Thursday, June 29, 2006

Cheers and Jeers: Gladiator Edition


Cheers and Jeers is coming a little early so I can comment on the oncoming gladiator battle that is World Cup. Now I thought the best way to express the joys of the elite eight competitions is to compare it what we Americans know a little better College Basketball. Plus it keeps up the college basketball theme of the NBA draft.

World Cup Matchups

Germany (Duke) v. Argentina (Michigan State) - Germany is technically sound, well coached and seems to always make it to this stage in the game. However they rarely break through to actually win anything because of a lack of athleticism. Argentina is one of the deepest and most athletic teams. They have won it but tend to overshadowed by other teams.

Pick: Argentina

Italy - (Georgetown) v Ukraine - (Memphis) - Italy is a historic team that has won the tournament and once they get a lead they are tough to beat. Famous for a lockdown defense (ah the old John Thompson) Italy also has the advantage of knowing what they can away with from the officiating (witness the flop against Australia). Ukraine has great offensive talent but everyone knows they got to where they are by playing soft competition.

Pick: Italy

England - (Indiana) v. Portugal (Kansas or Florida). England is one of the other historically great teams that time has passed it by. While England has gotten to the quarterfinals four out of the past five tournaments they have failed to get out this round in three of those four chances. Portugal is the perennial underachiever. Always has talent but never wins the big game. The question is will they continue the trend of choking (Kansas) or finally break through (Florida). I say Choke

Pick : England

Brazil (UConn) v. France (Illinois) - Brazil has the best talent in the world. In fact they could field a Brazil B composed of their bench and that team would probably make the quarterfinals. However they have not yet shown an ability or willingness to actually play together. That’s a big time red flag. France is composed by former championship caliber players, who trot out really old players whose time has largely passed them by. For the record this is a rematch of the 1998 World Cup Finals.

Pick: Brazil

Some Quick Cheering and Jeering....

Cheers: Adam Morrison's Mustache. According to reliable sources (EA Sports) Adam Morrison's Mustache and possibly Adam Morrison will spend the summer in a van solving mysteries.

Cheers: David Noel getting drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks. The sole regular player that stayed at UNC following the 2005 Championship, Noel led the upstart Tar Heels to a decent showing. Glad to see he'll join the five other Tar Heels that were drafted last year.

Jeers: To corruption. The Italian Soccer League is embroiled in an investigation alleging fixed matches, point fixing, bribery and a host of other charges. On the eve of the start of the trial one of the key figures, Gianluca Pessota, fell off the top of a three story building onto a car. Nothing to see here. Move along you lookie loos.

Jeers: To Global Climate Change. Yes, remember when those crazy scientists, metrologist, climatologist and average eskimo with their "facts" and usage of the "Enlightment" claimed in the late 1990s that Global Warming was happening. Remember they predicted that the Mid-Atlantic region would see a dramatic increase in rain and possible flooding while the Western states would see increased drought and possible fires? Good thing that whole thing turned out to be hoax/false like George Will predicted. In an unrelated story The Back Seat Drivers is now available under-water in the Philadelphia area and at 451 degrees in the Nevada area.

Media Watchdog

If there’s one thing I hate more than biased reporting, it’s factually incorrect, biased reporting. The New York Times, a newspaper that is owned by the same holding company that owns 20% of the Boston Red Sox, makes no secret of its hatred for the New York Yankees. When they write the following (below), it makes you wonder how they can get away with such blatant nonsense in print.

“For the first time in prime time, a Mets game carried by SportsNet New York had a higher rating than a Yankees broadcast on the YES Network. On Tuesday night, the Mets-Red Sox game generated a 4.7 rating, or 350,000 local television households, and the Yankees-Braves game produced a 4.1 rating (305,000 TV homes).”

Here’s the catch – while the Mets DID play in primetime last night, the Yankees played the Braves at 2 p.m. By the time regular watchers of the YES Network got home, they already knew the outcome of the game. So the Mets, who had Pedro pitching at Fenway for the first time since the 2004 ALCS, only managed to generate 45,000 more television viewers for a live game than the Yankees did for a time-condensed and edited-for-television rebroadcast.

Why do I care so much about something like this? Because I hate thinking that someone read this during breakfast and, without realizing it, started spreading lies to his or her co-workers. I guess I operate under the hackneyed pretense that all media outlets should report things as they are and not as they wish them to be.

If you ask me, the Yanks should hire me to be their media watchdog.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

2nd Annual NBA Draft Recap

The Good
Memphis trading Shane Battier for Rudy Gay. The Grizzlies actually did something riske. They got great value for Shane Battier, I still can’t believe a team was willing to part with a top-10 pick in exchange for Shane Battier in the year 2006. Now with Rudy Gay, Memphis actually is trying to improve itself, and they get tons of “upside” potential.

Orlando taking JJ Redick. With the power of Darko, Dwight Howard, and my favorite underrated PG, Carlos Arroyo, this is a team destined for the playoffs! There certainly should be enough open looks for JJ on this team. I think JJ didn’t fit very well on most teams, but this is one of those teams where JJ should be able to go in and get some open looks, because I don’t believe he can create his own shot that well.

The Bad
Seattle choosing the Senegal center, named Sene. Huge upside. Good news: He’s 7 feet tall. Bad news: He only weighs 235 pounds! Just like his fellow Senegalese countryman, DeSagna Diop, this is one of those draft picks where the player is a definite project, and he probably won’t be paying dividends to the Sonics, but to his 2nd team. If I was an NBA GM, I’d only take these insane, long-term projects if I had a playoff team. The Sonics need help now!

I also discovered that this is the 3rd year in a row they have taken a center! In 2004, it was it was Robert Swift, a dorky white 7-footer (averaged 6 and 5.5 in 20mpg). In 2005, it was Johan Petro, a 7-footer from France (average 5 and 4.4 in 19mpg). I believe they are trying to start an international all-star team of skinny 7-footers.

On the subject of skinny 7-footers, I have to bring up one of the first things I learned over the years about drafting players. The 76ers drafted Shawn Bradley back in the early 1990s, who was a skinny 7’6”, but the 76ers management had this great idea to “fix” their draft pick, they would just fatten up Shawn Bradley. The orders came down from the GM and the president, and Bradley was placed on a SIX THOUSAND CALORIE DIET. So I was watching NBA Inside Stuff back in like 1993, hosted by Ahmad Rashad and Willow Bay, and they followed around Shawn Bradley and had dinner with him. Granted, Willow didn’t eat the 7th and 8th courses of the meal, but Shawn Bradley did. Sadly, Shawn Bradley gained only 5 pounds that year. Moral of the story, NBA GMs cannot expect to alter someone’s metabolism. The science just isn’t to that point yet!

Boston – taking on Brian Grant’s salary ($13.3 million) in exchange for rights to Rajon Rondo. Rondo can only score on layups, and has no outside shot. Boston GM Danny Ainge did get Sebastian Telfair earlier in the night while ensuring that Dan Dickau is now moving on to his 6th team in only his 5th year! Congratulation Dan! You are well on your way to catching Jimmy Jackson who has been on 13 teams in 14 years!

The Ugly
Dick Vitale doing NBA draft analysis. Is he up there for comedy purposes??? I really don’t know. All he does is talk about how great the juniors and seniors in college are. This year, he took things to the next level, by stating, “The #1 pick sounds more like an Italian construction company, than [his name] sounds like an NBA player.” And you wonder why the rest of the world doesn’t like Americans.

Names with the Letter “Y”
Throughout their careers at ‘Nova, I could never distinguish Ray from Foye. They played similar positions, and those stupid “y”s confused me. Add in Brandon Roy from Washington, and I just have no idea who is who anymore. I was talking to Mighty and I got very excited that Ray and Foye got drafted back-to-back, then traded for each other. But really, it was Roy and Foye. I hope I can distinguish these guys once they start actually playing.

Cash Considerations
When the Timberwolves traded the #6 pick (Roy) for the #7 pick (Foye), the Timberwolves scored some “cash considerations.” I’d much rather the NBA release what the cash is going to be used for. For example, the trade really could have been “Roy for Foye, a 4-night cruise for the GM, 3 strippers, 2 tickets to the Super Bowl, and $100,000 cold hard cash.”

Isiah is a World Cup Fan
The Knicks always keep it interesting. They drafted Ronaldo! The all-time leading scorer from Brazil! Oh wait, I got it wrong. It was Renaldo (Balkman). From USC. Actually, Univ. of South Carolina. Projected to be a late 2nd-round pick. He’s a 6-8 small forward. At least his favorite food is “peach soda.” No joke, that’s actually listed on

A Yankee Fan Cheers For Buckner (And Gammons)

Here is evidence of why Boston Red Sox fans in general are given far too much credit for being “good” fans (from today’s Daily Quickie):

“Forgiven, if not forgotten: The Red Sox held a tribute for the ‘86 team last night, and the biggest ovation went to Bill Buckner, who wasn’t even in attendance. What a difference a broken curse makes...”

