Friday, February 27, 2009

Betting The 103

ESPN's Peter Gammons saying there's a "very good chance" the rest of the 104 names of players to test positive for PEDs in 2003 will be revealed within the next month.
Now, seriously, Las Vegas... do I have to do all the work for you on this one? Give us an over/under bet on how many members of the 2003 All-Star Game were taking the needle!

National League All-Stars (First the starters, then the pitchers, then the reserves)

Jason Schmidt -- Power pitcher, hurt soon after, played in Balco Land... Call it 3 to 1 against

Javy Lopez -- Fell apart fast, but catchers do that -- 5 to 1 against

Todd Helton -- A lot of injuries recently, power has fallen to hell, screamed a little too loud at earlier allegations... 2 to 1

Jose Vidro -- Never really was good enough to show a performance spike -- 10 to 1

Scott Rolen -- Prototype injury breakdowns and erratic power, friends with McGwire -- 3 to 1

Edgar Renteria -- Still around, durable, some performance spike but not huge -- 8 to 1

Jim Edmonds -- McGwire teammate, injury prone, erratic power -- 4 to 1

Albert Pujols -- Epic power, some injury experience, a Cardinal but no real spikes -- 6 to 1

Gary Sheffield -- Always was a misanthrope, performance spikes with contract years, moved to a lot of teams, many teammates to rat on him if he was juicing -- 6 to 1

Bary Bonds -- Um, duh. That's one.

Armando Benitez -- Closers always spike; 10 to 1

Kevin Brown -- Huge chance, given the money and injury history, along with the bad personality and cheating history -- 3 to 1

Shawn Chacon -- Yes, he really was an All-Star once; 12 to 1

Eric Gagne -- Have to think he's likely given the career path -- 4 to 1

Russ Ortiz -- I'm as surprised as anyone to see him here; was in BalcoLand then -- 7 to 1

Mark Prior -- Prototype, but I suspect Dusty Baker was the real career killer here -- 8 to 1

John Smoltz -- No real spike, still around, would be surprising and disappointing -- 15 to 1

Billy Wagner -- Kind of a hyper-competitive ass and injury-prone, but most closers are like that -- 9 to 1

Mike Williams -- Pretty sure he couldn't afford them, and if he did use, he got bad product -- 15 to 1

Woody Williams -- If he did them, he must not be able to reach home plate without -- 25 to 1

Dontrelle Willis -- Never really a flame thrower, seems too flaky/genuine for cheating, and as a Marlin, was probably skipping meals to pay his bills -- 15 to 1

Randy Wolf -- Just not good enough to be a user -- 12 to 1

Kerry Wood -- See Prior -- 8 to 1

Paul Lo Duca -- No power, but injury prone and a homicidal jerk -- 3 to 1

Richie Sexson -- Was always big, was never good again, but was pretty durable -- 7 to 1

Luis Castillo -- Not enough power for drugs -- 15 to 1

Marcus Giles -- Surprisingly apt career for a juicer -- 5 to 1

Aaron Boone -- Have to think that both Boone Brothers are highly likely cheats -- 3 to 1

Mike Lowell -- Red Sox players are always clean -- 14 to 1

Rafael Furcal -- More interested in DUIs than ROIDs -- 12 to 1

Luis Gonzalez -- Durable with a big power year, might have used and gotten out -- 8 to 1

Geoff Jenkins -- Perfect career arc and injury history for it -- 5 to 1

Andruw Jones -- How else can you explain him? 3 to 1

Rondell White -- I suspect even he forgets he made this team -- 10 to 1

Preston Wilson -- The big year was probably more altitude-related than needle, but still, a huge year and then ill health -- 8 to 1

American League All Stars

Esteban Loiaza -- What, you don't think he was immoral enough for it? 3 to 1

Jorge Posada -- Too long a career and too durable -- 12 to 1

Carlos Delgado -- Similar to Posada at first base; if he did use, it wasn't in 2003 -- 12 to 1

Alfonso Soriano -- One big year and some injury history, but the big years also coincided with salary drives and hitter parks -- 6 to 1

Troy Glaus -- Another prototype juice career, and a McGwire teammate -- 7 to 1

Alex Rodriguez -- Our second locked down juicer

Garret Anderson -- No real power spike to speak of -- 12 to 1

Hideki Matsui -- Acne? Check. Injury prone? Check. On a team with cheaters? Make it three... 8 to 1

Ichiro Suzuki -- Hyper-durable, no real power spikes, I'd be well and truly surprised -- 25 to 1

Edgar Martinez -- Too durable with no spikes, but did have some huge years -- 15 to 1

Lance Carter -- Was he in the league long enough to take some? -- 20 to 1

Roger Clemens -- Number three with a thrown roid rage bat bullet

Brendan Donnelly -- Ex-scab, cheat and general piece of garbage with some big years -- 4 to 1

Keith Foulke -- I'd be surprised, given that he threw a change, but he did play for the Tejada/Giambi A's in BalcoLand -- 12 to 1

Eddie Guardado -- Not really a flamethrower, and highly durable back in that day -- 15 to 1

Roy Halladay -- Lock durable without super speed, a shock if he did -- 20 to 1

Shigetoshi Hasegawa -- Who remembers or cares? Probably him, for one -- 15 to 1

Mike MacDougal -- One of those bad team non-stars, durable but not good -- 15 to 1

Jamie Moyer -- Obviously a juicer, given his lack of durability and raw stuff, and yes, That's Sarcasm; would be higher odds if he hadn't come out so strong against A-Roid, leading to "Methinks he dost protest too much" potential -- 20 to 1

Mark Mulder -- Wasn't a flame-thrower, but huge injury issues and a Balco A -- 9 to 1

C.C. Sabathia -- Only if the roids came in donut form, but maybe the Yankees require it -- 9 to 1

Barry Zito -- Doesn't throw hard or get hurt, but a Balco A -- 12 to 1

Ramon Hernandez -- Balco A, migrant worker, no real huge power spike -- 12 to 1

Jason Varitek -- Durable and faded is not really the roid way -- 12 to 1

Jason Giambi -- Fourth man in!

Mike Sweeney -- Classic roid career, but it's hard to see how any Royal cared enough to cheat -- 12 to 1

Bret Boone -- I'd be surprised if he didn't -- 3 to 1

Hank Blalock -- More of a park effect, but some durability and performance spikes -- 8 to 1

Nomar Garciaparra -- Probably the most likely Red Sox user, given the injury history and intermittent power -- 4 to 1

Melvin Mora -- Too durable with limited spike -- 12 to 1

Magglio Ordonez -- Big production, injury history, fought with his manager, but still didn't seem the type -- 9 to 1

Manny Ramirez -- Despite the Bad Tooth's protests, there are performance spikes here, and he's smart enough to tell someone else to dose him -- 8 to 1

Vernon Wells -- Severe spikes and injury history, but might have been too young to use at this age -- 9 to 1

Carl Everett -- Capable of any thing at any time, with the freaky kind of personality that says Chemically Enhanced -- 6 to 1

Dmitri Young -- I'm amazed that he made the team, and he did have injury issues, but roids don't usually make you fat -- 12 to 1

I'm putting the over/under at 14.5. Give me the over!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

This Is Not How You Execute The Trampoline Dunk

Or *is* it? Let's face it, this guy is going to get a lot more play than the folks who throw down correctly...

Blogrolling: You Down With Oh, Pee, Pee... Pee

Can you really break your penis? is the actual title and sum and substance of this real, actual page from Scientific American. Kudos to them for the image selection of the year on this, and by all means, go get yourself informed. The penis you save may be your own!

Nick Underhill drinks the Royals Kool-Aid. I'm pretty sure that he does this every year. Just make Greinke start every game!

Republican Answer Man Bobby Jindal is an exorcising machine. The power of Jebus compels you!

The Marbury Era for the Celtics with startlingly awful loss to the Clippers, and then a DUI for reserve Gabe Pruitt. Starbury Fever, Celtics Fan -- Catch It!

