YCS in 2008: A not-so-flattering retrospective

>> Wednesday

So we've come to the end of the Year of Our Lord 2008, and boy, what a fantastic year it was! Just kidding--2008 was horrible. Political scandal, economic collapse, racial progress, the death of the great Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn... There's no two ways about it--2008 really sucked.

Admittedly, things haven't been going much better here at Yellow Chair Sports. Bucking the global trends, us YCS authors actually spent more time in the workplace in 2008 than in 2007, and when we haven't been working, we've been going to grad school, training for 10-K's, raising children, or in my case, launching a social networking site for DuPage County single Italian vegetarians. The result: infrequent, lazy posting and all-time low readership.

Excuses aside, we always came through with the timely reporting and clear analysis that you've all come to rely on. So without further ado, I give you the Best of YCS in 2008, a.k.a. Links to All of Vinnie's Posts and a Handful of Others from 2008.

Back in early January when the BBWAA was getting ready to rock the Hall of Fame vote, we discussed the credentials of one of its most hotly debated candidates.

The opening round of the NFL Playoffs was more thrilling than a helicopter ride through the Gaza strip.

How good were the 2007 Patriots? The answer lies in this simple and probably bogus statistical exercise.

A heartbreaking Packers loss in the NFC Championship gives us all a chance to reflect on losing.

It took more than 18 months, but we finally got to 100,000 hits.

In advance of the Super Bowl, we offered a few viewing tips to all the skirts and homos.

In soccer news, the EPL announces an ill-conceived plan to take games overseas.

After a thrilling Westminster Dog Show, we were treated to a guest post by the Best in Show.

All the baseball world waited in suspense for the transcript of the Clemens-McNamee testimony.

Societal epidemic du jour: fans rushing the field at professional sports events.

Societal epidemic du following jour: fans taunting athletes at collegiate sports events.

The tale of R.A. Dickey raisies an interesting question in the realm of sports medicine.

NFL offseason cuts sometimes make you scratch your head--especially if you've been in a coma for seven years.

Expansion of the MLS to Philadelphia: Good idea or bad idea? I wouldn't know because I probably didn't read this post, but it looks like Mike put a lot of effort into it.

Bar room discussion: What athletes of yesteryear would you have most liked to watch?

Every March, offices buzz with the sound of NCAA tourney smalltalk.

It was obvious from spring training that the Cubs' choice of Ryan Dempster in the starting rotation was the wrong one.

The confounding and memorable Tennessee Volunteers bow out of the NCAA tourney.

Even for the biggest college hoops junkies, sometimes the haul of the NCAA tourney is too much to handle.

The only thing certain about Indiana's choice for head basketball coach was his skin color.

In advance of MLB opening day, God dropped by to share some thoughts.

Everyone in Marquette nation had something to say about the departure of Tom Crean.

CBS would ultimately appease those lobbying to get Billy Packer fired.

Our college hoops expert evaluates the Buzz Williams hire.

The Pope desecrates hallowed sports ground with a bunch of tired one-liners.

A Bob Costas-hosted HBO segment got a lot of bloggers in a tizzy.

Nothing beats the splendor and excitement of the Kentucky Derby.

As a service to White Sox fans, we do some surrogate blogging for Hawk and D.J.

The NBA Draft Lottery outcome demonstrates the power of prayer over totally random physical events.

It was a sad day in Wisconsin when everyone's favorite Packer retired.

Not everyone wants instant replay in baseball.

Following a difficult few weeks, Tom Crean reassures the Indiana fanbase.

When the dust finally settled on the Democratic primary race, Dick Vitale offered his thoughts on Barack Obama's victory.

It was an exciting MLB ameteur draft for YCS, as one of our own (sort of) became a major leaguer.

YCS MLB Road Show: AT&T Park.

Candace Parker slams her way into WNBA history and into the heart of a very special fan.

Rumors that the Red Sox are eyeing George Costanza begin to circulate.

The Olympic Games in China were threatened by an environmental hazard.

Milwaukee rejoiced when the Brewers scored C.C. Sabathia.

Did any of 2008's MLB All-Stars make the most egregiously undeserving mandatory team representative all-time All-Star team?

Old, crotchety commentary: What ever happened to the good old days when people actually lived up to a contract?

The soccer hooligans invade.

YCS MLB Road Show: Wrigley Field.

Every season, NFL training camp is a time for feel-good stories.

Not everyone is equally impressed by Michael Phelps.

The Olympics are marred by perverts gawking at underage female gymnasts.

Baseball and softball are not the only Olympic sports that need to go.

The Olympic games inspire a Quixotic three-part attempt define the term sport.

The 2008 L.A. Angels of Anaheim challenge the merits of Pythagorean win-loss.

Daunte Culpepper reminds us why agents are a necessary evil.

Asian golfers are targeted by the racist LPGA.

Packers fans were challenged to let go of the past and accept Aaron Rogers as the future.

Francisco Rodriguez sets the all-time saves record, but it comes at a cost.

For the Brewers to win the Wild Card, they needed some help from the Cubs.

After an agonizing month of twists and turns, the Brewers finally clinched the Wild Card.

Despite all the promise of the 2008 season, it was more of the same in Chicago and Milwaukee.

Few were more excited about Tampa Bay's surprise World Series appearance than the folks at Ray's.

Game 5 of the World Series was an all-time classic, despite the umpiring crew's best attempts to ruin it.

The blog that inspired our own decided to call it quits.

The pressure-cooker NHL coaching environment is reinforced when Barry Melrose got fired.

Another season of Notre Dame football, another season of speculation about the security of the head coach.

The long arm of the MLB reaches India.

After an 0-11 start, an improbable losing streak ends.

Who should be the 2008 NFL MVP? Why not Chad Pennington.

And boom. There you have it--2008. We at YCS hope that 2009 brings better returns for everyone, and we hope to do our part by bringing you a more productive year of sports blogging. Then again, if we're all eating our boot leather on New Year's Eve 2009, don't come blaming us.


The lyrics to "Baby It's Cold Outside" are a lot less romantic if you interpret them as being about date rape

>> Tuesday

I really can't stay - Baby it's cold outside

I've got to go away - Baby it's cold outside

This evening has been - Been hoping that you'd drop in

So very nice - I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice

My mother will start to worry - Beautiful, what's your hurry

My father will be pacing the floor - Listen to the fireplace roar

So really I'd better scurry - Beautiful, please don't hurry

well Maybe just a half a drink more - Put some music on while I pour

The neighbors might think - Baby, it's bad out there

Say, what's in this drink - No cabs to be had out there

I wish I knew how - Your eyes are like starlight now

To break this spell - I'll take your hat, your hair looks swell

I ought to say no, no, no, sir - Mind if I move a little closer

At least I'm gonna say that I tried - What's the sense in hurting my pride

I really can't stay - Baby don't hold out

Ahh, but it's cold outside C'mon baby

I simply must go - Baby, it's cold outside

The answer is no - Ooh baby, it's cold outside

This welcome has been - I'm lucky that you dropped in

So nice and warm -- Look out the window at that storm

My sister will be suspicious - Man, your lips look so delicious

My brother will be there at the door - Waves upon a tropical shore

My maiden aunt's mind is vicious - Gosh your lips look delicious

Well maybe just a half a drink more - Never such a blizzard before

I've got to go home - Oh, baby, you'll freeze out there

Say, lend me your comb - It's up to your knees out there

You've really been grand - Your eyes are like starlight now

But don't you see - How can you do this thing to me

There's bound to be talk tomorrow - Making my life long sorrow

At least there will be plenty implied - If you caught pneumonia and died

I really can't stay - Get over that old out

Ahh, but it's cold outside

Baby it's cold outside

Brr its cold….It's cold out there

Cant you stay awhile longer baby

Well…..I really shouldn't...alright

Make it worth your while baby

Ahh, do that again….

Merry Christmas from YCS!