After spending nearly 20 years blaming the 1986 World Series choke on Bill Buckner, to the point that he was verbally and physically threatened if he ever returned to New England, I’d say that a standing ovation for someone in absentia is something like saying “we blamed you and ruined your post-baseball life…oops, sorry!”

Considering the fact that Bill Buckner gave his heart and soul to the Boston franchise for the last few injury-plagued years of his career, considering the fact that Red Sox manager Joe McNamara shouldn’t have even had Buckner out there in the 9th inning since everyone knew that Buckner’s injured knees prevented him from going down on ground balls, and considering the fact that the loss to the Mets wasn’t even Buckner’s fault since the Red Sox blew a three-run lead in the bottom of the 6th inning of Game 7...

…just as in everything else, the Red Sox and their myopic, Neanderthal fans get a free pass. I can’t believe that not one single columnist in the United States picked up on the chance to point out the unfairness of pulling a 180 on Bill Buckner. To his credit, Buckner’s integrity and pride have made him inaccessible to Red Sox ownership. He doesn’t need to get the velvet glove treatment from a bunch of phonies looking to score some PR points. He was too good for that kind of garbage.

PS - A somewhat heartfelt “get well soon” wish to Peter Gammons*. As much as I think he’s a hack writer and a mouthpiece/apologist for the Boston Red Sox, I’d hate to think that my years of constantly knocking him somehow contributed to his sudden illness. The sooner he gets back on his feet spilling his brand of biased garbage, the sooner I can go back to ripping him a new one. In the meantime, I hope he has a speedy recovery.

*What happened to Peter Gammons should be a warning to all alcoholics out there; hard-core boozing rots your brain as well as your liver.

NBA Draft Drinking Game

NBA Draft..... its fantastic.....especially if you have a drinking game to alongside of it. Here's a few rules of the road to add fun and enjoyment to the process.

1. Take a drink whenever you hear "wingspan"
2. Take a drink whenever you hear "potential"
3. Open a porn magazine when you hear the word "long"
4. Take a drink when someone mentions the new mandatory age rule
5. Finish your beer when you see a picture of Greg Ogden - next year's number one draft pick
6. Take a drink and hit the mute button when Jay Bilas insults someone else
7. Take a drink and write a haiku to realign your chi when Andy Katz is condescending
8. Finish your beer when a player is traded
9. Finish your beer and head to the bomb shelter if KG or AI are not traded.
10. Lightly chuckle when Kevin McHale forgets he actually has a draft pick
11. Lightly chuckle when Isiah Thomas forgets he doesn't actually have a draft pick
12. Take a triumphant sip if the Cavs draft either a PG or PF
13. Take a bitter drink and then bash head against wall when Cavs draft a SG or SF.
14. Point and laugh when Adam Morrison cries upon hearing he's drafted (especially if its Portland)
15. Take a drink and check to make sure your wallet is still there after a UConn player is drafted

Add as you see fit.......

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Today's World Cup Subplot

Just a little heads up for today's match between Spain and France there is not so subtle subplot. Spain's head coach, Louis Aragones, in 2004 was caught on tape giving motivational instructions on getting French superstar Thierry Henry. His motivational instructions though came in the part of a racist tirade that seemed to come directly out of the 19th century. While Aragones fell behind the classic racist defense (but I have lots of friends of different colors or it means something different in my native tongue) he has otherwise refused to make any apology. Today Aragone's Spainish team meet Henry and France head to head. One can only hope somebody drop kicks the Spainish coach in the jugular.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Random Thoughts On Baseball

1. I’m tired of talking about Ozzie Guillen and how reprehensible a human being he is. But I would like to share a picture of him after the White Sox won the World Series last year.

I don’t know if this is his son or another relative, one of his players, a batboy, or someone he met at a bar but I do know that he might want to reconsider his choice of epithets directed at Jay Mariotti. I’m just saying.

2. Most people see the 162-game regular season as a marathon. I contend that it’s really a series of four 10K races:

April: a month unto its own. A fast start in April doesn’t mean anything (1987 Brewers) and a slow start in April means even less (2005 Yankees).

May/June: these two months are less about contenders breaking away than they are about bad teams playing themselves out of meaningful baseball later in the season (2006 Royals).

July/August: the dog days of summer are where the true contenders make their bones. Teams that make it into October begin laying the foundations for their postseason with trades in July and good winning streaks in August (2004 Red Sox).

September: the pennant race is the all-out sprint at the end of the season. Some teams have postseason berths locked up. Some teams carry their August winning streaks into September and play their way in (2005 Astros).

I bring this up because most teams will hit the mathematical mid-point of their season in the latter half of this week. Some teams are already out of it (Royals, Pirates, Cubs, Devil Rays, Orioles) and some teams are teetering on the brink of contender/pretender status (Twins, Indians). For the Twins, Indians, and other teams on the contender/pretender see-saw, the mathematical mid-point becomes decision day regarding trades, minor league promotions, and managerial/front office job security. For this particular issue personified, ESPN wrote up the impending dilemma the Twins face in their decision on Torii Hunter.

3. This past Friday marked the 25th anniversary of the longest professional baseball game ever played, a 33-inning affair between the Rochester Red Wings (AAA Baltimore Orioles) and the Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA Boston Red Sox).

Despite winning the 1983 World Series, the Baltimore Orioles suffered through a generally lousy decade of the 1980’s. On the other hand, the Boston Red Sox enjoyed a mini-renaissance in the late 1980’s, finishing first three times in five years, including winning the 1986 American League pennant. The interesting thing about the box score of this game is how, in hindsight, one could have predicted the futures of the two parent organizations. Cal Ripken and Floyd Rayford were the only everyday players to emerge from the Rochester side while the Pawtucket club featured three future everyday players (Marty Barrett, Wade Boggs, Rich Gedman) as well as two future starting pitchers (Bruce Hurst, Bobby Ojeda). All five of those Pawtucket players played in the 1986 World Series – Barrett, Boggs, Gedman, and Hurst for Boston and Ojeda for the Mets.

4. For anyone that watched the 9th inning of last night’s White Sox-Astros game unfold, it has to be said that Brad Lidge is absolutely one of the most overrated pitchers in baseball. He’s the Caucasian version of Armando Benitez. In short, if I’m an Astros fan, I’m selling my playoff ticket options. It’s going to be very hard for Houston to make the playoffs with a closer that simply can’t keep it together in big spots, and last night was a meaningless game in late June. The Cardinals aren’t a very imposing team this year but it looks to me like they don’t have much to worry about in terms of winning their division...

Man in the Middle: The Ref and Criticism

I was watching Portugal and Netherlands play a World Cup match yesterday and the game clearly got out of hand. The ref handed out a record 16 yellow cards and ejected four players (also a record). To date the World Cup has set overall records of fouls which had existed for 60 odd years and there were three more rounds to go. The talk of the World Cup has really centered on the refereeing. However this international fascination with the job of the officiating certainly isn't some international fad but exists here. The past two championships are as well known for controversy surrounding the how the game was called as how the game was played. Seattle fans (and coaches) still bemoan supposed phantom calls that ruined their destined victory over Pittsburgh. In fact the day after the Super Bowl the only facts I got out of what happened during the game was that there were controversial calls and Jerome Bettis was still from Detroit. Fast forward to the summer and everyone from Bill Simmons to Dan Patrick to Mark Cuban focused attention, ire and in the later case epithets on how the game was called. Is it my imagination or has the center of the sports universe seemingly shifted to focus on how every whistle is blown and every infraction assessed?

I would argue that a few changes have happened that have led to this current juncture
1) Leagues use rule changes to changet game - I think its more common for league officials and rules committees are changing rules to micro-manage league play. In soccer officials are under strong pressure to call type games to try to allow for more offense. Same with the NBA and the NFL. The result is that if a foul looks like it occurred refs will blow the whistle. Also quickly changing rules leads to more ambiguity on the infraction (it takes time for refs to get adjusted).

2) Incentives have changed. Pat Riley and Phil Jackson are legendary for using the media to pressure officiating. The great Celtic dynasties didn't exactly have the ability or desire to utilize national media to help their cause. Given the 24 hour world of media, complaining about the refs gains more air time which in turn can possibly gain more advantage. Incentives influence human behavior and the media world allows for a large megaphone to gain leverage. There has also been a normative change in how officiating. Standards are higher and criticizing them is far more acceptable among players, coaches and media to criticize the officials.

