Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How the Broncos save the survivors after dropping The Bomb

Ok, so, that happened.

When the "hot seat" lists come out at the end of every year, there are always a handful of coaches who, even after mediocre years, would never be on them. Mike Holmgren. Jon Gruden. Andy Reid. And, the (previously) longest-tenured coach with one team in the NFL, Mike Shanahan, who, as coach and G.M., had the job by the throat.

Until the Donkeys choked the last two years, that is.

Is it a sad day for Broncos fans? Sure. He won a lot of games, and two Super Bowls. But the team had reached a stagnant level of putrid proportions, and any casual fan will tell you that they have played up-or-down to their level of competition for quite some time now. Only in the SB-winning years did they consistently pound teams, good or bad.

To me, this is much like the Iverson-Billups trade: part of me is sad to see such a talented person go, but at the same time, it's obviously for the good of the team.

The playoff run (um, beating the Patriots at home) in 2005 was orchestrated by a quarterback that nobody, fans or team alike, seemed to want running things. The defense has gotten more and more pathetic and predictable as the offense (seemingly) did the opposite, even though that was exposed lately due to injuries and a lack of a solid running game. Many of their top defensive draft picks failed to pan out.

However, this is a team with some positives, and here's what I think Pat Bowlen needs to do to get this team back to the perennial top of the AFC.
  1. Go hard and heavy after Bill Cowher. Denver has many things which should entice the Chin. First, it's a football town. A guy like Cowher would appreciate that, as opposed to baseball-centric New York. Also, since the offense has many of the pieces in place, Cowher wouldn't have to worry about that as much and could focus on his passion, the defense, which is the biggest problem with this team. Speaking of the defense...
  2. Make Romeo Crennel one of the highest-paid coordinators in the league. Crennel did such a poor job in Cleveland that it's highly unlikely he'll get another offer to coach anywhere. He ran the Patriots' defense in the early 2000s, when they won a few titles. He knows how to scheme, he knows how to find players (via trades, the draft or free agency) who fit the system, and he knows how to mold them into a unit. This would be especially prudent if the Broncos can't land Cowher, and instead go after somebody like Jason Garrett or Eric Mangini, i.e. offensive-minded guys.
  3. No matter who you hire, do not give them total personnel control. It's just too hard to do both jobs nowadays. Would the Broncos have been maybe a bit more focused if, instead of scouring the scout teams and the waiver wire for a guy who could run the ball late in the year, the coach was preparing the team for a win it sorely needed? If the Browns are interested in the Patriots' Scott Pioli and he in them, then why wouldn't he be interested in the Broncos? Denver is always at the top of players' lists because the facilities are great and the players are treated well. That would make a top-notch personnel man like Pioli's job a whole lot easier.
  4. Get the home-field advantage back. Teams used to hate playing in Denver. H-A-T-E. Now the weather's a bit warmer, Invesco's a lot quieter than Mile High, and it's not too annoying to hear "In-Com-Plete" only seven or eight times a game, since most visiting QBs complete about 75% of their passes against a woefully porous Denver D. I don't know how you do it, Pat - pour some extra concrete in the stands? - but it's gotta be done.
  5. Make the right choices on #s 1 & 2. The top choice on everybody's list is Cowher, but Miami, Atlanta and Baltimore seemingly went the right way in getting a bunch of no-name coaches or coordinators. The defense needs a complete overhaul. Maybe he can poach somebody off Dick LeBeau's or Rex Ryan's staffs, or give Rex Ryan the reigns and see what he can do. Either way, the defense must be made a priority.
With lots of talent on offense, a supportive owner willing to spend and a division that is seeing its top dog (the Chargers) slide back down toward the middle, there should be no shortage of options for Pat Bowlen. The question is whether or not he picks the right ones. It's the end of an era, but hopefully the start of a new one.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy and All That


So, I was afraid I would have to wrote this all along. I am going to cheer for the Yankees to sign Manny Ramirez. I want it to happen. I want them to get Brian Fuentes too. And dump Hideki Matsui-- one of the only guys I like on the entire team, really. I want them to sign Derek Lowe, Adam Dunn as a DH and trade for Jake Peavy.

Think about it: Manny, Dunn, Jeter, Arod, Tex? And the other cast of characters?
Think about it: Lowe, Burnett, CC, Wang, Hughes and Fuentes/Joba/Rivera
Think about it: over 500 million dollars in one offseason.
Think about it: have we ever seen anything like that? Has sport become the recession-proof ideal it always looked like it was?

I want to find out. I want one city to dominate sports so crucially that we can't take our eyes off of it. I want New York City to be the destination for every word of every conversation. I want LeBron, Wade and Bosh to the Knicks. I want some hockey dudes to sign with the Rangers. I want Tom Coughlin to keep his seemingly brilliant ways. I live here, and I want it all. I really do. If these things happen, I'll switch. I'll leave Boston sports.

This is not sarcasm. This is the biggest chest-beasting city in the world, so let's see it. I want year-round championships. This is philosophical (albiet in sports) proof that there is no reason to resist, but I want more. I want it all. I want every big name player with a gleam of the bog-time in his eye to come to New York City. It's never happened before, but it could happen now. I want tampering, cheating, money-laundering, hotel break-ins, back-loaded contracts, law-breaking nasty-minded, hooker-incentive deals. Anything is nothing, everything is not enough.

It's time for the Yankees-- nay New York City-- to get its due. This is not sarcasm, it's hope for the rest of humanity to finally see the big idea.

I will become a fan while paying outrageous rent with a shit job, not being able to afford to get into the stadiums and giving up one of my last true strongholds-- the feeling of euphoria I get from seeing my original teams win championships. I'll do it. But, New York City, you gotta earn it.

Man, I gotta get outta this shithole. Happy fucking holidays.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Congratulations on picking up your KhalilBot 5000!


Dear Cardinals of St. Louis,

Thank you for agreeing in principle to accept KhalilBot 5000 for two middle-of-the-road relievers. We have enjoyed our KhalilBot 5000, and we expect you will, too! We suggest you turn KhalilBot 5000's dial to "2007," when it hit 27 home runs, 44 doubles and drove in 97 runs. We strongly suggest you remove the "2008" setting, though, and use a belt sander to remove said etching from the numbers on the torso, located right below the nape of the "neck."

Again, thank you so much for this courtesy, and good luck in your future. Enclosed are the instructions we received from its wholesaler, Clemson University, in 2003.

Sincerely,

the San Diego Padres

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

GREENE INDUSTRIES
Butler, Pennsylvania

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Ruminating on Watching My Team Win in a Mildly Hostile Environment, While the Real Environment is Incredibly Hostile

It's been three full days now and I can still hear his voice. It was barely above freezing on the last day in November and the rain, while not completely piercing like frozen bullets, still had sting, had life. Cold, win and rain formed a palpable trio. But the voice cut through it, sharp. Swift. Raspy.

"Cutlaaaaaah. Cutlaaaaaah. It's Cutlaaaaaah, baby!"

When you go to see one of your teams play on another team's turf, alone, you hope to find solace and comfort in fellow fans. Knowledgeable fans, witty fans, fans who can take a shot and give two right back.

"Cutlaaaaaah time!"

He was not one of them.

I came in halfway through the first quarter (we parked at 3:15 and I still managed to get two-and-a-half hot dogs and five beers in) with the score tied 7-7. Walking up I heard about Thomas Jones' long TD scamper, so I asked the nearest Bronco fan -- a man wearing a bright-orange, shag carpet Cypress Hill hat -- how Denver scored the first touchdown. "The defense, baby, an ... interception return. Big play by the defense!"

He was promptly corrected by the long-time Jets season-ticket holder behind us, standing in work boots, jeans, an amazingly soggy Jets hoodie and no hat. Fumble return. Questionable call.

"It's Cutlaaaaaah!"

We traded some barbs (always fun when your team's ahead), and later we traded White Horse scotch swigs from my flask. It was a courtesy not extended to my nearest comrade-in-headgear.

Halftime came, Broncos ahead 27-14, and the stands magically emptied. Despite this, my girlfriend and I stayed in our nosebleed seats, believing that when one vantage point works, and works well, you stay there. No pictures exist of this vantage point, of course, because fingers weren't designed to operate in such deplorable conditions.

"Did Cutlaaaaaah throw a touchdown?"

"No, Peyton Hillis ran it in. But we scored."

"Yeah, but dat doesn't git me any fantasy points."

I was beginning to doubt if he was truly a Bronco fan.

With about 7 minutes remaining in the game, I got a call from my friend, who was down in the lower level, under the overhang. I assume it's a request to leave; the game was firmly in the hands of the sunrises and sunsets and the temperature was going as the sun goes in the latter, and not the former.

