Whoa now, don't go digging Joe Theismann's grave just yet

>> Saturday

He may have lost his job on Monday Night Football, but Joe Theismann's ESPN career is stronger than ever... on ESPN Classic at least.

For those of you doing something useful with your Saturday afternoon, useless people around the country are currently tuned into ESPN Classic, which is showing an American Gladiators marathon all day today. If you're unfamiliar with the early, pre-Larry Csonka days of American Gladiors, Theismann was Mike Adamle's orignial color partner on the show. One need only watch five minutes of classic Gladiators to realize that this was the stage where Theismann was most in his element.

And for the record, Mike Adamle was just macking on Lace like nobody's business.

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A Little Bit Late To the Party

>> Friday

Despite insistence otherwise from Andy Katz, Dick Vitale, Pat Forde and the 1 a.m. Sportscenter janitor, it looks like Billy Donovan will be considering taking the Kentucky job. What had been a common thought in the sports world outside of Bristol has finally made its way to the four letter network's area. Hell, this average joe predicted this would happen a week ago. I then researched the subject and found it indeed would happen four days ago. Funny, but I'd expect ESPN to be right on top of the search it were happening at North Carolina or Duke.

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Yellow Chair Sports Fantasy Baseball League

>> Thursday

For all the great readers at YCS, I am starting a ten team fantasy baseball league with a draft tomorrow afternoon at 4:45 central time.

League ID: 287723
password: stats


Teams only need to be updated weekly. It will be a head-to-head, 7X7 league with the following categories:

Batters:
Home Runs
Stolen Bases
Walks
Total Bases
Batting Average
On Base Percentage
Slugging

Pitchers:
Wins
Shutouts
Saves
ERA
WHIP
Strikeouts per Walk Ratio
Strikeouts per Nine Innings

Here are how many players for each position:

Catcher (C)
1
First Base (1B)
1
Second Base (2B)
1
Third Base (3B)
1
Shortstop (SS)
1
Left Fielder (LF)
0
Center Fielder (CF)
0
Right Fielder (RF)
0
Outfield (OF)
3
Middle Infielder (MI)
0
Corner Infielder (CI)
0
Infielder (IF)
0
All Batters (Util)
2
Starters (SP)
3
Relievers (RP)
1
All Pitchers (P)
3
Disabled List (DL)
2
Bench (BN)
5

This will be a league for all you stat geeks like me who want to play in a sabermetric friendly league.

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The 2007 Milwaukee Brewers: A Year In Pictures


Okay, I was gonna write a big preview, but I accidentally deleted the fuckin' brilliant thing halfway through and wasn't about to restart. Yes, I'm lazy. Shut up.

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Coldplay=Duke, The Fray=Holy Corss, Local H=Arkansas, James van Osdel=Billy Packer

WARNING: Not about sports

So Chicago's local alternative music station Q101 (you may remember them from our ill-fated campaign to take sports guy Jim Lynam's job) is currently running a feature called "March Music Madness." You can probably guess how it works. Basically, the station picked 64 popular alternative music acts--both current and classic--and randomly jumbled them throughout an NCAA Tournament-style bracket.

During each "game," a couple songs by each of the two artists are played alternately, at which time listeners can text message their vote as to which artist should advance. It's a pretty good gimmick. Listeners get to hear a good assortment of favorite artists while the station generates incentive for listeners to stay tuned. And since no paticular voting criteria are imposed, it's a pure "choice of the people" affair, and therefore, a "wrong" choice is virtually impossible.

Seems pretty fun and harmless, right? I mean, it would take a total low-life, no-life asshole to quibble with the artist selection or the voting results of an exercise created to gauge simple preference on a topic so benign.

Well, ladies and gentlemen--I am that asshole. Below is the bracket after round one. (Click to enlarge.)



Staind defeats Oasis. I have a good friend who would start hemorraging from every orafice on his body if he saw this result. Now, I'm no British teenager ca. 1996, so I don't believe Oasis was/is the second-coming of the Beatles. But Staind?!?! They are painfully generic and utterly devoid of imagination or musical skill of any sort. Oasis, on the other hand, has put out a nuber of good albums--including one just last year--and a certifiable classic in "What's the Story, Morning Glory."I can only guess some dumbshit devoted Staind fan texted 9,384 times in five minutes; otherwise, this result would have never happened.

Fall Out Boy defeats the Clash. Again--do people have no sense of history or proportion? You aren't known as "the only band that matters" (Granted, it was a self-given title, but it stuck, didn't it?) by being less good than Fallout Boy. Jesus. Fallout Boy is a couple hits, generic style, single genre. The Clash were groundbreaking, meaningful, tons of genres...Ugh! Do I even need to justify this? Friggin' Fallout Boy...you've gotta be kidding me.

Local H defeats Linkin Park. Color me not a Linkin Park fan, so I have no beef with them losing in the first round. But come on--if this station were in any other city, does the name Local H ever even come up? Expand this thing to 256 artists, and I still say no. This is Arkansas to the 4/3 power. If not for local cronies on the selection committee, this one-hit wonder from 1997 is in the D-III March Music Madness. Does "Bound for the Floor" even get airplay outside Chicago? I'd really like to know. Let's not even mention--even though I know this is a shitty criterion to judge a song by--that one "hit" was literally like a single repeating chord and a two-note chorus. I can't believe it's even held up.

311 defeats Coldplay. This could have been almost anyone (well, maybe except for Staind) and I would have been thrilled by this outcome. I won't get too much into it, but I have kind of an ill-conceived disdain for Coldplay. As far as I'm concerned, this is VCU over Duke. Self-important, overhyped powerhouse bites the dust! Oh, and although I don't love them, I do think 311 is pretty cool, so I can dig this result on all counts.

A Perfect Circle defeats the Fray. Umm... Shouldn't this have been the play-in game? ...for the March Music NIT Madness? Why are either of these bands included? And more so, why did they face each other first round? Seriously, this is like pairing Holy Cross and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. I'd say I know a pretty good deal about music. System of a Down, Queens of the Stone Age, Rage Against the Machine--I hadn't the slightest problem picking up on those abbreviations immediately when I saw them. But I had to google "A.P.C." to even know who the fuck they were. We should not be asked to familiarize ourselves with an abbreviation for a band so lame.

Incubus defeats R.E.M. God must have a real sick sense of humor. People who voted this are allowed to hear while Beethoven was not. I mean, come on. Incubus is alright and all, and I'm sure they have a pretty great following or live act or whatver. But it's R. freaking E. fucking M. Ignorant masses! I'm sure most of the people who voted this way will probably say "Losing My Religion" was their first hit. No, you hypothetical stupid clowns! They were around for ten years by then. Sorry--I stowed my music pretentiousness away pretty well until now, but I couldn't let that go.

The Smashing Pumpkins defeat the White Stripes. Holy ridiculousness. You pair the Fray and A.P.C. (as I will coolly refer to them now that I know), and then you pair these two juggernauts in the first round? Worse off, you give the White Stripes, one of the best alternative acts of our generation, absolutely no shot. Remember--this is a Chicago station, and you're pitting them against one of the Chicago area's alltime most popular bands. This would be like sending UCLA to the Verizon Center in D.C. to play Georgetown in the first round, laying down the Wizards floor and calling it a "neutral site." Hold this March Music Madness matchup in Detroit, and you get a 90-10 landslide.

Ramones defeat the Flaming Lips. See above, minus the local bias and less egregious. But still egregious.

Alright, I guess that's enough for round one. I'll probably pick this up again when it's in the championship or over, so you know how it turns out and what else upset me.

(Oh, and by the way, you'd have to be from Chicago and a Q101 listener to know who James van Osdol is. Don't feel dumb for not knowing.)

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McDonald's All-American Game thoughts

In my many years watching the Burger Classic, this game was by far the best played. While it may not have been a Jerry Sloan defensive classic, the overall level of effort displayed really stood out. These kids wanted to badly win this game, not settling for trying to make Sportscenter. There was still a ton of scoring (226 points) and highlight reel dunks. However, you actually saw solid halfcourt play and many kids who have an excellent sense of how to play the game. Here are some of the "less heralded" kids who really stood out to me.

Nick Calathes: He's a not of super athlete, but the kid has a tremendous feel for the game and basketball I.Q. At 6'4, he brings nice size to the guard position. He could definitely play the point for a top program, although he'll likely start at the 2. A tremendous passer, he will definitely appear on highlight reels setting up teammates. He struggled with his shot last night, but that appeared to be an aberration according to all reports. He's currently signed to play at Florida, but has expressed a willingness to follow Billy Donovan to Kentucky.

James Harden: He will give a much needed boost of athleticism to Herb Sendek at Arizona State. At 6'5, he has very nice size for college guard. I was extremely impressed with his court sense, as he made 2-3 really nice passes to set up teammates. His shot looks very good, and he had a very impressive dunk that showcased his athleticism. A fast riser this summer, he's definitely a top 15 player in a loaded class.

