Just when I thought I could not support our troops any more...
The solo dance at 1:07 reminds me of Mark Madsen. Well done gentlemen.
Friday, April 30
Thursday, April 29
Nickelodeon was a refuge for many adolescents such as myself in the early 1990s. The network produced outstanding programming during that era: Pete and Pete, Salute your Shorts, Ren and Stimpy, and many more. While some of its shows had athletic themes to it, the creation of GUTS in 1992 was the first Nick show centered around athletic competition. Double Dare had physical challenges but was more about trivia and making a mess (neither of which is a bad thing), Finders Keepers was not phyisically demanding enough, Nick Arcade was more about video games and mastering a green screen and Legends of the Hidden Temple was athletically challenging but also included a history lesson from a large caricature of an Aztec statue.
GUTS was based on the premise that you could take awkward young teens and make them perform athletic stunts that were awesome in theory yet rarely rewarded the viewer with the artful display of biomechanics. Still many impressionable young minds tuned in and dreamed of having a chance to compete in the Extreme Arena and take home a glowing piece of the Aggro Crag.
Mike and Mo
The host was Mike O'Malley. His Wikipedia page lets you know he is of Irish decent. If you needed further confirmation on that his kids' names are Fiona, Seamus, and Declan. It also states that this was O'Malley's first big break into television. After GUTS he had his spot as "The Rick", a hapless Boston sports enthusiast. Unfortunately I could not find the classic "They're not dolls, they're figurines" spot. Bear in mind this was the late 1990s, when Boston had no attained the level of annoying unbearable persona that enjoy now. Up until this point, they were hokey annoying fans that had teams that they claimed never won anything, even though their teams had enjoyed success in the past. Speaking of late 90s ESPN cartoons involving Boston, how great was the Cam Neely spot for when ESPN News first came out.
O'Malley did the job well as host, injecting enthusiasm and doing his best to create drama within the events. At some points his narration of the action in the arena rose to Gus Johnsonsian levels. Mike never broke character, even when a kid failed horribly, he never put the kid down or gave an indication to the audience that it was a pathetic display of non-athleticism. It's amazing considering his work after GUTS was almost all based on his low-key sarcastic humor. He had his longest run in the sitcom Yes,Dear which I have never seen. Lately I see him in commercials for Time-Warner Cable. His character in the commercials resemble what the Rick would be like if he grew up, got married, and moved out of his small apartment.
Next we have the indelible Moira Quirk. Affectionately(?) known as "Mo", she was co-host and "official" for the show. I put official in quotations because she really did not do any officiating for the show. The only thing that remotely made her resemble an official was the striped shirt she donned faithfully each episode. She did not rule on any of the events, just a conduit of information. While O'Malley used the standard hand-held microphone Mo was on the cutting edge of technology, utilizing the Madonna-style head microphone. I'm guessing that Mo was hired more for her voice than anything, not that she was hard on the eyes. If you look at her work, it is mostly her voice being used. She did some other projects for Nick but aside from her voice acting, GUTS was her time to shine on TV. Now many people are fans of Mo and I have nothing against her, but he place on the show was rather superfluous. When a game began Mike, who was perfectly capable of explaining a game would "toss if over to Mo for the rules!" at which time she would explain the game. After O'Malley finished doing commentary on the event it was "let's get the official results from Mo!". I never understood why they tried to make her an "official" instead of just a regular co-host. She was probably not the first but definitely not the last in a long line of female commentators inserted into game shows to gender balance the field. A Moira tribute can be seen here, and damned if I don't sense some sexual tension between Mo and Mike.
The show existed during the genesis of "extreme" sports in America. The country suddenly thought they had a notion that the old roll the ball out there sports were not enough. It had to be "to the extreme!" like Poochy used to say. Basketball is not good enough, let's attach a bungee! Swimming in a pool is not crazy enough, here's a paddle and a raft! Try running on this track...sideways in the air!!! Almost every event involved hanging from a bungee and jumping off a platform.
This line of thinking led to many of the neon fashion crazes of the 90s, Dan Cortese and surfer talk becoming popular. In the next step of this evolution MTV's Sandblast(Summer Sanders, mmmmm) took what GUTS did and MTV'd it and used older, college age kids. The show came to being a few years after American Gladiators and was crafted in that form, but of course without the brute force. The results were somewhat more desirable and now in present day we have Survivor, Road Rules/Real World Challenge, and Wipeout. The problem again with GUTS was that these were awkward teens who were usually all elbows and knees working on bungee apparatuses that only made them more gangly and austistic-spider like. Once in awhile there would be a kid who was just naturally athletically gifted, and when that happened it was over. The other competitors looked like ostriches with sprained ankles while the good kid breezed through the competition and made the games look silly.
An interesting factor guys and girls competed together. A friend of mine once referred to that as purpling, because of the mixing of blue(boys) and red(girls). Oddly enough the 3 colors for the contenders were blue(really teal, remember this was the 90s!), red and purple. Since girls mature physically faster than boys (it's science!), some of the time the girls did win. In fact, some of the more dominating performances came from the girls side and when it did, you could see the humiliation and the expectation of the taunting to come by the male counterparts.
