Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tony Dungy has a theory.

I had ESPNews on in the background earlier today and was listening to the various press conferences when Tony Dungy took one of the usual questions about him and Lovie Smith being black coaches in the Super Bowl. With the usual discussions of the Rooney Rule that come each offseason, his response about opening doors was good. He said it helped open doors for different types of coaches, not just black coaches overall.

Dungy said (to paraphrase) that the possible reason that it took a long time for a coach like him to get here was because the image of a coach in the owner's mind for ages (and when you see the coach on NFL Films) is always in the Vince Lombardi mode: old, ornery, loud, and white (again, I'm summarizing). And neither Dungy nor Smith are that type of coach who get after players in a hectoring fashion if they fuck up. The last versions of that kind of coach just retired (Parcells, and to some extent, Cowher), although acolytes (Payton and Belichick, especially) still do that sort of thing every so often (observe Payton after Reggie Bush taunted Urlacher in the NFC championship.) I found folks hinting at this before in the off-season youth hiring movement; moving to more of a "player-friendly" coach style that NBA teams do all the time.

Barry Bonds punks the Giants.

At least that's what you could imply if you read what his agent says about his new contract, with the clause about termination if Bonds is indicted:

"Although it is not my policy to comment on the specifics of an individual player's contract, the reporting that Barry will allow the Giants to get out of his contract if he is indicted on the federal steroid investigation is inaccurate," [Jeff Borris] said. "The collective bargaining agreement governs the work relationship between the owners and players, not the Giants' unilateral assertions."

The special termination language in Bonds' agreement references two sections of the Uniform Player Contract.

Under 7(b)(1), a team may terminate a contract if the player shall "fail, refuse or neglect to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship and good sportsmanship or to keep himself in first-class physical condition or to obey the club's training rules."

Section 7(b)(3) gives the team the right to end the deal if a player shall "fail, refuse or neglect to render his services hereunder or in any manner materially breach this contract."

Selig's office has rejected it right now, based on a personal appearance bit in it. If this termination thing comes up later and it turns out to be against the bargaining agreement with MLBPA, his line (if this is true) is probably along the lines of Henry II regarding English archbishop Thomas Becket: "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?"

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

that boy's gone crazy.

Has Troy Smith lost his mind? Despite (or possibly due to) his falling draft stock, he's angling for the Cleveland Browns to pick him and make him the hometowner who gets picked to stay in state for a pro career. After the BCS championship, Smith will be lucky enough to be drafted high enough to save face; he shouldn't be too picky or angling for his hometown team -- never mind that the Browns are a mess until they figure out how to cobble an offensive or defensive line together (it'll always be a source of wonder how Mike Shanahan could trade for the Browns' D-line and get them to play when Cleveland couldn't.)

Troy: be quiet, accept where you're picked in the draft bereft of first round QBs unless your name is Brady or JaMarcus, and hope you don't go to Cleveland or Detroit. Look, I still believe he could be a decent pro, and possibly better than either Charlie Frye or Derek Anderson, but home-state loyalty should only go so far.

(Ted Ginn is also pictured because he'd like to play for the Browns, and I think Brady Quinn is from Dublin. All these blue-chippers whom the Browns should go nowhere near early in the draft...)

priorities, please.

Interesting New York Times bit on the veiled threat that MLB hack in charge Bud Selig and appointed investigator George Mitchell have put in place with their investigation into the steroid scandal: apparently, it's akin to, "If you don't talk to us, then Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) will be all over your ass."

Now, being a proper political junkie, I follow Waxman's exploits not only because I'm originally from the L.A. area -- it's also because Waxman is a certified ball-buster who happens to reflect my political leanings. But I think the players would be wise to call the bluff on this one; Waxman's made no statements on what he will do on the issue with the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (which is apparently what sports with anti-trust exemptions fall under), and regardless of my personal hope and confidence that the Democrats can walk and chew gum when it comes to legislation and oversight regarding the war in Iraq, I bet he's got higher priorities than steroid investigations. However, that's what I said to myself the last time I heard or read rumors about Congressional investigation and testimony, and we wound up with several days of the stuff on ESPN.

Congressman, hold off on the steroids right now -- let the leagues work on it, and take care of the other stuff first. And if you're gonna take on big league sports, take on the NFL and MLB on selling Sunday Ticket and Extra Innings to DirecTV.

the muck of the Rooney Rule.

Any sort of controversy regarding the use and application of the Rooney Rule is going to get danders up in sports blogtopia, and the Big Lead's summary of rumors of questionable practices by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones lives up to the usual standard. Mike from ProFootballTalk was on the SportsBloggers livecast today, and noted that Niners' defensive coach Mike Singletary is now on the interview list, and the FanHouse has been on this too.

I believe Jerry Jones isn't a racist, and should be able to hire whomever the fuck he thinks is going to win him football games, but the whole "it shouldn't matter and he shouldn't have to abide by the rule" or the "it's reverse discrminiation" kind of misses the point.

1) He's not forced to hire the candidate.
2) I wouldn't have the right to vote 40 years ago. It's barely been 40 years since we were fully franchised. You can't erase the Old Boys Club mentality in 40 years.

Let Jones make the mistake of hiring Norv Turner, whom has been nothing more than a doobie getting passed around at a frat party by the NFL owners every offseason, but don't bring up the reverse racism or color blind stuff -- America isn't there yet, but hopefully will be.

Throw your two cents in and tell me if I'm off here.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Eldrick Woods makes golf shots.

Dude shot a 66 in the fourth round of the Buick Invitational to win the tourney yesterday after starting about three or four strokes back after the third round.

Watching Tiger Woods play in the fourth round is like watching Federer -- either he's ahead and looking to lock it up or he's just fucking around with the other players, waiting while they screw up and get the willies in his presence. Impending fatherhood continues to do wonders for him, as the Buick makes his seventh straight victory in a chase of Byron Nelson's consecutive tourneys streak.

Of course, him and Federer winning on Sunday brings around the usual question of "quien es mas macho?" when looking at Roger's 10 majors and Tiger's 12. I'd argue Tiger's, mostly because I suck at golf and can at least fake my way through tennis, but mostly on the premise that in golf, you are playing the course as well as the field, while that isn't as prevalent a factor in tennis (unless you are playing in the French Open, which Federer has yet to win.) But Federer's winning without dropping a set during an entire tournament makes me question that logic. To them, it's a dick-measuring contest, like "OK, motherfucker, whaddaya got?"

musical chairs, Cowboys edition.

The Dallas head coaching search appears to be down to recently hired O-coordinator Jason Garrett, New Orleans D-coordinator Gary Gibbs, and this guy -- SF O-coordinator and Cheap Slut of the Good Ol' Boys Coaching Network, Norv Turner, who is probably the example most fans of the NFL think of when they think of "coordinators who have no business being head coaches." (Granted, Norv was coaching in Oakland and D.C., but those teams had some useful talent and he couldn't do much with it.)

However, the WWL considers Turner (the Cowboys' O-coordinator during some of their Super Bowl years in the 90s) the lead candidate, mostly because Jerry Jones appears to have his heart set on a head coach to mentor Garrett, and Turner appears to have no issues with the implications.

"Turner said he'd have no problem having Garrett on his staff. In fact, Turner tried getting Garrett on his staff in Oakland. 'That tells you a little something about how I feel about Jason,' Turner said."

