Friday, April 23, 2010


Faith is a word that gets bandied around all the time in sports. You put your faith in an owner. They put their faith in a general manager. They put their faith in a coach or manager. They put their faith in the players. They put their faith in the fans to cheer them on, and the fans put their faith in the players to make the right decisions. The players put their faith in the coach or manager to put them in a position to make the right decisions. The coach or manager puts their faith in the general manager to let them handle the players the right way. The general manager puts their faith in the owner to allow them to build a team they think will win. The owner puts their faith in the fans to come out and watch.

It's the circle of sports life.

Rarely have sports faith and real faith intersected so publicly and controversially as they have with Tim Tebow, the Heisman-owning, God-fearing, championship-winning, circumcision-performing QB drafted 25th overall by the Broncos Thursday night.

I choose to keep my faith strictly within the sports realm, where I see results. That's how I see the world, how it's chosen to open itself up to me. I certainly don't begrudge anybody else their right to believe what they want to, so long as they don't force those beliefs on anybody else. Did Tebow do that at Florida? Only his teammates know for sure. He may or may not have with his personal faith, but there's no doubt that he did with his sports faith. He was a winner, and that is inarguable.

Do I believe he'll be a winner in the NFL? I don't. I don't think he'll ever be a viable quarterback in a pro system where he's required to consistently and accurately throw downfield. I think he should be more concerned with Mike 39 Razor than John 3:16. My "personal" faith in him is low; I don't think he's the "Mile High Messiah." (Or as BorL put it the other night during the Nuggets' loss to the Jazz, "You're the most negative fan I know.") But this isn't about my personal faith - it's about my sports faith. It's about believing that Josh McDaniels, Brian Xanders, and Pat Bowlen have watched hundreds of hours of tape, and presumably know what they're doing because they know their team, and they know what direction it should go. It's about believing.

I believe Tim Tebow will bust his ass. I believe he'll work as hard as he possibly can, while under the employ of the Broncos, to make the orange and blue winners, in whatever capacity is asked of him. That's about all you can ask for as a fan.

To borrow from something called ChaCha, I'm going to call Tim Tebow "Tim Tivo." In ten or fifteen years, I'll either want to rewind and watch all the highlights, or I'll want to fast-forward past all the misery and the horrors. Tim Tivo needs to pause, take a breath, and play. It's sink or swim time, now, for the Jesus fish of the NFL. There is no middle ground, no gray area. There never is when it comes to a leap of faith.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Way to go, TWWL

So, when ESPN isn't making grammatical gaffes, they're plain reporting the outcomes of games wrong.

True story. I was watching this game with my buddy, a Sharks fan. At the start of OT I said, "the only way this can really end is with the Avs losing on a fluke goal."

He countered, "or we just score on ourselves."

Five seconds later - BAM.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Letter to the Denver Nuggets

Dear Denver Nuggets,

You are all a bunch of pussies. You have no heart. You have no balls. You have no guts. You have no spine.

Instead of rallying around your coach - who's gone because he's fighting FUCKING CANCER - and deciding to do the one thing he's tried to get you to do since he got there, the one thing that would take you from a very good team to a legitimate, scary, championship contender ... instead of doing that one thing that takes effort, and sweat, and blood - you choose the easy way out. You want the spoils of winning, but you don't want to put in the work.


On the second night of a road back-to-back, in a game against a good offensive team, in a place you haven't won at in almost six years, in a game you need to win to assure yourself the Number 3 seed and home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs, you do the worst possible thing: you decide not to do the one thing that would give you a shot - play defense.

I could bemoan your unwillingness to pass the ball, which any idiot with at least one working eye could tell you is increasingly to your advantage. I could bemoan Adrian Dantley's inability to do anything resembling coaching. I could bemoan the fact that none of your top three players - MVP "candidate" Carmelo Anthony, proven "winner and quarterback" Chauncey Billups, and only legitimate "big man" Nene - show any willingness, desire, or ability to lead by example.

You are all lazy. You play horrible pick-and-roll defense. Your switches and close-outs are slow and pathetic. You allow far too many and-one layups, because you have no idea how to foul hard at the rim. Your two legitimate defenders are banged to shit (Kenyon Martin) and a two-guard (Aaron Afflalo) - neither of which will help much in the Western Conference playoffs.

You all have a chance to give the sports world one of the best stories in the last decade - rallying around a sick coach and his son (which the team just signed and who also has beaten cancer) by finally getting his message he's been preaching for years - but you're going to piss it away.

