Some of my favorite links from the past week:
• Two fascinating blog postings this week by players: Gilbert Arenas admonishing players such as Andre Iguodala and Emeka Okafor for being greedy and not signing contracts last summer, and Curt Schilling giving his extended thoughts about the players Boston would conceivably give up in a trade for Johan Santana.
In particular, I loved Schilling’s points about Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester and how they rose to the occasion in the biggest possible moments, which made him leery of giving them up because that’s his No. 1 test for any young player. Really insightful stuff. Did you ever think we’d live in a day and age when a pitcher would write down his thoughts on a potential baseball trade involving his own team and would do a really good job expressing his case? By the way, count me among the believers who are now convinced the Red Sox were trying to drive the price up for the Yankees and never seriously considered a Johan trade.
• Last week we accidentally gave you a broken link for my 2003 column about watching Mike Tyson fly his pigeons in Harlem. Here’s the correct link and the corresponding YouTube clip of the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” segment.
Follow-up note: A few readers asked how Mike reacted to that segment when we aired it on the show. It’s actually a good story: He was guest-hosting that week, so we showed the clip to him for his approval and he loved it. He couldn’t have been more pleased by it. So when we ran the piece on the show, because it was filmed so differently than a typical comedy segment, the audience didn’t quite know how to react and laughed a couple of times in the beginning — almost like they were laughing at Tyson — so we were terrified he’d get ticked off and charge into the stands or something. But by the 90-second mark, they figured out what was going on and laughed in all the right places. In the end, Tyson was absolutely delighted by the whole thing and we avoided a killing spree.
• The Sports Gal has a new favorite Web site: www.pagesix.com, the revamped gossip site from the New York Post.
• In J.A. Adande’s piece about the Warriors, I liked his comparison of them to fighting a “crazy guy.” You don’t take them totally seriously, but you don’t want to mess with them either. They have been wildly entertaining to watch these past few weeks.
• A cool YouTube clip for you: All the soundtrack music from “Shawshank Redemption.” This is the kind of stuff that makes me miss working in an office — I would be blasting “So Was Red” on my computer and narrating mundane things in a Morgan Freeman voice like, “I do believe those were the two worst years for Rick, when they moved his desk away from the window.”
• From the Philadelphia Inquirer: It’s a timeline of Billy King moves! Of course, it’s not nearly in-depth enough — it doesn’t include all the horrendous contract extensions and free-agent signings he made, which was the real reason he got fired. One of the Sixers bloggers needs to create the definitive list.
• I thought Chris Smith’s New York Magazine feature about Rudy Giuliani was well-done whether you agreed with his slant or not. That continues to be the most underrated weekly magazine out there. It almost always has one good piece.
• Our ombusdman rocks.
• Gabe from Minneapolis sent along a Foxsports.com piece about Pat Riley’s power play in Miami with the joke, “The Heat bandwagon is having a hard time getting started this season because Stan Van Gundy’s blood is all over the engine.”
• From David in Cambridge, Mass.: Shawn Kemp Jr. is a big-time college basketball prospect! How long will it be before the Kemp family tree expands exponentially? I have to believe that with five official visits as part of the recruiting process, Shawn Sr. is destined to have five to 10 grandchildren before the end of 2009.
• Couldn’t agree more with John H. in Boston: Did you read Frank Deford’s dumb piece about Boston fans? I hate how people think we care that we’re not the loveable losers anymore. I’m happy about all my sports teams, genuinely happy. When’s the last time we could say that?
• Aro in Washington writes, I am sure you remember Lacey Underall, real name Cindy Morgan. Well, she is back and throwing the worst fundraiser in history! Check out the Chicago Tribune recap of her disastrous golf event. I mean if a lineup that includes George Wendt, Tim Meadows, Spaulding Smails, and Motormouth (who actually charged Ms. Morgan an appearance fee) can’t draw a crowd, then nothing can!
• For some reason, the May 2007 podcast with Adam Carolla’s fake movie pitch has disappeared from my podcast archives, so here’s the link.
• A few readers e-mailed me about this: After Bart Scott’s two penalties near the end of the Pats-Ravens game had the Pats kicking off from Baltimore’s 35, according to the rulebook, the Patriots could have intentionally kicked the ball out of bounds, and it would have been spotted at Baltimore’s 5-yard line. Why? Because every out-of-bounds kickoff is spotted 30 yards from the point of the kickoff. I’m amazed Belichick didn’t know this.
