Monday, July 30, 2007

NFL Preview: AFC Fallers

NFL Preview: AFC Fallers

It's pretty much standard at this point to assume for the NFL playoffs that at least 2-3 teams that made the playoffs per conference will not return the following year. Injuries, retirements, drafts, random time management faux paux's of Herman Edwards ensures an ebb and flow of team's success. Short of Tom Brady leaving the NFL to become a founding member of a gay utopian commune located in the Black Hills of South Dakota or Peyton retiring to take up his one great passion of figuring out how to work his TV remote Indy and New England are playoff bound. So what about the others? In Part I of me practicing the great craft of writing, its of focus on the AFC (or what we in the stock business call not the insane randomness that is the NFC) lets discuss who's falling .

Playoff Teams (in order of LEAST likely to return to the playoffs)

1. Kansas City – Of all of last year's playoff teams KC strikes me as most likely to belly flop their way through the season. Gone are the dominating grinders of Willie Roaf and Will Shields. When you need Kyle Turley to come in unless its for an air guitar competition you know your pulling at straws. Factor in that Bodie Croyle will probably be starting for the first time, Larry Johnson is an unhappy camper and Herm Edwards is still in charge and the chances of making it back to the playoffs seem only slightly hire than Brittney Spears reviving her career.

2. Jets – Don't get we wrong, I never doubt the Mangina. Heck I think the Jets might be a better team now that they have a running back in Thomas Jones. However I'm looking at the schedule. Last year the Jets feasted on the AFC South and the NFC North (arguably the two weakest divisions in each of the respective conferences). This year it's the AFC North and the NFC East. That's a bit tougher. Factor in a tougher New England and Buffalo team and suddenly 9-10 wins seems a lot harder.

3. Baltimore – Baltimore and San Diego seem to have equal chances. Baltimore's suffocating defense is all back except for Adalalius Thomas. Willis Mcgahee gives them far more speed and ability for swing passes compared to Jamal Lewis. However here are two factors going against them. First, Pittsburgh and Cinci will probably be better this year as both Palmer and Rothlisberger are actually starting the season healthy. Second, they need Steve Mcnair to be healthy. McNair somehow escaped injury last year but any bets on if he can do it two year's in a row? And anyone have confidence in Kyle (What me worry) Boller or that state traitor I mean Troy Smith? So The Raven Droppings maybe aren't a sure thing….

4. San Diego – How important is coaching? The team is the same as last year's 14 win won. They have the talent on offense, defense and special teams. So why the pause? Jay Cutler has a season under his belt but more importantly the coaching turnover. San Diego lost its head coach, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, heck they lost their tight ends coach. That's a lot of turnover. And the new regime of Norv Turner and Ted Cattrell don't exactly have a shining resume of previous success. So how much does coaching matter?

5. Indy – the only reason they were ranked here is because Jacksonville has a better shot of winning the division than the Jets do. Also Indy suffered massive losses on their defense.….

6. New England

The Class of 1999 Strikes Back

As this 2007 NFL season approaches, it appeared that the celebrated Class of 1999 QB Class was approaching the end of its greatness. The 1999 QB Class started out with a bang in 2000 when Donovan McNabb, Daunte Culpepper, and Aaron Brooks all led teams to the postseason. This season though, the Class appears headed to a sad decline or perhaps a crossroads. Donovan McNabb keeps getting injured and the Eagles actually drafted a successor, Daunte Culpepper is still fighting to return from a horrific injury and has yet to find a team for this season, Aaron Brooks was castoff from society and set to live on an uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean, and Akili Smith had been the butt of every lockerroom joke since his first season.

Now suddenly, the Class of 1999 has a new hope. Former #1 pick Tim Couch just signed a two-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. I'm not joking. My money was on Daunte Culpepper signing with the Jaguars but out of seemingly NOWHERE, Tim Couch is back in the NFL to defend the honor of the 1999 QB Class! Couch may never take a snap, and in the NFL, he could even still get cut before the season begins despite the "two-year" deal. But where there's an opportunity for success, the 1999 QB Class will go down swinging (or at a minimum, throwing interceptions).

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mighty versus The Sandwich Part II

Saturday, Saturday, Saturday... we will witness a sporting event unparalleled since the infamous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Mighty will travel back to NYC and attempt to defeat the infamous Katz's turkey sandwich, 2 pickles, and 1 Dr. Browns. The wager? 3 beers to be consumed directly after the sandwich eating event.

If Mighty loses, he is being called out.

Good luck to all participants!!

The Brownest of the Brown Liquors

Yes, MJ... that is a bottle of delicious bourbon, brownest of the brown liquors... So tempting. What's that? You want me to drink you? But I'm in the middle of a trial!

Happy Birthday

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cheers and Jeers: New York Sour Edition

Ingredients: Well its almost the weekend, thank goodness. After a long week of sports related court dramas, investigations and dismals we could all use a little break. I for one plan on doing a series of dances to ensure that nobody gets hurt on the Browns. Last year the big free agent signing (Lecharles Bentley) blew out his knee on the first play of training camp. The previous year the big free agent signing (Gary Baxter) blew out his knee during the few games of the season. Both players this year are trying remarkable comebacks. So tonight its a lot of rhythmic movements, building of totems and reading from the Necronomicon to ensure that Eric Steinbach remains healthy (and possibly the rest of the team)

Cheers:Its not often I'll cheer a Red Sox player, even less likely when the Red Sox play the Tribe. However this week Jon Lester made a pretty remarkable comeback from lymphoma. The young fireballer barely had scratched the major leagues when he had to take a leave to fight cancer. Well he finally made it back and had a great start. It's a feel good story that if it doesn't move you a little, you have no soul and probably were the starting QB for the Atlanta Falcons.