However we were told to head down, finish the win and dry off. Eagerly we raced down the spiral staircase, listening to the f-bombs and abuses of numerous Jets fans, wondering -- like me -- why Mangini decided to pass on three fourth-down tries. Upon reaching the lower level it was obvious that we were not the only ones treating ourselves to the cover; numerous Bronco fans took advantage, including the woman in front of me who heard ongoing cries of "Shaaaaaaaaaanon Sharrrrrrrrrrrrpe" and not once looked back, either because she didn't want to give them the satisfaction or because she didn't know who he was, despite wearing his jersey.

As the final seconds wound down I slapped strangers' hands, chanted "Here We Go, Broncos, Here We Go" and revealed my secret weapon: the JC Saves shirt. Since I got it three games ago, I've worn it each game day: they've won each game I've watched either on TV or in person (Falcons, Jets) and lost the game I didn't (Raiders). If it's adhering to my torso and my eyes are gazing at its inspiration, things are good.

It got some solid compliments. One thumbs-up.

The man who should've seen it, however, didn't. That's a privelege reserved for just a few.

"Cutlaaaaaah!"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Super-Short, Super-Quick, Thanksgiving Giving Thanks ExtravaTonyDanza

I'm going to try to be positive here. I ... really will. Ok.

[takes a deep breath]

Here we go.

[drinks a rocks glass full of rye whiskey]

I'm thankful for ...

  • The AFC West. Way to go, Chargers! I appreciate you playing on that shredded knee, Herr Merriman. And I like that you've disappeared completely off the face of the earth, LT. Seriously, the Broncos are going to be one of the worst division winners in the history of sports. Right up there with my 2005 San Diego Padres! Christ.
  • The trade that brought Chauncey Billups back home. I loved watching Iverson play, and I always will. But you have to play defense some time.
  • Time Warner Cable not carrying Versus on its normal digital cable package. This way I don't have to watch Super Joe Sakic finish his career in the dumps. Hey, remember when they had a chance to get Roberto Luongo, and instead went for Jose Theodore? Me neither.
  • The Colorado State Rabid Rams getting back to respectability. The good news: they're bowl-eligible with 6 wins! The bad news: they also lost 6. The gooder news: that's .500, baby, and in my book that spells respectability! Here we go, average, here we go! (clap clap)
  • The economic crisis. Maybe it was needed to show the owners that spending two weeks' salary on four tickets, parking, some hot dogs, soda and beer and a hat or two is a FUCKING CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY. You're pricing the people who love your product out of the fucking arena. Assholes.
  • My co-writer here at the Pretzel Factory. He is one super-neat human.
  • My significant other, Clare. I don't say it enough. She's awesome.
Enjoy your holidays, everyone.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Day in the (Non-Football-Playing) Life of Jamie Winborn

10:04 am: Rolls over. Farts. Reaches into nightstand drawer, grabs air horn. Honks it for thirty-five seconds.

10:22 am: Gets on treadmill for a light run. Fifteen minutes in, calls his cardiologist to tell him he has not sustained a heart attack.

10:49 am: Takes a shower. Shaves successfully without slicing carotid artery. Goes into garage, gets a pair of hedge clippers, writes "GRATEST SHAVER IN DA UNIVERZZ" on the handle in black marker, affixes hedge clippers to tire chains with copious amounts of glue, wears around neck. Slyly reflects on clever "gratest" pun, giggles.

11:36 am: Prepares late breakfast of egg white omelet, toast, orange juice and milk, and fresh fruit. Calls Denver Post, asks if they can send a photographer over to take a picture of his creation for the Food section.

12:41 pm: Pops in Madden '09 on XBox 360, puts it on Rookie mode. Picks the Cowboys as his team, selects the Lions for the computer. Home game in Arlington. Needs to convert on fourth-and-goal with :02 left to win 37-35. Calls up producers of ESPN's "Madden Nation," tells them to "let them bitch-ass youngstas know that Jamie Mothafuckin' Winborn was BORN to WIN. Get that bus on out here to Denver, we see what's what!"

2:15 pm: Heads out for a quick position meeting at team headquarters. There's a desk open toward the front, but they keep saying it's being saved for some dude named Carl Hecklebird or some shit. Sits in the back, alone. Again.

3:35 pm: Late matinee. Enjoys Zack and Miri Make a Porno, but isn't totally satisfied. E-mails writer/director Kevin Smith: "Loved the tittays, but I gotta say - I felt a real emotional detachment with the characters. In the end, I'm not sure I cared whether they succeeded and fell in love or not. And next time, more bukkake jokes."

During the movie, eats entire large tub of popcorn and a box of Whoppers. Takes a triumphant shit while raising one gloved fist.

6:27 pm: Picks up his daughter for dinner. She runs out of her mother's house and leaps off the porch, into his arms.

Drops her on her head.

6:28 pm: Successfully dials 911, starts penning an opening to his 2009 "Father of the Year" speech.

7:13 pm: Asks many nuanced, intelligent questions about neurological disorders and head trauma. Explains to hospital worker that, as a result of his profession, he has suffered quite a few concussions and near-concussions in his day. Cashier at the flower shop in the hospital lobby politely asks for $12.74.

7:36 pm: Hospital food is no good, so it's off to McDonald's. Successfully remembers order of Happy Meal with McNuggets, but got honey mustard instead of BBQ sauce. Brings back bland BBQ sauce from hospital cafeteria, asks nurse for complimentary morphine.

8:23 pm: Drops daughter back off at mother's house under a scornful eye. Wonders what it would cost to start own clothing line with his picture on the pockets of the jeans.

9:00 pm: Studies game film of the coming week's opponent to figure out habits and tendencies and ... wait. Holy shit. The quarterback's lined up as a receiver, and the running back is taking a direct snap! Fuck. You can do shit like that?

10:38 pm: A few drinks with some old friends. Okay, buddies. Okay, acquaintances. Okay, dudes at the club who realize there is a Denver Bronco drinking by himself because the bartender somehow gets paid extra to announce "Seven & Seven for the Denver Broncos' Jamie Winborn!" loud as shit every time the situation demands.

11:27 pm: Talks to a fly honey at the club, tries to get her to come home and be a tackling dummy. All the boys keep pointing toward her and laughing, so she must be funny as fuck.

12:09 am: Humping. Some good shit. Wall-shaking, earth-shattering, headboard-slamming, baby oil-spreading, neighbor's daughter-crying, stray dog-barking f-u-c-k-i-n-g.

12:12 am: She leaves, says she just remembered she has a big interview in the morning. Must be important because she forgets to leave her number. Briefly considers contacting Barack Obama to inquire about a possible Secretary of Sex position.

12:14 am: Bangs chest, King Kong-style, at bedroom window. Places hedge clipper-necklace on chair. Sleeps.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Compounded Reality and the Confused Arab Chicken Company

Down the street from my apartment, there is a company that advertises fried chicken and pizza. While it's obvious to most that one should never eat either fried chicken or pizza from a place that claims to specialize in both, my roommate and I were desperate to have fried chicken delivered to our doorstep. This was a mistake, and not one we will ever make again.

Also, we should have known the food, in general would be terrible since the company did not spell the foods themselves correctly, speak English enough to know that chicken was being ordered over the phone, and had no idea that they had advertised credit cards being accepted on their menu. All perfectly fine reasons not to order their food. Yet, we did it anyway. It was an unmitigated disaster, yes, but it was something we had to learn.

Alas, I cannot be angry at a lineup that includes Perkins, Glen Davis and Leon Powe trying to vie for the worst interior spacing in the history of modern basketball. I should not balk at the idea of having three different big men in the game while Eddie House defended Chauncey Billups (a known Celtics killer). I honestly can't get mad. Because I get it. The rebounding and hustle trio is too tempting an idea: three hungry (albiet slow-footed for 2/3 of them) players looking to dominate the paint and the glass. I get that. As a coach for a team that was underacheiving for the game, you wanted energy from the players. Something to spark the first unit. That's understandable.

But, now, Doc, you've eaten the chicken and it tastyed terrible. Please refrain from calling that number again. My sanity and love of good basketball is at stake. Not to mention my want of Celtics basketball, because I could just as easily watch the Warriors in a more entertaining fashion. Learn that lesson and mve on, Doc. My reality can't withstand a compund confused big man complex. It just won't work.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Order of Operations 2: The Delirium Waltz


Here it is: the list of ten teams I will be interested in watching as the season progresses, in order of their importance. This list will change as this season progresses, injuries pile up and trades rock the boat. Remember two things: I don't care if the team is bad if they are fun to watch and defense does count in some cases. This week is "progression", so I want to see these teams at least once this week. You can bet we'll be covering teams in the top ten playing one another, when it happens. Knowing our history with these promises, you might lose that bet.

1) Atlanta Hawks: For real? Don't care. Fun as hell until one of the starters inevitably goes down.

2) New Orleans: Chris Paul, still my savior.

