Thursday, August 31, 2006

National League Wild Card

From Jim Caple of

“Dilemma. With the Marlins roaring back into the wild-card picture, do you cheer for the low-budget team with a chance to reach the World Series despite a $15 million payroll? Or do you root against a miserable owner who screwed over the city of Montreal, drastically cut his payroll, demands the taxpayers build him a new stadium despite taking in far more money in revenue-sharing than he shells out in payroll and is so petty he might fire manager Joe Girardi despite the team’s success? The answer: We’ll root for the Giants, Reds, Padres, Phillies and Astros.”

Personally, I’m rooting for the Reds and Phillies. The Padres are too dull, the Giants are impossible to root for with Barry Bonds on the roster, and enough is enough with the Astros who score less frequently than a pimply-faced, malodorous nerd.

* * * * *

To follow up on Gutsy’s sentiments, I love this blog and I’m happy to wish it a happy 2nd birthday. May I continue to contribute to its “terrible twos” and beyond. Thanks to Gutsy and Mighty for being our fearless leaders.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Happy 2nd Anniversary to BSD and 2006 NFL Preview

Not only is the NFL season upon us, but it also represents the 2nd Anniversary of the Back Seat Driver’s founding. Last year’s anniversary column revealed a number of interesting things, such as the fact that 259 posts were made in the 1st year.

This year was a much more verbose period for BSD. Granted, the first year really didn’t have as many writers until much later in the NFL season (if not the MLB season). This year… the unofficial count is… 543 posts! In addition, this is exactly the 803rd post of the blog, according to

Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to do the breakdown of the posts by author, as I did last year. This year has been another year of stellar growth for BSD, as pictures and mytube videos have really spiced up the articles.

I will reiterate what I said last year, “I just wanted to thank Mighty Mike for his foresight in creating this blog, which has provided joy to jedi across the galaxy. In addition, his contribution to this very article was also helpful!” If Mighty Mike should be defeated by a corned beef sandwich before he reads this, then I would like to thank the new editor, Chunky Corned Beef Sandwich.

In addition, I would like to thank all of the other contributors (alphabetically): 24, Beth, Colonel Sanders, Hart, Jon, Josh Pho Minh, Laz, MJ, Mr. Nonymous, Publius. Some may have contributed more than others. For example, I don’t even recall “24” ever submitting anything. Nor do I recall “MJ” submitting any articles.

Alas, it’s time to get down and dirty… its time for the NFL preview! Many topics for this upcoming season have been covered already on Back Seat Drivers, so I will try my best to keep things as simple, fresh, and relatively brief as possible.

AFC East
1. New England – I just don’t see them losing their stranglehold on what has become a relatively weak division.
2. Miami – It’s possible if Culpepper regains his 2004 form that the Dolphins would overtake the Patriots. Honestly though, Culpepper tore all 3 ligaments in his knee so his comeback is the least likely of the 4 Horsemen of Injured QBs (Culpepper, Brees, Palmer Roethlisberger), especially considering Culpeppter’s mobility was a big part of his success.
3. NY Jets – probably the worst 3rd place team in the NFL. And their coach is a Mangina.
4. Buffalo – possibly the worst 4th place team in the NFL. Even Willis McGahee needed extra time to get back to 100% when he tore 3 ligaments. Maybe in the Miami-Buffalo game, Culpepper and McGahee can have some special alone time to talk about it.

AFC North
1. Pittsburgh – I hate them, but its hard to pick against them. Even after losing “emotional” leader Jerome Bettis.
2. Cincinnati – The big question mark is obviously Carson Palmer… the big certainty is jail time and parole for the other players.
3. Cleveland – they have a chance to be marginally better than the Ravens.
4. Baltimore – I’m just hoping the wheels fall off this year, and Ravens coach, Cobra Commander yells out “retreat!” I also find it strange how they keep adding Titans to their roster who were really good a few years ago (D. Mason, S. Rolle, and now S. McNair)

AFC South
1. Indianapolis – they still have a great team despite choking against the Steelers in the playoffs last year.
2. Jacksonville – the benefits of an easy division is that they are in position to make the wildcard each year. The problem this year is that they play the NFC East, where its possible to go 1-3, or even 0-4. Last year, Jacksonville played the NFC West and went 3-1. I think this could mean the difference in them not making it, though they are a good team.
3. Houston – who knows? Maybe they’ll finally improve a little bit.
4. Tennessee – certainly another rebuilding year for the state that has a “raccoon” as its official animal.

AFC West
1. Denver – They picked up Javon Walker from Green Bay, who’s coming off a knee surgery. They are solid on both sides of the ball, but this division can still be tricky, its just that Denver is the safest pick.
2. San Diego – Everything’s riding on a virtual rookie QB, Philip Rivers, and I just can’t think of the last time a QB played well in his 1st year after substantial dormancy. (Culpepper on Minnesota maybe? Pennington’s 1st and only good year?). Because Rivers has a reliable LT and Gates to rely on, I’m going to predict that they sneak into the postseason!
3. KC – KC’s got a good team, but their offensive line is very questionable for the first time in a while.
4. Oakland – I fully expect Aaron Brooks to shine in Oakland. Almost every veteran QB that goes to the Raiders revitalizes their career to some degree (see Jeff Hostetler, Jeff George, Rich Gannon). In addition, Aaron Brooks has a wildly inaccurate, but strong arm. It’s very similar to when Minnesota used Randall Cunningham to just chuck the ball down the field to Randy Moss. Granted, even if Aaron Brooks shines, the defense is still a mess on Oakland.

AFC Playoffs

6-San Diego over 3-Pittsburgh – Due to his offseason motorcycle accident, Roethlisberger has no face, so there’s no way he’ll see the oncoming Shawn Merriman. This game should provide plenty of old footage of that 1994 AFC Championship game when San Diego went into Pittsburgh and somehow won with Stan Humphries as the QB and Natrone Means Business as the RB.

4-New England over 5-Cincinnati- Cincy will have to wait until next year. Only if Carson’s healthy will the Bungles get a better position than going to New England.

1-Indy over 6-San Diego – Classic revenge game. San Diego wrecked Indy’s perfect season last year which sent Indy into some kind of strange tailspin.

2-Denver over 4-New England – No one will expect Denver to win twice in a row, but I see the game coming down to a kick for New England in Mile High, and without Vinatieri, there’s no given the Pats can do it.

1-Indy over 2-Denver – Indy had one of the better defenses last year, and this year should be no different. Losing Edgerrin James should not be a big deal as long as the O-line is intact.

NFC East – biggest crapshoot of all
1. NY Giants – Could Eli meet up with Peyton in the Super Bowl???
2. Philly – as my friend Paul pointed out, obviously, the conspiracy theory is that the whole reason the TO situation got out of hand last year and TO was forced out of the games, was so that they could bring in Jeff Garcia this year as a backup. Obviously.
3. Dallas – TO rocks. Except when he sleeps in. I still believe the downfall of this team is the immobile QB Drew Bledsoe, and if even QB Tony Romo-cop steps in, they will be better off. Think about this – both of TO’s QBs that were successful at getting him the ball [McNabb, Garcia] were elusive enough to buy enough time for TO to get down field and get separation.
4. Washington – Portis is dinged up at the beginning. The difference between succeeding and failing in the NFC East could come down to just starting 0-2.

NFC North – still pretty weak
1. Chicago – I’m expecting QB Brian Griese to be in charge of this team and take them to a 2nd-round bye due to a very weak schedule (playing the NFC West and the AFC East).
2. Detroit – Coach Rod “Sensei” Marinelli should have his players worked up into a frenzy all season long. Plus, Martz as offensive coordinator always finds ways to score points, which has certainly been the bigger problem for the Lions the last few years. “There is no pain in this dojo. NO Sensei!” I was going to annoint them the “sleeper team”, but its just going too far.
3. Minnesota – Brad Johnson is QB. Is this 1998?
4. Green Bay – The “Farewell Favre” tour begins and ends in the cellar of the division.

NFC South – holy moly, always a tough division
1. Carolina – I’ve chosen the Panther in the Super bowl, or to win the super bowl for each of the last 2 seasons. Honestly, I was prepared to pick them for a 3rd, but too many people have jumped on this bandwagon, so I’ll just jump off of it for now. They still will go far though.
2. Atlanta – I may be the only person who still thinks Vick can improve.
3. Tampa Bay – Should be a much tougher road to the playoffs, what with this division playing the NFC East and the AFC North.
4. New Orleans – I’m excited to see how the Deuce-Reggie backfield is going to work.