You Asked For It

>> Saturday

Because you asked for it in the comments of this YCS post , you get my commentary on this SI.com article detailing the raw deal that a number of graduating senior NCAA soccer players get upon entering the MLS Draft. On a side note, come visit YCS's token soccer writer as he brings live coverage of the 2009 MLS Draft on January 15th at the Edward Jones Dome/Convention Center in St. Louis, MO. And by "live coverage" I mean I'm skipping my Trial Ad class to drink beer all afternoon and heckle ESPN's lousy soccer commentators, and the players New England and Columbus draft with a Section 8 Chicago traveling contingent.

Basic summary
A select number of outstanding junior players are given a "Generation Adidas" tag. As an incentive to leave college early. These players get roster protection, and their salary does not count towards a team's limited salary cap. They tend to be the most talented junior players (past alums include Tim Howard (now with Everton), DaMarcus Beasley, Maurice Edu (both now with Rangers FC), and Jozy Altidore (now with Villareal). They are highly prized in the draft both for their already-shown talent, their young age and potential, and their inexpense.

Graduating seniors taken in the first round get roster protection, but the rest are usually signed to developmental contracts, usually making roughly the same salary as a minor-league baseball player.

The article says that this gives college players a raw deal, and is driving talented players who could be playing in MLS to comparable leagues overseas, such as Austria, Switzerland, and the Benelux and Scandinavian leagues., and recommends either roster protection, an increase in salary, or some combination of the two to encourage talented college players to enter MLS.

My take
The author seems to imply that a good college career should be a free pass for an MLS signing, but MLS is a league unlike others in the United States. The Draft has great importance for the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB because either 1.) That league is the most prominent, if not the only major league for top players to play in in the world, and/or 2.) the talent pools are drawn primarily from the ranks of college players, due to the sport being played only in one area of the world (North America).

MLS (and other soccer leagues) draw their players from all over the world. As such, NCAA draftees not only must be better players than their peers, but also better than some kid from El Salvador or Argentina or Ghana. While this hypothetical foreign player may not have played in the NCAA, he may have been playing professional soccer with his local club's development academy since he was 15.

MLS has also seen a shift towards ignoring the college game and raising their own talent levels through official team youth academies, where for example, DC United has their senior team, a U-23 team, a U-20 team and a U-18 team, all playing under the DC United badge. Soon, these will become attractive opportunities for young soccer players, which will place even less emphasis on the college game.

These factors of player development, combined with the economy which is already hurting sports leagues (although not MLS yet), combined with MLS's already-developing, but still tenuous financials, make it unlikely that we will see a change in roster-protection status, or increased salary among later-round NCAA draftees.


Someone's lying

>> Friday

I plucked this screenshot (the only thing my lazy ass posts anymore, in case you hadn't noticed) from a totally interesting espn.com story on sports' most conversation-provoking franchise, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Evidently, the SmarterThanPros.com test--like me--has an anti-Scottish bias, or Nate McLouth made the mistake of taking that test in the Dream Cafe. Either way, I'm totally smarter than Nate McLouth.


Wait, Really?

So I was just looking at something on ESPN.com and I saw that 12-0 Boise State (ranked #9 nationally) is going to be playing #11 TCU (10-2) in a bowl game this year. Sounds like an awesome game, right? Two reasonably prominent teams that played well this season. Then, something struck me a little funny.

Boise State and TCU will be squaring off in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. I'm sure this has been brought up before by people far more knowledgeable about college football than I, but seriously? Going undefeated gets you to the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl? Granted, it seems on paper like a decent game, with #11 and #9 playing against each other, but come on. A game that good deserves a much more prestigious sounding bowl game, or at least one with a lot more succinctness to it (also, is succinctness a word? Yes, I know, I have a degree in English. Shut up.).

For Christ's sake, if we're not going to have a playoff in college football, then we should at least have a law mandating that quality of competition be reflected in quality of bowl game name. Went 12-0 or 10-2? You get something like the Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl or Rose Bowl. Went 6-6 and just made a postseason game because there are a ridiculous amount of superfluous bowl games? Congratulations, assclowns, you're going to the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, the PapaJohns.com Bowl or the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Come on, people, it makes sense.

Anyway, congratulations on going undefeated, Boise State. Don't worry, The BCS totally works. Totally.


He Did It Again

>> Monday

Who is this guy?


Lock of the Week

>> Sunday

Sadly, my odds-defying winless streak went kaput last week, just three games shy of a perfect season. I overestimated J.P. Losman's abilities and the impact of the Toronto weather, and a win was the price I paid.

But wallowing in my regrets will get me nowhere. All I can do is pull myself up and try my best to make the most terrible picks I know how. So here goes another.

The same Miami Dolphins that bit me last week return home to play the improved 49ers, who are getting 6 points from the bookmakers. Chad Pennington may be the front-runner for NFL MLP, but I think the 49ers will rally around the loss of star running back Frank Gore and play inspired football. So if you're a Dolphins fan, look out because Samurai Mike's boys will stop 'em cold cold this week.

49ers (+6)
over the Dolphins--Book it!


Chad Pennington NFL MVP?

>> Friday

Yes, this may actually be a possibility and is not as far fetched as it seems it on the surface. Pennington ranks sixth in passer rating in the NFL, and three of the guys ahead of him (Rivers, Romo, and Brees) are likely leading teams that will miss the playoffs (with the Dolphins right in the thick of it in the AFC). Should the Dolphins get into the playoffs or even win the AFC East, Pennington would have a really compelling case. For all of the talk Matt Ryan has gotten as a potential MVP candidate (by a certain sports network and their concussed former running back), Pennington's cast of characters (Ronnie Brown one year removed from reconstructive knee surgery, Ricky Williams in his tenth re-incarnation, and a receiving core of Ted Ginn and Greg Camarillo) pales in comparison to Ryan's (a top running back in Michael Turner and the NFL's leader in receiving yards in Roddy White). As of now, Pennington probably ranks a distant third on my proverbial ballot behind Kurt Warner and the real Adrian Peterson. However, if the Dolphins make the playoffs and say the Vikings choke again and the Cards limp to the finish, Pennington deserves real consideration for an honor guys that were cut in training camp rarely receive.



>> Wednesday


AFL to Suspend Operations in 2009

Arena Football to announce by week's end that 2009 season will not be played./

In related news, 24 people demanding refund of season ticket deposits.


Women Be Crazy

>> Monday

From Deadspin comes an hilarious item only tangentially related to our posts about Rinku and Dinesh. Apparently, Dinesh runs a blog and posted this little nugget in response to gossip about him being "on the Babewatch" -

American women very dangerous and very crazy. I like only Indian woman. Dinesh and JB, Sir have been harrassing me about this BABEWATCH. I do not like the BABEWATCH.

Has this guy never seen a hack stand up comedian? Of course American women are crazy. They're women. And women be crazy.

My advice: stick to watching only the Indian sexy fucking women channel.


Lock of the Week

>> Sunday

With my season-long losing streak at 11(?), the pressure is mounting. Ask anyone who's ever stood behind me in line for a urinal in a crowded bathroom--I don't perform well under pressure. So excuse me if I'm getting a little nervous.

For this week's lock, I'm setting my sights north of the border to Toronto--home of the Argos, twelve-time Grey Cup champions, rumblin' bumblin' stumblin' etc. The Bills are a one-point favorite over the Dolphins, but they'll be without superstar quarterback Trent Edwards. Also, weather conditions will be brutally cold, which, according to history, should benefit the Mammals.

So get that bookie on the horn, stat. Dolphins (+1) over the Bills--It's a sure winner!