3) Toronto: Rock those, glock hoes, I'm hungover on a Saturday morn.

4) Boston Celtics: Turnovers, bad offensive spacing, and general inept lineup changes are forcing them into large deficits. They can only overcome so much. Thought the loss the the Nuggets was bad, they got their shooters involved a little more.

5) Golden State: I love Nellyball. I just do. Plus, I love Biedrins.

6) Portland: Shoulda beaten San Antonio. Plus, the Oden transition period is going to last awhile. Still, I want to watch them as much as possible the next two or three weeks.

7) Cleveland: LeBron and co. are going to have a weird week. Trust me on this. They draw and injured Utah, but they get the Hawks (I'm watching that shit) and Pistons this week. Interesting week for a team trying to figure out it's scoring rotation.

8) Knicks: Am I saying this? They are fun as shit to watch. This will deteriorate, but for now, the team is buying in. They get Cleveland soon (25th), so that ought to be fun.

9) Houston: Until Battier comes back and makes this an explosion of role-playing contenders.

10) Detroit: Beating LA gets props even if you are my enemies, mortally. Cleveland lurks.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

GOOD GOD NO




And so it begins-- and so it ends. The historic rising from the one-year ashes of playoff drought will soon be over. It seems the New York Yankees have come through on the promise to have a stellar offseason and make good on the promise of prominence in their new stadium.

As much as it pains me to say it, the Yanks got Teixeira. I held out hope that he would drift elsewhere, like flotsam or jetsam, and beach along the shores of California. Perhaps, maybe even corral on the Mass Pike. No, though, 'twas not meant to be.

His effect will be immediate, swift and sharp upon the heels of the Yankees enemies. Now, the Rays and Sox will deal with a true contender, pitching be damned. I mean, seriously, with this lineup, who can doubt the veracity and credulity of this team? Who can berate the smug look on the Steinbrenners' faces? Who, now, can cast the first or even last stone? Jesus Christ is risen, and his name is Tex.

The worlds darkest forests or scariest streets can no longer claim the fear of the mortal man. Now , that distinction belongs to the Yankee clubhouse: polishing their bats in effort to tarnish pitchers' reputations, banish lowly teams from the destiny of New York sports, and replenish their need for the blood of the crown.

OH MIGHT YANKEES WHERE IS THY STAIN, THE IMPURE BL

oops. Who the fuck is Kanekoa Texeira?

Well, as you were.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Order of Operations: Fire at the Architectural Institute



Here it is: the list of ten teams I will be interested in watching as the season progresses, in order of their importance. This list will change as this season progresses, injuries pile up and trades rock the boat. Remember two things: I don't care if the team is bad if they are fun to watch and defense does count in some cases. This week is an overall season ideal, so I am going to talk about the teams I like the most, in a way. You can bet We'll be covering teams in the top ten playing one another, when it happens. Knowing our history with these promises, you might lose that bet.

1) Houston-- Let's see, same offense with a further developing Carl Landry, adds Ron Artest and become a defensively brilliant team? OK, I'm in.

2) Boston-- They're my team man.

3) New Orleans-- I distrust David West to this day, despite his success. If he falters, this team will tumble. But the top ten (and this blog overall) honors Chris Paul as the architect of brilliance.

4) Toronto-- RUN BOSH RUN.

5) Portland (come January)-- I already love this team. Developing Oden? Only makes me want them more.

6) Orlando-- Weird how they are even on this list since I hate Florida. Can't help it, they are exciting. I love Dwight, but there's a lot to this team night after night.

7) Golden State (Come Monta-time)-- Nellyball makes me happy despite the terrible defense and inability to win against faster, more talented teams due to that terrible defense.

8) Philly-- They will be fun to watch, but they are overrated. I believe this.

9) Atlanta-- No way they are lower than 10th, Sports Illustrated. Those dudes are fucking ATHLETES. They can make the playoffs, and I am excited to see it.

10) Los Angeles (Lakers)-- How good are they? Is Bynum "back?" Dunno, but they are going to run and run well. This equals fun.

Honorable mention(s): Miami and New York, but only becuase I got a ticket to the Knicks opener.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Good news - Hooray!

This post serves many purposes: 1) It makes me feel good. You don't know how important that is. 2) It's positive. As positive as I can be without involving some kind of blood test. C) I haven't written about anything in a while. See #s 1 AND 2.

First off, the Avalanche. They've won 5 in a row after starting the season off 0-3. This is a first for the Pretzel Factory: for whatever reason (lack of knowledge, lack of coverage, lack of enthusiasm, lack of ... well, anything, really), we here have not written about hockey. Ever. And that's a goddamn shame, along the lines of Yvette from Clue never getting her due. Man, she was hot.
Fantastic cleavage. Fantastic.

So, cheers, Avs. Peter Budaj has been solid in goal (although that can likely fall apart soon), Ryan Smyth has been scoring some of his patented pain-in-the-ass goals, Milan Hejduk has been on fucking fire, and the blue liners have been good enough. It's early, and they're going to have to play above their heads all year, but the early output looks promising. Too bad I don't have fucking Versus. God damn Time Warner.

Secondly, the Colorado State fucking Rams. I just ordered a CSU shirt today. Gold, Large, normal block lettering. I've been reluctant to wear my college's colors because ... well, they've sucked, and I'm fat and almost 30. But after squeezing by the inept San Diego State Aztecs 38-34 this weekend, the Rammies are 4-4 and 2-2 in conference. They've got BYU coming up, but after that they've got Air Force, New Mexico and Wyoming; two of those three are very winnable, and if they can get a few breaks against AF, all three. If they take all three, they're a bowl team since the Mountain West has been the best non-BCS conference all year long, bar none. So that's something to hope for, as long as hope is available.

Thirdly, the Broncos didn't lose! They didn't play, but still ... it's a start. The Chargers got all wickered up in they knickers in London, and the Donkeys are a game and a half up in the division almost halfway through the year. Look, I'm not going to sugarcoat it - they're not good. They should be a wildcard team, at best. But when life gives you your neighbors' piss and a free bag of sugar, you make lemonade. So I will.

Fourthly, the Nuggets ... well, I'm not going to talk about the Nuggets. I had some friends over, made a sweet sausage Strata, wolfed down some cannolis, drank some wine and some PBR - I've got a good buzz going. Please don't make me ruin it by thinking about the inevitable trade of A.I. Please. Please. Thanks.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

BASKETBALLS



NOTE: In one week, the NBA season tips off. In three days, I activate my NBA Season Pass. Sure, I didn't write about baseball all that much this year, and yes, I have been on hiatus for the past, oh, three or so months, but I'm (sort-of) back. Sorry to the five of you not looking for pictures of Jeter's head blowing up or tiny pictures of supermodels.


My breath was visible last night. This can only mean one thing: soon, friends, the men will play the basketballs. Oh sweet god, they will. Baseball is dealing the last of its deck, football is storming toward the middle of its parade and hockey trudges through the beginning of it's demanding schedule.

Oh, but basketball. The surreal and the simple, the speed and the grandeur, the squeaks and squabbles: they excite me more as each season approaches. While the sports world beckons the coming of post-season glory or the newest injuries to affect the championship bubble, the interest squares solely on the potentials for now:

Can the Celtics repeat without the elder bench-bound statesmen? --Not bloody likely.
Will Portland meet my heightened expectations this year or do I have to wait for them to realize that they need a damn point guard to win now? --Likely the latter.
How good are the Lakers? --Likely damn good.
Shall I predict a champion? --No, most likely.

The questions, the answers are all potential; likelihoods. In no other sport do the possibilities outweigh the probabilities like basketball. While baseball hinges on the statistical, football prays for the survivalist, and hockey awaits the unexpected, basketball moves with mood and functionality; a conduit into the soul of motion. Kobe and Manu's jumpers, Monta's speed and finesse, Oden's rawness in the post, Stuckey's likely transcendence, Garnett's waning hunger, CP3's first step: they all have the common allies and enemies. Each is contingent upon the flow of want in each night, each move, each thought. Left, right, jump, pass, no shot, take him, OH SHIT WHAT A PLAY, WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT-- it's all too quick to understand, but all too easy not to.

Now, more than ever, LeBron has to know his enemies and friends. Now, more than ever, New Jersey has to find a niche. Now, more than ever, the Knicks have to care about their physiques. Now more than ever, San Antonio, Dallas and Phoenix must fight clocks and aches. Now, more than ever, Philly must act like they belong. Now, more than ever, the middle of the pack must remember that all teams have weaknesses on any given night and that any team with a chance is dangerous. Sure, it's 82 games, but it's only one right now: opening night. Either 1.000 or .000.

And I can't wait to measure it all out. Who is relevant to whom and why? We shall see, friends. Each step is toward the goal-- even backwards and lateral. Each pass is calculated-- whether poorly or otherwise and each shot matters. I just can't wait to see which ones fall.

