Thursday, August 26, 2010


By Tony Mangia


The success of Hard Knocks on HBO has created an avalanche of sports related shows being dumped on the unsuspecting viewing public. The popular New York Jets "reality" show itself is spawning a number of spin-offs for the Fall television season. Who isn't excited about the new sit-com *$#! My Coach Says starring that stomach-stapling team leader Rex Ryan. His salty language and locker room humor will only get viler once the FCC lifts that damn (can we say that?) censorship policy on broadcast television. In the first episode, Tony Dungy is Ryan's weekend house guest. You won't believe what he does with his bible.

Another Jet, Antonio Cromartie gets to star in Parenthood as the lovable dad of 8 children by 7 different woman. The laugh-riot begins when he scratches his head after he is asked to recite the names of his children. It really gets funny when he realizes he doesn't know he has two three year-olds by different mothers. "I have twins?" the 26 year-old confusedly asks.

New shows include The Good Wife starring Elin Nordegren as the divorced wife of a pro-golfer who tries to avoid trashing her ex and getting by on the $100 million settlement. Things get really complicated when she starts dating motorcycle builder Jessie James. Norway's Sweetheart meets the Vanilla Gorilla. A special episode.

Tiger Woods meanwhile, fresh from his series Sex and Every City, gets to go hog-wild in the HBO sleaze fest Real Sex. Dozens of bimbos on the side is nothing compared to this "newly-free and still left with $500 million" sexting maniac. Texting "You're hot...Now sneak in the side door." to one of your mistresses is funny enough but imagine how raunchy it can get when there's no little lady waiting at home!

LeBron James gets to star in The Cleveland Show--if only in burning effigies. The real stars are the fans who beat up their own because someone still wears a # 23 Cavalier's jersey in public. LeBron really gets to shine in It's Always Sunny in Miami as 'Raj' and co-stars Chris 'Rerun' Bosh and 'Dewayne' Wade try to outwit their little brother Dee and win every game. The only loss is in Cleveland when 19,000 snipers take potshots at a seemingly nervous LeBron during a 'Weapons For Cash Night' promotion. Hey, Hey, Hey.

Law & Order: New Jersey premiers with ex-Jerseyites and criminal hearing no-shows Lawrence Taylor and Chris Simms pleading their cases. The former-Giant great Taylor hopes his celebrity influence will keep him out of jail for having sex with a 16 year-old. "It's L.T, it's L.T." cops exclaimed before arresting him. Extra cops, who wanted to catch a glimpse of Taylor, came rushing to the scene like tweens to Justin Bieber. Tension builds as L.T. waits to see if any fans cram the courthouse to see the fallen Giant. Look for a guest appearance by Jayson Williams.

In the first Simms episode he doesn't show up to court because he is stoned, then TELLS the judge! In another episode, Simms' lawyer claims his client couldn't be in a Monday courtroom because he was playing football on Sunday. "Playing" football? The show is funny too. The drama unfolds while viewers wonder how long that excuse is valid. My guess...end of pre-season.


Look for Jersey Sure to liven up the screen as the Nets, with their new Russian owner and side-kick Jay-Z, pursue their lofty goal of a championship by 2015. Things should really heat up on "Potato Vodka and Hennesy Night." Darrelle Revis comes to prime-time as host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire followed by The Amazing Race headlined by the AL East--Yankees, Rays and Red Sox. Two and Half Men now stars those lovable brothers Peyton and Eli with their mutual backup QB Matt Sorgi. Adrenalin junkies won't want to miss the new host of the prime-time game show Beat the Clock--Rick Pitino.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


By Tony Mangia


Two weeks ago, Johnny Damon stepped onto the Yankee Stadium turf to a deafening returning conqueror's welcome. Now, after being picked up on waivers by the Boston Red Sox, the next time Damon digs into a Yankee Stadium batter's box, the ex-Yankee left fielder could be hearing Bronx cheers instead. If Damon decides to rejoin the Idiots (or what's left of them) in Boston, pinstripe fans should give spurned Yankee a key to the city for for a couple of reasons--one which could save the season.

