Friday, January 30, 2009

15 years later, amends

FTT hero Bill Hicks died 15 years ago, and one of the last indignities of his life was being censored by longtime supporter David Letterman for a skit he did on the Late Show. Tonight, Letterman is making amends, and bringing in the comedian's mother to introduce the clip.

You can see the same set above. It's from a man who will be dead of pancreatic cancer less than four months after performing, and the world lost something great when he passed. Click, view. And Mrs. Hicks, good on ya.

The Five Tool Trial: The People vs. Kurt Warner

(Bailiff enters)

All rise!

(Judge enters)

Hear ye, hear ye, ladies and gentlemen of Blogfrica. Five Tool Court is now in session to determine the fate of Kurt Warner, quarterback of the Arizona Football Cardinals. Mr. Warner stands accused of the following crimes:

> Multiple counts of criminal abuse of a religious deity

> Multiple counts of fraud, from misrepresenting the excellence of his teammates as his own

> Multiple counts of animal husbandry, because there’s no way that, recent improvements to the contrary, Brenda Warner is human

> Multiple counts of giving aid and comfort to Red State Americans who should have neither aid nor comfort

If found guilty, Warner will be afflicted with a cancer to be determined by the prosecutor, and I think we all know where he's going to put it.

He will also take the position as the third member in FTT's Quarterback Phantom Zone, and will be eventually Photoshopped into a 3-way with Brett Favre and Tony Romo, and more likely than not, made to take the Sarah Douglass position, with the little bob haircut.

(collective gasp from the crowd)

If found innocent, Warner will remain free as an honorable combatant to Eagles Nation, with no greater scorn or malice than dozens, if not hundreds, of other NFL players.

Your votes in the comments shall decide Warner's fate. Choose wisely.

The prosecuting attorney is Tracer Bullet. He has the opening statement.

Thank you, your honor. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I do not envy you today. For today, you have to gaze into the very soul of a man – a man prone to inappropriate outbursts of religiosity, a man given to denigrating the hard work of his coaches and teammates by ascribing all success to his imaginary friend in the sky, a man whose self-aggrandizing pieties are so shocking, so naked, so base and profane that one wonders if he doth not protest too much – and you must judge him.

Is Kurt Warner, in fact, a Satanist? No. Probably. Is he an insufferable god-botherer who should take that Jesus schtick somewhere where men don’t spend their work hours trying to destroy each other and the off-hours trying to destroy themselves? That is for you to decide.

For today, you must look into the very soul of Kurt Warner, and you must judge him. Indeed, his story is impressive, going from the Arena League to now his second Super Bowl. Yes, he deserves praise for saving untold numbers of billy goats by marrying that wire-haired man-goblin he calls a wife and taking her from beneath that bridge where she’d lived for centuries. But does that absolve him from shoe-horning some tortured reference to Jebus into every conversation? That is for you to decide.

For today, you must look into the very soul of Kurt Warner, and you must judge him.

Does not the Bible, a book that, as we will prove, Kurt Warner has sex with on a regular basis, say in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter six, verse five: "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward."

Is a post-game interview anything but a street corner writ large? By that standard, by his own standard, I say YEA VERILY, Kurt Warner is but the basest and most foul of hypocrites. A man who feigns piety for his own glory.

And so, by that standard, by the standard of any reasonable man or woman, you must gaze into the soul of Kurt Warner and you must judge him. No, ladies and gentlemen of the jury I do not envy you, for you must sit in judgment of a man today. Yet, judge him you must and judge him you shall. You must name him for the beast that he his: A self-righteous ass-clown.

Good luck. I thank you for your often thankless service.

Warner's court-appointed defense attorney is DMtShooter. His rebuttal is as follows.

People of the jury, I am not here to defend all of the actions and choices of Jebus's Own Quarterback. I share neither the faith nor the inclination to defend all of the actions of a man who, like a child, should be seen and not heard. As an Eagles' fan, I deeply desired that his last game would have resembled "The Passion of the Christ", only with more gore.

But the simple fact is that Warner, while guilty of a fair number of crimes, is not worthy of banishment to the Phantom Zone, nor the prosecutor’s insistence on dick cancer. He is, simply, no worse than most of his NFL brethren. Consider the following.

1) He's not a Manning.

2) He doesn't pout on the field like Jay Cutler.

3) He doesn't drink with the underaged, like his back-up, Matt Leinart.

4) He hasn't made his coach think he's going to off himself like a bulimic teenager, a la Vince Young.

5) He doesn't impregnate models, run up the score, and make decent people spit, like Tom Brady.

I've just named five quarterbacks more worthy of banishment. Where is the prosecutor's dick cancer for them?

Warner's greatest crime for the prosecutor is that he beat the Eagles in a big playoff game. Which brings up the other matter: why Warner, more than Brad Johnson? Why him, more than the quarterback who has not only beaten the Eagles at home in a playoff game, but also gave the Cardinals safe passage to the game in which they defeated the Eagles?

And yet Jake Delhomme is free to walk the streets, admittedly drunk, homeless and in disguise, lest he suffer the same fate as Benito Mussolini. But a free man nonetheless.

No, Warner's biggest crime is simply his jersey. Had he been wearing the local laundry, and won a Super Bowl, we would not be here today. Instead, we would all be kneeling in his church, hopeful that our hero was about to take our team to the promised land once again.

The prosecutor would be on his knees, accepting Kurt's communion. And he would not be alone.

The defense rests.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, what say you?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

NFL Picks, Super Bowl: Old School

No pussy-footing around this time, kids. Here's your FREE NFL Pick.

PITTSBURGH (-6.5) at Arizona

For the past two weeks, people have been trying to invent reasons to be scared, very scared, of the Arizona Football Cardinals. These reasons include:

1) Any of the following Kurt Warner attributes: his playoff record, his Obama-esque puppy bet with his kids, his comeback God, and his ability to get rid of the ball quick against the blitz

2) The Steelers defense being 21st in the NFL in 2-minute drills, which is more or less what the entire Cardinals offense resembles

3) Arizona being #1 in fumble recoveries, and Big Ben and Fast Willie's tendency to put the ball on the ground

4) The uncertain status of primary WR target, gadfly and relentless chains mover Hines Ward

5) Pittsburgh mostly awful coverage units (29th against kickoffs, 31st against punts)

6) Arizona's a Team Of Destiny, and if you simply ignore the bad month of their season, they are actually a lot better than their numbers and record might indicate

7) Pittsburgh has an above-average number of drops from the receivers, which is part of that whole "offense isn't as good as it should be" thing

8) The NFL, and indeed the entire world, has been topsy-turvey cah-way-zee this year (were you aware that a black man is now the President?)

9) and last but not least, the fact that I like the Steelers.

Let's refute each factor in turn.

1) Cap'n Jebus is good at getting rid of the ball fast against a blitz... but that assumes the hot reads are open, and he can see where the blitz is coming from. Neither of these things tend to be true against the Steelers, which is why they were far and away the best defense in the NFL this year. (Also, the puppy was for *getting* to the Super Bowl. Not winning it. Bad move, Kurt.)

2) Being 21st in 2-minute defense is about the only bad stat you can find for this team. What it really means is that they aren't very good at prevent, but if you are playing prevent, you're generally winning the damn game. So, um, not too much to be scared of there.

3) Fumble recoveries are luck. Betting on luck can work, but isn't recommended.

4) Ward practiced today, and will play. If there had been no bye week, this would have helped the Cardinals immensely; you don't play Baltimore without getting very beat up.

5) Yes, indeed, but the Steelers have actually been, with the exception of a Darren Sproles long gainer, reasonably good on special teams in their two playoff games. It's a concern, but not an overwhelming one, and while Steve Breaston is a good football player, he's no Sproles in the open field.

6) Ignoring the bad month still leaves you with a team that can't run the ball, has serious coverage issues in the secondary, and struggles on defense if they don't get big play turnovers. Against a patient Steeler attack that will want to run the ball, it's not very likely.

