Thursday, December 17, 2009

Around the Association - December 17th

Kobe is playing with stomach aches and broken fingers. Referees are missing blatant calls and calling ones that don’t exist. It must be another week in the NBA.


Kobe had 42 points against the Bulls Tuesday night - not very impressive for a man with his skill set. What is astonishing is that he did it with a fractured finger on his shooting hand. What is even more remarkable is that he was having er, um, digestive problems all day. I remember I ate a bad calzone once. I immediately lost five pounds, shook uncontrollably, and slept for a week. Kobe Bryant decided to drop 40 points on the Bulls while his stomach had the taco gurgles. Oh the next day he hit the game winner against the Bucks. I am definitely underachieving in life.


Jerry Colangelo, Naismith's newly elected chairman of the board is toying with the notion of allowing the fans and media to have a say in who makes it into the Basketball Hall-of-Fame. He said the fans would be “involved,” which many are hoping means the results would be made public much like the NBA and MLB do. What makes me cringe is having the fans actually have even a modicum of say in who makes it into the Hall. These are the people that are voting Tracy McGrady into 2nd place in All-Star voting this year. This just in, T-Mac has not played at all this season.


Kevin Durant unveiled his new line of Basketball shoes in a game against Dallas Wednesday night. They look as if Nike went to Nerf and said gives us the first thing that comes to mind. I tried to watch the game but between Durant bricking shots and the whole team wearing these atrocities my eyes stopped working for two hours. I didn’t go blind necessarily. My eyes just refused to capture the images on the screen. It was actually the only pleasant part of the game.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Always Interesting

When certain athletes take to the podium they excite well beyond any news conference should. Allen Iverson is one of those athletes. Possibly outdoing his “practice” rant, Allen Iverson openly wept at the prospect of becoming a 76er yet again. He is happy. Philadelphia wants him back. Win-Win, Case closed right?

This might be the case if Iverson were a different person, but he is not. You can be assured; A.I. will take 25 shots a night and completely forget that there is a specific offense in place. He will force one on one situations multiple times a game. The coaching staff will boil and this will only be the start.

Once Lou Williams comes back from a broken jaw, the decision by Eddie Jordan to bench or start Iverson will commence. That is when we will find whether Iverson has truly changed or not.
I haven’t been the biggest Shaquille O’Neal supporter but his recent stint with the Cavs illustrates how the aging athlete should act. He accepts his role as role player to LeBron James. Iverson should realize that his best days are behind him and he should play for team first. It may be something he has never done but it is the only way he stretches this one year contract into another payday. My favorite quote from the day was “I want to retire here.” Well you may have to buddy. No NBA team wants a former All Star that causes headaches instead of producing wins.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Around the Association


Sources reported that the Sixers and Allen Iverson met for two hours on Monday. I’m still not sure what took two hours. Iverson is looking for a starting job and the Sixers are looking for anything to spark life into their 5 and 12 team. This is a no-brainer. Allow Iverson to come back and end his career where it all began and sell a couple more jerseys while their at it.


The New Jersey Nets are staring history straight in the face. Their historic march to the worst team in the NBA is well on the way. Their first real test is Wednesday against the formidable Dallas Mavericks. This will be the first test of their ineptitude. A loss Wednesday would clinch the worst start in history at 0-18. After that, all that remains is eight. That is how many wins they must finish with to clinch the worst overall season, surpassing the 9-73, 1972-73 76ers. Their magic number is 57.


Rumor has it that GM Kiki Vandeweghe will take over the head coaching job for the New Jersey Nets. Del Harris will be a coach alongside Vandeweghe who has limited bench experience. This begs the question, why not just have Del Harris as the head coach. It makes it a lot easier to fire the head coach when he is not also the general manager. The Nets should take this lesson from the Knicks during the less than desirable Isaiah Thomas era.

Wallace Fined

While it is not news when Rasheed Wallace gets a tech, it may be news when I out and out agree with him. Wallace received a fine for his “verbal abuse” of referees after the Toronto game on Friday night. His frustration with flopping and ticky-tack fouls happens to also be the annoyance of all that watch NBA games. The NBA needs to allow for a tad more emotion than is allowed. You have grown men playing a physical sport. Things are meant to get heated. That’s when the sport is at its best. Officials are too quick with the whistles. Sadly, I don’t see a revolution starting with a Rasheed Wallace sound bite.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hot Stove

Sammy Sosa’s most surprising secret may not be his alleged steroid use but the fact that he is actually a white man. That and the fact that the McCourts were not the happiest couple in the world, well nothing surprises me anymore. Here are some updates from the little birdie we call the hot stove.