Fuck This Guy

>> Saturday

As one of the few members of the YCS family not in attendance at the Wisconsin/Marquette game (also: 61-58! Woo!), I was forced to watch the game in prehistoric (read: non HD) conditions at home on ESPN U. And as such, I was subjected to seeing the ShamWow commercial no less than 5 times. And with said commercial, of course, comes this guy:

God, I fucking hate this guy. And I also have some questions for him:

1. What's with the headset microphone? You're on a TV commercial. Don't they have like, boom mikes for that and shit?

2. Where do you get off having a faux-hawk on my TV?

3. The fuck's got you so excited about towels?

4. In the words of Pat, "You look absolutely awful."

Also, I'm not the only one that's noticed. Slate.com is also on to this joker's tricks and his horrendous Brooklyn-ish accent.

For this douche in all his glory, please freel free to watch the video below and then kill yourself.


Dial up the "Party" Line!

It's Official! The Chicago Blackhawks finally honored Steve Larmer (my Blackhawk hero) during their first "Heritage Night" of the season when the Hawks dismantled Gordon Bombay's Mighty Ducks Wednesday night.

As a key member of the heralded "Party Line" with Denis Savard and Al Secord, Larmer played in 891 consecutive games and recorded 923 points (406 goals).

Steve Larmer was one tough cookie who mixed his incredible durability with superior talent. Gretzky only wishes he could hold this dude's jock.


The Second OJ Trial

>> Friday

A few questions:

1. Why are we still seeing Ron Goldman's parents on TV? This case had nothing to do with them. Why were they even at the trial? They're psychotic. And where was Kato? I want his opinion.

2. Should OJ lose his place in the football HOF? Face it; this guy is now a convicted felon and should probably be stripped of every honor he's over owned. Pete Rose and Joe Jackson are banned from the greatest pro sport on the planet despite never being convicted for a crime, and OJ is still in the Hall. How riducoloso. I'm pretty sure he'll lose all those honors.

3. How much bad publicity can the NFL endure? I mean, the NFL is truly a league of criminals, and I'm honestly going to stop watching it. I'm not kidding. Michael Vick, Chris Henry, Pacman Jones, Plaxico Burress... etc, etc. It's disgusting. Please, let's all boycott the NFL this postseason. I'm really not kidding. Let's stick with sports untainted by corruption and rule-breaking, like college football (sic).

Anyways, those are my Andy Rooney-like thoughts of the day.


Go Midshipmen!

Looking today at the AP Top 25 College Hoops poll, and I don't know, something struck me a little funny...

Who the fuck voted for Navy?


Best all-time Google search referral--never, ever to be topped

I know I've treaded this ground many times before, but how could I ignore this one:

"Indian sexy fucking women channel"

Oh, and Zuch--before you waste your time, I already checked; Comcast doesn't offer it.


"Playerrrrrrrr," not "Playerzzzzzzzzzz-zuh-zuh-zuh"

This would be more appropriate for my (defunct?) Bad Poll blog, but since I've neglected the shit out of it, it goes here. Apparently, CBS Sportsline only counts offensive linemen as one-fifth of a man each:

If you ask me, the NFL MVP this year is Kyle Orton, Matt Forte, Lovie Smith, Staley the Bear, and Mike Ditka.


Leave Your Big 12 South Tiebreaker Proposals Here

>> Tuesday

I'll start.

- Rodeo. Put each team's starting QB on a bull. Longest time wins.

- H-O-R-S-E. Played with the kickers. "Alright, from 58 yards, with your LEFT foot, off the left upright...and in."

- Bake-off between the wives of the tied teams offensive coordinators.

- Wet T-shirt contest to be contested between each school's cheerleaders.

- Mascot boxing.

- Each head coach randomly placed in the wilderness with a map with directions to one gun with two bullets.

- Special appearnce on Jeopardy! or American Gladiators

- One game playoff, with all three teams on the field at the same time.


Retroactive Lock of the Week

Now that Matt has publicly called me out--not to mention guaranteed that I will be stalked by adoring female fans for the rest of my days--I feel the need to apologize for not posting a Lock of the Week. But come on--it was Thanksgiving weekend, for cripes sake. Sue a guy for wanting to spend time with his family during the holidays, why dontcha?

Oh, but here's the thing--I did make a pick, but I just never got around to posting it. And in case you don't believe me, I have a witness in Paul to back me up. So everyone pile in the Delorean and take a trip back to Thursday. Now go find your bookie, and say, "Larry--I'd like $100 on Seattle (+12), please!"

Now fast forward back to today, and hey--whatdya know? My streak continues! Suck it, Matt.


Asshole Blogger Blows Streak

>> Monday

What the fuck, Vinnie? For 12 straight weeks we've been sitting here watching you make some of the worst NFL picks in history, and all of a sudden you decide to take a break? Man, you suck. What, were you busy? Bullshit. Your job can wait. You've got terrible picks to make.


Charlie Weis: Keep Him or Can his Ass?

>> Sunday

For the most part, everyone on this blog loves to hate on Notre Dame. Maybe it is their insecure notions that Domers are somehow better than us Marquette(ers) or that Jesus allegedly wears an old school Lou Holtz sweater and cap during every game. But I am here asking my fellow bloggers whether Chuck Weis deserves to keep his job as head football coach. I will forward our decision to whomever it may concern at Notre Dame.

The Case Against Charlie "Chuck" Weis:
- Charlie Weis is 28-21 (.571) record in four years as head coach while his predecessors Bob Davie (35-25) and Ty Willingham (21-15) had higher winning percentages during their tenure.
- You lost to Navy, Syracuse, and a bunch of other shitty teams.
- You lost by a combined score of 76-3 to USC the past two years.
- You have only beaten one top 25 team in four years (Penn State 2005)
- Your best seasons were with another coaches players.
- You look absolutely awful.

The Case For Charlie Weis:
Two straight top recruiting classes with another coming.
- The last two seasons were played with a ton of young players.
- Despite a 6-6 record this year, the team showed marked improvement despite what the critics have mentioned.
- What available coach would be a better option (Other than Lou Holtz)
- You have Joe Montana Jr on your bench.

I would opt to keep Charlie Weis for one more season. If he is unable to win at least 9 games with their ridiculously easy schedule then he deserves to be canned. But what do you think?


2008 YCS Hall of Fame Nominee: Michael Phelps

Congratulations Mr. Michael Phelps! You have not only earned a chance to become a distinguished member of the YCS Hall of Fame, but you have won the respect and admiration of every gentleman that writes for this blog.

According to sources, Michael Phelps surprised his mom this Thanksgiving by bringing home a tattooed, Vegas strip-club waitress who apparently has barred more assets than her significant other. Caroline Pal, 26, apparently is a cover girl for XXX website "Beverly Hills Pimps and Hos."

We aren't sure how things panned out over the weekend, but one thing's for sure: she can cover as many laps as he!


Coming to theaters everywhere March 2012...

>> Tuesday

V/O: From the people who brought you The Gameplan...

[shot of a young Indian man throwing javelin]

V/O: ...comes the story of two teenagers out to make a fortune...

Dinesh [reading a newspaper ad]: "...one million dollars..."

V/O: ...brought together by a contest...

TV Announcer: We welcome you to the final round of Million Dollar Arm...

[alternating shots of Dinesh and Rinku throwing baseballs and a radar gun lighting up]

V/O: ...that would take them on an improbable journey all the way to the major leagues.

MLB Scout: Boys... How would you like to come to America and pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates?

[Rinku and Dinesh turn to each other stunned]


Dinesh's mother: Oh, son. We'll miss you so much!

Dinesh's father: You'll make us proud, son!

Dinesh [climbing into a cab]: I won't let you down!


Dinesh: What is this?

American baseball farmhand: Wait... You don't know what a baseball glove is?

[cut to Dinesh trying to catch a soft toss and getting hit in the stomach and doubling over]

Dinesh [catching breath]: I'm okay!


Minor league manager: Where the heck did we get these guys?

[cut to Rinku flailing awkwardly in a batting practice cage and Dinesh bouncing a very wild pitch]

Assistant coach played by George Wendt: This isn't cricket, son!


