The Media Learning Curve: More Manny media madness

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Manny-querque has pulled up its tent. It’s a day off — a pregnant pause, if you will — before finding Lake El-snore. Then San Bernardino. Then … San Diego. For the real deal.

Lewis and Clark never had an easier “rehab” assignment West of the Rockies.

Before Manny qualifies for the Triple A All-Star Game and an induction into the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame, we pause to consider his affect on the media around the country.

Steve Hurlbert, the director of media relations for the ‘Topes, said the team issued an extra 65 credentials for this “Manny” series (adding to about 30 credentials that it has already issued to local media affiliates).

Let the circus continue (after today’s media column linked here):

== Confederations Cup Final: U.S. vs. Brazil, live on ESPN, Sunday at 11 a.m. with the pregame, 11:25 a.m. bootoff, from Ellis Park in Johannesburg. A prediction from ESPN’s John Harkes: A 1-1 tie, with the U.S. winning in a shootout and “Tim Howard comes out the big hero.” An Alexi Lalas prediction: “They (U.S. Team) have a chance of winning. A final is a final, anything can happen.”

== Interleague play ain’t over: Fox takes the Angels’ game Saturday at Arizona (Channel 11, 1 p.m., with Kenny Albert and Mark Grace). The New York Yankees-New York Mets series sees time on the MLB Network (Saturday, 4 p.m., with Matt Vasgersian and Harold Reynolds) and ESPN (Sunday, 5 p.m., with Jon Miller, Joe Morgan and Steve Phillips). TBS has Boston at Atlanta (Sunday, 10:30 a.m.)

== NBC has the U.S. Track and Field Championships from famed Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. (Sunday, 1 p.m.), including Beijing medalists such as former L.A. Baptist High star Allyson Felix (100 and 200 meters), Angelo Taylor, Kerron Clement and Bershawn Jackson (400 meter hurdles) plus Tyson Gay (100 meters). Tom Hammond, Ato Boldon, Lewis Johnson, Dwight Stones and Bob Neumeier call it.

== HBO has the Victor Ortiz-Marcos Rene Maidana bout from Staples Center on delay (Saturday, 10 p.m.) with Bob Papa, Emanuel Steward and Max Kellerman on its “Boxing After Dark” series. The previously announced co-feature showcasing Chris John and Rocky Juarez has been cancelled due to illness. Meanwhile, the four-episode series “Mayweather/Marquez 24/7,” originally scheduled to debut prior to this bout, has been delayed due to the postponement of the July 18 pay-per-view bout.

== Variety reports that Columbia Pictures, unhappy with a script rewrite, has dropped the ball on “Moneyball,” the Steven Soderbergh-directed film starring Brad Pitt as Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane that was supposed to start shooting this week in Phoenix. The movie is now being pitched to Warner Bros. and Paramount. Soderbergh is using real and former players such as Scott Hatteberg, David Justice, Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson and Darryl Strawberry.

== Check in on the Golf Channel’s new series, “Golf in America” (Tuesdays, 10 p.m.) as it tries to capture “the never-before-told stories, larger-than-life characters and inspirational people” who have “the spirit of the game of golf,” according to the network release. Actor Anthony Anderson hosts, with interviews by Rich Lerner, Kelly Tilghman, Brandel Chamblee and John Feinstein.

== Fox Soccer Channel airs the movie “Goal! The Dream Begins” on Sunday (5 p.m. and 8 p.m.) about the young soccer player Santiago (played by Kuno Becker) from East L.A. who plays in England. Cameos by David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane.

== With the Tour de France approaching (July 4), the Sundance Channel has the U.S. TV debut of “Blood, Sweat & Gears: Racing Clean To The Tour De France” on Monday (10:30 p.m.), which follows Team Slipstream-Chipotle (now Team Garmin-Slipstream), a young Colorado-based pro cycling team that pioneered the most progressive anti-doping system in all of professional sports and used it during the 2008 race. The movie has several repeats, including Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and beyond July 4.

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A sniff at the new book on Beckham

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“The Beckham Experiment: How the World’s Most Famous Athlete Tried to Conquer America,” by Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, has a July 14 release date — two days before David Beckham makes his first appearance of 2009 for the MLS’ Galaxy, and almost two years to the day when the team held its introductory press conference at the Home Depot Center amidst confetti and fanfare.

Yes, the timing is right.

According to the publisher (book linked here) and publicity maker generating interest in the project, Wahl “went behind the scenes from Day 1 with truly unprecedented access to players, management, handlers and Beckham himself to bring readers the real story behind this intricately managed fiasco. The book is sure to raise more than a few eyebrows and shed new light on the relationship between the increasingly uncomfortable bedfellows of sports and the entertainment industry.”

The book is scheduled for release to reviewers by July 6 “because of the controversial nature of the book.”

More from the Crown publishers’ pub:

Continue reading

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Our Daily Dread: The maple bat that just nicked Nick Green … for real, not on a video game

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AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Boston Red Sox’s shortstop Nick Green looks back to second base as he runs near a broken bat by Washington Nationals’ Elijah Dukes during the second inning of Wednesday’s game in Washington.

UPDATED: Thursday, June 18:

We saw the replay of this near ugly impaling incident on the MLB Network (check out the clip yourself at this link), nearly a few minutes after it happened. And Elijah Dukes was credited with a base hit for what was an otherwise routine grounder to Nick Green in Wednesday’s game. The reason: Green was busy trying to avoid the spiraling sharred end of the barrel of the bat that was coming at him and he let the grounder go into left field.

