Monday, February 25, 2008

A Wild(cat) Wish

When I was about eight or nine, my father's older sister, Judy, and her husband Johnny came and visited from Arizona.

Even though it was twenty years ago, Uncle Johnny was old. Well, older. He was mostly bald, with liver spots crawling up and down his arms and neck and legs that were bare from lower thigh to mid-calf, thanks to the technological advancement of khaki shorts and white tube socks.

He also smiled ... a lot. In a way he looked like Fire Marshall Bill, with the curled upper lip exposing bright white teeth. And he used to tell these wonderful stories about particular things, random things he knew about. Most of them involved Arizona in one way or another.

So when he came to visit he brought me a University of Arizona hat. It was an old mesh-backed hat with a foam front (I'd say "trucker hat", but I don't feel like it), and it had Arizona's old logo on it - an 80s-esque post-modern line-drawn shot of an Arizona sunset with a cactus. Maybe saguaro. Maybe not.

Uncle Johnny loved Arizona, and he loved the Wildcats. I had no real college allegiance at the time - I rooted for Colorado or Air Force or even Colorado State, but I didn't care too much - so rooting for the Wildcats seemed plausible. Good, even.

When Miles Simon hit that three-quarters length shot in 1997 to win a game, and then Arizona went on to beat Kentucky in OT for the national championship, I always wondered what Uncle Johnny did to celebrate. He probably just clapped his hands a couple times and did a Bender-like fist pump or something. He wasn't flashy.

So when I found out recently that Alzheimer's had finally gotten the best of him, and my father told me that it made him a shell of his former self and that I wouldn't even recognize him if I had seen him, I thought of Arizona for some reason, and their recent troubles. I guess they mirrored his in a strange way.

My uncle forgot who he was. Arizona forgot who they were.

I probably only saw him a couple times since that visit twenty or so years ago when he gave me that hat. And that cap is long, long gone. But whenever I watched them play, or rooted for them, or talked about them with another Adam, a friend from college's younger brother who was also a fan, I would think about that white foam-front hat, and my smiling, low-talking, kind-hearted uncle.

They're 17-10 right now, 7-7 in the Pac 10, and definitely on the bubble. There's a good chance they might not even make the dance.

But if they do, here's hoping they find it within themselves, somewhere, to win one. Just one.

For Johnny.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Story About A-Rod Is Pumped At The Rear

Yesterday was a typical slow day at work.

I had to watch The Transporter 2, a movie so off-the-wall outrageous that I think I have to Netflix the first one just so I can smoke my weight in carpet fibers and laugh through the whole thing. (Noticing that there is a bomb planted under his car, and forced to drive off at gunpoint, British/Scottish/Irish/Welsh/Australian/Kiwi/Oyster Bay actor Jason Statham gets in, speeds off, sees a crane with a large hook hanging down, drives over some crates and assorted boxes so that the car flies 30 feet into the air WHILE ROTATING HORIZONTALLY, whereupon said hook perfectly knocks off said bomb literally nanoseconds before it explodes. Whew!)

Normal hump day.

Then a co-worker sent me this.

By nature, AP stories are supposed to be bland. There's a formula that all of us lowly journalism students learned the day we stepped into a soulless lecture hall - the inverted pyramid.

It goes like this: you put the good shit at the top, where people are likely to read it. Then, the further down they go, and the more bored they get, they stop. That way if you need, say, four inches to fill and you have a six-inch story, you just chop-chop-chop off the inconsequential dredge at the bottom until the story fits.

This AP story about Alex Rodriguez at spring training, however, is too good to snip, with everything from how he exaggerated the number of times he was tested for steroids to how he'll never be among the Yankee greats until he wins a ring.

The best part, however, is the best part. When my co-worker e-mailed it to me, all he said was, "Ninth paragraph."

That graf was this:
Andy [Pettitte] is one of the greatest human beings I've ever met. I have two daughters -- well, I have one and one on the way. If I had a daughter, I would want 'em to marry Andy Pettitte. The age difference might be a little awkward, but in today's day and age anything is possible.
Looking at that story again one sees that the loquacious verse in question has been moved to the very bottom of the piece, light-years beyond the ninth paragraph. I can't prove that it was changed, but two of those three links were updated pretty late in the evening for a wire story, and the other was updated a good two hours after I read it initially (at roughly 5 pm ET Wednesday, Feb. 20).

