Monday, December 13, 2010

Brett Favre Misses Start, Ends Streak

Vikings Quarterback/Undead-Zombie-Walker Brett Favre is listed as inactive for tonight's game against the New York Giants, marking the end of his remarkable streak of consecutive games started at 297, which is an NFL record.

Favre's status was in doubt after he left last week's contest against the Buffalo Bills after only three plays, being driven to the ground by Bills Linebacker Arthur Moats. He listed in the injury report as inactive for the first time in his career. It marks the first time he has not played a down since September of 1992.

Favre was initially still going to play through the injury. But while team doctors were prepping him for his 298th start, the life insurance policy and waiver that team officials were making him sign sliced the skin on the back of his left forearm. The paper cut caused Favre to inhale sharply. "Hey! Ow!" he reportedly exclaimed. After examining the cut, Favre then decided he was too traumatized to continue.

"It really stings," Favre added.

The SC joint is only the latest in a long list of injuries Favre has suffered. He has two fractures in his foot, an ankle injury, a neck injury, required stitches to his chin a few weeks ago, has a sore calf, his right elbow has small pieces of radioactive meteorite in it, his back is held together with baling wire, rods and a cured gob if mighty putty serving as a substitute C7 vertebrae, his thumb was replaced with a wooden prosthesis after a combine accident in 2003, and he intentionally completed a sever in his right bicep tendon with the top of a can of Spaghettios in order to return to a game.


Favre (left) is examined by Dr. David Olson, Vikings team physician.
"He's more machine than man now," Olson said, "twisted and evil."
It was rumored that as of game time, Favre was seen encasing his body in pillows and duct tape in an effort to get back onto the field in time for the first series.

Now that Favre has missed his first game in nearly 20 years, the new active leader in consecutive starts is Colts QB Peyton Manning, who has played his entire career suffering from Hydrocephaly.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I Think The Answer Is Obvious, Steve...

Steve Johnson of the Buffalo Bills recently dropped a pass. He then dropped his pants.

The Buffalo Bills, coming in as heavy underdogs to the Pittsburgh Steelers, nevertheless had them on the brink of defeat. Having come back to tie the game in the last seconds of regulation, the Bills were at the Steelers 40-yard line and driving. Buffalo's QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick, sensing weakness in the Pittsburgh secondary, dropped back a good ten yards, took advantage of the superior protection his offensive line was providing, girded up his loins and threw the pass of his career. It was a perfectly placed arcing bomb of a throw, lofting over the Steeler's secondary and towards the outstretched hands of Steve Johnson.

The call by CBS' play-by-play announcer Kevin Harlan:

"Levitre with the nice block at the guard. Going deep- he's got Johnson!"

+PAUSE+

See, I'm a big fan of "what if." Comic books do this all the time, telling alternate reality tales where one crucial event takes place differently, and we get to see the ramifications play out. I'd like to run through a quick what if scenario here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Johnson catches the ball! Touchdown, Bills! The Bills have defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 22-16!"

Johnson's end zone celebration would have been something relatively clever (as was his "Why So Serious?" joker t-shirt reply to the Bengals' Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson* being dubbed Batman and Robin), and the Bills would have been recognized as a team making serious strides to recover from their 0-8 start. Ryan Fitzpatrick would have been launched into the spotlight, and suddenly, the Bills would become a team to watch in 2011.

*That's Chad "So great is my vanity that I will disrespect my family by changing my last name to my uniform number" Johnson. I will NEVER, and I mean NEVER, report on him as Chad Ochocinco. EVER.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


But that's NOT what happened.

+UNPAUSE+

"Oh, he dropped the ball! That would have been the game winner!"

The Steelers sacked Fitzpatrick two plays later, forcing the Bills to punt. They then drove down the field in a 13 play drive that ended with a Shaun Suisham 41 yard field goal to win. Johnson was reportedly inconsolable after the game, telling reporters he was "humbled" and that he would "never get over this." Mere hours later, he found a way to shift the blame off his own shoulders and onto a wider set. On his Twitter account, Johnson launched the following invective at the almighty:

"I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS IS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO..."

He wants to know how he can learn from this? I think the better question is WHAT can he learn from this, and I think the answer is obvious, Steve: God hates the Buffalo Bills.

Don't blame yourself. This started long before you ever got into the picture. It started in the late hours of January 28, 1990, when Bills Coach Marv Levy, sitting at a bar in Buffalo, watching the Denver Broncos drop their fourth Super Bowl, said out loud "Man, I'd give anything for my team to make the Super Bowl four times." An impeccably dressed stranger smelling vaguely of cloves and sulfur smiled as he sat down next to the coach, laid a contract and a pen knife down upon the bar and said "let me help you with that."

Here's the sad thing; there is genuinely a learning opportunity to be had here, and it appears Johnson will miss it. He was likely more focused on what he was going to say, or do, or lift up his shirt and reveal, rather than actually catching the ball. The lesson to be had here is stop acting like a circus clown and focus on making the damned play.