NFC West – holy moly, always a crappy division
1. St. Louis – Craziness, I know. St. Louis is switching to a run-oriented offense based on S. Jackson. If Seattle falls to the curse of the Super Bowl champion, St. Louis has the best chance in this division to “seize the day” and the division title, and hence, their switch to a sensible offense, and a reasonable head coach is the basis for me adopting them as my “sleeper team.”
2. Seattle - The last 7 Super Bowl losers have failed to get back to the playoffs. Shaun Alexander is on the cover of Madden, Alexander had a ridiculous amount of carries last season, and they lost their top offensive lineman. That seems like enough superstitious reasons to pick them out of the playoffs. Gotta love superstitions! [Please note: I have no real reason for doing this other than the superstitions].
3. Arizona - I just don’t know when they will turn that corner. Maybe next year, when they have the new stadium.
4. San Fran – Yawn.

NFC Playoffs

3-NY Giants over 6-Philly – great rivalry game. Going w/ home field.
5- Atlanta over 4-St. Louis – St. Louis’s magical run comes to an end.

3- NY Giants over 2-Chicago – Another bye for the Bears, another immediate exit.
1-CAR over 5- Atlanta – CAR always has had Vick’s number

3-NY Giants over 1-CAR – I’m only doing this so I don’t pick CAR.

Super Bowl
1-Indy over 2-NY Giants – I can’t believe I’m doing it, but I’m predicting a Manning vs. Manning showdown. Both have great defenses, which is the main reason they will be having the showdown. I just as easily could have put any of the other NFC East teams in the Super Bowl, as all 4 of them are capable of making the run through the rest of the NFC.

All Baseball All The Time

I’ve been meaning to write an all-baseball post for quite some time. So, without further ado, here are the most interesting things going on in the baseball universe:

1. Roy Oswalt has signed a five-year/$73M contract extension. A great move by the Houston Astros in keeping the franchise ace in town until his 34th birthday. However that, and $1.50 gets you a bottle of water. The Astros offense is horrendous and they, like the Cardinals before them, rested on the laurels of winning the National League pennant in lieu of making any bonafide roster improvements. Oswalt better get used to losing games 4-2 because that’s how it’s going to be unless Astros GM Tim Purpura goes out and gets some hitters.

2. Jon Heyman is reporting that Aramis Ramirez will terminate his contract with the Chicago Cubs and explore the free agent market. The article mentions that he would like to come to New York. Quite honestly, Aramis better keep dreaming. The Yankees are not trading for Aramis Ramirez and they’re certainly not going to go into free agency to sign him when they have ARod already. The Padres need a third baseman, as do the Phillies, Angels, and Mariners. Clearly, there will be a market for his services somewhere, although I doubt he’ll get much more than the $11M he’d be leaving on the table from his existing contract.

If the Cubs let him go, however, they’re making a huge mistake. As we have seen, the Cubs offense is feeble, at best. Through 132 games, the Cubs have scored a total of 559 runs, which puts them on pace for 686 for the year (an average of 4.2 runs/game). Without Ramirez, I don’t see how the Cubs score runs next year.

3. In the same Heyman piece, there’s a tidbit about Soriano’s run at the 40-40 club. He’s exceeded my expectations for this year, no doubt. He’s had a career year. But he’s a selfish player, and an overrated one at that.

I’m sure he’ll get his free agent money from the Mets (who need either a second baseman or a left fielder) but, as a Yankee fan, I know his limitations. He’s always been wrapped up in his own stats, going back to the 2002 season when he was one homer away from joining the 40-40 club and he started swinging for the fences in the last week of the season. He ended up screwing up his swing and posted a .brutal 118/.211/.353 in the ALDS vs. the Angels that year. When it comes to Soriano, buyer beware.

4. The fat fuck formerly known as David Wells is likely headed out of Boston. The rumor is that he’ll be moving back to the National League, either to St. Louis, San Diego, or LA. What does it say about Boston’s confidence when a team with the 11th worst AL ERA (out of 14 teams) and 25th worst overall (out of 30 teams) ERA is selling pitching? I guess Boston is calling it a season. For a team that won the World Series less than two years ago, it didn’t take the Red Sox (and their $120M opening day payroll) long to find themselves behind the eight-ball.

Obviously there are still 30 games left to be played and the Red Sox could mount a comeback at any time. But if I were a Red Sox fan, I’d be pissed that they’re trading Wells and seemingly waving the white flag.

5. One more thing about the Red Sox. They’ve got to be worried about Big Papi’s heart arrhythmia. That offense is pure crap without Papi and Manny in the middle. Not to start rumors or anything but a man with a melon that size and sudden heart trouble? Sounds like steroi...nah, couldn’t be, right?

6. I think this is a really cool little factoid, courtesy of ESPN:

“The Tigers and Yankees met with both teams 25 or more games over .500 for the first time since Sept. 17, 1961.”

It’s hard to believe that it’s been since the days of Mantle, Maris, Colavito, and Kaline since both teams were at the top of their game. Crazy.

Cheers and Jeers: Manhatten Dry Edition


This weekend I will be going on a tour to check out how the various Back Seat Driver columnists are doing. This trip also includes several high level meetings in New York City with a prospective corn beef sandwich. I feel that the sandwich could add a lot. Now you might be wondering why not get everyone in one location? Well according to the Astronomy Department we have here at the online magazine this could result in a quantum singularity causing a breach between time and anti-time (For those unfamiliar with the concept of quantum singularities or anti-time I would recommend either Mad Marty's Pop Up Book of Astro-Physics or Quantum Mechanics for Idiots). Until this problem can be contained we'll continue avoiding massive columnists gathering. Anyway onto some cheering and jeering….

Cheers: To the final 4 of the World Basketball Championships. Favorites Argentina, Spain, Euro Champ Greece and the dark horse USA. Yes I know just about every national basketball columnist predicted that team USA would trip over their shoelaces or whatever but the plucky band of no names somehow beat Germany to make it.

Cheers: To Ryan Howard. At the start of season I cheered the thought of what Howard could do in his second season (not too shabby, eh?). I didn't predict that he would go all MVP on the NL and help push Philly into a Wild Card race.

Jeers: To rumors of Carson Palmers demise. The former-Heisman winner looked cool, calm and collect as he picked apart some arena football league team (better known as the Green Bay Packers). It's always nice to see a player return from an injury.

Jeers: To Katherine Harris. I think it's fair to say that bashing Harris is almost bi-partisan at this point (the RNC is no longer giving her an official endorsement). According to Harris non-Christians are not qualified to hold public office. Which given my Zoroastrian practices I guess means that I'm not qualified. Well maybe also because of my attempts to form a Southwest Republic with Aaron Burr.

Cheers: To the return of college football. This week's GAME OF THE WEEK is FSU v. Miami on Monday. Nothing beats a good college rivalry. Well maybe a martini.

And here's the newest portion of Cheers and Jeers - cheers and jeers in the news

"These questions about cheers and jeers aren't going anywhere. If cheers and jeers practices, cheers and jeers will play. It's that simple"

-Bill Parcells

More Quick Hits

1. As Ron Burgundy would say, “I’m in a real pickle here.” For those that don’t know, I’m the American-born only child of two Greek immigrants. So, with Team USA beating the Germans, the United States will face Greece in the semifinals of the 2006 FIBA World Championship. What am I going to do? Who will I root for? In order to figure this out, I’ll have to use the old reliable method of listing out the pros and cons of each outcome:

Team USA Wins:

-Team USA is one step closer to once again being thought of as the best basketball playing nation in the world (pro);
-Team USA is one step closer to spitting in the eye of the pessimists and haters who did not predict their success (pro);
-Larry Brown looks like a giant loser for failing with a similar roster at the 2004 Olympics (pro); and
-I am no longer welcome at family get-togethers (con)

Greece Wins:

-A small nation of 11 million people (74th most populous nation in the world) beating a world superpower (pro);
-Greece can continue to claim itself as the best basketball-playing nation in Europe (pro);
-I can celebrate a Greek victory with a lunch of souvlaki (pro);

As much as I’d love any opportunity for Larry Brown to look like a bigger loser, I value my family and souvlaki much more. Team USA can win the 2008 Olympics but the Greek national team might not have this kind of opportunity again. Despite winning the 2005 Eurobasket Championship, Greece is still not known as a world basketball powerhouse. Beating the US would go a long way to giving my ancestral home some much-needed national pride. I’m going with my heritage and pulling for Greece.*

2. In his penultimate Daily Quickie column, my favorite whipping boy announced that his vote for AL MVP is Frank Thomas. Frank Thomas is not in the top 50 in win shares by major league players. He is only 5th in win shares among designated hitters. He is not in the top 50 in runs created by major league players. He is 11th and 14th in the AL in homers and OPS, respectively. He is a full-time DH on a team with the lowest batting average in the major leagues. I’m sorry, Frank Thomas is not the AL MVP. He’s not even in the conversation. He could, and probably should, win the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award but that’s it.