The best part of the hokey nature of the show were the "Spill your guts" segments. Each competitor would give themselves a nickname. Now for me this would be the toughest part of the show. Do I go with an alliterative animal in relation to my name? A generic use of the words awesome, crush, radical, or power? O'Malley would dutifully refer to each player as their nickname throughout the show. At first, the profile would just list the player's age, hobbies, and nickname but after awhile it became a short video segment filled with early TV production value. Slow motion chops and great voice overs while the contestant performed a physical activity on camera. The international kids did it even better, because of the accents. All it was missing was a few star wipes.
GUTS goes Global
After awhile on the air, Nick must have decided the show was growing stale. They then unveiled a Global GUTS competition which pitted kids from 8* countries against each other in GUTS competition. Perhaps they were trying to catch the wave of the coming Atlanta Olympics. In a horrible home-field display, the United State finished 3rd in the medal count, behind Mexico and the winner United Kingdom. That's right, we let those limey bastards come across the pond and take the glowing piece of the rock away from us. They had 8 golds overall. The finish to each episode contestants were put on the podium like they always were but in Global had the winning national anthem played.
*one country was the Commonwealth of Independent States and included Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and Kazakhstan(very nice..). Just like communism though, they failed and finished last. They did not even land a single gold medal.
The Aggro Crag
At the conclusion of each episode, the contestants had to tackle the Aggro Crag. The Crag was basically a fabricated mountain that contained a winding path to a flag of your color at the top. During your trek you had to hit 6 "actuators" before you could hit the final one at the top, all the while dealing with snow(falling glitter), nuclear flying crystals(yes, really, in the form of confetti), avalanches(paper mache rocks), and lighting(flashing studio lights). Some conquered the task easily while others got lost in the mayhem. Players could get eliminated for a wide variety of reasons and sometimes did. The good thing was that if you had a sizeable lead there was no way you could lose as long as you finished, which was not always the case in American Gladiators if the reverse treadmill or handbike ate you up.
After a few seasons the Crag became known as the Mega Crag and in Global GUTS it was the Super Aggro Crag. I can just see the meeting room for that one:
"So what should we name the Crag now?"
"We have to go beyond Mega Crag."
"A tough task to be sure, we really have to make the Aggro Crag stand out, what do you think Chad?"
"Umm, Super Aggro Crag?"
"By golly that's it, give yourself a raise!"
"Sweet, more coin for O-town hookers and blow!"
The other unique feature for the winner is that you would not just get a gold medal, but a glowing piece of the rock as well. This rock always intrigued me and was my main motivation for the desire to compete on the show. What was it made of? It couldn't be that heavy because the winners could hoist it over their heads. What made it glow? What was the shelf life of the glow? If I ever meet someone who has a piece of the Crag I would bow down to them and buy them a shot.
Well Known Contestants
Some famous stars got their start in Extreme Arena, the most notable of which may be A.J. McLean of the Backstreet Boys. His nickname was A.J. "Mean" McLean. Quite crafty my young lad, however young AJ was no match for Jamie "The Jackal" Mendelsohn. That's right, A.J. lost to a girl. This might explain his alcohol and drug addiction later in life. Just kidding A.J., you were always our favorite Backstreet Boy.
Other notables include a stuntwoman named Anna Mercedes Morris, who I have never heard of but she was born in Charlotte and is America Ferrera's stunt double in Ugly Betty. She used the nickname "Roadrunner" and also won the show, beating out a guy who despite his ultimate humiliation had a sweet nickname: Paul "Running Man" Battson. What happened to Buzzsaw? He had to split.
Actor Mike Vogel of Poseidon, Cloverfield, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fame came in second in his run. His nickname was "Flea". I wonder if it was a tribute to the bassist.
Houston Dynamo(it's an MLS team[MLS is Major League Soccer]) defender Bobby Boswell competed as "Lightning" and also finished second...against two girls. Clearly the girls who went on this show were not messing around.
Now for the interesting one. Ashley Drane, an actress won the silver in her episode. She nicknamed herself "The Face", and I have no earthly idea why. She has had small roles in a bunch of different flim-flam, but the real eye-opener is that she is married to...David Eckstein, 2006 World Series MVP and current San Diego Padre. I guess you could say Eckstein got her "in the face"(/shows self out).
GUTS had a revival in 2008 with a family version hosted by Ben Lyons. It was a tournament format and they redid the Crag like American Gladiators where your lead in points gave you a timed head start.
A SNES GUTS video game was created.
Especially with the ability to look back on GUTS now, the show was hardly a paragon of athletic achievement, but it captured the attention of many young kids of the 90s who dreamed of glory in Extreme Arena. That was what Nickelodeon was successful at during this era; it took ideas and concepts that young people aspired to and presented them in a healthy and intriguing manner. Though I never was fortunate enough to race up the Aggro Crag, I would like to think I could answer the question posed at the start and close of each show. Do I have them and by them meaning guts? I believe I do, I believe I do.
Wednesday, April 28
One of the most popular players in Cyclone history is taking the helm in Ames. "The Mayor" Fred Hoiberg is going be named the new head coach at Iowa State, for the paltry sum of $800,000 a year. Hoiberg got his nickname for receiving write-in votes for the mayoral race in Ames during his time at Iowa State. This hire is just another item that makes me feel old as hell. I remember vividly Hoiberg's career at ISU and his time in the NBA and now he is coaching Iowa State and all this after having a front office postion with the T-Wolves. We can only assume our resident Iowa State alum Walter Peck is frothing with excitement. Hopefully, Hoiberg's tenure has a better conclusion than the reign of Mayor McCheese.
