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Holy Cow! Rizzuto Dies at 89

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There was a certain amount of eye-rolling when Phil Rizzuto, the scrappy Yankees shortstop who died today at 89, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994. The Scooter had repeatedly been denied entry by the voting sportswriters on the grounds that his stats were good, not great (.273 lifetime batting average, one MVP year) and that his presence on seven World Series–winning teams was dumb luck. It was said at the time that his pal Yogi Berra had talked to the veterans' committee, which digs up early players forgotten by history, and smoothed the way for his old buddy Rizzuto. This may or may not have been true, but, either way, it was ridiculous.

Hundreds and Hundreds

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To recap the weekend in local sports milestones: Tom Glavine pitched a win against the Cubs in Chicago last night, notching his 300th and becoming the first Met to do so. Also yesterday, up at Yankee Stadium, Hideki Matsui hit his 100th home run, a day after A-Rod — finally! — hit his 500th. We'll note only that none of this happened Friday night, while we sat, shvitzing, in the Stadium and Rodriguez, a full nine days after his 499th homer, could manage only a double, a walk, and a sacrifice fly. Boo. Well, actually, yay. But also a little boo.

The Yanks' Losing Season: How Can Fans Cope?

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As the halfway mark passes — um: yay, American League! — the Yankees' season is already over: They're ten games behind the Red Sox and out of the wild-card race. They've run out of saviors. Unless the earth starts spinning backward, or someone fudges the math, or Steinbrenner discovers a way to fire the entire A.L. East, there will be no signature late-summer heroics, no storming back and humiliating the Red Sox, no sweeping the postseason awards. We are witnessing, at long last, the global-warming-ish collapse of the Torre dynasty — long predicted by doomsdayers, supported recently by airtight statistical trends, and now suddenly upon us. This leaves Yankee fans in an unfamiliar position. How do we cope with an entirely meaningless second half of the season?

Bad Games, Cool Photos

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So the Yankees lost yet again last night, their second straight to the Colorado Rockies, which puts them just barely above .500 — and ten games behind the first-place Sox. But these new direct-from-overhead pix Getty Images is offering — that's Andy Pettitte mid-pitch — are, we think, pretty damned cool. Small pleasures. Standings [MLB.com]

Yanks Win, Monochromatically

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The Yankees beat the Diamondbacks last night to bring their winning streak to seven and — finally! — put the team at a .500 record. Plus Getty Images apparently started taking some nifty black-and-white sports photos. Cool all around, eh? Yanks Get Even As Bobby Socks [NYDN]

Maxwell Wheat Will Not Be L.I. Poet Laureate

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• Nassau County had its first poet laureate all picked out: Maxwell Corydon Wheat Jr. Then they discovered his poem that begins "Males and one woman / Sip coffee mornings in the White House, / Talk of desires about Iraq." So that's a no. Good call, incidentally: The poem is beyond awful. [NYT] • Meet Dr. Alain Kaloyeros, a SUNY-Albany nanotech scientist who happens to be the best-remunerated state employee in New York. After last week's record pay hike, his various salaries add up to an annual windfall of $947,538. Not that anyone's counting. [NYP] • Nothing like a crazed-insurance-broker yarn: Noel Lauria bought a bow and fired arrows out his UES window, landing a stray one through a neighbor's terrace door. His explanation to the cops: "I'm turning 40." [NYDN] • Oh, goody, another "edgy" magician dangling over Times Square. The ingredients in the current mess: a guy named Criss Angel, a glass box, 6,000 pounds of concrete, and a crappy A&E show to promote. Go concrete! [amNY] • And over the weekend, all manner of deformed, tattooed, and hairy freaks played baseball. Also, there was a Coney Island charity game, with the Sideshow By the Seashore performers battling the Cyclone staff. See what we did there? [Metro NY]

Last Night in New York Baseball: The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat

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Pro sports can be simultaneously rational and bizarre, painful and joyous, and in less than an hour last night all those elements came together to perfectly crystallize the New York big-league baseball narrative so far this season: One of our teams can’t catch a break, one can't do anything wrong, and that hour showed it. It’s a moment worth commemorating before SportsCenter's tsunami of highlights washes it all away.

