Monday, March 31, 2008

Epic Drop: MLB Season Previews That No One Else Wanted To Write

Your link is here, and it's a pretty hate machine. Go use it for some hate, because that is my gift in life to provide, really...

Epic Drop: Top 10 Lesser Known Modern MLB Local Opening Day Traditions

I can't get enough of Brett Myers. Whether it's public awfulness with the wife, spelling bees with the media, or his periodic meltdowns despite having more pure stuff of any Phillies righthander in my memory (and yes, that includes Bloggy McBloggermouth in Boston -- he was good, but mostly at throwing strikes, rather than having otherworldly nastiness)... well, the man's a walking, talking guarantee that the team won't be likable or clutch.

During his meltdown inning today, here's the better moments of an IM conversation I was having with a Phillies fan...

Me: disaster inning for Mrs Myers

(We'll call my buddy DH): yes - hide the dog

DH: put the steak in the freezer

DMt: There's a reason why we're not play by play for the Fightin's.

DH: We'd be great!

DH: Hide the dog Whitey!

DMt: "That 2-2 meatball had t-a-r-d spelled all over it. Hard to believe."

DH: "Sometimes you just can't catch a break"

DMt: "And Myers' ERA has just fallen down the steps. Clumsy bitch ERA!"

DH: You suck Brett!

DMt: "This call to the police has been brought to you by Planned Parenthood. Think, Girls, Think."


Sure that Hamels wasn't the better way to start your season, Fightin's?

A Rare Charitable Moment

If you've got a second, go here and vote yes for my favorite lefty clothing merchants (No Sweat) to get a grant to keep going.

They are a union shop, sweatshop free, and I've bought from them before, so feel free to go direct and update your wardrobe too, if you're so inclined. If you are like me, as always, you have my apologies... but you don't feel too great about clothing yourself and your family in clothes made by de facto slaves.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled celebration of the human spirit.

Improv, Protest, or Pirates Game?

You make the call...

Quick Opening Day Notes

> It's about 40 degrees, raw and drizzly here in New York. March Opening Day Baseball -- catch the fever!

> Starting today for your Cincinnati Reds... not white-hot prospects Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, but 38-year-old OBP-only Scott Hatteberg and perpetual source of disappointment Corey Patterson. Enjoy your new manager, Dusty "Death To The Young" Baker, Reds Fans!

> The Brew Crew has Jason Kendall hitting ninth against the Cubs, so that they can get the comparative power bat of Ben Sheets into the 8th slot. I'd make a Sheets Hurt comment here, but as I've drafted him in a league, that is No Longer Funny.

> The Mets throw Johan Santana vs. Dodger reject Mark Hendrickson in Florida today. I think we can call that the second time this year that a team has a home-field advantage in their road opener, after the Red Sox Go To Japan Experience...

> Really, Twins Fan, Livan Hernandez? On the bright side, I think he has more tread on the tire than Brad Radke... but you'd like Radke better here, wouldn't you?

Help me out here, college basketball lovers.

Four #1 seeds making it to the Final Four means that... this championship will be one of the best ever.

And when a big underdog makes it to the Final Four, that means... everyone is getting caught up in the big Cinderalla story.

So... how can the tournament ever be anything but super-duper wonderful?

(Oh, and is it a normal reaction to want to punch Memphis coach John Calipari in the face, just to see if his reaction to pain is as smug and annoying as his reaction to winning?)

Whenever I play GTA, I pretend I'm Isiah Rider

After all, we've got lots in common. We're both in our late 30s, both enjoy getting down with gangsta rap, both remember with fondness the early 90s NBA. But unlike Rider, I'm not living in Skid Row, jacking cars for real... and with a prior record of, gulp, kidnapping.

Let's face it, it's been all downhill for him since that shot.

Mr. Stern doesn't seem to notice customs

I'm fine with the NBA becoming more international -- hell, given the exchange rate, it's clearly where the money is -- and I'm fine with him busting a sportswriter's chops for being all provincial. But anyone that has traveled outside of the country knows that, especially post 9/11, it's not the same as going domestic. One of the start-ups that I've worked for has offices in Toronto, and I wound up taking two trips there for business. While carrying no luggage and looking as bored and unremarkable as a man can look, given that he was just having an unusually long office commute, leaving the country adds at least two hours to every trip. Now, add in large black men, carrying significant luggage, many of who are probably using, shall we say, illegal muscle relaxants?

Well, it's not mundane, it's not no additional burden, and when you add the longer time zone difference, it's not a minor deal. So stop pretending it is, and go back to the really important stuff. You know, like what clothes the players are wearing.

Because I Know You Come Here For The Bowling Videos

You know what stops this kind of thing? Putting up bumpers on the lanes. Make it a law, Congress!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Epic Drop: Top 10 Signs That You're Not Really Ready for Baseball

Double drop duty today, with your list for the folks who aren't MLB-crazy right here. And oh, nice of the Lemur to not report reality, which is that the (P)resident was booed heavily by the Natty faithful... not that they'll remember much beyond Ryan Zimmerman going yard to end it.

Anyway... for people with way too much free time, here's my roto auction team.

C - Mike Napoli, $1
C - Dioner Navarro, $1
1B - David Ortiz, $37
2B - Ian Kinsler, $13
SS - Troy Tulowitzki, $21
3B - Ryan Zimmerman, $21
CI - Troy Glaus, $3
MI - Robinson Cano, $12
OF - Vladimir Guerrero, $28
OF - Bobby Abreu, $23
OF - Shane Victorino, $16
Utility - Brad Hawpe, $9

SP - Aaron Harang, $19
SP - Ben Sheets, $5
SP - Rich Harden, $4
SP - Francisco Liriano, $3
RP - JJ Putz, $19
RP - Joba Chamberlain, $6
P - B.J. Ryan, $2
P - Rich Hill, $1
P - Jeremy Bonderman, $1

Bench - Frank Thomas, $1
Bench - Jeff Kent, $2
Bench - Justin Upton, $2

As always with these things, I like the guys I got late / cheap much more than the guys I got early, I think I'll contend, and I don't think I got enough of the specialty categories (Saves, Steals, probably Wins). But if the cheap SP power pitchers come though, I'll be camping happily, especially when it comes to the keeper league aspect of things.

Can the approval ratings get any lower?

The Lemur has decided that we need to see the current 30% approved resident of the White House on their signature broadcast, Nationals-Braves, to hang out with Miller and Morgan.

I'd tell you more about what was said here, but the self-induced pounding on my head made it hard to think about...

Other than, of course, Miller doing the mouth job by telling about how much Shrub loves MLB. Um, do the research, scumbags. Shrub loved the opportunity to make an ungodly amount of money using the team's "need" for a new stadium to make a fortune in a corrupt land grab.

Perhaps sensing the need to get away, both the Braves and Nationals made a lot of first-pitch outs to try to get this off the air quickly...

Oh, and nice move by Shrub to continue to deny that he's, well, from Connecticut... and he's not interested in buying a new team. And the first home run in the history of the stadium was hit by Larry Jones (some may know him as Chipper) off Odalis Perez, and narrated by Shrub with a delivery that called to mind the excitable tones of, say, Joe Buck on downers. (Yes, I know, he's off the drugs now, honest and for true. Yay!)

