Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mean Old Grandpa Carl's Super Bowl Lock of the Wek

Here at FTT, we believe in America. And the Greatest Generation.

So our Pigskin Prognosticator is a man who has seen more football than any of us could ever hope to see. A man who not only remembers Slingin' Sammy Baugh, but got him drunk and then attacked him with a baseball bat when his back was turned. He was 2-0 in the championship games, and he's back to give you his Super Bowl Pick... Our very own (and very old) Mean Old Grandpa Carl!

FTT: Carl, great to see you again.

Carl: What the hell's that supposed to mean?

FTT: Just that we really en...

Carl: Didn't think I was going to be here, did you?

FTT: No, no, not at...

Carl: I'll tell you what I live for, punk. It's for outliving pukes like you. You go and make your little jokes, like you're not going to be old one day. You're right. I'll kill you myself before you get that far. With my bare hands.

FTT: Oh Carl, you're such a kidder...

Carl: You think I couldn't? You want to go? You don't think I sleep with a loaded Colt under my pillow, and the dried skins of those dirty little kids who messed with my lawn?

FTT (to nurse): Is he on some new meds?

Carl (pulling out gun): You want to see it close up?

FTTL: Holy cra...

Carl (reverently): You're thirsty, aren't you, Betty? Been a long time since you drank all that Commie blood. '43, oh, good times...

FTT: But if you were doing that in...

Carl: Oh, stop peeing yourself. Oh crap, that's me. Anyway, shut up and start writing. I'm going to give you the winner of the big game this weekend.

FTT (shakily): OK. Last time, you didn’t much favor the AFC, so you’re going with the Bears?

Carl: Those rum-running Italian scum? The same lot that made little kids cry when they sold the Series to the stinking REDS in 1919? The bastards that cost Richard Nixon the presidency in 1960, giving us three years of Clinton-esque White House bestiality until a Marine, goddamit, put things right?

FTT: Um, wow. Not going to answer any of that. So, the Colts?

Carl: Can't an old man talk without the Democrats in Congress putting wires in his head?

FTT: Uh...

Carl: Like you don't know. Like you aren't in on it, with your little speakers in your ears and your thumb-diddling phone and that electric box in your nether regions. It's disgusting.

FTT: You mean the computer?

Carl: I've seen what you got on that thing. You’re going to enjoy hell. Lots of loose women there, loose all over, if you catch my meaning…

FTT: When were you looking at my computer?

Carl: It's going to be ugly. Both Unitas and Luckman are going to play more scared than the Commies when they saw me pull out the piano wire and the rats. I can hardly blame them, it’s got to be tough to play football when you’re looking over your shoulder for Castro the whole time. I bet he tries something during the halftime show, that filthy cigar-smoking bastard.

FTT: You really think there will be a Cuban military action at the Super Bowl, just because the game is in Miami.

Carl: He’ll have his little friends from Hollyweird cook up something to turn America into queers, and then take over the stadium as everyone there goes all Sodom and Gomorra with the gay sex. You just watch. I won’t. But the President will scramble the military in time to get the second half started – I just hope he’s not too much of a pussy to shoot Castro himself, like he did to Saddam -- and everyone knows a Cuban is no good in a fair fight. Expect less than 200 dead and minimal disruptions.

FTT: 200 dead after group sex is a minimal disruption?

Carl: It’s in Miami, isn’t it? You telling me it isn’t? Those people down there, they let that little alien kid get abducted. Don’t put anything past them, I don’t. When that kid got grabbed, I shook my fist at my television for weeks!

FTT: I really doubt that Cuba will prove to be any…

Carl: Who asked you? You ever win money betting on football, junior?

FTT: No, sir.

Carl: Of course you haven’t. That’s because winning money in football only happens if you’ve got God on your side. And I’ve killed too many people for God to be anywhere but with me. How else do you explain all these skins?

FTT: Those aren’t from animals? Oh dear God, I think I’m going to be…

Carl: Puke all you want, you little mama’s boy. The same way that those filthy gun-toting Eye-talian gangster defensive tackles from Chicago will puke when the True White Colts run it down their throats. Luckman’s gonna go three and out and choke, and the Colts will move the chains until the Bears defense collapses like an Irishman on Saturday night. Take Unitas with the points.

FTT: We talked about this, Carl, it’s not Unitas any…

Carl: You want to give Betty a drink?

FTT: No sir.

Carl: Colts 24, Bears 13. Now get me my pills!

Ladies and gentlemen, Mean Old Grandpa Carl!

Monday, January 29, 2007

The FTT Guide to Super Bowl Columns

As the countdown to Super Bowl XLI (that’s Roman for Extra Large and Interactive) moves on, sports fans will be treated to any number of first-person accounts of the Big Game. As part of FTT’s ongoing mission to save you time and add insight to your day, we encourage you to read the abbreviated version of all relevant Super Bowl content below.

1) It’s My World. You Just Pay Rent

This approach is from the Hanging Out With Cool Kids columnist who wants to give you the Real Picture behind the scenes at all of those Super Bowl parties that you aren’t rich or pretty enough to go to, like, ever. (As If. You? With those hips? Girl, please.)

Advantage of reading: Feeds your inner supermarket tabloid reader. May cause snickers, either intentional or not. Slightly less ridiculous this year, since the game is in Miami, which attracts a marginally better case of celebrity.

Disadvantage: After you are finished reading, you are filled with loathing of self and others. Mostly, others.

2) The Inspirational Wank

Who would have ever guessed that Athlete X, who had to overcome Obstacle Y, would ever reach the pinnacle like this? (FTT, for one, who remembers that Athlete X, just like every other player in the NFL, has already beaten 10,000-to-1 odds to make it from high school and college to the pros. But we digress.) Read the Inside Story, with gripping personal details, and learn how they did it.

Advantage: If you are a fan of either team, this column will add to your warehouse of examples as to why Our Guys are not just better football players, but also better human beings. So you are *not* just rooting for laundry!

Disadvantage: If you aren’t a fan of either team, will provoke disgust and/or blackouts.

3) You Aren’t Smart Enough To Watch

Ready to get in touch with your Inner Geek? This column will get into the nitty-gritty of what Coach X is looking for when he prepares his troops for this week’s monstrously large game. Bonus points if the columnist invents new jargon!

Advantage: Infinitesimal chance of pulling all King Dork Knowledge at your Super Bowl party, thereby making all other King Dork Wannabes lie prostrate to your Superior Knowledge.

Disadvantage: See Advantage.

4) Hype About Hype: Gosh, There’s A Lot Of Hype

Feed your Inner Curmudgeon! This refreshingly non-original column will back up his or her bold take on how overblown Super Bowl Week is by citing the same statistics given to them by the NFL PR flacks. Did you know that if you took all of the money from this game and put it in a pile of one dollar bills, the bills would fall over before they reached any meaningful distance? Wow!

Advantage: Reading this column will give your Significant Other that doesn’t care about the game something to say during the non-ad parts.

Disadvantage: The more “meta” stuff is written, the less funny it all is. Even from a level of ironic detachment. (Cue bass solo.)

5) Feel Guilty, Damn You

A supremely necessary dose of perspective is provided by this aggrieved columnist, who cites the same number as the Gosh Columnist to talk about all of the Shameful Waste involved in this year’s game. This column can also tread down the path of providing lurid details on which players have been involved in legal actions during their professional and college careers. Bonus points for linking world hunger to America’s problem with obesity.

Advantage: Police blotter section can add to your warehouse of examples as to why Our Guys are better. In one out of 100,000 readings, provokes a charitable contribution.

Disadvantage: People who scold people usually have other problems. In the long run, not usually very surprising ones. And that goes to the readers, too.

6) The Real Stars Are The Ads!

This remarkably perceptive columnist notes the cost of Super Bowl ads, and then previews some of the content that will have all of America holding it in during the 362 planned breaks. But don’t miss this year’s ads, because they’ll be really, really expensive!

Advantage: Gives people who have no real professional excuse to watch the game an excuse to, well, watch the game. This column helps to propagate the myth that broadcast television ads are a good use of a marketing budget, which helps keeps ad agencies and television networks in business, and by correlation, entire US economy afloat.

Disadvantage: You can see all of the ads online now, or on a much cheaper ad buy two days after the game. And, um, just for the record… why are the ads that you want to skip every other day of the year good now?

7) People Sure Do Gamble

A column so predictable, it’s a wonder that the writer doesn’t slip up from the cut-and-paste job that they did in putting it together last year. Did you know some people are so wacky that they bet on the coin flip? Wow!