First, Damon in Boston II will add a little excitement to the AL Division race. No matter how good the Tampa Bay Rays have been playing and how close the race is, it isn't New York-Boston. It's hard to hate the few fair-weather fans from Florida. They don't have their own bars in New York and any Yankee fan (worth his Yankee Universe shirt) can spot a Red Sox cap approaching from three blocks. I've never seen a Tampa fan in the city. Why would they leave their beaches--oil slicks and all?

Secondly, if Damon decides to go back to the Sox, it helps the Yankees. Boston already has a DH--David Ortiz--so where is Damon going to fit in. Sure he could fill in right field and, even though his stats are decent (.272 avg., 7 HRs, 41 RBI's), he's not going to replace the numbers put up by the injured Dustin Pedroia or Jacoby Ellsbury. Damon has been nagged by injuries all season and started only on two games in the outfield. Going to Tampa would be a different story.


The Rays are in desperate need of a DH. It is one of the few weaknesses on their team and their power outages at the plate confirm this. They've been no hit once and came close two other times. The 36 year-old Damon could bring a championship veteran leadership to the swaddled Tampa squad. Damon has already proven his likability wherever he has suited up and, during his short stay in Detroit, demonstrated an ability to work with young players. This could be Tampa Bay's last chance for a championship. They have a long list of upcoming free agents, a short list of loyal fans and a lean bankroll. Something will have to give in the off-season.

Red Sox Nation may welcome one of their favorite Idiots with open arms and high hopes but Damon has a couple of days to give a thumbs up to the team or flip them the bird. He left Boston with hard feelings after helping them win the 2004 World Series. Damon felt slighted by not being picked up and signed with the Red Sox nemesis Yankees in 2005. He currently has a specific "no-trade" clause to Boston. Damon has stated that he is still leaning towards staying with the Tigers.

Personally, I hope Damon goes back to Beantown. The past two seasons have the rivalry in a lull. No Schilling mouthing off, Pedro beating down Don "The Gerbil" Zimmer or Manny being Manny. Damon--one of the game's most popular players--could end up being cheered and jeered in Boston, Detroit and New York--simultaneously.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yankee Pitchers must DL-iver

By Tony Mangia

Pettitte Out Until September

Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte took their MRI exams yesterday and and the results were not encouraging--more so for Pettitte. A-Rod was diagnosed with a low-grade strain of the lower left calf and could be out until the weekend. All of Pettitte's early optimism regarding his left groin pull was just blind confidence. The persistent injury could have him sidelined until mid-September and with pitcher Phil Hughes' inning time clock winding down, manager Joe Girardi might be looking at his minor-league system for help.

CC Sabathia won a league-leading 16th game against the Detroit Tigers, but his great performance can't hide the undercurrent of concern with the Yankee starters. According to Girardi's outlined plan, Hughes will cease pitching the regular season after 170 innings. Hughes has 134 2/3 innings and could reach his limit with up to three weeks left in the season. Pettitte should return around the same time, but his return could be tenuous? This could create a rotation nightmare with the Yanks looking down the double-barrel of playoff-hopefuls Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox in 10 of the final 13 games.

The other New York starters, A.J. Burnett and Javier Vasquez continue their erratic ways and don't bolster any confidence. Alfredo Aceves--a possible starter--who continues to pitch in Double-A will be evaluated for yet another rehab outing and castle-in-the-sky return. Girardi might decide to pull Hughes early in his remaining games--not a wise decision considering the light and thin bullpen--or promote some 20-something from Triple-A to help the Yankees down the stretch.

GM, Brian Cashman, keeps repeating a weird mantra this year. Cashman keeps reassuring everyone, "We do not have to win the division to make the playoffs." The Yankees remain tied with Tampa for the division lead and Boston keeps hanging around at 5 1/2 back. If Cashman wants to take the race down to the final days of the regular season, he sure has the right mindset. It might come down to a Bucky Dent moment in the 163rd OR 164th game to figure out who's the division champ? Cashman's arithmetic is correct but, in baseball's toughest division, there is still only one bridesmaid.