You bitch and moan at the refs far too frequently (even when, unfortunately, many of the calls seem to go the other way). You take horrible shots and are way too inconsistent (looking right at you, J.R. Smith). You cannot win unless you're shooting the lights out of the building.

And, once again, you play absolutely zero fucking defense. It's no coincidence that no "D" in Denver = enver = never, as in Never Win An NBA Championship.

You're all just a bunch of fucking pussies with a giant inflated ego where your heart should be and no fucking balls and tonight I'm ashamed to be your fan.


Phony Gwynn

Monday, April 12, 2010

And Now, a Simple Link to Something Fantastic

The Pretzel Factory's own bearded man-child, Business or Leisure (AKA Jeff Laughlin), recently attended the final round of a riveting Masters down in Augusta, Georgia. was nice enough to let him write his thoughts and musings on what seemed to be an incredible fucking day.


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

What an Honor

Wow. Seems Drew Magary is such a fan of our work here at the pretzel factory that he volunteered to write a column for us. He needs no intro, so here it is. Thanks, man.



Truly this was an honor beyond our means. I'll totes yell something at Tiger when I am at the Masters, bro.

In all seriousness, I will be at the Masters. I'm excited. Should be a lot of fun. Ruining a tourney experience because some knuckle-dragger STILL doesn't understand how old people don't get steroids doesn't sound as fun. I'll weigh my options.

Monday, April 05, 2010

"Lost" Previews the American League East

Well, here we are. It's my final season. Credit to all of you who have stuck with me over these last six years. I know it's been a bumpy run, and I've confused and frustrated a lot of you.

Look, you've just got to trust me. You've got to believe me that I'm going to end on a solid note, answer all your questions (seriously, WTF is with the statue and why did it only have four toes?!?!?) and provide a sense of closure.

I'm not going to come right out, though, and say it was all in Hurley's head or the Island is the in-limbo afterlife or it's all been an elaborate chess game played by two omnipotent goat-like beings.


5. Toronto Blue Jays - They are Sayid and Claire. Foreigners who lost something (Sayid: his soul, and Claire: her baby; the Jays: Roy Halladay) that has turned them into a zombie version of their former selves. BONUS: Marc "Scrabble" Rzepczynski and Stuart Radzinsky are cousins.

Record: 69-93

4. Baltimore Orioles - They are Charles Widmore. Tell me you don't think Widmore and Peter Angelos were separated at birth. They're both insanely rich, egomaniacal blowhards who fail more spectacularly the harder they try. BONUS: Garrett Atkins can talk to the dead like Hurley or Miles, but only when he's listening to Drive Shaft.

Record: 74-88

3. New York Yankees - They are the Man In Black (AKA Esau). For too long they have menaced and terrorized the people on their island (AKA the AL East). Soon, they will get their comeuppance. You can only afford to run the smoke monster for so long. BONUS: In an interesting flashback from 1982 to 1994, the Yankees were fucking terrible.

Record: 92-70

2. Tampa Bay Rays - They are Desmond. They didn't exist for a while, then they had a brief run of excellence only to disappear again. Now they're back, and the whole kit and kaboodle gets a helluva lot more interesting when they're around and near the top. BONUS: B.J. Upton is actually Walt.

Record: 93-69; Loss in ALCS

1. Boston Red Sox - They are Jack. They are the emotional center of the show. After an up-and-down tenure (this past off-season), they are ready to regain their rightful place at the top. BELATED SPOILER ALERT TWO. C'mon, like you didn't know. BONUS: Jack Shephard's a Red Sox fan. I mean, this shit writes itself, huh?

Record: 96-66
World Series Champions

Sandra Bullock Previews the National League West

I'm ok.

No, seriously. I'm ... I'm fine.

I have a Best Actress Oscar, and a Worst Actress Razzie. How many people can say that?


5. San Diego Padres - The Padres recently had to trim their payroll after former owner John Moores got divorced, citing "irreconcilable differences." You know what that means, right? PHILANDERING ASSHOLE.

Record: 9-153 (splitting the 18 games against L.A., since you can't lose them all)

4. Los Angeles Dodgers - Speaking of philandering assholes, how about Frank McCourt? I love that this happened to the owners of two of the five teams in California, and neither of them signed a pre-nup.

Wait, what? It was actually Jamie McCourt who was reportedly unfaithful? Pffffft. Whatever. I'm sure she did it to get back at him. Good for her.

Record: 9-153 (splitting the 18 games against S.D., since you can't lose them all)

3. San Francisco Giants - I hope somebody looks out for Aubrey Huff on this team. I mean, it's great that a woman has made it to the major leagues (come to think of it, why hasn't a bigger deal been made of this? Seems like a pretty monumental achievement!), but with these millionaire hot-shot professional athletes flaunting about on the road, picking up groupies and floozies left and right ... I'd just hate for poor Aubrey to be used and abused. Watch out, Aubrey. Keep your head on a swivel.