Just in time for the NCAA tournament, here's the site -- FanWagon -- that's a great directory for true-blue fan Web blogs of major colleges. Especially valuable for trash talking the opposition with time efficiency!

And finally, Punch-Out! comes out for the Wii on May 18. I predict many controller related injuries, and at least five frothing media reports with "IS THE WII KILLING OUR CHILDREN???" style headlines...

And now a word from our sponsor

When I watch the following ad, I'm reminded in a powerful way of the Bobby Hoying Era in Philadelphia. And yet, this time, it's kinda funny!

By Blogfrican Law, I Must Inform You...

1) Tiger Woods played golf today.

2) Celtic Fan is officially worried about the start of the Starbury Era, since he would be the first unlikable player to ever wear the laundry

3) Nate Robinson and Will Ferrell are Verry Verry Specail Fwiends!, and

4) A-Rod got booed, hit a home run, drove away with his shady cousin and then *totally* had sex with Madonna.

After Teh Sex was over, I heard they injected a baby seal with HGH until this happened...

Or maybe that was just me...

Blogrolling: Losing My Titligion

The MoonDog sees the light of content sports blogging, rather than going for the easy poon traffic. I'd like to support him in such an endeavor, and it's nice that he's going back to the salt mines of content writing... but, um, friend? No one twisted your arm and made you chase the poon for all that time.

To be clear -- I don't much care if someone pays the rent with titty. It's not my choice, but I've worked for people who've gone that way, and my day job in advertising sometimes touches consumer categories that aren't any cleaner, as it were. We all have our own choices to make, and for the most part, it's just not worth getting all indignant about it.

But when you entitle your quasi-farewell "The Evolution Of..." um, well, ok, but you might want to (a) step outside into the cool air and let your head swell down a little, and (b) delete this thing in a few months, if the heat of lower site stats makes you reconsider your ways. But what the hell, you've gotten over a dozen sports blogs to link to this, so what the hell do I know...

Continuing in the Poon, Jason Giambi's post-baseball plans involve it. Just so long as he doesn't get in front of a camera.

You know the economy is going bad when someone dares to question the almighty power of a successful mens college basketball coach. Don't you people understand that Jim Calhoun is doing the Lord's work, and should never be questioned? PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE ECONOMY BEHIND THE CURTAIN!

And just to make the universe stop and point to two college basketball stories in the same calendar year, take a look at the work of one Craig Robinson, aka the First Brother In Law. That family is having a year, my friends.

Awful Topical Fantasy Baseball Team Names

Because I am a big whore to the search engine traffic. As always, these should fit in the standard Yahoo naming space.

The Other 103

Roiddog Millionaires

Beat You Like Rihanna

Octuplets Plus One

Joe The Owner

Vast Stimulus Package

The New Puppy

Madoff Pyramids


Republican Response

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

True Value

What recession? Jerome James, now with the Bulls, has played for five minutes of NBA action this year, all in one game on December 19, a 24-point loss to the Bucks.

His take for that work: $6.2 million dollars, or over $1 million a minute, and in all likelihood, about 2 to 3 times the lifetime take-home pay of anyone reading this.

I'm telling you, folks, if only Isiah Thomas had been given more power, we would have all completely avoided this economic problem...

The NFL Cheese Stands Alone

This might be something of an obvious point, but let me make it and find out if my brain is firing in tune with anyone else's...

The NFL is not just the biggest league in the US. It is also the only sports league that is truly national.

Let's deal with the also-rans in turn.

Baseball is, historically, the national pastime. It's the most pleasant game to attend in person. It is the greatest timesuck, what with the every-day assuredness of it all. It taps best into our literature, our surprising need for math, our need to see things in a historical narrative. It is the sport that feels the least like vice, since it's outdoors, not terribly conducive to betting, and does not require outsized men to run the risk of disability and early death. It gives everyone involved time, and lots of it, to think through every possible permutation, and it rewards any level of interest. If you want to go to a game and spend the day eating and drinking without even so much as looking at the field, you'll probably have a good time. More importantly, no one will think you're some kind of traitor to the cause, or give you grief for not screaming your head off in time with everyone else.

But it is not national, because:

1) There are any number of areas where the sport is repped by exhibition-only slave teams (aka the minor leagues), or more compelling (at least on the local level) age-rank teams (Little League, High School and College teams)

2) There are any number of MLB teams that, due to their market size, have no chance to compete for a championship on a consistent basis. They exist as little more than a de facto farm system and sparring partner for the MLB+ clubs.

3) Because of both of the first two factors, and exacerbated by the inherent unfairness of the system, a large portion of the fanbase bails out during the regular season, only to return around this time next year.

There are, of course, individual *teams* with dispora that resembles a national presence. Go to a West Coast game, you'll find people in Yankee and Red Sox barb, and the Cubs are the default choice for any number of people who want to say they root for a team without ever having to worry about actually watching a game, since the Cubbies never play any game of consequence. But all of these fans will, without a second thought, decline to watch the championship round unless their own team is involved. (And on the off chance that I actually need to prove this, just go look at those Rays-Phillies rating from last year again.)

Now, compare this to the NFL. Have you, Dear Reader, missed a Super Bowl in, say, the last decade? For me, that goes back to at least the Eagles 1980 appearance, which is to say, I've watched every Super Bowl since before many of you were alive.

Now, compare that to the World Series. Who misses that? Well, everyone.

I know, I know, the Series is long, played on weeknights, and the small sample of the playoffs makes it seem like the playoffs are just random chance. Especially if you are a Cubs fan, and your team never gets out of the first round. (And yes, I went to the Cubs Suck well twice in this post, just because I'm not thinking too much of the Cardinals' chances this year either, and I'm trying to keep Cards Fan and Cub Hater The Truth from going back to the emo music. It's just so, so sad.)

The NBA has the same issue as MLB. For a while, it didn't, because it had Michael Jordan, and when the very best player to ever lace them up comes along, you pretty much drop everything and watch, just to see what he does next. (Witness golf and Tiger Woods.) But the same rule applies; once my Sixers are eliminated from contention, assuming I didn't have the blog, I'd probably bail. Especially when the recent Finals have been such appetizing matchups as the dull as toast Spurs against the overmatched Cavs, or the mutual assured distaste for Sixer Fan as Celtics-Lakers. The closest NFL corollary for me is Cowboys-Patriots, and I'd still be watching, if only for the hope of paralysis.

Now, the more salient point... can either the NBA or MLB ever change this? Maybe if LeBron James might be able to put the whole thing on his shoulders, a la Michael. MLB might get to an actual revenue sharing plan, or the more egregious MLB+ teams could get taken down a peg or twenty by the shifting sands of the recession economy.

But the wiser way to bet is that present conditions are indicative of future performance... and that the trends of the last 20+ years are not to be ignored. There is King NFL, and there is everything else... and if the others aren't careful, there will be just King NFL.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Blogrolling at the end of human dignity

Pub crawls in Snuggies, because nothing says Ironic and Hip like looking like a plush druid. I'm convinced these things are responsible for the fall in the stock market; how can you have confidence in our prospects as a nation when people walk around in public like this?

Maybe I'm being too hard on them. They are, after all, consuming less fossil fuels in a cold winter. And maybe it's better for these people to cover up their lardassity... because I'm really not thinking that anyone with any kind of body would wear this.

No Child Left Behind needs a new name. It's a contest!

Joe Sports Fan with the flat-out fantastic video. And if you don't know this guy, you might *be* this guy...

Lemur Blues

The Wall Street Journal

Renewing sports broad- casting deals with Major League Baseball, NASCAR and other entities is getting more expensive for ESPN. With ad revenue down, that could put the cable network in a bind and have repercussions for parent company Disney.

ESPN spends about $2.2 billion annually for broadcast rights to major sports in U.S., including $300 million for 80 Major League Baseball games, $270 million for the final 17 NASCAR races and $1.1 billion for the National Football League's Monday Night Football.

