Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Looking for a Midweek Pulse

Since it’s a brutally slow Wednesday, it’s as good a time as any to bring back a gimmick I used once this summer. I’ll look at a screen shot I’ve taken (and poorly done I might add) of the top stories on and talk about the importance, or lack thereof, of each article. I know, it’s as exciting as it sounds. Please stay calm. Also, I might have claimed that this was going to be one of many regular features here, and if I did, I lied.

NOTE: As much as I like to point out ESPN’s failures, this isn’t a knock on them. These are seriously the biggest things going on in sports as of 3 o’clock this afternoon.

A-Rod greeted by boos, replies with homer. I first read “boos” as “booze” in my head. I’m sure Rodriguez would have enjoyed being greeted by booze so he couldn’t feel anything for awhile, but while it’s not hard to play on LSD (see: Dock Ellis’ no-hitter while high on LSD), I imagine it’s probably a little harder to play drunk. Former Yankee pitcher David Wells claimed he threw a no-hitter hung over, but not drunk. Big difference.

And kudos to the Toronto Blue Jays for actually having fans at a spring training game. I was unaware Blue Jay fans existed south of the US/Canadian border, but after I looked at the temperature in Toronto (currently 36 degrees), I can see why they might be in sunny Florida (current temperature of 69 with a high of 78 tomorrow).

We can also expect to see a story about fans booing Rodriguez exactly 162 times during the baseball regular season.

Buccaneers release Brooks, Dunn, three others. At first, I thought the Bucs owned the rights to the musical tandem Brooks & Dunn, but alas, we weren’t that lucky. It will be interesting to see if Derrick Brooks can have success in his solo career…(whoops, sorry about that)...have success somewhere else.

He played in the same defense his entire career and mastered his role in that defense, which helped offset the decline of some of his physical skills. I’m sure someone will at least give him a look, but I would assume the demand for a 35-year old linebacker won’t be that high.

As for one of the three others, Ike Hilliard, there is continuous demand in the NFL for underachieving, veteran wide receivers.

Amid layoffs, Goodell takes 20 percent pay cut. In terms of a game of PR moves, Goodell, playing the role of the ’92 Dream Team, just had another dunk where, as he hangs on the rim, his junk ends up in the face of Bud Selig, who is playing the role of the Angolan National Team.

In progress: Match Play bracket. Something about some guy named Tiger Woods coming back. He doesn’t sound very good. Look for Kenny Perry to win it all.

Beltre might defy Ms, play in WBC. Let’s see, the fans have turned on Bud Selig, the players have to be pissed off at him that a list of steroid users that was never supposed to be released is going to be released, and every couple of years each team’s management has to worry about its players getting hurt in a tournament no one cares about that was created by one Bud Selig. It’s like he made a high-stakes bet that he could pass Gary Bettman as the worst commissioner in the history of modern professional sports.

Brodeur’s back; Clemmensen returns to the AHL. Speaking of Gary Bettman, this has to be the first time his league has been mentioned on the front page of ESPN’s website in like 10 years. Somewhere Bud Selig is already counting his money.

Tejada turns down DR after request to play 1B. Perhaps if they added a non-extradition law to the country he might reconsider. Tejada is awaiting sentencing on March 26th after he was convicted of lying to congressional investigators about his knowledge of other players using steroids. He most likely won’t face jail time, but with the current nation-wide “She’s a witch! Burn her!” attitude towards baseball players, I would at least be a little nervous.

Crosby’s sore groin keeps him out vs. Islanders. Another NHL story! Gary Bettman is on fire right now! But seriously, NHL ’94 on Sega Genesis was one of the greatest video games ever made. I can’t even ballpark how many hours I spent playing that game.

Matsuzaka struggles in Japan WBC tuneup win. You sly devils at ESPN. First you give us a Yankees’ story and then finish it up with a Red Sox story. What a great way to subtly mention your favorite rivalry in all of sport (Yeah, I know I’m reaching here, but dammit, look at this list! There’s nothing going on!). I can only hope that this year’s 21 televised Red Sox/Yankees’ games are as riveting as the last 2,509,367 that have been on TV since 2002.

Insider: Introducing “Wednesday with Mel”. Anyone want to pony up $3.33 a month to spend an intimate Wednesday afternoon with Mel Kiper? Robes and candles are not included in the price.

Monday, February 23, 2009

From the Weekend That Was

And what a weekend it was. There was so much that didn’t happen, it’s hard to remember what did happen. So let’s get right to it…

Emmitt Smith’s assault on grammar, complete sentences, and rational thoughts can no longer be seen ESPN. The Leader has elected not to renew Smith’s contract, thus ending his two-year run of making everyone else around him appear exponentially smarter than they actually are. May I present exhibits A and B:

The happiest person in the world today has to be Steve Young. I can imagine nothing worse than being stuck between Stuart Scott and Emmitt Smith for five hours on a Monday night. Poser hip-hop speak in one ear and a three-year “education” from the University of Florida in the other. This weekend might have been the first days Steve Young hasn’t cried in two years.