Now I know why Shanoff is quitting – ESPN fired him for making a mockery of sports journalism.

3. I’m not a big believer in the whole concept of team chemistry. I think when a team stinks and loses most of its games, the chemistry is bad because losing is toxic. By contrast, when a team wins a lot of games, chemistry is good because everyone enjoys winning. That’s why I think the whole Red Sox “Cowboy Up/Idiots” thing from 2003-2004 was a joke. The Red Sox didn’t win because the entire team grew silly facial hair, didn’t shower, and drank a lot of whiskey before games; they won because they had Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, and Keith Foulke on the mound and Damon, Papi, and Manny wreaking havoc at the plate.

That being said, the whole team chemistry thing is something that fans can get behind. Reading this as a Yankee fan makes me realize that I’ve enjoyed the 2006 Yankees more than any Yankee team since 2001. Win or lose, World Series be damned. This is a fun bunch to root for and it’s made being a baseball fan a lot more fun.

*If Team USA beats Greece, obviously I’m rooting for the Americans to beat the winner of the Spain/Argentina match-up.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

All Time Stupidest Sports Injuries

Here in New York, there is all sorts of debate and speculation surrounding the news that Carl Pavano broke two ribs in a car accident that took place over two weeks ago. Given the fact that he hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since last June 27th and because some of his injuries (bruised buttocks) have been borderline ridiculous, a lot of folks around here think that the accident and the broken ribs are an excuse for him to simply not pitch.

I don’t think we’ll ever find out the truth behind Pavano’s latest setback. But this list has the all time stupidest sports injuries. It’s a pretty funny read.

2006: The Year of the Knee

So after downing a whole fifth of Vodka and some Lemp beer, I nervously watched the Bungals of Cincinnati face the Packers of Green Bay. My hopes and dreams of making up for Akili Smith and KiJana Carter lay on watching how Carson Palmer's surgically repaired would respond by an attack by KGB. Unfortunately I had to wait until 5 minutes into the game because the Bengals couldn't even win the coin toss. Was this a sign of something to come. I had to wait longer after Favre threw a pick and the Bengals ran it back (it was starting to look like my previous game as the Bengals on Madden). Then Carson came in and 140 yards and 3 TDs later, Carson Palmer was back at the helm of the SS Bungal. Unfortunately Cincinnati plays one of the toughest schedules this year (especially those two games against the Browns) so they probably won't have a record any better than 10-6. But, all of Cincinnati will be happy that their "3rd times a charm" first rounder is back at the head. And many fantasy teams are very happy I am sure.

Quick Hits

Not much time to write these days so I’ll make it quick:

1. The USTA National Tennis Center was renamed in honor of Billie Jean King. I’m one of the few tennis fans left in this country but I think this is a good story. Billie Jean King has done a tremendous amount of good in the world of sports and it’s nice that she gets her well-deserved honors here in New York, at the home of the U.S. Open.

That being said, I’ve never been to the U.S. Open. It’s outrageously priced and has become an event for the elitist scum that populates most of New York’s upper class. $300 tickets, overpriced food and drinks, who needs it? Sports like tennis wonder why it can’t sustain grassroots fan interest. I don’t think it would kill the USTA if it seriously re-thought its pricing in order to allow more New Yorkers access to the only major tennis tournament played in this hemisphere.

2. Proving that you can come home again, even if you poured gasoline all over the place and burned your house down and then stole the insurance money to bet on three-legged horses, the Golden State Warriors have decided to re-hire Don Nelson as their head coach.

Apparently the six years that Nelson spent in Golden State from 1989-1995, a period in which the Warriors only went 9-15 in the playoffs, didn’t dissuade Warriors management from rolling the dice on the fat, drunken fool one more time. In June, 1994, Nelson traded three first-round draft picks for Chris Webber. One season later, he traded Webber to Washington and set the franchise on the doomed path it has been on ever since. I guess the fact that the Warriors haven’t been to the playoffs since Nelson famously destroyed the franchise doesn’t bother anyone in Golden State management.

And no one thinks there’s extreme racism in the hiring practices of professional teams? Can you name a bigger re-tread than Don Nelson?

3. The biggest problem with baseball, in my opinion, is that, unlike the NFL, Bud Selig and the other baseball owners don’t do a good enough job vetting prospective new owners. Case in point: Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. A New York art dealer and gallery owner, Loria first purchased the Montreal Expos. He proceeded to run them into the ground, starving the major league club to the point that an entire roster of All-Stars* were playing in cities other than Montreal. Further, he was the only owner not to sell television or radio rights to the team in the local market. And yet, he was allowed to purchase the Florida Marlins from Wayne Huizenga.

Now, despite the Marlins playing with a $14M payroll, Loria wants to fire rookie manager Joe Girardi. The Marlins are only two games out of the National League Wild Card race. What sort of owner allows himself to be such a distraction to his team in the middle of such a miracle season? His team is overachieving. He’s probably raking in the dough. He needs to shut the hell up and let Girardi do his job without interference or headaches from his boss.

*Vladimir Guerrero, Cliff Floyd, Moises Alou, Larry Walker, Rondell White, Marquis Grissom, Wil Cordero, Mark Grudzielanek, John Wetteland, Pedro Martinez, and Dennis Martinez all made at least one All-Star team under Loria’s watch.

Monday, August 28, 2006

MMBSD: Pre-Season Thoughts

Gleaning facts from pre-season football is typically a risky if not fool-hardy adventure. You might as well as try to predict Keanu Reeves future in show business from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. However where the normal fear to tread I shall try to pick out a few general trends from my pre-season watching.

After hiring Gallop to take a survey of pre-season football watchers I feel even more confident in my first observation: teams are blitzing. Yes, some of you might snicker and say is that really newsworthy but I say it is. Typically in the pre-season team defenses are vanilla. Heck a few years ago teams would scheme beyond vanilla (which I think is some combination of beige and grey). This year, however, teams are blitzing. What does this augur? Well one of two things… 1) teams just assume that other teams will prepare for blitzing packages so might as well practice them now and/or 2) We're going to some exotic blitzing schemes come the regular season. The NFL is a copy cat league. After Tampa Bay won it all, the cover-2 scheme seemed to dominate. Pittsburgh's recent ascendancy would predict mad blitzes to stop not only the pass but also the run.

I think Tom Rick's is getting the book rights to Fiasco II: The Terrell Owens Adventure in Dallas. Terrell Owens through his skill on the field and larger than life personality was able to turn his initials into a household word. However after the end of the Philly incident Owens was obviously on a thin rope. The media would predictably pounce on even a hint of controversy. I'm guessing if someone had asked would be willing to bet T.O.'s time in Dallas would end badly I'd say no dice. If someone had said how about willing to bet that things would end badly before the end of pre-season? I bet I could have gotten good odds there. Right now, I'd be getting even odds at best.

Ben Roethlisberger
I was kind of shocked that Roethlisberger did not miss any pre-season time. Roethlisberger spent the off-season recovering from his experience as a human javelin. Cranial facial surgery for multiple hours is no minor arthroscopic surgery. I watched the Pittsburgh v. Philly game and Roethlisberger just doesn't look right. I can't tell if its his release is a little slower or he's not making reads or he no longer has peripheral vision but Roethlisberger just doesn't look good. Roethlisberger has never been a leader in efficiency or play-making (don't make me use the Super Bowl trump card) and degradation of abilities does not portend well for what could be a competitive AFC North.

Quick Hits

I'm keeping my eyes on how Carson Palmer looks. Mentally Palmer still seems a little shell shocked. Andre Agassi makes his final appearance at the U.S. Open today. Agassi, a winner of each of the Grand Slams, deserves the nostalgia and recognition. The U.S. basketball faces Germany on Wednesday at 6:30 am. Set your alarm clocks or tivo. Yes, I know the MLB baseball races going on but honestly everyone seems to be limping to the finish. I'll instead be watching the Jessica Biel v. Jessica Alba cat-fight on the Ocho.

Friday, August 25, 2006


For those that don’t know,’s Daily Quickie will be making its last appearance on August 31st. I don’t know the reason why ESPN pulled the plug on Dan Shanoff’s column. In a weird sort of way, I’ll miss the column, as it’s provided plenty of creative fodder for me along the way.

Here is the latest from that site:

The expulsion of Pluto as an official “planet” in our solar system – and its accompanying frenzy – inspired me to pick out the teams worth banishing from their respective leagues:

MLB: Royals
NBA: Knicks
NFL: 49ers
NHL: Blues
CFB: Duke
CBB: Kelvin Sampson

Duke football barely exists already so if it’s zapped, so be it. Kelvin Sampson is a pretty good coach, but one that probably shouldn’t have been hired as quickly as he was, given the mess he left behind in Oklahoma.