Next, they talked about exposing inner city kids to baseball, to bring it back in those areas. Hey, how about providing decent jobs for lower income people, so that parents can afford to get their kids in programs, or have the ability to not work two and three jobs, preventing them from going to see their kids games? Or, you know, provide secure places to live and... oh, I give up.

Anyway, a million laughs were had, all at the expense of the American people. Good times!

Updated... here's the video clip. Note the booing, and the mouth job that Miller gives immediately afterward to help cover up the booing...

Epic Drop: MLB Season Preview, Angels

Your link is here, and no, I'm not too thrilled with my other Carnies for not picking up more of the teams that I love to hate. Suck on it, Halos! (Note that the link isn't perfect, as the page-specific links are not coming up for me, but I'm sure you can find it easily enough.)

Why You Don't Want To Face The Cavs In The Playoffs (aka Duh)

Tonight, the Sixers played a really good road game in Cleveland. They came out and didn't commit a turnover in the entire first quarter, getting a ton of easy points on the break. The Cavs, having played the night before, looked sluggish, and the Sixers led by as many as 11 on three separate occasions.

And then in the second half, LeBron James showed up and exerted his will with a near triple double and 26 points, and while it was tight in the second half and a one-possession game late... the final result was what you'd expect. Cavs 91, Sixers 88.

The problem isn't just James, of course. Cleveland's got a fine home court crowd and advantage. Ilgauskas and West gave James some critical support. But while the Sixers might be able to give the suddenly creaky Pistons some worries, and maybe even the Magic could stumble if they can't hit their threes... the Sixers, as presently constituted, just need too much from guys like Thaddeus Young and Louis Williams to win games against really good teams. And the Cavs are one of those teams, just because James is that good.

Even when you win a ton of games and look like a legitimate dark horse in the East, it's pretty clear when you step up in class. And in the NBA, one player does beat five -- assuming that one is one of the best players in the history of the game. (And the really scary thing is that he's still getting better.)

Looking for my new Isiah

As the recent speculation has shown, I may need a new NBA go-to guy to help fill the bloghole. Here's my top prospects.

1) Pat Riley. From stabbing his coach in the back for a championship run to failing to ignore the de rigue Shaq Smack as he's leaving town, the man with the hairstyle from the mid '50s and '80s is slowly but surely rising in the ranks of Embarrassing Old Men.

With his Heat now dogged by the "injury bug" that always envelopes terrible teams and organizations (perfected by the pre-Nellie Warriors, and practiced by half of the Eastern Conference last year in the hopes to get Durant or Oden), and the clock ticking down on when Dwayne Wade will engineer one of those Unhappy Star Trades, Riles really needs to hang it up before anyone does the math and realizes that he's, well, doing a terrible job.

No one seems to be paying any attention to the breathtaking mail-in job that the Heat players are doing this year (tonight's half-time score: 50-30), but honestly... they are so bad, they don't even have a player you can own in roto leagues right now. I can't remember ever saying that about a team before.

2) Larry Bird. The hick who can't GM worth a lick is only the third worst star player / GM in the league, since Isiah and McHale both remain employed, but those teams haven't managed to shoot up the neighborhood the way that Bird's men have. Bird gets special bonus points for not only franchising the perpetual disappointment that is Jermaine O'Neal, but also keeping him forever, making sure that his millstone doesn't have any real trade value, either. And if the Pacers somehow stagger into the 8th spot in the East for a 3-and-flush effort against the Celtics... well, really, are the Pacers better off, given who is at the helm, with some balls in the lottery hopper?

3) Mark Cuban.
But the prize will, in all likelihood, go to the man who has done nothing for the past 2+ years but damage to his reputation. From the perpetual puling in the Finals to the refs giving ever call to Wade (he probably had a point, but he made it so badly, no one cared), to the courtside crying against the Warriors last year, to this year's hair-pulling fight with sports bloggers... well, let's just say that I'm beginning to think that Mavs' fans might be pining for the return of Ross Perot, really.

And maybe, just maybe, they'll lose tonight to the Warriors and find themselves out of the playoffs. Gosh, could we still have a playoff season in the NBA without being able to root against the utterly unlikable Mavs?

Seriously, Cubes, what good does it do you to engage in baiting the blogosphere with your locker room ban, and equating the entire output of all of the writers as one monolithic product o' gossip? Once again, sloppy generalizations from someone who should know better (see Costas, Bob) come into play.

Sure, some of us are just going for cheap laughs. Others are going to geek it up with Moneyball-esque stat work. Still more are going to be little more than talk radio (which, I'm noting, you don't seem to be willing to bait so openly, maybe because you've got just enough sense to fight only when you've got numbers).

Most of us don't need (or, in my case, want) locker room access to do what we do. Nor do we need to be baited by a dot-com billionaire, Ayn Rand-lover, egomaniac celebrity dancer and remarkably insufferable human being. Why don't you just go back to starting a new football league, not buying a baseball team, or following around Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson for media coverage?

In any event, Cubes, I'm sure you'll give me and mine plenty more to write about. Just not so much about, you know, basketball.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

What were the f'in odds...

Mark Prior, 60-day DL.

At this rate, he's making Bill Walton look like an iron man.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Truth in Advertising

The reason CBS calls the Masters "a tradition unlike any other"?

Because if they called it "a golf tournament unlike any other" it would be a lie.

Lack of Drop, and everything else

Much stuff -- i.e., hosting the House of Meat auction -- going on in personal life, so the blogging is taking a miss. I'll load you up with goodness on Sunday.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Obvious, But Fun

I'm a sucker for old-school video game graphics. Pixel me, baby!

Epic Drop: Top 10 Shaq Criticisms About the Miami Heat

The link is here, and for everything you hear about Shaq being such a big kid at heart and a great teammate... has anyone ever really looked at the history on that? His Magic and Laker teams, when they lost, got their asses swept and looked for all the world like they were pulling the chutes. He's awfully good at throwing old star teammates (Penny, Kobe, and any minute now, D-Wade) under the bus.

But just like, say, John McCain, Shaq enjoys significantly less rigorous journalistic coverage, because the media is corrupt and compliant in their approach toward him. We should all find opportunities so abundant...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


The streets of New York are awash in people clutching newspapers with the latest Jose Canseco allegations towards Alex Rodriguez... and I'm not going to get into the substance of those now, because there's actual journalists out there who get paid their weight in bottom ramen for that sort of thing. Besides, the last time that people said Canseco was a liar, he, um, wasn't, and nearly all of the people he fingered (as opposed to injected) turned out to be Roid Achievers.

No, what I'd rather talk about here is the transparent motives of all involved. Canseco needs to pimp his book (personally, I'd like to see the man branch out into poetry, or perhaps The Theater). A-Rod needs to shrug off any allegation. The Yankees need to pretend this stuff doesn't bother them, and that paying a guy more than the gross national product of many sub-Saharan nations doesn't mean he has to keep his name out of the NY Post. The Lemur needs to get the cheap ratings high from a train wreck story, all while pretending to hold their nose over the awful awfulness of covering train wreck stories. And all of us in the sports blogosphere feel like we've got to comment on it, because it's damn near impossible not to.

So, there you have it.