Announcer played by Eugene Levy: That's another walk for Patel, and it looks like he's headed for an early shower [covering mic] ...back in India I hope.


[shot of Rinku spinning around to watch a homerun fly out of the park]

Announcer: Another gopher ball, and the Hillcats trail 6-2.


V/O: But hard times would test their will and form a bond that would last a lifetime.

[sad music]

Rinku: Dinesh--We can't give up now after we've gone this far. What about your mother and father?

Dinesh: You're right. We're both going to make it... Together.

[Dinesh and Rinku fist-pound and clasp hands]


Hey now
You're an all-star
Get you're game on
Go, play...

Announcer: Another strikeout for Singh! And that's ten on the afternoon!... [] ... Swing and a miss, strike three! Patel put some curry on that one!

All that glimmers is gold...

[collage of Dinesh pumping his fist, Rinku clicking his heels on a sprint off the mound, the bumping chests in the dugout, clubbing with teammates and beutiful women, carousing on the team bus]

Karl Ravech: Welcome back to Baseball Tonight. We have late breaking news that the Pirates have called up top pitching prospects Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel...


PA announcer: Now entering... for the Pirates... number 68... Dinesh... Patel... [shot of packed PNC Park crowd screaming and waving Indian flags]


V/O: They started out as two teenagers from tiny Indian villages and ended up an international sensation.

[shot of a crowd of Indian people around a tiny rabbit-ears TV watching a Pirates game]

Old Indian woman stereotype wearing a Pirates hat: Go Pitts-burgh Pi-rates!

[collage of Dinesh and Rinku on a billboard, disembarking a plane to a crowd of screaming Indian people waving Indian flags and Pirates banners, posing with Bud Selig, cutting tape for the Singh-Patel Indian Baseball Academy, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, getting mobbed by autograph seekers]

V/O: From Walt Disney Pictures... It's the true story of Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, the first Indian-born players in American professional sports... Kal Penn stars in... Indian Summer.


Zuch, your dream job as arrived!

Get that resume out!

As for the student newspaper requirement, I think that the quality of YCS is at least the equal of any student-rag in the country.

HT: Friend of YCS Scotty


Lock of the Week

>> Sunday

Back in the good old days when Deion Sanders was hawking hot dog cookers on infomercials, the 49ers vs. Cowboys was the hottest game on the NFL schedule every year. This year, not quite.

So to to add a little intrigue to this matchup, I'm putting my incredible Lock of the Week winless streak on this game--more specifically, the Niners, who are 9.5-point underdogs. Not only will they keep this one close, but they'll send the Cowboys back into turmoil and Tony Romo back to the hospital.

49ers (+9.5) over the Cowboys. Book it!


Mercifully Short MLS Cup Final Preview

I'm leaning heavily on video this post. Largley because a picture tells a thousand words, so at 24 frames per second, video tells 24,000 words per second, much faster than I could ever hope to type here 10 days before finals. So since I'm way behind on my outlines I'll make this quick. Yes, I screwed up in my regular season and Cup Playoffs picks, continuing this blog's fine record of gambling accuracy. My predicted Houston-Chicago final did not pan out and instead we are left with a boxing-match-style game between New York and Columbus; or as Don King or some other promoter would likely put it "Lucky vs. Good."

Both teams are going for their first MLS Cup title ever. For New York, they're going for their first-ever trophy in any competition.

Columbus was the best team in the league all season. They had the best record, best goal differential, and second-best goals-against average. They boast the MVP (Guillermo Barros Schelotto), Coach of the Year (Sigi Schmid), Defender of the Year (Chad Marshall), and Goalkeeper of the Year runner-up (Will Hesmer).

New York snuck into the playoffs on the last day of the season because DC United hit the post 4 times against Columbus; enabling RBNY to qualify. New York managed a tie against Houston at home, then for 90 minutes in Houston played the game of their lives while the defending champs laid an egg. In the semifinals, New York won 1-0 because RSL hit the post 3 times.

So Columbus is by far the better team, but would you rather be lucky or good? Here's a look back on some past great MLS Cup Final moments.


Actual items

>> Friday

Actual items I came across this ad for Yahoo! Search on Weather Underground, and, I don't know, I just found the sample search in the box to be sort of... random.
Not "barack obama" or "holiday recipes" or "homemade artillery"? But "braylon edwards"?




>> Thursday

As you may have heard or seen, it looks like Mike Mussina is calling it a career after 18 years in the bigs. Mussina was a solid pitcher for his entire tenure with New York and Baltimore, but is probably the definition of a borderline Hall of Famer. He made 5 All-Star teams, never won a Cy Young and didn't pitch on any World Champion teams. Still, the numbers compare solidly to some of the guys already in the hall, so it's anybody's guess as to whether he'll make it.

The best analysis of his retirement and HOF candidacy that I've seen comes from Craig Calcaterra of Shysterball, who perfectly captured the idiotic guidelines many BBWAA voters use to determine hall of fame credentials:

As I wrote at the end of the season, it's probably a good political move for him to hang it up, because whereas never having won 20 could have been an irrational liability for his Hall of Fame chances, winning 20 in his last season may be an irrational asset. Now, instead of knocking him for not having attained a rather arbitrary milestone, the writers will credit Mussina for having achieved an arbitrary milestone, all because Xavier Nady hit a three run homer off of Matsuzaka in the fourth inning of a meaningless game on the last day of the season.


Is it just me? Or Does Coach Buzz kinda look...

>> Wednesday


The Post Where I Call Donovan McNabb an Idiot

>> Monday

Oh, Donovan. I think you're a pretty good quarterback and all, but gat damn son, keep your mouth shut when discussing the intricacies of the NFL rulebook.

"I didn't know that," said McNabb, who played a leading role in keeping it tied. "I've never been part of a tie. I never even knew it was in the rule book. I was looking forward to getting the opportunity to get out there and try to drive to win the game. But unfortunately with the rules, we settled with a tie."

You seriously didn't know that NFL regular season games can end in a tie? What the fuck, man? Weren't you in the league in 2002, the last time there was a tie? Pay attention!

Then, your dumb ass goes on to talk about how you'd hate to see what happens when there's a tie in the playoffs or the Super Bowl. News flash, Donny: NFL playoff games don't end in a tie. The percentage of people who don't know that is probably smaller than the percentage of fucktards that don't know that regular season games can end in a tie. Jesus Christ. You have a helmet for a reason, wear it.

Also - I know a big part of this whole thing is that it's ridiculous that there are still ties in the NFL, and to an extent, I agree. But, I do like the tie in situations like this because it places a big "RETARD" stamp on the collective foreheads of each team for failing to put a point on the board during OT. I mean, come on. Even the Lions could have scratched out a field goal or something, maybe.

Now, because this debate will be raging throughout the nation for the next...day or so, I need to get my hat into the ring. I know a lot of people don't like the NFL OT because it gives the appearance of settling things on a coin flip. Sure, I'll go with that. I, on the other hand, don't think the college system is perfect either, because this "let's start at the 25" bullshit isn't real football. I want a battle for field position, dammit. Also, it seems a little bit too much like the NHL in which tie games are settled with a skills competition that doesn't really tell you who the best team is. Granted, NHL shootouts and college overtimes are fun and pretty entertaining, but in the end I'm always left feeling a bit unsatisfied with the result.

My solution: simplicity, motherfuckers. Borrow a page from the NBA and just play another, shorter period with the same rules. Why aren't we doing this already? Just play one 5 minute (or 10 minute or 7 minute or whatever) period. Coinflip to determine possession, each team gets two timeouts, no coaches challenges, play to the whistle. If the game's still tied at the end of the first OT, then we go to sudden death. This way, both teams are guaranteed at least one offensive possession and probably more. And there are no ties. And special teams and field position actually matter. Put it in the rulebooks, bitches.