Jai Lucas: The top unsigned guard, Lucas is an excellent point guard ready to step in and play major minutes. At just 5'10, his professional future may be limited. However, he should shine at the college level with his excellent passing and solid outside shot. He also displayed an excellent floater in the lane, something he will need to compete against college big men when he penetrates to the basket. Lucas is considering Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Cole Aldrich: Another very heady player, the 6'10 big man is headed to Kansas. He looks to be very comparable to current Jayhawk Sasha Kaun, with a little more skill on both ends. He always seemed to be in excellent rebounding position, and had two very nice blocks of Calathes's shots. Aldrich showed a nice touch on hitting an 8 foot jumper.

Overall, this class has the potential to be every bit as good as last years. The big name guys all showed well except O.J. Mayo. I looked for Mayo rebound in other games, and he should have a very good career at USC if he listens to Tim Floyd. After seeing last night's game, I will make an effort to attend the Roundball Classic in Chicago next weekend.

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Following our gambling advice has proved nothing but wise in the past. Why stop now?

I noticed Nate left a comment about heading "off to Vegas" under my MLB preview post. ( I take it he was the only person masochistic enough to wade through that cum bucket.)

So I figured, why not take the opportunity to give more of our trademark odd-defyingly bad gambling advice? (My source on the odds is VegasInsider.com)

Looking at the futures, I think Boston at 12-1, LAA at 15-1, Florida at 30-1, and Cleveland at 30-1 look like the best plays if you think my picks are worth a damn. And the White Sox at 10-1? Umm, someone needs to tap Vegas on the shoulder and thell them it's the 2007 World Series future, not 2006. Vagas--that stupidhead.

For winning the pennant, Boston (6-1), Texas (25-1), Seattle (30-1), and Cleveland (15-1) look like the smart plays in the AL. In the NL, I like the Phillies (8-1), Cubs (15-1), Padres (14-1), D'Backs (35-1) and Rockies (50-1).

Put a fiver on each of those, and come October, I promise you'll be cashing in a few C-notes. And come October, I promise no one will look back to this post to hold me accountable.

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You'z Got Some Splainin' t'do!

The Chicago Sun-Times wants to make it clear. Cubs backup catcher Henry Blanco has not been charged with a crime.

However, the funds his agent allegedly conspired to use for illegally smuggling Cuban baseball players into the United States were laundered through Blanco's bank account, and Blanco has been issued a subpoena to testify in Federal Court in Key West next week, which could leave the Cubs without a backup catcher for the better part of a week.

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Finally! Justice!

You may recall back in February, the Chicago Sun-Times announced they were putting the Chicago Tribune on trial for their "mismanagement" of the Chicago Cubs. Never mind the fact that the Cubs have made it to the playoffs twice as frequently since Tribune took over than they did in the 52 years prior to Tribune Co.'s purchase. Well, an entire city has been held breathless as the brilliant legal teams battled back and forth in scintillating courtroom drama.

The verdict is a real shocker. This is what passes for news. FRONT. PAGE. NEWS. My favorite juror comments are the last two.


"MISTRIAL: I would fire whoever is the lawyer for the defense. They only had one witness.
Wait, this is the Sun-Times running this ''trial'' -- no way they'd have any grudge against the Tribune." ~Nicholas Rosales

"NOT GUILTY: Let the Tribune Co. continue to be owners so that the Cubs can continue to be losers." ~Daniel Porter, a Sox fan

I may only be picking a law school next week, but I'm pretty sure that last comment is also cause for a mistrial.

The Sun-Times must still feel proud of being a guardian of justice for the people. What's that? Tribune isn't selling the Cubs because of this series and in the end it's just some irrelevant fluff piece at best, but more likely a cheap shot at their cross-town rivals?

Sun-Times, leave the show trials to the Iranians.

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Sheela na gig! Sheela na gig!

>> Wednesday

A rookie fresh from the minors is about to change the face of baseball: A female umpire is set to work a major league exhibition game for the first time in almost 20 years.

Booooo!!!!

Ria Cortesio, ready to start the season in Double-A, will be on the bases Thursday for a game between the Arizona Diamondbacks' and Chicago Cubs' in Mesa, Ariz.

Get back in the kitchen where you belong! Boooo!! Go cook me some bacon, sweet cheeks! And get me another beer!

"I'm looking forward to it," she said Monday night. "There will be a lot more people in the stands than I'm used to."

Not as many as you're used to in bed, slut!

No female umpire has ever worked in the majors during the regular season. Pam Postema was the last woman ump to call big league exhibitions, back in 1989 — she was in spring training for two years before getting released.

She couldn't cut it in a man's job! What a surprise!

Cortesio is the only female umpire in professional baseball. At 30, she is starting her ninth year overall and fifth in Double-A.

And that's where you'll stay, sweet cheeks! I hope you fold the other umps' uniforms, babe!

Slender and athletic, she cut her ponytail a few years ago so she wouldn't stand out on the field. She also uses a low grunt to call strikes.

I bet you use that low grunt, whore! Or are you a screamer, slut?!

"It's awesome," Cubs star Derrek Lee said. "I think it's about time. Female eyes are as good as male eyes. Why can't they be umpires? Good for her."

Boooo! You suck, Derrek! A real first baseman would never say that! Grow back your testicles, you pussywhipped fag!

Triple-A and Double-A umpires routinely join major league crews in spring training, especially when extra games fill the schedule.

Yeah! And then go scrub your pots and doilies, and let the men take care of the real games, missy!

"I was kind of expecting it," Cortesio said. "Umpires with my seniority usually get picked."

Enjoy your 77 cents on the dollar, girly! Booooo!!!!

Cortesio has been working minor league exhibition games in Arizona this month. This week, she'll move over to HoHoKam Park when a Diamondbacks split squad plays Chicago.

HoHoKam Park! How appropriate for a ho like you, slut!

Cubs reliever Scott Eyre liked the idea.

Booooo!!! Go shop for linens with your fag boyfriend Derrek Lee, asshole!

"She's doing our game? Oh, cool," he said. "How do I feel about it? I could care less. If she can call a game, she can call a game."

Women can't call games, homo! That's why they're women! Grow some testicles!

"If she rings somebody up for me, I don't care. You know what I mean? I wouldn't have a problem with it," he said.

It's unnatural, you homo! Grow a vas deferens!

Cortesio was on a big league field last season for All-Star festivities at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. She called the Futures Game for minor league prospects, then worked the Home Run Derby the next night.

And she blew all the calls and then blew all the players because she's a whore!

Cortesio started her umpiring career in the Pioneer League, yet doesn't trumpet herself as a pioneer in a profession dominated by men.

And don't forget it, sweet cans!

"I don't do this job to get on TV," she said last July. "But I hope it will raise the awareness a little."

Exhibitionist skank! Boooo!!

She later worked in the Florida State League. There, New York Yankees' owner George Steinbrenner once criticized her strike zone after she worked a game that Roger Clemens pitched while recuperating from an injury.

Yeah!! A real man! He has more money than you too, sweet gams!

For several years, she's been an instructor at the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring.

Instructor on how to give blow jobs?! Boooo!!!

This year, Cortesio hopes to move to Triple-A — she's on deck for promotion when the next vacancy occurs. Once umpires reach Triple-A, they are evaluated by major league supervisors, rather than minor league staff.

Did you hear that, sweet labia? More people to get in bed, opportunist slut!

Life in Double-A isn't luxurious. Last year, she made about $2,600 a month for the six-month season and her per diem was $25, with her hotel room paid for; big league umps can earn well over $100,000 and get $357 daily to pay for their meals and hotel.

I would've made $3,374 a month because I'm a man, babe! How do you like that, girly?

Plus, there's the travel. Major league umpires jet around the country, a three-person crew in the Southern League drives itself 24,000 miles over a full season.

I bet a man does all that driving, or they'd never find the park! Stay in the passenger's seat, and give the driver a blowjob, toots!

All that, and no guarantee they'll ever make the majors because jobs rarely open up. Fact is, a player in Double-A has a much better chance of reaching the big leagues than an umpire.

Better stock up on your RU-486, slutty whore!

Mike Winters will lead Cortesio's crew Thursday. It'll mark the first time she's worked a game with a major league umpire.

And I bet you'll miss it because you won't be able to decide what to wear, girlywhoreslutbitch!

"I think I'm as excited about that as anything," she said.

Boooooooooooo!!!! Show us your tits!

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The closest we will ever come to real journalistic reporting

This could also be the closest we ever come to a libel lawsuit. And it only happened by pure random encounter... a random encounter that I’m bringing to you second-hand without any documented quotes or details.

I’ve been meaning to “break” this “scoop” for a few days now. (See, it’s not even timely.) Last week, dear friend of YCS and infrequent contributor Pat (or as you would know him by his super-discreet handle “Patrick”) had a brush with celebrity.

As Pat was working his managerial position at a specialty running store last week, who should walk in but former Cubs president and Tribune Company executive Andy McPhail, or as he was hilariously referred to in the Chicago sports media, “McFail” (or alternately “McPhailure”)—a super clever play that never got old.

In his YCS exclusive interview, Pat grilled McPhail with all the tough questions about his former team—primarily those regarding its potential sale and its general manager, Jim Hendry.

From the half-hour conversation, we at YCS can confirm that Andy McPhail is, in fact, a “pretty nice guy,” according to Pat. We also learned that he values accurate geographic tracking, as his purchase of an expensive GPS unit would indicate.

