Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Brief And Obvious Point About Teenagers Being The Best In The World At Something

Grow Some Hair Already
If there is an activity where people who are not at their physical peak are the best...

Their sport, um, sucks.

And if you really, really love to watch and root for these borderline pre-pubescents...

You, well, might have other problems.

Problems that I, for one, am very glad not to have...

The Castillo Conundrum

I Must Think Harder, Harder, Harder
Nothing quite brins the pain that is being an Eagles fan right now than the fact that... we're going to spend the next 4 to 6 weeks hearing about how much better it is for defensive coordinator Juan Castillo this year, since he's got time to Teach.

You see, it's that old demon lockout that caused Juan to force-feed rookie Casey Matthews into a starting position that he was in no way prepared for. It was the lockout that caused a team with severe linebacker issues to devise a dare to run at us middle run scheme that gave up five yards a pop on QB sneaks. It was the lockout that worked out a defensive coverage scheme that kept three Pro Bowl-level corners off Larry Fitzgerald in the frantic Cardinals' comeback that gift-wrapped a terrible home loss. Lockout, lockout, lockout.

The Eagles' defense should be a lot better in 2012. DeMeco Ryns, Mychal Kendricks and Fletcher Cox should all provide a boost up front, the loss of Asante Samuel isn't that big of a deal given where he is in his career, and they can't have worse safety play. If Nnamdi Asomugha can avoid injuries and thrive in a top CB roll again, rather than as some hybrid TE blanket, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie can have a bit of a bounce back and/or make some big plays the other way, they could be all the way up to a top-third outfit. (To become truly elite, Brandon Graham's got to become great out of nowhere, Trent Cole can't get old, and Jason Babin has to maintain his push. Oh, and it would also help loads if the offense stops putting them in bad places with turnovers and fast possessions. So, um, no.)

So Castillo could, somehow, be a much *worse* coach in 2012, and still get better results. This isn't a laboratory where we get to run the test twice while isolating the single variable that is Castillo, and we also don't get to know how much of this mess should be put on Andy Reid or Jim Washburn. Todd Bowles is new to the secondary here, and he did reasonable work in Miami; that's also a potentially huge benefit. The only thing that we really know is that the situation is better now, and if the defense also isn't...

Well, um, we can't even say more than that now, can we?

The Eagles under Reid have become a consequence-free zone from the head coach on down. The only way to lose your job here is to be young and cheap and scapegoatable; stars don't lose their jobs, and neither do coaches. It's just the way things are, and why the last few years have been so little fun.

So, beat writers of the world? Spare us the stories of the Juan Castillo Redemption. We'll pass on the Won't Get Fooled Again push of the last four games of credible defense against terrible teams. This defense could be dominant, and real Eagle Fans won't give Castillo a shred of credit. And they'd be right.

Because in 2011, he ran out defenses that gave up 5 yards a pop on QB sneaks, let Fitzy beat them in the clutch with scrubs covering him, and tried to convince us all that Matthews was a starter. And there's really no recovering from the lost year that resulted from all of that, or just what, exactly, that all represented...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Top 10 takeaways from the worst July in Royals history

10) When the highlight of your month as a team is breaking even in Toronto, that's not a good month

9) Perhaps Robinson Cano was right after all

8) Somehow, releasing Jonathan Sanchez didn't make everything all better

7) Now might be the time to make an offer to the Jonathan Broxton owner in your fantasy league

6) Just in case you were wondering, Bruce Chen is still in the league, which pretty much explains three of the losses

5) The really remarkable thing about this month is that they didn't even play any particularly hot, or good, teams

4) This is proof that well-regarded young talent does not have to translate into winning baseball teams

3) In case you were wondering just how they've managed this, the 5.69 ERA in a pitcher's era kind of explains things

2) Royal Fan, assuming he can still be said to exist, might not want to be Trusting The Plan much longer

1) Seeing how they've won six whole games, it is something of a shock that this is their worst July

FTT Off-Topic: When Exceptional Is Simply Not Racing To The Bottom

Mister Twister
This last weekend, I took my wife and kids to Knoebels Amusement Park, a secret jewel in north-central PA that has been around for the better part of a century. Knoebels offers the following utterly unbeatable features for your amusement park consideration.

1) It's free to park. No, seriously.

2) It's free to get in. Again, I'm serious about this.

3) You can bring your own food if you like. And your dog. You also won't get patted down by security. Because, well, why should you? It's an amusement park.

4) The food at the park, provided you haven't brought your own, is good. All you can eat specials exist, there's even some quasi-healthy options, and you can feed a family of four a meal -- a real meal, with drinks and sides -- for something like $20 to $25.

5) They have great rides -- two of the best wooden roller coasters around, two good log flumes, a massive swimming pool with slides, great old-school bumper cars, century-old carousel with brass ring grabs, Italian trapeze, kid rides galore, a reasonable good haunted house and more. You ride them with tickets (the most expensive ride is $2.50, kid rides for a lot less, and you can get the ticket books at  a 20% discount at the local Weis supermarket on the way to the park), and you can frequently get on rides with walk right on minimal waits.

How minimal? Well, I got to the park around 2:30, and left a little after 10. We ate lunch and dinner, and also spent more than a little amount of time shopping at the gift shop, taking kids to bathrooms, ducking raindrops and meeting up with friends. I wound up riding the two wooden coasters a combined ten times (!), along with the bumper cars, kid whipper, log flume, Ferris wheel, new mine cart ride (the lone disappointment of the day), carousel, airplane/kite flyer... in other words, enough to make me wonder if I did some not very small amount of brain injury, really.

I also can't tell you how much the free to park / free to enter makes the place better. People at Knoebels are not, by and large, rude or mean or melting down; instead, there's a mellow vibe and serious joy that just kind of permeates the place. I let my kids more or less do their own thing here, because they've been there so many times, and it just seems as safe as houses. We meet up frequently and carry cell phones, of course, but it's the kind of place where if they want to ride something and I don't, I can hand them tickets and arrange to meet somewhere in half an hour, secure in the knowledge that we'll both be enjoying ourselves in the interim.

I've taken the kids to Disney on both coasts. I've been to Six Flags and some other places. I've seen the best that the modern world has to offer when it comes to park theatrics... and Knoebels, who steadfastly has not changed seemingly anything core to their identity for the past 20+ years? Crushes them all. And not just because those other places are so large and so expensive that you don't dare let your kids out of your sight.

Take the bumper cars. Everyone else has slowed their cars down, buckled the guests in, added all kinds of lighting and foofaraw to the point where, well, the simple joy of slamming friends, family and strangers has been softened to pointlessness. Not Knoebels. You ride this, it's a workout, and some violence will be done. And you'll know that something great has been lost.

Or the signature roller coasters. The best-reviewed is the Phoenix, a there and back again speed machine that doesn't look like much of anything. The first drop also doesn't seem that intense... but the peculiar magic of this beast is the "air time," or amount of time you spend riding the ride without actually being in the seat. Lap bars allow several feet of distance to float along, and the g-forces and drift at the end of the ride is more powerful than the lead up. Every other coaster in the world loses drama about halfway through; the Phoenix builds on it. Just a blast. And the Twister has all kinds of runaway beer truck pull to it as well, and even smaller lines because it's, well, not the Phoenix. I almost prefer it, especially since it's a significantly longer ride.

You see, Knoebels doesn't play the game of line wait entertainment, costumed performers, maximizing the take from every guest or massive marketing tie-ins. Instead, they expect to get your money one trip at a time, from locals going like habit, from campers who make it their yearly ritual, and from those who know about it... telling others. Like, well, this.

Go, go, go. Then tell others. I want to make damn sure this place is around for the next hundred years, too.

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The Seahawks Have Three, Which Means They Probably Don't Have One

Hey, Seahawk Fan.

You do realize that your coach, Pete Carroll, has no clue, right?

Leaving behind the fact that he hasn't declared Vai Taua the starter at RB yet (seriously, Pete, get on the ball, the man's an Internet sensation), we come to the matter of the QB situation. Seattle has got three options in 2012, and I guarantee you one thing... you're going to see all of them, and it's not going to end well for you.

