"One of the best in the game" - Another problem with sports commentators

>> Thursday

Well, Vinnie got to bitch about announcers, so let me make a quick comment about this trendy phrase in sports: "He's one of the top (x #) of players in the game right now (at this level, at his position, etc.)."

I'm sick of commentators making this effusive comment over and over... and changing their minds over and over! Every year, there's another "best hitter in the game right now" or "best penatrator in the college game." And usually these claims are short-lived and based on a very narrow window of time... I guess it's not enough to call Wes Welker a very good possession receiver; he has to be "the best in the game right now."

Unfortunately, I think it's a product of our media fragmentation. In order to be heard nowadays, the successful commentator needs to make increasingly ridiculous and attention-grabbing comments or else drown in the mainstream. And with bloggers ready to make those ridiculous, unfounded statements without consequence, these commentators feel the pressure to call Rajon Rondo "one of the best point guards in the NBA right now." (I don't remember what jackass ESPN analyst said that, but I heard it!)


The latest annoying Brent Musburger habit in a long litany of annoying Brent Musburger habits

I usually try to refrain from ripping on-air talent (unless it's a total dumbfuck like Darrin Jackson or Tim McCarver) because I realize it's tough to be under a spotlight for two or three hours straight, especially nowadays when asshole bloggers are ready to pounce on your follies within minutes.

But I think--and correct me if I'm wrong guys--that Musburger is pretty unanimously reviled among the members of this blog, so I'm gonna get nitpicky.

A couple football seasons ago he was saying, "uhhhh...." every three or four words, possibly because he was drunk. ("Hello, Pot. My name is Kettle. Vinnie Kettle. You are black, and I think less of you because of that particular trait, even though I embody it as well." Friends and other people who have heard me speak will understand the hypocrisy of this criticism--the "uhhh" thing, that is--but it's not very acceptable when you're a well-paid PBP man doing the biggest games in a number of sports.)

Apparently, his new thing is referring to every player by just his first name. Tonight during the Wisconsin-Indiana game, it's been "Trevon!" "D.J.!" "DeAndre!" all game long. Hey, Brent--Not everyone is a "Michael," "Kobe," "'Sheed," or "Yakov."

Ok, this was super-nitpicky, and I rambled like a bastard. Sorry.


Win a chance to make me look like an ass!

>> Wednesday

This Sunday--being the Super Bowl and all--will be a fun occasion for us YCS folk, as it will be the fourth annual Patrick Scott Super Bowl Party Extravaganza, which in the past has included such highlights as frozen processed chicken-like nuggets shaped as dinosaurs, cheap and food poisoning-inducing pizza, a fridge stocked with 140 PBRs/JBLs/LaCrosse Lagers/Blatz'seses (photo, Mike?), and a big Alaskan-sized fist through our apartment wall (inside story to be retold upon request).

Sadly, I may not be able to attend for the second straight year because I love my job more than my friends, myself, and my non-existent wife and kids. Nevertheless, I'm determined to carry on my one contribution to this event--The Vinnie Bergl Super-Rigged and Arbitrarily-Scored Super Bowl Pool.

Now, this pool is not rigged by design, yet it is clearly rigged because a) I invented it, wrote the questions, and devised the scoring system, and b) I won both of the years we held it in college. So this year, I'm offering revenge, and I want all of our readers (i.e. the eight of us authors and HOPEFULLY a couple other people) to participate. As a prize I am offering any one of the following:

1) A post on any topic watsoever, to be posted on this blog, so that you can share your opinions to approximately 20 people

2) A free swipe at any one of my future preachy-ass posts, meaning I will remove it at your command

3) A small cash (or otherwise materially valuble--but not very valuable) prize

4) The chance to strap me to a wall and pelt me with oranges for ten minutes for bilking you out of your money (mostly applies to personal friends)

5) A custom prize, within reason. (Unreasonable prizes may or may not be honored.)

Now to the pool. The format is basically the same, just with different teams. It's super fun, as you can tell by the football-themed scoring system. Send your picks via comment or (more conveniently) to our email (yellowchairsports@gmail.com).

TDs (6 pts each)
Winner against the spread (NE -12)
Over-under (54)
Game MVP

FGs (3 pts each)
Most rushing yards (player)
Most receiving yards (player)
Most yards from scrimmage (player, rushing + receiving)
Most catches (player)
Most TDs (player, non-passing)
Most sacks (player)

Safeties (2 pts each)
Most passing TDs (player)
Most passing yards (player)
More total yards (team)
More forced turnovers (team)
More FGs (team)
First team to score

Extra points (1 pt each)
Coin toss winner
Highest scoring quarter
Lowest scoring quarter
First NE player to catch a pass
First NYG player to catch a pass
First song performed by Tom Petty at halftime
Last song performed by Tom Petty at halftime
Beer company with the most commercials - a) Miller b) Anheiser Busch c) Adolph Coors d) Other

Tie breaker: scoring margin NE / NYG by __ (closest +/- with correct winner takes it)

Note: In cases of ties (e.g. yardage, turnovers, FGs, co-MVPs, etc.), no points will be awarded for the category.


You know what's weird?

...That the Patriots aren't more of an overwhelming favorite on Sunday.

I just saw on the ESPN Bottom Line that NationOfStupidSportsFans (I think that's what they call it) are only 61.4%-38.6% picking the Pats over the Giants. Granted, I know there's a bunch of New York bias in that number, but I'm still surprised it's not more lopsided.

More surprisingly, the spread on the game is only Pats -12. Yes, I realize that's a pretty good margin as far as football games go, and especially as far as Super Bowls go.

But we're talking about a regular-season 16-0 team vs. a regular-season 10-6 team. I'm not entirely sure about this, but I believe that the Rams-Pats Super Bowl in '02--a matcup of 14-2 vs. 11-5 had a larger spread. And I know that the '95 Super Bowl between the 13-3 49ers and 11-5 Chargers was something like 19 at the start of the game (which, incredibly, the 'Niners covered).

At the time, the NFC was much better. But I think most people would agree that the AFC is just as superior now as the NFC was then. So why does a 6-game margin now mean less than a 2-game margin then? Are people just getting wiser, or is the league that much tighter in terms of team-to-team talent? (Data says, not necessarily.)

So what gives?


Mets Complete Trade For Yet Another Hispanic


YCS Super Bowl Accu-Pickin' is Back!!!

>> Tuesday

Yes, boys and girls, YCS Accu-Picking has returned. Our super-duper-top-secret-high-tech way to ensure that you get it right on Sunday. But if you use it for gambling and lose, tough shit, as it is well known that the YCS staff has been routed by fate on numerous occasions. Our world and financial fortunes now lie irretrievably broken.

Last year, YCS Accu-Pick proved to be roughly 50% effective. It was an amazing coincidence considering half the staff lived in Bear Country, and half lived in Bear-hating country and picked accordingly.

This year, to no one's surprise, the undefeated Patriots are the overwhelming favorite for the Head Pick (Who you'd put money on). Our panel was more split on the Heart Pick (Who one is rooting for/Gut Feeling). Even the Quarter, YCS's foolproof technology picked the Patriots twice. To see that it wasn't a fluke, it was tested again, and both times it came up Patriots. 4 times landing on heads? That's gotta be worth something there.

So the opinion is pretty universal. Except for Vinnie. Upon learning that no one had picked the Giants, his indie street-cred wouldn't let him follow the herd, even if it was to capitalistic glory to reap no doubt huge financial windfalls. After all, Vinnie already has us licked in every other category, so why follow this band of common street trash anywhere? So Vinnie's being different and picking the Giants. If the Giants win, I have a feeling Vinnie will never let us forget it.

In the interest of full disclosure. Paul has placed his Heart/Head picks with Eli Manning and Randy Moss (the players, not the teams) respectively. Patrick made a heart pick of Patriots, and a head pick for Patriots by 20. Zuch likewise picked "Patriots in a landslide."
At press time, Matt is "in denial," still trying to dig himself out of the pit of despair that Vinnie, Pat, Zuch and I were feeling last February as Rex Grossman flung one final hurrah into the Miami night. Matt is hoping that through some bizarre technicality, the Packers will be declared the NFC Champions, will storm onto the field to the surprise of everyone, leave the Patriots behind, and carry Brett Favre off the field into the sunset and football immortality. When informed of the extremely low likelihood of this coming to pass, Matt has instead opted to pick in the alternative "Terrorist Attack" as his heart pick; ending the 2007 NFL season with one last spectacular round of sour grapes.

So to close, happy Accu-Picking, and a special welcome to our readers from the Department of Homeland Security.


Yes, I Know It's an Annual Story

>> Monday

But I always thought it was interesting/nice.

Now if only any National Geographic team can snap a picture of someone wearing a Packers 2007 NFC Champions shirt AND a Chicago Bears Super Bowl XLI Champions hat...

PS: On an unrelated side note, why was it necessary for the locker room shirts to read "NFC Conference Champions"? Isn't that implied? Or does it have to be explained that the Giants are the National Football Conference Conference Champions?


100,000 Visitors: What brought you here

>> Sunday

Hi, everyone! Glad you could join us today!