My guess is that Dallas fans who actually want to see the Cowboys go far in the playoffs aren't all that enthused by the possibility of Turner being the head guy. The only two groups that will likely be excited about the possibility of a Norv reign in Dallas are all of Vegas' sports books and those who get a kick out of seeing the coaching version of Manning Face.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Morris vs. the NFL.

The NFL is now America's pastime; having stolen the crown from baseball, the league now makes money hand over foot, and would prefer to forget about the legends that made the league what it is, at least when it comes to disability claims.

The Washington Post profiles former Dolphins RB Mercury Morris, part of the '72 undefeated season, who has been fighting the league's disability plan over a spinal condition resulting from broken vertebrae in his neck. Morris is the latest in a series of claims from players and their estates seeking disability pay that the NFL has denied based on a very intense reading of its own rules (the estate of former Steelers center Mike Webster received $1.5 million from an appeals court).

The sick part of reading this is that Morris claims the NFLPA is paying the NFL plan's attorney to keep the money out of the hands of those claiming disability:

"Morris seethes when he sees a comment in a 2005 Wall Street Journal story from Douglas Ell, the plan's attorney from the Washington-based Groom Law Group, boasting that courts ruled that 16 of the 20 lawsuits filed by players looking for disability payment were decided in the plan's favor. Two were reversed on appeal and two (including Webster at the time) were in appeals court....Then Morris mentioned that he and Parrish recently discovered, after sharing information, that the NFL Players Association paid Groom $13 million between 2000 and 2006."

More cases like this and the NFL will have a PR nightmare on its hands -- Outside the Lines looked at depression among the former players this morning, using former Packer O-liner John Michaels as a subject, and of course, the segment touched on former Eagle Andre Waters, who committed suicide last year (and one expert claims it's tied to brain damage from his playing days.)

Eventually, the league is going to have to do something here -- and the players' union may have to get rid of Gene Upshaw in order to do it; this reeks of Bryant Gumbel's thrown-off bit about Tagliabue showing Goodell where Upshaw's leash was -- in a very dangerous game, having no guaranteed contracts and little access to disability isn't a good thing for the league to have out in the open. There aren't a ton of eyes batted about steroids in the NFL as they are in baseball, but this may turn out to be more of a medical nightmare for football than the 'roid debate.

paint a vulgar picture.

The Coachella Valley Music Festival seems to be making its name now on reuniting at least one defunct band every year for the event, and this year's winner is Rage Against the Machine. It's yet another move that reads weirdly if you take the band's politics at its word.

Rage's original catalog consists of a classic debut album, a mediocre follow-up (Evil Empire's second half is nothing but filler), and a very good third one. There is also Renegades, a curio of a cover album consisting of musical re-writes for many of the tunes, but it's not bad on its own, and worth it alone if the band's fans decided to look into EPMD or Eric B. and Rakim based on absolutely shaking versions of "I'm Housin'" or "Microphone Fiend" (never mind terrific if by-the-book readings of Minor Threat's "In My Eyes" or the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams.")

The problem with Rage is that it was unable to reconcile its leftist politics with its actions in the music business, much like it couldn't reconcile Zack de la Rocha's hardcore/hip-hop background with the pure rock and roll backbeat of drummer Brad Wilk, bass player Tim Commerford, and mad genius guitarist Tom Morello (three original albums in nearly a decade of existence speaks to this). The "belly of the beast" argument can only be repeated so many times, and when your fans are singing "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me," with you, it's worth questioning whether the values are passing on or simply floating over.

De la Rocha's post-RATM career has been next to nil as far as anyone can tell, and the instrumental end has been cranking out serviceable albums with Chris Cornell as Audioslave. (The three Audioslave records aren't bad, but with the musical pedigree, I expected more, and I bet many others did too.) So, if the Goldenvoice organizers throw a ton of stupid-ass money for a one-off, any fool will take it. But any sloganeering the band does on a mass level during the show will ring hollow, much like it did during the later part of its short career.

"And every gimmick-hungry yob digging gold from rock and roll
Will take the mic to say that he'll die before he's sold.
But I believe in this, and it's been tested by research
That he who fucks nuns will later join the church."

Roger Federer is the balls.

When you sit down to watch Roger Federer's matches, you know the outcome already; unless it happens to be on clay, he will win. It's always a question of how bad he will make his opponent look. He made Fernando Gonzalez, who didn't do a bad job tearing though guys like James Blake and Lleyton Hewitt to get to the Australian Open final, look like a Tour rookie, especially after beating back two set points in the first set.

After watching that display, Gonzalez looked beaten, and it was over. The next two sets were mere formality, as if Federer and Gonzalez were obligated to play out some form of comedy in the next two sets, getting the necessary break in the second and third set and dominating service. The only player who gives him a fight is Rafael Nadal, and that's on clay -- Federer owns him in every other form of play.

It's never a question of whether Federer will be considered one of the greats; it's always if he will be the best ever, and while he's well on his way, he needs to win at Roland Garros to make sure he doesn't pull a Sampras. If he were American, regular sports fans in American would probably talk about him in the hushed tones reserved for Tiger Woods (despite the whole "not being black" thing). He makes dominance look clinical, precise, and boring, which is kind of a buzzkill -- but eventually, I just give in to watching it.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

a rocky road out of town.

The Rockies are looking to unload the last tie with any aspirations of being a winning franchise, and rumor has it that first baseman Todd Helton is headed for the Red Sox, of all places (they need to amass more talent like I need a hole in the head; Boston fans, your baseball team is acting like the fucking Yankees).

(Note: originally, the opening sentence noted Helton was a tie with the Wild Card team, and that's been corrected, as he was drafted in '95 but didn't play until '97.)

Helton is probably still what Denver fans think of when they think of the Rockies (which is probably barely, and when they don't think "losers" and "fuck Coors" for overpricing every concession in the damn stadium.) Outfielders Larry Walker and Dante Bichette were the other two (and more famous) of what local announcers commonly called the "Blake Street Bombers", but Helton was the home-grown deal for a new franchise; a University of Tennessee alum (fun fact: he was the Vols' QB pre-Peyton) brought up from Triple A in the Springs. After that season, Helton was one of the few reliable hitters, always in the All-Star discussion if not the team's sole rep each year while Bichette and Walker fought injury (Walker was dealt to St. Louis and Bichette gave up the ghost; I think I still have a "Bichette Happens" T-shirt in a box somewhere -- not one of my prouder moments) and the team suffered while giving up millions to pitchers who saw their ERAs inflate at Coors Field (e.g., Mike Hampton, Denny Neagle.)

If and when he is dealt, the Rockies will officially become the NL's version of the Royals, or, more accurately, les Expos nouvelles (I'm guessing on the French) -- a team consisting of castoffs and young players that will be poached or sold off at the earliest opportunity, and it's sad to see a team that I had good times with fall into that sort of drudgery, especially in a very weak division.

the curious case of Daryn Kagan.

Or, "What happens to someone who spends 12 years at CNN and is famous (or infamous) only for having fucked Rush Limbaugh?"