While McPhail did not offer any explicit details of the Tribune Company selling the team, he strongly hinted that a sale was imminent through both his measured words and Pat’s wild imagination.

You can currently listen to the full interview on a podcast downloadable from Pat’s brain, or you can watch it live through a powerful telescope from a location roughly seven light-days from the surface of the earth.

Yellow Chair Sports—your home for hard-hitting sports journalism and random encounters since 2007.

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Good Call Andy

>> Tuesday

Here is a free sample of some fine insider information from ESPN.com college basketball analyst Andy Katz (It was in their free preview section, so I'm not violating any copyright laws):

First off, any report that said Donovan authorized his representative to negotiate with Kentucky is simply not true, according to sources close to Donovan, Florida and Kentucky. Donovan is focused on playing UCLA and nothing else right now.

A little bit naive there Andy. While ESPN has apparently taken an anti-Kentucky stance (their success must hit too close to home for the ACCSPN), printing these out and out lies is laughable. People who have followed ths situation closely know that it's Donovan's job for the taking, with it being very likely Donovan will be the next Kentucky coach. While Donovan may understandly be wanting to backpedal away from the rumors, a respected news organization should not be presenting what Donovan wants the people to know. Of course, it's ESPN we are talking about, so calling them a respected news organization would be a major stretch.

Now, there is one positive from subscribing to ESPN Insider: every so often their forced subscription to ESPN the Magazine provides quality bathroom reading material.

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Longer White Sox preview aka Bitter Rants from a Sox fan

Disclaimer: Whenever I start getting really mad at a Chicago team (see Da Bears) they generally pull a great season out of their ass.

Lets look at the opening day line-up

1B Paul Konerko: A consistently strong hitter save a horrid 2003, along with being an underrated defender. Should be good for another .290/.360/.540 type season. Should be a focal point for the Sox offense.

2B Tadahito Iguchi: A very complete, solid second baseman. Makes few mistakes in the field, should be good for another .280/.350/.430 season at the plate.

SS Juan Uribe: A .257 OBP last season. Basically, a blindfolded retard could go to the plate and have a .257 OBP. Erratic in the field, and his above-average power does not make up for having the worst pitch selection in baseball.

3B Joe Crede: Way overrated. While he may be a top 5 defender, his failure to get on base at a big hitting position makes him very average overall. His career year boasted an OBP of .323. Considering that his .506 slugging was an aberration, the Sox would have been wise to get rich off of Crede's perceived worth this offseason. Honestly, I think Josh Fields could match Crede's numbers at the plate, especially since he would get on base much more often.

RF Jermaine Dye: Had an unbelievable season last year with a greater than 1.000 OPS. While it may be easy to write this season off as a major fluke, Dye was on the way to producing similar numbers before a horrific leg injury in the 2001 playoffs. A minor dropoff should be expected, but a .290/.360/.550 type season does not seem unrealistic. His defensive skills have eroded a bit with age, but he's definitely servicable in right field.

CF Darin Erstad: Why? Seriously, Erstad is still cashing in on his major fluke 2000 season. While Brian Anderson may have been awful statistically, close observers of the Sox saw his potential and understand he gradually improved last year after getting comfortable at the major league level. Also, Anderson is very close to becoming an elite defensive outfielder, so some struggles at the plate can be made up for in the field. Plus, a team has no need for Erstad's .270/.320/.390 production. I think Anderson could match that right now, with the potential of a much better slugging percentage. Of course, Erstad fits the Ozzie mold of a "grinder"

LF Scott Podsednik: He will join Erstad and Uribe as wastes of space in the Sox line-up. Seriously, he has absolutely no value on a winning team. He has no power, does not get on base enough, and is dreadful in the field. The White Sox would be much better off with Fields, Anderson or Ryan Sweeney in left instead of this joker. Not to mention, his wife is way too hot to be with such a marginal player.

DH Jim Thome: An outstanding 2006, but it may be unrealistic to expect similar numbers. Thome still has one of the best eyes in baseball, putting up an outstanding .416 OBP last season. I would guess a .270/.390/.560 campaign in possible, and it's refreshing to see that the Sox have at least one guy who understands the importance of getting and staying on base.

C A.J. Pierzynski: For all of the controversy that surrounds him, he's a slightly above-average player. He's a free swinger at the plate, only once having a greater than .350 OBP in regular playing time. He does have above- average pop for a catcher, hitting 16 and 18 homers the last two seasons. A .280/.330/.435 line should be expected, as while as drawing the ire of opposing fans across the country.

The rotation will be extremely unpredictable:

Jon Garland has imitated a front of the rotation pitcher these last two seasons, but I'm still not totally sold on him. Other than his 18 wins, his 2006 was very mediocre statistically. I would predict a 4.50 ERA with a 1.25 WHIP, a regression back towards middle of the rotation numbers.

I will disagree with Vin about Jose Contreras. If his back injury that nagged him last season has healed, I look for a similar season to his excellent 2005. A 3.60-3.80 ERA and a 1.15-1.20 WHIP is definitely not out of the question.

The Sox should have just saved time and traded Mark Buehrle to St. Louis in the offseason. His stuff looked incredibly average last season, and guile and moxey will only go so far. An ERA in the high 4's and a WHIP above 1.3 can be predicted, along with the fact that he will be ridiculously overpaid in the offseason.

Javier Vazquez is a big-time wild card. He has the stuff to be a low-mid 3's ERA guy with a WHIP around 1.1-1.15. However, he has mightily struggled in the American League. His performance dramatically decreases as the game goes on, but I'm guessing that is more mental than physical. The Sox have gambled and signed him to a 3 year, 35 million dollar extension this spring. While I would definitely spend this money on him instead of Buehrle, this is a bit of a calculated risk. If pitching coach Don Cooper can reign him in, this could be a steal in the current market. However, shoudl Vazquez not turn things around, this can be an albatross of a contract that severly saddles the Sox.

Promising young lefty John Danks looks to have the won the #5 spot in the rotation. Obtained in the surprising trade of Brandon McCarthy to the Rangers, Danks has the potential to be a top of the rotation pitcher. He has a very good fastball and curveball, and plenty of time to eventually develop a third pitch. As with most young pitchers, his performance may be wildly inconsistent this year. Still, I was a big fan of his acquisition and think he will be a significantly better starter than McCarthy.

I give to it until July before Bobby Jenks is disposed as the Sox closer. Thankfully, the Sox have two other very solid options in hard throwing lefty Matt Thornton and Mike "Mac the Ninth" MacDougal. Young hard throwers Nick Masset and Andrew Sisco should have a chance to get significant relief duty. Crafty lefty Boone Logan has had an outstanding spring, but I'm still not sold not on him being a legit major leaguer.

On the whole, I predict an 80-85 win season and a 3rd place finish in the division between the Indians and Tigers.

The good news for the Sox is that they are positioned to be very good in the future. They have a lot of talented young arms in Danks, Gavin Floyd, Gio Gonzalez, Lance Broadway and spring training revelation Adam Russell. Outfielder Ryan Sweeney and Fields both project to be above average major league players. I am still high on Brian Anderson and hope that Ozzie hasn't ruined his promising potential. I just hope that Sox fans show the required patience, other than their call for Ozzie's dismissal (which I would now gladly support, even if it admits that assclown Jay Mariotti was right. Personally, catapulting both of them the hell out of Chicago would be the best option. Plus, I anxiously await the day of Ozzie Guillen on Baseball Tonight.)

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Vinnie's unnecessary, half-assed, ill-informed, pun-infused MLB preview

If you want some MLB predictions based on facts, research, science, and stuff in general, check out this site. In fact, if you want a preview that in any way contributes to intelligent discourse on baseball, check out any of the other thousands of MLB previews out there. But… if you’re a functionally illiterate cheapo who won’t pony up for the Baseball Prospectus and want a preview full of crazy whims, one-liners, inner-dialogue, and a total absence of transitional phrases and paragraph breaks, then stay here.

In order to make this as painstakingly long as possible, I’ll give my overview for each team, plus another for the Nationals [rimshot]. To cover my ass right off the bat, I make no promise that my predicted records will sum out to 2,430-2,430 because the exercise is absurd to begin with and will be implemented for approximation of my random perception only.

AL East

New York Yankees (94-68)
“This is finally gonna be the year that the Blue Jays step up and overtake the Yanks and Sox!” Shut up. Don’t be an idiot. The Yankees are still gonna win the East. Say what you will about the back of their rotation, but outside of Mientkiewicz at first, they still field an All-Star team—a real, certifiable All-Star team—for their everyday lineup. They’ll have a full year of Matsui and Abreu, and they could always slide Giambi to first and Melky to the DH if Doug M doesn’t hit enough. Wang (assuming he’s not seriously hurt) and Mussina are strong, and Pettitte’s awful first half of ‘06 looked a little fluky by the end of the year. Sure, he’s over the hill, but I expect something halfway between his ’05 and ’06. As far as the only story that matters here, A-Rod and Jeter will kiss and make up. Literally. On the field. It’ll be kind of like that horrible ending to that horrible movie Anger Management. That said, the Yanks will need Brosius back if they expect to win in the playoffs.