Canseco's a media whore.

A-Rod's a media whore.

The media are whores.

And me, for pointing all of that out, and you, for caring (and admit it, you do care)...

We're beyond sin, really.

Now, does this mean that A-Rod will be undervalued in my roto auction?

Closer Controversy Averted

The A's pick up their first win of the year, taking out Jon Lester and the Sox behind a resurgent Rich Harden. The 5-1 win was powered by the dubious 4-5 hitters of Emil Brown and Mike Sweeney (it worked so well for the Royals, right), who went 3 for 8 with Brown providing a three-run bomb in the third.

Notable as well was the high leverage bully work of reclamation project Keith Foulke, who I'm convinced Billy Beane will deal for a profit in June. Foulke shook off a one-out error by Bobby Crosby and his own wild pitch in the eighth to retire Ortiz and ManRam in the top of the 8th, with the A's up 3 and really not looking forward to the second straight day of Huston Street working on his gag reflex. A scratch run in the 8th following a Kurt Suzuki double (and with that double, he's already exceeded Jason Kendall's 2007 contribution) gave the Green and Gold a 4-run lead, so Alan Embree was able to come in for the non-save.

Note: I'm really not all that concerned about Street, who has always been streaky but valuable, and a blown 1-run save in a de facto Red Sox home game is not exactly a termination offense. But with Foulke looking good and Embree having done the job last year, he might be movable anyway, especially with his health issues and Billy Beane's longstanding distaste for overvalued closers.

The big story, of course, was Harden, who sent six innings, struck out nine, and didn't get hurt. 3 hits, 3 walks, 1 earned run off a ManRam homer, and the sound you just heard was tens of thousands of roto players moving him up on their draft rankings.

Anyway, since A's wins and being .500 probably won't happen very much this year, let's give Harden and the rest their due...

The Final Form Of Awesomeness

Folks, the House of Meat Belt is finished. And Lo, It Was Good.

Now, you may think that just from seeing it with the Decade of Triumph Plates on it makes it awesome enough. But then, you see what we do -- we give it that extra M E A T of spectacularitude in a pants-dropping closeup. (And I know that spectacularitude is not a word -- YET. I've got patent pending, bitches.)

I don't know why I didn't just have the guy put my name on the plates for every year. When the prize is this big, there ain't no way it's ever leaving Daddy.

In all seriousness, big props to Ben from DSeipel Sports for not only coming in on time and on budget, but also for keeping me appraised every step of the way. I used to work for a custom manufacturer, and in that line of business, customer service is absolutely key -- the job is just waiting to go bad every step of the way, because what you envision and what the manufacturer can provide are usually two very different things, and adjusting your expectations accordingly is usually disappointing. The only way around that is to (a) deliver an exceptional product by showing that you have been listening to what the client's been telling you, and (b) keep the client informed so there are no nasty surprises. In both of these points, Ben kicks ass, and if you've got any need for his services, I can't recommend him highly enough. Plus, his belts don't cost a ridiculous amount of jack, like most of the other guys out there.

(And no, he didn't give me a kickback for the mouth job there.)

Now, on to the draft!

High Leverage

(Yes, that is A's pitcher and fashion magnet Joe "Cupcakes" Blanton dressed as a socket from some rookie hazing stunt, and no, I don't know why, or what it might mean to some greater personal issue... Moving on. Slowly.)

There's a term in baseball stat head circles that describes the relative difficulty of a game in which a relief pitcher works. If he's getting late inning work with men on base, that's called a high leverage situation; if he's going in when the game is a lost cause in either direction, that's low leverage. What yesterday's opening game in Japan between the A's and Red Sox shows is that the concept doesn't only work to describe specific games, but also teams.

Last morning's starting pitcher for the Sox, Daisuke Matsuzaka, is in about as low leverage a position as a man can be while costing a World Series champion over $100 million. He works with a stacked bullpen, in front of a great offense, with one of MLB's best defenses behind him, with a fan base that means that he pitches to a de facto home crowd 2/3rds of the year or more. (Actually, one could argue tht the road Sox fan base is actually a much easier crowd to work in front of, and that would be true in all sports. Witness Eli Manning's relative lack of diffculty away from the Meadowlands. The fact is that your road fan is an affluent type or an ex-pat, neither of which is likely to break out with much in the way of a dispiriting boo. Besides, if you get heckled on the road, you can just tell yourself it's the home team fans that are doing it.)

Dice is so low in his leverage, you wonder what his situation would be like if the Sox weren't Series champions. Actually, I don't wonder: I'd know that he'd be considered an overrated bust.

Meanwhile for the A's, Joe Blanton worked in a game where his third baseman (Jack Hanrahan, who did go deep) is a castoff, his shortstop (Bobby Crosby) has his defense challenged by constant injury, and his first baseman (Daric Barton) is a rookie who is only playing first because his glove didn't work out at any other location. The outfield and second baseman are presumed OK, but the offense will be a major struggle, and the bullpen, which was supposed to be the strength of the team, failed late, with closer Huston Street authoring the first blown save of 2008.

Blanton, assuming the A's were playing for anything other than positioning for 2009 and he's actually going to stay with the team, is high leverage, and even in Game 1 of a 162 game season, last night's failure to hold onto what is likely to be a rare early lead shows he's... well, like Matsuzaka, a nice enough pitcher, but one that shouldn't be put in high leverage situations.

Something to keep in mind, really, as you evaluate talent -- it's not just the numbers, or the way a guy looks. It's also the relative pressure of his gig.

Epic Drop: Top 10 Signs Chris Webber's Comeback Wasn't Working Out

Your link is here, and all rancor from his Sixers dog show and buyout aside, he was one of the best passing big men in NBA history. Having said that, he still didn't defend in the clutch, and seemed more interested in getting paid than anything else -- even back to his college days, of course. What the Warriors were thinking in this re-run, I have no idea, unless Nellie just wanted to be the one to tell him it was over. (Hmm...)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Isiah was alive. I *felt* it.


Isiah won't be back? But how will I fill the blog? Who will make Knicks fans cry like ritualistically abused stepchildren? Who will construct train wreck teams where players all go 1-on-5 and play no defense? Where will I turn to for press conferences that make Baghdad Bob look sane and coherent?

(rises from cube, stiffly)

And at the end of a long and fearful day... RASPUTIN IS ALIVE!

File this one in a long and growing list of The World Wide Lemur not telling you True Things, or maybe the Knicks have decided that way out of the playoff race, but without actual freaking rape and murder charges, is the better way to go...

Pride Goeth Before A Vibrating Bed

Just in case Philly Fan wasn't already worried about the year (Brad Lidge, DL... it begins early!), there's this little Moment of Hubris: MVP shortshop Jimmy Rollins is going to be on "MTV Cribs."

(No, we don't watch the show. As the House of Meat Championship Belt shows, we LIVE the show.)

The money detail? Rollins' bed. It, um, vibrates. And here's the money quote...

"That's a great place to make the magic happen."
I think we've found J-Roll's new nickname. He's Mister Magic!

"These Boston People Are Awful"

(Song is NSFW, but there's never been a clearer approximation of MLB+ than "Big Bank take Little Bank.")