Not sure why I opened with that... just felt like it I guess. Anyway, if you've ever scrolled down to the bottom of this blog, you probably noticed that we, like many blogs, use Sitemeter to track our visitors. Well yesterday, we hit a big milestone--100,000 total visitors since Matt hooked up our blog, which was sometime back in... I have no idea. The point is, 100,000 visitors is not much of an accomplishment, given that many blogs of substance and merit see six-figure hits in a day.

What renders this occasion even more insignificant is the quality of our hits. Of the 100,000 visitors, I would estimate that 5,000 were from our loyal readers who adore us and come here to marvel at our utter hilarity and unparalleled insight; 15,000 were directed here by links from successful sites (which were usually gotten of our own groveling and self-promotion); another 10,000 were from the eight of us authors coming here to post, comment, and insult one another; and 500 were my mom.

All estimates aside, the overwhelming majority of visitors, without a doubt, have been those of you--and I say "you" though you will never read these words--who have come here for some nugget of information or stolen copyrighted image by way of Google searches that have little or nothing to do with our silly little blog.

Of course, this last group of visitors is my favorite of all, for, if you haven't noticed by now, I have little regard for my short, precious existence on this earth. And one of my favorite boredom killing time-wasters is to click on the "By Referrals" link on the Sitemeter page and see what ridiculous shit people searched for to find our site. Luckily for you, I've been keeping a list of my favorites, and I will now take a moment to share them. I've arranged them by category to reflect the most common themes of these searches and other, less common themes.

People looking for actual chairs and/or yellow objects

This one's pretty self-explanatory. What I can't explain, however, is why people would think that a sports blog--regardless of how chair-related its name is--would actually have what they were looking for. Some examples:

"boston bruin lazy boy chair canada"

"big boy drafting chair"

"bigman coleman chair"

This next person evidently thinks you actually need to command your search engine to search, or else it will just shrug at you:

"search chairs from all around the world"

And I think every stay-at-home mom in America wants a...

"yellow chair like oprah's"

But not as much as they'd like a...

"fuck chair for women"

...or the closely related product,

"chair for fucking"

And lastly, my favorite in this category:

"pretty yellow chair"

Are those stadium chairs in our banner what you had in mind?

"Is [famous athlete] [ethnicity]?"

We've documented the fascination with Jewish athletes quite extensively on this blog (and since then I've also seen Jay Cutler and Jeanne Zelasko pop up on Heeb Watch), but don't think ethnic pride is lost on the Gentiles, as illustrated by...

"jason varitek ethnic heritage polish"

(Poor bastard.)

"is joey dorsey hatian"

"kyle orton chicago bears quarterback asian ethnic"

Orton Asian?

Sorry... We don't know the answer to that. And we wouldn't tell you even if we did.

Apparently, some people get Google confused with Ask.com. Observe:

"does jared weaver chew tobacco"

"What is the name of the traveling trophy awarded to the winner of the Iowa/Iowa State rivarly game?"

"Was Disneyland really the world's first theme park or did this small park in Indiana called Santa Claus Land really earn the title?"

"whens the first day of spring semester for CCSU?"

Maybe you should go to their website, dumbass. I think I know why you're at Central Connecticut State in the first place.

"how many chairs are on the team bench for boston college basketball"

...and you care because...???

"does ben gay make your pussy pink"

I don't know... Ladies? Does it? (Please, no one answer that.)

Lastly in this category, we were paid a visit by (presumably) Phil Nevin's wife, who vastly overrates the fact-finding powers of the internet:

"does phil nevin fuck other woman"


I imagine the searchers in this category watching a game or reading a story, getting angry at a person that displeases them, and yelling, "Ooh, I hate that guy so much!" as they type their insult into Google, hoping to find supporting evidence, or at least compatriots, in their hatred of that individual. For example:

"mike celizic is a tool"

"phillip rivers is a cunt"

"mike winters is an asshole"

"Mariusz Pudzianowski cocky jerk"

Oh, don't get me started on Marzsizusz Pudznsznewski and his bad attitude.

"nfl europe commissioner is a cunt"

I think that may have been the single greatest showing of passion for the NFL Europe in its history. This guy, though, has him beat as far as passion goes:

"antione walker is a fat fucking slob"

That's harsh... as opposed to this person, who wanted to research his insult before making it affirmative:

"is jeanne zelasko a bitch"

And lastly...

"Gene Wojciechowski sucks"

Couldn't agree more.


Actually, I have just one of these. Maybe it's the all-caps spelling of his name or the choice of adjective, but this one cracks me up:

"ERIC COLEMAN of uni is excellent"

I just called Eric Coleman to tell him. He says thanks.

...And general observations


I know! It's so adorable!

"special treatment of athletes can get ridiculous"

Oh, totally, dude. You could not be more right. I totally agree, man. Spot on, bro, spot on.

Sorry, you've got the wrong guy

Ok, so this "category" is just one search. But I got a good laugh out of...

"zuch climatologist"

Our Zuch is not, in fact, a climatologist, but he'd gladly pretend to be if you're offering payment.

Impure thoughts about pro athletes

Ok, so maybe these are more innocent than they suggest. But it's hard not to get the wrong impression when someone is searching for...

"aikman below the waist"

"robinson cano blowjobs"

If Robinson Cano is selling blowjobs in the offseason, it's not here. Maybe you should check out [street in New York notorious for heavy prostitute traffic--help me out, Danny]. Now this next one is a bit cryptic, but I'm pretty sure what the person was searching for is not very wholesome:

"slap and bent and alex smith and 49ers and cock"

Sleazy athlete gossip

We don't do that Deadspin tabloid bullshit on this site, but we can't help that people who are into that stuff stumble across our high-brow enterprise. Topics like,

"corey brewer baby mama"

...are none of our business. Neither is:

"brady anderson gay"

For as much as we talk about Kyle Orton, it's no surprise we got some hits for this popular search (17,000 web pages):

"kyle orton jack daniels"

What did surprise me was that we also got a...

"kyle orton sober"

1,760 web pages. Proud to be one of them.

My 7th grade term paper / persuasive essay is due tomorrow, and I need something to plagiarize!

When dumb teenagers and procrastination mix, you get searches like,

"successful leaders in sports"


"what is the hardest sport to play"

That's your persuasive essay topic? You're only about the 80,000th junior high kid who's come up with that one. And it's a horrible question that always leads to a stupid answer. Do your own work, hack.

The reason the internet exists

Porn searches. No, not even we are immune to the perverse curiosities of depraved heathens. Having said that, why would you come to a sports blog if you're looking for...

"girl fucking with a chair"


"excessive penis true stories"

Is there such a thing? If there is, I'm guessing it's sort of like Inside the Actors Studio but more penis-related. Or maybe it's like Unsolved Mysteries. Whatever the case, you know our public school system is failing the nation's prepubescents when their labidos develop faster than their basic English skills, as you can tell by this search:

"hot chair leaders boobs"

Or the slightly more ambitious:

"hot chair leaders making out"

Kids--If you're reading, please get of the internet and read a book or go birdwatching or something. Don't end up like us.

Porn? Or science? You make the call.

"genetalia of giantism"

To borrow a phrase from my blogging idols, "Fuck the heck?"

I truly cannot tell what these people were searching for, nor can I guess what they hoped to find by coming to our blog. Can anyone make sense out of...

"sports world total 90 kids yellow bots"

...??? 'Cause I sure can't.

"dwyane wade pride prejudice austen"

My best guess: Someone writing a doctoral thesis on the parallels between Elizabeth and Darcy's relationship and that between Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley. Word to that guy: Come up with a better subject.

"see a texas letter for the state lottery honorable brian quinn chair "

No clue.

"chicago bear antisemitism defensive back"

Ok, that one kind of makes sense, in that the Chicago Bears and antisemitism are recurring topics on this blog. But I don't believe we've ever paired them.

"ventriloquist dolls for sale in winnipeg"

Hey, uddy... Hae you e-er heard uh a site called Craigslist? (Get it? I wrote that how it would sound if I were bad ventriloquist. Yeah, I know... way over your head. I've come to expect it.)

"joe medwick cardinals st. louis stickball"

Allow me: In 1937, Joe Medwick led the league with 31 home runs, the longest of which cleared the awning of Leon's Shoe Repair and hit "Crazy" Charley's watermelon cart at the corner of 5th Avenue on a fly. As he crossed home plate, he tossed his newsie hat skyward, snapped his suspenders and proclaimed, "That was a humdinger!"

Ok, I've let this post go on long enough.

Good night, folks! Thanks for joining us! And keep on visiting!


MYOB, chump

>> Friday

Message to Jim Brown: You are not the moral conscience of every single black man who has ever played a sport.

I'm a day late posting on this subject, but in case you didn't hear about it, Jim Brown had this to say about the Tiger Woods "lynch" comment:

"He should have come out right away. Instead, he waited until it was politically correct [to comment]," Brown said.

Or maybe he waited to comment until he had given himself time to deliberate how he should respond. Maybe Tiger wanted to first give someone, whom he considers a good acquaintance, the chance to apologize and explain her intentions before publicly smearing her. Maybe Tiger Woods is not, in fact, the same person as Jim Brown and chooses to deal with controversy in a calculated, non-confrontational way.