As for the others, I’m just not sold on banishing the Royals, Knicks, 49ers, or Blues. The Royals have been run into the ground by a cheapskate owner and poor management. But at one time, the Royals were the class of the American League. They had Hall of Famer George Brett and All-Stars Willie Wilson, Frank White, Hal McRae, Bret Saberhagen, and Dan Quisenberry playing for a team that went to the postseason seven times from 1976-1985. It would be pretty hard to justify cutting one of the better AL franchises of all time.

The 49ers need no introduction. Before falling on hard times in the past few seasons, the 49ers were still considered one of the best NFL franchises of all time. They dominated the 1980’s and 1990’s and have paraded around the best WR (Jerry Rice) and two of the 10 best QB’s (Joe Montana, Steve Young) in league history.

I’m not the biggest hockey fan in the world (I don’t like hockey at all). But I know the Blues don’t deserve the ax. St. Louis is a very good hockey town with fans that really get behind the club. Before Brett Hull became a hired gun, he made his name and scored most of his goals in St. Louis. With new ownership, the Blues might be able to climb back to respectability soon. If I’m not mistaken, the Blues had a longer postseason appearance streak going than anyone else in sports until this past spring.

Finally, the Knicks. Not only are the Knicks one of the charter members of the NBA, not only do they have an all-time roster that most franchises would die for (Frazier, Monroe, Bradley, DeBusschere, Reed, King, Ewing, and Houston), but they play in Madison Square Garden, a/k/a “The World’s Most Famous Arena.” The Knicks haven’t won a championship in 33 years but they’re still relevant as the basketball team in the media capital of the world.

My choices for expulsion?

MLB: Devil Rays. Worst stadium on earth, no fans, haven’t had a winning season in franchise history, share a market with the minor league Yankees (who outdraw them, incidentally)

NBA: Atlanta Hawks. With all due respect to the great Dominique Wilkins, the franchise hasn’t won a title, can’t draw fans, and has receded into complete insignificance in the NBA.

NFL: Tie – Arizona Cardinals and Baltimore Ravens. The Cardinals franchise has never been good. Not in Chicago from 1920-1959, not in St. Louis from 1960-1987, and not in Phoenix. They’ve got some good players now but I just don’t think anyone would miss the Cardinals if they were gone. I’d like to add the Ravens here because, as far as I’m concerned, they never should’ve come into existence. They were the Cleveland Browns until the league allowed one of its premiere franchises to be relocated. A serious travesty. Plus, there isn’t a single player or coach on the team that can be described as likeable.

NHL: Every team that plays south of the Mason-Dixon. Hockey shouldn’t be played in Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Arizona, Georgia, or southern California. It’s just not real hockey that way. If it never snows there, you can’t play, period.

Rally Round Those Reds/A Sad State of Affairs for the Cards: NL Predictions

Since we focus a lot on the AL, I figured I would give my analysis of the state of the NL. Although, many believe including Bill Simmons that the NL is a joke division, I think it is still important to look at what is going on there.

First off I would like to congratulate the ownership/GM of the Cincinnati Red Stockings. They have made decisions that have been viewed as stupid, but the Reds keep on winning and now they are tied with the Cardinals on top of the NL Central. This team that was once the laughing stock of the National League has turned itself around and is winning baseball games. Could this be 1990 revisited when a lowly Reds team comes up against the formidable opponent of the As (the Yankees) and sweeps them and could Bill Bray, Eddie Guardado and Scott Schoenweis be the new "Nasty Boys"...not likely but getting to the playoffs will make this Reds fan happy.

Second, I would like to make my predictions for the end of the year. Using a method of schedule strength and home field advantage (proven by the mighty wisdom of MJ), I will say that the following:

NL Central: Cards
NL West: Dodgers
NL East: Mets
WC: Reds/Phillies (In a perfect world the Reds would win the NL Central and the Phils would get the WC, leaving Tony LaRussa in the dust)

NL CY: Carlos Zambrano (for all you Cub fans out there)...he has been pitching lights out and to have 14 wins on a team like the Cubs is pretty amazing, Plus he has helped my fantasy team to be within half a point of winning it all

NL MVP: I am going to go out on a limb here...I think that Ryan Howard deserves the MVP. You can talk all you want about Beltran aving a great year, but he has Delgado, Wright, etc around him, but without Howard, the Phillies probably wouldn't be in the WC hunt right now
NL ROY: I want to say Dan Uggla (because I love his last name), but I will say Brian McCann (because I love his first name)
NL Comeback Player of the Year: Should go to the entire Reds organization, however Nomar deserves it
NL Manager of the Year: Jerry Narron hands down (although Willie Randolph could get it, but I think that Narron has a lot less to work with than Randolph and the money of the Mets)

Cheers and Jeers: Liquid Courage Edition


Everyone needs a little Liquid Courage every now and again. This is especially true for football season. The two minute drill is easily one of the most stressful situations known to man. In fact the CIA forces prisoners to watch two minute drills. The other team has the ball and your team is sitting back in the prevent defense your heart stops. A quick 15 yard pass to the sidelines and you can no longer sit down. You begin to pace around like a wild-man, your knees are weaker than Paris Hilton's. Bam! Another 20 yard completion. The opposing team now has the ball in your end of the field. You begin praying to any deity you ever have learned about and some that you haven't (Odin I promise to revive the Norse religion if you can come through). It's to no avail, somehow in that time where you were blinking the opposing team has moved the ball smack dab in the middle of the 15 yard line. Now there is no more pacing or praying - you merely huddle in the good luck corner holding onto a rabbit's foot or whatever talisman you have nearby or if you're a New Yorker your good luck hobo bat, awaiting the inevitable. Somehow your team finally gets a blitzer through, sacking the opposing quarterback. The game is over. You start high fiving people that have wandered in from the streets to catch the end of the game, cars drive by honking horns and you see your neighbor doing back-flips in the yard. Yes in order to survive the 2 minute drill you need a little liquid courage.

Mega-Jeers: To Pluto losing its planetary status. Pluto, formerly, the last of the discovered planets (by an American) was demoted to dwarf status yesterday. Who appointed this science board anyways? Given Pluto's American backers and Pluto being Mickey Mouse's sidekick, this move by the Security Council of Science seems like just another anti-American plot to me.

Cheers: To this handy guide to drinking during football season

Cheers: To Gene Hickerson for becoming a finalist for the NFL Hall of Fame. Hickerson was the great pulling guard for the Cleveland Browns during their glory years. Hickerson blocked for both Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly. When he retired the two main running backs he had blocked for were ranked number one and number four for all time rushing. Its long overdo frankly. (Historical footnote Gene Hickerson replaced Chuck Noll at the guard position)

Jeers: To further articles about why this USA basketball team is doomed. Is this US guaranteed to win it all? Of course they are not. However it seems almost ghoulish the way writers are standing over not yet a lost cause.

Jeers: To the new edition of survivor. If this is some of the responses your going to get from having the tribes divided along the lines of race I would advise you change things up….and soon.

Cheers: To the weekend…'s about time!

SportsCenter Recap

The Good: SportsCenter floated the notion of Jermaine Dye as AL MVP. It's not a bad selection, and one we hadn't thought of a few weeks ago when discussing the award here. Dye is hitting .325 with 37 homers and 99 RBI, good for a 1.041 OPS. The White Sox remain (albeit barely) the wild card leaders, and in substantial part that's due to Dye's leadership. The big knock against him for being MVP is that this team also features Jim Thome and Paul Konerko in the heart of the order, so it's hard to say that "without Dye, this team wouldn't be here." In the end, I don't think Dye will win - but if the Sox hold off the Twins, it'll be hard for my personal selection, Joe Mauer, to be selected from outside the playofffs. The race should come down to Big Papi against Mauer or Dye, whichever is still playing in October.

The Bad: "The Ultimate Bowl Championship" or whatever they're calling the stupid "analysis" that they're doing on SportsCenter this week. If you've missed it, three of these guys discuss a fake tournament of the best college football teams, to try and figure out what would happen if college football had a tournament playoff system. It's a nice idea - in December, maybe. These teams haven't played a down yet, and in light of the major departures from USC and other top programs, there's no way to fairly or accurately assess whether Iowa can hold off Florida State's pass rush. What's worse about this segment is that they take far too long breaking these fake games down, and the really awful part is that they talk about these games as if they're imminent. I'm not sure that Mark May understands that Louisville isn't gearing up to take on the Trojans this weekend.