It was refreshing to hear him say he was "humbled" by this loss. There are not enough players in the NFL who know what that word even means, let alone know how to act it. But he goes and drops his pants for all of the internet to see by refusing to take accountability for his own shortcomings. Unless he comes out and states he was Twittering to himself, which, ironically enough, is a possibility. He does seem to praise himself an awful lot.

Hey Steve, remember all those times when there was only one set of footprints in the sand? It's because God was busy pushing Scott Norwood's kick wide right.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

New York Yankees Sign San Francisco's C.F. Wall To Undisclosed Deal

NEW YORK (AP) - The New York Yankees, despondent over their early exit from the 2010 MLB Playoffs, have made a bold move to begin their off season, signing the centerfield wall of the San Francisco Giants' AT&T Park yesterday. The terms of the deal were undisclosed, as San Francisco's Wall is still in post season play.

C.F. Wall makes a game saving play
against Texas 2B Ian Kinsler in the
fifth inning of Thursday's Game 2.
Wall, fresh off denying Ian Kinsler a homerun in Game 2 of the World Series, was praised by Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman as being a veteran presence in the outfield, citing it's 10 years of outfield experience that instantly puts it second to only Lance Berkman on the Yankees active roster of players who have spent time in the outfield.

At 8' tall, Wall would also become the tallest player ever to don Yankee pinstripes. His playing weight of 2.8 tons would put him second only to Cecil Fielder. Wall stands on the verge of greatness as the Giants are leading the World Series 2-1 over the Texas Rangers. Wall almost had a ring in 2002, but the Giants fell victim to the Anaheim Angels.

Giants players were shocked about hearing the news, especially coming in the middle of an exciting World Series pitting two teams that have not won a championship in five decades, despite having smaller payrolls than some of the baseball juggernauts like the Yankees. 

"Wait, what?" San Francisco centerfielder Andres Torres was quoted as saying upon learning of the deal.

"Can they do that?" Giants manager Bruce Bochy asked. "I'm pretty sure they can't do that," he added.

The Giants projected OF for 2011; center field alley
and the bleacher crawl space are considered "in play."
Giants players were not the only ones shocked upon hearing the news. The Texas Rangers themselves had hopes of signing Wall to a deal in the off season, and many players expressed their dismay upon hearing the Yankees had beaten them to the punch, much as the Rangers had signed All-Star Cy Young winning pitcher Cliff Lee when the Yankees seemed all but certain to land him.

"Mother fucker!" Ian Kinsler exclaimed.

The move leaves the Giants scrambling in the off season to find a replacement. The team has stated it's short term plan is a series of lawn chairs, but until they are able to sign them, for now, any balls that roll under the superstructure of AT&T Park's centerfield bleachers will be considered in play.

The news reverberated through out the league. Longtime Chicago Cub Ivy Confines, hoping to end his long and fruitless association with the franchise, was unavailable for comment, but was reported by sources close to him as "inconsolable."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Classic Fall

It is amusing to me that the 2010 World Series is being heralded as an end to futility for one franchise. One team has had an extended drought in the World Series since betraying their fans. One team out of the Lone Star state has never made an appearance in the Fall Classic since their inception. 

Sound familiar? That's because it's been done before, in 2005. Fifty years of futility? PLEASE. Try being a White Sox fan. (Better yet, sell your soul and start following the Cubs if you wanna know about futility.)

I don't get why there is such a big deal being made about this. The White Sox had gone 88 years (longer even than the Boston Red (Sad) Sax) since their last title, and no one made as huge a deal about it. They disappointed their fans back in 1919 by throwing the World Series against the Reds. The Houston Astros had never been to the World Series in their franchise history (43 years). So this has been done before.

So now, the Giants (who disappointed their fans by moving to San Francisco) or the Texas Rangers (who haven't been to the WS in 50 years of existence) are poised to break one of their futility streaks. It's been done. Will it ever be done again, though?

The only two teams left that have not made the World Series are the Washington Nationals and the Seattle Mariners. Normally I'd have to give the edge to the Mariners to make it. But on the other side of the equation, the longest droughts in each league are the Cleveland Indians (1948) and the Chicago Cubs (1908). And there's no WAY the Cubs will ever win the WS again, so I'm gonna have to say it'll be the Indians vs. Nationals in 2015, if the pattern holds. You heard it here first.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Baseball Mini-Musing

As a Cablevision subscriber, I was cheated out of watching Lincecum and Halladay battle it out. The NLCS taken from me by the dueling greed of both Cablevision and Fox, I have only the TBS held ALCS to tide me over. But the TBS crew is killing me. Ron Darling sounds exactly like James Woods, to the point where I keep forgetting it's not him.

Am I alone in this?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Stickin' It To The Evil Empire

The New York Yankees don't want you to know about the letters written by George Steinbrenner to the author of this blog. So, of course, I'm here to draw as much attention to it as possible.

Because fuck the Yankees, not in the way George wishes he could have fucked this old lady, but in the way that the Yankees are fucking this author who wants to publish a book.