Lock of the Week

>> Sunday

Last week I tried to end (read: prolong) my improbable losing streak by putting my faith in the winless Detroit Lions beating the Jaguars. That one didn't work out so good.

So this week, I'm doing the opposite. I'm banking on the one remaining undefeated team, the Tennessee Titans, to falter in Jacksonville. The Jags are getting three points in a game that I think they'll win outright.

If you see any conceivable reason to take my gambling advice at this point, put your paycheck on the Jaguars (+3) over the Titans.


Set my fantasy football line-up this week

>> Friday

Who the hell do I start? Marshall and Fitzgerald are locks, but who else to start? Hey, help me out. I'm your punching bag in the YCS-dominated "House of Warriors" league.


The NHL Will Chew Your Ass Up And Spit You The Fuck Out

Is it just me, or does the NHL provide the absolute worst job security of any league in the world? Take our latest example, Tampa Bay Lightning Coach and mullet enthusiast Barry Melrose, fired today after just 16 games on the bench.

I always liked Melrose on ESPN. He seemed to be a good Dickie V-like ambassador for the game, displaying an enthusiasm and understanding for the game that made him extremely accessible and enjoyable in the vein of guys like Cris Collinsworth and Ron Jaworski.

Now, admittedly I don't know my ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to hockey, but it seems to me that coaches are fired at an 80's-Steinbrenner pace in that league. I mean, failure to meet expectations is one thing, but even Al Davis thinks it's a bit premature to get rid of your coach so early in his tenure.

So what's the deal? Is the atmosphere in an NHL dressing room like fucking Boiler Room? Just win or get the fuck out! Win! Win now! (Ok, I'll admit that this comparison comes because I saw Boiler Room for the first time yesterday. It was alright, although a little bit overrated and seemed as if it was intended to appeal to the Entourage crowd. If you want a better movie with a similar premise, watch Glengarry Glen Ross. It's funnier, the acting's better [like, immensely better], and the storytelling and character arcs are more clearly defined and well-developed. With less than half the screen time, Alec Baldwin does in Glengarry Glen Ross what Ben Affleck tries desperately to emulate in Boiler Room with far more effect and resonance. The bright spot in Boiler Room is Giovanni Ribisi, a solid actor who's role selection [Gone in 60 Seconds, Basic, The Gift, The Mod Squad] leaves a lot to be desired. In a limited leading role or as part of a talented ensemble, though [think Saving Private Ryan where he plays the platoon's medic], the kid can still bring the goods.)

So...uh...yeah. Why do NHL coaches get fired so frequently?


The End Of An Era

>> Thursday

All kidding aside, I was deeply saddened to learn today that the boys from Fire Joe Morgan are hanging it up. Anyone who knows Vinnie and I are fully aware that this lame site started only because of our admiration for KT, Dak and Junior and we owe them everything we have (nothing). Though it's going to make baseball season a lot less fun, all of us at Yellow Chair Sports wish the guys at FJM the best of luck with their future projects. Man, this sucks.


The only coaching staff that would appease the Notre Dame faithful

Head Coach
Knute Rockne's re-animated corpse

Offensive Coordinator
Mike Leach

Defensive Coordinator
Monte Kiffin

Quarterback Coach
Joe Montana

Special Teams Coach
Genie in a lamp

Head Trainer
Dr. James Andrews

Team Doctor

Speical Consultant
Stephen Hawking

Team Chaplain
Jesus T. Christ

Recruiting Director
Paul Hornung

Dean of Student Athletes
Helen Keller


Mike's End-Of-Season MLS Awards

>> Wednesday

We've been at a dearth of material recently, and history of this 2 1/2 year old blog has shown that nothing gets the creative juices firing like a soccer post. After a soccer post, seemingly every other staff member pens something to knock the beautiful game off the top of the patch, so let's get at it.

With the Cup Semifinals this weekend, now's the best time for my end-of-season MLS awards. I'll award some of the awards MLS does, along with some of my own superlatives.

MVP: Juan Pablo Angel, Red Bull New York

While his statline (14 G, 3A) may not be impressive as Golden Boot Winner Landon Donovan's (20 G, 9 A), this belies the way in which Angel has singlehandedly taken New York on his back and led them to the final four. One in every three goals scored by New York this regular season (and playoffs) has been scored by Angel. Without him, the Red Bulls are nothing. With him, they are one win from their first-ever MLS Cup Final.

Most Outstanding Player: Landon Donovan, LA Galaxy

You can't say much about Donovan's play this year because it speaks for itself. What makes Donovan's Golden Boot title all the more impressive is that Donovan played 5 fewer games than his closest competitor (FC Dallas' Kenny Cooper) and STILL managed to beat him by two goals to win the scoring title. Donovan did this all while playing on arguably the worst team in the league. Donovan is presently training (or perhaps on a 10-day trial?) with German superclub Bayern Munich. If he jumps ship I would not be surprised.

Newcomer of the Year: Darren Huckerby, San Jose Earthquakes

Coming over from English side Norwich City in midseason, Huckerby rejuvinated the playoff aspirations of the Earthquakes. Without Huckerby it would have been a sad, lonely second half of the season in Northern California.

Goalkeeper of the Year: Joe Cannon, San Jose Earthquakes

Cannon's return to his former club gave them at least a fighting chance. While this award ended up going to Jon Busch of the Chicago Fire, I have to give it to Cannon. As a former keeper myself, I know that most keepers are only as good as the 10 men in front of them. Without taking anything away from the great season Busch has had, he has a top flight backline of Conde, Soumare, Segares, and Prideaux in front of him, along with a tenacious midfield. Cannon had NOTHING in front of him. One of the worst teams in the league, San Jose surrendered more shots than any other team. Yet Cannon only allowed 4 more goals on the season than Busch. Cannon posted a respectable 1.27 GAA, and finished fourth in the league in shutouts with 9. It should be noted that the three keepers who finished above Cannon in shutouts this season were all on playoff teams (Kevin Hartmann, Kansas City; Will Hesmer, Columbus; Jon Busch, Chicago).

Supporters Section of the Year: Section 8 Chicago, Chicago Fire

Sure, level all the homer accusations that you want, but the bottom line is this season Section 8 doubled in size, sent sizeable away contingents (20 or more fans) to Columbus (twice), San Jose, Kansas City (twice), New York, Toronto, New England, Colorado, and Salt Lake. That's more than even the vaunted Red Patch Boys of Toronto FC, who sure, brought 2,000 to Columbus and another couple hundred to Chicago, but were otherwise nearly invisible this season aside from some small trips to New England and New York. The Fire's playoff game against New England featured nearly 1800 screaming Fire fanatics in Section 8 yelling for 90 minutes. Flares, smoke, and new, more complex tifo displays brought a continental European atmosphere to Toyota Park, and reminded the suits at MLS what a big game is supposed to, and can look like given the proper environment. On that front, few organizations have had to face what Section 8 has had in the past year. Deaths of members, dicking over from the Fire front office at every turn, racist abuse and instigation by stadium security, etc. The group holds a banner at each game reading "Per Infinitas Incendida" which roughly translates as "Forever through the flames," and Section 8 has done just that.

Honorable mention: El Battallon/Texian Army, Houston Dynamo

Most Improved Supporters Section: Nordecke, Columbus Crew

Sure, for years when the Crew were terrible, everyone loved to rag on Columbus. They were a soccer mom town with only a few fans who were generally viewed as the laughingstock of the league. They have shed that label and while not yet in the company of Chicago, Toronto, DC, and Houston, Columbus is charging up the ladder and is an away trip to be reckoned with. The removal of seats at Crew Stadium consolidated the supporters groups and forced them to work past their various differences (seating preference, language, etc.). In many ways, this is the model of Section 8. Columbus mounted their first large-scale away trip in recent memory by sending a couple hundred fans to Chicago after the Fire sent a couple hundred fans to Ohio over 4th-of-July weekend.