Susan Slusser is a solid beat reporter for the Chronicle, and she covers the A's, who are in Japan for their games against the Red Sox. Guess what? Oakland's getting done... with no Vaseline.

Reporters thronged to a news conference with Boston brass and players, but the majority cleared out when the A's arrived. Boston's exhibition games were packed and received top billing; the A's drew less than half the fans. Oakland drew the short stick of playing the late exhibition game Saturday night and then the noon exhibition the following day; the Red Sox had the more leisurely schedule.
Seriously, MLB? Why not follow the lead of college football, and schedule more home games for the MLB+ teams?

Oh, wait. Actually, the A's are the "home" team for both of these games in Japan. In front of tens of thousands of Massholes on a vacation bender, and the Red Sox's bought and paid for Nippon stars, Matsuzaka and Okajima. Hey, can we just have the A's swap out the Green and Gold for Washington Generals' attire already?

Oh, but some things are eternal. This also from Slusser...
Not everyone here is totally enamored with Boston, however. Rowdy Boston fans at the Tokyo Dome have drawn some disapproving looks and comment. And back at the team hotel, one Japanese woman standing in the lobby surrounded by Red Sox fans turned to her companion and said, "These Boston people are awful."
Gosh, really?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Countdown to Disabled List

So the Cubs decided to give Kerry Wood the closer job, and I say fine to that -- he's probably not as good as Carlos Marmol, but there are some relievers that are probably dead that are better than last year's closer, Ryan "Dumpster" Dempster...

But then Cap'n Lou Alpinhead had to add insult before the inevitable injury with this.

Piniella, who sees "no reason why" Wood couldn't pitch three days in a row.
Um, Lou? Have you paid any attention to the career of Mr. Wood? He makes Dave Dravecky look durable. He has spent his conscious life ruining the dreams of Cub Fan, and you're looking to push his work rate into the danger zone.

Which either makes Lou an evil genius that's trying to get Wood killed, or he's drooling on his shirt and looking for the early meal. I'm going with the former, but he also seems to be trying to have Zambrano killed. If nothing else, you have to admire Lou's commitment to squandering pitching

Epic Drop: Top 15 Signs That Your MLB Team Won't Contend This Year

Your link is here, and while it seems like it's just a list of sadness from my A's fandom days, it really has more to do with those formative years watching the Phillies piss away the final days of Mike Schmidt by cranking out also-ran teams that sucked Mets' exhaust. When the pre-season is spent watching Jeff Russell and Jeff Stone ads, or GlennBo Wilson... well, it leaves a mark. A big one.

Oh Come Now, This Can't Have Been Very Surprising

Duke Fan, you really were actually surprised at not getting to the Sweet 16 after your team barely escaped losing to a 15 seed? Come on, trustafarians, get in touch with reality already. Your team has become the snotty punching bag and UNC Bitch that our man Dirty Davey has waited decades for. Embrace your new era! You're doing the rest of the sporting world a service, really. (And if you need help in adjusting to the new standard of things, ping FTT HOF commenter Tracer Bullet. He's a Notre Dame football fan, so his experience is highly relevant.)

Epic Drop: Top 10 Signs That Mark Cuban Is Starting To Lose It

Your link is here, and on a more serious point, if Dirk Nowitzki is really out for any length of time, there's no way the Mavs should be able to hold off the Warriors and Nuggets for the last spot in the West.

They haven't beaten a team with a winning record since the Kidd trade, Avery Johnson has actually played Tyronn Lue instead of Kidd in crunch time (for the simple reason that Kidd might be the worst point guard in the league on offense in the half court right now), and the Cube has been seen and heard having screaming matches with his coach. Good times!

And if they make the playoffs, they're an auto-out... and that's whether or not Nowitzki is on the floor. At least the Nuggets might give someone a scare.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Two Nations Will Collide

On May 28, 2008, I will attend a taping of "The Colbert Report" in New York.

I mention this for the following reasons.

1) To provoke relentless jealousy among my fellow Colbert Lovers,

2) To create the sad tease of an FTT contest for who among you wants to go with me (make your pitch in the comments, but the Shooter Wife has the inside track),

3) To collect suggestions for what to wear (I'm thinking the House of Meat Championship Belt and the FTT T-Shirt Garment of Greatness -- but that much awesomeness at one time might tear a hole in the space-time continuum)

4) To collect suggestions for what questions need to be asked (Stephen, I am told, plays Stump the Audience before the taping begins)

5) And really, just to show you that It's My World, Dammit.

So go ahead, Nation -- convince me of your worthiness to inhabit my world.

With Herman Edwards As Delila

Adam Schefter of The NFL NETWORK reports that the Kansas City Chiefs have proposed a rule to "ban players from having their hair cover or obscure the names on the back of player’s jersey."
Golf clap, Chiefs. Between the tired jokes of old white men asking if you can pull a guy down by his hair, to the head shakes of racists at the sports bar who can't possibly tolerate a culture that isn't their own... well, it's high time that they finally Did Something about this hair thing. And by putting your foot down about this, you'll keep your terrible, terrible team safe from guys like Troy Polamalu, Stephen Jackson and Al Harris -- you know, longhairs who actually have had moments of utility for their NFL teams. Can you take this a step further, please, and ban players with tattoos, or who don't embrace Jebus?

Besides, some of the players with longer hair, I knew who they were without reading the name on the back of the jersey. And where's the fun in that?

Anyway, Chief Player who would like to be enough of an adult to make their own decision about their freaking hair, please note that this rule says nothing about growing it out down to the *front* of your jersey. So just go reverse mullet. And remember, any loss in visibility just keeps you from watching as much of your godawful team!

Hoo Boy

Is there anything sadder, really, then the guy who hangs out with the college or high school team that he used to play on, years after it's all over... most likely because he used to get poon back there, and the Real World hasn't been as kind.

The answer, of course, is Hell and No, which leaves us with the sad spectacle of Adam "Manson" Morrison, no longer wanted by the Charlotte Bobcats, no longer useful to Gonzaga, and looking like he's in need of a shave, shower and minimum wage job to get him off the methadone. Seriously, he should have been drinking Natty Light and rocking a midlife paunch.

And unlike you and me, he's also worth (tens of) millions of dollars, and should really have people around him to let him know that, well, staying home and watching the game on TV is really the cooler thing to do. (In case you were ever wondering about the benefits of a posse, this is it.)

At least there, when your team loses, no one is wondering what the hell happened to you...

The sadness of what we're dealing with

The title is George Karl's curiously emo assessment of the Nuggets' season, in which they could be the first team in NBA history to not quality for the playoffs despite winning 50 games. The Nugs are currently 40-28 with 14 games left to play, and 2.5 games behind Golden State for the 8th seed in the West.

As you might imagine when the 8 seed wins 60% of their games, getting in gives you more than a puncher's chance, especially when the top teams include New Orleans (little playoff experience or home court advantage), Houston (no low post scoring after the Yao Injury), Phoenix (looking better recently, but still trying to fit a round Shaq into a square offense), Dallas...

But getting back to the Nugs, how is it that a team with the top scoring duo in the Association (Melo and Ivy, of course), a surprisingly durable difference maker at center (Marcus Camby, who hasn't been cottony for a long, long time), a reasonable bench, an experienced coach, a good home court...