Sounds like we may have the answer to why George was always such a ball breaker; he had a broken heart. Poor widdle Georgie.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Baseball Fever (Warning: Symptoms May Include Umpire Blindness)

It's October again, and the Baseball playoffs are in full swing. I haven't done a baseball wrap-up since... (checks archives) 2007?!? Sorry folks. In 2008 I had a personal stake in the playoffs (my White Sox lost in the Division Series, and I got lost in my girlfriends eyes shortly thereafter) and in 2009, well, honestly, who wants to hear about the Yankees anymore?

Here we go!

The National League

It's good to see the Giants rise out of the NL West, which is baseball's Parity Nirvana; of the six divisions, no other division has had every team makes the playoffs since the inception of the Wild Card (except the AL West, but really, with only four teams, it's a mathematical certainty that your organization makes the playoffs at least once in 16 years). In fact, the NL West has had every team make the post season at least once within the past five years (the Padres now have the longest NL West playoff drought at an agonizing 4 years). Meanwhile, The Phillies dominated the NL East, the Reds snuck up on the rest of the NL Central, and Atlanta is back for the first time in five years, becoming the first NL East Wild Card since the '03 Marlins, who went on to win it all. But what does this all mean, Pee-Wee? I don't know. Let's find out together!


NLDS - Philadelphia Phillies vs. Cincinnati Reds

Philadelphia Phillies (97-65, NL East Champions)

Bid-nizz as usual, biotch.
Philadelphians haven't let their recent baseball success (4 straight NL East Division banners, two-time defending NL Champions, 2009 World Series Championship rings) go to their heads. Deep down, they are still the same misanthropic thugs they have always been. Their fans cheered when Michael Irvin suffered a neck injury in a game against Philly. They shoot flare guns into the stands at Eagles games. Eagles fans attacked broadcasters with snowballs. They attacked Santa Claus, for Christ's sake. They throw food, pour beer, and pelt people with just about anything they can get their little cheesesteak-grease-coated hands on if that person dares to cheer for another team. Phillies fans threw batteries at a visiting J.D. Drew for refusing to play for them out of the draft. Oh, yeah, and this guy. Roy Halladay started the series out with a no-hitter, and Roy Oswalt got picked up by his offense (and the fact that Bruce Dreckman knows whether or not Chase Utley got hit with a 101 MPH fastball than Chase Utley (you blind dickfuck)) so the Phillies fans have their brooms (and braggadocio) out. Unless a miracle happens in Cincy (twice, and again in Philly) the Phils will go on to the NLCS.

Cincinnati Reds (91-71, NL Central Champions)

Aroldis Chapman left his home in Cuba,
where he worked as a long range deterrent 
to outside invasion of Cuban airspace 
The Reds are such a random team. They haven't made two straight playoff appearances since 1975-1976. They will put together a string of fourth and fifth place finishes, and then suddenly pop up in the playoffs once a decade. But their extended failure might finally pay off, as they have built up a solid young core in Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Edison Volquez, Johnny Cueto, and Mike Leake. Oh, and Aroldis Chapman can throw 105 MPH. As Jake Taylor once said,  "If it hit you, it'd leave a two-foot hole comin' out." If they can keep these guys together, the Cards and Cubs might have a hard time wresting the NL Central back from the Buckeye State. Speaking of Bucs, the Pittsburgh Pirates are hoping that the whole extended failure paying off thing works as a template. (Philadelphia currently leads the series 2-0.)

NLDS - San Francisco Giants vs. Atlanta Braves

San Francisco Giants (92-70, NL West Champions)

Lincecum's 2011
Topps® Baseball Card
It came down to the last day of the season, but the Giants won the pennant, the Giants won the pennant, the Giants- sorry, I was momentarily transported back to 1960. The Giants have made the playoffs for the first time since the Barry "Big Head" Bonds era. But who are these people in San Francisco? Everyone knows Tim Lincecum's name. They know the hair, thanks to him being the cover-boy of MLB2K9 and those insipid commercials for it. They know he has nasty stuff and a nickname of "The Freak." But who else do they know from this team by more than name? Barry Zito? Pat Burrell? Aubrey Huff? Surely this isn't the sexiest team in terms of marketability, but they are getting it done. Between Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner, the Giants may put an end to the rotisserie buffet that the NL West crown has become (4 different champs in 5 years (Sorry, Colorado)). They need someone to his 30+ HR every year to become as dominant as the Giants of old used to be, but rookie phenom Buster Posey could be that someone, and you can't sleep on Pablo "Kung-Fu Panda" Sandoval. (No, literally, you can't; the bastard's huge, you'd roll right off.)