The Ugly: If you missed it, Sean Casey got thrown out at first base from left field yesterday. I'll say that again: Sean Casey got thrown out at first base from left field yesterday. He hit a liner between third and short that nicked off 3B Joe Crede's glove and rolled into the outfield. He apparently thought that Crede caught the ball, and stopped running and turned around. Oops. Props to LF Pablo Ozuna for never missing a beat in picking up the roller and firing it straight to first. Sean Casey - you're a veteran who should know much, much better than to not to run out a play. That may have played in Pittsburgh, but not in a pennant race.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I'm Back

Back at my desk, back in New York after spending a great five days in Chicago, visiting my college buddies. I attended a Chicago White Sox game in the new-and-improved Comiskey Park and I have to say that it’s one of the best stadiums I’ve ever been to. That’s about the only nice thing I can say about the White Sox, however. Onto baseball...

1. Yanks v. Red Sox. So, obviously, everyone knows the Yankees swept the Red Sox at Fenway Park. This series had several historic footnotes, most notably the fact that the Yankees sweep of the Red Sox represented the first time in American League history that a first place team swept a second place team in a five-game series. It is only the second such sweep, with the 1923 Giants sweeping the Reds in similar fashion.

From a Yankee fan’s perspective, I am both incredibly excited at what the Yankees were able to accomplish but still leery of the possibility of the Red Sox coming back. There is precedent – the 2004 ALCS has permanently scarred every Yankee fan – however unlikely it may be. Case in point, the 2003 Yankees had a 10.5 game lead over the Red Sox in mid-August and, by September 10th, only led the Red Sox by 2.5 games. Considering the fact that the Yankees and Red Sox play four more times in a few weeks, it’s altogether likely that the Yankees will have to win at least two of those games (if not more) in order to have a chance at their ninth consecutive AL East division title. The one advantage the Yankees do have is that while they can play .500 baseball for the remainder of the season, Boston will have to play at a .698 clip in order to move into first.

2. Manny Being Manny. This phrase irritates me. It’s become a catch-all for excusing the bad behavior of a selfish man-child by simply accepting his Hall of Fame talent and overlooking his pathetic behavior. Why is there no one saying “Barry being Barry” about Bonds? Is he not as selfish, self-aggrandizing, and self-involved? Does he not have the same remarkable talent? When I read things like this, I can’t help but wonder how guys like ARod, who play hard and play hurt, who never complain, get such a raw deal. Manny should be called out at every turn. Honestly, that he’s not booed in every stadium for admiring his homeruns, for flipping his bat, for not running out his ground-outs...when did baseball fans get so desensitized to lazy fatsos making $20M?

3. NL MVP. Without the benefit of statistical analysis or anything other than my gut reaction, I think Carlos Beltran should be the 2006 NL MVP. I reserve the right to change my mind after doing a more in-depth analysis but simply eyeballing his stats and watching him up close here in New York, he’s having an incredibly impressive season. If Beltran wins it, he will be the first MVP in New York Mets history. Imagine, 44 years for a franchise to wait for its first league MVP. The Mets have had their share of Cy Young awards – four of them (Seaver ‘69, ‘73, ’75; Gooden ’85) – so I guess it all evens out eventually.

4. David Justice Redux. The last time the Yankees traded for as polished and professional a hitter as Bobby Abreu was in July 2000 when they acquired David Justice from the Cleveland Indians. In his 78 games with the 2000 Yankees, Justice put up an AVG/OBP/SLG of .305/.391/.585 (OPS .976). So far through 22 games, Abreu’s been even better, putting up .388/.495/.553 (OPS 1.048). I’ve never seen a player fit in to his new team as well as Justice did in 2000 until now. Abreu has been a difference-maker for the Yanks this year and I’m so glad he’s here.

That’s it for the baseball, now for some football:

ESPN is reporting that the Redskins, Broncos, and Falcons finalized a three-team trade that will send third and fourth round draft picks from Washington to Denver, WR Ashley Lelie from Denver to Atlanta, and RB TJ Duckett from Atlanta to Washington.

Honestly, I’m not sure I understand this deal from Atlanta’s point of view. Lelie has shown talent but has never been able to fully realize his potential. Furthermore, he has voiced displeasure over his role as a secondary receiver. So now he goes to Atlanta as the likely third receiver on a team that has a QB whose passing abilities are in doubt. This trade is an odd one by the Falcons, if you ask me. Denver is happy to be rid of Lelie and gets a couple of draft picks, not a bad ransom for the mild bust that was Lelie. And Washington, with star RB Clinton Portis’ health in question, gets a very productive backup who can handle the load. Further, as a big back, Duckett might fit in well with Joe Gibbs’ power trap running philosophy. If Portis comes back healthy, the Redskins will now have a great 1-2 punch.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

World Basketball Championship Announcers

I finally caught part of the World Basketball Championships, that are going on in Japan. The games are on early in the morning on ESPN2 I believe, and I was fortunate enough to see a small portion of the US-Slovenia game. The US was stretching a 10-point lead to a 20-point lead at the time. I’m not exactly sure who the announcers were, but the color commentator served up some memorable moments in the 5 minutes I watched. The first comment is completely serious. Try your best to read it without sarcasm:

1) When the US was up 20 points, he said, “This 20 point lead probably scares the US. If Slovenia hits 4 straight 3-pointers, they will be right back in the game.”

Following comments by the play-by-play commentator…
2) “The US cannot be happy with a 20-point lead. I think the goal is to get the lead to 30-points to really demoralize the other team.” [if he didn’t say demoralize, then it was “embarrass.” Either way, the comment is ridiculous.]

Monday, August 21, 2006

Quickie Baseball Notes

As of this writing, the Kansas City Royals are down to perhaps their final “meaningful” game of the season. If the Detroit Tigers beat the Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Indians beat the Kansas City Royals in Tuesday’s games, the Royals will become the first team to be mathematically eliminated from the 2006 playoffs. And if it’s not on Tuesday, then it seems nearly certain that it will be on Wednesday.

For the record, I had the Royals going right around this time.

Also, on a completely separate note, if I were Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi, I’d fire John Gibbons first thing Tuesday morning. You can’t do this stuff and keep your job. This is the second incident where the manager has had a physical confrontation with a player and at this point it’s obvious to me that Shea Hillenbrand wasn’t wrong when he said “the ship was sinking” in Toronto.

Since I just got back from vacation, I’m tired and have a lot of stuff to catch up on. Look for more baseball notes in the next 24-48 hours...

MMBSD: College Football Preview

Ah, College Football…the roar of the 100,000 person crowd, the Saturday noon game, the sound of the fire truck racing to put on the 5 car blaze. Few things can bring tears to my eyes like a hard fought victory or the resulting tear gas to put down the celebratory riot. College football officially kicks off its season in a little more (or less depending on when you read this) than 10 days. As I will be doling out some NFL preview action in the coming weeks MMBSD will focus on its college season preview. Listed below are my picks for Conference Champion and my pick for the BCS championship game. Conferences are listed in increasing competitiveness.

6. Big East:

Contenders: West Virginia, Louisville

Winner: West Virginia.

Why: Last year the Mountaineers surprised everyone when the defeated a sleep walking Georgia team in the Sugar Bowl. All the key starters (QB Pat White, running back Steve Salton, cornerback Jimmy Joe Joe Scubadoo) are back and primed for not only a run in a conference that should be re-classified as a mid-major but a shot out at an undefeated season.

Key Game: Louisville at West Virginia. Nov 2. West Virginia can wrap up the Big East title with a win here.

5. Pac-10

Contenders: USC, Cal, Oregon

Winner: USC

Why: The toughest three games (Oregon, Cal, and Notre Dame) are all home at the Coliseum. Gas was affordable the last time USC lost at home. USC also returns a tough defense and a great recruiting class.

Key Game: Cal at USC (Nov 18)

4. Big 12

Contenders: Texas, Oklahoma (did I really even have to spell it out. If the Big East needs to be demoted to mid-major status, the Big 12 North division needs to be demoted to the UAA and no I don't want the UAA is)

Winner: Oklahoma.

Why: That's what the coin flip told me to put. Oklahoma was the favorite until their starting quarterback decided to go all Florida State and get suspended. Both teams have great defenses, solid offensive lines, premier runners (Oklahoma does get the nod here) and freshman quarterbacks. I'm going with Oklahoma as they get the home game of the Red River Classic and they will be looking for revenge for the beat down Texas gave them last year.

Key Game: Texas at Oklahoma October 7.

3. ACC

Contenders: Miami, FSU, Clemson (darkhorse)

Winner: FSU

Why: Talent, Talent, Talent. Miami's recruiting of late has been pretty lame and as a result Larry Coker is on the hot seat in Hurricane land. Second year Drew Weatherford should grow into an elite passer after taking his lumps as a starting freshman last year.