ESPN's NFL payments nearly doubled during the last round of negotiations, and each of its other major rights fees rose by at least 20%. "You have increasing competition for a finite set of sports properties, and that is going to squeeze margins," says Lee Berke, sports media consultant.

Competition is likely to increase. For example, Comcast's 24-hour sports network Versus, saw its audience grow 22% in 2008, and it tried to acquire the rights to the NFL in 2005. Versus executives have vowed to bid against ESPN for additional rights in the future.
So how will all this play out? Well, the Lemur's not just going to stand still and lose money. I'm thinking that they will have to play hardball with cable providers, in the same kind of winning move that made NFLN such a welcome addition to nearly no cable packages.

When push comes to shove, I suspect all will go along with it, because the Lemur demographic is just too important to lose for advertisers, even in a down economy, and there's too big of a chance that guys who are Lemur-less will tell their cable provider to go pound sand.

So then the cable company will have higher costs... which they'll pass along to everyone. Some subscribers will slide over to the dish, or with increasing frequency, to the Web for a la carte programming.

And eventually, by which I mean within ten years, the broadband pipe will be big enough to put that cable provider in the same place as the music industry. (Which, considering just how many people really, really, really hate their cable provider, can't come fast enough.)

Nuclear Hoop Winter

Bad words in the Association today -- yes, I know, on top of the Marbury news! Suicide Watch better have extra staff tonight! -- from super agent David Falk, also known as The Guy That Repped Jordan.

He thinks that the economy is going to be so bad, and that the salary cap is going to contract so much, that you might be looking at a two-year lockout of the Players Association, just because the business will be so fundamentally broken that the owners would lose less money by going dark.

I work in marketing, and one of the lessons I've learned over the years is this... When a guy who makes his money from commissions says it's all going to hell, believe him. Sales guys whine only a little more than poker players, but that doesn't mean they can't sense when the gravy train is running dry. They don't generally get paid unless they can convince someone on the other side of the table that something good will happen if and when they scratch the check. That's not a job that anyone does with a firm conviction tht they, and their clients, and their entourages, will all be eating shrimp instead of lobster, and having sex with their wives rather than their mistresses, in the very near future.

The 300 remaining casual NHL fans might recognize this strategy, but for the Association that looked like it was going to eclipse MLB for the second spot during the Jordan Glory Days, not to mention having the second-most diversity from the US among all team sports... well, things were supposed to go better than this. (In case you are wondering what the most universal team sport is, it's what the rest of the world calls football. Speaking of which, why don't we just name our game something different, since the foot part of things is so challenged as to called "special"? I recommend Warball, which just sounds more American anyway. Moving on...)

The seeds have already been sown for fading stars like Jason Kidd and Allen Iverson to expect nothing and like it (nothing being defined as a 75% pay cut for the mid-level veterans' exemption) if they choose to lace 'em up next year. This assumes, of course, that there will be anything to lace 'em up for.

Now, I realize that the majority of people reading this will probably just emit a satisfied grunt at the idea of less Association in their lives. I'm thisclose away from finally giving you the all-year football you crave. (Did you know the Eagles signed no one today? Panic!) But you should also realize a couple of things here.

1) If the NBA goes poof, it doesn't make anything better for MLB or NFL. All it does is make the fear spiral grow wider, scare the advertising community more, and create a massive hole in several programming schedules that will be filled with... What? More shows about poker? I fail to see how that makes anyone's life any better, really.

2) The last time the Association went under, Shawn Kemp turned from a Nubian god into a parade float, while fathering scores of children out of wedlock. Do you really want to see what Zach Randolph will do with extra time on his hands? Won't anyone think of the children?

3) A gap in the sports calendar will only mean more time for the World Wide Lemur to invent utter BS. Do you really want to see what happens when the state Mount Rushmores get morphed into a Who's Next segment? I just hit myself in the temples for even thinking of the premise.

Anyway, getting back to the Association... adding to the malaise is the sudden realization among the higher ups that there really are no new lush and verdant attendance fields to run to. Many of the places that have gotten ball in the last few years (Memphis, Charlotte) don't seem to care that much about it, not when everything else is going to hell and the teams aren't terribly good.

Next, take a look at the places that used to have crowds earlier in this decade (Sacramento, New Jersey, Clippers, DC). Suddenly, they all seem at risk. The next tier of Ut Oh includes the people that you wouldn't think would be in trouble, but very well might be. Those include Milwaukee, where the owner is a tapped Senator, Cleveland, whose guy made his nut with (gulp) loans, Dallas with the can't have all gotten out of the Web dollars of the Cube, and Portland's Paul Allen, who lost control of a company the other day for the lack of funds.

Allen also has the worry of shooting pains in his groin every evening from my voodoo doll of him as well. Tonight, I'm thinking he needs to light some firewood.

Add it all up, and you get a league with the very real possibility of a bottom quarter or more at risk. So, before this whole thing turns into the Bad Tooth's threatened NBA book, what are their options, short of a massive and unprecedented devaluation of the temperamental and mostly irreplaceable help?

1) Very unconventional moves.

I'm not talking about the obvious ones of Vegas (the Kings-sized parachute for years, but it's far from foolproof, and recreational gambling has taken a massive hit in this economy as well), San Diego (the Clips think they can find lucre in their historic locale, but the people in that part of the world have never seemed crazed for hoop, and they remember Donald Sterling enough to hate him like everyone else), or all of those three-sport towns (Pittsburgh, Kansas City, St. Louis, Tampa) that have managed to live without hoop this long. Besides, the Stern Way is to get to an emerging market (San Antonio, Portland, Phoenix, and maybe even, sigh, OKC) first and get an edge.

So what's left? Brooklyn kind of counts, and would look better if not for some very dead in the water property and development cost issues. Vegas will suck someone in at some point. And then the real wild card... an overseas division. Because you really want to pick a fight with existing leagues, and create massive travel bills!

2) Contraction.

What the purists want, because they dream of some magical improvement in play as hungry players all kill each other for minutes, and teams can go with full 10-man squads. Maybe it helps, but when you see an NBA game, you don't see a lack of talent, even from the benches. You do see a lot of similar coaching, uneven officiating, and too much turnover for defensive cohesion... but this really isn't going to be solved by offing a half dozen teams.

3) The NBAPA taking it without lube.

Somehow, I think I'm putting my chips on this bet. And that Mr. Falk got a call from a certain Mr. Stern, suggesting that he might want to make such a statement in public and prep the patient...

And Blogfrica Weeps

Where were you when Lennon was shot? The Challenger explosion? 9/11? And now, the new touchstone -- when you heard the news that Stephon Marbury was waived?

Me, I was at my computer, wondering how future generations would see us... for making such a grand hullabaloo over a terrible, terrible basketball player.

Anyway, he belongs to the ages now, along with the tens of millions of Spice Girls and Britney Spears CD buyers, everyone who camped out for "The Phantom Menance", and people who voted for Bush twice.

Good night, sweet prince, and may angels speed you to the Celtics, so that they too do not win a playoff series...

Top 10 ways to spice up your fantasy baseball draft

Hey, one of the best days of my year -- Live Draft Day -- is coming up, and as always, I'm looking to bring it up a notch. Last year's had dry ice smoke, a championship belt, and entrance music for every owner, so the bar is already pretty high... but dammit, that's why I run the best damned league in the world. (Or, well, at least, my world.)

If you're ready to make the day more memorable, feel free to bring in any of these sure-fire strategies.

10) Hire King Kong Bundy. According to his site, he's available as either a wrestler or a comic (and if one believes his MySpace page, he's a Philly guy - shocking!).

Imagine the thrill that your league mates will have when their picks are insulted by a real live pro wrestling superstar, especially one that is likely to hit you with a steel chair if you don't laugh at his jokes. Just make sure you hire a second, emergency back-up wrestler for the run-in if things go badly.

