Out of the Shadows
He brought us baseball in the bush leagues (Bull Durham), the hustle of the blacktop (White Man Can't Jump), the thin line between purgatory and redemption in golf (Tin Cup) and a one-name diamond demon (Cobb). Now, writer-director Ron Shelton is shining his dramatic light on the shadow of steroids.
Shelton and his Tin Cup writing partner John Norville are currently writing a script based on Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports, the best-selling book written by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams on the BALCO steroid distribution scandal. The film will air on HBO (likely in 2009) and will be directed by Shelton if his schedule permits. "It's All The Presidents Men kind of meets the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight," said Shelton, who also wrote The Best of Times and Blue Chips. "You have the government, you have people like Terry Madden (the former chief executive officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping. Agency, and all of these investigations end up leading to this little mall in South Bay called Balco Labs with this bizarre character named Victor Conte mixing potions for the world's great athletes."
Fainaru-Wada said he and Williams had a couple of feelers to adapt Game of Shadows for the screen before Mike Greenburg reached out to the authors. He said it's his understanding that they will see the script prior to filming. "It's exciting, its fascinating, it's totally surreal," said Fainaru-Wada. "And I think it will get more surreal and real as we move forward. Both Ron and John have said, Look, when we're finished, we want you guys to look at this and be comfortable. The last thing we want is for there to be something you are not comfortable with. We want it to be realistic and reflect what happened.
Fainaru-Wada plans on being on set for some of the filming, though he has no role in casting. "It'll be weird seeing someone play me," he said. "But whomever it is will be better-looking than me -- which will be very good."
THEY WROTE IT
"Lead analyst Joe Morgan, normally given to excessive speech-making, dubious analysis and fantasy-as-fact observations and recall, seemed downright delusional, Captain Queeg in the Officer's Club with Captain Morgan."
Mike Emrick has long been one of the NHL's top voices but he did something Saturday night during Versus' Game 1 Stanley Cup coverage that makes viewers appreciate him even more: He admitted a mistake. Emrick went into his goal call after Kris Draper's shot clanged first off the left post behind Peguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, then off the right post. The puck, alas, never went in. "I bought it," Emrick told the audience. "But I've bought some bad things before."
It's always appreciated when a broadcaster cites the newspaper and author of the story he or she is using to fill his or her broadcast. Trust us, it doesn't always happen. (You know who you are, Mr. ESPN broadcaster). After TNT's Doug Collins referred to a poignant story in "the paper" about Luke and Bill Walton, his partner Marv Albert added the pertinent information: The writer was Bill Plaschke. The paper was the L.A. Times. The story is here.
ESPN often brings in active athletes to serve as analysts after the athlete's team has been eliminated from the postseson. Last weekend, Cavaliers guard Damon Jones made the rounds in Bristol, getting more airtime than Skip Bayless between ESPNNews, SportsCenter and ESPN Radio. He's not a finished product but Jones -- one of the NBA's premier talkers -- offered some interesting insights as well as a welcome bout of humor. He also did someting rare: He trashed an ESPN employee during his stay, taking issue with Jalen Rose for calling out players for playing bad defense when Rose, in Jones' words, played none himself during his career He also took a swipe at Stephen A. Smith for what Jones perceived as general negativity. Keep you eye on this guy when he hangs up his Li-Nings.
As ESPN's Erik Kuselias painfully learns here, the Awful Announcing blog never takes a day off.
"I just let my guard down there for a second, but again that's still on me," said Randolph. "That's my responsibility." Randolph's assertion puts O'Connor's ethics under the microscope, even if he soft-pedals it by taking "responsibility" for "letting his guard down." That's weak. First, O'Connor had his tape recorder out, a fact vetted by others in the clubhouse. Second, O'Connor is also a well-known columnist with a working credential for that game. "When I interviewed him in the visitors' clubhouse in Yankee Stadium Sundayhe never asked for any part of the conversation to be off the record, nor did I offer to put any part of the conversation off the record," O'Connor told Newsday. You can understand Randolph's self-preservation mode but not to the point of inferring, even gently, that O'Connor sold him out for a sexy story. When someone from old media goes after a blogger (see, Bissinger, Buzz), the sports blogsphere rallies around the aggrevied party with the force of John Rambo. It should be the same with the mainstream media, especially when it's someone with as solid a reputation as O'Connor.
WHAT I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO
"I don't really view mixed martial arts as a different sport," said Johnson. "My approach is going to be to call mixed martial arts with the same passion, intensity, focus and commitment that I do when I call the NFL, the NCAA, pro basketball or professional boxing or any other sport that I have an opportunity to call."
LINK OF THE WEEK
The International Herald Tribune (an English-language oasis for anyone traveling in Europe) has been running an ongoing series (the IHT Global Sports Forum) examining the world of sport through the eyes of experts from around the world. Here's a robust discussion on the French Open featuring L'Equipe's Philippe Bouin (France), The Globe and Mail's Tom Tebbutt (Canada), Tages-Anzeiger and Sonntags-Zeitung's Rene Stauffer (Switzerland) and our own Jon Wertheim.