Jeers: To the Tour de France riders. This week a number of riders were disqualified, arrested, disbarred, and possibly thrown into the Bastille. Michael Rasmussen of the nation of beer drinkers (Denmark) was thrown off the tour. Why do they even hold this event anymore as every winner, leader, rider , possibly spectator has used performance enhancing drugs or gamma radiation. Can we just skip it for awhile?

Jeers: Partially to me. In my questions on college football I forgot to mention the ACC. However in my defense the ACC is the worst conference of the big boys. For all our making fun of the Big 12 at least they have a few semi-decent teams. The ACC is 1-8 in BCS bowl games and 3-31 versus top 10 teams since 2000. That's just jaw dropingly craptacular. This year V-Tech is the favorite but that's possibly only by default as the rest of the programs are rebuilding or under investigation for participating in harvesting organs (Miami Hurricane. well possibly)

Cheers: To Curt Schilling. Who always has such insightful, well thought, articulate, and brilliant insights into the sports world and society in general. And by that I mean most bags of elephant dung could do better.

Cheers: To the Incredible MJ's b-day. To celebrate he's traveling a secret route through the Misty Mountains to visit Publius and myself. Currently we are researching if we can rent a pony for him to ride around in while he wears a pretty pretty princess outfit. In honor of the great MJ Cheers and Jeers presents two lovely ladies: our girl Scarlett and Kelly Brook

Vengeance ≠Justice

I’m not one to put too much faith in conspiracy theories – although to dismiss all such theories entirely is an act of closed-mindedness – but I have to say that I can’t help but wonder if the commissioner’s office doesn’t have it in for the New York Yankees.

When this whole steroids investigation started, I objected to Bud Selig’s choice of Senator George Mitchell. Further, when the commissioner’s office leaked Jason Giambi’s confidential test results and then blackmailed Giambi into cooperating with the Mitchell investigation, I cried foul. To me, both acts appear orchestrated to agitate or harm the Yankees. Although one could say that they merely demonstrate Selig’s lack of tact and propriety, it’s hard to dismiss these two events altogether.

In my estimation the steroids investigation has been set up as a giant spider-web meant to ensnare Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi. Any “collateral damage” added to the body count would provide Major League Baseball with the welcome appearance of getting tough on the issue but would ultimately not deter Selig and Mitchell from their top two prizes.

Last week, Gary Sheffield spoke on the record with HBO’s “Real Sports.” In that interview, he admitted to using both “the Clear” and “the Cream”, products that have been identified as performance-enhancing drugs and on the Major League list of banned substances (Section 2(B)42). Although Sheffield asserts that “steroids [are] something you shoot in your butt” the fact remains that Sheffield corroborated his own grand jury testimony that he used products that are designated as steroids (irrespective of how they are taken).

Why is it that Giambi’s translucent reference to steroids, “I was wrong for doing that stuff,” warrants him being hauled into the commissioner’s office while Sheffield’s blatant admission of the same offense merits not even an eyebrow-raising by the media, let alone the MLB powers that be? Is Selig that preoccupied with Barry Bonds’s imminent record-setting homerun that he can’t tap Senator Mitchell for another blackmail session?

That’s more or less the point here: Selig is so fixated on catching Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi – the two most-prominent baseball players discussed in “Game of Shadows” – that he seems to be totally disinterested in meting out unprejudiced justice.

I hate Barry Bonds. But I hope he hits his homeruns while Selig is in attendance today and tomorrow. Those two criminals deserve eachother.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pizza the HUT!!

Charlie Weis lost a medical malpractice lawsuit against 2 Mass General surgeons who performed the gastric bypass (stomach stapling) procedure. Pizza the Hut noticed a slimmed down Al Roker and decided to undergo the procedure without the required 6 week program before the operation.

Pizza the Hut claimed the doctors were responsible for internal bleeding that forces him to use a cart.

Clearly the doctors were negligent because even after the operation Pizza the Hut is still a fat bastard and uses a cart to move his girth around the sideline.

Pay Pizza the Hut or else!! Or else pizza is gonna send out for *you*!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Getting indicted... that's a paddling

Getting indicted, you'd better believe that's a paddling.

The word has come down from the NFL discipline man himself, that Vick should not attend training camp. Meanwhile, the camp is already surrounded by PETA and animal rights people camping outside.
Let the games begin!! Will Jasper allow Mike Vick to play? Or will he be forced to paddle the school canoe?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

College Football Preview: Questions

While we here in BSD land have been focused on baseball, the mafia…I mean the NBA and the looming NFL rookie contract season there’s something else coming…oh yeah college football. A Saturday refuge from the hum drum of daily existence the college football season is ready for another crazy, nut stomping, cooler pooping season. So what are some questions floating around that will be answered?

One thing not in doubt.....(h/t edsbs )

Big East
Which injured QBs will stay healthy? Brian Brohm of Loooivile and Stven Slaton of the West Virginia Meth Labs are both coming back from injuries. Both are Heisman trophy hopefuls, both are on highly ranked teams and both might be able to push their team to the national championship game but only if they are healthy. Other questions to consider: Where is Rutgers located again? And will the Mustache finally return to his porn career after he gets fired at Pittsburgh?

Indiana Wannstedt and the Busty Crusade, coming to porn shops near you

Big 10
Which Michigan defense will show up? The Michigan offense has basically all of its starters and weapons back so its just a question of the defense coming to play. Except for the last two games of the season the Michigan defense was dominant. However, the last two it just kind of took a pounding not seen this side of Lindsey Lohan on a binger (which I believe is called Tuesdays). Factor in the number of starters lost for the defensive side and that’s a big question. The other major question centers on the Wisconsin QB. After careful research Bucky Badger does indeed have a quarterback. If he’s slightly more effective than a tackling dummy and can keep defenses from focusing on Ron Dayne’s clone (PJ Hill) it might be a Badger Big 10 title.

