Monday, December 25, 2006
"Yeah, I was. Just got back yesterday."
"Cool. How was it?"
"Oh, it was nice."
Oh, it was nice.
Despite having four major professional sports teams (we're giving hockey the benefit of the doubt here), numerous big-time colleges within an hour or two (Colorado, Colorado State, Denver University, Air Force, Colorado College), and numerous other "fringe" professional teams (Colorado Crush in Arena League, the Mammoth of professional indoor lacrosse, etc.) Colorado, and, especially, Denver, has never had much of a cultural impact on sports. Or anywhere else for that matter.
That may have all changed within the past few months, however. The Real World: Denver house is pictured above, and although I haven't watched much of it, I've heard through the grapevine that it may be the most deliciously slutty installment yet. They seem to get more juvenile with each passing year (can you imagine somebody now going through the realization of having HIV or AIDS?), and all that I've heard of RW: Denver so far is that there is much hot-tubbing, making out, and making of the fucky-sucky. Which, for such a whitebread, whitehorse town, isn't much of a bad thing.
Think about it. When was the last time something cool came out of Denver, or had Denver/Colorado as its epicenter? For all intents and purposes, New York and Los Angeles always have been and always will be the engine that drives our cultural SUVs. But even Seattle had the coffee/grunge music influence. Miami has the beaches, Cuban influence and Dwyane Wade, which is a force in and of itself. Chicago has always been the Second City, but it's Second for a reason: good shit has always come out of Chicago, and probably will for a while. Boston has its immense Irish influence, which can be seen in at least four movies each year. Detroit, while looking like Baghdad on crack, will always be gritty enough to give us hip-hop and garage rock stars. Las Vegas is, well, Las Vegas, and other cities (Baltimore, Washington D.C., Houston, New Orleans, San Diego, St. Louis, Atlanta, etc.) always have one or two extremely unique things that keep them on the peak of one cultural mountain.
Speaking of which, that's all Denver has. Mountains. Skiing. Snowboarding. And even Utah has some places, like Park City, that rival many of Colorado's slopes (Vail and Aspen notwithstanding, obviously). But it's the only pastime where 99% of the participants are the exact color of the surface on which they are participating. A hobby that costs about as much as a new big-screen plasma TV to indulge in for a weekend. When I tell people that I grew up in the Denver suburbs and don't ski or snowboard, they look at me like Komodo dragons are crawling out of my nostrils. What? You don't ski? Are you crazy?
No, I was just poor. Sorry. I will now dunk this basketball, purely because I'm 6-foot-5. (I've got virtually no hops, by the way.)
My senior class in high school had between 250 and 300 people when we graduated. I can honestly say that about 5 were black. Probably 40% was white, 40% hispanic, and most of the rest asian. My high school certainly was not indicative of the entire state (Chauncey Billups graduated from East High in Denver, which is predominantly black), but outside of the main part of Denver, it was a decent snapshot. And once you get into the foothills and mountains, it's pretty heavily caucasian.
Basically, white people do not drive popular culture. It's true. And the town has certainly had some stars, but I don't remember people going out and getting front teeth extensions just to be like John Elway.
But now Denver matters. To be quite honest, there's not one person who knows, sufficiently one way or the other, how the trade for Allen Iverson will work on the court. Iverson could defer to Carmelo Anthony, or he could take tons of ill-advised shots, as he's done in the past. Maybe he'll be invigorated playing the Nuggets' up-tempo, fast-break style, or maybe it will just make his (already sub-par) defense that much worse. Maybe they'll win a championship. Maybe they won't.
No matter what happens now, though, people will be talking about the Nuggets. Aside from Melo jerseys, which have sold pretty well all over the country, Iverson powder-blue #3 Nuggets jerseys will be flying off the shelves this holiday season. Kids in inner cities across the nation will be saying, "Yo, did you peep that Denver game last night?" even if they can't find Denver on a map.
And for the city that brought you Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, well, that ain't such a bad thing, either.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Anyway, as if you didn't already know - the Broncos are back in the hunt for a playoff spot after dismissing the Buzzsaw that is the Arizona Cardinals 37-20. At 8-6 they are tied with Jacksonville, New York and Cincinnati for the wild card, and those lovable, law-breakin' Bengals visit snow-packed Denver on Sunday for a Christmas Eve ramma-jamma.
