Postgame Spread
You guys hangin' out? I'll hang out.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Man-Crush Central    

With all the Wells/Clemens discussion of late, this blog has gotten somewhat... overweight?  Not to mention cruel, in light of my visceral demands for retribution against Pavano-level bust Matt Clement.  All this negative energy is floating around.  With good reason, sure, but it gets heavy... it weighs on your aura, man...

Let's fix that.  Let's talk about love.  That's right, love.  The love between one man and another.  I'm not talking about anything sexual or erotic... just plain old man-to-man love and respect.  You know, the kind that only a cowboy could understand.  Yeah, so anyway, let's see who gets some love from me today...

1) Daniel Briere, stout fellow, scorer of overtime goals, forcer of Game 7s

There are few greater events in sports than a Game 7 in hockey.  Hockey is inherently sudden, especially in the new NHL ("hey, we call penalties now!"), so even a three-goal lead isn't safe anymore.  The entire outcome can change in the blink of an eye.  I'm already tense, and the game's not gonna happen for a couple days.

I think Buffalo wins the game.  Buffalo's two "name" guys, Briere and Chris Drury, aren't elite 50-goal-type scorers, but the 25-35 they do score will be timely.  Drury arrived in Buffalo with that reputation, but Briere has emerged to make good on his early promise.  He's poised to earn himself a lofty Hero rating for NHL 2007.

As a self-honorary Edmonton native, it doesn't hurt that my Oilers have been relaxing and getting their legs back for the past week, while the Sabres and Hurricanes have been injuring each other and wearing themselves out.  Based on the shaky goaltending in Carolina (Cam Ward has been sufficient) and the depleted defensive corps in Buffalo (Tallinder and Kalinin are out, Numminen will probably join them), the Oilers' chances have improved with each passing day.  Gotta love it. 

However, I admit I don't love that quite as much as I love...

2) Pretty much everyone on the Phoenix Suns, including the coach.  Even Nikoloz Tskiilividlishtkliviski.

Can you have a man-crush on like nine people at once?  Maybe we can reduce it to five... Mike D'Antoni, Boris Diaw, and these three guys.  Either way, I cannot say often enough how much I adore the Phoenix Suns, especially after last night's must-win drubbing.  If America hasn't already collectively retched at the sight of yet another rant about the Suns, it soon will.

The Suns are the Showtime Lakers, but tweaked to fit the international era.  That's no coincidence, considering what a huge proponent of internationalization David Stern (Der Fuhrer) has been.  In stark contrast to the excruciatingly slow and unwatchable Pistons/Knicks/Heat/Spurs thugball that has ravaged basketball over the last 10-12 years, the Suns make every single game exciting, win or lose.  No matter what happens in a Suns game, you know you'll see something cool and different.  I haven't given a rat's ass about basketball (beyond the Celtics) since the Jordan-less days in the mid-90s.  The Suns pulled me back in.

They've proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that their high-octane run-and-gun style can win.  They defy conventional logic.  Any way you break the series down, Dallas should have the advantage... deeper bench, better defense, taller players.  The Mavericks should be beating the hell out of Phoenix physically.  But they're not.  I don't know why, but they're not.  If Dallas wins this series, physicality will not have been the reason.  That stuns me.  But that's the new world order in the NBA.  Herr Stern should replace the famous Jerry West logo with a logo of Boris Diaw laying the ball up while leaning away awkwardly from Erick Dampier.

Look at what Diaw and Shawn Marion have done against Dallas.  They are the only two rebounders on the Suns' roster, and have played close to the entirety of this series.  According to conventional logic, they should be worn down and physically beaten up by now, having been plastered by the likes of Dirk Nowitzki, DeSagana Diop and Erick Dampier, all of whom are seven-footers.  But we're seeing the opposite... Marion and Diaw are scoring without any apparent difficulty, and are doing so by running faster and working harder than their defenders.  Diaw is averaging 25 per game, and Marion is putting in 17 and pulling down 14.5 per game.

Having endured the last 12 years of NBA playoff basketball, I'm wondering why Diaw hasn't received an elbow in the ji-aw by ni-ow.  In the NBA of 2004, Bruce Bowen would have punched Marion in the stomach (no call), ruptured a Tim Thomas Testicle with a karate chop (no call), and thrown a dead cat at Leandro Barbosa's mom during halftime (um, no call).  But not in the 2006 NBA.  It appears that Der Fuhrer's unreasonable suspensions of Ron Artest, Reggie Evans, and the Suns' Raja Bell during first-round action have set the precedent for such behavior.  Any Maverick who cheap-shots a Sun can expect to miss a game, if not two, for doing so.  Thus the Suns will continue to penetrate, and score, at will, without any fear of physical retribution.  Yes, cheating is finally disallowed.  How about that.

If the Suns actually pull this series out, will I ever be a happy fellow.  Shaq would present the ultimate mismatch, but it looks like Kurt Thomas would be in good-enough shape by then to deal with Shaq's offense, and Shaq's defense could be neutralized by Diaw or Thomas drawing him out to the perimeter with mid-range jumpers.  Although, after what we've seen so far, I'm not so sure the Suns care about mismatches anyway.  They believe they can do anything.  They'll stick to the plan and make it work.  Even if it doesn't work, it'll be fun to watch.  Just a fascinating team.