Will LSU back its smack talk up? Les Miles obviously hopped up on Louisiana moonshine went on the radio to more or less guarantee a national championship birth, attacked USC, and may have killed a hobo on air. LSU gets Auburn and Florida at home so the path is their for the taking. Other questions to consider: Will Tim Tebow's VD affect his play and will anyone notice if Kentucky doesn't play a single game this year.

Les Miles hates keeping his mouth shut, USC, and hobos

Big 12
Does anyone that can read care? Yes, yes I should be more politically correct about the dust bowl division but I can’t. OU still doesn’t have a QB, a former Raider coach is still husking corn and Texas is led by somebody named Colt (unsure if its in reference to the horse or gun). Short of McCoy’s arm falling off Texas should win this division.

Pac 10
Same question as every year, can anyone win this division but USC? UCLA has made great strides and kept the Championship Bowl from being paved with Trojans but can they win on USC home turf. Cal seems to enjoy being that girl that teases like she might have all the goods in the dank bar but when the lights come on you realize she has a droopy eye or a hook hand or something that would disqualify her from being taken home.

Has anyone who’s seen Notre Dame’s schedule think they’ll have a decent season? Nope. G-Tech, at Penn State, at Michigan, at UCLA, Michigan State, BC and USC. That’s a nasty start. While Notre Dame finishes up with the Joint Chief’s of Staff, Duke, Stanford and the cast from Grey’s Anatomy an ugly early start might drive Charlie Weis into a food binge not seen since Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Charlie Weis might be in for a losing season

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday's Quick Hits

Two quick things before the weekend:

1. I understand that the polls conducted on ESPN’s website aren’t terribly scientific but they are instructive insofar as they give us a real-time sense of what web-surfers think about a particular issue.

In light of the allegations that NBA referee Tim Donaghy bet on NBA games, including ones he officiated, posed the following question:

“Which sport is currently facing the biggest crisis? MLB: Steroids? NFL: Dog-fighting? NBA: Referee misconduct?”

So far, 44% of responses have come in for baseball’s steroid problem, with 35% coming in for ref misconduct and 21% picking the dog-fighting issue. I am flabbergasted. Unless it’s a reflection of baseball’s greater popularity relative to basketball, how can anyone think that referee integrity isn’t a bigger crisis? We’re talking about an NBA official potentially rigging games!

It’s way too early to tell what will happen in this story. But just this revelation alone could turn into the biggest scandal in NBA history. I don’t think steroids even comes close...

2. Second, this trade makes no sense whatsoever. Phoenix’s title hopes are exclusively tied to Steve Nash’s health. Since Nash has only two years left on his contract, wouldn’t it be wise to start keeping some of these future first round draft picks? Why give away so much? As long as they’re a championship contender (and they will be again in 2008), it doesn’t much matter if they’re giving away a pick in the late 20’s. But you’d have to figure that by 2010 – with Nash possibly retired –the Suns might be in the early stages of a rebuilding phase. Not smart.

Cheers and Jeers: Nomad Edition

Well its a traveling weekend for a lot of people so here's a drink for the nomads. Honestly traveling by air here in the grand ole US of A might be only slightly safer than in Brazil or train's in India but its definitely a pain in the ass. So let's all raise a drink to this week's cheers and jeers.

Jeers: To puppy killer Ron Mexico aka Michael Vick. Seriously what is wrong with that family. Does this mean Marcus will have top out his brother in awfulness category?If there's attacks on Children's Hospitals we can pretty much assume its a Vick. Honestly if your within three states of a Vick lock yourself away. There's no telling what they'll do next.

Cheers: To KSK's drinking and drugging NFL preview. We're getting close now for the start of the NFL so ladies and gentlemen begin your plans. Those of us as Cleveland Brown's fans need this guide in order to survive the season. I can only assume Giants fans will have destroyed all tvs and newspapers by week 5.

Cheers: To CNNSI. I definitely prefer they're running commentary on the greatest game they ever saw to who's now. I still can't believe Who Is Now is on going. Who is watching this? Why? Somebody answer me why

Jeers: That crashing sound is the end of the Cardinals season as Carpenter is having Tommy John's surgery. This destruction was captured in allegorical form by a St.Louisian getting taken out by a garbage can on a windy night. Pretty sweet.

And now for this week's C&J gal Joanna Krupa...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

NFL Discipline

Well, with the indictment of Mike Vick, it’s time to talk NFL discipline and the wrath of Rodger “The Hammer” Goodell. I am not going to discuss the fairness aspect of NFL discipline. In the words of Al Swearengen, “when did fairness ever enter the matter?”

PacMan Jones—May be allowed to join Titans training camp. I’m confused… didn’t the hammer suspend him for the entire season before an indictment was handed down? Perhaps Goodell believed PacMan to be a repeat offender. Why would the Titans allow him in camp?

Tank Johnson—released by the Bears after extensive legal issues.

Chris Henry—suspended for 8 games.

The NFL conduct police are cracking down. We have a great season of NFL discipline to look forward to!! Personally, I love a good sex boat scandal, players running afoul of the law, parties, and anything else that makes me laugh. Since I don’t think of a defensive tackle, QB, or DB as my role model, I prefer to be entertained. Entertain me!! I want a good old fashioned sex scandal... like Daunte Culpepper showing up in the DC Madam's little black book (before she releases him in favor of Trent Green).

As for Mike Vick, make sure the dog fights occur in Marcus Vick’s house. It’s easier that way and you are far less likely to be indicted. Marcus should also carry your weed. Almost forgot, here is a KSK classic of Tank, PacMan, Henry and Vick corrupting our children.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Gary Sheffield: It Ain't My Fault, Blame Everyone Else...

Some find Sheffield’s rants amusing. Some even find them enlightening, enriching, and important (I’m looking at you, Michael Wilbon). I find them disgusting and offensive. In my view, Sheffield is only one step below Barry Bonds in the “’Da Man Is Keeping Me Down” hall of fame. Today, he has blurted out another one of his race-relation revelations. He accuses Joe Torre of racism, picks at the slavery-era scab of where a multi-racial individual’s place within the spectrum of “blackness” resides, and, predictably, takes no responsibility for any of the negative perceptions that surround him.