Boston Red Sox (92-70) Look—people who doubt J.D. Drew deserve to have batteries thrown at them. He’s a jerk; he doesn’t care much; he spits at the homeless. That has no bearing on the fact that the Red Sox could put up 1,000 runs this year. And in the unlikely event that “Andrew” Dice-K (inverted Bermanism) doesn’t fulfill the hype, the rotation should be excellent. Beckett’s 5.01 ERA was his only really bad-looking stat last year, and I guarantee a much, much lower one this year. Here’s a good question, though—How many Red Sox fans will get really, really into Japanese culture this year…you know, purely out of coincidence? My guess: tons.

Toronto Blue Jays (84-78) Royce Clayton is their starting shortstop. That’s not really a stand-alone reason why the Blue Jays won’t win the East this year, but it is one of a few knocks on this team. I doubt Alex Rios will ever replicate his first half of last year, and his OBP was only .349. (And I think he’s Mexican or something, right?) The lineup will score, but the back three in the rotation will neither scare nor retire many hitters. Burnett, Halladay, and pray for… malad-ay... to, umm, afflict the opposing team...? ...No? Ok. Basically, the Jays could win a few other divisions, but I don’t see them hanging with the Yank Sox this year.

Baltimore Orioles (75-87) Just like the Jays, the Orioles would have a shot to make the playoffs if they played in the NL Central. Barring unexpected realignment in the next week, this won’t be the case. While they’re above average at the traditionally poor offensive positions with Tejada, Roberts, and Ramon Hernandez, the rest of their lineup is basically the same serviceable-like .280/15/.350/.450 hitter throughout. At least Markakis in his second year is something to be a little excited about. The front of their rotation is young and intriguing while the back end is Jaret Wright and Steve “Blood on the” Trachsel. Who knows, though. Leo Mazzone resurrected Wright’s career once before, so maybe he can do it again. After all, Leo Mazzone is, in fact, Christ.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays (73-89) These guys are young. Delmon Young, that is. And they’re talented. Carl Crawford can really rake it, and Jorge Cantu can too. I used to think Rocco Baldelli was just a bunch of mafia-feuled hype, but his numbers from his truncated 2006 seem to prove otherwise. Besides Kazmir, I believe the rest of the rotation is TBD (as in, like, “to be decided” and “Tampa Bay Devil Rays”…a clever double entendre. That’s pretty good Vin.), and they’re probably too young to make the Rays very competitive. This is my most punny team preview, and I’ll stop this now.

AL Central

Cleveland Indians (91-71) I hope Victor Martinez constantly thanks him mom that he can hit because he sure can’t play catcher. Oh yeah, hitting comes from the X chromosome; I should’ve mentioned that. Martinez’s embarrassing arm aside, this team is ready to take back the AL Central. After Sabathia, the rotation looks a little sad, but it’ll get a little better once Cliff Lee recovers (in about a month, I guess). I only saw this Garko kid at 1B a couple times last year, but he looks like the goods. Basically, this lineup will score tons, and pitching won’t matter so much. Tribe wins the division, and that mink-wearing whore of an owner won’t relocate them to Miami.

Detroit Tigers (86-76) Remember how awesome Chris Shelton was last April? What was that about? Anyway, he now finds himself listed third on the first base depth chart behind Bible-thumper and pro wrestling fan Sean Casey. I’m not sure why I’m taking up space talking about Chris Shelton. Todd Jones is maybe the worst pitcher in their bullpen but still listed as their “closer.” Have I ever mentioned I don’t like the concept of a “closer”? Thousands of times? Ok. Kenny Rogers turns 80 next week, and I see “flash in the pan” with Verlander, so they’ll need a great year from Bonderman. Of course, I’m probably dead wrong about Verlander. And I might be a little off on Rogers’s age. Gary Sheffield will beef up their so-so lineup from last year--with only raw eggs and medicine balls, of course--but I predict a substantial slip in the Tigers win total. I also predict Jim Leyland to accidentally light his mustache on fire with a cigarette.

Minnesota Twins (83-79) According to our friend Dave Sampair who played football with Joe Mauer in high school, Mauer’s a really awesome guy. I think that gives the Twins a huge edge in being awesome. What also gives them a huge edge as starting Rondell White in left field. Obviously, I’m kidding. About the “edge” part that is. I only wish I were kidding about the starting part, but he’s currently listed in their lineup. An 0-38 start should put the kibosh on that. Besides Santana, their rotation on paper is kind of horrible, with a glimmer of hope in Bonser. I’d like to see the Twins repeat in the AL Central this year, but even Joe Mauer’s being a really awesome dude probably won’t be enough.

Chicago White Sox (78-84) It’s pretty obvious that Ozzie Guillen is the most important person on this team, so it’s only proper that all my White Sox predictions revolve around him. By May, Ozzie’s stomach will be one massive ulcer, and he’ll be bright yellow from jaundice. By July, Brian Anderson will be dead after Ozzie kills him for a botched sac bunt. By August, Ozzie will be dead after a poorly-picked gunfight with Juan Uribe. Ok, real stuff: The Sox were smart to stop clinging to ’05 and cut payroll, but they forgot to trade Joe Crede. I know he’s a heartthrob and all, but they missed cashing in on the peak of his value and also Thome's. Speaking of heartthrobs, Scotty PoPoPo is still around. And the Sox’ billboard marketing slogan is “Back to the grind.” Yikes. Contreras is over the hill, so the Sox are only left with one pretty good starter in Garland, and St. Louis Cardinal Mark Buehrle was only average last year. Don’t tell that to the guy who picked him for the All-Star Game, though. Who was that again?Hopefully Buehrle can turn it around with this being his contract year, so the Sox get some value for him in July. Either way, this is the season when Guillen’s antics go from “That’s Ozzie being Ozzie” to “Trade me before I kill that motherfucker.”

Kansas City Royals (68-94) Oh man. Do I really have to preview them? I’m not even gonna bother. Too boring. Ok fine—one quick look at the lineup. Oh God. Reggie Sanders and Mark Grudzielanek. No mas. On the bright side, they still have Jimmy Gobble, who I think is a fictional cartoon turkey from children’s Thanksgiving special. I could be mistaken, though. I’ve only seen him a few times on highlights.

AL West

LA Angels of Anaheim (91-71)
World Series champs. You heard it here. And maybe elsewhere. But here as well. I’d really like this to happen, but if the Rally Monkey comes back, along with the frequent allusions to said monkey, I’ll shoot myself and not live to see it. The young guys like Jared (the younger) Weaver, Ervin (the other) Santana, Maicer (the not-horrible) Izturis, and catcher Mike Napoli, who drew a remarkable 51 walks in 299 plate appearances last year, are pretty exciting. The three vet starters (Colon, Escobar, and Lackey, a personal favorite of mine) should be strong, and Weaver’s blonde locks will help him lead the league in swooning maidens and potentially ERA. Orlando Cabrera didn’t play up to his free-agent deal last season—shocking—but their middle infield is deep with Izturis and the other young prospect Howie Kendrick. The corner outfielders are excellent, and new acquisition Gary Matthews Jr. is what he is (on steroids)—a strong defensive player (both in a baseball and litigious sense) with one big offensive year (on steroids, like everyone else, so who cares) in a hitters’ park (where the drinking fountains dispensed “the clear”). All in all, not too shabby. The Angels also signed Shea Hillenbrand to cover themselves at 1B, but I’d like to see them start the young Cubano Kendry Morales. The filthy commie.

Texas Rangers (85-77) I don’t think there’s a baseball fan alive that isn’t super stoked about the return of fave teammate and dynamic agent-coached personality Sammy Sosa. The Rangers must have won the sweepstakes for players none of the 29 other teams wanted because they also have Bruce Chen as their fifth starter. I don’t know much about this Robinson Tejeda kid in the fourth slot, but since Robinson Checo was never any good, I don't like Tejada's outlook. Then again, Robinson Cano is good, which is also relevant. At least the Rangers don’t completely lack pitching, as we’re so used to. I think keeping Padilla was one of the smartest of the dumb overpaid mid-level free agent signings, and the front three (Padilla, Millwood, McCarthy) is pretty strong as a whole. The lineup has glaring holes at LF, RF, and DH, unless Sammy Slamando really has something left or Brad Wilkerson can get his OBP up to respectable.

Seattle Mariners (83-79) I’m tagging the Mariners with the hollow label of “Team That Could Surprise.” I’d gather that Jose Guillen will improve upon his sheer awfulness of 2006, and I expect Felix Hernandez to live up to some prorated percentage of his hype from a year ago. For me, Jeff Weaver is that one player every fan has to whom they always give the benefit of the doubt because they don’t understand why he can’t consistently play as well as he sometimes looks in isolated blips. I’m not sure what I just wrote there, but I think it was stupid. Something about Weaver winning the Cy Young or having a 6.00 ERA. While I question the wisdom of starting Jose Vidro at DH, this lineup should do a little scoring. Ibanez, Sexson, Ichiro, and Beltre should be make for a decent offense. Don’t be a J.J. Putz and fall asleep on this team. On second thought, Jarrod Washburn is their opening-day starter. I’m probably being too optimistic.