Is the Yankee's new DH, Lance Berkman, having the worst inaugural two weeks in baseball history? A .170 average, costly errors, boos and clipping Alex Rodriguez with a line drive are just the start of the troubles for Fat Elvis. It must have really hunka-hunka burned when former-Yankee Johnny Damon returned to Yankee Stadium and got a rousing welcome from the fans and a squish from that noted hugger A-Rod, himself. Damon probably misses his old friend--the right field seats in Yankee Stadium--and despises his agent, Scott Boras, for his tough negotiating stance that drove him from pinstripes to Tiger stripes. It's hard to remember when he was a Red Sock.


Eli Manning christened the turf at the "New Meadowlands Stadium" with about a gallon of his own blood in Monday's exhibition beatdown of the Jets. Jet fans slightly outnumbered Giant fans in the PSI's, but it still had a Big Blue feel. Even some wise-ass Giant fan--in an Amani Toomer jersey--got into Fireman Ed's grill. It was the first time I ever saw the Jets' mascot keep his mouth shut. The stadium looks great and when I have about sixty dollars for a couple of hot dogs and some beers, I'll go to Ruth Chris for a T-bone.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


By Tony Mangia


New York Mets relief pitcher, Francisco Rodriguez came out of the pen today. In a week that saw the Mets' record drop to under .500 and Johan Santana become the center of civil suit, which alleges the pitcher sexually assaulted a Florida woman, now comes the arrest and release of closer Rodriguez for attacking his father-in-law. Rodriguez was charged with 3rd degree assault by the NYPD Wednesday night after the Mets 6-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

The volatile Rodriguez, aka K-Rod, was accused of punching Carlos Pena, 53, then pushing his head into a wall inside the Mets Family Lounge at CitiField. The Mets pitcher was handcuffed on the premises and held overnight. Rodriguez was released on his own recognizance this afternoon while the Mets were cruising to a 4-0 complete game victory over the Rockies by Santana.

Rodriguez has a history of altercations. He had a "heated" discussion with the Mets' bullpen coach, Randy Niemann, earlier this year where some reporters claimed there was physical contact. Last year, the hot-tempered Rodriguez got into a public skirmish with assistant GM, Tony Bernazard , on a team bus. Mutual glares with opposing players have always been as much a part of his repertoire as is his arm.

The Mets announced that Rodriguez will be suspended without pay for two games. In a statement they declared, "We take this situation seriously." The big question is does Rodriguez?


Teammates have rallied around K-Rod before, but must wonder what set him off this time. Manager Jerry Manuel's decision to not use the pitcher for a four-out save in the eighth inning with the Mets ahead 2-1 could have set things in motion. Manuel used Manny Acosta, who gave up a grand slam and lost the game. When reporters approached the 28 year-old Rodriguez after the game he threw a tantrum like an bratty kid. He cursed and shouted, "Did I f--- pitch tonight? Why do I have to talk to you f--- guys?"

The Mets look like they are ready for their annual free fall from playoff contention--only a little earlier this year. K-Rod is their go-to closer and his loss is a great disadvantage. Mets players, who are just getting acquainted with Santana's legal woes, now have the antics of Rodriguez to deal with. The team will have the added pressure of anticipating his next ugly meltdown. "Everyone makes mistakes," reasoned third baseman, David Wright, " He'll have to take care of things with his family." The question is which family? Rodriguez has two--his wife's and the Mets?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Take This Sport and Shove It!

By Tony Mangia


The Jet Blue Flight attendant who cursed out a passenger, grabbed a few beers and chuted down to the unemployment line may be considered a folk hero to some---or a quitter to others. Steve Slater's last straw moment to the rude passenger over the jet's PA system has struck a nerve in today's tough economic climate. I'll do what I have to boss, but don't anyone step on my toes. Slater threw in the towel, but did it with a touch of panache. Sports has a long history of quitters.

To many, the idea of flipping off the boss or dropping a file cabinet on top of your supervisor's head is a fantasy envisioned daily. Most sane people think of the consequences--firings, loss of pension...jail--but it is easy to say that Slater aka The Bag Nazi, had every right to say "kiss my ass" to the disruptive customer and the airline respectively. Pubic opinion has sided with Slater and that has to be a first, in recent times, for flight attendants.