In 2005, Gary Sheffield told us that the Yankee clubhouse had no camaraderie, yet, in the same breath, said that he didn’t trust his teammates and would never want to hang out with them. Now he tells us that he was mistreated by the Yankees in general, and by Joe Torre in particular. Gee, Gary, if you’re always so honest and no-holds barred with your thoughts and feelings, how come you never spoke up about Torre’s alleged mistreatment of you when you were on the Yankees from 2004-2006?

Why do I get the feeling that this is just one more in a long line of perceived slights coming from the mouth of a man that hates everyone but himself and his money? After all, as Gary so indelicately informed us a few months ago, all of baseball is out to get him because he’s black. If it were up to baseball, there’d be no African-Americans in the game at all.

But I don’t want to go out on a sour note before the weekend. I’ll give Sheffield credit for using Bill Clinton’s “definition of is” argument. If steroids “are” only defined by the location of their injection, Sheffield just uncovered the great steroid loophole that’ll save him and everybody else associated with the BALCO scandal. Who knew that such a stupid individual could pull a legal end-run on Congress, Commissioner Selig, and Sen. Mitchell?

Shut Your Piehole! I'm a-Wario Edition

Brian Flander, general manager of the Chicago Chimera:

"I do believe this is a sport. These are real athletes who are the best in the world at what they do."

Who are the Chicago Chimera, you ask? They're one of six teams competing in something called the "Championship Gaming Series". In other words, they're ten dorks who played Bond and Kart all through college, and since figured that was about as far up the mountain as they could climb. To call these homebodies "athletes" is so preposterous, it's beyond offensive to actual sportsmen who exert actual physical energy in the real world.

Mr. Flander, controlling a computer image of a soccer player does not make one a soccer player. Maybe you're more "now" than me, but you're evidently a whole lot dumber too.

If you want to express your opinions, plug in your xBox and see who'll bite. Out here in the real world, please leave the talking to those of us with brains - and SHUT YOUR PIEHOLE!

Cheers and Jeers: Captain and Coke Edition

Captain and Coke Edition

Captain and Coke Ingredients:

Captain Morgan

1 can Coke

Duct tape

Cheers: To the second half of the season. The pennant races. The wild card chases. The question of if the Brewers can avoid collapsing and be over .500 for the first time since they were in the Adult League (AL). Other stories to follow will Bud Selig pass a kidney stone when Bonds passes the mark followed by how many people will the Incredible Mo maim after Boston wins the AL East.

Cheers and Jeers – To Indians GM Mark Shapiro. A good signing in Travis Hafner to a reasonable contract if Pronk can return to his previous form. However Shapiro also deserves his share of grief for releasing soon to be rookie of the year Jeremy Guthrie. A former number one pick, Guthrie never found a place in the Indians organization and was practically given away during Spring Training for a 6 pack of Beck's beer and a coupon to Domino's pizza

Cheers: To basically two weeks till NFL training camp starts. Don't worry over here at BSD we will begin the previews but today's topic….NFC Quarterbacks. As the NFC is wide open which QB will overcome problems for teams with enough talent to go the Super Bowl. Will Donovan Mcnabb be recovered from his knee injury and will he stay healthy? Will Jason Campbell continue to improve to the point that even Peter King may consider giving him a hug instead of Tony Romo. Will Matt Hasselbeck regain his Super Bowl form? Will Jake Delhomme finally be benched for sucking? How many women will Sexy Rexy unleash his dragon on? Will he finally find that donkey he needed?

Jeers: To badgers. Apparently inhabitants of Basra, Iraq have been blaming British soldiers for unleashing man eating badgers on the populace. I wish I was making this stuff up. Of course if I lived in a brick house in 110 degree weather I too might think I was being attacked by a badger

Jeers: To the NBA off-season. Outside of Rashard Lewis leaving for Orlando (and that might be stretching things) did anything important happen? Yawn…I can't think of one sport that has a more over-hyped rumor mill for player movements than the NBA.

And for of course cheers to our Cheers and Jeers girl(s) of the week... what college or University is this?? I was so ripped off. Detention never looked so good!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Baseball News and Notes

1. Really briefly, here are some second-half predictions that I may have forgotten to get to in my last column:

AL/NL East – Red Sox, Mets
AL/NL Central – Indians, Cubs
AL/NL West – Angels, Padres
AL/NL Wild Card – Tigers, Brewers

AL/NL Cy Young – Johan Santana, Twins; Jake Peavy, Padres
AL/NL MVP – Alex Rodriguez, Yankees; Prince Fielder, Brewers
AL/NL RoY – Jeremy Guthrie, Orioles; Hunter Pence, Astros
AL/NL Manager – Mike Scioscia, Angels; Bud Black, Padres

ALDS 1 – Tigers (4) over Red Sox (1) 3-2
ALDS 2 – Angels (2) over Indians (3) 3-1
ALCS – Angels (2) over Tigers (4) 4-2

NLDS 1 – Padres (1) over Brewers (4) 3-1
NLDS 2 – Mets (2) over Cubs (3) 3-0
NLCS – Mets (2) over Padres (1) 4-3

WS – Angels over Mets 4-2

2. Ichiro and the Mariners may be close to signing a five-year, $100M contract. My honest opinion? As good as Ichiro is, at the end of the day, he’s a singles hitter. Sure he’s the face of the M’s and one of the most popular players in the US and Japan but he’s still a singles hitter. If Alfonso Soriano is making an average annual salary of $17M with his combination of speed and power, I don’t see how Seattle can justify paying a guy with 66 career homers a whopping $20M a year. Ichiro surely would’ve been a sought-after free agent this winter but I highly doubt that anyone was going to get up to $20M per year for him. This sets yet another dangerous high-water mark for shortsighted owners who can’t help themselves.