Oakland A’s (81-81) As bloggers who blog about baseball, I’m told we’re supposed to love Billy Beane and overrate his team. Not so fast, old codgers who fear stats! I actually expect the A’s to slip quite a bit this year. Though they successfully cornered the market on old catchers by signing Piazza and retaining Jason Kendall, some of the other important non-old catcher elements lack. Last year, the much-ballyhooed Bobby Crosby played like Bing Crosby (as he would play baseball, not as he sang… Sorry, I happen to be writing this preview late at night when my humor suffers, and my parenthetical apologies triple), and the lineup lost its best hitter in Frank Thomas. Who predicted we’d be saying that a year ago? Oh that’s right; I did. The “Really Similar Last Name Brothers” Harden and Haren are strong at the top of the rotation, but the back end is pretty lame. The A’s will need the goods out of Swisher and Milton Bradley to have a shot. Even then, the Angels are way better.

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies (91-71)
I don’t see many holes on this team. Utley, Rollins, Burrell, Meyers = activist, record producer, playboy, wife-beater. What a motley bunch! When Shane Victorino retires, he should start a company that sells floor wax or furniture polish or pesto sauce or something. The rotation has no real weak spot (semi-contingent on Eaton and Garcia’s health), and if Cole Hamels is as good as advertised, they might have the best one in the league. I can’t quite understand why people think the Mets are still better. The pitching on this team is stronger, and the offense is comparable. World Series—book it. Then again, other previews = facts and research, this preview = whims and biases.

New York Mets (87-75) In the NL East this year, the Nigh Mets are my second-favorite squadron. I can’t believe Orlando Hernandez is their second starter, but the offense should be able to carry them until Pedro comes back. I think Burgos was a nice pickup in the pen; good work KC—trade one of the few guys on your roster with some real potential. I still consider Oliver Perez a great talent and expect him to rediscover the magic this year, both on the mound and in the sack. Hopefully this means a lot of “Oliver’s Army” references because I love that song. Perez could be the secret ingredient to the Mets success this year, as could Moises Alou’s urine.

Atlanta Braves (79-83) The Braves need Mike Hampton to come back and pitch well. Otherwise, they’re rotation is too crappy for them to take the East. Even with Hampton, I’m not picking them. Plus, I should stop acting like Mike Hampton is some huge star. The lineup should be productive with McCann and the Joneseses, but if Jeff Francoeur doesn’t at least double his walks, I’d trade his ass to wherever Dusty Baker turns up next because he's the embodiment of the "It's called hitting, not walking" mantra. It’s one thing if you swing at everything and hit .330 like Vlad Guerrero or "Ducky" Joe Medwick, but Francoeur just gets himself out on bad pitches way too often. Mike Gonzalez doesn’t give up many hits and has a good strikeout rate, but for some reason, his walk rate quadrupled from ’04 to ’05 and didn’t improve last year. I mean, he’s a strong reliever, but was he really worth Adam LaRoche? He’s never pitched more than 56 innings in a season. Ted Turner would’ve never stood for this shit.

Florida Marlins (85-77) Leap into serious contention or a bunch of sophomore slumps? Joe Girardi’s gone, so the Marlins will forget how to win. Just kidding. I hear that prick was like Mussolini. They won’t have Josh Johnson for a couple months, but I expect the D-Train to shovel some extra coal on the engines and choo-choo this freighter straight to Contentionville Junction, squashing all kinds of pennies on its way. That said, a team this young has real letdown potential. I’ll stay cautious and pick them to finish in the middle of the East. Way to cop out, Vin.

Washington Nationals (67-950...not a typo. They'll barnstorm in addition to playing their regular schedule of sub-.100 W-L%) They should get fine seasons out of Zimmerman and Kearns, but they’re gonna miss Nick Johnson, who’s out with a broken leg. As if that matters. Manny Acta will have to do his best juggling Acta if he hopes to win Manny games with this rotation! Their two most proven guys (Redding and Patterson) are coming back from injury. The other three spots are two rooks and JASON SIMONTACCHI. Yes… JASON SIMONTACCHI. And I’m out.

NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals (87-75)
Like most members of the blogging community, we at YCS despise David Eckstein. Also, we are mostly Cubs and Brewers fans. So maybe this pick should be considered me going out of my way to seem objective. This team may not luck their way into another championship, but I do think another Central title is in the… fuck… cards. I particularly like the conversion of Looper and Wainwright to starting pitchers. Nuts to this “closer” bunk; maximize the innings of your best pitchers. I’m glad some team gets it. Kip Wells and Reyes are sort of wild (… fuck!…) cards, but I’d like to assume they’ll get a decent season out of one of the two. And don’t ever doubt the heart of a champion ("champion" = David Eckstein and David Eckstein alone).

Houston Astros (85-77) Like every team in this division, I can make up some pretty rational reasons why the Astros will win the Central. And I could also see them sucking a bunch. To be honest, this division might really come down to the team who has the best luck with injuries and youth. The resurgent Jennings and Woody Williams (aka “Dub-Wil,” aka “Dub-Dub”) were okay pickups, though age is a factor for the 40 year-old Woody. Who is Luke Scott? Is he for real, or was that some Shane Spencer shit? If he’s the goods, that makes the ‘Stros strong at both corner OF positions, 1B, and 3B. Their backup catchers are a .211 lifetime hitter and a guy with 170 career ABs. I’ll still take either one over Brad Ausmus. And lay off Brad Lidge. He’s still one of the best relievers in the game, and he’ll prove it this year.

Chicago Cubs (84-78) Obviously, Jason Marquis lasted in the Cardinals’ rotation for a reason last year. I’m not being facetious. If a guy is truly horrible, he gets optioned or released. Besides the obvious reason—no one better to take his spot—there must have been something. They liked his potential; they liked his track record; he came through with occasional good starts. However, none of these reasons mask the fact that he was the worst performing starting pitcher in all of baseball. I think the Cubs would have been better off filling the Lily and Marquis rotation spots through open competition among guys without $7mill and $10mill guaranteed and, you know, making sure there was enough money to keep their best player after this year. Let’s examine what $300mill gets you in today’s MLB: 1) retention of your best offensive player, 2) another All-Star position player, 3) 200 IP of adequacy, 4) a nothing utility infielder, 5) a corner outfielder that runs with a cane and can’t hit anymore, and 6) the worst performing starting pitcher in the MLB last year. Items 3 through 6 are don’t sit well with me. Why Cubs fans should be excited: Prior and Lee could come back from their injuries and be the stars they were before. Why Cubs fans shouldn’t be excited: This won’t happen, ever. Derrek Lee will never have another 2005. Prior may have another 2003, but it won’t be within the next few years. Jacque Jones is one of the worst starting RF in the league. Assuming Rich Hill will be as good as he ultimately will be over the course of his first full season is starry-eyed for sure. 84 wins could be charitable. But it’s ok; Mark Cuban will save us.

Milwaukee Brewers (82-80) Unloading Carlos Lee and getting something in return last season was the right thing to do. Using the free agent dollars they might have used on Lee to sign Jeff Suppan at $10mill/yr was clearly the wrong thing to do. He’s ok and all, but this team’s too poor to afford that kind of salary for an average player. Pass the collection plate and sign some real free agents if you’re gonna get in that game, Brew Crew. Dave Bush could emerge as an ace this year, and Ben Sheets will be back, giving the Brewers more pranks and a pretty strong rotation. But don’t expect Bernie Brewer to slide into that big invisible mug of air very often this year, except when Prince Fielder is hitting. He’ll stroke about 40 dingers, but the rest of the lineup may not produce much. I expect Bill Hall to slip now that pitchers have heard of him. Estrada was a nice pickup, and year two of Rickie Weeks is reason for excitement. As for Corey Hart jokes, I’ll save those for the season. Come to think of it, there are no real “jokes.” I just sing “Sunglasses at Night” and laugh while everyone tells me to shut up.

Cincinnati Reds (75-87) I still can’t get over how stupid that trade with the Nationals was last year. Gary Majewski, where have you gone? Starters three through five on this team are an unfortunate collection of retreads, and I doubt either Arroyo or Harang will repeat their ’06 performances. Kirk Sarloos walked more hitters than he struck out the last two years and is arguably one of the worst starters in baseball. The offense will be pretty good, but let’s not get too carried away. Dunn is the only sure thing in this lineup. David Ross was nothing before last year, and if pitchers start paying him attention, that HR rate could plummet. Brandon Phillips OBPed a horrible .287 after the break last year, and Junior, as much as I love him, slipped considerably last year. His move to right field—a traditionally strong offensive position—will only highlight his inadequacy as a hitter (.316 OBP last year). Seriously, that kills to me to say. I hope he proves me wrong and keeps launching dingers.

Pittsburgh Pirates (70-92) According to everything I’ve read, Freddy Sanchez is the only player on this team. But I’ve looked into it, and they will, in fact, retain 24 other players. Actually, take a good look at that everyday lineup—not too shabby. Paulino at catcher and Jose Bautista at third are—as Harry Caray used to say—fine looking young ballplayers. This hard-nosed, lunch pail steel town will appreciate the gamer mentality Adam LaRoche will bring to the Steel City of Steel. The rotation will be a weakness—extremely young guys + Tony Armas Jr. = tired bullpen. Zach Duke has good control, but he’s too easy to hit—only about 5 Ks per 9 IP and a .302 BA against last year. Ian Snell or Tom Gorzelanny will probably emerge as the ace; of course, that won’t be saying much this year. Cellar dwellers again, Steelburgh.