7) Yes, sure, but Pittsburgh has been better at protecting the quarterback recently, which means Heath Miller has become a factor in the passing game. If you are looking for a long shot MVP candidate, take the TE; I could easily see him getting something like 8 catches for 80 yards and 2 TDs in this game. Arizona simply has no one to match up with him in coverage.

8) Steelers owner Dan Rooney went for Obama, which helped to lock down Pennsylvania. Arizona is the home state of John McCain. The stench of failure permeates.

9) Yeah, whatever. I also took the Steelers and laid the points in both of their playoff games. Let's put this meme to bed.

So... what we are left with is a Super Bowl that, no matter how I look at it, keeps feeling suspiciously like one of those games from the '90s, back when the Super Bowl stunk every year.

You have a power team with a dominant defense against a finesse team that scores a lot of points. Hmm.

You've got a cold-weather Eastern (well, fine, Pittsburgh is kind of Midwestern, but you get the gist) team against a non-traditional contender from the West. Heh heh.

What's to say that Pittsburgh doesn't jump out to an early lead, then bares its teeth on defense and spends several quarters making Warner look like...

Pre-Terrell Davis John Elway.

Stan Humphries. (I just made Charger Fan cry a little.)

Jim Kelly, only without the RB threat.

It's time for an old-school terrible game, folks. In this era of any team getting on a hot streak, that's the biggest upset pick I can think of.

Steelers 31, Cardinals 16

Last Week: 1-1

Playoffs to date: 4-6

Year to date: 137-118-7

Theoretical bankroll: Up $360

Blogrolling: Art 1, Performance 0

GSF's resident homeless fantasy football addict with his disdain for Captain Jebus. This is what we in the blog business call Foreshadowing.

Nick Underhill from I'm Writing Sports with a nice piece on the final days of Pedro Martinez. Nick gets at the gist of something important here, which is the art of performance that makes certain athletes more compelling to watch than others. Personally, if my team signed Pedro, I'd be more than a little pleased by the move; I think he's still got something left.

The Sports Hernia presents more of the newest Lemur celebrity, Chris Berman's Hungover Hair. Not for the timid.

There's awesome, and then there's totally awesome. This qualifies. Now, if only the hackers could use their powers for promoting this blog.

David Roth gives you reasons for the Steelers. They are good reasons.

Itching for Some Baseball

It's getting to be that part of winter where I'm completely sick of the cold and snow. The one thing that get's me thinking about spring and better weather is when catchers and pitchers report. And for those of you scoring at home - that's February 14th. Mark it down.

In the meantime, please enjoy this photo out of St. Louis. I think they're ready for baseball as well.

Great Wall of Fail

Courtesy of NESW Sports, this bright start to your day. Making this even happier, the Sixers won in Houston, with the Andres (Miller and, of course, Iguodala) leading the way for both the home laundry and my fantasy league team. And, speaking as his former owner, isn't it time for Yao's season-ending injury?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Dream Of Lemur

Today on the Lemur front page, for a good long while, the end of the news feed was pimping one of their "Rumors" stories that are only available to Insiders. A quick blog search (seriously, the things that people spend money on these days) found the "story" that prompted this. It's our old friend Deion Sanders having a "premonition" that McNabb has asked out of town, because he's been So Ill Treated. When pressed on this by an actual media member, rather than a fellow member of what the late Howard Cosell perfectly dubbed the jockocracy, the former Cowboy confessed that he hadn't actually talked to McNabb, and more or less dreamed the whole thing up.

Now, I don't want to run down the Lemur for their editorial judgment in putting this in the news field -- i.e., the small amount of their front page that you more or less focus on, and almost trust to be important. After all, it's Super Bowl Week, there really isn't that much going on, and we all know that Eagle Fan is the meanest, most hate-filled and fundamentally unfair person in the whole wide world, and in all ways completely unique in his mendacity. He deserves every cross-eyed moment of annoyance you can give to him, because the 10% of the fan base that call and listen to sports talk radio has a less than realistic view of the starting QB.

Rather, I'd like to celebrate the new standards in sports journamalism, and introduce a similar service to all of you loyal FTT readers. For now, it's available to all, but I warn you, we might have to set up a VIP section for this later. And while some of this might seem childish or silly, please be assured that it has the exact same relationship to truth and veracity as what the World Wide Lemur did today. Enjoy!

Rumor: Bill Simmons Has Gerbil In Rectum

Rumor: Boston Red Sox Moving To Hartford

Rumor: Chris Berman can't get off unless fisted by Tom Jackson

Rumor: Terrell Owens About To Be Deported

Rumor: Kenny Mayne Eats Kittens. That He's Raped.

Rumor: Stuart Scott's wandering eye converts to Satanism

Rumor: USFL Returning From 25-Year Hiatus

Rumor: Everything Stephen A. Smith Says Is Important

Rumor: Disney Owns The Souls Of All Of Its Employees

Rumor: Upcoming Super Bowl Is Fixed

Blogrolling: Brief and Begging

I'm going small and mostly off-topic tonight, folks. But they're good clicks.

Go and make virtual sand art. It's strangely Zen.

I've finally found an East Coast alternative to the sainted In N' Out Burger. Go and eat.

I now own clothes from here. It makes me happy, in that I get to wear the swag of a Philadelphia football team that won a championship in my lifetime.

Top 11 things that Sports Bloggers are rooting for in the Super Bowl

Oh, you think that we want a good game? That's so adorable! No, let's face it folks, once you've entered the exciting life of writing about sports, your priorities change in ways that can hardly be imagined... in that we know that once this game is over, we've got weeks of bloghole to fill without the thing that you people actually care about. (SPRING LEAGUE, NFL! THINK OF OUR CHILDREN!)

11. Post-game rioting and/or drunken video. The thrill of victory is only matched by the sloppy, sloppy tears of your enemies' defeat, folks. And I hate to break it to you, Steeler Fan, but since no one in America actually knows a Cardinals Fan, that just means that Neutral Fans are kind of hoping you go down, and that you've finally got enough Web cams to tell the world how sad you are. It's really the only thing that's keeping Ohio Football Fan's head out of the oven right now. (That, and the fact that they can't afford to pay the utility bill.)

10. Wardrobe malfunction. Let's face it, folks -- any kind of nip slip, especially if it's accompanied by a skillful censorship from the mainstream media, is just Pure Gold to us in Blogfrica. Some of us are still living off those images, especially with foreign countries cracking down on porn domains. Bring it on, mammary glands!

9. Kurt Warner or Troy Polamalu loses and renounces their faith. It's only logical, isn't it? Guys, if you're going to give all faith and credit to your Messiah in moments of triumph, all I'm asking for is equal time. If nothing else, put on the hair shirt and detail your all-too-human weakness that caused the Lord to deliver such a crushing lesson to you and your poor teammates.

8. Pregame arrest. Everyone thinks that we're rooting for the Hooker Bust, but that's just getting greedy. We'll gladly take someone going off their meds and wandering the streets like a crazy person, while everyone pretends it isn't a distraction. That works just fine.

7. Matt Leinart Drinks. Is anyone else reading the inevitable puff pieces over how the Cardinals' resident trustafarian has Grown Up So Much by picking splinters out of his ass, as, well, tiresome in the extreme? We don't have time for yet another studious NFL understudy. Matty occupies a very select role in the NFL as the biggest slacker/disappointment in the league. We can get the Good Teammate Bad Back Up QB anywhere. Chug, Matty, Chug!

6. Ref conspiracy. Nothing quite extends those good old traffic numbers as the whole "The Game Is Fixed" / "You Guys Are Whiners" debate, otherwise known as the only thing that people now think about Seahawks Fan. Let's get Tim Donaghy on this. We've got a city to trash.

5. Gambling meltdown. This one ties into the ref conspiracy wish, but if the money swings on the spread back and forth in this last week, from 7 points to 6.5, and then the game winds up hitting that 7 point bump exactly... preferably with some highly questionable ref work and/or a coaching decision... well, that would more or less take care of February for us. Keep this in mind, Mike Tomlin, especially if you're driving for the game winner late. Jeff Reed is not acceptable.