Red Sox

It looks as though the Sox will keep Victor Martinez, lending the question of what to do about Jason Varitek. If he does return they may want to use the DH for his spot. Varitek hit .209 last year. This is well within the range of any Red Sox pitcher to hit.

Milton Bradley

While the money owed to him was supposed to be a hurdle, is reporting that Milton Bradley trade talks are heating up. Milton Bradley would go to the Blue Jays. The Mets would get Lyle Overbay. And the Cubs would get Luis Castillo. If this goes through it would be an even trade across the board. The Mets would get a first baseman if the decomposing Carlos Delgado does not return. The Blue Jays would get a solid outfielder that may or may not implode their team. And the Cubs would get far away from Milton Bradley.

No Replay

Baseball general managers failed to vote on expanding the use of instant replay. I for one am thrilled for the news. I may be in the minority here but instant replay in baseball needs to be slowly brought in. Granted the games pace would be perfect for side bars on the correct call but the culture of baseball would falter. Ghost tags on a double play, fooling the ump on a close play, even a great pickoff move that may be slightly illegal are all plays that teams and players count on. If these and other examples would disappear the game and players would suffer for it.

Around the Association

Iverson is acting up, the Clippers and Knicks are horrible, and Stephen Jackson is pouting. Things are pretty normal in the NBA this week.


One thing we can count on this season is that pundits, commentators, announcers, and Craig Sager will all hit us over the head with the fact that the 2010 class of free agents is the greatest class of all freaking time. One free agent in particular will be under a microscope. LeBron James will be dissected for any hints of his intentions to flee Cleveland.

This past weekend, King James claimed that he will choose his next team based on their chance of winning. I would think this would preclude the Knicks from the discussion but you never know. Sure they will have the cap space for a generous offer but there are no guarantees that any supporting cast would like to join LeBron in one of the two worst teams in the NBA.


This brings me to the end all be all of horrible franchises. The Clippers started off the season with evidence that god does not like them. This came in the form of injury to their latest first round pick Blake Griffin. Things looked promising when they were able to cap off three consecutive wins. That all came to a halt on Monday night when they were pummeled, at home, to the Hornets, by 28 points. On paper the Clippers look like a seven or eight seed. But it’s hard to win when you are pre-ordained to be miserable by a higher power.

Stephen Jackson

In his latest effort to get traded, Stephen Jackson’s agent Mark Stevens made public attacks on Warriors head coach Don Nelson and questioned his trustworthiness. It seems that Jackson has had about enough of the Warriors and really wants to leave. He probably could have helped himself out by not signing a three year $28 million contract. If things have gone south, the best way to get what you want is not to scream and shout like…wait, no that is precisely how you get what you want in the NBA. Look for Jackson to be traded shortly.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Yankees Win...Again

The Yankees win again. That is a lot like a fat kid eating a pastrami sandwich in front of a homeless shelter. While the rest of us have to abide by the “wait till next year” chant, New York faithful are busy thinking of a better, more improved lineup next year. The lump in my throat is the knowledge that John Lackey is available this winter and we could very well see a stronger Yankee team with more than three starters in the playoffs. This is a thought that will keep me up at nights.

The Phillies are fine. There is no need to jump ship yet. They still have the second best lineup in baseball and will concentrate on their bullpen and pitching staff this off-season. Hell, if they just took Brad Lidge outback that would net them five extra wins next season easy.

While I am sad that the baseball season is no more, I am stoked to give out some very prestigious awards:

The Scott Brosius Award for Least Likely MVP – Hideki Matsui

If you would have told me that Matsui would win the World Series MVP a week ago I would have called you a liar. They just don’t give those out to designated hitters. Well except for 2004 when Manny Ramirez won it. He is essentially a DH that walks around left field for nine innings.

World Series Foot-in-the-mouth Award – Cole Hamels

Mental note: Never insinuate that you may be quitting if you live or work in, at, on, or around the city of Philadelphia. It may be the City of brotherly love but they will kill you in your sleep if they think you’re not trying.

That’s the last time we will see him in a meaningful game Award – Pedro Martinez

While he made the Yankees his daddy, he now has to ask his mommy if he can pitch next season.

Done celebrating because I will be a Blue Jay next year Award – Johnny Damon

Look for the Yanks to upgrade over the whithered outfielder. He has a very slim chance of coming back to New York, unless of course the Yankees are just giving money away. Oh, WAIT.