Friday, October 17, 2008

That Did Not Just Happen.



I was wrong. GOD HOW I WAS WRONG. Florida State Seminole, J.D. Drew.

Seriously, though. If this team loses in the next two games, I will be sad, yes, but I will not be angry. This was the greatest comeback I have ever seen in a playoff game. This includes 2004 and Dave Roberts against the Yankees. I mean, holy Jesus Lord.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

We Didn't Lose 100 Games! Fuck You, Cocktasters

Yeah, that's right. We avoided 100 losses. Only those douchetruck Nationals lost 100 games. Pads fuckin' rule, man!

[Is handed a note that the Mariners have as many losses as the Nationals]

Oh, shit! Really? Those northwestern rain-sucking ducknuts lost 101 games, too? What a bunch of shitdogs!

[Whips out penis, urinates on Jody Gerut, flings speedos at Nick Hundley]

It's a switter-beet thing, man, going from playing for a playoff berth last year and then finishing behind the Giants this year. The fuckin' Giants, man! They're so old, Paul Newman was their backup centerfielder. They pay Barry Zito to fucking pitch, man! Imagine that shit!

[Applies cocoa butter to groin area, puts on strapless goggles, climbs into tanning bed]

Gotta bronze, brah. Not enough sun down here in San Diego.

[Grabs newest edition of Hustler]

Be back in a minute, dawg.

[Closes tanning bed]

20 Minutes Later

[Tanning bed door opens]

Fuck yeah. Have you seen Edgar Gonzalez? I totally wanna shit in his cleats. No? Ahh, fuck it. See ya later, dicknose.

[Takes off strapless goggles, walks off with Hustler-sized light spot on his chest, fist-sized light spot on his penis]

Hey, has anybody seen my phone? I gotta call Marcus. He gets off at the late shift at T.G.I.Friday's pretty soon.

Monday, September 22, 2008

If the Last Game at Yankee Stadium Had Gone According to a Yankee Hater's Plan

1:30 - Monument park opens.

1:43 - Someone spray-paints "dolemite" on Miller Huggins' plaque.

3:11 - For old time's sake, twelve women simulate fellatio on Mickey Mantle's plaque.

5:24 - As fans are allowed on the field, Jeffrey Maier walks to the spot where Tony Tarasco would've caught Derek Jeter's fly ball in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS, had Maier not interfered. An Orioles fan recognizes Maier and promptly kicks him in the balls.

7:21 - While introducing all the former Yankee greats at their respective positions, Willie Randolph slides into second. The throw beats him by three feet.

7:38 - Bernie Williams is introduced and roundly cheered on his first visit back to the Bronx since 2006. Meanwhile, someone in the field-level seats mentions Mickey Rivers, and nobody knows who he's talking about.

8:11 - Babe Ruth's daughter, all 92 years of her, bounces the ceremonial first pitch to the plate. Everybody boos.

8:20 - Andy Pettitte delivers the first pitch. As digital camera flashes go off throughout the stadium, Brian Roberts pulls it over the wall in left for a home run.

8:31 - Jeter strikes out looking.

9:14 - Jeter flies out to the warning track in right.

9:29 - Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra join Jon Miller and Joe Morgan in the booth. The pairing of Berra and Morgan introduces a strange yin-yang dynamic: Berra, king of the unintentionally intelligent, and Morgan, king of the intentionally unintelligent.

9:54 - Jeter grounds out to short.

10:40 - Jeter strikes out looking.

10:53 - During "God Bless America," everyone in attendance gets up to go to the bathroom.

10:06 - Michael Kay joins the booth. He is eaten by locusts.

11:19 - After striking out the first two men he faces, and throwing hellacious mid-air haymakers, Joba Chamberlain hits a batter, walks two guys, and gives up a grand slam to Kevin Millar.

11:36 - In the bottom of the eighth, A-Rod hits a three-run bomb to Reggie Jackson-land in center to cut the Orioles' lead to 6-4. Upon crossing home plate, he flips off the entire crowd and their sarcastic applause.

11:41 - With one out in the ninth, Joe Girardi calls for Mo. As Mariano Rivera prepares to enter the game, the gate door gets stuck. The game is put on hold for three minutes.

11:49 - Luke Scott hits a solo blast to right off a cutter that doesn't cut. The Orioles go up 7-4.

12:05 - With two outs and the bases loaded, Jeter walks to the plate. As 54,000 people chant his name, Jeter, the captain, grounds out weakly to third. Game over.

12:11 - Addressing the crowd after the game, the microphone goes out on Jeter. With nowhere else to turn, Jeter screams into Jorge Posada's ear, using his head as a megaphone. Due to the unique shape and design of the ears, not to mention the overwhelming size, the sound carries through the stadium, shattering windows and glasses and hearing aides. At eighty-five years, the stadium's shaky structure struggles to sustain. With evacuees running for their lives, Yankee Stadium crumbles, topples, falls. The only thing left standing is Babe Ruth's monument, covered, fittingly, in beer.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Wagons East! ... or, West! ... or, you know, to the Middle!

I never played fantasy baseball before this year. It felt too artificial to me, like mechanical cow milking pumps or an impassioned John McCain speech. I didn't want to root against my own team. What's the fun in that?

Now, it's all I've got.

The Padres have been done since tax day. I haven't checked a box score in weeks. Fucking weeks, man. For a guy with a baseball tattooed on his arm, that hurts. And now that the playoffs are upon us, I've got to take a rooting interest. I've got to pick a side. Because October is October, no matter whether you're drunkenly cheering for a conglomerate of millionaires or merely drunkenly watching a conglomerate of millionaires.

But whom to choose? Here's a league-by-league (starting with the National League, natch) breakdown of who might get my deep, hoarse, sexy rooting voice come the leaves changing.

National League

Chicago Cubs


Pro: My father's family is from western Illinois, a few hours straight west of Chicago. We used to visit my grandfather and we'd play cribbage (he'd always win because he had a crippled right hand and would always count more points than he won, but I couldn't say shit because he was my grandpa, you know?) and he'd sit in his weathered brown chair with his aforementioned hook hand around a Miller Lite and we'd watch the Cubs and he'd curse them and shout shit and we'd marvel at the eventual great throw by Shawon Dunston in the hole but then he'd go back to yelling obscenities at them and then we'd sing with Harry Caray and damn, it was good. It's been a hundred fucking years, for Chrissakes. If both Soxes can get their fix, the Cubs should, too.

Con: Inevitable disappointment and crushing despair. Thanks, Bartman.

Milwaukee Brewers

Pro
: Named after beer. I don't know about you, but that's a huge plus. I've got a gut like a 46-year-old pedophile. And I've got a good buddy who's a Cleveland guy, and seeing CC get a ring would crush his soul worse than if John Elway got his sister pregnant. Which might happen.

Con: If Eric Gagne gets a meaningful out in a World Series and subsequently wins a ring, the world should turn into a giant bowl of tapioca pudding.

New York Mets

Pro:
I live in Queens. I've been to Shea, and I've survived without multiple tetanus shots. I have a slight man-crush on David Wright. They're not the Yankees. These (except the latent homosexuality) are all fairly good things.

Con: Have you seen that bullpen in crunchtime? It's like A-Rod forgot to remove his tampon.

Philadelphia Phillies

Pro:
I'm hoping to go down to Philly with my girlfriend and some friends on the last weekend of the year to see them finish the season against the Nationals. It would be nice to see a game that means something in a fun stadium. Also, I like the Phillies. I don't know why, I just do. I like the cut of their jib.

Con: Ryan Howard has struck out one time this year for every time a fan in the stands throws an aborted fetus at Pat Burrell because he popped up with two outs and the tying run on second.

St. Louis Cardinals

Pro:
Umm ... let's see ... Albert Pujols does something good with those less fortunate, right? And Rick Ankiel did something special?

Con: The Cardinals are the bane of the Padres' existence. They could die in a bus fire and I'd still sleep well at night.

NL West

Pro:
[Scene missing]

Con: [Scene missing]

American League

Tampa Bay Rays

Pro: They're the story of baseball this year, bar none. When they got out hot in May and June, everyone said they'd fold. When they lost seven in a row before the break, people nodded in unison. Then they lost half their team, exhumed Rocco Baldelli's shrunken corpse, and ripped off a monster August to assert themselves in not only the AL East, but the AL in general. They pitch, they hit, they field - and they do it all in a stadium that looks like something out of BaseWars.

Con: They're young, and probably don't have the experience to go all the way. But what good is experience? It did me no good when I tried to run for Vice President. Fuck you, Joe Biden. You're not the only one who can plagiarize speech material.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Southern California and Near-Mexico

Pr
o: They've got Vlad and John Lackey, who looks like a lovable retard. K-Rod will probably break Bobby Thigpen's single-season saves record, thereby permanently and justifiably removing Bobby Thigpen from the public consciousness.

