Wednesday, February 28, 2007
The tradition never changes. I get drunk the night before, and then wake up around noon on the day I watch my first preseason baseball game. It doesn't matter who plays-- it could Wichita State vs. the Royals split squad, but I'm watching. Then I hit the Red Sox blogs and start reading about pitchers. As the announcers blather on with Dave Kingman and Rob Deere references to minor leaguers destined to be first cuts, I start thinking aloud
HOLY SHIT, THESE MEN ARE PLAYING PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL (or in todays game, the Mets and Tigers are playing Beisbol). Then, as tradition states, I call my other baseball loving friends and we revel in the fact that we can shout the above sentence in all caps. Then after the game, the Sox ball cap comes out, and it's official-- I am obsessed for another full season.
Of course, this doesn't mean I am legally insane quite yet-- opening day is the benchmark for my "screaming at the TV during a mid-April game with the 5th pitcher on the mound" mindset. All this means is that I am ready to talk officially about baseball.
And that is what I will do. Everyday this week until I have covered all the divisions, I am going to preview the Majors-- with a tinge of honesty and ton of the absurd-- piece by piece with my predictions all the way through the playoffs.
Seriously, this is one of my favorite feelings and favorite traditions not because I think that anything important is going to happen, but just because it is nice to talk about BASEBALL again.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Anyone that doesn't work at the New York Post will tell you it was time to let go of Bernie Williams. While it's true that he was effective against left handers last season, his demeanor and general aptitude were astute failings for the first time in years. I wasn't afraid of him in any game-- postseason or otherwise-- for the past 2 1/2 years. There was no swagger. He reminded me of Jake Taylor-- a teacher with no discernible skill set left to offer a team in need of a numbers man, only you know, nonfictional (so there was no happy ending last year).
All this aside, I am happier, even, to see a team with a glorious past letting go of someone even at the behest of their fans. The Yankees treated Bernie like gold-- keeping him higher in the lineup than he deserved for a short while last season, letting him start amidst injury when they could have traded for someone better or played youngsters, and extending an invitation to Spring Training this year though they could have scoffed him and had their goodbyes and tears already. Just like the Packers have handed a pass to Brett Farve, the Sox will do with Curt Schilling, and the Redskins did with Mark Brunell the Yanks will not do with Bernie any longer.
Sweeping Bernie out is not a disaster situation. This is not a company man who makes little money and cannot do anything else. This is not a factory worker who has spent decades in the industry. This is a aging millionaire baseball player trying to compete with kids who are better than he is. This is a man that has been given everything with little left but stubbornness in his arsenal.
I can't for the life of me imagine one scenario where Bernie fits better than Melky Cabrera in this lineup, nor can I imagine one where Bernie doesn't see this. Bernie doesn't strike me as someone who is naive or much of a dullard. Leaving may sting after all these years, but it cannot shock or wound. If there is gas left in the tank, so be it. There are several teams that need some help and a proven quick-fix warrior that can teach the kids in a weak league. OK, I'll stop beating around the bush. Go to the National League, Bernie. Play in Florida with the kids if they will have you. See what the rest of the country has to offer. Shout at holler at Tampa Bay-- the place where good baseball players go to die. Someone will take you on, and if you play well enough, they will release or trade you for little to no value so you have a shot at another winner.
I just don't see what leg you have to stand on in the Bronx. What do the Yankees owe you? Nothing. In fact, if Yanks are smart, they'll rescind their minor league offer sheet. They will say, "We gave Bernie his chance to make the team, but we have to move on." They've all but done it already. Bernie, don't accept the offer. Move on and then move out. (Pros: You won't have to hear "Disco Inferno" or "YMCA" again, right?) You've done it all, but now it's all done. For once, I'm with the Yanks.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Oh sweet redemption, thy name is Phillip Rivers. Get ready kiddo-- you're about to go on a ride that even Chuck Amato could not have made any worse. Get prepared. Be afraid. You have what could be the single greatest calamity in football on your shoulders. A perfectly capable regular season coach has been replaced by a man responsible for putting two respectable franchises into dire straights for years after his arrival.
Get ready for holding calls, offsides on kick returns, false starts, failures against divisional opponents and a whole lot of consternation on NORV!'s face.
Oh sweet Christ... be prepared. Be VERY prepared.
I was all for the death of the Cowboys, but I'm not so prepared for slow decline of a team I rewally enjoyed watching since Drew Brees grew a set a couple of years ago. I grew up watching Rivers dominate in college, and I loved his year last year. This was my favorite team to watch operate last year. No bullshit. I really loved it. Now, the NORV! era shall reign, and Phillip Rivers will shoulder the load.
Sorry, friend. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Props to Signal to Noise for hitting me with this when I woke up.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT
Things I would've done to see NORV! in a Dallas windbreaker:
--Worn mix-matched socks
--Walked into a North Carolina singles bar with a torn Bon Jovi shirt and a mustache
--Gone to a Yankees game with Red Sox paraphernalia, a "Fuck the Yankees" T-shirt and started a fight
--Ordered a cheeseburger rare from a local diner (local being Queens)
--Thrown ham hocks at a stripper (something my sister has already done, actually)
--Handed the keys to my apartment to a bum on the street with the address/directions by train AND two dollars for MTA fare taped on
--Watched the ENTIRE new season of "Rules of Engagement"
--Told a woman that I wanted to put an aloe plant in her ass on the FIRST date
--Drank the water in a third world country
--Injected myself with CANCER
--Worn a UNC shirt for an entire day
--Worn a Duke shirt for an entire day
--Watched Top Design. Seriously. In fact, I woulda watched BRAVO for weeks.