Advantage: One of the few SB columns that might have some use for you, since they tell you an actual fact (point spread, over/under, etc.) that you might not have known.

Disadvantage: Helps encourage you to bet on the game (these tings should just be, and probably are, subsidized by gambling sites).

If we've missed any, please post in comments.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Five (+1) NBA Players On The Rise

Mike James, Minnesota

OK, anyone still holding out hope for the 2005-2006 numbers (20.3 points, 3.3 boards and 5.8 assists per game in his seventh year and sixth team – truly a Contract Year for the Ages) can officially wake up and smell the mediocrity now, as his 11.5, 2.3 and 4.4 have made him free agent fodder in smaller leagues. Rookie Randy Foye’s minutes going from 19 to 27 a game in January also had to make some folks pull the chute.

But James is, well, better than his current numbers, and now that the Marko Jaric Experience (memo to NBA GMs – do not sign cross-eyed players to long-term deals and expect it to work) seems to be leaving town… and Foye could be getting the Larry Brown Rookie Hazing treatment from new Wolf Coach Randy Whitman, as the 20-21 Wolves make their bid to be the #8 Washington Generals to the #1 Suns Globetrotters in the Western playoffs.

So one can easily see James’s current 28 minutes a game going to 35, which is, like, 25% more. But the other nice thing here is that with Foye and Jaric getting pine, the Wolves are embracing the offensively offense-free game of Trenton Hassell at 2. So James is going to play more, shoot more, and give you 15/5/6 in the second half. And from what little you might give up to get him, that’ll do, pig.

Fun fact: Mike James is, without a doubt, the second-best James in the league, behind only Le Bron. (Jerome? Girl, please!)

Larry Hughes, Cleveland

Here’s something that’s easy to forget about Fragile Larry… when he’s right, his coach never takes him off the floor. In January, he’s been out there for 38 minutes a game. So his current season-long numbers (15.0 points, 3.6 boards, 3.3 assists) are about to kick it up a notch, and there’s even more to like than that.

When you watch the Cavs this year, they just seem not to care. Blame the coach, blame a bored-looking LeBron, or the post-contract status of Drew Gooden, or the always surprising bench work of Jones and Marshall. So Larry’s really starting to look healthy.

What would make him special, of course, is anything close to the jaw-dropping 2.9 steals a game that he delivered in his Washington walk year. That’s probably not happening, but in his first five games back from the latest injury, he’s been at 19 points a game, mostly from getting to the line a lot, and the steals are starting to tick up. He’s poised to make some noise.

Nick Collison, Seattle

Anyone looking at the January numbers (14.7 points, 11.1 boards on 62.6% from the floor) is probably dancing over this waiver wire pick-up (in our league, he’s been on more teams than Tom Cruise), but don’t think this is a one-month wonder. Collison has always put up numbers when given minutes, but Seattle’s bizarre fascination with unproductive bigs (Danny Fortston, Johan Petro, Mouhamed Sene, Andreas Glyniadakis) has always made Darling Nicky a dicey play.

The reason why Collison’s minutes have been in and out are obvious: he’s slow laterally, has problems passing, and won’t provide much of a shot-blocking presence. But it’s not like the other clowns in this car were giving them anything else, and after giving them a great January, Collison will have earned some burn even when he's not hitting at 62%.

So long as you can live with so-so blocks, Collison will be the kind of under-the-radar double-double #2 center that championships are made of. (By the way, it's not a small point that Collison's emergence coincided with Earl Watson taking the starter's minutes away from Luke Ridenour.)

Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony, Denver

This one’s kind of obvious, but still needs to be stated – AI and Melo are about to become two of the best offensive players in the league, and wear opponents out at the foul line.

What AI haters fail to realize is that whenever he’s been on a team with top-line talent (Olympics, All Star Games), he’s involved his teammates a lot more than his career norms. This is not, for the record, a panacea; Dishing AI turns the ball over too much. But the people who snark that the Nuggets won’t have enough basketballs on the floor to keep both men happy are missing the point. They are both going to take it to the rack, and they are both going to shoot 8 to 10 free throws a game.

The real reason why AI and Melo won't win it all this year is that neither man is a plus player defensively (and especially not AI against a guard that can post him). That won’t matter so much in the regular season, and it really won’t matter to fantasy players in February, March and April, when the Nuggets try to catch the Jazz for the division lead despite playing just 17 of 39 games at home. That means big star minutes and big star production.

Ben Wallace, Chicago

Remember HeadbandGate? Big Ben might, but you’d never know from his play of late, where he’s returned to the double digit boards and defensive numbers that have endeared him to so many owners over the years. But he might still be had cheap by owners who are scared by that gut-ugly free throw percentage (41%!), which is keeping him off the floor in the late going of games.

The reason we think Big Ben is worth rolling the dice is that the blocks have been coming back – two 6-block games in January – and in your average head-to-head league, blocks and steals can frequently swing the whole shooting match. Assuming that you’ve got some big-time scorers on your roster, he’s worth the risk.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Coming Soon – The New Sports TV Shows

Better Than Life

This half-hour exercise is a breakthrough in what some experts are calling immersion therapy for broken-hearted sports fans.

Using the same digital reconstructions used by Gatorade in its recent "That Didn't Happen" campaign, producers will splice together geographically appropriate endings to classic decisive sports moments.

So Boston fans get to see Bucky Dent's ball caught at the warning track, while New York fans get to see Dave Roberts picked off first. In Philadelphia, Donovan McNabb engineers the last-minute miracle to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. In Detroit, Bird never steals the ball. And so on.

"We're very excited about the prospects for Better Than Life," said show producer Eric Blair. "Especially in markets like Philadelphia, Washington DC, Atlanta and Northern California, where the fans have no real hope of their teams winning for the foreseeable future, you're telling me they won't watch this?"

Industry insiders, however, were less impressed with the show's chances. "For a few seconds of emotional payoff, fans are going to have to sit through a lot of set-up," said television critic Tim Goodwin. "Sports fans would never go for that."

Full Contact Snark

Do you have what it takes to enter the exciting and charged world of sports blogging? In this new reality series, you're going to find out.
"We're going to draw on every part of the sports blogging rainbow -- from fat and white to less fat and white -- and then find some other people who want to be on TV," said producer Mike Barnett.

"They'll undergo a grueling 8-week crash course in sports blogging, taught by experts like Rex Hudler, Tim Kerr and Joe Morgan. Each week, one contestant will get the dreaded Server Error, and their blog will be deleted. This is going to be riveting television."

In-game contests include eating bugs, howling into a stiff wind, seeing who can refresh their page to check the most often for new comments, begging for links, butchering HTML, gaming the search engines, and, time permitting, writing.

"We'll split the teams into two racially diverse teams for cheap heat, and then throw the gimmick under the bus after the PR burst has gone," said Barnett. "Oh crap, did I just say that out loud?"

Tuesday Afternoon Taint Stains

Following the success of "Friday Night Lights," "Four Days To Glory" and "Won't Anyone, For The Love Of God, Blow A Mathlete" comes this tense and gripping drama.

You'll meet the Fighting Pundits from White Plains, NY's Far West High School, and follow every minute of their quest to better last year's eighth-place finish at the State Championships.

Celebrity cameos from noted debaters like Al Sharpton, Oprah Winfrey and Ben Stein will liven up the proceedings, and the "hole card" cameras that fans have come to love on poker telecasts will bring you every involuntary bowel release, outbreak of flop sweat, and contracting of the sphincter.

"By the time TATS is done, you'll have given your hearts to these kids," said producer Melinda Thomas. "You'll have to, actually, because they're going to be working on the argument for mandatory organ harvesting."

The World Cup Of Pinochle

The world of gambling television gets taken up a notch with the real-life drama of TWCoP, an unforgettable look inside the 7-week annual event held in Kenosha, Wisconsin for over $300 in prize money. Pinochle experts like Bitters Yohanssen, Cranky McPhee and Carrot Top will be on hand to cover every second of the fast and frantic action.

"America won't be able to get enough of the Hatenmeiers," said Nigel Nigel, the show’s producer. "As any pinochle aficionado knows, they are the dominant force of pinochle, with a 14-year unbeaten streak as the crowning glory in their 52 year sexless marriage.”

“Will their bitter rivals and next-door neighbors, the Smegensteins, finally break through this year? Or will Fred Hatenmeier be able to put up his celebratory 'Frank Smegenstein Is My Pinochle Bitch, and His Wife Is My Pinochle Whore' light display up again in his Christmas decorations this year? You'll have to tune in to find out."

The Hype-Around

Watch as our distinguished panel of sports writers, circus freaks and adult film fluffers discuss the sports events of the day in a non-stop circle jerk of hype.