Door Number One is the unpalatable holdover, the always entertaining Tarvaris Jacskon. Fresh off his best season as a pro, in that he actually looked like a QB for small chunks of it, TJax is what he always has been -- an athletic mess with questionable footwork, bad ball security, injury issues and enough moves and arm strength to make people think they can make more out of him than, well, what he is. In an ideal world. Jax plays a lot of low contact football (did you ever think you were going to miss the Euro NFL league? Jax does), stays in a stable organization for five years, then suddenly emerges to have a Tony Romo-style impact on some organization that gives him a shot as a relatively untested 28-year-old. Instead, he was force-fed snaps by the suicidal Brad Childress in Minny, then moved on with the power of regime change. The problem is that 60% completion percentage and a 14/13 TD to INT ratio on 6.9 yards per attempt isn't really that much to hang your head on... and remember. that's probably his best year, last year in Seattle, where the QB rating was 79.2. For his career, it's 77.7 38-35, with a side order of 23 (!) fumbles and not nearly enough rushing yards to make things palatable.

Jax is now 29, probably not getting any better, and inspires no one. If you want him on your bench as a sparkplug / change of pace / emergency mover, so be it; heaven knows that Backup QB in the NFL is not exactly teeming with riches as a group. But if this guy is your starter, you have one of the worst six QBs in the game, and you don't win with that. Not even in the NFC West.

Door Number Two is prized free agent pickup Matt Flynn, 27 years old and with about four full games of PT on his record since getting taken in 2008 by the Packers, in the second round from LSU. He made his money on a handful of monster games over the years, when the Packers didn't look like they were losing that much from stepping down from Aaron Rodgers, at least not in the yards passed category. The career line of 92.8 9/5 is certainly appealing, even if he doesn't seem to have much in the way of wheels. He's also going to miss the Packers' OL and WR/TE targets like crazy; it's a long, long way down from Greg Jennings to Sidney Rice, and that doesn' t even begin to get into the chasm between Jordy Nelson and um, Doug Baldwin, I guess. There's every possibility that Flynn is this year's Matt Cassel / Kevin Kolb style pinata of system-inflated QB, but at least if he's your starter, you could delude yourself into thinking he's your guy.

Third and final is Russell Wilson, the third rounder from NC State and Wisconsin who the coaches can't stop praising, and all I've got to say there is... please. Rookie QBs struggle as a rule, and those who everyone passed on a couple of times really struggle. I get that Wilson has big numbers from his four years (and that also might be a red flag), but in that final year, he had the ridiculous running numbers of Montee Ball to keep everything as comfy as possible, and he still couldn't get it done in multiple conference road games. I suppose there's a case to be made for him, but in general, NFL teams do not let the next great QB slip this far, and when they do, it's certainly not a plug and play situation from a major Division 1 school. In a good organization, Wilson is your developmental guy, #3 only, and maybe even on the practice squad.

In Seattle, they are hyping him as if he's a possible starter. No, seriously.

Let's spell this out: if you have a QB fight in training camp, it's rarely going to resolve in a way that doesn't come back later. That's why it doesn't really matter who "wins" the job in JetLand, because we all know that Tebowmania will come around the mid-point of the year, when the team is desperate and needs a spark. What's going to happen here is Flynn will earn the job, struggle and/or get hurt, and then it will be TJ's for a month or two... at which point they will be long gone from playoff contention in the sneakily good West, and it will be about selling tickets more than winning games.

If it were my team, I'd have given Flynn the job the second they signed him. I'd keep my mouth shut about Wilson, and I'd talk up Jackson's development in the hope that I find another GM dumb enough to take him on. That's certainly what Seahawks Fan wants to have happen, along with a division crown and playoff drive.

Instead, they are going to make lifelong backups deal with who has the better numbers against disinterested vanilla defenses. 5-11 awaits...

Top 10 reasons why the Packers' D.J. Williams wrestles cows during the offseason

No, seriously: dude said that he does this. And here's... the rest of the story.

10) He's from Arkansas, where this is considered foreplay

9) Most cows do not have lawyers

8) Takes this whole notion of having a posse literally

7) It's surprisingly good practice for handling the media

6) Wants to become Packer Fan's favorite player ever

5) It sounds a lot more sober than it's other name, cow tipping

4) Really wants some misguided PETA attention

3) Thinks this is the best way to get in Jermichael Finley's concussive head to take away snaps

2) Feels that the cows' relative intellect and spontaneity makes them suitable substitutes for Detroit's collection of repeat offenders

1) The cows seem to like it when he dresses them in spandex, oils them up, and gives them fairly unrealistic back stories

Friday, July 27, 2012

Four Brief And Obvious Points About Whether The Current US Olympic Team Would Beat The 1992 Version

First... what do you expect the current athletes to say? "No, sorry, we suck. We'll be just thrilled if we get a medal in this thing. I mean, have you seen Spain? They have Gasols. PLURAL. Not just one, two! No way we can overcome that. And even if we do, Argentina is just laying in wait, with Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola and a bench full of crazy Spanish-German hybrids from the escaped Nazi scientists eugenics dreams. I don't like our chances. Plus, we all hate each other so, so much, and have such me-first egos, we'd be lucky to beat a gritty high school team. And by gritty, I mean white."

Secondly... if the current team can't beat the 1992 version, that means the sport is in decline, and we should all stop watching it. Right, OG Team? We should just tune in to your rerun games and stay loyal to guys who no longer play. Since the epoch, the zenith, the absolute pinnacle of hoop was achieved when Charles Barkley shoved some scrawny scrub from the sub-Sahara. (Oh, and by the way? Mythologizing a team that rolled like tanks over cavalry is the surest sign yet that history is written by the victors' geishas. At the time, I remember being bored to tears by their games, and a little embarrassed for the opponents. And not being alone in that assessment.)

Third... the current players have better equipment. Better shoes. Better diets, more money, more court time, with 24/7/365 hoop since about the time that they could walk. They also draw in players from six continents, and they are good enough to play in the NBA, rather than just in their own countries.

Other than a greater tendency to thug it up, hit mid-range jumpers, why, beyond the irresistible tendency to lionize guys who can't miss any more shots since they don't play anymore, should the 1992 team be better? (Um, because they had better bigs. But the simple fact is that the '12 team will play James at power, and he'd be fine there in any era.)

Fourth and final, can't we all agree that a greater percentage of Americans today are rooting for the US team to lose? Half of the country or more still hates LeBron James; nearly everyone hates Carmelo Anthony. (No one remembers that John Stockton was a dirtbag, Karl Malone a redneck, Charles Barkley was vilified at the time, and Larry Bird hated everywhere but Boston; once they put on the flag, that all washed away.)

Older people want Pride to Goeth Before A Fall. If they lose, it's the only way to get a game with actual drama; plus, you get to see angry millionaires pointing fingers at each other, which is always good fun. Oh, and isn't Coach K at the helm of this ship? If it weren't for the presence of Andre Iguodala on this ship, I'd be totally down with the US going down, really. Anyway with me on this?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lima Time

So if you are like me -- and once again, apologies for the age and the shortness and the various forms of irritability -- it's time to start thinking about your fantasy football draft.

Which means it's time to start mulling over which guys might be under and overvalued, how this all used to be a lot easier when the world regarded guys who were OK with numbers as inhuman monsters who were best left shunned (they still do, but the geeks have inherited the world, so there's no getting around them), and how all of this seems to start earlier every year, and not be as much fun.

So I want to make some fun.

Vai Taua is a training camp body, deep on the depth chart for the Seattle Seahawks. I've never heard of him before five minutes ago. It turns out that he went to Nevada, playing with Colin Kaepernick, and posted some good numbers in the WAC. He's 5-10, 225, and absolutely perfect for what I'm looking to do.

I want to fake meme him. Just to see if Blogfrica can.

Seattle is going to lose Marshawn Lynch to some kind of suspension for his latest DUI experience. We all know who Gregg "Fuzzy" Lumpkin is; the back-up plodder on his third team in the last two years. Leon Washington has utility in special teams, but can't stay healthy and is on the downside of his career. Tyrell Sutton is on the roster, and he's a third year guy from that noted powerhouse, Northwestern. Whoopie. Robert Turbin, the rookie from Utah State, doesn't need to be any better than Taua; he's got the "buzz", if such a thing can be said to be had here, just because he's a rook. Clearly, Seattle wasn't anticipating turbulence from Lynch, and didn't see the need to prep a clear replacement / committee member to go with him.