All in all in I find a negative aspect to focusing on the officiating. I'm not stating that all criticism is unjustified. Refs are people and as such do make mistakes. However I would raise two points. The level of enjoyment of the sports world decreases as more focus is on the refs. The other is that most of the ire should be directed not at the refs but at those instituting the rules rather than enforcing them.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Tao Of Being A Professional Asshole: A White Sox Manager’s Story

Ozzie Guillen just doesn’t know when to shut up. He’s openly playing a game of chicken with Bud Selig and Selig, to no one’s surprise, is blinking yet again.

Selig should have suspended Guillen for his homophobic comments based on the John Rocker principle that hate speech is not tolerated in baseball. As he always does, the commissioner opted for a course of non-action (especially when the party in question is a member of one of Selig’s favorite teams). Now Guillen is openly mocking one of the requirements of his punishment and states that he will not attend sensitivity training. How can Selig not speak up now? How can he not suspend Guillen, if only to assert the authority of the commissioner’s office?

Furthermore, how can White Sox management condone such behavior? How can they have an employee thumbing his nose at a sanction handed down by Bud Selig? The White Sox should’ve dealt with Guillen in order to send a message that their franchise doesn’t condone their manager’s choice of words. Now they’ve got to do something to rein in their loose cannon. If they don’t, the White Sox are as guilty in all of this as their lunatic employee.

In a sick sort of way, Guillen is only pushing the parameters of acceptable behavior as far as Bud Selig will permit, which only serves to highlight how ineffectual the commissioner is, at least when the Red Sox, White Sox, Twins, Marlins or other “favorite son” franchise transgresses. Rest assured that Selig would’ve sprung to action if this was taking place in a city where he collects no bribes.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Whistleblower in Beantown

I just love it when baseball’s deep, dark secrets are exposed and everyone in the game starts running for cover. Whenever a whistleblower writes a book or talks about his experiences with baseball’s seamier underbelly, the first thing everyone does is call the whistleblower a “rat” or “crazy” or a publicity-hound. That’s what everyone said about Jose Canseco when his book came out last winter and that’s what everyone said about Jim Bouton when his tell-all book “Ball Four” came out in the 1970’s.

So it’s really no surprise that a number of Boston Red Sox took their potshots at a former teammate, Paxton Crawford, who spoke on the record about steroid use in the Red Sox clubhouse in 2000 and 2001. The most amusing portion of the accused players’ rebuttal is when Mike Stanley talks about Trot Nixon, Jason Varitek and Nomar Garciaparra, as if merely suspecting the oft-injured outfielder, Neanderthal-jawed catcher, or hyper-chiseled physique of the former shortstop would be an act of national treason. Give me a break.

Why would Paxton Crawford lie? He was an anonymous player during his short-lived career and he was living an anonymous life as a former big leaguer. He doesn’t have anything to gain by speaking openly about his time in Boston.

I understand why these guys have to circle the wagons and live by the Nixonian code of “deny, deny, deny,” especially in this climate of witch-hunting and overzealous prosecution so I can’t fault their reaction. I just think it’s laughable that these guys think us so foolish as to believe anything they say on the subject of steroids.

Cheers and Jeers: Bitter Pill Edition


Well despite my public shunning, deep in my heart I was rooting for team USA to pull of the win in La Copa Munda and move on to the next round. It was not to be. The US was done in by several factors: poor play and bad officiating. The US played timid uninspired soccer for two of three games managing only four shots on goal the entire tournament. When you don't play aggressive you need a well officiated game. The US didn't get the benefit of the calls (in fact the officiating reminded me of Game 6 where looking funny at the other team resulted in fouls) and as a result they are going home without a chance to redeem themselves until 2010.

On the plus side the team that took the U.S.'s spot was Ghana. Now for those that didn't watch the Czech v. Ghana game during the celebration of the first goal scoring one of the Ghanaian players (John Pentsil) unveiled an Israeli flag. Now at first I thought I had taken one too many roundhouse kicks in an under ground martial arts tournament. However, it turns out that Pentsil just wanted to give a shout out to his club team (which happens to be in the Israeli league).

On the really good side my Socceroos of Australia pulled off yet another comeback, this time against Croatia. The Aussies late game heroics are becoming legendary at this point and nobody should be taking them lightly. Well maybe those man crush inspiring Brazillians but the Australians don't have to play them until the championship game.

Cheers: To Bud Selig. I tried really hard to come up with something nice to say after his handling of Ozzie Guillen this week (the only relevant questions reporters should have for Ozzie anymore is: "How long have you been posing as a human being and why are you so bad at it?". It finally dawned on me….old Bud is evidence that evolution is indeed true. I'm sorry there's no way something intelligently designed Bud Selig. Obviously he arose out of some primitive life form that existed before the backbone came about. I'm guessing he evolved from a steaming pile of poop but I never paid any attention in biology.

Jeers: To baseball over this story on blackouts. I'm really trying how this policy would be good to grow baseball as a whole and I'm just drawing a blank. Of course I didn't evolve out of pile of poop so that too would make sense.

Jeers: To curses. This week we officially got the newest member to the Sports Curse club. Some big curses currently afflicting sports today includes: Curse of Rocky Calavito, Billy Goat Curse and the Madden Curse (Note Sports Illustrated is a Jinx not a curse. See Hecatate's 8th edition Spells, Curses and Jinxes for differences between the two). Anyway the new curse is: The Dolan Curse. The Dolan's as a family seem to have the reverse Midas' touch. The Dolan brand sports teams put on a display this week, between Indians quickly turning into the KC Royals and the Knicks firing of Larry Brown, that just reinforced how dysfunctional those organizations are.

Cheers: To the NFL. Mini-Camps started up. June is nearing its end and so the great football prognosticating can begin. My top 3 most competitive divisions (note I define competitive divisions as divisions in which the greatest number of teams that have the highest chance of making the playoffs) are: NFC East, AFC North, NFC South. Sure why not?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Unequal Justice

I’m sorry but I’m going to have to cry foul. Randy Johnson was suspended for five games after buzzing Eduardo Perez. RJ came high and tight on Perez but didn’t actually hit him. David Riske hit Chris Duncan and was only suspended for three games. One pitcher comes inside without making contact and gets five games. The other pitcher actually drills a batter and gets three games.

I’m not one to normally go hog-wild for conspiracy theories but I do know that Bud Selig owes his job as commissioner to White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. And I do know that MLB’s dean of discipline, Bob Watson, was the Yanks’ former GM before being unceremoniously dumped by Boss Steinbrenner in favor of Brian Cashman. Watson had very bad things to say about his former employers at the time of his termination and has continued to speak poorly of them in the eight years since his dismissal.

When two identical incidents take place within seven days of eachother and the punishment for one incident exceeds the punishment for the other, well, I begin to wonder about the integrity of baseball’s judicial process. I hate the White Sox and I hate how they’re getting away with things left and right. Guillen should’ve been suspended last week for the Tracey/Blalock incident. Now their newly-acquired setup man gets off light. Amazing.

As an aside, I’d like to point out that 24 hours have passed since the story broke that Ozzie Guillen used a derogatory epithet and the Commissioner’s office has been silent on the matter. It is beyond unbelievable to me how passive Bud Selig is on all topics large and small. At the very least he could have publicly distanced himself and the league from Guillen’s statement and said that MLB doesn’t condone such language or behavior from one of its own. Not Selig, no sir. He doesn’t believe in, you know, actually upholding his responsibilities.

Thank God He's Gone, Or Why Knicks Offices Will No Longer Smell Like Adult Diapers

All Knicks fans should shout a hearty “good riddance” to the newly-unemployed Larry Brown. For doing the worst coaching job of his career, for doing nothing but spreading his special brand of cancer around the franchise, and for being the most disagreeable sports personality in New York City, he won’t be missed at all.

Knowing Larry, he’ll take his best shots at the franchise and he’ll use his political savvy to spin this his way. No one in New York should be fooled – Larry Brown bailed on his “dream job” and he owes every Knicks fan an apology (and our money back).

The Knicks will still stink in 2006-2007. But at least there won’t be this palpable sense of misery around the team that only Larry and his faulty urinary sphincter bring to the table.

Get the f*ck out of town, “Coach” Brown. Don’t ever come back. Move out of our state and take your snot-nosed kids and your trophy wife with you.

Blasphemous Quote of the Day

Hitman: Check out Sportsline. They have a much better World Cup gamecast than ESPN.

Hitman's Colleague: How dare you besmirch the Worldwide Leader!

What Was Your Favorite Memory...

...of the Larry Brown era?

(Theme again shamelessly stolen from the Chicago Tribune)

Father’s Day Revenge

This past father’s day, after not playing golf for the last year, I somehow beat my dad over the second set of 9 holes. I don’t think he was very happy. The wrath of my dad can be very powerful, as you will soon see.