Ms. Kagan is the focus of such a piece by the Washington Post, where they analyze her new Web-only venture, which is a depository for stories charitably called "kickers" by those of us in the broadcast news world, "human interest stories" or "features" by the high-minded in management, and "touchy-feely bullshit" by both categories in more private company.

I actually tried to watch one of these things so you wouldn't have to, and I lasted about a minute and a half before the gag reflex started to kick. You may get a mild version of that same feeling if you read the Post's piece, with Kagan's neologisms like "having a sad" and "do-ist." The whole concept, as the article notes, is filled with bland, nameless spirituality in the service of optimism. It only leaves me with the impression that Kagan's soft-news reinvention is the infotaiment method of becoming a born-again.

At least she's not paid to say absolutely nothing of value by a network that considers itself journalism any more.

the Amazon returns.

Serena Williams is back, and she wants to destroy the WTA and its members.

At least that's what it looked like, watching the Aussie Open final against Maria Sharapova. I rarely pay attention to tennis unless it's the women (more for three-set matches and more interesting characters rather than cheesecake; the men's tour is basically a "who will lose to Roger Federer this week?" affair unless it is French Open time), and watching a Williams sister play when on point is something shocking for the casual viewer because of the power involved; there is finesse in the game, but it's like buying your first metal record and cranking the volume up to "stun."

I'll probably watch Federer dominate whomever it is he's up against when it comes on past midnight, but watching a match of his after he dismantles Andy Roddick is anti-climactic.

(P.S. "Amazons" are the name my mother gave to Serena and Venus Williams after watching them for the first time on television years ago; it was pride, not in insult -- seeing black faces in what are commonly "country club" sports was a big deal in my family in the last decade.)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

can't fight against the youth.

This fellow at right will be the Cowboys' new O-coordinator at the very least, as Jerry Jones tells ESPN. Jason Garrett used to be Dallas' back-up QB, now he's a serious candidate for their head coaching vacancy after being a quarterbacks coach.

Teams are taking chances on young first-time NFL coaches like the Steelers and Raiders are doing with Mike Tomlin and Lane Kiffin, respectively, and while it's tempting to cast it as something of a youth movement, it's probably more along the lines of needing new blood in the Good Ol' Boys Network that is NFL coaching, as the Network is kind of tapped out at this point. All the retreads or legends you hear of every year that are in their 50s or early 60s aren't catching on (Mike Martz is still running Detroit's O), have taken their names out of consideration, or are better off as coordinators than head coaches (Wade Phillips is the epitome of this and yet he's a candidate for the Dallas job.) Even Miami's hiring of Cam Cameron fits along these lines, in its own way.

While Jemele Hill is hit and miss at Page 2, the whole point of bringing in coaches who are more along the lines of "player's coaches" is probably taking root. Professional football is becoming more and more like the NBA: the coach has to be respected, but can't be domineering in the parental way. Pro play across both leagues is less a scheme game than motivation and want-to on the part of the players rather than a college coach instilling a system that will be there longer than the three or four years his players will be. Sure, there are basic and little things that pro coaches have to instill and build personnel around (4-3 defense or 3-4?), but a lot more of it is getting the players motivated to execute it. It's more about your team's talent and ability than about your coaching genius (and this goes for the New England Hobo too; Belichick's genius isn't so much in his obvious scheme savvy as it is in getting players to believe in it and run it every Sunday.)

so long, Snake.

Jake Plummer, like every other QB who gets replaced mid-season, still thinks he can be a starter in other places and sounds like he wants out, according to the Rocky Mountain News. Teams that could use a quarterback include Houston (yeah, that whole Mario Williams thing worked out real well, didn't it?), Miami, Cleveland, and Tampa Bay.

If the Broncos manage to deal him (cutting him would hack off too much in salary cap), I will miss him, despite his tendency to make me throw things at the television when watching the Horseheads play, mainly for the exquisite facial hair he displayed on a regular basis (except for this year, and that's where I think he went wrong.) Also, we can never forget that until last Sunday, he was the QB of the only team to hand Tom Brady a playoff loss.

He'll never have a ring, but I think Plummer will be one of those QBs who has a Jeff Garcia-like resurgence someplace else, with low expectations. Houston might be the place to do it.

justifying the man-crush.

Gilbert Arenas became a blogosphere-wide man crush (and mine, despite the Nuggets having Iverson, Melo, and J.R. Smith all together now) because he keeps on saying things like this while embracing the lovely interweb medium, where he claims he'd love to go back to college and drop 84 or 85 on Duke just to spite Coach K for leaving him off the U.S. squad.

This man has had a nasty chip on his shoulder since he got shafted out of first-round money in the draft after his Arizona days (where he was a beast), and it's entertaining to watch, read, and listen to -- it's ego without the malice; the anti-Kobe, in a sense.

"I wouldn’t pass the ball. I wouldn’t even think about passing it. It would be like a NBA Live or an NBA 2K7 game, you just shoot with one person."

Doesn't matter what basketball video game you've played; everyone's tried that at least once.

cheap shots #1.

Because I had to stay late at work this morning and am tapped out ideawise, here's some linkage to good stuff:

1) Off Wing Opinion defends the NHL's expansion.
2) WBRS looks at the cost of a public university (in this case, Rutgers) being a D-1A football team on the rise.
3) AA has no clue why Frank Robinson is only going to be on the ESPN payroll for a short time.
4) If Mann Coulter were as funny as the guys at KSK write her, maybe I'd consider laughing instead of contemplating throwing stuff at my TV when she's on it.
5) James Wolcott nails why Little Miss Sunshine shouldn't be winning come Oscar time.
6) When does Jon Stewart and Co. not hit their target? Certainly not when it comes to State of the Union coverage.
7) The Big Picture has two of my favorite blog serials. One of them continues with another Blogger Interview.
8) What does a Republican senator look like when he goes upside verbally upon his party's head? The News Blog has the video.
9) With Leather confirms that you can get people to pay for you to accompany them to Super Bowl XLI if you happen to be a cute Bears fan.
10) Everyone's talking about Reggie Bush and some shady dealings on tape. My only take is that, if true, he's one of the few dumb enough to get caught.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

there are no winners here.

The hawker of Paris Hilton's sex tape has apparently contacted both Hilton and porn star Jenna Jameson about starring in a new reality series that takes the concept of Beauty and the Geek to new (low) extremes: according to TMZ, he's trying to sell a show called "Virgin Territory," where men in the age ranges of 18-34 compete for an obvious prize where the show's tagline is, "When you win it, you lose it."

Given the various rumors surrounding Hilton and Jameson, I'd advise the winner go with abstinence -- of course, if said show comes to fruition, the contestants probably wouldn't get laid if they didn't win.

Odds on Fox buying it: even.

all for Super Bowl tickets.

You may recall our prior installment on a Chicago Bears fan who induced birth early so her husband could go to last Sunday's NFC championship game. Well, now that the Bears are in the Big Game, the stakes have been raised in the Bears Babymamma Series, as a Lake View resident is offering her eight months pregnant belly as ad space in exchange for tickets. Naturally, Jennifer Gordon is in public relations, and the ad is on Craigslist.

The only condition: No Colts or Indianapolis-related ads.

"You always see these guys with beer bellies with signs across their chests that say, 'Go Bears,'" said Gordon, a season ticket holder. "I just thought, 'Hmm. That could work.'"

