Friday, May 29, 2009

Early SEC Storylines That One Might Find Compelling and Rich

After spending the past two months doing my best to ignore SEC football, mainly all the media love Ole Miss is getting, I finally cracked. I started reading about the SEC coaches’ meetings in Destin, read about eight pages worth of archives on Chris Lowe’s ESPN blog (which I need to start linking here) and suddenly found myself swept up in the soul consuming mania that is SEC football. I had hoped to make it until August before I started inhaling information and becoming a nervous wreck about Ole Miss’ season. Instead, I made it to May 28th. Dammit.

So in order to get my fix, and hopefully lure you into the dark world of giving a crap about a sport that starts three months from now, I give you a storyline for each team that is, in the words of Ron Burgundy, compelling and rich. Only, this won’t be some long-winded crap that is the popular consensus for each team. I’m keeping this crap to three sentences and doing absolutely no research on any team or any players. It’s all off the top of my head, which means there’s a 1,000% chance I won’t remember anything for half of the teams. In alphabetical order…

Alabama
Will Alabama find someone who can competently throw the ball forward? It could be argued they didn’t exactly have that last year and still won, but John Parker Wilson never did anything overly stupid. If I could remember right now the guy who is supposed to start this year, you would find his name in this sentence.

Arkansas
Will Bobby Petrino’s alleged coaching wizardry (he doesn’t get full credit for tearing apart the C-USA) take shape with a quarterback who might actually have potential? Ryan Mallet (I must confess I had to look up how to spell his name) takes over for the, how shall I put this, loved-by-the-rest-of-the-SEC Casey Dick. All that’s left for Mallet to do is avoid stumbling drunk around Fayetteville before the season begins.

Auburn
Will Gene Chizik need a name tag? Seriously, if he walked into your office or home, would you have any idea who he was? And I’d like that name tag to have his career 5-19 record written on it.

Florida
Will Tim Tebow finally walk on water? All signs point to don’t put it past him. However, Tim Tebow’s awesomeness does not lessen Urban Meyer’s turd level.

Georgia
Will Georgia find someone who can competently throw the ball forward? I believe someone named Joe Cox is the leading candidate to take over at quarterback, but I can only keep up with so much. However, if incoming freshman receiver Marlon Brown lives up to the hype, the duo of Brown and A.J. Green will make it easy for any warm body under center.

Kentucky
Will I be able to name a single player on Kentucky’s team by the end of the year? I’m going to take the over on that and say I’ll be able to name at least three. The only thing I know for sure is that we’re all going to miss being able to say, “Dickie Lyons, Jr.”

LSU
Will Les Miles be in Baton Rouge in 2010? If he produces another 8-4 season, Tall Hat will be spreading his insanity elsewhere. So no pressure Jordan Jefferson.

Mississippi State
How many incomplete passes from Tyson Lee will it take for Dan Mullen to send in true freshman Tyler Russell? And if it were possible to accurately chart a coach’s confidence level in his team, I’d like to see Mullen’s chart when he watches Tyson Lee run his first series of the season against an SEC team. I’m predicting tears.

Ole Miss
Will Ole Miss pull an Ole Miss and fall flat on their faces? I can’t even talk about this. Everyone just needs to shut the hell up about Ole Miss until late August.

South Carolina
Will Steve Spurrier wish he had never met Stephen Garcia? If Garcia continues in his ways of playing quarterback and living his life to the poorest of his ability, Spurrier is in for a long season of visor throws, headset ripoffs and smirks that mean “why are you so stupid.” I just hope the Stephen Garcia I know and love shows up on Thursday, September 24th against Ole Miss.

Tennessee
Will Lane Kiffin prove to be the worst SEC coaching hire since Ed Orgeron, who also happens to be his top assistant? I’m so excited about this potential disaster I often have random smiles break out just when the words Lane, Kiffin, Tennessee, Orgeron, violation, text message and speech are mentioned. I just hope this is going to be as good as I think it will be.

Vanderbilt
Will Vanderbilt pull off the unthinkable and go to two straight bowls? Because that would be two more bowls than Jay Cutler ever played in (ZING!!). I also hope to be able to name at least three Vandy players by the end of the season.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

From the Holiday Weekend That Was

Ole Miss baseball to host a regional…again. Ho-hum, just another day at the office. This year, Ole Miss will host Missouri, Western Kentucky and Monmouth, the Rebels’ opponent in game one. I don’t know much about Monmouth other than it is located in New Jersey and that every few years they always seem to be a 16 seed in the NCAA Basketball Tournament getting blasted by one of the top-seeded teams. I can only hope that 16 seed mentality is in play during the games this weekend.

As for the Rebels’ chances in the regional, I can’t say that I’m overly confident that they’ll advance. Their two and done performance in the SEC Tournament last week exposed their shaky pitching and really exposed the lack of power in the lineup. This Ole Miss team is full of good but not powerful hitters, which means they need three or four guys in a row to be hot and string together hits. I’m not saying it can’t happen, obviously the record shows they’re a good team, but this formula for hitting doesn’t always play very well in a shortened college baseball season.