So, which J.C. did Jay Cutler play like?
I mean, seriously, did you see that throw to Javon Walker? Because I didn't. The game didn't get switched over in the bar I was in until about seven minutes into the game. But then they played it on replay, and I think I may have gotten an erection: play-action fake, turns around, steps left to avoid the rush, and unleashes a drop-dead perfect 60-something-yard homing missile to an in-stride Walker while absorbing a pretty lethal hit. Sure, it was 54 yards in the books, but the books aren't the gospel, dude. Cutler's right arm is.
After going 13-17 for 161 yards and a touchdown in the first half, Cutler threw an interception on the first drive of the second half that could have swung momentum. But Arizona got called for a penalty on a field goal and ended up having to take 3 points off the board. Then, on the ensuing drive, Cutler finished with a perfect pass to Rod Smith in the corner of the end zone on a fade route. From there on out it was Mike Bell's show, and the game was really never in doubt.
Final stats: 21-31, 261 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT. If I had a degree from MIT I'd calculate his passer rating, but I don't. So I'll just call it a pretty damn good game and leave it at that.
Which J.C. did Jay Cutler play like? #1
Which J.C. did Jay Cutler play like? #2
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
As the Washington Redskins proved that I was a genius for doubting them all week, I wondered what the hell Clinton Portis has to be thinking right now. I mean, after watching Ladell Betts saddle up the Redskins on his damn haunches and bust first down run after first down run, doesn’t he seem like he is the typical Gibbs power back? He even has the double consonant that Gibbs owns and loves—Timmy Smith, Riggins, etc. I know Portis is a machine, and believe me, I love watching him, but Betts is impressive, fearless and form-fitting for the stubborn yet incisive coach of Redskins lore.
In thinking further, the change was an invited respite. The resurgence I witnessed last week is not wholly on the shoulders of Mr. Betts, but instead probably the product of Mr. Gibbs threatening the lifespan of players and coaches. Still, Betts’ running is inspirational. The O-Line seems to be more motivated now than when they still had a shot at the playoffs (after accidentally beating
Could such an unfathomable trade be in the future? Doubtful.
Would we pay an astronomical amount to platoon Portis and Betts next year? Betts’ 5 year extension is around $4 million in cap money and Portis’ is around 6.5 (I think—I’m no mathematician). For two quality backs they’re paying $10.5 million. It’s more than we pay Adam Archuleta to flip imaginary pancakes on the C-Squad, I guess. It’s more than we paid Deion Sanders (in sharp suits—I’m not sure we actually gave him money, but flame retardant flashy suits). It’s more than we paid Bruce Smith to break records and for being a better story than the biggest coaching disaster in fifty years (until the ‘Art Shell 2: Silent Stare’ era began). It’s more than we paid for Brandon Lloyd (more double consonants!) to stand around and look thuggish or Antwaan Randle-El (do double vowels count?) to run fifty yards for every five yards gained. It’s also more than Santana Moss’ (double… nevermind) contract which allows him to be one of the two spark plugs (with Portis) that revived Mark Brunell (this is getting ridiculous) during last year’s improbable playoff run.
In effect, letting any talent leave gives us more room to sign exorbitant free agents and have them ruin more reputations. Hopefully, I will get the distinct pleasure of seeing both men display their considerable talents (a la my beloved partner’s Broncos, only with, you know, good RBs).
The only problem is, Gibbs and Al Saunders may see the opportunity to get affordable young ta… what am I saying? Portis will probably stay, and we’ll trade for a third highly paid RB and jettison him to the practice squad—that way Archuleta will have a super rich practice buddy. I love you, Dan Snyder. Perhaps your love of excessive contracts will actually work to the Redskins’ advantage this time.