Did Peyton Manning's breakthrough win against the Patriots make him the greatest big-game quarterback of this or any other generation?
Is this year's Super Bowl a cinematic masterpiece, a new way out in Iraq, and a cure for colon cancer?

Will this year's Pro Bowl make you forget every other Pro Bowl?

Find out... only on The Hype Around!

Five NBA Players Who Will Soon Fall Off A Cliff

Because it’s come to our attention that we really need to kill the trade value of some of the guys on our current fantasy team roster, and that any sports blog that trashes people who don’t talk about sports, should, um, talk about sports… anyway, enjoy.

1) Jason Kidd

Everyone’s too wrapped in DivorceGate to notice, but JKidd has had one hell of a half-season, to the point of being a top 10 MVP candidate. His shooting percentage (43%) is at its highest level since 1998, his boards per game (8.3) are at the highest level in his career, and the 9.2 assists are the best he’s done in four years. Turnovers are up a smidge, and the steals are down 0.5 a game from his glory days, but this is all quibbling. He’s a triple-double threat every night out, and a joy to watch.

Some idiot rankings that shall remain Yahoo even have Kidd as high as the 3rd best player in the league this year, behind the Matrix and Agent Zero. That, of course, is evidence of some exceptional smoking of the crack, but the fact remains that he’s been as good as any of his owners could have hoped.

Outside of the numbers, Kidd has dragged a bad Nets team up to a 20-21 mark going into tonight’s game, despite the loss of Nenad Krstic a month ago, and Richard Jefferson now. And he’s done it all at age 33, without logging any more minutes than before, when the world usually turns cold to oversized point guards.

So why is he about to fall off a cliff? Because making serviceable basketball players out of Mikki Moore, Jason Collins and Eddie House is not a long-term prescription for good performance. Kidd has also just accepted the Kiss of Death assignment of international basketball for Team USA, which rivals only the Madden Curse in terms of cutting short NBA careers. And at some point, DivorceGate has to take the wind out of his sails. New Jersey would be wise to cut bait on him now, but they probably won’t, since they seem to be the only team in the Titanic Division that’s actually trying to win games.

The decline will happen in the second half, and definitely next year.

2) Mike Miller

Always a nice all-around player, Miller has enjoyed a numbers renaissance under the faster-losing Grizz in the past few weeks. He delivers a ton of threes, more boards and assists than you’d expect, and nearly a steal a game. His 17.2 points a game, 6 boards and 4.4 assists are all career highs, and he’s the kind of sneaky multi-category player that fuels successful fantasy teams.

So why is he headed for the pound? The minutes. Miller hasn’t managed this kind of workload (38.5 a game) since 2002, and he hasn’t played a full slate of games since 2000. The league’s second-most forgotten Rookie of the Year (behind, of course, Mighty Mouse and teammate Damon Stoudamire) will wear out and/or get hurt in the second half. And even if that doesn’t happen, a Grizz Dump of Pau Gasol won’t help matters, either.

3) Jermaine O’Neal

This one’s just on feel. JO is second in the league in the Garnett Rage Meter, and you have to think that the steady No D Diet of Murphy and Dunleavy will make him want out of Indy even more than he did before.

So if he stays, he’ll be angry… and he gets dealt, he’s not going to be in as good of a situation. JO is one of the few quality low-post players left in the East right now, and his status as Alpha Dog in Pacerland is unquestioned. A new team might make for a happier JO, but it won’t make for better numbers.

In any event, there’s a lot of possibilities with J’O right now, and relatively few of them look to be as good as his current 19.4 points, 10.5 boards and 3 blocks in 36 minutes. He’s also not the most durable guy in the world, either. Don’t panic if you can’t move him, but start making inquiries.

4) Andris Biedrins

This has been a nice little story for fantasy league players this year, as the truly athletic Golden State big man has blossomed under Don Nelson to a serviceable #2 center from the waiver wire with 10.2 points, 9.6 boards and 1.9 blocks a game. The 61.8% FG% isn’t bad either, and he’s got active hands with 0.8 steals a game.

Biedrins has the common problem of young athletic bigs – he can’t stay on the court. He’s cut down this year’s hack-a-minute ratio to one every 7 minutes or so, down from last year’s Ken “The Animal” Bannister’s-esque 1 every 5, but against any kind of post big man, he’s a short night waiting to happen.

We also get the feeling that he’s not going to keep seeing 29 minutes a game after the trade… and even if he does, that he’ll hold up under the workload. Deal now, or cut him later.

5) Sam Dalembert

One of the few (relative) bright spots in an otherwise unwatchable year of basketball in Philadelphia, Sammy is averaging a career high in points (10.4), field goal percentage (56.6), and free throws (2 a game at 72%). In January, he’s been even better at 13 points, 8.9 boards, and 2.4 blocks. With no AI and no CWebb, someone’s got to score in this crap hole… so why not Sammy?

The reason we’d move him is because this has been this guy’s MO for the three years he’s been in the league – brief spurts where he looks like an emerging and borderline dominant defensive center, followed by long periods that remind us of the late great Joe Barry Carroll, or Benoit Benjamin.

And on a team that’s going through the motions and collecting ping-pong balls for Oden/Durant, Sammy’s due for 10 games of iced hamstrings. (Games played per year – 72, 66.) We also wonder about his motivation, as always, especially in a near-empty building for a team that’s going to go big in the draft. We’re not saying cut him, we’re just saying sell to someone who isn’t paying attention.

Later this week, five to fly in the second half.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Screwing Tony LaRussa: For The Good Of The Game

FTT is eagerly awaiting the start of the baseball season, so that we can get back to doing what we do best – infuriating the rest of our fantasy league with our startling genius. (Seriously, our track record is a championship last year, a 2nd place in 2005 and 2003, and some wins in offline league way back in the mumble mumble. As Tim Hardaway would say, we got skeeellllzzz. But we’ll talk about that later.)

But while we wait, here are some rule changes that the sport should undertake, seeing how it’s so quick to made, um, one rule change (the DH) in the last 34 years. These will happen fast.

1) Limit the number of pickoff attempts that a pitcher can throw to a base.

Let’s go for three per plate appearance. If you throw a fourth time and the runner gets back, they’re awarded second base, and it counts as a steal.

Day to day impact: Relatively minor, but it would probably speed up the games a bit, especially in the NL.

Potential playoff impact: Huge. Closer on the mound. Base stealer on first. And there’s a finite number of times the pitcher can go to first. Drama, baby.

Justification: If the pitcher throws a pitch out to try to control the running game, it’s counted as a ball. Four of them, the runner is on second. So it matches.

People this hurts: The Oakland A's, who I root for, but so be it. Pitchers that can’t hold runners on, and attempt to just wear the runner out with persistence. Everybody hates the latter group. Screw ‘em.

2) Every pitcher who enters the game has to pitch.

It’s the 8th inning, close game, men on base. In trots the lefty from the pen to face your team’s left-handed hitter. But oh ho, your team’s manager goes to a right-hander. And now the lefty is leaving, and a new right-hander is in… and the excitement is rivaled only by particularly long review challenges in the NFL.

FTT blames Tony LaRussa, the opera-loving freak, for all of this. Let's take a good look at the man who introduced open-air dentistry to the late innings, shall we?

For the relatively small (and in some cases, possibly illusionary) gain in percentage, everyone in the stadium has just watched the players stand around for, at the minimum, five minutes. If that doesn’t seem like a lot to you, please stare at your computer clock now, and wait for five minutes to elapse. See? Too damn long. Boy, you are a patient person.

Anyway, if the pitcher has to stay in to face at least one hitter, maybe we start to rein in the cancerous LaRussian timewaste tumor that has infected baseball in the last 20 years. Next time he’s behind you in a line, please waste at least 5 minutes of his day talking about his motivation. Then, make it 10.

Day to day impact: Depending on the time and the league, games lose something like 10 to 15 minutes of absolute dead time. Some relievers get overworked without the one-out guys taking as much of their time, but probably not by an incredible amount.

Playoff impact: Huge. Strategic decisions are amplified, late innings move faster, everyone starts to like baseball again, and FTT is nominated for the Nobel Prize in Baseball. (There’s no Nobel Prize in baseball? Damn. We had a speech ready and everything.)

Justification: If baseball was meant to have situational substitutions with vast numbers of players who never got a real chance to play, the rosters would be a heckuva lot bigger than 25 guys.

People this hurts: Prancing Tony. He’s got a ring, he won't care. The immediate families of borderline platoon-only relievers. (Nearly) Everybody hates these guys. Screw ‘em.