Look back at some of the greatest quitters of all time; Richard Nixon--before he could be thrown out of office--and the ex-Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin recently let the door hit her on the way out. Many take the good until it got a little shaky. Some, like George Harrison, who quit the Beatles for one week, hit the eject button for creative differences; while others like sourpuss actor David Caruso--who disappeared from NYPD Blue and spent years in television purgatory--believe they have a higher calling---in other words "I'm better than this." Sometimes it works out. Right, Shelley Long?

Films have idolized characters who have had enough and went over the edge. Remember Peter Finch in Network when he screamed "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" It resounded with movie goers and he got the Oscar---even after he was dead---his portrayal of the fed-up newscaster. Jack Nicholson made a career of rebelling against authority and little people alike. Remember the memorable diner scene when he wiped the table clean because of the insolent waitress in Five Easy Pieces.


Recently rookie Dez Bryant wouldn't be bullied by Dallas Cowboy veterans and refused to lower himself to transporting their carry-off luggage. He held his ground and refused to haul his teammates' shoulder pads. Call him a diva, but he stuck it to his superiors. Darrelle Revis has refused to attend Jets camp and his agent called team owner, Woody Johnson, a liar regarding a contract summit. He may be a contract breaker, but Revis is giving it to the man.

When it comes to quitting in sports, the most notorious is the " No mas, No Mas" fight between Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard. Duran never lived it down after blaming his eighth-round exit on cramps from a couple of t-bone steaks he had just devoured. The great fighter with the Hands of Stone still carries around a heavier legacy as a quitter.

Michelle Wie pulled out of a 2007 LPGA tournament, after a double-bogey that would have eliminated her, claiming a severely sprained wrist. She was seen freely swinging the club the next day. Maybe it was the impatience of youth. Hell, even Jersey tough-guy Bill Parcells has quit coaching four times! Well, we won't blame him for the Cowboys and Jerry Jones.

There is a difference between being George Costanza and holding out or taking an early retirement. Take Barry Sanders---Detroit Lion fans might call him a quitter. He retired early and in his prime but maybe he saw the reign of Matt Millen on the horizon. You call early-retiree Jim Brown a quitter...I'm not.

J.D. Drew stomped his feet and held his breath when he refused to report to the Phillies in a trade. I bet he regrets that move now. Funny, Eric Lindros held out and refused to play for the Nordiques and ended up in the same City of Brotherly Love. Don't tell Philadelphia and Quebec these guys weren't quitters, respectively. Last year Jay Cutler threw a hissy-fit until his bosses in Denver finally relented and granted the turn tail quarterback a trade to the Chicago Bears.

It's hard to feel sorry for today's million-dollar athletes. Boo-hoo, you don't make as much as the next player or you're better than the original contract you signed or I want to play for a winner. It's still a job. Football two-a-days in July and 5 a.m. road work or sparring until your arms are black and blue isn't easy, but it's better than digging a ditch or sucking coal dust. The sun-drenched shagging of flies or foggy mornings perfecting a nine-iron swing may not be as mundane as punching a factory clock or as greasy as tuning an engine, but it is still work---albeit with millions and fame.


The fans are the real workhorses here. Our paychecks go to paying for PSI's and season tickets. The New York Giants released the prices for food at their new stadium this upcoming season. A deli sandwich is $14 at the new Meadowlands Stadium. Hey, didn't we help pay for that Jumbo-tron? Beer now runs $8.75 and a slice of pizza is six bucks! They even have sushi platters for $9.50! Sushi!? This is the Garden State, not the Golden one! It's a corporate executive box stadium now. Fight the power!

If there is any justice for New York fans this year, the words made famous by toothless Johnny Paycheck, Take This Job and Shove It!, will come from the mouth of Knicks' new consultant Isiah Thomas. That's a quitter any New Yorker would love.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Do Giants Want Plax Back?

By Tony Mangia


Reports that ex-New York Giant, Plaxico Burress, may be released from prison before the NFL season begins could be more fantasy league than reality television. Even if the troubled wide receiver, serving time for felony gun charges, is released on a work release program, chances are slimmer than the 6'5" Super Bowl XLII hero himself that he'll play a down this season. The NFL has stated that if Burress is granted work release with a waiver his suspension from the league would be lifted.