• Following up on last week’s complaint that Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” isn’t on iTunes: There was a stretch when you could find the song secretly stashed away in Midge Ure’s category, but they removed it within the last 12 months. Now you can find it on the “Now That’s What I Call Christmas” album, only you have to buy the entire album. What an outrage. How can they not fix this?
• From John K. In Dorchester, Mass.: If you have any lingering doubts that giving up on the Boston Bruins was the smart decision, read this Boston Magazine article about Charles “Don’t Call Me Charlie” Jacobs, the heir apparent who is now in charge of alienating what used to be the most loyal fanbase in sports. BTW, the photo of Charlie doesn’t do justice to just how uncomfortable he gets in front of a camera. The man takes Flop Sweat to another level.
• Dozens of readers caught Todd McShay’s first mock draft for 2008, then e-mailed me to tell me how much they hate me. Well, then.
• From Andy in Chicago: I know everyone gets enough of Brett Favre, but this is a pretty cool news conference where he received an award from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The little girl (Anna) suffers from a degenerative brain disorder and wasn’t supposed to live long after she first met him. Fast forward to the 4-minute mark when Brett chokes up talking about her.
• A few Pats fans e-mailed me a recent article on the Cold Football Facts site that tried to prove the Patriots DO have a running game. I like those guys and think they do a good job, but they overlooked a major point in that piece: Regardless of what the season rankings say, New England’s running game hasn’t been the same since Sammy Morris was knocked out for the season. Check our Laurence Maroney’s game log since Morris was injured in Week 6 and tell me I shouldn’t be a little worried about New England’s running game.
• The entire Allies’ comeback in “Victory” is now on YouTube. Now here’s a great way to kill 10 minutes at work. One question: What’s the song that the crowd sings right before Sly catches the penalty kick at the end?
• From Matt in Virginia City, Va.: It only took 15 years since the Internet took off for someone to put it online, but someone finally posted the Converse Weapon rap that aired during one of the NBA All-Star Games (I think ’87 or ’88). When I was 10, this was great, but it now sets the bar for unintentional comedy in a basketball shoe commercial. Even better yet, it should’ve served as a warning that basketball players should never, eeeever be allowed to put out rap albums (I’m looking at you, Troy Hudson). Careful — the sound is super low, and if you play something after watching without lowering the speakers, you’re likely to make yourself go deaf. Totally worth boosting the volume on, though.
• Finally, the cat is out of the bag: The writers’ strike is going to last much longer than anyone “thought.” I used quotes there because it was naive for anyone to think this would be settled right away. Rich people are rich for a reason — they don’t give stuff away, especially stuff like “here’s a fixed percentage of Internet revenue even though we don’t understand this medium yet” and “sure, we’ll allow you to sympathy strike every time another union goes on strike to give those other unions even more leverage!” They also have the money to weather the loss of revenue of an extended strike, whereas the striking writers have no revenue coming in because they aren’t allowed to write. Hmmmm, which side do you think will cave first?
To put this particular strike in sports terms, it’s the equivalent of the NBA players striking right before the start of a season, only if the NBA could get out of every bad contract and every bad decision and avoid paying the employees for every team … and ON TOP OF THAT, they could show re-runs of old games and get 80-90 percent of the same ratings for a few months. Why would they be anxious to settle the strike? If anything, they’d lowball the players, keep the strike going and use the hiatus to revamp the things about the league that didn’t work. (Which is basically what the NBA did during the ’99 lockout, right?) Well, that’s exactly what Hollywood is going to do. Read this N.Y. Times piece or this WSJ.com piece and tell me if it sounds like the Hollywood guys want to settle any time soon.
In my opinion, the Writer’s Guild did a fantastic job mobilizing its members to strike and a dreadful job preparing them for the overwhelming reality that the strike could stretch into 2008 and possibly the spring and beyond. It’s not like any of this was a shock, right? So why did WGA leaders think they could mobilize against a bunch of cutthroat billionaires for two years, repeatedly tick them off (read the Artful Write for a detailed explanation), then get those same cutthroat billionaires to say, “All is forgiven, we’re willing to take a little less here, the balance is totally unfair, we want to do the right thing by you guys?”
Seriously, you think they give a crap? Again, rich people are rich for a reason: They don’t give stuff away, and they certainly don’t give a crap that the holidays are coming up and tens of thousands of writers are sweating out Christmas gifts and mortgages and wondering when their next paycheck is coming. The whole thing sucks. It really does.