3) The Goddam American Hero Who Hit David Wells In The Leg The Other Night

Dammit!  I knew I couldn't make it all the way through without being a bastard.  At least I tried.

Enormous Object Hurtling for Houston    

So the Rocket comes out of the retirement closet* one more time, back to the 'Stros.

The worst part of this whole debacle isn't that Tanyon Sturtze will continue to wear a major league uniform, but this little nugget:

"Although we are disappointed that Roger Clemens will not be joining the Red Sox, we are glad that we went through the process and reconnected as an organization with Roger," the Red Sox said in a statement. "We wish him the best of luck with Houston and in the National League. When Roger's career does come to an end, we will welcome him to Fenway Park and will forever consider him to be a legendary and beloved member of the Boston Red Sox."

Jeff, calm down... remember to breathe.
I did like the qualifier, "we...will forever consider him to be..." Not, "He will forever be."

*feel free to replace "retirement closet" with "steroids suspension closet" or, heck, just "closet" as appropriate. By the way, Roger Clemens is a Gay.

David Wells to doctor:    

"Wait a sec, doc... I have knees?!!"

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

God U Suck Award: May 2006    

Yes, it has finally happened. After giving my old whipping boy Tim Wakefield a permanent reprieve, and after the departure of piece of shit and one-time scab Kevin Millar, I have a new source for all my hatred.


Ah, if only I could read the following items in tomorrow's Globe...

* According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the number of foreign objects lodged in New Englanders' throats since April 1st is the highest seen in the Boston area in nearly twenty years. Researchers point to a location in the Fenway neighborhood, where a single individual, one Matt Clement, was found to be responsible for over 90% of reported results. As a precaution against future breeding, a group of doctors have surgically removed Mr. Clement's genitals. It was also reported that the surgeons took the rather unorthodox step of jumping up and down on the detached specimen and urinating on it, "just in case."

* Al-Jazeera is reporting that Red Sox P Matt Clement has been kidnapped by Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. In a recent video missive, bin Laden explains that Clement will be held captive until such time as the "evil American infidels promote Jon Lester to the #5 spot." Al-Jazeera is also reporting that bin Laden has been torturing Clement by forcing him to pitch in the Axis of Evil semi-professional league, with the stipulation that Clement must consume one pound of human feces for every walk issued to an enemy batter. Sources within Al Qaeda claim that the notorious terrorist organization is running out of feces.

Boston GM Theo Epstein, stifling what appeared to be a smile, said that the Red Sox "do not negotiate with terrorists."

* Lansdowne Street institution Cask 'n' Flagon, recognized across New England as the premier pre- and post-game establishment for alcoholic Red Sox fans, has announced that former Sox pitcher Matt Clement will be served buffet-style before the next Red Sox home game. Guests will be able to choose between rotisserie-style, char-grilled, chicken-style steaks, and a habanero-and-mint-infused chili billed as "Clementhol." The giblets and sweetmeats are being kept for later use as stock. Doors at 5:00.

* A recent Gallup poll shows a record surge in President Bush's approval rating. Analysts suggest that the turning point in the President's public image is due to his recent disembowelment of former Red Sox P Matt Clement on national television. While the New York Times' editorial staff questioned the unilateral use of the Patriot Act to evade Mr. Clement's 14th Amendment rights, they went on to describe the ceremony as a "bold move," singling out the President's personal execution of the evisceration as being indicative of a "revitalized leadership strategy."

Oh, they're just foolish dreams, but still...

Friday, May 26, 2006

Guess what day it is???    

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sure And Begorah, B'Jaesus: Celts Talk    

1) Part of the recent assistant coaching shakeup was the hire of former Magic assistant Clifford Ray, a big-man specialist.  The link summarizes his resume nicely.  The fact that Dwight Howard has flourished under his tutelage, and likewise that Darko Milicic appears poised to shed his "you're not Melo/Bosh/Wade" stigma, has to be encouraging for us Jeff & Perk fans.  Holla!  Now, if only the head coaching staff could be shaken up... hell, even Danny Ainge expressed concern recently over Doc's ADHD coaching style.  (Also from CelticsBlog.)

2) The draft.  I got a big one brewing here, so get comfortable.

In a draft with six valuable players, they have the #7 pick.  Normally, this would concern me.  And yet I am perfectly happy, because I will guarantee that one of those six will drop to the Celtics at #7.  Have you not seen who's drafting ahead of Boston?  Minnesota, Portland and Atlanta!  Not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

The odds of none of those teams screwing up, assuming (very generously) that they have a 50/50 shot at doing the right thing, are 1 in 8.  That means there's an 87% chance that one of them will screw up royally (paging Rudy Gay... please report to the draft podium...) thereby allowing someone with actual value to fall into the open, comforting arms of Danny Ainge.  Even if you get super-generous and assume draft success is a 66/34 proposition, you're looking at just under a 10% chance (8 in 81) of all three teams doing the right thing.  Either way, the odds of utter failure (Mr. Gay, please report...) are just as good as the odds of complete success (Ainge getting the 4th-best player in the draft).  But all Ainge has to do is force a single mistake... a mistake that need not even appear to be a mistake (paging Mr. Rudy Gay, your flight is leaving...).  So I'm not worried in the least.