Burress' attorney, Peter Frankel, said he filed a second application for work release a month ago and claims that his client is "hopeful" of an early discharge but the New York State of Corrections stated that the 33 year-old Burress will not be granted any special privileges. Frankel said Burress is hoping to get the work release with the added benefit of a waiver; which allows him to travel with a team on weekends. A spokesperson for the Oneida Correctional facility (Plax's temporary home since September 2009) said that in general, inmates given work release must perform community service type work Monday through Friday in New York. They also made it clear that a waiver is a rare occasion but not impossible. Frankel seems to be soft-stepping the subject and isn't screaming for his client's release. "He still has a year left on his sentence," Frankel affirmed, "It's completely up to the Corrections Department."

Would the respectable and proper Giants, who are looking optimistically at third place in the tough NL East division and an 8-8 overall record, take a shot (no pun) at Burress---the man who caused the club so many headaches in the past? Burress routinely ignored team rules and the veterans have long memories. This upcoming year will be a real test for the Giants and taking back a player they emphatically distanced themselves from might be a stretch although, GM Jerry Reese hasn't discounted the return of Burress. "We leave all our options open," he said.

Too Many Other Giant Problems

There are many questions involving Big Blue's defense...again and the offensive line is getting older and more injury-prone. Running back Brandon Jacobs is slowly morphing into Ron Dayne. He dives under his blockers asses and can't be counted on in short yardage situations like in the past. The running game--once a Giant's strength--is now ordinary and suspect.

Their passing game has become more instrumental to the Giants O, but Eli Manning still carries that befuddled look on his face too many times. Manning misses his once favorite playmaker Burress, but has managed to turn the "other" Steve Smith into his new go-to wide receiver. If Smith can equal his 100 reception season of last year, Plax is fleeting thought. Smith is complimented by capable game-breaker Dominik Hixon and Signorice Moss.

Burress was released by the Giants in April 2009 after accidently shooting himself in the thigh while entering the Latin Quarter nightclub in Manhattan. A year and a half lay-off makes it hard to believe he could play a meaningful season or help the Giants team at all.

Plaxico Burress is a talented and troubled man. He has vowed to play again. Prison time could makes a man think hard and long about his past. Burress is now thinking third and long about his future. There are probably a dozen NFL teams---besides the Raiders, of course---that would snatch him up immediately. They just might have to wait until his official release date of June 6, 2011 to start the Welcome Back Plax circus.


No Thanks, I'll Take the Cash

A Yankee security guard caught Alex Rodriguez's 600th home run ball...and gave it back. A-Rod's 500th went for $103,000, so this tainted milestone could have fetched more. In the last few weeks, the Yankee organization was promising the lucky fan who caught the 600th dinger an autographed ball and jersey and...get this...dinner with Mr. Ego himself and Cameron Diaz. I can imagine that meal, A-Rod alternately looking at his watch and admiring his reflection in a spoon while the annoying Diaz sprays chewed up food all over the table as she guffawed and tells everyone she isn't dating the Yankee.

Josh Beckett is Still a Punk

Like to see Red Sox pitcher, Josh Beckett still taking on all comers, especially with a gang of four backing him up. At Monday's Sox-Indians brawl--- Kevin Youklis, Mike Cameron, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsburg all backed the pitcher...and all four are on the DL thus avoiding suspensions--on a technicality-- for players jumping into a fray. All were fined.

He Was Trying to Beat the Shot Clock

The other day in court of law, former Knick coach and current University of Louisville coach, Rick Pitino had to recount in detail about his "15-second" sexual encounter with a woman on trial for allegedly extorting him. Pitino said he didn't use a condom and the woman claims she got pregnant. Maybe, with foreplay, it would have lasted as long as a TV Time Out.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fat Elvis Has Entered the Stadium

By Tony Mangia


If you don't get it right the first time, just do it again. A maxim the New York Yankees can afford to--and always do--live by. After a trio of off-season acquisitions have seemingly gone bust, the major league leading Yankees have replaced the malfunctioning parts before the July 31st deadline without losing any cash or real prospects.