Gordon, who usually wears a No. 34 Walter Payton jersey, will be about 8 months along with her first child by kickoff time Feb. 4, so she won't go unnoticed.

"I'll probably wear something Paris Hilton would wear on a normal basis, so there will be ample belly exposure," she vowed.

The problem I see is that it could always wind up looking like this:

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

the NBA's Matt Millen.

Why haven't Timberwolves fans started a "Fire McHale" movement similar to the agony put forth by Lions fans every year for the past few seasons? Given that McHale has fired yet another head coach, it's worth asking. This man is the Matt Millen of the NBA -- questionable trades, bad drafting, routine firing of head coaches that don't solve the problem, the Joe Smith shenanigans, etc., but to pervert Mencken, you can count on a GM not understanding the problem if his job depends on him not understanding it.

The only reason McHale isn't viewed with more scrutiny on a regular basis is because Isiah Thomas exists in this league (and for those of you who would say Isiah is Millen, Isiah is a category unto himself), and to a lesser extent, so does Sixers GM Billy King, who also ought to be out of work and finally caught some national heat during the AI trade hullaballoo. There is also the "local legend" status that McHale holds, but wasting the career of one of the league's most talented players in the mire of numerous promises to compete and failing to field a team around him ought to be grounds for firing. Like the Ford family ought to do, this is a situation where the Wolves ownership needs to take a hard line stand. Like it or not, Jon Dolan did it when he said Isiah had to coach the Knicks to save his job. Maybe the Wolves owners should have done that last year when McHale had to do interim duties.

There aren't a lot of Wolves games on ESPN or TNT these days, but if I catch one, I want to see Twin Cities denizens hoisting some "Fire McHale" signs some time soon. They deserve better.

Update, 1/24 - Clearly Minnesota fans agree, in the most unscientific manner, that Dwane Casey got hosed.

he wags the finger at poverty!

It was bizarre to see Dikembe Mutombo in the booth of Congress, sitting with the First Lady during the State of the Union speech, as the President reeled off a vignette in the speech about his efforts to fight poverty in his native Congo (you can't say Dikembe Mutombo these days without mentioning that he is from the Congo, apparently.) He gets a standing ovation, naturally, especially as the first "personal story" that always gets included in these speeches (after Bush stumbles on his name a couple of times), and it's all so weird to watch; to see that this man, who ought to be way past his prime in NBA years is having a sort of renaissance, proving a valuable player yet again in the injury-plagued career of Yao Ming and wagging the finger at those who dare to come inside the lane. And on top of this, his selflessness gets attention from the executive branch of the United States.

(Tangent: I can't believe I'm still watching the post-speech coverage. Chris Matthews and Eugene Robinson are slathering love all over Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for her lime green business suit. I know it's kind of hypocritical to knock them for focusing on appearance -- see my patterns of Erin Andrews lust -- but these are the people whom we elect to make the policy that shapes our lives and we're concerned with her formal wear?)

is McNabb pulling a T.O.?

Eagles fans really don't get a break from the drama, do they? Reports in ESPN (again, grain of salt rule if you like) say that Donovan McNabb isn't especially pleased with Andy Reid and the org after a series of slights, including a belief that the team might want to stick with Jeff Garcia (which is silly; no pro team would want its first option to be a 38-year old QB.)

Run Up The Score
thinks McNabb is insecure about his job and position on the team. Wouldn't you be after T.O.? I still think that whole mess screwed with his head more than everyone would let on. Never mind the entire city booing him on draft day. You'd find your position precarious from day one. Is Donny emulating some Owens-like behavior? Entirely possible. But RUTS is right -- keep your mom off the eBay tubes, McNabb -- don't give the Philly sports media any extra chances to discuss you if you can help it.

(Speaking of T.O., the Head Chick has his bizarre yet likely true statements on the Parcells retirement over at Leave the Man Alone. The man's a walking PR nightmare; he has no sense of tact -- which is both a good and bad thing.)

breaking up is hard to do.

The relocation follies continue, this time in a league that, if I had started two years ago, probably would have dominated the content of this blog. My hockey obsession kind of died when the strike hit and was then further demolished by the fact that games were only brought national via the lame telecasts on Versus, so I'm not as competent on it as I used to be. (The unbalanced schedule doesn't help -- I'm not particularly interested in watching yet another Kings-Ducks match.)

But this is more about an NHL team having to leave its home city, and it looks like that'll be the case for the Pittsburgh Penguins, as the most popular player on the team in recent memory (still waiting for the verdict on Sidney Crosby long-term) is not particularly happy with the city's plans to keep the team, and continues to look into moving them.

I've long advocated that the NHL should start contracting teams or this would happen. The league expanded too much and too soon, into markets that produce compelling hockey teams but don't really make sense as hockey markets (most of the Deep South teams.) I'm still wondering why cities in the South want hockey teams. Every time relocation discussions come up, it has to do with getting facilities a city really shouldn't have to be in the business of affording -- they've got more important things to fund with taxpayer cash.

a tribute to our favorite lady.

Located at the FanHouse via Mr. Irrelevant:

Oh, dear Erin...we love you.

Raider schadenfreude.

Someone please tell me that hiring Lane Kiffin as the Raiders' new head coach wasn't a decision along the lines of, "Well, we couldn't get our preferred USC O-coordinator, so let's hire the other one!" It's not a bad hire by any stretch, but as much as I hate the Raiders, I've always thought they should suck it up and make Rob Ryan the head coach. The guy looks like he ought to be the head coach of the Raiders.

I wish Kiffin well; he'll need it.

For more possibly questionable actions by the Raiders, WBRS Sports Blog is all over the rumor posted on Ben Maller yesterday that suggested Al Davis wants to deal the #1 pick plus both Randy Moss and Jerry Porter to Atlanta for Ron Mexico. Most people would call such an idea highway robbery in the Falcons' favor; I'd say such a deal would be akin to robbing three casinos Ocean's Eleven-style with every security guard giving you the keys.

Monday, January 22, 2007

your new White House press secretary.

Now that the Head FUPA in Charge has officially handed in his retirement to the Dallas Cowboys, ESPN has done the predictable oral fellation with a special edition of SportsCenter. However, one of the more redeeming features was an entertaining pack on the press conference behavior of Bill Parcells, which gave me an idea for his next career move.

(Setting: Washington, D.C., 8 AM. White House press room.)

Bill Parcells: OK, guys. We've made it through one hour; let's wrap this up.
David Gregory, NBC News: Bill, what motivation could the administration and the President have for sending over 20,000 more troops to Iraq?
BP: Look, you guys have the charts right in front of you. If you're not gonna read 'em, I'm not gonna take the time to explain them to you.
DG: But is this a real plan to win the war or another cynical calculation?
BP: David, I'll say it again: the reason we're doing this is because if we're not going to give it a shot, we might as well pack up and go home. Success is never final, but failure can be. Suzanne?
Suzanne Malveaux, CNN: On the eve of the State of the Union, is the president going to re-state his goals from his last speech or are we going to hear something new?
There will be changes here, there's no doubt about that.
SM: The Iraqi Prime Minister has been saying that the U.S. needs to give the Iraqi government more money and weapons so they can handle their own security. Will the President endorse such an idea?
We see a little progress. So as long as we keep seeing that, then we're willing to give him everything we've got. Terry?
Terry Moran, ABC: Bill, does the President have any comment on the jury selection in the Libby case and the fact that the Vice President is expected to testify?
BP: We're not gonna talk about that aide. We're just not gonna talk about him. Helen?
Helen Thomas, AP: You'll be sorry.
BP: I already am. You have no idea.
HT: Given the various reasons the administration has used to justify the war in Iraq, isn't it fair to ask what the real reason for war was?
BP: OK, look. Isn't liberating the Iraqi people enough? I wish I could say I had something new for you, but I don't. When I know, you'll know.
Promise. See you guys tomorrow.