Statue of Liberty

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In exciting weekend-sports action, the New York Liberty opened the season with an 83-71 victory over the Chicago Sky. (What, were there more interesting local games this weekend?) Mostly, though, we're just fascinated by this photo of what appears to have been the halftime entertainment. Ladies and gentleman, the Timeless Torches. They're the Liberty's 40-and-over dancers, and, well, the gals seem to really admire that dude in the hat. Related: Timeless Torches [WNBA.com]

Liberty Rookie Is a Real New Yorker

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After last year's dismal season, it seems odd that the New York Liberty would trade its star player, Becky Hammon. Regardless, the payoff looks promising with three superstar rookies (above) gearing up for the May 20 season opener: Jessica Davenport, Tiffany Jackson, and the local Shay Doron. Doron, 22, a Israeli-born University of Maryland grad, spent her childhood moving back and forth between New York and Tel Aviv. She settled here her junior year of high school to attend Queens' basketball-centric Christ the King. Why did your family decide to return to New York? The sole reason we moved back was for me to play basketball and have an opportunity to be recruited. Christ the King is the best basketball school in country. Are you Jewish? Yeah.

Bruce Ratner vs. the Homeless, Too

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• 350 residents were ordered out of a homeless shelter after a parapet fell off a Ratner-condemned building next door. Even the dourest pessimists at Develop Don't Destroy didn't think mass displacement at Atlantic Yards would already be an issue. [NYT] • So that's why the City Council wants to ban metal bats: An assistant baseball coach at East Side's Norman Thomas H.S. allegedly went medieval with one, clubbing two kids over the head for cheering on a rival team. [NYDN] • Not a week after a court confirmed activists' right to film cops at protests, the NYPD is asking a judge to give officers back the right to film protesters. Everyone's a damn auteur in this city. [amNY] • Asian American groups are steadily mounting an Imus Redux; CBS Radio is under pressure to can shock jocks "JV and Elvis" for prank-calling a Chinese restaurant with "shlimp flied lice" jokes. Shouldn't we be addressing the larger issue of why prank-calling restaurants is a marketable career option? [MediaChannel] • And Jon Corzine says "I'm the most blessed person who ever lived." Point taken, J.C.: The man is walking and talking two weeks after meeting a guardrail at 91mph. [WNBC]

How to Pretend to Care About Hockey

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It's NHL playoff time, and your New York Rangers start their postseason tonight in Atlanta. This is good news for the Rangers themselves and troubling news for the rest of New York, which is suddenly obligated to actually pay attention to hockey. How to follow a team you haven't watched in a while (or since 1994 or never) and don't much care about? Simple: Just pretend the Rangers play for other New York teams, the ones you've heard of. So who's the Rangers' A-Rod? Who's their Paul Lo Duca? After the jump, our guide to the Rangers and their other-sports analogues.

A Look Back at the Other March Madness

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With the end of March, and, tonight, the end of its best-known Madness, we thought we'd let you in on a secret: There's a different March Madness, and it took place last month on a different set of hardwood courts. It's the College Squash Association Individual National Championships, which were held at the University of Pennsylvania's Ringe Squash Center, and they were — you may be surprised to hear — as exciting to watch North Carolina State's legendary comeback against Houston in the 1983 NCAA finals, just a little more understated.

This Is Not a Baseball Preview

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We refuse, on principle, to offer a baseball season preview. We will not devolve into dewy-eyed fawns trembling in sweet-hearted wonder at the shimmering mysteries to come. ("New Season Brings a Fresh Start for Yankees," this morning's Times excitedly reports.) It's futile to make predictions about a sport in which a season lasts almost as long as human pregnancy — picking a World Series winner now is like predicting that a zygote will turn out to be eight pounds, five ounces, born via c-section at 6:32 on a drizzly November morning, with a mild overbite and his father's eyes. Trust us: You'll be wrong.