Fuck you, Wade Phillips. Fuck you forever. You ruined what would've been a fantastic football year for me. I hate you.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
I’ve watched a ton of football in my short life, and I can say, without a doubt, that the closest thing I’ve seen to team suicide is hiring Norv Turner on as head coach. In his seasons with
Of course, this delighted me when he got a job with the Oakland Raiders. Finally, another team could witness the putrid display of coaching and lack of discipline that stymied my Redskins into believing in Spurrier. The same results came in—the same announcers lauded the decision to bring him in, the same pundits attacked his penalty-ridden joke of a team and the same hope was given to a coach who stood no chance of pulling them out of their quagmire.
My prediction? Thought you’d never ask. Turner will get the job. I’m pretty sure he has the personality of a snake charmer in interviews, but when you need someone to stand around on the sidelines until you groom a successor, he’s the guy. In his third week, I’m sure the receiving corps will be standing around a pig’s head on a stick screaming KILL THE BEAST! CUT HIS THROAT! SPILL HIS BLOOD! I can only hope they don’t. I want to see three years of Norv in Big D. It’s just enough rebuilding time for the ‘Skins to take over a weak NFC EAST—one that by then Eli Manning will be murdered by the NY Post and the Eagles will have finally foisted a new folding chair of a quarterback due to McNabb's next injury.
Just let Norv come and I will welcome him back to the NFC East. Hell, I’ll even have some respect for Cowboys fans. We can yell NORV! together as the penalty yards and losses pile up like the shit storm of “What’s wrong in big D?” ESPN stories. Just let that roseate face brighten my Sundays. Oh merciful God, please let Chris Mortensen be right. Please let the Cowboys destroy themselves. It’s all I ask for Michael Irvin to speak so well of NORV! It’s all I ask to hear Tom Jackson hint at a problem with discipline. It’s all I ask for insiders and Sporting News columns on how the players are unhappy. It's all I ask for Terrell Owens, Jerry Jones and Norv Turner to join forces. I want this. Football needs this. Just let it happen.
Postscript: please feel free to use Google image search on NORV! It's pretty great. Other than the 3 smiles you get and the old pic of him pre-coaching, it's pretty much the same thing over and over: grimaces and stonefaced staring. Yes. If this thing doesn't happen, just consider my next post to be a list of things I'll do to see NORV! in a Dallas windbreaker. It will be a promising list-- believe you me.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
On Saturday, I watched something I didn’t think could happen for another 2 years. Sidney Lowe defeated the vaunted North Carolina Tar Heels. Roy Williams, though stockpiled with double the amount of weapons had no answer for a team tired of being considered a third wheel.
NC State’s tenure as a force in college basketball ran out as Les Robinson depleted their stature with terrible shooters and awkward looking big men. He was the answer to scandalous times—NC State’s version of Bush as a family man. Robinson was likable and State knew they wouldn’t have to worry about point shaving, academic failures or recruiting violations for awhile. They had teams with heart you loved to root for, but you knew they had no chance. It was like watching John Cryer in Pretty in Pink. EVERYTHING had to go perfectly for them to win. I remember hearing about them losing to Florida Atlantic (giving the Owls their first Division I victory in basketball). I remember Jeremy Hyatt, CC Harrison, and the flattest three point shot in history—Mr. Ishua Benjamin. They were all great guys—
Then State saw the arrival of Herb Sendek. Sendek was the manifestation of Robinson’s teams in one man. He was Ducky. He was the man behind Hodge, Melvin, Evtimov and a separate cavalcade of “not quite prime time” big men that all left early for some reason or another (not being used to their potential). However the failures of Sendek’s career are measured by alumni and rabid fans, he was more successful than anyone could have hoped. There’s the danger though—he gave State fans hope. That proved to be his undoing. Since State’s third wheel mentality is fueled by those who know the history of Wolfpack coaches—the big three being the forefront in Everett Case (the father of the ACC), Norm Sloan, and Jimmy Valvano. Sendek’s real failure was making NC State visible. They were never going to transcend the slow offense and inability to win on tobacco road. Sendek won but wasn’t a winner. His body language proved it. He constantly looked like a kid with full sleeve tattoos and a leather jacket was escorting his daughter through his country club—he wanted things to go well, but he had no power to actually make it happen. The constant red faced, tie-loosening routine had no panache (it doesn’t pay to say “we get no respect” in sports unless your players take that into their own hands).
The difference between Sidney Lowe’s approach—in his young collegiate coaching career—and the two men before him is not just that he beat
Instead of going after calls, he’s making adjustments. Instead of benching Grant and company after mistakes, he’s teaching men how to get out of situations. Instead of playing to be ahead, he’s showing kids how to win despite being behind. All of this came to fruition yesterday during two critical time periods—just before halftime when Carolina stormed back to tie the game, and in the second half after a thunderous dunk by Tyler Hansbrough. The lead was cut to one possession or tied a few times, actually, and every time I looked over to the side Sidney Lowe used his “Slow Down and run the offense” face. Engin Atsur responded brilliantly (the MVP of yesterday’s win), as did the big men and Courtney Fells (who is beginning to remind me of a more freakishly athletic Rodney Monroe during his hot streaks). This is not a tournament bound team, by any means. However, the fact that they won two straight against ranked opponents with their leader back from injury shows me they want to be. They believe they can be. That is more than I expected from a first time coach and a slew of kids playing against the “will” of
As the students rushed the court yesterday, I was reminded of when I was growing up. I knew
Yesterday was a prototypical next-level win. Even the announcers knew State didn’t win despite themselves; they won because they played the perfect game against a team as young as they were. They played a patient, ball control offense (turnovers be damned) and a stifling interior defense (Hansbrough’s 24 points be damned). What State discovered against