(Parcells exits stage right to flashbulbs and more questions.)

that's what I get for taking a nap.

I swear when I crashed out on the couch for my customary late-afternoon, early-evening Sunday nap, it was 21-6 and the Patriots had that game in hand. By now, you know what has happened, and we can no longer tag Peyton Manning with the choker label for at least a couple of weeks (depending on whether he completely shits himself against a Bears defense that looked absolutely vicious in the second half.)

After Asante Samuel picked him for six and we saw the second instance of Manning Face in the first half, I figured it was done and I could nap for a couple hours and not miss much. I wake up in the middle of SportsCenter and they're mumbling something about the Colts winning. It felt like a parallel universe of sorts.

I'm not making a pick for the Super Bowl yet. I don't know what to make of either of these teams right now, and my track record has been less than stellar this playoff season.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

taking one for the team.

According to the AP, a Chicago woman decided to induce labor early so her husband could attend today's NFC championship game at Soldier Field.

Now that's dedication.

Rexy promises to sling some extra cum around the field today just for you, Mrs. Pavelka, but he makes no promises that you won't be knocked up again as a result, especially if the Bears pull one out, and if they do, he won't pull out.

I've picked the Saints and I'm rooting for them, but if the Bears win and the Pats beat the Colts, I will be using any and all material I can regarding Rextasy and Dreamboat hitting up the ladies on South Beach, and I bet KSK will outdo themselves. Whom else could you see trying to hit up the surgically rejuvenated vaginas in Miami? Drew Brees appears happily married. As for Peyton, he'd be making the Manning Face after getting shot down the first three times.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

musical chairs: new Steelers coach.

Vikes D-coordinator Mike Tomlin is moving on to Pittsburgh, significant not only in the football sense (he's a defensive coach in an organization mostly known for offense) but also because he's the first black head coach hired by the owner for whom the minority hiring and interview rule is named after.

Outside of the race issue, the more interesting impact is on the Steelers defense, as ESPN's analysts believe Tomlin will want to come in and go to a 4-3 from the current 3-4, and never mind the threat of their QB coach leaving to join their former O-coordinator in Arizona. Tomlin has lucked out -- he's got a very secure job, as the Rooneys don't like getting rid of coaches, but their last two have given them no reasons to make changes (Noll's 4 championships; Coach Buzzcut's one ring plus numerous playoff apperances.) Steeler fans hope Tomlin will be able to make sure Big Ben plays like a champion again rather than just drink like one.

Update, 1/21 - Per Deadspin, the Pittsburgh papers are claiming Steeler O-line coach (and walrus in training) Russ Grimm is the hire, contradicting all national sports outposts. My personal rooting interest goes to Tomlin -- I'm out of walrus and FUPA jokes after using them on four coaches. The Omar Epps gags are better.

no more kings; the queen is dead.

So let's have no more of them, shall we?

By now you've likely read or heard that Senator Hillary Clinton has formally announced her run for the presidency in 2008, and likely either heard or read the prevalent story line that's already been established: Hillary v. Illinois' junior senator Barack Obama, which will get the most play in the media until one of them drops out or is beaten come primary season.

Very few articles written by the major newspapers or pieces done on the major networks mention a key fact: if Senator Clinton happens to enter the Oval Office in 2009 as the 44th President, it would ensure a minimum of 24 years and a maximum of 28 with the head of state of the American government coming from one of two political families.

Much as our political system contains plutocratic, oligarchic, and aristocratic tendencies, I'm pretty sure the candidate pool is, can be, and ought to be a bit deeper than that. Hillary's Kerryism on the Iraq war, moralistic scolding on irrelevancies like video games, and the motivating factor of her run to the rabid right would have turned me off anyway, but give us someone relatively new, please.

musical chairs: the new Dolphins coach.

Cam Cameron won't be making that pose you see at right a heck of a lot next year, as he's decided to take the Miami Dolphins head coaching vacancy after the Nick Saban debacle. He inherits a team plagued with a serious deficiency at the quarterback position (even when Daunte Culpepper is actually healthy) and a tailback whom isn't a fifth of the one he leaves behind in the Whale's Vagina.

I actually think Cameron will finish his initial four-year contract, if not get extended. He has a good track record with quarterbacks in college and the pros, and if any team needs a coach that's good with QBs, it's Miami. The AFC East is a tough division to be in when the Patriots are penciled in for the division crown every year and the Jets and Bills are good when they're clicking.

At least Huizenga made a non-stupid football decision.

basic pop music math.

This is serving as an "S2N tests his HTML cut-and-paste-acumen with YouTube" post, but let's have fun with it.

First, take the Smiths:

Add the Pixies:

...and you get:

Simplistic, yes -- but useful, and of course Radiohead went beyond the equation later.

Friday, January 19, 2007

meta #1.

I've been futzing around with Blogger lately, trying to figure out what works well here (stealing some tips from the layout stuff OMDQ, AwfulAnnouncing, and RUTS do) . The template change is a marked improvement for reading ease.

Advice and suggestions are welcome in comments. Anyone know how to embed YouTube vids without using the stupid "Post it" feature on the site? (It always leaves them on the top of the entry, and I'd rather insert videos in the middle.)

Plus, I'm going with the "commenter blogs" idea (it may have been noticed); if you leave a comment, I'll link back under that category.

The posting regularity and schedule will change in a week or so, as my shift is changing at work, giving me semi-normal hours again. Now, I'm going to sleep a little and figure out how the fuck I can upload an avatar to Deadspin....

my record is crap this year, so let's keep digging.

Patriots (+3) @ Colts - I don't know why anyone ever has the Colts as a favorite against the Patriots. I will take the Pats outright until Peyton beats them; New England wins 17-13.

Saints (+2.5) @ Bears - I see a shootout. Rexy has the better arm, Brees has more weapons. I'll take McAllister over Thomas Jones. Saints secondary stinks, Bears run D is suspect due to injury. Saints play clock control as Bears try to get quick scores and turnovers. Weather would be more of a factor if the Saints couldn't run the ball. 28-20, New Orleans.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

saltines say the darndest things.

From the AP:

A state legislator said black people "should get over" slavery and questioned whether Jews should apologize "for killing Christ," drawing denunciations Tuesday from stunned colleagues.

Del. Frank D. Hargrove, 79, made his remarks in opposition to a measure that would apologize on the state's behalf to the descendants of slaves.

In an interview published Tuesday in The Daily Progress of Charlottesville, Hargrove said slavery ended nearly 140 years ago with the Civil War and added that "our black citizens should get over it."

The newspaper also quoted him as saying, "are we going to force the Jews to apologize for killing Christ?"

Borat would like to say, "High five!"