3. Travis Hafner and the Indians have come to an agreement to keep Pronk in Cleveland by offering him a four-year, $57M extension. Now this contract makes much more sense. At $14.25M per year, Hafner will be earning the standard contract offered to the game’s elite sluggers from 2003-2005. Case in point, Albert Pujols (seven years, $100M), Vladimir Guerrero (five years, $70M), David Ortiz (four years, $52M), and Paul Konerko (five years, $60M) all signed similar deals over the past few years. Hafner’s contract highlights two things. First, that the Cubs and Mariners are drastically overpaying for their franchise players, especially given where the market was set for the aforementioned All-Stars and second, that the Indians are demonstrating the appropriate level of fiscal restraint which might – hopefully – help ease the market back to more rational levels. One never knows which owner will be the next dummy to get taken to the cleaners but at least Cleveland is doing their part.

4. The Yankees announced that they will open discussions with A-Rod about a possible contract extension. The main obstacle is that super agent Scott Boras would rather see his prized client hit the free agent market in November, especially if the market values Ichiro as a $20M/season player. At those prices, it’s not inconceivable that A-Rod gets a $30M/season offer from some team desperate to cash in on his talent and the future marketing potential of his ascent up the all-time homerun list. The main issue for the Yanks is to keep A-Rod in New York before he can exercise his opt-out clause. If New York can extent his current contract, they’ll still be eligible to receive the roughly $8M in payments from the Texas Rangers for the next three seasons before the new extension kicks in. If A-Rod opts out, however, then he might still stay in New York but the Yanks would lose the free cash that’s been coming up from Arlington since the start of the 2004 season.

5. Rickey Henderson was named the new Mets hitting coach. Rickey knows a few things about hitting and he certainly knows a lot about stealing bases. Although I don’t put much stock in the work of a hitting coach (can one really tell the difference between a great hitting coach and a terrible one at the MLB level?) I do think Rickey will bring a lot to the table. For starters, he was a teammate of Willie Randolph’s when they hit 1-2 in the Yankees’ lineup from 1985-1989. He will be able to work with Jose Reyes on Reyes’s quest to become the first player with over 100 steals since Vince Coleman swiped 109 bags in 1987. He’s a colorful and engaging personality who loves baseball and every team should have coaches as enthusiastic as a guy like Rickey. He’s a future first-ballot Hall of Famer and the best leadoff hitter of his generation (and perhaps of all time).

6. Finally, I will simply say that Tony LaRussa is an idiot. I don’t care how many wins he has on his resume, I consider him to be a totally overrated manager. Seriously, you’re telling me that Albert Pujols, even in a down year, can’t get off the bench to pinch hit for Aaron Rowand? Bases loaded, tying and winning runs in scoring position, and Rowand gets more trust from LaRussa than Pujols? Explain that one to me, because I’ll never understand it. I would never want LaRussa managing my ballclub. He’s as dumb as he is arrogant.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

All-Star Break: First Half Recap

The Midsummer Classic is here so it’s time to take stock of what we know and don’t know, what we thought we knew, and what we might learn in the coming months. This has been an “interesting” season – that’s tongue-in-cheek for “wow, ballplayers really miss their steroids and their greenies.” Seriously, I’m not seeing a whole lot of inspired or inspiring baseball this year.

In my 2007 NL/AL Previews I kinda struck out, bringing an end to what had been three previous seasons of nearly perfect prognostications. My biggest miscues so far have been the Yankees, Dodgers, Cardinals, and Astros (all of whom suck to varying degrees) and the Brewers, Padres, and Rockies (all of whom are better than I thought).

Hindsight being 20/20, I should’ve known that the Cardinals would suck this year. I mean, really, besides Pujols, that’s just not a big league caliber lineup. The Cards have been playing with fire for several years now, constantly letting talent walk away and trying to get by with fringe players like Preston Wilson (the poster child of a has-been). Ditto the Astros who, despite a deeper-than-average lineup for the NL, have nothing in the way of quality arms behind Roy Oswalt. Losing Pettitte and Clemens in the same off-season was bad enough. But watching Brad Lidge, Dan Wheeler, and Chad Qualls in a three-way race for worst possible closer has cost the Astros countless wins and much-needed confidence. You can’t trust these guys in a close game, not for a second.

I never saw the Yankees at a game under .500 coming into the break. I never saw Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Bobby Abreu, and Mike Mussina underperforming to the extreme levels they have to this point. Based on their runs scored/allowed differential, the Yanks should be a 49-win team right now and still project to finishing the year with a 94-68 record. That might or might not get them into their 13th consecutive postseason but, at this point, I’ll take it over their current 80-82 pace.

I won’t waste too much time on the Dodgers. Suffice it to say that they are great at scouting and developing young talent (Russell Martin, James Loney, Jonathan Broxton, Chad Billingsley) but god-awful at playing the free agency market (Juan Pierre, Jason Schmidt, Rafael Furcal, Luis Gonzalez).

As for the surprises, the Padres have no lineup whatsoever but their pitching staff has been anchored by Cy Young seasons from both Jake Peavy and Chris Young. When your team has given up a major-league low 298 runs, you can have a lineup that is weaker than most little league rosters. The Rockies, I don’t think, will be in the playoff hunt in the end. But I certainly didn’t see them as a .500 team at the break. Good for them, they deserve it.

As for the Brewers, I had them as a 3rd place team in a weak division. I didn’t like their bullpen, I thought their lineup was too young, and their pitching staff seemed like it didn’t have enough depth to withstand injuries. Through the season’s first 90 games, the Brewers are in first place and have the NL’s second-best record. They only project out to an 89-win team but, hey, the Cards won the World Series last year and they won six fewer than that. I still don’t see the Brew-Crew winning the division but I’m tipping my hat to them for a good first half of the year.