Key Game: FSU at Miami Sept 4.

2. Big Ten

Contenders: OSU, Iowa, that team up North

Winner: Three way tie

Why: OSU goes to Iowa at night. Iowa goes to the Big House. The Wolverines head to Horseshoe. Winning on the road in the Big 10 is a hard task and very few teams escape without a loss somewhere in the dust and din of a Big 10 schedule. All three of the contenders have solid experienced quarterbacks making rebuilt defenses the key to winning an outright title. I'm very doubtful any team will hold sole first place when the dust clears.

Key Game: If you don't know then obviously your not a golfer....

1. SEC

Contenders: Auburn, Florida, LSU, Georgia

Winner: Auburn

Why: Schedule. Florida plays in the following weeks LSU, at Auburn, Georgia. That’s just brutal. I'm giving Auburn the nod over LSU since Auburn has the home game between the two (also Auburn gets Georgia and Florida on their home turf). If teams can't hold serve on their home court then a monkey playing darts has a better shot making correct predictions than I do.

Key Game: All of them

UPDATE: I did forget my BCS Championship pick, thanks Gutsy

BCS Championship Game: W Virginia v. Notre Dame . W.V. has the easy schedule. Notre Dame has the hype. If Notre Dame is anywhere near the top they will get the nod.
I think the big game then migh end up Notre Dame at USC to decide of the Fighting Irish are going to the big game.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Cheers and Jeers: Hollywood Edition


It is almost football time. This is good for us columnists because when you're posting pictures of Star Trek you know you need more material. Before we strap on our chin straps, lace up the shoes and fire up the Brian Billick voodoo doll perhaps a little Hollywood gazing is in order. Now I know Hollywood folks are simple folks, devoid of ego, focusing only on their craft. However I feel like all their hard work should be rewarded with lists and blogs commentating on their product. Lord knows they do hate the attention but hey I think they'll make an exception for some cheers and jeers. So without further ado….here's my list of top 7 Movies with Football in it (note my contract strictly forbids me from recognizing anything positive about Notre Dame)

1) The Longest Yard (1974 version)

Why you should see it: Burt Reynolds was inducted into the Man Law hall of fame for this movie. I think also Ray Nitschke can be seen actually killing someone in the background.

Best Scene: Last two minutes of the game.

Best Line:

Police Officer: "Why'd you drive her car into the bay?"
Paul Crewe: "Couldn't find a car wash."

2) Mash (the movie)

Why you should see it: While not really a movie about football, the football game steals the show of this Robert Altman classic.

Best Scene: Hmm. So many to choose from but the fake snap to win the game should be game planning for all serious coaches. The other of course being the election of the chief surgeon...

Best Line: so many but here's a good one…

Hotlips O'Houlihan: Oh my God! They've shot him.
Colonel Blake: Hot Lips, you incredible nincompoop. It's the end of the quarter.

3) Any Given Sunday

Why you should see it: Oliver Stones directed probably the most realistic football movie ever made. The cinematography really does make you feel like quarterback blindly searching around for an open receiver. Also count up the number of famous actors and football players…you'll be shocked at the answer.

Best Scene: Either Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) throwing up or The Shark (LT) cutting Beamen's car in half.

Best Line: (guard to QB) "Hey, unless you're gonna kiss me, get your hands off my ass."

4) Remember the Titans

Why you should see it: Denzel at the top of his game….constantly yelling at people. Oh and that underlying theme about racial harmony….

Best Scene: When the assistant coach walks onto the field and calls out the referees for their blatant cheating despite the fact that it costs him a bid for the hall of fame.

Best Line: "We will be perfect in every aspect of the game. You drop a pass, you run a mile. You miss a blocking assignment, you run a mile. You fumble the football, and I will break my foot off in your John Brown hind parts and then you will run a mile. Perfection. Let's go to work."

5) Varsity Blues

Why You Should See It: Just about any spoof movie made about teen movies has a requisite Varsity Blues homage. Also does anyone doubt that Jon Voight acted the same way as just about any other Texas high school coach does?

Best Scene: That's easy, three words…whip cream bikini

Best Line with a twang: 'I do not want your life.'

6) Last Boy Scout

Why You Should See It: I'm pretty sure football operates exactly like it is portrayed in this movie: crazy owners forcing players to shoot up drugs in hopes of making more money…no wait that's baseball. To add creditability to the movie I think Jerry Jones played himself in the movie. Also in his off days Bruce Willis really does serve as a PI so the movie is good insight into Bruce Willis, PI.

Best Scene: Opening scene where drugged up player uses steroids and a gun to try to score.

Best Line: (Willis after finding out his best friend had an affair with his wife)"Sure, sure, it just happened. Could happen to anybody. It was an accident, right? You tripped, fell on the floor and accidentally stuck your d*ck into my wife. "Oops, I'm sorry, Mrs. H, I guess this just isn't my week".

7) Waterboy

Why You Should See It: Classic Adam Sandler: idiot savant uses his charm to win a contest (in this case a game) and the girl. Also nobody has yet been able to figure out what Kathy Bates is doing in this movie. Watch it, you'll leave as clueless as I am about the casting.

Best Scene: Kathy Bates spearing her ex-husband

Best Line: "You can do it!"

And now a little cheering and jeering….

Cheers: Dikembe Mutombo for opening a hospital in the Congo. The country desperately needs all the medical attention it can get and Mutombo donated 15 million out of his own pocket for the hospital. That's definitely a reason to cheer.

Jeers: To the bizarro world known as Browns training camp. Beethoven once said "Applaud friends, the comedy is over". He obviously wasn't thinking about the Browns. The comedy that is the Cleveland Browns center position continues. Now both second strings are out (ankle sprain, drug suspension). For those keeping track that's one knee injury, one ankle injury, one drug suspension, and two retirements. My Middle East Plan looks better and better.

Jeers: To authorities warning women not to wear gel bras on planes. I can't comment on the necessity of the security but that seems like gender discrimination to me. I mean I can still wear my gel speedo jr. onto planes.

Cheers: To baseball's men of mustache. Need I say more?

Cheers: To a committee of scientists not axing Pluto's status as a planet. Well kind of. A new sub-type of planets is being created, called Plutons, which I guess are the Tampa Bay Devil Rays of planets. The new definition does add 3 more planets to the Terran System: Xena, Charon and Ceres (the dwarf planet). Students all over this planet toilet papered the scientists' houses in protest to more memorization.

Jeers: To re-enacting a scene from Blazing Saddles. An Ohio University football player was fined for punching a policeman's horse. The money quote of the incident was "Logan denied that he punched the horse, saying he put his hand on it when the animal's head ran into him."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mid-Week Pick Me Up

If this doesn't make you want to get ripped and go see this movie well there's just no hope for you.

More News & Notes

1. Jose Reyes hit three homers last night. The Mets lost 11-4. If ARod so much as hits one homer in a 5-3 loss (as he did on Sunday afternoon), the entire universe stops, rips him for being stats-driven and unclutch, and then goes about their business. Jose Reyes hits three homers in a far more lopsided loss and gets the front page of the New York Times sports section. ARod’s treatment by the local and national press has been beyond abhorrent and it makes me ashamed to be a baseball fan.

2. Mets “All-Star” catcher Paul LoDoca has gotten a major pass in the national media. Besides cheating on his wife with no less than three teenaged girls, LoDuca has a gambling problem that would make Pete Rose and Michael Jordan proud. Apparently bookies and assorted low-level hoods have come to Shea Stadium looking to make their weekly collection from the Mets backstop.

Anytime the gambling and sports worlds collide, only bad things can happen. Toss in the fact that the head groundskeeper at Shea Stadium was arrested late last year on charges of running a multi-million dollar gambling ring and being an associate in a mafia crime family and this should be sending off major alarm bells in Bud Selig’s mind. Where’s the national media attention for this story? Where’s the commissioner trying to protect the best interests of the game? Both are absent, pursuing their own twisted little agendas.

3. For all the golf fans out there, there are few cooler stories than the opening round pairing of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Geoff Ogilvy at this weekend’s PGA Championship at Medinah Country Club, just outside of Chicago. This threesome represents the winners of the past three Major championships and also pits rivals Tiger and Lefty in a head-to-head matchup early in the tournament. It will be very interesting to see how they relate to one another on the course and if each can play his best golf with the other standing around. I’m more of a Tiger man myself but I like Lefty’s game a lot too. I’m rooting for them to be paired through Sunday, walking up the 18th fairway, each with a chance to win.

4. Finally, in sad news, character actor Bruno Kirby passed away on Monday. His portrayal of the young Clemenza in Godfather II is one of my favorite parts of that movie.