Well, here's how. Gutless performances on the road in games they really had to have. From losing to the Sixers last week to the Knicks back in November (and yes, it was the first game there since Melo's Jab And Run)...

Well, given the degree of difficulty in the West, it doesn't take much to miss. And they're going to.

Epic Drop: Bosork MLB Preview

Here's the link, and yes, I'll be writing too much about both of these teams again this year, and gosh, isn't it great that the rivalry is what it is and... sorry, nodded off there for a bit.

I will give Yankee Fan one small -- very small -- point of order here. When they win, they don't spend their time trying to get other people to root for their team. They accept that you hate them, and that's OK. Sox Fan wants you to engage in Stockholm Syndrome, really...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Last Call For Meat

There are two slots left in my league (The House of Meat) -- which is to say, 10 owners in, hoping to get to 12.

We draft on Saturday, March 29. It's $50, a 5x5 roto league on Yahoo, keeper, auction draft.

And it's got this thing.

Come on now, don't make me beg. (Email for rules, invite, etc.)

The worst way ever to lose a shutout

I used to play street hockey all the time when I was a teenager, and no, I never saw a softer goal than this one. Kudos to the Leaf goalie for somehow getting past this and winning the game anyway, not that anyone will ever remember that.

Profiles in Courage

So the Steelers, after receiving word of wide receiver Cedric Wilson being arrested for punching his ex-girlfriend in the face, have seized the moral high ground and released him.

Good on them. Not only was Wilson a disappointment on the field after being signed away from the Niners, but any guy that punches a girl in the face is reprehensible. Seriously. Aim lower, and there's a much better chance of concealing the damage. (Rim shot.)

Anyway, Wilson's gone, and the Steelers have shown themselves to be a fine and upstanding team that always takes a consistent stance that violence against women is... um, hold the phone. A week earlier, linebacker James Harrison was also handcuffed for smacking the distaff. There must be some mistake, other than the fact that Harrison is, you know, good at football.

"What Jimmy Harrison was doing and how the incident occurred, what he was trying to do was really well worth it. He was doing something that was good, wanted to take his son to get baptized where he lived and things like that. She said she didn’t want to do it." - Steelers team chairman Dan Rooney
Oh, that makes all the difference -- Harrison was trying to force his religion on her. Because when you use force to propagate your religion, that's just peachy!

What Women Want

Just on the off chance that, say, the one in your life is cramping your style, though referring to your need to sit on the couch like a beached whale really should not be called a style. Anyway, enjoy...

Epic Drop: Top 10 Excuses For Not Caring About The NCAA Tournament

Your link is here, and I have to say... there's no tougher weekend for me as a sports fan. Unless Syracuse is in it, I have no rooting interest at all, and my sense of honor as a sports fan keeps me from getting in on the bandwagon at the last minute.

Meanwhile, there's all kinds of people who know I'm into sports, who either want me to join their bracket or talk about the tournament. So the temptation is to jump in, but I know what will happen from decades of trial and error... my bracket will suck, because I'll either pick against the schools that I will want to lose and get bent when they win, or sell my principles down the river and root for them to win... and get bent when they lose.

And well, I love hoop, I really do. And what they play in colleges ain't it.

Anyway, enough of my carping. Truth, is your kid beating you?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Epic Drop: Top 10 Young and Overrated Fantasy Baseball Picks

Your link is here, and at this point, especially if you are in a league with me, you've got to be wondering why I'd put this out there, a week and a half before my draft.

Am I hoping to drive down the value of some young guy I really want, or am I playing it straight with my hate on guys like Daric Barton, Ian Kennedy and Geovany Soto? To quote the great Abe Simpson, some from column A, some from column B...

Catch and Release

The recent Web rumor, and it's dubiously sourced but delicious, has the Eagles finding another new home for back-up QB and full-time INT machine AJ Feeley. He's like a dog that can't be housebroken or put down, really...

You might remember him Feeley from such laugh-a-minute heists as a second round pick from Miami (now WR Reggie Brown) and 6 INTs in two games in 2007, including a gut-buster of a home loss to the Seabags where he made LB Lofa Tatupu his go-to guy. Now, there's word that the Packers are looking for someone young and cheap to fill the role of Guy Who Throws Picks, and AJ Pickzynski may be the man.

Of course, trading Feeley does expose the Birds to moving up Kevin Kolb to the #2 spot, otherwise known as the most popular man in Philadelphia. There's nothing the town loves more than the back-up QB, especially since the starter never has a Super Bowl ring to use to shut up his critics. Who can forget such bygone bandwagons like Pat Ryan, Jeff Garcia, Bobby Hoying, Jim McMahon and Rodney Peete? They were *all* winners, at least until they actually got the gig. Then, not so much.

Now, if the Birds could only package what you have to endure in those Heather Mitts' pictures with Brown for, say, Greg Jennings...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Tonight in South Philadelphia, following what should be the only real traffic jam of the year before a Sixers game, Allen Iverson will lead his Denver Nuggets into battle in a building that he more or less created.

The Nuggets have a better team and record, but the Sixers have the better playoff situation, since they are in the Leastern Conference -- hell, .500 might get home-court for somebody. Some people are wondering if the local fans will boo, but as I don't think there really is an arena that boos AI anywhere in the league (let's face it, people like to root for a hard working little guy, regardless of his tats and past offenses), I just can't see it. And if it does happen, I'll feel worse about my hometown than when we chucked batteries, fired flare guns, or roared our approval at apparent paralysis.

As for what will happen in the actual game, your guess is as good as mine; AI is 1-1 against his old team in two games in Denver. He could shoot his team out of the game, or go for 50+; but it probably won't be where the game is won. If Camby can make Dalembert disappear, and if Denver can find anyone to guard Iguodala -- that's where these teams match up, and win or lose.

As for what I'll be rooting for? It's been nearly a year and a half since The Trade, and I still have a horrible hollow feeling whenever I see AI in that powder blue jersey. An end to that would be nice, but I'm not expecting it, really. (AI scores 40, Denver wins 115-105.)

Update -- Ivy had 32, but the Sixers got more from their bench (30 to 16), and Dalembert outpunched Camby (17 and 12 to 5 and 4). The Sixers had to shoot over 60% from the floor to win by 2, at home... but that was also their 10th win in their last 11 games, so you can make a case that they just might be for real. Here's something that's nearly as amazing -- they're actually a .500 team now, at 34-34. with 5.5 games between them and being out of the playoffs.

As for Denver, they're still looking like the odd team out in the West, and you'd think that a team that's only got 14 regular season games left to change that situation would be a little more down about dropping a winnable road game. Someone want to wake up George Karl, and tell him to stop freaking out about sports blogs that want him fired.

New England Gets Its Hopes Up

Celtics snap the Rockets 22-game winning streak tonight in Texas rather, um, convincingly... assuming a 20-point road win convinces anyone. It was purely a second half experience, as the visitors went 54-29 after intermission. Leon Powe had 21 in 18 minutes to make the bench go, and Garnett and Pierce combined for another 42. The Rockets shot under 41% from the floor and were only 3 for 9 from the line, and the Celtics combined rebounding with ball control to take 15 more shots from the floor.