Hoiberg to be next ISU coach [GoCyclones]
Michael Vronsky may want to avoid the greater Milwaukee area at the present time. This video is a great attempt by the Bucks PR department at instilling the virtues of their "Fear the Dear" campaign (I think Feer the Deer would be better, remember mispelling adds edge!). The wide array of carnage and humiliation brought upon Hawk fans is impressive; cake to face, turned over porta-jon, tackle at water cooler and even punch into the river. The Bucks have been a surprise team all year long, but when their center Andrew Bogut suffered a horrific injury to his arm many thought the series with the Hawks would be over quickly. The Bucks even dropped the first two in Atlanta, but have battled back to make it a series. While Scott Brooks has done a great job in OKC, Scott Skiles is squeezing all the juice out of this team. Brandon Jennings, Carlos Delfino, and John Salmons stepped up their games the last two contests and amazingly the Bucks got to the line more at home than in Atlanta. Game 5 is tonight from Atlanta and while neither of these teams are expected to get past the Magic, they could give them a damn good fight.
Monday, April 26
Friday, April 23
While I pontificated earlier on my first-round thoughts from last night, we have a very special blog recap from our resident government agent Walter Peck, EPA 3rd district. Since yesterday was Earth Day, I figured it would be appropriate to get the perspective from such a respected bureaucrat. Walter is our not so mild mannered official who give his thoughts on everything from cancer, Erin Andrews in the desert, to Tebow's celebratory posse. If you are offended by cursing in print form, incorrect guesses, and discriminatory statements made towards religions, races, ethnicities, or sexual orientation then please do not read on. Otherwise, enjoy the fun while dickless here shuts off our blog powergrid for the week.
The EPA's live psuedo-blog on the NFL Draft...
7:28: Watching the intro I think to myself, this is thee most over hyped bunch of shit I have ever seen. And why the hell is Suh shirtless in his segment of the intro.
7:35: No mention by Berman of the RAAAAIIIIIDERS yet. At least that is a positive sign. And my God how phony is Gruden in fromt of the cameras. Never trust a ginger, that's what my mom always says.
7:37: My God, Sam Bradford's phone is gay looking. And I know that the Rams missed on their picks the last few drafts when it comes to getting a QB (i.e. missing Matt Ryan, Flacco, Sanchez to a lesser extent) but I just want to give them a pre-grats on picking Alex Smith #2.
7:49: WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE!
8:27: Did Gruden just say the Raiders have a good roster with a solid nucleus. What a fucking pussy. Try telling the truth for a change you fraud. Rolando McClain!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
8:31: CJ Spiller for the Bills. Way to pick an even shittier version of Reggie Bush. And Reggie Bush is shitty.
8:50: The Chargers trade up for a RB that would have been there in the end of the 1st round. And that's why the Chargers will never win a championship.
8:53: Ahhh, the chants of Eagles Suck. Kevin Kolb doesn't suck... he's... he's... ah shit he sucks like the cancer that sucked away Jim Johnson's life. Too soon?
9:21: I just took a leak and that has been the most exciting thing to happen so far this evening. If memory serves, Erin Andrews is at Clausen's house. Do you think she decided not to blow him once he fell out of the top 10? Not a big enough signing bonus now to warrant the gravy facial.
8:57: Brandon Graham's house responds in typical black people at the movies way. What was with the 2 jews in the background? They're too young to be agents.
9:05: Random guess that Earl Thomas goes to the Steelers at 18. There secondary was really exposed last year when Hair Polamalu was out for 11 games. Nevermind Seahawks got him.
9:34: The line at the bottom of the screen claims Rex Grossman was a key loss for the Texans. Seriously, how much did that guy get paid by Grossman to type that. And as an Iowa Hawkeye hater I laugh that Baluga is still on the board.
9:39: It's Erin Andrews!!!! Look at that dick sucking lip gloss and Hooker hoop ear rings. I can just picture Clausen with his pants around his ankles with his hands up like - OMG it's Jesus Tebow. His posse looks like a reject Jersey shore group (Christian style).
9:43: My last prediction. Denver doesn't learn and picks Dez Bryant to replace Marshall. I would finish up the round but this is so boring I am gonna go do something productive like play Modern Warfare 2.
When the NFL announced the switch to primetime for the draft many cried foul. They wanted their lazy Saturday afternoon. Fair enough, but those who are interested enough to watch the draft still did. The league knows it is king, and when it makes moves like this it is because it knows people will watch. I realized watching the first round that now that I live in the state of New York I could have gone to the draft if I really wanted to. I just mean it was feasible. However, being surrounded by Giant and Jet fans that are drunk on overpriced drinks did not interest me. Also, the "Empire State of Mind" song needs to die a horrible death. Here is what stood out to me.
St. Louis: Sam Bradford
I do not like this pick at all. When the Rams used most of their clock time before making the pick just to keep people talking about them you know things are bad in St. Louis. They need a QB, but can Bradford fill that role? I don't think so, at least not right away. Bradford is going to be stepping right into a situation I don't think he is ready for. He is going to get somewhere around $50 million guaranteed. I hope he invests it, because I think his experience will lead to a not so lucrative contract when this one expires. Matt Stafford, who most people see as a first year starter, even had a few games to sit and watch before he got in there. With his shoulder as a question mark and his snaps from under center in college numbering few if any, this was a tremendous risk. Sure he is athletic and has a good build, but so did Kyle Boller.