LeBron James reaches basketball god status, but still needs help. After saving the Cavs’ season with a three-pointer as time expired in game two, LeBron James went out and threw up a 41-7-9 in game three, a 44-12-7 in game four and still lost. His Cavalier teammates, who, in short, stink, gave him a total of 22 points off the bench in games three and four and the rest of the starters spend most of their time missing shots and waiting for LeBron to do something cool.

As he watches his teammates bumble around and generally perform bad basketball plays, what’s going through his head? Counting down the days until he leaves for New York? Wondering if Ben Wallace is undead? Or just hoping that when the Cavs lose in six to the Magic, the people of Cleveland won’t burn the entire city to the ground when they riot (or at least not his house)?

I would be concerned with that last idea because the people of Cleveland probably can’t take too much more of this crap. The Browns stink. The Indians were supposed to be good last year and were awful (and they’re doing more of the same this year). And now the Cavs finish with the best record in the league and are staring at an Orlando team everyone thought they would beat, but now it doesn’t look so promising. That’s a lot of crap to take in one year. Oh, and did I mention this is all taking place in Cleveland, home to lake effect snow and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Good times.

Awkwardness and hilarity ruling the day at SEC coaches’ meetings. In what is probably one of the biggest wastes of time and money in college football (and is a great piece of evidence for the “excesses in college football are absurd” argument), the SEC coaches’ meetings are taking place in Destin this week. Allegedly, these meetings serve as a time for the coaches, many of whom don’t like each other, to spend time together and be lectured to on rule changes and other administrative matters (Note: These meetings are not to be confused with SEC Media days in Birmingham, where the same group of coaches repeat the same things they’ll say this week and bring some of their players, who recite carefully prepared answers to the same 200 questions, and provide us with absolutely no information while being harassed by 300 Alabama fans who have nothing better to do than spend hours at a time in Hoover. Because this week’s meeting is totally different than that.).

In between meetings where SEC Commissioner Mike Slive told all the coaches to keep the cheating a little less obvious, Lane Kiffin finally came face-to-face with everyone he’s spent the last few months pissing off. And from reading this, the awkwardness/uncomfortableness was delicious:
“As the coaches were filtering out of their meeting room and waiting for an elevator, a reporter informed Spurrier that Kiffin, albeit jokingly, had said earlier in the day that he never got an apology from Spurrier about questioning whether Kiffin had taken the recruiting test.

Spurrier sighed, slumped his shoulders and then wheeled around toward Kiffin, who was standing about five feet away waiting on the same elevator.

"I didn't accuse you of cheating," said an animated Spurrier, motioning toward Kiffin, who stood there with his face reddening by the second.

"What I said was, 'Was it permissible to call recruits before you were announced head coach and had taken the [recruiting] test?' Now, you took the test online, and I didn't even know you could do that. I thought you had to take the test on campus ... and then start calling [recruits]."

Kiffin never fired back, but Arkansas' Bobby Petrino walked by and quipped, "You're not getting me in the middle of this one."

Kentucky's Rich Brooks and Auburn's Gene Chizik were also standing there waiting on the elevator, and they all -- including Spurrier and Kiffin -- got on together. There were several reporters in the area, all of whom broke out into laughter.

Before the elevator doors closed, Spurrier piped up one more time and said in his familiar tone, "I never said you broke any rules. I just said, 'Was it permissible to make any calls?'"
Oh, to have been on that elevator, or in that first meeting. The Lane Kiffin era just gets better each day.

And the Lane Kiffin era finally has its first internal casualty. Strength coach Mark Smith and Kiffin decided last Thursday that it would be best if they parted ways. Smith, who got a $50,000 raise for leaving South Carolina for Tennessee, spent less than six months on the job. Although it should be noted that Smith probably did less to harm the University of Tennessee than Kiffin did.

My favorite detail from this story is that a potential replacement is Aaron Ausmus, the former strength coach for Ole Miss during the Ed Orgeron era. This little bit of news just adds fuel to the fire of the rumor that Orgeron has a lot more power than people think he does. And the more power he has, the better that is for the rest of the SEC (see: 10-25, career record of Ed Orgeron at Ole Miss). And even better than that, Kiffin is probably under the impression that Orgeron knows what he’s doing, which would explain why the Shrimp Boat is the assistant head coach. I’m not sure if I’m more excited for the start of football or the steady, but slow implosion of Tennessee football over the next two years.

How is it possible I’ve ignored The Hills for this long? Over the weekend, I was questioned as to why I no longer talked about The Hills on here. I didn’t have a good answer other than being extremely lazy. So, ask and you shall receive. In bullet point form, some Hills talk (I haven’t seen this week’s episode, so most of this is older):

-I recently heard Bill Simmons on his podcast describe People’s Revolution owner/operator Kelly Cutrone as Skeletor from He-Man, which was the exact description I’ve been looking for since she appeared on the show. But I’d like to add that she’s like a Skeletor that smokes eight cartons a day and drinks enough coffee to permanently keep her teeth brown. And even though Skeletor doesn’t really have eyes, her eyes are more undead than his.

However, when she told Lauren to fire Stephanie Pratt (who just might be the dumbest person on Earth), that was the first time I was delighted she was such a hateful bitch. The scene was nothing short of FANTASTIC. I’m now on board for more appearances from the cold, undead Skeletor fashion lady.