Honorable mention: Loyalists, Real Salt Lake; Empire Supporters Club, Red Bull New York

Biggest Disappointment: DC United's South American cadre
In my preview piece, I boldly predicted that DC United would be the first team to win the Supporters Shield 3 years in a row. They finished 9th and failed to make the playoffs. Their vaunted South American signings from Argentina, Peru, and all other corners of the continent proved to be largely ineffective due to underperformance and injuries.

Honorable Mention: MLS Teams' performance in the CONCACAF Champions League.
DC United finished last in the group stages. New England and Chivas USA lost in the qualifying round to teams from Trinidad and Panama respectively. Only Houston has a chance to advance beyond the group stages.

Goal of the Year: Hard to vote against Cuauhtemoc Blanco's 35-yard blast against DC United.

Honorable mention: Danny Cepero, Red Bull New York for being the first Goalkeeper to ever score a goal in MLS.


Fuckity fuck fuck

>> Sunday

“Profanity is the common crutch of the conversational cripple.”
-David Keuck

Jeez, you guys. Way to bring down the level of discourse.


Fucking Mason Fucking Crosby.

That's all.


Fuck The Harbaugh Family

The tanned member of the family decided to play a cruel April Fools Day on the beloved alma mater. Now, the previously lesser known brother John decides to fuck with fantasy owners with his rotate a running back shit in Baltimoe (I mean, do I sound bitter that I left Willis McGahee's 112 yards and 2 TD's on the bench). So as a Willis McGahee fantasy owner and Marquette alum, I wish the Harbaughs many years of sitting on the hot seat and uncertainity about future employment (and hope that they decided to invest a lot of their money in American motor companies).


Lock of the Week

I'm winless through nine weeks; the Lions are winless through nine weeks. So it's only appropriate that we should change our fortunes together on this Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome Feast Day.

The Lions are getting 6.5 points against the disappointing Jaguars, led by cokehead and homophobe Matt Jones. The Lions will start the unretired Daunte Culpepper, whom I immediately expect to play like he did in 2000.

Starting today, I never get a pick wrong. Lions (+6.5) over the Jaguars--book it!


We're Getting the Olympics

>> Wednesday

Upon Barack Obama's election, one of my first thoughts was "Well, there's no way Chicago isn't getting the Olympics now."

Seems the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee agrees with me.

Tokyo, Chicago, Rio de Janiero, and Madrid are the finalists. The selection of the 2016 host city occurs in 11 months.

U-S-A! U-S-A!


New York Sports Fans Live Up To Every Stereotype You Ever Thought About Them

>> Tuesday

Deadspin linked to this article in the NY Post today about Derek Jeter being named the worst fielder at any position in the majors last year by the 2008 Fielding Bible. For those not named Vinnie, I'll let Bill James explain what the Fielding Bible is:

"They watched film of every major-league game, and had recorded every ball off the bat by the direction in which it was hit [the vector], the type of hit [groundball, flyball, line-drive, popup, etc.] and by how hard the ball was hit [softly hit, medium, hard hit]," according to James.

So, yeah. According to that system (which seems about as good, if not better than any other way of measuring defensive value), Derek Jeter's defense sucks. But, if you've been listening to me, Vinne or Zuch, you knew that already. The best part of this whole thing is the comments on the Post site from New Yorkers being exactly who and what you assumed they were. Some highlights:

BIG: Anyone who watches Baseball knows that this is the most ludicrous statement every posted by the Kings of ludicrous statements the pathetic NY Post. These cockroaches will doing anything to get people to read their 3rd grade level rag. If by chance you do think Derek Jeter is the worst fielder in Baseball than you are a pathetic, envious fool.


Go figure: Scouting the defensive abilities of any player takes a scout's eye, not some computer geek looking at some model on his laptop. There are so many different factors that go into determining how " good " a player is on defense that these " experts " wouldn't know if it smacked them in their pocket protectors.

For more of...that, click on the link and scroll to the bottom.


>> Monday


Congratulations to the Phillies, and one Phillie in particular

>> Thursday

Yes, yes, I'm glad to see the Phillies won and all that, and hooray for them breaking their 25 yearlong championship draught. But in reality, come on, it's not that long of a draught. Call me when it takes you 26 years just to get back to the playoffs. Assholes.

But, in all seriousness, I'd like to extend my wholehearted congratulations to Geoff Jenkins, a guy who suffered through some awful seasons here in Milwaukee and finally got the ring he deserved (and a bitchin' double to kick off the game last night). Always a class act in Brewtown and beloved for, if nothing else, looking like Brett Favre, here's a big mazeltov! to you, Jenks.


Sexy Super School Action News

Ok, so I know a lot of bad stuff has happened in the past during spontaneous sports-related celebrations in major cities. I remember some pretty ugly scenes on the Channel 5 news after the Bulls won in '92, and of course, there was this:

So it would only make sense that Philadelphia, home of the country's most ruthless and perpetually agitated fans, would turn into Tiananmen Square after the Phillies won, right? Well, apparently Frank Fitzpatrick of the Philadelphia Enquirer assumed so. Unfortunately for Frank, that never happened, and he was left with a punchless article that lazily attributes all bad fan behavior to beer sales.

Last night, in the cold weather and hot anticipation that preceded the resumption of Game 5, I counted the number of places where you could buy beer along the main concourse at Citizens Bank Park.

I stopped at 47. (By the way, there were two places selling books. What does that say about sports fans?)

It says that they don't go to a baseball game to read a fucking book, nor should they. I bet you also didn't see any science exhibits or acupuncturists because these would also be extremely out-of-place at a ballpark. The fact that there actually were two book stores baffles me enough.

So how would the proximity of all that beer to all those agitated people impact a postgame celebration that followed the Phillies World Series clincher?

Probably the best we could hope for was that the behavior of the city's fans had improved since Saturday.

What follows is a short list of unrelated incidents at Saturday's Flyers, Phillies, and Penn St. games that have nothing to do with last night's events, which entailed "nothing close to a riot," according to the New York Times article. And then we get...

Gee, I wonder if there's a common denominators here?

Let me guess--beer sales. You're gonna use the most overplayed, unsubstantiated scapegoat for poor fan behavior because you'd rather get mad about something bad that never happened than do any research as to whether or not criminal activity at sporting events correlates at all to liquor sale policies.

If you guessed beer, you win a week's vacation in Nome with Bud Selig's three meteorologists. Still, the likelihood that we'll ever see a sensible beer policy in pro sports or on college campuses is akin to that of Joe Paterno winning the 2009 New York City Marathon.

Typical Irishman--blaming all of society's ills on "the drink." And he takes a low blow at an old Italian guy in the process. I'm taking this out on you, Pat.

My point is: This article was obviously written in advance of events that never occurred, with the cause of said phantom events predetermined by the author. This is, my friends, very lazy journalism.

And now for a very different take from our YCS Philadelphia correspondent (i.e. the only person I know in Philly):

i have never seen anything like that! broad st. (chicago correlate: michigan avenue /maybe chicago ave.) was just flooded with so many drunken people...so many, and soooo drunk. the cops were terrified, and cars were barreling down sidestreets with all windows down and horns permanently honking. an opportunist could have robbed anyone in town not on broad street since all the cops were trying to manage a minor riot there. we also didnt have to obey any traffic laws for like 45 minutes, and honked liberally at all pedestrians, whose scowls softened as long as we raised our fists in solidarity after. awesm display. very memorable.

Team wins championship; fans get excited. Only at YCS can you find this kind of scoop.


A few closing thoughts on the 2008 World Series of Professional Baseball

>> Wednesday

Roman numeral one:
Expect Joe Maddon to be the latest manager / GM / player to unfairly serve as the face for the un-truism that analytical, bookish-looking guys can't win the big one. That probably won't happen after this season considering all the genius points he scored from the Rays' drastic improvement, but if the Rays go down in the LDS the next two years, there will no doubt be those calling for the ghost of Gene Mauch to replace him. Having said that, please do not keep tabs on this absurdly hypothetical and needless prediction.