One of the talking heads reported that the organization was entirely behind this move. I don't buy it. I don't buy that Steve Spagnuolo, the man who out Belichicked Belichick in Super Bowl 42, was fully behind this move. Suh was sitting there and could have made the Rams line a force to be reckon with. He can say anything he wants to the papers, I refuse to believe Spags was happy with this turn of events.
Detroit: Ndamukong Suh, Jahvid Best
The Lions had become a draft punchline second only to the Raiders during Matt Millen's time. If the play of Stafford and the enthusiasm of Jim Schwartz going after free agents was not enough to instill some hope to Lion fans, their first round should. I have every confidence that Suh will be a difference maker on the line, and Best got a lot of teams shying away because of the concussion. Best will be a great change of pace back and he will not be required to carry the full load like he did at Cal.
Seattle: Russell Okung, Earl Thomas
The surprise for the Seabirds is two-fold; people can't believe both of these players fell to them and that Carroll did not do anything crazy. I still remain skeptical about what Pete can do on the field but so far so good.
Jacksonville: Tyson Alualu
When the moving fans pack up the last of the franchise's belongings and leaves Duval County for good, it will all come back to this moment. Jack Del Rio is a good coach, he has gotten the Jags to the playoffs multiple times and last year lead them to a 7-9 record when not much was expected of them. It does not matter. You are not going to fill up the phonebox unless the team is really good, or there is some kind of angle. Like a guy who could run for lord and dictator of the state of Florida and win by a landslide coming to play for your team. This morning there might be more Bronco fans in the state of Florida than Jaguar fans. I've already stated my case on this before, but I think Jacksonville had to trade down or trade their odd pick of Alualu to get to Tebow. It is not a move that would have helped them on the football field, but it would have done incredible things for their franchise. From now until week 1, just note how much national attention will be paid to the Broncos for taking Tebow and juxtapose that with Jags coverage.
Thursday, April 22
The blinding of Stephen Jackson by his own headband is a fitting representation for the Bobcats playoff series against the Magic. While no one expected the 7 seed to do much damage to the defending Eastern Conference champs, Larry Brown and crew have to be dissapointed. Orlando looks like the more experienced, polished team. Even with Dwight Howard getting in foul trouble, the supporting cast has been great at shooting the ball. The officiating has been awful, on both sides. No surprise that Stack Jack is pleading his case to the one and only Bennett Salvatore.
The Magic are 23-57 from the 3-point line in the first two games. It is proving to be the great equalizer. The Magic move the ball very well, and by contrast Charlotte's offense has been sloppy. Almost 40 turnovers so far. Charlotte has the chance to save some franchise face over the next two games at home, but it is clear they have long strides to make before they are in the Magic's class.
photo via TBL
Wednesday, April 21
My car is a piece of crap. The only thing that makes me angrier about this fact is that I have no one to blame about it but myself. I keep paying to get it "fixed" and then something else on it breaks. What else should I expect from a 1991 Volvo. I paid to have the engine replaced a few months ago and since then the muffler detached from the exhaust pipe and now all the coolant leaked out onto my driveway. I should have junked this thing years ago and gotten something else, like the the talking taxi from Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
I'm sure you've heard Big Ben is likely getting the 4-6 game suspension. If he keeps it in his pants, it will be 4. [NFL.com]
Here is a pro-Ben take on the situation, has this all been a media frenzy based on rumors and baseless allegations? (I say no) [Ludwig]
Charles Barkley once again proving he has free reign to say what he wants, calls his studiomates A-holes. [Sportress of Blogitude]
Can Yankee fans live with themselves? [Rumors and Rants]
NFL schedule is out, here are the primetime games for the 2010 season. [Awful Announcing]
Jason Taylor is now a Jet. He was not exactly kind to New York when he was a Dolphin. [USAToday via Extra Mustard]
It's trivia Wednesday! Can you name the 50-point game scorers of the 90s? (I went 38/44) [Sporcle]
He is Vigo! You are like the buzzing of flies to him! [YBNBY]
Sunday, April 18
Thursday, April 15
When Orlando begins its playoff push against Charlotte, many people will be getting their first look at the Bobcats. There is the chance that they encountered the Bobs while watching their favorite team on their local network, but for the most part the team is unknown. Even many so-called experts and analysts cannot truly break down this team, because they don't watch them that often or at all. The biggest mention Charlotte got this year is when MJ bought the team, the on the court business remains a mystery. Could the average NBA fan tell you anything about all-star Gerald Wallace? Doubtful. The one nugget they might recall is his disapointing performance in the slam dunk competition.
I have no illusions, the Bobcats are a small market team with a short and not so illustrious history, but that does not excuse the league's failure to get the populous more familiar with them. Television is not the only medium in which the Bobcats were put in the corner, but it is a compelling example.
First, let's take a look at the NBA on TNT. Home to arguably the best studio show in sports, TNT knows how to bring the NBA to the masses. According to their list of games this season, here are how the numbers break down.