The supposed “shake-up” that is invariably linked to any off-season Snyder has his hands in doesn’t seem all that drastic compared to some. Seems like a couple of underachievers will fall and a couple of contracts will be re-negotiated. Maybe the Archuleta/Randle El/Fauria/Lloyd signings have re-taught the lesson he should have learned in the Smith/Sanders days. For every major class of free agents, only one has pulled through: the 2004 class (Phillip Daniels, Portis, et al). Portis remains a big reason why I get excited about this team. Betts and Campbell are fast becoming new reasons. It’s been awhile since I’ve watched the ‘Skins and looked for reasons to win. Betts and Campbell may have induced this, but without Portis I wouldn’t have been so likely to care. Of the new class of free agents, I’ve been impressed with exactly none of them—Randle El having the most potential (in all fairness, you can’t be upset with Fauria’s IR stint—these things happen).
When Portis returns, and of course he will, there will be a sense of continuity and a pair of fresh legs awaiting their chance. That’s exciting. Here’s to next year—something I haven’t been able to say in awhile—so long as the “shake-up” stays conservative.
Monday, December 18, 2006
"Yeah, I Know He's A Complete Fucking Moron And He Could Run A Rice Stand In Downtown Beijing into The Ground, But He's OUR Coach!"
The best football game I've ever seen was a game that my Colorado State Rams lost 44-40. That may not sound impressive, but when Air Force and CSU rack up over 1,000 yards of offense in conditions that would've made penguins beg for some Jack Daniels and hot chocolate, you don't care in the long run if your team emerged victorious or not. You're just happy you saw something special.
Usually, though, the games that end up sticking around in the cobwebs of your memory are the ones where your team wins a big game, makes a big comeback, or your favorite player does something to rock your world.
Or, as was the case Saturday night, a big-ass freaking brawl breaks out.
That's not the greatest picture ever, but it's here because it's authentic. It was taken by my friend Kelly during the fracas, and while she was busy snapping pictures, I was busy spilling my beer on myself and screaming for Carmelo to go all Avon Barksdale on some dudes.
Thing is, I didn't think he'd actually do it.
Ok, so, here's what happ- well, I'll just let Nate Robinson explain.
From what they did, keeping their guys on the court, I knew a foul was going to come. It was a good, clean, hard foul, and after that things went down from there. I've never seen a team up 20 keep their starters in. They wanted to embarrass us, and it was a slap in the face to us as a team and a franchise.Umm, Mr. Robinson, you think this was a "good, clean, hard foul"? Oh, wait, you also think you're an elite-level point guard, too? And, as so many have pointed out over the last few days, didn't you try a highlight-reel dunk on a breakaway against the Cavaliers a little while back and BLOW IT? Oh, you did? And that's not trying to "embarrass" someone? Hey, Nate - SHUT THE HELL UP YOU STUPID FUCKING MIDGET. You should love the Nuggets because we gave the world Chris Andersen in the dunk contest (even though he was with the Hornets at the time), whose atrocious display is the only thing keeping your 2006 Dunk Championship debacle from being remembered as the worst thing to happen to the dunk since Shawn Bradley.
And as far as Robinson and Isiah Thomas's comments that the Nuggets were running up the score: YOU'RE GODDAMN RIGHT THEY WERE. George Karl does not like you, Isiah. That much is obvious. But how about ten days before this game, where the Nuggets blew a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter at home against the Hawks? Or how about something that nobody's talked about - the fact that the night before this game, Carmelo dropped 42 on the Celtics and Denver still lost? That does not make a team happy. Those things - a coach loathing the coach of the team he's about to play the day after losing to a shitty team when his star has a huge game - contribute to a man wanting to put his foot down on your throat and press hard.
Most coaches would realize this. They would whip their teams into a frenzy and say, "This squatty John Lithgow-lookin' motherfucker does not like me OR my organization-running skills, he doesn't respect the fact that I grew up poor in Chicago and he's going to tell his team to come into our house and whup your ass." And if those players had even the smallest amount of respect for their coach, they would get out there and go after it.
But they didn't. The Knicks weren't good enough to stop the other team, and it resulted in an ugly, consequence-heavy fight.
I remember thinking that 'Melo would get three, maybe even five games. But then I saw the punch again, saw how it came right when the whole thing was dying down, and knew it would be a lot worse.