4. Obama Pop In. With the approval ratings for the new President still in that happy He's Not The Old Guy place, and his willingness to go outside the usual broadcast network suspects for his media jones... well, let's go, Mister President! Take a tour of all of the major sports blog sites. Or, um, just this one. We'll ask all of the questions that need to be asked, such as, "Why can't I gamble on this game legally?" and "No, seriously, why can't I gamble on this game legally?"

3. Blimp terror.
Every year, the difference between the people going to the game and people you don't want to die in a horrible death grows. (At least for Eagle Fan.) And if you are not feeling this, please go look at more Media Day highlights. And people wonder why the most universal political thought in our fractured national landscape is this: the media sucks.

2. Springsteen insanity. I want a 60-second monologue that goes nowhere, some kind of not funny at all banter with Clarence Clemons, and then, just when the powers that be think that it's all over, a freaky shadow phallus with the guitar. Bring it, Boss!

1. Poon, poon, poon.
From the Lingerie Bowl to the Go Daddy Spank Spank Spank ads, to the HD cheerleaders and the blog-ready groupie porn, we don't *need* no stinking wardrobe malfunction for cheap clicks. Remember, girls, it's not exploitation if you exploit yourself. Also, that we so respect your personal choices, especially when you get us sweet, sweet traffic. Poon on!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Oh Dear God

From Media Post...

Viacom is turning to a second charismatic, yet curious Dallas Cowboy for a reality series. A week after the Spike network said it would air a show with Michael Irvin as the front man, sister channel VH1 announced that current star Terrell Owens would have his own show.

The Owens series fits within VH1's celeb-reality mix, as it will follow the voluble Owens, or "T.O.," in his off-season life with two publicists. "Viewers will discover that behind all the braggadocio, emotional histrionics and sculpted physique that is the outspoken media magnet known to the world as T.O., there is also a quiet, sensitive, mild-mannered guy from Alexander City, Alabama ... that's Terrell," VH1 said.
Discuss amongst yourselves, or just whip your heads back and forth while making nonsense noises. That's my plan.

The FTT Guide To Televised Poker

I'll level with you, Dear Reader... I've been watching *way* too much televised poker recently. It's all part of, oddly, trying to get in better physical shape and reduce down to my college weight (I'm less than 10 pounds away, but those are, of course, the hardest). I also play enough poker, for enough money, to want to Not Suck So Much At It. So, well, there you have it.

My method is to set up my weights and exercise bike in front of the Man Space Television and use the coursing, low-level hatred that my brain generates for much of this drivel to power through my workout. It might be taking years off my life from the bile and blood pressure, but hey, at least I'll leave a tough old man corpse. That's all that any of us can hope for, right?

Anyway, the new poker viewer might not know which of the literally half-dozen active poker series on television to watch. So consider this scouting report a kind of public service. Only, as you will see, without the service.

Each showed is ranked from 1 to 10 blood vessels in your head, one being a mild amount of stress, 10 being a full "Scanners" style meltdown. Please note that while these shows may make you slightly more versed in poker vernacular, the resulting brain cell loss will more than make up for any gain you might get to your game.

Poker After Dark (NBC)

PAD is a single table set where top money players play in a controlled set, with small piles of chips and obscene bricks of cash. The vibe is like a home game, provided your home game has crazed millionaires in it, and armed guards at the door to watch over the cash that, in all likelihood, is coated with enough cocaine to kill a horse.

Level of play:
Expert to the point of meta. The people who play PAD have made the decision to spend their lives at poker tables, as if this was in any way healthy or sane. (Note: I didn't say it wasn't lucrative.) So the play is fast, players are frequently calling each other's hole cards out loud, and if you want to play these people after watching PAD, you are out of your freaking mind.

Watch for:
Poker train wrecks like Phil Hellmuth and Mike Matusow freaking out after, horror of horrors, they don't win. Greek tragedy ain't got nothing on Hellmuth getting re-raised, and I think they like to keep Matusow around to see if he'll eventually become homeless and/or violent. Someone, for the love of God, has to stop Hellmuth.

Wacky Fact: People track PAD "championships" as if it were not, well, a fairly small achievement to be the last person standing in a small table, no matter how good the competition is. The championship trick is just getting invited.

Potent. NBC has spent its money on the at-table talent, and since there's nothing but lifers at this table, there isn't more than two or three unused oxygen atoms in the room. So your commentary, if you can call it that, is usually left to basic points that anyone with eyes and a mild amount of poker experience can see. ("Ferguson's trying to accumulate chips." Wow, thanks.)

PAD gets its Smack It In The Face Moments from the players trying to "make good TV", which generally involves watching Hellmuth barter for insurance like a complete pussy on pots in situations where the math is out there and obvious. Someone, for the love of God, Stop Hellmuth.

Titty Factor: High class. PAD features post-wipeout interviews with losing players, as done by the "If you have to ask, you can't afford" stylings of Leeann Tweeden; she's classy, and knows just enough about what's going on at the table that the players look her in the eye. Besides, these are lifer poker players. They'd much rather talk about cards and how crappy the guy is who just beat them than to make a move on the help.

Overall rating: 5 Blood Vessels. Oh, and if you're watching this thing at 2am on a weeknight without the use of a DVR, You May Have A Gambling Problem.

Heartland Poker Tour (SNY and syndication, one presumes)

The HPT takes you to all of those places that you wouldn't go to on a bet to show you that, by gosh and by golly, poker is played in the hinterlands, too! The vibe is two steps up from public access, and final tables are usually mixes of Web players who can barely shave against old bluffers who can barely stand. Luckily, thanks to the healthy lifestyle of a pro gambler, the kids can see what they'll look like in ten years. Yeah, you're right. Four.

Level of play: Highly variable, but tighter than you might imagine. You watch HPT to hear the hosts sing the praises of some rank amateur as he catches cards early, then turn on him like a cheap suit when he runs cold and makes a badly timed bluff. The fact that they are seeing the hole cards makes them very, very smart.

Watch for: Perhaps the most craptastic theme song ever sets the tone. Then you get nonstop pimping for the crappy casino du jour, all the way down to specific callouts for the restaurant, spa and, I'm sure at some point, individual Native American hookers that re-enacted the Trail of Tears in the luxurious executive suite 30 minutes before airtime. You normally have to go to the downmarket rooms in Atlantic City or Reno to get this kind of pure flopsweat.

Wacky Fact: Like all of these shows, the hosts make a big deal out of the money being made by the top finishers. However, given the expense of entering these things, this payday is going to have to cover a lot of blank shots to be the kind of Manna From Heaven that the announcers are making it out to be. But hey, getting five figures is well and truly Life Changing, especially if your life isn't worth that much. We're getting that double wide, honey!

Obnoxiousness: Fairly high, as the color commentators are clearly studying at the altar of Norm Chad, only without any kind of actual talent. (And Norman's not exactly waking the ghosts of Edward R. Murrow, kids.) HPT is also big on calling out goofy pre-flop card combination and repeating them. "He's got 9-5 off-suit, the Dolly Parton hand!" Ha Ha Ha Ha! And he's folding it, because that's a crap hand that really doesn't need to be named! Let's all chuckle some more at your lame and often repeated joke!

Oh, and the fact that the color commentator (Fred Bevill) talks with a lisp and, in moments of "humor", talks about playing poker while wearing a diaper? That's just special. Short bus special.

Titty Factor: Oh dear. All I can think is that the producers must not know about HD, or have some deep-seated fascination with make up, because HPT's women look like they put it on with the Homer Simpson Cosmetics Shotgun. HPT's gets a small nod for the help's willingness to appear on camera in bathing attire (dammit, these hotel rooms aren't selling themselves!), but in terms of eye candy, it's more Big League Chew than sweet dark chocolate. If you catch my drift.

Overall rating: 6 blood vessels. You know how people who live near the oceans in the US have this sneering condescension towards flyover country? It's not all unjustified.