53 total games
Cavs - 9 games
Lakers - 9 games
Celtics - 9 games
Nuggets - 9 games
Bulls - 9 games
Magic - 9 games
Heat - 8 games
Suns - 7 games
Spurs - 6 games
Blazers - 5 games
Mavs - 4 games
Jazz - 4 games
Hornets - 3 games
Clippers - 2 games
Warriors - 2 games
76ers - 1 game
Hawks - 1 game
Wizards - 1 game
Grizzlies - 1 game
Next, we have the ABC/ESPN schedule.
90 total games
Lakers - 16
Celtics - 16
Cavs - 15
Magic - 14
Nuggets - 13
Spurs - 13
Suns - 11
Blazers - 10
Mavs - 9
Hawks - 9
Jazz - 8
Heat - 7
Hornets - 6
Bulls - 5
Warriors - 4
Clippers - 4
Bucks - 3
Knicks - 3
Pistons - 2
Rockets - 1
Grizzlies - 1
Kings - 1
The big market, high profile teams get about 17% of the airtime. No argument there, they are the moneymakers. With LBJ, Kobe, Melo, Dwight, and the big 3 you have a chance to bring in the viewers. After that the wealth is spread pretty evenly amongst the mid-market, playoff contending teams and the teams that don't win but are exciting to watch (looking at you Golden State). The Bobcats were projected by some to make the playoffs, but yet they were not even put on the big show when they played one of the big market teams. This is odd considering that playing one of the big teams is usually the only chance for the little guys to get on the national scene. Furthermore, the Bobs always play the Lakers and Celtics tough. In fact, they play a lot of the big boys tough. This year against the Celtics, Lakers, Cavs, Magic, and Nuggets they are 6-9. It is why many are suggesting that while the Magic should win the series against Charlotte, it will not be a cakewalk. They also have a semi-rivalry with Atlanta, which while more prevalant in football, has the same I-85 implications in the NBA.
If the Kings, Pistons, Rockets, and Wizards got at least one bone thrown to them this year, why were the Bobcats denied? The only other teams that did not get a national broadcast game were the Raptors, Pacers, Nets, and T-Wolves. None of those teams are playoff bound.
It seems like a bit of sour grapes for a team that came into this year with the goal of ridding itself of its bad reputation, but if the NBA wants to expand its product around the world, why not make sure all its teams are visible to its national audience?
The Bobcats will play in Orlando 5:30 this Sunday on TNT. It will be the first time in over a year they will have a national broadcast. They earned this and the best way for them to get onto the TV in the future will be to make a great showing in this series. If they do, I don't think basketball fans will complain about seeing Larry Brown's boys once or twice a year and at the expense of the Clippers or Pistons.
Wednesday, April 14
"Wonder twin powers activate! Form of...a douchebag!"
If you cheat on your wife with beat, masculine women and madonna...
If you take steroids and lie about it...
If you have green-eyed jealousy for your team captain...
If you paint a mural of yourself as a centaur in your home...
If you use an HGH peddling doctor to heal your hip...
You too can be a world champion and get a $275 million contract!
Tuesday, April 13
For me to poop on! Ok that joke is roughly 10+ years old, but Conan's coming back and this a damn entertaining clip from the Northwest Arkansas Naturals adopt-a-pet promotion. Since this is a Royals affiliate, plenty of quality of play to fecal matter no the field analogies will be accepted. When I did an internship in the minors, I remember the bring your dog to the field or "bark in the park" promotion was highly attended. For some reason people like bringing their dogs to games, and I can't say I can fault them. Even though this pup seriously reduced his chances of getting adopted, I doubt this dog's rapscallionanism will change the occasional presence of canines at the ballparks.
Monday, April 12
Quite a weekend in Augusta and reaction from all angles and perspectives followed today. A few observations:
I was rooting for Phil, but not because his wife was battling cancer. I felt like Phil was the guy I knew best in the field and I was not rooting for Tiger.
I wasn't necessarily rooting against Tiger, but I did not have my arms raised in exultation like he did on his Sunday eagle.
It was amusing seeing the middle-aged white women cheer Tiger on. I'm not a woman nor have I ever been (and I have the medical records to prove it) but it seems to me Tiger is the last person I would be cheering on to win eternal glory. Yet those women might say Tiger's harem had just as much blame in this whole mess and they don't divide their morals along gender lines.
Jim Nantz and Francesa had a spat today about the reason the fans gave Tiger a break. Francesa said it was because they were mostly rich white people who had been grandfathered their tickets and did not want to lose their spots. Nantz said it was because the people who attend are the salt of the earth kind of folks who respect the game. Either way, Tiger will catch worse when he ventures into the world of domestic can beer-toting galleries.
photo via our friend Walter Peck
Friday, April 9
Whether you are welcoming Tiger back with open arms like the crowd at Augusta or passing judgment on him from afar, everyone has their opinion and the attention he draws is unparalleled in the sports world or the media in general. Enjoy the weekend.
Thursday, April 8
In a delightful twist of fate, the Charlotte Bobcats clinched the franchise's first playoff berth last night against the New Orleans Hornets. It was very fitting considering the next step taken by the Bobcats came with a victory over the team that had abandoned the Queen City 8 years ago. The Bobcats have struggled for their six years to gain acceptance in the Charlotte community; some of it has been their fault, but some of it was from the scar the Hornets left on the city. It was a bitter parting and both sides regret what transpired. The central antagonist in the drama, George Shinn even admitted he is disapointed with how he handled it. Nevertheless the parting led to a struggle for the fledgling Bobcats to gain a following. New ownership and leadership this season has paid dividends on the court and with the fans. The seats in Time Warner Cable Arena are no longer sparsely filled and the team on the court plays exciting, Larry Brown basketball.