End of a fine run for Houston, of course, who can now return to collapsing without Yao, the way all of us smart people knew they would. (With the Lakers winning, they lost the top spot in the West tonight... and only 6 games out from not qualifying for the playoffs at all. Ye gads, the West is a scary place.)

With the Celtics now five games up on Detroit, they've got the #1 slot in the East lined up, and with Garnett having had enforced rest due to injury, all they really need is to get Ray Allen back up to speed... and to shake loose any residual fear that sterling regular seasons only lead to playoff heartbreak. Gosh, that would be bad, if they encountered heartbreak...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bracket Challenge - Beat a 2 Year Old

There are all forms of March Madness pools out there - pre-fill brackets, fill per round brackets, blind draws, auction draws, do or die, head to head against the spread, and the list goes on. It usually consists of an office pool, group of friends or die hard junkie gamblers. When it comes to March Madness I'm probably in that last group. I usually enter about 10 different bracket pools, a couple of auction pools and a do or die pool. Multiple entries in each of course. And it goes without saying I play for fun because betting real money would be illegal and we here at FTT do not condone that sort of thing.

OK - back to the point. I decided that my oldest daughter was at the age where she was ready to get involved with her first foray into March Madness pools. She's two. Getting a two year old to focus on making picks is not easy. Over the course of the past three nights I was able to get her to complete her brackets. It consisted of me naming two team names and asking her to repeat back the one she liked best. Some of the picks were what you would expect from a 2 year old. Two picks almost brought tears of joy - her first round pick of #15 Belmont over Duke, and her second round pick of #8 Indy over #1 UNC. I asked her if she was sure she didn't want UNC and she said "NO, NO, NO Dada. NO UNC." The kid already understands integrity, maybe she can teach Ol' Roy about it someday.

So, fill out your brackets and see if you can beat a 2 year old at March Madness. Her picks are above in the photo - click on it for a larger size. Simple scoring rules - for each pick you get correct you will receive the following points: Round 1: 1 point, Round 2: 2 points, Sweet 16: 4 points, Elite 8: 8 points, Final 4: 16 points, Final Game: 32 points.

Good luck and here's to the future of our country.

The NCAA Tournament Has Not Begun

This can't be said enough: the play-in game is utterly, completely, breathtakingly pointless. Right up there with, say, a fifth NFL exhibition game, Mel Kiper Jr. Bill Walton and the Baltimore Orioles.

You can't pick it in a pool. You have to live in North Las Vegas to want to seriously wager on it. The winner doesn't matter, since no 16 seed has ever beaten a 1 seed, or, most likely, ever will. These teams would be better off in the NIT, where they might finagle a home game. It doesn't serve any useful purpose, other than to try to get the NCAA an extra day or two of coverage. It shouldn't be covered, televised, or tolerated. Period.

Oh, and when one of the teams has, as its name, an imperative command to begin rutting? Well then, it's just obvious to everyone, isn't it?

Epic Drop: Top 11 Signs That Barry Bonds Is Definitely A Victim of Collusion

Here's the link, and if you'll allow me a moment of seriousness... independent of the possible +1.000 OPS that he'd give you for 110 to 120 games (and that, of course, assumes that he gets through the year without doing time in the federal pokey for perjury), I'm not sure where he's a good fit, well, anywhere. At this point in his career, you can only play him at DH. When he's on the bases, he makes Frank Thomas look swift. He's a train wreck for the media just about every day, and can't stand the press just enough to be dangerous. And he's really only coming back for one last meaningless milestone, this one 3,000 hits (he's 65 away).

So, collusion or no, high OPS or not, who on Earth would take him? Which team's fan base is puling for him to be signed? Honestly, as an A's fan, I'd rather see 400 at bats of Jack Cust. At least that way, when the team loses, I won't feel like they've sold their souls while doing it.

A day late and an Irishman short

I'm half, on my father's side, and prone to grumble-riffic rants about how no other nationality has its foibles celebrated with a holiday; imagine, if you would, St. Guido's Day, where we all engage in La Cosa Nostra-style mock killings and Sopranos-esque overacting. (And I'll stop the exercise right there, before my Al Campanis moment.)

But the nice thing about being Irish is that you're usually too drunk to care about being, you know, stereotyped as drunks. Pour me a Guinness already, would ya?

Bob Costas Is, And Makes Me, A Cranky Magical Elf

More fallout from the Costas Kerfluffle... after painting the sports blogosphere with a wide pass from the stupid brush, my favorite fellow alum "clarified" a bit yesterday. And how did he do it? With a phone call to Will Leith at Deadspin, who I
suppose, since he has a book and a living and TV punditocracy to his name, counts as someone with A Life. Congrats, Will -- Bob Costas thinks you're special!

Anyway, I'm not going to get into the details of what Costas said and how he's still an irredeemable prick, regardless of how many sports bloggers are as well; the plain and simple point is that Generalizational Thinking is always Flabby Thinking, and if Costas had swapped out "(insert skin color) people" for "bloggers", he'd be unemployed and a Hardaway-esque punchline. But there's a bigger point to bear here, which jumped into my radar from a recent New Yorker piece on the subculture of magic.

In the piece, the writer talked about how magicians are split into various camps, despite mostly coming from the same wellspring in a Brooklyn magic shop. You've got the table folks, who are basically doing card work and sleight of hand, and the bigger Illusionist people, who compete for the Vegas slots and the David Blaine-esque endurance stunts. Both camps are more or less insufferable, of course, being a niche inside of a niche, and that's true of all sub-cultures really -- if you delve too depp into the craft, you're just performing for the other practitioners, because technique for the sake of technique is, well, self-play, to be polite about it.

These are also, of course, people you do not want to play cards with.

There is also a heightened sense of insecurity among many magicians. They can see the writing on the wall with the explosion of entertainment options, the jadedness of the audience in terms of seeing the impossible every day via CGI screens, and the sense that the pace of modern life is throwing them aside. Think about the last time you saw a magic trick; for the larger pieces, there is always a set-up, drumrolls, drama. If you don't have those, it doesn't seem like a big show. But how is the practitioner supposed to impress or entertain you, when you could just fire up YouTube and see more or less the same thing, but faster... and maybe even the sad blessing of someone showing you how it's done?

There is no security for the magician.

Nor is there for sports broadcasters, or pundits, or networks... when bloggers can act as disintermediaries. (Note: We can only do that for the stuff that doesn't require legwork reporting. Which is to say, 90% of what these people are doing.)

And sure, your casino magician isn't really going to suffer, at least not until the generation of people who don't think an hour with a broadband connection is a good time pass on. Nor will the NBC Carnival of Smirky Football Related Whimsy, or whatever the hell they are calling the Sunday Night Is A Night And Football Is Played On That Night Because It's Sunday And All telecast these days.

But in the long run, they are losing audience and market share, and they know it.

They also don't like it much.

Welcome to the marketplace, boys.

What took you so long?

People are hating on the Lemur? That's like, so the last 10-plus years. Maybe they'll even notice the Braying Jackassery, non-sports content, formulaic moron appeasement and Hype Hype Hype. Read this, and you'll feel like someone who was against the Iraq War from the beginning... which is to say bitter and angry, but incredibly, incredibly hip.