You know what? He'll do his fifteen, come back in January, go right back to leading the league in scoring, get his first All-Star nod, and (hopefully) lead the Nuggets back to the playoffs. But Kid Napoleon Dynamite, Isiah and the rest of the Knicks? They'll still be claiming games with 3,000 empty seats are "sold-out," they'll still be getting their asses run out of their own building, and they'll still be pointing the finger at everyone but themselves.
And then Isiah Thomas and Matt Millen will go back to Hell and resume serving Satan his Daquiris.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I was late getting to the bar Sunday, and I got a message from my buddy Berg. All it said was "Looking solid so far."
Great, I thought. We might have a chance.
But when I got to the bar, the harsh reality of our cold, digital world smacked me upside the head before I could even order a beer: 21-3 San Diego, early second quarter.
I should have stayed in bed.
So which J.C. did Jay Cutler play like?
John Clayton: Indecisive, poor, pathetic.
Jay Cutler: Solid, decisive, improving.
Now, we're still in this thing. Cutler definitely improved on his 4 for 11 first half, with a couple of quick touchdowns to open the third quarter. But the second was merely a nice tip by Tony Scheffler to himself; it's very possible that one might have been picked off otherwise.
But we're nitpicking here. Cutler played well enough to conceivably come away with a victory - if the Broncos weren't playing the best team in the NFL.
And, no, I'm not being sarcastic.
Which J.C. Did Jay Cutler Play Like? #1
Saturday, December 09, 2006
I'm of the mind that my sports teams should just celebrate their funerals. Black helmets are cool (unless you're Rothlisberger in the offseason). Admittedly, I'm drunk as a hammerbird right now, but The Redskins, Red Sox, Celtics, North Carolina State University, and anyone else I've purposefully forgotten are fantastic examples of why I should find a way to become a ninja. Then the Tyler Hansbroughs, the Derek Jeters, the Tim Duncans, the Tony Romos of the world would have a realistic fear in their hearts: the fear of me showing up in their houses undetected and ripping their dicks right the fuck off.
Sure, I could blame the management groups of my teams for their lack of regard for free agent and recruitment scouting. Sure, my father deserves another, "why do we watch sports again?" call. Sure, at least I'm not justifying Andy Pettite coming back to the AL (much less the East for 16 MILLION FUCKING DOLLARS--awesome). Sure, I've seen beautiful things in my lifetime involving my sports teams. The fact remains, though, I'm in the throes of sports depression. I've no hope until baseball season officially begins, and then, I am, at best, semi-excited. Our best pitching prospect is either a headcase (Mr. Beckett) or a man whose never lived on American soil before. Our new free agent pickups are injury prone prima donnas (yeah, that's harsh).
Sports depression is tricky. The questions pile up. Do the sports Gods want me to take a break? Is it over for me? Should I move to a different city to have new and refreshing reasons to complain? Tune in next week, loyal readers, for another installment of... SHITHOLE FRANCHISES AND THE MAN WHO LOVES THEM. Next week's foe? JULIO FUCKING LUGO. Ugh. I can't spin it. I just can't.
In fact, I'm a step away from seriously signing up for karate lessons. I need them. I gotta kick too many asses. I gotta justify too many hopeful statements and rely on violence for my many failed mission statements. We all gotta believe in something... maybe I just ain't gotta believe in sports.
In other words... Jason Campbell? I'm praying to JC, but I don't have much faith.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
The phrase, “the casual fan” used to be a term that absolutely infuriated me. Aren’t most fans “casual fans?” Shouldn’t people without insider status be considered the majority without being less informed? Sports are simple enough to avoid anything other than unilateral thought, right? I realized, with this baseball off-season, the difference is quite simple.
In 2001, I became a baseball superfan. I wanted to know everything. I read numerous books, discovered internet chat rooms and began hunting the perfect stats. Since this time, I have become more than a casual fan. Nothing refines your understanding more than trying to understand the ridiculous nature of Red Sox baseball. The fans are rabid, the players are constantly maligned, and the Front Office is under the microscope like viruses—honest to God infections. Meticulous and morose, the superfan must take each signing with a grain of salt, each personnel move with a casual fan’s indifference but the mentality of a possessed and still-infatuated girlfriend. Who is this new scout? Where did you meet HIM?