You see, in addition to the fact that I had picked the Dallas Mavericks to win it all, and I had written an incredibly pro-Maverick Finals preview , I had absolutely no respect for the Miami Heat. Back in my NBA preview in October I said “I’m not a fan of the additions.” . Back in August, MJ even chimed in and said “Will Shaq and Wade be able to co-exist with Walker and Williams? I honestly don't think so.” Though MJ did concede that “I think the Heat will regret this one, even if their roster is now the envy of fantasy basketball fans everywhere.” Anyways, right after Miami had made all of their free agent acquisitions, I laughed because I thought it was ludicrous to pick up an old Gary Payton, a free-shooting Antoine Walker, a turnover-prone Jason Williams, and James Posey.

After all of the signings took place, my dad told me that he thought that the Miami Heat could “win it all.” I laughed and laughed. Antoine Walker??? I didn’t forget this conversation as the NBA finals began, though my dad actually told me that he “could not believe the Heat were down 2-0 in the Finals.” He asked me my thoughts, and in my naivete, I said “believe it? I always told you the Heat stink! The NBA Finals is about the rise of DeSagna Diop!”

Needless to say, beating my dad on part of the golf course made him very angry, and I fully believe that he alone inspired Wade and the Heat to win the championship. I apologize to all of the Dallas fans out there, because I feel as if it was partially my fault that the Dallas Mavericks absolutely choked. If only I had let him beat me in golf!

Anyways, I do have to field a complaint about coach Avery Johnson. I don’t know what the hell he was thinking in Game 6. Basically, I think it got to the point where he realized there was no way to stop Wade, so he just put the team into a zone for the whole second half (I didn’t see the first half, so I can’t comment on that). The problem was, Riley then told the Heat to just crash the boards whenever a shot went up, and this resulted in NUMEROUS layup put-backs! Avery, you’ve got to at least mix up the man and the zone defenses so you don’t get shredded on the glass! Granted, such a formula may have resulted in more Wade points, but I think it still would have been better than the frequent rebounds and layups which certainly have a 95% chance of falling, whereas when Wade is hot, the shots have only a 70% chance of falling.

Finally, I can at least make one knock on Gary Payton. During the 4TH QUARTER, GP was arguing with the refs the whole way up the court. He then turned to the ref to argue some more, and right as he turned, one of his teammates passed the ball in his direction! It resulted in a turnover, and an easy 2 points for the Mavericks! Ladies and gentlemen, this is the memory I will always have of the 2006 NBA Finals (and of Wade dominating the competition and making the leap to superstardom).

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ozzie Guillen Update

Finally! Finally the rest of the country gets to see the true colors of the man I dubbed the biggest asshole in baseball just last week.

Ozzie Guillen, you’re a pathetic individual. In a span of six months, you’ve ripped the heritage of Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra, embarrassed one of your employees on national television, publicly declared that you’d “cut” and “kill” an opponent in a fight, and now called a reporter a “fag” because you don’t like his coverage of you or your team.

I won’t be so morally superior and dishonest as to say that I’ve never used derogatory epithets in the past. But I also don’t have a recurring pattern of emotionally unstable behavior and a God-complex.

I have no faith in Bud Selig but even that worthless, decrepit sack of bones will have to step up to the plate and, gulp, rule against his puppeteers on Chicago’s South Side. When coupled with Guillen’s ejection for the HBP incidents in last night’s White Sox-Cardinals’s to hoping that we don’t see or hear from this foul little animal for the next week.

Jonathan Papelbon ≠ Mariano Rivera

I woke up in a horrible mood today – the Miami Heat had won the NBA title, Joe Torre managed his fourth consecutive game like the mental patient he’s increasingly become, my golf swing is in complete disarray right now – and I was prepared to rant about those subjects, and more.

Instead, I got busy at work, cooled down a bit, and was prepared to go a whole day without an explosion of fury. Until I read the latest from Bill Simmons. Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser (the PTI Guys) broached the subject last night. That’s three separate ESPN personalities suckling at the Papelbon fountain in less than 24 hours.

Now wait just one goddamn minute here. I don’t care what Jonathan Papelbon’s stats are and I don’t care that Mariano Rivera blew a save in spectacular fashion to the Washington Nationals over the weekend. Jonathan Papelbon has 23 saves right now. That’s approximately 380 less than Mariano Rivera. Papelbon has exactly zero postseason saves.

I agree that Papelbon has been every bit as good as his surrogate father Peter Gammons predicted. He’s been every bit as good and then some. But let’s not start comparing the kid to a first-ballot hall of famer and the best closer in the history of baseball. At this point, it wouldn’t even be fair to anoint Papelbon as on par with Eric Gagne, who’s only been a full-time closer for three seasons.

I will not stand for that kind of crap. And I don’t think Bostonians would take kindly to Joe Mauer (currently hitting .378) being compared to Ted Williams, just like they didn’t like it when John Olerud was compared to the Splendid Splinter back in 1993.

Jonathan Papelbon is the front-runner for the 2006 AL Rookie of the Year. That’s all we know right now. Let’s leave it there.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Congrats Miami

The Miami Heat are the NBA Champions for 2005-2006.*

* Just remember everytime the Heat win a championship MJ kills a kitten.

Congrats Carolina

Your new owners of Lord Stanley's Cup!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Jered Weaver, Victim Of Bad Management

The biggest problem with baseball operations management is a reliance on conventional wisdom and the tried-and-true methods. Moneyball and the Billy Beane/Paul DePodesta revolution of 2001-2002 helped to shed some light on how creative thinking could help improve teams with limited payrolls. The recent trend towards hiring younger general managers who aren’t bound by traditional methods has helped as well.

I bring this all up because Angels GM Bill Stoneman, a veritable dinosaur at the age of 62, optioned rookie pitcher Jered Weaver back to Triple-A Salt Lake City today in order to activate 2005 Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon. There’s certainly nothing wrong with making a roster move to bring back the reigning ace of a team’s pitching staff. But why should the rookie be the fall guy? Jered was 4-0/ 1.37 ERA/ 0.76 WHIP in his brief stay with the major league club. While I grant that three of his wins were against sub-par talent (Baltimore, Tampa, Kansas City), it doesn’t change the fact that was still winning in the big leagues.

When combined with his 2006 Triple-A stats, Weaver was 8-1/ 2.13 ERA/ 0.95 WHIP with 90 K in 88.1 IP (9.16 K/9). It’s pretty clear that Jered Weaver is ready for the show. So why is he being moved to clear room for Colon? Stoneman could’ve moved someone else (Hector Carrasco, Esteban Yan, or Jeff Weaver were all better candidates to pick on) instead of the younger Weaver. This highlights the problem with baseball operations management – namely that the old farts running most ballclubs no longer think critically about the game. They’d rather spare the veteran than go with the rookie. It happens all the time on the Yankees and it’s obvious that the Angels have the same misguided loyalty to older players when younger players can clearly do the job better.

The worst part of all this is that the Angels, a last place team in the AL West, are only 7 games behind the first place Oakland A’s. One would think that it would be more important to continue winning with a young phenom while they’re still technically in the race for their division…

Quick Tidbits, Baseball Edition

Some things in baseball you can set your watch to... the Oakland A’s always heating up around mid-June. The A’s have now won 10 in a row and have jumped into first place in the AL West. the Reds fading when the weather gets hot. After taking first place from the Cardinals 10 days ago, the Reds have dropped 5½ games behind the Red Birds. Kenny Rogers having another good 1st half. After notching his MLB-leading 10th win yesterday, The Gambler ran his career pre-All Star Game record to 118-75 with a 4.24 ERA over an 18 year career.

Some things in baseball you just can’t predict... the Atlanta Braves being in last place in the NL East for the first time since 1990. Even the Marlins, with their minor league roster, are ahead of Atlanta. For those that can’t remember that far back, 1990 was the last season Atlanta didn’t qualify for the playoffs. the Kansas City Royals having outscored the Chicago Cubs 268-267 this season. A healthy Derrek Lee would’ve changed all that for Chicago but it doesn’t provide enough of an excuse for the rest of the Cubs that are underperforming (most notably Juan Pierre and Aramis Ramirez). Kenny Rogers being one of only nine active pitchers with 200 career victories. The other eight on the list – Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, David Wells, Pedro Martinez, and Curt Schilling – include three first-ballot Hall of Famers (Clemens, Maddux, Johnson) and two or three others that should make it in when it’s all said and done (Martinez, Glavine, Schilling). I never thought Kenny Rogers would be in such elite company.

Questions and Answers: US Open Intrigue

Well a wonderful and wild weekend of time for everyone's favorite column....Questions and Answers.