I'm trying to go easy on the guy here and shift the focus away from the contents of the actual quote. But look at it again: "I have two daughters -- well, I have one and one on the way. If I had a daughter ..."

Wow. Just ... amazing. And I haven't even begun to psychoanalyze the absolute and utter awkwardness of a man trying to hook his "alleged" daughter up with someone 32 years her senior.

When asked about saying that he had been tested for steroids nine or 10 times last year, A-Rod said: "My quote from earlier today was taken literally."

Too bad he was talking about the wrong one.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ah, shit.

OK, so it happened. The unthinkable. Colorado, for one night, got revenge for that whole World Series thing. Phony got his revenge for me continually (yet, believe me, accidentally) bringing up the Padres before the new season washes away the pain of the Holliday incident. Allen Iverson got revenge on Rajon Rondo for that nasty fake behind-the-back thing he does to veteran guards (though you'd think Sam Cassell got enough revenge by clocking his jugular).

Even crazier, the Celtics dropped a winnable game against an opponent deemed lesser than themselves. Forgive me for bragging, but that hasn't happened all that often this year. I get the feeling it will happen a lot more as the post All-Star hangover wears away. They have exactly four cares in the world right now come playoff time: Dwight Howard, Chauncey Billups, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett's stomach muscle. The East, barring major mishaps, will be series of 81-75 games and will await Reggie Miller's tiresome jawing and off-the-cuff mispronounced phrasings.

Meanwhile, the West just solidified what could be the greatest playoff alliance in the history of the free world. When, basketball fans, can any of us remember a time so loaded with talent in one league from the aging vets (Kidd, Shaq, etc.) all the way down to their super-young counterparts (Bynum, MVPaul, etc.)? When? All in one side of the league? Are you sure?

The Nuggets win tonight isn't just exciting for Phony, it's exciting for all basketball fans. Yeah, Garnett was hurt, but he played and the Nuggets won. They just catapulted above 16 other West teams that had not been able to beat the team with the NBA's best record-- including the Spurs (who got no Garnett at all). Let's project the following teams into the playoffs in no order: Suns, Spurs, Lakers, Mavs, Hornets, Jazz, Rockets, Nugs/Warriors. Each of these teams has the potential to push a seven game series-- proven by the fact that the Nuggets are 1 game above the Warriors right now for the final spot, and they just beat the Celtics.

Random conjecture: If the Suns win the West and draw the eight-seed Warriors, HOW FUN WOULD THAT BE? HOLY SHIT. NOTHING BUT 133-131 shootouts? YES PLEASE. If the Lakers came into the third spot and had the Hornets (who I think will finish well below their current projection), who is going to stop Chris Paul? In that case, who will stop anyone? Consider this:

MAVS: Kidd, Nowitzki, Howard, etc.
LAKERS: Kobe, Bynum, Gasol
SUNS: Amare, Shaq, Nash
SPURS: Champions, etc.
NUGGETS: 'Melo, Iverson, whomever they trade for
ROCKETS: Yao, oh nevermind. They are out in the first round.
JAZZ: Deron, Boozer, team ethic/angry coach. Western Conference finalist last year, remember?
HORNETS: MVPaul, West, Chandler-- sure it ain't enough, but it will be fun to watch.
and then there's the WARRIORS, with he most improved player in the league Monta Ellis. His game will warrant a whole other post. It's undeniably perfect for that team RIGHT NOW.

The big three on any of these teams are as good as any other team, with the exception of the Hornets' youth (but still, MVPaul) and the Nuggets possible trade possibilities. The playoffs are promising to be the best we may ever see or even better, so as the season progresses, I am going to find a way to (not quite) fully and (un)extensively report on each of the contenders in the West until I am out of steam or I hyper-extend my brain... whichever comes first. I'm sure Phony will help, despite our lack of allegiance this evening.

One thing his for sure-- whatever happens will be fucking outstanding.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Quick Thought...

... on the All-Star game. It was missing one thing:

Can someone please set Dwight Howard's dunks to a traditional Greek soundtrack? Please?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Kevin Hart Cannot Believe His Good Name Has Been Sullied By Some Stupid Whiteboy

Yo, whassup.

This is Kevin Hart.

The real Kevin Hart.

