Nota Bene #101: Your Pal, Mike S.

“The guys who are shooting films now are technically brilliant, but there’s no content in their films. I marvel at what I see and wish I could have done a shot like that. But shots are secondary for my films, and with some of these films, it’s all about the shots. What’s the point? I’m not sure people know what points to make.” Who said it? Continue reading

The Karma wagon rolls around for Manny: respect the game, Tittie-Boy

Oh, the sheer deliciousness of it all. Manny Ramirez has been busted for using.

The word is that ManRam didn’t actually use steroids.

However, two sources told ESPN’s T.J. Quinn and Mark Fainaru-Wada that the drug used by Ramirez is HCG — human chorionic gonadotropin. HCG is a women’s fertility drug typically used by steroid users to restart their body’s natural testosterone production as they come off a steroid cycle. It is similar to Clomid, the drug Bonds, Giambi and others used as clients of BALCO.

This may be even sweeter, for a couple of reasons. First, this line: “…typically used by steroid users to restart their body’s natural testosterone production as they come off a steroid cycle.” Outing Manny for roid use would have been great, but the next best thing is the lingering shadow of suspicion that’s bound to follow him around for the rest of his career (and, with luck, well into the latter years of his Hall of Fame eligibility). Continue reading

Meanings, pt. 2: a crisis of prevailing values

by Michael Tracey

It isn’t just that there is an appetite for scandal, sex, sleaze, death narratives, it is also that feeding such appetites can be very profitable. The fact is that an essential problem with today’s media, one that has been gestating for many years, even decades, lies with the families and trust-funders that own media chains, and with the media moguls that, like great beasts, roam the landscape of a new grim cultural ecology, gobbling up this and that tasty morsel, a television station here, a newspaper there, forever seeking to sate their own insatiable appetite. Continue reading

Rogues, scandals and the Church of Baseball: S&R honors Babe Ruth

Walt Whitman once said, “I see great things in baseball. It’s our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.” You could look it up. – Annie Savoy

I’ll promise to go easier on drinking and to get to bed earlier, but not for you, fifty thousand dollars, or two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars will I give up women. They’re too much fun. – Babe Ruth

Today is Opening Day for America’s Pastime, and to mark the occasion S&R honors our newest Scrogue, George Herman Ruth. The Bambino. The Sultan of Swat.

The Babe. Continue reading

Super Bowl provides us with an important teachable moment

I really have mixed feelings about the outcome of yesterday’s Super Bowl. It was a fantastic game, no matter who you were rooting for, and that’s always nice. Historically a lot of Super Bowls have been yawners.

I wasn’t really pulling for the Giants so much as I was against the Patriots, and that was tough for me, too. See, when you look at how New England does things, they really get a lot right. No prima donnas. We, not me. Brains and teamwork trump individual athleticism. Etc. In essence, they have won by repudiating everything that’s wrong about sports in this day and age. They’re the San Antonio Spurs of the NFL.

As an old-school guy who was raised by an even older-school grandfather, this matters to me. Continue reading

2007 in Review, pt. 4: The agony of defeat…

Hi, and welcome to day four of our 2007 review. Today’s topic – the year in sports. And what a year it was – great competition, exciting on-field action, outstanding team accomplishments, and all of it trumped by off-field drama.

Barry B*nds: The real homerun king is Hank Aaron, and don’t you forget it. It wasn’t a pretty summer in sports, and the ugliest of the ugly was this roided-up icon of arrogance and entitlement. He may go to jail and he may not, but rest assured, nobody is ever going to write a Field of Dreams-style epic about him. Let this be a lesson, kids – flaxseed oil is for losers.

In other news, some of Barry B*nds supporters called our anti-Barry hatred racism. Hank Aaron was reportedly stunned to learn that he’s been white all these years. Continue reading

Mitchell Report fails to step up to plate with a plan

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Also undermined by pettiness and a lack of perspective.

Shortly after former Senator George Mitchell released his report on performance-enhancing drug use by major league baseball players, he suggested those singled out be granted amnesty. But he had to know that Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig was planning to take each violation “case by case” and dole out penalties as he saw fit. By outing a couple of teams worth of players and then washing his hands of the consequences, Mitchell couldn’t have been more disingenuous.

Why name names in the first place? It’s hard to tell which paragon of good government he resembles more: J. Edgar Hoover or Joe McCarthy. Which sets a worse example for young T-ball players? Drug use or a witch hunt? Continue reading

Alex Rodriguez's relationship with Yankees replicates his marriage

The foundation for Alex Rodriguez’s new contract was poured two weeks ago — 10 years at $275 million. As if that weren’t already enough to start his own nation (the Republic of Rodriguez? A-Rodriana?), on Sunday the infrastructure for his five $6 million bonuses was erected.