Putting aside my personal desire to trade the pick for a moment (the Celtics have plenty of cousins already... they need an uncle), my draft board would look something like this.  I have listed only those players who I believe have a shot at dropping to #7, for whatever reason.  I see no way for LaMarcus Aldridge to drop, so they are excused from consideration.  Likewise I have excused the enigmatic pain in the ass Rudy Gay.  A message to you, Rudy... you SUCK!  I think Gay's ESPN page actually lists his position as headcase instead of small forward.  So he's not on the list.  Anyway:

1. Brandon Roy
2. Adam Morrison
3. Ty Thomas
4. Marcus Williams
5. Andrea Bargnani

If none drop: Shelden Williams.
Please don't take: Rudy Gay

My justifications for why those top four on the list guys could drop:

Roy: East Coast bias, of course!  Brandon Roy is the best player in the draft.  But as a 2-guard who emerged as a senior, and who drew little media attention, the Blazers, Bobcats and Wolves may be underwhelmed by the entire package.  Let's hope they are.

Morrison: The lingering doubts about his defense, as well as his medical condition (type 1 diabetes), are exactly the kind of things that lead to moronic draft-day nosedives.  Even though his ceiling is lower than those of his competition, he addresses the Celtics' primary needs: instant offense in the second unit, toughness, and leadership.  Sure, he cried like a bitch on national television, but he plays with more fire than the rest of the draft combined.  The Celtics need that fire more than they need another high-ceiling project.

Thomas: Draft Express actually has Ty falling to #7.  Not that they're right, or that this is terribly likely, but it's actually more logical than you'd think.  Toronto and Chicago will probably take Bargnani and Aldridge.  Charlotte and Portland both need scorers at the 2/3 positions; Roy and Morrison fit that bill.  The Hawks need a point guard pretty badly, so Marcus Williams makes more sense for them than would another forward.  The T-Wolves already have Kevin Garnett (right now) so they might prefer Gay, who can at least share the floor with KG and Ricky Davis.  That leaves Ty Thomas on Ainge's lap.  QED.  In that scenario, nobody of the top six makes a mistake, makes a reach, takes someone indefensible.

Marcus Williams: Frankly, I think this guy isn't All That.  He's the most likely to drop.  Even the Hawks might look at him and come away unimpressed.  But he's still the top PG in the draft, and the Celtics could use one.  (Unless you're a Dan Dickau fan!  Speaking of Dick, if he becomes a fan favorite, wouldn't his cheering section have to be The Dickheads?  That's a rock-solid reason to root for the guy.)

Bargnani: Although he's the least likely to drop, he's my least favorite of the top 6.  A power forward without power.  A Euro who has been compared to Dirk Nowitzki, but will probably end up more like Vlad-manovic.  Not interested.  But if he's still around, you might as well take him.  Better him than Gay.

Shelden Williams: Another anti-Gay choice, but this one is a much bigger slap in the face.  As much as I loathe Duke University and everything it stands for, I'd rather have a low-ceiling contributor like The Slumlord than a waste of time like Gay.  Reliable, experienced, and tough enough.  He'd suck up minutes and fouls for a team in need of a backup big.  He'd also increase the roster's average forehead size by at least six square inches, which could be useful somehow.

Rudy Gay:  The only possible way for this draft to fail.  Rudy Gay is like the ugly weird chick you only go home with because the bar just closed... you keep your fingers crossed and pray that it works out.  I'd just assume let Houston have him.  Swap picks with Houston and see if they give up a future second-rounder or something.

Again, I would much prefer that the Celtics trade out.  Maybe package the pick along with Tony Allen or Ryan Gomes for a future, non-lottery-protected #1.  Or even better, acquire a cagey veteran.  Hell, he doesn't even have to be that cagey... I'd settle for someone old enough to buy a drink.  But if not, ABG... anyone but Gay.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Why is it that sports networks insist on putting universally-reviled personalities in their most coveted broadcast spots?

* Billy Packer has no redeeming qualities.
* Joe Morgan is not only ignorant of the modern game, but is so proud of his ignorance that he spends time in his chats trumpeting his complete lack of game preparation.
* Joe Theismann has nothing to say.  Ever.  Welcome to Monday Night Football, Joe.
* I like Bill Walton.  But many others despise him, and understandably so.  No NBA announcer is more prominent.
* Tim McCarver is worse than all of them combined.  He deserves prison time for being so stupid.

I know more people who agree than who disagree.  So where are the people who counteract me and my friends?  Who are the people who love Billy Packer?  I don't think they exist.

Which is the crux of my question... who does think they belong on television?  If these people are, on the whole, not beloved by the viewing audience, who keeps trotting them out there?

* Is it network executives who look for reliability?  Do they think that the presence of an "institution" like Tim McCarver somehow elevates the importance of a sporting event?  Perhaps, but on the other hand, if a hypothetical popularity poll showed that 0% of college basketball fans liked Billy Packer, wouldn't that be exactly the kind of thing that would concern an executive?  Wouldn't an audience be more likely to switch away if the announcer isn't doing anything to keep them interested?