Being an awesome golfer does not require Tiger Woods to play defender of the entire black population of the United States. Have you ever heard of the term, "above the fray," Jim Brown?

If you ask me, Tiger Woods has done something pretty remarkable for racial progress. Consider that he's absolutely revered within the world of golf--the most lily-white of all whiteman's pursuits--and he's reached that point, in part, because he's carried himself humbly and quietly and let his excellence in golf speak for itself. He has reached this point, in part, because he does not believe that his golf prowess necessarily transcends him to the role of social or political spokesperson.

Tiger Woods is worth millions--not just to himself but to many other entities with a financial stake in how he performs and, for better or worse, how he conducts himself. And guess what--he'd have probably never become so successful had he spewed Sharpton-esque nonsense everytime he had to the chance to speak on a racial issue or played race victim everytime things when wrong for him on the Tour or turned defensive and bitter when Fuzzy Zoeller vilely and personally insulted him in 1997.

Does he measure his words and stray from controversy in the public eye? Of course. But how dare you, Jim Brown, imply that it's all self-interested PR squeamishness. Maybe Tiger Woods feels a responsibility to those people who are financially invested in him. Or maybe that's just who Tiger Woods is as a person, power and money notwithstanding. Would that be such a horrible thing?

Please, Jim Brown, mind your own damned business, you sanctimonious ass.

(P.S.: Don't mistake this post for me actually caring about golf. I still don't.)


Majerus, Prime and the Straw

For me to show up here, in the every-so-often way that I do. I, admittedly, am among the worst on this staff about posting regularly other than Danny who, due to Hebrew scriptural law isn't allowed to post more frequently without getting paid. Because Jews enjoy money.

You might wonder why I post so infrequently, and I assure you it's not for lack of brilliant ideas or knowledge worth dropping on you, the ig'nint masses. Also, it's not because I went into seclusion following the one of the football games on Sunday that supposedly ended in most exhilirating fashion.

Nope. For me, it's just good old fashioned American laziness. And with that, I'm going to make a pledge, nay - a sincere and empty promise - to post more frequently. As founder of this blog, I suppose I feel some sort of responsibility to at least contribute, if not always lead.

Unfortunately, when laziness and faux-motivation jump on the scale of lady justice, laziness usually wins. So, that means they'll mostly be shoddily cobbled-together collages of a bunch of random stuff, each item more random than the last.

So with that, readers (i.e., our mothers and people who got here via a Google search for actual yellow chairs), I present you with the first in a series of posts I'm calling...well, nothing, just a post. About stuff. Read on.

Rick Majerus' Politickin'

Among the more bizarre stories of the last couple of weeks has been the sudden and overwhelming presence of Rick Majerus in the national spotlight. It started earlier this month when his Billiken squad was beaten 49-20 by George Washington (the school, not the guy) in their A-10 conference opener. The pathetic offensive showing drew national attention in setting the record for fewest points scored in the NCAA since the shot clock was instituted in 1985.

The coverage then turned from oddball to downright bizarre with last week's Sports Illustrated feature on Majerus that detailed, among other things, Majerus' habit of berating his players in practice by calling them 'cunts' and - weirder still - his unsettling penchant for exposing himself to his players.

Though you'd think that after having heard detailed accounts of what this guy looks like naked would pretty much sate the American appetite for all things Rick Majerus, you'd be wrong. This week, Majerus drew heavy fire from St. Louis University officials for comments made to a reporter while attending a Hillary Clinton campaign event wherein the coach voiced his support for a woman's right to choose and furthering support of stem cell research.

Without turning this into another episode of Yellow Chair Politics, I will say this - I think I speak for most, if not all of the members of this staff in saying that I'm a huge Rick Majerus fan. The affable and accessible Majerus is one of the few truly likable characters in college coaching, a profession more often than not filled with dour and unseemly personalities created as a defense mechanism to an insanely stressful career. While it's true that I happen to agree with his position, I don't support what he did because I support his politics. I support what he did because it was awesome to see a guy in a position so frequently politicized and sterilized make a statement without fear of rattling a few cages. Compared with guys like Bill Belichick, it's a welcome change to see some personality in the world of sports.

Despite what you may think about Majerus personally or what he had to say, you've got to admit one thing - hearing a guy who once remarked live on the air during an ESPN telecast about renting hotel porn and masturbating to Ashley Judd candidly discuss religion, politics and bioethics is a collision of two worlds you never thought you'd see in your life. May be the most baffling "what the fuck?" moment of the last five years.

Random YouTube filler!

Also, these you've gotta see. Boredom and YouTube are dangerous bedfellows, my friends.

Music Video for "Must be the Money" by Deion Sanders. Amazing, simply amazing. Among the best parts: Deion makin' it rain, early-90s style and the fact that he's sportin' the "brightly colored suit, no shirt" style for most of the video.

Highlight: 2:38, with a surprise guest appearance by...Darryl Strawberry?!?!

Music video for "Shoot, Pass, Slam" by Shaquille O'Neal. Vintage music video from Shaq's early days as a rapper, featuring highlights from his time with the Magic.

Highlight: At 2:06, Shaq gets a sweet feed from a shorty shorts-clad Scott Skiles and, as the video implies, slams it!

1986 Anti-cocaine Public Service Announcement starring Mike Schmidt's mustache. Now, they say most people don't know how to define "irony," but I'd say that having a member of the late 80's-early 90's Phillies talk about the dangers of cocaine pretty much sums it up.

Highlight: "If you're into cocaine, get off it. You're living a lie."

That's all well and good, Mike, but where were you with that advice when Darryl was up living it up in Deion's crib? Huh? Where were you!?!?!


Oh, Herro Lim


Giants/Ravens, Anyone?

Just saw an ad on TV calling "Rambo" the "Super Bowl of Action Films."

It's nice to see honesty in advertising. I totally agree that the new sequel will be an overly hyped, big budget disappointment - just like the actual Super Bowl game is most years.


US National Team Good Enough to get Relegated from the Premiership

>> Wednesday

SI.com offered "Fulhamerica!" as its title, but I wanted something that sounded less like some cheesy stage show.

US National Team member Eddie Johnson signed with Fulham FC of the English Premier League. Johnson is the fifth American on the West London club's 25-man roster; joining fellow "colonials" Clint "There aren't enough rap songs about soccer..." Dempsey, Carlos "Charley Blackmouth" Bocanegra, washed-up goalkeeper Kasey Keller, and Chicago area product and all-around badass Brian McBride.
Sadly, Johnson may not be a Premiership player for long. It has long been agreed on internet message boards devoted to the Beautiful game that the best team in MLS is probably on par with the best team in the League Championship (England's Triple-A) or the worst team in the Premiership (still would be one of the best 40 teams in the world). Sadly, in Fulham's case, this appears to be a dead-on prediction.
Each season the three worst teams in the EPL are sent down to "the minors" and replaced with three of the best teams from the League Championship. Fulham is presently in 19th out of 20 teams- five points from safety and will need Johnson's scoring touch to kickstart their escape from the drop zone.


Definitive proof that there are power rankings for EVERYTHING

Are you psyched about the Olympics potentially coming to Chicago in 2016? Imagine all the overly priced items to buy. Yeah, neither am I. But for those who are, Ed Hula of Around the Rings has some good news for you.

According to his by-all-accounts bullshit 2016 Olympic Bid Power Index, Chicago is leading with an impressive 79 bullshit points--two ahead of both Rio and Madrid. Wooo, Chicago!

Well, I thought it might be fun to see how the authors on this blog would stack up against each other using this type of system, and here's what our research found:

As you can see, I'm the runaway winner with 95 points--10 points better than any of you and a full 16 points better than the city of Chicago. The difference-maker was financial assets since the rest of you are either broke or in school. And I'm sorry, Mike, but apparently our ratings experts weren't impressed by your looks or ability to do stuff, and you scored the lowest. On the bright side, you're quite skilled with swords, which was news to me.


I swear we're all college grads

Maybe it's because of an abundance of penis jokes. Maybe it's because of the excessive use of the word "fuck" and even more excessive exclamation points. Most likely it's because we copy and paste the words of horrible sports writers, or mockingly mimick even worse sports writers. Whatever it is, congratulations are certainly not in order:

blog readability test

Movie Reviews


Calling Out Unrealistic Fans No Matter What Continent They Live On

>> Tuesday

The torches and pitchforks crowd is gathering along Anfield Road.

Liverpool FC supporters are growing increasingly unhappy with the American ownership of their club. (LFC is currently run by an organization that includes Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks). Protests are being launched, and during last night's 2-2 draw with Aston Villa, banners hung reading "If it ain't broke, don't Hicks it," and "SOS Dubai, Yanks Out" in reference to a Dubai group's takeover bid for the club.

This gets publicity because Liverpool has a worldwide following. At times the Reds at appear to have the best fans in Europe , and at other times appear to have the worst fans in Europe.

Not having read the Merseyside fanzines, and really only getting what trickles across the Atlantic, I'm not that well versed in the nuances of Hicks's ownership. If any Scouser out there wants to fill me in on what the big hubbub is, then please do so. That being said, to me, it looks like the Kop (Liverpool's supporters' section) is delusional on this one, on the level of that of a Notre Dame football fan.