-Congratulations to Spencer for not pissing off yet another one of Heidi’s relatives. When Heidi’s dad came into town rocking the denim and a cowboy hat, I immediately edged forward on the couch anticipating another fireworks moment where Spencer causes another one of Heidi’s relatives to question whether or not Heidi loves them. Unfortunately, Heidi made a preemptive strike and informed Spencer that her dad enjoys collecting and shooting guns. So if you’re scoring at home, the best way to get Spencer to not suck is tell him you’re going to shoot him if he doesn’t act like a normal, rational person.

-This season did bring a sad moment when Audrina finally kicked Justin Bobby to the curb. Well, that’s not exactly true. We all know she’ll be picking up that phone in a matter of weeks, especially when she realizes Brody isn’t interested in anything other than getting together when he’s a fifth deep in some Patron.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Best, Worst and In Between of the Week: Point Break Edition

The best thing I can say about this week is that it's over and we're now one week closer to the start of football season. I couldn't muster the strength to create, then type a few biting sarcastic sentences about the NBA playoffs or Ole Miss' impressive two and done performance at the SEC Baseball Tournament. If I'm tired of writing about both of those, I am certain the few people reading are. So I'm mailing it in this week. 50% effort and 50% thought went into this final post of the week. Plus, anytime there's a possibility Point Break can make an appearance here, it needs to happen.

THE BEST


THE WORST
Other than Agent Pappas pretending to look for his lost dog, this is the worst scene in the movie.



THE IN BETWEEN
Damn that Agent Harp! He just doesn't understand! And how absurd is it for Utah to bring his surfboard into the FBI office? Really? Couldn't leave that down by the car? Maybe in your office? A storage closet? I guess we're supposed to believe that the surfboard is the third member of the Utah/Pappas team, and if they're going to take a verbal lashing, then so is the board.

Monday, May 18, 2009

From the Weekend That Was

Ole Miss stays undefeated against yet another Arkansas team. After seeing the football and basketball teams go undefeated against their Razorback opponents, the Ole Miss baseball team got in on the action, sweeping Arkansas and in the process earned themselves a share of the SEC regular season title. And they managed to do so without Scott Bittle, who didn’t travel to Fayetteville and we can assume at this point is probably done for the year (more on him later).

First, congratulations to the Ole Miss baseball team. Winning a regular season conference title (even a share of it) is a really hard thing to do, even harder than a tournament title. I think most anyone would have to agree that playing at a successful level for an entire season is much more impressive than getting hot for a few days and winning three or four games in a row (I’m only talking about college here, not professional.). However, the prestige of winning a tournament title is greater than a regular season one.

Can you remember a team celebrating with a trophy after they’ve won a regular season title? Can you even name a regular season champion? I immediately thought of this past SEC basketball season. I guessed that Tennessee won the SEC regular season, but wasn’t completely sure. But I know for certain that Mississippi State won the SEC Tournament. I remember seeing the game, trophy presentation and net cutting on TV.

After some quick research, I discovered that LSU won the regular season SEC basketball title. I have no recollection of the game they won that earned them the title, nor do I recall any sort of celebration highlights on TV. There wasn’t nearly as much (if any) hype or national notoriety as Mississippi State received for winning the tournament (which they deserved). I think that’s because at the end of the regular season, everyone knows more conference games will be played so there’s no sense of completeness. Whereas in tournament play, the championship game signals the end of conference play in a much more dramatic and complete way (And of course most of the tournament games are available for everyone in the Southeast to watch on TV, creating more exposure, interest, etc.).

I’m not exactly sure how to go about bringing more recognition to regular season champions. Perhaps some sort of trophy presentation (although logistically it would be nearly impossible to have it on the field/court right after clinching game) or a more formal announcement or reward. I don’t know. Of course, this would mostly be for the fans. I have always read or been told most coaches and players appreciate what it takes and understand how special it is to claim a regular season title. We fans however (and as usual), don’t have a clue. Except for me. I am smarter than everyone.

And let me add that Ole Miss should hang this co-championship banner right next to the 2003 SEC West co-championship banner. Remember, the SEC West title we shared, but didn’t go to Atlanta to represent the West? As with that co-championship, we lost the tiebreaker this year to LSU. When you lose the tiebreaker, you’re technically not the champion. If you were, you’d find yourself as the #1 seed in the baseball tournament or in Atlanta.

Scott Bittle and Kevin Garnett have something in common. What might that be? Both are injured, but no one really knows how bad it is. Much like Garnett’s injury near the end of the NBA regular season, Bittle’s injury was initially explained as something minor (soreness in Bittle’s case). And much like Garnett’s injury, vague terms and no concrete timetable for a return were given. Now we’ve reached the stage of Bittle’s injury where the coach, Mike Bianco, has admitted Bittle isn’t improving, he won’t take part in the SEC Tournament and will see Dr. Andrews in Birmingham (Small side story here. When I lived in Birmingham, I lived near Andrews’ old house and drove by it most days. If you had to choose a house owned by someone who restores the careers of professional athletes, this one would suffice.) on Wednesday.