On the awards front, I had Roy Oswalt and Johan Santana as the Cy Young winners and Albert Pujols and ARod as MVPs. Oswalt’s having an OK year for a lousy team but he’s got no shot at the Cy, not when his bullpen keeps on blowing wins for him. Johan Santana will have to fight Dan Haren, Josh Beckett, and a few others among Jeremy Bonderman, Erik Bedard, Kelvim Escobar, and CC Sabathia, but I think Johan’s capable of going on a run and ending up with the hardware.

MVP-wise, Pujols has a lot of work to do. ARod’s only problem will be convincing voters to give him his third award in five seasons while playing for a lousy ballclub. As an aside, don’t ask me why I didn’t pick NL and AL Rookie of the Year winners but I appear to have blanked on those. My predictions won’t count, but Hunter Pence (Astros) and Jeremy Guthrie (Orioles) have to be considered the first-half favorites right now.

OK, so this hasn’t been my best year with the picks. At least I was right about Johan Santana, ARod, the Mets, Angels, and Indians. Those three teams are leading their divisions and, in the case of the Angels, they’re looking like a serious World Series contender. We’ll just have to see how the second half plays out. For my sake, I hope the Yanks can pull off another Boston Massacre. It’s not like I’ve got football season to look forward to...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hump Day Video: The Palio - Siena, Italy

Well as part of our new weekly series survive a Wednesday we present this video about the Palio Siena. Mainly as humans and animals were injured in the making of this video..

All-Star Baseball

As you watch the All-Star game, remember, say no to 'Roids!!

No sports to speak of...

I just want to begin by saying to Roosevelt E. Roosevelt, what it is, what it shall be, what it was. The weather out there today is hot and shitty with continued hot and shitty in the afternoon. Tomorrow a chance of continued crappy with a pissy weather front coming down from the north. Basically, it's hotter than a snake's ass in a wagon rut.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Cheers and Jeers: Kobe Edition

Veritas Asshat = "A Kobe"
Directions: Fill glass with ice, add 2 shots of 151 (rum) then 2 shots of Midori (melon liqueur)then 2 splashes of sour mix and then fill to top of glass with sprite. Stir with straw and ASSHAT!

Thanks to the wonderful people over at Deuce of Davenport they've put together a nice long list of drinks that should be renamed after athletes. Oh and yes there's an Eli.

Cheers: TGIF. Its been a long week. From going to work to avoiding flying fireworks I'm worn out. I know what's in store for relaxation for tonight....
Cheers: To Transformers the movie. My childhood heroes and villains are finally on the big screen. I mean really robots that change into 1980s cars, trucks and the occasional microscope what isn't there to like. Anyway a tribute to my favorite uber transformer...Devastor. The combination of 6 construction vehicles, but without the Teamsters interfering.

Jeers: To Douchebags in sports. Sure it would be nice if the world was free of douchebags and that they didn't drive around in their new i-cars talking on their i-phones while listening to their i-tunes but can they at least stay off my tv. According to

Cheers: To David Beckham's arrival. Soon enough USA soccer will actually be seen by someone. Which is a shame because if you haven't you missed Freddie Adu making a sick sick goal

Jeers: To lengthy contract holdouts. Looks like Brady Quinn is asking for top 10 money as opposed to his slotted 22nd spot. Look buddy the Browns saved you from getting sent to the grave yard of QBs (learning from Brian Billick) you should thanking them at every turn. So shut up, get your contract and if you honestly can't beat out Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson you have a lot bigger issues on hand.

Cheers: Less than 2 months to go before the start of college football season. August 30th the Miami Redhawks take on the Ball State Scratchers. If that doesn't peak your interest Tennessee takes on California. Frankly I'm more interested to see those two schools fans interact.

What else are we cheering and jeering about this week?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Post-Holiday House-Cleaning

It’s time for a good house-cleaning this morning. Here goes:

1. Although I do believe there is something to be said for giving people a second chance, I am not sure P.J. Carlesimo is that deserving of one. Obviously, Carlesimo is best-known for being the human punching bag for a seriously-enraged Latrell Sprewell. But besides that, he was a mostly mediocre head coach for the Portland Trailblazers and Golden State Warriors, a guy who compiled a career 183-222 (.452) record and never won a playoff series in three tries (3-9; .250).

Sure his last shot as a head coach came during the 1999-2000 season and a lot of time has passed. But what makes Carlesimo more qualified to be a head coach today? His association with the San Antonio Spurs, a team he joined in 2003, obviously helps. But do we know more about Carlesimo besides the fact that he wasn’t a good head coach the first time around? Does the fact that, at least on the surface, his players really didn’t appreciate his dictatorial method of leadership come into play? Do we consider this, even if it’s nearly ancient history at this point?

The Sonics are a team in transition, having lost their two best players, forced to rebuild on the fly with #2 pick Kevin Durant and #5 pick Jeff Green. There’s a good chance the team won’t be in Seattle for much longer. Is it in these young guys’ best interest to be coached by a guy who comes in with a mediocre track record and a dubious reputation?

2. Continuing with the Sonics for a moment, I’m really at a loss for what has transpired up in Seattle. Trading Ray Allen for Jeff Green made some sense because, if nothing else, it freed up some money to keep Rashard Lewis. Apparently Lewis wasn’t interested in staying in the Emerald City and picked sunny Orlando instead.

Shouldn’t Seattle have been a bit more aggressive in securing Lewis? Shouldn’t they have tried to lock Lewis up before executing the trade with Boston that sent Ray Allen to the Celtics? This reminds me of the summer free agency frenzy of 2000 when Orlando signed Tracy McGrady and traded for Grant Hill in the hopes of convincing Tim Duncan to join them in the Magic Kingdom. Back then, it seemed ridiculous to me that the Magic would unload their entire team for Grant Hill without having secured a promise from Tim Duncan beforehand (Hill and Duncan shared an agent at the time so back-channel communications would’ve been quite easy). We all know how that story turned out.