Within a couple of weeks, we're going to know what Seattle actually thinks about the situation. A player will emerge, someone will get some juice from a long run or preseason touchdown. Maybe they sign some third-rate name like Ryan Grant, Cedric Benson, Jerome Harrison or Joseph Addai -- aka, a name we can all pretend to get excited by, since the job is almost as important as the skills, especially at the goal line.

But until then, it's time for the Vai Lima Taua Revolution.

So, here's what we do. Fire off a few Tweets about him. Post non-ironic comments on his abilities, how he's really impressing in the screen game, and what a nice job he's doing in blitz pick-up. Seattle's taking him off special teams! He gets along with all of their QBs! Coaches can't stop gushing about him, and LIMA TIME jerseys are showing up in camp.

All I want is to get this guy owned in a few leagues. For no good reason at all. Just to show how absurd it is to draft now, or how over the top the need to find a sleeper is.

Oh, and if the guy winds up winning a roster spot, or maybe even becoming fantasy relevant?

You owe me. Big. Lima. Time...

Top 10 reasons why Martellus Bennett hates the Cowboys

The new Giants' tight end expressed his hate for his old team in a recent interview with the New York media. What has led to such ill will?

10) Threw sand in his face the last time he saw them, just when he was totally going to get the pinfall

9) Jason Witten kept being better than him despite the overwhelming drawback of being older and whiter

8) Someone told him that the reason the last three Giants TEs are gone is because they didn't hate the Cowboys enough

7) Hasn't gotten the memo that, with one playoff win in this century, the Cowboys are more worthy of pity than hate

6) Constant late season collapses made him take comfort in food, glorious food, so Dallas was totally responsible for him becoming such a lard ass over the years

5) Eli Manning mentioned that he prioritizes targets based on the level of Cowboy Hatred, because after taking the Manning family lead in Super Bowl rings, he's just full of good humor

4) Cowboys kept playing him, game after game, just to make his time between touchdowns longer

3) Dallas only let him go to New York if the Giants absolutely promised to ride him hard in training camp

2) Had to come up with something for the media, or they'd right about his Terrible, Terrible Secret

1) Jerruh Jones kept calling Marcellus and daring him to say "What" again

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dog Gone

Nearly Free To A Better Home
Today, the Miami Marlins traded their one-time franchise player, the man who had more Hall of Fame buzz around him than anything that has ever done more than look out of place while wearing their colors... to Los Angeles for a buncha low-rate crud. And they were probably right to do it, considering how much contract relief it's going to give them.

I am speaking, of course, about Hanley Ramirez, the man who has done more to destroy the fantasy seasons of baseball honks than anyone this side of Francisco Liriano. Ramirez used to be the smart man's choice as the #1 overall pick, seeing how you were getting 25 HRs, 40 steals and oodles of counting goodness every year at shortstop. Now, he's a bad third baseman who hits in the .240s, with a suspect reputation for not always giving real effort, and someone else's problem. And, of course, opportunity.

Whether he bounces back to something approaching toleration or his true (?) talent level is, of course, the ultimate question. In Dodgerland, he can probably go back to playing shortstop if he wants, since Dee Gordon has been such a washout, or third base if he'd rather stay there, since the current player is the immortal Juan Uribe. (Seriously, the Dodgers are contenders with that as the left side of the infield? Hard to believe, Harry.) He'll have actual media attention and crowds and games that matter, and while the NL West does have some great arms and games in the Petco No Funhouse, it also has Colordao and Arizona -- i.e., two parks that can more than make up those numbers. If you own this twerp, you have to feel better about your chances of getting back value. Assuming, of course, that you are still paying any attention to baseball in the first place.

As for what a baseball reawakening might say about Ramirez's ability to thieve with a straight face... well, I'm sure that if I ever pulled the trigger on him in my own nerd league, I'd be less sanguine. But since I think of the Marlins only when scandal arises (which is to  say, often), I'm seeing a different story for HanRam.


Like Manny Ramirez before him, Hanley is getting out of a mutually poisoned well and into fresh water. For at least a year or two, especially in a lineup where Matt Kemp is still going to get the lion's share of attention, he should thrive -- hitting for the same power that he hit in the muggy air of South Florida, stealing more bases if his wheels up, actually trying hard and focusing on fielding because the games will actually matter. The parts that the Fish got back for him will never pan out, and Boston Fan can go back to thinking that if they had just kept him, he'd be the best player in baseball for them.

Oh, and if you think Marlins Fan is going to get bent out of shape after this... imagine how they'll feel after they move Josh Johnson before next week's deadline, and they get to enjoy the fresh stink of a salary dump in their plush new digs.

Because that's what the Dodgers are banking on, and why they are OK with paying the freight on a guy who has been one of the most overpaid players in baseball for the past two years... because there's a very real chance that just by getting the hell away from Jeff Loria, Hanley Ramirez is going to go back to giving a damn about, and enjoying the game of, baseball.

For a little while, at least.

Top 12 reasons why Cole Hamels signed with the Phillies

12) Elaborate payback for hitting Bryce Harper

11) As much as he might like going home to pitch, unfortunately that can only happen while playing for the Padres

10) When you have an aging club with few solid players under 30, are buried in the division and wildcard race in late July, and have a farm system that hasn't done much in five years, locking into another $144 million in salary just comes naturally

9) Cole really thinks he can break the club's all-time pitching records, since he's never actually looked those up

8) So long as Mike Vick is in town, his wife is making sure they aren't leaving, so as to prevent any relapse

7) Ruben Amaro Jr.'s willingness to overpay is just too much fun to live without

6) Cole's convinced that the last four games are going to change everything for 2012, that the team is going to make a run for the ages, and that Charlie Manuel's accent is just for show

5) Whenever you can lock down a guy with an injury history, only one 15-win year, and only one year with a sub 3-ERA to the second-biggest contract in baseball, you have to do it

4) It's not as if the fans haven't paid (and paid, and paid) for top-shelf talent, seeing how the yard has been sold out for, like, freaking ever

3) Amaro thinks that now that Hamels makes more than Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, maybe that will light a fire under both of their asses

2) Team needed one guy that the fans could feel good about making a jersey purchase about

1) Hamels knew that if he just signed this deal, the team's fans would finally, once and for all, have his back and support him in good times and in bad

Top 10 takeaways from the Summer of Tebow

Pick Your Hand Of Inaccurate QB
10) The club is thinking about using him on kickoffs, because that's the only way to make sure that the special teams are inspired

9) In the time it took me to write this takeaway, ESPN mentioned him 14 times, despite there being no change to his situation

8) Most NFL teams wouldn't use the backup QB on kickoffs, but most NFL teams actually have a backup QB tht they want to keep healthy

7) There's no truth to the rumor that the Jets are selling Mark Sanchez jerseys with tear off names and numbers for the inevitable switch to Tebow

6) The only good thing the Jets did last year was red zone scoring, which is, of course, the thing they want Tebow to do

5) That wounded duck throw in a rainy practice is the only footage that we are allowed to see of him this off-season

4) If Tebow studies very, very hard, he'll be able to master the plays for both kickoff as well as punts

3) Jets Fan is totally going to forget Brad Smith after this

2) Since the team has a tough opening schedule, Sanchez has already accepted the idea that he's screwed

1) Never in the history of the NFL has the back-up QB of an also-ran team that won't make the playoffs this year, either, got so much pub

FTT Movie Review: God Bless America

Now available on DVD, it's Bobcat Goldthwait's impassioned screed over how the country has gone to hell in a handbasket, and while it's a mighty big straw man, you can't say he's wrong for, well, anything.