Now I’m all for downplaying injuries initially. You don’t want to cause panic on your team or set off mass hysteria among your fans. But you can’t keep being vague and elusive for more than a week. People start to get angry because you’re not being straight with them and soon after you’ll start to lose your trustworthiness. Fans will tolerate a certain level of shiftiness as long as you’re winning, but once a slight misstep happens they’ll be quick to turn.

Can you imagine the outrage if the Ole Miss basketball team had pretended that Chris Warren was just “sore” after he suffered a torn ACL? Instead of hiding the injury for a week or two, it was announced the next morning he was done for the year. Fans essentially gave Andy Kennedy and the basketball team a break for the season because of the swift and severe loss of the team’s best player. Sneakiness with fans is a dangerous line to walk.

Kevin Garnett has the next six months free to practice his poser sneer. And Paul Pierce can heal from a potential career-ending bruise that thankfully did not require the assistance of a wheelchair. As you know, the Celtics finally were eliminated from the playoffs last night by the Magic. It was a brutal last month or two for the Celtics as they played that time without the hard as kittens Garnett, yet still found a way to be a competitive team even with Brian Scalabrine as the seventh man.

I almost felt sorry for them as no team or group of fans should be subjected to double-digit minutes of Scalabrine. Sure he plays hard and brings some energy to the crowd and his team, but the level to which he is physically overmatched really can’t be calculated. But just when feelings of sympathy started to creep in, Paul Pierce would suffer a temporarily disabling injury to his woman parts and I’d see Garnett bowing up from the safety of his own bench. Good riddance.

The Rockets are unable to rub another round of playoff advancement in Tracy McGrady’s face. Without Yao Ming, the Rockets brand of small ball was pummeled yesterday by the Lakers, who absolutely killed them on the boards (55-33). The advantage was so great that even the soft and playoff disappearer Pao Gasol grabbed 18 boards and scored 21 points, leaving Memphis Grizzlies’ fans confused and disoriented. I don’t really care either way about this, I just wanted to see another lack-of-playoff-accomplishment graphic get stuck to McGrady’s name on SportsCenter.

Tennis is a college sport? Apparently, it is. I write this just to take note of the Ole Miss men’s tennis team (not even sure if they have a women’s team), who lost yesterday in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tennis Tournament. The Rebels, unbelievably ranked #2 in the country and undefeated in the SEC, lost to UCLA, who, according to the article I read, was probably the most talented team in the country.

I once went to a tennis match while I was at Ole Miss. I’m not really sure why, maybe the weather was nice or maybe I was refusing to do school work. Whatever the reason, I hope it was legitimate. But I do remember being there and after a few minutes of watching players not quite good enough to turn pro, I wished I was somewhere else. But congratulations to the tennis team, it’s not often you see Ole Miss and Elite Eight in the same sentence.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Best, Worst and In Between of the Week

THE BEST
Other than watching the NBA’s horrible officiating come into the national spotlight during the playoffs, this is the thing that has brought me the most joy over the past week. Thank you Nike for having the you-know-whats to run this:



THE WORST
You go to hell Mike Detillier, you go straight to hell. And take ESPN with you. STOP SETTING OLE MISS UP FOR ONE OF THE MOST EPIC SEASON COLLAPSES OF ALL TIME. In case you haven’t read, Detillier, an NFL draft analyst, has named Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead as the #1 prospect in the 2010 draft. His story was picked up by ESPN and is now on the national college football news front.

First, I’m going to ignore the fact that someone is already ranking NFL prospects before the 2009 college football season is over (and yes, I’m aware some “analysts” rank these guys the day after the draft concludes). The point here is not that Snead is the #1 prospect in the draft, it’s that this is yet another story which builds Ole Miss up in a way it cannot possibly live up to (that’s right, I just ended a sentence with a preposition. It’s Friday, dammit.). Because of all these sunshine pumping, bulls eye-on-the-back creating stories about Ole Miss, it’s May and I’m already worried about how we’re going to fall apart in the fall. May I tell you, May!!!

I don’t need this right now. Let me spend my summer not thinking about throwing up every time Ole Miss is mentioned. Our best chance of not blowing what could potentially be our best season since 2003 (or hell, let’s go nuts, 1962-ish) is only going to happen if we can pull a super sneaky under the radar move. The kind that after week eight or nine of the season, people look at the SEC standing and say, “When the hell did Ole Miss get to 8-0? How long have I been asleep? What year is this?” That’s what we need.

Sure, the national publicity is nice, much like stuffing yourself at a Mexican restaurant is nice while it’s happening, but there’s always a hefty price to pay later. And while I love good Mexican food, I understand the risks and know I can’t have it all the time. So Mike Detillier, Kirk Herbstreit, Colin Cowherd and the rest of you, STOP. Erase Ole Miss from your memory for the next three months, then come September-ish you may begin speaking of us again. Please, please, please. Just let me be bored with baseball until September. I need this.

THE IN BETWEEN
If you’re a Braves fan, you probably associate the name Jim Leyritz with feelings of anger, rage and a permanent dislike of Mark Wholers. Leyritz was the Yankees catcher who homered off Wholers in Game 5 of the 1996 World Series (and the last game played in Fulton County Stadium), which gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the series and set them up for their series-clinching win in Game 6.