World Poker Tour
(Fox Sports, presumed syndication)

The WPT occupies the same space to ESPN's "World Series of Poker" that, say, the old CNN "Sports Night" occupied to "SportsCenter" -- a clear second place finisher that tries to do different things, but is so dreadfully un-hip as to just seem more than a little sad. Which is a shame, really, as it's got some things going for it. Basically, you're watching the last two hours of edited highlights from a large scale tournament, starting with a final table of six players. Eventually, There Can Be Only One. Original, no?

Level of play: Some of the best on television, and it's not hurt by the fact that the WPT isn't afraid to show what the game is really like at this level -- which is to say, a ton of hands that never get to a flop, let alone the river. The winning players also bring home enough money that you'll see some of the upper crust players at these final tables.

Watch for: The wild, manic depressive swings of false drama when someone takes a pot. It's like the WPT hosts are being paid by the exclamation point. They also *live* for the quirky occupation amateur player. I saw an episode the other night with a 59-year-old funeral director, and I'm pretty sure they had to declare the broadcast booth a hazmat area from the amount of jizz joy this seemed to provoke.

Wacky Fact: When they get to the final heads up, they trot out the best skanks that the local casino has to offer (costuming helps here, but not enough) to shower the table in not really enough bundles of cash to be all that impressive. They also give the winner a set of World Poker Tour chips because, for heaven's sake, you wouldn't want to win hundreds of thousands of dollars without getting a version of the home game. Finally, they make the winners toast with long neck bottles of Budweiser, which is high comedy when you see some Internet pre-pube or Euro high roller have to fake his way into drinking that. You may have just won hundreds of thousands of dollars, champ, but you're still surrounded by morons. Congrats!

Obnoxiousness: Quite high, as the commentators really are that far over the top. And while their production might be more true to life, the breathlessness over a pre-flop fold really does make you want to hurt someone. Finally, since the money is good enough, you actually have big crowds at the rail at these events, which might be the worst thing to ever happen to poker. If you're spending your life cheering on people who you are not related to at poker championships, you might have a bigger life problem than even the people spending their lives at poker tables.

Titty Factor:
If you've seen HPT, you've seen WPT, only with a slightly more international tilt, which is to say that the hostess will not be wearing leopard trailer park prints. It won't make you regret your HD coverage as much, but you also won't get superfluous bikini shots.

Overall rating:
8 blood vessels, if only for the hosts. Seriously, they are that bad.

High Stakes Poker (Game Show Network)

Like Poker After Dark, but want to see it with more of a cheesy casual setting, cash all over the place and preening announcers? You're in luck!

Level of play: Meta fast playing with strong undercurrents of personal abuse. Something to keep in mind with these cozy little pro shows is that you're much more likely to see a female face or two, and they're also much more likely to do well. One suspects that this is because the top female players just don't have the time to spend working their way through the hyper-patient big tournament shows, but let's face it, folks... if you're playing poker for a living, you've got the time to spend, regardless of the presence of ovaries.

Watch for: Nasty in-fighting towards black sheep players, more cash than you see outside of a drug runner's car trunk, and wildly tired announcer in-fighting. It's also, perhaps, the clearest window into the world of a high stakes cash game. It also gets some major props to the fact that the players are actually buying in, so when you see someone take a bad beat, that's their own money leaving them -- rather than some arbitrary and inflated amount of chips.

Wacky Fact: Since it's just a cash game, there are no trophies, no bracelets, no hostesses and spectator theaters; you know this is, at least, a different show. It's also just plain freaky to see that much cash being tossed around without anyone seeming to, you know, sweat freaking bullets over it, or to watch players re-buy for a mere $100,000 more. It's very easy, in watching poker on television, to divorce yourself from the reality that people lose money while gambling; HSP makes that very, very clear. Good times!

Obnoxiousness: Almost off the charts, especially in a bad economy. I keep expecting to see bank presidents show up with bailout cash. At least when they play with chips, it seems like a game that I could play, rather than the poker equivalent of Marie Antoinette and her court. But at least it's different from the rest of this motley mess.

Titty Factor: Almost non-existent, unless your idea of action is a fat guy in need of support, or a woman who might have been solid twenty years in real time, or three years in poker time, ago. Besides, she knows you're lying.

Overall rating: 9 blood vessels. That view into How The Other Side plays comes at a terrible, terrible price.

Best Damn Poker Show
(Fox Sports)

Want to watch bad poker and a worse reality television show, all at once? Then put your dignity in a blind trust and come on down to the abuse of Hellmuth and Annie Duke!

Yes, it's "Survivor" Poker, as The Poker Brat (psst, Phil! That's not a compliment!) and the only female player who will be seen on HD willingly watch a bunch of neophytes try to get on the "teams" of either player. I'd tell you more about it, but I'm still having blackouts.

Level of play: A weak home game, especially at the early levels as the true non-players gets weeded out. If you want to see truly erratic and inexplicable play that *doesn't* work, this is your show.

Watch for: The extraordinary amounts of pain that being near Bad Poker seems to cause Hellmuth and Duke, followed by their less sincere but still eviscerating "You're Out" monologues to the worst players. Watching someone nod and smile while being told they suck is just shadenfraudey fun. Also, if you are a very bad player, this might be the speed you need to learn something. Your first lesson might be to try breathing through your nose.

Wacky fact: Everything but the poker here is excruciating, and the poker is also, well, excruciating. It's like a netherworld of dumb. Watch this long enough, and I think you forget how to use the remote.

Obnoxiousness: You have a show that gives Phil Hellmuth the complete mouth job to his ego. Remarkably, he's less over-the-top than Duke, who really seems to be trying to be a bigger bitch than Phil. It's kind of fascinating, on a scientific level; think of it as the "Metal Machine Music" of televised poker.

Titty factor: Your choices are Duke or nothing, at least in the single episode I was able to watch before smashing my head into a wall. Go with nothing.

Overall rating:
10. All-in. Quads on the flop. I can't give you much more, Captain! My head's breaking up!

World Series of Poker (ESPN)

Probably the only poker show that 90% of the general public has ever seen, and just like everything else the Lemur does, incredibly destructive to the event that it covers. Play that funky slide riff, white boy!

Level of play: Wildly variable, and actively awful for routine players. The biggest problem with WSOP is that it's edited purely for theatric purposes. So if you see someone make an awful misread and go into a pot as a 4-to-1 underdog, you are more or less even money to see them suck out on the river, then dance around like Jonathan Papelbon on meth, like they did a good thing... because the Lemur is in no way interested in televising poker. They are interested in televising spectacle.

Watch for: The worst bad beats this side of dominatrixes working a Republican convention. You've never seen so much runner-runner, single out suckouts. You also get to see the dregs of humanity that have someone scrapped their way into a massive, big money tournament; the first few days of their bigger events are more or less indistinguishable from people who dress up in costume to go watch games.

Wacky fact: Norman Chad has ex-wives! Waka waka!

Other than when Chad's trying too hard and the Suck-Tastic Highlights, the Lemur actually keeps things in check. They also get a major plus from actually calling Hellmuth (yes, him again! He's very special! Just ask him!) on his crap. Sidebar features are kept to a tasteful and not too terrible minimum, and they did, after all, pioneer the art form, as it were.

Titty factor: Almost nonexistent, because the Lemur is serious. Also, they are, let's remember, owned by Big Mouse.

Overall rating: Five blood vessels, if only for the production values that make you cringe less than anyone else in the field. But folks, please, stop encouraging bad players to dance around like people with ADD. We're not asking for too much, are we?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Blogrolling: Economic Worries Can Only Be Destroyed By Dancing MS Paint Bears

Moondog weighs in on something I've been pimping for awhile, i.e., the effect of the economic slowdown on our little sports sandbox. His focus is domestic, but it's kind of intriguing to see everything at once, and he's also done some good research on individual sport attendance numbers and naming rights. (Oh, and if you're wondering about the health of your specific sport's advertising, here's a simple test. If infomercials are shown during the telecast. Instead of, say, liquor and gambling.)

