. The arrests came after the 20 or so men at Eric's bachelor party grew rowdy and were warned "multiple times."

Luke DeCock of the News & Observer reports,

"After leaving the property, the group gathered on Highway 61 and began harassing passing motorists," the Sheriff's office said, at which point 14 members of the group were arrested at approximately 4 a.m.

Read more…

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

SaberCats Versus Destroyers In HD! Huh?

If I were to tell you that the SaberCats were playing the Destroyers on TV this Sunday, would you have any idea of what sport I was referring to? Here's a clue, it is broadcast on ABC. Need another clue? The two teams are from San Jose and Columbus, and the game is being played in New Orleans. Give up? It's ArenaBowl XXI, the championship game of the Arena Football League, played Sunday at 3 p.m. EST.

According to ESPN, the production highlights include the following:

  • Game broadcast in High Definition on ABC HD
  • SkyCam -- overhead remote-controlled camera will provide unique aerial views
  • Cameras inside locker-rooms during pre-game and halftime
  • Players and coaches (three per team) wearing live microphones, offering in-game audio inside the huddle as plays are called and conversations with ESPN commentators;
  • Possible booth visit by Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Joey Galloway, co-owner of the Columbus Destroyers.

Wow, a possible visit from Joey Galloway! We don't want to take a chance of missing that.

Kazakhstan Rider Latest Tour de France Drug Suspect

Yawn. Another day, another sports scandal. The LA Times is reporting that yet another Tour de France cyclist, Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan, has tested positive for blood doping. As a result, Vinokourov's team, Astana, has withdrawn from the Tour.

Somewhere in the distance, Borat sheds a tear.

from Diane Pucin of the LA Times

It is as if this Tour de France is being competed in clown cars instead of on bicycles.

Tumbling out of that crazy car Tuesday came swashbuckling fan favorite Alexandre Vinokourov, the blond from Kazakhstan who had won two of the last three stages while riding bandaged and bloodied from a first-week crash.

Vinokourov had a positive test for blood doping on his first, or "A" sample, after his inspiring victory in Saturday's time trial. The story first appeared Tuesday on the website of the French sports newspaper L'Equipe and was confirmed by Tour officials at a news conference in Pau during the three-week Tour's second rest day.


Don Imus Not Returning to WFAN

Despite the persistent rumors, Don Imus will not be returning to his morning show on WFAN. Boomer Esiason is now the leading candidate to take over the morning drive slot. Insider thinking is that Boomer would be a better fit than Imus on the all-sports station. Neil Best of Newsday is reporting that Imus may show up elsewhere on radio after securing a contract settlement with CBS.

David Beckham’s Debut – Most-viewed MLS Telecast on ESPN and ESPN2

The final Nielsen ratings are in for David Beckham's MLS debut on ESPN. The game, broadcast on Saturday July 21 at 9 p.m. ET, was seen in an average of 947,000 television homes by almost 1.5 million viewers. According to Nielsen Media Research, the game was the most-viewed Major League Soccer telecast ever on ESPN or ESPN2. It was also the most-viewed and highest-rated program of the night on ad-supported cable networks among Men 18-49 and 25-54.

According to an ESPN press release:

The match beat the previous most-viewed telecast – DC United vs. San Jose Clash on April, 4, 1996 – seen in 681,000 homes (1.092 million, P2+), based on a 1.0 rating. The DC United vs. San Jose Clash was the first match in the League’s 12-year history.

David Beckham’s MLS debut also beat the most-viewed U.S. Soccer National Team match (excluding FIFA World Cup tournament) on ESPN or ESPN2. Previously, the most-viewed U.S. National Team telecast was seen in 680,000 homes (915,000, P2+) and 0.9 rating for the Oct. 3, 1997, World Cup qualifying match between Jamaica and the U.S. on ESPN.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Mike Milbury to Replace Hull on NBC

With Brett Hull leaving NBC to take a front office job with the Dallas Stars, NBC will be replacing Hull with Mike Milbury. Milbury was previously head coach, GM, head coach again, and Senior Vice President of the New York Islanders. The outspoken Milbury should be as good a replacement for Hull as NBC could have hoped to find. Milbury was outstanding in a previous stint at ESPN, which helped him land the head coaching job of the Islanders in the first place.