Go ahead and mark this down: Emmitt will join Michael Irvin’s radio show in Dallas. I can hear them right now yuking it up about the way they used to do it with the Cowboys. Irvin just repeating the same phrase over and over, “That’s how we did it! That’s how we did it, man! I’m sayin’, that’s how we did it!” And Emmitt just being Emmitt, “See when Mike and I was playin’, we didn’t have none of those things. None of them extra perts. We did without. Didn’t need them perts.” My condolences go out to the good people of Dallas.

Pockets of light stretching and jogging break out across Florida and Arizona. That’s right, today is the day the majority of major league baseball players report to their respective spring training camps. Thought it’s hard to believe that in just a little over eight months, the season will be over. But for now, players are getting ready for the grind of the season by taking two minutes to jog from foul pole to foul pole, fielding imaginary grounders from the pitcher’s mound, taking some light batting practice (light is the perfect word to describe any baseball related activity), and hoping they don’t have to pee in a cup.

Some people won and some people lost at the Oscars last night. I’ve never understood the appeal of watching award shows. I suppose there’s some excitement as all the nominees are being announced and there’s some drama right after the winner’s name is read (but I have a hard time believing someone sitting at home gets so emotionally attached to a movie that they’re genuinely nervous), but other than that I think it’s four hours of over-produced crap.

I probably didn’t help my chances of watching last night since I saw exactly zero of any of the movies (or films for the sophisticated crowd) that were nominated. It’s not that I didn’t want to see any of them, it’s that going to the movies is such a pain in the ass and not a good experience.

WARNING: AN OLD MAN-GET-OFF-MY-LAWN-RANT ABOUT TO TAKE PLACE. Seriously, going to the movies sucks. It’s expensive (or at least the price of a ticket has just about doubled in less than 10 years) and, without a doubt, there’s at least, AT LEAST, one jackass who unknowingly is out to ruin the whole experience for everyone (I say unknowingly because they’re too stupid to realize what they’re doing is pissing everyone else off). The talking out loud, either to one of their friends or, even worse, the movie itself, really should be considered an offense punishable by death. And I can’t even talk rationally about people using or, most heinously, talking on their cell phones during the movie. Just know that they should be executed on the spot, no questions asked.


Okay, glad we got that cleared up.

More coming later in the week, but it should be noted Ole Miss is now 6-6 in the SEC. I can think of about zero people who thought this was possible when Chris Warren was injured in December. Of the eight people currently playing significant minutes, five were not playing Division I basketball last year. FIVE. That’s pretty much all the evidence you need to name Andy Kennedy Coach of the Year.

LSU’s Trent Johnson will most likely win, but what Kennedy has done with this team after all the injuries, inexperience, and the cab driver fracas is, in my mind, a far superior coaching performance. I know the SEC would never give that award to a coach with a losing conference record (or to coaches who are involved in “international altercations”), so Ole Miss would need to go 2-2 the rest of the way to get to 8-8.

After Warren got hurt, I said I’d be impressed if this team won five games. Now, with four games left, they’ve got a shot at a winning record in conference play and an outside (like 1 in 1,000) shot at making the NCAA Tournament. You may now color me impressed.

Friday, February 20, 2009

John Tesh: Healer of DMV Visitors' Sanity

I planned to have something for today, but instead I spent my day dealing with the state of Tennessee employees who run one of the driver's license stations, vehicle emissions testing station, and the county clerk's office. So after spending 5 hours dealing with apathy, incompetence of an unbelievably high degree, and complete and utter inefficiency, I'm a little frazzled. Oh, and I'm still not done. I reached a boiling point while trying to get a license plate and just had to leave. The people in that building didn't know how close they were to receiving a barrage of Ed Orgeron-like headbutts.

Sorry to bore you with the rundown of my day today, but at least it gives you a reason as to why I brought nothing to the table (other than me being lazy). In asking for your forgiveness, I present to you a gift: Mr. John Tesh giving the backstory (then actually playing) the song he wrote for NBC's NBA coverage when they used to be a real network and televised sports other arena football (No, seriously, they did.). And it's safe to say this video is beyond spectacular.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

SEC Basketball: They Are Actually Playing the Games

It’s now the middle of February and I’ve managed to ignore basketball, or football’s little brother, for almost three and half months. My only excuse I can offer is that I’m still emotionally fragile after my team lost its top two players (before Terrico White decided he wanted to be the best player on the team) for the season and its coach was arrested the night before the toughest game of the entire season. And all of this happened in about month. Throw in the emotional high from football season and it was a little hard to get focused on basketball.