Con: My buddy is an Angels fan. He's also a Sharks fan. He's from outside Toronto. That's just wrong, and punishable by circumcision with plastic second-grade safe scissors.

Boston Red Sox

Pro:
I have a number of friends who are Red Sox fans; don't worry, they're not douchetrucks (I've checked, thoroughly). I have a Red Sox hat AND a t-shirt - bandwagon, ho!

Con: Again? Really? Christ, Boston. Let someone else have some fun.

Chicago White Sox

Pro: Ozzie Guillen. If you don't like Ozzie, you either A) don't have a sense of humor, B) are tepidly white and enjoy sex with wine racks, C) are Jay Mariotti, or D) all the above.

Con: A.J. Pierzynski. It's amazing Michael Barrett landed a punch on his chin, seeing as he doesn't have one.

Minnesota Twins

Pro:
Great gobs of geeseshit, how do they keep doing it? Can we model our entire government around the Twins' way of doing things? Would that work?

Con: A friend of mine is a Twins fan. That would be nice for him, except for the fact that they've won two championships in his lifetime. Eat a dick, Ben.

New York Yankees

Pr-BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!


Verdict: In the AL, it's gotta be the Rays. They're young, they're talented, Joe Maddon is a quality dude and most importantly, they did it the right way: through the draft, with shrewd trades (Kazmir, anyone?) and via insightful free-agent signings.

In the NL, I gotta go with the Cubs. Sure, history is nice and all, but I want to see the faces of their fans if they win. It'll be like the Star Wars geek getting his first taste of poon. And that's just good entertainment.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Outside the Aviary: "Everything You Must Love You Must Love Now"


I had a column all set up for how the Yankees were shot and how the Red Sox were becoming a less polished version of those 1996-2001 teams that just won at any costs (sprinkling the pickups of Kotsay and Byrd in as evidence), but really, I don't feel like talking about all that. Perhaps it's the whimsical instrumental music I am listening to, the fact that i have cheered on championship teams a lot lately or the fact that I read way more on sports than I write about it these days, but the article bores me. It really does.

The liberation of a two-sport championship is daunting. Ask Bill Simmons, Dan Shaughnessy or the cavalcade of "Boston Bloggers" nationwide. It's not a small task to write about things when they are going well. There's little to criticize-- the Red Sox are on their way to another playoffs and took two out of three from the Yanks in September. The Celtics are taking a gamble here and there (although a non-guaranteed contract to Darius Miles is not a gamble-- more on this in a later column) after securing a championship that got more press than Lady Di's death rattles. The Redskins have made improbable playoff runs and are, at least, intersting every year. My sports life is good.

Still, the Sox letting a sweep slip through their brittle fingers, I noticed something-- the Yankee fans are comatose right now. I went to the game last night, and most of the meatheads were expectant. They expected Papi or Varitek to come through against the Veras and Ponson types. When Jeter came up, they looked ahead to the next batters and knew A-Rod had no chance against relievers. Whereas my friend and I just stared ahead and waited. We talked about insurance runs and how funny 'Tek's swing looks. We talked about how cool it was to see Yankee Stadium one last time and how we couldn't wait for it to be razed. We talked about all kinds of things, waiting for the bottom to drop out against a terrible set of pitchers.

Meanwhile, the Yankee fans got more and more hopeful. You could hear fingers crossing and heads nodding. You could hear frustration. When the Sox went up 5-2, some people left. 5-2? At 6-2, more scampered away. 6-2? This is a team that leads the world in bullshit hits-- infield choppers, dying quails, etc. There is no other team blessed like this one. Granted, the place deadened after the Pedroia grand slam, but even then, where was the swagger, the bravado? The "Well, we still got twenty-six rings" assholery?

It was lost in Goose Gossage pulling a fake lever to remind the fans that they had two weeks left to enjoy the old stadium. It was lost in a lackluster "YMCA" chant as the grounds crew came out in the seventh. It was lost in the anti-clutchness of the middle of the order. It was lost in walks, doubles, a grand slam and the overall disillusonment of their reality: they don't field good teams right now. They just don't.

There's a new Steinbrenner, a new stadium and new motto: win with what is out there. Gone is the hope of a saviour for this season, and soon the invented mystique of the ideal playing field will be gone too. For someone with a dog in the hunt like me, it's not a moment too soon. Bury that hole as soon as possible and make sure Michael Kaye is in it. But for the casual fan-- like the Californian father and son in front of us, it was a moment bereft of rivalry. Yankee Stadium, with its statue park, its die-hard/vulgar fan base and its ancient lore meant something different entirely. It meant the end of an era that was long past, not the one of recent memory.

Now, nearly every dog is in the hunt. Then, it was the Yankees and whomever challenged them. There was little to no real rivalry. Fans are better off believing that their team can win now. Fans are better off wondering if their new young rookie sensation can be the next Josh Beckett or Mariano Rivera rather than the next Cy Young. The year-to-year, station-to-station idealism is better for the mystery of the game. The casual fan has really never had it better: there is no dominant force in many major sports anymore. Rivalries exist out of biterness, sure, but moreso becuase each team has a real stake again. The Red Sox, White Sox, Rangers, Cubs (as of this year)-- invented curses or not-- have a chance. This hurts the dynasty and leaves the monumental fans pride-hurt and with new stadiums? Pride hurt and priced out.

Such is life, I suppose. I won't miss the mystique or the builing. I won't. I will miss the old fans like my Uncle George-- recalling the past-- a little, maybe. I might miss the way there is no bad seat in Yankee Stadium, just a touch. But, I won't miss how the casual fan came in with reverence and fear. Price 'em out, Yanks. The die-hards are dying with the titles. The Sox's are winning, the Rays are running away with it this year and the Stadium is done. And so, the new era is upon us.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

7 Ways I Wish Brett Favre Would Die

Scenario 1: After the Packers decide they can't trade Brett Favre - or, at least, get something decent in return - they invite him back to Green Bay to training camp. Once again, fans line up outside Austin Straubel International Airport. As his private jet approaches the runway, there is a problem with the landing gear. The plane lands and skids into a refueling truck. There is a huge explosion. As everyone holds their breath, Favre emerges ... carrying his severed left arm. As he comes to his senses, he realizes that his left hand is holding the only oxygen mask that fell from the cabin. Deanna is inside, struggling to breathe. But he can't re-enter the plane due to the encircling flames. He heaves his left arm - which is holding the oxygen mask - through the door, toward his choking wife ... but it is intercepted by a pilot, the only other survivor. Deanna succumbs to smoke inhalation. Favre, overcome with grief, jumps into the still-running Jet engine.

Scenario 2: Despite all the problems, all the hassles, all the drama, Favre comes back to Green Bay. Come November 9, the Packers are 7-1 and riding high. Entering their showdown against the rival Vikings in Minnesota, Favre is once again playing at an All-Pro level. In the middle of the third quarter the Packers lead 17-13. But something is brewing outside ... a violent snowstorm the likes of which Minnesota hasn't seen in years. By the end of the game (which the Packers win 23-20 on a last-second field goal), over three feet of snow have fallen in less than two hours. No one can get into the Metrodome, and no one can get out. After several hours, the stadium's food has been consumed. The fans are getting restless. They are getting hungry. They turn their attention to #4 in white. Nobody knows how they got past the offensive line, or any of Favre's other teammates, or who bit first. But they'll forever know a different meaning for "Packer."

Scenario 3: Javon Walker is upset. He's feigned retirement, offered $11 million in guaranteed money back to Al Davis, filled both of his knees with KY jelly and rock salt, and still the media ignores him. They keep talking about him. Favre. The asshole that drove him out of Green Bay. During the third week of preseason, Walker invites Favre to Las Vegas. Thanks to the LVPD, Walker knows who mugged him over the summer. Instead of pressing charges, he hires the two men to kidnap Favre, which they do after a night of drinking and blackjack. Except there's a problem - Favre's just too charming. After several stories of life in the NFL, the hit men are too guilty to do the job. Luckily for them, a short circuit cuts out the fire alarm at the Mirage. After a concentrated blaze started by a lit cigarette, all three die in the flames.

Scenario 4: Right before Favre cashes the $20 million check the Packers have given him to go the fuck away, he has a violent heart attack brought on by years of light beer and Wisconsin cheese. Due to his advanced physical conditioning, however, Favre survives. In the hospital, an intern, a lifelong Bears fan, smothers him with a pillow, then takes his Super Bowl ring.