Wholers, who threw close to 145 mph, decided that Game 5 of the World Series was the best time to experiment with a slider that he couldn’t really throw. Leyritz, a career .264 hitter and with only SEVEN home runs all year, parked that slider, which actually stopped and waited to be hit, over the left field wall. I don’t really remember much that happened after this because I went into a tirade, cursing the day Mark Wholers was ever given the role of closer for the Braves and yelling at Bobby Cox about the pitch and Cox’s decision in the ’91 World Series to have Charlie Leibrandt face Kirby Puckett in Game 6 (when Puckett hit like 8 billion against left handed pitchers), and assumingly blacked out from rage.

I don’t know what Mark Wholers is doing today (hopefully writing apology letters to every single Braves fan), but things for Jim Leyritz are not going well. If you recall that in December 2007, Leyritz was involved in a drunk driving accident in which he ran a red light and killed another driver. He’s still awaiting trial in Florida on DUI manslaughter charges.

Sadly for Leyritz, things got a little worse this week when he checked himself into a psychiatric ward at a Florida hospital on Wednesday night after threatening suicide (Of course the saddest part of the story is the woman who was killed and what her family has to live with, but sports doesn’t care about those outside of sports.). After he spent the night there, his ex-wife told a newspaper that he was released on Thursday afternoon.

Well, I suppose this is the first time I’ve had any other feelings other than hate and disgust towards Jim Leyritz, but don’t get me wrong, I still hate him. I guess we’ll just have to call it the good kind of hate.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Looking for a Midweek Pulse

Back from the dead, it’s the midweek pulse check (please mind the dust and dank smell). As always, this is not a knock on ESPN, but a look at the top stories of today in a sporting world without football. And at the end, I determine if there is life in the world of sports at the midway point of this week. So from ESPN.com’s homepage, the top stories of the day…



Lakers make statement, rout Rockets by 40. I didn’t get to see any of this game because I was bumbling my way through another trivia night at a local drinking establishment, but one had to think it was a matter of time before the loss of Yao Ming really hurt the Rockets. The TV people like to throw in the loss of Tracy McGrady too, but we all know the rest of the Rockets hate him and actually play better without him. And I’m sure it warms the other Rockets’ hearts, as it does mine, that another year has passed and McGrady has never made it out of the first round of the playoffs. A more overrated basketball player I cannot recall.

Report: USC’s Floyd paid $1K to Mayo handler. Whoops. If this turns out to be true, two things will happen. One, nothing will happen to USC (see: Bush, Reggie). And two, Tim Floyd will have plenty of time to play golf with his buddy, the Clarion-Ledger’s own Rick Cleveland. Actually, three things will happen. The third being Cleveland will write at least two columns before next basketball season that say some school should take a chance on Floyd.

While we’re on the subject of recruiting violations, can someone out there with writing talent and a knack for investigation please write the definitive book on the seedy worlds of college football and basketball recruiting? In order to get some of the stories, they’d have to agree to change the names of the people and schools involved, but I’d be fine with that. I just want to hear all the completely outrageous demands of recruits and the meeting of said demands by coaches. Would you refuse to read a 900-page book about money, cars, houses and private “entertainment” parties? Seriously, it’s 2009. Why hasn’t this book happened yet?

Ducks halt Wings in feisty Game 6 to force 7. Hey, look. The NHL playoffs have started. Games can be found only on the Versus Network, which is sandwiched between Home Shopping Network 2 and that channel that plays a P90X infomercial on a constant loop.

Clemens bashes new book, denies drug use. Apparently, Clemens went on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike to defend himself against a book that says he used steroids and whatever else he pumped into his body. Only Roger Clemens would be dumb enough to create another potential shit storm for himself. His time in the national spotlight had passed and here he goes stirring everything up again. Luckily, no one really cared this time because now we all know that EVERYONE CHEATED.

Rallying B’s knot series with Hurricanes at 3. If you can correctly name the city in which either of these teams play, Gary Bettman would like a written statement from you so that he might use it in his defense that he has not destroyed the NHL. “See, John from Midland, Texas knows the Bruins are in Boston! I know what I’m doing! Ask Little Rock if they’re still interested in a team!”

Howard laments lack of touches in Magic loss. However, he did not mention any lament for a lack of shooting ability.

Dibs at QB: McCown says Buccaneers job is his. Luke McCown held off an impressive field of Byron Leftwich, Brian Griese’s corpse (although it seems he was never really considered for the job), first-round pick Josh Freeman, who is still at Kansas State finishing school (boo education!), and 2008 fifth-round pick Josh Johnson. And you should probably know that McCown attempted one pass last year, which was incomplete. Shaun King, if you just read that paragraph, you might want to consider placing a phone call to Bucs headquarters.

Varitek, BoSox edge Angels. The time is coming when I will dislike the Red Sox as much as I do the Yankees. We’re not there yet, but if I have to pick a year, I’ll say in 2012 the Red Sox will pull even with the Yankees.