Tell you what -- we'll get over the whole slavery thing when you get over the fact that the South lost, and put away the Confederate flags. Deal?

well, you gotta have faith....

....especially if you are a fan of a baseball team that hasn't made the playoffs since 1995, never mind never winning its division.

The Colorado Rockies organization has decided to bring back "Faith Day" at Coors Field; it's not without precedent. It's been hosted there before (the Cards and the Braves allow the company that runs it to host it in their stadia too), but the case of the Rockies organization is more interesting because of last year's spate of attention on the team's front office consisting mostly of born-agains.

Coming from someone who thought weekends were better spent sleeping in and watching sports on TV than spending time in the synagogue or in Catholic Lite ceremonies (Episcopalianism: Same Great Taste, Less Papal BS!), I admit I find trying to be godly while your teams finish near the bottom of of a crap division a clear sign that it's not working. Then again, I remember that statewide, Colorado is a homing beacon for people of the God Squad, home to Mullah Dobson and Focus on the Family (and we've not forgotten about you, Ted Haggard), and the cynic in me appreciates the extra possibility of income (God always meets Mammon somewhere along the line.)

The Rockies can do no wrong, so long as they keep the faith, no matter how badly they lose in their division yet again. Just don't sign anyone with a chance of being the first MLBer to come out of the closet.

when athletes hawk diet plans.

I can't be the only one to catch these lame Nutri-System commercials with Dan Marino, Mike Golic, Cris Carter, and other notables (I think one of them has Don Shula) that seem to run a lot on ESPN (yeah, I broke the fucking resolution not to watch while they slurped off Dreamboat and Mongoloid #1; oh well.) Aside from the food looking like crap, I note that John Kruk always utters this line:

"My wife doesn't think I'm so disgusting to look at any more."

I'm not sure whether Kruk's wife is lying or has a severe lack of tact, if she said that. Maybe both. I wonder how starstruck you have to be to have Dan Marino sell you on an overpriced diet system that doesn't do anything that speed couldn't do better.

goddamn airport security.

They had to get Michael Vick in trouble for hiding a pot-like substance in a bottle of Aquafina. Everyone else is all over this stuff.

Whom do you go to rig a bottle like that? Is it homemade or is this a custom job done at shops or something? Chris Henry wants to know. I'm also mildly shocked that Vick had no clue you couldn't take any plastic bottles on the plane these days in the first place.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

know your venue.

If you are a hack like think-tanker Dinesh D'Souza who has authored a book essentially blaming popular culture and the blue states for driving Islamists to attack us, it's probably not a good idea to be the guest on the Colbert Report.

D'Souza needs to fire his booking agent or watch some TV -- this is an absolute owning along the lines of what Colbert did at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

to die for.

A Sacramento woman died from water intoxication (didn't know there was such a thing) after participating in a radio station's contest to win a Nintendo Wii for her kids. The DJs involved all got pink slips.

None of the articles mentioned note whether Jennifer Strange won the contest, but I do believe her family has a real shot at winning a radio station.

musical chairs, Dolphins and Raiders edition.

Freshly sacked Cardinals coach Denny Green is headed to the Bay Area for an interview regarding replacing Art Shell in Oakland.

(Update, 6:50 PM - ESPN sez Green resisted the overtures for an interview -- apparently because he thinks he doesn't need to go through one!)

Two thoughts:
1) It's nice to see a black coach in the "good ol' boy network" that ensures you'll be interviewed and re-hired as a head coach somewhere, no matter how much you suck. Now that is progress.
2) This better be an attempt just to fulfill the Rooney Rule, or Al Davis is who we thought he was -- demented and off his fucking meds.

(Update #2, 10:14 PM - NFL Adam notes James Lofton is a candidate, too, and also notes his bang-up work as the Chargers wideouts coach. Hall of Fame WR and you can't teach 6'5" no namers not to drop balls? Hmm...)

Wayne Huizenga, fresh off paying D-coordinator Dom Capers stupid money, reportedly has two choices for his head coach: Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey or recently fired Falcons coaches Jim Mora the Younger.

(Update, 6:50 pm - Now the Fins are looking at former 'Bama coach Mike Shula. I propose a new reality TV show called Coach Swap.)

Three bits:
1) More good ol' boy network. Chan Gailey is the current embodiment of it working for you. (Like Zach says, if Calvin Johnson was your star wideout, you probably should have thrown to him every damn time.) Mora the Younger is in the Network because being a coach who's the son of a coach means you're in even if you've only had one head job.
2) Dolphins fans can prepare for two or three more .500 seasons without making the playoffs, no matter whom is ultimately selected.
3) Wayne Huizenga knows fuck all about football, if that wasn't clear already.

I think the good ol' boy network in coaching exists for a reason: NFL coaches don't want to lose their jobs, so they promote the assistants whom they know will make mediocre to crappy head coaches, sell them to the dumber owners/GMs in the league with good recommendations. These coaches get fired once, head to another job as a coordinator or a college coach, work it up, then go back again because everyone remembers he was a head coach in the NFL once. Most of these guys then get hired again, and the cycle continues -- please observe the cases of morons like Green and the Network's cheap slut, Norv Turner. Rod Marinelli is headed in this direction -- you coach the Lions; you're in the network.

Monday, January 15, 2007

trying to anesthetize the way that you feel.

Occasionally, you run across a statement by a senator or congressman regarding a piece of legislation that reads like a gaffe, but obviously wasn't. This one regarding legislation on restricting satellite and Internet radio recording, is courtesy of my own wonderful senator:

The proposal says that all audio services--Webcasters included--would be obligated to implement "reasonably available and economically reasonable" copy-protection technology aimed at preventing "music theft" and restricting automatic recording.

"New radio services are allowing users to do more than simply listen to music," Feinstein said in a statement. "What was once a passive listening experience has turned into a forum where users can record, manipulate, collect and create personalized music libraries."

Sounds like what all music lovers have been doing for decades, and an enterprising business discovered they could make money off it. Senator Feinstein has grandchildren. I'm sure one of her kids used those cassette things to make something called a "mixtape." Her grandkids are probably "ripping tunes to a CD-R" or their "iPods."

The new America is like Soviet Russia: here, music plays you!

the charity stripe.

True Hoop highlights this NYT piece on Gary Boren, an investment banker and the Mavericks' free throw coach -- he got most of his method from Mark Price's dad (Price, of course, is the NBA's all-time leader in free-throw shooting percentage.) Watching college and pro basketball convinces you that the charity stripe is nothing but, as it's a tough exercise for anyone. I've wondered how NBA players can hit threes and long jump shots yet only shoot in the 70 percents at the line, and Boren illuminated a great point: when you are at the line, it's a different set of responses than when the game is on -- the mechanics are different.

Why teams don't hire more coaches of Boren's ilk is a good question. Ben Wallace, Tyson Chandler, Shaq (the epitome of this topic, likely), and most big men in the league are bad shooters at the stripe. Henry Abbott is probably on to something -- I wouldn't put it past more teams to hire coaches like Boren with complete control over this particular area if it means as many games as Abbott believes.

on Dr. King.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. Day falls on the man's birthday, it's not a bad idea to remember that many in the political environment today who use his words and speeches to try and advocate policies that he likely would not have touched with a ten-foot pole were the types who declared him an anarchist and an inciter to violence back in the day. Sadly, a very good article on that is restricted to subscribers of the New Republic, so these excerpts over at Hullaballoo will have to do.