The sign of "If it ain't broke don't Hicks it" was what brought me to this conclusion. First of all, no team in the English Premier League embraces its history as much as Liverpool does. This is with good reason. During Chelsea FC's recent dominance, Reds supporters would routinely chant, "Fuck off Chelsea FC/You ain't got no history/ Five European Cups and Eighteen Leagues/ That's what we call history!" The basic assumption being that while Chelsea had experienced some recent success, they did not have the sustained success and history of Liverpool.

It's a wonderful argument to make, and Liverpool eventually won that game, but Chelsea ended the season 15 points ahead of Liverpool (3 pts for a win, 1 for a tie), so all the tradition in the world didn't appear to help Liverpool.

Bottom line is, Liverpool have been non-factors domestically for the better part of the last two decades. They have not won the English top flight since 1990, and have NEVER won the Premier League, the only team of the "Big Four" (Liverpool, Man United, Arsenal, and Chelsea) to never have done so (The Premier League was formed in 1992). The closest they've come was a second place finish in 2002, where they still finished seven points behind Arsenal. They've finished fourth or lower 9 times out of 15 EPL seasons, and are in danger of making it 10 for 16 this year. (At writing time, Liverpool was in 5th place.)

In all competitions (Including domestic and European Cups), Liverpool have collected silverware on 7 occasions since the formation of the Premier League. In contrast, during the same time frame, Man United has won 15 titles (including 9 league championships). Arsenal has won 10 titles (including three league championships). And Chelsea who "ain't got no history" has won 9 (including two leagues).

Of the Big Four, Liverpool plays in the oldest ground, and was the last team to embrace summer touring to gain fast cash and international appeal. While Liverpool IS moving to a new stadium in two years and IS planning a North American tour this summer, everything seems to be a step slow at Anfield Road. Their youth development is not quite on top of things. Only two players who get regular playing time for the Reds came up through their youth system as opposed to being purchased or signed from other teams.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it? Liverpool, you have one of the most successful clubs in Europe. Like your fans' own banners read "What other teams dream, Liverpool have achieved." Other teams would kill to be in a position like Liverpool. But if you want more, and you say that the team was just fine before Hicks came in, then you're every bit as delusional as a Notre Dame fan who thinks that just because they won titles years ago that it's their right to go 12-0 every year. If the team's "broken", then it's been broken for 20 years. Hicks came in and bought the team last year. Do the math.


Philosophy and Sports: The ravaged heart of a Packers fan

Everyone always talks about how they can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when Jordan hit the jumper to win his 6th ring (I was at home with my Dad and brothers), when Kevin Dyson fell one yard short of the end zone (I was at some strangers house and had recently been scolded for being alone with a girl in their guest room during halftime), and when Mark McGwire hit no. 62 (I was at a bowling alley, and was one of two people paying full attention to the TV before the ball barely cleared the left field fence...then the entire place came to a screeching halt. Have you ever been in a bowling alley full of people without any sound of balls and pins colliding? It's eerie).

But one of my most distinctive sports memories was the most devestating. I can relive the moment anytime I want. It was hours after Super Bowl XXXII had ended, and the Packers had just been on the losing end of one of the great Super Bowl upsets of all time. The 50+ guests that had been at our house had cleared out in a depressed hush. My brother and I were both lying on our beds, crying into our pillows. You don't forget that kind of heartbreak.

So when the Lawrence Tynes finally made a fucking field goal, and I saw my younger brother tearing up, I knew that he would remember that moment forever. The Seahawks game will fade into a vague blur of a memory, but the pain of losing doesn't fade.

But here's the thing about sports depression: it's a vital part of being a sports fan. I value the moments when David beats Goliath, the hero rides into the sunset, or the good guys win. But at a subconscious level, I value even more the times when these things don't happen.

That's what seperates sports from all other forms of entertainment. In a movies and TV shows, there are a disproportionately large number of happy endings. More often than not, good defeats evil, the nice guy gets the girl, and the underdog wins. Even (especially) in sports movies. I can't help but think of Dodgeball. The movie almost didn't happen because the writers wanted Ben Stiller to win. That moment when Vince Vaughn walked off the court in defeat and Ben Stiller celbrated like an asshole was supposed to be the end of the movie. But the promoters or whatever (the people with the money) insisted on a happy ending. So they added the whole bullshit where the refs ruled Stiller stepped over the line, forcing sudden death, etc...and the little guy wins. David beats Goliath. I don't know whether the movie's tagline, "A True Underdog Story," was formed before or after the ending had been changed, but it makes much more sense with the original ending. Because the underdog, in true reality, usually loses.

Now you might be thinking, "But the Packers were favorites, the underdog did win." But the Packers were underdogs in a broader sense because no one (except me...Zuch can back me up) expected them to be good. Everyone saw Favre as a shell of what he used to be, and everyone demanded that he retire because they didn't want to watch a hero stumble into the reality of old age. But then Favre made a triumphant, out-of-nowhere return to excellence--like Wylie Burp in Fievel Goes West--and everyone was cheering for him to win the Super Bowl and ride into the sunset on his fucking tractor.

But the NFL is not "Dodgeball" and the crowd did not get what they wanted.

Now you might also be thinking, "Well not all movies have happy endings. In fact, some of the great movies are great because they don't have happy endings." But it's all contrived, and that's the point. Movies like the "Virgin Suicides" and "Requiem for a Dream" are what I like to call "beautifully depressing." But those movies, and the emotions they elicit, are still products of an author. Someone designed those movies to evoke certain feelings like sympathy, sadness and straight-up depression (I couldn't sleep the night after I watched either of the above mentioned movies). What makes sports so unique, and so great, is that the drama is produced without an author (if any one of you assholes says that "God" is the author...well, think about what path you're heading down).

Even when it comes to movies--especially sports movies--that are "based on a true story," the truth is so Hollywoodized that the story becomes virtual fiction. Anyone who has had the pleasure of hearing Bechtel and me discuss "Hoosiers" knows how passionately I hate happy endings. But Hoosiers is a perfect example of a reality distorted to appeal to our desire to see the underdog win. The movie has great cinematography; the acting is phenomenal; the characters are intriguing...but it's total fiction, and it's portrayed as reality by the bullshit phrase, "based on a true story."

This is why I will contend that "Friday Night Lights" is the greatest sports movie ever made. Not only are the differences between the movie and real events negligible, the conclusion is much more representative of real life.

And that's what makes sports so unique among other forms of entertainment. In real life, Goliath usually kicks the shit out of David, cheaters and "bad guys" win, and the hero declines into mediocrity.

When a story like the Sean Taylor episode breaks, we're not devestated because a man has died, I hate to say. We're devestated because it's a shot of reality into what we want to be a fairy tale.

But ultimately, that's what keeps us coming back to sports. If we knew they were contrived, they would be horrible stories. But the reality of sports includes an abundance of heartbreak and unwanted endings. And that's what makes sports so damn great.


This guy uses the inflated Mel Kiper Jr. grading curve

>> Monday

Commentator (didn't catch the name) just now on CNN:

In my column in Time I give a grade to the candidates after each debate. For tonight, I gave Obama an A- and the other two a B+.

Clearly, Obama was in a class by himself.


How incredible was it? A semi-bogus 10th-grade statistical analysis

Last night during the NFC Championship game, Troy Aikman said something along the lines of, "I don't know if fans grasp how incredible this season by the Patriots has been. I'm not sure that I do."

It got me thinking: Could we assign a theoretical probability to this feat? The answer, I concluded, is, "Probably, but I doubt it's whatever half-assed way you'll come up with." While that's most likely true, it didn't stop me from pursuing that half-assed method.

My thinking was that if we treated NFL team win totals from the last fifteen years (arbitrary round number within the salary cap era) as a standard distribution, we could just base the probability on the Z-score for 16 wins. This is problematic for a few reasons: 1) A normal distribution shouldn't have such a limited number of discrete values; 2) a normal distribution should not have reachable limits (i.e. 0 wins and 16 wins); 3) using a normal distribution assumes win totals less than zero and greater than 16 are possible; 4) this is not a normal distribution, but it's not horribly bad either:

Over the last fifteen years, the standard deviation for NFL team wins was 2.96 and has not varied much from year-to-year or decreased because of the salary cap / revenue sharing.

So what does this caveat-loaded analysis tell us? 16 wins represents a Z-score of 2.70, or a probability of 0.35%, or about 1 in 285 NFL team seasons. Divide by 32 teams, and you get about a one-in-nine year event. Again, though, this is actually the probability of a team winning 16 or more games because I don't know enough about statistics to account for a reachable upper-limit, nor do I know how much this flaw distorts the result.

So Troy, the answer to your question is, I don't know, and I was probably the wrong guy to ask.


Random Thoughts While I Eat My Wheaties!!!

1.) The Packers loss last night was disappointing for several reasons, but the only saving grace is that no one has to see those gay-ass and obnoxious "G-Force" flags when the Packers score for seven months.

2.) Jay Marriotti, you are a fucking idiot!!! In today's article, he states that LT showed no guts and abandoned his team when he pulled himself out of yesterday's AFC title game despite the fact that Phillip "sidearm" Rivers gutted the game out with a similar injury. No, correct me if I am wrong, but I tend to think that a partial MCL tear is more hindering for a halfback than a quarterback. Also, that dago forgets to mention that the Chargers would have been better had Billy Volek started.