Did anyone really win the U.S. Open?
-Tiger W.

While the technical answer is yes, the real is answer no. I'm sure Oglivy received his trophy or jacket or gift certificate to Chick-fil-a or whatever the big prize is for being on top of the leaderboard at the end of the US Open. However in my book Winged Foot course won the 2006 U.S. Open. I mean the Oglivy had the best score at +5. Anytime a course makes professionals look like me hacking away in the rough, the winner is the course.

How big was Mickelson's double bogey on the 18th?
-Seymour Butts, Springfield

Huge. Mickleson was one hole away from leaping into the conversation of one of the all-time greats. He had won the past two majors he's played in (I think). It would have been his fourth overall masters. He's been beating Tiger Woods to get these titles. Yet one hole and a double bogey later instead of being compared to Ben Hogan he's being compared to Jean Van de Velde. I'm still not sure what Phil was thinking. Maybe he's overly competitive. Maybe his caddie whispered French into his ear. I don't know. All I know is that this collapse will go down as one of the most infamous endings in U.S. Open history.

Are you surprised Geoff Oglivy was on top at the end?
-PT Barnum, Center Ring

No. What did I say last week? Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oglivy is Aussie powered and as I said before Aussie's rule! Australia is my adopted home because they're winners. They showed it again by winning the US tournament. You really can't stop Aussie's rampaging around with clubs. For you poor poor people that remained American citizens this is just another sign that your athletes can't cut it.

Do you have that receipt on those products I sold you last year?
-J. Grimsley, Arizona.

My lawyer informs me that I showed mention anything about illegal column enhancing products I may have taken.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Bud Selig: A Bad Joke

As I was doing my usual Sunday routine – eating breakfast, reading the NY Times Sunday sports section – I came across a letter to the editor that I feel perfectly captures what I hate about Commissioner Bud Selig. I’ve copied it below:

To the Sports Editor:

Commissioner Bud Selig’s open letter to baseball fans addressing the spread of performance-enhancing drugs among players is an outrage (“Selig Admits Baseball’s ‘Problems,’” June 16). It asserts that the office of commissioner was created nearly 86 years ago to ensure the integrity of America’s pastime.

In fact, when Selig assumed his revamped office in September 1992, it was only after he and the White Sox chairman, Jerry Reinsdorf, engineered the ouster of Fay Vincent, essentially eliminating an independent office of commissioner. The net effect was to destroy the office and to replace it with what Reinsdorf used to refer to as a C.E.O. of the owners, not of the players or the umpires.

Baseball has no integrity for its commissioner to protect.

David Peterson
Blue Island, Ill.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Selig’s got to go. While we’re at it, let’s toss Reinsdorf out on his fat ass too.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Baseball History

I just read this article and I was sickened to know that a historical monument was going to be demolished to make way for homes and stores. One would think that MLB would dish out the money in order to keep buildings of historical significance. I would think that if Wrigley, Fenway or Yankees stadium were left vacant (which I doubt they would want to leave them) then MLB would have wanted to keep them around. ESPN would probably buy Fenway to have Peter Gammons, Kruk, et al broadcast from there for Baseball Tonight. It just is a shame that a building that has been around since 1912 and has many memories will be torn down.

Cheers and Jeers: Canadian Cocktail Edition


Today's cheering and jeering is directed to our friendly neighbors up north. Canadians are like the librarians of the world: polite, friendly and above all quiet. However Canada has had a number of great exports that we here in the US enjoy. Of all their exports Cheers and Jeers believes that their number 1 sports export is….the playoff beard. Now for those that are unaware the playoff beard is a show of solidarity were all involved in the playoffs don't shave until they win the championship or are eliminated. Hence for us casual observers of hockey, we can always tell what round of Lord Stanley's Playoff we're in based on beard length. Little known fact is that the playoff beard originated as a sign of solidarity with the Great Lumberjack strike of 1894 (Lumberjacks trying to collectively bargain for hard currency as opposed to flannel shirts). As time has gone on players continue the tradition of not shaving every playoffs. Long straggly beards….now that’s a reason to cheer.

Cheers: To the Toronto Blue Jays. Now I realize that according to ESPN baseball is only played in either Boston or New York but the once proud Blue Jay organization is back baby. Boasting a 37-29 record, Toronto has quietly maneuvered itself to being only one game behind the Yankees. Now I'm not sure if Toronto can pass by the 800 pound gorillas but what a story it would be the Blue Jays could rekindle some past glory.

Jeers: To Ozzie Guillen for his very un-Canadian like actions. Captain Emotional Intelligence himself berated a rookie pitcher in the dugout for not plunking an opposing player. Its one thing to teach a rookie about the necronomica or whatever ancient text baseball goes by but publicly showing up a player is poor form. Certainly not something a Canadian would ever do.

Cheers: To Canada's former benevolent ruler…England. England clinched a berth into the next round of the playoff when it defeated Trinidad and Tobago. The best part was that Peter Crouch scored a goal. Why is that a good thing? If you haven't experience the pure joy of watching a 6'7 Englishman doing the robot in celebration then you just haven't lived.

Cheers: To Shameless Plugs. A friend of mine is the line-producer for the new movie: American Standard. Check out the trailer here and go watch it when its released in the fall.

Ruminations: Friday

This post has been brewing for several days now so, without further ado, my sports-related thoughts on a Friday morning:

1. Perhaps someone should tell Arizona Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick that throwing his players under the proverbial bus isn’t a great way to run a club. By publicly questioning Luis Gonzalez, even in a roundabout way, makes Kendrick look like an amateur. Even if LuGo was on performance-enhancing drugs (I’d bet a couple of paychecks on it, personally), Kendrick gains nothing by casting doubt on the most beloved player in his team’s history. It’s called “circle the wagons” Ken. No one likes an owner that acts holier-than-thou after an employee gets busted breaking the law, especially in light of the fact that owners endorsed the use of PED’s to fatten their bottom line.

2. I’m extremely confused with how baseball goes about policing hit-by-pitch incidents. On the one hand Yankees starter Randy Johnson gets slapped with a five-game ban for going high and tight on Cleveland Indians hitter Eduardo Perez. On the other hand, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen can rant not once, not twice, but three times about the HBP incidents with the Texas Rangers and the league office says nothing. If Johnson gets ejected for throwing inside after both teams were warned and if Torre, as manager, gets tossed as well, how does the same fate not befall Guillen? After all, a warning to both the White Sox and Rangers was in place after Rangers starter Vincente Padilla hit catcher AJ Pierzynski for the second time in the game. If the warning was handed down, if Sox rookie pitcher Sean Tracey throws inside and if Guillen is seen throwing two tantrums in the dugout, then follows it up with a press conference to declare that his team will retaliate for all hit batsmen going forward…well, where are Bud Selig and Bob Watson to dole out equal justice to the White Sox?

I’m not saying the Yankees were treated unfairly here, I’m merely pointing out that the White Sox are getting away with something that I don’t think most other teams could get away with.

3. For a guy worth several billion dollars, Mark Cuban sure comes off as bitter. In response to the news that Michael Jordan was buying into the Charlotte Bobcats and would oversee all basketball operations for the team, Cuban was asked if MJ’s return would be good for the league. His reply? “Not unless he’s going to make a comeback.” Uh, yeah, sure Mark, whatever you say. Having the biggest star in the history of the NBA as a part-owner and executive in one of the most basketball-crazy states isn’t good for the game? I need only point to the excitement MJ generated for the Washington Wizards at the beginning of this decade. They might not have gotten better while he was there but they certainly sold more tickets and got more national attention.

I wonder if Cuban’s not at least a little bit jealous that someone is stealing headlines from him during the NBA Finals. While I’m at it, I should mention that it’s fairly disgraceful for an owner to try and overshadow his team while they’re in the midst of their first championship run. Cuban, sit your flabby white ass down and shut up. No one wants to hear that you ate tuna for lunch or that you have gastric distress while watching the games.

4. Finally, finally, finally someone blew the cover off the smoke the Kansas City Royals have been blowing up our asses. It was revealed a few days ago that the Royals revoked the media credentials of two journalists who covered the team and who asked tough questions of ownership and management at a press conference to announce the hiring of new GM Dayton Moore. This was presumably on orders from team owner David Glass who has spent the past several years convincing his fan base and any other moron who would listen that the Royals could not compete against the east coast teams and their vast financial resources, despite receiving an annual revenue-sharing stipend of $30M from the big bad Yankees. Cover’s blown, David. You ran your team into the ground, pocketed the welfare check from Uncle Steinbrenner, and breached public trust in the process. Now you’re acting like a certain resident of the White House with your revocation of media credentials.