Roman numeral two:
I think it's kinda funny how fans of a certain baseball team that plays near my house slumped into pathetic self-pity in the fifth inning of the first game of the LDS when things got slippy, but the Phillies fans never wavered in Game 5--not even while getting drenched and watching their stud ace give up a lead in an inning that should have never started in a clinching game of the World Series. Granted, this is the most unfair and slanted comparison ever, but I think my point still stands.

Roman numeral three (the long one):
Here's a shock--The World Series got low ratings. I get on this soapbox at least once a year, but here it goes again:

I will always find it hilarious / ironic / sad social commentary that approximately everyone cares about the outcome of the baseball season--especially their own team's fate--but precisely no one cares to watch the freaking game. Call me old fashioned, but to me if people don't care to watch the most critical games played by the best (loosely speaking) players of a sport that they profess to love, they're imposters who are only in it for that moment when they can circle-jerk around a pile of World Series Champions t-shirts with the home team's colors on it.

And if anyone cares, it's on that high horse where I stand up for the old-school curmudgeons who detest the analysis-obsessed Nate Silver wannabes, even though I'm fascinated by the actuarial perspective of baseball. As freely as we create and rip apart fan stereotypes like the reactionary old man, drunken blowhard, and rah-rah fratboy**, I would just as well ally myself with them as with the pompous speculator who'll never understand why I turn to Youtube clips of anything baseball-related to pull me through depressing winter nights or why I visit ballparks.com and fantasize about watching a game at Shibe Park. Whether it's the loudly ignorant or the smugly detatched, I don't appreciate phonies hijacking the game that people like Bob Costas and me worship like nine year-olds.

Being a supporter of a team alone does not make you emotionally invested in the sport. It's not quite total crap, but it's next to crap. If your computer desktop is a picture of Ryan Howard, but you didn't watch any of last year's Series, you might as well be flushed out the universe.

Rant over.

**Tangential rant: Can we please can the term "fratboy" as code for "shallow," "simple-minded," "boorish," etc.? This is such a tired and horrible cliche which has persisted mostly because the types of people who take time to criticize the use of cliches are the same who enjoy using this term to elevate their intellectual cred. Neil Armstrong--first man on the moon Neil Armstrong--was a "fratboy," okay? I know this fact because my cousin is an alumnus of the same fraternity and drops this into conversation liberally. The point is--I think we all know some very intelligent, articulate, perceptive people who belong or have belonged to a fraternity. So let's cut this shit already. If you're gonna be condescending (which I fully condone), at least don't be so lazy about it. Or at least don't use a term that screams, "I still haven't gotten over being bullied as a kid." Jesus.

Tangential rant over.


Tim Welke's idea of a playable field

>> Tuesday

Crew chief Tim Welke said the game continued into the sixth inning because the pitcher's mound and batter's box were in good shape.

"The pitchers weren't falling off the mound and the batters weren't slipping."

No... It was just like FUCKING WOODSTOCK on the basepaths.



True Philly fans don't leave early

"Come on, dad! It's been fourteen hours!"

"For the last time, we're waiting this out!"

"But dad... We're the only ones left."

"That means we're the only true Philly fans left in this town."

"Yeah, but..."

"Listen--If we'd have left when they pulled on the tarp and we'd missed the end of the game, you would never forgive me, and I'd never forgive myself."

"Fifteen different friends have texted me saying that the game was officially suspended and probably won't resume until Wednesday."

"Good, we'll wait 'til then."

"But dad! I'm freezing!"

"It builds character."

"I think I'm getting pneumonia."

"No you're not."

"Why couldn't I have at least worn a jacket?"

"A true Philly fan doesn't hide his colors--not for warmth, not for shelter from the rain..."

"It's 35 motherfucking degrees out here!"

"You don't talk to your father that way!"

"If I die, you're going to jail."

"Not if there's a single Phillies or Eagles fan on that jury. Now quit your bellyaching."

"I'm moving in with Uncle Tom and Aunt Mary."

"Fine, you do that."

"Good. I will."

"Now where's that peanut vendor?"

"He's gone. Like everyone else."

"No he's not. I just saw him back to our left there a minute ago."

"That was 16 hours ago. You're hallucinating."

"No I'm not. You stay here. I'm gonna go find him."

"Good. That'll give me time to call the DCFS."

"If you call anyone, you don't go to college."

"Fine. I'll join the army."

"Fine. You call then."

"Fine. I will."





The Round Mound of Economic Rebound

As reported by everynewssourceeverywhere.com, Charles Barkley told CNN's Campbell Brown last night that he plans to run for governor of Alabama in 2014.

Of course, this is news because Barkley has never, ever shared such aspirations in the past. Though in fairness to Barkley, this is--to my knowledge--the first time that he's outright said he will run for governor in a specific year, and 2014 will also be the first time in his life that he will be eligible to run under Alabama law.

While I've always respected Barkley's social consciousness and candid nature--both of which are rare among pro athletes--I'd be kinda sorta maybe be concerned about having a governor who's gambled away $10 million of his savings and whose categorical assessment of any given thing is limited to "fantastic" or "tuhrrible."


Awful MLS Cup Predictions. Don't Even Bother.

>> Sunday

Between the spliced-up video and the new horriffically bad predictions, I have to fess up to my pre-season picks.

Mike's Predicted 2008 Eastern Conference Finish
DC United, New England, Chicago, Kansas City, New York, Toronto, Columbus

Actual Eastern Conference Finish
Columbus, Chicago, New England, Kansas City, New York, DC United, Toronto

Mike's Predicted 2008 Western Conference Finish
Houston, CD Chivas USA, Los Angeles, Colorado, FC Dallas, Salt Lake, San Jose

Actual 2008 Western Conference Finish
Houston, CD Chivas USA, Salt Lake, Colorado, FC Dallas, Los Angeles, San Jose

So in retrospect, my picks weren't TERRIBLE per se. I picked 7 out of 14 positions exactly and was off by one for three more. However, the shame of picking Columbus to finish in last, and then having them turn around and finish with the league's best record has a bit of a sting attached. I also picked 6 of the 8 playoff teams. Only Columbus and Salt Lake surprised.

So it's time once again for my annual horrifically wrong MLS Cup Playoff projections. Four quarterfinal series will kick off Thursday, with the marquee series being Chicago against New England. The first round is a two game, home and home total goals series. The away goals rule is not used, and if teams are level on goals after 180 minutes, they go to extra time. The higher-seeded team gets to host the second game (and any extra time or PKs that follow). The semifinals are a one-game playoff at the home of the higher-seeded team. The Final is in 4 weeks at the Home Depot Center just outside Los Angeles.

With that, let's try to break down this incredible crapshoot of a playoff system in order of my interest.

Series #1
East #2 Chicago vs. East #3 New England
Game 1: Thursday at Gillette Stadium (Foxboro, MA)
Game 2: Next Thursday at Toyota Park (Bridgeview, IL)

For the 8th time in the past 9 seasons, the Fire and New England will end each others seasons. The Fire and Rev scum are meeting in the playoffs for the fourth year in a row (New England winning the prior 3 through a combination of dumb luck, bad officiating, and asinine coaching). What could be a game-changer here though is the Fire have home-field for the first time since 2003. In every Fire-Revs season-decider, the team with home-field advantage came out ahead. Likewise, the Fire have DOMINATED the Rev bastards this year, winning all three of their games by a combined score of 9-1. (4-0, 3-0, 2-1). Chicago seems like a team poised to make a Cup run, and their 5-2 thrashing of a desperate New York team last Thursday only seems to accentuate this. With Rolfe, Blanco, McBride, and Mapp all clicking at the same time, the Fire offense is back, having scored 7 goals in their last two games. One concern is the defense, who conceded most of their goals this season down the stretch. However, with a healthy backline and a Keeper-of-the-year and Comeback player of the year candidate in Jon Busch, the cards are all lined up for the Fire.