Record: 82-80

2. Arizona Diamondbacks - The Tattooed Bastard Who Shall Not Be Named was in a sex rehab clinic in Tucson.

That's totally perfect. He's a snake.

Record: 85-77

1. Colorado Rockies - Apparently, the Rockies are a God-fearing, Christian team who abhor filth and obscenities and pleasures of the flesh. That's why I'm glad they're going to win this division. This sport needs some religion.

No. Seriously? Oh, Jesus Christ. I give up.

Record: 89-73
Loss in NLDS

Jason Campbell Previews the American League Central

Well, shit.

Is it just me, or is it ironic that a team with the most offensive, derogatory name in professional sports has not one but now two black players at the most important position?

Man, D.C. just be hoardin' brothas.

5. Kansas City Royals - I can really feel for my boy Zack Greinke, now. Everybody ripped him for his absence from baseball due to Social Anxiety Disorder and depression, calling him weak and all that. You know what, though? Failure ain't fun. Ain't fun at all. Just ask Alex Gordon.

Record: 64-98

4. Cleveland Indians - Speaking of failure, how about the Indians? They actually finished 2009 with the same record as the Royals. The Royals! Remember when they had a 3-1 lead on the Red Sox in the 2007 ALCS? Then they blew that lead and fell off the face of the Earth? Just like when I went 13-0 in my senior year at Auburn, but didn't get to play for a national title. Got drafted by Washington, then - BAM - off the face of the Earth. Just like Travis Hafner.

Record: 71-91

3. Chicago White Sox - Before Jake Peavy got traded from San Diego to the White Sox last year, there was talk that the Padres were considering sending him to the Dodgers. They didn't, though, because they're not freaking crazy. Or stupid. Or insane. Who trades a stud within the division? I have no clue, PHILADELPHIA.

Record: 80-82

2. Minnesota Twins - Joe Mauer is the man. There's no getting around it. He's a hometown boy, three-sport high school star, the reigning AL MVP. He's won as many batting titles - 3 - in four years as all catchers in the history of baseball combined. He is, without a doubt, an absolute monster. So, he's kinda the opposite of me. Except neither of us have championships. So I got that going for me.

Record: 84-78

1. Detroit Tigers - I still can't believe we traded for Donovan McNabb. Sorry to harp about it, but ... damn. I mean, dude did a bunch of Campbell's Chunky Soup commercials. My name's Campbell! That's just wrong, man. The Tigers have Phil Coke in their bullpen. It'd be like if they got rid of Jim Leyland, promoted Coke to manager for one game, then replaced him with Ron Washington.

Record: 86-76
Loss in ALDS

Friday, April 02, 2010

Nicholas Sparks Previews the National League Central

Honestly, I don't know what I'm doing here. Is this a sports blog? Named after a Simpsons reference? There was a time, when I was growing up, when cartoons were for kids. They were there to make you laugh. Rockets, trampolines, shotguns plugged with a finger - these were the claptrap of an animated world. Not extended Citizen Kane riffs and obscure pop culture references. (I Pagliacci and Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould? Really? Get down off your high horse, pencil-drawn geek.)

I really can't explain why I'm here in the netherregions of the internet. I write wonderful, wistful, coming-of-age Love stories. Greek tragedies. Real drama.

Baseball? I'm more of a football guy.

6. Houston Astros - You know what I hate about Texas? All those damn Cormac McCarthy books. Take Blood Meridian, for instance. I'd trash it, but I've already done so on a much larger stage. I mean, what - you write long paragraphs filled with five-word sentences that describe the color of the sunset, and you don't use things like quotation marks, and that gets you a Pulitzer? Blow me. I've had Ryan Gosling and Diane Lane star in adaptations of my work. Which do you think I prefer?

Oh, the Astros? They'll suck. Like Cormac McCarthy.

Record: 71-91

5. Pittsburgh Pirates - I'm working on a pirate love story. It's about a blacksmith who crosses paths with a scurvy pirate who has just escaped execution. Together they come across a princess/fair maiden type who needs rescuing, or some such thing, because she's kidnapped by a cursed pirate captain, and the blacksmith and scurvy pirate have to save her. The blacksmith is named Duke, the scurvy pirate is named McCutchen, the cursed captain is named LaRoche, and the princess/fair maiden is named ... oh, I dunno - Ohlendorf.