Epic Drop: Top 10 Ways Sports Blogging Will Change

Your list is here, and it's chock full of future-y goodness.

On a more serious tip, revenue over at the Carnival was up by a lot last quarter, which is more along the lines of increasing from very little, but still. No one should blog about sports for the payday, because on a per-hourly basis, you'd be much better off working at a Quick E-Mart... but if the trends stay this way for another quarter or two, I'll finally be able to afford that lipo.

Monday, March 17, 2008

As A Sports Blogger. I'm Required By Law To Mention This

So two people at a high school basketball game in Connecticut (shocking, no?) were ejected after not standing up for the National Anthem... and are now contemplating... wait for it... legal action!

Now, every blogger in the world will make the obvious point that the spectators are tools; that's guaranteed, of course, if for no other reason than they made the game more about them than the players. But what if this someone gets the Yankee Gestapo to stop doing the 7th Inning Retch? Or maybe even gets us to the point where a million bad celebs can't torture the anthem with their own special artistic visions?

Well, then these people might be the greatest American patriots of this, or any other, generation. It makes me want to find and salute a flag just thinking about it, really...

Further Proof, Not That You Needed It, That We Like To See The Media Get Hurt - Watch more free videos

Mets Fan Knew It All Along

Houston Astros second baseman Kazuo Matsui will undergo surgery to repair an anal fissure on Monday in Houston.

Matsui has struggled with the health problem for much of spring training and was diagnosed with the condition earlier this week. The expected recovery time after the surgery is two weeks...

Matsui was signed in December to take over at second base after Craig Biggio's retirement. He had 37s RBIs and four home runs with a .288 batting average last season for Colorado.
Right now, Felix Pie is thanking the Lord that he isn't Matsui.

Nice effort, Sonics

I don't usually point out single games from the Association, but when this comes over the wire...

Denver 168
Seattle 112

Well, boy and howdy. Have the Sonics already packed?

The Nuggets shot over 60% from the floor, were 30 more than the 138 they put up against Seattle 18 days ago, and the most that the team has ever put up in regulation. Even more remarkable, they did it without Carmelo Anthony or Allen Iverson going off. Instead, the visitors were giving away points to anyone who walked on the floor, with 8 Nuggets in double figures, Marcus Camby leading the way with a triple double.

It's the third straight blowout win for the Nuggets, with the other coming against Memphis and the Raptors. They're still a game and a half behind the Warriors for the 8 seed, but that's not the telling point. The telling point is that Seattle is now 16-51, 1-9 in its last 10 games, and a no-doubt choice as the worst team in the Association right now... and maybe I'm just reading too much into a year when the team is playing without any kind of home-court advantage given the franchise weirdness that's going on right now, but I can't help shake the idea that when you lose like this, you're well and truly screwed, regardless of your talent situation or cap deal.

Next year or two, when they've got a new arena and/or home situation, they'll still need to lose their coach (PJ Carlesimo, who's doing such a stellar job here). They'll still have a roster full of guys who, with the possible exception of rookie power forward Jeff Green, show no interest or inclination in playing defense. They'll still have three point guards on the roster that would all be better suited to being a change-of-pace guy off the bench, rather than getting starter's minutes. They'll still have no one on the roster who should play shooting guard. Their centers either rebound (Nick Collison) or block shots (Robert Swift and Johan Patro), but never both at the same time. Chris Wilcox provides the emptiest 13 and 7 in the Association.

Which leaves the Franchise, rookie small forward Kevin Durant. If the 41% from the floor and 28% from the three-point line doesn't scare you, how about the 4.1 boards in 33.6 minutes per game? On a team with no dominant rebounder (Collison leads with 8.8 per game), he's boarding at nearly the same rate as Earl Watson, who's 8 inches shorter, and well, a point guard. That pre-draft workout experience where he couldn't lift weight is starting to seem more relevant now, isn't it?

Oklahoma City, be careful what you wish for...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Epic Drop: Top 11 Signs You Have No Business Picking an NCAA Bracket

Your link is here, and as it will probably be the first and last words I have to say about The Tournament, treasure 'em.

Future FTT work on this subject will come from The Truth and Dirty Davey, assuming we can keep both men from going on a Roy Williams-inspired killing spree when the Tar Heels spit the bit. (The over/under on the length of time that Roy will cry is 75 seconds, and as always, I'm taking the over.)

I'd also like to thank my alma mater, the mighty 'Cuse, for saving me the time and trouble of watching the tournament for the second straight year. If you aren't going to win it all with a 'Melo-riffic frosh, just don't go, sez I...

For No Good Reason

In a better life, I'd be Jeff Tweedy.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

We Are Unhappy With Scoop Jackson

And continuing in the theme of If A Guy Works For A Media Conglomerate, His Opinion Must Be Better Than Ours... well, Scoop Jackson's usually better than this, so I'm not even going to link to it, but still.

He managed to milk a column out of the idea that people give Isiah Thomas too much grief, and Larry Bird not enough, as terrible, terrible GMs. This has, of course, led to the usual backlash.

Now, Scoop? If you really want to point out the corollary of white ex-star player who is now a terrible GM, why wouldn't you pick Kevin McHale? The man blew five -- five! -- number one draft picks for the right to prostrate his franchise over Joe Smith. They dealt Kevin Garnett for the guts of a terrible team, just to get him out of the conference. The best players that they could get for KG in his entire tenure in Minnesota were multi-team retreads and world-class head cases Sam I Am and Spree the Yachtsman. Seriously, take the lay up.

But no, you had to go take down the Legend, giving everyone the easy out of just blaming Testy -- never mind, of course, that Larry seems to continually fail to make the right choice on Character Issues.

Look, no one's arguing with you that any ex-NBA star, with the contested exception of Darko Dumars, hasn't been utterly terrible at the job. But just as there is a difference between Mussolini and Hitler, Tiffany and Britney, or gonorrhea and syphilis, there is Any Terrible GM and Isiah. That's just how special he is, really.

Bob Costas Is Unhappy With Us

Part of the reason why this blog exists is my prevailing belief that there are people who want to read about sports who won't head for the hills when they read words like "prevailing." That sense of being underserved has permeated every part of my relation with the other parts of the newspaper (news, editorials, business, and especially the comics page, where the tyrannical reign of Gil Thorp and Marty Moon's media jackal empire both need to come crashing down in bloodshed -- but I've probably shared too much).

Of course, smart people can be annoying too, only it's much more disappointing when that happens. Witness today's exercise in flabby thinking from Bob Costas:

"But it's one thing if somebody just sets up a blog from their mother's basement in Albuquerque and they are who they are, and they're a pathetic get-a-life loser, but now that pathetic get-a-life loser can piggyback onto someone who actually has some level of professional accountability... that, in most cases, grants a forum to somebody who has no particular insight or responsibility. Most of it is a combination of ignorance or invective."
Now, far be it for me to defend the entire sports blogosphere, which does combine ignorance and invective with cheerful aplomb, and Bob clearly forgot to mention titty and curse words, which are the other pillars of Blogfrica. But, um, Bob? How is any of this any different from what Your Industry does?

(See what I just did there? I complained about flabby generalist thinking with flabby generalist thinking. Wheels within wheels here, kids.)