Renault joins Ferrari, threatens to bolt from F1. I don’t even know what this means.

Insider: Why Shaq was right about the Magic. This is the kind of story I want to pay $3.33 a month to read.

Pulse Verdict: Sort of like the peasant in Monty Python and the Holy Grail who’s dying, but not quite dead yet. And maybe it’s even feeling a little better.

Monday, May 11, 2009

From the Weekend That Was

The best thing I can say about the weekend we just experienced is that we’re now one weekend closer to the start of football season. And it’s going to get worse. The NBA playoffs, believe it or not, will actually end, as will college baseball, which will leave us with nothing but Major League baseball for a solid two months. Now, those months could prove to be interesting if more steroids users get named (Seriously, how the hell has Alex Rodriguez’s name been the only one released from the infamous list of 104 or whatever names of users? It makes no sense. I would like to take this chance to announce to the national media that everyone understands and believes that Rodriguez is a schmuck. We really do. Please move on and find someone else to crucify for our entertainment.), but if we’re subjected to keeping tabs on the Blue Jays and their run at the AL East title, then July and August will suck.

On to what happened over the weekend…

Much like Rasputin, the undead Brett Favre refuses to die. First, he was interested in a comeback with the Vikings. Next, a story came out saying he wasn’t coming back. Now, the latest appears to be that he sent X-rays of his right shoulder to the Vikings, and if team doctors determine he does not need major surgery on his shoulder, the Vikings would be willing to sign him. And Wrangler is pissed because Favre showed up on TV over the weekend in a Snapper mowers commercial (I have no idea whether they are or not, it just seems that they wouldn’t want those fancy pants mowers hurting the image of their permanently unshaven, dirt-lovin’ good ol’ boy who loves playing in spontaneous, unorganized touch football games in soaking wet field because he just loves football that much.).

I look forward to this story gathering more steam because I really want to see if ESPN has the balls to put a doctor with the credentials of Leo Spaceman on SportsCenter and claim he is their “Senior Biceps Tendon Expert.” And who doesn’t want to see Rachel Nichols get scooped on yet another Brett Favre story.

Falcons get their first taste of a Peria Jerry injury. If you’re a regular reader here, you know that outside of some immediate family members, no one loves Peria Jerry as much as I do. Hell, I’m still working on getting that apartment for the two of us lined up. I’m a mess without him. I miss him so damn much…maybe I should stop talking for a while.

(Waiting for a while to pass…)

But Jerry has had problems staying healthy and you could accurately call him injury prone. I’m not entirely sure (and simple research could easily prove me wrong), but I believe every year Jerry was at Ole Miss he missed some game time with an injury. I have a hard time believing that at the next level this trend will stop. Logic would suggest that going against stronger and faster players will cause him just as many, if not more, injuries.

The good news for Jerry and the Falcons is that, unlike at Ole Miss, he’ll be around professional trainers and doctors who know what they’re doing (although I assume there are one or two exceptions at Ole Miss, but this is the same group that often seemed baffled when treating sprained ankles and hamstring pulls). Professional teams aren’t going to invest millions of dollars in players only to have them treated with some “good Rebels” types. I may be na├»ve in thinking that, but I like to hold on to the idea that someone, somewhere runs a football program the way it should be run.

And thus begins the annual Ole Miss baseball collapse. The Ole Miss baseball team dropped two of three against State, one of the worst teams in the SEC, its ace pitcher hasn’t pitched in two weeks and no timetable has been set for his return. At first, Scot Bittle was said to have a sore bicep. Then, when it was obvious that story wasn’t holding water, Mike Bianco admitted Bittle had an MRI, which allegedly revealed no structural damage. Throw in some shaky starts by other guys in the rotation, and all of a sudden a once good SEC rotation doesn’t seem the same. If you’re an Ole Miss fan, would you feel good about Brett Bukvich or Nathan Baker starting a must-win game?

The NBA Playoffs rage on: A quick summary. No Tracy McGrady. No Yao. Kobe Doin’ Work. Aaron who? So, Shane Battier CAN score. Stuart Scott street talkin’. Send in the scrubs. Don’t miss Kobe Doin’ Work. Cross promotion and shit. Tied at 2. Phil Jackson doesn’t get f#$%@*! embarrassed.

Mavericks down 2-0. Do or die. Almost. Dirk not distracted by women folk troubles. Please retire, Jason Kidd. Carmelo don’t wor…sorry, copyright infringement…Carmelo doing as he pleases. But workin’. Late collapse. No foul. Hysteria ensues. Josh Howard not amused. Mark Cuban fuming, insults mothers. Kenyon Martin says he’ll take care of it. So long Dallas.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Best, Worst and In Between of the Week

THE BEST
The Blind Side officially set to be the greatest movie ever made. Just when you thought the movie based on Michael Lewis' The Blind Side couldn't get more awesome, word came out this week that in addition to the Shrimp Boat Captain playing himself, Alabama coach Nick Saban and former Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer will also play themselves in the movie. This nugget of information now increases the chance that I see this movie from 254,903% to 1,343,945%.

