Thursday, June 25, 2009

We, the Proprietors of the Pretzel Factory, Make Jokes About the NBA Draft, and People About to be Far Richer than Ourselves

Hello, basketball fans and readers of words on the internet! This is a joint venture of the two world-weary - yet undeniably sexy and hilarious - blogger-type personages who sometimes write things that appear on this site. We are here to make funny about the NBA Draft, and maybe about things not involving tall men and balls. Won't you join us? Hooray!

(Note: So you can tell your friends and, in 37 years, grandchildren, which of us said what monumental thing, they will be prefaced accordingly: PG for Phony Gwynn, and BoL for Business or Leisure?. See? You learned something. Fantastic!)

PG: I am awaiting the presence of BoL, so let me say this: I am an unabashed fan of I Survived a Japanese Game Show, and ... it may have seeped into the first few graphs there. Just so nobody asks me where I got the killer peyote.

And...they're here! (Note: We have a guest speaker, Carlos, who gets a plain old "C." Simplistic? You bet! Sexy? Not really.)

BoL: David Stern could read my favorite book, or a Penthouse Forum letter, and I would [rolls head over, closes eyes, makes loud, obnoxious snoring sound.]

[Griffin is picked by the Clippers] BoL: He's kissing dudes? You're not even in L.A. yet!

By the way, we both agree that this was beyond excellent.

BoL: Ted and I decided the other night that the drunkest thing you could say, even if you're stone-cold sober, is Colorado Rockies. No matter how you say it, you sound drunk as shit. C: Rrrrryyyannnn Spppillllbbbborrrrrggghhhhssss for the Cccccolllllllorrrrrradddddo Rrrrroccckkkkiesssss.

[Mike Dunleavy is shown on screen] PG: Oh no, it's Steven Seagal's ugly, bald cousin!

[The Thunder take James Harden 3rd] BoL, PG: OH NO! NOOOOO! WHY? WHY?!?!?

[New T-Wolves GM David Kahn's credentials are shown, including working as a consultant on NBA Showtime] PG: What is that, Summer Sanders's resume?

PG: When the T-Wolves picked Ricky Rubio, all the ESPN sound guys heard an audible 'thump' and were confused. Turns out it was Mark Jackson's erection smacking the underside of the desk.

[Graphic says Jonny Flynn hasn't grown since the 8th grade] C: I'm surprised they put that. "Real small..."

[The Warriors take Stephen Curry right ahead of the Knicks] BoL: Yes! Fuck you Yankee-cap wearing mother-fuckers! (Not sure if this is what was said - the audible groaning of Knicks fans in attendance was drowning it out.)

BoL: Oops. We skipped the DeMar DeRozan pick, much like the Raptors should have.

Terrence Williams: "I learned great under Coach P, I can learn great in the NBA." C, PG: Well, apparently he didn't "learn great" in college. C: English 101 was a problem, there.

[At this point, many of the compelling points in the draft - Rubio, Curry, etc. - had subsided. So we ordered Chinese food. We shall resume shortly, presumably with the poking of fun at Tyler Hansbrough.]

Before the Pacers pick, BoL says: This is it. Who do they have? C: Troy Murphy, Travis Diener ... PG: Mike Dunleavy Jr. BoL: They could do it. C: Can we call them White Flight? PG: I like White Night. Kind of ironic.

[The Pacers pick ... Tyler Hansbrough] C, PG, BoL in unison: YES!!!!!!!!!!!!! [High-fives abound.] BoL: THE GREATEST WHITE TEAM OF ALL-TIME!

Pacers nicknames: Vanilla Thunder, The Whitewash, The Opaque Floor Generals, Clear and Present Danger, The Awkward Brigade, Definitely Your Father's Pacers, White Team's Guilt, The White Stripes (only for pinstriped away jerseys), Duke: Midwest, I See White People, New Mother Russia, The Indianapolis White-Hundred.

The T-Wolves take Ty Lawson at 18, and we are summarily ... slack-jawed. One team - ONE TEAM - has now taken three point guards with their first three picks. AMAZING. BoL: I'm befuddled. PG: Well, aren't we all.