Record: 72-90

4. Milwaukee Brewers - Did you know that some asshole is making fun of me on the internet? Such petty shit. It reminds me of Prince Fielder, who got plunked not once but twice this spring by the Giants after showing them up on a walkoff homer celebration last year. Maybe they weren't throwing at him, but the ball just got sucked into him due to gravity. And that guy's a vegan? Talk about fiction.

Record: 77-85

3. Cincinnati Reds - Homer Bailey is a pitcher for the Reds. Homer also wrote the classics the Illiad and the Odyssey. Modern scholars call them the classics, that is, much like scholars in a few hundred years will call my books The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, and Nights in Rodanthe the classics. Me, Homer, and Shakespeare. Sounds about right.

Record: 84-78

2. Chicago Cubs - Speaking of assholes, here's what Chicago's own Roger Ebert said about me: "Sparks recently went on record as saying he is a greater novelist than Cormac McCarthy. This is true in the same sense that I am a better novelist than William Shakespeare. Sparks also said his novels are like Greek Tragedies. This may actually be true. I can't check it out because, tragically, no really bad Greek tragedies have survived ... To be sure, I resent the sacrilege Nicholas Sparks commits by mentioning himself in the same sentence as Cormac McCarthy. I would not even allow him to say 'Hello, bookstore? This is Nicholas Sparks. Could you send over the new Cormac McCarthy novel?' He should show respect by ordering anonymously." Pffft. How come you're not making TV appearances anymore, Mr. Typedy-Type? I'd give you a knuckle sandwich if you didn't have to liquefy it first.

Oh, and the Cubs eat ass.

Record: 85-77

1. St. Louis Cardinals - Answer something for me - is Albert Pujols the me of baseball, or am I the Albert Pujols of literature? That's a tough call. Tough call.

Record: 91-71
Loss in NLDS

Thursday, April 01, 2010

A Snuggie Previews the American League West

You know when you're laying on your couch, watching TV, and you have your laptop on your stomach? You're updating your facebook status, or shopping for Faith No More t-shirts on ebay, or whatever. Then you flip to Comedy Central and Bachelor Party is on, and then - BAM! - random erection?

Oh, did I mention it's kind of cold in your apartment? And you're trying to cover yourself with that multicolored Mexican blanket you inherited in college when Andy left for the Peace Corps?

It won't work. No access. The laptop's sliding all over thanks to the low-level Richter-scale rumblings going on, you can't adequately keep both your legs and torso/arms warm ... it's a mess.

That's why you need me.

Snuggie, bitches.

4. Oakland A's - I've got a problem with sheets. Namely, how the fuck do you fold those things? Christ Almighty. You're supposed to pull the corners in or something, but that shit never works. You just end up folding it over and over itself, like a croissant. Awful. Why not wear a Snuggie to bed? But I've also got a problem with Ben Sheets. It's not his name, though - it's perfect. He's a ghost of his former self! I do like Jack Cust, however. He swings and misses so much a cool, cool breeze eminates from his whiffs. And what do you need when it's chilly? That's right - Snuggie!

Record: 75-87

3. Texas Rangers - Have you ever been up all night, doing rails of coke, smoking cigarette after cigarette after cigarette while forcing down a lukewarm PBR and bitching about your stubborn-ass sister who won't leave that jackass that treats her like shit, only to somehow segue into how the Lord of the Rings trilogy is great to watch in parts but not all in row, before finally trying to fix that goddamn wobbly leg on the coffee table? And then you wake up on the recliner, cold and shivering? Better get a Snuggie, motherfucker. Call me, Ron. We'll talk.

Record: 79-83

2. Anaheim Angels - Torii Hunter got into a lot of hot water recently after saying that Latin American players were "impostors" and not really African-American. I feel you, Torii. I really do. Ever heard of the Slanket? I bet you have. Those wannabe cocksuckers. More like the Skanket, amiright? Huh? In all seriousness, though, we've bought all the lighter fluid in the Tri-County area, and we're armed with more matches than a fraternity bathroom. We're coming, Slanket. Get ready.

Record: 84-78

1. Seattle Mariners - With the acquisition of lefty Cliff Lee, the Mariners have what could be the best 1-2 punch in the game at the top of their rotation. But who is the defacto #1? Felix Hernandez, AKA King Felix. And who would look more regal in a Snuggie than a fucking king? That's right - flowing robes in the team's colors, leaving the arms free to throw backdoor 0-2 breaking balls on the outside corner at the knees ... just beautiful. The only person who would be more befitting of donning a team Snuggie would be a two-time reigning Cy Young winner.

Oh? Shit.

Record: 87-75
Loss in ALDS