* Is it the production team, which wants to define a rapport with its announcer?  I'd be stunned if they were given a meaningful voice in this process.

* Is it because advertisers want to see stability?  Huh?  Why would Joe Morgan's presence determine whether VW stops buying ads on Sunday Night Baseball?  Is there some exceedingly foolish person out there, someone in charge of ad buys for ESPN, who thinks that people tune into Sunday Night Baseball in order to listen to the dulcet tones of a man who redefines the gold standard for ignorance in broadcasting?  If so, I'd like to assure that person that nobody I've ever met would decide to watch or not watch a sporting event based on who the broadcaster is.  Please disavow yourself of this idiotic notion.

Seriously though... there's a positive glut of broadcasters out there.  Baseball Tonight goes through analysts like John Daly goes through hamburgers.  So what's different about in-game analysts?  Why are they tolerated?  Someone please help me out...

Monday, May 22, 2006

Horn-O-Plenty Of Thoughts    

1) Oilers bandwagon coming through.  Drip drip drip, oil on you, gonna oil on you... sssss on you, sssss on you!  Make no mistake, Edmonton is on a mission.  The sooner you assimilate, the better off we'll all be after they dominate the world.  If they advance to face Carolina, I'd mark Edmonton as the favorites, just because Roloson > Ward.  I'm not so sure about Roloson > Ryan Miller though.  And I kinda like how Buffalo is assembled.  Anyway, go Oilers.

2) Who's in first place?  Ohhhhh that's right I forgot.

3) Anyone else get the sense that the Cavaliers' bench just sealed LeBron's departure via free agency?  They did everything in their power to convince him to turn down the Cavs' max extension.  Why turn down the NYC endorsement deals when this is what you've been surrounded with?  Choke-artists like Damon Jones and Drew Gooden?  I think he needed to get some idea that it wouldn't be all about LeBron in the playoffs; he didn't get it.  Cavs folks are optimistic about things after having won a playoff series, but he's spending this offseason ruminating on a Game 7 where his teammates shot something like 20%.  That's the impression he'll leave with.  He's gone.

4) After two months of pitch-by-pitch updates of Barry Bonds' at-bats on ESPN, it appears that he hit #714 during Fox's exclusive-rights window on Saturday.  I cannot confirm that ESPN didn't swing a deal to show live cut-ins anyway... but if they did fail to show that moment live, then I am a happy, happy boy.  In fact, I'd be OK with stringing this Barry soap opera out a few more weeks if it means that #715 ends up on Fox as well.

5) I've got Spurs and Suns tonight.  Clippers have a better shot at winning than the Mavs IMO.

Looks like all that "NBA Is Teh Exciting" talk was a little premature, given that the sources of excitement (LeBron, Kobe, Mavs, Clippers, Suns) are either eliminated or on the brink.  That bubble burst as soon as Simmons wrote about it.  It would be a shame if the Finals ended up Spurs/Pistons after all, but it kinda looks that way from here.  Der Fuhrer should be pissing his panties over the prospect of all his marketable upstarts (Mavs, Suns, Heat, Cavs, Clippers) coming this far, only to get stomped by the least likable, least marketable, lowest rated, and most hated teams.  The NBA needs surprises more than it needs this defense-wins-championships horseshit.

Maybe the NBA should look at what happened in the NHL this season.  Gary "Fuhrer Jr." Bettman mandated that any and every ticky-tack penalty be called, regardless of context.  For the most part, it has happened: penalties are called in OT, goals are scored, games are decided.  And the players have adjusted to it.  Why can't this happen in the NBA?  If you give the refs permission to decide games based on fouls, you will hear that whistle just as often as you should.  Absolve them of responsibility, and watch the well-oiled machines (Suns, Mavs) take control of the league.

6) Would Wizards fans ever get behind a "We're Mentally Wizarded" PR campaign?  I guess not, but a guy can dream.

David Wells Mad Libs    

Because Deadspin merely suggested it, rather than doing it formally, I present today's edition of David Wells Mad Libs.  Fill in the blanks in each form.  The quotes are in white blockquote text beneath the forms, so you can't see them.  Select the text within the blockquote to see how your answers worked out.  Enjoy!

noun: __________________
plural noun: ______________
active verb: ______________
plural noun: ______________

"I wasn’t accusing him or anything of the sort. So the ________ who did it, or the _______ who did it, I think they need to ________. And you can quote me on that. ___________."

event: ___________________
verb: ____________________
active verb: _______________
exclamation: _______________
noun: ____________________

"I've had _________ with him the last few years. He said, 'Oh, we need to _______.' He said, 'I'll take you to dinner when I ___________.' Has he done it? ________ no. He's a piece of _________. And you can quote me on that."

plural noun: __________________
adjective: ___________________
verb (past tense): _____________
adjective: ___________________
plural noun: _________________
substance: ___________________
substance: ___________________

"There are guys out there who've been on __________ who've taken me deep and I'm _________ about it. I've never ________ the stuff. I'm looking ________ with 200-something __________, done with all _______ and ________."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Phillie fandom, part II: Dude, Where's My 'Stache?    

Introducing Philadelphia's newest hero:

Salvatore Frank Fasano.