So in order to make up for the redheaded stepchild treatment I’ve been giving basketball, here’s my attempt to run through each team in the SEC (as they appear in the standings) and go over what has happened and what I think will happen. And of course I’ll do it in a gimmicky Coors Light Cold Hard Facts fashion. That way, there’s less thinking or active learning for you, the reader. You’re welcome.


Florida (19-5, 6-3)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: Billy Donovan continues to set the pace for most perspiration from a coach during a game and for having the most wicked widow’s peak of all-time. Nick Calathes, one of the leagues best players, leads the SEC in whining, as he makes more noise than feminine regions of Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker combined.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Donovan will continue to sweat and sharpen than triangle that rests on his forehead, Calathes will visit English Premiere League teams to learn more effective whining techniques, and the Gators will be bounced in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

South Carolina (17-5, 6-3)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: The Gamecocks got a new coach to replace Dave Odom, which until a few weeks ago, I didn’t even know happened. Darrin Horn now runs the show in Columbia and, as part of getting the students more involved, has them dress for the games as if they are part of some Columbian paramilitary force. Very good idea until you realize that urban camouflage is stupid.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: South Carolina is extremely athletic and a pretty good offensive team. They also are South Carolina and have a tendency to do nothing (other than lose to 15 seeds) when they make the NCAA Tournament. However, I say they break through and we’ll see them in the Sweet Sixteen.

Kentucky (17-7, 6-3)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: Jodie Meeks averages about 25 points a game and head coach Billy Gillispie hates ESPN’s Jeannine Edwards.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Gillispie will continue to wage his war of unholy terror on sideline reporters, which will make television very exciting when Kentucky loses in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and Gillispie is marching off the floor.

Tennessee (15-8, 6-3)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: The preseason favorite to win the SEC has fallen on hard times as of late (outstanding sports cliché), which has Bruce Pearl longing for the days when he had a player or two capable of making a shot outside of 15 feet and when he could get a little handsy with Erin Andrews.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Someone will finally make Bruce Pearl realize that playing on a court with the women’s coach’s name on it is embarrassing. This will fester for a few weeks, finally resulting in a press conference explosion after the Vols lose in their first game of the SEC Tournament, which keeps them out of the NCAA Tournament.

Vanderbilt (15-8, 4-5)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: Vanderbilt is a really boring team that beats bad teams and loses to average and good teams. In fact, everything about Vanderbilt is boring. I can’t say I’ve ever looked forward to watching them play, even in football. But Nashville is pretty fun. That’s about all I’ve got here.


Georgia (9-15, 0-8)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: Thanks to their charge through the SEC Tournament last year, Georgia had to wait until this season to fire its coach. Other season highlights include a loss to Loyola (IL) and an overtime loss to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: I think they’ll fall one game short of equaling the Detroit Lions’ 0-16 record, thanks to playing Auburn in Athens next week. And Bobby Knight will realize how foolish it would be to become the head coach at Georgia, thus withdrawing his name from consideration.


LSU (20-4, 8-1)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: The Tigers didn’t cave to the pressure of hiring their interim head coach, Butch Pierre, and went outside the South to hire Trent Johnson from Stanford. That seems to have worked out rather well. And it probably helps to have Marcus Thornton, who has scored at least 20 points 11 times, and Tasmin Mitchell, who has done it six times.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: I think this LSU team has a chance to make a strong showing in the SEC Tournament. Of course, this could be my attempt to throw out a jinx on them, but you’ll never know. Sweet Sixteen it is….no, make it Elite Eight. No, I’ll stay at Sweet Sixteen.

Mississippi State (16-8, 6-3)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: They managed to blow a 25-12 first half lead to Ole Miss, which may come back to blow their shot at the NCAA Tournament, as well as a loss at home to San Diego. Also, Rick Stansbury still claps like a seal. Seriously, watch him the next time they’re on TV. His hands don’t cross, they just line up exactly in-line with one another. Palm to palm and fingers to fingers. It drives me crazy. Someone please show him how people are supposed to clap.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: With Mike Slive chairing the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, you can bet that if State gets to 20 wins, they’re in. Looking at their remaining games, I think they’ll be 19-11 going into the last game of the regular season at Ole Miss. Oh, the drama. Win and they’re probably in. Lose and they’ll need to win at least two in the SEC Tournament to get in to the NCAA Tournament. Look for Southwest Missouri State to make a trip to Starkville in the NIT opening round.

Auburn (15-9, 4-5)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: The Tigers are suddenly feisty with back-to-back wins over Tennessee and Arkansas. However, since no one goes to or cares about Auburn basketball games, this cannot be confirmed (both the feistiness and wins). I’m not even sure if Auburn has a basketball team this year.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Nothing remotely interesting. But I’m sure the Gene Chizik era will be quite interesting.