What a difference a year makes Award– Cole Hamels and Alex Rodriguez

Last fall Cole Hamels was described as Sandy Koufax, wrapped in Bob Gibson, enveloped with bacon, and stuffed in a Christmas stocking. Now he just leaves hanging curveballs to anyone who asks for them. Rodriguez on the other hand, has renewed his career. He is no longer a choke artist, steroid taking, money grubber. Well at least not in New York. The rest of America still needs more convincing.

Through 5

There you have it. Cliff Lee is the dominant ace the Phillies wanted and needed. In the end, though, it won’t be enough. Philadelphia has proven that they can score with the best of them. They just have trouble stopping the Yankee assault. This point was driven home last night.

As soon as Cliff Lee relinquishes the ball to another arm all assuredness goes out the window. The Phillies may have won game 5. Yet all they did was stay the execution. To win it all they have to face both Andy Pettitte and C.C. Sabathia. Both are seasoned big game hurlers. Philadelphia has a glaring problem from the mound.

The Phils send up Pedro Martinez in game 6. Unfortunately, they need him to pitch all 9 if they have a chance to force game 7. Yankee hitters proved they can get to the bullpen in a hurry. If they do play Thursday, they send up Cole Hamels, a player that indicated recently that he just wanted the series to be over. Receiving flack from teammates and the city of Philadelphia, Hamels has recently backtracked on those comments. In the end however, you need a fearless pitcher to command a game 7. The Yankees will have that in tonnage in Sabathia. The Phillies will be hoping Hamels can keep the score down enough for Cliff Lee to close out the game. That is no strategy for success.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

World Series

Here we are, well into fall and on the precipice of possibly a classic World Series. If the Yankees win, I will find solace in that I won’t have to hear about the Yankees gaining retribution for not winning the title for a whopping 8 years. How the media plants a chip on the Yankees shoulder is beyond me. This is like Lakers fans getting miffed if there is no three-peat.

This series could be very close. This is a rare time when the National League team can match batters pound for pound with the American side. Both teams can hit the ball out of the yard when needed. The offenses are very similar with the speed going slightly to the Phillies.

Both teams have great defenses. When you look at each depth chart it really is hard to decipher who you would take between the positions. Teixeira and Howard are monsters at the plate but Tex may get the nod because of his fielding. Utley is arguably the best hitting second baseman in the majors right now, but Robinson Cano is not far behind, and is younger.

Shortstop may go to Rollins if it weren’t October, a month Jeter dominates from both sides of the ball. The only real mismatch is at 3rd base, there ARod is a hall of famer and Pedro Feliz looks good in a hat.

The one thing that may keep this from being a tight series is the pitching. Last series the Phillies were able to get past their faults in the pen by dominating the Dodgers with their starters. In this series however, they are on the short end in both starting and relief pitching. Phillies starters are ill-equipped to face a line-up like the Yankees. Save Cliff Lee, the Phillies will be sending up questionable pitchers like Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, and for game two Pedro Martinez.

Hamels is a ghost of his 2008 self. He is neither overpowering nor fooling anyone at this stage. Joe Blanton is a fastball pitcher that likes to start a batter by throwing balls in the dirt. He will get behind in counts to a disciplined lineup and subsequently give up a long ball or two. Pedro Martinez looked good against the Dodgers, but then again Vicente Padilla looked good for a start against the Phillies.

The Phillies will most likely have to match the Yankees run for run rather than quieting their bats. Either way Charlie Manuel will have to go to the bullpen earlier in games than he would have liked. From there Chan Ho Park will remember he is Chan Ho Park. J.A. Happ will get bombed. Ryan Madson will walk batters. And Brad Lidge will either strike out the side or give up a grand slam.

This looks to be a good one, so pop open a beer, loosen the pants, and put up your feet. This may take a while.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Deep Thoughts

Well it seems like the Yankees and Phillies get to play at least one exhibition game each before heading to the World Series. Both Championship Series are all but wrapped up with cute little bows on them.

If the Dodgers do win tonight they have the great fortune of facing Cliff Lee again. If the Angels win tomorrow and in game six they have to face C.C. Sabathia. We all know how both teams fare against those respective aces. For a second let’s disregard the match-ups. Let’s get down to what really matters in baseball, the subtle nuances.

Some things I learned in the Championship Series round:

1) Ron Darling sounds remarkably like James Woods. I finally realized this because I chose to focus on the tenor and repetition of his syntax rather than listen to…

2) Buck Martinez is a nose breather. He breathes through his nose and while funny in the first inning became quiet annoying in the second. And that was game one. I had to sit through this man’s nose whistles all through the 27 outs of each game.