When Martin Luther King was buried in Atlanta, the live television coverage lasted seven and a half hours. President Johnson announced a national day of mourning: "Together, a nation united and a nation caring and a nation concerned and a nation that thinks more of the nation's interests than we do of any individual self-interest or political interest--that nation can and shall and will overcome." Richard Nixon called King "a great leader--a man determined that the American Negro should win his rightful place alongside all others in our nation." Even one of King's most beastly political enemies, Mississippi Representative William Colmer, chairman of the House rules committee, honored the president's call to unity by terming the murder "a dastardly act."

Others demurred. South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond wrote his constituents, "[W]e are now witnessing the whirlwind sowed years ago when some preachers and teachers began telling people that each man could be his own judge in his own case." Another, even more prominent conservative said it was just the sort of "great tragedy that began when we began compromising with law and order, and people started choosing which laws they'd break."

That was Ronald Reagan, the governor of California, arguing that King had it coming. King was the man who taught people they could choose which laws they'd break--in his soaring exegesis on St. Thomas Aquinas from that Birmingham jail in 1963: "Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. ... Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong."

Some called it lawlessness, anarchy, and incitement to violence. Today, the sane world recognizes it as justice, while others try to take the words and twist them to say racism is over and the corrective measures are not in King's spirit, barely 40 years after the federal government decided to ensure the black person's right to vote.

do not let this man near your football program.

My daily skimming through Ben Maller brought up this little tidbit from the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "Former Northwestern and Colorado football coach Gary Barnett is very interested in the [Minnesota] Gophers' vacancy."

Let us remember this choice passage, as One More Dying Quail has helpfully resurrected it in an otherwise great post on how questionable the state of Colorado has been for athletics in all forms:

"Summer 2000: Colorado University kicker Katie Hnida is allegedly raped by a teammate on the school’s football team. Coach Gary Barnett later dismisses this and other allegations of sexual misconduct toward Hnida by saying, “It’s obvious Katie was not very good…she was awful. Katie was not only a girl, she was terrible, OK? There’s no other way to say it.” Barnett also saw Colorado deal with a recruiting scandal before losing his job in 2005."

Let us also reflect on this bit of admitted schadenfreude by Barnett kept for posterity by the Wizard of Odds, the fall after he was fired two years too late (of course, only getting fired because he got shellacked by a Vince-Young led Texas):

"Former Colorado coach Gary Barnett told the Colorado Springs Gazette said he has mixed feelings over the Buffaloes' stumbling start under new coach Dan Hawkins. 'I hurt for the kids, he said. 'Those are my guys. I know the talent that we have there, the maturity and the leadership, and I want those guys to get everything they deserve, and I want them to play in the [Big 12] Championship Game again. Then, on the other side, I got taken out of that situation. I got removed from it and someone else made that decision. Part of me felt a little vindication because of it.'"

My dad and I have both suffered through the abject stupidity, aloofness, and classless behavior of Barnett over the years (Pop is a Northwestern alum; I spent ten years watching CU football and have several high school friends who played on various teams), and recently, we came to a conclusion: any athletic director who offers this man a head coaching job ought to be tarred, feathered, maimed, shot, and then run out of town if s/he somehow managed to survive all of that.

No one at CU thought it was possible to do MORE damage to the program after Rick Neuheisel left for Washington, but Barnett exceeded all expectations.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

drop your weapons, please.

Do you want five has-beens like the ones above wielding guns and badges?

Neither do I, yet CBS thinks it was a good programming idea. This from the network that believes David Spade makes a convincing Lothario-style bachelor.

I know they've only trained them to be reserve officers, but the idea of people as unstable, stupid, and airheaded as Jack Osbourne, LaToya Jackson, and Erik Estrada training to be cops in Muncie, Indiana screams out, crying at the stupidity involved.

well, at least I get to keep a New Year's resolution for a week.

Watching less SportsCenter will be very, very easy now this week. You can expect the same recycled stories and arguments about Brady owning Peyton, Belichick inside his head, how this may be the Colts year, how great they both are as quarterbacks, Brady = Montana, Manning = Marino (unless he wins this year). KSK says it in ways I wish I would have. I am now on the NFC bandwagon.

(P.S. Andy Reid, you've been given a reprieve. Marty snatched defeat from the jaws of victory yet again.)

a few quick ones (while he's away).

1) Musical chairs update: Fox's NFL "insider" claims Steeler O-coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is the new Buzzsaw coach. If true, it's a smart hire (confirmed via ESPN.)

2) What the hell has Dom Capers done to warrant being paid over $2 million a year as the D-coordinator in Miami? I remember nothing but crap losing seasons from him as a head coach ever since one season of leading Carolina to the NFC championship game. Coordinators shouldn't be getting head coach money like that, no matter how good. The Dolphins seem to be well on their way to becoming the Redskins of the AFC -- overpaying for talent and no team cohesiveness at all.

3) I've never quite been so happy to be so wrong on the Colts-Ravens game, because of the old Baltimore fans having the temerity to continue whining on SportsCenter about the Midnight Move even after the city swiped the Cleveland Browns.

4) Eagles coach Andy Reid has temporarily stolen the "Playoff Choker" coach label from Marty Schottenheimer, pending the outcome of Pats-Bolts this afternoon (which I'll be live-blogging over at AwfulAnnouncing.) Why is 4th and 10 worth going for it, but not 4th and 15?

5) Still going with the Hawks and SUPER-Chargers.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

you stay classy, New Orleans.

(Deadspin commenter Rob Iracane nabbed the screen capture. MJD also nabbed video.)

yeah, that messy divorce was worth it.

Per ESPN, Giants DE Michael Strahan has to pay his ex-wife the multi-millions she was due in the pre-nup plus the hundreds of thousands in child support owed. So, Michael, you just went through the public wringer of a New York messy divorce, including the accusations of an "alternative lifestyle" by the missus, and you still wind up having to pay the same money written into the paper? Clearly, you hired a hack for a divorce lawyer -- ask for the retainer back; he was about as useful as T.O.'s publicist.

I don't think you helped on the "alternative lifestyle" rumors by pulling the "MORE MEAT!" with Jared on those Subway ads, either. Rule #1 for all athletes in divorce cases, especially if you've got a pre-nup: PAY THE WOMAN.

Friday, January 12, 2007

crying over spilt ink.

The Mighty MJD has a great post about the myth of the steroid double standard re: football -- he caught a snippet of Royals 1B/DH Mike Sweeney complaining about how the NFL and football fans don't care about Shawne Merriman's doping since he's headed to the Pro Bowl, and rightly declared it utter crap.

Personally, I don't want Merriman in the Pro Bowl and I was happy he didn't win Defensive Player of the Year, but by the NFL's standards, he is a Pro Bowl player. He served his four-game suspension and came back, and if he plays at the level he did prior to steroids, in a couple years this will be a footnote.

One of MJD's commenters nailed the reason why football gets accused of sweeping it under the rug: baseball writers spilled a lot of ink on Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa during their Maris chase, romanticizing The Chase as the revitalization of the sport after the wasteland of the '94 strike, endemic of the flowery prose regularly lathed on baseball by writers as a poetic game, the thinking man's sport and still national pastime, despite the NFL's severe domination of the sporting world. The rug then got pulled out from under them.