Now, I know you might have heard something about some kid out in Wyoming or some shit pulling some lame-ass stunt. And that this dumbass's name is Kevin Hart.


Sure, he may go by Kevin Hart, but I bet you a diddly Joe to a damned-if-I-know that his real first name is Eugene, or some other pasty shit.

Damn cracker.

I've spent a good chunk of my life building up this name. My name. Was that other motherfucker in Soul Plane? Hell no. Did that chubby checker have a recurring role in Scary Movie 3 and 4? Shit no.

Now, as you can guess, I never was much of an ath-a-lete. I'm 5'4", so the only thing I was good at was dressing in orange and standing at the corner of the end zone. [chuckles] But I watch me some sports, and all I've got to say is this: if you is 6-feet-4-inches tall, and weigh 290 got-damn pounds, and yo ass can't get signed by a D-1 school to play some motherfuckin' football, then yo ass need to find a time machine so you can go back to when you was two and slap the shit out 'cho parents for giving you the athleticism of a drugged walrus.

Seriously, you can't even get a look from fucking Utah State, or UNLV or goddamn Idaho? Fa real?

Man, I can't believe that stupid whiteboy got the same name as me.

Anyway, check me out in Fool's Gold, with Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson, opening today, February 8. Holla!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Rare Event: A Fan's Redemption

Tonight was shocking. Eli Manning joined a conversation that I never thought he would. The Giants became one of the most revered football teams in history rather than a stepping stone to history. Their defense put together one of the most inspiring performances I have seen in a super bowl in my life. And it was still the second most amazing thing I saw this weekend.

Growing up as a sports fan, I had no reasons to complain. My baseball team was mightily mediocre and the college team I cheered for was (and still is) a minuscule part of the national conversation, but the Celtics and Redskins always had the chance to make history. Both teams won championships during my formative years. Sure, there were bleak times, but I was lucky enough to have many bright spots. Two of those bright spots were given their due as Hall-of-Famers this weekend.

Imagine being a pre-teen and watching the lowly Redskins play the lowly Rams. Isaac Bruce-- an up-and-comer at this point-- is running a fly route and beats Darrell Green off the line. Easily. He has a step and a half on the veteran. Your hero, and a man revered for his abilities to match speed with speed, is getting smoked when the ball is thrown. Imagine groaning when everyone else in the stadium is holding their breath. This is your first live NFL game. You don't understand like the rest of the fans: don't give up on Darrell Green. Just don't. The ball floats a bit and he gains a full stride before diving to disrupt the pass just enough to see it fall harmlessly to the ground. You catch your breath long enough to see a punt the next play. This envelopes one of the greatest cornerbacks to ever play the game. (By the way, Issac Bruce was approximately 1,000 years younger then Green then.)

Imagine playing wide-receiver. Just before the peak eras of Jerry Rice on the 49ers, Michael Irvin on the Cowboys, the most steady-handed wideout in the league (though, admittedly not the most exciting by any means) played for the Redskins. Art Monk, for all intents and purposes, might as well have been handed a team trophy for most valuable offensive weapon on three super-bowl bound teams (though injured for one of the championship wins itself). Without him, Sanders and Clark would have been shadows of themselves. He was responsible for over 10,000 Redskins receiving yards and, along with Darrell Green, made the Redskins a respectable team: his "Quiet Man" ideal and insane work ethic were as legendary as his routes from the slot (or flanker, as it were) position. The records he set were taken quickly, but only by the best receiver to ever touch a football (Jerry Rice). #81 was a calming influence to the Redskins team and fan, even when they were losing.

It's fitting, then, that these two men should make their hall speeches on the same day. The dignity and brilliance-- on both sides of the ball-- behind a pair of championships and a number of great teams deserve to be honored in tandem. For Green, this is the end of what we expected. For Monk, this is the end of a long conversation and the end of a long overdue call. Now, in an era where players are revered yet prodded more than ever, the "Quiet Man" and one of the first "shutdown corners" can walk together in immortality-- the way it should be. Perhaps the Hall had it right all along.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


I don't care if GLC is a bad rapper. I don't care if this is a video dump. I don't care if this sort of thing has been over done to death.

All I know is he did a slam dunk video to "Take My Breath Away." Genius. Terri Nunn, to wit: "Watching in slow motion/ as your turning me insane." No matter how many times it's done, I will love it.