New England remains a formidable foe, being led by a solid returning core of Taylor Twellman, Matt Reis, and Shalrie Joseph. However, the Revs have been through a terrible run of form since leading the league for most of the first half of the season. The Revs have gone 2-7-4 since the All-Star break, and have dropped from 1st in the table to 4th after looking unbeatable before. The Revs are also without veteran midfielder Steve Ralston due to injury and boy does it show. One thing that remains to be seen how it will play out is how the Revs will line up without their speedy playmaker Bermudan International Khano Smith, who was inexplicably red-carded in a meaningless game over the weekend against Kansas City. Smith will be suspended for the first game of the playoffs and he had always given the Fire defense headaches. Needless to say, I'm thrilled to have the bastard on the bench. The Revs poor form + depleted roster from injury and suspension + home field for Chicago = Fire finally beat the scum in the playoffs.

Fire 4-2 on Aggregate.

Series #2
West #2 Chivas USA vs. West #3 Real Salt Lake
Game 1: Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium (Sandy, UT)
Game 2: Next Saturday at Home Depot Center (Carson, CA)

Real Salt Lake are into the playoffs for the first time in the club's four-year history, and what a way to get in. On the last day of the season, playing rivals Colorado for the final playoff spot in the West, Colorado led late, untill a 90th minute equalizer gave RSL the 1-1 draw they needed to advance to the playoffs. Initially, RSL's big unknown was how they would adapt to their new stadium. RSL have only played two games on the grass at Rio Tinto after compiling one of the best home records in the league thanks to their notoriously bad artificial turf field at the University of Utah. RSL are undefeated so far (1-0-1) at Rio Tinto and the place should be electric for their first-ever playoff game. Now their big question mark is their relative inexperience. While Chivas USA is stacked with players who have played in big games before (Jesse Marsch, Alecko Eskandarian, Zach Thornton, Ante Razov, Sacha Kliejstan, and Jonathan Bornstein), RSL is leading a youth movement. Aside from wizened vet Clint Mathis, only Nick Rimando and Dema Kovalenko have been repeatedly tested in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Salt Lake is on a run of passable form to close the season. Having gone undefeated in their last 6 games to close the campaign (2-0-4).

Chivas is another team that will be affected by stupid red cards on the final day of the season. Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy was sent off and as such will be suspended. Aging veteran Zach Thornton will be between the sticks for the Leg 1 clash at the Rio Tinto. While Thornton's experience may come in handy, this is a Chivas team that doesn't really need more experience. It needs a faster goalkeeper than Zach Thornton to deal with RSL's multi-faceted attack. Thornton is still a passable keeper in MLS and a valuable backup, but he is far from the keeper who backed Chicago to MLS Cup '98. I would not trust him in a series where goals are at a premium. Chivas is on a great run of form right now. The Rojiblancos have gone 6-2-1 since getting knocked out of the CONCACAF Champions League back in August. This one looks like RSL could pull off a win in the opener at the Rio Tinto, but if they don't win by more than 2, I'm picking the Goats to pull out the series at Victoria Street. Chivas won the season series from RSL 2-1, and I have no reason to doubt their ability to defeat them in the playoffs now. Chivas has enough good players and experience and are playing like a championship-calibre team poised to make a deep Cup run.

Chivas USA 3-1 on aggregate

Series #3
East #1 Columbus vs. East #4 Kansas City
Leg 1: Saturday at CommunityAmerica Ballpark (Kansas City, KS)
Leg 2: Next Saturday at Columbus Crew Stadium (Columbus, OH)

Columbus was the class of the league this year, running away with Eastern Conference and winning the Supporters' Shield (best regular season record) for the second time in their history. Columbus is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2004, the last time they won the Supporters' Shield. However, as has been repeatedly shown, regular season success does not always translate into playoff success. Only 4 Supporters Shield winners have won MLS Cup (DC United '97 and '99, Kansas City '00, and LA Galaxy '02). Only 5 Shield winners have ever made it to the Final (throw in Chicago '03). Three of the last four seasons, the Shield winner lost in the first round. Columbus has a well-built team anchored around MVP candidate Guillermo Barros Schelloto and USA Youth International Robbie Rogers and Venezuelan International Alejandro Moreno. Columbus can score from a variety of attack points and it shows in the statlines (#2 in scoring, and tied for first in goal differential league-wide).

Kansas City answers with a veteran team enhanced by the addition of Claudio Lopez who has been playing better of late. Jimmy Conrad provides a veteran presence in the back, but too often is called upon to score goals. Kansas City's forwards and midfielders have not been getting the production they need to this campaign. However, anything can happen in a two-game series, especially on Kansas City's small pitch. Of the four playoff series, Kansas City appears to be the team most prone to play the upset. Columbus has been resting its starters for several weeks now, having clinched the Supporters' Shield several weeks ago. With nothing to play for, one wonders how this Columbus team will respond if Kansas City can get a goal or two in their First leg home game. Columbus has closed the season with two losses, a draw, and an unconvincing 1-0 win over DC United. Kansas City on the other hand has surged in recent weeks, finishing the season 5-1-1 after being left for dead in August. I'm going to buck all the pundits (and even my own rational opinion) and say Kansas City over Columbus in a low-scoring series for my first round upset special.

Kansas City 2-1 on aggregate

Series #4
West #1 Houston vs. East #5 New York
Game 1: Saturday at Giants Stadium (East Rutherford, NJ)
Game 2: Next Saturday at Robertson Stadium (Houston, TX)

For the second year in a row, the 5th-placed East team was better than the 4th-placed West team, so they get to switch over to the Western Conference, despite their presence on the Eastern seaboard. Follow?

Before I analyze Houston I have to say that no MLS team has EVER won three MLS Cups in a row. DC United came the closest, winning in 1996, 1997, and 1999, and losing in the Final in 1998. Houston is closer to becoming that first 3-peat team than anyone has ever been. Houston started slow this year, only scrapping together a few ties while teams like New England and Columbus were racking up wins. But it was those ties that kept Houston in the game. The Dynamo have only lost 2 games since the All-Star Break across all competitions. Houston only lost 5 games all season, and finished second in the league overall behind Columbus. Even more so than their domination of MLS over the past three years, they have succeeded where others have failed abroad. Houston made it to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions Cup and are presently looking to advance out of the Group Stages of the CONCACAF Champions League in a tough group that includes UNAM Pumas of Mexico, Luis Angel Firpo of El Salvador, and San Francisco of Panama. Houston has a deeper team than anyone else in the league. A number of players on their bench could start for lots of MLS teams.

Houston is battle-tested, and with Brian Ching and Dwayne DeRosario on form, little can stop them. Their opponent; New York scratched into the playoffs on the last day of the season with a sub-.500 record and that's no way to head into a series with the defending champions. Houston is healthy, they lead the league in goal difference, teams wishing to knock them off will have to come to Robertson, which at playoff time less resembles a college football stadium. It reminds me more of the Bombonera in Buenos Aires or the Azteca in Mexico, a pulsating Latin American stadium with the Championship juggernaut on the field to match.

New York closed the season weakly, getting thumped 5-2 by Chicago in a game where New York had everything to play for. They really began to crumble after Chicago went up 2-1, and a team that mentally weak isn't going anywhere. What's even more disturbing for Red Bull's playoff chances is that they have only won on the road ONCE all season. One road victory to show for 15 games, and half of this series is being played on the road. Were it not for DC United failing to get a win at Columbus, New York wouldn't even be here. Houston is winning this series and is on track to go to their third consecutive Final.

Houston 5-1 on aggregate

Tentative Semifinal Picks
Chicago over Kansas City
Houston over Chivas USA

Tentative MLS Cup Final Pick
Houston over Chicago

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