3) The hitter can refuse an intentional walk.

The intentional walk is nearly unique in American sports: a defensive capitulation that is, theoretically, in the defense’s best interests, and can not be refused by the offense. Think about that – the defense isn’t good enough to risk facing the offensive player in question, so they’ll take a smaller penalty and be rewarded for their cowardice. Do you have an out like this at your job? We didn’t think so.

So after four wide ones are thrown, the hitter has a decision to make. Drop the bat and walk to first, or stand in and go again. If he works another walk, he takes second, and all base runners move up 180 feet. But if the hitter stays in the box, the pitcher can be replaced, while the hitter can not.

Day to day impact: It’d be like going for 2 on the PAT in football – rarely done, but something that will make you move to the edge of your seat. It would also have serious repercussions in the hitter fails. And it would be one more thing to hiss Barry Bonds for, and we all could use that.

Playoff impact: Huge. Strategic decisions amplified, late innings get more dramatic, everyone starts to… oh, we already wrote that? Well, ditto. Times two.

Justification: People spend a lot of money to see the best hitters in baseball. Taking the bat out of their hands, without an option, is poor customer service.

People this hurts: Pitchers who don’t have the stones to face the best hitters. Everybody hates these guys. Screw ‘em.

4) Blow up the Hall of Fame and start over.

We’ve been to Cooperstown; it’s great. And it deserves better than the current Hall of Fame.

Not for Mark McGwire, or Pete Rose, or Shoeless Joe Jackson, or any of the other people that have their own constituencies. Not because of the weirdness involved in the “No 100%” sportswriter nerds. And not even for the dozens of marginal Veterans Committee types that got in thanks to Frankie Frisch’s homerism.

Instead, do it for Buck O’Neill. Because there was absolutely no justifiable reason for the institution to do what it did to him, and there is no justifiable reason for it to continue after that.

When you start over, induct only a small and fixed number of players for each decade – ten will do. Instead of arbitrary stats that become skewed with different eras of baseball, simply ask this question: who were the very best 10 players in the game for that decade, the ones that you could not tell the history of the game without.

Disregard all morality, since that’s not germane to what happens between the lines. (The fact is that you can’t tell the story of baseball in the 1910s without Jackson, the 70s and 80s without Rose, and the 90s without the Roid Boys. Fame includes warts.) Layer the voting so that players, sports writers, historians, broadcasters, and even the fans can have input. (The latter get to pick the single player from their team for top consideration for the decade. This will also be good fun for the rest of us, as we watch Yankee and Red Sox fans kill themselves squabbling over who should go.)

Then, we’ll have a place where the standards aren’t always under attack and in transition. A place where everyone knows why someone was there. And the Hall of Fame will never again have people in it who don’t belong.

Justification: It’d be, well, a true Hall of Fame.

People this hurts: The friends and families of guys who get disinterred, and the sports writers who enjoy their stranglehold on the game’s highest honor. For the latter, at least… well, you know.

There Is A God... or Is There?

From today's Ad Age...

With sales of Miller Lite falling as its competitors' rise, Miller Brewing Co. is yanking the "Men of the Square Table" ad campaign that hit the airwaves last spring... Miller Lite's sales fell by low-single digits last year, while rivals Bud Light and Coors Light climbed in the mid- and low-single digits, respectively.

For those of you that need to be reminded what this looks like, go to

The bad news? Those Coors Light "Coach Press Conference" ads might be working. (If so, all credit goes to Jim Mora. And Satan.)

Oh Dear Lord, A Serious Rant

Pardon me for a quasi-serious moment. (We promise there will be titty and stupidity later, and maybe sooner, depending on your point of view. If you’re only here for goofy stuff, skip this one – I’m about to bust a rant.)

When I worked as an intern in the sports department for a pretty decent-sized newspaper in mumble mumble, the rest of the staff called us the Toy Department. What we did sold papers, especially on the day before and after a big game, but it wasn't Real News. It got you no street cred from Serious Reporters, and anyone who did it for more than 10 to 20 years started to get fat and smelly. You went into the field if you loved it, didn’t mind fat and smelly, and could live on a bad salary.

And then the money in sports -- crazy always – went completely batshit insane. So much so that even the fat and smelly guys could cash in.

In 1991, Rickey Henderson was the best player in baseball, and he made $3.25 million. In 2001, Alex Rodriguez made $22 million – up nearly 700%. That didn’t all come from Tom Hicks, folks.
ESPN and fantasy leagues went from nerd joke to nerd reality to the nerds running everything. Sports owners turned from miserly old men who ran them like businesses to the same miserly old men, but peppered with vanity billionaires who wanted to play real-life fantasy leagues.

And the Toy Department became a place where people could get famous and wealthy, churning out books, showing up on radio, and even making it on TV, depending on the quality of your screaming.

Toy Department, my ass. The world turned into a Toy Store.

And so sports became the long boom, the ever-growing beast that the world just kept feeding. Give the credit to good marketing, a long era of peace, maybe even the dissolution of unions and political parties. Or blame it on television for forgetting how to make mass-market shows, or on cable and the Web for giving us so many choices that sports became the only common touch point, and hideously overvalued by advertisers.

But in any event, here we are, spending our time watching, reading, and writing about sports. Probably more than we ever have before.

And I've got bad news for any of us who can think. We're getting screwed.

Oh, not in the ways you already know about, with the ever-increasing number of ads, the spiraling cost of tickets, the stadium welfare deals.

No, the screwing here is from the usual suspect when something isn't as good as you once remembered it and you don't know why -- the media.

If you were reading a book and got to the last 50 pages, and the author just started dropping in notes from another book, or gossip about a fellow author, or their personal evaluation of an unrelated topic... what would you do?

You might finish the book. You might toss it across the room. But you’d probably never buy or read anything from that author again.

If you were at a concert and the band stopped the show to talk amongst themselves for minutes on end, intermittently noodling on their instruments, until a time the show was supposed to be over, at which point they just up and left…

Well, depending on the age of the crowd, maybe you’d get a riot. In any event, you'd be tempted to never listen to their songs again, and you'd probably tell everyone you know not to go to their live show.

If you went to a restaurant and got back a main course that wasn't what you ordered, but something entirely different that was also inedible and unprepared, with no possibility of refund or recompense...

Well, you’d either leave, or send it back. You'd make a stink. You'd tell everyone you know if you weren’t satisfied, and maybe even if you were. You’d never go back.

The author wouldn't get another book deal, and their editor would be canned.

The band would stop getting gigs.

The restaurant would close.

And when they do the exact same thing in sports media… they get promoted.

On the off chance that you don't believe me... well, YouTube doesn't have the clip of Christian Slater on Monday Night Football, so I can’t link to it. Sorry.

Ethically, I'm not going to provide you the link to read Gregg Easterbook's emissions about science fiction, or genetics, or politics, or any of the other things that he puts in his pompous and formulaic hack of a football column.

Here is a link to a page where the writers tracked how many things Dick Vitale talked about that weren't related to the game he was covering. (Hat tip: Deadspin and Card Chronicle.)

In case you don’t want to click and see the whole list, the final number was 156. In a two-hour telecast.

I rag on Bill Simmons in the sad hope that he gets better, because when he actually writes about sports, he’s actually good. The percentage of that in his output now is getting close to 25%. (Maybe less, if you take out the My Team pity parties.)

Bill Walton is so bored with the game that he's watching that he routinely says just out and out lies about it, so that the event conforms to his formula of mystic battle, to be determined by divine will. We could go on.

If you’re a fan of any of that, this blog is going to piss you off sometimes. I hope you stay anyway, but if you don’t, no worries.

And if you really hate that crap... I'm so happy to meet you. I was going crazy out here alone.

Why do they do this? Because they believe – probably correctly – that we'll be here no matter what.

So throw some more shit against the wall, folks. Have "American Idol" style auditions for the color analyst job, live and on air. Introduce cooking segments in post-game press conferences. Bring in Rush Limbaugh to line up against Tony Siragusa in his Fat Guy Football Pantomimes. Make the players sing karaoke at halftime, judged by their wives, and have people vote on the winners by cell phone. Go Freaking Nuts. It will help change things for the better, faster.

When a business cares more about growth than it does in keeping its customers satisfied, it eventually fails. It might not happen now, and it might not happen soon. But when the site traffic fades, and the TV ratings stay static or worse, especially for regular season games … and no city wants the franchise that threatens to pack its bags….

Well, a lot of people will realize that the Toy Store has a lot of crap in it. And they’ll go find somewhere else to spend their time. They have options.