Great in-depth piece as to why the NFL Network sucks. Some of the descriptions of the network are a little over the top -- I've seen enough of their programming to know that they really aren't all that great, if only because when you hire Bryant Gumbel and Deion Sanders, you are not getting the whole hang of this journamalism thing. But if the distribution issue had been dealt with, they'd be just an ordinary thing, rather than an active embarrassment. Anyway, go, pack a lunch, wallow, and if it's behind a registration firewall that you'd rather not deal with, feel good about having lots of free time back in your life. Why not click on some ads, Mr. Free Time Guy?

Major sports go for liquor and gambling ads. Worry about them when you start seeing Shamwow ads, folks.

Nick Underhill wallows in the misery that is the last 20 years of Pirate baseball. It's an important counterpoint for this next week of Steeler Happiness.

Busted Coverage collects 14 priceless moments from Mark Cuban's, well, troublesome relationship with cameras. The fact that the man showed up on "The Simpsons" a few weeks ago more or less proved to me that both entities are permanently over the shark.

And finally,, your go-to site for Pittsburgh Steelers and Mini Ponies (yes, I'm serious) with this spectacular ode to Yinzer Supremacy. It will take, if not quote your breath, well, *something* away...

Say You're Sorry, Even If You Aren't

The Lemur with the story out of Texas, where the coach of a girls high school basketball team that won by a 100-0 score was fired on Sunday (the Lord's Day!) for not apologizing over the experience.

(And before I get into any of this... well, yes, your immediate reaction might be to just make sure that your kid never gets into high school sports. Yeesh.)

The Covenant School of Dallas, a private Christian school, posted a statement regretting the outcome of its Jan. 13 shutout win over Dallas Academy. "It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened. This clearly does not reflect a Christlike and honorable approach to competition," said the statement, signed by Kyle Queal, head of school, and board chair Todd Doshier. The coach, predictably, does not agree, and one suspects this will only end when the demon lawyers show up.

Now, a small point about this. I'm no religious expert, but since when is excellence a non-Christian value? I'm fairly sure that during the Crusades, a 100-0 casualty count for the cross-bearers would have been Just Peachy. Similarly, I've read the Book of Revelations (it's especially good when you're feeling altered), and from what I can tell, 100-0 is the point spread you should be betting at the Lake of Fire.

Oh, and just because the opponent in this case is a place that has 20 girls in the entire school, and teaches kids who are struggling with "learning differences" like short attention spans or dyslexia... well, sheesh. I'm sure those afflictions also crippled the Saracens, and some of those demons are bound to have reading problems. Cry havoc, and let loose the dogs of redemption!

Euro Menace Update

Remember Brandon Jennings? Probably not, in that this blog's readership isn't much for the NBA Draft, but Jennings is the kid who raised middle fingers to David Stern's one year on the plantation requirement for high school ballers to spend time in college. Jennings took the money and ran to Lottomatica Virtus Roma, a top Italian professional team, for $1.2 million. It turns out that, according to the Gray Lady, he's not happy.

Jennings was supposed to be a high-scoring point guard, but in the Euro game, he's been little more than a defensive stopper who only takes open shots. This has led some observers to note that since many of the top players in this year's class have said they aren't going to Europe, that this means the Jennings Threat is over. You see, players want to be famous in the NBA, more than getting paid.

Um... I realize that people *want* college basketball to succeed. March Madness is good times, after all. But I'm just not seeing it, for the following reasons.

1) Jennings is still likely to be a high draft pick this year. And if his draft position has been hurt by his Italian sojourn, it's probably still not enough to make up for the guaranteed $1.2 million.

2) Having one underaged guy come over doesn't necessarily mean that you are going to have a flood next year. What would, of course, cause that is a handful of catastrophic injuries to some highly regarded freshmen.

3) If this country continues having economic distress -- and, well, it's hard to see how that changes at least in the next 6 to 12 months -- the currency edge of getting Euros might continue to grow.

So, yes... it's a man's league over there, and there's no doubt that being the big man on campus has got to be more fun. But declaring the exodus over just because the first guy over is having no fun seems, well, silly. Money talks.

Yes, This Is Flagrant

But on the plus side, it did get Houston's Aubrey Coleman some actual attention on the World Wide Lemur, as well as the love of the Pwned! demographic, which is giving you five stars of love. It's just a darn shame that Isiah Thomas no longer has the ability to draft the perp. (H/t, the Dagger.)

Bye bye, Vince

Earlier this year for the Carnival, I took some heat for being all mean to Vince Young, who lost the starting job with the Titans to Kerry Collins. Word out of Nashville tonight is that Jeff Fisher wants to keep him in that position next year, and all I can say is, um, ha ha?

Not to be too hard-hearted about this, but being healthy is a talent. Avoiding depression is a talent. Keeping the respect of your teammates, and the belief that you are someone that they can rely upon, rather than being dominated by your personal demons... well, life's hard, folks. So's professional football. And the next team that gives Vince Young the keys... won't be in the NFL. At least, not by choice.

Final thought: is Vince the biggest Madden Jinx in NFL history?

Top 10 reasons the Cardinals will win the Super Bowl

"Audi et alteram partem," my old college political science professor would say, to the point of having his students question whether or not the old man had lost it. It's Latin for "hear the other side," and something that has always stayed with me, because, well, he really did say it that much.

Anyway... some of you are going to bet this the other way than me, and thank heavens for that, otherwise I'd have to lay way too many points. But take heart with the following list! And, by all means, keep betting. I'd love for the spread to be under 7.

10) Steelers linebacker James Harrison, having been cut four times before breaking through as a star, is due for a crippling bout of insecurity

9) The Cards specialize in foiling the defensive schemes of very, very old men

8) Pittsburgh lacks the one player that can stop Kurt Warner in a Super Bowl: Adam Vinatieri

7) The last time Ben Roethlisberger was on this stage, the Steelers' best QB was Antwaan Randle El

6) Since Edge James has announced that he wants out of Arizona, he's going to make sure it's with a ring, just so that everyone can be impressed by his convictions

5) After having Georgia Frontiere and Art Modell hold the Lombardi Trophy earlier this decade, Bill Bidwell just makes sense

4) Pittsburgh's wearing of their road white uniforms will confuse their fans enough to neutralize their quasi-home field advantage

3) The last time anyone used this field the Raiders beat the Buccaneers, so it's clearly death to favorites

2) Adrian Wilson has already arranged to have Troy Polamalu's hair cut in his sleep

1) Arizona has two ex-Eagles (Rod Hood and Matt Ware), while the Steelers only have one (Mitch Berger), which makes the Cardinals twice as good

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Blogrolling: You Blog To Lose The Coach

Adam Best from Arrowhead Addict does the honors for the giving man and coach, Herm Edwards. To Eagle Fan of a certain age, he'll always be the guy picking up Joe Pisarcik's gift at the Meadowlands. (Eagle Fan, by the way, is the only town where Herm spent real time and has a fond memory of the guy...

Laker Fan hates on the Spurs in list form. See, other people write these!

Neate from Out of Left Field
, your go-to site for Canadian action, produces the all-time Canadians team for Habs Haters. You always have to love when second and third generation guys stink.

Josh Q Public with the most recent goings-on from Old Friend John Rocker. It's a heart-warming story, provided that your heart is warmed by public drunken racism.

One For The Other Thumb, a Steeler blog with a very prophetic name, with the knowledge that Walrus Holmgren will be joining the Calvacade of Whimsy that is the NBC analysis tank at the Super Bowl. Seriously, suits? Tie this into your once-a-year greenwashing nonsense and have all of these blow holes in a clown car. You wouldn't have to heat anything, and if we're lucky, they'd eat each other. (Oh, and the sound that you heard was Steeler Fan with the pre-emptive gnashing of teeth, as the Walrus readies his "They're getting the calls from the refs, just like they did against us" bleat.)

The Gray Lady weights in on the recent hockey fight tragedy, and honestly, I know that Hockey Fan doesn't want to hear this, but... for decades now, the sports has been more or less disparaged for the sideshow. (And yes, yes, I know that the kid's death had more to do with a fluke equipment failure than the fight. But when you lie down with the bad practice and gets mixed with bad luck, you can not win about the fleas.)