In the Bobcats 104-103 win last night the two direct ties to the respective directions of the franchises had contrasting games. Emeka Okafor, who is as good a guy as you will ever see in pro sports, finished with 7 points on 3-4 shooting and 9 rebounds in 23 minutes. Tyson Chandler collected 16 and 10 in 33 minutes of work on 7-9 shooting. The two were traded for each other in the offseason. Chris Paul, the player taken before the Bobcats could get him in the draft, another local North Carolina product that left for New Orleans and attained glory, could only watch from the sidelines in a suit.
It seems hokey to attempt to point to this game as a cathartic moment in sports, but given the history of these teams, the city of Charlotte, and what the win last night gave the Bobcats I think it makes sense. You really cannot move forward until you reconcile your past. It was poetic justice, something that is not always doled out in sports. The Hornets and Charlotte had a love affair, and when it turns into a messy parting of ways it takes a lot to get over it. Most of all it takes time. Like the old adage goes; you wake up in the morning and it hurts a little less each day. Now that the Bobcats are functioning in a positive manner, the city can embrace them. Charlotte has found someone new and after being just a rebound relationship for the city, it has found a lasting partner. The Hornets will never be forgotten, and we look back time to time at old memories which gave us great joy.
/wipes tear away from eyes
The Bobcats likely first round opponent will be the Orlando Magic, the team that reached the finals last year. It is unlikely the Bobcats will win, but the team is on the path to something special. Larry Brown has brought teams to the next level time and time again it appears he will do the same for the Cats. Wherever they go from here, I think the win and who it was against last night signifies the legitimacy of the league approving a second franchise for Charlotte seven years ago.
It's time to revive our time honored tradition of picking someone other than Tiger to win The Masters. Sure the blog has only been around long enough to do it once before, but it really has become a tradition unlike any other. It is fun to pick out a semi-unknown from the field and back him as the horse to surprise the field and dissapoint the viewing audience. Lucas Glover and Y.E. Yang did an admirable job in last year's majors at that. Our pick last year of Dustin Johnson was not too far out of the ballpark, but he finished tied for 30th.
This year our pick is none other than Thongchai Jaidee. His name is awesome and although ESPN has him 69th in their rankings, we have faith. Let's get to know more about Thongchai. He was born in Thailand, plays on the Asian and European tour. He was the first Thai to play in all four major championships. His first was the Masters in 2006 where he did not make the cut, but he finished 13th in the British Open last year. He holds the record on the Asian tour for victories and earnings. I assume he has achieved Manny Pacquiao status in Thailand. Maybe?
He was once a paratrooper in the Thai army and although he is only 138 pounds(!), it seems that the guy is unflappable. While everyone pays attention to and some root for the Cablanasian, the Asian tour master is going to bring it home. Go get em Thongchai!
As always, picks for entertainment purposes only.
Tuesday, April 6
If you ever want to discuss the U in the 80s, Luther Campbell is the best and most candid source. Everyday Day Should Be Saturday interviews him in a must read. He expounds on Jerome Brown, the Butch Davis era, the next U documentary, coaching youth football, and his kids using "mouthpieces" instead of "pacifiers".
LUTHER CAMPBELL: THE EDSBS INTERVIEW [EDSBS]
Aside from Duke fans, everyone was unhappy with last night's outcome. However, while I count myself as one who was pulling against the Devils, Duke earned this title. People can talk about how the heavyweights were down this year or how Duke had an easy run, the bottom line is that they are still standing after the smoke is clear. They earned the belt. I thought the game was surprisingly well officiated. Once again the production from CBS was horrid. Nantz and Kellog are all over the place. I enjoyed Clark behind the desk but not on game commentary. Replays were no where to be found on key fouls. We already knew Howard was going to get in foul trouble. Butler just did not knock down enough of those open shots. Their halfcourt defense was again spectacular. Even with their field goal troubles the Bulldogs had two shots to win, and came up painfully short. I commend Gordon Hayward and above all Brad Stevens for their accomplishment. I was off my couch jumping on that last Hayward halfcourt heave, it looked like it was good off the glass on my TV. But alas it was not to be, sometimes the underdog everyone is pulling for does not win. I half-expected David Anspaugh to run out onto the court and tell the players to run it again until Hayward made the shot. The Blue Devils are the champs, for better or worse, that is what makes this tournament great; you are not always expecting or happy of the result. There is much random chance, just like life. If life were like the BCS, we could manipulate all our circumstances to form our best outcomes. A pleasant notion but one that would ultimately fail like when the machines tried to make the Matrix a paradise where all their humans had their desires come true. Millions of crops were lost.
I still prefer the basketball side of things because sometimes there is no clear way to determine who is the best team. Football still has no set criteria. In the NCAA tournament, you have to play whoever is in your bracket and win. No polls, no margin of victory, no bias toward the big 6 conference (well, maybe just a little). It's a cruel reality for the anti-Duke segment, but it is reality. Coach K has one for the pinky, Zoubek was a difference maker, and Wojo finally has that elusive ring. Now to the harsh reality of my tournament picks and it is not pretty, "How Wrong Were We": 2010 NCAA Tournament edition.