Ole Miss (13-10, 4-5)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: A couple dozen knee injuries and a head coach who was arrested at one in the morning in Cincinnati, Ohio. It sounds made up, but it really did happen. Look it up. Good times.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: The NIT and the end of the season. Hopefully.

Alabama (13-10, 3-6)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: Another school that couldn’t wait to fire its head coach. Mark Gottfried was one of the best coaches in the country at doing less with more on a consistent basis. And that’s hard to do. Opposing schools throughout the conference will miss his in-game coaching, which always gave his opponents a chance to win.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: The spring football game in about two months.

Arkansas (13-9, 1-8)
WHAT HAS HAPPENED: The hell if I know. This team was 12-1 going into conference play and is now 13-9. Now THAT’S hard to do. I’m assuming all those non-conference home games they played didn’t really help them get ready for conference games, where they are now 0-5 on the road (just a thought).

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: More unhealthy man-love for Bobby Petrino, who will of course leave Arkansas at the earliest possible date he is eligible to do so.

Monday, February 09, 2009

From the Weekend That Was

Raise your hand if you knew the Pro Bowl was yesterday. Anyone? If I hadn’t seen a link about it this morning, I never would have known. And nor would I a month from now think, “Did they play the Pro Bowl this year?” if I had missed that link. It’s sort of like the old consolation game in the NCAA Tournament, except the NCAA figured out a long time ago that their consolation game should be cancelled because it doesn’t matter. The season is over, the game means nothing, and the players are about as interested in playing as Lane Kiffin is in not being a schmuck.

But, the NFL is making an effort to make the game, at the very least, appear on people’s mental calendars by moving it to the weekend before the Super Bowl. Next year, the game will be played in Miami instead of Hawaii, thus bringing the game into a time zone not 18 hours behind the rest of America, which will allow it to be played at night, which hopefully creates more excitement around half-speed pass rushes and offensive players terrified of contact (Could I have used any more commas in that sentence? Holy crap.). I have no idea if this will help interest in the game (most likely not), but it will give residents of Miami something other than the Marlins to ignore.

Ole Miss took Saturday off and a loss to Vanderbilt was the predictable result. I suppose this will be the norm for the rest of the season. A stretch of a few good games, followed by a big, fat stinkbomb. True freshman Terrico White continues to dominate and has become the best offensive player on the team. As long as he’s playing like this, just give him the SEC Freshman of the Week award and don't pretend like he doesn’t deserve it. I’m not really big on these weekly awards, but I at least want them to go to the most deserving person. Not giving it to White is like that year Karl Malone won NBA MVP over Michael Jordan simply because the writers were tired of giving it to Jordan (not that Terrico White is Michael Jordan).

It’s official: Everyone in baseball took steroids. The latest guilty party, Alex Rodriguez, admitted today that he took steroids while playing with the Texas Rangers after a report that came out over the weekend claimed he did. This, of course, happened under the watchful eye of Bud Selig, who, as I mentioned on Thursday, sat by during this era and did nothing. Technically, steroids were illegal in baseball since they were illegal in the United States (without a prescription), but there was no testing when Rodriguez used them, which makes complete sense.

While there are many people out there who are greatly distressed that such a huge star in the game now has a tainted record (most notably Buster Olney and Tim Kukjian, who are both gently weeping as we speak, now that “America’s game” is heading straight down the crapper), one man who is not upset is Michael Phelps. Phelps probably could not be more elated that he can now watch SportsCenter without seeing a reference to or a picture of the bong he used in the fall, which set off a media shit-fit last week. There’s no doubt in my mind Michael Phelps is the happiest man in America right now.

However, for the rest of us, we have to hear about steroids and Alex Rodriguez ad nauseam. The only shot we’ve got to not hear about this anymore is if another big name is on that list of players that tested positive in 2003 or if Kobe and LeBron face each other in the NBA Finals. Until then, get ready for a steady diet of Baseball Tonight roundtable discussions with John Kruk, Fernando Vina (a cheater) and Karl Ravech.

Actually, Andruw Jones did not take steroids. Unless steroids are found in fatty foods that are a part of a daily 25,000-calorie diet, I don’t think he did. However, Andruw did sign a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers over the weekend. If he makes the team out of spring training, he’ll be owed $500,000, plus possible incentives. By my math, if he makes the team, he’ll get $500,000 per hit.

Remember when I said almost anything remotely interesting would make it on here? Well, this is one of those stories. Tom Glavine is currently mulling a contract offer from the Braves that could pay him as much as $3 million next season. Glavine is quoted as saying he’s not sure right now if what it takes to pitch is worth the amount offered. Going 6-9 with a 5.42 ERA next season is much pricier than I thought it would be.

I’m on a boat. I got my swim trunks and my flippie-floppies.