It is also being reported that NBC will drop it's NHL studio show, which is a shame since it's live segments on the ice at The Rock were some of the best parts of the broadcast.

Mike Milbury, in addition to ruining the Islanders through a series of ill-conceived trades, is best known for two incidents. 1) Speaking of Ziggy Pallfy's agent Paul Kraus, Milbury once said, "It's too bad he lives in the city. He's depriving some small village of a pretty good idiot." 2) In 1979, Milbury went into the stands a beat up a heckling Ranger fan with his shoe.

New San Jose Sharks Logo Revealed


The new look of Sharks Territory was unveiled at a 10 a.m. press conference by Sharks President and CEO Greg Jamison, Executive Vice President of Business Operations Malcolm Bordelon, defenseman Kyle McLaren and logo designer Terry Smith. The re-branding included the unveiling of the updated Sharks logos, the re-launch of and the re-opening of the Sharks Store.

The new San Jose Sharks Primary Crest, joined by eight supporting marks, is both a re-imagination and a tribute to the original triangle logo used since the team’s inception in 1991. The updated crest incorporates more Pacific Teal, the primary color of the Sharks, and emphasizes speed, strength and determination. Smith, the designer of the original Sharks logo, created the new marks over an 18-month period in conjunction with Sharks players and front office.


A Scandal for Every Sport

In the past few weeks, there has been a major scandal in almost every major sport. The NFL has the Michael Vick indictment, the NBA has the referee point shaving scandal, MLB has the Bonds steroids issue, the UFC lightweight champion tested positive for steroids, and the WWE is dealing with the Chris Benoit tragedy. The PGA even got into the action last week when Gary Player said that golfers are taking steroids.

The only sport that is missing a major scandal is the NHL. Oh, that's right, it was only a couple months ago that Chris Simon used his stick to try to take the head of off Ryan Hollweg of the Rangers. It's funny how quickly we forget these things.

Freddy Adu To Leave MLS

Just as the MLS gained one star player, they are losing another. The Washington Post is reporting that Adu is leaving the MLS to play in Portugal. Adu never lived up to the high expectations of becoming the first truly great American soccer player. He joined the league as a 14 year old, and was never able to handle the tremendous amount of pressure that was put on him.

Freddy was also to blame at times, often acting his age, pouting or quitting in games due to frustration. Perhaps he was too young.

Perhaps he was too young? He was 14! The MLS handled his career terribly, and is at least partly to blame for not being able to develop his talents further.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Minor League Coach Dies After Being Hit by Ball

from Teddy Kider of The New York Times

A foul ball jumped off the bat of Tino Sánchez on Sunday night in North Little Rock, Ark., then took a hard and straight path down the first-base line. At first glance, it might have seemed like a routine line drive, but the ball crashed into the head of the first-base coach Mike Coolbaugh, knocking him to the ground at Dickey-Stephens Park.

Coolbaugh, a 35-year-old coach for the Tulsa Drillers, was pronounced dead at 9:47 p.m. Central time, according to a Pulaski County Sherriff’s Office report, about an hour after he was hit and knocked unconscious.


NBA Referee Scandal: Several Suspicious Games Discussed

In his article in today's Newsday, Ken Berger discusses several examples of games officiated by Tim Donaghy that appear suspicious. Berger points to the high percentage of games officiated by Donaghy in which the point spread changed as possible evidence of tampering. Berger also notes that there were 16 games Donaghy officiated in the last two seasons in which the home team shot at least 14 more free throws than the visitors.

Of the 139 games officiated by Tim Donaghy during the past two NBA seasons, the opening point spread moved at least two points in 28 of them, or 20 percent, according to a source within the Nevada sports betting industry.

The trend, along with dramatic free-throw differentials in several of Donaghy's games, could provide important evidence to the NBA and federal authorities investigating whether the referee bet on games he officiated or furnished information to bettors as part of a possible point-shaving or game-fixing


Overnight Sports Nielsen TV Ratings: 07/16/2007 - 07/22/2007

Overnight Nielsen ratings for selected sporting events. One rating point equals 1% of the USA's 77 million overnight TV homes in Nielsen Media Research's 56 selected major markets. Cable rating converted to broadcast equivalent.