3) Matt Stairs may look like a Little League dad who goes out and drinks all week and plays softball with his buddies on Sundays, but to Jonathan Broxton, Matt Stairs looks like the monster you always believed was in your closet as a kid.

4) The American League series was a tight one if you take away all the home runs the Yankees hit. Also please imagine a world in which Alex Rodriguez dominates in the postseason, seems bleak right? Well that’s the world we live in now.

5) Tim McCarver is currently in a heated battle with the English language. Who will win I am unsure of but we are worse off for witnessing it.

6) I could have easily gone out and got five of my closest friends and umpired these games. We would have been just as effective and might not have blown so many calls.

7) ManRam takes a shower in the ninth of game four. A leader on the team, he is neither there to console or to praise had the Dodgers pulled the win out. I still do not understand why he is supported by the fan base in Los Angeles.

It may be a long layoff before the World Series. I for one will be stocking up on cases of beer. I have found that’s the only way to truly follow what Tim McCarver is trying to say. It makes watching the World Series more understandable.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

American League CS

So let me get this straight. The Yankees went out and spent roughly the GDP of Kerzblakistan on better starting pitchers and yet they will take on the formidable Angels with…three pitchers. This seems like a bad return on investment.

Joe Girardi has decided to go with a rotation that will have the very spry and not a bit overweight C.C. Sabathia pitch in a possible 3 games this series. To his credit it is not a strategy born of great minds mulling it over, rather it is derived from necessity. You see, it’s October and the Yankees have really only three starters you can count on. Joba Chamberlain is best used as a catch-all pitcher that can go long or short and Sergio Mitre has a propensity to let the opposing team score a lot.

A three-man rotation may cause trouble if they get past the Angels and have to go to a 4-man rote in the Series. But that brings me to this series. The three-man rotation is pure trouble when you consider that two of the three are left handers. The Angels have no problem hitting left-handers. This has the makings of another Steinbrenner blow-up. I for one will not be able to handle a Yankee loss. Not because I am a fan-I am not. It’s because every year the Yankees fail to bring home a Series title they buy more players the next year. Soon it will be the Yankees and a couple teams with the likes of Chris Davis and Barry Zito on them.

The Angels have eight guys hitting .297 or higher on the year against lefties. Basically get used to Angels being on base. Also get used to Scioscia running his little heart out against Posada.

Now the fun part is that the Yankees have an all-star lineup that can crush the ball. Add the fact that Yankee stadium turns pop ups into home runs and you have the makings of a very ugly series.

I guess my main point is this will not be a pitchers series. Scores should average above 5 and very well could take 4 hours to play.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

National League CS

These playoffs have reaffirmed what I thought I already knew about baseball. A lot of times the loss goes to he who screws up first, often, or both. Either a closer will throw a changeup out over the plate, or a shortstop will flub a double play, or Matt Holiday will try to run and catch at the same time. More often than not these mistakes turn into game changing blunders. Looking to the National League match-up on Thursday, I have decided who will screw up least.

Both teams boast solid defenses. Dodger faithful may even have images of gold glove infields of yester year. Likewise, the Phillies have nary a hole to hit to. This would almost be a complete tie on defense if it weren’t for the Manny in left field. I know it’s coming. It hasn’t yet. But it will. There will be a gaffe of such epic proportions as to end the Dodger hopes in one foul swoop. Things have been too easy out there for him. Sure every fly ball looks like it wants to come out of his glove. Sure every gaper is chased at walking speeds. But a big one is coming. Set the DVR to record.

As for rotations I have to give the “most likely to get rocked” award to either Randy Wolf or Brad Lidge. One constant with Wolf is that when he takes the ball, you know the opposition will score three runs. You can take comfort in that it will not be more than that but either way he will leave the game with three runs having been scored. As for Brad Lidge, I mean, come on, even Brad Lidge was holding his breath when Brad Lidge was pitching the ninth inning on Monday. He really only had one pitch he was comfortable with and that was his slider. Lucky for Lidge, Troy Tulowitzki was fond of swinging at pretty much anything that night.

Now what hitters will go completely absent for the next week? Smart money is Pedro Feliz. This guy wasn’t exactly raking the ball against Colorado. He went 3 for 13 but still scares me. He has a Scott Brosius thing about him. He could easily go 1 for 20 in the next series but that one could be the game-winning walk off single.