NL West

San Diego Padres (87-75) Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Bard had nice rookie seasons, but this lineup probably won’t score much. Fortunately, their pitching should carry them, which makes them my kind of team. Greg Maddux is still good. I think I dropped the “washed-up” phrase last year, and I regret it immensely. You don’t turn on your heroes like that—especially not to say something so inaccurate. By the end of the year, his K/BB was over 3, his WHIP was 1.22, and he managed to throw 210 innings despite averaging just 83 pitchers per start. That is truly incredible. As for David Wells, this may be the proverbial last hurrah. He’s 43; opposing hitters have hit over .300 against him the last two seasons; and now he’s diabetic. Expect Peavy to have a better ’07 than ’06 and Chris Young to do the opposite. The teams in this division are effectively pretty equal, so it’ll all come down to the team with the most guts to win in September. By which I mean it’ll come down to the team lucky enough to win a couple extra games.

Arizona Diamondbacks (86-76) Randy Johnson’s 5.00 ERA last year doesn’t look so bad next to a 1.24 WHIP and a K/BB of almost 2.9, so there’s no doubt he’ll contribute. For the first time since 2004, the D’Backs can get the flour down from the top shelf in the pantry. (Tall jokes… again, I’m up late. A different night but same effect.) Over 500 IP in ’04 and ’05 might’ve caught up to Livan Hernandez last year, but he finished strong and is only 32 according to his fake Cuban birth certificate, so I see no reason why he can’t be effective. And let’s face it—would you bring your A-game if you played for the Nationals? Anyway, the story with this team isn’t old pitchers but the young core of Chad Tracy, Connor Jackson, and Orlando Hudson, complemented by OF prospects Chris Young and Carlos Quentin and SS Stephen Drew—all of whom will start. Julio and Valverde in the pen have some explosive stuff, but they’d be well-advised to give up less runs. Mostly, I can’t wait until this team plays the Astros, and no one’s sure which team they’re on because of these retarded new D’Backs uniforms.

Los Angeles Dodgers (83-79) The Dodgers signed Juan Pierre to a $27mill/3yr contract. For this reason alone, the Dodgers deserve to win no games. Unfortunately, life isn’t always fair, so the Dodgers are likely to win some games. Losing J.D. Drew was unfortunate. Now—if I may take a little tangent—here’s a perfect example of how crazy public perception can be. I’m guessing that a substantial percentage of Dodgers fans—and baseball fans in general—view plus-Pierre and minus-Drew an upgrade to the Dodgers’ lineup because of Drew’s rep as a “selfish” player and Pierre’s as a guy who “makes things happen.” Anyway, this team has other players besides Pierre. They’ll actually have one of the NL’s better rotations with Schmidt, Lowe, and Penny. Still, I don’t think this lineup has enough to power to make it back to the postseason. And Juan Pierre will never again start for a playoff team so long as God exists

Colorado Rockies (79-83) The “Killer H’s plus A” (I claim all marketing rights to that) Holliday, Hawpe, Helton, and Atkins—have people all uppity on this team, but I don’t see the pitching. Impressive walk total aside (55 in 212 IP), I’m not convinced that someone who lets the ball in play as much as Aaron Cook (only 92 Ks) will continue to succeed in a park with such spacious alleys. And after him and Jeff Francis, the back three in the rotation (B.H. Kim, Rodrigo Lopez, and Taylor Buchholz) are not so good, unless Lopez and Kim rediscover the magic of random good seasons in their respective pasts. Give it up, Rockies. You’ll never win. Just bring back Dante Bichette, shave the grass to a short stubble, and ditch the humidor. That’s the Rockies we all wanna see.

San Francisco Giants (77-85) Last year, the Giants were older than dirt. This year, they’re roughly the same age as dirt, which is still pretty old. That said, old isn’t necessarily bad. That said, sometimes it is. Klesko/Aurillia is the lamest first base platoon since Coomer/Stairs, and Dave Roberts is starting in center. Zito’s been acting like a goofy jackass all spring, which has no bearing on his performance, but it does hurt his reputation as a great philosopher of our time. Noah Lowery took a step back from his 2005 rookie season, and Matt Cain could be in for a sophomore slump himself. Matt Morris and Russ Ortiz will do well as long as we warp back to 2002 tomorrow. I think a lot of fans are hoping for Barry Bonds to get hurt, so there’s a good chance he will if you subscribe to the power of collective thought or whatever new-age weirdo shit Barry Zito probably believes in. How do you like that Zito? You’re gonna cause your new buddy Bonds to get hurt through your heathen beliefs.

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Bad Form

>> Monday

Apparently, word has leaked that Kentucky has offered Billy Donovan a monster contract. If a contract is offered in negotiations, that generally means a deal has already been verbally agreed upon.


While I have stated that I agree with Donovan making this move, you absolutely should not let these intentions be known while Florida has a Final Four game yet to play. Let your agent play games behind closed doors, but do not let these negotiations be known to the public. While Donovan's Dancing for the Stars audition in press conferences may have tipped off that something was going down, he still managed to mostly keep the focus on Florida. In the past, Roy Williams did a much better job of handling a similar situation. Keep the focus on your current team, and make your move when the time is right. Considering the way in which this search has gone down, I think Mitch Barnhart, Kentucky's AD, could have gladly waited a week for the actual contract to be offered. While this process works best at a brisk pace, I still feel that it's wrong when business comes ahead of the actual games being played, especially at the "amateur" level.

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Pokey's replacement

I just became familiar with LSU's interim coach for the first time tonight. His name is Bob Starkey, and this is what he looks like:


The clear intent here: Not only to prevent another coach-player lesbian affair but to promote someone whom even the most opportunistic heterosexual player could never go for. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's the guy who played the rabbi from Elaine's apartment building on Seinfeld.
(Just checked IMDB. It's not him. But I bet he loves the shiksa too.)

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England: The Kentucky Basketball of International Soccer

It's long been accepted that coaching a team carries with it the responsibilities of leading the team to victory. If the team doesn't win, a change of leadership must be required, and axeing the coach will make all the problems disappear. When the new coach wins his first game, there is jubilation and the glory days are back again. It happens over and over again like dictators succeeding each other in coups.


Such is the case with England. A 4-0 thrashing of Greece last fall convinced many that new boss Steve McClaren was the man for the job, and his dismissal of former captain David Beckham appeared a stroke of genius. The griping and grumbling of English fans over old coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, who skippered England to another disappointing World Cup (ONLY the Quarterfinals) was gone. We'll just ignore that England has only been past the quarterfinals once since 1966, a fourth-place finish at World Cup Italia '90.

Now it is the exact opposite. McClaren's head is being called for and the supporters who once spurned Beckham as a pretty boy starlet with more hair product than on-field talent are clamoring for his return, a move which McClaren seems unlikely to make any time soon, should he still have his job come next week. Fans and columnists are actually citing Beckham's absence and as such absence of leadership as the main reason why England are "underachieving."

It's time for a reality check. First, England are in third place in their 2008 European Championship qualifying group where the top two qualify, only 3 points behind second-place Russia. They have seven matches remaining (3 points for win, 1 for tie), including two against Russia, and one against Group E leaders Croatia (5 points ahead). The Three Lions are by no means out, or even in serious trouble, especially when one considers that four of their final five matches will be in front of thousands of St. George Crosses at the newly renovated Wembley Stadium.

Their scoring drought (1 goal in four matches, where England have gone 1-1-2) is something to be concerned about, but one must keep in mind that three of those matches were on the road, and the goal in any international tournament is to win at home and tie on the road. The teams they have failed to score against for the most part are European also-rans whose only motivation seems to be to avoid being blown out, hence a tightly-packed defensive scheme that results in ugly football. The only loss they suffered was at Croatia, to the group leaders.

But let's even say that England were shite this year, and WERE in serious danger of not qualifying for the EURO. What is being totally overlooked in this situation is that the only place where coaching really matters in top-flight soccer is in terms of setting the formation, and personnel management, which largely depends on setting the formation. Basically, on the world stage, coaching is largely irrelevant. The players have been coached all they can. They know their job and what they need to do.

England has more than enough talent to play, so the loss of Beckham is not an issue either. Nearly every player on the England roster plies their trade in the English Premiership; largely considered to be the best professional league in the world. Beckham's loss of leadership should likewise not be an issue because on England's current roster, six players are currently serving as captain, or vice-captain of their Premiership club.

So what's to cause for England's recent troubles? The fans. Not in the sense that the fans are not supporting England, but the fans are unrealistic. It's the same reason why if you don't win National titles every year at Notre Dame or Kentucky you get run out of town on a rail. Sometimes in international football, the breaks don't go your way. Especially when your qualifying schedule for one of the most prestigious competitions in the world is heavily front-loaded with road games. English fans seem to expect to win every game 5-0, and to win trophies constantly simply because the sport was invented in England. The fact is, England is a very good team. Possibly not an elite team, but there are many other sides who would LOVE to be blessed with the kind of talent and training infrastructure that England possesses. It's almost as if England fans haven't realized that they haven't won a World Cup since the 1966 final at Wembley Stadium. They're not supposed to dominate. They're supposed to win at home and tie on the road, and for the most part, they've managed to do just that.