Atlanta Braves (91-71, NL Wild Card)

Braves Manager Bobby Cox gets ejected for arguing
balls and strikes in his 85th season as Braves skipper
The Atlanta Braves finished 2nd in the NL East by merit that the other three teams apparently forgot to apply for re-instatement this year. Seriously, there were big rumblings in the Nation's capital with the arrival of savior to all mankind rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg, but he went down and so did the Nats. The Mets collapsed yet again under the weight of their own uselessness, and who can ever tell what the Marlins are doing? These aren't quite your father's Braves, and it's a sad statement when your catcher hits 21 HRs two years straight and leads your team in HRs two years straight. The Braves have added something old (Derek Lowe, Derrek Lee) something new (perennial Braves fan MVP write-in Jason Heyward) something borrowed (Melky Cabrera, Nate McLouth) and something blew (Wagner's oblique). Will they send retiring manager Bobby Cox off on a joyous honeymoon, or will they be a bridesmaid yet again? (series currently tied at 1-1). 

The American League

The Rays seem to be the new power in the AL East, and Boston may have fallen into another 86 year long slump (one can only hope). The Yankees are in the unfamiliar position of being the Wildcard for just the second time in the past twelve years, but they have already put the Twins to sleep. The Rangers, meanwhile, come out of their eleven year hibernation to rise from the dreck of the AL West with the apparent strategy of stockpiling as many catching prospects as possible. Why does Minnesota even bother being a scrappy low-budget winner if they are just going to fold like origami in the post-season? Choke artists.



ALDS - Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers


Tampa Bay Rays (96-66, AL East Champions)

The Tampa Bay grounds crew, used to making things neat
before horrific events, help clean up after the BP Gulf Spill
Four years ago, this would have been a battle for choice draft position. But these are not the Rays of four years ago. Even though Major League Baseball and the Umpire's Union seem to want the Rays out of the playoffs, they hung on in Game 3 to stay alive, and as of this report, are putting it to the Rangers in Game 4. They have found great success since finding religion taking the "Devil" out of their names. Will they divinely help heal the hurt that BP put on the Gulf area? Are they equipped to make it all the way back to the World Series? Will America survive the rematch of the most boring World Series match up in recent memory should they face the Phillies? Stay tuned.



Texas Rangers (90-72, AL West Champions)




DH/RF Vladimir Guerrero's
Social Security checks have
recently been ruled to not
impact the Texas Ranger's
 salary cap for 2010.



Texas rose up from a mediocre division to be the least convincing AL West Champion since the last time they won the West (1999, 88-74). Someone had to win the division, and Seattle, Los Angeles and Oakland all decided to suck. They have not won a playoff game at home in forever, and Josh Hamilton is hungry to prove that his MVP worthy season was not a flash in the pan. They have young rising stars in Elvis Andrus and pitcher Tommy Hunter, three potential all-star catchers in Jarrod Saltalamaccia, Max Ramirez, and Taylor Teagarden,  solid players entering their prime in Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz, and they actually pulled a Yankees on the Yankees and stole Cliff Lee out from under their noses! They join together with the ancient one, Vladimir Guerrero, who has been around for so long that when he started, Arizona only had Spring baseball, the Nationals were still in Montreal, and the Los Angeles Angels were still in California. Could this finally be the Rangers year? (Texas leads the series 2-1).




ALDS - Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees

Minnesota Twins (94-68, AL Central Champions)

Minnesota Origami Twins Joe Mauer
Morneau. Cuddyer. Punto. Kubel. Minnesota players have the dumbest names, both past (Hrbek) and present (Plouffe). It's not limited to baseball either (Favre). They are like the annoying nerdy cousin who you have to play with because he has no other friends and your mom orders you to. They are the lucky prick that everyone hates because things just work for them. Lost your closer for the year? No problem; use a couple of schmuck relievers to patchwork it together. Your DH has a season ending concussion? No sweat; Jim Thome just happens to be looking for a job. You gave up a 9 game lead to fall three back of your division rivals in a month and a half span? Relax; Jake Peavy doesn't need that right lateral muscle in his back. The Twins are the definition of lucky pricks who fail when it really counts.


New York Yankees (95-67, AL Wild Card)

Unidentified Yankees prospect uses
Jedi mind trick pitch on Twins Mauer
The Evil Empire stumbled a bit this season, but they managed to get into the playoffs, beating the Red Sox by 6 games to get the AL Wild Card. Despite winning 95 games, the rabid Yankees fan base seem to think that this season is somewhat less of a success than last season, when they finished 1st in their division for the 45th time in franchise history. With the Boss now a mouldering corpse preserved in Padre Pio-like pristineness, his sons Hal and Hank are tasked with continuing the winning tradition of the Bronx Bombers. Having lost the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, they had to settle for the likes of C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, and rely on the bats of such role players as Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter. Nick Swisher, who barely batted his weight in 2008 with the White Sox, has decided to hike up his skirt and perform like a man for once, hitting a career high .288 for the Yankees. (Yankees win series, 3-0)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Holy Trinity

Call the cops; the Miami Heat just stole the crown.

In the biggest coup in the free-agent era, in one fell swoop the Miami Heat re-signed Dwyane Wade and signed Chris Bosh, providing Miami with two of the three biggest names in the free-agent pool. Then, King James came down from Ego Mountain and signed right up next to them. Miami, having structured their contracts five years in advance to clear up cap space, has landed the trifecta.