So which team will screw up least to take this thing? My guess is the defending champs…then again it could be the Dodgers. I’ll let you know after I see how many fastballs Padilla can throw without Chase Utley hitting the pavilion.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Playoffs: American League

Twins v. Yankees

The Twins were not supposed to make the playoffs this year. The same can be said of last year as well. Actually every year they do well after Kent Hrbek retired is pretty much icing. But here they are well into October, keeping baseball in the Metrodome for at least one more game. Unfortunately they are up against the best paid team in baseball - and they still have to play in a marshmallow.

The Yankees’ weakness the past couple of years has come in the arm department. It should also be noted that Yankee players have no actual souls so that could be a minus as well. This year however, they have a great one-two of Sabathia and Burnett and plenty of depth in the bullpen. Their greatest strength in that department may be Joba Chamberlain. He can pitch a few innings of long relief if need be or he can be ready at a moment’s notice to pitch to one batter. A guy that versatile in the playoffs is extremely valuable.

The Yankees also benefit from the Twins coming off an extreme high and may still very well be suffering from champagne hangovers. What’s scary thought is that the Yankees usually have Alex Rodriguez on slump mode right about now. But he has been heating up every month and just had one of the best games of his career to end the season. It turns out his injury at the beginning of the season was a blessing in disguise. But he still has no actual soul to speak of.

Red Sox v. Angels

Let’s disregard the fact that the Angels have three division series losses to the Red Sox. This is a new year and what’s striking is that these two teams are pretty close images of one another. Take away the ability of both Jon Lester and Josh Beckett to turn into K machines every so often, the Angels and Red Sox are pretty much split down the middle talent wise. The regular season record illustrates this with the Angels taking five of nine.

Both squads have extremely talented hitters throughout. What both lack is a step-up stud of a hitter. Neither has the one guy who pitchers would rather pitch around than put anything near them. This has not deterred either from being extremely potent on offense. Rather, the hits are spread out all over. This is a pick em’ series that should go all five.

To pick the winner of this one I flipped a coin nine times and the Angels won. However I remember that I still can’t stand the Rally Monkey so I switched to the Red Sox. Monkeys should be lauded and laughed at for their comical behavior not invoked to spur on a rally. That’s right the Red Sox win because Angel fans worship monkeys. You heard it here first.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Playoffs: The Senior Circuit

Rockies v. Phillies

The Rockies are as enigmatic as the division in which they play in. Touted as a young team on the rise, the Rockies started the season as underachievers.

I would also like to take this time to throw a special shout out to my boy Garrett Atkins whom I drafted in the 7th round of my fantasy league this year. Atkins was supposed to be the slugger the Rockies desperately needed this season. He is now backing up Ian Stewart at third base. Let me put this in perspective for you Garrett, Dexter Fowler is getting more hacks then you right now. Dexter weighs a little more than a fat infant and he is getting the nod over you in crunch time. I hate you. I’m sorry - I just really could have used the power from that position this year.

Anyway, they would hit their low point of 12 games under .500 in the beginning of June. Management felt not enough was being done with the talent on the roster and manager Clint Hurdle was fired. That being said, the Rockies have been the hottest team in baseball since the break. Jim Tracy has brought back a sense of calm to the young dugout. Starters such as Troy Tulowitzki feel at ease knowing that their skipper has faith in them. The players have dutifully rewarded him with solid defense, consistent hitting, and a playoff berth. If Jorge De La Rosa can be fit to pitch in this series Colorado’s chances skyrocket.

Please don’t misconstrue me. The Phillies should win this series. They have a better roster and won it last year. That should be the end of the argument. But what fun would sports be if great teams didn’t have at least one fatal flaw? The problem for Philly is in their bullpen.

While the Rockies are trying to maintain their heat, the Phillies are trying to return to postseason form. Last year Philadelphia had a seasoned and lethal bullpen. They played with a confidence after the seventh inning not many could. Unfortunately for the defending Champions Brad Lidge has gone from a lights out solution in the ninth to a shaky proposition. There is no doubt that Philly touts a better lineup and starting rotation in a short series. They have the power to make short work of the Rockies. The only caveat will come when Hamels, Lee, or Blanton have to surrender the ball to the bully.

Cardinals v. Dodgers

With Torre and LaRussa at their respective helms, the Dodgers-Cardinals series will be an interesting exhibition in strategy. And we all know how exciting baseball strategy exhibitions can be.