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A little wisdom from Agent Zero


I don't know if we've really touched on this on our site, but I think I speak for just about all of us when I say that Gilbert Arenas is everything that's right with sports.

Most recently, there's been a lot of conversation stemming from the Wizards' 100-98 loss to the Trailblazers. One, because Agent Zero didn't deliver on his 50-point promise (while Kobe was out there scoring 50 against damn near everyone else). Also, the league is now pissed at Arenas for making a bet with a couple fans. Unfortunately, the NBA removed Arenas' blog post on the bets, but I sure hope he mentioned the fact that the NBA held their All-Star game in LAS VEGAS and are now whining about $20 worth of betting.

As for the whining about his failure to score 50, Gilbert had quite a lot to say about that. And it's not just a bunch of "Get off my ass, will ya?" He actually turns it into a broader commentary on how the media and fans treat athletes. He points out that we keep saying stuff like "Why don't you just go out there and play?" and yet, if it weren't for antics like "Ocho Cinco" and "Hibachi" our interest would dwindle. I'm not going to go over his entire post, because you should just read it yourself. It's worth reading. But I will throw out this tidbit about DeShawn Stevenson's "I can't feel my face" gesture, because it says a lot:

I go up to him at halftime and I’m like, “What’s up? You don’t do the hand in the face no more?”

And he sat there with a straight face and told me, “I can’t do it anymore.”

I said, “What do you mean you can’t do it anymore?”

“Uh, my agent said teams are asking what is the hand in the face and are wondering if I’m throwing up gang signs. So he told me to stop doing it.”

...

I said, “You know what I want you to do? When we go out there at halftime,” I said, “Put your hand in your face and shake it.”

He did it and 14 people in the front row started doing the same thing.

I said, “But your agent said you can’t do it because it’s gang related. Then all them business men in the front row must be part of your gang.”


We, as fans, hang on every word that athletes say, even though most players don't have anything special to offer us. Gilbert's words actually deserve that kind of attention.

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Welcome to the Fold


If you're familiar with the illustrious staff of YCS, then you're well aware of our affinity towards shady characters in the world of sport. It's true, our appreciation of such unseemly rascals as Allen Iverson, Rasheed Wallace, Chad Johnson and Randy Moss is well documented.

Gentlemen, it looks like we've got another to add to our manifesto. The above picture is, of course, of University of Florida G/F Corey Brewer. Look at him. If that's not the face of someone who's constantly contemplating doing something unsettling, then I don't know what is.
The guy has the look about him of someone who may stab someone if need be. He's the kinda guy that knows how to go about stealing a dog, should the need arise. And believe you me, he'll kill a snitch. I'm not saying he has, I'm not saying he hasn't. He's just making sure you know that.
Anyway, this post is senseless, so I'll keep it brief. We like shady people who, with a little imagination, could be criminals. We're weird like that.

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Oh man

>> Sunday

Play-by-play guy during UNC-GW women's tourney game, Re: Ivory Latta

"[something about Latta being really good]... but there are a lot of people out there who will take many drinks of Haterade, as the kids like to say, and criticize her..."

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Holy shit--Set your VCRs!!!!!!

Or your TiVO box or whatever you Americans are using these days. And if you don't have one, you'd better find a 24-hour electronics store where you can purchase one in the next two hours.

Why, you ask? Tonight will be the last ever airing of George Michael's Sports Machine.

If you had no idea that show was still on, you're not alone, I'm sure. But I just might have to tune in, as I'm growing a bit nostalgic thinking back to my childhood, when I would watch the Sports Machine to get that all-important fourth viewing of NFL highlights.


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I wonder if he's married to Kathy Ireland

cause then the karma would all be lined up.


In every game that Stephen Ireland has played, Stephen Ireland has scored for Ireland. Ireland Ireland Ireland-y-ness.

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Kentucky-An ELITE Job

>> Saturday

With the Tubby Smith sympathy being spread from coast to coast, it's high time to straighten many people out: he did not perform as an elite coach. Here are a few facts for Dick Vitale and company to chew on:

25 losses the last two seasons
0 Top 25 recruits the last three seasons
0 Final Fours with his own players
4 straight losses to Vanderbilt
6 straight losses to Florida

Simply put, Tubby Smith failed to have Kentucky competing at an elite level. With their history, facilities, and coaches salary, Kentucky is one of the top 2-3 programs, right with North Carolina and UCLA. The fans may be demanding, but considering their past success, they have every right to be. If you win like you should, they will strongly support you: see Pitino, Rick. Another newsflash: they will get an elite, highly successful coach to replace Tubby. Like Kansas with Bill Self, UCLA with Ben Howland and North Carolina with Roy Williams, I'd be highly surprised if Billy Donovan, their first choice, is not leading Big Blue Nation in two weeks.

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The Marist Red Foxes

That's right--If you haven't heard, the Marist Red Foxes have reached the women's Sweet 16 and will take on Tennessee tomorrow. Even though they're the just the Red Foxes with one x, I now have a rooting interest in this tournament.

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Coaching Carousel

>> Friday

It's that fun time of the year, where coaching paychecks(and said coaches stomachs) get a little bit fatter. This carousel will be the most exciting since 2003, for the simple fact that one of the crown jewel jobs, Kentucky, has now opened up after Tubby Smith finally admitted defeat and took the first train to Minnesota. A real intriguing opening is Michigan, since they may be this year's sleeping giant: a very nice tradition, excellent recruiting, and an AD that has plenty of patience. For those who like living in the middle of nowhere and recruiting farm boys, there's Iowa. Along the way, I think another couple of dominoes fall. Also, if you have any common sense, ignore Andy Katz.

Kentucky:
Predicted New Coach: Billy Donovan-Florida
Other Serious Candidates: Thad Matta-Ohio State, Billy Gillespie-Texas A&M
Others in the hunt: John Calipari-Memphis, Tom Crean-Marquette, Jay Wright-Villanova

Florida, should Donovan take the UK job:
Predicted New Coach: Anthony Grant-VCU
Other Serious Candidates: John Pelphrey-South Alabama, John Calipari-Memphis
Others in the Hunt: Gregg Marshall-Winthrop, Brad Brownell-Wright State

Michigan:
Predicted New Coach: John Beilein-West Virginia
Other Serious Candidates: Chris Lowery-Southern Illinois, Ernie Kent-Oregon
Others in the Hunt: Lon Kruger-UNLV, Dana Altman-Creighton

Iowa:
Predicted New Coach: Dana Altman-Creighton
Other Serious Candidates: Chris Lowery-Southern Illinois, Bruce Pearl-Tennessee
Others in the Hunt: Mark Turgeon-Wichita State

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Chicago media: "We'll latch onto anyone who's good!"


Yeah, I realize a lot of people from the Chicago area go to Southern Illinois, but come on; this shit's getting old.
Last night one of the local news stations had SIU's loss to Kansas as its lead story, loaded with shots of people taking in the game at local bars.
Then this morning on my drive into work, I hear one of the radio news headline reader people lead off with, "Our Salukis went down to Kansas last night..."
Ten years ago, you couldn't find a Marquette box score or highlight for your life around here. Then "Chicago's own" Dwyane Wade goes there, MU gets really good, and yay!--go Golden Eagles! Now it's the Salukis' turn.
Go to hell, Chicago media.

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Bll and Verne--Unfamiliar with the rules of basketball

>> Thursday

I'm one of thousands of people making this very same observation right now, I know. But don't be fooled by Bill Raftery and Verne Lundquist all up in arms about the 1.1 seconds taken off the clock at the end of the Memphis-Texas A&M game.

It was clear that the Memphis defender knocked the ball down in bounds, after which it took a high hop and did not touch down until it softly landed on the press table. As we all know, the clock technically should not stop until the ball has landed out of bounds. Therefore, 1.1 seconds may have been generous to A&M, judging by how long the ball seemed to float in the air.

Presumably, Verne and Bill thought they saw the ball hit the line immediately after it was knocked down, before it ever bounced. The replay seemed to indicate otherwise. Good call and even better game (what was shown in the Chicago market, at least).

Now go Vols.

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Jim Belushi


As if having Kansas as my national champ weren't reason enough to cheer for them, I just learned after the 12:00 TV timeout that Jim Belushi graduated from Southern Illinois.

Fuck. Jim. Belushi.

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I guess somebody had to say it

it's a shame it had to be Jamie Trecker, FoxSports.com's resident columnist who regularly writes some of the worst columns found on the internet. Today however, he's e-penned a pretty decent piece that frankly hits the nail on the head in assessing why women's sports will never catch on the United States to merely a "break-even"level, as well as the duplicity of the owners of the new Womens United Soccer Association, launching next year. (it folded in 2003. Did anyone notice?)


The owners and proponents of "WUSA II" say that it's for the kids, and while I don't agree with all of Trecker's points (specifically salaries of players as "exploitation"), he's absolutely right that the primary motive for the league's relaunch and the WNBA's existence is to serve stadium owners, not kids.

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Edible Barbaro

>> Wednesday

Thanks to the folks over at Deadspin for this laugh to end my day. Wow, people are just ridiculous. The funny thing is, the auction price has gone up 700% since Deadspin posted on it.