Again, someone barely avoids getting speared.

On the Red Sox’s website story (linked here), Green, who turned to see the broken bat lodged into the outfield grass after the play ended, said:

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“It hit me in the forearm, but it was the barrel, so it was all right,. It happened so fast, you don’t really have time to react. I did what I could do to get out of the way of the bat. That’s all you can do. I didn’t have time to get scared. [It’s] just one of those things that happens and you try to get away as quick as we can.”

Said Washington manager Manny Acta: “Lord, that was very scary. We have seen bats split in two in the last couple of years, but I’ve never seen a bat travel that far and that fast toward that guy. What came to my mind was, ‘What if it was toward the mound, which is only 60 feet, six inches [away]?’ It was scary, but I think they are doing some studies on that. Hopefully something good will come out of it.”

Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester: “I thought we put a whole lot of money and time into researching how that doesn’t happen, but we’re still getting a lot of bat heads that break and go flying. There’s nothing you can really do.”

The video clip made for some interesting replays on ESPN’s yackfest shows in the days that followed. Among the reactions that seemed to border only on common sense:

Tim Cowlishaw on “Around The Horn” said: “There’s no need for this. Just make guys use ash bats. End of story. Get rid of maple.”

Tony Kornheiser on “Pardon the Interruption” said: “When you ask Bud (Selig) a question, he forms a commission, he studies it for 10 years, he delays and delays and delays and tells you sometime in the future he’s going to come out with a decision. You can’t have this. When one of these bats splinters and hits somebody in the head, and he looks like a visadop, because he’s got something sticking out of his head, you can’t have that. Ban maple.”

Added Michael Wilbon: “For 80 years they used ash baseball bats. How many bats did (DiMaggio) break during the 56-game hitting streak? Babe Ruth, it seems, used the same bats for an entire season. They didn’t break … and the solution is so simple. Ash baseball bats. Just do it already.”

Yes, this is the first time in the discussion that we’ve been on since 2007 that the word “visadop” has been dropped into a sentence. And I can’t even begin to figure out what kind of thing that is. I can’t spell it. I’ve never heard of it. I have no idea what that would even look like, except to imagine it based on his description.

You know how “normal” these broken bats now seem to be? They’re included in video games:

Add to this, a story this week about an 8-year-old fan hit by a broken bat in a minor league game in Toledo (linked here):

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Obama may take the final punch for Jack Johnson

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By Frederic J. Frommer
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Senate urged President Barack Obama today to pardon the late black heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, who was sent to prison nearly a century ago because of his romantic ties with a white woman.

Senators approved the resolution by voice vote; it now goes to the House.

Johnson became the first black heavyweight champion in 1908 — 100 years before Obama was elected the nation’s first black president. The boxer was convicted in 1913 of violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for immoral purposes. The law has since been heavily amended, but has not been repealed.

The resolution was sponsored by Obama’s 2008 opponent, Arizona Republican John McCain. Similar resolutions offered in 2004 and last year failed to pass both chambers of Congress.

“One down, one to go,” said the House sponsor, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., in a telephone interview tonight. “The fact that John got it through the Senate is great.”

He said that there would be “tremendous historic significance” in the nation’s first black president pardoning the nation’s first black heavyweight champ. King added that he hoped the House will take up the resolution early next month.

Neither McCain nor the White House immediately responded to requests for comment Wednesday night. But in unveiling the resolution in April, McCain said, “We need to erase this act of racism which sent an American citizen to prison on a trumped-up charge.”

He also said he was sure that Obama would sign the legislation.

McCain and King are advocating the pardon along with filmmaker Ken Burns, whose 2005 documentary, “Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson,” explored the case against Johnson and the sentencing judge’s admitted desire to “send a message” to black men about relationships with white women. Burns helped form the Committee to Pardon Jack Johnson, which filed a petition with the Justice Department in 2004 that was never acted on.

The resolution approved today says that the boxer should receive a posthumous pardon “for the racially motivated conviction in 1913 that diminished the athletic, cultural, and historic significance of Jack Johnson and unduly tarnished his reputation.” It says a pardon would “expunge a racially motivated abuse of the prosecutorial authority of the federal government from the annals of criminal justice in the United States.”

Johnson, a native of Galveston, Texas, won the 1908 world heavyweight title after police in Australia stopped his 14-round match against the severely battered Canadian world champion, Tommy Burns. That led to a search for a “Great White Hope” who could beat Johnson. Two years later, Jim Jeffries, the American world titleholder Johnson had tried for years to fight, came out of retirement but lost in a match called “The Battle of the Century,” resulting in deadly riots.

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Hold the Mayo (legally): New evidence may change … I forgot, what were we talking about?

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The Associated Press

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A suspended Grand Rapids Press sports columnist accused of growing marijuana at his home has turned down a plea agreement.

David Mayo tearfully issued a statement Tuesday outside Kent County Circuit Court, saying new information has come to light in his case and he has opted for a trial.

He declined to provide details.

Mayo was suspended from his job after being charged in February with a felony drug-possession count that carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years.

Police say a January raid on his home netted 71 marijuana plants and 32 ounces of pot in canning jars.

Prosecutors offered to let him plead guilty to a reduced felony drug charge that carries up to four years in prison. A misdemeanor drug charge would have been dropped.

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