We, of course, will still be here, watching the games, and maybe even enjoying it more. Maybe we’ll be watching pirated video and audio feeds, reading stuff that’s actually funny or insightful, and trading moments of reporting back and forth to each other as a community,

Maybe we’ll even have useful Web-only fantasy sports shows. Or highlight shows without lame banter and analysis from non-jock lunkheads.

I, personally, dream of getting a feed that won’t make me watch the same damned commercials over and over again, or let me have ads that let me watch the game when my daughter is in the room with me. I’m a dreamer.

Whatever it is, it’s coming. The tech is all here, and there’s a world of us that isn’t ready to settle. There’s more good sports blogs every day, and I hope you put FTT in that group.

Because I’m betting that there are more of us every day, and less of them.

Thanks for reading, and game on.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

This Is Our Web Site

Here at the FTT Home Office, where we use Dell laptop computers with Intel Inside, we've been getting a lot of complaints about the GoDaddy post.
Some of you have accused us of being in the bag (bags supplied by eBags), of taking a payout (payouts managed by CapitalOne), of monetizing the site's traffic far too early in the evolution of the site (evolution disputed by Flying Spaghetti Monster).
Nothing could be further from the truth. And we are saddened, from the tips of our Ugg boots to the top of our stylish winter headgear from Land's End, by the cynicism represented by those messages.
We truly live in a sad age, where heartless comments cause us to weep into our Kleenexes. Where is the love? We feel lonelier than Bill Simmons after the Pats-Chargers game.
Now some bloggers out there, it is true, take money from "flogs," or fake corporate blogs. FTT is not one of them. We refuse to compromise our principles for the easy money offered to us by such outstanding companies as Microsoft, Sony, Wal*Mart and more. FTT will stand tall, on lifts provided to us by Dr. Scholls, and Fight The Good Fight.
We're sorry that we had to bring this to your attention. Rest assured that FTT will continue to be a place you can trust. Almost as much as you can trust the Chevy [gunshot]

Monday, January 22, 2007

Creative Differences

Citing creative differences, Shine Advertising has resigned the Go Daddy account. Shine was charged with creating the company's Super Bowl ads, along with handling marketing and viral components.
-- MediaPost MediaDailyNews, 1/22/07

Inside the Shine Advertising Offices

Shine Creative Lead (CL): So here's where we're looking to take the brand this year.

Go Daddy: All right. We can't wait. You guys are genuises.

CL: OK, instead of having a brunette girl with titties this year, we were thinking -- get ready for this -- a blonde girl with titties.

Shine Account Manager (AM): Two of 'em.

CL: Good point, Tad. Two titties. They're going to be round...

AM: And jiggling.

CL: Definitely jiggling. We're also open to wet.

GD: You can give us wet?

AM: We've got some new tech for that. No problem.

GD: Sounds good.

CL: OK, but we're not done yet. These titties? These wet, jiggling titties? They're going to be... wait for it... wait for it...

AM: I can't wait any longer!

CL: Sit down, Tad. OK, the titties will be... Large!

GD: I was just thinking large. Not small?

AM: Small didn't test well in our focus group.

CL: Yeah, small is definitely out this year. We feel very strongly about large.

GD: How big was the focus group?

AM: 50 people, over 5 separate meetings. I'll e-mail you the findings.

GD: Excellent.

CL: I'm glad you are on board with the blonde with the large, jiggling, wet titties.

GD: Well, we do have one concern.

AM: Let her rip. This is a brainstorming session.

GD: Well, the girl. With the titties. Does she have to be... blonde?

(Awkward silence)

GD: We were just thinking, you know. Brunette is our *brand*.

CL: I see.

GD: And we're pretty attached to it.

AM: Yeah.

(Awkward silence)

GD: Weren't you the guys who pitched us on the brunette last year?

CL: I'm really sorry, but Tad and I have a 2 o'clock.

AM: Right, with the, the, the thing.

CL: Promise to think about the blonde?

GD: I guess.

AM: Great. I'll follow up with you later this week.

Mid-Day Quick Hits

(Because Papa Smurf over the fold is just too much, really.)

1) Bill Parcells retires as head coach of the Cowboys.

Owner of the loudest 34-30 record in the history of coaching. His last notable play as an NFL coach, provided this retirement is the one that finally sticks? Romo's Whoopsie. Tasty.

While it's fun to speculate on what luckless SOB will take this job next (hot young mind? No, TO would eat him... noted coaching legend? No, won't take any part of TO...), the early word is Wade Phillips gets to try to erase the Music City Miracle from his mind.

FTT bets that he'll get an 8-8 year, the 'Boys dump Owens, and then Jones opens up the check book for Bill Cowher. Because that's just how your mind words when you root for the Eagles... doom is ever-present.

(We also think there's still time for Coach Man Boobs to take a disastrous last job for the money. This is, after all, why the Arizona Cardinals exist.)

2) ESPN's Sports Guy is now tied with his wife for making NFL picks this year.

There's another 3,000 words we've saved you... IN THE FUTURE. (Cue sting music.)

3) NY Times reports that porn actresses are bemoaning the advent of HDTV. FTT feels the same way about Tony Kornheiser.

4) Bears and their fans bemoaning their lack of respect as a 7-point early dog in the SB. Um, they do know the Seahawks took them to overtime, and they are from the NFC, and the NFC team is always a 7-point dog, don't they?

FTT wonders if we should also bemoan our lack of respect. All the cool kids are doing it.

Expect this line to shrink by a point or so as people talk up the Two Headed Benson Thomas Beast and the Colts historic troubles with the run. (And for the record, we do not consider ourselves Bear Haters, or even Bear Baiters. We just trust Sexy Rexy not at all.)

Fantasy Sports Draft Animals

If you've been in enough fantasy league drafts, you've seen (or been) any of the people listed below. If we've missed any, join in for the comments. (And if you've seen an earlier version of this at some other blog... it's because we wrote it, in a world before FTT. We were so innocent then.)

1) Papa Smurf Commish

Leading his league likes it's an actual job, Papa Smurf Commish feels obligated to tone down the smack talk just when it's getting interesting, restate the draft order until the with-it owners want to throw chairs, and pimps some league outing until you agree to go out of pity.
Positives: He usually buys beer, and sometimes even springs for a trophy. Without him, you'd probably have anarchy.
Negatives: In a room of guys without lives, he pushes the envelope. Plus, he usually finishes in the money.
2) Preppy Overlord
He's bringing a laptop, an Excel spreadsheet that would crush any pre-2000 operating system, five pounds of printouts, a half-dozen pre-season magazines and his Expert Opinion on any pick that isn't his own.
Positives: Easy to cheat off of.
Negatives: Takes the maximum time alloted on every pick. Cries easily.
3) Drunk And Proud
Every league has got one -- the guy that sees a live draft as an opportunity to get out of the house and unwind. By the fourth round, he'll be complaining over how long it's taking and drafting on name recognition only.
Positives: Dumb Money.
Negatives: He inevitably stumbles into a guy you want, and trading with him later is an exercise in pain.
4) The Rookie
Oh, is it my turn? How many catchers do we have to draft? What are the categories again? Hey, what do you think about taking Johan Santana here? Why are you smacking yourself in the head -- did you want him? OK, I won't pick him. But... oh, man, look at those strikeouts.... I think I have to pick him. Do you mind?
Positives: They rarely, if ever, win.
Negatives: If they do win, you throw up in your mouth.
5) James Lipton / The Fluffer
That was an outstanding pick. Wow, the value you got out of that one... I'm moved. How did you know that Adam Dunn would be here for you in this round? I had completely forgotten about him here, and I needed homers. And Chase Utley... I believe the word I'm looking for is Stones, Sir. You Have Stones.
Positives: Makes you feel smart for seconds on end.
Negatives: Fluffs just about every owner in the same way, making you feel all dirty.
6) Spring Training Guy
You've been to Florida/Arizona, too? Well, that's OK, but Florida/Arizona's better. I was there for two weeks because I have more money than I know what to do with and a job I can blow off, and what you learn there just can't be matched in any of those * pfah! * magazines. I remember in '88, when I saw Leo Mazzone in a bar and asked him about this Smoltz kid, and he couldn't stop talking about the kid's stuff. I knew, right then...
Positives: Will, inevitably, draft a guy in the 5th round that will be sent to the minors before the All Star Break. Highest comedy value in the league.
Negatives: Death in a keeper league.
7) The Porn Bringer
Draft prep is for nerds. I know all of these guys from last year, and I did just fine. Hey, do you think this one's had work done, or what? Holy...
Positives: Brings porn.
Negatives: Brings porn.
8) The Soft Chick
Oh, I'm just here because (Owner X) said it would be fun, and because I think Jeter is just so freakin' hot. I knew this girl who was on his boat, and she says that he's got the biggest...
Positives: Some part of you wants her to finish that story. Will finish in front of some guy who will then want to kill himself.
Negatives: She will finish that story. And that guy who finishes behind her... might be you.
9) The Hard Chick
Will you just freakin' pick already? I've known pregnant sorority girls that could make a decision faster than you. Jesus, what a sausage fest this league is. Do anyone of you actually have girlfriends, or do you just all go Lucky Pierre on each other after I leave the room?
Positives: Talks the best trash in the league. Usually doesn't do well.
Negatives: You might be the target of her smack.
10) The Fake Mark
Oh, I just thought I'd get in the league for fun, you know? I catch a lot of games at the park, and I thought it would be fun to have a few guys to root for this year. What's that? No, I didn't do any real prep -- just picked up a mock draft off the Web and messed around with a little.
My car? Yeah, thanks, I really like it. Won it in Vegas from a... slot machine. Just got lucky, I guess. Hey, after the draft is over, you guys want to play some cards?
Positives: There are no positives.
Negatives: Guess who's going to win your league?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Those Marks Are Permanent

Sunday Game Thoughts...