The plot is basically a more comedic version of "Breaking Bad", where the beaten-down and broken-down protagonist is divorced, overweight, fired without cause and driven to suicidal urges after getting a diagnosis... but instead of acting to destroy himself, he decides instead to start ridding America if its worst elements. After he offs the embodiment of what he considers to be the reason why his young daughter is turning out badly, he meets up with a kindred spirit in nihilism

Goldthwait is, of course, the one-time spiritual twin of the comedy boom with Sam Kinison, and the glee in which he sets up his pinatas is palpable, along wit his subversion of action movie paradigms. Kills aren't clean, the tone isn't consistent or obvious, and he's damn lucky that his murder spree in a movie theater scene happened (a) in a mostly missed indie movie, and (b) before Aurora. He also coaxes good performances out of Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr, and while the speeches get a bit thick, it's still reasonably good fun... despite the fact that the film's morals quickly kind of collapse on itself, and the lack of budget is too easily apparent in too many scenes with too few extras, and the most lax police work ever for a killing spree with a stolen muscle car.

I'm quibbling.

Oh, and a fair amount of this absolutely qualifies as aging lefty porn, assuming your aging lefty porn tastes comes with a side order of justifiable homicide, and a not inconsiderable amount of distaste for your own nation. I don't want to violate any spoiler protocol here, but obvious targets are taken down.

Anyway, if you've in the mood for the logical follow-up to "Natural Born Killers", only with a lot less over the top editing or repugnance, and with an actual conscience, give it a spin. It's dark, fun, worthwhile, and maybe even has a good message. And, even, ending...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Brief and Obvious Point About The Severity Of The Penn State Penalties

And you'll keep doing that for years...
Anyone who is ready to speak about what will and won't make things better for the victims and their families....

Is filled to the brim with an exceptional amount of brown stuff that you don't want on your clothes.

There's no way to know about how much this hurts, or how much it could ruin people's lives. Some of the children who were abused are probably never going to get over this; others may be totally. The same goes for their loved ones and families, future generations, and so on. That's the lovely thing about soul-shattering breaches of trust; they don't follow a playbook. And it's also why Penn State is so clearly and totally ready to take any punishment without puling, and why their fan base...

Well, those folks need to learn how to do something that no one ever wants to learn how to do. Sit down, be quiet, and accept what's coming. That, or just go find another team to root for.

You see, the penalties for a crime -- and covering up abuse is a crime, in that it enables the next animal -- is as much about deterring others as it is in punishing the current pervs.

And there's always a next one, if there isn't a half-dozen current situations, giving the venality and vulnerability of college football programs.

Because *that* is why Penn State is going to pony up $60 million, lose scholarships for 4 years, be prevented from going to bowl games and more or less become a program that's less prestigious and competitive version of Temple or Pitt or Syracuse -- which is to say, garden variety regional Eastern I-A schools, rather than routine national powerhouses

The next college football program that hides abuses will get the same punishment and more.

The NCAA gave this the full measure to make sure there will not be a next program that hides abuses.

After all, you are Penn State.

And you are an object lesson.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Top 10 takeaways from the Yankees trading for Ichiro

10) Finally, the team will be well-known in Japan

9) Consid- ering how right field plays in the Bronx, he might finally become a power threat (he has slugged nearly .500 there to date)

8) There is no truth to the rumor that the Mariners would only do this deal provided they didn't get back Fat Broken Michael Pineda

7) If New York is really, really lucky, he'll be half the player Brett Gardner was

6) You have to admire the Mariners for sticking the needle into their loyal fans by trading him now, rather than after the series with New York is over

5) Nick Swisher just became the second least intelligible member of the Yankee outfield

4) Now that he's been traded to New York, Ichiro actually has a chance to go to the Hall of Fame

3) New York only made the trade because of Ichiro's solid career numbers against those terrifying Oakland A's

2) His .288 OBP for 2012 might make the Yankees reconsider, you know, moving Derek Jeter out of the leadoff spot for him

1) This is really going to depress the Mariners' remaining fan, which is a real shame, because people in Seattle are always so upbeat and cheerful

Everything Will Be Sold. (Which Does Not Mean You Have To Buy.)

I own one NBA replica jersey.

It was a gift, and a lovely one; a black Iverson 3 Sixers tank top. As you might imagine for a guy who rarely gets to go to games and doesn't play a ton of ball due to being in his 40s, busy with work and family, and basically hobbit-sized, it doesn't get a ton of use. It looks ironic on me, at best, but I put it on a few times a year for games or whatever. I've owned it for a decade, and it still looks more or less brand-new. I haven't really felt compelled to put another NBA jersey next to it in the dark back corner of my closet.

I'm not the target audience in any event, and there really isn't a current player out there who I like so much as to adopt his persona on a shirt. Seems a little silly when you've got kids anyway; if they want one, fine. (OK, maybe I'll spring for the retro Andrew Toney gamer. That's got some cachet to it, I think. Moving on.)

So maybe it's not a big deal that the NBA is going to stick its toe in the water of ads on jerseys. That's something that is done all over the world, and it's not as if NBA teams don't do everything they can to squeeze out every dime, especially now that the league has been emboldened by its lockout heist, Linsanity boost and huge playoff numbers.

And it will all go down so easily, don't you know? Just a few instances of cognitive dissonance, some puling by old bloggers and those fuddy-duddy purists, and the inevitable dumb fun when a company goes sideways after a buy, the way so many stadium naming jobs have gone.

You'd have to be a rube to care about this.

Or, well, someone who uses sports to *NOT* think about the outside world. You know, as escapist entertainment. Human drama. Mathematical exercise. Civic passion play. None of which is, well, particularly suited for nonstop, can't not look at it, distraction and commercial interruption. DURING THE GODDAMN GAME.

There's a reason why companies are going to pay millions for this type of advertising; it will be noticed. Over and over and over, games without end. Until it's not, at which point the ad logos will have to (have to) be made bigger. More eye-catching. After all, they are paying millions for the placement, until they don't. At which point maybe a second patch will be warranted. After all, it's not like that laundry will be virginal any more, right?

And while we're at it, why doesn't the floor have ads? And the backboard? Perhaps ad jingles during the game itself, instead of snippets of freaking songs. Rename the players; if a man can make us all refer to him as Metta World Peace, I'm sure he can bring in bank from being called Metta Geico Insurance.

And once the NBA counts its money and trumpets the innovation, the NHL will follow suit (hell, they are probably kicking themselves for not going first), then the NFL, and finally MLB.

Every sport, every uniform, every team you care about, sold and sold and sold some more, until you will need to be some kind of meditative savant to be able to put it all out of mind and eye and actually, you know, watch the freaking game. (Not that this is easy now anyway, given the we're not really watching coverage disease advanced by more and more teams and leagues. But I digress.)

There is, of course, a small but completely unfeasible way to stop all of this. Don't buy the jerseys. Or if you do, rip off and/or cover up the damn patch. Or, better yet, pay more for the unadulterated outfit. (Hell, since the official ones will have the ads on them, doesn't that mean I can make unofficial ones without? Someone get a copyright lawyer on this.)

Oh, and don't refer to the stadiums by their corporate names. Call them by whatever you want instead; I find The Team Name's Stadium to work quite well in getting the point across. Maybe we can even get broadcasters to do this in our lifetime. That'd be nice.

You see, ads on jerseys *isn't* inevitable. No more than genetically engineered food, Esperanto, no English measurement units, clear cola, teller-free stores, and a million other ramrodded "innovations" that the general public rejected, rather than accepted as a fait accompli.

All it takes is people not buying it, and the future house of crap cards tumbles.

 But this won't be decided, of course, by people like you (presumably) and me.

 Since we are not, well, the people buying the bulk of the jerseys in the first place...

Top 10 takeaways from removing the Joe Paterno statue

10) There's no truth to the rumor that Penn State is secretly auctioning off the statue to some of the creepiest people on Earth to pay the inevitable NCAA fines

9) Since PSU is a public university, Pennsylvania's taxpayers really should know how much this weekend / overtime construction job, snowplow placement and cop deployment cost

8) It's completely fair to ask what the loser kids who were camping out at the statue were doing when the ax fell

7) We've clearly lost something great here, which is the opportunity for non-worshippers to take all kinds of hateful photos in front of this thing

6) Seriously, it's not like a great work of art was lost here, seeing how creepy the JoePa face was on it

5) If PSU didn't take the thing down, the NCAA told them they were going to make them join the Big East as part of their punishment

4) The real victims here are the anonymous guys running after him

3) Given how visible this thing has been over the last week, it's a darn shame that the school didn't sell ad space for the little hole that was left

2) The people who are objecting to the removal begin their statements with "With all respect to the victims", as if they actually, well, gave any kind of damn about them in relation to the religion that is Penn State Football

1) If you are going to put up a tarp to cover up your work from prying media eyes, maybe you should have just done it in the middle of the night, really

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Top 10 consolations for Adam Scott

Feel better, British Open Flameout! I'm sure you'll laugh about this some day. Just like, well, the rest of us...