While the nature of the incentives wasn’t divulged, it’s believed they’d kick in when he ties each of the five players ahead of him on the all-time home run list — Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds –- and passes the last.

A few weeks ago, Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins wrote: “Rodriguez tried to sum up the tenor of negotiations, which sound more like ongoing couples therapy: ‘During these healthy discussions, both sides were able to share honest feelings and hopes with one another.'”

A-Rod, despite his macho name, is baseball’s Sensitive Boy. But the words in the statement Jenkins quoted might have been put in his mouth by who the New York Post describes as his “long-suffering wife,” Cynthia. Continue reading

The horror is getting to Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi is perhaps the premier political writer of his generation. He made his bones with Mark Ames at Russia’s legendary expat rag The eXile before moving on to The Beast and New York Press. He now writes for Rolling Stone and will soon release his fourth book, ‘The Great Derangement.’ He’s also covering the ’08 campaign in a special RS diary entitled “Year of the Rat.” His caustic wit often compared to Hunter Thompson, he’s called Mitt Romney “a poll-chasing stuffed suit with a Max Headroom hairdo,” Tom Tancredo a “vengeful midget,” President Bush “a retarded Christian AA version of Woodrow Wilson” and gets Fred Thompson confused with Joe Don Baker. Taibbi was kind enough to answer some questions from S&R’s Mike Sheehan.


S&R: You famously described the last Congress, the 109th, as the worst ever. How is the 110th shaping up so far?

Taibbi: They’ve done some good things. In the 109th and the other Republican Congresses the two-day work week was standard, and even those two days were often half-days. This Congress has brought back the five-day week. They’ve eliminated for the most part the “vampire congress” late-night sessions and phased out the holding open of votes to intimidate recalcitrant members and that sort of thing. But on the other hand… the Democrats came in amid much fanfare and announced that they were reforming the system, eliminating earmarks, etc. After the first Continuing Resolution they passed (I think it was on January 31), Rahm Emanuel was bragging about how it was an “earmark-free bill.” But there are all sorts of earmarks in it. A guy I know named Continue reading

Quotabull

[C]learly this was not something that we expected to happen, given the history of this bridge, the inspection process, and how this bridge was rated.

— Mary Peters, secretary of Transportation, during an Aug. 4 White House press briefing about the collapsed Minnesota I-35W bridge that “[s]tate bridge inspectors [had] warned for nearly a decade before its collapse that the Interstate 35W bridge had ‘severe’ and ‘extensive’ corrosion of its beams and trusses, ‘widespread cracking’ in spans and missing or broken bolts … [with] certain components were ‘beyond tolerable limits’ … ”

This record is not tainted at all, at all. Period. You guys can say whatever you want.

— San Francisco Giants right fielder Barry Bonds at a press conference after breaking Hank Aaron’s career home-run record of 755 home runs Tuesday night.
Continue reading

Summer of scandal and the death of sport?

I love sports. Always have. I grew up playing all the usual sports and eagerly tried out a lot of others when I got older. I’ve always been a big spectator, too, watching everything from football, basketball and baseball to soccer, track, cycling, volleyball, water polo – whatever was on, you know?

But these days I watch less sports than at any point in my life, and it seems likely that this downward trend is going to continue. The why is pretty simple. I was raised old school by a grandfather who grew up playing through the Depression. People who knew him back then and saw him play said that under different circumstances he might have been good enough to play in the Bigs. Maybe. Hard to say, because the hard realities of life intruded on the dreams of many in his generation. So he wound up working for a few dollars a week and playing ball on the weekends.

There was a right way and a wrong way to play. Hard, but fair. Sportsmanship mattered. Continue reading

Quotabull

Q: Is it in part a response to the Democratic criticism last night over Iraq at the debate?
MR. SNOW: No.
Q: Did he watch the debate?
MR. SNOW: I don’t think so. I don’t think he’s big on YouTube debates.

— White House spokesman Tony Snow aboard Air Force One, explaining the president’s speech schedule and topic the day after the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate.

Let me turn now to the report that’s being released today. Of the actions that were due at 12 months, we assess that 86 percent of those actions have been completed. That’s to be compared to a score of around 92 percent that we released at the six-month mark. There are about 14 percent of the actions that are not yet completed. We document those in the action-by-action detailed report. We anticipate those being completed in the 18-month time frame at the next six-month report. I’m not going to go through the accomplishments in great detail. Suffice it to say that on the international front, we’ve taken unprecedented action.

— Dr. Rajeev Venkayya, special assistant to the president for biodefense, explaining the administration’s actions on avian and pandemic influenza during a July 17 press briefing in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
Continue reading