1) Largest comeback in AFC/NFC title game history. No dome team has ever won on the road in a championship game. First time that black coaches are in the Super Bowl, first time that a black coach will win the Super Bowl.

Over/under on how many times these will be noted in the next two weeks in the mainstream media: 5,874.

Take the over.

2) Bob Irsay, in the post-game gloatathon, gives it all up for God and Lamar Hunt. Then Tony Dungy does the same, but doesn't mention Hunt. Two questions:

1. When did God start going against the Patriots? God usually seems on their side in a big way, considering that they're now 8-1 in playoff games decided by less than 7 points. What's made Him forsake them? Post your theories in the comments, if you like.

2. Why does Tony Dungy hate Lamar Hunt?

3) How much of the public distaste for Peyton Manning come from just heavy rotation of his television ads, and is it really fair to tar and feather him for it?

Answer: Yes. He cashes the checks.

4) Somewhere in the sub-Sahara, some village is going to get their 2006-2007 AFC Championship Patriots swag. It's going to look a lot less funny than the Saints swag.

5) As the teams were walking off the field, Manning got close to Belichick, who gave him the body language of a miser with a homeless man. Fifteen minutes later, CBS interviews Belichick on camera with Solomon Wilcots, and he got off the air after two questions and 12 seconds.

Bill, apparently, doesn't take well to this losing in the playoffs thing. A shame, because so long as he thinks he can make it all the way with waiver wire wideouts, he's going to keep having this experience.

6) Can Reche Caldwell open his eyes any wider when he drops a pass, or is that physically impossible? While we're asking rhetorical questions, can Pats fans and those who took them hate him any more right now? San Diego had its revenge on you, Pats.

7) Here's the biggest reason why neutral fans should be pleased with a Colts-Bears match-up -- Rex Grossman will not have to face a Belichick defense. After nearly three quarters of failing to take advantage of the Saints' porous secondary, Sexy Rexy picked it up in time to take advantage. Against the Pats, I think he would wet himself and eat paste.

8) If you bet with Mean Old Grandpa Frank (see below, or click on the link to the right), you'd be rolling in the money today. There's something to be said for experience.

9) Despite getting the snot beaten out of them late, it really was a nice year for the Saints. So long as they can coach Bush to stop putting the ball on the ground, keep Brees healthy, and find a few corners, they're going to own the NFC South for several years to come.

10) The early pick for the Super Bowl? Colts by 10. If Rexy wins, he displaces Jeff Hostetler and Trent Dilfer as worst QBs to ever win the game. Even in an era of lowered standards, that's too low.

Rejected "Heel" Profiles from the WWE

(Hat tip: Bruno in CT)

1) Stark Haywire

Stark's a baseball bat-wielding monster who may or may not be using banned substances to achieve his success in the WWE. Banned from his first sport for his uncoachability and willingness to start bench-clearing brawls, Stark has brought his "anything goes" atttitude and willingness to cut corners to the WWE. If he wins a championship belt and becomes a role model, will America survive? Only time will tell!

Finishing Moves: Long Ball Blast, The Needle Drop

2) Wide Out

This gifted but troubled superstar is a three-ring circus, in and out of the ring. With an ever-changing array of spokesmen and women, handlers, security staff and his "posse," Wide Out is always up for outside interference in his matches. Watch out for treachery as Wide Open puts old friends "under the bus" with devastating speed!

Finishing Moves: The Press Conference, The (Bust You) Wide Open

3) Buck Moral

Buck is here to clean up the WWE with his own brand of two-fisted morality. From tut-tutting scantily clad women to lecturing the crowd on the dangers of noise pollution, Buck isn't afraid to dampen any blanket. He's sure to clash with Wide Open in a feud that will have the fans talking for years to come!

Finishing Moves: The Oral Submission, The Post-Game Wrap-Up

4) Freaky Zekey

Ezekiel Q. Daly doesn't look like a WWE superstar, in his impeccable pinstriped suits and expensive ties, but don't let looks deceive you -- he's a talented athlete whose only flaw is his unbelievably bad judgment. "Freaky Zekey," as the crowds will call him to his maddening torment, will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory week after week with a series of comical mishap and tragic errors. Like a real-life Wile E. Coyote, Freaky Zekey will keep trying more dubious schemes with more disastrous results. Our crowds will love laughing at his antics. Oh, Freaky Zekey, will you ever learn?

Finishing Moves: The Bad Trade, The Really Bad Trade

5) Soccer Mama

This ill-tempered dynamo is sure to get the fans on their feet. In her arsenal of attacks is spine-curdling lectures about how Americans just don't appreciate the world's game, sickening fake dives to get the referee's attention, an aversion to any actual physical contact and the constant threat of outside interference from drunken hoodlums. This big bad Mama is more than a few orange slices away from a good breakfast.

Finishing Moves: The Car Seat Spank, The Zidane Splash

Mad Love For Our People

Ever since Five Tool Tool launched, we've been inundated with questions from Readers Like You. What to do with them? We briefly considered selling them all to our pen pals in Nigeria, but decided instead to share them with all of you in a Mailbag column. (Plus, it gives us a good way to get that convicted criminal’s mug shot off the top of the site. He’s attracting a bad crowd.)

So, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, your very first edition of the FTT Mail Bag. Remember, these are actual words using actual letters!

Q: Recently my wife has been trying to include herself in everything I do. My friends say it's cool, but I think they're secretly laughing at me behind my back, and I'm starting to feel confined. How do I get her to back off without hurting her feelings?

-- Jason, Seacacus, NJ

FTT: A clingy spouse is just someone who is having insecurity issues. The next time you're with her, let her know how special you think she really is. Prepare a list of the things that she's really good at, and how well she compares with the other women you meet at the office and in your travels. Be prepared to break it down in detail -- women love it when their man comes prepared -- and to come on strong if you have to. You'll be celebrating your independence again in no time!

Q: Some buddies and me were sitting around having a few, and somebody -- and it wasn't me -- popped the question of who you would, um, you know, "go out with" if you were in prison for a long time. The room got really quiet, and all five of us said "Brady" at the same time. Does this make us queer?

-- Name Withheld, Waltham, MA

FTT: Some might say it depends on the length of the sentence and the amount of alcohol you've been drinking, but that's just beating around the bush. You are. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Q: I left my old place of business a few years ago for an early retirement. Ever since I've been gone, people have been running down my accomplishments, saying that I didn't play by the rules, and that my legacy is a sham. Should I find them and crush them with my bare hands, or pay someone else to do the job for me?

Mark, Irvine, CA

FTT: In situations like this, it pays in the long run to be the bigger man. Let your next career and/or retirement activities put your previous job into its proper perspective. Besides, what can they really do to you now?

Q: There's this guy in my office who's a complete jerk. Everyone kind of pretends to like him because he puts up numbers, but no one really does. Anyway, last week he got busted for having drugs in the workplace, and instead of taking the blame, he tried to rat me out for it. What should I do?

Mark, Redwood Shores, CA

FTT: People like your co-worker always come to a bad end, so the best course may just to be patient and steer clear of him in any kind of social or work interaction. Be polite but distant, and don't drag yourself to his level by engaging in acts of revenge.

Besides, unless your business is truly run by incompetents, this kind of behavior will result in termination. When the dust settles, you don't want this person to harbor ill feelings, since they've already shown themselves to be outside of the bounds of human decency.