9) Strippers. This one's obvious but easy, and particularly effective as a counter to the guy that always brings porn. It can be pricey, but what's money compared to mamm... err, memories?

8) Spike the food and booze.
Go creative here. Laxatives or pot in the brownies, extra liquor in the punch, or good old acid in the salsa. It's why they call it gambling, folks.

7) Go upper tank. My old rock band had a guitarist that used to do this at the end of every long-term session in any recording studio that we worked in. It wasn't one of his more endearing traits. But hey, you want to win, right?

6) Competitive eating. Works best with ribs or some other food where you've got visible remnants of your gluttony. If your opponent has the meat sweats and no feeling in their left side by Hour 2, you've won!

5) Owner Strife. Got co-owners who are reaching that divorce stage? Push them along with a well-timed whisper campaign. Got a league that's antsy about personal conflict? Convince the co-owners to stage a fight -- the more over the top the better, for the fear/hope that it will turn real halfway through -- that will have the shy violets in your league staring at their shoes in embarrassment.

If you can get thrown dishes (preferably not yours), that has to mean your sleeper will slip into the late going.

4) Midgets.
If dumb guy television (and, well, my own unfortunate life of being shorter than Muggsy Bogues) has taught me anything, it's that guys will give way too much attention to the little people. Hire one to come by and help with the draft, or just to stand in the corner looking ominous, like they are an extra in a David Lynch movie.

And if they can dance around a miniature Stonehenge, so much the better.

3) Pets. Know a man with a snake, and have no snake phobias of your own? It's time to draft with that bad boy on your shoulders. Can you stand the smell of feral ferrets? Drop on by the pet store and bring a few of your new babies with you. Ready to put on an eyepatch, have some crap everywhere bird on your shoulder, and scream Arr! a lot as the fantasy pirate? Ye hearties, man!

Just remember, you tried to leave your pet home, but that darn wife/ girlfriend/ cellmate wouldn't stand for it. Look, he's so cute! He likes you! Why don't you hold him for an hour or two while I draft?

2) Sideshow. Can you draft while on a rented bucking bronco machine? More importantly, can you possibly avoid making a draft pick while on a rented bucking bronco machine? How about your skills in a never-ending Pop-A-Shot battle, preferably with some neighborhood kid who isn't actually in the draft, and has been paid to egg you on by the commish for the entire draft while the rest of the league drops magnets on your laptop?

It's all fair in love, war, and fantasy nerding.

1) Midget Strippers.
The nuclear winter of draft distraction. Use at your moral peril, because once you've gone to the Midget Stripper option, nothing else will compare. (And no, the Shooter Wife isn't available.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Blogrolling is counting the days until death

It's MLB picture day over at the Sports Hernia. The Brewers going all emo does not bode well for their chances, I think.

Today's Moment of Blasphemy from the Onion is particularly trenchant, especially if you're wearing those shoes.

Major League Jerk is starting a fantasy baseball league against their commenters, and the winner gets a shirt. The FTT lawyers will be in touch, since that's so our move.

Epic Carnival ran a sports story? Kind of? I need to encourage that. Besides, there's NSFW Unit Hate. Or that this is one of those memes the Internet kids are into these days.

Actual Kentucky senator and one-time perfect game Phillies pitcher Jim Bunning gives one of those incredibly half-assed apologies for actively counting down the days towards another person's death. Classy!

Blogrolling: Scott Boras Needs His Own Heckler

Nick Underhill with a good read, wondering if Scott Boras is screwing himself, in a long piece that goes into the full history of the man. One has to hope so, really, and in a tough economy, you have to think that MLB will have its long knives out for the man that has skunked them in so many contracts. My money's on the agent in the long run, but only in the long run.

Whether Lance Armstrong used roids or not, one suspects he doesn't really deserve this guy showing up on his route. Though, on some level, I do respect the lengths that he went to for the heckle.

Want to play Olympic basketball? All it will take is bad teeth, an application, and more skills than the other people clicking this link.

Johnny Damon and Xavier Nady have their assets frozen. And you thought that Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme didn't have any benefits.

Our long national nightmare is over: Emmit Smith done at the Lemur. (In that I'm not one of those people who thinks Unintentional Comedy really needs to be encouraged.)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Top 12 Oh Crap Fantasy Sports Moments

This week, I saw my first place and surging fantasy basketball team take the following hits:

> Manu Ginobili injury. Now, sure, Manu gets hurt by people with sour looks on their faces. But having already waited out the first few months of the year without him, I was really hoping to get four months of health. But no... ankle, not the one that was operated on, out for weeks or more. Did I mention that my team is weakest in three-pointers? Oh, yeah, there's also that.

> Andre Miller, owner of the longest current games played streak in the NBA, goes down in the third quarter at home against Denver. Which caused my actual basketball team to lose, and made me worry that he was going to be out longer than that. He wasn't, thankfully, but still a toll on the old brainpan.

> Jermaine O'Neal gets traded, then Yahoo gives him the dreaded red cross of injury. Turns out to be nothing, and he played well tonight (as the Heat beat the Sixers, grr), but it's Jermaine O'Neal. He makes Yao Ming look like Moses Malone.

> And then the big domino drops... Amare Stoudemire, out for the rest of the regular season with a retina problem. And here's the really fun part -- he's said to have suffered the injury in THE FIRST QUARTER of his game against the Clippers, a game in which he played 35 minutes, shot 15 for 20 from the floor, went 12 of 13 from the line, and scored 42 points with 11 boards. Um, how the hell does he score the second most points of any game this year, with 36 freaking minutes, and the next *DAY* he's got a season-ending retina injury?

As you might be able to tell, I'm bent. I'm also down heavy this week with a second place and falling team. But at least I got a list out of it!

12. Retirement Musing.
Hey, professional athletes -- want to know when you should retire? When the team freaking fires you, and no one else wants you around. Not a minute before. We don't care about you Going Out On Top, or Spending More Time With Your Family, or any other cockamamie story you want to pitch us. You play until they tear the uniform off you, and you don't say a word about any other life plan you might have until the retirement press conference.

Oh, and that press conference? Feel free to skip it. Go out with a measure of mystique if you had a real career, or just go away if you didn't. If people still care in a few years, show up at a memorabilia show and cash in, or go write your memoirs. But do not, under penalty of the revocation of your manhood, dither on going away when you make more in a year than 99% of the paying public might make in a decade (or, if you're a star, a lifetime).

Because this back and forth nonsense that causes people to make panic trades and go into off-seasons with way too much uncertainty in their lives? It's Just Wrong, and really unnecessary. Moving on...

11. Big Contract.
Aw, isn't that nice? Your player just got paid. Now, he's happy, he's relaxed, and he's about to take his foot off the gas pedal and give back that 10 to 20% boost that made him a winner for you. About the only good thing about this is that dumb owners will still trade for the guy. (Or he's that rare type he doesn't get changed by the money. Good luck with either of those.)

10. Coach Change. This one isn't always brutal, but there's the strong possibility that Things Will Change Now, and probably not for the better. Who cares if the team has dropped 12 out of the last 15? I'm getting numbers here, dammit. Respect my season! It's far more competitive and interesting than yours!

9. Bad Interview. Ready to endure any number of the exact same joke? Then you are ready for the Bad Interview fantasy player moment. Perhaps Allen Iverson is more tired of hearing the "Practice?" routine than his owners, but... probably not.

8. Teammate Move. Nothing better than having a guy whose value is dependent on another player... and then having that other player get moved. This is especially big in sports like basketball or hockey, but it also happens in baseball (oh, joy! My big hitter is going to get a lot of walks!). You also get the fun of knowing that your player was just a tool, and that his old numbers aren't coming back. Even better, so does everyone else.