  1. 4.1/12 ABC SUN British Open Final round
  2. 2.7/8 ABC SAT British Open Third round
  3. 2.5/6 FOX SAT MLB Regional action
  4. 1.9/5 ABC SUN IRL Honda 200
  5. 1.2 ESPN SAT MLS David Beckham Debut
  6. 1.1/3 ABC SUN British Open Highlights
  7. 1.0/3 ABC SAT British Open Highlights
  8. 0.9/2 NBC SAT AVP Bud Light Long Beach Open Women's Final
  9. 0.9 NBC SUN AVP Bud Light Long Beach Open Men's Final
  10. 0.8/2 NBC SUN AST Dew Tour Right Guard Open
  11. 0.8/2 FOX SUN MotoGP Red Bull Grand Prix
  12. 0.8/2 CBS SAT NTRA Grand Slam of Grass Virginia Derby
  13. 0.7/2 CBS SAT LPGA Tour HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship Third Round
  14. 0.7/2 CBS SUN LPGA Tour HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship Final Round
  15. 0.6/2 CBS SUN Tour de France Highlights
  16. 0.6/2 NBC SAT AST Dew Tour Right Guard Open
  17. 0.5/1 CBS SUN American Le Mans Series Acura Sports Car Challenge of Mid-Ohio

Despite all of the hype surrounding David Beckham's MLS debut on ESPN, it's interesting to note that it was not the highest rated sporting event of the week. It's not surprising that it was beat by the British Open. However it was also surpassed in the ratings by both a regular season MLB game on FOX, and the IRL Honda 200 on ABC. Yes, those two events were both shown on broadcast networks, rather than cable TV. But the MLS game was heavily hyped, and shown in prime time on the popular ESPN.

Beckham's Overnight Nielsen Ratings on ESPN

David Beckham's MLS debut for the Los Angeles Galaxy earned a 1.2 overnight Nielsen rating on ESPN. The game was broadcast live on Saturday night, July 21. Beckham's first game was the highest rated MLS telecast ever on ESPN.

Why Vick’s Indictment is Good for the NFL

After reading the heinous charges against Michael Vick, my initial reaction was that this story was a nightmare for the NFL. But after considering it some more, I think it will actually be good for the NFL.

How can it be a good thing to have one of your star players accused of operating a brutal dog fighting operation? Because it will increase ratings! After all, who would not want to watch Vick’s first game of the year? There will be so many interesting components. How will the announcers handle it? Will they condemn him, or say that he is innocent until proven guilty? Will they ignore the issue completely? It will be fascinating.

It will also be interesting to see how Vick and his teammates handle the situation. Will Vick crack under the pressure? Will the mob of press be such a distraction to the team that they cannot play well? The telecast will be such a train wreck, and so fascinating on many levels, that you will have to watch. And after all, that is why the networks are paying the NFL billions of dollars – to get people to watch.

The only way the Vick situation will be bad for the NFL is if PETA and other organizations can affect the NFL’s sponsors. If they can cause sponsors to drop out of the sport, that will hit the NFL where it really hurts – the bottom line. What good are ratings, if you can’t sell the ad space?

But that won’t happen. First of all, sponsors will not leave the NFL in mass. The ratings are too high, and the NFL’s product reaches all the right demographics. And even if some sponsors do leave, so what? There will be a line of new ones to take their place.

And if you’re thinking that this whole situation will be avoided when the NFL suspends Vick, think again. They have absolutely no incentive to suspend him. For starters, the product on the field is better when Vick is playing than when he is not. Vick has to be better than any replacement, or he wouldn’t have been starting to begin with. The other reason, again, is ratings. More people will tune in to see Vick play than to see his replacement play. And the NFL can easily defend a decision to not suspend Vick. Despite the mountain of evidence against him, the NFL can always hide behind the fact that he is “innocent until proven guilty.”

So get ready for September 9. Atlanta vs. Minnesota will be must-see TV.

Serena Williams to Pose Nude

Serena Williams will be posing nude this month, along with seven other "famous faces", in Jane magazine. Actually, in this photo of Serena, we barely see her face at all. Serena is facing away from the camera, holding a flower to cover her "bootay". For a sneak preview, check out