Midwest Region: 9/15
South Region: 4/15 (I stand by my Robert Morris pick! They got hosed by the officiating.)
West Region: 7/15
East Region: 8/15
My Final Four: Kansas (uggg), Syracuse (oops), Duke (squirrel finds nut), New Mexico (why did I ever trust Alford?). I had Kansas beating Duke in the finals.
So out of a possible 63 games, excluding the opening round game (which I got wrong), I got 29 right. That is 46%. I also had Butler losing to UTEP in the first round. Overall a horrible state of affairs for my prediction skills.
Monday, April 5
When the season began many thought Duke and Butler were going to be good, possibly Final Four good. Not many thought they would be playing for the title tonight. Conspiracy theorists have united against the hated program that is Duke. The same people who said their road was paved out for them also had them going out before Indianapolis. I am no Dukie and I loathe the flopping manequin defense and the moving screens of Thomas and Zoubek, but if the Blue Devils win tonight they win. I mean that the banner will go up in Cameron, Coach K will continue to be fellated by the media, and the record books will state 2010 belonged to Duke. Despite a Lance Thomas elbow to the face of Joe Mazzula in Saturday night's semifinal, Duke is viewed by its fans as a paragon of the seedy world of college basketball. Where fans say it was just an elbow, detractors can rewind the video and see Thomas measuring the blow and then nailing Mazzula in the face. A Duke win will not be easy for people to swallow (myself included), hell Catfish has lost enough hair over this, but a win is a win and a title is a title.
On the other side we see Butler as a longshot. This is the first game where I think Butler had little chance. First concern is Matt Howard, who is concussed but should play. Even if he does he will probably pick up 2 fouls faster than Jim Nantz can spin a witty anecdote or read a Masters promo. One certain thing is that Butler needs to hit their open shots to have any hope tonight. In the semifinal they were fortunate enough to have the Spartans also struggle from the field. Duke's scorers cannot be banked on to have all 3 be cold and in fact in their semifinal all 3 were on. If players like Veasley, Jukes , and Hahn can hit the open jumpers, the Bulldogs can stay close.
One last note on Butler. The all-knowing Dick Vitale took a jab at Butler after Saturday's game by saying they were able to beat teams that were not at full strength, pointing to Syracuse's Onuaku and Michigan State's Kalin Lucas. Fair enough if Dickie V wants to play that game, but let's look at who he picked to win Saturday: the Spartans. So he wants to give an excuse to two teams he had beating Butler, yet he picked those teams to beat the Bulldogs despite the injuries. It is all part of the fun of his March picks. Vitale jumped the shark for me 11 years ago when he picked UConn in his preseason magazine number 1 and said they would cut the nets down. Then Duke had a seemingly unstoppable run in the tourney until they met UConn and lost the title and wouldn't you know Vitale flipped on his pick and chose Duke. And that is way too many words to waste on him.
We think Duke wins this game, and by double digits. Now would be as great a time as any for a pleasant surprise.
Friday, April 2
A few drips dew on the vast sports interweb as we head toward a warm spring weekend. This metaphor working for you?
Al Pacino slated to play Pat Riley in an upcoming film about the "Showtime" Lakers. [Flicksided]
Shaun Rogers is a big man, with a loaded gun. [Freep]
So it turns out the ocean floor is actually just like Starship Troopers, look at this bug! [YBNBY]
A run-in with Greg Oden in Bloomington in which he conducts himself in the manner opposite of a Pittsburgh Steeler. [Rumors and Rants]
A look at Final Four MOPs that went on to become NBA greats. Miles Simon did not make the list. [Sportige]
Could Tom Izzo go to the Nets if he cuts down the nets in Indy? [Midwestsportsfans]
It's down to Seinfeld and the Simpsons in the Sitcomology title game. This is like the UNC-Kentucky of sitcom battles. [Sparty and Friends]
Thursday, April 1
When was the last time the Junior Circuit was deemed to be inferior to the National League? While the AL is seen as the bastion of offensive baseball, the NL is stuck with the defense/pitching stigma. The AL has not lost an All-Star game since 1996 and since the infamous strike year of 1994, they have won 9 of the 15 championships. The two anchors of the league are of course the Yankees and Red Sox. One only need look at the opening game of the season this Sunday to see who gets the most attention. While the AL East gets most of the press, there should be tight races in every division this year. AL stabs in the dark after the break.
1. Yankees: Despite the fact that there is pressure on the Yankees to win every year, I think the title last year took a lot of weight off this team's back. A-Rod is pretty much as blatant and irresponsible steroid and HGH user but after smacking a home run in his first game back from hip surgery, belting one to beat the Red Sox, and finally producing in the playoffs all is forgiven. It is amazing how many people blurted out the phrase "true Yankee" in regards to him. Andy Pettitte has put his own HGH trouble behind him. Sabathia and Burnett don't have to answer questions about coming up short. Joe Girardi can flash his ring in any beat writer's face. On the field they unloaded aging Johnny Damon and picked up Curtis Granderson and seem to have the whole Hughes/Joba thing figured out. The team frontrunners love to love and haters love to hate is heading toward a triple-digit win season.