No other major league sport mixes an amateur athletic element into its fully professional one, just as no one decides to stop watching the playoffs because they don't fight there. In my years of playing street hockey as a young'un, I also never saw guys drop the gloves and go at it, probably because (a) when your feet are on solid ground, you can honestly hurt someone, and (b) for heaven's sake, fighting in the middle of a hockey game is Big Stupid.

Now that there's been a death, Big Stupid has gone to Horrific Stupid.

In baseball, when there is a fatality, change happens. Ray Chapman in 1919 remains the only time that an MLB player has died on the field from a thrown pitch; it led to batting helmets, fresh baseballs in play more often, and 15 years later, lights. On some level, the MLB death produced Babe Ruth and changed the sport forever.

Given that the team that suffered the fatality has already dropped the gloves since, to the same effect from the fans... well, Hockey Fan, I get that you don't really care anymore about mainstream acceptance. That's good.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Blogrolling: My Virgin Eyes!

Dirty Davey, frequent FTT commenter and occasional poster, is related to a real live sportswriter, rather than the fake kind that we are. The relation is cheesed at the AP for the not very close at all quadruple double. And he curses, too!

Good on the Pittsburgh Penguins. Seriously, this brought a tear to the eye.

Awful Announcing has the goods on Coke recreating the Mean Joe Greene ad with Troy Polamalu. Will he throw the kid his hair? Only time will tell.

Busted Coverage with the lowdown on the typical day of a World Wide Lemur vixen. Blogfrica's need to mix poon with sports is disturbing, but it's not like this doesn't happen with every male-centric sub-culture. (Witness the eternal popularity of Slave Girl Carrie Fisher.)

Hat tip to NESW Sports, who tips Extra Mustard, and yes, Blogfrica is one big circle jerk, for this sick little double alley oop dunk. In any event, I'm thinking this high school team has a little too much free time on their hands to be coming up with plays like this. Next time, just throw confetti from a bucket, kids...

Top 10 reasons why the Steelers can't lose the Super Bowl

What some might call tempting the gods of Fate, I call 100% Justified Confidence. Come on, Steeler Fan, show a little faith!

10) The Steelers held top WRs to just 6.5 yards per attempt this year, so Larry Fitzgerald is not even planning on playing

9) Kurt Warner's Born Again Jebus Power is no match for Troy Polamalu's Eastern Orthodox Pray Every Play Jebus Power

8) Anquan Boldin's behavior in their last game was the very worst thing a wide receiver has ever, ever done, and there's no way the Cardinals can overcome that

7) Both Cardinals fans that were thinking of going to the game are now in jail for lawn abuse

6) The Steelers are favored by seven points, and favorites always win in the NFL Playoffs

5) After what he did to Willis McGahee, no Cardinals offensive player will be able to go within 10 yards of Ryan Clark without soiling themselves, which generally leads to more turnovers

4) Seahawks Fan will tell you, and tell you, and tell you, how the refs are totally in the tank for the Steelers in the Super Bowl

3) While the Cardinals are the home team for the game, the Steelers were 6-2 on the road

2) There's no way that the Cardinals can succeed against a team with strong blitz schemes, a good pass defense, and a quarterback that can extend plays with his feet

1) I've picked against the Cardinals for three straight playoff games now, but this time, I *really* mean it

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Blogrolling: Paying the rent with skunky beer

The Hater Nation roasts Tony Dungy. It's crude, rude, and necessary on many levels.

The Moondog weighs in on how Congress shouldn't get involved in a college football playoff in a reasonable, though chalk, assessment of the situation is this... this is the *perfect* situation for Congressional intervention.

It's something with bipartisan support, since no one in their right mind wants to defend this abominable system. Even the statheads hate the BCS, because it promotes bad sportsmanship and takes so much control of the situation away from the individual teams. (Honestly, when you schedule a well-regarded opponent and beat them so badly that they mail in the rest of the year and wind up being seen as much worse than they were supposed to be... how is that your fault?) Colleges, of course, receive some aid, in the form of students getting Pell grants and local institutions getting help and/or clearance for construction and expansion efforts. So there's influence there, too. And since the athletics department is such a cesspool of corruption as it works as a de facto minor league / expansion system for all of the parts of the country that don't get enough major-league action to satisfy the market, it's rife with vulnerability for oversight.

Frankly, I'm a little amazed that the system hasn't been taken down before.

So go, Congress Critters, and afflict these comfortable parasites. Because government oversight is, really, akin to having a labor union show up in your industry. Independent of the merits or vices of the individual union or action... if you have one, you probably did something to deserve it.

So, Cub Fan, the most powerful man in the Free World prefers your rival, to the point where he's grilling the troops. Can you use this to crank up more self-pity?

Pay that rent, John "Joey Knish" Turturro. You're doing the Lord's work.

Cardinal Fan goes down for the McNabb lawn burning. Gents were 28 and 37, and might not have even been drunk. This will do wonders for Arizona Person's PR, especially seeing how the state still doesn't recognize the Martin Luther King holiday. Oh, and the fact that burning a guy's lawn with gas is a *misdemeanor* will, I'm sure, make sure that no one ever does this again.

And finally, one of my favorite songs ever. First time I've seen it as a solo acoustic piece, rather than with the full Golden Palominos production. And here's a fun fact... the French word for orgasm loosely translates to "the little death", or, perhaps, suicide. (Yes, I am goading certain members of the audience. Listen to the song anyway; Carson's fantastic.)

Top 10 Sports Fan Fears

What is January for, really, but the battle of hope against fear? Every day for the majority of the country for the foreseeable future, you will go out into cold and ice and snow and misery, without football, baseball, charity, hope or street-corner visible titty to keep you from your dark, dark thoughts. No wonder old people check out in January, after all of that holiday stuff. Who wants to stick around for this?

Since I'm still sitting shiva (which is hard to do for a non-Jew) over a Tampa Super Bowl trip for my cursed Eagles, let's indulge in the white-knuckle unpleasantness of sports fandom, and delve into our deepest fears. Feel free to add yours in the comments, or argue about the order...

10) Awful new uniforms. Let's say you are a hard-core Eagles fan. Ready to shell out for those "midnight green" (i.e., black) abominations? Sure you are, especially when you look at those Swedish blue and yellow nightmares. They even make the cheerleaders look bad. And someday, some well-meaning person is going to give you one, and you're going to have to pretend to like it. Enjoy!

9) Bandwagonery, leading to celebrity douche bag fans. Trust me, as an Oakland A's fan, it's more fun to be at the place where there's actually a crowd of, say, more than 6,000 people on a weeknight. And a celebrity fan or two, especially if they are still somewhat cool (see Murray, Bill for the Cubs, though Bill's really starting to age badly), is a nice distraction... especially if this gets you more Celebrity Poon in the stands. The Dodgers aren't throwing Alyssa Milano back, and the Warriors miss Jessica Alba.

But do you think that Red Sox Fan really wants Matt Damon hanging around? (Well, he might, but let's give them the benefit of the doubt.) Or that Yankee Fan under the age of 40 is really thrilled by the constant Billy Crystal intrusions? Is Padre Fan all that into Garth Brooks? The worst is when the team embraces said celeb, and you wind up taking heat for it from your non-team friends because, well, you deserve it. And eventually, of course, the celebs wind up taking all of the seats with their superior purchasing power. Let's move on.

8) Hateful stars. Really a 2-for-1 grab here, both when your home-grown guy slowly turns heel as he gets older, wealthier, and less interested in pretending to be nice... or the guy with the checkered past and the big contract that will under-motivate him comes to your town. You'll also get the benefit of the Burnable Gag Gift of his jersey when he finally moves on, and your "friends" find you a gamer in the clearance rack. (Maybe even in those lovely throw up colors, too.) Good times!