10) This meltdown was a lot more understandable than Jean Van Der Velde's 18th hole for the ages

9) Ernie Els would have just nuked him in a playoff anyway

8) No one really remembers who falls apart in majors

7) If he decides to never play this course again, no one will blame him

6) No one is going to think those belly long putters should be made illegal any more

5) He still got, you know, paid

4) This is going to make him a lot more memorable than if he, you know, actually won the thing

3) He's certain to learn from this and use it in the future, which sounds a lot better until you think about what exactly he's learned

2) He's going to have a lot of consolations from other sad losers

1) Els is a friend, so that makes this all OK, really

The Poker Diaries: Return To The Profitable Past

Tonight at my personal poker palace of horrors (Parx, the massive action heavy room in Bensalem, PA that probably deals more hands than any other place in PA, and will host a World Poker Tour event in a few weeks)...

My best enabler and I walked back into hell. (How hellish is Parx for me? I've played there seven times now, and four of those times, I've been completely felted, most times with speed. If you add up every game and casino I play at, you'd see small to sizable wins in most venues... and then a massive hole labeled Parx. Yes, it's that bad.)

Tonight, we sat at the same table, played for about three hours, shared some laughs, left with money and didn't feel like we were, well, violated without lube. We are even looking forward to going back, and that's the first time I can ever say that about the place.

What changed?

The game we played.

See, Parx is filled with $5/$10 players who troll the $1/$2 tables. They raise pre-flop with air and 10X blind raises. You'd think that shoving is an option, but they take coin flips with abandon, and usually win. You can just also call with solid cards, wondering why it's so damned difficult to see a flop here. Then, you hit top pair and feel good about life, especially with no flushes or straights on the board... only to see that Aggro Boys hit bottom random two pair, and now has a wildly large share of your chips. Over and over and over again. I know it seems mathematically impossible, but that's what happens. You buy in for your stack that's half to a third of theirs, and eventually, it's all over in their stack. It's about as much fun as surgery.

So rather than keep doing the thing that was driving us crazy, making us think that poker had passed us by, or that we needed to find some heretofore unknown Dime / Quarter game where the trolls had stacks that resembled ours...

We played $4/$8 limit hold'em instead.

I'll take you through one hand in particular for how much better it was. Under the gun, I have pocket nines. In NL at Parx, I know I'd have two options. Limp and watch an over the top raise and call, which would result in calling for too much money, since an all-in would get called down by the big stacks because sucking out on the river is more fun than playing good cards. Then the flop would miss my pairs, and then I'd either lose all of my chips calling down bets all the way to the river, or I'd just throw them away on any kind of pressure. It's just funsies.

Tonight, I just limped with them. And appreciated the lack of a re-raise, the third nine in the window, and raking in the $75+ pot. But the game is good even while you are losing, as I made a series of great folds to avoid losing my stack.

You see, limit isn't dull, or weak, or just for nits, or whatever you might imagine. It certainly allows for more drawing hands, but if you play a lot of them, you'll get hammered for it, just like in no limit.

And no matter what kind of game you are playing, it helps like hell when you get hit with the deck, which was happening for the better part of an hour. I recommend that a lot.

So if you find yourself becoming alienated by the way the game is being played now, or just find yourself taking it in the face from a room....

Try limit. Bluff less. Play fewer hands. And feel like a poker player again...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

FTT Off-Topic: Same As It Ever Was

Buy stock in companies that make yellow tape
Time to go way off the path and annoy some regular readers. You've been warned; we're going to talk Colorado Movie Massacre. (And no, I don't think it's fair to cite the name of the movie in this; people who think that movies provoke murders have been around for decades now, and the argument just doesn't hold water. After all, the murders never occur on reruns; if there were real deviltry in the product, they'd inspire every time out. Moving on.)

Click on this link, and you'll be taken to a fun little PDF that details all of the mass gun killings in the United States since 2005. Each incident is dealt with clinically, in a few lines of dispassionate copy. Six or seven incidents fit on each page, and each incident is only made possible through the twin miracles of modern weapon technology, and a country that restricts cough medicine about as much as it does guns.

Review it, if you like, but don't print it.

After all, you probably don't want to sit around waiting for all 62 pages to come out of your printer. And ink's expensive.

Now, I'm not going to convince anyone on the merits of legislating guns like, well, the rest of the First World. We're America, dammit, and the rest of the world's rules do not apply here; it's amazing that we even admit to gravity, inertia, friction or any other elemental force that might get in our way. If only the entire citizenry were armed and ready to take out a committed madman with a frighteningly effective plan, aided and abetted by legally obtained tear gas, everything would just be macho fine, and so many people wouldn't be so uppity.

Sorry, sidebar.

Seriously, tear gas? Anyone not on the NRA payroll want to defend the sporting use of tear gas? Does it tenderize venison and make it especially spicy? No, didn't think so.

Now, we know how the next 3 to 7 days will play out, right? A couple of lesser idiots will try to copycat this vile twerp. People with an axe to grind will try to figure out the twerp's politics, to see if they can attach this to a narrative of how the other side is so less than human that we can, well, dream up revenge fantasies or some other hope of advancing an agenda. Others will chastise for making this political, as if there is a required amount of time to mourn, or as if we really need to spend the down time processing the latest tragedy.

This happens all the time. I don't need any time to process it, any more than I might need time to process a thunderstorm.

If the shooter is brown, it's terrorism. If he's white, it's proof of the decline of civilization and/or the corrosive effects of The Culture. If he's black or Asiatic or a she, it's proof of the last great wall in American society coming down, down, down, and why are those folks now just so angry? And for a couple of days, there will be talk over how this incident, so much more horrible than the last, might be the one that finally turns things back against guns, guns, guns everywhere.

Folks, let me save us all some time.

Nothing is going to change. It's not going to happen.

In my lifetime, a President was shot, and his top people paralyzed, by guns. Thirteen years ago, children were mowed down like cattle in the same basic area as today's shooting, and nothing changed. A year ago, a standing US Congresswoman was permanently damaged while others died around her. It didn't change when Martin Luther King was shot, it didn't change when Malcolm X was shot, it didn't change when John Lennon was shot, it didn't change when John and Robert Kennedy was shot, and so on, and so on, and so on...

The people who want to have guns have money, and they spend it on politicians. They also don't get distracted, don't go away, and don't vote on anything but this issue. The politicians that take that money do what they are told, and are not voted out of office because of it.

The people who want to have guns taken away do not give money to politicians. They don't think that they should have to pay to have guns become more restricted. They are wrong, in that nothing happens in this country without politicians getting paid. And no one, to my knowledge, has ever lost their office for being too much in the pocket of the NRA.

So, folks?

Don't make the mistake in thinking that page 63, or page 75, or page 250 of the future PDF is going to be the Magic Page.

Do not think that we're going to any place other than the place we've always been.

And also, don't make the mistake that another pile of fresh dead will make any damn bit of difference at all.

They never have, and never will.

And if this opinion pisses you off, makes you think I'm callous, unfeeling, coarse, monstrous?

Well, prove me wrong.

Change the laws. Vote out the people who always vote for guns. Make those that replace them outlaw items of over the top maniac aid, roll back the gains seen over the decades. Maybe even insist on technological advancements that take some of the potential for massacres away.

Or, well, just accept that money is more important than lives here.

And always has been...

Another Day, Another Walk Off

Tonight in Oakland, Brandon Moss laced a ball to right, scoring Yoenis Cespedes with the game winner, and earning the first baseman a dogpile of rowdy Athletics. It's my bizarre team's 10th walk off win of the year -- that leads the majors -- and Moss became the 10th different Athletic to take the happy abuse. Something's happening here, and I can't deny it: I'm getting totally sucked into this totally unexpected month of from nowhere fun. The A's are now 12-2 in July, the best team in MLB in the month, and if you saw any of this coming, you are a complete and utter liar.