3.) Skip Bayless, you are a fucking idiot!!! In today's episode of "Cold Pizza" or whatever the hell they are calling that poor excuse for a television show, Skip mentions that Tom Coughlin's decision to play his starters against the Pats in Week 17 was still the worst coaching move of the season. Oh yeah dipshit, like resting your starters really worked well for the Colts, Cowboys, and Bucs.

4.) Get ready America for Super Bowl XLII, or once again, non-stop coverage of another over-rated Boston vs. New York sports matchup. Personally, I would be more intrigued by a Falcons-Chiefs bowling competition.

5.) Fucking Idiot #3: anyone who thinks sprinter Pistorius should be allowed to run in the
Beijing Olympics. Pistorius, or "Blade Runner" who was born without the fibula in his lower legs has carbon fiber prosthetic devises called Cheetah Flex-Feet which allow him to run/walk like any "normal person." However, when st maximum speed, these prosthetic devises allow him to "cruise" at that speed while expending less than 30% energy than runners with actual legs. Supporters are enraged and crying for an equal playing field. Shut the hell up you idiots!!!

6.) Vinnie, you will love this: Season stats for current Bulls "star" Ben Wallace and former Bulls STAR Tyson Chandler.
Big Ben: 8.6 reb / 4.6 pts. / 32.4 min.
Tyson: 12.2 reb / 12.2 pts. / 34.6 min.

Ben Wallace, I hate you!!!

7.) This Just In: Kenny Williams made a major splash in the free agent market by signing Octavio Dotel. That's right Sox fans, your ridiculously retarded GM just ensured your team will suck more than Lindsay Lohan's latest, straight to video, movie career.

8.) This Just In: Random old lady flips Sweet Lou the bird when discussing Lou's casual handling of the pitching rotation at this weekend's Cubs Convention.

9.) During last nights NFC telecast, Fucking Idiot #4 Pam Oliver stated that while the Packers had a heated bench, the Giants buns of steel were actually that stiff. She referred to this mystery as "HeaterGate." Holy Hell, these female commentators or horrible, with the exception of Hannah Storm, my childhood idol.

10.) In what was probably the greatest article of the year, Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune did a piece about all the crap in DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright's office. Jerry's office isn't decorated with College Basketball memorabilia, rather he spices the place up with stuff like dolls of Public Enemy rappers Flava' Flav and Chuck D, a battery operated crowing rooster, and a mini-replica of The Rock. So, what useless and completely ridiculous sports memorabilia do you guys still have and why?


I bet this guy is 85 years old

>> Sunday

Espn.com featured commenter LaCrosse PackFan has this to say about tonight's game:

Playing this game in the cold is football!!! Real football without turf and domes.

I wonder how PackFan feels about Under Armour, instant replay, and communication devices implanted in QBs' helmets.


Old, Crotchety Sexism at it's Best........or Maybe Worst

While I was changing into my tiny running shorts in a locker room this afternoon, I overheard two flabby geezers giving their opinions on random topics like Howey Mandel, Jay Leno, and women playing golf.

While this might seem like a normal Sunday afternoon conversation with "the guys," the discussion took a shockingly hilarious turn when grandpa started talking about women and golf.

Crotchety Old Man #1: "I don't understand why women attempt to play sports, especially golf...they just aren't very good."

Crotchety Old Man #2: "Yeah, I agree. I mean, I don't understand how they can play with all that bleeding going on in their pants."

#1: "Yeah. They just ruin the game now. Have you seen some of the women that play golf?

This conversation lasted for almost another 10 minutes...This just goes to show that even when we YCS geriatric gents are in our late seventies, I am sure several members will make it their personal business to maintain the level of equality between men and women remains next to none.


I bet he is, but I'm not sure that's how you meant it

>> Saturday

Description of Rasheed Wallace--or as I refer to him--"the Messiah" just delivered by the hilariously old-manish Bulls color man Johnny "Red" Kerr:

"...a guy who's dynamite downstairs..."

"downstairs" = "down low"? Or what it sounded like?


Extended Bill Simmons-esque analogy, minus the pop culture, plus stage direction

If there's been one story these last few weeks that interests me the least, I think it had to be Tigerlynchmobnoosegate. To be perfectly honest, these stories have become so common and so unbearably formulaic that I just can't bring myself to care. Offensive comment--> Prominent racial activist response--> Jibber-jabber--> Apology--> Jibber-jabber dissecting the apology--> Suspension/firing--> More jibber-jabber--> Everyone forgets.

But this time, it had to do with golf. And somehow, that's always more fun for me. I guess it's because I hate golf, golfers, golf courses (what fantastic wastes of natural resources), people who wear golf shirts on or off the course, and "golf people" in a general sense. Basically--Fuck you, golf.

Oops... Before I go any further, warning labels:


But it's not only that I hate golf. I hate that "it"--being the golf establishment or some other nebulous entity--attempts to uphold that sense of unalterable purity and prestige, especially when its demons are nagging it the most. It reminds me of one of those families that tries to convince both themselves and the outside world of their perfectly happy existence when they are, in reality, fucked up beyond repair. Observe:

Faldo suggested that "to take Tiger on, maybe they should just gang up [on him] for a while."

"Lynch him in a back alley," Tilghman said, laughing.

Scene: Formal dining room, large family holiday gathering.

Super-cheerful uncle: Honey? Would you pass me the rolls?
His equally-cheerful wife: Of course!
Concerned, super-religious aunt: Everything is delicious.
[scattered murmers of agreement followed by an extended silence]

Concerned aunt: I'm worried how we're going to take care of Aunt Martha when she leaves the hospital.
Her radical, slightly goth daughter in late teens: She's 78. Why don't you just euthanize her.
[Utensils drop to plates; a few family members start choking]

"If I got on this show and said I wanted to put some Jewish-American in a gas chamber, I don't care what context I said it in, the entire Jewish community would have the right to say I should be put off this show or my radio show if I said it there," Sharpton told CNN. "Or if I said I wanted to see a woman raped. This is an insult to all blacks. Lynching is not murder in general; it is not assault in general. It is a specific racial term."

Humorless great-uncle: How dare you ever talk about my sister-in-law like that! People who believe in things like that are sick! You're sick to think something like that! How would you have liked it if your parents said, "Lock her in the nuthouse," when you had that nervous breakdown? Come to think of it, maybe they should have!
Goth girl: Oh, go fuck yourself, hypocrite! [stroms from the dining room]
Humorless great-uncle: Don't use that word in my presence, missy!

Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg of IMG, released a statement saying, "This story is a non-issue. Tiger and Kelly are friends and Tiger has a great deal of respect for Kelly. Regardless of the choice of words used, we know unequivocally that there was no ill intent in her comments. This story is a non-issue in our eyes."

Amicable, calm-mannered grandfather: Aw... Come on now. You know how young kids are these days. She's always loved and respected my sister. Young people just say things sometimes.

"There was no ill intent at all," Funk said, according to The Associated Press. "I think it was just a slip, and they said that Tiger has already forgiven her. I think when you're in the TV tower for that many hours, you're going to wish you didn't say some things probably, and that was one thing that slipped out. I think you've got to give them a little grace."

The "chill" uncle: Yeah... You know... That's who she is. She likes to say things that are a little controversial sometimes. You know, she's probably used to being around her friends who'd find that funny, and she just forgot who she was around for a second and just let it out. Don't be so hard on the girl.

"The Golf Channel regrets the poorly chosen remarks made by Kelly Tilghman on a recent broadcast and, again, extends our apologies to anyone who was offended. There is simply no place on our network for offensive language like this. While we believe that Kelly's choice of words was inadvertent and that she did not intend them in an offensive manner, the words were hurtful and grossly inappropriate. Consequently, we have decided to suspend Kelly for two weeks, effective immediately."

Concerned Aunt: Oh! I'm so horrified! I can't believe she said that! I'm so sorry dad... [starting to cry] I don't know how she got like this! I never taught her these things at home. What did I do worng all these years? [composed again] Well, I know one thing--she's grounded.

Golfweek Magazine, as part of a package of stories on the controversy involving Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman's comment that players should "lynch [Tiger Woods] in a back alley," used the image of a noose on the cover of its Jan. 19 issue.
In an editorial in the magazine, the editors wrote: "Like it or not, Tilghman's 'Lynch him in a back alley' remark about Tiger Woods was national news. The debate about the severity of her punishment -- at this writing a two-week suspension -- fueled heated debate on Web sites, in newspapers and on national TV. The furor begs rational analysis."

"Chill" uncle: First of all, how do you ground a 19 year-old? Second of all, maybe we should listen to her once in a while. Maybe some of her opinions don't fit in with your dreams of the prim-and-proper nuclear family with Hallmark-style holidays, but that doesn't mean we should shoot them down. Maybe people in this country do need to have serious dialogue about euthanasia, or at least the values and tough decisions that an aging Baby-Boomer generation will force us all to examine.