It gets better. Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has deemed LeBron James is the Anti-Christ. In an open letter to Cleveland Cavalier fans, he called James a coward for leaving Cleveland the way he did, and signing to play with two other superstars. He then went ahead and guaranteed that the Cleveland Cavaliers would win a championship before LeBron would ever see a ring.

I would like to invite Dan Gilbert to put down his crack pipe and rejoin reality.

With Wade, Bosh and James on the floor at the same time, the Heat have a MAJOR advantage over any other team in the East. With the free-agent centers out there still available (like Shaq, who is looking to finish his career with a contender and will take a mid-level exception contract, HINT HINT, Heat owner Micky Arison) so long as they sign someone with a pulse, they could put a rabid mountain goat at point guard and still win a Championship. Seriously, I could run point on that team and come home with a ring (and I am still available, should any NBA team want to take a look at me).

Meanwhile, let's take a look at the Cavalier's roster:

Point Guard - Mo Williams, Ramon Sessions

Shooting Guard - Anthony Parker, Daniel Gibson

Small Forward - Jamario Moon, Danny Green

Power Forward - J.J. Hickson, Antawn Jamison

Center - Anderson Varejao, Ryan Hollins

Now, let's take a look at the available free agents who MIGHT stand a chance at helping the Cavs slip past the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals:

Tracy McGrady
Allen Iverson
Shaquille O'Neal
Green Lantern
a chronologically displaced George Mikan
that alien robot from The Day The Earth Stood Still (new version)
a genetically engineered clone featuring the DNA of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, and Chewbacca
Chewbacca himself

Sorry, Danny Boy.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Personal Sports Fan History

A little history about me as a sports fan.

So long as I can remember, I have liked baseball. Not loved, that didn't come until later. But I enjoyed watching the Yankee and Met games when they were on TV, and my grandfather even took me to a few at Shea. Baseball was my first sporting love.

I didn't even know what football was the first time I saw it. I do surprisingly clearly remember seeing a member of the Dallas Cowboys running across the field and wondering aloud "is this baseball?" (I had to be about 4 or 5, and had never seen a football game in my life). I didn't really grow to love football until well into my teens.

Basketball, I started watching in my teens, when the Lakers and Celtics were just beginning to give way to the Pistons and Bulls as the dominant franchises.

Hockey I didn't even really truly understand and appreciate until I started playing NHL '92 on my Sega Genesis.

My team loyalty is not built on simple geography.

I liked the Yankees better than the Mets, but it had nothing to do with knowledge of the game, it had to do with team colors and other arbitrary factors. Once I truly came to the age where I began to appreciate the game (right about the time of the '83 season), I developed better reasons for following certain teams. As kids, we had exposure to cable TV, so I was able to watch games from different markets, getting more exposure to teams from other cities. A trip to Michigan for our cousin's wedding (and a souvenir Tigers hat) left me wanting to see more of the Tigers, and their trip to the World Series gave me a decent fill of them.

I watched whenever I could, trying to learn the teams and players and gain an understanding of the rules of the game (which my unsuccessful exposure to little league never gave me for some reason). The first World Series I ever watched with intense interest was the 1986 Mets Miracle against the Red Sox. My brother and I watched game six in our living room. It was fantastic. My grandfather went to Met games religiously, so much so that many people in his life (me included) assumed he was a die hard Met fan. It wasn't until I was rehearsing his eulogy that my cousin told me Pop was actually a die hard Yankees fan who just went to Shea because it was cheaper and closer. That made me sad that I never knew that about him, as it was he who began my association with, and love of, the game. He had played since he was just a boy, and baseball was a huge part of his life. It was this love that drew me to it. It was the predominance of Yankee fans in my circle of friends, and the fact that many of them were kinda douchey about it, that drove me away from the Yankees.

I started following different players whom I admired. My brother got me watching Oakland Athletic games, and Mark McGwire rapidly became my favorite player (so much so that my jersey number for most of my playing days was 25). By extension, I became a fan of the A's for a brief period. I also liked the Giants, because they had a decent collection of players (Matt Williams, Will Clark, Kevin Mitchell, Robby Thompson) and my brother and I would often replay the 1989 World Series on my Nintendo's RBI Baseball with me playing as the Giants and Tommy playing as the Canseco lead Athletics.

But it was during that time that I took notice of another team that had a collection of players that I admired. Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura, Ozzie Guillen, Lance Johnson, Dan Pasqua, Carlton Fisk, Ivan Calderon, Blackjack McDowell, Bobby Thigpen (and his 57 saves)... I rapidly grew enchanted with watching the Chicago White Sox, which was by far not a very popular choice. By the time Robin Ventura hit a line drive down the first base line against Toronto down 3-2 late in game six of the 1993 ALCS with me literally teetering on the edge of my seat, it was too late for me. I was hooked. The ball hooked foul, Ventura struck out, the Sox ended up losing the series, and I never looked back. This was my team.

