The Sports pages

When Barry Fought Jeffrey

San Francisco Giants teammates Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent tussled in their own dugout. The bout was the latest manifestation of a feud that has festered since Kent trashed Bonds to Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly last August.

The San Jose Mercury News’ Skip Bayless says it’s time for the Giants to deal Kent: “Kent must go. Kent confirmed this with his shrugging excuse for going at it with Bonds at the far end of the Qualcomm Stadium dugout. Kent said he and Bonds have had dugout skirmishes ‘a half dozen times’ without a TV camera catching them. They have? What are you waiting for, [General Manager] Brian Sabean?”

Pardon the idiocy: Baseball announced the lineups for the July 9 All-Star Game. Perhaps worried that no one would care, the league allowed ESPN to roll out the honorees in an hourlong special, not unlike the televised pseudo-events that are the NCAA Tournament Selection Show and the NBA and NFL drafts.

The Rocky Mountain News’ Bernie Lincicome hated the show: “In its typical fashion of burying the lead (Just give me the score!) ESPN managed to tell us absolutely nothing in any order we can use about anything we want to know. … This is just further dumbing down the most cerebral sport to the non-reading, short-attention span mugs who, unlike at the NBA draft, at least were not in the audience howling their objections to each name announced.”

The league is letting fans pick the final All-Star on both squads. Click here to vote.

The Clippers embrace fiscal irresponsibility: The Los Angeles Times’ T.J. Simers landed a post-draft interview with Los Angeles Clippers owner/infamous tightwad Donald Sterling. Always a miser at contract time, Sterling now sounds like a man who is ready to exceed the NBA’s salary cap and pay a stiff luxury tax. “Listen, we’re generating a lot of money from tickets, a lot of money from TV and we have some offers from some local TV stations that are astronomical. If we make $20 million in profit, or spend $20 million more than we take in, that’s no big deal to me.” He even hints at high-dollar, long-term contracts for Elton Brand, Michael Olowokandi, and others.

Where has this lavish spending been all these years? Sterling argues that he never before had any players worth keeping around.

More on the NBA’s Cap Room Myth: Beware NBA general managers who tell fans they’re dumping their good players to create “salary cap room,” which they’ll then use to purchase a couple of good players to turn the team’s fortunes around. They’re kidding themselves. The latest perpetrator of the Cap Room Myth is the Denver Nuggets’ Kiki Vandeweghe, who tells the New York Times that he unloaded his two best players so he could, in the paper’s words, “pay maximum money to two premier free agents within two years.”

As Sports Nut has pointed out before, this is madness. Good NBA players never to go bad teams through free agency. They have no financial incentive to do so because their old team can pay them more. Plus, thanks to “sign and trade” deals, they can easily move from one over-the-cap team to the next. But the ploy may convince Nuggets season-ticket holders—if any in fact exist—to extend their tickets one more year so that they may witness the arrival of these mythical free agents.

Dispatches from baseball hell: The Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers trashes his own paper, which he says has run the Chicago Cubs into the ground. He stumps for manager Don Baylor, who could be the fall guy for another mediocre season. Unfortunately, it looks like the front office that “threw $76 million down a Wrigleyville sewer will yield to the emotions of a dispirited constituency and make a managerial change—the 13th in 21 years under Tribune control.”

The Kansas City Star’s Joe Posnanski, who has the misfortune of covering the Royals, slaps the team for alienating the five fans it has left. The Royals nixed a plan to wear historic uniforms on “Salute to the Negro Leagues Night” because they thought it would be unfair to their opponents, the San Diego Padres, who couldn’t sport Negro League unis of their own. (Never mind that the city of San Diego did have all-black teams, and in any case could have cooked up some kind of historic jersey for the occasion.)

But even better is the Royals’ original excuse, which was that the Negro League uniforms were too expensive. They would have cost $6,000.

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