MSG Brawl Was Best, Worst Thing to Happen to High-School Hoops

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Three distinct developments are, uh, developing in the wake of Sunday night's Lincoln High–versus–Boys and Girls High postgame brawl (riot cops! 21 arrests! girls whaling on boys!) outside Madison Square Garden. In the first move, Garden management says it may refuse to host high-school basketball championships in the future. In the second, spooked school officials propose moving the big games from the evening to the afternoon. And in the third, CBS has announced its purchase of MaxPreps, an online sports network that tracks 500,000 high-school basketball games each year. Presumably because they don't want to have to sue you for using YouTube the next time. MSG Considers Policy Change After Brawl [WNBC] CBS Buys Online High School Sports Site [Crain's]

New York's Greatest Tourney Tradition Is Dead

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The NCAA announced its tournament brackets yesterday, and now, finally, March is duly heading into Madness. To commemorate the occasion, we asked Will Leitch — the editor of Deadspin and, we hereby proclaim, Daily Intel's senior bracketologist — to share with us his tale of a New York tournament tradition now, sadly, lost to history: A week ago, one of those only–in–New York traditions bit the dust; the famous "Jody's Pool," based out of Staten Island watering hole Jody's, will be discontinued this year. The pool was notorious for its massive pots; last year's grand prize was $1.5 million, making it the biggest pool in the country. The problem is, when you have a pool that's worth that much, people tend to notice. First, the press; then, the IRS. And with three words from grizzled owner Jody Haggerty — "Definitely no pool" — it was over.

A-Rod Is Underwhelming, Now Statistically Proven

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A slow Friday at the New York sports desk was enlivened by the arrival of this season’s Baseball Prospectus. The massive tome, featuring analysis of every player on every Major League team, down to those with even the slimmest chance of actually seeing big-league playing time, has a reputation for making highly accurate predictions. So what do the gurus think about the New York teams' chances? You’ll have to buy the book (or subscribe to the Website) for the complete story, but the general sentiment is bullishness on the Yankees (whose off-season personnel moves are praised for their long-term wisdom) and bearishness on the aging Mets (who “may have finally gotten out from under the Braves only to find that they’ve already peaked”). But perhaps most interesting are the comments on Alex Rodriguez.

Isiah's Knicks Follow Tradition, Lose to Nets

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If you thought the Academy Awards had the market cornered last night on empty theatrics, predictable results, and lukewarm competition among pampered, overpaid, washed-up stars, then you weren't watching the Nets' ritual flogging of the Knicks, now a quadrannual affair. The iron law of this ceremony, at least over the past five years, is that the Knicks lose and, because their record is already so bad, it means absolutely nothing. True to form, last night they efficiently converted a nine-point halftime lead into a nine-point loss. But there was also a surprise: This time, if you really lowered your standards, and squinted, and maybe watched your TV through sunglasses, it almost seemed for a minute like it sort of meant something.

Did Jason Kidd Discuss His Affairs With His Son? Plus Other Tabloid-Ready Fun

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The delightful document-researchers at the Smoking Gun have been on fire today, unearthing a troika of choice New York–tabloid source material. Most prominent is the counter-lawsuit filed by Joumana Kidd in her divorce case against New Jersey Nets star Jason, who is — allegedly, always allegedly — a philanderer so prolific and casual that he discussed extramarital affairs with his son. Less tragic and more comic is the list of accommodations Rudy Giuliani requires for his speaking engagements, including transport on a private Gulfstream IV, for starters — though he’s cool with a bigger plane if you’ve got one. (Also noteworthy: As late as March 2006, months after the Bernie Kerik Homeland Security confirmation mess, the Giuliani Partners email domain was giuliani-kerik.com.) And finally, Foxy Brown somehow managed to get police involved in a dispute over personal grooming. Again. Have fun tomorrow, Post.