[UPDATE: Apparently, the Nuggets have traded for Ty Lawson. A young, solid backup for Chauncey Billups? PG IS A HAPPY MAN!]

[Shaq gives the "great" Stanley Roberts a shout-out during a phone interview] BoL: He just HAD to bust on Stanley Roberts. Stanley Roberts is probably watching Cars right now. What an ass.

[Fran Fraschilla on the Kings taking Israel's Omri Casspi: "They better have some good falafel in Sacramento."] PG: Really? Headline: Fran Fraschilla Flubs Falafel Flap.

BoL: Hi. I'm James Harden. I'm the 3rd pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. The next time you'll hear about me will be in 3 years when I commit suicide.

C: With the first pick of the 2010 NBA Draft, the Indiana Pacers select ... Luke Harangody. [This was incredibly, incredibly funny to us.]

[The Bulls' Gar Forman is interviewed] PG: Gar Forman definitely sounds like a NASCAR crew chief. [BoL and C proceed to speak in Southern voices and talk about restrictor plates. Justice cannot be done in print.]

ESPN goes to commercial with the Nuggets on the clock, and BoL correctly predicts that they wouldn't even show the pick. They come back, announce a trade, announce the Pistons' pick at 35, then ... talk about the trade. FUCK YOU ESPN. DIE IN A HUNTING ACCIDENT.

The scrawl reveals the Nuggets picked (please be DeJuan Blair, please be DeJuan Blair) ... some guard named Sergio Llull from Spain. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK. Denver, I have a feeling Llull regret this pick.

[UPDATE: The Nuggets trade the rights of the Llull pick to the Rockets for cash. NOT A BIG, SCORING, OFFENSIVE-REBOUNDING MACHINE. As far as I know, dollar bills can't get 5 offensive boards a game. But the Nuggets are cash-strapped, so ... whatever.]

BoL: The Detroit Pistons select ... Jeff Laughlin, from the University of ... FAT!

So, the T-Wolves are 5-for-5 in picking guards, even if Calathes won't play for them (and they're moving Lawson to the Nuggets). Either way, that's batting 1.000. Look out, Joe Mauer - the Wolves are on your ass!

And the Pacers pick ... A.J. Price. A black guy? What? NOOOOO!!!

C: Acie Law and Speedy Claxton sound like a TV cop duo.

We're late in the 2nd round, and we don't recognize any of these fucking guys, and we've had a few beers, so ... the updates are few and far between. PG: I did realize that David Kahn of the T-Wolves looks like the guy who plays Alby on HBO's Big Love.

And so the night comes to a close with a reference to a Mormon drama. The 2nd round petered out a bit, but the first round was wildly entertaining, with plenty of surprises and twists and turns. An enjoyable evening. And one that provided plenty of jokes.

No joking on this, though: RIP Jacko. You were ... strange, and bizarre, and sometimes downright creepy. But holy good lord were you talented.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another Crazy Bowlen Movement

On Thursday, June 18, the Denver Broncos became the first NFL team to trade one of their fans.

Peter King tells us how it happened.

I could go on and on about the rude woman who took up two seats on the LIRR the other day, or the fact that the new Dunkin' Donuts sandwich should be served with a circular saw and an air sickness bag. But I won't. I'd like to discuss the unprecedented move the Denver Broncos made recently.

No, I'm not talking about the trade of Jay Cutler to the Bears. And no, I'm not talking about their acquiescing to Brandon Marshall's trade demands. Pat Bowlen and his two-time Super Bowl-winning organization backed up so fast on that one you half expected to hear a "beep-beep-beep" sound.

Instead, I'd like to start with the two chats I had with Adam Sivits. Haven't heard of him? Of course you haven't. He's a pawn in this game.

"It's really frustrating," Sivits said via Gmail Gchat instant message. "I've actually worked for this franchise. I raised the north field-goal nets. I hand-painted the horse's eyes in the end zones. And what they've done lately is just ... surreal."