Scenario 5: While watching the 47th story on himself on the third-straight viewing of an early-afternoon SportsCenter, a clip is shown of Favre early in his career with the Falcons. He feels nostalgic and reminisces for the days of his youth, when everything was simple. He calls Michael Vick at Leavenworth to see how he's doing. He then goes to visit the embattled quarterback in prison. Vick tells him it would be nice if he went and talked with his family. When Favre arrives, four Presa Canarios meet him at the door, tearing at his flesh. The alpha male, Koopa, removes Favre's genitals with one swift bite. Within minutes his carcass is picked almost completely clean.

Scenario 6: The time has come. Packers coach Mike McCarthy can't handle the dissension any more. He calls a team-only meeting to clear the air. As Favre talks, Aaron Rodgers sneaks up behind him and clobbers him over the head with the Vince Lombardi trophy. McCarthy then rains blows upon him with the playbook. Woozy and bleeding profusely from the temple, Favre asks for some painkillers. Mason Crosby kicks him in the dick. For old time's sake, Najeh Davenport shows up to shit in his mouth. After a massive loss of blood and oxygen to the brain, Favre is no more.

Scenario 7: Canton, Ohio. 2014. With the scarring memories of the summer of '08 long behind him, Favre strides confidently to the microphone for his Hall of Fame induction speech. Yellow jacket resplendent, sun glistening off the slightly graying stubble, Favre thanks his family, his teammates and, most of all, the Green Bay fans. As his voice starts to quiver near the end, a loud pop is heard. Favre's bust shatters into several pieces. Before he can react, a small red dot fixes itself on his forehead, between his eyes. Another pop. A single bullet enters Favre's skull, splitting his brain, ending his life. Several hundred yards away, dressed in a Southern Mississippi t-shirt and hat, Rachel Nichols looks through a scope. She never blinked.

Friday, August 01, 2008

I'm SOOOOO Applying for This


I'm in the market for a new job, and this seemed like my cup of tea, so I'm going to fill out an application this week.

My buddy Stan and I mused for a moment what that application may have hidden.

Actual application questions:

1. Yes/No: Do you have a Bachelor's degree in journalism, communications or related field? (Related: English? IF so, than YES.)

2. Yes/No: Do you have at least 1 year experience as a sports writer or member of the sports copy desk? (Does a post on this blog once every three months count?)

3. Yes/No: Do you have at least 1 year PR or marketing experience with a professional sports team? (No.)

4. Yes/No: Do you know NBA knowledge? (Not personally, no, but I'M WILLING TO LEARN.)

5. Yes/No: Are you available to work any day or night that the Knicks play? (Definitely.)

First of all, read number four again. Related Questions not on the website:
6. Start/Stop: Snitchin'?* (For real, though)
7. Please circle the following things you are willing to do:
Give up on that pretty intern (yes)
Leave D'Antoni's draft picks alone (yes)
Liveblog a truck party* (yes)
Spell the new foreign guy's name correctly EVERY time (yes)
8. Are you willing to print what we tell you and not what actually happened (see no. 6)? (Uh, sure.)
9. Have you ever met Jamal Crawford? If not, are you willing to deal with menopausal mood swings? (My mom went through that once, I think. She didn't score many points on bad days.
10. Do you support Cablevision? (What is that?)
11. Are you willing to stop blogging (see no. 6)? (I guess so, yeah.)
12. Are you seriously willing to liveblog a truck party? (YES PLS.)
13. Are you willing to take it from Starbury in a tight area? Like the back of a Volkswagen? Or an alley? (Ummmmmmmmmmmmmm...)

I've got this, guys. It's in the bag.

*Question six and the liveblogging of a truck party were Stan's contributions.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

DROBNSMAK!


If this has been covered in another blog, I apologize, but this is something that makes me happy. I know, I know, I am supposed to be all baseball-happy or focusing on the upcoming football season, but I can't stop myself from giggling at this. It's just perfect.

Think about this man sitting a few seats down from P.J. Carlisimo with that grin on his face. Imagine that and try not to smile. Try. If you can't smile at this, you are losing the battle, friends-- BIG time.

VICTORY FOR SONICS, OK!!!!!

Seven things you may have missed upon first perusal:
1) You can correspond with his fucking cat.
2) He has "minutes of action-loaded highlights." WHOLE MINUTES, YOU DUDES.
3) His diary is ALL things that come from his mind. The Drobnjak is pure energy and light.
4) "Drugs make you slow... and stupid... and poor." I get the feeling that his advice is a sign of great things to come.
5) He looks NOTHING like Robert De Niro.
6) Drobjnak is OK if you only visit every once in awhile. What a kind and unassuming gentleman.
and 7) DROBNSMAK! Would you like cabbage on your elbow sandwich. YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT YOU WOULD KARL MALONE.

I mean, wow. Who wants to sex the Drobnjak?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

In Rod We Trust

Rod Smith's retirement was a year in the making, and it won't be talked about much anywhere outside of Denver.

The wide receiver with the Hall of Fame-worthy stats never did an end zone dance, never popped off to the press about his teammates, never slipped on a fast-food wrapper and put his hand through an entertainment center, never skied down a mountain of coke and then snorted it while simultaneously banging 14 Peruvian hookers.

He just played football, and he played it really, really fucking well.

Need a five-yard out for a good gain on first down? Done. Rod's got it. Running a sweep, and need a solid block on the corner to seal the edge? Sure. Rod's got it. Need someone to run a route over the middle, go up for a ball thrown too high, and come down with the grab on third-and-long after getting spit-shined by a linebacker and a strong safety? No problem. Rod's got it. Fancy a clutch punt return to turn momentum on its head? Rod's in his mid-thirties, but fuck it - he's got it.

So, all in all, thank you Rod. Thanks for busting your ass. Thanks for being a professional.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Modest Proposal for the All-Star Game

Like many people, I enjoyed the All-Star Game. I also missed some of the best innings (10-12, roughly) because I fell asleep. Was it the grocery store-bought PBR? Was it the electrifying duo of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver? Was it the fact that it was midnight? Yes, yes, yes, in varying proportions.

The fact is, however, that once again the game was decided by the All-Stars but not the All-Stars. Which is fine. Although I don't agree with the rule that every team should be represented, I do believe that everyone that is selected should be able to play. But now that the game means something, you had guys like Scott Kazmir and Brandon Webb throwing key innings although they had started (and thrown over 100 pitches) only two days before.

The solution seems to be this: after a certain number of innings (12, 13 or 14) open up the rosters again. Turn 'em over.

Instead of forcing Terry Francona to gingerly toss Kazmir (the ace of a division rival) out there on a pitch count, making him walk the line between winning the game for his league and destroying a key cog in the machine he's battling for a pennant, he can just run Cliff Lee or Joe Saunders out for another inning or two. Rather than Michael Young driving in the winning run, Derek Jeter can do it in front of the hometown fans. Want to save Dan Uggla the embarrassment of botching another grounder, bad hop or no? Plug Chase Utley back into the lineup.

If Brad Lidge had gotten out of the 15th, maybe he pitches the 16th. Then you're looking at a position player coming in to pitch. That shouldn't happen.

If we're going to tack real-world implications onto the result of an exhibition game, we can surely flaunt the rules of the real-world game to make the exhibition game more ... real.

And it would at least force Alex Rodriguez to stick around for the final out.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Some Suggestions For Mr. Black

It's no secret at all that the Madres possess one of the worst offenses in the Major League baseballs. With Jake Peavy and Chris Young both having spent some time on the DL this year, Trevor Hoffman not quite being his HOF self, and Mark Prior being, well, Mark Prior, runs are at a premium for this team.

Ruh-roh.

Therefore, here are some things that Bud Black can do to scare up some offense in San Diego.

  • Replace the 6-8 hitters with a bat taped to a weather vane stuck into the batter's box and hope it's windy that day
  • Clone Adrian Gonzalez
  • Trade for Tony Gwynn Jr., hope nepotism works as good in baseball as it does in the U.S. government
  • Draft Steve Detwiler
  • Introduce Khalil Greene to certain things: women, booze, comedic films, masturbating, chocolate, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Patton Oswalt, porn (internet and otherwise), mild hallucinogens, Ana Ivanovic, card games, medium-rare steaks, etc.
  • Find a time machine, enter "Brian Giles: 1999-2002"
  • Give everyone those big Flintstone-looking wiffle ball bats
  • Punch somebody. Anybody. Anything. Get all Jerry Manuel-esque and threaten somebody's life with a switchblade
  • Sign the other three members of the Fantastic 4 so Scott "The Thing" Hairston feels more at home
  • Deal Paul McAnulty for Det. Jimmy McNulty (if he can pound a baseball like he pounds pussy, watch out)
  • Read Broken Vessels by Andre Dubus - I am (thanks to BorL) and it's phenomenal. Plus, it's got to be a gillion times better than watching this team attempt to hit the goddamn ball
  • Go out and get somebody with some MOTHERFUCKING SPEED (next-to-last in SB with 24, one more than the Pirates)
  • Spread gasoline, light match. Move over about 10 feet, repeat. Keep repeating until all is nothing
I'd be funnier, but I can't. This team is killing me.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Q and A with horseracing expert, buisiness or leisure



When do you think the Big Brown "loose shoe" revelation would have been important?
BEFORE THE FUCKING COCKSUCKING RACE. I lost ten cents on that run.