This is where Bud Selig comes in. Why is he silent on this matter? Why does Selig feel so compelled to remain silent when one of the flagship franchises of the American League from the 1970’s and 80’s is being stripped away of any value. Where is the value in Selig’s laissez-faire strategy as he watches a once-vibrant baseball market lose interest and focus on other sports with greater passion?

5. And finally, since I’m already hammering away at Selig’s incompetence, how’s this for ridiculous – MLB and the players union have 25 days to come to an agreement on whether or not to extend the “This Time It Counts” theme of the All-Star Game. Yes, you read that correctly. The people that run baseball have waited until the last minute to decide if the result of the All-Star game will count towards homefield advantage in the World Series. Besides the fact that I find the whole concept preposterous, I can’t understand why this little detail couldn’t have been hammered out in the off-season. Selig operates without the requisite sense of urgency that good chief executives should have. That’s why crises both big and small seem to constantly pop up around baseball. The guy simply doesn’t know the meaning of the word proactive.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Boston Poop Sacks

I’ve never liked Kevin Millar – in fact he’s the one player from the 2003-2005 Red Sox that I probably hated the most* – but this gag is just tops in my book.

From the Boston Globe:

“Kevin Millar, who was in the Twin Cities with Baltimore over the weekend, left a gift for Francona in the visiting manager’s office. The gift: a bag of dog poop. “It said, ‘Here’s to Francona,’” the skipper recounted. “I opened it, reached in, I didn’t realize what it was. I just called him back and said, ‘Any chance you had of ever coming back here just went right down the toilet with that bag.’”

*MJ’s Top 10 Most Hated Red Sox (2003-2005):

1. Kevin “Scuzz” Millar
2. Curt “Faker” Schilling
3. “Manny Being Manny” Ramirez
4. Mike “Texas Klansman” Timlin
5. Keith “Queer As” Foulke
6. Jason “Wimpy” Varitek
7. Doug “Dirty Game” Mirabelli (aka “Poor Man’s AJ Pierzynski”)
8. Gabe “All Juice” Kapler
9. Trot “More Juice” Nixon
10. Pedro “Daddy” Martinez^

^Note: Now that he’s on the Mets, I can’t help but really like Pedro’s off-beat personality. While on the Red Sox, however, I found him to be beyond annoying.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

When White People Get Restless

You know what happens when a white guy gets restless? He goes on a motorcyle without a helmet, because he feels invincible. If I had a Super Bowl ring, I’d probably do everything in my power to make sure I don’t get injured in any freakish off-the-field ways. Didn’t Ben realize that his body is truly a multi-million dollar asset? He’s so lucky, and he doesn’t even know it. Maybe he thought he was Collussus from the X-men. That's my best theory.

Anyways, I have some World Cup thoughts I have to get off my chest:

1) I am extremely disappointed with my own selection of Argentina to make the Finals. Argentina is BY FAR, the biggest culprits at “flopping” and pretending to be injured during the game. I’ve never seen anything like it and I feel like I’m rooting for a bunch of cheaters. It's like a team of Vlade Divac's that have spent years at perfecting the form of grimacing and properly timing their tumbles.

2) Cote D'Ivoire’s [Ivory Coast's] midfielders looked great against Argentina, and it helpd them to create a whopping 15 shots on goal. The problem was, their forwards were indecisive and inaccurate and only managed 1 goal, despite the multitude of opportunities. Granted, the midfield helped create 4 solid odd-man rushes. Their next game, in the Group of Death, should be just as exciting. So I would recommend taping the Friday June 16 Netherlands-Ivory Coast game that starts at noon on ESPN2.

3) France – sacre bleu! They still can’t score a goal. It’s the most uncanny phenomenon, how this team has no trouble scoring during friendlies and qualifying (they scored 14 goals in their last 10 games, not great, but still, at least more than a goal per game) BUT when the World Cup finals roll around, everyone is so nervous that they can’t score at all. Anyway, after winning in 1998, France failed to score in 2002, and already has started out with a 0-0 tie on Tuesday. Which means that Korea can practically clinch a berth in the 2nd round with a victory over France on Sunday! Korea has a prime opportunity to really show that they belong in the world’s elite if they can beat down the French. I highly recommend watching the France vs. Korea game on Sunday June 18 at 2:30PM on ABC. What better way to celebrate Father’s day than to give the gift of great soccer? Or at the least seeing the French people get frustrated may be fun.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Raising the White Flag...for victory

As I watched as the over-matched US squad was mauled by the faster, bigger and better Czech squad a few thoughts crept out on my subconscious and onto the blog.

1) What the hell did Slovakia get out of the Velvet Divorce? What once was Czechoslovakia became two nations soon after the fall of the Berlin. The Czech Republic got Prague, sports, women, money and women. What exactly did Slovakia get out of the deal?

2) More importantly…. the days of US hegemony in sports is over. Heck, the days of US winning in sports seems over. While the US soccer team's swan dive on the world stage is depressing let's be frank, they're not the only US sports team that has tripped over its own shoe laces. The US basketball team was a far greater object of ridicule when it couldn't even manage a trip to the championship game. The US baseball team was bypassed by a communist island and the country that invented thunder sticks. Europe thrashed the US at golf during the Ryder Cup. Even the Aussie's beat us at Texas Hold'em. You might point to Lance Armstrong but he's retired now and besides he really was representing his native land of Krypton.

Now rather than watch the US lose or learn to celebrate ties like Trinidad and Tobago I suppose we could refocus our efforts and try harder. But that’s just not the American way. The American way is doing things half-ass. So here at the Back Seat Driver's I propose that we raise the white flag and adopt a new country to root for…possibly getting new citizenship if that’s what it takes. I've already taken the liberty of contacting the State Department on our behalf…I wouldn't try to use your passport any time soon and the FBI might need a few words with us but otherwise I think we're in the clear.

So the question becomes what region/country do we root for/join? Continental Europe? Nah…no spine. Canada? Too few drunken riots. England? Too many drunken riots. India? Too much bubonic plague. The country that I think the Back Seat Drivers should adopt is Australia. No new language requirements. Lots of sun. They have great white sharks and really large beers. Yes, I think this Australia would be a good home. The next step is figuring out when the rugby championships are and celebrate the Aussie victory…..

Shaq Sucks

Since everyone knows how much I detest Shaquille O’Neal and everything about him, I would like to share this quite amusing blurb from’s Page 2. Even ESPN has its uses from time to time…

Headline: “Frustrated Shaq Demands The Ball, Bacon”

“Classy move by Shaq, though, to skip out on the media completely after his five-point game Sunday night. No good one-liners about getting outplayed by Erick Dampier, Shaq? Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the press corps aroar? Not one now to mock your own grinning? Quite chapfallen? (Sorry, I broke into some “Hamlet” there for a second. But I bet Shaq likes “Hamlet.” Mostly because it has “ham” in it.)”

Moe Drabowsky

I pride myself on being an extremely well-informed baseball fan and an amateur baseball historian so I was upset with myself that I’d never heard of Moe Drabowsky before. Besides sharing my nickname, he sounds like one hell of a great character.

Unfortunately he passed away today. But in keeping with his sense of humor, read this, and tell me that the prank he pulled on the Oakland A’s bullpen isn’t one of the funniest things you’ve read in the context of a baseball game. Have a safe trip, Moe. Once in a while, look down at the great game of baseball and send us a hotfoot to know you’re still watching.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Irony and Sports

Irony can be defined as an incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result (2) : an event or result marked by such incongruity (see Koko's guide to the English language second edition). In particular cultural and political events seem ripe with irony. Now irony can be seen in a comedic light but it does not necessarily have to be. Irony can range from the comedic (Jon Stewart) to the dark comedy (Catch 22) to the tragically ironic (Donald Rumsfeld). This week irony seemed to abound in the sports world and commentary is as such needed:

College Baseball: There seems to be unexpected divide between one of the more popular professional sports in America and the college world. On Saturday in between World Cup Games (between celebrating an English victory and a Caribbean fiesta) I saw a 9 pitch top of the second inning between South Carolina and Georgia for what I think is the quarterfinals of the NCAA baseball Championship (I think. In truth I get confused by the regional, super-regional, jumbo sized regional, etc). What made this inning unique was that South Carolina hit 5 home runs, by my count on 6 pitches. That’s back to back to back to back to back home runs. Yet it was barely a blimp in the sports news. College baseball isn’t just less popular in some areas it's not even on the radar and there is the incongruity. With the other major sports - college and professional sports have some overlap but not baseball. Maybe it's because a lot of the great players bypass college and head directly the professionals. College basketball has arguably had a hit to its own prestige when high school players left for the NBA directly. However I believe it may be more of cultural divide between the big urban areas that focus on their beloved professional team while the rural college towns (mainly of the South and Southwest) eschew the professional variety and care for their own brand. Nowhere is college baseball bigger than Louisiana and nowhere does MLB resonate so little.