Q: Did I kill anyone? Did we have the castle there with the vampires and the Frankenstein, and the bugs and lizards dying in the desert? A lot of what they pushed off on me is not me. Getting up every day and going through this again and again is hard. Good for some may not be the same for others. I didn't want to scare you guys out of the neighborhood right away.

Ron, Manteca, CA

FTT: Thanks for writing!

Q: Don't you think that letters columns (and chat transcripts, for that matter) are just a dishonest way to pump out new content that requires almost no imagination or creativity? Answer this letter or I'll start my own blog and say mean things about you.

Dan, Philadelphia, PA

FTT: Thanks for writing!

* * * * *

And that's it for this edition of the Mailbag. Keep those letters coming, folks!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Suggested Gangs for some of this weekend's most Well-Known NFL Players

Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it. - Rush Limbaugh, Noted Gang Expert, 1/19/07

Drew Brees, Saints QB -- Habitats for Humanity

Peyton Manning, Colts QB -- Sharks from "West Side Story"
Tedy Bruschi, Pats LB -- 2Tuff42 Consonants

Brian Urlacher, Bears LB -- FatHeadz

Tom Brady, Pats QB -- Baseball Furies

Stephen Gostkowski, Robbie Gould, John Carney, PKs -- Chess Club

Adam Vinateri -- Illuminati

More Spasmodic Dance, Please

It takes a lot to be a Respected NFL Leader.

Sometimes it takes making a routine tackle look like skydiving, and sometimes it takes being an accessory to murder... allegedly.
But Brian Dawkins and Ray Lewis have one thing in common that cements their leadership status -- they've got their pre-game entrance down so well, it makes national television broadcasts.

What about the other teams, still alive in the playoffs, that do not? FTT, as always, is here to help.

1) Peyton Manning Is Lord of the Dance

Showing their stunning cohesion and choreographic courage, Manning leads his offensive teammates on to the field en masse, high-stepping all the way to a martial beat. Moving his dancing blockers in a way that leads many color analysts to point out that if Peyton hadn't been in football, no one would ever heard of Bob Fosse, Peyton sets the tone for this week's slap fight with Brady and the Patriots. Loser buys the tights!

2) Borging With Belichick

As any Pats will tell you, usually at a volume level that's 20 to 30 points past screaming, The Pats are not so much a football team as they are a single-minded 45-man weapon for the greatest genius of this or any other age, Bill Belichick, to wield to his will. As the Pats take the field, make sure to look at what they're doing from the blimp's eye view, where the overhead pattern is revealed to be a perfect use of feng shui, chi, and EST. Within ten minutes, you'll have joined the cult and become a potent apologist for their cause!

3) Rexy's Razzle Dazzle

In a final and ultimately successful attempt to send Bear fans straight into an insane asylum, Bears QB Rex Grossman is a one-man Broadway show in this homage to the musical "Chicago." Pay special attention to the awkward half-participation of wideouts Berrian and Muhammad, who have to sing back-up, or fear Rex freezing them out in the game for Desmond "Big Mama" Clark.

4) Reggie Bush Leads The Saints' Jazz Funeral

Shrugging aside concerns that he's starting things off on the wrong note, The Savior of New Orleans leads the team into battle with a full brass band playing "Just A Closer Walk With Thee." After bringing the Saints back from the dead, ruining the season for countless over-reaching fantasy sports nerds, and making Hurricane Katrina a distant memory (well, um, no)... is there anything Reggie can't do? Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

Ask Not What FTT Can Do For You, Ask What You Can Do For FTT

We have heard your cries.

We know what is in your hearts.

In every campaign stop, in every little town, in the expectant eyes of every man, woman, and child.

You are looking for a new way forward.

For a sports blog that dares to hope for a better future. (Oden or Durant in a Sixers uniform, an Eagles parade, Terrell Owens signing with the Raiders, Daric Barton earning the ROY for Oakland…)

About sports, not titty. (Unless the titties, like in the case of Coach Parcells, are integral to the plot.)

One that does not -- nay, refuses! -- to hang out in locker rooms, because they smell really, really bad.

One that knows no celebrities, does not eat press box food, and isn't afraid to watch the games the same way that you do.

Unlike other sports sites, FTT pledges to never do the following:

1) Expose ourselves to co-workers via nude photos on our cell phone, and rationalize our behavior by citing the serious health conditions of our father. (Hi, Sean!)

2) Equate our devotion to the teams in our bias (for the record, mine are the A's, Eagles, and then a long ling way down to the Sixers) to the point where you can predict, with absolute certainty, what we're going to write before we write it.

3) Hire insufferable writers with bizarre eugenical beliefs, fire them for due cause, and then re-hire them several years later, because we just can't find any other insufferable writers. (Not exactly a hard hire, really.)

What do we ask in return? Precious little.

If you like any of the posts here, e-mail them to your friends, enemies, relatives and prison pen pals. Post comments when you feel so moved. If you'd like to join the writing staff and get in on this gravy-free gravy train, get in touch.

Because together -- and by together, I mostly mean me -- we can change the world. Or, at least, mine.

This has been an unpaid and non-political announcement.

Friday, January 19, 2007

FTT Saves You 4,798 Words

Shorter Bill Simmons: The world hates my team, so the world is wrong.

Better Heckling

FTT has been to any number (Chico Voice On -- we got lots of numbers – take any one you want) of games, and listened to any number of hecklers. Hell, we’ve even shouted our own. We did, after all, grow up in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Degradation.

Most heckles are more tired and played out than The Wave, techno, or Marty Schottenheimer. When the ref blows the call and everyone does the iambic Ass Hole or Bull Shit, it’s like farting in an elevator – two seconds of pleasure, then a long awkward stage where you’re just a teensy little bit embarrassed to be there.

So follow these rules and raise your game, Mouth.

1) Enough With The God Damned Cursing.

Unless you are Samuel L. Jackson or a Smurf that works in porn, it’s just not that entertaining to hear so many variations on the word fuck. Get some actual material.

2) Use Simple and Direct Commands

A nice one for the ref that used to destroy whole sections: “Bend over and use your good eye!” See, that’s right to the point, constructive, and educational. It’s also out there in two seconds flat, and Makes You Think.

3) Props and Prep Work

Heckling does not mean showing up at the game with signs and GWAR-ready costumes. Those only block the view of people who paid good money to go to a game, rather than to try to get on camera. Good heckling is not about getting on television.

But that doesn’t mean that all props go in the Carrot Top bin of Useless Crap along with, well, Carrot Top. One of the finer moments of heckling ever involved a zip-lock bag of flour / dummy cocaine, the ’86 Mets, and a little kid Mets fan who unwittingly recreated the Mean Joe Green Coke ad. I’m amazed we weren’t all killed. But of course, this is hard to pull off in an era of heightened security. We’ve lost something here, people. The terrorists may have already won.

You can, of course, do good work with a personalized game jersey (Hat Tip: Deadspin). Warning: May Cause Actual Herpes.

4) Get Meta Personal

A great performance by the left-field bleachers at an A’s game, to then-Met Mike Piazza: “Mike! We Know You’re Not Gay!”

In a simple six syllable chant, these proud freaks showed research, cohesion, and got out a message that could be taken in a couple of different ways. Excellent work.

5) Joy In Repetition

One of the simplest rules in comedy: repeat a dumb but enjoyable thing for the instant comedy of a running joke. I was in the stands for a China-USA basketball game, mostly to scout Yao Ming. One of the other Chinese players was Mengke Bateer, a power forward whose image in real life, unlike the Web, gives children nightmares. He might be the ugliest basketball player on the planet. Seriously.

(Small, to spare the pain)

With the game out of hand, we spent most of the second half campaigning for Meng The Merciless (“FEED Meng! OBEY Meng! LOVE Meng!”) to get the ball. He obliged with zombie-riffic post moves that were high comedy, and by the end of the night, there was a Meng Movement in the stands. I’m amazed he’s not still with the Knicks.

6) Know Your Audience

I once had seats right behind home plate for a meaningless Phillies game (imagine that) in late July. The hitter was Milt Thomspon, a slap-hitting platoon outfielder, in the line-up due to injuries. An idiot fan yelled, “Come on Miltie, Homer Number 2!”, hoping to see Milt go deep. I turned to my friend and said, casually, “Yeah, maybe in his life against a lefty.”

At which point Mrs. Thompson, who was sitting behind me, proceeded to dramatically suck all of the air out of the stadium, to show her ability to get mad for her man.