Cespedes is now 6 for 8 in two games against the Yankees, showing the full arsenal of stinging bat work, a plus arm and genuine wheels; the tools are just off the charts right now. Josh Reddick went 3 for 5 and gunned down a man on the basepaths. Tommy Milone was Glavine-esque in his soft tossing lefty mastery, going 7 innings on 6 hits, no walks, and 10 whiffs (good grief). Only two Yankee long balls off the usually solid A's bullpen kept him from the win, and only a lot of RISP failure and Ivan Nova dancing kept this one close enough for Milone to lose the win. My team looked a lot better than the Bombers tonight, and just when it seemed like the Yanks were going to play their Old Jedi Mind Tricks to steal the win, the A's pulled out the ninth inning magic to take their second straight game. In the six game homestand against the best that the AL has to offer (Texas and NYY), in the games that will decide whether the A's will sell off assets or try to make the playoffs... well, they look freaking awesome. With rookie starting pitchers, with a bottom of the order that would not intimidate a Little League team, and with an offense that was historically awful earlier in the year. Oh, and it's the second straight one-run win against the Yanks. Fun!

How freaky is this? Even the mistakes are working out. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh and two out, A's manager Bob Melvin didn't bring in righty masher Chris Carter, the de facto platoon partner for Moss, to go against tough lefty Boone Logan. At the time, I thought it was a mistake; playing conservatively for defense against a team that's more likely to hit home runs than any other team in the majors. Logan got Moss to whiff looking, and made him look as bad as you might think in the process, and the Yankees went long twice to tie it after that. So it was, of course, Moss with the game winner in the bottom of the ninth. That kind of thing only happens when your team is ridiculously hot , and when everything is going your way.

Will it last? Hell if I know, and even if it does, the stretch run schedule is all kinds of road murderous; you'd have to think that there are better candidates to take the second wild-card berth, and with the club still 6.5 off the pace in the West, the fake playoff is the only hope for post-season ticket sales. The only logical move is to listen to both buy and sell offers, keeping in mind that True Contention is, as always with this franchise, 2-3 years away.

But what the hell fun is that?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Five Circles, No Interest

Call Me When They Form Voltron
Let's just get this out of the way before I weaken in the next few weeks and go back on my word and the blog's purpose...

I don't give a crap about the Olympics.

If you give a crap about the Olympics, I don't want to judge you. I don't want to say that you have bought into a lifetime of rooting for the flag of your nation as if it were anything more meaningful than where your parents had sex, or that patriotism is better represented by buying products or services made here, rather than waving a flag and yelling every four years.

 But, um, I'm going to.

Here's the deal about the Olympics: the vast majority of these activities aren't all that compelling. They don't have professional leagues because they don't have anyone really wanting to watch them more than once every four years, with the special juice of your flag involved. Track and field? Um, OK, people running fast or running long or jumping while running or throwing things. That about cover it? I prefer to watch people do these acts while other people are trying to stop them from doing that, in a team environment. Since it adds, you know, any freaking drama whatsoever.

Gymnastics? My daughters do it. It's an amazingly positive thing for them, in that it teaches them focus and discipline, and gives them an incredible workout. My 12-year-old has arms and legs like coiled steel and a lot of pride in her visible ab muscles. Despite being one of the shortest kids in her class, she's never bullied; on some level, she pretty much does the bullying herself. A lot of that comes from the confidence gained in doing something that you couldn't do before. I'm sure we'll watch some of it in the upcoming Games. It's also, well, not sport. Since sport involves a scoreboard, rather than faceless bureaucrats ticking away points for imperfections that are mostly impossible to see for laymen, and since, once again, there's only the competition against self, rather than opponent or team. Great activity. Terrible sport. Moving on.

Basketball? The US pro involvement means this is like watching tanks against peasants; if some part of you isn't rooting for the peasants, you're wrong. And I don't get off on rooting against the Americans here, since they are usually playing a more artistically and aesthetically pleasing version of the game. It's just that, well, basketball between uneven teams isn't very much fun to watch. At any level. Swimming? See track and field, then cut the interest in half, since, well, there appears to be no strategy involved other than Swim Real Fast.

Boxing? Oof. Even if you like the sport, you are seeing short bouts between uneven fighters wearing headgear. None of the blood lust, all of the tedium. Tasty! Volleyball can have nice points but usually not very many of them, tennis is dull even when talented people play it because it's got the basketball problem, weightlifting and wrestling and water polo and the rest are all silly at best and silly and cultish at worst...

And, well, these are just weak sports. Sorry. They just are. They might come on at a time of the year when we're weak for any new diversion, and they might be less unctuous than usual if NBC ratchets down the reality TV-style puff pieces, but I'm not counting on any of that, and neither should you.

The Olympics suck. Out loud. And that's without even considering the private security debacle, the rampant civic corruptions to get the Games in the first place, the Medal Count or the idea that the people who are at these games and wearing our flags deserve special appreciation, like they are, you know, soldiers or cops or firefighters or nurses or paramedics or teachers, and so on, and so on.

So watch them, if you must. Enjoy the inevitable winning storyline or drama that will develop, because sports makes its own sauce. Get your parade geek on, because these things are big on the parades and pageantry.

But what you are watching is Spectacle, not Sport. And you can find better. A lot better.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Top 10 reasons why the Flyers gave Shea Weber a 14-year, $110 million offer

10) Huge free agent signings always end 37-year Stanley Cup droughts

9) Helps make sure that the hatred of the team spreads to the American South

8) Franchise's eternal goal is to be more like Minnesota (who signed fellow Predator Ryan Suter a few weeks ago)

7) Signing a big name defensemen always fixes the shaky goalie problem

6) Let's just say they really aren't confident about Chris Pronger's long-term recovery chances

5) Thanks to the tireless efforts and wallets of the team's gullible fans, have the cash to spend, so what the hell

4) Believe that if you're going to pay a king's ransom for a player, might as well be for one that might fix your power play offense, too

3) It sounds like a lot, but not when you realize that they are going to play him at least 30 minutes a game, sign an autograph for every ticket holder at every game, work post-game concessions and drive the Zamboni

2) Makes everyone forget losing out on Suter, Zach Parise, Matt Carle and Jaromir Jagr, and the fact that I can list all four of those names is making the blog's four hockey fans more than a little giddy that I'm finally starting to care about hockey again (as if)

1) Signing a Canadian Olympic hero always gives the Flyers an extra thrill, since their Cup win over the Canadians back in the '70s might have been the worst thing to ever happen to that country

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Top 10 reasons why Troy Polamalu hid concussions

Full Bodied Protection
10) Didn't want people to think that his Tourette's -esque praying was ineffective

9) Afraid that this could somehow lead to losing that Head and Shoulders commercial deal

8) Knew that even while severely mentally scrambled, knew more of the defensive play calling than anyone else in the Steeler secondary

7) Wants a post-football career in broadcasting, and thinks many concussions are the only way to compete with those who are currently employed

6) Enjoys lying to the coaching and training staff, and reaching a higher grade of lying to them in the future

5) Knows that massive brain injuries are the only true way into the hearts of Steeler Fan

4) Doesn't see the difference between injuries to the brain and any other part of the body

3) All the cool kids were doing it

2) What the rest of us call a concussion, USC guys call a particularly slow party

1) Enjoys that tingly feeling and the ability to forget past plays, especially this one

We Are / Not Well

When the movie "Snakes On A Plane" opened, the Five Tool Ninja and I were dangerously interested in seeing it, and needed to see it in a theater. We knew the movie was going to be a steaming piece of cheese, and were completely OK with that. We wanted to see it in a place where the audience spoke to the screen and added to the experience, and we got that. It was, frankly, one of the more fun movies that I've gone to see in some time.

In planning our trip, , the Ninja and I went deep into the online content that was generated by the world around the movie; the song parodies, the Samuel L. Jackson hype exercises, the blog posts. And since both of us are prone to speculating about absurd things that we have neither the time nor the stomach to do, we talked about camping out at the theater to see it. (I've never done that, not even for concert tickets, and seeing how I'm on the wrong side of 40, probably never will.)