Of course I expect the Shrimp Boat's scenes to be nothing short of the greatest in the history of film, but if you read the book, Fulmer isn't portrayed very well at all. In fact, he's referred to as a "hick" by Oher's tutor, and members of the Tuohy family mentioned "yokel" and "good ol' boy" when recalling Fulmer's in-house visit while recruiting Oher. Seeing that dumpy redneck say things like "shucks" and "My-kul, you'll be my startin' left tackle at Tenn-uh-see" is going to be fantastic. They could charge $20 to see this movie and I'd pay. And I'll be interested to see how Nick Saban reacts to being around fellow 5'6" people (since all actors are borderline midgets). Perhaps it will reduce his assholishness by a degree or two.

Brett Favre chooses not to return to the NFL; still remains selfish, arrogant. Nearly one year after he held the sports world hostage over his return to the NFL, Favre threatened to repeat the same saga this summer. Thankfully, he either realized his arm was done (injured biceps muscle) or that going to mini-camp and training camp would interfere with filming more Wrangler jeans commercials. Whatever the reason, he told the Vikings he would stay retired and is officially done for at least this summer and upcoming year.

I know that there some Vikings' fans who are probably a little disappointed at this news, since it would seem logical that Favre (even at 75%) is an upgrade over Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels. But think for just a minute, with Jackson and Rosenfels, you know what you're getting. Jackson will have maybe four or five good games, will stink for the rest and get you to the 9-7, 10-6 range. Rosenfels will throw a couple hundred back-breaking interceptions, will inexplicably play really well for a stretch of time and get you to the same range as Tarvaris Jackson. But with these two, there's no false hope. You know what's going to happen when one of these guys lines up under center. They're going to suck and you'll still win 10 games.

With Favre, he's going to start out red hot, something in the 9-2 range, then start to feel old and tired and finally not give a crap the rest of the season, which will get you to the 10-6, 11-5 range. Essentially, he's a one game improvement over Jackson and Rosenfels, but he exponentially increases stress and hatred for yourself for caring so much about football. The stress and hate aren't worth it for just one game. Trust me, you'd rather see Brett Favre on your television playing touch football in the mud with a bunch of 5'8" actors than staring blankly out at the field from the bench after he's just thrown his fourth pick in a 16-10 Week 14 loss to the Bears.

THE WORST
Ole Miss football needs help from The Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good and Want to Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too. Thanks to the aforementioned Shrimp Boat's inability to do anything right, the Ole Miss football team will lose three scholarships because of poor marks in the NCAA's Academic Progress Ratings, which is something the NCAA devised to pretend like college sports aren't about money. The Rebels scored a 910 (teams need to reach 925 to avoid any possible sanctions) mainly due to players that were run off by the Shrimp Boat leaving school and the culture of intimidation he created, and the rebellion that followed his intimidation.

My only solace from this mini-disaster he managed to bring on us a year and a half after getting fired is that at the end of 2010, he'll be in the unemployment line again when the Lane Kiffin era, or Ed Orgeron 2.0, comes to a close in Knoxville

THE IN BETWEEN
So, Manny Ramirez IS smart enough to stay on a steroids cycle. Well, it's official. Everyone, and I mean everyone, who played baseball from 1995 to 2007 took steroids or some form of a PED (which is baseball's new buzzword). If Manny Ramirez can do it, everyone did it. Well, that's actually assuming everyone else in baseball is smarter than Manny, which, given that he once cut a throw off from center field while playing left field, seems to be a pretty safe bet.

As for what this does to baseball for me, it doesn't really bother me because I had already come to believe that everyone cheated and, while I still watch, baseball has become a sport with which to pass the time until football gets here. Plus, baseball's leadership (from the commissioner to the player's union) is some of the worst and most irresponsible in modern history. Only hockey stands in their way of being at the bottom of the professional sports food chain.

However, this does bother me in the world of fantasy baseball. Dodgers' outfielder Andre Ethier is a member of my fantasy team and he (and my team) has benefited greatly from hitting in front of Manny or right behind him. Only Albert Pujols has more RBIs than Ethier. So, before Ethier's numbers start declining, let me send out a hearty screw you to Manny Ramirez, not for causing baseball analyst and fans to cry over our national pastime that isn't really our pastime anymore, but for potentially damaging my fantasy baseball season. Seriously, I hope your woman's fertility drug burned a hole in the lining of your stomach.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

From the Weekend That Was (and Monday)

Celtics finish off the Bulls; “the greatest playoff series ever played” soon to be forgotten. After seven total overtimes, 4,000 lead changes and 42 Kevin Garnett poser chin thrusts, the Celtics/Bulls first-round series came to a close on Saturday. We heard from seemingly every person with a radio show, column or TV gig that this was the greatest playoff series ever. Mind you, this was a first-round series that prominently featured Glen Davis, Brad Miller, Brian Scalabrine, Joakim Noah, a terrified Stephon Marbury and former Jackson State star Lindsey Hunter, who apparently is still in the NBA at the age of 64. It was only fitting that after all the hype, game seven, while close, did not have the spectacular finish everyone was sure it would.