The Dodgers come in with the best record in the National League but may just be the underdog in this one. Both teams tout a stunning lineup of speed and power. The Cardinals have a lethal combo of Pujols and Holliday. Either of which can turn the game around in one swing. The Dodgers counter with Manny Ramirez whom the Dodgers are confident will turn things around for the series. They also feature one of the best hitting center fielders in Matt Kemp. He is not only adept in the batter’s box but also on the base paths. Oh, I almost forgot the stunning contribution Jim Thome brings to the table for the Dodgers. His ability to fly out in crucial situation may prove vital in the week ahead.

The game changer comes in the form of the starting rotations. St. Louis has two of the best in baseball in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. The Dodgers have used the entire season to piecemeal a consistent rotation together. With Billingsley unable to throw anything but fastballs down the middle, Joe Torre will call on Randy Wolf to lead the Dodgers in game 1. The only confidence this brings LA fans is that Wolf is left handed and the Cardinals seem befuddled by these types of people this season. This will be a close series if the Dodgers take game 1. However if they lose home field advantage you can buy tickets for St. Louis in the League Championship series.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Baseball Bits

We are at that funky time of the season where a lot does not matter. Most teams are locked into early winter breaks or about to make a run at a World Series title. There may be a nice race in Minnesota/Detroit but since neither is representing the American League in late October let’s just ignore them completely:

Kip Wells the Human Pitching Machine

Kip Wells finally got the Cardinals back on track today, too bad he pitches for the Reds. Both he and reliever Micah Owings combined to give up nine runs in a little over four innings. I don’t know what it takes to be a pitcher in Cincinnati but I am pretty sure the prerequisites consist of an ERA above five and a penchant to throw the ball over the plate.

Chris Carpenter chimed in with six RBI’s including a grand slam off of Wells in the 2nd inning. Troy Glaus got into the mix with his first RBI this season. Yes, the Cardinals starting pitcher and fresh off the DL third baseman combined for 8 RBI’s today off what the Red’s are calling pitchers now-a-days. I am seriously considering hiring Kip Wells to throw me batting practice when I am having a bad day. I hear he might be available soon.

At least they aren’t the Orioles

The Mets will be damned if they have anyone healthy to end the season. Jose Reyes was threatening to end September with a fully healed hamstring. The Mets staff quickly nipped that in the bud and ran Reyes in practice until he was good and re-injured. He is now out for the remainder of the season, all three games. Most would have opted to sit Reyes down and avoid pesky distractions the offseason can bring like surgery on an injured hamstring. Such is not the way of the Mets. This news was followed by the revelation that ticket prices for the Mets will be down 20% next year. I feel this was necessitated by the fact that their best players this year were Angel Pagan and Luis Castillo. You can’t charge big league prices when best and healthiest mean the exact same thing in your organization.

Any day now

I have a sneaking suspicion that the Dodgers believe the National League will clinch itself. Watching Mark Loretta try to field a ball last night, I could come to no other conclusion. Much like Manny running down a routine fly ball in left field, the Dodgers will make clinching their division look as hard as possible. I don’t like Los Angeles’ chances after that as their rotation has looked surprisingly like the quality staff of arms they have over there in Cincinnati.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Call to American Footie Fans

I was lucky enough to attend the recent friendly match pitting Chelsea against Inter-Milan. I had a great time. I was able to see my favorite team without traveling on a plane for more than ten hours. While I enjoyed myself, most around me feigned interest and became anxious in the "uneventful" parts of the game. Shouts of "shoot the ball" came as forwards held the ball well outside the box. I became quite aware then that Soccer has an uphill battle to become one of the bigger sports in America.

Soccer like any sport can be painstaking at times. An ex-hater of soccer I understand why. There is too much nuance to witness. Fans of soccer get excited about a well executed pass or a well received ball. These are not things easily measured. American sports fans want to see results and they want them in number form.

People want to know that someone got a hit, or a sack, or ran for ten yards and got a first down. Soccer may just be too abstract a concept for some of us right now. We tend to ignore the finer, less obvious things in this country. We eat at restaurants and order meals without any thought of the preparation that went into it. This is what a good portion of the 90 minutes of a soccer match is, preparation. What European fans seem to enjoy and what may be lost on all of us is that sometimes the means can be just as enjoyable as the end.

ESPN can show highlight goals to entice viewers of SportsCenter. Eventually though, American fans will have to change the way they take their sports if they are to enjoy the beautiful game. We will be a better sports nation for it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bits of Tid IV


Sometimes I come across something that for lack of a better term is just sick. Redskins WR Keith Eloi simply astonishes with his ability to jump. It usually takes me a few moments to wade myself out of a pool. Eloi can do it in a split second, from a standing position, in three feet of water.