I’m heading to Chicago for an extended weekend so I won’t be posting or commenting until my return on Monday afternoon. To all the Back Seat Drivers, have a great weekend.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mascot Mayhem

I’m sure everyone read about the ridiculousness of the Titans’ mascot, T-Rac, running over the Saints 4th-string QB last weekend, making him unavailable “indefinitely.”

Apparently, T-Rac has a “variety of motor vehicles” that he uses during celebrations. All I hope for, is that mascots no longer drive there own golf carts!

I decided to do some research on what the hell T-Rac is. I found the Titans website, and I found out the important things about T-Rac:
1) favorite saying is "I didn't do it!"
2) Tennessee's state animal is the raccoon. [insert joke about south here]
3) T-Rac’s Platform: “To stop hit and runs on all Raccoons and get Raccoon crossings at all major highways and Interstates (especially near the Coliseum) "
4) You can order T-Rac for an appearance at (615) 565-TRAC (8722) [this is a real phone number].

More importantly, the T-Rac debacle reminds me of some other fun mascot events. I did some research online, mostly off of, and found the following fun facts, reminding me how difficult it is to be a mascot:

1) Forty-four percent of mascots suffer from chronic lower back pain.
2) "A lot of mascots have stories about getting hit in the 'nads," said Dr. Edward McFarland, director of sports medicine and shoulder surgery at Johns Hopkins and the author of a study on mascot injuries. "That's just about the right height for kids to punch. They think they're aiming for the stomach. But they're not."
3) According to an article in the Cardozo Law Review, the Phillie Phanatic "holds the dubious record as the most-sued mascot in the majors." Among the judgments levied against him: $2.5 million to a man who suffered back injuries from being hugged too hard; $128,000 to a man who was knocked over at a church carnival; and $25,000 to a pregnant woman who was accidentally kicked in the stomach.
4) 1995 – Cleveland Indian's Slider (a big purple mess) fell off the wall during the playoffs, tearing his ACL. The Slider replacement had a foam crutch, to pay tribute to the real Slider who was unable to perform.
5) In 1999, a Philadelphia electrician shoved Krownapple off the right field wall at Camden Yards. The Orioles mascot fell 15 feet, broke his left ankle and spent a month in a wheelchair. He later won a $59,000 judgment against his assailant.
6) In the late 1990s, the Miami Heat mascot got sued for sexual harassment. He dragged a woman out of her seat to participate in some halftime game. The mascot didn't realize that "No means No", even when you wear a big funny suit.
7) During a game in 2000, Florida's Billy the Marlin accidentally hit a fan in the eye with a wadded-up T-shirt shot out of a CO2 launcher. The fan was knocked unconscious and later filed suit.
8) 2003 - Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish tore out the tongue of Calgary Flames mascot Harvey the Hound.

I hope everyone else has some fun mascot stories to share. One of my favorite mascot moments was going to a minor league hockey game in Cleveland, involving the now defunct Cleveland Lumberjacks. They had this awesome mascot, named Buzz I believe, that was a beaver that carried an over-sized hockey stick. This one game, he jumped down from the rafters, while guiding himself off of a rip-cord. The only problem was, the cord wasn’t long enough! All the players were already on the ice to the tune of the AC-DC music, and there Buzz was, dangling about 10 feet above the ice. Of course there was nothing left to do, but detach the cord from the rafters, and watch Buzz crash down onto the ice on his buttocks!

News & Notes

1. The Monday Night Football on ESPN era began last night and, wow, did it stink. I’m unable to find a picture of what the on-screen score graphics looked like but for anyone that watched, you know what I’m talking about. The little graphic was in the lower portion of the screen, directly in the center of the picture, just below the players’ feet. It was distracting, to say the least.

Thinking outside the box is great and I applaud television executives when they roll the dice and make creative decisions, but when it comes to televised sports production, just stick to the basics. Give us the most simple score graphics and put it in a part of the screen that isn’t otherwise in the center of the action. ESPN’s broadcast last night showed how much they try to over-think things.

2. It’s not news around here that I think Joe Torre’s an absolutely dreadful manager. Last night Torre made my case a whole lot easier: Bottom of the seventh inning in a 2-2 tie, the Yankees have Johnny Damon on second base, Derek Jeter on first base and Bobby Abreu coming up to bat with nobody out. With a team’s 3-4-5 hitters coming to bat, one would think that the proper strategy is to let the big sluggers hit away, looking for a pitch they can drive. What does Torre do? He calls for the bunt with Abreu.

Abreu hasn’t executed a sacrifice bunt since July 1998. Why ask a lefty hitter with an OBP of .421, who also happens to be facing a righty pitcher, to execute a bunt when that hitter hasn’t attempted one in nearly 10 years? Even if Bobby Abreu were the Venezuelan King of the Bunt, why open up first base and allow the other team to walk the cleanup hitter? Anyway, Abreu was able to bunt Damon and Jeter up and, predictably, the Angels walked Giambi to load the bases for ARod.

Fortunately ARod drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to deep RF, narrowly missing a grand slam. ARod bailed Torre out. I know of no other manager who gets his ass kissed as much as Torre does despite not understanding that taking the bat out of the hands of Abreu and Giambi is sheer baseball lunacy.

To top it off, Torre brings out Mariano Rivera to pitch the ninth inning, despite having a comfortable 7-2 lead. In case he hadn’t noticed, the Yankees are in the middle of a 20-day stretch where they will play 21 games. Every inning that Torre uses Rivera when he doesn’t have to is one more inning that Rivera can’t give him in late September or October when the innings count a lot more. The Yanks could’ve given lefty specialist Mike Myers an inning of work (he hasn’t pitched in at least three days), or they could’ve gone to journeyman Jose Veras for the final three outs. If you can’t trust a pitcher to get three outs before he gives up five runs, that pitcher doesn’t belong on the major league roster. Suffice it to say, Torre needs to be fired as quickly as possible. He’s just a complete moron.

3. Going into last night’s game, the story was that Pedro Martinez was approaching the milestone of becoming one of only three righty pitchers in baseball history to have 200 wins, 3000 strikeouts and a career ERA below 3.00. He was 15 strikeouts away. Now he’s 14 strikeouts away. And perhaps he’ll have to wait until September to get another shot. Pedro injured his calf in warm-ups and proceeded to get bombed by the Phillies, lasting only one inning and giving up six earned runs. If Pedro’s not healthy, the Mets are getting bounced in the playoffs.

4. Finally, Matt Leinart signed with the Arizona Cardinals. I guess Cardinals management caved to his demands because he got more guaranteed money than the two players drafted immediately before him and the total value of the contract ranks him fourth overall for the 2006 NFL Draft class. Personally, I think the Cards should’ve continued to play hardball. Leinart didn’t have a leg to stand on in his demands and the Cards just set a bad precedent. Plus, I don’t like Leinart at all. For the first time since 2001, I’m rooting for Kurt Warner to have a good season. I’ll even become a born-again Christian and join Kurt’s Krusaders if he wins the MVP (not really). Fuck Leinart; may his career be short and full of memorable failures.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

MMBSD: If wishes were horses.....

Well its been a good summer off from the Monday Morning Back Seat Driver. While the time has been well spent on poker, Italian Ice and a Deadwood DVD boxset its time to get the thought process back in line and start analyzing football and other sports events from the back seat. Well almost time. Before we starting analyzing the land of reality I thought a little tip toe through fantasy land would be nice. If wishes were horses then beggars and bloggers would ride. If wishes were horses I'd travel to campus on a herd of my little ponies. I'd win at strip poker with Natalie Portman, Jessica Alba and Charlize Theron. The Browns would be on their second string center instead of the fourth. I could dunk a basketball. The Hitman would still respect me even though I wrote a column with a pink pony in it. If I had wishes to burn through there would be three branches of government in Washington, D.C. Well maybe the power of the wish doesn't go that far. Anyway here's a list of some of things I'm wishing for this new season of Monday Morning Back Seat Driving.

College Football: I have lots of wishes but I think my top wish for college football is for Charlie Weis to be hit by a go-cart driven by a mascot. It really doesn't matter what mascot just as long as Weiss is knocked out of a crucial game and made to look like a fool. Weis combines the arrogance of a Belicheck disciple with the arrogance of a Notre Dame fan. All in all its a lot of arrogance and it needs to be run over by a go-cart.

Basketball: I would wish for the USA basketball team to win in Tokyo. I want Dwayne Wade to dunk on Manu Ginobelli's head. I want Carmelo Anthony to wreck downtown Tokyo in a manner that hasn't been equaled since the days of Mecha-Godzilla. I want Bill Simmons for the first time to actually admit he is wrong about something or that his keen insights are no better than anyone else that occasionally tunes into Sports Center.