The true test is to ignore media typecasting and see each signing, trade or decision long-term and wait out the usual period of malaise (especially pertinent to the off-season since the superfan must wait for the season with a the awkward gait of a runner finishing a marathon—attention to other sports just seems so forced). For example, it was hard seeing Pedro Martinez go. The casual fan in me screamed “NOOOOOOOOO” while collapsing on the sidewalk in the middle of a rainstorm. The superfan took a few weeks, examined the value of the draft picks, considered Pedro’s proclivity for future injuries and decided it was the smart move to let someone else pay millions for him to hang out on IR. Smarts wins again. The same went for Bill Mueller (one of my personal favorite batting champions of all time), Johnny Damon, Derek Lowe (well, maybe not), Trot Nixon (another favorite) and the same would go for Manny Ramirez if they are stupid enough to let him go without getting at least Sheffield value out of him.
Point of fact, last night was a ridiculous test of my objections to casual fandom. With the announcements of Julio Lugo and J.D. Drew (and the possibility of “Mr. Injured Reserve” Eric Gagne), I was forced to evaluate two players I completely detested as players. As recently as last week I read three articles maligning Drew especially, and my dislike of Lugo was simply his seemingly sub-par efficiency at both the field and the plate (remember: casual fan only takes into focus seeing Lugo play for the Rays and against the Sox, a team altogether owned by the Sox for the most part). So, before going to bed, I enveloped both moves. I saw altered Fenway-specific stats and projections, recommendations, message board inquiries, player interviews and other superfan reactions to these signings.
I’ve decided to take into account both voices in regarding these signings. Drew’s is up now.
Here’s the way I see it. Having looked at his numbers and taken into account he will be relieved by Wily Mo Pena more than a few times in the coming season, I’m projecting some stats (completely from me after having seen other projections and taking into account I watch enough baseball to try this out):
Without Manny Ramirez:
G R HR RBI BB SB CS BA OBP SLG VORP*
130 73 21 83 60 6 3 .265 .365 .459 20.1*
With Manny Ramirez:
G R HR RBI BB SB CS BA OBP SLG VORP*
130 88 25 93 71 6 3 .285 .388 .485 21.1*
*- I know what Value over Replacement Player is, what it means, and why it is important, but not how to calculate it. I stole this as a composite number of some other blogs' calculations. Such is life. Also, the Stolen Bases and Caught Stealing stats are contingent upon my belief that Drew will try and steal around 10 bases, you know, for shits and giggles.
OK. Those are projections after reading numerous attempts at seeing how Fenway will affect his psyche; abilities and taking into account his injury-prone nature.
Casual Fan’s Take: I liked Trot Nixon. Seems to me, we’re paying double the money for a decent improvement over already poor power numbers. Why not take the fan favorite, hard-working, already oft-injured, original “dirt dog” over Drew? Why give up on a guy that has put his heart and soul into the team and the fans? I don’t like this move at all. I can see him being a softer version of Nixon and playing 110 games. I just don’t see the money working out.
Superfan’s Take: The numbers aren’t exactly $14 million-worthy, but he’s got the seal of approval from Bull Mueller: “the way J.D. is, he goes about business the way I do. Usually when people have that kind of personality, they do fine because they go out there and play their hearts out.” That’s coming from one of my favorites from an era that redefined the way I watch sports. The more I dissect this move—the market being what it was—a payment nightmare—and what we had on the field last year, this is a smart move to upgrade from a statistical aberration last year. Nixon was great, but Drew is more of a potential breakout player—Trot had his time to develop his power back to larger umbers behind a fantastic set of hitters, and never reproduced his efforts from earlier in his Sox career. I support the move, though not wholeheartedly.
Immediate Judgment: I’m in favor of J.D. Drew. I can’t believe I wrote that. Christ. What have I become? Ugh. I’m going to drink a bottle of 4 dollar wine tonight.