7. In-Game Injury. If you're like me, I'm sorry. But you don't really get to watch enough live sports, because, well, you've got a family, life, commute, etc. So what you really don't want is to finally be settling down with a game, only to see your guy limping off. This one is especially fun if you've got a guy with a long injury history staggering off like Fred Sanford. (Can you tell I own Kurt Warner in a keeper league? I think you can.)

6. Reality Show. Oh, this always goes well, doesn't it? Just have a camera crew follow your guy around, seeing his wacky adventures and watching him amp up the insanity. This never precedes a bad year / snakebit injury / fast decline. Plus, all of the other guys in your league won't be able to stomach dealing for him.

5. Roid Hell. A month ago, I was mulling over retaining Alex Rodriguez in my keeper league. With Mark Teixiera on board, a better starting pitching staff that should mean less bench time in blowouts, and probable bounce-back years for a bunch of Yankee regulars, he was tempting, even at age 32. It's not like there are a huge number of third basemen that can give you 40 homers and 20 steals.

And then, well, this.

He might still have a big year, but probably not for my team, just to avoid wanting to defend him anymore.

Now, imagine how much fun this would be if I actually had A-Roid for a decent price, or had traded for him in a non-contract keeper league, etc., etc. Day after day of the story that wouldn't die, in the worst month of the year for sports stories to go away, the Chinese water torture of fandom.

It almost makes you feel bad for Yankee Fan. (Well, no.)

4. Blogger Buzz. Kind of like Roid Hell, but with the added fun of hardcore salaciousness and hate for Blogfrica. The Buzz kill is made much worse by the slow forwarding hell of links from your fellow owners, combined with the myriad number of fast Photoshops that connect the dots of whatever awful thing your guy is accused of doing.

And when there's smoke, there's usually fire... and gerbils, and teenaged girls, and a lot of other things that you'd rather not deal with in your draft prep.

3. Trade Value Death. Nothing quite like making the savvy draft pick or free agent pickup, then seeing it all go to hell at the trade deadline.

Consider the plight of the owners of John Salmons, a swingman for the Sacramento Kings. They actually had to pay attention to the Kings this year, which is bad enough, but at least they were getting good numbers for their trouble... and then their guy gets moved to the Chicago Bulls at the deadline, where he gets to split time with a half dozen other swingmen.

Even better is the fact that since they traded for him, you can't really cut him, because if you do... he'll get the same minutes for someone else. All while having no trade value. What fun!

2. Off-Court Injury. See the Stoudemire injury in the open. The only way this could be better is if Amare had caused the retina problem himself, preferably in something that shows up in #4. (How? See Hutchense, Michael. Or the number of retina injuries that happen from bungee jumping. I could go on.)

1. Actual Arrest.
This one's rare but wonderful, as you get to feel like you're taking the perp walk with the guy. It's even better if you really love the guy, own the jersey, root for the team, and get more or less scarred for life.

But look at the bright side, Giant Fan who owned Plex Burress: you can probably parlay this into an appearance on your local news, and the yummy tears-licking page views from all of those opposing team fans...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Here Come The Planes

Apropos of nothing, deal with the joy of my random iPod shuffling. This piece gives me 9/11 chills every time I hear it now, and the fact that this was a Top 40 hit when it came out tells you how adventurous those charts used to be, and never will be again...

Hunky Blogrolling: Will Brinson, Starbury, Drunk Severed Leg Guy, Sexy Flanders and Hugo

I know for a fact that Will worked like a dog on these MLB previews for the Fanhouse for you ingrates. The least that you monsters can do is read them, and tell him that he looks cute in that apron. Is that so much to ask? WELL? IS IT?

I'm not prepared to live in a world where Stephon Marbury is kind of likable and doing improv with a blogger. But then again, he's got the money to buy a personality.

Quick Hit with the story of a drunk hockey fan winning a couple of million for a severed leg from a subway running over him. The blogger sees it as a clear case of drunk idiot gets paid, but personally, as a guy who rides the subway, I'm a little happy to hear that the train driver is actually supposed to watch for bodies on the tracks. Because I ride those rails, and sometimes you see neat stuff down there...

Is Ned Flanders the sexiest animated character on television? Some things that are clicked cannot be unclicked.

What Hugo Chavez watches when he's not big on the WBC; the man's big on those Georgia Dawgs. Included here just to make one regular reader's head explode, and to impress my fellow socialists by having a 2 Hugo Week. (Best week ever? Yes.) This also counts as my state-mandated one college football link per year.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

We Will Now Return To Our Regularly Scheduled Wanking

Did you have NBA Trade Deadline Fever? I know I did, having spent most of the last 72 hours in a cocaine-fueled tizzy while digging into the contract details of every player in the Association, then moving them all around in ways that only my fantastic mind could comprehend. After that work was done, I then went on to a lot of NBA blogs and posted my latest research, just to see how much groundswell I could get. How else could you explain rumors like:

> Shaquille O'Neal to the Cavs, because he worked so well for the Suns in their stretch drive last year, and the Cavs are completely convinced that they need to blow up the team, considering how gosh-darn awful they've looked as the best team in the East this year

> Vince Carter to Toronto, just to teach him a valuable lesson about being a piece of crap

> Kirk Hinrich to a team that's convinced that oft-injured and unathletic point guards always age well (surprisingly, Hinrich is still a Bull)

> Stephon Marbury to the Celtics, because the Celtics always get a guy for pennies on the dollar, and the Knicks want nothing more than to put him in the same division and on a playoff team, for all that he's done for them

> Raptors sending Chris Bosh to the Bulls, because you want to move a guy to a franchise that, if they offered their entire team for him, still doesn't have enough

> My left nut for my right one, just to give both a fresh start

What actually happened? Squadouche, as Norm Chad might say, and I'm probably impugning the good name of nothing by associating it with Larry Hughes and Rafer Alston (but probably not Brad Miller). By the end of the afternoon, the Lemur had already pivoted to the Tiger Comeback, having sensed that the biggest annual non-story, behind only Dog Show Coverage and the ESPYs for sheer Public Naked Pud Pulling, had faded.

Why do the Association's fans and writers fall for this every year? Maybe it's just that it's February and we're all out of other things to write about. Maybe it's because the writers are all hopeless nerds who would rather play Fake GM than Real Fan.

Or maybe -- and this is the stunning thing, the unthinkable thing, the dare not speak its name thing -- the Association's front offices are actually, you know, a little bit smart about their jobs.

Trades in the NBA, unless they are absolute theft (see Gasol to the Lakers and Garnett to the Celtics), are rarely a great way to improve your lineup. That's because trades are almost always about the salary cap, rather than the on-court product, and because it takes a long time -- years, really -- for players to truly adapt their games to each other and be successful, especially on the defensive end. Most mid-season trades are just shuffling chairs on the Titanic; by the time you've played 50 games, barring injury, you are what you are. Unlike baseball, a bubble team does not go to the Finals with the right move; unlike football, trades actually exist.

Anyway, now that that's over, it's time to... watch the games? Hell no. Let's write some more about the 2010 free agent class!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Hidden Villain in the Roid Era

Marc Maron is a lefty comedian and political agitator. He's also a fairly perceptive mind, even though I don't agree with him all the time, and has a fairly original take in regards to L'Affaire L'A-Roid.

Maron equates the use of performance enhancing drugs to Viagra -- in that in both uses, you are substituting Extreme Fun for Reality, and it really just comes down to what you want from your experience.

(We're now going to spend the rest of this blog post trying, without success, to avoid the keywords that will fill the post with auto-spam comments.)

In one fell swoop, Maron pulls the shaky morality tentpole out of the three-ring circus of Public Condemnation For Dirty Cheating A-Roid. But let's face it... if there was something that the common person could take that would make them so good at their job that they'd be independently wealthy long before retirement age, you'd be seeing people shooting it into their eyeballs during the morning commute. Especially if that commute was long.