Baseball: I would wish for one of current crop of rookie pitches to win 300 games. I'm sure our baseball fellows can dig up a better year of rookie pitchers but the current crop this year really has been delightful. Each year reaching the fabled plateau of 300 wins for a starter seems to get more and more unreachable. However I wish that one of the young guns can reach the promised land of immortality.

NFL: I would wish for Chad Johnson to have his own improv show. Honestly, would there be anything better than watching celebrations Johnson would come up with if he has CGI technology? He could have an entire Vegas Show girl ensemble backing him up and win an emmy. Or he could use his talents for driving around in a mystery van solving crimes. There is no limit to what Chad Johnson could do given his own TV show.

Me: I would wish for what Steven Martin wished for:

If I had one wish that I could wish this holiday season, it would be that all the children to join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace. If I had two wishes I could make this holiday season, the first would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing in the spirit of harmony and peace. And the second would be for 30 million dollars a month to be given to me, tax-free in a Swiss bank account. You know, if I had three wishes I could make this holiday season, the first, of course, would be for all the children of the world to get together and sing, the second would be for the 30 million dollars every month to me, and the third would be for encompassing power over every living being in the entire universe. And if I had four wishes that I could make this holiday season, the first would be the crap about the kids definitely, the second would be for the 30 million, the third would be for all the power, and the fourth would be to set aside one month each year to have an extended 31-day orgasm, to be brought out slowly by Rosanna Arquette and that model Paulina-somebody, I can't think of her name. Of course my lovely wife can come too and she's behind me one hundred percent here, I guarantee it. Wait a minute, maybe the sex thing should be the first wish, so if I made that the first wish, because it could all go boom tomorrow, then what do you got, y'know? No, no, the kids, the kids singing would be great, that would be nice. But wait a minute, who am I kidding? They're not going to be able to get all those kids together. I mean, the logistics of the thing is impossible, more trouble than it's worth! So -- we reorganize! Here we go. First, the sex thing. We go with that. Second, the money. No, we got with the power second, then the money. And then the kids. Oh wait, oh jeez, I forgot about revenge against my enemies! Okay, I need revenge against all my enemies, they should die like pigs in hell! That would be my fourth wish. And, of course, my fifth wish would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace.
- Steve Martin SNL 1986

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Most Creative Celebrations in Sports

I am not one to necessarily advocate taunting, obnoxious touchdown dances, and other silly antics. However, I really do get a kick out of thoughtful, original celebrations, or gestures after a touchdown, a dunk, a blocked shot, etc. So I thought it would be fun to think about some of the best “celebrations” in sports. Granted, I’m focusing more on the last few years because the athletes have started to make more original and comedical celebrations.

Here’s my top 12, based mainly on originality and comedic effect. I hope everyone will share their favorites as well, as there’s no way I’ve included all of them.

1) Sam Cassell’s “I have big balls”. For those non-NBA fans out there, you are really missing out. Whenever Sam Cassell hits multiple 3s, takes over a game, etc., he puts his arms in a position to significy that he indeed has “big balls” and they are much bigger than his opponent’s. This picture was hard to find, but it should be cherished.

2) Reggie Miller’s choke sign. This has become the ultimate taunting gesture, as it is used all across the streets of America. Really revolutionary when you think about it. I think Reggie used this in a game against the Knicks, directed at Spike Lee, but I’m guessing MJ has a better recollection of the moment.

3) Michael Jordan’s shrug – The shrug after he hit like EIGHT 3-pointers in the NBA Finals against the Portland Trailblazers. I mean, he purposely makes the shrug, as if to say, “I didn’t even know I was this good!” I like using this shrug after I go 1 for 10 from the field in a pick-up basketball game. My shrug signifies more of, “even I can hit a shot once in a while!”

4) Chad Johnson letter – please don’t fine me!
5) Chad Johnson playing golf using the pylon and the football
6) Chad Johnson giving CPR to the football!
- I just kept thinking of how many creative moments Chad Johnson has had. Plus I found a website with all of the pictures.

7) Lebron James lighting his hand on fire
– not sure if anyone saw this outside of Cleveland. But after making 3-straight 3-pointers in a random regular season game, Lebron pretended one hand was a lighter and lit his other hand on FIRE. It was aweseome, and was very creative.

8) Mutumbo’s Finger-wagging – “No, no, no, no, no” – Mutumbo started doing this after he would block a shot. I now do this when I refuse to do favors for people I know. Of course, it’s just not as cool without having a really long finger.

9) TO’s shake your pom-pom – You have to be confident in your sexuality to pull this off. And have rhythm!

10) Ickey Woods Shuffle. Absolutely classic.

11) Dirty Bird – Jamal Anderson did this. Just like Ickey Woods, he took his team to the Super Bowl where they lost, then they both tore up their knees the following seasons. It’s quite eery. You would almost have to warn other RBs to not have their own dance.

12) Merton Hanks Chicken neck – He does that crazy head shake thing. This isn’t safe to do for 99.7% of the population. Unfortunately, I can't get the picture to load.

Cheers and Jeers: Pooh Bear Edition


There are definitely days when it's easier to Eeyore. There are days where one looks at the dark side of things and wonders if there even is such a thing as a good morning. However Cheers and Jeers is striving to find happy things to cheer about like honey or balloons or spelling "Tuesday". As old Pooh Beer once said “It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?" Already I have copied Pooh's spelling technique: "My spelling is Wobbly. It's good spelling, but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places." Yes my grammar and spellings resembles a bear stuffed with cotton but that’s ok, because today I'm staying positive.

Cheers: To another bizarre loss for the Cleveland Browns. First there was LeCharles Bentley, who went down with a season ending knee injury without being touched. Now the new Brown's center, Bob Hallen, has retired due "chronic back problems". This is fairly odd because there is not one shred of evidence he ever had any sort of back problem before joining the Browns. Now why in the world is this cause for cheering? Well from a Browns perspective its not. But I think this jinx can be used for good. I firmly believe that if we select a few Middle Eastern leaders and have them join the Browns, they will immediately blow out a knee or retire without cause. Terrorism is a lot harder without an ACL.

Cheers: To this bit of news. For too long the glandularly challenged have not gotten the respect in the criminal world they deserve. Well five well endowed girls decided to take into their own, albeit flabby, hands to change this stereotype. Well done girls.

Cheers: To Team USA. Coach K has got the Americans back to solid basketball at the international level. While the US still has major hurdles to overcome if it's to win the World Basketball Championship being held in Japan. Manu Ginobelli has declared that the age of US dominance is "part of the past". Well then there can be only one goal for this US team….find Argentina and heat up some Lipton's Instant Cup of Shut the Hell Up. (For the record I think Argentina is located somewhere near a country called Randall McNally)

Cheers: To Freshmen. Those lovable innocent college first years that typically end up making mistake after mistake in classes, in hook-ups, in drinking and in eating cheese sticks at 3 am (who knew that would add weight). However watching a college football freshmen mature over the season is one the more enjoyable sights of the season. Freshmen take over at the quarterback position at Texas and Georgia. How those powerhouses progress will be in large part determined by how their freshman QB's do. Also a factor is the extent to which Matthew McConaughey and Ben Affleck are able to paddle them.

Cheers: To Muppet Porn. Or I think that’s what's going on in England. You read the Yahoo News bit. I'll I'm seeing is "Adults Only" and "half dozen hot dogs and Ricky Martin". I bet you its really funny though…

Lawless In Oklahoma?

I’m normally not a big law-and-order guy when it comes to college sports. I think the NCAA has ridiculous rules, anti-common sense rules and a very selective (read: inconsistent) eye towards enforcement. But when I read stuff like this, I hope they throw the book at this kid and investigate OU’s program:

“‘I’m not a bad kid,’ the exiled Oklahoma QB Rhett Bomar told the New York Times. ‘I made a mistake and I have to live with it, but I own up to it.’”

I agree Bomar’s not a “bad kid” in that he didn’t maliciously harm anyone or commit a felony of any sort. But I don’t buy the whole “I made a mistake” act. He’s only sorry he got caught. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have made the same mistake over and over again, every single day for the whole summer. He earned several weeks’ worth of paychecks for a no-show job at a car dealership. That’s not an isolated incident, that’s the same mistake repeated over time. And I have to believe that this isn’t the first time something like this has happened in Norman, OK.

In light of Barry Switzer’s past transgressions nearly two decades ago and how Kelvin Sampson’s tenure ended with the OU basketball team, I get the feeling that OU’s boosters (and athletic department) are running wild out there. OU’s always seemed like a dirty school and I hope this is the tip of the iceberg that gets them busted down for good.