Oh, and for once and for all, we're not all blogging in mom's basement. Some of us are blogging at work, or on the train, or at the public library. All of it is punctuated by shaking hands with the unemployed, though. Especially the female sports bloggers. It's amazing they can even walk.

I also don't understand the hate for Albuquerque. I've met the same number of dumbasses, or a per capita basis, in a New York City subway. But then again, Bob doesn't live in New Mexico, so that must not be a place where smart, qualified and accountable people live, right?

And finally... I don't want to come off all high and mighty and stop clicking the ads here, but... I make more money than a sports writer. A lot more. I have ever since I, well, gave up sports writing. So just who's lacking a life now, Bobaroo -- me in my ManSpace compound (my *own* damn basement, not my mother's, thank you very much), or the badly dressed food scrounging no lifer who has spends his life waiting around putrid locker rooms, for a fraction of what I make?

Look, here's the plain and nasty truth about the brave new Internet world... people HATE the media. In all forms. They feel that it is a tool of corporations, that it's as dumb as a post, that it doesn't give them what they want or live in their world or reflect their values.

And that's true no matter where you are on the political spectrum, and whether or not you are a sports fan, too. Even if you've got your degree from Syracuse. (And by the way, Bobby -- I went there too. In the immortal words of our fellow alum Derrick Coleman, Whoop De Damn Do.)

And now that everyone has the ability to switch off the media and remain somewhat informed? Boy and howdy, are they doing that. According to recent polling from WeMedia/Zogby Interactive, "67% of Americans believe traditional journalism is out of touch with what Americans want from their news. In addition, the survey found that while almost 70% of Americans think journalism is important to the quality of life in their communities, though two thirds are not satisfied with the quality of journalism in their communities."

Some media -- the very best of it, really, and almost none of it involving sports -- is completely great. Bloggers, for the most part, are remora around it. And if you are really threatened by remora, you've got a lot more in common with them, not the productive animal...

The Root of All Evil

At what point, really, did we all become franchise owners?

Perhaps it's just that we can't fathom the size of an athlete's salary, or that we have been so boned over the years on ticket prices and cable rates and merch and concessions... but every other conversation you read or hear about the players on the teams you root for is about the contract details of each player.

Lito Sheppard's contract is too big for him to stay with the Eagles as a nickel back. The A's had to move Dan Haren and Nick Swisher while they still had good contracts. The Yankees are nearly auto-obliged to turn first base back over to Jason Giambi, because of his contract. Bill Simmons is masturbating again with his trade widget. (Seriously, Bill, put it away. You'll go blind.)

Does this happen where you work? Of course not. Unless you're in a union shop, and my sympathies for such things are growing, as I continue to be exposed to companies with HR departments that couldn't find their ass with both hands and a map... well, you probably don't know what the next cube slave makes, or want to know, given how incredibly distracting that is.

And yet, sports (and if you are unlucky, your office) feels compelled to dwell in the yearly rate for all of these short-timers. The more naive among us decry athletes for caring more about dollars than wins when they make free agent decisions... and yet, if and when you get a job offer to go somewhere else for more, it's hard to imagine the people in your life telling you what a callous bastard you were for accepting it.

Finally, there's this... I saw a headline the other day of how parents were having a hard time explaining the Spitzer Situation to their kids. Beyond wondering why they were letting their kids watch the news, or why "The Governor lied and committed crimes, so no one wants to work with him any more, and he has to quit and maybe even go to jail..."

Well, isn't childhood supposed to be the time when everything *doesn't* have a price tag? And isn't some part of the appeal of sports is that you get to be just a little bit like a little kid again, and just watch and enjoy it for the moment, rather than running a cost-benefit analysis of the experience?

Friday, March 14, 2008


You are looking at the in-progress championship belt for my new fantasy league, The House Of Meat. Click on the link, and it will grow even larger and more awesome, and possibly take over your mind.

As hard as this is to believe, the belt has even more to offer in person, in that the back is snakeskin, the middle plate spins, and there will be additional plates to contain the names of champions in its final form.

We are not responsible if, for the rest of your life, you are silently disappointed by your vision, because it is not looking at this object.

(Two spots still open if YOU MUST POSSESS THIS...)

A-Rod Can't Carry Michelle Wie's Jock

Baseball is excelling, generating $6 billion in revenue last year. But its players are far from a hit off the field. When one looks at the top 10 endorsers in U.S. sports today, none play "America's pastime."

Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter would seem to be a marketer's dream team, but Michelle Wie, a teenage female golfer, hauls in about $6 million more in endorsements each year than the New York Yankee stars combined. And when one thinks of the great commercials of all-time involving athletes--such as Mean Joe Greene and Coca-Cola, or Michael Jordan and Larry Bird hoping to hit "nothing but net"--none star baseball players.

An influx of players from Japan, the Dominican Republic and elsewhere has caused the numbers of U.S.-born players to shrink. Many players from foreign lands grab marketing opportunities in their home countries, while their appeal to U.S. firms is not as strong. And the steroid scandal has also frightened companies away.
Here's the real reason why, folks... MLB no longer attracts enough people in the target 18-to-34 demographic. It doesn't because the games are too expensive, too many markets are non-competitive due to salary inequities, and hyper-organization, scholarship competitions and parental over-involvement have drained the lifeblood out of youth sports. That, and video games are a lot more fun.

Plus, um, Wie's a freak. A-Rod's just a good baseball player. And more than a bit of a tool...

Epic Drop: Top 10 Upcoming Celebrity Sports Contracts

Your list is here, and I suppose it's all well and good that the Yankees have gotten further in bed with Billy Crystal, given his reflexive Mickey Mantle pimping and all, but... doesn't it say something to the graying of the American sports fan that this was their big PR moment? And if you were Pirates pitcher Pat Maholm, weren't you in the least bit tempted to back him off the plate and make him soil himself? (If, for no other reason, "City Slickers 2.")

Finally, when can we expect similar experiences for NFL teams? I think we'd all like to see either Rush Limbaugh or Dennis Miller behind center for their beloved Pittsburgh Steelers. (And in my little fantasy, Brian Dawkins is coming on a safety blitz, and the offensive line doesn't seem all that interested in blocking him...)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Nimby Vice

I was reading the other day (yes, that again) a piece on the widespread introduction of casino gambling in the US by local governments... but when the final tally comes due, the studies seem to show that for every dollar the casinos bring to an area in construction and tourism, they cost another three, in increased costs for social services.

Now, I like going to a casino as much as the next guy. I'm happy to blow a weekend at a blackjack table, I host a local poker game, and fantasy sports are nothing but low-grade gambling with more opportunities for trash talk. From an eco-friendly standpoint, driving or flying less to gamble is also a win.

But when the money goes on the table, here's how you know that casinos are not nice things that should receive governmental enthusiasm as panaceas... because even the people who work as lobbyists for the industry blanch at the idea of having one in their neighborhood. (The same is true, but in spades, for Indian casinos.)

People without addiction problems don't tend to think about it, but gambling is a serious drain on the economy -- and makes no bones about it, they prey on repeat losers. Local repeat losers. Who then cost the community big, and slowly but surely drag the place down... and now that ride to Atlantic City that I haven't taken in the 18+ months since I've been back on the East Coast? It's looking longer every day.

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