2. Rays: Speaking of confidence, there is no reason for the Rays not to view themselves as contenders again this year. They only finished two games back of the wildcard Red Sox last year. The window may be closing with Crawford and Pena reaching the end of their contracts. With the addition of Rafael Soriano as a closer this may be the most talented and experienced Tampa will be. After this season they will have to decide if they want to spend some money or become the Marlins (which is not the worst thing in the world).
3. Red Sox: Too many question marks for me to put the Sox ahead of the Rays or Yanks. There are certainly capable. What will be left of Ortiz? Even though Beltre is a defensive upgrade from Mike Lowell, will he produce at the plate? The rotation is once again strong for the Red Sox, but was the addition of Lackey enough? If Boston gets rolling, they could win the division, but they have been inconsistent over the previous two years.
4. Baltimore: There may finally be some reason for opitimism at Camden Yards. The rotation may not be that reason. Kevin Millwood will attempt to be the veteran leader, but the guy to watch is Matusz. Young arms are great but there is too much "if this guy can produce" talk. These pitchers will be facing 3 of the best offensive line-ups many times during the year, they will be tested. The lineup is solid, of course led by Jones, Markakis, Scott and the upcoming Weiters. Tejada returns but at 3B. The team should be more fun to follow for Oriole fans than in past years and right now, that is a small victory.
5. Blue Jays: The J.P. Ricardi experiment was 86'd but the biggest loss was Halladay of course. The rotation is naturally in flux and their 5th starter is listed right now as TBA. The lineup has a couple young stars in Hill and Lind but also a bunch of, "oh that guy" hitters; Overbay, Encarnacion and of course Vernon Wells. I love Cito Gaston but it is going to be a rough ride in Toronto this year.
1. Twins: This was the hardest division for me to decide on. These Twins are slightly different form the ones we have known the past few years, but I expect them to be successful like their recent incarnations. Joe Mauer has his money, helping swell the payroll to around $96 million. The early April/October games at Target Field should be lovely. Also there will be no Joe Nathan so the bullpen is up in the air at this point. The lineup is solid but even Ms. Cleo (too dated?) does not know how Lariano will do this year. I still think the Twins find a way to make the playoffs, like they often do.
2. Tigers: There was quite the coming and going of players in Detroit in the offseason. Gone are Granderson, Jackson, Polanco, Rodney, and most recently Robertson. Incoming Valverde, Jackson, Scherzer. The lineup still packs a punch with Ordonez, Guillen and Cabrera. There seems like Leyland is going to have to really work things out in the lineup and the bullpen to get the team running. It should be another close race between Detroit and Minnesota for the division.
3. White Sox: The Southside has become more about the Kenny and Ozzie show than the actual team on the field to those outside of Chicago. The heart of this team is the starting pitching. With Buehrle, Peavy, Floyd, Danks and Garcia the Sox need a lot of strong starts and long outings to be successful. Jenks is back as the closer but Putz is coming off his season-ending surgery from last year with the Mets. The lineup is not too impressive on paper but Juan Pierre, Alex Rios, and Paul Konerko have shown they can produce. Unless their hitters step it up another level it is going to be another season hovering around .500.
4. Indians: How miserable were the Indians last year? They tied the Royals for last place at 32 games under .500. No illusions for Cleveland faithful, it is time to rebuild at the Jake (no way I'm calling it Progressive Field).
5. Royals: Should be fun watching the Royals try to stay under 100 losses. No, no it won't.
1. Rangers: The Texas Rangers are my present day Gonzaga. I keep picking them to surprise people and I am then let down in the end. In a division that gives you 1 in 4 odds to win it every year, it is amazing the Angels have dominated it. But with Nolan Ryan calling out pitchers and Ron Washington doing lines who knows what can happen! The rotation is hardly fear-inspiring, with Harden not exactly an innings-eater and Harrison is coming off injury. Colby Lewis was in Japan the last few years. Julio Borbon (fantastic baseball name) is being looked to for stability at the leadoff spot. Despite the early injury to Kinsler, the 2-5 spots look juicy: Young, Hamilton, Vlad, and Kinsler.
2. Angles: Mike Scioscia gets a lot of dap and it is well deserved, but with so many changes taking places with the Angels I don't know if they can reach last year's level. No more Chone, Vlad, or Lackey. They did add Hideki but if he makes it all the way through the season healthy I will be shocked. The rotation is good, but not mind-blowing. Having Piniero and Kazmir at the back-end was a good move by the Angels.
3. Mariners: A lot of people are high on the M's this year. They could be a sleeper, but while their pitching and particularly their outfield defense is solid, where are the runs going to come from? Ichiro and new addition Chone Figgins can get on, but who will drive them home? Seattle overachieved expectations last year, and this year I think they underachieve.
4. A's: The biggest plus for Oakland is their young rotation. Ben Sheets has been added as an offseason flyer on whether he can stay healthy. Billy Beane always provides a solid bullpen as well. The lineup just does not scream offense to me. The bang ball days are dwindling away and Eric Chavez reduced to utility duties in the IF due to injuries point to where the Moneyball Oakland team stands; hobbled and soon to be a memory.
Yankees over Twins(again)
Rangers over Rays
Yankees over Rangers
Phillies over Yankees