Sivits says that he sent a text message to new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels expressing his dissatisfaction with the way the off-season has gone. McDaniels told me in an email that he received no such text. "We take the feelings of our fans very seriously," McDaniels wrote. "If he's truly upset, I'd like to talk with him."

After a phone call between Sivits and McDaniels early yesterday morning, Sivits blogged that he told McDaniels he wanted a conference call with McDaniels and Bowlen. McDaniels then posted a message on his Twitter feed that "[t]he Broncos organization has not received any requests for a conference call from Mr. Sivits."

Which was news to, of all people, Mr. Sivits.

"The way this organization has been run since the firing of Mike Shanahan has been a deplorable and ghastly joke," Sivits wrote on his Facebook page. "As of right now, I no longer wish to be a fan of the Denver Broncos. I hope Mr. Bowlen and Mr. McDaniels can see my side of things and do what's right."

After paging new Broncos GM Brian Xanders, I received an overnight FedEx package containing a stone tablet engraved with the following: "When determining whether or not to trade Adam, we must determine his overall worth. He is a tall guy with good reach, and he has amazing commitment. He treks to the same bar near Union Square in Manhattan every weekend to watch us. Sometimes he stands for the whole game, by himself, with no other Denver fans in sight. The thing is, can we get equal value in return? Since we don't pay him, it's a very, very tough question."

A source revealed to me that Al Davis and the Raiders sent up a smoke signal, offering the Broncos a dual-speed ceiling fan and $1 million. The Broncos simply wrote back "No" in Morse code.

Some members of the team have gone out on a limb with their views.

"We need Adam Sivits on our side," new safety Brian Dawkins wrote on his Tumblr account. "The dude is a real fan. You can't give that up."

After reading that information on, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported "Sivits safe as Bronco fan" in a sky-writing message high above the Denver skyline.

Minutes later, I received word that Sivits had indeed been traded to the Buccaneers for John Burkhardt, a 28-year-old electrical engineer originally from Tampa now living in Brooklyn, as well as a fan to be named later. I released the carrier pigeon and boarded the Metro North, Dunkin' Donuts bag in hand.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Sad, Sad Story of San Diego's Slugging Sisyphus

We live in the Information Age. The fact that you're reading this at all is a testament to just how easy it is to find facts, quotes, stats, pictures, opinions, Thai menus, funny t-shirts, midget-on-llama porn, cheap airfare, crossword puzzles, and literally anything else your twisted little mind can imagine, all by tapping on a keyboard.

As if that's not enough, we can now do all this on our phones. Wherever there's a strong enough signal we can look up the name of that guy in that one movie, or Juan Pierre's career caught stealing numbers. In the car you can listen to some blowhard and Mike from Queens debate Joe Girardi's use of the bullpen. And if we happen to be at home, we have hundreds of channels filled with scrolling tickers, pop-up graphics, and exquisitely coifed talking heads all pumping us full of juicy, gravy-covered tidbits of knowledge.

We are swimming in a sea of data, and we are drowning.

Exhibit A: Adrian Gonzalez is 5th in the All-Star balloting for National League first basemen.

That's right ... fifth. Fif!

Aside from being a little thing called, oh, the major league's leading home-run hitter, Gonzo has gone gonzo and put up these numbers, just a tad over two months into the year:

.289 avg, 22 HR, 43 RBI, 39 R, .412 OBP, .663 SLG, 1.075 OPS.

Here are the same numbers for the 3 guys immediately ahead of him in the balloting.

Prince Fielder: .276 avg, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 30 R, .412 OBP, .530 SLG, .942 OPS.
Ryan Howard: .266 avg, 16 HR, 45 RBI, 36 R, .348 OBP, .591 SLG, .939 OPS.
Joey Votto (recently placed on the DL): .357 avg, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 23 R, .464 OBP, .627 SLG, 1.091 OPS.

Albert Pujols leads the balloting by a wide margin, and rightly so. Even if the game wasn't in his home city, Pujols is having yet another monster year and is the best all-around player in his sport, let alone his position.

But while all 3 of those guys are having very good years, they: A) all play in hitter's parks; B) all have very good hitters both in front of and behind them; and C) are not in Gonzalez's class in the field.