"Clearly, what Kelly said was inappropriate and unfortunate, and she obviously regrets her choice of words," Finchem said in a statement. "But we consider Golfweek's imagery of a swinging noose on its cover to be outrageous and irresponsible. It smacks of tabloid journalism. It was a naked attempt to inflame and keep alive an incident that was heading to an appropriate conclusion."

Humorless great-uncle: How can you defend her?! What she said was bad enough, but she's sick in the head and has no morals. You should know better!
"Chill" uncle: I'm not trying to defend her, you self-righteous bore. I'm just saying that maybe this family should talk about these things once in a while instead of pretending that everything's fine all the time when it's not.
Anal retentive aunt: We were having a perfectly fine holiday until that girl had to open her mouth. Eveyone in this family agrees that she was wrong, and things were about to be fine again if you could just drop it!

"Jack was not speaking on behalf of the PGA Tour," spokesman Ty Votaw said Friday. "I can categorically tell you the PGA Tour has not threatened any advertising pull."

Typically-shy cousin: Wait... I'm part of this family too, and I can think for my--

"Most people who are objecting to it -- within the golf industry -- are saying this episode was just about over," Seanor said. "I think it's indicative of how, when you bring race and golf into the same sentence, everyone recoils."

"Chill" uncle: Fine? How can you say it's fine? It's never been fine. Why do you think the girl turned into such a rebel in the first place? You think that cynicism has nothing to do with this family? [turning to the concerned aunt] You couldn't fool your daughter with your perfect-family crap all these years, and now she's psychologically damaged. You finally have a chance to confront these issues and--possibly--salvage your relationship with your daughter... and you ground her?

"If we stopped the train every time somebody made a dumb remark that is potentially offensive," he is quoted as saying, "we'd never progress as a society."

"I wish we could have come up with something that made the same statement but didn't create as much negative reaction," he said. "But as this has unfolded, I'm glad there's dialogue. Let's talk about this, and the lack of diversity in golf."

"Chill" uncle: Look... What she said gave us a chance to address some tough issues that are gonna face this family in the near future and--not only that--a chance to sort out some major issues in this family. But you know what? If you wanna spend the rest of your life sneaking off to the guest bedroom closet with your bottle of vodka, knowing that your daughter will never speak to you again, be my guest. I don't really care.

Ten days after a Golf Channel anchor was suspended for her use of "lynch" in commentary on Tiger Woods, an editor was fired Friday for illustrating the controversy with a noose on the cover of Golfweek magazine.

Strong matriarchal figure: [to "chill" uncle] I think should leave now.
"Chill" uncle: Yes, mother. [walks out the front door]

"We apologize for creating this graphic cover that received extreme negative reaction from consumers, subscribers and advertisers across the country," Turnstile Publishing Co. president William P. Kupper Jr. said. "We were trying to convey the controversial issues with a strong and provocative graphic image. It is now obvious that the overall reaction to our cover deeply offended many people. For that, we are deeply apologetic."

Storng matriarchal figure: I'm so sorry to all of you the way my son acted. He means well, but he doesn't know when to stop himself sometimes.
Amicable grandfather: Hey, what was all this commotion I heard out here? I was on the crapper.
Anal-retentive aunt: We had to ask your nephew to leave.
Amicable grandfather: Over what the girl said?
Super-religious great-uncle: Yes.
Amicable grandfather: Sheesh! Leave the girl alone, already.

"We know we have a job ahead of us to re-earn the trust and confidence of many loyal readers," Babineau said. "Our staff is very passionate about the game. Our wish is that one regretful error does not erase more than 30 years of service we've dedicated to this industry."

Super-cheerful uncle: Well, now that we've got that mess all out of our way, let's all have dessert. We're not gonna let one little spat ruin another perfect holiday, are we?
Equally-cheerful wife: No, siree! Now who wants bundt cake?


Bring the kids! Don't be late! Hurry, hurry!

>> Friday

For those of you who aren't Chicago-area Marquette alumni and therefore haven't had the following email sent to you by Chicago Alumni Association for the last several weeks, I thought I'd share it in the hope that you find it as silly as I do.

Celebrate the Marquette Basketball Greats as the Bulls take on the Pacers and the Heat!
Join the Marquette Club of Chicago to watch the Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat (Dwyane Wade!) and Indiana Pacers (Travis Diener!) Also support new Bulls coach Jim Boylan, a member of the 1977 MU Championship team. Hurry, tickets are going fast!

No, really! You can't miss this! Watch as Jim Boylan paces the sidelines and pretends to wield influence over the game, as NBA coaches are wont to do!

Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers January 23, 2008
United Center
7:30 p.m.
Watch Travis Diener, former Marquette University and current Indiana Pacers basketball player.

Watch Travis Diener--or as he teammates call him, Travis DieNP--play with the zipper on his warmup jacket, and pray for the Pacers to take a thirty point lead so that you might see him shoot 1-for-3 in garbage time!

Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat February 14, 2008
United Center
7 p.m.
Cheer for Dwyane Wade, 2006 NBA Finals MVP and former Marquette University basketball player.

There's almost a 45% chance that he'll actually be healthy enough to suit up! You can't pass up those odds!

$66 per person

Totally worth it!


What the Fuck?!?!?!?!

>> Thursday

Anyone watching tonight's Marquette-Louisville game has to say to themselves, "what the fuck?" Granted Louisville is looking just as awful as our beloved Warriors, but holy hell, this is so far the worst game I have ever seen. What the fuck did these guys do since Saturday's win against Notre Dame? They had better pull their shit together because UW Green Bay would be giving these guys a run.


Stop! Grammar Time!

Sometimes spell check just isn't enough.

"The United States will play Poland in an exhibition March 26 in preparation for the European Championship."

I was not aware that the United States was in Europe. I hope our extension cords work in their outlets.
Correct version: "POLAND will play THE UNITED STATES in an exhibition March 26 in preparation for the European Championship."


Jerry Wainwright: Now only slightly less hip than Bo Ryan

>> Tuesday

It's not really worth my time or anyone else's to make fun of silly/embarassing stuff people do on TV, much less local news sports programs, but since it has to do with DePaul... I'll make an exception.

Hilarious, right? Ok, not so much. But it does beg one question: Are those really appropriate lyrics to be playing on a local news sports segment (albeit one that airs at 10:30 on a Sunday night with an audience of mostly single, unemployed people, I'd suspect)? Not that I care; just kinda surprised me.


Dear SI.com;

Your publication has been in the business long enough to realize that when the #15 team in the country wins on their home floor against the #5 team in the country, it's not really a "surprise" or an "upset" in the sense of the word most of us would use it.

Especially when you'd have a hard time finding a betting line that had Pitt as more than a 3-point dog.

Therefore, I'll assume that this is just a typo.


The NFL playoffs so far ... in the style of my ESPN heroes

>> Monday

Wow, what a great weekend for the NFL. I am going to summon my inner Gene Wojo and Bill Simmons and give you my in-depth, pop-culture-laden analysis of the playoffs.

Seahawks at Packers

Well, the game didn't start so well for the Pack. Ryan Grant looked clumsier and more error-prone than Britney Spears at the VMA's, and the Hawks were able to put up 14 points more quickly than it takes Kevin Federline to read a 10-word sentence.

But then the snow starting falling faster than Lindsey Lohan's career since Mean Girls, and the Pack started piling up touchdowns faster than it took Tom Brady to impregnate Gisele after they started dating. Behind the prowess of Grant and Greg Jennings, who is so young he was born after the premiere of "Webster" on ABC, the Packers were able to take control of the game. Of course, #4 was having a blast and tossing around more snow than Mary-Kate Olson on a weekend binge.

And don't discount the Pack's defense in this affair. Thanks to big hits by Atari Bigby, Seattle's receivers were committing Owen Wilson-style suicide by running cross routes in the middle of the field. Ouch.

Jaguars at Patriots

So much for the trendy underdog pick of the week. Tom Brady was as perfect as Jesus Christ on Saturday, and you gotta wonder if he can turn the Gatorade into wine, or water into Gatorade. Thanks to beautiful pass selection, receivers with stickier hands than Winona Ryder's in Saks Fifth Avenue, and some sleezy trickery in the style of the magician-turned-rapist David Copperfield, Brady and the Pats were able to squelch any discussion on Jax being the better team.

Of course, Jacksonville was a little reluctant to give Brady much credit for his near-perfection. He was dumping off passes that even a one-armed employee at a Hershey's chocolate factory could have made.

And with all of the pre-game talk of the Jags' ground game overpowering that of the Pats, the 1-2 punch of Taylor and Mo-Jo-Drew crashed liked the plane in Lost and were about as entertaining to watch as Jon Stewart without writers. Instead, the Pats ground game dominated as much as UPS... er, as much as the UPS whiteboard guy kicks ass (much better).

Chargers at Colts

Well, King Peyton got to enjoy his reign at the top about as long as Kanye West's mother got enjoy her new synthetic breasts. But can you blame Peyton for this one? He was pretty damn good. The blame for all 3 turnovers fall squarely on the receivers, and Dallas Clark should have made that final catch on 4th down. I hope Peyton Manning verbally assaulted them like Alec Baldwin hurling "thoughtless pig" insults at his 11-year-old daughter.

Do we blame Dungy for the playcalling? The Colts were more predictable than an episode of Mind of Mencia. Pass. Pass. Pass.