Then, as now, it seems to me like someone forgot to do their homework. Seattle should’ve had a better grasp of Lewis’s desires before they traded Allen. Now they went from a lucky lottery team with a bright future to a team that might be competitive 3-4 years down the road if Durant and Green pan out. In the meantime, they’re awfully young and inexperienced and shouldn’t expect to improve on last year’s 31-51 record.

3. As many might’ve noticed, I’m not blogging about baseball all that much this year. The reason, as should’ve been easy to guess, is because the Yanks suck and my interest in the sport is on hiatus. Yes, I follow the major stories every day and I’m still keenly aware of everything from a fantasy baseball perspective. But I can’t get too emotional or invested in the 2007 season since I know that the playoffs aren’t coming to Yankee Stadium this year. For that reason, I’ve got nothing to say about the All-Star Game or the annual mockery that is made of the roster selection process. As long as the AL beats the NL, I’ll be satisfied.

4. There’s talk that Isiah is exploring a Ron Artest-to-New York trade scenario. Apparently the Kings would take Jared Jeffries, Nate Robinson, and Randolph Morris and send the sociopath with All-Star talent back to his hometown.

Certainly the airwaves and internet will be rife with criticism should the Knicks pull this off. And it’s no secret that I’m something of an Isiah apologist. I would love for this trade to happen. The talent on the Knicks roster would be hard to argue against. As I’ve said before, not one player on Isiah’s teams in Toronto, Indiana, or New York has ever demonstrated issues of bad character or bad behavior. For whatever else his perceived shortcomings might be, his players relate well to his life, experiences, and playing career and he manages to get more out of them than other coaches.

I argued against giving P.J. Carlesimo a second chance but I think Artest and Zach Randolph should be given clean slates in New York if they end up being teammates. It’s been three years since Randolph got into any trouble and, in Artest’s case, he made his bones as an All-Star caliber player for Isiah’s Pacers. I’d love to see this happen.

5. Finally, a little rant on something totally unrelated to sports. Ted Nugent, 1970’s and 80’s heavy metal guitarist, wrote an opinion column in the Tuesday edition of the Wall Street Journal. It’s hard to imagine reading something more offensive and more outrageous than this in a normally-intelligent newspaper like the Journal.

Nugent is certainly entitled to his opinion with respect to the quality of music produced during the so-called Summer of Love of 1967. I would quarrel with his depiction of the “mostly soulless rock music that flourished in San Francisco” seeing as though the improvisational psychedelia of ’67 drew its roots from jazz and blues, considered the most soulful of American musical genres.

The offensive portion of his column isn’t his misguided view of the quality of music. To me, the real crime is in his depiction of the era and the negative views and disdain he holds for his peers of the day. “[S]toned, dirty, stinky hippies… [t]urned off by the work ethic and productive American Dream values of their parents, [they] instead opted for a cowardly, irresponsible lifestyle of random sex, life-destroying drugs…” What a way to describe an entire population. Certainly, there were hordes of people who were less interested in social activism and were instead drawn to the casual attitudes that surrounded the Summer of 1967. But can hedonism be described as cowardly and irresponsible? Is everything we do requiring of a purpose? Is there no good that can come out of pleasure for pleasure’s sake? Certainly an artist like Ted Nugent – and despite his rigid point of view, Nugent is an artist – should be able to appreciate the aesthetic qualities of freedom and creativity. And every artist requires inspiration, something that San Francisco’s permissive climate surely afforded to all.

Nugent’s assault on “hippies” as the cause for the death of the American Dream, and the “rising rates of divorce, high school drop outs, drug use, abortion, sexual diseases and crime, not to mention the exponential expansion of government and taxes” would be hysterical if not so tragic. Not only does he forget to attribute the Vietnam War and other global economic and political crises as potential causes for government expansion and increased taxation, he clearly demonstrates no ability to comprehend the need for human self-expression and rebellion. I’ll bet it would be quite instructive to ask the elder Mr. and Mrs. Nugent what their feelings are on Ted’s long hair and rock-and-roll lifestyle.

The bottom line is that, on July 4th, a date which is intended to celebrate our national independence through the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, it is galling that an arch-conservative like Nugent would speak to us as if he were King George III. Our republic is in need of repairs, thanks to a corrupt and destructive ruling party and an ineffectual and slovenly opposition. But this is not the fault of those perhaps misguided idealist souls of the 1960’s.

Look around, Nuge, the country is in the shitter because of guys like you who can’t accept that there is more than one way to skin a cat. The social experiment of 1967 didn’t pan out the way it was intended to. But neither has the War on Terror or the Christian Right’s family values agenda. The American Dream is alive and well, you’re just too straight-laced to realize it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

You don't deserve to eat!!!

“The IFOCE is against at-home training of any kind. The IFOCE strongly discourages younger individuals from eating for speed or quantity under any circumstances. The IFOCE urges all interested parties to become involved in sanctioned events -- do not try speed eating home.”


This afternoon I witnessed one of the moist vile and repugnant sports… the Nathan’s Hotdog Eating contest in Coney Island NY. During that lost hour, here are the top 5 quotes.

“This could be the most important moment in the history of American sports.”

Chestnut takes back the Yellow Nathan’s belt, sets the world record for hotdog eating (63 in 12 minutes), and sends the competition packing.

FYI- 2nd place man Kobayashi vomits and eats his own vomit. USA!! USA!!

“The Black Widow (105 lbs Asian woman) once ate 10 % of her body weight in cheesecake.”

“Ladies and gentleman, start your enzymes!!”

“The elder statesman of eating, at 63 years old, holds the world record for birthday cake and SPAM”

“The whole world is watching… I mean the whole free world is watching this event”

Happy 4th of July-- next on ESPN 8 is the Rock Paper Scissors contest.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Notes from the Periphery: Congrats to Oca!