My brother likened me to a caged animal pacing it's confines the night of Wednesday, October 26, 2005. When Juan Uribe sizzled a frozen rope of a throw over to Paul Konerko for the final out, it was my baseball Nirvana.

Football is easy: I was a huge fan of the Steelers mystique from the 70s that was all over the TV every time I watched anything involving the NFL. There wasn't any one person in my life who influenced me in football. My fondest wish was that somehow, my favorite player Barry Sanders would be traded to Steel City, and I could be undivided in my loyalty. I tried to be a Lions fan for a while, and Barry mercifully ended that with his sudden retirement. I am, to this day, a big Steelers fan (Roethlisberger, not so much. What the fuck were you thinking, Ben?)

Hockey is the only sport that some people guess my loyalty because it's the only local team I root for: The New York Islanders. I can trace my love of that team back to NHL 92 (and I think somewhere inside I was feeling pressured to like at least ONE local team). I didn't really "get" the game until my great friend Bill Scurry schooled me on it. He is truly a student of the game, and he taught me much of what I know today about the sport. (Seeing my White Sox hat in calculus class, Bill's first words to me in college were "are you a Blackhawks fan?" The unholy union continues to this day.)

I enjoyed watching the Lakers led by Magic Johnson, and that's really the only sport where I picked a franchise right away and stuck with it for the most part. My favorite player of all time was Shaquille O'Neal, and I of course began to follow the Magic as well. I eventually got my fondest basketball wish when he was signed by the Lakers, and I watched him bring them to glory three times. When he and Kobe Bryant began to fued, I was one of the hugest "drop Kobe" proponents you could find. The Lakers chose poorly, and kept the rapist, letting the man known as Big Aristotle go to the Heat. I followed them for a while, enjoyed another championship, and then followed the Suns when he went there. I was excited to see him traded to the Cavaliers, thinking this was another one in the bag with a guy like LeBron leading him, but alas, the Celtics were the better team.

I have never really forgiven the Lakers for choosing Bryant over Shaq, but my loyalty to the team was still there. But as I am watching this year's finals, I am torn. Between Bryant and Ron "Too Stupid to Live" Artest, the Lakers are currently a refuge for the two players in the NBA that I hate the most. I was actually rooting for the Magic in the finals last season. Dwight Howard reminds me of a young Shaq with his dominant defense, and his improved offense this season makes me think he could be my new favorite player once Shaq Daddy calls it quits. But what is a Lakers fan to do when the face of your franchise is one you'd like to bash in with a parking meter? I find myself hating other Lakers by association. What the Hell is a Vujačić?!?

It's all very complicated. The Lakers are disappointing me, even as they are on the verge of winning a second consecutive title. The Steelers have the NFL's newest asshat leading them on the field. The Islanders... shit, I couldn't even name one of them, Hockey has lost a lot of steam with me since the strike of 04-05.

But baseball? I don't care how bush league AJ Pierzynski is (and he is). I don't care how obnoxious Ozzie Guillen is (and he REALLY is). I don't care how big a homer the Hawk Harrelson is (oh, LORDY). In baseball, my loyalty is as simple as Black and White.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Hat Trick



O.K., so anyone who knows me well knows about my long standing love affair with my second home. Southampton College, by and large, is responsible for me being the man I am today (the good parts, not the bitter, broken man working for the bank has made me). During my coaching days, I was given a truckload of free clothes as part of the uniform, many items of which I still wear proudly to this day.

The one thing Southampton College Athletics ever failed to provide me with was a hat that didn't look like something made in the back room of a t-shirt shop by some minimum wage slug with cheetos dust permanently caked under his fingernails. The one hat they did give me was one of those adjustable ones with the buckle and strap. Not even a snap adjuster. This was more like the type of hat a weekend tourist might buy whilst shopping the better stores in town. It was not an athlete's hat.

Unacceptable. As my head is rather large, I have a hard time finding fitted caps that fit. I had long detested the adjustable snap caps, and I liked the buckle adjustables even less. I made it my mission to find a hat that was not only comfortable, but was something I could wear while coaching and not have it appear out of place.

Walking into Lids in Smithaven Mall was like climbing down into the Well of Souls to find the Ark of the Covenant. Or, more accurately, it was like going into that room with all the Holy Grails scattered about. There were hundreds of hats, but none of them looked fit, and none of them were proper for my team needs.

Then I found it.



Penn State's simple S logo could easily be a stand-in for the lack of a proper Southampton logo. The color was a PERFECT match for our school colors, Blue and White (it was missing the Yellow, but I wasn't complaining). It was a Flex-fit™, which, for the uninitiated, means it had an elastic band in the edge. It could STRETCH! Perfect for my oversized noggin. It was relatively cheap, although I would have paid a bundle for it.

That hat has been in my possession for the better part of a decade. It was stretched just right to fit. I wore it not only while coaching, but also while playing. I bought the hat washing frame to keep it in shape. I wore it everywhere it was appropriate, and a few places it wasn't. I even slept in it a couple of times (well, passed out, more appropriately). That hat accompanied me overseas! It has seen more countries than many of my relatives!