7) Cheap and/or stupid management. Ready to lose all hope? Step on up to the team suits that either fail to spend the cash that they've got, or do so on obviously ill-suited talent. Special bonus: when they let Promising Young Guy go, and he winds up leading some other team to a championship. But at least then, you get to be happy for him in that pathetic, "at least she's happy" ex-boyfriend way. This isn't so much a fear as a way of life, really.

6) Creeping inflation. This one's especially good when you combine it with #7 and are local to the team. Each year becomes a downward spiral of more money for less happiness, and it's even, um, sweeter, when you are making the commitment for season tickets. And people wonder why sports fans boo and get drunk.

5) Drug / steroid scandal. No, not the momentary recreational drug use that will get you grief from your friends, but be more or less forgotten in six months to a year... but the full-blown, your star is a tragic figure writ large, and your beloved era makes people snort with derision. For clarity on this, find someone who used to feel real good about those Bash Brother Oakland A's teams. (Sigh.)

4) Sex scandal. Not just your garden variety case of someone getting a little something-something on the road, but a full-blown kinkfest of startling originality and/or venality. It's even better when the guy is still on your roster, or succumbs to his baser urges before a big game. Falcons Fan is still feeling this one, kids. (Probably, on some level, even more than Mr. Vick going all Entry Eight on them.)

3) The Horror GM. Knicks Fan, this one is for you. When your general manager isn't just stupid, and isn't just cheap, and isn't just venal... but is some magical combination of all of these elements, to the point that when you tell people you are a fan, they just express pity... even if they are a division rival? That's low, folks. That's smell the dog crap every morning low. That's worth a Get Out Of Fandom Free card, assuming you still have enough energy to take one.

2) Not in your lifetime. Cub Fan, step on down! I feel your pain on some level, since as an Eagle Fan, I've also never experienced a championship in my lifetime. When your own odometer starts creeping up, your own impending mortality is reflected in the Years Since They Won graphics that those sado-masochists scumbags at the major networks show whenever your guys are in the playoffs. Someone needs to sue and/or firebomb some production team for those, by the way. And yes, it will probably be a guy having his mid-life crisis. At least he'll be easy to catch.

1) Relocation. This one doesn't rank this high if you are no longer local to your team -- honestly, if you move first, you're just more predisposed to be OK if they go as well -- but if you are, and they move away... well, all of your options suck. You can either continue to be the abused spouse and root for the scumbags that left you high and dry, give up the sport entirely, pick some other, more or less arbitrary team... or just wait for however long it takes until some new team moves in.

In a just and better world, none of these would ever happen; pro sports franchises are community assets, and the leagues are, for the most part, flush with cash and owned by wildly rich plutocrats who don't really need them to make a profit. But it will happen... especially as the economy continues to sputter.

So, um, sleep tight, folks...

No One Believes In Us

Well, folks, I didn't want to have to go here, in the worst week of the year for sports blogging. (And dear Lord in heaven, yes, this is the worst -- it's cold and bitter January, no one ever enjoys the Super Bowl bye week, I can't convince you of the merits of the Association, baseball is months and months away, and there's literally nothing going on outside of the Big 3 Sports to save us from the Tee Dee Umm. Seriously, all of the other unpopular bloggers are going to Inauguration coverage. But I digress.)

The simple fact is that despite multiple high traffic links in January (we're having our second best traffic month in a year, thanks to Actually Popular Sites), the goodwill of other bloggers who have emailed me, and the explosion of advertising site revenue -- from none to, well, some! -- I have to tell the truth.

No One Believes In Us.

Now, don't tell me I'm performing a completely transparent and obvious motivational ploy that started as Tired and has now gone all the way to Exhausted. I'm serious. I see the way you people use the site, and how no one thinks we can keep delivering the goods without an Eagles playoff run to inspire us. I've heard the haters talk about how the only thing that drive site traffic numbers is hacky lists. I've noticed how few of you wear the Garment of Greatness in your daily lives, how catch-phrase worthy moments like calling ESPN "The World Wide Lemur" and fans of a specific team as if they were all the same guy (Eagle Fan, Cowboy Fan, etc.) hasn't been attributed with full royalties to this here site.

Frankly, it makes me sick. But that's OK, because we're just going to use that as the Fire to Get Better.

So our plan is to use that blatant disrespect in the near future to:

> Jump on the Steelers Bandwagon in a way that will make even their most regrettable fans wince, and not just because I'm 4-6 in my playoff picks, carry 30+ years of Bad Eagles Karma, and am specifically doubting the power of Kurt Warner's God

> Use a ridiculous amount of fantasy baseball prep work to ruin my own draft and improve yours

> Provide at least one, and maybe even two, NHL pieces for the both of you that like that sort of thing

> Cover the Brett Favre Deathwatch as we move into its final, most thrilling decade

> Blogroll and beg for links like a motivated independent contractor working with the ODB

So come one, come all, come often, send links, and watch us prove all of the doubters wrong. We relish the opportunity to become the biggest and bestus site in all of Blogfrica, and when that happens... well, some of you will probably still refuse to give us the props we feel we deserve. You're just like that, you unnamed and mostly nonexistent people. (Yes, you are. Might as well just admit it.)

All I know is that when I look into the eyes of everyone in this clubhouse, these are the people I choose to go to blog with. Now, if you all will excuse us, we're going to scream in each other's faces, pound our fists on each other's equipment (no, it's *so not* what you are thinking), smash our skulls into the lockers and, Dammit, come out writing.

Or, um, well, not.

Top 12 reasons why the NFL needs to create a spring league

Every year, the lack of spring football -- by which I mean real, honest to goodness football, rather than some nonsense in a closet, wrestling-esque silliness or foreign force-feeding -- pisses me off. In a country where the NFL just utterly dominates the sporting consciousness, then goes away for the majority of the year, it's Just Stupid. And it will stop any year now, because markets are like that, and even the first year XFL drew reasonable ratings. So why not start it up now, now, now and get the following benefits?

12. For the sheer hilarity of fantasy drafts with tons of unknown players, followed up by weeks of Toss Darts point spread picks

11. No matter how bad the play is, it will get higher ratings than the NHL

10. Would allow the NFL an easy and wonderfully backhanded way to cover the LA market

9. Makes my rocking of the retro-cool Philadelphia Stars hoodie earn your worship and respect, rather than your respect and worship

8. Stops cold the weeks at a time when the mainstream American sports public has to actually think, however briefly, about basketball

7. Prevents tens of millions of football fans from having to interact with their families, which, really, is all to the best

6. Takes the gambling industry off the list of businesses begging for a government bailout

5. Shuts up megalopolises that say they really want/deserve/will cry or sue for a second NFL franchise

4. Fun's fun, but seriously, Ohio really deserves a professional football team

3. It would make many criminally underused new NFL stadiums be of use for 20 dates a year, rather than 10

2. Gets some of the most violent offenders in the country off the streets for weeks at a time in the spring

1. As soon as it gets popular, the NFL Network would get more games to black out

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Blogrolling: Four Parts Hate, One Part Joy

I'm shocked, shocked, to discover that Terrell Owens and Tony Romo had practice issues. Chicken soup for this Eagle Fan's soul.

Lions' coach Rod Marinelli exits classy, according to Pro Football Talk. I admire the bitterness. But why couldn't he have gone out with Naked Drive Thru, as it traditional in the Motor City?

Jon Pyle, a fine purveyor of lists and hate, sacks up with the athletes most likely to get the media mouth job. Fine work. Firm tongue. I give it an 85, and I can dance to it.

Tirico Suave shows the evidence of Donovan McNabb's malfeasance.

And finally, just in case y'all are feeling patriotic, the best version of the song that used a singer. Besides, it's got those old-school Nuggets threads, and the entire crowd clapping along on the 1. America, what's going on?

Not Like You

Eh, I can't take this much optimism at the top of the blog, either. Get your rocks off.

Begin Again

Hope is, of course, the triumph of optimism over experience, and spare me a moment from the usual business of the blog to hope that things will get better from the transition of executive power in Washington today.

There will be time, years of it I suspect, for everyone to go back to rooting for their political team as if what's going on there has no real impact on our lives, or the lives of our present and future kids. Just as we will have far too much time to express our disappointment in what happens there. I was on the winning side last time, and even I'm not naive enough to think that will change.