Winning Moment of July Palio 2007: Oca Wins (from D. Suo AP reporter)

Well folks as my last duty as the wayward European reporter I want to wish congratulations to the July Champion of Il Palio: Oca (The Goose). Every year for the past 1000+ years the city of Siena hosts a horse race around its Piazza which it affectionately has termed Il Palio (which I believe is Italian for insane suicide run). In the race the 17 sections of the town (known as Contradas) face off against one another. The entire year is built up for this one event (its like the Iron Bowl in Alabama but with less inbreeding). There are parties held from the various Contradas. Small children or midgets (I'm uncertain which) practice every day with their drumming, flag tossing and leaning tower making.
Apparently in the Middle Ages it was common to jump over flags as they didn't have any Sony Playstations back then to entertain themselves

Then about a month before the race is run, a group of wise old elders meets together to determine which of the Contrada's gets to actually run in the race (as the track is maybe 5 men wide and therefore too tiny for all the Contrada's to race). Given Siena's wonderful communist tradition the previous years winners are automatically excluded and then following Siena's wonderful Italian tradition a complex, arcane, opaque and probably bribery inflicted process determines which 10 Contradas are racing. Then there are more parties, drinking, and bureaucratic delays for the next month. Finally on July 2nd over 50,000 people (of whom at least 5 are sober) crowd the tiny town to watch the horses run around in a circle. Unfortunately for the safety of the horses (who spend their mornings pooping in churches) people are locked in the center of the piazza for the entire afternoon.

There are no bathrooms after 2 PM for a dusk race. You do the math...

This year the race was neck and neck between Oca (the Goose), a traditional powerhouse that had won more titles than any other contrada and the upstart ragtags of Nicchio (the Seashells which you can read as the Cleveland Contrada of Siena). Now I'm of course a card carrying member of Nicchio so we all know what happened next. Yes Via dei Pispini, home of the Fightingest of Sea Shells, is quiet tonight for Nicchio seized defeat from the jaws of victory, letting Oca claim the grand prize of first place (which is wearing a pacifier and carrying baby bottles. True Story). Anyway so Congrats to the Noble Contrada of Oca for the Victory. This Moretti is for you!

Five Words I Never Thought I'd Say

"Hats off to Frank Thomas."

Not just because of hitting his 500th home run - which in and of itself is a tremendous milestone - but for what he said afterward:

"It means a lot to me, because I did it the right way, and I busted my butt since college and I've always worked hard in that weight room to be strong, and I'm a big guy and I've been blessed with this talent. So I could care less about what others have done. I know that what it took for me to get to 500 home runs - it was a lot of work."

Not as forceful as I would have liked - but I have been waiting for a statement like that from a guy like Thomas (or Griffey or Thome) for years. I read Thomas' words to be a subtle but still strong repudiation of steroids. Thomas came up to the majors as a big guy, always hit for power, and although we cannot be certain, I'm of the opinion that he is simply a naturally gifted power hitter who never took the juice. Guys like that - whose phenomenal numbers are cheapened by the likes of Bonds and Big Mac - are the ones who should be speaking out, advocating testing and harsh punishments for those who try and cheat. It is only through the leadership of players who understand why baseball needs to be rid of steroids that the problem can be solved in spite of Bud Selig, Donald Fehr, Barry Bonds, and all the others who have perpetuated this scandal.

When he played for the White Sox, I absolutely detested Big Frank. I still hate him, actually. But I respect him a whole lot more.

Way to go, Frank - for reaching 500, and for doing it the right way.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Who's Now? Who Cares?!?!

I have not been this blog's biggest ESPN critic - but I have reached boiling point. Did anyone see the latest crap on SportsCenter? "Who's Now" is the network's 32-player tournament to determine the "ultimate sports star".

Go ahead and digest that for a minute. It'll give me a chance to try and calm down.

Ok - are they fucking serious? Is this really a productive use of anyone's time? Assume for a moment that either (a) the "ultimate sports star" is something that mere mortals can determine, or (b) that this determination has any value of any kind, somewhere in this galaxy. Is the nearly nine on-air minutes dedicated to this epic battle more valuable then, say, additional highlights of some big baseball games (Dodgers-Padres, Twins-Tigers), or the MLB All-Star Rosters, or NBA draft analysis, or the U.S. Women's Open, or ... shit, even the NHL is more important!

This is just utter crap. It's totally useless programming. I don't get upset over bad ESPN analysts, because at least they (usually) discuss items of sports interest, even if I disagree with their logic or positions. But when Keyshawn Johnson and Michael Wilbon debate whether Tiger Woods or Matt Leinart has the better entourage of Hollywood friends, I respond with total silence - because I don't fucking care because this means absolutely nothing and I give more thought to the process by which paint dries then I care about this incredibly stupid horseshit.

End rant now.

Baseball History 101

I was emailing with Mighty Mike earlier this morning and he was telling me about his nice day at the ballpark yesterday with some of his college buddies. Later, he mentioned that a guy I knew in college* asked an interesting question about the origins of the use of the letter “K” when referring to strikeouts. Mighty Mike then thought I should post the answer on the blog as one of the site’s resident baseball historians.

The answer to this guy’s* question goes back to a man named Henry Chadwick, who is considered a founding father of baseball and, arguably, the most important non-player in the game’s history.

Chadwick is considered America’s first sportswriter and is the man responsible for creating the newspaper box score and the scoring system used in baseball today. When a TV or radio announcer calls a 6-4-3 double play or an E-5, Chadwick’s numerical system is being employed. Thus, the K was Chadwick’s notation for a strikeout (because the letter “S” was already used for sacrifice).

For his contributions to the game, Chadwick was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1938. His plaque says it all.

*Why have I linked to pictures of a pepper mill and a red bell pepper? Those that know who I’m talking about will understand. Those that don’t get it – don’t worry, there’s not much of a story there. They’re just the easiest visuals I could come up with to represent who I was referring to.