This guy is so South Philly it's ridiculous.

First off, there's this:

He has a whole section of the stands where fans (aptly named, "Sal's Pals") all paint on ridiculous moustaches. They bring sharpies and hand out stachings to all comers. Suffice to say, if you tune in to tomorrow night's Phillies/Red Sox game, keep an eye out for a certain blogger, newly 'stached.

Secondly, he's enormous, and not in the good way. He's listed as 6'2", 245, and I bet he's got that topped by at least 30 pounds. He's so big that he can't even crouch behind home plate- his knees would collapse. Instead, he literally sits his ass on the dirt awaiting each pitch like a guy on a couch. By some freak trick of biology akin to Rodney Dangerfield's Triple Lindy, he occasionally rises up and throws out basestealers, leading fans to shout, "You Got 'Stached!"

Fasano, demonstrating his tiger-style.

Tuesday night, he blocked the plate so well against Brewer J.J. Hardy that he pretty much ruined Hardy's ankle. You try sliding full speed into a 275 lbs. + dude sitting on a couch in full body armor sometime and tell me how it feels.

J.J. Hardy - You Got 'Stached!

He's the anti-Rowand. Rowand won over Philadelphia with the previously-referenced steel-girder-headbutt-catch, resulting in an impressive denting of his pretty face, but, luckily, no damage to his magnificent Jheri-curl.

"Is very bad to steal Sal's pudding. Is very bad."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Modest Proposal    

Barry Bonds is approaching his 714th home run.  It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that Bonds will pass Babe Ruth, but he's so widely despised amongst players, coaches and fans that the quest to deny him 714 has gotten ugly.  Naturally, Barry could care less.  He's spent an entire career taking the "me against the world" approach to its ugliest extremes, so why would he let anyone else affect his enjoyment of home runs 714 and 715?  I think he believes that passing the Babe while clean erases all his past wrongdoing.  This is his last stand, the last achievement he'll have that nobody can take away from him.

Except I think it can be taken away.

Michael Strahan broke the NFL single-season sack record a few seasons ago.  Anyone remember the record-breaking sack?  Brett Favre gift-wrapped it for him by "tripping" at Strahan's feet, resulting in one of the cheapest sacks in NFL history.  But in ensuring the record for Strahan, Favre also denied Strahan the record forever... it became a record by technicality.  Nobody remembers Strahan's amazing season, but everyone remembers the unspoken asterisk that Favre stuck at his feet.  By intentionally collapsing, a questionable action in and of itself, Favre detracted from Strahan's moment of glory in a very permanent way.

So why not do likewise with Barry Bonds?  Make #714 and #715 the cheapest, weakest, most pathetic home runs Barry has ever hit.  Telegraph meatballs to him until he knocks them through the roof.  Tell your catcher to stand up and inform Barry exactly where the incoming Wakefieldian fastballs will be located.  Do a lot of pointing, just to make sure everyone in the viewing audience understands that Barry is being told where the ball will be, and that Bonds is not earning the record in any meaningful way.  Hell, why not announce the strategy to the media before the game?

Doing so would put Bonds in a lose-lose situation.  If he swings and connects, it's a joke, an embarrassment to himself and the plateau.  Bonds would essentially be placing the asterisk next to his own mark.  If he refuses to swing, out of some desire to "earn" the record, he would never get to 714.  Catch-22.  Either way, it would seem that Bonds has been denied the day in the sun that he doesn't deserve.

I admit this brings up a very basic ethical dilemma, in that the pitcher would be giving up runs on purpose.  But even beyond that, is it right to use dishonorable means to defeat a dishonorable opponent?  Is that the lesson you want to teach?  The ethic you want to live by?  Probably not.  You never want to look like you lost a game on purpose.  But riddle me this: would Russ Springer serving up batting practice fastballs to Bonds be any less ethical than Springer trying to put a fastball in Bonds' face?  It's a choice between the ethics of personal safety and the ethics of being a professional.  But in both cases, we're talking about destroying the sanctity of a particular game because the pitcher wants to make a political statement about Barry Bonds.  The game is a joke either way; why not do us all a service and ruin Bonds while you're at it?

Let's also remember that this was not a contested game.  San Francisco was large and in charge when the HBP happened.  A run here or there doesn't affect the outcome, and probably doesn't affect Vegas odds either, thus clearing the way for some good old-fashioned fat pitches.  Furthermore, teams often use such blowouts as an opportunity to air out dirty laundry relating to... beanballs.  Which is basically what Springer was up to.  So we're not talking about a particularly serious 14-1 ballgame.

Maybe I'm nuts.  But I think if Russ Springer had taken my advice and coughed one up on purpose, he would not have cost the Astros a game, nor would he have damaged the integrity of the Houston Astros any more than he just did.  He would, however, have embarrassed Barry Bonds in a permanent, irreversible may, just like Bonds has embarrassed us.

Just a thought...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Playoff Love Letter: It's Goddamn Freezing Up There Edition    

I've watched portions of pretty much every Edmonton Oilers game this postseason, and I am in love.  Maybe not as much as my previously-declared love for the impossibly lovable Phoenix Suns... but they are far and away the team I've been behind from the get-go.  I'm glued to their bandwagon.