Not to get too far into the puerile, but would the women who are with the guys that can only function with the little blue miracles... be there if they couldn't? Some, sure, especially if the guy has more going for him than a reliable tool; money, looks and kindness can go far in the world. But not all, of course, especially if our theoretical Pharmaceutical Warrior finds himself lacking in the finer graces. For those couples, Extreme Fun compensates, just as it does for people who are paying two to three times for a ticket to a game that they did a generation ago. (Admittedly, not in the same parks. Oh, the siren song that is a new gouge-tastic yard.)

Maron believes (and who am I to question him on such things, having never played the Bob Dole Invitational myself) that what you lose with Extreme Fun is intimacy, honesty and integrity. The first two, sure. The last one, I don't agree, because my definition of integrity might be a little looser than Maron's. Going to our old friend Mr. Dictionary...

(Noun): Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

Nothing there about the character being, well, good.

This is getting pretty far from the toy department, but I think pathological people, more often than not, have integrity. I also think that if you're really good at your job, there's a reasonable chance that you are at least a little bit pathological about it. Michael Jordan might have been the most competitive man on the planet. At age 4, Tiger Woods' father threw firecrackers during his backswing to make him focus. Most stars of sports where youth is served hard (tennis, swimming, gymnastics, boxing, ice skating) and individualistic seem, at best, warped to a "normal" outlook. Every pro poker player you've ever seen on television seems like a spooky math and/or gambling freak. And so on, and so on.

When Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and untold hundreds more were using steroids, they weren't all lacking in integrity. Hell, they probably were able to justify it all in the same sacrifice for the team credo that athletes have used to motivate themselves since sports (and, well, war) began. (And whether or not a nation's soldiers should be given carte blanche to juice up is a whole 'nother kettle of inedible ethics fish. Let's stay on what passes for the target.)

Having integrity doesn't make you moral. Taking steroids when any number of opponents were doing so as well... might not even be unethical, because ethics are dependent on the individual.

But what they are, and this is key, is a perversion -- an unplanned, ad hoc, unfairly administered perversion -- away from intimacy and honesty, and into Extreme Fun.

And here's the nasty truth that no one wants to admit in this whole mess. We, the MLB-watching public, were much more interested in buying the lie. And until we take our share of the blame, and admit it, and refuse to buy the fake crap... well, everyone's just going to figure out a better way to cheat.

After all, no one's gotten poor from selling Viagra, right?

Blogrolling: Now With Extra Knee-Capping, Arson, and Hot Nazi Babe

Tonya Harding, still whining about the world treating her badly. You really don't need to click, but you're going to, aren't you? Yup, me too.

Does it make me a bad person to (a) wish Harding wasn't so regrettable to look at, (b) wonder whatever happened to Celebrity Boxing, and (c) be filled with a nearly equivalent amount of loathing for Bryant Gumbel? No need to answer.

Charles Barkley
is back on the TV tomorrow, and will also get his own reality show just for being a terrible, terrible golfer. I think I speak for all of America when I ask this single question: will there be oral sex?

Tom Waits on the old Letterman show, when Letterman still had the fastball; Tom, of course, has never lost his. Never could stand that dog.

Nick Underhill
goes hard on the A-Rod, on the off chance that you haven't gotten enough of that story yet. Better than most.

Fundamentally Unsound
offers up another big helping of Answery goodness, for all of you that liked the last batch.

And finally, today's inappropriate humor video from blog favorite Sara Benincasa, a NYC talent with dead-on sensibilities who also does a great Sarah Palin. If you like her stuff, by all means, click through: there's plenty.

Hair Shirt

Last weekend, while I was on my semi-break, blog obsession Allen Iverson trimmed his trademark cornrows, probably out of an effort to show he's all grown up now and deserving of a final NBA contract after his current deal is up. Given how his year has gone, if he gets a job, it will come from a going nowhere team that hires him to sell tickets and score 25 points a game by any means possible, though I suspect he could also go to a playoff team that sees him as the rich man's Earl Boykins for bench scoring.

Anyway, since AI is no longer actually good enough to watch in a game, see his new 'do here. It makes him look ordinary, in my opinion -- something he should never be.

And with this development, it seems as good of a time as any other to try to explain why the man-crush still hasn't fully gone away, even as his skills erode and two consecutive teams have looked good for trading him for a previously maligned point guard.

It all has to do, of course, with AI's MVP year, which seems to fade in the memory of everyone but the hardcore Philly Fan faithful. Thankfully, enough of you read this blog to justify a few more words to try to explain things.

In the 2000 NBA season, I had moved cross-country for work, and lived in the East Bay in Northern California. All of the people that I knew in the area where the folks from work, and the Shooter Wife and I had just had out first kid. It was a little lonely and off-putting. Soon after moving, my first start-up failed, and ninety days later, so had the second. I was able to roll with the punches and get into a third, more stable and better gig. But for a good long while, that gig was a case of high frustration, because it involved a lot of managerial oversight that the other positions didn't have.

I was also pretty much over sports, if you can believe such things. After giving up sportswriting to make more money typing for a living, I spent most of the '90s committing every waking moment to my rock band. Once that dried up, I switched to writing books, parenting and work. Sports was then, as it is now and probably always will be, guy soap opera with a side order of corporate welfare. At the time, that mattered more than the games.

I had stopped watching baseball entirely in the wake of the strike, spent most of the last decade suffering with the worst Sixers teams of my lifetime (and considering how good they'd been for most of that time, that really hurt), and given up entirely on hockey, to the point of being unable to tell you their expansion franchises. Maybe I'd have followed the NBA again with any tolerable Sixers team, but they've been good for a year or more now, and it hasn't really moved me. Only the Eagles kept on, mostly because the NFL is fairly impossible to shake and doesn't require a ton of time commitment.

I didn't even play in a single fantasy sport.

And then Allen Iverson took the franchise on his 160 pound shoulders and had the best season ever for a small guard.

It's hard to overstate how moving AI and the Sixers in 2000-01 were. The team started with a 10-game winning streak powered by the most artistically satisfying ball of the Larry Brown Era. Theo Ratliff earned his monster contract by blocking a ton of shots (3.7 a game) and keeping them in play, and with Eric Snow and Aaron McKie joining AI in the NBA's top 10 in steals, the team always had more possessions than you. McKie had the year of his life providing instant glue work as the sixth man. Snow was a simple defensive hammer with a sneakily reliable mid-range jump shot, and Tyrone Hill gave them some good inside work. Hopes were immediately raised that perhaps this team would do more than lose to some Pacer/Piston-like entourage, the way we always did. Then Ratliff got hurt, and rather than just take a knee and wait for him to get better, the team moved him and Toni Kukoc to Atlanta for Dikembe Mutumbo.

A small word here about Pat Croce. Now, he just seems like a strange little huckster, but at the time, he was a unique figure in Philadelphia sports: an owner that you did not want to set on fire. Sure, his enthusiasm could be cringe-worthy, but his impact was amazing, from getting a new stadium to convincing people to put car flags up in their vehicles, to even affixing flags his own damn self to huge structures like, well, a crazy person.

Here was the first guy in Sixers ownership history that wasn't content to just have the #4 franchise in town, to just assume that the region's strong racist undercurrent and allegiance to college ball would keep his building less than filled. He didn't try to censor Iverson; he embraced him. Repeatedly. He indulged Brown to the point where we actually thought the coach would stay for good. And for a good long upswing, it all worked.

Anyway, back to the court. The team won 56 games in the regular season. And then the playoffs started, and the white knuckle ride of a lifetime began.

A Game 1 home loss to the Always Beat Us 8th seed Pacers made everyone panic, especially since it came with an 18-point lead being pissed away, Disaster was averted in four games, with the last two road games won by just 5 and 3 points. The next round went seven against Toronto, with AI and Vince Carter trading off 50-point games; had Carter hit his 3 at the buzzer in Game 7, the run would have ended right there. Then the Bucks series also went seven, with a speed and spacing team that was death to Mutumbo, and the Sixers somehow won despite only having one of the top four players on the floor.