Already this season he's had a stretch where he's homered 6 times in 5 days and 5 times in 6 days. The poor guy has slugged 39% of the Padres' ding-dongs. Think about that: if the Padres go deep, there's a 4 out of 10 chance Gonzalez stroked it. That is fucking insane.

Every game Padres pitchers pray that Gonzo will bail them out and, more times than not, he does. He did it last year, and he's doing an even better job of it this year.

And the fact that many baseball "fans" - either via TV, the internet, sports talk radio, or the papers - don't recognize it, just because he plays for a shitty team in a small market, is a sad, sad state of affairs.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Outside the Aviary: "We Got It For Cheap"

Since LA and Orlando both make me angry, I'm gonna fast forward seven games to the offseason.

The idea that '09 is a weak class of NBA free agents is a ridiculous understatement. There is more chance for failure amongst the championship-caliber teams than there is success. Think about it: the Lakers are banking on Odom and Ariza, the Cavs ditto with Anderson Varejao if he opts out (sorry kids, I don't think that highly of him other than a scrapper), and the Celtics ditto Glen Davis (how long 'til he becomes the Varejao he is destined to be?) as their high priorities speaks to how much the GMs think about this class. That said, there are some "we got it for cheap volume '09" players worth pursuing this summer. Here goes.

Raja Bell. He can still defend for a contender, can hit open (read: OPEN) threes despite his 3% tanking a bit this year in Phoenix/Charlotte. He can rock a midlevel exception, maybe not even the whole thing. He's hungry from his recent fall from grace in Phoenix and can replace the tenacity a contender may have lost since he's entered the twilight of his career. I love him in Boston, Cleveland (Mo Williams being absent would not have mattered as much in the playoffs-- Raja would have made a huge difference, I bet), Atlanta. The Knicks aren't contenders, but he would go back to D'Antoni, I'd bet.

Kyle Korver (if he opts out). If you are defense heavy, maybe you need that dude to come in and just hit shots. Or, maybe, you just need those shots. Hard to imagine him in Boston or Cleveland with those coaches. Or LA with them having wasted money on "The Machine." Or Denver, seeing as how they have to give the ball to JR Smith one out of every three touches in clutch situations (my thoughts on JR soon to come). Still, a midway contender could really use a court-spreading spot-up guy right? I love him in San Antonio, Cleveland (despite the defense first attitude), and like him in Phoenix now that they are running again (a sleeper for next year since they wasted the first half of the season on the most subjective and thoughtless coach in the NBA). If Kerr were smart, he'd try to make amends.

Birdman. Oh man, Mike Brown and Doc Rivers. They have to think they can make a run at this guy. He's got a past and is too emotional at times, yes. But you don't think LeBron or Garnett can keep him in check like Chauncey kinda did? Man oh man. Sign him, please. Either of you. Cleveland-- Anderson Varejao has held out and is now going to opt out. Of a contract. Worth money. More than enough money. 6.4 million dollars worth of money. FUCK HIM. Birdman is everything he is plus some actual offense. You sign him and a real spot-shooter (sorry, Boobie. 2006 was so long ago and you been figured out). Do it. Boston, this is your chance to have the cheap asshole that will take you to the top again. He's Mikki Moore, only the exact opposite. He's the new, white, tattooed PJ Brown. Denver needs to operate on a "right now" policy, I'd say. I'd love him in Boston, love/hate him in Cleveland and watch a lot more Denver games in Denver. Also, shouldn't Philly make a short run? He and Brand splitting some time don't sound so bad, right?

Mike Bibby. More than Jason Kidd, the emergence of Bibby after his trade last year has been surprising. Not that I thought he was cooked, I just never saw a four-seed or second round appearance coming from him. A team with a jittery young PG could use him. Or a group of shitty ones. And he might come cheaper than expected in the no money era. This will kill me to say it, but wouldn't LA be unbeatable right now with a decent-to-good point guard? Ugh. Seriously. Kidd still bears himself as too good and expensive, so go with the real option: Bibby in '09. Love him with the Lakers*.