We imagined this as an absurdist exercise; two guys, dressed in snake costumes, singing folk parody songs on acoustic guitars as the world passed us by to see, well, frankly better movies. The idea of a campout for a movie with no line just seems like something that should happen, maybe for viral video or a skitcom, and there's also something immensely appealing about seeing whether we could recruit others to the weird cause. Plus, there's the very real added bonus of seeing how much we could embarrass our kids, since our kids are old enough to want to be embarrassed about anything we do as dads. I, for one, feel like it's my duty to make their future therapy sessions interesting. ("Your father camped out for movies that had no line. How does that make you feel?")

Which leads me to the news that there are actual students of the actual Penn State University who are... camping out to keep watch over the Joe Paterno statue, lest anything, you know, bad might happen to it. As was hinted at by a recent airplane ad.

No, seriously.

Now, it's not too many people just yet, and it doesn't really have anything to do with anything light or fun or silly... but absurd? Um, hells yeah. Let's recap:

Children are going to camp out to protect the inanimate statue...

Honoring a man who helped to cover up...

the sexual abuse of children.

And given the way that Penn State and its denizens have identified with Paterno over the years, and how these things always attract an end game of people who just won't smell the coffee, no matter how much it's poured on them...

Well, they won't be alone.

Can someone at least make some lovely signs stating why they are protesting, or sing some wildly inappropriate songs?

Top 10 reaons why Dez Bryant (Allegedly) Beat His Mom

It's Mug Shot Season. No, Wabbit Season!
10) Peer pressure in the Cowboys organization can sure make a man do strange things

9) Wanted to raise the bar from ordinary domestic abuse

8) Needs to truly test the ability of Jerruh Jones and fantasy honks to look the other way

7) Let's face it, he was always going to jail for something, so it might as well be something relatively original

6) Judging from the relative criminal records of both individuals, this really wasn't a case of beating the innocent

5) Was getting tired of Drew Rosenhaus telling him that, no, he wasn't his craziest or most disgusting client

4) Remembered something she totally did not get him when he was younger and totally deserved it

3) As we've proven repeatedly this week, many NFL chuckleheads do not react well to the combination of Mondays, summer, and no training camp to keep them under lock and key

2) She didn't take him in her fantasy league draft, so I think we can all agree that she was kind of asking for it

1) Asked him to leave her home during an argument without saying pretty please, and dammit, a man's got to have standards

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Top 12 reasons why the Knicks didn't retain Jeremy Lin

12) Wanted to make all of those people who own his jersey or merch feel like true, long-time Knicks fans, which is to say, the biggest chumps in the Association

11) Really didn't care much for his game, what with all of the passing, scoring, hope and excitement

10) New York area teams can never compete with the money thrown around by these Texas maniacs

9) Couldn't match the memories Lin had of never playing and getting cut by the Rockets before

8) Would rather see how much of an international phenomenon they can make out of Ray Felton

7) Knicks' owner Jim Dolan was in danger of becoming liked by someone who is not paid to like Jim Dolan

6) The Knicks didn't need Lin to get curb stomped in the first round of the playoffs last year, and they won't need him to get curb stomped in the first round of the playoffs this year, either

5) By refusing to comply with this huge contract, Knicks' management will be able to keep ticket prices at the low, low, low rate that New York fans have always truly appreciated

4) Letitng Lin go may be a PR disaster, but it's not as if New York basketball fans have some other option, with a brand new arena, splashy swag and new free agents, to potentially steal them away from this glorious franchise, with its rich history of playoff success

3) Matching Houston's offer sheet would have just been disastrous to the Knicks' cap and luxury tax situation, and the organization has decided that it's high time to start actually giving a damn about that

2) Now that the Knicks have Jason Kidd behind the wheel, everything's going to be on the straight and narrow path to sober personnel decisions at the point guard position

1) Seriously did not fit in with the rest of the team's talent, in that Lin is young, getting better, actually tries hard, cares about winning, and isn't ready to get his coach fired if his touches go down

Top 10 reasons why Marshawn Lynch got arrested

Marshawn provides many mug shots to choose from
10) Caused seismic problems on Bay Area highways with his epic DUI run

9) Local authorities still annoyed with him for not being better at Cal

8) Got cocky after not being suspended for a personal conduct violation for, like, three whole years

7) Drinking while driving in Oakland is, to be fair, the only way to get Raider Fan off your back

6) Thought the car was self-driving, what with all that Googly Moogly stuff going on in the area

5) Wanted to make sure he still had street cred after giving a scholarship to a local gunshot victim

4) Wanted to prove that, at age 26, he still had "it"

3) As JaMarcus Russell is a distant cousin, you can argue that stupidity with liquor is a genetic trait

2) Thought all of the booze was just melted down Skittles

1) Wanted to give all of his fantasy owners the big heads up that this year is really going to suck for them, and that it's time to get out while the getting is good

Monday, July 16, 2012

Top 10 reasons why Elvis Dumervil got arrested

Let He Who Is Without Rage Brandish The First Firearm
10) Having road rage in Florida just means that you have a pulse

9) Lying to the cops about having a gun is not, in fact, OK if you are crossing your fingers behind your back as you say it

8) Without The Power Of The Tebow to guide them, all of the Broncos are powerless before Satan and his ways

7) As Dumveril is 28 and an NFL player, he's only got about 2 to 4 more years before head trauma induced violent dementia anyway

6) When one encounters traffic in Miami Beach on a Saturday night, it means that you are not getting your fair share of the fine fine ladies, which makes the brandishing of a firearm inevitable

5) Dumervil was in the right lane, which is totally not his best position for getting off the line

4) The guy he got into an argument refused to respect his level of, um, fame

3) Rumors vary on this, but we have reason to believe there may have been a hoodie involved, which means everyone in the state was in their rights to shoot first and count bodies later

2) As soon as a Florida cop sees a black guy named Elvis, it's the big house for sure

1) The silicon chip inside his head got switched to overload

The Oakland A's Are Above .500 And Shockingly Watchable

Here's a fun little baseball story that will escape the attention of, well, everyone: the Oakland A's are an honest to goodness wild card contender.

No, seriously.

The most punchless punchers in all of Puncherdom, the team that put the boring in unbelievably boring, the collection of dead-eyed weaklings and walk-free OBA losers... have put together a 9 wins in 10 games streak, with offense from the not to be ignored Yoenis Cespedes, and power to spare from past suspects like Chris Caster, Jonny Gomes and Seth Smith.

And of course we need to take this with the shaker of salt that is a three-game sweep of the Twins, the fact that the A's generally do better in the second half when teams with more pedigree than sense give up, and young guys who don't wear down and are just thrilled to be getting MLB per diem rise to the fore. Oakland's been very good at not giving up when it might make sense to; that's how you get on that 75 to 82 win teeter-totter to nowhere, and even after all of that hotness, the record is just 46-43. The division is still an 8 games out pipe dream, and the only reason they are within sniffing distance is the watered-down second wildcard. There's really only three teams that you can consider out of the American League race (Kansas City, Seattle and Minnesota); by the same standard, 7 teams are that far out in the NL. Anyway.

This is still a bad hitting team, of course, but being a bad hitting team has been true ever since the good time Moneyball teams ended, and at least they aren't last in runs, OBA or slugging anymore. They still somehow hit .228 while being over .500, which is plainly impossible, but the park has a lot to do with that as well; it's a nice staff, but certainly not the 4th best in baseball. But the single biggest difference is that first base is no longer making you think that maybe the pitcher should hit instead. Chris Carter's 5 HRs in 26 ABs is one more than Kila Ka'aihue managed in 102 more AB, and 4 more than Daric Freaking Barton, who really can just go play his trade in some other country by now. Some country where pitchers need encouragement.

I guess the thing that's actually providing most of the gold in this fools' green and gold parade is the simple fact that they are actually hitting for some power now. Josh Reddick has been that rarest of A's -- fantasy relevant -- with his 20. Cespedes has 11 in 212 ABs, and while I still think he's got holes in his swing that you could emigrate in, there's no denying that he's been fun to watch. Moss is at 11 HRs in 90 ABs - yowza! -- and the poor man's power platter of Jonny Gomes and Seth Smith are both into double digits as well. It's been a long time since you can say this, but there is some actual threat in the lineup now, and you don't just auto-stream pitchers against them.