The contempt for baseball's cheaters and the institution that protected them for decades gets foisted off onto other sports, despite the NFL's steroid and drug policies already in place to handle Merriman, never mind what MJD notes as the elite pseudo-intellectualism of baseball (the epitome of this is George Will) looking down on the crass, lower-class football nation and scolding them for imaginary willful ignorance. Since they cannot nail the past cheaters because they've retired or manage to evade official punishment while suffering in the court of public opinion (i.e., Bonds), they need someone to take it out on.

"Nothing on earth is more depressing than an old baseball writer." - Dan Jenkins, modifying the old Ring Lardner quote (“There isn't anything on earth as depressing as an old sportswriter.”)

the vanity retirement.

Ordinarily I wouldn't two shits about the retirement of an obnoxious ass of a relief pitching specialist like Jeff Nelson (in a position that includes John Rocker among its current or former members, "obnoxious ass" and "relief pitcher" in the same sentence appears redundant), but this little tidbit on his retirement announcement is what got me: he signed a minor league contract with the Yankees in order to retire.

This needs to be nipped in the bud. Re-signing with your old team where your greatness was made seems to have started (or at least grown in the sports public consciousness) with Jerry Rice, who signed with the Niners for a day before retiring after stints with the Raiders, Seahawks, and Broncos, and the last two were, at best, ill-advised. But we can excuse Rice because he was and is a legend -- it's a good PR move, even though no one will really ever see him as anything else than a 49er. Nelson seems not to know his station, despite having won several rings with the Yankees -- only legends get to participate in the vanity retirement and one-day contract. Roger Clemens could do this and it would be permissible. Mr. Nelson, you, despite your nasty slider and championship rings, are no Roger Clemens.

sisters are doin' it for themselves.

So, I'm watching Wizards-Hornets, just to see if I luck into some of the awesome that is Gilbert Arenas (I'll probably write my man-crush post on him at some point; this isn't his best game, but I'm totally buying into any Wizards game being an automatic view because of him), and I'm kind of fading in and out, but I'm wondering whom the lady is doing color. I catch a first name and run the Google, because the WWL has been doing some serious affirmative action when it comes to bringing in ladies in the studio and on the sidelines for men's sports lately, which is kind of weird to observe. When it comes to men's sports, women are often consigned to the bin of sideline reporters, not game or studio analysts.

Kara Lawson did color for the game and held it down even though Gilbert had a day best described as less than Zero. He wound up with 20+ points instead of 30+ in the loss, and he's not taking his usual quota of shots or dominating (I blame the ugly-ass alternate unis; plus, the Wizards just didn't stop Desmond Mason.) Googling Ms. Lawson only listed her as a sideline type; I presume this was her first night on color. ESPN's been raiding the WNBA ranks for ladies to analyze men's sports lately. I'm seeing a lot of Swin Cash on ESPNews and occasionally on Shootaround and Fast Break, plus Stacy Dales is doing analysis in studio and sideline for men and women's college ball. (Obligatory nod to Pam Ward for calling college football on the Deuce, but if someone like, say, Erin Andrews wants to call games eventually, she should take Pam as a "how not to call it" primer.)

Maybe others have gotten to it before, but this is a quiet story to me, the kind that doesn't really get a lot of attention but deserves more -- there are plenty of female beat reporters throughout sports, and we crack jokes about the comeliness of sideline reporters such as Ms. Andrews, but this is a very subtle paradigm shift for sports analysis going on here. Call it "breaking the glass booth," to pervert a phrase.

Despite my love for the Marv Albert/Charles Barkley experiment that went on last week, I'm now kind of curious to see what Cheryl Miller would do alongside Marv -- your move, TNT.

(Extra tangential announcing bit: Tirico, Jon Barry, and Bill Walton are on Rockets-Nuggets, which means fun watching AI, and I have to go on record with my enjoyment of Bill Walton, especially for the anecdote that he got from Mutombo about George Karl checking out of a Denver hotel back in '93 when his Sonics went 2-0 on the Nuggs in the first round of the playoffs:

"Dikembe said, 'As soon as we knew George had checked out of the hotel, we knew he had checked out of the series.'" Priceless stuff.

1/13, 1:15 pm - Welcome to those of you coming from Deadspin.)

you knew this parody was coming.

I knew nothing about this until Keith Olbermann had the face and the voice behind it on Countdown this evening. Not as fun as its inspiration (plus, if you caught the interview, note that I think the woman who sang it was hotter), but anything that mocks Britney's commando-style gets a thumbs-up by me.

programming note.

I'll be over at AwfulAnnouncing this Sunday afternoon, live-blogging the Pats and the Chargers as part of a weekend-long NFL live-blog playoff line-up that includes One More Dying Quail pulling a double shift on Saturday and AA commenter Sam T handling Seahawks-Bears.

where slack-jawed yokels and sex bombers go down.

Colts @ Ravens (-4) - Peyton Manning blows against actual defenses that can get to him, and the Ravens are one of them. It pains me to pick them because of the pomposity of Brian Billick and Ray Lewis' styling by SI as "God's Linebacker," but Baltimore's defensive line will make Peyton see dead relatives.

Eagles @ Saints (-5) - It's been a nice run for Jeff Garcia and the Eagles, but this is the week where he remembers he's Jeff Garcia. New Orleans' defense is spotty and Philly's is rendered spotty by injury, so you go for the shoot-out and take the home team.

Seahawks (+9.5) @ Bears - Sexy Rexy slings enough rapid-fire cumshot passes in bad areas to make the most subpar of cornerbacks look like Pro Bowl fodder, so this is the game most likely for an upset. The problem is that everyone's taking the Seahawks with that line, even with their patchwork secondary, and they won by the grace of Tony Romo's bad hands last week, not because of anything they did on offense. It's asking a lot to pull that luck two weeks straight, but the foot of Seattle kicker Josh Brown will do it.

Patriots @ Chargers (-5) - Hardest game to try and pick, but the Pats did lose to a Plummer-led Broncos last year, and no Rodney Harrison makes the defensive woes worse, which means Fantasy Jesus gets a chance to run all over the place. Schottenheimer's due to stop fucking up, and this is the team that's stacked enough to do it with, as long as Philip Rivers doesn't get the jitters.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

musical chairs, Buzzsaw update.

A post over at the FanHouse says Texans O-coordinator Mike Sherman is gonna be tapped to lead the Arizona Cardinals next year, taking over for the lamented (and equally lamentable) Denny Green. If true, it's not a bad hire, but not a great one either. The few cognizant images I have of Sherman from his days as the head man on the coaching sidelines in Green Bay post-Holmgren are images like the one I've used, more often than not with a confused and/or frustrated look on his face, with Packer teams that underachieved (and it seems to be a trademark of sorts with Sherman, a good coach who takes jobs of late with underperforming or permanently re-tooling teams.)

If the Bidwill family follows through on this, we can freely expect the biggest Buzzsaw backer in blogland to be in some form of mourning, as Sherman is not a bad enough choice to inspire mass protest or anger among the faithful used to losing; he's just another uninspiring choice for a sports city full of uninspiring choices, save the Suns.