I don't think their run is a fluke by any means.  In fact, I think they're headed to the Cup Finals.  They're not your typical #8 seed.  They made a run to get the #8 seed in the first place by making two spectacular acquisitions at the trade deadline... starting goaltender Dwayne Roloson (former 1B of the perennial Minnesota Wild goalie controversy) and former Bruin Sergei Samsonov.  Sammy has been a contributor, but Roloson has been a force of nature.  His emergence is living proof that a team's success hinges on its goalie situation.  He keeps the games close enough that the young Oiler scorers (forwards Shawn Horcoff, Raffi Torres, Fernando Pisani, defenseman Jarret Stoll [EDIT 5.17.06: I'm an idiot.]) and the veterans (Ryan Smyth, Jason Smith, all-world defenseman Chris Pronger) can grit their way to opportunistic goals.

My main reason for loving Edmonton is how you can see their fans shaking the arena.  I defy you to watch Game 6 tomorrow night and not come away impressed.  It's like a time machine... journey back to the days when real sports fans could afford tickets!  Actual fans at a playoff game instead of their bosses!  Rexall Place reminds me of what the Boston Garden looked like on TV during the 1980's.  The fans at Rexall are practically dangling over the ice, screaming their heads off, hollering and hand-waving all game long.  On TV, it looks absolutely terrifying.  It's tough to blame either team for having fallen apart when faced with the mighty Edmonton fan base.

The goalies took it worst of all.  Oiler fans' orchestrated taunts of Red Wings goalie Manny Legace brought a tear to my eye.  Downright masterful.  Toskala is definitely playing like a hexed goalie right now.  He was red-hot going into Game 3, but since then he's played like he's seen the Ring.  Dead man walking.  Manny Legace was awful too, though in his defense it's difficult to play goal when your pants are filled with poop... even your own.  I think Detroit's equipment manager is still soaking Legace's boxer-briefs in Woolite, and the series ended two weeks ago.  It's like the old Bill Cosby one-liner about one's intestinal response to a car accident: "first you say it... then you do it!"

Anyway, it all bodes well for Game 6 in Edmonton.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  It's by no means a done deal, but the Sharks look overdone.  You can see the fork sticking out of Toskala's back.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Define Tasteless    

Congratulations, OJ. You continue to inspire the better angels of our nature.

This is a great concept.
I just happen to have an inside connection at the studio, and have gotten ahold of the top-secret production schedule for the coming months. Here's a preview of other pranks in development:

Episode II: Nate Newton and Michael Vick drive around in a big van picking up hitch hikers along the Mexico Border.

Episode III: Chris "Birdman" Andersen accompanies one lucky 14 year old to her Junior High School prom, where R. Kelly brings the house down with "I Believe I Can Fly".

Episode IV: Three Words: Iron Chef Meiwes.


Since living in Berkeley for a year, after the Yankees, I generally root for the A's.
I've generally relegated the senior circuit to a non-factor, other than wondering when Pujols will make the leap to AL-DH-NY.
That said, I have to admit, in the last year, I've become a Phillies fan.
Yes, I realize that being a Yankees/Phillies fan pretty much wraps up my reputation as an ignorant, belligerent asshat, but so be it.

I recently received a 6 game ticket package as a present, including games vs. NY-A and NY-B, and I'm pretty excited about it.

I gotta say- being a Phillies fan right now is FUN.
They have one of the best, most accessible, affordable ballparks in the game.
They have grass-tiled bathrooms.
They have dollar-dog-night riots.
Sure, they don't have Thome anymore, and he's been a beast, but Ryan Howard has done his best to make that pill sweeter to swallow.
Plus, they have Aaron Rowand.
This Aaron Rowand.

That play last night was sick. Just awesome all around. He crashes to the ground, and even as the blood starts to flow and his legs start to quiver uncontrollably, he's squeezing the ball, making sure he's still got it.
Awesome play.

What's The Count, Boys? Let's ROCK.    

For those keeping score at home, it's now 3-1 Red Sox on the season, mostly on the road, and at a time when the Sox haven't been playing particularly well.  What will things look like in a month or two, when Coco is back, when Beckett and Schilling stop struggling, when the bullpen has sorted itself out a little better... my heart warms at the thought.

I remain terribly pleased with the team's direction, and not just because they beat the living crap out of Randy Johnson last night.  The outlook in general is very, very rosy.  I'm somewhat concerned about the bullpen, but at the same time you can't be worried when you have options.  The current pen is Paps, Foulke, Timlin, Tavarez, Seanez and AAAA veteran Mike Holtz himself.  Not great, but also a huge, HUGE improvement over last year.  If Hansen ever shows up, or Delcarmen gets his act together in Pawtucket, or Van Buren takes a leap northward, then the pen's (Seanez) weaker (Seanez) parts will (Seanez) be (Seanez) surgically removed.

But enough about the ultimate fighting champion.  Let's talk about Mike Lowell.  He may not be worth his salary, but I think it's abundantly clear that this apocryphal "slow bat" crap was just that... crap.  If you can pull a double, and you can tomahawk a line-drive home run, your bat's not slow.  End of story.  The Hanley Ramirez trade has officially worked out for both sides, despite Hanley's return to the top of the prospect heap.