Will it last? Well, of course not: this is the team that revenue sharing forgot, after all, and with Texas and New York coming to town this week, the party could end with a disquieting thud, followed up by the cheers of expat Yankee Fan enjoying the economy of their de facto home game. After that is the not nearly as soft as you might imagine roadie to Toronto and Baltimore to end the month. But if they can somehow get out of July with hope and good feelings intact, that would be two straight months of pretty good baseball, and an above .500 record for a team that dropped 9 in a row in late May while looking like the saddest waste of a credible pitching staff that ever walked the earth. For a fan base that's barely got a pulse, in a situation where everyone is just punching the clock until a new yard is produced, it could be a lot worse.

A Thorough And Honest Review Of The Culture Of College Football

That's the end quote from the NY Times piece on the Freeh report, and I know I'm a week late and many dollars short on this, but...

Um, why should this assessment be limited to the Penn State program?

Yes, the PSU program spent decades looking the other way as a child predator had his way with a spiraling number of victims. And that's awful on every level, not the least of which is that it strikes at the core of twin taboos of American society - sexual aggression against children (easily visualized, of course, as the audience's own kids), and homosexuality as a communicable practice. Not just one-time damage, as it were. Yes, indeedy, I'm going there.

But this is just the ice that's above the surface, folks. There's loads more underneath. And yes, perhaps a few years of college ball with relatively light schedules and not as much off-season work and generally smaller and slower athletes means that the long-term concussive damage isn't as big of a deal here... or, well, um, maybe not. Certainly the money that's being made off the players isn't being distributed equally, and certainly the human abuses on an individual program level are so rife that scandal is seen more like inclement weather than true crime.

I guess the point is this:

All sports, at some level, are timewaste and vice and gambling and sexism and violence, and we accept that because there's also good in the mix, and watching people excel and fail under duress is what human drama is all about.

Football ramps it up much higher, because the long-time players of it are obscenely compensated, but have the life expectancy of drug lords. (Forgive me, "Breaking Bad" season premiere happened tonight. I'm in Full Heisenberg mode here.)

College football goes even further because 99% of the players are at their last point before the kill floor, the last go-around until it all ends and they have to find some other dream to chase down. One that doesn't involve, well, being paid like a drug lord.

College football programs take advantage of this. Always have, always will. And the act corrupts any other good the programs might do, create conditions of venality and secrecy and culpability that make Sandusky-style coverups and victimization...

Well, I don't want to say the rule, because I have no evidence of this being the rule, and I don't want to imagine that there are dozens of other reprobates plying their disease on children, from coast to coast and at every level.

But if there were...

Would anyone really be surprised?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Brief And Obvious Point About Joe Paterno

Once upon a time, Paterno ran into a spot of controversy for his activism in the Republican Party.

He appeared at a GOP convention as a head delegate for Pennsylvania, nominated George Bush The Elder, and rah-rahhed for the cameras.

At the time, he was, of course, a publicly paid employee, which meant that the taxpayers of Pennsylvania were paying for him to use his celebrity in the cause of a political cause that they really might not have agreed to. There was some hue and cry about this, which Paterno more or less ignored.

You see, he knew best. And having known best, there really wasn't more to be said about it.

Around the same time, JoePa more or less left my field of possible respect when he directed his program away from independent status, away from any kind of fair play with neighboring programs, and into the loving arms of the Big Ten.

At the time, I actually cared a bit about college football, because I was going to school at Syracuse, and we had shook off a decades-long period of suck to more or less crush PSU in our home dome. JoePa clearly wanted no part of that thing, no part of a speed team within driving distance to the north that now had the ability to enact years of payback for the decades of jobbing.

So Paterno's PSU team stopped playing my Orangemen. At the time, I thought it was just that JoePa wanted to avoid losing to the new power in eastern football. But really, it was more about money. He knew best.

Last year, of course, he contributed to the circus, and this week, it was learned, he did a lot more than that.

So, to everyone who has joined the longstanding campers in the Joe Paterno is an untrustworthy tool camp... welcome. We've been building the foundations up for a while...

Big and Bad

I want to be positive about my Sixers, I really do. And then things like this last week happens, and I wonder what the point is, really...

Item 1: Amnesty for Elton Brand.

Now, in and of itself, getting out of EB's contract, and away from a 33-year-old 6'-9" F/C is something of a benefit. Brand's best offensive move is a mid-range jumper that doesn't go down often enough to justify more than 8 to 10 shots per game, and while he's an effective shot blocker and willing defender, that doesn't exactly make him a shutdown guy, or someone deserving a big deal. He tries real hard, plays pretty smart and will move the ball on offense, but all of that seems like something you should be able to find in freely available talent and/or coach up out of your younger guys, especially when your best on the court asset seems to be the coach that gets similar and better work out of your young bigs. Brand's departure should also give us all the final opportunity we need to determine why Thad Young shouldn't start, and that's probably all to the good, too.

But still, it rankles to lose a rotation guy for no better reason than he made too much money, rather than, you know, an actual basketball decision. If Brand is your worst starter or your first big off the bench, you might have a very good team, and in the right situation (Miami?), he could easily have gotten a ring and been overrated for his contributions. The only thing that keeps Brand from being as beloved as a Nick Collison or a Udonis Haslem by his local fan base is his pre-injury monster contract, paid out when he was a top 10 option who had just dragged a Clippers team deep into the playoffs after a Sisyphean slog. Usually, it's the Clippers' big FA signings that get hurt, rather than the other way around.

As Brand is healthy now, he was fast fodder on the amnesty wire, with the curious choice of Dallas gobbling him up. On a team that suddenly doesn't have Jason Kidd, Brand is going to lack for consistent touches next to Dirk Nowitzki, and have to make the more than wide open looks he's going to get. He'll help them reach another playoff, but he won't help them avoid another first round exit, and since he comes off the books in 2013, he won't hurt their doomed attempts to bring in a big FA signing of their own.

In and of itself, getting away from EB's contract and giving away value is sour but understandable... until word comes out today that the club has

Item #2: Imported vagabond C and eternal Michael Jordan draft-whiff Kwame Brown to town.

Good grief.

With Brown, the Sixers have a total savant platoon to ride with Spencer Hawes, and yet another reason to wonder whether the front office is on something that isn't prescribed by a reputable physician. Brown's developed a reputation as a defensive stopper in the past few years, mostly because he's (a) still in the league for some reason, (b) athletic enough to be a blown pick so many years ago, and (c) fairly enthusiastic about committing fouls.

But the problem with having him in your rotation is that basketball does not allow for subs on the fly. Brown has to play half of the time on offense, the same way that Hawes has to spend half of his time on defense. We're also all assuming that Kwame is healthy after his latest flameout in Golden State, and that if he is healthy, that he's retained enough of that trademark athleticism to hold some value on defense.

Let's ignore the lifetime of poor play. Or, well, not. Brown being any use at all... is not a really good bet.

But what *is* a really good bet is this: Lavoy Allen will lose minutes to Brown. So will Nicola Vuvevic, who had more than a few moments of promise last year in his rookie campaign. Arnett Moultrie, the #1 pick that they gave up future considerations to the Heat for, just saw his likely minutes go down, maybe all the way to the D League.

And while none of those guys is assured to have a better or longer career than Brown or Hawes, they all offer more in the way of potential. Brown's is long gone, and Hawes' visible lack of heart tells you all you need to know about his future, and the future of any team that gives him minutes.

I don't know if any team in the Association is better off having Brown around, let alone one that needs to develop star-level talent out of their bench guys to have any real chance of replicating last year's Final 8 finish. And there's also this: if the team really thinks that the town's basketball fans are going to give Kwame a long leash, they are smoking something. Something good.

So, um, welcome to town, Kwame. Rent, don't buy. See if you can coach up Allen and Vook to make your stay short and restful. And if you do all of that, I'll be happy to consider you an upgrade over Tony Battie for the role of big man who never plays, and get on board for your post-career future as a rah-rah assistant coach and instructor.

Jordan will overpay you for all of that, right?

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