It is not in the best of shape. It is permanently stained from all the sweat it has strained through it over the years. It has a tiny frayed spot on the right side of the brim from me taking it off and putting it on so many times, as well as tugging on the brim to adjust it during games. It has a dark smear under the brim that for the life of me I have no idea what it is, it may be pine tar, it may be tobacco, it may be a beetle, and it won't ever come out. But GODS how I love that hat.

Did I mention I was fond of the hat?

It has been missing for weeks. I have been despondent. I have been forced to wear my not quite right fitting red MD hat (Mudd Devils, my former team). I have torn my entire room and jeep apart looking for it. I have searched the entire house. Nothing.

Until today.

It was sitting on the floor, next to the couch, between the couch and the fax machine desk, on top of an old glass chess board. It looked as if it had been sitting there in plain sight the whole time. Which isn't possible, considering that I have looked everywhere for it.

I think it is more likely that whomever took the hat (at this point, I've narrowed the suspects down to the President of BP, the North Koreans, or Benito Mussolini) crept in the house while I slept and slid it down along side the couch. Or a dimensional vortex had opened up and sucked my hat in, and the subsequent return vortex redeposited it weeks later once the alien scientists on the other end were done studying it. Or it became detached from the time stream, and reappeared just this morning.

All that matters is, I have my baby back.

Rejoice, world!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Philadelphia Phucksticks

The Stanley Cup Finals are finally interesting again!

I will admit, as an Islander fan, I was generally unfamiliar with what I saw after the regular season. Apparently, if your team has enough points, you get to play extra games! (are you sufficiently shamed by my mockery of your ineptness yet, Islanders? Let's get that shit done next season, 'kay?) I will admit that I was rooting for the San Jose Sharks, as my ex is a tremendous Sharks fan (and I am still a tremendous fan of my ex). They got beat by the Chicago Blackhawks, ending their run. So who to root for now?

ANYONE but the Flyers. This pack of miscreants is already down 2-0 to the Blackhawks in the finals, and not exactly winning the hearts and minds of hockey fans outside of Philadelphia. Let us first examine an example of their gross stupidity:


Daniel Carcillo, Left Winger, Philadelphia Flyers

Carcillo, his team trailing the series 1-0, managed to weasel his way into the lineup despite being a scratch in his past three games. Halfway through the first period, he tried to lay a hit on the Blackhawks' Tomas Kopecky, who simply turned the other cheek... and let Carcillo sail on by, right into the face of Carcillo's unsuspecting teammate, the Jeff Carter. Check the video out:



Carcillo is the diminutive shit stain skating his ass off to build up some momentum in an attempt to hit someone nowhere near the puck. Not that there is much wrong with that, there was a lot of it going on on both sides, apparently. But hey, Ass Clown: make sure your own man isn't skating into the target zone when you throw your talentless, classless munchkin frame at it. Line of the night goes to Blackhawk Adam Burish, spoken to Carcillo as both players leaned over the boards to exchange barbs from the bench: ""Thats the first good hit you've had all year."

Now, we take a look at their rabid, unadulterated, unprofessional bush-league spite:


Chris Pronger, Defenseman, Philadelphia Flyers

Pronger has, at the end of each of the first two games, made a point of tracking down the puck (which might be considered somewhat valuable, not to mention the enormous sentimental value it might have to the Blackhawks, who haven't won a cup since 1961) and filching it off the ice like a petulant child. When he was questioned by reporters after the game as to where the puck was, Pronger replied "in the garbage, where it belongs."

You low-class douchenozzle. It's obvious why Philadelphia has gained the reputation as one of the worst sports cities in the United States. Their fans boo injured players, or cheer them inappropriately, like when former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin suffered a neck injury in a game against Philly. The fans cheered when they realized he was injured, and again when they brought out a stretcher. A Philly fan once shot a flare gun into the stands at an Eagles game. The Eagles have a judge who holds court during games to dispense justice over these degenerate asshats. Eagles fans attacked broadcasters with snowballs. They attacked Santa Claus, for Christ's sake. They throw food, pour beer, and pelt people with just about anything they can get their little cheesesteak-grease-coated hands on if that person dares to cheer for another team. Phillies fans threw batteries at a visiting J.D. Drew for refusing to play for them out of the draft. And check out THIS sterling ambassador of Philadelphia sports fans!

So now it appears that the Flyers are joining their fans wallowing in the muck like the swine they are. The Phuckers have won game 3 against the Blackhawks tonight, and I haven't seen the replays yet, so I have idea if Pronger was wearing a diaper or not, or if Carcillo knee-capped his own goalie. But we'll keep you updated.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Source Of All Things Baseball

Quick Shout Out: I have been saved several times by the knowledge put forth by the knowledgeable gentlemen at Project Prospect. It is thanks to them that I have not finished dead last every year in my fantasy baseball league.

If you're in need of baseball knowledge, visit them at http://projectprospect.com/

My only problem: I pick these guys up too early, get frustrated waiting for them to become superstars, and drop them for other players.