Anyway, if we run down the list of comings and goings since last season, it's easy to see how much this team has improved upon itself.  All of the improvements are major, major improvements, and for every minor downgrade (Timlin and Clement not pitching as well) you have a sea-change improvement like Schilling or Foulke.

Ortiz --> Ortiz
Man-Ram --> Man-Ram
Nixon --> Nixon
Varitek --> Varitek
Cora --> Cora
Mirabelli --> Mirabelli
Wakefield --> Wakefield
Papelbon --> Papelbon  (Check the September 2005 stats.  He's not improved in the slightest.)

Millar --> Youkilis
Graffanino --> Loretta
Mueller --> Lowell
Schilling --> Schilling
Arroyo --> Beckett
Foulke --> Foulke
Kapler --> Wily Moooooooo
Stern --> Mohr
Jeremi Gonzalez --> Tavarez (as bad as Tavarez has been, he's no Jeremi.)

Renteria --> Gonzalez
Wells --> DiNardo
Clement --> Clement
Timlin --> Timlin
Youkilis --> Snow
??? --> Seanez  (Yes, he's worse than the guy who sucked so much that I can't remember his name.)

Damon --> Crisp
??? --> Riske  (I think Riske can help.)
Seanez --> Hansen  (It's coming.)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Looks Like This Is My Lucky Day... I'll Take "The Rapists" for $200    

And you thought I could be grown up about Kobe.  Nope!  He sucks.

Man... I was really psyched last night after watching Phoenix obliterate the Lakers in the last minute of overtime.  Perhaps 1:45 AM is a bad time to be psyched about anything, but it's playoff time!  Besides, I felt like I was watching a ridiculously young team finally get it.  The end of regulation... didn't get it.  They missed a lot of makeable shots, and only survived because Tim Thomas bailed their asses out and Kobe missed a low-percentage game-winner for a change.  In overtime, though, they slammed the door on the Lakers' fingers.  Hard.  And held it for a while.  The alley-oop between Boris Diaw and Shawn Marion was a killah.  Fun stuff.

Further, the outcome of Game 4 appears to have undone all the good that Kobe accomplished.  Much was made of Kobe's maturation as a teammate after the dramatic instant-classic victory the other night, but Game 6 seems to have been about the Kobe Bryant show.  Sure, he scored 50 points, but he was pressing towards the end of overtime.  He hit two ridiculous threes down the stretch to keep things interesting, but Phoenix didn't let him take any short jumpers without a hand in his face.

The question is whether Phoenix will get it together at home.  I don't know whether to lean towards the home crowd or the Zen Master.  My gut says not to bet against the Zen Master (been burned way, way too many times on that) but my brain says that if Kwame Brown hasn't taken advantage of Boris Diaw playing center in the first six games, there's no way he controls things in Game 7.

Regardless of whether Phoenix wins (without Amare Stoudemire and Kurt Thomas, their only true rebounders) this team looks downright frightening for next year.  The development of Boris Diaw and Raja Bell into starting-caliber players, and Tim Thomas into as deadly a sixth-man as you'll find, makes them not only a dangerous team, but a dangerous young team.  You're looking at a 2006-07 starting five of Nash, Bell, Marion, Diaw and Stoudemire, with Leandro Barbosa, James Jones and the Thomas brothers off the bench.  There's not enough points to go around for those guys.  You're looking at a baseline of 80 points for those five, and probably more like 90.  That's unreal for a starting five.  Still major problems on defense, but who cares?  I just love watching them score.

I suppose Diaw does have kind of a sensitive game... Amare's return could hurt him.  Diaw's success appears to be his ability to dodge spread-out inside defenders, because his four teammates are all on the perimeter, but Amare would probably spend more time in the paint, drawing defenders and cluttering up Diaw's cutting lanes.  Maybe.  But I doubt it.  I'm not that smart.

Anyway, here's hoping Phoenix can beat the rapist scumbag.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Bad News, D'Brickashaw... A Pancake Block Isn't Something You Eat    

What newly minted Jets OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson plans to do with his newfound riches, according to the Sporting News (via Touching All the Bases):

While most players listed a home or a luxury item - Jimmy Williams of Virginia Tech plans on buying a Lamborghini, which suggests to me that he's not on the Patriots' draft board - Ferguson kept it simple, and for an offensive lineman, appropriate. His answer: "I'll probably get something to eat."

That's right.  Who needs a car anyway?  Why buy something you can't fit into?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Maybe It IS A Tumor...    

Governor Schwarzenegger:

Try putting your foot back in your mouth, so thoughts like this don't pass through it.  Two NFL teams in LA?!?  Why not start with one, then move on to a second when the fans become rabid enough to stay for an entire game before moving on to dinner at some exclusive pan-Oceanian appetizer-only bistro?  Given how well a two-team market worked out the first time around, and the city has spent ten years screwing up all of its attempts to lure ONE team, maybe you want to take it one billion-dollar franchise at a time.  Maybe.

Damon: Cheer or Boo?    

In general, the uproar about Johnny Damon bores me.  I'm not worried about him, and I'm fine that he's gone.  He did a good job for us, the Sox lowballed him, and he left.  Fine.  The people who are upset are generally media types and WEEI callers.  You know... morons.  So until now, I've tried to keep my hands dry of the whole Judas bit.