Or do we give credit to Turner? His playcalling was smarter than a Tina Fey script. I guess San Diego's play was also gutsy with the back-ups showing the gall of Steve Irwin playing with stingrays. They were fearless.

Finally, kudos to Billy Volek, who filled in as ably as LBJ after the Kennedy assassination. But I gotta wonder if Rivers should have been running his mouth as much as a drunk Mel Gibson.

Giants at Cowboys

Too bad Romo and Witten spent more time on the Mexican beach this past week than... Tony Romo (dang... must avoid temptation for David Hasselhoff reference a la Happy Gilmore). I doubt we can blame Mexicanbeachgate for the loss though. If you trust Terrell Owens, who displayed more waterworks than a Monopoly board space, Romo cannot be blamed for the loss. Do you blame Big D's D though? Aside from the TD drive at the end of the first half that was quicker than Nickelodeon's tearing up Jamie Lynn Spears' contract, the D performed well enough, especially in the end of the game.

I think the offense let them down. Was the Boys' offense as overrated as Will Ferrell? Or did they just screech to a halt as quickly as Lindsay Lohan's Cadillac running into a tree (score for another Linsday Lohan reference)?

Giants at Packers Preview
Here's a match-up: a team with a market as big as Joe Gibbs' prostrate and a team with a market as small as Sarah Silverman's moral integrity. I'm looking forward to this game. Eli will have his chance to show if he's as deserving as Cate Blanchett in I'm Not There or as undeserving as Atonement in the Golden Globes. Brett will get to take his team to the Super Bowl since Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House.

With the weather bound to be as cold as Bill Belichek's withered heart, you gotta wonder how many points these teams can score.

Chargers at Patriots preview
Are the Chargers going to be healthy enough? Or will they look as sickly as Dennis Quaid's newborn twins after a heparin overdose?

No matter how healthy the Bolts get, the Pats run away with this one just like Soulja Boy on the Billboard charts (horrible). With a wideout as smooth as Yung Joc, a QB as handsome as a Stetson poster boy (wait, he is a Stetson poster boy), and a coach as reserved as a Beverly Hills prison cell for Paris Hilton, you can't doubt this team.


I'm not buying it, Knoblauch. You were totally holding out hope

>> Friday

The day we've been waiting for ever since the release of the Mitchell Report has finally come. Chuck Knoblauch has spoken out.

Funny, though, isn't it, how he waited until after the Hall of Fame voting to break his silence?

Didn't wanna ruin your chances of being elected in your first time on the ballot, eh, Chucky?

Asked if he resented being thrust back into the spotlight, Knoblauch said: "No. One of my strongest characteristics is not really caring what people think. I'm living my life. It's not going to change my life one way or the other. You know, I'm not trying to get in the Hall of Fame. I got one vote though."

Oh, reeeeaally. Well then, Mr. Knoblauch, if you care so little about the Hall of Fame, how did you know how many votes you got??? Trapped in your web of lies!

I know your games, Knoblauch. I'm onto you.


There Must Be Something In the Water Out In Cali

Rumors are rife around American soccer that former Portuguese captain Luis Figo is coming to MLS to join his former Real Madrid teammate David Beckham in Los Angeles. However, there is the slight matter of the salary cap to consider. Beckham eats up 400k and Landon Donovan eats up about 900k per season. Small potatoes for sports, but a pretty sizeable chunk of LA's salary cap (About 2.5 million per team).

So to free up some space, yesterday the Galaxy dealt goalkeeper Joe Cannon (250k) to the expansion/Cleveland Browns-rebooted San Jose Earthquakes for cash. While this does free up some cap room to potentially sign Figo, I am really puzzled by this series of moves. There must be something in the water on Victoria Street or something LA Galaxy GM Alexi Lalas knows about that no one else knows about.

First of all, if the rumors are just rumors, then why deal away the one bright spot and one consistent performer during last year's Beckham Circus? Cannon is easily the best goalkeeper in the league, and any team wishing to improve has to start with improving the back line and then move forward. The Galaxy are going to have to improve by building a solid team throughout the midfield and backline, not by signing aging stars.

If Cannon's dealing IS to clear up cap space to potentially sign Figo, then two scenarios emerge, one in which Los Angeles convinces Figo to sign for WAAAAAAAAAAY less than he's probably worth on the market (6 figures or less). This would be a feat in itself, as there are several other leagues around the world (Mostly in Asia and the Middle East) who also offer retirees one last cash grab before packing it in.

Under the second scenario, they can pay Figo whatever they want, but to do that, they must acquire a second Designated Player slot from another team through a trade. That potentially puts Landon Donovan on the trade block. As much as I rag on the guy for mailing it in in big games and not pushing himself at the next level, he's still one of the best players in MLS, and has been the face of the Galaxy for the past 3 years. The only other scenario now that Cannon is gone would see LA depleted, shipping off either years worth of draft picks or their entire team and starting over with fresh faces.

Either way, it will be a team of nobodies plus Luis Figo's old (age 35) legs and David Beckham. LA could be decimated for years to come. As for this year, I'm trying really hard to see how LA is going to make the playoffs this season, but so far, it is looking doubtful.

This doesn't even make sense as a league conspiracy to stock the Galaxy and turn them into a superclub on the calibre of Real Madrid or Manchester United. Figo, despite his age, would still probably be the second-most-well-known player in MLS, after Beckham.

Last season, several teams where Beckham visited noticed a "Beckham Bounce" in attendance whenever the Galaxy played there. (ie: New York draws and average of 15k fans, but drew 50k for the 5-4 instant classic with the Galaxy last summer). Looking at the history of the Beckham Bounce, (and the smaller "Blanco Bounce" for whenever Chicago Fire visited an away stadium with their Mexican star Cuauhtemoc Blanco), wouldn't it make sense to put Figo on another team, to add a "Figo Bounce"? There are presently two markets in MLS with large Portuguese populations who have not used the DP rule yet, Toronto and New England. What gives?


Almost Makes you Wonder

>> Thursday

Imagine SLU Basketball coach Rick Majerus in the locker room before his team's game at George Washington. Cheeseburger clenched in fist, he says, "Boys, my old pal Jacob Marley visited me last night and gave me a vision of the future. He says if I continue on my ways, George Washington is only gonna score 49 points against us tonight. Think we can take 'em?" Dickensian allusions aside, the Billikens respond with a chorus of cheers and take the floor fired up.

Then proceed to set an NCAA record for fewest points scored in the shot clock era.


For an entire game.

Not a half, or a game that was called off because of a tornado or something.

The Billikens shot 14.6% from the floor and at one point missed 23 consecutive shots.

Majerus then proceeded to issue the most obvious diagnosis of the game.

"I thought GW played tough on defense. We had some issues. You have to credit GW for playing very well. We have some issues in terms of our offensive proficiency."

Good to see my law school tuition being put to good use on a coach with a firm grasp of the game.


You're killing me, Rick Telander

>> Wednesday

Typically, I don't do New Years resolutions. I think they're kinda stupid, as is the big fuss over New Years in general. But this year, I came up with a whole list. They are, in order:

1. Go to church more often.
2. Quit lying about how often I go to church.
3. Save Darfur.
4. Stop sitting with my hands in my pants in the company of others.
5. Quit wearing Starburys to work.
6. Learn how to use chopsticks.
7. Learn how to use, and acquire, a handgun.
8. Meet a girl.
9. Get married.
10. Have a child.
11. Cheat on my wife and have an illegitimate child with that woman.
12. Quit stealing other bloggers' schtick and keep my promise to Paul that I will no longer write bold face-plain text responses to sports columnists.

Well, I may still learn how to use chopsticks before the year is through, but you can consider No. 12 crossed off because Rick Telander of Chicago's most respected paper, The Sun Times, had to write this:

No erasing empty feeling
This non-vote is not frivolous. Instead, a blank Hall of Fame ballot sums up what the Steroid Era has done to my feelings about baseball

First of all, I can't believe that entire thing is his subtitle. It has a period for chrissake.

I look at my 2008 Hall of Fame ballot with sadness. That's a photocopy of it on the right, and as you can see,

Funny how it wasn't included in the online version.

other than my name, signature and Baseball Writers' Association of America card number, it's unmarked.

I'll take your word for it.

I voted for no one.

Ok, fair enough. You didn't see anyone on the ballot whose career was Hall of Fame-worthy. Personally, I disagree, but you're entitled to your opinion.

I didn't mail my ballot. The stamp is still good.

Sweet... Can I have it? My cable bill's due tomorrow.

The Steroid Era has taken the wind out of my sail.

Oh no... You didn't. Please don't start.

I am weary of the constant insult brought on by doping and stupidity and head-in-the-sand-ism and Bonds-ish arrogance and Clemens-ian tape-recording and duplicity of all manner and the way this has chipped away at the edifice of the wondrous American sport of baseball.

Cut this shit out. The game of baseball--and every sport, for that matter--has always, always had some kind of scandal or unsettling trend or "cheating" or general shadiness looming over it. Players taking payoffs, a manager gambling on his own team, racial segregation, juiced balls, corked bats, etc, etc, etc. There was no Golden Age. No enchanted forest. No Walden. No magic starship. No fairy princess. No Yellow Submarine...