For that entire month, we were all consumed by the plight of this team. I've never been more emotionally involved with a team. I was riveted on every possession, inconsolable after a loss, giddy after wins, rearranging my vacation schedule to see every minute of every game. Behaving, frankly, in a way that I never did anymore, and haven't done since.

In Game One of the Finals, the Sixers became the only team to defeat the Shaq-Kobe juggernaut that year. It also had the signature play of Iverson's career. I don't need to tell any Sixer fan what that is. Let's just watch it.

AI was 25 years old, at the height of his powers. The rest of his basketball life has been an echo of this single moment -- the crossover, the strike, and the pure disdain he had for his opponent as he stepped over Tyronn Lue as if he were a cockroach. Despite the lack of a championship, it is my favorite Sixer moment ever, and my favorite sports fan moment, too.

The Lakers won the next four games, including three on the Sixers home court. Iverson's Sixers teams were never serious contenders again. By the last couple of his years, even for those of us who always thought his supporting cast was to blame, it was obvious that it was never going to happen for him here. The trade to Denver led to criminal negligence from George Karl and a roster full of people who don't defend. AI in his 30s wasn't going to be able to do enough there, and despite a 50-win season, they were little more than speed bumps for better and more well-coached teams. In Detroit, it's also not happening.

Now, I don't really care to get into the merits of the man. If you think he dogged it on defense, shot too much, didn't hit for a high enough percentage and committed too many turnovers, I'm not going to convince you. Similarly, if you think he's the best little man to ever play in the Association, that opinion is also set in stone. I'm sure that if I weren't a Sixers fan and short, I might feel differently about him.

But what I really want to address is this: what price do you put on the career of a man who rekindled your entire interest in a sport?

If AI doesn't go to the Sixers -- let's say the Grizzlies won the lottery and took him at #1, and the Sixers win up with the mostly forgettable Sharef Abdur-Rahim at #3 -- I can't imagine that I'd be much of an NBA fan right now. I wouldn't have my favorite fantasy league, the years of enjoyment, and now, the league-wide appreciation that makes me feel more amazement at LeBron James than I did for Jordan. (Yes, I know, I'm a blasphemer. So be it.) I also wouldn't have my Iverson jersey, the only basketball jersey I've ever owned, or likely, will.

AI is, for me, the same as Mickey Mantle was to a generation of Yankee fans, what Cal Ripken was for Oriole Fan, what Dan Marino was to Dolphin Fan, what Mario Lemieux was to Penguin Fan. Whether or not he ever won a championship, or his standing in the all-time greats, doesn't much matter. Andre Iguodala could win a championship here. Thaddeus Young could become the greatest small forward on the team since Doc Erving. It still wouldn't have the same impact.

Allen Iverson gave me the game.

The rest is noise.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blogrolling for a cold February Tuesday

Let's start it out with some alt-country, just because that's the vibe of the day, folks.

Major League Jerk with the Phillies preview. These are always fun when the writer hates the team, but has to have respect anyway.

Nerf is 40. You are old. And kids today are pussies for not being able to throw a real ball. This message is brought to you by the Shooter Brother, who is even older than me, and never cottoned to such nancy-boy foam. He also never got why I used to hide in the ease closets to avoid getting into games with him and his friends...

My old editor is still pushing the poon over at the Carnival. Nice moment here for Reggie Bush to have to suffer through his girlfriend's thing. Stars! They're just like us!

Media Post slobs the NHL's knob for, among other things, the outdoor game in Wrigley, embracing YouTube, and having increased ratings for its games on NBC and the Stanley Cup Finals, Personally, I think it's just that they've been away from the Lemur's clutches.

And finally, Eagles Porn to warm up the soul, as Brian Dawkins does his Wolverine impersonation on the Super Bowl winning QB. I think you'll be safe wearing his jersey in town for decades to come.

Now Available: The Best RB in Franchise History

The Jaguars did the sensible but cold-blooded thing today by releasing Fred Taylor, who would have cost five million on their cap to be the clear second choice behind Maurice Jones-Drew in a backfield that clearly didn't need a 33-year-old speed back, no matter how accomplished (and maybe even still competent) he might be.

Considering how badly the Jags struggled last year on chemistry issues it was a little surprising to axe their captain and longtime vet in cold February blood, but not quite... because, well, it's the NFL, the only sports league where being heartless about your veterans is usually a winning PR play, since so many people decide to spend the entire off-season pretending to be general managers.

Rejoicing in the news, of course, are Jones-Drew's fantasy owners, who now get to see what their treasured back does as the lead. The answer, in all likelihood, is get hurt and lose touches in the red zone, because there's a reason why smart teams go to committee and/or limit the touches of their main guy to involve a lot of screens and outside tosses... but why rain on their parade today? Clearly, J-D's on his way to Top 5 RB status. It just won't be on my team. (Oh, and J-D owners? Prepare to hate on Vulture Greg Jones. Big-time.)

As for Taylor, I suspect that he'll catch on with some team, for the simple reason that he's still a plus back, capable of doing more than running with the ball, and probably wants to go out with better than a 3.9 yards per carry mark that he was saddled with this year. Besides, the man wants to pass John Riggins on the all-time yards rushing list, and that's something every American can support.

Besides, for a guy with a 4.6 yards per carry average and 70 career touchdowns who was effective not very long ago (witness his '07 year), he's probably earned an ill-fitting jersey or two.

And if you really want to end it sadly, Fred, the Redskins could use a back-up.

Your World Baseball Classic Scouting Report

Did you know that we were just 17 days before China and Japan tee it up for the World Baseball Classic? More importantly, could anyone on this earth give a good God damn?

Anyway, it's coming like the onset of gout, gray hair and new music that you will hate, so let's focus on why each team can't win, just to see if I can get some foreign nations to provide me with cheap traffic heat.

Their best known pitcher was last seen pouring gasoline on the D-Rays World Series hopes (Grant Balfour). Their next best known guy is Ryan Rowland-Smith, who used to be Ryan Rowland until he got married. There are no current MLBers in the position players. And all Australians are closet cases, given the criminal genetic past. But other than that, they're golden.

Somehow, I'm not seeing Rich Harden being healthy enough to make his starts. Jeff Francis as the #2 isn't terrible, but after Jesse Crain, there are no known pitchers in the bullpen.

They also currently have eight catchers on the roster, which I'm presuming is part of some communist government works program (seriously, they have more catchers than infielders).

They've got some outfielders (Jason Bay, Mark Teahen, Aaron Guiel), but they're also employing Matt Stairs, who clearly sold his soul for that NLCS homer. And in the final equation of things, they're Canadians, aka the people who are too nice to ever win anything. It's a wonder we were able to keep them from apologizing the Allies to defeat in WWII.

There's also this: they have Stubby Clapp on the roster. How are we sure this entire team isn't just an elaborate hoax?

China: They've got two Yankees, but neither of them have ever been heard of. The country's single child policy means that all of their players are convinced that they are special little snowflakes, so there won't be any team spirit to speak of.

Since the games won't all happen in China, they will also be struck down by the presence of actual oxygen in the stadiums they play at. And since the world's economy is in free-fall, they'll all be too depressed over the bath they are taking on their Western investments. (See? There *are* bright sides to economic collapse!)

Chinese Taipei: There are 10, count 'em, 10 members of the Brother Elephants on this team. How can that possibly be good for team unity, when 2/5ths of the team are worried about secret Elephant Tusk shakes and getting frozen out by the Brotherhood?

But on the plus side, a china-Chinese Taipei bean-ball war could trigger thermonuclear holocaust. You always knew Bud Selig would be responsible for the End of Days, didn't you?

With the thaw in US-Cuban relations following the election of Barack Obama, many observers feel that there will be an eventual normalization in the hostilities between the two countries. Which means, of course, that nothing like that will happen, and the players on the Cuban team will blow it for everyone by emigrating en masse. It's a little hard to execute a 4-6-3 double play when the shortstop is making a run for it over the left field wall, and the first baseman is trying to look gringo in the opposing dugout.