(I wish I could tell you that I rode Miltie like the AAAA mule he was for the rest of the night. But I was 18, this woman had frickin’ lasers coming out of her head, and she outweighed me by at least 40 pounds. Much heckling belongs in the cheap seats.)

* * * * *

If you heckle this post in the comments, I’ll ignore it like the trained professional I am. (Wipes away tears.) And feel free to contribute your own guidelines / war stories.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mean Old Grandpa Carl's Locks of the Week

Here at FTT, we believe in America. And the Greatest Generation.

So who better to turn the prognostication reins over to for this week's epoch shattering championship playoff games to then...

Our very own (and very old) Mean Old Grandpa Carl!

Carl has been picking games longer than anyone over at the World Wide Lemur. His canny decision to take the Colts over the Ravens last week, based on the "Who the hell are the Ravens?" logic, leads us to trust his counsel in a world where road underdogs go 4-0 against the spread. So we made our way to his palatial nursing home suite to benefit from his wisdom.

FTT: Carl, so good to see you again.

Carl: Eh? How many times do I have to tell you, into the horn!


Carl: Shut the hell up. I ain't deaf!

FTT: I'm so sorry.

Carl: So was your wife.

FTT: What?

Carl: Heh heh. You have the pills?

FTT: No...

Carl: Four hours, my ass. Lying sacks of...

FTT: Anyway... who do you like in this week's games, Carl?

Carl: Who with the what now?

FTT: Saints at Bears. Patriots at Colts.

Carl: Oh, you're talking about football, now. I thought you were here to steal my horseradish. I make it myself.

FTT: Um, no.

Carl: You eat just a bit of this, you can clear out half a nursing home. And those people know stink.

FTT: Can we talk about football, please?

Carl: Once, I ate a whole jar of it, then sat down and played the accordion to cover the sound. For two hours. Finally had to stop when the sprinklers went off. You can still see where the paint failed.

FTT: That's disgusting.

Carl: So's your wife.

FTT: What?

Carl: There's no way in hell that George Halas and Sid Luckman are losing to a bunch of Johnnie Come Wetlies. I like the Bears and the points.

FTT: Sid Luck...

Carl: Look it up on that thing on your lap, sissy! I killed the Nips in '48 so that you could have that.

FTT: That makes no sense.

Carl: Look, all I'm saying is that the -- Saints, is it? -- will have no answer for Bronko Nagurski up the middle. You know what they said about Bronko Nagurski?

FTT: How do you spell that again? I'm pretty sure he's not on the team...

Carl: Shut the hell up. They once asked the Giants coach "How are you going to stop Nagurski?" And he said, "With a shotgun. In his face, like a great black cock of death, until that fat son of a bitch tells me that he likes it, and then he's gonna lick..."

FTT: OK now, got it, you like the Bears. Now, how about the Colts and the Pats?

Carl: I shouldn't even pick that game. The Pats play in the Fag League, don't they?

FTT: You mean, the AFC?

Carl: AFC, fah. That's the AFL. Fags. You can tell by the sissy pants on the refs.

FTT: Actually, I'm pretty sure that the refs dress the same no matter...

Carl: Shut the hell up. Anyway, I'm picking this game against my better judgment. Unitas leads the Colts over the upstarts, and makes Joe Namath cry like the little girl he is.

FTT: Um, the Colts moved out of Baltimore twenty years ago, and Johnny Unitas would probably rather be confused with Richard Simmons than Peyton Mann...

Carl: Colts. Bears. Now get out of my sight. And tell your wife less teeth next time.

Ladies and gentlemen, Grandpa Carl!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What Is and Is Not Sport

As we get closer to the silly season, when everything is cold and dead and the only thing left is basketball, the fading memories of hockey, and whatever wanker thing The World Wide Lemur (Sorry, but the Four Letter just annoys me too much to give it any love anymore) tries to sell to us as important...

It's time to establish the FTT Ground Rules on What Is and Is Not Sport.

You may or may not agree with the following. But if you don't, you are Wrong.

1) Sports is not commuting.

Somewhere, in some place that gets snow and ice, some guy is going cross-country on skis. Then he's jumping over something. Finally, he's swooshing through some trees and/or other obstacles in the parking lot.

It takes him about 20 minutes or so, and then he steps into the lobby, pulls his skies off, and heads over to his cubicle to fire up some YouTube timewaste. (Give him a few more weeks before he's reading FTT. We're gonna be big in the Arctic.)

He may or may not be an athlete. But as a guy going to work, he's less interesting to watch than Texans-Raiders.

Four out of every seven days, I jump on a bicycle helmet and pedal off to the train station. After it shows up, I ride it for a while, and then catch two different subways.

I am not an athlete. If you watch me doing this, you're doing it to stare at my ass. Pay me or stop.

Someone – oh, let’s just say you’re mom, to up the ante -- climbs into their car every weekday and drives to work. No one cares. It’s not sports.

None of us are engaged in strategy, worried about what wrinkle the defense will come up with to stop us, or scoring points. We're just getting to freaking work.

So stop pretending that skiers, bicyclists, drivers, walkers, joggers, jockeys, rowers, yachters, and a billion other monkeys moving from Point A to Point B are worth putting on the tee vee.

Because no matter how you dress up, it's just commuting. And commuting is not sports.

2) If it's more fun to watch it being done badly, it is not a sport.

In 1984, a fat loser from England (Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards) attempted the ski jump at the Calgary Winter Olympics. Would he crash? If so, would be bounce? Would he even get off the platform? The world was riveted.

It was also the last time ever that ski jumping was interesting.

This is, of course, another nail in the coffin for NASCAR. And gymnastics, diving, luge, bobsleds, and a million other things that are usually trotted out every four years.

If it's more fun to watch you do it badly, it's not sports.

3) If two people can have an honest disagreement on who won, it's not a sport.

If someone wants to turn figure skating into a sport, put freaking hoops on the ice for them to jump through. Stick banners on tops of greased poles for them to pick up against a clock. Maybe some land mines on the ice, too. Or something.

Because without a scoreboard, what you've got is a beauty pageant on skates. And beauty pageants are Not Sport. (This also goes for the Dog Show, which is the same thing as the beauty pageant, only the contestants lick each other for love, not money.)

4) If you can get better at it with liquor, it's not a sport.

In college, I knew a ROTC guy named Marty. Like all ROTC guys named Marty, he was a freakish ball of fast twitch muscle trapped inside a guy who used to be socially awkward.

Being broke college students, we'd go out bowling, and at the start of the night, be more or less even -- both crappy. Then Marty would pound some, charge the lane like he was throwing grenades, and improve his pin count up into the 200s, mostly from throwing it straight ahead like a shot put.

So I'm sorry, but there goes bowling, darts, and 90% of all softball leagues. (Not yours, though. Yours has serious athletes in it that could have definitely gone pro, if only your high school coach wasn’t such a douche. Now, please, stop writing me about it.)

5) If you're sitting on your ass while playing it, it's not a sport.

I like poker. And chess. And, for that matter, Parcheesi with my nieces and nephews, especially when I send them home and make them cry. (Then, mock them for crying.)

But none of this is sports. It's recreation. Nothing wrong with that. But it belongs on television about as much as Peter Vecsey. (Look away, before you go blind!)

6) If it's a reasonable substitute for war... I'm not telling you it's not a sport.

Boxers, lacrosse players, wrestlers, ultimate fighters, rugby players, javelin throwers, hammer tossers... you're all great. Really. Me Like You Much. Going away now. Bye bye.

Rejected Voiceover Dialogue for Diet Pepsi NFL Spots

If someone doesn't get TO a Diet Pepsi right now, TO just might kill TO's self. TO is totally serious. And you all will miss TO when he's gone, yes you will...

(Peyton Manning approaches line of scrimmage, waving hands) I just *hate* my flabby forearms! And my ass has gotten *sooooo* big! That's it, I'm switching to Diet Pepsi!

(Ray Lewis enters stadium, doing his Spasmodic Dance Routine) You do not drink Diet Pepsi, you rent it! Let me take a piss or I'm a gonna kill someone!

(Drew Bledsoe on sidelines) You know what goes good with Diet Pepsi? Burgers. Mmmm, burgers...

(Jerry Porter on sidelines) Man, can you believe the Diet Pepsi guy didn't show up today, and he still got paid? What up with that?

(Eli Manning after interception) I told Dad, I just wanted to deliver Diet Pepsi. But no, he *made* me play football...

(Martin Grammatica after hitting field goal) Yes! Yes! Yes! Meesa Get Diet Pepsi Now! And Scary Man Coach With Titties Does Not Beat Me! Meesa Happy Happy Happy!

Ads In This Size Rule