But for this brief time ahead of us, when over two-thirds of the country has come together to offer our best wishes to the new suits, let's just pretend that things are actually different now. Is that really so hard, to take a holiday from our usual, fairly crappy way of being?

Because, kids... once you get to A Certain Age and start to realize that you (a) aren't going to be able to do what you are currently doing forever, and (b) aren't terribly likely to achieve everything in life that you might have dreamed of from doing it, a honeymoon from being right about how awful it all is... really doesn't sound all that bad.

We now return you to your usual programming, and await your condescending comments and/or passive-aggressive apathy. Damn, there goes the mood already.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Wow, Cardinals Fan Is Stepping It Up

According to Michael Silver at Yahoo Sports, Cardinal Fan decided to decorate Donovan McNabb's place in Chandler, AZ over the weekend by soaking his lawn in gasoline to burn out "Go Cards" and other similar bright concepts. Inside the house, of course, is the man's wife, four-year-old daughter, and six-week-old twins.

Just on the off chance that you were thinking of rooting for the Redbirds under some idea that one championship for them would be better than the umpteenth for the Steelers. Even Kurt Warner's Jebus and puppies routine can't wash that away.

Blogrolling: Hello, Larry

Nick Underhill goes in-depth on the AL West. I'll steal mercilessly from this later when I convince you all that I know something about the division.

The World of Isaac looks over the Lions Town Hall Meeting. Yes, this is for real. I recommend that you come naked with drive-through food, or perhaps as a drowned tranny hooker. Lions Town will accommodate.

Look, we're going to have several weeks to work out our Steeler Fan Hate, because, well, the Steelers have fans. But the Cardinals also have unspeakable tools in their "fanbase" as well. As my old polysci teacher once said, Hear The Other Side. Or, in this case, Hate. More to hate here, with lyrics.

Oh, and on the off chance that you are jonesin' for some action after all of those sure-fire NFL game picks that I gave you... the good folks at Doc Sports are offering up
Sports Betting Rules, College Basketball Handicapping and the NBA spread. NBA games can be surprisingly useful, especially if you watch those 4-games-in-5-nights opportunities. Go with a smile.

Top 10 ways to pick at the festering scab that is the Eagles loss

No, kids, I'm still not over it 24 hours later, and probably won't be for another week or so. Won't you wallow with me?

10) Local sports radio. I don't have enough courage to wade into the dregs of humanity working through their stages of grief by listening live, but you might. Don't say I didn't warn you.

9) Play by play recreations. My favorite is when Tim Hightower runs 15 yards behind his line of scrimmage on a fourth and one, before turning it upfield for the conversion. Had someone stopped him -- and yes, there were possibilities -- a red-hot offense has the ball at midfield with a chance to put it on ice. Yes, it was something of a Turning Point.

8) Listening to the Bad Tooth's podcast. Shockingly, Little William doesn't want to go to the SB, because he's having too good of a time driving around SoCal, isn't ready to subject himself to the indignities of Tampa, and, let's face it, he's just not that into it unless the Patriots are there. He's also still crying over his second-round playoff losses in a way that can only be described as Hellmuthian. Someone, please, go take out Matt Cassel's knee on a borderline late hit. It's necessary.

A moment of honesty about his overwhelming obnoxiousness is all that I ask. That, and smashing his own head in with a hammer. DO IT, BILLY. DO IT...

7) Game by game breakdowns of the Eagles season to show how easily it would have been to get home-field for the championship game, because I'm really not feeling the Cardinals winning that game on the road, in cold weather.

Here, let me do it for you: beat the Bengals, get past the Redskins and/or edge those ferocious Kyle Orton Bears. Voila, you've knocked the Giants out of the top spot in the East, and you host the game. It's fun!

6) Obsess over how bad the offensive line will be in 2009
without Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas and (shh!) Shawn Andrews. Donovan McNabb might not want to be back.

5) Become convinced that the 2009 schedule will be deadly
, since the AFC West has to come back big next year, right?

4) Read all of the various game accounts in the local papers. You think Philly Fan is bitter? Think about the plight of Philly Sportswriter, who gets another year of No Quote Andy and the I Have To Coach Better Players. They might be the only people in Philadelphia who long for more of That Cowboy Feel.

3) Listening to Andy Reid's defenders. Since this 9-win team made it to the Final Four, everything has to be the same as this year... despite the fact that he traded for the worthless Lorenzo Booker, continues to employ Greg Lewis for no good reason, can't run the ball even when it's working, made LJ Smith a franchise player, should not be given a challenge flag along the same lines as taking away an Alzheimer sufferer's car keys, and... well, I'd continue here, but lists should not be novels. Moving on.

2) Listening to Donovan McNabb's detractors. 375 yards and 3 touchdowns on the road. A 19-point comeback with no running plays of note. OK, he's not perfect, but for heaven's sake... he's not the guy who didn't cover Larry Fitzgerald. That's Asante Samuel. He's not the guy that didn't make the running play stop on Hightower that could have sealed it. That's Quentin Mikell and Brian Dawkins. He's not the numbnuts who late hits Warner to give the Cardinals a gift field goal before the half. That's Quentin Demps. He's not the guy that missed a field goal and a PAT. That's David Akers. He's not the guy who slips on the fourth down throw and can't catch a perfect ball. That's Kevin Curtis.

Seriously, people, get a grip. Number Five isn't perfect, but he's the best player on the team. And when he leaves -- not Reid, McNabb -- this team is below .500.

1) Comparing the pain of this loss
to the NFC Championship losses to the Rams, Panthers or Buccaneers, or the SB loss to the Patriots. What agony is your favorite? For sheer bloodcurdling madness, I think I'd go with the Buccaneers, but each, really, has its charms.

And with that, I'm going back to the liquor cabinet. Play me out, Bob...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Top 11 Consolations for Eagles Fan

Yes, I'm feeling the pain, folks. But if you don't take it, you can never dish it out.

11) The Super Bowl is in Florida, and you know how Donovan McNabb goes all Chunky Soup in Sunshine State Super Bowls (unfortunately, 2010 is in Miami)

10) After this game, David Akers has only three or four last straws

9) If they had won it all, Brian Dawkins might have retired, rather than in some other game where he's not a factor

8) More Brenda Warner on screen time means that the entire world will share our pain

7) By making it to the Final 4, you get one more year, at least, of the Don n' Andy Show. That's a consolation, right?

6) If today didn't settle the Brent Celek / LJ Smith tight end position battle, nothing ever will

5) Buffalo Bills Fan still had it worse

4) It was a pretty close game for a team that only played for a half

3) Giants, Cowboys and Redskins Fan are happier today, but by no means happy

2) You didn't really want your championship to come from a 9-6-1 team that got in by the skin of its teeth, did you?

1) The Steelers would have taken them apart anyway

Top 10 Super Bowl Stories I'd Like To See

Let the hype begin! Media members, consider this a public service of stories for you to pitch to your corporate overlords in the next few days. I'm a giver.

10) A deity-by-deity breakdown showing which teams the major world gods are supporting

9) What's involved in Matt Leinart's game preparation

8) How the Cowboys will get press coverage this time

7) Heart-wrenching profiles of prop bet only problem gamblers

6) How a company that didn't advertise in the Super Bowl telecast did better, since they were able to spend millions of dollars in a more useful way than 30 seconds of trying to amuse people

5) That some musician that's playing the event isn't actually any kind of a football fan

4) How a region doesn't really improve when their town wins, since I'm pretty sure that Pittsburgh's turnaround had more to do with Carnegie-Mellon than Bill Cowher

3) A telling piece on how many of our Armed Forces overseas don't care that much, because they (a) aren't Steeler or Cardinals Fans, and (b) just want to go the hell home

2) That Troy Polamalu and Adrian Wilson have a side bet on how many concussions they can deal out

1) How the Steelers don't even remember that Ken Whisenhunt was on their staff, since his contribution was so marginal

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