Did the injury hurt Big Brown's chance to win?
I don't know, maybe we should ask Bi-- OH RIGHT IT'S A FUCKING HORSE. IT DOESN'T TALK SO THERE'S NO FUCKING WAY WE CAN CONJECTURE THAT. Fucking ESPN.

How do you feel about the steroid issue in the sport?
I give give two living fucknickels about this shit. The horses the owners, hell, the entire sport is filled with banana-eating shitpuffs. Think about it: THEY'RE HORSES. They don't know what steroids are or what drugs they've taken. All they know is run when the man says so. They're animals and they don't know what they are doing. Fuck them all.

What do you think the Barbaro and Eight Belles controversy will do in the next round of races next year?
Give uncreative blog commenters more to talk about and take more coverage away from the NBA playoffs next year.

If the trainers and owner of Big Brown raced him despite knowing about his condition, does that make them cruel?
It makes them history chasers. The same ideal that made the lifetime bureaucrats ride George Bush into Iraq to get their names into history books drove these assholes to push a horse. Again, it's a horse. What does it matter to them? If it wins,m they are heroes and a book is written about the horse with all their names in it. If it loses, ESPN talks about them for the next year. It's a win-win.

Is their a science to picking horses?
HORSES. YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT HORSES. NO. THERE IS NO SCIENCE.

Do you like Band of Horses?
I have no problem with them. They're pretty good, yeah.

Does Phony look like a horse?
No comment.

You don't seem like the typical horse expert. What's your background?
No comment.

Why so bitter?
I hate horses. To me, they are like cars. I don't get into people using machines or animals for sport. It's inhuman.

Is there something deeper here?
I dated a couple of girls who were obsessed with horses. Shit was weird. Horses are not humans. I stand by that. Fucking equus girls.

Horses?
NO THANKS.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

CCCCCCCCCEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLTTTTTTTTTTTIIIIIIIIIIIIICCCCCCCCCCCCSSSSSSSSSSSSS.


Earlier tonight, I played basketball. This is not abnormal, but something felt different tonight. I hit my first three shots without warming up. The kids around me waited before they jacked up half-court throws, crazy drives and terrible fade-away threes. The dudes looking to beat up on a skinny white kid waited for me to ask them to play before they were ready.

If this happened normally, I would probably stink up the joint. Not tonight. I hit jumpers from everywhere, I finished drives and even hit six straight at one point. As someone who doesn't feel vindicated or alive through sports, really, it's nice to play up to my capability. (Six in a row, I guess, would be beyond said capability). I came home feeling confident, and just in time for the tipoff.

If I was felling confident and released, there is no telling the amount of emotion pouring from Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce or Ray Allen. I was surprised to see Kevin Garnett be as cogent or coherent as he was after the game. The fact that 48% of what he said was audible and actual caught me off guard. Pierce's elation cracked through but never affected his speech. Ray Allen was, well, Ray Allen (is there a rule that UConn guys have to be the most boring interviews in history?). I could talk forever about this team, I really could.

Now, the unbelievable last four minutes. After the big three left the game, they celebrated with eagerness-- not like the Spurs first win (the reserved Robinson seemed to just smile and soak) or the Shaquille-Kobe Lakers (expectation trumping anticipation). They treated the game like a job. When the clock was stuck on thirty seconds, they had the look of children waiting for their rides home from school. They were rambunctious and anticipatory; relentless in their need to release. A year of doing the right things finally paid off.

That's what makes this a championship to remember. For the most part (aside from Garnett's on-again-off-again trade mongering and Pierce's bout with listlessness on bad teams), all of these players did the right thing either for the year (Perkins, Powe, Rondo, etc.) or for their entire careers. They got no reward for efforts beyond their capability. Eddie House, left behind on the playoff roster, executed to the best of his ability even on the bench. Rajon Rondo used his shaky inconsistency the same way a young Jason Kidd did-- feeding the monsters no matter if he was open or not, etc.

Now, the execution. Perhaps the strangest part of last night's game was the relentless execution. Basketball at it's purest form is a mistake ridden experience. Basketball is a sinner's respite. The best players not only make few mistakes, they know exactly what to do when mistakes occur. This is why Kobe Bryant faltered and Paul Pierce soared. Kobe has been Hercules for so long that he panicked when he couldn't find the rhythm of his game. He jacked up shots quicker and from awkward angles when he lost his way. Pierce has never been the best player on the floor for a sustained period of time. So he executed. He wanted to stay on top because he had never been there before. He was drawing double teams from the best two defenders on the floor regularly. This was his all-too-late coming out party into the NBA's elite for Paul.

In fact, that was the case for everyone but Kevin Garnett. The Celtics knew they had to be perfect to overcome a home loss against the Pistons. They knew they had to be flawless to beat a team with more all-around talent (I still believe that) and a superior coach. They knew. And the culmination of perfection came last night. Every rebound, every loose ball, every steal, every shot and every hand-check was calculated and scientifically executed. The Celtics played the closest to perfection that I have seen any team play.

This wasn't about overcoming odds, it was about the culmination of angst and bitterness-- the appreciation of basketball for a team (and, yes, city) that did not know how to anymore. The glossed over idea amongst basketball fans has nothing to do with style or personality. This championship was more involved than past glory-- for the first time in a while, it had to do with the idea of want: wanting something so bad and then getting it. It was higher evolved than a man shooting hoops in a park, more involved than the task of basketball. It showed.

Congrats, Celtics.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tonight's Celtics and the Ideal of Perfection


A rant and a rave about basketball as per Game Two:

First, the rant: basketball is such a simple game, people. Too simple. So simple, in fact, coaches and players try to overthink. When the game is at it's best-- like the last seven minutes of the third quarter and the first three minutes of the fourth for the C's-- all the players exploit the weaknesses of a team on the ropes. They attack. They feel the natural flow and they play. No other sport can duplicate this like basketball. This is why the game alternates between exceedingly perfect and horrifically unbearable. Doc Rivers went to his prevent defense (and the players actually ascribed to it) with seven minutes to go against the most dangerous player in the league. Why? Why not attack the rim and continue to beat this team down? Why allow Farmar to score? Why allow Kobe to get his groove? Why allow a team that is beaten a fucking inch-- much less the mile the Celtics gave away?

Not to drive the point home more than I should, but after Leon Powe's dunk and subsequent timeout, who in that place didn't know the Lakers were going to be pissed and come out with a purpose? It's the Finals. If I'm on the Celtics, the first thing out of my mouth is "Don't let up." I just say that over and over. I don't mention the score. I don't feel comfortable. I tell my fellow men that the most dangerous player in basketball is hurting and we want to bury him. I want him dead. I want his family dead. I want his entire lineage destroyed. Here. Tonight. His legacy should have the imprint of our balls on it right fucking now. Seriously.

Instead, the Celts decided to walk the ball up the floor, relax, try horrible lobs and back in/ fade away against guys susceptible to the drive all night. They decided to settle for bad fades with five left on the shot clock after NOT moving the ball. Then, when the energy level depleted and the momentum changed, the ball movement was moot. The deflections came, the panic came and the offense hung from the same ropes supporting the banners in the ceiling.

For a championship-caliber team, this one seems to hate winning. It's still up in the air, fellas. If it's hard to close with a 25 point lead, how hard will it be to do so in LA without the crowd, the calls and the camaraderie? This ain't baseball, and this is a team desperately searching for a closer and Paul Pierce needs help at the end of games.

Now, the raves:

Paul Pierce-- Jesus, even when he makes the big errors-- like the pass that opened up Radmonovich for the travel-dunk-- he makes up for them by blocking a game-altering three with little time left. HUGE PLAY.

Posey-- Nothing but hustle from a man that seemed lost in Detroit.

Rondo-- Inexplicably benched form time to time for man who can't dribble anymore, much less be trusted to run an effective offense, yet he comes in and makes plays when the game is on the line.

Ray Allen-- Shooting like a good shooter again, i.e. using shot selection. You don't have to jack up every open three-- if you aren't comfortable, pass the ball. I love that from him the last few games.