Mexico v. Iran - Irony was overflowing in this match although the political undertow was the reason for this irony. Mexico has been embroiled in an immigration controversy. The irony is that is has nothing to do with the Northern border. Instead it’s a question being debated of if non-native citizens of Mexico should play on Mexico's World Cup team. Yes, should those born in countries other than Mexico be allowed to represent the country is a question being waged in public. Furthering the irony was that arguably the hero of the game for Mexico was a Brazilian born player who had only recently gained citizenship.

The darker irony was that Iran and Mexico played in Nuremburg stadium. The same stadium one would see in the grainy videos of Nazi rallies. The same stadium that has Nazi architecture and symbols still embedded in it. Yet there was team Iran, whose government has recently courted controversy with what in Germany would be an arrestable offense via Holocaust denial, in Nuremburg. The irony in this case was anything but comedic.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Baseball Thoughts...

I apologize in advance because I’m about to drop 547 words. I haven’t posted in a few days and I’ve got a lot to get out there…

1. Grimsley Fallout?: Don’t kill the messenger, but read this…If it’s true, well, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. I wouldn’t be happy about it, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

2. A Government Agency Gone Mad, Or Why I’m Now On Barry’s Side: The first part of this article is a damn disgrace and, in my opinion, a black eye upon the face of our federal justice system. The vindictive, targeted attack on Barry Bonds simply has to stop. I’ve never liked Bonds, I don’t like him now, and I’ll never like him, but it’s becoming impossible for me not to at least see him as a somewhat sympathetic (or at least pathetic) figure.

I just can’t understand why the feds are so hot for this one guy. Is it because the estate of Babe Ruth is paying protection money to the feds to keep on going after this guy? Obviously not. Is it because he’s rich? It can’t be, because there are plenty of rich people that openly flout federal laws and get away with it. Is it because he’s using drugs? Possibly, even if it’s not “those” drugs, because our ridiculous, selective American morality refuses to live and let live on the drugs issue. Is it because he’s a minority? I wouldn’t put it past our government to institute this sort of semi-legitimate pogrom on a rich black celebrity.

Hell, if it’s back taxes from baseball card shows and autograph sessions, I’m positive Barry Bonds and his people would be happy to work something out with the IRS. Pete Rose and Darryl Strawberry, among others, worked out plea bargains for the same sort of tax violations. But the IRS is freaking out about performance-enhancing drugs. This is just absurd. The IRS has already gotten guilty pleas from the scientists and business people that ran BALCO Labs and from the chief distributor, personal trainer Greg Anderson. Why target users? What’s the point? The feds already have their big fish (Victor Conte and Greg Anderson), so why go after the street-users that are doing no harm to anyone but themselves (if conventional, government-funded scientific reports are to be believed).

To think that the IRS and other federal agencies are now trying to compel other major leaguers to wear wires, turn informant, or otherwise spill the goods about what they know, don’t know, might know, or think they know about Barry Bonds makes the whole investigation seem targeted and farcical. Worse yet, to out a player like Jason Grimsley to the public, to leak a supposedly sealed document as a means of punishing or coercing him to assist in the investigation is extremely vindictive and, frankly, demonstrates that the people going after Barry Bonds are behaving more like rabid dogs than rational agents of our government.

I’m absolutely disgusted by this. I don’t advocate cheating and I certainly don’t advocate breaking the law. But when it rains a shit-storm of trouble on the head of someone that only deserves half of what he’s getting, it certainly doesn’t create or restore my faith in the system.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

More World Cup Predictions

This is an abnormally busy week, but there’s no way I’m letting the World Cup pass without a full preview. So let’s get to it, though I don’t know much:

Group A
Germany will win an incredibly crappy group. Between Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Poland, it’s a crapshoot of course. I’ll go with Ecuador, simply because they are from South America.
Games to watch: Germany vs. Costa Rica – 6/9 – First match of the World Cup

Group B
England will win this group. Sweden should also make it through, though Paraguay could survive if they get really lucky.
Games to watch: England vs. Sweden – 6/20 – (only if it matters, because it’s the last game to be played in the group).

Group C – Group of Death!
Ahh… the dreaded group of death, which requires a game-by-game analysis to determine what will happen. One thing is always true, which is that one of the favorites of this group (Argentina or Netherlands) will not be happy at the end of the group stage.
On a whim, I believe that Ivory Coast is the best African team (as some of us detailed back in December). Ivory Coast will “steal” a tie against Argentina, and a win against the Netherlands in their second outing. The Netherlands will then be desperate against Argentina, who will also be looking to get points to advance, resulting in a classic showdown on June 21, where Argentina will prevail. Argentina should make it through simply because they were eliminated 4 years ago from the Group of Death. Give ‘em some love!
Games to watch: Argentina vs. Ivory Coast – 6/10, Netherlands vs. Ivory Coast – 6/21, Netherlands vs. Argentina – 6/21

Group D –
Angola vs. Portugal should be an interesting match on June 11, at least from a cultural perspective. The soccer won’t be too interesting in this group, as Mexico and Portugal will run away with the group, and what is sad is that they could both be clinched when they play each other in their final game on June 21.
Games to watch: Portugal vs. Mexico – 6/21 (only if it matters)

Group E – US is doomed. Doomed!
Certainly the second-worst group. I hope the Czechs are as injured as everyone claims they will be. Really, it all comes down to the US’s performance in the second game against Italy. Taking down Italy would be monumental, and necessary for the US to advance. I’m guessing that the Czechs and Italy will advance, simply because I feel as though the US’s luck was all used up in 2002. Don’t worry though, this will cause them to be more motivated in 2010 as they will make the semifinals in Freddy Adu’s World Cup debut. (I Know, I shouldn’t look that far ahead).
Games to watch: US vs. Czech - 6/12, US vs. Italy – 6/17, Czech vs. Italy – 6/22, US vs. Ghana 6/22

Group F
Brazil and Australia. Australia is really excited to be here, and their opening match against Japan could propel them to the next round.
Games to watch: Australia vs. Japan – 6/12, Brazil vs. Croatia – 6/13

Group G
France and Korea. The few articles I read have all written off Korea as some lucky team from 2002 (they made the semis, thanks to the refs). Anyways, they really impressed me, and I believe they will find a way to get past Switzerland, the other contender in this group.
Games to watch: France vs. Korea – 6/18

Group H
Spain and Ukraine. A very weak group. I don’t plan on watching any of the games from this group.
Games to watch: None.

Round of 16
Germany over Sweden – Germany has the home crowd
Argentina over Portugal – Portugal will be happy w/ the round of 16.
Italy over Australia – Italy has too much power.
France over Ukraine – Ukraine is weak.
England over Ecuador – England will advance.
Ivory Coast over Mexico – Upset special – Ivory Coast makes it through! It’s pandemonium!
Brazil over Czech Republic - Wow. What a 2nd round game, but I’m assuming the Czechs are dinged up.
Spain over Korea – Spain will be out for blood after losing to Korea because of the refs in 2002.

Elite 8
Argentina over Germany – if this happens, there will be rioting. Even if Germany wins, there will rioting.
Italy over France – France has a lot of older players from ’98 still.
England over Ivory Coast – the run finally ends.
Brazil over Spain – cakewalk.

Final 4
Argentina over Italy
Brazil over England

Brazil over Argentina – its hard to pick against Brazil.

Cheers and Jeers: German Hooker Edition


This week all roads go through Germany. Dirk is the key element in my mind for the NBA finals and the World Cup kicks off in Germany on Friday. Now in Germany this week, outside of the normal prostitutes (hookers if you will) patrolling Die Deutschland over 40,000 outside companion specialist will be shipped in to provide a little extra comfort. Now thats a booming industry. Anyway without further adu....

Cheers: To predictions. I have the Mavs winning in 5. The matchups to watch I think are three fold: 1) Shaq v. Mavs Tempo. The second Josh Howard v. Dwayne Wade. And finally Dirk versus himself. Shaq is playing well and if the tempo is right will run over the Mavs front court. However I think Avery Johnson will play an up tempo basketball and run the slightly out of shape big man into the ground. Wade and Howard is the next key. Yes I know Terry is starter but Howard is the defensive stopper and Wade has struggled against Howard's tight defense. If Howard's gimpy ankle holds up, the Heats offense will be in big trouble. The last matchup is Screaming German versus himself. Udonis Haslem is not tall or quick enough to guard Dirk. James Posey isn't strong enough or tall enough. Dirk has the jump shot all day. If Dirk plays the way he did last series the Mavs will bury the Heat.