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Sports World Nostalgia: Khalid Reeves, John Wallace, Harold Arceneaux, Miles Simon, Hanno Mottola, Damon Key, Scoonie Penn, Damon / Toby Bailey, et al


We haven't done a SWN in a while, and the NCAA tourney is the perfect occasion to bust one out. Since I'm lazy, I'll do a one or two sentence blurb about each of the players listed in the title and encourage our readers to add any further memories of these players to the comments section.

Even more so, I encourage our readers reminisce about any other favorite forgotten college hoops stars. I especically encourage the participation of those readers who aren't so young as to absurdly consider stuff from the last ten years "nostalgic."

Khalid Reeves: Reeves was the other star guard, alongside Damon Stoudamire, on the 1994 Arizona Wildcats final four team. Though a member of "the Association" for a few years, the only thing I remember about his pro career was David Stern pronouncing his name "KHAL-id" on draft night.

John Wallace: Wallace was the star of the '95-'96 Syracuse squad that lost to the Delk- and 'Toine-led Kentucky Wildcats in the national championship game. The words "star" and "championship" would prove less applicable to his NBA career.

Harold "The Show" Arceneaux: Let's just copy and paste his player bio from the ABA's Utah Snowbears website: "The Show" is a two time Big Sky MVP and averaged 22 and 23 points per game respectively in 98-99 and 99-00 for the Wildcats. Arceneaux has been playing overseas, averaging 22 points per for Leiria most recently. Harold is best known for his NCAA Tournament showcase game versus North Carolina where he lit up the scoreboard for 36 points in an upset win for Weber State.

Miles Simon: The other guard besides Mike Bibby on the 1997 Arizona Wildcats national championship team. He helped screw everyone's bracket the next year when the 1-seeded 'Cats fell in the second round.

Hano Mottola: One of roughly eleven white players on the '97-'98 Utah Utes squad that lost to Kentucky in the national championship game, he was a fitting compliment to current NBAers Michael Doleac and Andre Miller. He also has an umlaut over one of the syllables in his name, but I forget which one. I think it's the first "o."

Damon Key: I had to mention at least one Marquette player from the Warriors era. Key was Jim McIlvaine's low post partner on the MU team that knocked off Jamal Mashburn's Kentucky Wildcats to reach the Sweet Sixteen in 1994. These days, Damon is a big tub of goo--I'd guess 300 pounds or so.

Scoonie Penn: Penn was Michael Redd's forgotten sidekick on the 1999 Ohio St. team that went to the Final Four. That team knocked off a St. John's team featuring Eric Barkley, who also almost made this list.

Damon Bailey: The quintessential Indiana point guard stereotype, Bailey was Calbert Cheaney's backcourt mate on the Indiana Hoosiers team that reached the Final Four in 1992--unoffically the year my most remote NCAA tourney memories begin. Needless to say, his game didn't--as they say--translate well to the pro game.

Toby Bailey: Though less famous than teammate Tyus Edney for lack of late-game heroics, Toby Bailey was truly the straw that stirred the drink on the 1995 UCLA Bruins national championship squad. Along with all his fellow '94-'95 starters (Edney, the O'Bannon boys, and George Zidek), Bailey currently plays in Europe.

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For Love of the Game

Well, we are still a long way from early retirement guys. This website currently has this domain's worth estimated at $99.

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Shameless Plug

One of the posters over at MUScoop linked over to us, so I figured it was high time to plug them. For the Marquette fans who read YCS, MUScoop is a relatively new Marquette Basketball message board and fan site that is for now free of all the drama and politics of the old MU boards. Sure, you'll find your usual angry and curmudgeonly fans, but for the most part, it's a great source of fan insight and discussion. I know that a lot of our own YCS'ers are members over there (I post with the handle Ahoya06), so I'm sure they would join me in recommending the site.

They also have an editable Wiki, with a wealth of information on past and present Marquette athletics, stuff about the University, and even a section on campus bars. I highly recommend reading the Real Chili section of the bars page, they have a recipe for the Chili which I tried, and it's pretty darn authentic.

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That reminds me of a classic Andrew Dice Clay joke.

>> Tuesday

I just learned that the Notre Dame women's basketball coach is named Muffet McGraw. If that doesn't beg for a dirty limerick--presumably one involving Pokey Chatman--I don't know what does. Readers--indulge us.

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What you talk about during NIT halftime shows

Doug Gottlieb must be bored. Tonight's halftime segment during the West Virginia-NC St. NIT game was a preview of the best position matchups in Doug's projected Elite Eight. To recap: That's a preview of one-on-one matchups for games that may never be played.

I now know that Wendell White vs. Corey Brewer would/may be a more intriguing matchup than Kevin Kruger vs. Taurean Green.

Thanks Doug! [Click.]

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Crean to somewhere else-I wouldn't blame him

While I perch myself up onto my high horse, at this point of his career I would not fault Tom Crean if he is searching for and takes another opportunity. With way too many members of Marquette's fanbase stuck in the 1970's, a surprisingly strong group of idiotic fans are trying to create momentum for Crean being on the perverbial hotseat. Forget the fact that Marquette was a middle of the pack Conference USA program when he took over. His lack of "postseason success" can not be tolerated for someone making so much money. Resisting overtures from strong programs like Arkansas, Illinois, Ohio State and Virginia means nothing. Playing a key role in building a start of the art sports facility like the Al McGuire Center, marketing the program extremely well, re-emphasizing the school's proud tradition, finshing in the upper division of the Big East in our first two years there: apparently not enough for fans who need their ego stroked so they can pimp their team during March Madness.

Now, with his strong relationship to Tom Izzo, I would be shocked if he takes the Michigan job. However, take away the Izzo factor and this position would look very desirable to me. A program with a strong tradition that sits in a fertile recruiting base. While the facilities may be lacking, he built a Final Four team that practiced in the Old Gym, not exactly the Taj Mahal. Plus, he was vital in building The Al. No reason he couldn't do the same and get Michigan a needed new practice facility.

This will likely be a moot point, since Crean has thankfully placed his roots in Milwaukee and embraced the Marquette program. However, many Marquette fans don't deserve a coach as good as Tom Crean.

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There's No Santa Claus

And in other earth shattering news, pro wrestlers use steroids.

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Dick Vitale: Not latently racist

Hey! Here's a video for you to watch. Hey! It's really good.

...Hey!

As if I were ever anything but completely impressed by Dick Vitale, I must say I'm even more so today after seeing this video. It's well-known that almost every arbitrary list of "unsung heroes" or "glue guys" finds itself disproportionately loaded with white players--particularly slow, short, or genarally untalented white players.

But Dickie V. doesn't take the bait. In fact, he goes the complete opposite direction, offering a list of exclusively black players, and in a few cases, putting their contributions alongside those of white stars (Aaron Gray, Tyler Hansbrough, Kevin Kruger). Most shockingly, the Delivery Man delivers with props for Wayne Chism, selecting him as Tennessee's standout role player over every announcer's boyfriend Dane Bradshaw.

Maybe Dick Vitale is just way more insightful than the usual lot of old blowhards. Or maybe this is a case of that "reverse racism" you always hear crazy people talking about.

Hey!

Hey!

...Hey!

... ... ...Hey!

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I'm pretty sure I wouldn't let my son compete in this...I mean, how much does it pay?



An example of exploitation at its finest: We bring you The Baby Bowl! Now, the Puppy Bowl brings me to the floor, grabbing my gut, every year (literally, that's not an exaggeration. I fall over laughing every year, especially during the Kitty halftime). But this...I'm really not sure if I should laugh or puke. And then I read that James Brown is commentating and my mind is made up. We're revisiting those chicken wings from earlier tonight.

The network to hate for this: the Discovery Health Channel, which seems contradictory, as this will surely ruin several boys' mental health for the rest of their lives.

If you're wondering about the agenda, here it is, according to the press release:

The Main Events include the Diaper Derby and Obstacle Course, Music and Dancing, Eating, Hoops and Balls, a Half-Time show and Finger-Painting. The Playroom Activities include blocks, mirrors, bubbles, textures, sandbox, water play, shapes and puzzles.

Your guess is as good as mine.

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The Bucks have a new coach...and he's ruining everything


This may seem like an overdue post on the firing of Terry Stotts, but I was awaiting the actual results of the change.

And, as a Milwaukee fan, I am not happy with them. Mainly, because I am blindly in love with Kevin Durant, and want him in Milwaukee.

Now beating San Antonio and ending their streak - that was a whole lot of fun, and notching a 'W' in your first game as a head coach is a nice start. But beating Charlotte on Saturday? Larry Krystowiak, you've gone too far. BRING STOTTS BACK! Stotts would have lost to the Hornets. Stotts would have taken a giant step forward towards the KG+ that is Kevin Durant.
Instead, Coach K is devoted to this thing called winning (I call it bad gambling) that is going to haunt him come lottery time.



(In all seriousness, I am ecstatic that Stotts-who could not coach a big man like Bogut-is gone. I am also serious that we should tank the rest of the season and try to get Durant. I mean, Al Horford and Julian Wright are nice and all...but, seriously, have you seen Durant?)

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