*kills self.

Brandon Bass. He's good. Seriously, I love watching him. He's worth it. Undersized forwards are the new undersized shooting guards. I mean Chuck Hayes played center this year. Center. Chuck Hayes. Do it. You might not be disappointed, people. Miami, you like how Beasley liked to do nothing with his "size"? How about a guy who knows how to use his? Love him over Glen in Boston (not gonna happen), Denver (Phony's gonna kill me on that one) and, most of all, Miami.

Von Wafer. He's got the unsung quality you want in a swingman. He can shoot, drive and his name his alternately cool/gay. Isn't that all you need to make a small difference on a team? Plus, we gotta forgive him sometime, right?

Love him in Philly, Golden State (I know, not a contender... I just love them, OK?), Phoenix.

Ricky Davis. (Just kidding.)

Dahntay Jones. It is decision time in Denver. I love him right where he is. Leave him be. Except, well, there are so many defense-hungry contenders who just watched him play the toughest guy on the court for long stretches... uh-oh, Denver. Personally, I think he flops everywhere else. Stay, Dahntay. Stay. Love him in Denver, he'd survive in Boston or Cleveland. Neither of them can afford to give away that much offense, though.

Jamal Crawford. He's not elite, but he can come in and get hot for a struggling club. For all the players on this list, can you see any of them coming in and hitting big shots without a pick or without being the third- or fourth-best player on a court? He is that player. He still thinks he's a leader, but put him with another alpha-male and see what happens. Yeah, he's sporadic, but if he knows his role early, he can score in bunches. I like him in Denver (Phony just shit himself and vowed to kill me twice). Otherwise, he'll go to a points-hungry non-contender (i.e. stay in Golden State). He may not be as cheap as the other guys on this list, though.

Luther Head. Who? I know. But I like his game in the right system in limited time. Plus he is really cheap right now. Let's see if he can thrive during second-unit time on a good team, you know? I like him spelling the guards in Philly, Atlanta (they need bench players everywhere), Utah, Phoenix (he can run and he has to play better defense than Nash. His 3% will increase too, says I), San Antonio, and I'm cool with him in Miami more than I am Chris Quinn.

Matt Barnes. God, let him end up on a contender. He's so underrated since he's been on running teams for so long. Barnes can make a huge difference on a second squad. Throw the game plan out the window when the second unit is on the floor, you know? Run 'em. Think in Boston: new PG, House (if he re-signs), Powe, Barnes and Davis. Sometimes Pierce/Ray for leadership. Wrecking crew, three-pointers and some slashing. Now, Cleveland: LBJ sits and you got Delonte, Barnes, Varejao (if he opts out/re-signs), and some shooters. That crew can score, right? And he is fearless. Denver could use him. He seems like the perfect "asshole" in LA's schemes. Gets after every ball. Emotional to nearly a fault. Cheaper than Ariza and willing to sign short term. I like him nearly everywhere: Boston, Cleveland, LA, Orlando, San Antonio (f'reals), Philly, Atlanta, Phoenix again, Miami. I bet he'd thrive in NYC, god forbid.

Jacques Vaughan. He can shoot a little, he's quick as hell, played for a contender and gores after every play like it's his last chance to prove himself. He's tiny, quick and worth the diminutive risk. I like him, still, in San Antonio. I like him in Boston. I really do. Also, as a backup in Dallas or Philly where he has the potential to step in for longer stretches and Houston with Aaron Brooks and his situation.

Trevor Ariza. Can they sign Ariza and Lamar Odom? Odds are, yes. They will both be Lakers again. Still, defensive minded teams? Think of San Antonio with Pop's system or on the Jazz under Sloan. Think of backcourts with Ariza and Rondo, CP3 and Ariza, LeBron and Ariza. Kinda nasty. So much fear in a ballhandler's eyes. I love him in Boston, LA, San Antonio, Atlanta (though he would jack up too many threes), Phoenix, Denver... just about anywhere unless he falls apart after signing a decent-sized contract.

It's more of an interesting offseason than I thought, I guess. There's value to be had, for certain.