Note: I can't post this without giving a shoutout to Jon Lester who beat fucking CANCER. All sports talk aside, that's some major shit. He deserves hall of fame consideration for this. Cancer altered his very young existence, but he was lucky and brave enough to earn a clean bill of health. Congrats to Jon and the Lester family.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Sunday night, on national television, Cutler looked ... well, like a rookie, mostly. His final stats: 10 of 21 for 143 yards, 2 INT (one of which was of the Gawd-awful getting-dragged-down-so-I'll-just-huck-up-a-dead-duck variety, which, to no one's surprise, was returned for a score to cut Denver's lead to 10-7) and 2 TD (the first of which was a laser to Stephen Alexander that he tipped to himself, and the other was all Brandon Marshall, who broke several pathetic tackles and converted a six-yard out into a 71-yard score).
The Bottom Line: Seattle 23, Denver 20. Somewhere, Captain Caveman was smiling his little ass off.
But which J.C. did Jay Cutler play like? John Clayton, Jay Cutler, or Jesus Christ? The breakdown:
John Clayton: Erstwhile nerd hero for ESPN, diligent reporter of everything pigskin, natural enemy to Sean Salisbury (which is actually a good thing).
Likes: The Tampa Two defense; two tight end sets; Tom Brady; Creedence Clearwater Revival; Herm Edwards; North Dallas Forty; anything with coconut in it; dragging a fullback across the middle on play-action near the goal line; anything with Catherine O'Hara in it; cabernet sauvignon and pinot grigio; Tom Brady; the year 1987; hairless dogs; Tom Brady.
Dislikes: Sean Salisbury; Sean Salisbury; carrots; Sean Salisbury; chardonnay; Seardonnay Salisbury; running draws on anything longer than third-and-eight; salisbury steak.
This J.C. plays like: Your nerdy cousin who feels like he kinda has to get involved in the annual Thanksgiving game, then jams a finger when you lightly toss the ball to him. He then runs inside and pokes at some cranberry sauce, asking your mother about her sweater.
Jay Cutler: No, really, check it out.
Likes: Protein enhancers; six sets of four reps; baby oil; tanning beds; tanning lotions; lotion in general; lifting insane amounts of weight; asking the person nearest to him to scratch that itch on his back, or thigh, or ... well, just about anywhere; supplements; being hung like a 3-year-old Asian kid in Alaska in January; eating everything in bar form; drinking everything (including protein enhancers and supplements) in shake form; feeling the "burn"; scaring the Bejeesus out of people in public; oh, who are we kidding - taking copious amounts of illegal steroids; bacne.
Dislikes: The geek he used to be in high school (see above); not giving 110%; hair; walking for more than 20 minutes at a time; the constricting nature of clothes made for mortal humans; sex.
This J.C. plays like: A solid veteran. May make a few mistakes here and there (and get some much-loved "needling" from his teammates) but, overall, gets the job done and earns a W for the team. And they respect him because, you know, he's the quarterback and can squash their heads like a grape.
Jesus Christ: Son of God; died for all of your sins, you naughty, dirty little soul, you; had a comeback that was so freakin' epic we now celebrate it by eating chocolate bunnies and finding hidden eggs that have been dyed in various pastel hues; at parties, frequently walks on top of the hot tub water as amazed partygoers scream, "JC! JC!"; then completely blows their minds when he turns said water into wine; fasted for forty days and forty nights, and not in the gay way Josh Hartnett did in that movie; returned to the NBA for one glorious night, bagging 34 points on 12-19 shooting (3-4 from downtown), grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out eight assists; totally made Paul Rodriguez get him a beer once.
Likes: Everything, man. It's Jesus.
Dislikes: Seeing crosses everywhere; nails; Jews (according to Mel Gibson).
This J.C. plays like: If Johnny Unitas, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, John Elway, Tom Brady, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick and Peyton Manning got together, did their business into a Terrible Towel, then impregnated Wonder Woman, and when that kid grew up all he did was live to play football. And so he did.
Yup. The touchdowns weren't anything special, but the mistakes were pretty bad. And apparently it took him a while to get the right tone of voice in the huddle, so that his team could hear him and the other team couldn't.
It takes time. We'll see.