Cheers: To More Predictions. I have the Brasileiros winning in Europe. Now while Team Green has more talent than any two teams combined and their fans bring the spirit and whistles of Carnivale - they're going against history. Only once before in all of World Cup (which as far as I know goes back to 1998) has a non-European team won on European soil. Nonetheless those Samba King's overwhelming talent is going to beat the field and go down into history as one of the greatest soccer teams of all time. My prediction is Brasil 3 England 1 in the Finals. Suck on that one Trebek.

Cheers: Roger Clemen's in Single A ball. His son (the third baseman) approached him and with a tear in his eye said to his dad "Dad, you need to strike one of these guys out, so the fans get free washer fluid" Clemens stepped up and delivered the gift giveaway to the fans. True story.

Jeers: Jason Grimsley. Oh wait, Human Growth Hormones are in baseball? Really? I'm shocked. Just shocked that this is/was happening.

Cheers: To Jon Tester, winner of the Democratic primary in Montana. I don't have a clue about his positions or policy stances or even what he looks like but I do know that his official campaign vehicle is an 18 wheel truck that he often drives around. Now thats cool!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

2nd Annual NBA Finals Preview

As always, I’m extremely excited for the NBA Finals. Last year, I used Star Wars quotes to spice it up. This year, I’m using another great trilogy: Indiana Jones. FYI – I don’t remember most of these quotes, but the Internet remembers everything.

1. “You can't do this to me, I'm an AMERICAN.” – this one goes out to Shaquille O’Neal, as he faces the prospect of getting SHUT DOWN by the Super Senegalese, DeSagana Diop. Diop [pronounced Jop rhyming with “mop”] has gone from NBA draft lottery bust to shutting down Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal in the same playoff year. It’s an unbelievable turn of events. Diop was drafted by the Cavs, and as a Cavs fan, we always knew he could play some defense. Apparently, he just needed the motivation of unemployment (he wasn’t even signed until the very end of last year’s free agency period by the Dallas Mavericks). The motivation of unemployment allowed him to focus on losing enough weight to get rid of his man-boobs as he is now prepared to take down the best center in America.
Advantage: Mavs

2. “You're not the man I knew ten years ago.” – this one goes out to Gary Payton. 10 years ago, he was in his prime and he and his buddy Shawn Kemp somehow took Michael Jordan and the Bulls to 6 games (though the Bulls were up 3-0 before letting 2 games slip away). Anyway, Gary Payton is a shell of his former self, and it makes me sad whenever I see him play, and I hope he just retires already, win or lose.
Advantage: Mavs

3. “Again we see there is nothing you can possess which I cannot take away.” – this one goes out to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Money has allowed him to possess everything in the world, except the Holy Grail itself, the NBA championship trophy. Something tells me this is his time.
Advantage: Mavs

4. “I can only say I'm sorry so many times.” – this one goes out to Jason Terry. The Mavericks were up 3-1 and then Jason Terry punched one of the San Antonio Spurs in the balls, helping to set off a chain reaction that almost resulted in their elimination… almost. He is sorry though. He even wrote me an apology for his first public apology where he claimed he didn’t actually make contact with Michael Finley’s groin.
Advantage: Heat (Terry may mistakenly punch another groin)

5. “I always knew some day you'd come walking back through my door. I never doubted that. Something made it inevitable. So, what are you doing here in Nepal?” – this one goes out to Mark Cuban and Antoine Walker. Antoine Walker spent one forgettable season on Dallas where he shot a pathetic 27% from 3-point land, in 82 games! (Granted, Walker is only a 33% career shooter from 3-point land, but he likes it out there.) Cuban shipped him out as fast as possible, to the Siberia of 21st-century basketball, the Atlanta Hawks.
Advantage: Mavs

6. “The Ark of the Covenant, the chest that the Hebrews used to carry around the Ten Commandments.” -to NBA Commissioner David Stern, who no longer has to carry around the Ark that carries the NBA Championship trophy.
Advantage: Even

7. “Stay behind me Short Round, step where I step and don't touch anything.” – to Dirk Nowitzki, as he tries to guide his team, and coach Avery Johnson who is the closest thing to Short Round in this series, past the Heat. You can’t stop Dirk, you can only hope to contain him. Granted, the Heat have Wade and Shaq to guide their team. In the end though, I feel like Dallas has more options. I don’t trust Jason Williams or Antoine Walker to come through too often (yes, I know they were hot in the last series). Dallas is just a lot deeper and seems to have an edge, as long as Dirk is leading the way. Dallas can use Josh Howard, Marquis Daniels, and Devin Harris, who are all fast enough to keep up with Wade. I know that sounds ridiculous, but Dallas really has enough quicker guys to keep up with Wade. If you look back at Miami’s run, Chicago actually had some people who could keep up with Wade, and they were able to steal 2 games, and Chicago didn’t even have a Dirk, or any type of frontcourt. I’ve noticed a similar theory expressed on cnnsi, even though I already thought that Dallas has the horses to at least slow down Wade.
Advantage: Mavs

8. “But choose wisely, for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.” - to the coaches. This is quite interesting. Avery Johnson was groomed to be the head coach by Don Nelson who, as most of us know, has absolutely no clue what he is doing. Yet somehow, in Avery’s FIRST FULL season, he has guided the Mavs to the NBA Finals. It’s unbelievable. It’s almost as if Avery wrote down every mistake that Nelson was making and is able to somehow correct it. Meanwhile, the Heat have Pat Riley as their coach, who became the coach yet again only because of a coup d’etat, as he eliminated Stan Van Gundy (the round, fat Van Gundy who has a porn-star moustache). Anyways, Pat Riley already has 4 championships to his credit, and is the proud trademark owner of 3-peat (funny thing is, he didn’t actually get the 3-peat, after he coined the term, but Jordan did not long after! Ultimately, this series should be a close, exciting battle to the finish. But the roster on the Mavs side is just too daunting, with too much flexibility. In addition, I believe that Avery Johnson can do this, and Pat Riley will not be able to stop him.
Pick: Mavs in 6

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Village (Of Bristol) People

What sort of ESPN hater would I be if I didn’t post this great picture, courtesy of the folks at In anticipation of another four-game series between the Yankees and the Red Sox, I’m just dying to know what sort of trite, subjective, Boston-centric reporting will flow from the mouths of the flaming fools in Bristol, CT.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Baseball, Injuries and a Quick Soap Box

Injuries are a fact of sports life. They affect nearly all outcomes are the worry of GMs, managers and fans. In football some injuries can be overcome through depth and strategy others seem more fatal. In basketball injuries rarely can be overcome. The Sun Championship hopes went down in flames with Amare's knee and their chances of beating the Mavs plummeted with Raja Bell's quad. Baseball I would argue is a little different. Baseball has a developmental system that separates out the great systems from merely great teams. Baseball also (well soccer too) allows teams to trade or sometimes purchase other players to bolster a team's chances. This week a series of injuries hit and how severe the injuries turn out to be and how those teams deal is crucial to their playoff hopes

Albert Pujols: Well the Cards and their fans are collectively holding their breath as Albert heals his oblique muscle. For those out there without an oblique muscle that is the thing that allows you to twist - this apparently is important in swinging the bat. The Cards need to hold serve in a matter speaking (i.e. not tank) until the Great One returns. Meantime its puts added pressure on the quiet Cards management to trade for an outfielder to get some run production without their star.

Mariano Rivera: He should be back by tomorrow with no lingering back spasm issue but what if it's reoccurring? Rivera has really been the only thing that seems immune from criticism in New York. Their outfield is already hanging together with bubble gum, shoe string and Macgyver's pocket knife. Rivera being on and off the injured list would result in a city wide suicide watch.

Mike Maroth: Of all the injuries this is currently the most serious. This week Maroth required surgery to remove bone chips in his pitching elbow. Right now the reports out of Detroit claim that he'll be back by August or September. Call me a skeptic (heck call me Ishmael) but I'm doubtful on this one. Surgery on a control pitchers, pitching arm…..Detroit better hope Zach Minor works out or that first playoff berth in 400 centuries might be going down the tubes.

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Soap Box Side Note: For all the problems this country has with race and ethnicity, I'm incredibly thankful and proud that it has limited public sports spillover like in Europe or at least relative to Europe. The NYTimes discusses the unfortunate rise in racist behavior towards black players, specifically in Europe, in ways that are hard to imagine occurring in a professional sports venue in any US city today. As much we expect athletes to act professionally at all times, if any the black players decide to beat the crap out a fan….I fully support it. There are always limits in far fans can go in how they treat opposing players, racist/ethnic slurs are certainly out of bounds. The fact that nonwhites can't safely travel to parts of Germany to enjoy the World Cup is a stain on World Cup and Germany.