Team Defense-- This is why I love non-break basketball. I like the aforemetioned frustration in basketball-- when a defense (and not coaching) beats a team, it is BASKETBALL. The players decisions are winning and losing a game, not some outsider influence (refs, coaching, slow-down offense WITH SEVEN MINUTES LEFT FOR CHRIST'S SAKE). It's sport at it's peak. When the Celtics were outclassing the Lakers in the third, I got numerous texts and commentary from the guys in the same room saying the same thing: that was a perfect run. They did everything right. it was the purest form of ball-- a mix of athleticism, fundamentals (the SPACING ON THE FLOOR ON BOTH ENDS WAS PERFECT) and luck. It was the culmination of playing the right guys at the right time and not fucking with it. No one was complaining that it was a blowout or saying that the series is boring. They were excited that a team was making an entire quarter-plus look like a work of art. The defense did most of the work. it opened up the offense to operate on every level and allowed Leon Powe to finally get the minutes and attention he deserved.

Leon Powe-- "This was his national coming-out party." --Stan.
For people that understood his potential, Leon Powe delivered the perfect blow to this year's frustrations. With wins come mediocrity. Trust me on this one. When a season goes this well, the team looks away from what worked well and tries to get everyone in on the effort. Thus, this explains the fact that Glen Davis, for awhile, got more important minutes than Leon Powe. Powe deserves 15-20 a game relieving at the 3 and 4 spots and not for his off-the-court storyline. He deserves it because he can punish bench guys, small 3s and slow 4s in the same motion. Davis, and the cavalcade of bench dudes CANNOT. I like Big baby, but Powe is worlds above him. Maybe now, the basketball world gets that. Maybe Doc gets it too (and won't bench him for his lackluster play in the last few minutes like he did after the last five games of the regular season).

Eddie House-- I feel for him. Cassell is damn-near ruining this team in important stretches and he continues to hug and cheer and want. If I'm him, I hold my own press conference and just play tape of Cassell getting blocked by Vujacic (he of the constant complaining-- what a fucktoad). Then I say, "This is five minutes a quarter. Think about it," throw the mic into the feedback position and walk the fuck out with my cock on full display into the bay of cameras. instead, he continues to hug and cheer and want. Good on him. He's still helping.

Tonight, to be sure, the C's had it all, gave it away and then earned it back. That shit won't fly in LA. Not even to steal one. Pierce said they needed to learn a lesson from the fourth quarter. I hope they did, otherwise, they are coming back to Boston down 3-2 against the MVP. Not a good time. I just hope lessons learned translate well, instead of turning into the potential for disaster. Two more, fellas. Two more.

"Don't let up." In such a simple game, the quest for perfection is fleeting, but the ideal of basketball is not. Leon Powe showed us that in Game Two the same way Pierce did in Game One. So simple, to win. So very, very simple.

Friday, June 06, 2008

This Week in Sigh

Guess what? Here's another useless feature that we will try to run on a regular basis, but will probably abandon in a few short weeks. Yay! Every week, Phony Gwynn will recap the recent edition of Sports Illustrated, so you don't have to read it. Doesn't that sound awesome? This one is aided by a glass of White Horse scotch. White Horse: it's the bar where Dylan Thomas drank himself to death, so the scotch must be good, right?

I decided to start this after last week's Sports Illustrated pissed me off. Like many people, I loved SI back in its heyday - when a plethora of excellent writers pounded out interesting, must-read articles. Then ESPN the Magazine came on the scene, and SI decided to keep up - in a bad way. Anyway, last week I came home and saw Josh Hamilton on the cover. Sweet! I thought. A perfect vehicle for an epic Gary Smith piece!

Uh ... no.

Rather, we see Albert Chen's trite, color-by-numbers version of this epic tale. Instead of Smith writing in the first person, penning italicized lines about Hamilton bringing a crack pipe to his lips like Pookie in New Jack City, and harrowing recreations of 4 a.m. booze binges, we get a three-page snooze-fest that turned one of the most incredible stories in sports into an afterschool special. The man's got fire tattooed on his forearms and now he loves Jebus, and all I get is an AP-esque rehash?

Boo.

So now it's time to break this skull open, and feast on the goo inside.

The Cover: More Lakers-Celtics love, with a film still of Magic and Bird battling for position for a rebound. The caption on the side says Lakers 109, Celtics 102 in Game Two of the NBA Finals. But what year? We're not all John Hollinger here, you know. And, hey - a hockey sighting! It's on a tiny banner in the lower right-hand corner, but still - hockey!

The Vault: Again, more Lakers V Celtics lore: in a February, 1963 game we learn from William Leggett that Elgin Baylor, after seeing some Celtics begin to warm up, "unbuttoned his magnificent raglan overcoat with the red lining, took a penny from his pocket and tossed it at the Celtics - the gesture that bored customers once used to drive bad vaudeville acts off the stage. Baylor then turned and walked to his dressing room with a confident smile on his face." Two questions here: 1) What the fuck is raglan? 2) Why the fuck doesn't stuff like this happen now?

Leading Off: The final picture is of some Chinese children at a refugee camp playing a makeshift game of ping-pong. Hey, sports cures all ills! Fuck an earthquake - we got paddles!

Letters: "I can't thank you enough for the unexpected picture of Bob Uecker in bathing trunks. I still haven't read the article, which I believe had to do with the Brewers. All I can see is Bob in his trunks." - Dianne Smith, Walling, Tenn. Dear Dianne: here's a cataract milkshake. Please drink it down.

Hot/Not: In this issue, Kimbo Slice is both Hot and Not. Ooh! On the Hot side, SI calls Slice "the kindred soul to Clubber Lang." Aside from being black and having interesting hair patterns, I see absolutely no resemblance. My prediction? Pain ... ful analogy.

For the Record: Tony Stewart donates his pet monkey, Mojo, to the Louisville Zoo. I hate NASCAR, but Tony Stewart having a pet monkey named Mojo is 87 kinds of awesome. Pray for him.

Go Figure: Gary Payton recently said on The Best Damn Sports Show Period that he'd have a sex change operation and play in the WNBA for $100 million. Gary Payton ... sex change ... period ... night tremors ... uncontrollable vomiting ... Shawn Kemp showing up with a six-pack of Heineken and a box of Magnums ...

First Person: Detroit Shock point guard Deanna Nolan reveals that she has four dogs named Duke Cooper, Austin Bailey, Dallas Austin, and Jasmine Nicole. This interview also reveals that Deanna Nolan has zero fucking personality.

Pop Culture Grid: For the "Concert you're dying to see this summer" question, Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum admits that he's never been to a concert, and Twins second baseman Brendan Harris reveals that he wants to see Bon Jovi. I don't know how you did it, but you both won the coveted "Lamest Fucking Answer Imaginable" award. Congratulations!

The Beat: Phil Mickelson says that he spent two days shooting scenes for Entourage. Finally, Turtle gets some titty!

Just My Type: This is Dan Patrick's column, which he started after Rick Reilly left. Generally I like it, because he features a candid interview on the left side, and humorous and/or insightful tidbits, facts or suggestions on the right. On the bottom, there's a "Fine Print" line, which is usually a joke. This week: "Did you see that Cal Ripken is a special envoy to the State Department? And Tony Gwynn is a special ambassador to International House of Pancakes." Hardy-har-har, Danny. Everyone knows he's a Denny's man. (Because they don't serve black people there, see.)

Articles: 1) Jack McCallum's knob-slobbing suckfest of the great Lakers-Celtics series of the past. Yeah, we get it. This one will be epic. Babies will be born because of it. Stuart Scott will introduce a new phrase into the lexicon that will make him look even more absurd (that's not a bad thing, actually).

2) An interesting piece on baseball in Alaska, and the midnight games played there during the summer solstice. Summer solstice? I thought Derek Jeter was banging her? There's a fold-out map of a marathon minor-league romp, which conveniently avoids Colorado. No Colorado Springs Sky Sox? Crazy Christians and high altitudes - what more could you want?

3) A story about the Red Wings. Fuck the Red Wings. Brutally. With rabid wolves. And barbed wire.

4) New Oregon State men's basketball coach Craig Robinson is profiled. Why? Well, he's Sen. Barack Obama's brother-in-law! It's time for a change! Change we can believe in! Aww, fuck it - the Beavers will still blow.

5) Tim Layden breaks down Jamaican Usain Bolt's obliteration of the 100M record. But only because the Olympics are in two months.

6) Alan Shipnuck delves into the Mexican-y depths of top female golfer Lorena Ochoa. I haven't read this yet (like some of the last few articles - try to guess which ones! I think you'll be pleasantly surprised), but I will as soon as I can't sleep.

Inside: There is a two-page spread of Ana Ivanovic, and, I'll be honest - I don't feel like typing right now.

Point After: Chris Ballard details the struggles of the National Basketball Association of Afghanistan, and their attempts to revive a once-proud portion of their national identity. I've always liked Ballard, and this is an interesting little read - informative, grounding, provocative. Precisely what the back of the book should be.

(Ed. note: The Vonnegut quote above is what he wrote down for SI in the late 50s after his first assignment for them. He then promptly left the magazine. Again, classic.)