While this was one of the best playoff series I can remember watching (and I watched every game), I can’t get on the bandwagon for the greatest series ever. One, look at some of the names mentioned above. If some of these guys were role players, then things might be different. But all of these guys, with the exception of Hunter, were relied on to contribute at key points in the game. And two, and probably most important, these games decided who ADVANCED OUT OF THE FIRST ROUND.

Seriously, everyone just calm the hell down about this series. Why does everyone feel the need to lose their collective shit when something remotely compelling happens in sports? Yeah, it was a good series (and probably the best first-round series in the league’s history), but there’s no way a first-round series can be the greatest playoff series of all-time. The stakes aren’t high enough and we still have about five months of playoff basketball left. When the Cavs face the Celtics or Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals and it goes to seven games, see how many times the Bulls/Celtics series gets mentioned. I’m going to go with zero.

Hawks and Heat complete the worst seven game series in the history of the world. Remember that stuff I just wrote about calming down and not over-hyping things? Well, that doesn’t apply here because this truly was the worst playoff series ever. Somehow, this thing went to seven games and exactly zero of the games were even close. I’m not really sure how that happens, but this series is a great piece of evidence for the NBA going back to best of five in the first round. No one walked away from these games thinking, “You know, I could have used another out-of-control Dwayne Wade drive to the basket that ends with him missing a lay-up, getting a foul called and laying on the floor as if his leg is broken.” When this series ended, men shed tears of joy, babies were made and I’m pretty sure the stock market went up.

Ole Miss baseball sweeps Auburn; Auburn fans still underwhelmed by Gene Chizik. Not much to say here other than Gene Chizik was promoted after a 5-19 stint at Iowa State. It’s still stunning to read that. Anyway, Ole Miss moves to 36-13 and 16-8 in the SEC and a little closer to at least hosting a regional and potentially receiving a national seed. Next up is Mississippi State, who stinks. Another three game sweep and the Rebels probably become a lock for a regional host.

Apparently, there was some sort of horse race over the weekend. Something called the Kentucky Derby. It sounds vaguely familiar. I think I remember hearing about it once in 2001. If you were smart enough to bet on the winner, Mine That Bird (no doubt a name selected out of a hat during a drunken bar bet), at 50-1, congratulations, that was a profitable bet. However, don’t feel too proud of yourself because you should remember that horse racing is stupid.

Seriously ESPN, cut this crap out. If you haven’t heard, Kirk Herbstreit is interviewing college football’s top returning quarterbacks all this week for a special segment on SportsCenter. Today’s feature is on Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead (I believe Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and Terrelle Pryor, who totally doesn’t belong in this group, were the others interviewed.). Ugh. What will it take to stop getting all the national media coverage that just sets everyone up for a colossal letdown in the fall? Seriously, what will it take? I can’t take much more of this. All good Rebels know that the more hype and expectations that surround an Ole Miss team, the more impressive the collapse is.

I would request that all media outlets cease and desist their coverage of Ole Miss immediately. You secretly don’t want to cover us because you still think we hate black people and no one in your key markets gives a crap about Ole Miss. And we don’t want the coverage because we know what happens when we get it. So let’s both get what we want and stop this nonsense now. This way everyone wins.

Friday, May 01, 2009

A Break From the World of Sport

Consider yourself very lucky to be reading this because you’re about to be introduced to a game that will change your life. Well, I should say it won’t change your life in the sense that you’ll see the world in a new light, but it will change your life by the countless hours you can spend playing, thus preventing you from doing your priorities and making everyone else angry when you explain to them what caused your slacking off.

The name of the game is Nicolas Cage Movie Title Creator and its rules are simple. Nicolas Cage is one of the worst actors of our time and has been in some of the worst movies of our time. But not only that, some of his movie titles are so over the top or just so awful that you have a hard time believing they’re real movies. Some examples: Knowing, Bangkok Dangerous, The Weather Man, Fire Birds and currently in post-production he’s got some real winners coming out, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Season of the Witch, Astro Boy, G-Force and Kick Ass.

Seriously, those are all real movies. So the object of Nicolas Cage Movie Title Creator is to create movie titles that if they were actually made, the only actor who would or could play the lead role is Nicolas Cage. That’s it. Probably the simplest rules to any game ever.

Now, you could be thinking that this game could get really old, really fast. But then you would be wrong. The great thing about this game is that it’s timeless (well, at least until Nic Cage dies) and the possibilities are endless. I spent about an hour playing the other day and came up with about 40 legitimate Nicolas Cage movies. And yes, it was a good use of my time.

So to help you get started, here are some of mine:

The Wizzard Warrior
The Bank Alliance
The Mecca Exception
Payout Deluxe
Ice Chalice
The Scientist’s Letter
Sly Fox
The Dollar Maker
Silver Top Cherry
Devil’s Fool
Quick

Can you see anyone else as the male lead in those movies? I think not.

For additional fun and time wasting, develop a one or two sentence description of the plot, like the kind your might see on a movie poster or in an ad for the movie. For example, take the soon-to-be-greenlighted Ice Chalice (once someone sends this blog to Nic Cage and assuming he has someone read it to him):

“Man has always sought to discover the great treasures of the Earth. Now, its greatest – and most dangerous – is being hunted…in Antarctica.”

Enjoy, and you’re welcome.