Besides, Elian Gonzalez isn't on the team (yet), so there are no magical players to overwhelm all media coverage and allow the rest of the team to win the tournament on the sly.

Dominican Republic: Ah, here's a favorite. With a roster that's entirely made up of MLB talent, the island that has single-handedly populated MLB with talented Ramirezi should be the front-runners, but there's already chinks in the armor with Albert Pujols bailing out, Pedro Martinez turning 60, and Carlos Marmol becoming useless in advance of his flameout year in the Cub bullpen.

Add in the ticking time bomb that is Francisco Liriano's elbow and the overall lack of experienced relievers, and there's more than enough reason to see a DR D Feat. But if they do win, no one shake hands with Moises Alou!

No, seriously, Italy has a team (and no, there isn't a single MLB-owned player on it). Considering they haven't been good at baseball since before the color barrier was broken, and that their national history in warfare tells me that if they are behind in the fifth inning, they all switch to the other team...

I could go on. But there's too much traffic to this blog from guys in North Jersey who work in, um, "construction"... so I'll just let this one stay where it is right now, before I wind up hung from my toes. (For those of you counting Mussolini's Death references, this now gets the blog up to six. It's something we're all very proud of.)

Japan: Seven MLBers here, all of them reasonably competent, sprinkled amidst a ton of Ham Fighters, Golden Eagles and Yakult Swallows. This blog tries very hard to not go for the cheap humor of The Gay Joke...

But we're not made of stone, people! (Or wood, for that matter.) The team from the Rising Sun goes down in a fit of adolescent giggling and towel-snaps.

Korea: Jung Bong Is Back! The best name in MLB history rolls his own for the LG Lions these days, which means that in the off-season, he's making your appliances. Between him and the immortal BK Kim (current MLB affiliation: Please, Dear God In Heaven, Not My Team), I'm not seeing their pitching as being quite at the championship level.

(Oh, and for heaven's sake, BK's lost his passport. This man needs his own reality show.)

There is also this: there are 10 Lees on this team, and five of them are outfielders. No chance for them not having a crippling batting out of order problem... every single damn inning.

Mexico: Half of this team is on an MLB roster, but when the best of these players is Jorge Cantu, you're not living in fear of their talent level. Can Oliver Perez fail on an international level under pressure, when he's shown himself to be such a rock for the Mets in pressure situations?

Ah, now I've given you all a reason to watch now, have I? Dammit. I know I should have just stayed with the cockfighting and illegal alien jokes.

Who knew the Netherlands played baseball? I did, but only after getting thrown against a wall by the 6'5" Marlins RHP and de facto pro wrestler Rick VandenHurk. If you want to run against the forces of VandenHurkamania, you're on your own.

(Oh, and seriously? Winning baseball can not be played in wooden shoes. This team can go finger a dyke. Hey-oh!)

Panama: Two current MLB pitchers and no infielders means an awful lot of pitching around Carlos Lee, and being from Panama means that no one has paid them any mind since the elder Bush was in the White House.

And since I have nothing else to say about them, let's close with a gratuitous insult to Colorado closer Manual Corpas. I want my corpses automatic, dammit.

Puerto Rico: What gives? You people are part of the United States, dammit. Giving you your own team is like giving Florida it's own team, only less competitive.

True, there's a load of MLB talent here and multiple Molinas, but there's no way that a team with such questionable sovereignty can win so prestigious a title as this. (Ah, sarcasm. Your key to filling a bloghole.)

South Africa: There's no way to get out of this one with my advertisers intact, is there? Nope. Nor is there a way for a team with no front-line MLB talent, not to mention the very worst nation karma in the field -- seriously, China's looking cuddly next to you folks -- to pull off a win in our lifetimes.

But on the plus side, they get to go home and get a close look at Zimbabwe.

USA: These spoiled SOBs? Forget it. Who on this roster is going to so much as break a sweat for their mother country? Every single player on the roster is on an MLB roster, with guaranteed money ahead of them and a team at home that is just waiting for them to get hurt -- which would be the very fast end to this stupid little timewaste.

So expect a level of effort that would shame a front-line NFL player in a July mini-camp, and a shameful national defeat... that will be forgotten about within a week, because any team can win in a short series, and no one in this country could care about this.

Venezuela: Viva Hugo! Here's your winning team, boyos, behind the startling arms of King Felix, Johan and Big Z, and the Miguel Cabrera / Magglio Ordonez offense. Hey, if it was good enough for a 74 win Tiger team in 2008, it's good enough to be the best in the world in a trumped up tournament that no one cares about...

No one, that is, except for the Venezuelans, who will be, how shall we say, motivated by the rather strong leadership of El Hugo. Who needs to win this the most? Why, the friends and families of the national team's players, of course!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Blogrolling: Do Not Be Like This

I rarely post video of the first Mrs. Shooter, but when she earns it, she earns it. (I also rarely make this cheap of a joke. OK, the latter is a lie.)

The MoonDog has redesigned his sports blog. Go and tell him how much you hate it, and want the old site back. People who do a huge amount of work on their site always appreciate it when you do that.

Grand National Championships with your college basketball bubble teams. I promise not to care about this unless my alma mater (Syracuse) goes on a big run, at which point I'll become all knowledgeable and stuff. (Go Flynn Go!)

Quick Hit with the top 13 scariest masks in sports. The top spot is an unquestioned winner, and kind of reprehensible.

I'm including this last one more for the technical freakiness of it all, but if you insist on seeing a sports parallel, it's easy: the protagonist is A-Roid, and the dude he meets is Bonds. Also, I am the Walrus.

Hemlock from Tyson Ibele on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

This Game Is Easy

You'll forgive, Dear Reader, if I'm a little less snarky or hate-filled than usual today. I'm in the afterglow of the best night of my life on the felt.

One of the guys at my monthly game gave me the tip on another house game, this one in a flat-out unbelievable setting. You drive up to a place with a quarter-mile long driveway, into a game room with five full tables, the biggest big-screen TV I've seen outside of a showroom, high-end framed NFL memorabilia and more, more, more. Twenty-seven people signed up for the tournament, and with some of the best play of my life (and cards, and luck), I was able to get to the final table in just my second tournament (outside of my single-table home game).

Just a few hands in, I doubled up against one of the guys I rode in with when I caught trips on my pocket sixes, then boated with aces on the turn; he was unable to get away from his trip aces. Trip deuces gave me another big payday at my second table, and I was able to chip up against a player who read my table presence as strong, even when I had little.

At the final table, I was to the left of the guy who paid me early, and my Q-K was able to break his A-10, and score the knockout, when I caught a queen. The short stacks to my left kept catching cards to make the table last until the antes got huge, leaving the final players all more or less short-stacked. When we got to heads-up, the final opponent and I split the pot for everything but the last $50 (awfully sporting of him, really), and after dodging a half hour of all-ins with several river saves, he took me out. Second place was worth a nice chunk of change, and after a break, I joined the cash game with a nice bankroll.

The cash table that I sat down at was loose and wild, with players putting cash on the table for straight and flush draws like they were betting on high pairs. I joined in the insanity when a minimum blind bit on 10-J spade matched up with Q-K spades on the flop. I hung in long enough to catch a 7-spade on the river, and from there, my table image was made. I didn't take a bad loss in the next two hours of play, was able to take down a fair number of pots without showing a card, and more or less added to my chip pile for the entire duration of play.

The whole night reminded me, oddly, of golf. Play that game long enough, and you'll have a breakthrough round, one where the shots fall, the putts lip in, and the luck is with you. You then make the great comic joke of golf, the one that men have been making for centuries, and the subject header of this little post.

And the next time you've got a club in your hand, it all goes to hell.

So, if you're free next Friday and want some easy money, come on down. I'm due for hours of crap cards, bad plays, and hard-core misery.

Ads In This Size Rule