The following are players I learned about from Project Prospect, had on my team, and then dropped or traded before they had a chance to become the stars they are now:

Troy Tulowitzki - SS
Chris Young - CF
Adam Jones - CF
Cameron Maybin - CF
Johnny Cueto - SP
Wilson Ramos - C
Jonathan Broxton - RP

And here are some of the ones I've held onto...

Edison Volquez - SP
Jose Tabata - CF
Daniel Hudson - SP
Ian Desmond - SS
Dayan Viciedo - 3B
Aroldis Chapman - RP

Let's hope they explode soon!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

NFL PLAYOFF MADNESS

The AFC is still a jumbled mess running into Week 17. Six teams are still in the hunt, making this one of the most challenging and complex playoff scenarios ever.

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BALTIMORE

WIN: If the Ravens win against the Oakland Raiders (who seem to be playing the spoiler role pretty decently), the Ravens are in, regardless of other results.

TIE: If they tie, and the Jets lose, a Bronco loss or tie AND a Texan loss or tie would get them in. If they tie, and the Jets tie or win, they can still make it if the Steelers, Broncos AND Texans tie or lose.

LOSS: If the Ravens lose, they are out, regardless of other results.

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NEW YORK

WIN: If they defeat the Cincinnati Bengals, The Jets are in, regardless of other results.

TIE: If they tie, and any three of the Steelers, Broncos, Texans, and Ravens lose or tie, the Jets are in. Any two of those teams win, the Jets are history.

LOSS:If the Jets lose, they are out, regardless of other results.

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(Now it gets complicated.)
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DENVER

WIN: If the Broncos win against the Kansas City Chiefs, they also need one of the following things to happen first: the Jets losing or tying, or the Ravens losing or tying. If both lose, the Broncos are in outright. If one of those teams wins, the Broncos can still make it if the Texans win or the the Steelers lose or tie.

TIE: If they tie and the Ravens lose, they need a Jets loss, a Texans loss or tie AND a Steelers loss or tie. If they tie and the Ravens win, they need a Jets loss, a Steelers loss or tie, and ironically enough they need the Texans to tie; a Texan win knocks them out in favor of the Texans, a Texans loss knocks them out in favor of the Steelers.

LOSS: Should the Broncos LOSE to the Chiefs, they can STILL make the playoffs. A Steelers loss, and a loss by three of four teams (Ravens, Jets, Texans, and Jaguars) will get the Broncos in. If the Broncos lose and the Steelers win or tie with the Dolphins, the Broncos need the Jets, Ravens and Texans to lose and the Jaguars to lose or tie.

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PITTSBURGH

WIN: If they win against the Dolphins, they still need the following: a Texans loss or tie coupled with a loss or tie by either the Jets or Ravens, OR a Jets, Ravens, AND Broncos loss or tie.

TIE: If they tie, then the Steelers need three of the following teams to lose: Ravens, Broncos, Jets and Texans, with some exceptions. If the Texans, Jets OR Ravens win, only a Broncos win would push the Steelers out, a Broncos tie would let the Steelers creep in. If the Broncos win, any other tie or win would knock out the Steelers.

LOSS: If the Steelers lose, they are out, regardless of other results.

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MIAMI

WIN: They must beat the Steelers, and then the Dolphins still need losses by the Jets, Texans, AND Ravens, and a Jaguars loss or tie. Any other result will not get them in.

TIE: If the Dolphins tie, they are out, regardless of other results.

LOSS: If the Dolphins lose, they are out, regardless of other results.

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HOUSTON

WIN: With a win against the New England Patriots, the Texans need two losses or ties by the Ravens, Jets, or Broncos in any combination.

TIE: If the Texans tie, and the Ravens OR Jets win, they need losses by the Broncos and Jets OR Ravens and a loss or tie from the Steelers. If the Texans tie, and the Ravens AND Jets lose, a Denver loss or a Steelers loss or tie finds them in the playoffs.

LOSS: If the Texans lose, they are out, regardless of other results.

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JACKSONVILLE

WIN: Even with a probable victory over the Cleveland Browns, the Jaguars need FOUR losses from the following five teams: the Broncos, Ravens, Steelers, Jets and Texans. If two of those teams so much as tie, the Jaguars are done.

TIE: If the Jaguars tie, they are out, regardless of other results.

LOSS: If the Jaguars lose, they are out, regardless of other results.

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That being said, the Bengals and Patriots are still vying for 3rd & 4th seeds, which could mean home field if both teams make it to the AFC Championship. I'm hoping that they'll both be playing their starters for most of the contest.

My picks:
Jacksonville over Cleveland
Denver over KC
Baltimore over Oakland
Pittsburgh over Miami
Cincinnati over New York
New England over Houston

Final AFC Seeding:
1.) Indianapolis Colts
2.) San Diego Chargers
3.) New England Patriots
4.) Cincinnati Bengals
5.) Baltimore Ravens
6.) Pittsburgh Steelers
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