Now if that wasn't crazy, ill, stupid, dope, enough, Eloi takes a crack at getting into the bed of a truck, from a standing position, surrounded by hype men. This clip actually surfaced before the pool clip. Jarron Gilbert (Bears) was the first to jump out of a pool and Eloi wanted to one up him.

Please note that he jumped into the bed of a truck with sandals on. Rest assured that anytime I have sandals on I will not be attempting amazing physical feats.


Maybe your Friday is not going so well. It could be worse.


CF Willie Mays Hayes
C Dottie Hinson
SS Marla Hooch
RF Roy Hobbes
LF Pedro Cerano/Max 'Hammer' Dubois
1B Jack Elliot
2B Michael 'Squints' Palledorous
3B Roger Dorn
Pitcher Spot

Henry Rowengartner
Billy Chapel
Eddie Harris
Kit Keller
Kenny DeNunez

Rick Vaughn

All in all a substantial OBP team. I have Hayes getting on base at a regular clip. He gives pitchers headaches with his speed and tenacity. Hinson is a power hitting righty with a good eye. Her ability to lay off the high ones should allow for more RBI's for our 3-4-5 hitters. Here is where there is some controversy. Both Roy Hobbes and Marla Hooch are natural left handed sweet swingers. I figure the fact that Hooch can switch hit gives us a little leeway at the third position.

My fifth and sixth hitters give me trouble during the season as both Cerrano and Jack Elliot go through dry spells where they can't hit the breaking stuff. The only caveat is when Pedro Cerrano is actually playing 'Hammer' Dubois of the Chunichi Dragons, then he is just solid all around. I just hate that I never know what Dennis Haysbert I am getting before the game you know? Seven and Eight spots go to my defensive specialists. If they get on the base paths well that's just icing on the cake and a real problem for the opposition.

The pitching rotation is just stacked. I have an ace that will consistently throw over 100 m.p.h. in Henry Rowengartner. More than that, I am blessed with some solid vets to show him the way. Billy Chapel has one last year left in him and Harris is best described as crafty. My only problem is Kit Keller who can be a real bitch sometimes especially when she gets traded and her big sister loses the game for the Rockford Peaches on purpose just to satisfy her little sister's humongous ego. What a fuc... Well I digress.

There you have it. Solid!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Laker Bandwagon Getting Full

All Aboard

The NBA playoffs are a lot like pregnancy. You are excited at first then after nine months you just want to get it over with. The interim is spent on the couch being all gassy.
What some sports would consider the length of a regular season, the NBA considers brief enough for a post season. And here we are at the tail end of it. After 40 games in 40 nights we now have two teams vying for the trophy.

Try as ESPN might to pit this as a Kobe vs. Dwight series, the crucial battle will come down to Lamar/Ariza vs. Turkoglu/Lewis. I guess I could go on spouting statistics and predictions, but I am little irked today.

You see whenever the Lakers make it deep in the playoffs, fair weather fans come out of the woodwork to glom onto the party train. It starts innocent enough, a Laker flag here and a mention of Kobe there. Sure we can all take pride in in DJ Mbenga's disproportionately small head. And yes we can all bask in the glory of Kobe's farts. But it ain't all gravy. Being a complete dork of a fan, I watch all season and revel in both the good and the outright stinky.

Most bandwagoners fail to realize that a little over two years ago Kobe Bryant was determined to run Andrew Bynum out of town. Purple and Gold morale was at an untimely low. The Lakers looked more like the pack that ran with Del Harris then those that capped off a three peat of titles earlier in the decade. There were no tacos at the end of games. A sigh and sense of a relief were our only reward.

Then it all started to come together. That Bynum kid was alright. The Lakers got some momentum going and a playoff berth seemed inevitable. Then tragedy hit. You don't know what it feels like when your young center goes down twice, in the same month, in consecutive years, to the same team. You feel jinxed, You feel doomed.
Then like a spanish Jesus Pau came to save the day. The he ruined the party by getting dunked on frequently in the finals last year. Look, you haven't spent game after game yelling at Lamar Odom for being a no show, then applauding his immense talent, in the same game! Maybe you have witnessed Pau and his offensive prowess. But I know you bandwagoners look away when he diminishes on the defensive end. I do not. I take it all in; every basket, every tech, every 20 point blow out, every 20 point drubbing.