The original threesome---DH Nick (me like DL better) Johnson, OF Randy (never) Winn and reliever Chan Ho (out of the) Park will be replaced by ex-Astros first baseman, Lance (Fat Elvis) Berkman, outfielder Austin Kearns and relief pitcher Kerry Wood. I always wanted to see Wood pitch at the stadium but I never thought in a million years it would be in pinstripes.

The Yankees need help in all three areas and, with the Tampa Bay Rays manhandling them this weekend, they are only a snort ahead of the Floridians. A revitalized and always pesky Red Sox team comes to town for a four game set this weekend and the Yanks could really use the steady and powerful DH bat of Berkman and an energized Wood as an upgrade as the set-up man for Mariano Rivera. All of the new Yankees are considered on the down low---none of them have contracts for next season and come from miserable teams---so fans might be optimistic and expect to see an added spark under their cleats. Going to a playoff contender can do that. As Berkman put it after the possible playoff-positioning series, "I don't think I've played in a meaningful game in three years. With this type of intensity you have to manage your emotions."


Still trying to figure out why would Joe Girardi would leave Alex Rodriguez and Brett Gardner on the bench while using Mark Teixeira as the DH in the rubber-game against the Rays? Maybe it was a "welcome to the Yankees" gift to newly-acquired Lance Berkman---a capable first baseman--- a day of rest for his starting players or maybe he is just playing for a wild card.

Girardi has always been known to play for the long-term. His pitchers rarely go more than six innings and everyone knows about the Joba Rules but, Gardner is still a frisky colt and one of the Yankees best spark plugs.

Berkman might have cost the Yanks a win on Sunday when he couldn't scoop up an errant throw by Robinson Cano---something the gold-glover Teixeira could have done blindfolded although Fat Elvis did make a baseline grab that probably saved two runs later in the game.

It's hard to criticize the manager's decision. Girardi has been successful playing for the big picture. He knew that the Trop was sold out for all three games (first time for Tampa in regular season play) and there was a playoff-type intensity down by the bay, but he has been successful utilizing his players over the long run. The ex-catcher still refuses to over work the veterans or burn out the pitching staff's arms even under the glare of his critics.

The Yankees and the Rays are the two best teams in the majors right now. The potent Texas Rangers have recently made big strides in beefing up their lineup and pitching while Boston is still hanging around so, on a day when the Rays' James Shields out dueled CC Sabathia, and his changeup had Yankee hitters literally mumbling to themselves, maybe Girardi's philosophy that playoffs aren't won in August will pay off again in October.

The Wisdom Of Ozzie

It's easy to dismiss Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen after he speaks. He spouts so much trash mixed with misdirected passion, sometimes its hard to keep up or take him seriously. I honestly don't know how Chicago deals with Ozzie and Lou Piniella during the same season.

This time Ozzie has a point. He says there is a lack of help for Latino players adjusting to life in the big leagues as compared to the support afforded to new players from Asia. Dominicans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans et al rarely have the luxury of interpreters and other cultural perks that teams give Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese players. Guillen claims that the Latino players are treated as no more than low-cost commodities.

I agree, but I am not all on board with the statement. Latino players are usually brought up through the minor leagues with minor league contracts while Asian players in MLB are usually veterans with years of overseas experience and big contracts. A team that invests in long-term, million dollar contracts for players like Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Satsuki wants to make sure they are treated like the established stars they were in their native countries. These are men who are celebrated in the far-east, and probably know three words of English---strike, ball and out. Asians don't use our alphabet and are usually the only Asian on the team. It must be pretty lonely with no one else who speaks your language. If Albert Pujols only knew a dozen words of English the Cardinals would give him a pair of Harvard English professors.

Major league rosters are filled with Latin players who came up through the ranks. Many come from impoverished backgrounds and work their way through the system with minor league paychecks. They deserve the same attention---interpreters or instruction---that any other teammate gets but the education should begin at home. MLB should have more representatives teaching in the youth leagues of the Dominican Republic or Venezuela about the dangers of PEDs (where it is more easily available), other temptations and basic English. When was the last time you heard of a drug scandal with a Japanese player?

Guillen has brought up a topic that should be addressed but it shouldn't be turned it into a racial or cultural chasm. Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez and many other big contract Latinos had interpreters travel with them. It seems to be more of a player-by-player determination until more Asians assimilate into the majors through a minor league system.