This recent trend of lecturing Sox fans on how to react to a visiting player, however, really grabs my sack.  After last night's game, Joe Torre expressed disappointment in the fan reaction to Damon's return, sarcastically pointing out that "wearing a Yankee uniform overrides winning a World Series and busting your tail for years."  There's some truth in that.  Damon was as much a reason for the World Series victory as anyone, and it's worth remembering.  He played hurt whenever he could.  He left because of a considerable financial difference between the two teams' offers.  All of that warrants consideration.  What it does not warrant is a "get out of jail free" card.

Booing Johnny Damon in a Yankee uniform is 100% justifiable.  Do I hate him?  Of course not.  But you sleep in the bed you make.  Yankees get booed.  Johnny Damon is a Yankee.  End of story.  It's one thing to sign elsewhere, but Red Sox fans are generally fine with that.  If Damon had signed with, say, Anaheim, or Texas, he'd be cheered on his return.  Hell, if Pedro ever comes back with the Mets, people will go nuts for him.  But Damon signed with the Yankees, and you just cannot expect to be treated fairly after you do something like that.

That's my real problem with all of this... Johnny Damon really expected to have his cake and eat it too.  I don't think he fails to understand what he's done, but he did think he could sign with the Yankees and still be beloved by Boston fans.  Regardless of how things work over in Johnny And Michelle's Bizarro Fantasyland, that's not how it works here.  Once you sign with the enemy, all bets are off.  He doesn't get to dictate his own reception, as he's tried to do in the media by reminding us about the good old days.  Maybe he gets treated fairly, maybe he doesn't, but it's not up to him.  We get to write his legacy now, and his departure for the most despicable baseball team in the Western world is a part of that.

Outsiders might observe this and say it's a shame that we can't appreciate him.  This is pure, uncut, Grade A horseshit.  When he retires, he'll be remembered for his deeds in Boston.  People won't hate him forever.  He does appear to want our love and admiration, unlike a certain chubby-faced choke-artist.  I think if Johnny keeps asking for it, he'll eventually get it.  Time will heal those wounds.  But not until he burns that idiotic pinstriped monkey suit.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Headline of the Year    


(breathe breathe breathe)




Wow.  That didn't take long.  Mere seconds after my response to Lehr's post, the Josh Bard issue is resolved... Doug Mirabelli starts tonight for the Red Sox.  One down, three to go.

What's great is that they didn't overpay to get him back.  They traded Bard, Cla Meredith and cash for Mark Loretta.  Still a good deal.  When you tie up the Crisp deal that netted Bard in the first place, you send Andy Marte, Kelly Shoppach and Guillermo Mota out, and bring Coco Crisp, David Riske and Mark Loretta in.  This is the first time since its inception that the Marte deal has made sense.

Round 1:    

A very quick statistical note, as the Yankees head to Boston for tonight's opener to the 19-game series (+7, potentially).

Runs Scored:
Yankees: 144
Red Sox: 117

Runs Allowed
Yankees: 91
Red Sox: 127

Yankees: +53
Red Sox: -10

Of course, it's early in the season. Given that the Yankees have, so far, had all their victories like 10-2, and their losses all like 3-1, run differential may be misleading. This stat will likely even out some over the year, and will likely change, if and when Mussina/Unit/Rivera/Sheffield/Posada get hurt (and they're all pretty likely), or when the Sox Call up Hansen?Anyone and ship FattyFatty2x4 out for .05 on the $1, but I have to like the way things look so far. Especially since this stat includes multiple starts by Wright and an unconscionable number of innings from Tanyon "Worst ERA in the Majors" Sturtze.

Offensively, the Yankees are doing great.
Jeet's hitting .400, Giambi's playing like an MVP (or at least a rival to Ortiz for the Edgar Martinez award), and ARod is making sure that all those victories are by 6 runs or more, inflating the RS/RA stat nicely to suit my argument.

Of course, there's still the recently-discussed matter that our DH is the worst player in baseball. I thought about that some this weekend, because while Bubba is certainly a better option than Bernie, he's still pretty pathetic as a DH.

Two words:
Andruw Jones.

Hear me out... Stick Bubba in the every day DH spot, and let him prove that he can hit above MLB-replacement player level (which I believe he can). Now. Jones is a free agent at the end of the year, and while he's lost some speed, he's done so in favor of Girth, and as a result he's a become a beast with a bat. If the Mets run away with the NL east, you offer up Eric Duncan and Crosby for Jones at the trading deadline. Jones moves to right field, and Sheffield moves to DH, extending his productive career another 3-5 years.
Now, this probably ain't gonna happen, and they still would have major pitching problems. Which is why they need to neither trade nor rush Philip Hughes.

Anyway, game on!

The Face That Sank 1000 Ships    

Presenting the guy the Broncos traded UP to get, as a backup for Jake the Snake:

Maybe it's just me, but I'd prefer to give my team a huddle leader who doesn't look like a broken-down alcoholic at age 23. How in the hell is this guy supposed to inspire any confidence in his teammates? The only thing he inspires me to do is vomit.