So please forgive me if become a little annoyed at the person on the street wearing a Laker shirt today when yesterday they didn't know when the Finals started. I'm not saying you have to wear purple everyday, just be able to name the last second-round draft pick to start a playoff game for the Lakers. That will do.

There they are folks. They range in intimidation factor from hardened criminal to IT administrative assistant. Let's have fun!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Becoming a Fan

I've been a soccer fan for a few years now and have followed Chelsea for that same amount of time. I have always considered myself one of the Chelsea faithful but have not been so convinced of that fact until today.

Growing up around sports I find it is easy to follow your team when the going is good and the wins are easy. Living in L.A. I may have become a Dodgers and Lakers fan regardless of winning percentage. But the fact that my developmental years were spent watching around the back passes from Magic to Worthy and shutout innings being thrown by Orel Hershiser made it easier to fall in love with those teams.

Yet you never feel quite complete as a fan until your team loses a big game. You never truly understand what the rooting did to you emotionally and physically. You back a team through the thick and stick with them through the thin because that is your conviction and that is who you choose to trust. When the people you trust break your heart you know you are invested for life.

I remember 1989 and the Piston's sweep of the Lakers in the finals. Being nine at the time I don't mind telling you I cried that night. I remember the ineptitude of the early ninety Dodgers teams. They had me holding onto the dream that we could repeat the miracle of '88.

At almost thirty years old, I had the same experience yet again. Nil-nil going into today's second leg semi-final, Chelsea lost in injury time to Barcelona. They finished ninety minutes as the assured finalists in this years Champions League final match. They came within a minute and a half of completing something worthwhile to a lackluster season. As does happen so often in sport. The unexpected happenened.

Barcelona scored with little time left in injury time allowing them to go ahead in the tie breaker scenario. When Iniesta connected with the ball my heartbroke. In so many of these events in my life. I know when the inevitable is about to happen. As the ball swept passed Cech's outstretched arm I buried my head in my hands in disgust.

I can take refuge in the fact that I am part of a faithful of Chelsea fan that felt the same way today. I can take soalce in the fact that we will have no alternative but wait until next season to root again. I can take pride in the fact that there is nothing more I can do about the pain. I am a Chelsea fan after all.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Weekend Tacos

A Saturday so filled with amazing sport is usually saved for late March. Though in May, tomorrow should give us ample opportunity to sit on the couch and not move for three or ten hours. So here are the top three tacos to watch Saturday, complete with which method of drink you should be pounding.

135th Kentucky Derby
The main race should be around 3PST. So my morning may consist of looking for ingredients for my mint julep and a very large hat. This may be a tight one as there are no clear cut favorites this time around. The early favorite is 'I want Revenge' who is now going off at 3-1. The most interesting horse is the colt 'Pioneer of the Nile.' He has the strength and longevity to finish but has only been a turf or synthetic surface horse until now. If he transitions to dirt well he may be near the top at the turn.

What to drink
Mint Julep There is something sophisticated yet down home about a mint julep. In fact its the only cocktail that you can sip while wearning boxers and no shirt and still be snooty about it.

The Game Seven to end all Game Sevens
Ever since Game six between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls occurred every sports pundit has touted this series as the greatest thing to happen since late night spaghetti bowls before bed. It has been a great series. But the fact remains that the winner will still lose to Cleveland eventually. However, because almost every game this series has been a close, hard hitting, controversy inducing match up, I will not miss seven. Well at least not the fourth quarter.

What to Drink
Because of the location, you have to go Sam Adams. By now you should have a euphoric feeling of malaise. It's ok tomorrow is Sunday and you have nothing to do.

Pacquiao v. Hatton
Last time I saw Pacquiao fighting he was beating up a poor old Mexican lady. No one seemed to care either. They just allowed the Phillipino pugilist to land blow after blow on the defenseless Oscar Dela Hoya. It was a scary sight but I couldn't divert my eyes. PacMan's complete beat down on Dela Hoya illustrated his veracity at pretty much any weight class. I would be ready to bet the farm on his ability to dismantle Hatton if it weren't for Floyd Mayweather Sr. and his dedication to defense. Hatton has always been a puncher that would come at you and worry about the repercussions later. Having a stiff chin and deft swing allows that. However, this fight is different. Pacquaio can fly around the ring and will most assuredly get his punches in. If Hatton learned to dodge this late in his career this may just be better than the beating of an old Mexican I saw last year.

What to Drink
San Miguel or Guinness - Then take a nap.