Ok, I don't even know what I'm writing now.

I'm just human, folks.

No, you are deluded.

I didn't frivolously not vote.

I take this role seriously. Voting is an honor bequeathed by the BBWAA for at least 10 years of baseball writing.

Yes, it is an honor. An honor I'm not sure you deserve or should be allowed to retain if you're going to waste that vote every year by throwing up your hands and saying, "I can't vote for anyone because he might've been on steroids!" If that's your attitude, Mr. Telander, you seriously should relinquish your vote rather than penalizing every player on the ballot with your null vote dragging down their percentage.

I read the biographies of the 25 candidates in detail, studying numbers as intensely as an accountant.

Rich Gossage -- nine All-Star teams, 310 saves, 2.36 World Series ERA.

I'd like to imagine those were the only three numbers he had on Gossage and that he stared at them for hours on end, going, "Well, on the one hand... Hmmm... But on the other... Hmmm... But on the one hand..."

I'm delighted Goose was voted in Tuesday.

He deserved it.


I voted for him in 2007.

Right, so it makes sense that you'd leave him off this year, despite the fact that he's been retired since 1994, and your opinion on him should effectively be the same from last year to this year. (Granted, I realize voters change their votes on guys from one year to the next all the time, but admittedly, it's a phenomenon that's never entirely made sense to me. It seems unnecessarily sadistic to not vote a guy just to make him wait for a bunch of years, even though you consider him deserving.)

But I couldn't be a part of it this year.

My steroid disgust blossomed into anger and decayed into a kind of defiant ennui.
Awesome. So basically what you're admitting is that the steroid stuff upset you, so instead of fulfilling your responsibility in spite of your emotions, you just took your ball and went home. You know what--I'm gonna start doing that at work. "Hey, Vinnie. Mind proofreading this report for me?" "I'm sorry, but I don't approve of the content therein, and it fills me with defiant ennui to even think of it. So--No, I will not."

The image of commissioner Bud Selig shrugging his shoulders, of Barry Bonds gazing smugly at a disappearing baseball, of congressmen asking star athletes if they knew anything about syringes and cycles -- all of it reached critical mass for me as I stared at my ballot.

I'm imagining these images cycling through his head, switching from one to the other faster and faster, with dissonant violins and the garbled, echo-y voices of Raffy Palmeiro and Donald Fehr playing in the background like in one of those movie scenes that ends with the tortured dreamer snapping or waking up in a heavy pant. In Rick Telander's case, it ended with him stabbing his ballot so hard with his pencil that he bored a hole straight through his desk. (And it's an oak desk, so that's all the more incredible.)

What do you do, Rick?

You wrote about steroids as far back as the late 1970s.

That's sort of... braggy, no?

Who is clean?

You sure?

Ok, we get what you're doing here, Rick and Evil Rick. Everyone on the ballot could have done steroids. Yet, if the Mitchell Report taught us anything, it's that--steroids or no steroids--Barry Bonds is still Barry Bonds, and F. P. Santangelo is still F. P. Santangelo.

Wanna be a sap one more time?

Voting in Tony Gwynn was not being a sap. His left arm could be made of steroids (not sure how that would be an advantage, but play with me here), and I would still have voted him.

I thought back to the games I had seen each candidate play.

Sentence/paragraph ratio of this column: ~1.04

I debated myself. I sifted my feelings about each man, about the intangibles

...Your first mistake.

that transcend numbers and make one worthy of immortality.

Just to remind you, Rick Telander--as it is clear this fact has escaped you, given your way-too-solemn attitude on the vote--election into the Hall of Fame doesn't grant a player actual immortality... just the pretend kind.

I saw Tommy John throw some mediocre games. But I saw him come back from radical elbow surgery that one day would be named after him.

I reeeally hope he swings that into an argument for voting him in.

Tommy John -- 288 wins -- was a pioneer.

What? A pioneer? He didn't invent the surgery.

He should be in the Hall.

I disagree.

Same with Andre Dawson, Lee Smith, Jim Rice and maybe Bert Blyleven.

I disagree on Rice, and I'm torn on Dawson and Smith, but that's neither here nor there.

What is here and these is: If you think these guys belong, WHY DIDN'T YOU SEND IN A BALLOT WITH THEIR NAMES ON IT???

But swollen Mark McGwire soils the ballot.

That is the stupidest bunch of cop-out bullshit I've ever heard. "Soils the ballot"? Come the fuck off it. I bet you're one of those people that sends back your entire entree at a restaurant if you find a hair on it, aren't you? Man, I hate people like that.

All the players starred in the 1980s, '90s and 2000s.

Actually, um, no. John and Blyleven--two of the players you believe should be in--had their best years in the '70s.

Do I know for a fact, say, that the slender, knee-ravaged, integrity-laced Dawson didn't 'roid up?

No. And you also don't know for a fact, say, that Joe DiMaggio didn't ever take a dive for a bookie or cork his bat or steal signs every at bat or wasn't part robot. It doesn't mean we should leave everyone out of the Hall just because we might elect some players who did things we consider cheating.

I'd bet my life Hawk didn't.

Ok, it doesn't matter how sure you are of something, that's not a very wise gamble.

No, I wouldn't.

Oh... kaay...

Not anymore. Not for anyone.

What if Tommy John made his comeback from that tendon grafting because of HGH?

I don't know about you, but I might call him a pioneer. A trail blazer, even. After all, wasn't it sort of cheating to have the surgery in the first place? The replacement tendon does make your arm stronger than it was pre-surgery. And major reconstructive arm surgery is just so unnatural.

Such is the ripple damage caused by the conveniently naive owners and hand-wringing commissioner Selig and a know-nothing players union led by the devilish Donald Fehr.

Major-league baseball wanted the thrill of stadiums lighting up again after the devastating strike and lockout of 1994, even if it was led by chemically enhanced, cheating freaks.

And here's its reward.

August 12, 1994 was a very sad day for me. I was only ten, but the sadness of that day still burns like gonorrhea. If you told me then that baseball would ignore a bunch of guys using steroids if it meant that baseball would be back the next season, I'd have said, "Ignore away!" And looking back, I don't feel any differently.

Having said that, I don't think the cause-effect he's trying to sell here is all that true.

Or, at least, here it is from me.

And you are very, very stupid. You should not have a vote if this is what you're going to do every year.

Roger Clemens tells us that he isn't concerned ''about the damned Hall of Fame.''

He angrily stares down writers and says, ''You keep your vote.''

Don't worry, Rocket.

If the Brian McNamee/Mitchell Report/congresssional testimony stuff doesn't turn out in your favor, seven Cy Young Awards or not, this writer wouldn't vote for you if frogs rained from the batting cage.

Dude, if frogs rained from the batting cage, I'd vote friggin' F. P. Santangelo in the Hall. (And he's never even been on the ballot!)

Roger Clemens deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, testimony, Brian McNamee, and frogs be damned.

Maybe next year I'll feel differently.

A) You'd better.

B) Why do you change your mind so much?

C) When does this column end?

But the nausea that pervades comes from the fact so many people in baseball -- players perhaps most of all -- told us for years to quit harassing everyone about steroids and quit making judgments without facts and quit acting like it's weird that a career athlete might peak in his late 30s or early 40s.

Everybody's innocent until proven guilty, we heard again and again.
And then they went right back to their dirty business.

As I said, I look at my ballot with sadness.

A little over-dramatic, no?

I have been to Cooperstown.

Hey! Me too!

And I can say unequivocally it is the most magical, enchanted village I have visited in this country.

What?! No it's not! I was, I think, thirteen when I went. Even being that young and as enchanted by baseball as any kid can be, I would still describe my recollection of Cooperstown as "little tourist trap that happens to have a kickass baseball museum and milks it to death."

Disneyland is a cartoon by comparison.

Cooperstown, hard by Otsego Lake, nestled in the Adirondacks, is nothing short of a genuine American fairy tale.

I think he's just copying sentences from an upstate New York AAA Motor Club book.

It is our past and our present, mortared by baseball. By heroes.

Oh my God, no. Not heroes. Young guys--not unlike the ones who play today nor unlike any young guy you pass on the street--who happened to be really good at hitting a ball with a bat, throwing a ball, and/or catching a ball. That's all. Young guys. Flawed human beings. Good at a sport.

''It's a shame these athletes are having to go though this,'' Gossage said Tuesday of the steroid mess. ''I don't live in a glass house. ... Maybe I would have done it, too, to compete.''

He went on.

''But something had to be done. Because the history of the game is so important.''

Why is baseball--or more accurately, the people who played and excelled at baseball--so utterly bloated with their own self-importance? Baseball is like my most favoritest thing ever, but seriously, you guys are living on another planet.

He is right.

History is important.

Which is why, in the end, I didn't vote.

But how is this any better than voting for guys without a caring if some of them used 'roids? Instead of unjustly exalting guys who may have "cheated," you'd prefer to penalize the guys who didn't by voting for no one.

I'm sorry. This just does not fly with me. I disagree a million times over.

This non-vote is not frivolous. Instead, a blank Hall of Fame ballot sums up what the Steroid Era has done to my feelings about baseball.

It's silly, short-sighted crap, and you are a bitter, sanctimonious fool.

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